He is awake.

He’s on the cusp of 18, fills the size of a doorway, and calls me his “little mommy.” His mere existence has ushered in some unexpected excitement to our home, recently. He’s abiding in anticipation, and bringing others along for the ride.

Just two months ago we had no idea this was possible. It was never a dream, or a goal, or a plan. Actually, it’s quite the opposite of what we anticipated. School has always been a bumpy road for this guy. With an August birthday everything always seemed to come late for him. Late to read. Late to settle down to school work. Late to care. I’ve been looking forward to his graduation for more than a decade. You might say I’ve been in labor for years.

However, just as labor produces pain – it also yields new life, and that is exactly where we are headed. New life. We’ve taken a 180 degree turn heading in a new direction, and it all started with a baby step of courage from my firstborn.

We were told that the new Head Football Coach would be a great addition to our school. We were misinformed, great doesn’t even begin to describe what his presence has brought into this community. We haven’t had the best of experiences with football over the years, nevertheless our son continues to come out and play each spring for a short season. He immediately took to our new coach.

I was proud that he took a baby step of courage and asked to play a new position this season. He’s all of 6’5″ at 240 lbs and his request was to play Tight End. He wanted to try something new, it was outside of his comfort zone. And that is where courage is found, in the space between where you are and what might ever be, in the unknown. He is awake.

Now we find ourselves just weeks into a journey of unknown, unexpected, and unbelievable. The dismay I once held wondering where he would launch to after high school is over, has been displaced with hope. That is why we leave our comfort zone…hope. Finding hope takes courage.

After a strong showing in the new position, coupled with his extraordinary size, we’ve found ourselves in the fast current of college football scholarships. We’re all learning to navigate these uncharted waters. Sure we’ll get splashed in the face a bit along the way, we know it will be worth it, everything that requires courage is worth it.

What baby step can you take outside of your comfort zone?

You owe yourself to do it, be strong and courageous,


To avoid drift we must have an anchor.

“What do you want?” If you’re anything like me, this question might overwhelm you. For starters, that’s a little broad don’t you think? If you’re asking me to define everything I desire in life, at least give me a starting point to begin my oration. I have a hard time filtering this question without options if “dinner” becomes the caboose. I need direction in order to respond. Direction helps me navigate the expanse of the question, helps me harness the stimulus in my mind, helps my search engine.

Recently, I watched a Netflix original movie entitled, The Creative Mind. It explored how we are made to “re-create” and how each person’s contribution to life adds to the stimulus we all need to launch this process. Our minds are literally taking in billions of pieces of data in the exhaustive pursuit of creativity. That’s why this feeling of overwhelm is legit. If our purpose is to “re-create” then the question we’re all struggling with identifies a tension in our system.

If my answer is consumption based and not creation based, I’m living against my nature. Which leads to a lack of fulfillment and drift. Both are dangerous. To avoid drift we must have an anchor.

I have my own anchor, the Bible. It is a reliable and fixed source of wisdom that has yet to lead me astray. This is what the Bible says about drift.

Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God]. Proverbs 29:18 AMP

This idea of being “unrestrained” relates to the human need for an anchor. We simply drift on our own. Now, you don’t have to agree with my anchor but surely I can appeal to your quest for fulfillment. Which brings us back to our purpose, to “re-create.” I say “re-create” because there is a natural creation we cannot take credit for, it preexists mankind and we look to this creation for stimulus to activate our creative purpose. We are “re-creators.” Which doesn’t limit us as much as it releases us to have creative license in our lives. This is why we are obsessed with creating plans, lifestyles, and adding to our material world. However, not all of us can say we are doing this with passion.

Passion is simply an emotion. An emotion that expresses like, preference, desire if you will. Passion can be found in a grandma’s apple pie, in a gardener’s favorite rose bush, or in a photographers perspective of a family. Passion is all around us, and we desperately need it. When we’re not living life doing the things we are passionate about, we drift. We have no vision to anchor to, nothing that inspires us. This is an easy thing to fall into, especially in the busy seasons of life.

That’s why I’ve decided to make a Vision Board for my summer this year. I will need inspiration of my own to chart a course through the waters of an uncharacteristically busy summer this year. Usually, I would have large slow pockets of time to create spontaneously, this summer however my time will be tight. It will be important to keep myself “re-creating” even if it’s scheduled to avoid arriving at a new school year dry and tired.

Maybe this is a new idea for you, this idea of pursuing your passion. Maybe you’ve never left the shore of overwhelm when pressured by the question of what do you want. My most loving nudge for you is to take a baby step and ask yourself this question, “what do I like.” We all need to start somewhere and “like” can lead us on a journey to passion and desire. This will take some courage. It takes courage to start.

When you start doing things you “like” you’ll find yourself becoming inspired and we all need inspiration. You’ll be a spark in the stimulus chain for all mankind. Now, who wouldn’t want to be a spark? It can all start with just a baby step of courage.

You can do it!

Here’s a resource to help you on your way… some ideas for you on PINTEREST. I would recommend creating your very own VISION BOARD if you’ve never tried it. It will give you a chase to explore what you like, and see how all those interests can lead you into a journey of “re-creation” and fulfillment. If nothing else, it will be an opportunity to unwind and have fun in a constructive way. Until next week.

Be strong and courageous,


“Push back” is that a term in your home?

We’ve been knocking heads more than usual these days. As a mom of teen people transitioning into young adults, I’ve been anticipating some friction. I was sorry, however, for the timing. In the middle of putting out some surrounding fires I became short with her. I’ve coached my kids to set me up for a “yes” whenever possible, that’s my heart as a parent.

I’d prefer avoiding dishing out a “no” whenever I can. Occasionally, we need to find a middle ground when I’m not comfortable with the “ask.” That day much to her dismay, I was tired. A quick “no” was easy to dispense. Putting out the fires of everyday life can be exhausting, and I was ready to scream, “Calgon take me away.” That’s when she approached me with her request.

It wasn’t altogether unreasonable, yet as she pushed against my boundaries of comfort, I pushed back. “Push back” is that a term in your home? I laugh sometimes when people share their stories of “sass” from their kids. My typical response is… “have you met my 6’5″ son? I’m a pro at push back.” Preschoolers have no chance against me. Usually, I’m the one getting the “push back” this was my rare occasion to dish it out.

She was handling it well. There was a game of tug of war being played which required her to be assertive. I’ve coached my kids to be assertive. It takes courage to be assertive.

I want them to “ask.” I don’t want them to be held back by fear. They’ve just got to be ready to handle a “no.” This is hard for many adults. Myself included. Often times I think we can misappropriate a “no” and add it to our “rejection” list. It’s hard not to personalize everything in life. A “no” can simply be that…”no.” It can have nothing to do with you. A “no” can be birthed in a variety of ways; the timing’s not right, the need doesn’t fit, or it’s just flat out not comfortable to give a “yes.”

I used to tell my kids that when I checked out of the hospital when they were each born, that with them I also received 1 million “nos.” “No” is the word we use to create boundaries. Boundaries with ourselves (no ice cream Melissa.) Boundaries with others (no thank you…salesperson.) “Push back” on the other hand can help us find a “yes” when “no” seems wrong.

Like I said, I didn’t want to say “no,” I just wasn’t comfortable with saying “yes.” Ultimately, through “pushing back” on her request, forcing her to edit her request until we could both be satisfied with the solution, she presented an option that yielded a “yes.”

I’m seeing both of my teen people grow in this area lately, and it makes me smile. They are about to leave the comfy confines of our family nest and I want them prepared. The world is tough. I’ve spent countless hours trying to mold and shape them with thoughts about leadership, purpose, and choice. This sadly, has not been the case for the vast majority of their contemporaries. In order to live the life they desire, they will need to lead up, down, and from side to side – create their own territory, navigate their own way. I’m not ashamed to have trained them to stand up for themselves in a chaotic world. Who knows maybe they’ll even show others the way. I want them to be strong and courageous, these are the kind of humans we need more than ever.

Be strong and courageous – and assertive this week my friend.


I was flat out done waiting for Him to move

The outcome could not have been more the opposite of my prayer, of ALL the prayers. There was a lingering temptation to be confused. Person after person inquired if what I had been praying for had come to pass. Which each “no” I passed out, I felt more and more, like I was a disappointment. I told myself as a reminder, “I am not the miracle worker, He is.” He is also, the great Physician, the I Am, my Provider, my Shepherd, and the lover of my soul. As He is ALL those things, He is also the all knowing, wise, King of the Universe; who was I to be calling the shots?

That’s what my prayer was really about any way, calling the shots. I had released the outcome to Him, but not the waiting. Not the timing. I was flat out done waiting for Him to move, for the outcome I wanted, and for the pain to pass. That’s what my prayer was all about – being done with the pain.

It takes courage to feel your pain.

While the words may have seemed courageous on paper, they were actually cowardice. Week after week I enlisted others to petition with me, to join my cry for help. I didn’t know this was cowardice at the time, it wasn’t premeditated. Once the fog of confusion had dissipated, enlightenment breezed in. What I really wanted was the pain of waiting to be over. I was done with the pain.

More than having the desire for the outcome I had carefully crafted in my own handwriting, I wanted out of the pain. God knew, way before I did. How do I know you ask? He responded to my petitions. Instead of numbing my current pain, He soothed me with a healing elixir for my aching heart. If my request would have been answered my entire life would have been turned upside down, and while the current pain would have subsided who knows what other ailments I would have contracted. He didn’t answer my prayer. Instead, He blessed me with what I really needed.

The visit we enjoyed with the people we loved was nothing short of perfection for those few days, that’s how I knew it was from Him.

God knows what will heal our hearts. We can’t write our own prescriptions even though often times that’s what we try to do. We must wait and let pain serve it’s purpose. The next time you’re in pain ask Him for healing, but don’t try to anesthetize the feeling. This will take some courage my friend. For you and me both.

We need the work He will do in us as we wait. This is one of my least favorite lessons in cultivating courage, waiting. It seems to play on repeat for me. I’ve actually developed a name for it, I call it “the stretch zone.” Just at the moment where I think I cannot bear the waiting any longer – He stretches me just a little more.

Are you waiting for something friend? Are you begging to get out of the pain you’re feeling? In order for pain to serve a purpose, we need to allow it to change us for the better, whatever that better might be. I can only think of one thing worse than living in the pain for one more day. It would be worse to live a lifetime without knowing its purpose.

What is your pain teaching you today friend? I hope it’s to be strong and courageous.


There are no tears but the emotion is violent

Oddly, he was seated in my desk chair. It was swiveled around so he could face where I had taken up a stool at our breakfast bar. This conversation has become nearly a daily routine for us. It’s been two and a half years that we’ve been walking this road of the unknown, uninvited, and unpleasant.

To say “it’s complicated” is an understatement. Thus, these frequent meetings are necessary for us to navigate the twists and turns we are faced with on a weekly basis. He’s a thinker, a fixer, and sometimes an emotional bull dozer. I, on the other hand, am intuitive, decisive, yet careful. Getting us to emulsify takes much whisking.

I “know” quickly, yet need time to discover my feelings about a matter. Then I argue my point until I’m satisfied that my “knowing” is sound. This is my process. He, on the other hand, will use all form of logic to endorse his point of view while removing his emotional ocean from the whole situation. Emotional processing will be an aftershock.

Neither of us will taste the salt of our own tears.

The emotions get expressed mostly through words.

As I face him and listen to him explain with great detail about the physical alterations he thinks we should make to the room, for their safety and ours, I am engulfed by fear. There are no tears but the emotion is violent.

He has no idea that I am no longer seated with him in our kitchen. I have floated away to a remote island, I have created a safe place, I am assessing, I am surviving. He went on for a few minutes until he finally paused, waiting for me to respond.

“I don’t know what to say.” “I want to be out of my body, my life, this problem, and runaway.” I blurted. Clearly, my feeling assessment had been cut short. Thankfully, he received my orange road block of words as a warning not to continue to plow through the issue so abruptly. In his defense, he’s a fixer.

It takes me a bit but I can finally label my feelings. Loss of freedom.

Everything he has just narrated equals loss of freedom, with me playing the part of warden. It doesn’t take an Enneagram expert to understand that the long term affects of intense emotional pain combined with certain loss of freedom has pulverized my otherwise enthusiastic nature. I’m a seven and freedom is my happiness balm.

It takes courage to accept the unacceptable.

While walking straight into the headwind was a hard choice, it was a courageous one. It was one baby step in the right direction. We all struggle with different fears, yet the solution for all of us can be the same. Take one baby step in the hard direction.

Choosing to face our fear when we’ve lost part of ourself due to heartbreak, or disease, or an unexpected traumatic event, requires courage.

For you friend, if facing the unacceptable is what’s weighing you down. Know that you are not alone, I’m with you. Let’s be strong and courageous together.


Label it what you please, coincidence or divine intervention

You know that ‘thing’ that happens. When you get pregnant and suddenly you can see every pregnant woman in your line of sight; as if all other humans have faded into the background of errand running and to do lists. Or when you’re car shopping and you slowly find yourself teetering between the vision of yourself driving that prize every time one passes you; while wondering why it now appears that you see that same set of wheels at every other stop light. You know that ‘thing.’ When what you’re paying attention to seems to pop up around every corner.

Well, I collided with that ‘thing’ when I shattered my wrist. That is, when it came to advice. Believe it or not, in the several weeks following my surgery I met at least a dozen other women who had suffered a similar injury.

Label it what you please, coincidence or divine intervention, but these messengers where all packing the same advice. “Don’t quit the rehab.”

Rehab has a lifecycle of its own. Mine began with a first session that was so painful, after having completed my exercises, I had to promptly alert the therapist that I needed something cold and to sit, as I was on the verge of fainting. This was much to her surprise as I had steadily endured all of her cues without so much as a flinch. After tending to me she gave me a firm rebuke and chastised my ability to mentally block out the pain my body was experiencing. I know, I need counseling. A day did come, before I was released, where I had healed enough and had pressed through the pain with feeling. This was the day when my natural inclination would have been to throw in the towel early on PT, sign my own discharge paperwork, and rush back into my old life; had it not been for all those messengers repeating; “Don’t quit the rehab.”

It takes courage to see it through to the end.

I don’t think any of us starts something and declares “I will do this right up to the point that I’m almost successful and then I will quit.” I don’t think any of those women who earnestly advised me planned on quitting rehab before they were given a clean bill of health. Yet, ALL of them did, they ALL quit.

It was as if they had returned from the vast abyss of regret to warn me, “don’t quit.” They were ALL left short of complete healing. Limited mobility, chronic pain, and physical disfigurement reminded them daily. I’m thankful that against all odds, measured by my previous behavior, I chose to heed their advice. Today I have full mobility, no pain, and no disfigurement other that the scar that reminds me of what could have been. All because I didn’t quit.

Friend, I can’t guarantee if you finish that the outcome will be 100% successful, I can however guarantee that if you quit it there is 100% chance that it won’t. Whatever your “it” is right now, see it through to the end. Don’t quit.

Be strong and courageous,


Yoga experience or not, I was in

She had sent me a text mid February extending an invitation to an all day retreat at her home. A Yoga retreat. She lives not far from my home on a beautiful oasis that marries the uncommon combination of equestrian life nestled beneath an umbrella of palm trees. I wanted to be spoiled, but a full Saturday I did not have to give. This is the season of life that I should have my Saturdays to myself again – right now however, my life has taken an unexpected detour. My response was intentionally honest and needy.

“I don’t have a Saturday to give, please let me know when you host your next retreat.” I texted her. Not but a day or so later I watched in envy when her pics from the day showed up on my Facebook feed. I knew I had missed out.

That was until recently, when she invited me to a morning of Yoga at our local beach. Yoga experience or not, I was in.

The day was windy, unlike the weather just two days earlier on my regular morning beach walk. It’s a perfect illustration of the unpredictable nature of life.

To a novice Yogi (I googled it, it’s a word) getting it all wrong within the privacy of someone’s personal compound is one level of getting uncomfortable, to do it on a public beach, would undeniably require some courage.

You know me well enough by now, I’m committed to cultivating more courage, therefore it wasn’t even a decision to make. This was an everyday ordinary moment to put my commitment into practice.

Being flexible requires courage.

The more comfortable we become with being uncomfortable, the more flexible we will be. Flexibility reveals a certain inner storehouse of courage.

Fear governs our desire for control, it builds an invisible cage around our life and traps us in a belief that what we know is all there is to be known. This is a dangerous mindset, the reality is we know very little and have control over even less.

I am 43 and here is the expansive list of what I truly have control over; my thoughts, my attitude, and maybe my calorie intake for the day. Meanwhile, no sarcasm necessary, there is a list of what I cannot control; my schedule, how much love my husband shows me today, the choices my teenagers will make, if we will all eat a meal together today, if I will ever be a grandmother, who my kids will marry, if they marry, if I will see any of that come to pass, and so on…you get the point.

Flexible people live with an awareness that each day holds a bit of the unexpected; which leads me back to my morning of Yoga at the beach. I came for Yoga (and personal discomfort) and left with something completely unexpected.

It must have been a solid five minutes into deep breathing, aligning my heartbeat to the roll of the ocean, and cleaning my mind of all its mental sticky notes, when it happened.

God spoke.

Today I choose to end the story here for you with this bit of encouragement; practice this attribute as often as possible – make it not just a habit but a sacrament. If the all knowing, all creating, all loving God goes before us then we can expect to encounter Him as we stretch our life into the great unknown.

Be strong and courageous,