Category Archives: Life

To Fifty More

When you’re young and you hear a couple has been married for 50 years you think, “OMG! That is so adorable! Fifty years of hanging out with your best friend? Marriage and love are so cool!”

When you’re a little bit wiser older you and you hear a couple has been married for 50 years you think, “Wow. They didn’t kill each other. Bravo to everyone involved!”

My in-loves are celebrating 50 years of wedded bliss today. Bravo!

Aren’t they adorable?

These two are a lot like Mark and I. Very different.

One is the head, the other is the heart.

One says “Sure!”, the other says “Let’s think about it a little more.”

One says “Toss it, it’s junk,” the other says “But we might need it…”

Fifty years of this, y’all. Fifty. Years.

The remarkable thing isn’t that they had the differences, but that they didn’t let the differences tear them apart. That they didn’t give up.

And I’m so thankful that they didn’t give up.

Because not giving up taught my husband what real love looks like, day in and day out. They taught him commitment and loyalty. They taught him not to talk when you’re mad. They taught him how to serve someone even when you maybe don’t always like someone. They gave him an understanding of love and marriage that a romantic comedy could never touch (well, Up probably got close).

If they were writing this blog they would probably mention that they got here because of Him. They would tell you all the stories about how they almost screwed it all up, but God. They wouldn’t call theirs the greatest love story, they’d call it their greatest testimony.

A testimony to a God that redeems.

A testimony to a God that forgives.

A testimony to a God that provides.

A testimony to a God that showers blessings.

A testimony to a God that is good, even if nothing looks the way you thought it would 50 years ago.

The Lord is good. His love endures forever, His faithfulness continues through all generations.Psalm 100:5:

This family you two have built is beautiful. Thank you for everything you’ve done for us and taught us!

Love you both!

On Emailing Strangers and Catching Fireflies

A couple of years ago I was watching PBS do an interview with a science dude that was explaining the Polar Vortex. I liked his explanation. I liked that he seemed passionate about weather science stuff. I felt like he needed to know that his contribution to the world was appreciated.

So I googled until I found his email address, and let him know:

polar vortex


There’s a kid in grad school that has been predicting the primary election results using data from Facebook. It’s fascinating. He’s very good. He’s doing it for ‘fun’ and because that’s what he wants to do in the world so why not? He put out a tip jar and I threw a couple of dollars his way because good work deserves a little something, something.




I don’t know that there is anything I’m more protective of than what I call the Holy Spirit tingle. You can feel it in your bones when you’re in the zone, when you’re doing what you’re uniquely gifted to do.

I think we live in a very distracting world. We chase down material things or status or security, and the Holy Spirit tingle is lucky to be an afterthought. The Holy Spirit tingle is quiet and gentle. It doesn’t demand attention. I imagine finding it is a lot like catching fireflies. Once you see it light up, when you see the general area she’s in, you have to change your focus so you can still see her when her light fades away.

It’s so easy to get discouraged when you are chasing down fireflies or Holy Spirit tingles. It’s so easy to give up. That’s why I look for random scientist’s email addresses and donate money to kids that are doing insane amounts of work “just because.” That’s why I fight for Mark’s songwriting, write books in the hours before work, and am trying really, really hard to get a school started where kids get to chase down every firefly they are blessed to get a glimpse of. In a very loud world full of “Be practical!” “Don’t dream!” “Grow up!”, I’m desperate to add my voice to the voice whispering, “Keep going” “Add your magic to this world” “Have faith.”

The Toast I Would Have Given

These girls have been friends since Apollo Middle School.

Junior high.

Who does that? Who keeps in touch with and likes hanging out with people who know what you looked like in that awkward stage where your hair was so big because you didn’t understand mousse and you wore the same wide-legged jeans every single day because they were the only pants that you knew wouldn’t be mistaken for ::gasp:: highwaters #horror

We do, but only because of Shelly “The Glue” Nickerson.

That’s right. Shelly P just became Shelly N (this nickname will probably not stick #allgoodthingscometoanend).

My best and longtime friend got married this weekend. We didn’t do toasts because I’m pretty sure that Shelly and Matt were done being in the spotlight as soon as the ceremony was over, and I’m never going to volunteer to public speak, but public write? I will public write all over the place. So here’s what I would have said…

“May I have everyone’s attention? I’d like to toast the happy couple!

Shelly, there really aren’t enough words to tell you how much I, and probably every person in this room, love you.

This week I was in charge of “planning” the bachelorette party. Y’all know this because I didn’t shut up about how hard it was, and how drained I was, and how OMG I’M NEVER PLANNING ANYTHING EVER AGAIN!

And I thought about how Shelly has been thinking about me, and probably every person in this room, for years. FOR DECADES! She’s been thinking about what we like to do and what we like to eat. When it’s been too long since the last get together. She’s been thinking about what the easiest route is for everyone. She’s been thinking about us and showing up for us and helping us calm down when we want to be dramatic for many, many years.

She’s been an anchor during crazy times. She’s been a compass when things feel crazy. She’s been the first text when we want to share the good news. She’s been the opinion that made the most sense. She’s been the encourager when you’re pretty sure you suck at life.

And I don’t know a lot of things, but I do know this. I have not said thank you enough. There’s no way I could. You’ve done too much for too long and too consistently. You win at friendship.

And friendship? That’s the key to this marriage thing. Showing up when it’s hard. Being kind when you want to be mean. Making sure it hasn’t been too long since the last Hint, Hint, errr, I mean, get together.

Matt, I know you know you’ve found a winner. And as your pretend marriage coach, here’s what I’m going to need you to do:

Tell her thank you. Every morning. Every night. At the end of every text message. Before every “I love you.”

Tell her thank you because she’s your glue. She’s holding things together that you didn’t even know were falling apart. And she does it all with grace and kindness and beauty.

Shelly, thank you for being my best friend since before text messaging.  Matt, thank you for making Shelly so happy, and congratulations on finding the very best wife on earth. I love you both! Congratulations!”

On Voting and Schooling and Living

I’ve never paid more attention to a primary than I have this one, and it’s not just because of Bernie. It’s actually more because of Sudbury.

There’s an argument that having closed primaries is “undemocratic.” But it isn’t. A primary is for a party and a party is, at the end of the day, a club. They aren’t required to be democratic for anyone other than their members. And being a United States citizen may make your voice count in a general election, but it doesn’t mean your voice matters to a political party.

Most of us don’t understand this because all we really know is “America is the best country in the world! Democracy is the awesome! Thank you to the men and women that fought for my right to vote!”

Then I wonder, “Where was everyone supposed to learn about how our government runs? Who was responsible for teaching us what it takes to get registered? Where were we supposed to learn that our voice matters? Where were we supposed to learn how to actually advocate legislatively for our families and communities?”

And the answer is supposed to be school, right?

The school that handed out the coveted Citizenship Award to the best (read: most obedient) child in the class.
A good citizen is an obedient one.

The school that has classes called “Government” but the only thing I remember doing was “learning” all the states and their capitals.
Fill your head with trivia. Don’t worry about thinking.

The school that made announcements every day of the spring semester to make sure every 18 year old male was registered for the draft, but never seemed to muster the same amount of passion to make sure the same 18 year olds were registered to vote.
Fight our wars, but don’t vote on them.

I’m just not buying that the education system as a whole (not teachers in specific) is that interested in actually producing citizens that are engaged with life. Which is where my excitement about Sudbury comes in.

I know I have a reputation for being all about everyone following their dreams. And that is me. I want everyone to be the you-iest you you can be. So I’m sure everyone thinks my love of Sudbury is about my kid having the freedom to follow his passion for YouTube lawnmower videos. And that is part of it.

But the other part, the biggest part, is that I want him to wrestle with life and his community as early as possible. And I don’t think there’s a better place to learn to wrestle than in a democratic free school.

Let’s pretend Otis wants to start a blueberry farm at the school because he loves blueberries. He doesn’t get to just walk outside and start digging because the school isn’t just his, it’s the school’s. So he’d have to come up with a plan for his blueberry farm, and probably start talking to others at the school about his idea to get them on board or at least supportive of a Blueberry Farm. He’ll have to figure out how to get the Blueberry Farm item on the school meeting’s agenda. He’ll have to think about possible arguments against the Blueberry Farm and how his plan will address them. He’ll have to present his plan to his peers. He’ll have to deal with the real pain of rejection if they vote no or the elation of success if they vote yes. He’ll probably learn that either way, yes or no, life goes on and there’s always a new thing to worry about tomorrow. And his peers are going to learn how to listen to big ideas about Blueberry Farms and ask questions to figure out if Otis’s Blueberry Farm is a good idea for not just Otis, but the whole school.

My hope is that when you’ve spent 12 years advocating for yourself and your community, you aren’t going to walk into the ‘real world’ and just stop. You have developed a worldview that says, “I have the right to ask questions, make my concerns heard, and be active in this ongoing conversation called Life because that’s all I’ve ever really known.”

Meet Kate

There is no area of my life where I feel more blessed than in friendships. God has introduced some of the most magical women into my life, and Kate Mason is possibly one of the most magical of all.
Kate Mason
She is fierce and positive and charming and she glows. Literally. Because her skin? It’s amaze. But that’s not really the point.

Then she got pregnant. And I held my breath because motherhood and all the emotional junk that comes with it can make even Beyonce wonder if she’s got this (and we all know that Beyonce always gots this).

So once she came out of the twilight zone of newborndom, we went to coffee with baby in tow. We talked about all the changes the baby brings and I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful motherhood looked on Kate. And not because she’s a Pinterest-perfect mombie, but because she was confident and listening to herself and respecting herself all while being a nurturing and attentive mom. It’s not an easy balancing act, trust.
I have a theory about why Kate is so good at listening to herself on this beautiful journey. She doesn’t have Facebook. Or Instagram. When she wants the grandparents to see a pic of the baby she sends a text. Novel, right?

So she doesn’t have all of this noise in her head. She can hear herself. And if I could point to one thing that is magical about Kate is that her lack of noise is contagious. When you sit with her she is there and listening completely which helps you be there and completely listen. I know because I’ve sat with her numerous times as I sorted out what my next steps were as far as my career, and her ability to help you see the real questions is, for lack of a better word, magic.

I have gushed enough. With a lot of begging from me, Kate is offering up a new coaching program specifically designed for new moms, and I can’t tell you how excited I am about this yes, I totally can. Instead I’m going to let Kate introduce herself!
After the birth of my first daughter, I experienced what could only be called an identity crisis. I realized that with the addition of this new, strange creature that literally made my heart hurt from love, I had to reevaluate almost every aspect of my life. My relationships had changed, my body had changed, my confidence wavered and my creativity stunted as all my energy was spent keeping this living, breathing baby alive.
As a control addict, I craved a structured program that could walk me through the steps to get me to the new, awesome self I knew existed. As a certified life coach, I developed that program. Motherloaded: A 12-Week Coaching Program for New Moms Experiencing the Inevitable Identity Crisis was created to help moms discover their new selves, as a mother, a partner and a woman. Over the 12-week course, everything from inner confidence to personal style to relationships with friends and family will be discussed. Issues like sex after baby, communicating with extended family, meeting new mom friends, and more will be evaluated and goals will be set.
I am currently taking new clients and would love to hear from you! Please feel free to email me for more information, pricing, etc. Also, if you are so inclined, don’t hesitate to pass this along to anyone who might be interested. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Kate Mason

Hope Berns Eternal #StillSanders


Last Tuesday I saw that Bernie, a man in his seventies, was holding like 5 rallies in 5 different states in one day. I was patting myself on the back because I thought about going to barre that day.

When I saw that I knew that no matter what happened that night, no matter what the primary results were in MO, IL, OH, FL, and NC, I was going to keep fighting for Bernie because he wasn’t going to stop fighting for us.


Hillary states are done. Most of the remaining states are pretty solidly Bernie states. His “mathematical” chances at winning the nomination are still alive.

Here’s the thing.

Six months ago all of America thought a Trump nomination was insane. There was no way we’d buy into his foolishness. And then he went xenophobic and we thought he’d lose people then. Then he went straight up violent and now we’re pretty certain that he’ll be the Republican nominee.

I know it seems insane, on this side of the election, that he could become our next president, but I really think it’s possible. And I don’t believe that Hillary can stop him. I feel insane typing that, but I think America is very pissed right now, and I truly don’t believe that she’s going to win America’s hearts or votes in a general election against Trump. The Republicans were naive enough to think people would “come to their senses.” I don’t want to repeat the Republicans’ mistake.

But I do believe that Sanders can beat him because he’s Trump’s exact opposite. He’s trustworthy. He’s a servant of the people. He’s a representative. He’s always done what he says he will do. He looks out for the little guy. He looks out for us.


(I have so many thoughts. Sorry.)

Bernie has every reason to give up. No one would blame him. But he hasn’t given up on us, so it would be just the very best if we didn’t give up on him.

There are lots of ways that we can help Bernie blow out the western states:

I can’t tell you how amazing it’s been to know that his campaign hasn’t died because millions of people keep giving him $27. He hasn’t had to accept money from corporations or super pacs because the people know what’s up. One of Hillary’s people recently said that this would all be over if Bernie wasn’t so good at raising money. He said, “They lose a state and they give money, they win a state and they give money. It’s insane!” Be insane.

This has been how I’ve volunteered. I find my friends of friends that like Bernie in states that are about to vote and I invite them to events that remind them to vote and give them all the info they need to make sure they get to the polls. It took me no time (maybe 30 minutes) to Facebank for all of the 5 states from last week. You can learn how to Facebank here:

I haven’t phone banked, but I will. This terrifies me because phones are from the devil, but that’s how much I believe in Bernie.

And then this reddit site has been how I’ve stayed in the loop with how to help with the campaign And if you’re in Middle Tennessee you can join this group

I fully realize that this is silly. That his chances are slim. But it isn’t often that we get the chance to support a candidate like this and I really don’t want to sit on the sidelines.


I #FeeltheBern When I Pee. Is that a problem?

This was the first Bernie meme that caught my heart:

It made sense. It was compassionate. It wasn’t something I was hearing from other candidates. “I don’t know who this Bernie is, but yeah. I like him,” I thought as I scrolled Facebook.

And then I watched the Big Short. And then I remembered this video I saw a couple of years ago.

First things first:

I do not care about free healthcare.
I do not care about free college.
I believe in HEALTHY capitalism.

I did not give Bernie my vote because I wanted free stuff.

I gave Bernie my vote because, even if he accomplishes nothing else at all, I want an old man yelling and screaming and making noise every time a politician paired with a big business tries to pull one over on We the People. I want every decision Washington makes made knowing that there’s an old man standing behind them with a flashlight ready to tell America what exactly they are doing.

He is the only politician I can trust to bring a flashlight to the White House. No, he isn’t going to fix everything. I understand this, Cynical Friend in the Back of the Room. But if every other politician/”representative” is trying to figure out how to make sure Big Pharma, Big Banks, Big Prison is taken care of then I’d just really like at least one guy ready and willing to make sure We the People are taken care of.

The Poor (Brown) Mom is officially endorsing Bernie Sanders.

Now, how do I get off of this soapbox?

Angels on the Corner

When Mark and I were house hunting in 2012 we worked with an amazing realtor and his suggested mortgage finance lady. Besides the fact that us buying a home was an epic act of faith, there was a moment during the process that has always stuck with me.

Our mortgage finance lady was amaze. I only interacted with her via email, but you know how some people work so hard and so well that you can smell it? Even through emails? Well, like after 2 emails I could literally feel the weight of the Holy Spirit telling me to let her know how thankful I am for her. Let her know she is doing a kick ass job. Let her know, Marie. Now.

So I pulled over into a Publix parking lot and sent her an email. “You are amazing and I hope someone in your world is letting you know how grateful they are for you on the regular,” or something like that.

A few months after buying the house I found out that something not so great had happened and the mortgage finance lady was no longer with us. I cried because wow. Who knew?

I’ve thought about that moment often. I don’t know anything about why things happen, but I wonder if God wanted to use me to tell her how much He loved her. I wondered if He burdened my heart with that message because He knew she needed to hear it. And He wasn’t concerned with the fact that we were strangers, He was more than happy to let me deliver His message.

I have faith that God used me that day to write an email.

Fast forward to 2016.

Mark, Otis, and I went to one of our usual parks on Saturday afternoon because there was a bulldozer in the parking lot and that evokes as much excitement as seeing the Beatles in the 60’s for our little guy and since it’s cheaper than Disney Land why not?

So we roam around the park and inspect the bulldozer. We check out the abandoned Christmas trees and consider walking the trail and then decide to start the whole “get healthy” thing later.

The park we were at is on a fairly busy road. Never in a million years have we walked up to the busy road. Never in a trillion years have we crossed the busy road to get to the sidewalk. Never in a bajjillion years have we walked up and down Edmondson Pike as a family.

But today we did because Otis insisted that we cross the street, and because he was being really great we were like, “Sure, let’s keep this lovely family time going as long as possible.”

We cross the street. We walk to the fire hydrant. We turn around to go back to the crosswalk. Right before we get to the light a woman walks up to us.

“That is a big boy! Are you feeding him table scraps?!”

I smile politely the way I always smile when people talk about Otis’s weight.

“Ha, yes. He eats!”

I don’t think the woman is homeless, but she is, for lack of a better word, different.

“Let me tell you something,” she says in an assertive way that makes me straighten up, “This boy is fine, ok? He is going to get tall. All that weight? It’s going to just stretch away. How old is he?”


“Yup. When he’s six it’s all gone. You are going to wonder where it all went. Just make sure he eats fruit every day. Every single day get some fruit in that boy. He is ok.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“And when it’s all gone? He’s going to start doing all the things he’s supposed to do. Don’t you worry.” She turns to Mark. “You make sure this mama doesn’t worry, ok?”

Mark nods and smiles.

Then she tells us about her recent surgery to remove her ovaries. And how her aunt had a growth on her brain. And why her uncle was getting cremated instead of buried (fyi: money. Cremation is cheaper).

I told you she was different.

“I have got to get going. But don’t you worry about this boy. He’s going to surprise everyone. A/B student. Keep reading your Bible and don’t let Satan in your thoughts.”

“You know you’re an angel, right?” I whisper as I fail miserably at holding back tears.

She walks on and we walk across the street, back to the park.

“Do you think God sent her?” I ask Mark, feeling really dumb for even thinking it.

“Do you?”

“Yes. I needed to hear all of that.” And then I start sobbing. I won’t go into details, but she addressed every single thing my heart has been crying out to God about for the last year. Every. single. thing. (Interesting note: This general topic is the only thing I asked for prayer for from my various prayer warriors. And now I’m crying because, “Wow. I am so humbled to have prayer warriors!”)

“Well, if we believe He wants to use us, then we have to believe He wants to use her, too.”

I have faith that God sent that a very different woman to tell me things very few people knew I needed to hear.

God sends the strangest messengers. I’m thankful that He does. I’m thankful that He heard my heart. I’m thankful that my little boy forced us across the street to hear it. I’m thankful that our angel wasn’t afraid to share her words with a random family at the street corner. I’m thankful that my husband shares a faith in a God that would calm your fears through a stranger. I’m thankful.

2016: No Regrets

Is anyone else so excited for a brand new year?

I know, right?!? New years are the very best. Very best.

Like all 3 of you, I’m churning my resolution ideas around in my head. Normally I like to go with a word (I’ll write about 2015’s word another day) that kind of anchors my year, but I thought this was as good a time as any to share one of my favorite tools in the Life Decision Making Tool Box.

The Regrets of the Dying

This lady that worked with people on their deathbeds identified the 5 biggest regrets she heard through the years. Y’all know I took that sheet seriously, right? Ever since I read it I have repeatedly used it as a compass of sorts for my own decision making. So as we spend the next month gearing up for lifestyle changes that promise to make us healthier, better, smarter, more beautiful, what about holding those changes up to the light of “Will this matter when I’m dying?”

5. “I wish I had let myself be happier.”

Does your potential New Year’s resolution bring happiness? Are you injecting more joy in your day by getting rid of all sugar or going to the gym every day? We spend a lot of time torturing ourselves in the name of health and wealth, and I’m not convinced it’s worth it.

Make a list of things that make you happy. Do those things.

4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”

It is so easy to think ‘staying in touch’ means hanging out. I am probably spoiled in this area, but for me staying in touch means sitting down with your closest people and talking about your heart stuff. Between regular lunch dates, coffee dates, tea parties, and Bible studies, I know what’s going on with my friends and their families and, most importantly, their hearts.

Make a list of people you care about. Carve out time for them.

3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”

There’s so much to this, but it makes me think of my mom. She has told me hard things many times, and she always ends it with, “I can’t die without telling you this. It’s how I feel. It has to come out.” Now I haven’t always enjoyed those conversations, and I wouldn’t even say that most of the time I even did anything differently (i.e. I did not take her advice), but I’m so glad she shared her heart with me even if it, even in a small way, put our relationship at risk. That’s brave, y’all. We spend a lot of time walking on eggshells around each other and robbing each other of real community. Let’s stop.

And this isn’t even about just negative feelings. We don’t share our positive feelings enough, either! Does your spouse really know how thankful you are? Does your Sunday School teacher know she dropped some life changing wisdom on you years ago? Does your kid know how much she amazes you? Mom, I’m talking to you. Heh.

How do you feel? Tell somebody.

2. “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”

Can we please stop with the busyness? Please? No one gets a trophy at the end of their life for Most Exhausted. And if your resolution adds more stuff to your already-too-full schedule then check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Look at your calendar. Begin editing.

1.”I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

Does that resolution you’re about to make help you be more you-ier? Or is it something that makes you more ‘what the world wants’ (richer, skinnier, less filled with gluten)? We only get one chance at this life, People, and I am just not sure it’s worth living it for someone else’s ideas about what should make me happy.

Look at the person that’s quietly living inside of you. Let that person out as often as you possibly can.

No regrets, Team. Let’s do this.

How to Lose Your Keys in 7 Easy Steps

Step 1
Drive places using your keys. Unlock doors using your keys. Be completely ungrateful for the power and freedom your keys provide you.

Step 2
Get home. Put your keys down BUT NEVER IN THE SAME PLACE. Bonus points if you can put your keys down in completely ridiculous places like in your kid’s bucket of legos, under the couch cushion, on top of the dryer.

Step 3
See your keys in ridiculous place. Leave them there and make a mental note to remember in the morning. After you’ve slept.

Step 4
You’re going to be late for that thing you’re always late for because you think it takes 15 minutes to get everywhere in Nashville. This has nothing to do with keys. Just a fact.

Step 5
Panic! Your keys! They are gone! You’re going to be late!

Step 6
Tear up the house looking for keys and get mad that other people (specifically your husband) exist #logic

Step 7
Find keys because prayer works and vow to put them on the table next to the door like your husband that never loses anything does.

Repeat. Every day. For the rest of your life.