Zoe Grace

Zoe Grace.

She’s my sweet girl, my mini-me in so many ways.

She’s my reminder that what I say and do matter because she is always watching. Always.

She sees when I choose to love myself and when I don’t.

She watches when I hold my hands out in acts of kindness, and when I silently put them in my pocket as I exercise self-control through boundaries, and so I don’t bring physical harm to the idiots in my life. ;)

She’s aware of the times I use my tongue for good and when it gets the best of me and I wield it in anger.

She asks me difficult questions, making me think hard before answering because my words hold weight.

She seeks my approval and affection because I am the first woman she looks to for a glimpse of who she is and what she is about.

She values my opinion because she knows I’m a thinker, a researcher, a lover of people, and her momma.

We laugh together, cry together, and talk about life a lot.

Life. It’s what her name means and boy does she live up to it!

I get to mentor, parent, teach, train, and love this beautiful child as she grows into the woman she is becoming. Lucky me!

june 9 2015 390

Go catch up with my fellow challengers and see who they mentor:

Don at https://donhillson.wordpress.com/

Beckie at http://free2b2much.blogspot.com/

Tracy at https://countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com/


Official portrait of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The office of President of the United States commands respect but doesn’t often receive it, especially by Americans who like to exercise their freedom of speech. In light of my last post, I hope you’ll read this through the lens of love instead of criticism.

I don’t stand in agreement with all of the decisions our president has made (Who does?), but I do love him. As unpopular as it might make me with a large group of my more conservative friends, I voted for him.

I understand the checks and balances system America has adopted and grasp that we have three branches of power, not just one. We do not live in a dictatorship, but a democracy. As much as our system fails us, we chose it. As much as some Americans want to cast blame on one man for all of the poor decisions made on behalf of American citizens and how it effects the rest of the world, I’d refer them back to high school Government class and the other two branches of government we have. It is NOT just one man running our divided country.

I think the presidential race happening right now is a joke, but that’s not what this post is about. It’s about our POTUS. Like every other human being, he’s complex. It’s easy to see him as only a public figure, so I have to remind myself that his entire life has not and will not be lived in the spotlight. He’s a man.

Western Inaugural Ball

US President Barack Obama dances with his wife and First Lady Michelle Obama during the Western Inaugural Ball on January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Devoted husband.



President Barack Obama and his daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, watch on television as First Lady Michelle Obama takes the stage to deliver her speech at the Democratic National Convention, in the Treaty Room of the White House, Tuesday night, Sept. 4, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Loving father.

“First and foremost, my Christian faith gives me a perspective and security that I don’t think I would have otherwise: That I am loved. That, at the end of the day, God is in control and my main responsibility is to love God with all of my heart, soul, and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself. Now, I don’t always live up to that standard, but it is a standard I am always pursuing.

My faith is also a great source of comfort to me. I’ve said before that my faith has grown as president. This office tends to make a person pray more; and as President Lincoln once said, “I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.”

Finally, I try to make sure that my faith informs how I live my life. As a husband, as a father, and as president, my faith helps me to keep my eyes on the prize and focus on what is good and truly important.”


Man of faith.

Because of the position he holds, he deserves respect. Because he is a fellow man, he deserves love – no matter how you voted or whether or not you like him. I don’t know much about Barak Obama, but as President of the United States I know he navigates a lot of issues I don’t have to, meets with people I don’t want to, and carries a lot of burdens on my behalf. I try to pray for him instead of publicly criticize and demonize him like so many of my Facebook friends do. Mine is not the popular opinion. That’s okay.


President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, sit for a family portrait in the Oval Office, Dec. 11, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

For a few other takes on the POTUS, visit:

Don at https://donhillson.wordpress.com/

Beckie at http://free2b2much.blogspot.com/

Tracy at https://countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com/

Sometimes life happens and I don’t make the time to write – even during a challenge. The next several posts are me catching up on the writing challenge with my friends who are linked at the bottom of the page. I’m not giving up and I’m glad you didn’t either. :)

At least one of my fellow challengers will roll their eyes at who I chose to write about for this one. We joke about being Jesus-juked, but I promise that’s not what this is. This has been a month of reminding myself who I am and why I am the person I am – the person I choose to be, and no one challenges me to be who I am more than Jesus and those who choose to follow Him. Please don’t stop reading this if you don’t identify with being a Christian or if the only Christians you know are jerks. This is not a ploy to shame you, guilt you, or convert you. It’s a short explanation of why I am who I am.

There’s a lot of discussion going on right now regarding how to handle the refugee crisis, who Americans will choose as our next president, what to do about gay marriage and transgender issues, and a whole slew of other hot topics. In every discussion, there are Jesus followers who are planted firmly on opposite sides of the issue. They hold their convictions in both fists, ready to use the power of the Lord to slay their perceived giants across from them…their brothers and sisters whom they’ve chosen to break fellowship with over differences of opinion and lack of decorum. It’s not safe to be close to people who don’t believe the same things you do…“Bad company corrupts good character” and all that. (Some would know that is a quote from Corinthians in the Bible, but it was actually the apostle Paul quoting a Greek playwright, not Jesus.)

“Don’t let anyone into our country from the Middle East because they might be terrorists. Fight Islam because they want to kill all of us ‘infidels’.” “Vote for ____ because we need to return to being a Christian nation.” “Shut out the gays and shun those who consider themselves transgender because the Bible contains verses regarding such filth and we need to stand on the Truth.” I have heard and read these asinine statements all over the internet in recent days. But that’s not me. That’s not Jesus.


Jesus challenges me to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me. Jesus doesn’t endorse a certain candidate for the presidency. Jesus calls me to love everyone regardless of who they are, how they choose to live, what gender they identify with, who they are attracted to and love, what shameful things they’ve done in their past, or how harsh of a person they are now even though they wear the name of the most revolutionary pacifist in history. He calls me to feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the naked, and take in those in need of shelter. I do all of those things not because of some future reward, but because of the reward I get now – the deep satisfaction of knowing that the space I occupy on this planet is better because I’m in it. I make a difference in THIS world. Who, where, what, why, and how I love makes a difference. And I am who I am because I follow Jesus.


My fellow Christians challenge me to be who I am because I deeply love people on both sides – the ones who are ruthless in their “truth-telling” and the ones whose every move is motivated by a gentle love. I have been both. If I’m honest about it, I am both. I tend to save my ruthlessness for the J-holes who are the squeaky wheels in all the worst ways. It’s so much harder to love them when I want to slap them, but I’m learning to temper my fury as I remember they are not my enemy. Most of the time I am motivated by the gentle, forgiving, love-people-right-where-they-are kind of love I see Jesus expressing. This is the quote at the top of my Twitter page:

love people

I love people. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. I am a warrior and a child. I am fierce and a force to be reckoned with when the need arises – I fight for others, but I am also like a kid in a sandbox – that person you meet and become instant friends with after a brief chat.

I am challenged to be who I am by Jesus and how He loves me…how He loves everyone, including Christians who are so unlike me and people who don’t identify with Him at all. I want to love like that. Jesus said that’s how people will know I follow Him…by my love…and that is who I am.

Check out my fellow challengers:

Don at https://donhillson.wordpress.com/

Beckie at http://free2b2much.blogspot.com/

Tracy at https://countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com/


It occurred to me that I should occasionally follow the rules, so though I have three beloved children and they’re all my favorites, today I’m going to choose only one to write about.

kiddosI chose Pete. He’s my youngest. My last. My baby. The one who tags along with me a lot because he’s not as social as his brother and sister. He’s my mischievous child. Just look at that face! I shot this a few minutes after I told him he couldn’t walk in the stream.

Mt. Evans (40)

“I didn’t walk in it. I only stepped in it.”

Pete has his own sense of style and doesn’t care what people think about it. His socks NEVER match, he wears camouflage every chance he gets, and his latest fashion craze is his women’s fuzzy polka-dotted robe.photo(9)peteSee? I was serious! This kid makes me laugh with his punny jokes. He asks me astoundingly intelligent questions that are difficult to answer. He says he’ll never stop cuddling with me. Eventually that might get awkward, but at eleven years old, he can’t foresee a day in his life he won’t want to cuddle with me. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts!

june 9 2015 655Pete is a pretty amazing kid!

Read about more amazing kids on my fellow  challenger friend’s blogs:

I’ve moved around a lot and lived next door to amazing, friendly people, but I’ve never had a neighbor I loved like Mr. Rogers. Like millions of other children, I grew up singing this song, going on field trips to interesting places in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, reading stories with Daniel Tiger, and learning some of life’s tougher lessons in a safe, nurturing way. Fred Rogers looked for the good in everyone he met and championed kindness and knowing who you are.

He was safe and gentle. He didn’t yell. He wasn’t sarcastic. He cared deeply for his friends. He said there’s no one else exactly like me and he likes me just the way I am. When you hear those words day after day, you begin to believe them. Mr. Rogers was a fantastic neighbor!

Fred-Rogers-fileHe gave me hope and courage, and I wanted to live in his real life neighborhood. I loved his words of wisdom that sounded a lot like words of love from someone who clearly knew how to love people. He taught me that every person has value and it’s up to me to always be a friend. He said things like,

“If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”


“You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are.”

I’ve taken many of his lessons to heart and woven them into my life’s mission:
To love extravagantly and be a good friend.
Want to meet some of my other neighbors?

Donald MillerThis is Donald Miller. Several years ago a friend asked, “Hey! Have you read Blue Like Jazz  yet?” They lent me their copy and I stayed up late (as I often do) finishing it in one sitting. It was deeply moving, and if you haven’t read it or any of his books, I recommend them all. My favorite is Searching For God Knows What. There were several times I paused to pull the book to my chest and whisper the word “yes” into the night. I found another kindred spirit in Don Miller!

I had the privilege of attending his Storyline Conference in Nashville in 2013. I was there alone, for about two seconds until I met Jennifer. I adopted the philosophy a long time ago that everyone I meet is a potential friend, so Jennifer, who was also attending alone, became my conference buddy. It was great to have someone to process with everyday. We were both inspired by amazing speakers like Bob Goff, Shauna Niequist, and Joshua DuBois. I sat in on a breakout session with Christian recording artist, Brandon Heath as he played a sweet song for us that wasn’t on any of his albums and graciously answered everyone’s questions about life in the spotlight and living out your faith. Don’s main sessions had me scribbling hot pink notes all over my binder. At the end of the day I said goodbye to Jennifer and went back to my beautiful condo across from the Grand Ole Opry – a timeshare gift from a generous couple in my life – and wrestled with everything I was learning. Over the course of four days, I mapped out the beginning of my new life plan, then flew home to share my conference stories with anyone who would listen.

But back to Don. As I was thinking through the weekend and going over my notes, my thoughts kept returning to him. He has a team of people who help him pull off these conferences. He has a contact list full of movers and shakers he calls friends. He has several books under his belt. He started a ministry aimed at helping the fatherless. He’s done a long list of worthy things that have earned him the admiration of thousands of people, but that’s not what stands out for me. Don himself stands out because he realized life wasn’t about him and when he embraced that, he found the happiness that had been eluding him. Like solving a puzzle he’d been working on for years, Don found his passion then found a way to use it to help me find mine.

262161-Blue+like+jazz+quotes++++Isn’t that one of our first wake-up calls as we mature? That we are not the center of the universe? It’s not always about us? I admire Don Miller because he’s teachable, he learns, grows, and does better, and he lends courage to others to do better. His whole Storyline franchise is about helping other people tell a better story with their lives. It’s about all of us and the stories we tell ourselves, and the stories we tell others. He had the courage to stumble through the process first.

One of my favorite lessons I’ve learned from him can be found in this post on the Storyline blog: 4 Words That Changed My Career.

I have a psychologist friend who, after hearing me speak at a conference, pulled me aside. At the conference, I talked about how I’d written 1/4 of a novel and thrown it away because it wasn’t good enough. He said, “Don, I think I know your problem. You’re being too careful. When you first started as a writer, readers loved your work because you said what you felt; you took huge risks. Now, you’re always so careful. We miss the Don who wasn’t careful.”

I am too careful.

I admire Don for going first and giving me a tool box to build a better life. Because of him, I’m learning to tell a better story. I’m learning to be less careful and take more risks. I’m growing in my ability to be my fierce self without the fear of being too much and not enough. His courage gave me courage so I could give you courage. Pass it on! ♥

I had a difficult time choosing who to write about today. With the flip of a coin, Don beat out Brene Brown. No worries, I’ll write about her before this challenge is over. ;)

Go ahead. Flip a coin to see which challenger to visit next:

Don at donhillson.wordpress.com

Beckie at free2b2much.blogspot.com

Tracy at countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com

Who picked this dumb topic? Oh yeah. That would be me. I adapted this challenge list from a few others I found and I should have changed this one.This is a terrible day for this topic as I spent my afternoon at a memorial service for a good friend. It’s a day for remembering. Oh well, this will be the shortest thing I’ll post for this challenge.

nightmare-on-elm-street-2010-logoI was in 7th grade when A Nightmare on Elm Street released. I don’t remember if a friend or boyfriend made me watch it with them, but if I could travel back in time, I’d punch them in the throat. I watched a few of the movies and for the life of me, I can’t remember why. They scared the crap out of me! I had nightmares for weeks! Imagine me on my knees, praying to God to protect me from a fictional character. That’s how scared I was! It sounds a bit ridiculous now, but my dreams are vivid, full-color, action adventure type dreams. Adding Freddy Krueger to them? Horrifically bad idea.

I REALLY wish I could forget Freddy Krueger. That creepy jackass killed Johnny Depp in the first movie!

My apologies for today’s topic go to:

Don at donhillson.wordpress.com

Beckie at free2b2much.blogspot.com

Tracy at countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com


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