Content Beyond Measure


My heart is full. I’m snuggled up on my sofa with my daughter. My family is watching an old movie on TV. We’ve satisfied our bellies with some popcorn – cooked on the stove the old fashioned way – and are relishing in the beauty of our laziness. It is the perfect unwind to a blessed holiday weekend.

We logged a lot of miles over the past few days, nearly 1,000 end-to-end, to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. It was a much-anticipated weekend of precious time with my sister and her family, my mother and her husband and my niece. My own family looks forward to this annual gathering, knowing no distance is too great to be together.

This year’s gathering was decadent. My dear sister, who so expertly organized and orchestrated everything, left me with no option but to relax and thoroughly enjoy my family time. Her ability to flawlessly feed an army, stay calm in the midst of a houseful and make it all seem effortless is a quality I admire. She is gifted with an ability to care for others and does it with grace.

I am blessed to have a great role model in my big Sis. Her faith leads her every decision, providing her with the DNA to be a strong wife, a patient and supportive mother, a caring daughter and a best-friend-turned-sister. She is the woman I aspire to be. I am blessed to have her as mine.

She gifted me with a weekend of decadence: great company, amazing food and the rest my soul and tired spirit needed. Not in the grandiose ways that one might think is needed, but in a dozen little moments that leave my family blessed, my body renewed and my soul already wanting for more.

For a weekend that is all about Thanks and Giving; she excelled in showing how thankful she is by the ways in which she treated us. In how she reminded us of the need to always show love to others. In the giving of our time, talents and the special gifts God has bestowed upon us. Yes, My big Sis reminded me of that this weekend. And I am outrageously blessed and content beyond measure.

May You All Be Together Soon


As American’s all over the world stop today to give thanks for their blessings, I cannot help but turn my thoughts to those who are separated from the ones they hold dearest. Whether by circumstances, or by choice, I am saddened by the empty chairs and saddened hearts that are the scene in countless homes today. For this day, above all others, should be filled with the scents and sounds of love.

To those who serve our Nation, willing to sacrifice all for your fellow Americans, I pray you are surrounded by a supporting community of love and that those you are separated from today feel your presence. May you all be together soon.

To those who are struggling – be it health, finances or other obstacles – I pray for the tides in your life to turn. My hope is that those challenges that separate you from your loved ones find healing and resolution. May you all be together soon.

To those who have let hurt, misunderstanding or grievances give way to uncrossable chasms in your life, I pray you find the bridge to reconnect you to the path home. Broken hearts and bitterness are not the ingredients for joy. May you all be together soon.

To those who feel the pain of separation from loved ones who have a seat at heaven’s table today, I pray your heart feels peace. I wish for your thoughts to be comforted with joyful memories of yesterday and that your day finds room for love and laughter as you gather with those who share your loss. In God’s perfect timing, may you all be together soon.

Today is a day for gratitude and Thanksgiving. We gather together to count our blessings. No matter where you find yourself, know that it is exactly where you are supposed to be today. Those you serve with, labor with, care for and/or celebrate are the ones God has chosen – especially for you – to spend this day of Thanksgiving with.

Be present in the moments of this day and aware of the gifts which await your Thanksgiving.

French Fries, Deer and Wishes


For as long as I can remember, loose French Fries in the bottom of a greasy takeout bag represents an opportunity to make a wish. Three fries? Three wishes. One lone crinkle-cut crisp turns into one well-placed whisper of hope. For me, a trip to Five Guys is like going to Vegas and hitting a straight-line payout.

My wishes aren’t the big, ostentatious-grab-for-stuff kind of wishes. There are no “I wish I could be a billionaire” or “please make me the most popular girl at school” requests. Mine are the little wishes that make present the most immediate desires of my heart.

Sometimes those wishes are very specific — I wish my Mom will heal and return to a life of joy and mobility — and sometimes they are generic — I wish it will all work out. But regardless of the specificity of my wish, I know my French Fry wishes lighten the worries of my heart.

In my mid-30’s, my little French Fry game expanded to include random sightings of deer. Seeing three deer standing in a field is a Mega Millions winning lottery ticket kind of wish. Two won’t count and even the thrill of a thundering herd that lifts my heart must take a pass. Like the Divine Trinity, I know that seeing three deer means God is right beside me and that he hears the deepest pleas of my heart.

I’ll never forget driving home from my Dad’s funeral. His eight-month illness was a whirlwind of doctors visits and trips home; gut wrenching conversations and difficult decisions for us all. No words can explain the fear, the ragged emotions and the countless prayers we all uttered during those months. One moment we were grasping the dreaded news of a terminal cancer diagnosis and, it seemed, the very next we were saying our goodbyes.

On that 16-hour drive home after his funeral, I did a lot of staring out the window, tears rolling down my face and silent as my body was wrecked with grief. My hero, my role model, my Dad was gone and I could not fathom never hearing his voice again. As we rolled along those secondary roads, somewhere in the barren cornfields of Southern Illinois, my heart stopped. Up ahead I could see three adult deer standing solemnly in the cold morning mist.


As I tearfully thanked God for knowing the wish I could not ever give words to, I saw a fourth deer appear out of nowhere. As he ran to join the others, he paused, turned his head up toward us, as if to acknowledge us as we passed by. And, as if in some majestic movie scene playing out before our eyes, the foursome flicked up their white tails, exhaled visible breath and disappeared, together, into the woods that bordered the field. In that moment, my unformed wish found meaning and I rejoiced that it had been answered so beautifully.

You can bet that I’ll continue to wish on French Fries and trios of deer forever. My own silent game is my visual reminder to never give up, never stop believing and always listen to my heart. Somewhere over the years, random wishes turned into prayers. They became stolen moments in the midst of a crazy day to invite God in and let him take the reins on my life.

How do you wish? Don’t ever stop clinging to the spoken and unspoken desires of your heart. Believe. Those wishes given life to the outrageously blessed life that awaits.

Beyond the Zone


If you want something you’ve never had, you’ll most likely have to do something you’ve never done. That’s the way it works.

Nothing great ever occurs in the comfort zone.

Great things happen because we are courageous. We decide our dreams are bigger than our fears. We bite the bullet and do something that causes a tremor in our gut and sets us squarely on the edge of fear.

We were not made to sit in our comfort zone waiting for life’s great adventures and joys to seek us out. We were made to be courageous and to step out in faith.

If you want to live an outrageously real life, get comfortable being uncomfortable. For when you step beyond your zone, you will find the life you are destined to live.

The Naked Truth


I have a secret to tell. If you know me – err, think you know me – it just might surprise you. I really don’t care what you think; it honestly doesn’t matter one way or the other. That said, it is high time I come clean.

I lie.

Surprised? Maybe; maybe not. I’ve been pretty good at concealing things for as long as I can remember. Sometimes, my lies are so skillfully crafted and believable that I can convince even the most clairvoyant of folks that it is truth.

My lies aren’t the kind of lies that are constructed to hurt others, but I suspect admitting it will bring pain to those I love deepest. Truth be told, I’ve never lied to intentionally hurt anyone. No, my lies were all about sparing those I care for most from the harsh reality of life.

Those big, fat lies are many:

I lie when the actions of others have hurt me, pretending I’m ok. Just for the record, my heart is broken in a million fragile shards and it is taking forever to cobble back together.

I lie when I pretend the falsehoods others accept are my truths really do not make me feel helpless and small. They do.

I lie by erecting thick walls of indifference – the same walls some chose to call arrogance – because I know no other way to shield the pain in my heart.

I lie when I put on a mask of control and shield myself with busyness. It helps me hide the chaos of hurt and my urge to fall apart and cry. But I don’t, because I know others are are too consumed with their own tears to wipe mine.

Lies are what others are most comfortable with. They keep it easy. They lend an convenient excuse for others’ to continue their own selfish ways.

Truth be told, I’m making it easy for others to walk away, instead of holding them accountable for their own truths. And I’m no longer certain that’s the right thing to do.

From now on, when you ask if I’m ok, my answer may not be what you want to hear. But it will be the truth. And if you can’t handle it, that’s ok. You have my blessing and forgiveness to keep walking. My life has become emptier, but more honest, without you in it.

Outrageous living sometimes detours down a lonely, bumpy path. Thankfully, those twists and turns do lead us to a life of full, vulnerable and abundantly blessed living. A life I choose to wholly embrace.

And that’s the naked truth.

The Visible Cracks of a Digital Life


I’m always taken a back by the bi-polar posts of many on social media. One moment you see someone posting bible verses and words of encouragement; the next is an unflattering post or comment that can best be described as a thinly-veiled attack on another.

Why are we so determined to let our inner aggressions and unresolved issues take center stage online?

I’ll be the first to admit that I, too, can be guilty of “acting without thinking,” when I carelessly use my Facebook page or Twitter account. It can be easy to fire off a quick comment that may make sense in the moment that, in hindsight, was better left unsaid. Whatever temporary satisfaction we think we are gaining is quickly overshadowed by the reality of true self’s conscience. Even the edits or quick deletes do not undo the damage of our actions.

Sadly, those “immediate gratification” remarks reveal the true color of our heart and provide a window to the cracks and pockmarks in need of repair. They show the hurt, the ignorance and the suffering of our soul. They are the tell-tale signs of an imperfect life.

Living unfiltered in today’s digital world is becoming more and more of a norm. It is not a case of right vs. wrong; it is the evidence of the amplified reach of today’s electronically social world. Like it or not, the same cracks and pockmarks so loudly evident in the everlasting reach of the Internet are not new. Those hurts, wounds and lack of knowing have long-lived in mans’ hearts and in the relationships we have with others.

What differs today is how permanent and viral our actions have become.

Judging others by their cracks is wrong. Using the one-dimensional words or actions of others to decide the status of their heart or the true emotions they feel is a sin. I pray forgiveness for all who piously decide the worthiness of another by the digital personification we have ascribed to them.

When was the last time you actually spoke to the ones you judge? That old classmate who is too afraid to share the struggles and challenges they silently battle? You know that friend, the one who carefully shares their joys and faith, yet shields the reality of the pained existence they live. Do you pick up the phone to call when you see those cracks emerge, or do you continue to judge and gossip?

Shame on all of us who hide behind the seemingly protective shield of the Internet. Whether we live a digital persona that is conflict with our inner self, or are simply too afraid to challenge our own erroneous thinking by reaching out to those – we call friends – who are clearly hurting, we are slowly eroding our civil society. It is fundamentally wrong to judge others, based on their carefully crafted-posts and the ignorant comments of others.

As we approach this season of gratitude and Thanksgiving, I pray you will look deeply at the relationships you have with others. Examine your heart for the cracks and pockmarks you are so carefully trying to hide and set about repairing them. Build real friendships and relationships with the people in your life, not the shallow and impersonal versions you will find online.

Life is ugly. It has cracks and warts. Some wounds run deep and wide. But ignoring them – sometimes out loud and poorly – will neither bring joy nor repair.