Reader's Choice Top Ten 2016


It always surprises me what my readership embraces and what is left in the corner. This year has been no different. I am thankful as ever to have readers of my writing and continue to doubt I will ever get used to you people coming back for more on the regular. It truly rocks my world.

What I have done is come to realize that what I have to say is not only valuable but valued. Thank you for teaching me this thing. I believed it but only to a point until I was taught through comments and repeated, regular visits to my writing pages herein. You keep me writing when there "isn't time" and when I can't seem find anything to say because there is just too much. Thank you.

I now give you the Readers' Choice Top Ten for the amazing year of 2016:

1. Cardboard Signs
2. My Inspiration
3. Farmers and Paul Harvey
4. Keep Writing
5. Hope's Wake
6. An Open Letter for Single Moms
7. Friendship
8. Playing in the Background
9. Changing Every Day
10. Defying Negativity


Honorable Mentions:

More Like Water
My Truth




year in review: accommodate


Not sure what to say because I don't want to rag, and I don't want to put a shine on anything that doesn't deserve it. So maybe I'll say this: I grew a lot this year.

I learned that you can love someone without getting what you want or need. I learned that blessings you didn't even know you needed come out of the woodwork when you really need them. I learned how to take change with graciousness and was even better off for it. I have become more the caliber of person I want to be.

All of that said, I suffered a lot of heartache to learn those things. I have cried more than I ever thought I would when I set out to accommodate more of what I want for 2016. I didn't realize all of what I wanted and needed at the outset, but I did get much of what ended up being what I want. I did not get everything though. I would say that the one thing I had hoped for was the lion's share of what I wanted and didn't get, but I will not discount the several blessings—life changing blessings—that I was able to receive because of working to accommodate change.

I still have room to make for someone to stay. Lots to work through for that, I guess. There is so much that has been good though. I've made room for flexibility and happiness when things aren't quite as I'd hoped. My children and I are safe and well and happy enough. We have each other and the gospel of Jesus Christ to keep our hearts from breaking too much. We are a family that knows how to make it through the hardest of things, and that is a miracle to be thankful for. To tell you the truth, I don't know how I'd make it without my children right now. They keep me going.

I still don't know what word will find me for 2017. I haven't had anything call out to me like other words have. I'm going to give myself until the end of January for it to find me, or I'm opening a dictionary at a random page and put my finger down randomly and picking that. I will make an accommodation no matter what!


nearly Christmas

a six-word story

It's the Tuesday before Christmas, and I've just spent my entire day at the hospital for my daughter's dental work. There are no words for the kind of tired I am, yet I want to share just a little of my thoughts before I drift off to sleep.

This Christmas season has been beautiful for us. I decided to do Early Christmas by getting things out after Halloween and just slowly putting things out in shifts. And you know something, we are doing it like this from now on. Each of my children have said how it has made all the difference in enjoying instead of dreading the rush of Christmas decorating. One other thing though, I have been slowly slimming down how much we decorate. Every once in awhile, less is more.

Speaking of less is more, I was thinking to apply that principle to gift giving too because things have been so stressful with finances and children not taking care of what they do have. However, I was showered with generosity here and there, and things just have kept on working out financially, so I decided to loosen up about it and stop worrying.

But the taking care of stuff issue is real too. I pondered a great deal and decided that my children are only going to be children for so much longer, and this year is not the year to go simple. That will come naturally as they grow up and move away. I don't need to impose it on us if it isn't necessary.

Christmas Day is not arrived, yet it has been celebrated more deeply and with more joy. We have made room for Christ in Christmas, and that is what it's all about. I'm thankful for my family and friends and everyone who has been so kind to us, making our lives profoundly better. We do not stand in need because we are loved.



my truth



It's been awhile now since I was prompted to write a short piece on what is my truth, but I just couldn't do it. I couldn't make myself write something quick because I felt a universe of truth burst my heart when I saw that tag on Instagram asking me to share something. Maybe I took it too seriously, but that's probably my job, to take things too seriously, especially things like truth. I've spent every day pondering my life's truth since seeing that prompt.

Maybe my truth will end up being short since I'm not quite sure what I will write just yet. I have so much to say but not all the words to say it. And not all of it is for everyone to know. All I know is that I want to be able to find it again if I forget. I want to be able to see my future truth and compare it to the truth I know right now. And this is the best place I know to write it in a way that it will last and accomplish what I wish.

My truth. My truth is that life is as full of pain as it is joy, but also it is full of more joy than we can imagine. Pain teaches us what joy is, so we can know it when we find it. The trick is to hold onto the joy we have right in front of us instead of the pain. To choose joy.

And you know something? Sometimes it's tricky to hold onto joy.

When you love someone so much you'd do anything for them,
but they don't want what you have to offer.

When you love someone in a forever kind of way,
but they don't want to be your forever.

When your heart beats for someone,
but they are too busy looking at everyone but you.

When you are enough to be who you are,
but not enough to be worthily loved in return.

When you see how enough they are for you,
but they won't see it for themselves
because they don't want to.

Sometimes it's tricky to hold onto joy.
Sometimes joy is right in front of you
In someone else's smile
In hidden happiness
Being stolen from your grasp
By lack of love,
And all you can do is breathe.
Keep breathing
And hoping
And praying
That someday
Joy won't be so tricky to hold onto.
Someday there will be too much joy to lose.
And I will be looking at truth's reflection
While seeing through sunlit glass.

Until then, I will say that I hope someday comes soon because my heart has been broken for nearly my entire life, and I wish for the love I give to come back to me somehow. I believe in miracles. I believe that I was created to have joy. And I will have it. I will reach for joy in every minute of every day, working to reject the pain that is made new at every turn. I will choose joy for as long as this broken heart can stand turning its back on so much pain.

And the interesting part of all this truth I write is that I know I am not alone in my grief-stricken existence. I am not so unique. I am actually highly replaceable. I see that now. I hope that by writing my truth I might inspire myself and anyone reading this to take heart and keep holding onto joy.

I want to make room for more joy. I hope you will too.



service



When I think about serving others, I think about how we should do our best to not make a big deal about it. I think about how we should help without thoughts of reward. But every so often, you have to talk about the good things you are doing, so you can fill the world with good news, also so you don't forget about the service you've done. 

So I'd like to write a little slice about what I saw my son do the other night. 

We attended a Christmas devotional, but I reminded my children of how we always see a great deal of homeless people on the streets as we walk around downtown. Because of this, we decided to be prepared to help. One of my daughters made a mother lode of cookies and one of my sons made a bunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The other two children helped package up the cookies and sandwiches, and then we were ready to go! 

After parking the car, we stuffed our coat pockets and a small bag with all of the food, so that each one of us could give food to people. We were ready. But there were hardly any homeless folks. If I didn't know better, it would have seemed that homelessness was eradicated from our downtown. We went to the devotional with only having handed out one sandwich. And when we got out, we only found three more people. My oldest son determined that it was very cold, so they must be somewhere seeking shelter. 

So after looking at Christmas lights, we piled back into our car with pockets still stuffed with food and began handing all the food to the bag holder, almost an adult big kid. My youngest even asked if we didn't find anyone that he could have one of the sandwiches because he was super hungry. We decided that if we didn't find anyone after I drove around a bit, he could, but if he would like, he could have a couple cookies to tide him over. 

But he ended up not even having the two cookies. And I'm so glad he waited. He was glad he waited too.

We drove around a couple of blocks where I'd seen many homeless people in the daytime, but no one was there. And then, I took us past the train depot. So many people. Camping, huddling together, drug deals going down. All on one stretch of road. 

We drove down the length of it to see if there was a "safe" area, and I passed by one that I had a good feeling about it, so I turned us around and went back, gave my oldest son my knife and instructions on how to be safe, and we parked. 

He got out, walked over to the huddled masses, and slowly a few people approached him. Then, I saw my son handing out food to the hungry without fear and looking so grown up. He brought someone back to the car to check for more food because there were so many, and I didn't even realize that we still had a bag of bananas and oranges left in the car from our outing the day before. and it felt like a miracle to have that still there to share. 

In that quick moment, I knew I never wanted to forget the night I saw my son be a leader among men. His heart was so big that night that it shone on his face. The good work he helped to perform for our family, as an emissary for us all, is small, but small things become great when we are serving others. We become great by giving. 

I'm thankful for the opportunity we had to serve a few of the hungry. I'm even more thankful for the way it helped my children see that we can do much for others simply by acting on our intentions. It felt like Christmas.