Luck will visit you on the next new moon

-Proverbs 16:33 “the lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”

Happy Irish-American heritage month! And, double bonus round, it’s also Women’s History month. Luckily, for you, I’m both, so I can usher in your jolly celebrations and shenanigans until March 31. You’re welcome!

I always hear people talk about “the luck of the Irish” which seems to suggest that we are extremely lucky people with exceptional fortune does it not? But, I recently learned that like most terms associated with Irish American history, it wasn’t meant as a compliment. It never specified that that their luck was good, that is just the tag we have put on it through the years. No, it’s more to insinuate that the only way the Irish could achieve any success was because of dumb luck, certainly it couldn’t be because of intelligence. I just learned this from Edward O’Donnell’s book, 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Irish American History. A little light reading for St. Paddy’s Day am I right?! I love learning about my cultural history. I think everyone should know their heritage – and it wouldn’t hurt to know about the heritage of others to better understand each other. Just my two pennies worth.

Somehow, I think I inherently knew that it never referred to good luck though, because I have said for as long as I can remember “if I didn’t have bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.” When others buy tickets for the Powerball, or Mega-Millions, I joke that I might as well throw a dollar out the car window so my loss could actually help someone who needed it.

The truth is, I don’t believe in luck at all. Well, I suppose that’s not entirely true. Another redhead whom I greatly admire, Thomas Jefferson, although Scottish not Irish, said, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” And that, my friend, is my opinion in a nutshell.

The last time we talked, we chatted a bit about God directing our steps and being in control of what happens. Our wise friend, Solomon, chimes in again with Proverbs 16:33, this time telling us that God is in charge of the outcome of lot casting, or the outcome of “fate.” We see what we might refer to now as “luck” many times in the Bible. The Israelites cast lots to determine God’s will. (Joshua 18:6-10, I Chronicles 24:5, 31) The book of Jonah tells us the reluctant prophet tried to run away from God’s calling and hopped a ship going the opposite direction. A crazy storm kicked up that was going to sink them and the sailors believed it was because someone had angered the gods…they weren’t too far off from the truth. So they cast lots to see who the culprit was so they could toss him overboard. Lot casting wasn’t uncommon in ancient culture, but it was God’s people who used it as God’s way of revealing what He wanted them to know. And for all of my “but I’m a New Testament Christian” friends, I didn’t want to leave you out. The Gospels tell us that the soldiers cast lots to divvy up Jesus’ coat. Whether or not this was the coat that He owned that they took from him or the fancy robe that they mocked Him in we don’t know. But it was something worth gambling for in order to win. In fact, we see this practice again in Acts 1:26. The disciples of Jesus used this method to determine who should replace Judas Iscariot, and Matthias was chosen.

So what does it actually mean to cast lots? I always picture a scene from Guy and Dolls in my head; back alley gangsters shooting craps while singing “Luck Be A Lady.” No? Just me?

Lots were basically a form of divination. It may have been bones, pebbles or runes tossed similar to rolling dice; or it could have been the reading of tea leaves that determined a decision to a particular question asked. A sacred person of some sort, a prophet, a holy man, or a seer, would know out to read the outcome. Or in the cases referenced above, the will of God. Today, this would be similar to us tossing a coin or drawing straws.

Now I know what you’re saying – God’s people are to just know His will and get our direction from him. He tells us. But, how were they to do that, do you think? How would He tell them? We have a 66 book, 1189 chapter, sacred text as a jumping off point. And, we have the Holy Spirit now that they didn’t have then. (John 16:13-14) Well, they used the common practice of lots or some variation of that. I would imagine it was a sacred process for the Israelites and Jesus’ followers. It wasn’t merely the toss of a coin to make a decision by fate or luck. It was a prayerful belief that God was in control of the outcome, It was a tool of necessity used by God in order to know what they were supposed to do.

And even today with the benefit of the Bible and the Holy Spirit, we aren’t so different are we? We may not cast lots to make decisions, but we sure think that things just happen by coincidence, or accident, or a fluke. As believers though, we should know there is no such thing as coincidence. Or to quote another wise sage, Master Oogway, “there are no accidents.” (King Fu Panda)

There’s an old Yiddish saying that goes “Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” or “Man Plans, God Laughs.” I think the old Rabbi that said it first was paraphrasing Solomon in Proverbs 16.

So does this mean we shouldn’t invest in our 401(k), buy a home, or plan for our kids college tuition? Of course not! I think it is more about being a fluid to God’s will, or you know, go with the flow man.

It’s good to have a plan, the wisdom in Proverbs is full of guidance on planning and being prepared. If you take a deep look at the Proverbs 31woman that many of us Christian women aspire to be like, she is a perfect example of a business woman, a hard worker, and a provider — with a PLAN. That’s called being wise. That doesn’t negate our trust in God. We believe that He has what’s best for us in mind and will take us on the route that is most beneficial to us.

Did you know that there was a faster route to the promised land from Egypt? Exodus 13:17 tells us that God didn’t take them that way ON PUROSE. He knew that they would have to fight for the land right away, and He knew they couldn’t handle it. Even if they were an army physically prepared for battle, their faith was not in a place that they could foresee victory. They didn’t know Him yet. They needed a relationship first in order to trust. And it was through that time of wandering and relying on Him that gave them the fortitude to step into the best that God had for them.

What about you? Is God leading you the long way around because He knows you’re not ready for the battle? Start asking Him to reveal Himself and His plan to you. You may only be able to handle a little at a time, so ask Him to go before you to clear the way like He did the Israelites.

And as we seek him together, to know his plans for us, (Jeremiah 29:11) I’ll leave you with this Irish blessing…

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
(John 10:28)

“Action is the proper fruit of knowledge”

-Proverbs 3:5–6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

What is it about a new year that makes us reflect not only on the past year, but our past. If you’re anything like me, you never look back fondly at your successes it’s always the moments you weren’t your best self that seem to come to the forefront. We like to focus on our “failures“

It’s as if because of past choices or circumstances, we assume there is a big, fat, red permanent marker, F on our life. But life isn’t a test. It’s not as simple as a pass or fail. It’s a combination of choices, both good and . . .  we’ll say not so smart. That makes us who we are.

One of the Five People I want to meet in Heaven is Maya Angelou. That is a lady that I just want to sit at her feet and listen to the wisdom that effortlessly flows in words that I can only dream of writing. One of my favorites is, “Do the best you can, until you know better. Then, when you know, better, do better.“

I love that some of the writers of the Bible often relate living in terms of seasons. Solomon was a king of Israel, the son and heir of King David. You might know him better as the shepherd boy who killed a giant. (1 Samuel 17) Well Solomon was probably only a teenager when he became king after David‘s death. His actual age isn’t recorded in the Bible, but Bible scholars seem to think he was between 15 and 20 years old. Now, I don’t know about you, but at that age I couldn’t even balance a checkbook let alone be king over a huge nation! Frankly, I still can’t – thank God for online banking! And Solomon recognized this too. In a conversation with God, in 1 Kings 3:7 he calls himself young – even a child by some translations. He tells God “I’m just a kid! I have no idea what I’m supposed to do here!“ OK, I may have taken some liberty there a bit, but can’t you relate in your own way?

If you’re a mom, haven’t you had days where you just think “I didn’t sign up for this!“ Or maybe you’re in lecture hall, and it seems like that professor is literally speaking a language you don’t know. Or your boss wants answers and you don’t even understand the question. Like Solomon, we need to recognize that answers and understanding don’t simply come from the knowledge of something, it comes from godly wisdom.

A couple verses down in 1 Kings 3:5, God presents Solomon with a life-changing question, “What should I give you?” Now friend, think for just a second. This is the Creator of the Universe asking you what you want. This is serious carte blanche!

Do you want to be rich? Do you wanna live forever? Do you want that perfect bikini body? Do you want to travel the world? I don’t know about you, but those might be the things that would go through my mind in a split second. Well, maybe not live forever part, but to hang out with my great-great-grandkids? Maybe.

But Solomon didn’t ask for any of those things. You’ll see in verse 9 he asks for a discerning heart, (ESV) an understanding heart, (NKJV) a listening heart. (MSSG) in a word, he asked for wisdom. He knew he was in way over his head, and there was only person that could help – God.

He shares this advice with us in his collection of wisdom in the Bible, Proverbs 3:5–6.

I have to admit though, I was challenged a little in writing this. Solomon was supposed to be the wisest man in history, and yet, I really took a moment for the first time to think about the integrity of Solomon’s wisdom. Yes, God gave it to him, but when you look at his life it makes you wonder how much he used it. I mean, it seems to negate how truly smart the man was. He writes a lot in the Proverbs about avoiding what my dad’s generation always called “loose” women. Yet the man had about 700 wives and a 300 member harem. It may be no coincidence that he authored Ecclesiastes right after Proverbs. You might say this collection of Solomon’s writings finalizes his thoughts about life as his begins to fade. I think maybe he realizes that although he may have had wisdom, he didn’t always use it. His conclusion? Fear God. Do what he tells you. Period. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Solomon learned the hard way, like most of us tend to do, that the only true wisdom is Godly wisdom. I once heard a pastor say that, people can have more degrees, than Fahrenheit, but without the guidance of God, they lack true wisdom. College can provide a great education, and I consider myself a lifelong student. But without the Spirit of God teaching us along the way, we are simply smart. 

What would happen if we fully trust in God? Fully trust that He is in control of our lives. Fully trust that He is leading us if we would only follow. Fully trust that He loves our kids even more than we do.

Would that kind of trust, that kind of faith, set us in motion? What could we do? What would we do, if we asked Him for wisdom?

I’m all for being smart and learning and receiving knowledge. But true, Godly wisdom is life-changing!

But what if I fail you might say. “Oh but my darling what if you fly?”

There is freedom waiting for you,
on the breezes of the sky,
 And you ask, “What if I fall?”
Oh, but my darling,
What if you fly? –Erin Hansen


“All the little things will add to a happy journey”

“All the little things will add to a happy journey” … IF you let them.

What did Emerson say? Life is a journey not a destination?

Sometimes I think it is all too easy to get caught up in “whens” instead of the “nows.” You know what I mean – Things will be better “when” I get married. It will be easier “when” I make more money. I will be happier “when” I lose weight.

“when” I’m grown up
“when” I have kids
“when” I have more time
“when” I get older
“when” I get a new job
“when” my kids are grown

…have I hit your “when” yet?

It is so easy to see everything with a goal oriented mentality. In fact, society seems to encourage it. I wonder how many things I missed out on as my sons were growing up because I would do something with them “when” the house was clean?

Time is the most precious commodity that we have. You might be able to find a way to make more money. You can do things to try to have better health. You can develop skills to make yourself smarter, prettier, or more organized. But once time passes, you can never get it back.

Now wait, I’m sorry if I just filled you with past regrets of misspent time, because it’s true that we can’t regain time. But what if we CAN redeem it?

Merriam-Webster defines redeem as:

  1. to buy, get, or win back
  2. to free from what distresses or harms
  3. to change for the better
  4. to repair; restore
  5. to make good
  6. to atone for

But how to we do that? How do you REDEEM time? I think it starts by making the most of your time “NOW.”

The biblical book of Psalms is mostly attributed to David, as he is one of the key contributors. You know, the killed a giant with a slingshot guy. But “psalms” simply means “songs.” The book of Psalms is a collection of songs and prayers to God by various Jewish writers, although David did write many of them. Some reflect good times with joy and praise, still others are in hard times and express mourning and regret. One of the chapters that is not written by David is Psalm 90, which is credited to Moses. Now whether this is burning bush, parting the Red Sea, Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments Moses, I guess we maybe don’t know for sure. I mean, there were probably other guys named Moses I would imagine. But it could be! The guy was kind of a big deal in Hebrew history, so somebody would have made notes about what he said, right? But whoever it was that wrote this psalm understood the importance of time.

Psalms 90:12 – Teach us to number our days carefully
so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”

Translation? Using our time wisely is just smart! And it starts in the “nows” with a focus on the little things. It progresses by being intentional to what is truly important to you … your core values if you will. If your actions don’t line up with what your mouth says is important, you might have to give your priorities an overhaul.

“Sure, sure,” you say, “but how?”

Well, my first suggestion would be S L O W D O W N. If the world is whizzing past you…or more like you whizzing past the world, you don’t see much as it blurs by in the fast lane. So it might be time to hit your blinker and safely get over to the right. ALL THE WAY TO THE RIGHT! Into the slow lane. Don’t panic! You’re still moving – and you’ll still get to your destination don’t worry. But you know what else it allows for? An exit onto an unintended path that you didn’t even see was there from all they way over in the fast lane.

What else? Stop multi-taking! (OUCH I feel attacked!) I am the Queen of Multi-tasking. It is a badge that I wear proudly. I will darn near break my arm off in an effort to carry every blasted grocery bag in one trip. Making dinner? I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that I can get everything out of the pantry or refrigerator in one carry. Shoot, I have been known to put Clorox wipes under my feet as I went to wipe up the floor as I was going – nope not kidding.

But what about when that one grocery bag breaks under the strain? Or my most notable…the box of blueberries teetering precariously on top of the carefully stacked pyramid from the refrigerator tips and sends blueberries in a scattered frenzy like a herd of wild geese at the sound of a gunshot – nope not kidding. I spent more time trying to sweep those blueberries into the dustpan than I would have if I would have just made more than one trip – in the whole two feet from my fridge to the counter – nope not kidding.

“Be present,” haven’t you heard that chanted like a motivational speaker mantra? I don’t think it takes meditations and deep breathing exercises to do that, although they might be beneficial for the slowing down part. For me, to be present involves using the five senses that we have. Now some may argue that there are six, and if you have an extra, feel free to use it. But I think that anomaly bypassed me.

In order to see, you have to look. In order to hear, you have to listen. In order to taste, you can’t just shovel your food in mindlessly in front of the television. (Attacking myself again!) And smelling and touching involve effort; they require intension. Remember that word?

Life may be a journey, but it is a journey of small moments and little things, and it is the stringing together of these little things that turn a life into living. Maybe whoever said to stop and smell the roses was a multi-tasker in the fast lane of life too. And maybe, just maybe, they decided to take a different exit.

…and that’s the way the intentional cookie crumbles.

“A frivolous gift is a gift, nonetheless”

Childhood Christmas memories play in my head like old home movies on 8mm film, flipping with a stop action fluidity, in the colors of a faded Polaroid. Recollections pieced together by actual memory and photo captures I’ve seen. If I let myself just soak in them, the same feelings bubble up inside, that of a little girl anticipating Santa, building like a freshly shaken bottle of soda growing to a burst.

My first memories are from the brown shingled house where I was born. It sat at the top of a hill, which I always thought made us important. I’m sure my dad didn’t agree on grass cutting day as he would lower and hoist the gas-powered lawn mower on a rope, up and down that steep slope. At the bottom of the lawn stood a low stone wall which matched the stone of the front porch with its pillars, and I knew from bedtime stories that walls were built around castles and fortresses, so surely that made me a princess all the same!

Our Christmas tree (the same artificial one year after year) towered over me, covered each year in shiny gold garland or my favorite, thin silver tinsel. Did you know that “tinsel” comes from a French word that means “sparkle?” And sparkle it did, reflecting every brightly colored light from pink, to blue, to yellow. By all my standards today of Christmas décor, it was tacky! And the tackier it was, the more I loved it. Eventually the strands of tinsel never fully came off, so it was a combination of whatever the design plan was for that year, embellished with the remnants of years before.

Some years a star graced the top, on others perched a shiny gold angel. She was my favorite with her rick-rack trimmed cardboard arms clasped in prayer, confirmed by her plastic sculpted closed eyes. Her doll like hair was blonde on the top, curled close to her head like when my mom wrapped my hair in pink sponge rollers.

I only remember one Christmas morning though. It was the year that I thought I’d been bad. Now, I’m a redhead and was a precocious child, and I could be a little mischievous at times. But I was never bad!

I dashed down the staircase in my long flannel nightgown and bare feet (which is still how I prefer my feet) and peered over the thick wooden bannister to see what Santa had left for me. There on the floor, just in front of the lit tree was a metal, windup lady bug, whirring in a circle — alone. I don’t remember what I thought in that moment, but the hot tears that streamed down my flushed little cheeks are etched in those home movie memories.

My dad came to the rescue fast, running to take me off the steps, realizing he had made a huge error in judgement. “No, no, no”, he said, “Santa just left that as an announcement that he was here! There was too much to leave under the tree, so he left it all in the dining room.”

There lined up against my mom’s buffet cabinet, loaded with the dishes that we never used, was an assortment of toys and paper covered treasures. Of all of those toys that year, the only one I still recall…other than the ominous ladybug…is a pop gun. Now who gives a girl a popgun! you might say. My answer? My dad. I loved my fair share of baby dolls and Barbies, but I had fun making mud pies and playing with that popgun just the same. My dad was all about non-gender specific toys way before it was cool!

Now that I’m all grown up, although some would argue the validity of that statement, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a commercialized Christmas. The search for the perfect gift or the aim to top the last one. We forget the reason that we exchange gifts at Christmas in the first place.

Christians share gifts because it is a reminder of the greatest gift that they have been given by God, Jesus. After his birth, the wise men brought gifts to him. We say three wise men because there were three gifts, but there could have only been two, or there could have been two hundred, we really don’t know.

The idea of gifts from Santa came from the legends of St. Nicholas, who was a Bishop in the 4th century. He was said to come from a wealthy family who raised him as a devout Christian. Orphaned at a young age by illness, he took very seriously the words of Jesus to sell what you own and give to the poor. His entire inheritance was used to take care of those in need.

Even hanging stockings comes from the stories of this generous man. As I heard it, a poor man had three daughters. He had no dowry to give for his daughters to be married so they would be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three separate occasions, a bag of gold would appear, tossed into shoes or stockings that were drying by the fire. This led to children leaving stockings or shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill. And so began the legend of St. Nick the gift giver.

But giving was never meant to be the focus. The focus was always to be thankful and to care for one another, remembering that God takes care of us, similar to the way an orphan named Nicholas believed that it was his responsibility to use what he was given to help others.

So I would encourage you, and myself, to focus on the gifts that can’t be measured by a price tag or wrapped in ribbons. Take this time to shift your heart to see the miracles in your life every day, no matter how small. The laughter of child, the hug of a loved one, the gathering of family, a table full of food when others have none. Because these are truly gifts!

Much like I don’t remember what other gifts were there that Christmas morning so long ago, you and others won’t remember every present bought or how it was wrapped. But they will carry with them the memories of your love for them and the unity of family. Those who are alone will remember when you included them and shared just a small portion of your time. Holiday workers will recall that you were kind and patient with them when others were not. And these are the things that show we have truly received what God gave us that first Christmas Day, when we act as that baby in Bethlehem would have taught us.

…and that’s the way the Christmas cookie crumbles. Wishing you and yours a safe and happy holiday season from me and mine.

“Your uniqueness is more than an outward experience”

You are special, you’re the only one;
You’re the only one like you.
There isn’t another in the whole wide world
Who can do the things you do.” – Barney

30 pounds! There I said it. 30 pounds is what I gained during the pandemic pack-it-on. Sure, I had knee surgery. Sure, I had T-W-O knee surgeries! But you know what I also had? Door Dash, and Uber Eats, and well, they told me I had to support my local restaurants in their time of need! I did it for the economy!

T-H-I-R-T-Y. It hurts typing that. It hurts not only admitting it to you but admitting it to myself. And I’m struggling! I don’t want to admit that to you either. I don’t want you to know when depression rears it’s ugly head. I don’t want you to know all the ridiculous thoughts that anxiety torments me with every time I look in the mirror lately…every time I try to zip that dress…every time I put another bite of food in my mouth.

I just want to shut down. And I think that in some ways I have for a few days. But you know what that does? It just makes me feel guilty on top of all that! I have a great life, I have good health, I have a wonderful family who I love dearly and who love me back, and I spend every day with the love of my life – who, I should mention, loves every single ounce of me including T-H-I-R-T-Y additional pounds. I have a roof over my head, a job that I enjoy, and plenty of food to eat…thus exhibited by the extra poundage, aye! I have a closet and dresser full of clothes – most that fit and some that don’t. I am safe, I am loved, I am blessed!

What’s truly wrong with me is my perspective. Perception may be reality, but perspective is most often the key to happiness. I don’t know who said that, but I saw it on wall decor somewhere.

Just when you think you know something, you have to look at it in another way. Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try.” -John Keating, Dead Poets Society

I have been so focused on what I see, that I have lost sight of what others SHOULD see. Because who I am is not my outward appearance. What is on the outside may be what people notice first, but it’s not what they “see.”

Hear me now, I had filled myself with such stinkin’ thinkin’ that I had myself believing it! I had myself so focused on a dress size and what I was going to wear to an event, that I forgot who I was! Now, I don’t know about you, but sometimes when my Wormwood starts whispering in my ear in my own voice, it’s hard not to listen…even though it’s usually lies. So my typical response, is to read my Bible or throw on a podcast sermon…which is what I have done for the last few days. But sometimes, it’s not about sermons it’s about surrender. So today, my spirit said, nope! You’re not listening to Elevation Church today, you’re listening to Elevation Worship. So I did.

And I was reminded….

If He dresses the lilies with beauty and splendor
How much more will He clothe you?
If He watched over every sparrow
How much more does He love you?

Jireh, You are enough

I’m already loved
I’m already chosen
I know who I am
I know what You’ve spoken

Matthew 6 (quoted from The Message version) puts it this way:  “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?

And there was the epiphany.

I’ve been struggling so much this week with anxiety and depression that I just can’t put my finger on. I was truly convicted about being so concerned and worried about how I look and what I want people to see when they look at me, that I have lost sight of WHO they should see IN me.

But it’s not about me! It’s about my relationship with Christ and my relationship with others. It’s about being a light, a hope, a help, a friend. It’s about sharing love in a world that has forgotten about kindness. And you know what, I always used to tell my kids that the best way to stop focusing on everything wrong in your own life is to help someone else. Because we all struggle and we all have a hard time sometimes seeing all the good in our lives. And sometimes we just need a reminder. I hope this was that for you!

You are strong! You are beautiful! You are chosen! You are loved!

…and maybe I will just eat the crumbled cookie.

“You are the center of every group’s attention”

When I was a young girl, self esteem was something that I struggled with. I sprouted to 5′ 7″ by seventh grade, and towered over the little petite girls in my class. This caused two things, stooped shoulders from constantly trying to shrink down and the awkward grace of a three-legged elephant. My gangly limbs were always in the way and I was constantly tripping over my own feet.

All of my class pictures show me in the back row, standing with the boys, while all the sweet little girls sat in chairs at the front with their hands folded neatly in their laps. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only girl in the back row. LaDonna kept me company every year. It might not have been as bad if they would have placed us together, but instead we always flanked the end of the row like a pair of black and white bookends. Sometimes we would shrink down, hoping that maybe the photographer would see us smaller and at least put us on the first row of risers. But no, that was for the short boys, the other awkward group. But they had hope! Hope of growing over the summer and finally taking their place on that top riser. LaDonna and I just hoped we wouldn’t still be up here with them.

I was never one of the popular girls although I was kind of like the side kick. I was higher on the food chain than Millie who always smelled like old cheese or Carolyn who was just too delightful and Heavenly minded to be any earthly good, but mostly they just kept me around to clean up their trash and run their errands. Middle school errands like carrying books or delivering notes. To me though, it was more like a Squire, you know, learning the ropes of how to be popular by mucking the proverbial stalls and cleaning up the discarded Little Debbie wrappers from the cafeteria table. I make it sound worse than it was. I never really minded and I still got to go to their house after school or to the mall on the weekends. I considered it paying my dues of social currency.

People never really noticed me, but that was better. I got to hide behind their brightness. It was much worse to be seen and singled out than to be ignored all together. And being ignored was infinitesimally better than being noticed for something that became the brunt of the joke that day…or week.

I never tried to be a loner, but I wasn’t a joiner either. I would much rather sit and read at recess than…God forbid…play KICKBALL! Just thinking about it now is enough to make me break out in hives! I can still remember my heart beating so hard that I could feel it surging in my hands when it was my turn. My greatest fear was totally missing the ball or worse, I would trip over my fake saddle-shoed feet and land with my skirt up over my head. And trying to calculate the amount of steps to ensure that your “kicking foot” (in my case, my right) would be at the right place at the right time, when the red rubber ball cleared the plane of the base. Life was so much easier in Frist Grade where all you had to worry about was someone pushing you too high on the swings or the boys catching you after you kicked them in the shins.

I could always count on my dad to keep things in perspective for me though. His form of encouragement came in the form of nonchalance and backhanded compliments. The words of wisdom that have stuck with me through my life is “don’t think that you’re so important that people are paying attention to you.” Which was sometimes followed up with, “you know in football how they all get in that huddle? Yeah, they aren’t talking about you.” To my dad, bullying was just kids being kids and it was a form a making you tough.

Now don’t get me wrong, I loved my dad and I was a “Daddy’s girl” for sure, but once I reached the age of 10, maybe 12, life became less about softening blows and more about learning about hard knocks, or “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” because “cowgirls don’t cry,” more of his fatherly colloquialisms. I resented it then, but I realize now how much it shaped me.

Proverbs 16:18 (HCSB) says that “pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.”

I used to think that “pride” was just when you thought too highly of yourself. But I’ve come to realize that it’s also a form of pride when you think too lowly of yourself. You see, it isn’t the low or high that makes it prideful, it’s thinking of yourself in an unhealthy and self-absorbed way that exhibits pride.

I remember in elementary school, there was a poster that hung on the wall with a cartoon boy that said “I know I’m somebody, cause God don’t make no junk!” Now, I’m sure the English teachers cringed every time they passed it, but the message rang true, even today.

David in Psalm 139 talks about how God knew us before anyone else and made us exactly how we are supposed to; that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Think about this for a second, God knew you before anyone else, even your mother. We all had a period of time that we were still in secret. But we were never a secret to God. He handcrafted us, each one as different as snowflakes.

So what I have come to embrace now in my struggle for self confidence as well as self awareness is the word humility. What’s the difference? Well, I think that low self-esteem is seeing yourself as weakness and flaws. Humility is understanding the amazing miracle that life is. C.S. Lewis defines it best as “humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” So the way I see it, if your focus is always on others, then you really don’t have time to think too highly or too lowly of yourself.

I still struggle once in awhile with the number on the scale or the tag in the back of my dress, but if I could go back in time, I would tell that little girl to stand up straight! In fact, now I wish I were taller…5′ 10″ would be nice. There I go again don’t I. Still not happy with who and what I am. Although the “pride goes before a fall” comes to my mind every once in awhile, usually while wearing heels or wearing heels and walking down the steps. Because can still trip up the stairs – it’s a remarkable talent.

…and that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

“A great pleasure in life is doing what others say your can’t”

When my boys were little, I was blessed to have my parents live just three blocks from our house. It wasn’t the home I grew up in, they actually moved to that side of town after my oldest son was born which was a godsend! My mom kept both boys while I continued to work outside the home which was a constant comfort to me as any working mom can understand.

Once they were old enough to explore the neighborhood together on their bikes, I knew that I would end up getting a call sooner or later that they had made a pitstop with Grandmom and Grandad. Usually because she was doing something that interested them or he was watching a ballgame.

One particular weekend, my older sister and her husband were over their house fixing something or taking care of something. By older, I mean a lot of people thought she was my mom. There was 16 years between my brother and I, 20 years between my sister and I, and yet another sister a year older than her. I was an aunt at the age of 4 which was more difficult for my nieces and nephews than it was for me, evidenced in the resounding “you’re not the boss of me” that I heard often. That was because I spent a lot of time at my sister’s house. We were close for as long as I can remember, and then her having children around my age, I felt like they were instant playmates! I often joked that I was an only child with siblings, because they were all out of the house not long after my earliest memories.

My sister took me everywhere with her own children and taught me along the way. My first attempt at cooking was Porcupine Meatballs from her Better Homes and Gardens cookbook with its red and white plaid cover; and if you’re wondering, yes, I still have the recipe. She constantly corrected my grammar and my posture (which is still lacking) and even tried tirelessly to teach me to sew, which was futile. I seem to have a problem with a straight line. She even tried taping a fluorescent orange ribbon along the sewing machine line I was to follow. Alas, my stitching was still crooked! We all have gifts, and mine was not meant to be a seamstress.

But I digress, back to the story. My son rode by and saw his aunt outside working on something and stopped to check it out. I don’t remember specifically what she was trying to do, but when my son asked her why she was doing it, she answered, “because Uncle George told me that he didn’t think I could do it by myself.” My son laughed and said, “you sound like my mom!” My sister proudly answered, “I hope so! I raised her!” and she was right.

I have been called stubborn, strong-willed, headstrong, and occasionally difficult. And the surest way to get me to do something is to believe that I can’t! I may not always prove you wrong, but I will do my darndest to try!

But you know what, maybe life isn’t about proving others wrong…

Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Now that’s not to say that I still won’t take on a challenge. But the older I get, I try to think about what exactly I am trying to prove. If the goal is to better myself and to learn and grow to become a better person, then I’m all in. If my purpose is just to prove others wrong, then I am learning to put myself in check because peace is more important.

I used to joke with an elder at my church, who also happened to be my friend’s grandad, that God didn’t give me a spirit of meekness, and we were both ok with that. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that was because I didn’t know what meekness was. I assumed that being meek was the epitome of a timid little mouse, or a doormat to be walked on. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Jesus was the perfect example of meekness, and he was anything but a timid, little doormat!

Meekness is strength that is brought under control with humility and a denial of self in the interest of others, along with a reliance on God. Another way I have heard it is that meekness is like a horse that is brought under control. All of that beautiful strength that they exhibit has to be targeted in order to be useful. I heard somewhere that there was a term called “meeking a horse.” The goal was not to strip a horse of its power but instead to HARNESS that power. To contain wild independence and develop it into loyalty and discipline.

This is the place where we can be useful to God. He doesn’t need timid little church mice, he needs strong people that are willing to hear from Him in order to be used for His purpose. 2 Corinthians 12:9 tell us that God’s power is revealed in our weakness. We could maybe also say in our meekness.

I challenge you to join me in reflecting on your motivations. I am trying to live my life focused less on the what I do and more on the why I do it. Unfortunately this happens more in the hindsight than the foresight, but just like you, I’m a work in progress.

…and that’s how the stubborn cookie crumbles.

“Be concerned, not obsessed, with your health”

Paleo, Keto, Whole 30, Vegan, Low-Carb, Low-Fat, Atkins, Mediterranean, Intermittent Fasting – it seems like everywhere you turn there is new diet. Some proven, some fad, all with an avid following.

Numbers have taken over my life at times as I obsessed over the number on the scale or the number on the tag at the back of my pants. For a long time I think I let that number define me. Ok, let’s be honest, I STILL let it define me, but I really try not to! However, slick magazine ads and massive billboards fill our eyes with supposed perfection, providing an unrealistic view of beauty. And now our Instagram culture bombards us with filtered influencers further piercing our psyche. And all it takes is one photo from your niece’s shower at just the right unflattering angle to set you off again…I mean, it could happen…recently…this past weekend.

But there are numbers that are much more important than a designer dress tag. The numbers that are indicative of your blood pressure, your cholesterol, and your blood glucose levels are the real numbers that you need to pay attention to. This is not to suggest that weight and BMI are not important, and they can affect the general health numbers. But I have known thin people that are not healthy. More recently, I heard what is referred to as “skinny fat.” Not to mention that diets high in fat and sugar not only affect the body, but they affect the brain.

I still have a desire to be thin, and after two knee surgeries and an impending eventual double knee replacement, that has become more necessary. But I recognize now that there is much more at stake than my dress size. So I have started to seek out information not just about losing weight, but gaining health. Like Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

It’s almost overwhelming isn’t it! Searching for healthy solutions. And I end up CONSTANTLY thinking about food! Planning my food, wondering when I can eat, counting my calories, wondering when I can eat, counting points, wondering when I can eat…see a pattern?

The Buddha said:

The mind is everything. What you think, you become”

And when I’m constantly thinking about food…well, yeah. I’m constantly thinking about food. So I am constantly eating food.

The apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that we should “take every thought captive.” Now, he was talking about spiritual warfare, but sometimes when it comes to food, or anything that we struggle with, it feels like warfare, doesn’t it? It also means that being in control of our minds is possible, and that we can be in control of our thoughts!

It’s been said that who we are is what we fill our mind with. So in order for me to try to take and keep my thoughts captive, I have been trying to surround myself with people, podcasts, and social media that keep me focused on my health. For me personally, my diet right now consists of being mostly whole foods plant based. I still eat eggs and cheese (my stronghold!) and seafood occasionally. But I rarely have beef, pork, or chicken any more. I can’t say that I never will, but the more I learn, the more I realize that they may not be good choices for me. And then there are those that I know I can’t even bring into the house! Frozen waffles, Cheez-Its (TM), chips, donuts…not today Satan! They are my trigger foods and I will eat those things until they are gone. Moderation is a fluid word in my vocabulary.

I don’t believe that any food in and of itself is bad, though. I just try to remember that some choices are better than others. Another truth from my buddy Paul, this time from 1 Corinthians 6:12, my mantra (for lack of a better word) has become “Everything is permissible for me–but not everything is beneficial.”

So the crux is, if all foods are permissible for me – barring allergies or digestive problems – which ones are actually beneficial? Is meat ok? Is only farm raised meat ok? Should I only eat organic? Are carbs bad? Which is worse, salt or sugar? And at the end of the day, these are decisions that we need to make for ourselves. But, knowledge is power, so I am filling my mind with information to make intelligent decisions, FOR ME! And I encourage you to do the same. Here are some resources that I found interesting or find useful.

Podcasts and people that fill me up:

Books you may want to read:

Documentaries to watch:

  • The Game Changers
  • Forks Over Knives
  • What The Health
  • Fat, Sick, Nearly Dead
  • Plant Pure Nation
  • Food Inc.
  • Seaspiracy (FULL DISCLOSURE!!!! I have not brought myself to watch this yet, because I still want my seafood…I’m just being honest. I chose plausible deniability. 😦 )

This is what I’m learning and finding my way in this journey of being concerned about health instead of obsessed with weight. There’s something freeing in it, honestly. Because instead of counting calories and reading labels, I’ve starting fueling my body instead of just feeding my cravings. Concern over obsession.

We only get one life to live, and only one body to live it in. So it’s up to us to take care of it the best we can, body, mind and spirit. What choices have you made to live your best life?

…and that ‘s how the cookie (in moderation) crumbles.

“Listen to what you know instead of what you fear”

Like most children, my sons were afraid of monsters under the bed, the dark, and thunderstorms. Childhood fears are part of normal development. They are valuable in teaching children to be cautious. But what if a fear of monsters under the bed becomes an avoidance of bedtime and sleep? What if a fear thunderstorms escalates to a fear of death and dying? As my friend’s daughter used to say, “thunder is loud, but lightning can kill you dead!”

I also learned that anxiety has many faces:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • PTSD
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety
  • Separation anxiety
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder

When my son was young, he was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. It wasn’t until then that I learned that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting more than 40 million adults in the United States as well as over 5 million children.

What I didn’t realize is that these disorders are often genetic and that his anxiety probably stemmed from me. I learned well into my thirties that the crazy monkey mind that I had was due to a Generalized anxiety order. I resisted the suggestion of medication for a long time, which of course my son thought unfair since I supported it for him. It wasn’t that I thought I was too good for it, but that I had already learned to avoid anything and everything in my life that made me uncomfortable, without realizing its affect. And frankly, I think I thought of it as a reflection on my faith. Surely if my faith in God were strong enough, I shouldn’t need medication for something like anxiety! Right? After all, doesn’t Paul tell us in Philippians 4:6 to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” I was conflicted about it!

Finally, my PCP explained to me that I needed to change my view on the use of medication. That it was not a reflection of my strength OR my faith. It didn’t make me weaker to accept help. He referred to it instead like training wheels. Just as training wheels on a two-wheeler bike, they are only there to provide assistance. They secure you so that you can go faster. They don’t negate the power of the bicycle. Because he was a good physician, he knew factors of my life…working mother, caregiver, part-time student, over thinker… He said that he had patients who didn’t have as many roles that had difficulty balancing life, so I shouldn’t see it as weakness.

Make no mistake, I still believe that fear is valuable. It makes you aware of potential threats to keep you safe. Sometimes it’s subtle, like trying to avoid criticism and please others. Sometimes it’s obvious like being afraid of heights or flying. But like anything else, fear out of balance (like mine was…is) can control your life in a negative way.

Richard Bach said “listen to what you know instead of what you fear.” Why? Because our fears aren’t always based in fact. When my son was little and we started to address his anxiety disorder, we read about how anxiety is like a dragon. It’s a nice dragon that protects us and keeps us safe. But sometimes, since he’s so big, and cares for us so much, he protects us from things that he doesn’t need to and we need to take control and teach him he can trust us to take care of ourselves.

We already know what we fear, so then we need to consider what we know. Did you know that of all of the instructions and “commands” in the Bible, the one that is given the most is “don’t be afraid”? This is mentioned anywhere from 60 to 155 times depending on the translation and the phrasing … “do not fear,” “fear not,” “be anxious for nothing”, and the like … and many times is followed by “don’t be discouraged.” The opposite of DIScouraged is ENcouraged. According to Merriam Webster, ENCOURAGE means the same as to inspirit, hearten, and embolden, meaning to fill will courage or strength of purpose. So if God tells us not to be discouraged, He is telling us to be FULL of courage! And it’s not a suggestion. It’s a command!

It’s an easy thing to say, just don’t be afraid. But in this world full of uncertainty and downright frightening circumstances, how do we actually act that out? When my monkey mind is racing, my heart is in my stomach, and I’m feeling overwhelmed, reminding myself that I’m not supposed to be fearful is the last thing I’m thinking about! So what do I do when I’m afraid?

  • Pray – This is at the top of my list because it should be what I do first. Sadly I must confess that it often isn’t. Like I mentioned earlier, Paul says that instead of worrying and being fearful, we should give our cares over to God. How do we do that? By recognizing that He is in control of everything…all the time, even when we have trouble seeing it. His timing is not our timing, and He is never late! Though I have found that He is right in the nick of time often. I used to think it was that He just wanted to test me and make me stronger. Now I understand that sometimes when things seem like they are falling apart, they are actually falling into place. And Paul tells us to pray not just with our needs and our wants, but with thankfulness for what we already have and what He has already done.
  • Breathe – Am I the only one that shallow breathes (or worse-hold my breath) when I’m anxious? You hyperventilate – you get lightheaded – you get a headache – just what helps you think clearly and be rational right? There really is something to what yogis call diaphragmatic breathing. Really! Try it. Right now. Take your left hand and put it on your heart. Take your right hand and put it on your belly. Now take a slow, deep breath in through your nose…the deepest breath you’ve taken all day. You want your right hand to move as your belly slowly expands with the air and your left hand should stay still. Now slowly release a controlled exhale through your mouth, or if that just feels too weird go ahead and let it out your nose. Now try again, lifting that belly. In for a count of four 1…2…3…4 now release for a count of six 1…2…3…4…5…6. One more time, I’m doing it with you! Now, how do you feel? This is a great exercise to do when you’re anxious or stressed. Remember, just breathe!
  • Face – Sometimes we just need to face our fears! For me, that moment came on 49th birthday. I wanted to say that I did it before I turned 50 (just revealed my age didn’t I 😉 I have a phobia of snakes. Did you know there was such a thing? It’s called Ophidiophobia. I learned about it in 7th grade when my science teacher pulled out a snake and I almost wrecked the classroom. Well, for my birthday my guy took me to the zoo; it’s one of my favorite ways to spend a sunny day. They no longer have a reptile house, instead they have incorporated them with other suitable animals in a cave like exhibit and a large walk through tree. I am almost ready to break out into a cold sweat again just to think about it! My poor guy! He is so supportive and just didn’t know what he was in for! He had to walk in front of me, then behind me, then to the side, then let me look over his shoulder…I think he was more relieved to get out of there than I was! But you know what he said as soon as we stepped back out into the sunlight? “I am so proud of you!” And he meant it! And you know what, I was proud of myself too. I’m not saying that I am going to go out of my way to walk through there again, but I am so glad that I forced myself to do it that day.
  • Remember – That day at the zoo is quick to my memory when I need to deal with fear. Sometimes we just need to remember our efforts and our successes. Remember when we faced our fear, remember when we turned to prayer, remember when we calmed ourselves in the moment. Success breeds success, and knowing that we made it through gives us the strength to make it through again.

I don’t mean to even suggest that true anxiety is simply fear, because I know firsthand that it is so much more than that. But through all our fears, we can still rest in His promises. After all, He is the One who made us exactly the way that we are. He knows our struggles. He knows our weaknesses. It’s not like He’s sitting in Heaven and sees us in our anxiety and thinks “well if I would have known that they were like that…! Why, they have no faith in me at all!” No, He loves us just the way we are, with all our faults and all our weaknesses. And He wants us to love ourselves too.

Is anxiety something that you struggle with to? I would love to know what tools you have developed in your life to help you manage. In the meantime, be strong and of good courage! Until the next time the cookie crumbles….

“When things go wrong, don’t go with them”

So much has happened since we visited last! The world as we knew it shifted on it’s axis and everything began to slide didn’t it? Pandemics, lock downs, elections … oh my! I don’t know about you, but my mood and my emotions have been all over the place like a daily rollercoaster. And, I don’t like rollercoasters!

I found some mixed information when I researched the author of this fortune cookie quote. It’s attributed to both Roger Babson and Elvis. My natural assumption was that The King had requoted the entrepreneur, economist, business theorist, and founder of Babson College. But when I looked a little closer, I realized one subtle difference. Mr. Babson was noted as saying “if” things go wrong. Elvis Presley elaborated “when” things go wrong. I think “when” is a safer bet, because they will … we’re living it. What matters most is our response to it. How we feel and how we react is ultimately a choice.

Professor Randy Pausch has been calledthe dying man who taught America how to live. I would argue that we already live, but he showed us how to truly be alive. My first introduction to Dr. Pausch was in 2007. As a working mom of two active young boys, it wasn’t often that I was home during the day. But for some reason this September afternoon, I found myself comfortably seated in my favorite chair with a hot cuppa something. Scanning the many channels I settled on Oprah, a welcome favorite of growth and inspiration, right? Little did I know that a simple episode from America’s favorite talk show would quite literally change my life.

Pausch was offered the opportunity to reprise an abridged lecture that he gave at his home university, Carnegie Mellon. The University holds a special lecture each year that invites a professor to present their “Last Lecture,” the premise being that if they knew they were going to die and could only give one final lecture, what would they share with their students. The irony of Randy Pausch’s lecture – is that he actually was dying. The father of three young children, ages 2, 4, and 6, was fighting pancreatic cancer and given only months to live. The final “Last Lecture” was given to his students, but meant for his children. It was intended to be all of the things that he wanted to teach them that he wouldn’t be able to. It’s title, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”

There is no better example, in my opinion, of “when things go wrong, don’t go with them.” This amazing man addressed what he referred to as “the elephant in the room” and countered with this…

“I don’t know how to not have fun. I’m dying and I’m having fun, and I’m going to keep having fun every day I’ve got left.” … “Look, I’m going to find a way to be happy, and I’d really love to be happy with you, but if I can’t be happy with you, then I’ll find a way to be happy without you.”

-The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch

If you have not had the opportunity to read The Last Lecture I would like to encourage you to do so. There are two books that I can say have changed my life. The first is the Bible, and the second is this life lesson by Dr. Pausch. In fact, I now give a copy of this book to every high school senior in my life for graduation. I don’t know if they read it, but it is my hope that they will some day and that it will affect their lives as profoundly as it has mine.

So, how do we not go along with the wrong when it happens?

  • Make time for self care. I have a certain level of guilt making this the top of the list. You see, I am a terrible example of this! Which is maybe why I want better for you. I have learned the hard way that a lack of self care can almost be a form of self harm. Women especially tend to be nurturers by nature, and while this is noble, it sometimes results in relinquishing her needs for the needs of others.

    Self care can mean different things at different stages of our lives, but it is important to remember that we need to take care of ourself before we can properly take care of others. This is why the flight attendant instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping someone else with theirs. Moms and Dads with littles may not have the luxury of naps or bubble baths, but they can make time to sneak away. Although I admit I was not very good at taking care of myself over the years, there were days when my sons were little that I would hide in the bathroom just to read a page or two. Sometimes it’s enough just to be quiet and breathe. So wherever you are in your stage of life, find a way. Eat right, drink your water, move a bit, and make sleep a priority not an afterthought.
  • Feed your mind! Sometimes the best thing that we can do in stressful times is to keep our brain active. My guy and I love to watch documentaries. Stimulating your mind is a great way to relieve stress. Whether it’s a NatGeo documentary on the ancient Maya, or learning a new hobby, if we don’t give our brains something to do, they will occupy themselves – and usually when things go wrong, that is in the form of worry. Idle hands might be the devil’s playground, but an idle mind can be anxiety’s playground.Maybe utilize this time to learn something new! Now would be a great time to take a class from home. I love the lecture format of the Great Courses Plus! You can even get a month free to try if you click the link below. I personally have taken a course on Mastering Mindfulness as well as Writing Fiction. They offer enlightening and expansive educational content on hundreds of subjects. Click the link below and engage your mind.

  • Renew your spirit. Just as we must take care of our physical and mental health, so we must recognize that our spirit needs care also. Headaches, depression, fatigue – sometimes these are more than physical or mental struggles. Often times we forget that we are spirit beings in a physical body and fail to recognize how stress and anxiety can affect us on that level. It’s just as important for us to connect with that part of ourself. Some ways to do that is by:
    1. Journaling – maybe you were girl with a Dear Diary that had a shiny lock and a tiny key. Here is where you wrote about the cute boy that sat next to you in class and practiced writing your first name with his last name. But this is different. There are so many different ways to journal, and you just need to find the one that is right for you.
      • a gratitude journal is just that, a place where you can record each day what you are thankful for. Sometimes we can get so focused on what is wrong with the world, that we forget to remember what is good in it.
      • a line a day journal is just a simple recap of your day. Did something special happen? Is there a memory that you’d like to keep? Or it can simply be a way to download your thoughts from the day. This is meant to be short and sweet and just a line or two at most.
      • a vision journal is similar to a vision board. In your journal, you would focus on one goal per page and use words, drawings, or pictures to illustrate it. It is a great outlet for creative minds. Although not quite the same as a vision journal, the Wreck This Journal line is also a great way to download and is great for gift giving too.
      • a prayer journal is one that I utilize myself. I seem to be less distracted if I write them down instead of letting my mind wander. It also allows you to look back at them over time … possibly for inclusion in your gratitude journal.
    2. Have a home spa day – not only can a hot bath elevate your mood, it can provide health benefits as well, similar to exercise. It relieves muscle tension and relaxes you to fall asleep faster. The addition of epson salts or essential oils can create a wonderful spa like experience. My personal favorites are the Dr. Teal line, to soothe the body and the mind.
    3. Yoga – this word seems to invoke some sort of mystical idea in some people, but for me it is about a focus on deepening the breath and checking in when the movement of your body. It is a great way to slow down and check in with all aspects of yourself-body, mind, and spirit.
    4. Prayer/meditation – To some, this may be either/or. To others it may be both. For me it is both. I try to spend a daily quiet time in prayer, but additionaly I try to incorporate time to just be quiet. Whether you would consider it emptying your mind or listening for answers, the result is similar. At least for me.
  • Know and nuture love languages – if you’ve never heard this concept of love languages, I urge you to read the book by Gary Chapman. Basically, we all see love in a different way and most strongly through five different love languages – quality time, words of encouragement, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. “Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English. No matter how hard you try to express love in English, if your spouse understands only Chinese, you will never understand how to love each other.” This especially struck me during the times of isolation, separation, and quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. It made me focus on those whose love language is physical touch. How to you express that when you have to remain 6 feet apart with no touching. Likewise, during times of stress, it helps for all us not only to be loved, but to FEEL loved. Sometimes one of the best things that we can do for our own well-being is to take our focus off of ourselves and reach out to someone else. Especially now, because we are all in it together.

Let’s agree together to make time to take care of ourselves, even if it is hiding out in the bathroom for a couple minutes. Until next time, I wish you health and well-being. If you choose, use this time to learn and to grow and to find your purpose. But if the best you can do is to wash your face and change your pajamas, that’s ok too! Love yourself the best way you can, and extend that love to others.

…and that’s how the cookie crumbles.