COVID Update: A Journal Entry

Michigan started reopening businesses and lifting restrictions but the stay at home order was extended. Some of our friends in the salon industry still haven’t received guidance on how or when they’ll be able to reopen doors. Among a list of other industries and individuals, restaurants as hurting as well.

Our daycare, which has remained open for essential workers, is finally accepting children for their summer program. That means the kids go back to daycare June 1st. I have a lot of emotions regarding that decision. The only thing keeping me sane is the reassurance that they have been open and have had no reported cases of COVID-19. I’ve been pressured to provide my return date so I’m thankful for the summer program though my work has continued from home.

I’ve been appalled by people’s behavior. After using the Facebook Snooze for 30 Days feature, my feed is beginning to refill with hatred, venom, and disrespect once more. This time I’m unfriending. Our interactions in the past do not tie us together for life.

Perhaps you’re scared or hurting and you’re lashing out. Maybe this is a low point for you. I understand. I know without a doubt that I have been in that position before and people have unfriended me whether over social media or in real life because of it. I don’t believe that you cannot change or that you’re a terrible person. But we’re not good enough friends to have a heart to heart over it and I need to make the best decision for me.

Maybe you’re not scared or hurting but you’re lashing out in anger. Maybe you think your posts are funny. I get that too. I’ve perpetuated hate toward people I’ve never met out of ignorance or bigotry or a societal influence I didn’t even know was there. I’ve been working on it for a while now but there are days that I come across an article or a post or a different perspective that lays bare my sins. It’s uncomfortable. And condemning.

But let me caution you with this: If you’re a Christian, watch what you’re putting out on social media. Be ready to receive correction and do so with grace. You can have different opinions but let’s do it without hate or shame or mockery of a person or group of people. It’s not a good look and certainly not one you’d be proud to bring to the cross.

Happy Quaran-Easter!

Easter is the one of two holidays we host at our home (the other being Independence Day). That means our day wasn’t as impacted as most. We were still able to make babka and eat Polish sausages with hard-boiled eggs, horseradish, and beets. We still served mimosas for the adults and orange juice for the oldest. Easter eggs were hidden and found. We attended church (from our couch) and although we didn’t have the fancy, new Easter outfits, we raised our hands in worship and let ourselves be renewed in the promise of LIFE.

This has been my favorite day of quarantine so far. My Facebook feed is filled with proclamations of “He is Risen!” It’s filled with smiling families and fought for traditions. It’s happy. Devoid of political arguments and want-to-be researchers and hate. I do take some credit for that as I’ve been using my social media “Snooze” and “Unfollow” options liberally lately but I think today’s uplifting feed is more than weeding out the negatives. I think today we decided that we could be one body of Christ again.

I’m not saying we have to agree with each other to be one body of Christ. That wouldn’t be Biblical advice and if you heard it coming out my mouth, I would hope that you would take me aside into a one-on-one to point out my error (Matthew 18:15-17). But we should seek to show respect both to those who share our faith and those who don’t. We are members of mankind, after all. God seeks a relationship with all of us.

A lot of us feel that silence is too costly right now. Disagreeing and speaking that disagreement is critical to saving lives – or – freedoms. I get it (more than you know). That being said, can we agree to disagree with the understanding that we are the church? That the way we disagree is a reflection of Christ, the same Christ that died on the cross and rose again on Easter Sunday so that we can have eternal life?

We did good today, folks and I felt it in my soul. Let’s keep up the positive momentum. Let’s let love fill our feeds and friendships and families. Let’s keep our hearts set on Easter Sunday for as long as possible.

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.

Titus 3:1-10

NOTE: I also recognize that today was terribly lonely for some of us. My heart breaks over the pain that we’re experiencing collectively and as individuals. I know social media is a highlight reel and I am not advocating for masking our pain. Just for kindness. We could all use a little more kindness these days.


We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, the first of our lifetimes. Restaurants, spas and salons, schools, flight paths, cities, states/provinces, and even countries are closed. Death tolls are rising; we’re grieving in isolation.

We’re also reaching out. Downloading videoconferencing apps and increasing work-from-home opportunities. Setting up remote desk space at home, remote happy hour, remote play dates. We’re getting outdoors to get out of our homes.

Countries are shipping supplies where they have them. Factories are switching over machinery, similar to wartime but this time we’re not fighting each other. We’re fighting a common enemy.

When schools closed in our state, my husband and I made the decision to keep both of our kids home. We’re lucky to have that option but it’s hard. It’s hard to keep them entertained and stay on top of meetings and work demands and deadlines. It’s hard but it’s possible.

Many companies around here have gone to remote work wherever possible but that isn’t the case across the board. I’m still expected to be at work though I work in IT. A sore throat will keep me home tomorrow. My guess is that it’s caused by lack of sleep but the cost of uncertainty is high. Too high.

Sleep is intermittent; there’s too much on my mind. Worry over the people I love, stress over losing my routines, sadness for those impacted both in health and finance. I’m an Enneagram 1 and the ethical and moral decision to social distance directly conflicts with my desired work ethic.

I’m thankful for my friends and neighbors who have ramped up dialogue though. Grateful for my small group who gathers over video conference to pray. Thankful for doctors, nurses, service providers. God’s promise of life. There is a lot to be thankful for even now.

I’m going to start writing again. Not all posts about viruses but this virus has reminded me of why I started: To journal about my life. I confused my WHY at some point along the way but I remember it now. I write to write. That is all.

Fall Fresh Start

My husband and I were watching TED TV on our Amazon Fire Stick the other day when we came across this short video by Wendy De La Rosa on saving money. In it, she mentions the fresh-start effect which is that feeling of being able to start with a blank slate when the calendar year changes, the seasons changes, or the school year begins. With the fresh-start effect, we feel empowered to take on new challenges, new routines, and set new goals.

Some people are so incredibly disciplined at harnessing this power that they view each new day as a new beginning. I’ll just go ahead and admit right now: That’s not me. Enneagram 1s aren’t exactly known for their ability to give themselves grace and I’m no exception; it takes me a little more than 24 hours to get over my failures and press the delete key.

Season changes, though? Let’s talk.

  • Winter feels like anything but a fresh start. It feels cold. Long. Dark. But not fresh (That fresh blanket of snow, though? It might not be my personal blank slate but I do love it!).
  • Summer feels more like a headfirst tumble into fun, rushing so fast into outdoor events and swimming and vacation that we barely catch a glimpse of the “Welcome to Summer” banner waving excitedly over our heads.
  • But Spring? Fall? Oh, friends, I am so here for those fresh starts!

Some of you might feel like your fresh start already came and went with the start of the new school year. Perhaps I missed that starting line because it’s my first year as a mom of a “school ager” and it feels a little like that headfirst tumble into Summer. I’m over here shuffling through stacks of papers, downloading apps, and wondering why these teachers keep sending home library books from the school library when I did not sign up for these late notices! It would seem my “Welcome Back to School” banner fell down after being hastily taped to painted brick and I’m still tripping over it on my way through the halls.

So I’m looking forward to Fall. The true calendar start of the season. That’s my fresh start. My blank slate. And it’s only days away.

How will you harness the fresh-start effect of the new season? I’m currently taking suggestions!

Interview with Freddy Jr.

Freddy Jr. (aka “husband” / aka “dad”) has been unanimously voted the family MVP today. The votes were cast after reviewing the past three weeks of family events, culminating with today’s impromptu nap with the kids. This act allowed Freddy’s wife to nap by herself without interruption and ultimately sealed the vote.

Let’s hear what he has to say about his new title!

M: How does it feel to be the family MVP?

F: It feels pretty good. Did I go above and beyond today? I mean, yeah… I did. But mostly I just answered the call of duty.

M: Having a newborn and an almost 5-year-old who needs a lot of attention is a lot to manage alongside a full-time job and your wife’s changing emotional state. What keeps you going?

F: Umm…this is intense. [Pause]

A few months ago I challenged myself to write out my personal mission statement. It has given me so much guidance and personal accountability in my work life and personal life. Ultimately in this season of life, I’m striving to be a balanced man. At the end of the day, I just want to be a good husband, dad, and employee. And I have a lot of people counting on me.

M: How do you feel this newborn phase is going compared to your first time around?

F: So much more chaotic… Freddy is an absolute gem! He is so calm, content, and happy which makes it very easy to take care of him. However, the pure nature of having two children just makes it feel like everything is in the air at all times.

Freddy III is heard tooting in the background. Freddy Jr. pauses and cracks a smile. The girls start laughing.

So crazy…


At this point, the interview is paused. Freddy III needs to be changed. Freddy Jr. leaves to change him.

When he returns, dinner needs to be cleared, one child needs to start her bedtime routine and the other needs to eat again. His daughter Emma ignores all requests to get ready for bed, instead choosing to practice triple axel jumps in the kitchen.

Soon the whole family is gathered in the baby’s room. Freddy Jr. is teaching Emma how to do cartwheels while his wife feeds the baby.

Daddy and daughter leave to brush their teeth. Although she has managed triple axels and cartwheels without injury, something occurs with Emma on the walk across the hall. Crying can be heard.

The interview resumes 58 minutes later.


M: The timing of those interruptions felt staged. That’s what you meant by everything is in the air, isn’t it?

F: Yes, precisely.

M: If you could choose one thing to change about this phase, what would it be?

F: The time of year… More fresh air would be a “breath of fresh air”. [I] can’t wait for spring!

M: How about your favorite part of this phase?

F: I have an appreciation for how quickly everything else in life can just slow down. Having a newborn in the house has a way of shifting priorities. I no longer have time to sneak out for a quick bonfire, walk the dog, or even keep my driveway perfectly clear of snow. Just the basics.

M: That’s your favorite part about this phase?

F: Huh? What was the question?

M: What is your favorite part about this phase?

F: Hm, I must’ve gone off on a tangent. My favorite part is smelling my son’s head! Duh!

M: Thanks for taking the time today. Wanna watch an ep[isode]?

F: Yes.

Happy Mother’s Day

The path to Motherhood is wide! And it can sometimes be pretty painful.

We’ve been doing a ton as a society to encourage mothers lately and each Mother’s Day I see more and more posts acknowledging the longing to-be mothers, the lost mothers, and the motherless. It is SO GOOD, friends! So in honor of this Mother’s Day, I’d like to propose a little role play on how to ask those same nagging questions we all have in a different way! It’s totally okay to be inquisitive but let’s be sensitive too.

I realize that this is not an all-encompassing approach to the below scenarios. Feel free to comment your experiences below or some conversation starters that better suit you!

In the scenarios below, I’ll be “Pal” and you be Mom:

*****Instead of*****

  • Pal: “When are you going to have a(nother) kid?”
  • Mom: “Well gee…I don’t know, Pal. Do you have a crystal ball for that sort of thing?”

*****I’ll try*****

  • Pal: “Do you think you’d like to have a(nother) kid?”
  • Mom: “Yeah. Some day. I’m not quite ready yet.”/”I don’t think it’s for me. I feel fulfilled where I’m at.”/”I’d love to. If only it were that easy, right?”

When I ask for specific timelines, I stifle conversation with you if you aren’t planning for children or if you’re struggling to answer the “When?” question yourself. When I ask in a way that allows you to talk about your plans rather than specific dates, I might get more insight into what’s really going on.

*****Instead of*****

  • Pal: “How old is your daughter?”
  • Mom: “She’s four.”
  • Pal: “You’d better get on that. You don’t want to have your kids too far apart!”
  • Mom: “You know what, Pal? You’re so right. I wish I would have thought about that during my miscarriage!”/”Infertility is a bitch! Thanks for the reminder.”/”Did I say I wanted another child?”/”I’m actually planning them farther apart because it’s better for our family but I see you’ve drawn some conclusions about that so it’ll be interesting to see where the conversation goes from here…”

*****I’ll try*****

  • Pal: “How old is your daughter”
  • Mom: “She’s four.”
  • Pal: “That’s great! If more kids are in your future, I’m sure she’ll love being able to participate with her baby sib!”

There are so many reasons there is only one child in a family or there is such a gap between children! Pressure to close a gap that already exists isn’t the lighthearted prod I may think it is – even if I wink or nudge you when I’m asking. If you had wanted kids close together, it might be a really painful reminder that the plan will never come to fruition. If I focus on the positives of your current situation, you may be more inclined to tell me your story.

*****Instead of*****

  • Pal: “Don’t you just love the baby phase?”
  • Mom: “Actually I’m feeling completely isolated and am afraid I might have undiagnosed postpartum depression but I’m not sure how to respond to your question because you clearly want it to be the best so I’m going to smile and nod.”

*****I’ll try*****

  • Pal: “Man, that phase can be so tough! How are you doing?”
  • Mom: “Actually I’m feeling completely isolated. It’s not what I expected.”
  • Pal: “There is no shame in that. A lot of women experience a disconnect! Have you brought it up with your doctor to see if he or she has any tips?”

The first ask isn’t really a question because it’s clear I want the answer to be yes. If I acknowledge the phase is tough, I give you space to agree or disagree and that gives me an opportunity to lend support or celebrate with you! (I’m also a firm believer that it’s always positive to normalize talking to a professional.)

*****Instead of*****

  • Pal: “You don’t have much time left if you want more kids!”
  • Mom: “Wow. Yeah. I guess in hindsight I should have ignored my body’s queues for rest and healing between kids.”/”Wow. Yeah. I guess in hindsight I should not have had that miscarriage!”/”Wow. Yeah. Thanks for making me feel terrible about myself on so many levels!”

*****I’ll try*****

  • Pal: “Hey, Mom. How’s it going?”
  • Mom: “Good! Thanks for asking. I’m so glad you didn’t say anything awkward about my age in relation to having children. That’s always so uncomfortable and it does make me want to punch you right in the face.”

Really, there’s no good way to bring up that someone’s childbearing years may be coming to a close. I know you know how old you are.

*****And lastly*****

To the four year-old at the Target dollar spot who pointed excitedly at my stomach this weekend and exclaimed, “Yay! You have a baby in your tummy!” I’d like to say:

“For the thousandth time, Emma, I will tell you when I have a baby in my tummy. Until then, it’s tacos.”


It’s always tacos 😉


Happy Mother’s Day!

Currently Reading: Start with Why

I have a goal to read 12 books this year. So far, I have 2 completed and am 67% through another: Simon Sinek’s Start with Why.

If you haven’t heard of Simon Sinek, I highly recommend you check him out. Watch a Ted talk. Research him a little. I guarantee you’ll learn something!

In his book, he tells about businesses that start with “why” they do what they do and how that aligns with their audience to gain loyalty rather than using sales tricks or marketing gimmicks to gain our attention. (Read the book. He explains this much more eloquently than I can here.)

Anyway, it got me thinking about the brands I buy because they’re on sale or because they’re in front of me when I have a need/want vs. the brands that I go out of my way to buy.

It made me think of Tom’s of Maine.

My first experience with Tom’s was during a short stint of testing out anti-antiperspirant-free deodorants. Turns out, the hippy life is not for me and Tom’s was ineffective. But so were all of the other non-antiperspirant deodorants I tried so no bridges were burned at the time accept maybe the one between me and an anti-antiperspirant-free life (Okay, and maybe some acquaintances burned bridges with me to spare their olfactory organs but that’s on them, not me).

Quite a while later, Freddy and I went through our first round of Whole 30. We cut added sugar out of everything we ate. Suddenly our toothpaste tasted sweet. Like, sugary sweet. It was unsettling. So we set out to replace it with something that 1) did not taste like sugar and 2) toted the cruelty free symbol.

Reintroduce Tom’s of Main.

Here’s what the back of the tube of toothpaste says (emphasis theirs):

What makes a product natural and good? At Tom’s, it includes how we make it.

  • No animal testing or animal ingredients.

  • We share every ingredient, its purpose, and its source at

  • Sustainable practices are a priority in every aspect of our business.

  • No artificial colors, flavors, fragrance, or preservatives.

  • We strive to maximize recycled content and recyclability of our packaging.

  • 5% (12 days) of employee time to volunteering. 10% of profits to human and environmental goodness.

This isn’t a blog to get you to buy Tom’s toothpaste. I don’t get any kickbacks for writing it. But if the environment is important to you, if you believe that we need to be good to each other and to the world we’ve been given to live in and you want to be a part of something bigger that encourages that thought, then you probably appreciate what Tom’s stands for.

They understand their Why.

As a consumer drowning in a sea of toothpaste, I buy the one that doesn’t test on animals. The one from the company that gives back. I’m not saying that other toothpaste companies don’t have community involvement. I’m saying that this company explains why they’re in business and I want to raise my hand and say “Me too!” That’s ultimately what I’m buying.

Take some time today and think about what you stand for and how that influences your purchasing habits. Or for my business owning friends, take some time to remember the Why if you’ve gotten away from it. Why did you start your business? Don’t tell me what makes you money. What do you stand for?

Next, I want to know what brands you get behind. Maybe you haven’t researched the entire history of the company but you hear their message and it resonates with you. Maybe it’s gathering the family around the dinner table even when you’re in the middle of a crazy week (Campbell’s?). Maybe, as Sinek points out, it’s challenging the status quo (Apple).

Let me know what brands you get behind in the comments below and don’t forget to check out Start with Why for more information on identifying your Why!

Snow Camp and Rule Breakers

This past weekend I headed north with 700+ students, my fellow small group leaders (Aren’t we a good-looking bunch?), coaches and church staff to SpringHill Camp for what is lovingly referred to as “Snow Camp” 2018 edition.

I usually take a lot of flack around this time of year. Everyone loves reminiscing about my very first weekend as a small group leader when I showed up without a sleeping bag, or a pillow, or shampoo or conditioner or body wash or …well okay, the underwear was a bit extreme; that’s fair… but I promise you there are places that provide all of the other things for you. For the record, they’re called hotels and they’re amazing.

Each time I go to one of these weekends, I end up learning a little bit more.

A little bit more about roughing it (with plumbing and heat and electricity, of course). I remembered all of my clothes this trip. I packed a flashlight. A selfie stick (obviously). Wool socks. Heavy duty gloves. Layers. I even packed Poo-Pourri for the cabin which I assure you was indeed worth it. Have you ever spent a weekend with a cabin full of people and camp food? Enough said.

A little bit more about people, most of whom seem to function a little bit better on very little sleep, camp cuisine, and copious amounts of coffee than I.

And a little bit more about myself.

Some years it’s spiritual. Or it’s about my friendships and the joy of being around other people. Sometimes it’s about just how competitive I really am. This year, it was about caring less about rules and what that feels like. It was about fun. About taking a walk on the wild side!

Okay, the moderately untamed side.

Fine, the mostly tamed side.

I’ve been mulling over some thoughts recently about rule following and what that looks like as a child of God. Spoiler alert: I don’t think it means what I thought it meant. 

Growing up, we’re taught rules of obedience. Think 10 Commandments. We have should and should nots to consider and, for a natural born rule follower like myself, it can feel pretty nice to be able to draw lines down the split of right and wrong. I am a great rule follower. That must mean I’m a pretty good follower of Christ, yes?

I’ve been reading more and more of the Bible recently and the people in these stories have one glaring thing in common: They’re rule breakers. Rule followers like me subscribe to certain truths; 99% of them follow rules because they favor security (that statistic has been entirely fabricated based on my own personal truth). Some of these Bible characters are reformed rule followers, I’ll give you that. But these are people who are called to stand out against the rules. Break the norms. Confront leadership. Tell them they’re wrong. Social status? See ya. Respect among your peers? Nope. Let’s be honest, on top of having little concern for security, a lot of them were grade A weirdos (I get that that’s not really relevant here but I needed to get that off my chest).

If we’re made up of a series of strengths and weaknesses rather than good and bad then I’m starting to see my friends with a little bit more of that rule-breaking edge as having a competitive advantage over me in the realm of being a Christ follower. *GASP* They’re less prone to worry and more prone to action. When God calls, are they more inclined to move?

Spontaneity is not one of my strengths. If someone tells me that I need to move across the country and leave my things behind, you know what I would say? No. I have a job. People depend on me. There are loose ends that need to be tied up. What would people think? I like it here. I have food in my fridge that I need to eat first.

There is a pattern of movement to which society subscribes, to which I subscribe. They’re essentially social rules and I’m starting to see that following them doesn’t make me a great Christ follower.

So this weekend, I let my girls fling rubber frogs across the auditorium long after the time to do so had passed. I encouraged them. I joined them. I signed my name on a bunk; it always seemed wrong as a kid but I did it. I ran up to the edge of the tubing hill and went face first over the drop. The tubing hill attendant assured me that doing so wasn’t breaking the rules but it still felt a lot like breaking the rules.

They’re little things. They’re not illegal and they’re not hurting anyone (There may have been a few errant frogs but I promise they were only minor annoyances). The point is, these things aren’t exactly following the rules either. And since I’ve been taking a more honest look at the strengths of those around me, I’ve realized that I need to flex that muscle if I want it to work when God calls on it.

We’re in trouble…

I have spent days researching planners. I have looked through websites. I have signed up for free downloads. I have walked through Michaels just to look at stickers and washi tape on display; I made purchases. I have even stooped to Youtube videos.

Who is this person I am becoming?

I don’t like her.

Forks in the Road Don't Have to Have a Right and Wrong

I’m not entirely sure the purpose of nostalgia. Is it a longing for something we no longer have? A happy remembrance of what brought us to where we are today? An opportunity to laugh about your mistakes or relish in the distant praise of your few successes?

I’ve been caught up in sweet dreams of nostalgia lately. Laughter over some of my inexplicable past and a yearning for the rush that followed some of my small victories; I mull it over with an understanding that I did not have before and a clarity that comes with age.

What is the purpose of nostalgia?

Perhaps these feelings of nostalgia simply precede the next great thing.


When you get married, do you know what they say? They say things like, “Everyone is in such a rush to get married lately! I’m taking my time and enjoying my independence.”

“I couldn’t imagine tying myself down at this point in my life.”

“We are so happy as boyfriend and girlfriend; why would we want to ruin that?”

They don’t say it to you as a warning, rather they say it at you while thinking to themselves aloud. They are lost in their own thoughts… In their personal journey of love, of relationships, of independence. Yet though they do not speak to but only at you, you hear them. And it stings to know that your friendships will inevitably change in this next chapter of life.

Suddenly, you are lost in the sweet nostalgia of an unbridled life. An ability to leave. To be tough. To stand up to anyone… And then you take the leap.


There are choices each day that define you. A series of crossroads. And if you choose wisely, you will find more happiness in the fork you choose than you will leave behind. And as you continue to move forward with your choices, you will begin to cherish nostalgia. It is no longer a longing for the past. It is a keen awareness and acceptance of the choices that have brought you forward.


The next time people speak aloud and tell you that a spouse is a chain and a house is an anchor or a child is the end of fun as you know it, you must keep silent. Do not retaliate or defend your choice. Do not hesitate or hurt. Remind yourself that you are happier on this turn because of the direction you chose… That this is your path and that the people speaking to themselves aloud have made the equally important choice for themselves to be single or unwed, un-mortgaged, or without attempt for children. And you must honor their choices as well.

We need to start a revolution. To fight human nature, which tells us that the grass is greener on the other side. We must not pull others toward feelings of regret to protect us from those feelings ourselves. And we must also watch ourselves when we are tempted to react to some news of a friend’s new direction following a fork in the road.

Do not compare their choices to those of your own. Just listen, love, and accept.


We need more advocates for love in this world. For inclusiveness. For appreciation of these crossroads and the opportunities these choices make. For those that follow different paths and for those who go in an expected direction.

You are not better because you are different. You are not better because you are the same. You are you and your “you” is beautiful. I am me and that is beautiful too.