Making Social Media Work For Me

Writing about the loneliness of social media was an eye-opening experience for me.  It was more transparent than I am accustomed to being and, I think maybe, a little uncomfy for you, my friend.

Yet, in spite of or maybe because it is awkward for us to examine closely, I believe it remains an important conversation to engage.

My children think I live a pseudo-life through the computer and frequently inform me I should “get out more”.  Of course, as brilliant and on-fire extroverted teens, they not only hold the market on all wisdom and insight (just ask them, they’ll tell you) they are absolutely dumbfounded by my happily introverted reluctance to fill my world with as many faces as possible.

I can easily forget the world around me while enjoying a safe, busy, consuming, and completely imaginary life.

It wasn’t until I became conscious of this little truism, how “I have never been aware of loneliness as I have since the Internet revealed how I should live…” that I was able to see how I had made a critical, blue-screen-of-death quality error.

Comparing the brilliant, Photoshopped, perfectly posed imagery to where I was living….

Read more over at Heidi Stone – Thinking Aloud

Forgiveness Is Light

What you believe about forgiveness will, ultimately, intimately, powerfully, impact how you see God. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If I believe God denies my sin, I won’t believe I need forgiveness.

 If I believe the sin in my life is allowed to be shoved deep into a hidden drawer and forgotten, I will fail to learn the lessons of my humanity in relation to God’s perfection.  I will deny God His heart’s desire to redeem the pain in those moments and offer incredible beauty from the ashes of my foolishness.

If I believe the work of reconciliation is less than a small-scale representation of God’s grace worked out in the details of our own lives, I will despise the work He does on a grander scale.

If I believe all these lies, eventually, I will conclude I don’t need to do anymore in my spiritual walk than to tell God I’m sorry, over and over, until the rote-ness of the words mean so little I don’t even bother to say them.

That’s why this is important.

Forgiveness is the roadmap to God.  It is His hand, extended in love and reaching down to us in our failure and broken nature, which He offers to lift us up.

Our moment to touch the Divine is found in repentance, walking away from our rights to hold the filth of both owned and unacknowledged sin and selfishness.  Like children crying out for Papa, all we need to do is reach UP to His waiting arms.

What we believe about forgiveness impacts our families, our friendships, even the way we speak to ourselves.  

It’s easy to throw stones at people who don’t act in the way you believe carries meaning.  Maybe you don’t like what they have to say.

“You don’t speak my love language” becomes a weapon thrown at each other to explain away the bitterness that fuels the feeling our needs aren’t being met.   This bitterness largely comes from being held to a standard where humility is necessary.  In those moments when it can become painfully obvious this does not come naturally to any of us we have the choice to listen or to harden our hearts.

If someone loves us enough to hold us accountable for our actions, the first reaction is to be uncomfortable.  Accountability touches the places we hide our weaknesses and shortcomings behind a childish repetition of excuses and justifications.

We want something or someone else to blame for the words we speak, the accusations we make, the pain we cause. We even resort to hiding behind a pseudo-apology that, somehow, puts the blame on someone else for putting us in the place to behave badly.  We desperately try to shift the weight to someone’s shoulders and that Someone is most definitely Not Me.

Walking according to a godly standard of behavior, and following the example of the Holy Spirit who works Perfectly in the area of redemption, I would urge you to use the following elements to your life and your relationships so you can find the Goodness of God in the middle of your painful circumstances.


  1. Assume you are capable of hurting others.  Understand no one involved will ever be faultless in the situation bringing division between two formerly close friends.
  2. Examine yourself honestly and be specific about how you failed either in the events leading up to the nuclear bomb or in the events after the explosion.
  3. Quickly forgive those who hurt you, knowing full well how much God has forgiven you.
  4. Be willing to reconcile but don’t deny your counterpart their opportunity to repent
  5. Refuse to make excuses for your sin. Repentance, ownership, and humility are critical to bringing peace.
  6. Daily offer to your Heavenly Father the hurt and confusion, the hunger for vindication and justice, and the temptation to withdraw your forgiveness as the one who wronged you continues, unrepentant, to defend their behavior.


  1. Believe that lie that forgiveness means you accept or condone someone’s poor behavior or choices
  2. Accept that you are heartless or lack compassion because you have chosen to hold your attacker to a standard of Godliness and accountability
  3. Feed the lie that the only one responsible for the current situation is the one who has chosen to withdraw from the unrepentant party.
  4. Quit praying for the person who hurt you.

And above all, live as children of the light in every kind of goodness, rightness, and truth.


Forgiveness Doesn’t Equal Reconciliation

Awkward hugs are, well, awkward.  Yet, not since hugging was invented can there be displays of affection more horrific than when two people, believing that one phrase can erase both pain and consequence,  find themselves caught in the eternity of seconds as they embrace.  They are living a lie.

What lie?

This one.  If  you “really forgive someone” you’ll instantly be right back at the corner of friendly and awesome.  Our guilty consciences play terrible games with broken hearts. What if we aren’t feeling it but believe the myth of an instant and automatic outflow of warmth, joy, and displayed friendliness because we verbalized three little words.

Admitting you said or thought “I forgive you” becomes the adult version of the Get Along Shirt where the person locked into it with you is the very one who knows the precise location of every bruise.

Forgiveness isn’t a simple mind over matter issue for anyone. The greater the personal trespass on my soul, the more shattered and slivered I become, until, maintaining a focus on intentional forgiveness requires so much effort I often lack the ability to do more than remain very still and make feeble attempts, by sheer determination, to function as normally as possible.

Not all cracks and rifts are equal. Some heal quickly, with minimal scarring, while others will change everything about us.

Simple apologies, a word of forgiveness, alone or even together, will never offer enough substance to rebuild. To be candid, there are no clean breaks between people.  This type of damage is like two pieces of paper glued together then ripped violently apart.  Neither remains whole.  No one can honestly deny the shredding happened. Nobody looks good later.

Those prone to anger get angry and those prone to silence get stony-faced.  Those who weep do so and those who didn’t see it coming sit in stunned quiet for a very long time.yellow hydrant1

There is an abandoned golf course near where I live.  We walk on spongy ground where green plastic mesh shows through what remains of a fairway.  Left to the wild animals and elements, the emerald greens and pristine whites one would expect from the premier course it was intended to become are faded into winter’s dull grays and browns.   Ponds lie half-empty and algae filled while bridges have deteriorated into the skeleton of a place once filled with promise and hope.

An entire neighborhood sub-culture once planned around the idea of resort living in your own home has turned into a graveyard to ambition.

Agreements failed, water rights arguments waxed long and eloquent, until all that remains is only vaguely seen in the atrophied debris of a dream. Investments were lost.  Fortunes shattered.

Now only emptiness and graffiti covered outbuildings with broken windows remain.

Sometimes, friendships are like that.

We have a plan and declare, confidently, that this time we will be beautiful, magnificent.

You are my dream come true!

You complete me!!

Excitedly, we share life and live closely together until there is little more than distance that separates us.

Until… The sharp words, the brokenness, and the thorny places all contrive to drive us apart.  Blindly retreating to our separate corners, shaking off our initial surprise, the silence prompts us to start examining what remains of our dream.

Yet, even when apologies are made there is more we need.   Even if there is no apology and yet, stalwartly, we have walked through the motions of forgiveness in our hearts and minds, something is missing.

ruined course 1


This is different from forgiveness in that it requires an apology, the humbled acknowledgement of hurtful behavior and choices, from the offender and the offended must consent to let go of the very, righteous and justifiable right to remain angry.

We have to be willing to become compatible again. Taking the shambles of our friendship, our marriage, our parent/child relationship, and then commit to work shoulder-to-shoulder doing whatever is necessary to rebuild.

The choice to take part in reconciliation happens over and over.

It begins with being willing to recognize, honestly, when someone was wronged. Yet, beyond just seeing, it requires the offender to refuse to hold any personal right to defend their actions.  Even more dangerously, reconciliation forbids the wounded to indulge any vindictive desire to punish their attacker.

If I hurt you, even if I lacked intention, I was wrong.   If you hurt me, even if you fully intended to do so, it is not up to me to ensure you to feel the “full weight” of your actions.

We serve a Judge who sees all and metes out the right consequences in His own time.

I can’t tell you what reconciliation looks like for you and your offender.  There are too many variables.

But without the beauty of reconciliation and the hours, weeks, years even of work it will take from both of you to diligently pursue godliness, you will never, ever see the beauty of a friendship restored, stronger than before, shining with Grace and the worthwhile brilliance of redemption.

Forgiveness will not always lead to reconciliation.  Sometimes the friendship is over and best laid to rest. Yet, it is rarely NOT worth the brutally hard work to rebuild and see God restore the hearts of two people who had previously been at odds.

Reconciliation will always lean heavily on forgiveness. Just as we need oxygen to exist, forgiveness is the fuel driving us to reconcile and find grace, compassion, and kindness within the rubble.

But to say one hasn’t forgiven because there has been no reconciliation is a nasty lie intent on keeping you from seeing the freedom and joy God has for you when you forgive.

When there is no repentance from the one who broke your heart, you can only offer forgiveness. Reconciliation takes two.


See the rest of the series:

The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Forgiveness

Denial Is Not Forgiveness

Forgiveness Remembers


Forgiveness Remembers

Meeting a friend for coffee on one sunny afternoon, I was happily sitting at a table for two surrounded by people busy with their laptops, journals, and losing myself in thought while  conversations buzzed around me in a pleasant hum. I looked toward the front to see her at the counter ordering something decadent as I sipped carefully at a black Grande coffee.  Venti cup, add hot water, no room for cream.

In the middle of this quiet, peaceful moment, a pair of glass and steel double doors opened with a whoosh and in walked That Man.

Instantly, my blood boiled, my heart raced, and my fingers tightened dangerously around a paper cup of very hot coffee.   It took all I had not to stand up and make a scene.

I settled for the deadpan, “I’ve never met you before, you aren’t even interesting, and you mean less than a hairball to me” look.  It somehow seemed appropriate and really helped me not to feel powerless when forcefully reminded of the pain and injustice he represented to me, to my family, and to so many others in this community.

Surely that is what bitterness looks like, right?  How could someone who had forgiven remember a litany of situations?

The dull roar of a thousand sermons rings out that, “Love “… keeps no record of wrongs.” I Cor 13:5 (CJB)

Except, Paul was talking about courtrooms and lawsuits between believers. That, liebchen, that is a whole other kettle of fish.

If it were reasonable, or even POSSIBLE to expect someone to forget when they have been wounded, then there would be no need for a Wonderful Counselor, David would have had no reason to write Psalm 41, and Jesus wouldn’t have whipped money changers.

When all has been forgiven and laid to rest in the past/future, it should never, ever, EVAR be spoken of again.

But, that isn’t how we are made.

When life hurts we store everything about it somewhere deep inside.  Sometimes more clearly than delirious happiness.  Even when we lose the sharpness of a memorized statement, bruised feelings, aching hearts, and bitter tears will echo back through our mind’s eye.

life hurts2

Oh, yes, we remember.

Yet, there is a lie, this one, and it is a bitterly ugly thing:

“Forgiveness means I forget everything you did to hurt me”and this monstrosity keeps us held hostage to unexamined and unresolved, well, everything

And that, oh, THAT is an ugly thing.

Mindlessly standing over a steaming sink of dishes, hands covered in bubbles, heart shredded, I choked out a single statement over and over,

“Brian, they broke me.  How could they break me?”

I will never forget that moment, his pale face, and how powerless and trampled I felt.  It was as though I had been gutted.

Somehow, in spite of all the anguish, many of the faces involved in that moment of excruciating pain have become dear to me again.   We don’t think about that situation or those terrible months very often anymore. We have rebuilt.

There was forgiveness offered and received within weeks of that initial situation.  There has been forgiveness walked out for over 7 years.

But forgetting?  Could we turn hours into emptiness?  Could we force this situation to be simply disappeared from our collective consciousness?  Not possible.

Forgetting pain is not only impossible, I believe it is wrong.

To dismiss the pain endured, survived, or even caused, can carry the weight of losing a priceless opportunity to develop empathy.  Our emotional reservoir for compassion is quickly depleted without a focused, intentional, influx of healthy empathy.

There’s another reason forgetting is wrong.

By not only suppressing the harshness of our experience but abandoning it’s lessons, we lose the wisdom and discernment that can be ours through retrospect. God, who is often invisible to us in the present, becomes very tangible, very real, very present when we see Him from the windows of our future selves.

Practicing forgetfulness makes us lose sight of moments with a distinct potential to become cornerstones, foundations, and hedges of protection.


Fundamentally?  If we are going to be naked here?

We don’t really forget.  We just refuse to look at this ugly thing. By denying it, and pressing it down, hiding it behind a stoic front, and waiting for it to abscess we are setting a timer for our own destruction.  Eventually, it will spill putrid bitterness and impotent rage onto everyone in our path and we will become the very thing we have dedicated ourselves to not becoming.

How can we be different?

Grace demands a higher price than the emptiness of avoidance when it has covered a broken spirit.  Grace demands that we remember and yet, still choose to love.

See, because I remember and yet have forgiven,when That Man crosses my path and I recoil from his unrepentant actions?  I still pray for God’s blessing, kindness, and love to be abundant in his life.

Tomorrow’s Lie:

Forgiveness Means Instant Reconciliation 

See the rest of the series:

The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Forgiveness

Forgiveness Means I Should Pretend Nothing Bad Happened

Forgiveness Doesn’t Equal Reconciliation 

forgiveness remembers

Denial is Not Forgiveness

7 Don’t delude yourselves: no one makes a fool of God! A person reaps what he sows. 8 Those who keep sowing in the field of their old nature, in order to meet its demands, will eventually reap ruin; but those who keep sowing in the field of the Spirit will reap from the Spirit everlasting life.” Galatians 6:7-8 CJB

“If you really forgave me,” she said, “You’d just go on like nothing happened.  If you don’t, you are judgmental and don’t have any compassion. What a bitter person you are!”

“If you were a real Christian you would leave it in the past.” he said, scowling behind a face full of anger and frustration.

The lie being shouted into the tender, hurting places is this:

Forgiveness means I pretend nothing bad has happened.

All too often this gross and terrifying perversion of truth becomes the mantra by which women keep getting beat up, men return, broken and crushed, to unfaithful wives, children abused in silence, and we all keep working diligently to please those who are unwilling to acknowledge that any of their own behavior was destructive.

We exchange the kindness and grace of forgiveness for a contract to endure further abuse in silence and it’s a contract signed in blood, tears, and heartache.

So, here’s the truth of it.

When Joseph’s brothers beg him for forgiveness, in Genesis 50:17, they are asking him to take a stand “above it” and to “lift off” the weight of the trespass.

When used in the New Testament, forgiveness speaks of letting go of a “mutual claim” or  “sending away” the offending issue/person.

That my friends, is how we approach our Lord, is it not?  And we are to be like Him!!

“…one who has been forgiven only a little loves only a little.” Luke 7:47b CJB

In the life of a Christian forgiveness is a requirement to live honestly.

I only need to close my eyes for a few seconds before a litany of my own desperate need for grace, the many times of broken promises to love Him and my neighbor, the moments (and years) of weakness, un-gratefulness, unkindness rolls across my mind’s eye…

When I think of His great love and compassion, a Divine and unending benevolence when I deserve it so little, then offering that kindness to another for their actions becomes a much more simple concept.

I know I have been forgiven much.  I will love much.  I choose to do so.  I must.

Yet, this can never mean I am going to walk, blindly, head-on into a sucker punch when I know that is how you roll.

Every blow after the first becomes a choice to accept abuse.

Forgiveness is not denial

Having gained something from our shared experience, which you might call criticism, judgmental, or bitterness, our relationship is irrevocably changed.

Through wisdom and hard-won discernment I can forgive you wholeheartedly and still walk cautiously around you.  But, I didn’t arbitrarily change the situation, you did.  We did.  Whether by something we did or didn’t do, we’ve changed course.

Forgiveness has nothing to do with the offender.  It has everything to do with me recognizing the inflicted pain of your actions and choosing to let go, lifting the burden and putting into hands far greater than mine.

I do this so bitterness won’t find fertile soil and the poison doesn’t spread to the rest of my soul.

Honestly, forgiveness is the easy part.

Repentance and reconciliation are much harder, although they will seem effortless when compared to the process and beauty of restored relationship.

But, repentance looks backward just long enough to see the deviation and recognize the harm done before determining to acknowledge, apologize, and make a radical 180 degree change.

And unless we look back at the carnage, we can’t reconcile.

Without reconciliation, there will be no restoration.


“Forgiveness means I forget everything you did to hurt me”

Series:  The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Forgiveness”

Denial is Not Forgiveness

Forgiveness Remembers

Forgiveness Doesn’t Equal Reconciliation

The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Forgiveness

the lies

We are standing on the sharply tilted deck of the Titanic while musicians play through frozen fingers and pluck away at icy strings in ankle-deep water.

No hope.  Very few survivors. All hands went down with the ship.

Or something like that.

Although, full disclosure, we know the band probably didn’t play and engineers had been ordered out of the boiler room and might have survived.

You get my drift….

The relationship is finally over, twitching and flinching, the avoided calls or unanswered texts have ceased only to be replaced by thundering silence. An underlying issue left unseen in the distance, or ignored in a fit of Pollyanna denial, has destroyed a once promising companionship.

You are sitting on your couch, or at Starbucks, or walking down a lonely dirt path, and pondering, “How did we get here?”

If you are like me, you will rate and analyze every action or reaction that lead up to the unfortunate series of events and ask this question a thousand times:  “What could I have done differently?”

Or, more honestly,

“Whose fault is this, anyway?”

Sound familiar?

But, I wonder, what if things end with us NOT blaming ourselves? Maybe it pans like this?

We experience a dawning revelation about the importance of this flesh and blood person across the table.  They are just a person we have put up on a pedestal and their opinion matters too much.  We have allowed ourselves to fall into unhealthy patterns of co-dependence, nurtured the ugliness of a messiah-complex, or, because it’s easier to keep a destructive relationship than to build a healthy one, have stayed within pain without purpose through just plain laziness. None of these are uncommon struggles, friend.  Welcome to humanity, y’all.

Perhaps the constant chaos of someone addicted to drama, constantly screaming issues in your face, is no more than a carefully constructed manipulation meant to keep you too busy to form a reasonable response and leaves you in a survival mode that insures you will never leave.  Isolated within the prison of an emotionally dominating relationship, required to give all social, emotional, and relational needs for this other person we are stretched too thin, strung to high.

When you finally wake up to the ugly truth that anyone who refuses to recognize your carefully worded and  clearly communicated limits or boundaries, who refuses to respect you is NOT your friend. Then the conversations get tense.

At this point? I shut down and shut folks out.

But maybe, here at the edge of the cliff, desperately still holding out a hand, hoping for a glimmer of compassion from the people you had invested so much into, you try to prove they are able to show some empathy or kindness for anyone but themselves.  When it becomes clear they aren’t capable of  what you hope for?  Any pipe dream you may have held onto of  preserving something of all the time, effort, love, and energy you have invested will simply dissipate.

To make matters worse?

What  if they blame you for the self-inflicted pain, frustration, and unresolved angst.  There we are wallowing around like we are in some weird game of blind man’s bluff.

Maybe, finally, wrestling with God and trying to find joy again, you catch a glimpse of the faint fingerprints of Salvation carefully pressed into your own life. It reminds you of a sweet, kind, and gracious God. Inexplicably, dreams may begin to stir within you and the unavoidable truth, even if it is a cliche, “let go and let God”, gives you strength to walk away.

Behind you, angry screams get louder and louder…

Hey, navigating life with people in it is a full-time sport for some.  For others it’s the difference between survival and mere existence.

In my book, and maybe I am too linear, I would say there is no “unforgivable sin” in friendship, except one, the unrepentant defense of destructive behavior. 

With or without words.

We all screw up,  saying and doing stupid things.  For whatever reason, there have been times that insulting, offending, or hurting someone we care about has seemed justifiable.

Yet, instead of apologizing, acknowledging idiot choices, what if I deny it happened, pretend it’s all in your head, or throw blame at you for what I chose to do? What if there is always an excuse or someone else to blame for every bad decision or failure?

Just like that, friendship can dissolve like a spider web in a grease fire.

“Surely, you must ‘forgive and forget.’”, whispers the guilty voice inside.   Every relationship seminar or book we’ve read reverberates with “Love covers a multitude of sins.”

We know how second-guessing chips away at our confidence and solid determination can waver when incessant criticism of the unrepentant for the newness of our stance and personal conviction eats like acid into any hope for reconciliation, right?

I want to jump in the ring with this issue and fight it. Perhaps not Greco-Roman style, but in a less naked, more intellectually impressive type of wrestling.

Truth and freedom are worth fighting for and those ugly, quickly built, easily broken lies can’t handle the pressure.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I start three-part series titled:

“The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Forgiveness”

I don’t know everything about being a good person, friend, wife, parent, or follower of Christ.  But what I am learning is that sometimes…

Big Sigh…

Sometimes, leaving a relationship looks more like Jesus than staying ever could.

Read the whole series here:

Denial is Not Forgiveness

Forgiveness Remembers

Forgiveness Doesn’t Equal Reconciliation 

The Choices That Make Or Break Marriages

pathsMisty, frosty, tiny flakes of icy snow prickled on our cold cheeks and glittered in the darkness of last night’s inversion.  With a laugh and a flailing hand, I tucked the other hand more tightly into the crook of his waiting arm and held on for dear life while rubber, textured soles fought a losing battle with mischievous black ice.

Although the roads were treacherous,  the hour was late, and we’ve been together for 20 years, somehow, there was still a delightful anticipation toward spending those few minutes alone, together.

We used to take long walks more often than we’ve been able to lately and I missed our technology free chats about life, the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI – WTSHTF), parenting together, dreams and visions, what bills we need to pay, or the silliness of life.

Yet, last night, under shrouded lights while the black and white faded to a shimmer of grays and silver, we talked about all the friends we have had, in the past few years whose marriages have dissolved.  So many.  Too many.   Some not surprising.  Some gut-wrenchingly, breath-suckingly, heartbreaking.

Like hoar-frost disappears in the morning sun – just gone.  Over.  Done.

What seemed vibrant, living and breathing love has turned into empty promises on shaky foundations.  What had been shaky love, just dissolved.  Leaving empty-eyed children, desperate housewives searching for gainful employment, and heartbroken men eating dinner for one in diners built for families.

It breaks my heart, friends, when your marriages fail.  You tell me, “We are happier than we’ve ever been.” and assure me, endlessly,  “This is better for the kids.”   “It’s for the best.”

But I wonder…  Is it? Are you trying to convince me?  Or you?

Why am I walking down a quiet road, laughing and baring my soul within the deepest friendship I’ve never imagined possible while you, my friend, make dinners for three instead of four, and count yourself among the “lucky ones”?

Sometimes, ok, honestly, a lot of the time, I feel a bit guilty for being so well-loved.

Sure, the things that speak my love language are rarely the things that show up on quizzes from Cosmo or in books from experts. I really dislike roses (seriously), and sometimes the perfect evening my husband can give is the one where he and the boys disappear for a few hours.  But he knows that and I am thankful for the unique gift of a partner who has taken the time to study me.  More importantly? He isn’t afraid to be his own person and pushes me out of the nest when I need it, bars the door when I need that too…

He’s not nervous if I succeed in any arena.  In fact, he is more interested in my becoming the person God has destined me to be than for me to meet some mysterious status quo for women that either the church or society has set out for me.

Yeah, I’ve got it good.  Now.

But, see, here’s the difference between who we used to be and who we are today. Nearly every good choice we make today is thanks to a life lived and loved poorly and it cost us dearly.  Surely, we could do better?


We don’t go to bed angry.  Ever.  Oh, we go to bed frustrated or with feelings bruised from a long day of miscommunication and fighting over really, really stupid things.  But we resolve to love one another, even just a bit better, before we sleep.

We make little choices, all day long, to remember the gift of our companionship.  I make the coffee and bring it in before I leave on an early morning.  He makes sure there is gas in the car when he knows I have a busy day ahead.

We defend and prefer each other in front of the children.  They know better than to try to pit us against each other and nothing gets my blood boiling faster than cocky arrogance directed at the man who makes their life possible.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard those words, “You will not treat my wife that way!”

We apologize often, for we live all flawed and broken, selfish and foolish.  And we forgive wholeheartedly.  Without looking back and without bringing it up later in a dirty fight.

It’s more than just date night that keeps us sane and moving forward.  It’s not just the couple’s retreat or the finished book on how to be awesome in marriage.

It’s these little choices.  I make them even when he doesn’t.  He makes them when I don’t want to.

That’s how we ended up on a dark, cold, foggy street at 9:45 on a Tuesday night laughing and enjoying the comfortable silences of life lived together instead of dinner for one and a bed with only one side slept in.

Maybe you didn’t have a choice.  Maybe you are making the brave choice of life apart from abuse.  Maybe you simply didn’t make little decisions, all day, every day, to love as you would be loved.

I’m sure, today, my friends would say it’s not really that simple.  Maybe…

But, what if you start becoming, today, the kind of person who lives intentionally toward the slice of humanity in your sphere?  It couldn’t hurt.

These aren’t just ways to a good marriage, they are the lynchpin for parenting, for friendship, for fellowship. 


The Conversation

I know her face.  I can almost feel the puffy jacket under my arms and the rough pavement underfoot.

Her round cheeks, eyes smiled shut, topped by a thin little sprout of a pony tail escaping a lopsided purple hat…

She breaks my heart.

She is me from Before.


Before it all changed and those dark brown eyes couldn’t smile shut with such abandon.  When adult level secrets scurried into the corners, festering and oozing in silence for years, until erupting, angry and loud, vicious fear challenged anyone who would dare love me.

What would I say to this girl who doesn’t yet know the feeling of cold tile on bareness or the acrid, salty scent of unfamiliar skin.

She was innocent for such a tiny fleck of time.

Until, suddenly, I wasn’t.

I don’t want to write about those memories.  I don’t want to look at the sweetness of who I was and look for whatever it was that made me irresistible to Them. They stole my voice and left me wondering whom I could ever be unless I became useful. Used.


I look at her again, with fresh eyes, and adore the girl she was, in that moment.  Tiny doll tucked away, gloves just so, baby hair fringe across porcelain skin.

“Who would we be today?” I wonder. “If…”

Practice Love

butterfly pinDad said to marry for love the first time and money the second so, almost 20 years ago, I took his advice. However, it wasn’t until we were well on the way toward the end of our first decade that we really settled into this thing called marriage.

I love butterflies and have a collection of pins and pendants.  These little creatures symbolize new beginnings and it is beautiful how God is faithful to give us the new even when we don’t believe we deserve it.  And, in this whole love thing?

Boy, do I need new beginnings often!

We used to would plan a date night, pay a babysitter, and then argue about Every.Thing for a couple of hours before coming home to collapse on opposite ends of the couch and watch something dumb before heading off to bed with mumbled apologies and lacerated hearts.

Then there was the season where we just stayed home all the time.

It was better, since we weren’t in the argument phase so often, and the budget required us to live quite simply so the urge to head out and spend more was less tempting.

Fast forward to now.  We live in the era of the Independent Teen.  The boys could be gone 5 nights a week, if we let them, and there we are with plenty of time to spend alone. Sometimes it feels like too much, frankly.

In spite of, or maybe because of the freedom of our lives, at this season, we still schedule date night.

Wednesday nights, while the boys are gone to their church group, we go out to dinner, wander thrift stores, stay home and watch silly movies, we laugh a lot…  Sometimes we sit at a coffee shop for a couple of hours, like we did yesterday, and “sharpen” each other by debating different angles of some philosophical argument.

It is brilliant.

One Wednesday night, not too long ago, as we aimlessly meandered through the Pendleton store looking at blankets in brilliant colors and bold patterns, I tucked my hand in his arm and sighed.   It was finally easy to just hang out.

The kids didn’t need me. My phone wasn’t ringing, ding-ing, chiming, or clanging.  We had no plan and no need for one.  Just laughter, joking, hand holding in the cold, and us.

How did it change?

We practiced loving each other when it wasn’t easy.  We made a choice to stay in the conversation, to keep trying this together thing, even when it wasn’t much fun.

lovepracticeJust because we didn’t see an immediate result didn’t mean we should quit.

Love takes practice.   Like medicine and law.

Basic relationship guidelines of honor, respect, compassion are set in stone, but the rules of engagement change more often than a UN soldier’s allegiances.

We formed a habit of practicing something until our dynamic improved.  The problem wasn’t date night, it was us.  To be honest, more often than not, it was me.

I wasn’t “in the moment”.  There we’d sit.  At a restaurant while I was on my phone, head down and mind preoccupied.  Maybe I was thinking about 12,000 other things that really didn’t matter.   Often, I would interrupt him mid-sentence and, after I completely got it wrong, he would lose his train of thought and we’d argue about how rude I was, I would be defensive, he would be offended…

What a mess.

I wish I could say I stopped doing all these things and I am the world’s most attentive date.  But that would be a big, fat lie! Especially that phone thing.

Yet, here’s the secret:  We didn’t and we don’t stop trying to make it better. We didn’t and we don’t alienate each together when we are ugly.

Bluntly, we didn’t quit.

On that cold winter’s evening, in a puff of frozen breath,  squeezing his arm and putting my head to his shoulder while we scurried from the door to the car, I laughed,

“Hey, we’re finally good at this whole date thing!  I’m glad we kept practicing.”

He pulled me close and said,

“Me too.”

The Lasting Effect of A Montana Sunset

Dry brown scrubby grass poked at me as I sat on a gentle, dusty slope watching orange, purple, and turquoise light bounce off the flame red pony standing sleepily next to me while her long, flaxen mane and my light brown, tangled hair caught the last few rays of this long summer day.


I pulled my knees to my chest and looked down to the big farmhouse, a bright green pasture, while barking dogs and a building crescendo of thundering frog-song from tiny throats gave voice to a summer well-spent.

There were many days like this in my childhood.

Days enough to fill my heart and warm my soul while I sit and look at skeleton trees stark and silent against the faint glint of a winter’s sun through heavy clouds.  A recent snowstorm left piles of snow.  The once pristine, fluffy, and soft drape on the landscape no longer a blanket of beauty but now covering the endless brown in red cinder and heavy crusts of melted, then frozen again, slush. A miserable gray day flanked by rain and wind is nevertheless made brighter by the memory of a day, long ago, sandwiched between a red pony and a Montana sunset.

Isn’t that just the way God works? 

Surrounded by beauty for only a moment, yet, we can hold tightly to that thought for years.

It seems there have been more February days over the past few years than I care to think about too deeply.  Definitely more of the gray than of glorious, horizon spanning, sunsets.

But in the middle of the ashes I can remember beauty.  In the midst of spirit-withering darkness, a splash of gold in a darkening sky.

It is easy, friend, to forget the good when we are so heavily inundated with a society bent on the cruelest of criticisms.  The uncertainty of our futures, a struggling economy, life changes…

Take a minute, stop and breathe,  then close your eyes and remember a summer day, long ago, when there were no pressing issues, nowhere that we have to be, no one to please just a broad brush painting the horizon and a gentle breeze across your face while a symphony of life in bird song and frog-trumpets, loud dogs and laughing children reverberates through your heart.

sunset glogBecause He doesn’t change, I can look forward to more beauty ahead than any darkness this life can throw at me.