Wednesday, January 8, 2014


My life has been dictated by numbers.  Forever.

- The age marker.  At 7, I wanted to be 10.  At 10, I wanted to be 13.  At 13, I wanted to be 16.... it continued until I grasped that the age I am now is all that I'm promised.  I love 38, even though I've only been it for 1 month... because it's all I'm promised.

- The number on my scale.  Contradictory to EVERY person I've ever known who's talked to me about weight loss vs. healthy living, I check my scale often.  My friend Renee used to talk about her weight being "one blank 4", or whatever it was at that moment.  Once I crossed into the triple digits (which was way before my peers did), the number immediately after the "one" was what took up much space in my mind.  If I was at 1_4, I wanted to be 1[ _ - one]4.  Times in my life, that numbers have easily gone down.  Other times they have shamefully gone up.  And the shame is all mine- I guilt myself into thinking I'm measured by that number.  I.  Am.  Not.

- My GPA.  Hallmark created a wonderful card a few years back that said something like "True Life Fact #513... No one cares what your GPA is."  Truth.  No one does... but me.  I struggled for those college years because the number on my transcript wasn't as high as I'd imagined it would be.  I allowed it to convince my mind that I was "less than."  That somehow my worth was tied up in those numbers... and somehow I told myself I wasn't the person I knew myself to be.  Lies.

- The number of things on my to-do list.  I will never, ever, ever have an empty list.  I imagine that on my deathbed I will feel guilty for the things still there... and likely some of those will be thank you notes I've not yet sent.  (I blame my thank you note aversion to my wedding.  True story.)  I have recently allowed myself some grace on my to-do list... and that was only after living through tragedies that gave us clarity about what really matters.

- The number in my bank account.  I have never been one of those people who is a natural saver.  Neither am I constantly concerned about how much money we have- it's not a source of pride for either Dan or myself.  But after our rocky financial road in the first few years of marriage... that number says to me whether or not I am doing something "right".  When our checking account dips low, it brings back deep seeded anxiety that I have failed.  Guilt and shame creep back up over issues that are years behind us.  Ridiculous.

None of the numbers I noted above matter.  NONE OF THEM.  If my to-do list is crazy long and we don't have money for our "wants" and I gain weight... IT IS NOT ETERNAL.  "Ain't no mountain gonna fall" because I send thank you notes late, or because it took me 10 years to graduate, or because I can no longer eat whatever I want (could I ever do that?).  I am a smart woman- and not because my GPA reflected that.  I am wealthy beyond most of the world's population... and I am blessed to never have known the other side.  Some of the numbers above are important- I want to be healthy, I need to keep on top of my list because some of the tasks affect other people, and I want to be a good steward- yet none of them determine my true worth.

And yet there are other numbers that are critical.  Some of our friends are in crisis as one of Dan's oldest friends has had a stroke.  As her husband watches the numbers on her monitors and hears the numbers her physicians report... that matters.  A key number in their life is 5- the number of young children they have and now have to provide for all while sitting bedside with their beloved mother.  Those numbers matter.

In this New Year, I pray that I keep my numbers in check.  Focus on the ones that matter, give grace to the ones that aren't big rocks, and let go of the rest.  I'll pray that for you, too.  And I ask that you keep our sweet friend Cristi and her number one fan, Hoke, in your prayers.  They truly are some of the best people we know and need all of our prayers.  While I don't fully know or understand how prayer works, I know that when we petition God in great number, our hearts are knit together.  And those numbers, indeed, do matter.

(You can keep up with Cristi's progress on her Caring Bridge site here.)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Change in Heart in 2013

Yesterday morning I was up before my family and had some time alone in our kitchen with my thoughts and the sausage balls I was making.  I was thinking through the "What would a 'best of 2013' blog post look like" and all of the fun things that I would include.  These same thoughts went through my mind as I typed our New Years letter... still with our cards that I'm hoping to finish before the weekend.

It's no surprise that in my heart of hearts I've been in a hard spot these last almost 2 years.  Losing people I love has caused me to lose a a little bit of myself.  While, at first, I was ashamed of what those losses changed me to be, I now embrace the new and am hoping to honor the life with which I'm left.  And don't be distraught!  This will not be a "what I lost" post... but rather a "what we gained" reflection.

Our personal 2013 highlights, in no particular order of importance or calendar dating:

September 24 has become Do Good day- not only for just our family, but for so many who have spread the love in their own circles.  This year was no exception.  We opened our home to locals to join us as we celebrate the Good.  Not only was I floored during the day (Daddy's best friend from home SHOCKED me when she arrived unannounced!), I was amazed throughout that week as I heard stories of people Doing Good.
  * We collected over $500 in gift cards to distribute as needs arise.  We have already given several to families in need of some Good, and have been blown away at the stories of how our friends' generosity has met their need in immediate ways.
  * A friend in Asheville put together a drum kit with the help of local musicians to give to a child who was taking lessons and did not yet have a kit.  While his mother may not see hear the Good always in such a LOUD gift, she was thrilled- as was her son- with such a significant gesture.
  * People sent me story after story that day of paying for others' meals, coffees, groceries in anonymity and how amazing that felt.

Goodness won on September 24.  I invite you to mark your shiny new 2014 calendar with Do Good Day.  I'll be posting again in the month of September to remind you of it.  Let's Do Good throughout this new year.  (And, if it's not too much to ask, I'd love you to message me how your Do Good gesture affected you and/or the recipient.)


We made it our mission this year to say "yes" to things that would bring us happiness.  Several events led to big smiles for all 3 of our family.  We enjoyed a Disney trip during Star Wars weekend- I've never seen many happy nerds in one place (my two included.) I finally met Jen Hatmaker!  I saw Glennon Doyle Melton twice.  I told Philip Yancey how much I've enjoyed his books through the years.  I had a life-giving conversation in the rain with Frank Schaeffer that I reflect on often.  I went to see my other half in Arizona and experienced some of her life there.  I took part in a Grief group at Sawtooth that was healing to my soul.  I ice skated with my little girl in Rockefeller Center as it snowed.  We saw 5 (ridiculous!) shows on Broadway.  Dan and I shared a meal with his best friend from college (and his gorgeous new bride!) and I saw him grin in a way that I've missed.  We had Camp of Kids again with days full of crafts, snacks, and giggles.  E attended her first "grown up" concert- The Indigo Girls- in an amazing venue with amazing people singing loudly all around.  Dan and I saw the Barenaked Ladies, Guster, and Ben Folds with some of our best friends (and rode home with the top down in a convertible... lovely.)  I then followed up with a second BNL show in which I finally met the band.

As silly as some of those things sound- they restored pieces of my heart that had been knocked away by pain.  While it would likely get me a restraining order, I thought about writing BNL a "fan letter" and telling them how their shows connected me to years gone by and how healing they were in my 2013.  I'll never forget Brad Spires introducing me to them in 1996, and I've listened faithfully for the last 17 years.  Singing songs (loudly) that I loved in my 20s reconnected me to the girl I was then... and for that, I am grateful.


The turning point in my year happened on June 15.  Just two months prior I had sunk to my lowest of points and grieved in new and painful ways.  That Saturday in June, E and I were doing some grocery shopping when I got a text from a friend.  He asked my opinion on ring sizes for his beloved- and I am not exaggerating at all when I say my heart grew two sizes that day.  I got taken out of my hurt and put in the middle of his joy.  While his reasons for including me in his planning were likely practical, for me it became holy as the Joy began to outweigh the Pain.  I texted him yesterday to tell him that while I joked after that moment that he was "better than Xanax" (or Zoloft, depending on the day) that honestly was not far from the truth.  My life is better because of that day, my 2013 was better because we celebrated their engagement, my 2014 will be better as we celebrate their wedding, and my friends' lives will be better as they will share them in marriage.

"Oh, the feels."


While your 2014 may not be filled with engagements and concerts and celebrations, I pray that your heart will be filled with moments of joy.  We know that there will be dark days amidst the light ones, but I'm committing to focus on the light this year.  Happy New Year, my friends.