Mashed Potatoes and Trust

“Mom! You agreed to let us make the mashed potatoes, and we’re doing it. You don’t need to micro-manage the whole process!” The words my daughter spoke stung, but they were true. I had allowed her to be in charge of creating the decadent, buttery-smooth potatoes that were her favorite part of our traditional Thanksgiving…

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Expanding the Boundaries

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions. – Oliver Wendell Holmes Growing up in a religiously conservative, white community in America’s heartland, my view of the world was rather small. My community included our family farm and my grandparents’ house, which was next door to…

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To My Elders

Four years ago, on a wintery morning, a fierce, truth-telling woman whom I cherish as my elder told me something I have never forgotten: “You can’t know where this story leads. All you can do is look at this moment and do the next right thing.” At the time, we were speaking of a romantic…

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Broken Hearts and Blind Barriers

After an incredibly embarrassing loss, I decided to shore up the courage to go comfort my friend in his dorm room. I signed in at the front desk and memorized lines of what I would say if someone caught me walking to his room, aka “the forbidden place.” The entire football team was in a…

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Let’s Go

I’ve grown accustomed to the feeling that something awful will happen to my husband and daughter at a young age. Every once in a while, it hits me that something could happen—an illness or injury that takes them from me all too soon. Recently, however, I’ve felt a relatively new fear: that illness or injury…

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Intangible Beauty

We sit on bar stools at a reclaimed wood counter in a refurbished grainery. Each cupping hot coffee, my friend and I stare at the large, heavy snowflakes surprising us all in early October. Across the street, an urban lot is being demolished. I no longer remember what had been there. The entire north side…

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Returning To My Rested Self

You would think apple picking is about the smell, but it’s not. At first, it’s about the feel. The air is always colder than you think out in the orchards. Even with a stocking cap pulled down past my ears and a cozy green flannel zipped up to my neck, a shiver occasionally runs the…

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Empty Spaces

I whispered, “I am not my burnout,” a phrase I held underneath my breath just silent enough so no one else could hear. These words erupted as Jen Hatmaker was giving a stellar keynote at the recent Brave On conference. While I do not recall Jen’s exact words, I sharply remember her speech triggered a new…

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Forever-Altered Landscape

One recent morning, a memory of the smell of the Cape Cod shoreline seared across me so sharply I almost gasped.  Our memories of place can have this effect on us.  After decades in the southwestern desert, I still miss the scarlet reds of east coast maple trees in autumn so much that I sometimes…

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Choosing Hope

Today, we made an offer on a house in the hopes that it will be our home. Surrounded by great towering trees, the house is a classic ranch-style home built in the 1960s. The prior owners started remodeling it so that it feels more contemporary. They tore down the original interior walls and opened up…

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