Category Archives: me and my thoughts

On Fire.

Remember how I had the privilege of working with an amazing team of people to help Jen Hatmaker launch her book?

It turns out that I like having access to books before they’re published and getting a chance to help spread the word about¬†them when I strongly believe in the messageūüôā

And since I didn’t¬†steer you wrong last time, I need you to trust me¬†today when I tell you about an incredible book that you all have to read.

John O’Leary is a lifelong St. Louisan with an amazing story to tell. When he was nine years old, he was burned over 100% of his body – by a fire he set in the family’s garage – and was not expected to live. In fact, shortly after the fire, he¬†asked his mom if he was going to die. (I have to pause here for a second as a mom every time I read this, because it takes my breath away to think about having to answer that question.)¬†Her response, which John says changed everything as he laid in the hospital in excruciating pain was,¬†‚ÄúJohn, do you want to die? It‚Äôs your choice, not mine.‚ÄĚ

Miraculously, after months of hospitalization, and surgeries that included the amputation of his fingers and multiple skin grafts, he was able to go home. Obviously, he had years of physical therapy and recovery ahead of him, but he persevered with the support of his family, his faith and his community.

I have had the honor of hearing John speak (and play the piano!), as well as meet and talk with him, and I promise, you will just not find a more inspiring, encouraging, real person than him. His story, and outlook on life, is one you have to hear/read to believe.

And fortunately for all of us, he has written his story. His book, On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life, is available starting today.

On-Fire

Friends, it is so beautiful, and so clearly conveys his message of hope, faith, love, gratitude and living boldly to impact those around you. You will laugh and cry at his honest storytelling – he walks through his entire experience, including the key players in his recovery¬†(his family and Jack Buck, the legendary Cardinals broadcaster), and what his life – challenges and blessings alike – has been like in the nearly-thirty years since the fire (spoiler: he has a lovely wife and four beautiful children). You’ll¬†be inspired to embrace today for the gift that it is, and live #OnFire.

Oh, and there’s this. You know how much I love Bren√© Brown, right? Here’s what she had to say about John’s book:

This is a book about coming alive ‚Äď about practicing courage and fully showing up at home, work, and with the people we love. John is a storyteller, change-maker, and cage-rattler. Reading this book is like having a good friend look you square in the eye and say, “The time to be brave is now.‚Ä̬†

So you don’t even have to just take my word for it…Bren√© loved it, too!

Click on that link above, and order yourself a copy of the book. You won’t be able to put it down. Then come back here and let me know what you thought!

And hey: follow John on Facebook and/or Twitter. He writes a blog post every Monday, and has a short vlog every Wednesday, and posts to Facebook a few times a week. You won’t want to miss these doses of inspiration!

PS…big, big congrats to John and his whole team (especially Abby and Deanna, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting) who have worked so hard for this very day. Cheers!

To Quote Jen Hatmaker…

Hi all. I’m still here. Honestly, I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk lately, hence the lack of posting (I have several unfinished posts floating around). Trying to finish my book, trying to write a proposal for it*, which is making me all sorts of crazy, and then, you know, just life and holidays and such.

But today? Today I¬†committed to¬†writing for a while. In a spot I often do, so there are other “regulars” here that I see, well, regularly (see? I’m fantastic with all the words right now).

There’s a middle-aged woman who counsels a couple of homeschooled teen girls, and it’s obvious she’s leading them in a Bible study. I’ve overheard her for months while I work, and I often disagree with what she’s saying, but whatever.

This morning, while I was sitting across the aisle from them, I had my earbuds out of my ears for some reason. (I generally write with music on Рbut only music I know all the lyrics to, and with the same song on repeat for a long time.) I heard the woman preaching to these girls about how trashy tattoos were on women. Double ear piercing is also, apparently, undesirable, just so you know.

Look: I get it. I knew when I got my tattoos¬†that there are people who feel this way, and I really don’t care. Really. It’s my body, I love my ink, and I intend to get more. If I wasn’t comfortable with the fact that I may be judged for this, I wouldn’t have gotten them. And I double-pierced my ears when I was (gasp!) 16, and have lived with the obvious societal consequences ever since. Eyeroll.

But that brings me to the title of this post, and the title of one of my favorite chapters in Jen’s book For the Love (which I told you about here). In the final copy it’s called “Dear Christians, Please Stop Being Lame,” but in the advance it was called “Dear Christians, Please Stop Being Crappy,” which I much preferūüôā.

I overheard this comment today, and I was able to put this in the context of this woman’s other “teaching” and dismiss it.

However. What about the other people sitting around her who don’t know the context? What if they are new Christians with tattoos? Or what if they aren’t Christians and are curious? What are they thinking when they hear this lady talk?

All I could think of was that title of Jen’s chapter.

I was feeling a little sassy and nearly said something, then changed my mind, because HELLO…I don’t want to be crappy. And let’s be honest, I probably would not have said something very nice. Bonus¬†points for self-control.

So that’s it. I’ve just officially written more words (more than 500!) and paragraphs than I have in weeks, so maybe I should thank her for the inspiration.

*Here’s the book update: the process of writing the proposal has exposed some holes in the story. Which I think is great…I want to find those myself and fill them in before I try to submit this thing, but it’s meant so much revision, taking a breather from it when I get frustrated, then getting back to it when I feel ready. And today I found another big spot that needs revision, but I’m choosing to look at that as a positive.

A Peek into my Day.

(I know. Two posts today. Surely these are the end times.)

This just happened, and because I’m laughing at myself as I reflect on this, I decided to write it down.

We are having company overnight Friday night that I’m pretty pumped about, so I’m doing a bit of cleaning (honestly, my housekeeping standards are pretty low, so I make sure bathrooms and floors are clean) and food prep.

While making a grocery list, I cleaned out the fridge a bit.

Which meant throwing a couple of things away.

Into a full trash can. I decided I should just empty the trash all over the house.

At the foot of the stairs I saw the bag I had from shopping this morning, which had 2 pairs of booties and a casual little dress in it. I couldn’t decide in the store on the booties because, of course, I was wearing my only pair of non-skinny jeans today.

So I went up to my room, changed into¬†the dress, and¬†decided: it’s a keeper. Changed into skinnies…still couldn’t decide on which pair of booties I wanted to keep.

Realized that I have a bonus hour today until kid pickup, because younger two have running club and oldest has a meeting. Score.

So I changed into my workout clothes and threw hair in a ponytail, so I can get a workout in.

And then I saw the bathroom trash, which was full. Oh yeah. I was going to empty that. But before I did, I thought I should clean the bathroom up a bit…and I used the last of the antibacterial wipes while I did.

Actually remembered the trash before I went back to the kitchen, and grabbed the main floor bathroom trash can on my way. When I got that, I saw the toilet cleaner, and remembered that I needed to take that to the basement bathroom.

Dumped trash, went downstairs and squirted toilet cleaner in that toilet (I guarantee I won’t remember to actually clean this until like 9pm tonight) on my way to getting a canister of anti-bac wipes from basement storage.

Back to kitchen, where my grocery list sits, half completed.

YOU GUYS. Can you even believe I somehow wrote enough words to make a whole book? And is it any wonder than when I need to get some writing done, I leave my house? For the love. I’m a mess. (Also, potentially pertinent¬†information: I am fully caffeinated today, too.)

Now. Off to walk a few miles on this perfectly lovely day.

Wanna Hear a Secret?

So it’s not really a secret exactly…lots of you will read this and think, “Uh, yeah, already knew that.” I just haven’t written about it here, probably because it makes it feel so official, and I wasn’t ready for that yet. Vulnerability and all that jazz.

I blogged a couple of times earlier this year about being brave and making some decisions about finding a job, but I left one little thing out, and it’s this: I wrote a book.

Like a whole entire book.

>>>>>

For a long, long time I’ve thought about writing a book. However, I was never very sure what I wanted to write about. And clearly, that is a problem when you want to write a book.

The one idea I always kind of thought of¬†writing about was my mom, and how cancer impacted her and how she still chose to be grateful despite her circumstances, etc. However, there were a lot of factors surrounding this idea that I wasn’t sure about:

Is it entirely my story to tell?

Do I want to go there, and relive all of this myself? I mean, that sounds kind of painful, and in general, I like to avoid pain.

Is there enough story to write an entire book?

The more I thought about it late last fall, the more the idea grew in my head. {Cue the insomnia I’ve mentioned before.} It started to feel like there was no way I could NOT write this. I finally got brave enough to talk to my siblings and dad about this idea, and since no one objected – I feel so much like it’s our story – by around the beginning of January, I started writing.

I committed myself to writing regularly – several mornings a week, and sometimes, late at night, when I couldn’t sleep. The whole book concept was still a complete mess; I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of it yet, but I just kept writing. The one thing I knew I wanted to do was excerpt relevant blog posts from around the time of my mom’s illness and death; those posts were written in the moment, and they were far more emotionally-charged than what I could write (or details I could remember) at this point. So I was also reading my own blog posts from years ago, and making lists of what I could use. It was totally, beautifully, horribly, consuming.

Remember that time I went on that blissful overnight retreat by myself? Yeah. That was so I could write.

Also…psst…um, I got another tattoo that day of my retreat. It’s the word courage, in my mom’s handwriting, on my ribcage. Kelli went with me and held my hand because mercy, this one hurt a little more than my wrist.

 But I digress.

Back to the book stuff: I had written quite a bit, and checked the word count. It was somewhere near 15,000. A quick google search told me that most memoirs are around 50,000 at least.

Ooohhhkay. So¬†then I was¬†thinking maybe I’m writing a bookLET. Or a pamplet. Because I didn’t know if there was that much more story left in me. But, after asking a couple of dear friends to read what I had so far, and taking their feedback to heart, I knew what else I could write about.

I decided to go back and add chapters to the beginning, telling about my mom and who she was as she grew up, and then about my own little family. Then, the cancer story, and its impact: grief, legacy, all of that. I’m currently rewriting the ending and editing it from a hard copy (which is totally different than editing on the computer screen, I’m finding, and absolutely exhilarating to see all of my words printed out!).

I honestly don’t know what will come of this yet. Obviously, I would LOVE to have it published, and I’m researching and exploring my options for this.

Here’s what I know, though: I LOVE WRITING. I feel like a writer now. I would love to somehow make this my job. While on vacation in Siesta Key (I swear, I’m still going to blog about our amazing trip), I came up with a second book idea, which I’ll talk about in an another post because a) this post is getting super long and b) I’m going to need your help, dear readers, with this next idea I have.

So there you have it! My last several months in a nutshell. More on this to come, I’m sure.

For the Love

You guys. I got invited to Jen Hatmaker‘s house for a huge party. HER HOUSE. This is not a dream I had, it’s real life. Unfortunately, I can’t go and meet 200 of my newest friends, who will be¬†there¬†for the party.

Are you confused yet?

Five-ish months ago, I was chosen to be part of a group of 496 women+4 men (we call them the #bandoffour) who got the privilege of helping Jen launch her newest book, For the Love. The launch team has its own Facebook page, and the craziest thing has happened, far beyond what I ever imagined (and from what Jen has said, far beyond what she could have imagined, either)…this absolutely incredible community has formed. I mean, true, amazing friendships have developed, and the idea of a launch party at Jen’s house came about. So literally, she invited the whole launch team to her house, and around 200 are attending. Isn’t that just so cool?

And how much do I wish I lived closer to Austin, TX, so I could go???

So here’s where I tell you about this book. And why you absolutely must read it. I feel like I won’t be able to do it justice in this one post, but I’m going to try. Some of my favorite quotes have been turned into cute graphics, so I’m going to just stick them in here between paragraphs so you get an extra little sampling of this gem.

ftl9

(Here’s where I’m totally struggling and have restarted this paragraph several times. I don’t even know where to begin.) This book is for anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed by life and what you think is expected of you. It’s for someone who has lived in church and community well, and for those who have been burned by their church and community. It’s for people who want to love others better, parent more effectively, and live out what it means to show Jesus (not religion – and to that end, this quote: “If it isn’t also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn’t true.” Curious? You need to read this.) to the world and our families.

ftl6

There are sections that have been a huge inspiration to me as I figure out this tricky transition from SAHM to wife-and-mom-with-some-kind-of-a-job. (More on that here and here if you’re new here.) It’s been an interesting year for me, and I’ll be writing more about that soon, but in the meantime, know that this quote from the book lodged itself very deeply in my brain:

I don’t like when people minimize their gifts. There is a difference between humility and insecurity, and self-effacement does no one any favors. We teach our watching children to doubt and excuse and diminish themselves. Do we want our kids to reflect on their mothers and have absolutely no idea what we loved? What we were good at? What got our pulses racing and minds spinning? Don’t we want them to see us doing what we do best?

ftl1

Oh, and it is FREAKING HILARIOUS. If you follow Jen on Facebook, Instagram¬†or Twitter, you already know how funny she is.¬†This book will make you laugh until you cry several times. She’s invented new words (horsecrappery) and phrases (you’ll be saying “that’s off the beam!” after reading this). There is an¬†entire chapter on fashion concerns (tights are not pants, the whole underwear-with-workout pants debacle, high-waisted jeans…).

ftl7

And several short Jimmy-Fallon-style Thank You Note chapters.

ftl3

 

Have I convinced you yet? Buy this book. You’ll love it and want to share with your friends. Promise.

School. Day 2. 

#fightingoverthebathroom #punchesthrown #areyouserious
#morefightingoverbreakfast #noteven7am #whereismycoffee
#parentingissuchadelight #somedaythiswillbefunny #butreallyonthecoffee

Mid-summer Recap

Mmmkay. So here’s when I go, “oh, yeah, I still have a blog…”

The last few weeks have been eventful and honestly, each of these things could have been their own blog post. And let’s face it, at one point in time, they would have been. However, at this point, a quick-and-dirty recap is what is going to happen. Because these things are important! But, I also can’t sit here at the counter on the laptop all day drinking coffee, as nice as that sounds.

1. Out of approximately a billion scheduled baseball games, we played around half a billion. It has been a rainy, rainy summer, and it seriously impacted our baseball schedule (particularly weekend tournaments). So here’s the recap: my boys all won some and lost some, made some amazing, awesome defensive plays and made some errors, got some clutch hits and struck out a bunch of times, pitched some killer innings and gave up lots of hits. I know that’s incredibly specific and descriptive, but it’s the best I can do at this point in the season. For details, talk to any of them, as they remember virtually every play and at-bat ever.

1b. There are very, very few precious moments in a house full of boys, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I mean, let’s face it…a group of brothers just doesn’t exactly scream precious, and it shouldn’t. However, this morning, without prompting, Luke brought up Jack Henry’s amazing catch in centerfield last night and told him how great it was. And then Bennett piped up with, “Yeah! I saw that catch and thought it was awesome, and then realized it was Jack!” And I almost died from the sweetness.

  
2. You guys. Matt turned 40. I threw a surprise party for his 30th, and he’d been telling me for several years that he did not want a surprise party for his 40th…and I get it. It’s totally not him. (We could not be more different in this regard. I’d freak out and be like, “A PARTY FOR ME?? YES!!”) So, instead, I told him we were going out for dinner, and our small group friends surprised him by being at the restaurant when we got there. That kind of surprise he can live with, though it cracked me up that on the way to the restaurant, he reiterated that he didn’t like not knowing where we were going.ūüôā

  
3. And, I turned 38. But really, getting older doesn’t bother me. We ate some really good BBQ, laid by the pool for a few hours, and I read a book. It was a great day.

  
3b. Our family has passed around pinkeye, and I spent the week after my birthday with it. Lovely. It’s cool that as I’m nearing 40, I spent a week with a school-age kid’s illness.

4. 4th of July fun had by all when we got together with our friends the Swinigans! Love our tradition. Our kids don’t see each other very often but they just pick right up where they left off when they do get to hang out. And just a couple of days earlier, Heather and I made gallons and gallons of applesauce like we do every summer.

   
 5. The boys and I took a little day trip to Elephant Rocks for some hiking and rock-climbing on a non-rainy day. Super fun. I was SORE the next day. They were not. 

   
 Ok…I think this paints a good picture so far, for the sake of me being able to someday remember this summer.

Vacation coming soon!