A Shopping Cart Full of Goodies

Thursday, November 30, 2017

March 30, 2017

I went to WalMart on Halloween. When I made it to the check-out counter, there was a woman in front of me who was unloading her cart. I watched as she arranged a puzzle, a book, a bunch of cokes, and  some pudding on the conveyor belt. Her total was less than $30 and she was "set".

I didn't exchange a single word with the woman. I was probably picking up lettuce and bread and milk and bananas and eggs. Those are items I buy almost every time I make a quick run for essentials.  I may not be able to remember what was in my cart now, but I do know that I was letting watching her distract me from the things that were on my mind. I remember thinking her haul was a pretty great little round-up and wondering what it was that I would include in my "ingredients for a perfect evening" shopping list.

I wondered why it was that that's what she was leaving WalMart with. Did she come in intending to buy those items? Had she just received bad news and wandered around the store picking up items as she went? Maybe they weren't even for her? Maybe she was buying them to bring to someone else who needed a little cheering up?

I stood in line behind her, fighting back tears and willing myself to look alive.

The feeling that my world was crashing in was threatening to overwhelm me. I stood there wondering just how many other people around me were dealing with the same feelings. If I'm honest, the tears I was doing my best to hold back were welling up in my eyes just waiting to spill over. I held them off. No one had any reason to know or suspect that something might be very wrong.

I focused on the puzzle and the book and the cokes and the pudding. I'm here now almost a month later mostly doing a lot better. I'm still thinking about that woman and her shopping cart full of goodies and wondering what they were for and what goodies I would put in mine if given the chance.

What would be in your shopping cart full of goodies?

PS I've read this post over a million times.
I know it sounds sad and pitiful...
But, it's not meant to. 
I've gone back and forth on whether
I should just make it about the lady.
But, I've decided to leave it the way it is.

No Good Way Out

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

October 22, 2016

Last week I was watching "Closed Circuit" on Netflix and there was a conversation that happened between the two main characters that stuck with me. The lady turned to the man and said, "There's no good way out of this." A lot is going on in my corner of the world at the moment. A lot more than I can ever put into words here.

I've been putting one foot in front of the other and reaching out to my closest friends to talk through things and to make sure that I know they're praying. I've been reminding myself that God is in control and that He is good and that He keeps His promises. I've been listening to music that will help me keep my eyes on Him and sermons that remind me that unkowns are not as powerful as I often think they are.

If I'm honest, I just want out.

I want the suffering to be over. I want to be free. I want the ones I love to be loved. I want rest and peace and unity for all of us. And yet...That might not be what God has for us. That terrifies me. He might mean for the suffering to continue or even to increase. He might mean for freedom to look like the opposite of what I've been begging for for so long. He might want the ones I love to be hurt over and over again by the ones that are supposed to love them so that they know just how precious His love is. He might mean for the rest and the peace and the unity to be a thing we are always hoping for.

Betrayal is hard. Abandonment is terrifying. Broken promises sting.

Suffering is a given in this life. We will disappoint one another. We will hurt one another. We will make poor choices and suffer the consequences. Sometimes, we won't suffer those consequences alone. Unexpected things that are outside of our control will come our way. We'll grow tired and weary and we'll feel weak. We'll want out.

Like the man and the woman in that silly little movie, I've come to realize that as much as I want out, there really is no good way out of this. At least, not that I can see or arrange.

So, here I am. Pushing in. Pressing on. Waiting on this long night to pass. I don't know if there's a way out, but I know there is a way through.

There's grace for TODAY and there will be grace for every single day after this one.

If you've found yourself wanting out and knowing that there's no good way out and fearing what might be just around the bend, rest in the promise of that grace. The One who knows you and saved you and does all things for the good of His people and the glory of His name has you in His hand and no one and no circumstance can pluck you out of it.

You might not be able to find a good way out, but there's rest in knowing that He gets His people through.

Reading List: Fall 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

I might be wrong, but I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've put together a true reading list for myself all year. I've been saving up almost all of these books and looking forward to them for quite a while. For obvious reasons, they all seem like the perfect books to curl up with as the days grow colder and shorter.

We've got a mix of historical fiction, mystery, classic, thriller, and even a biography. 

I'm almost finished making my way through this list. As always, I'll come back by as I finish each one to update each title with a short review. 


A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner // What a special book this was! It's the kind of novel that has a way of quieting your soul and confronting you with the parts of life that need thinking through. My heart felt heavy and light all at the same time. Love IS worth the risk. There IS more to every story and every heart than meets the eye. God is at work in the details and we CAN trust Him not to leave us to battle against some kind of cruel force of random fate.

Zelda: A Biography by Nancy Milford // I snatched this book up to do some research for my own novel. I didn't get too far into it before I had to return it to the library, but I got far enough to know that I'm incredibly excited to finish it! Milford did her research and talked to every single person who knew Zelda personally and was willing to share what they knew. After years of reading about her and her stories and letters, I'm excited to see it come together in what seems like a very credible biography.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie // I'm always in the mood for more Christie. This one was incredibly funny. So funny that I laughed out loud often. I might still be laughing over some of the scenes that happened in this story! It also totally messed with my mind. Christie won this round (I didn't figure out whodunit on my own).


The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo // This was the classic I started hunting at the beginning of the year. I found it at a used book sale this spring and set it aside for this fall. It turns out, I got an abridged copy by accident...That said, it was actually really, really good. Like so many classics that I expect to be dark and depressing, this one turned out to be something else entirely. I was impressed by the way he nonchalantly tied in humor during even the most serious plot points. Like Christie, Hugo had me laughing out loud often. He also provided a creepiness that was both eery and disturbing. Drippy Paris comes to life and you will probably find yourself chilled to the bone at times. Hugo's style is unique. I'm ready for more! Who knows...I may even tackle Les Mis one day!

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan // I didn't LOVE this book, but I have a lot of great things to say about the way MacMillan writes and specifically how she goes about weaving a mystery together. I wanted this to be a thriller that would suck me in and be read in a few sittings. It was exactly that for my friend Shauna (and countless others before here), but it wasn't that for me. I spent 10 days wading my way through this mystery that somehow I just couldn't get into or care about. My biggest problem was the pacing...The plot was moving WAY to slowly for me. I was impressed by the way MacMillan developed each character and wrote out their emotions so well. I was impressed by her choice to keep the strong language to a minimum and to refrain from getting graphic with anything. This is an author I'll be recommending! Here's to hoping that the next book of hers that I pick up is one I can rave about!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

What are you reading this fall?

Currently: November 2017

Monday, November 06, 2017

November 4, 2017
Somehow, it's November. NOVEMBER. I have mixed feelings about November, mainly where the weather is concerned. Just being honest. Even if it is a little get-over-yourselfish of me. It's not the shorter days, I actually kind of love those. It's the bitter cold. I'll never be okay with that. Still, I do try to cultivate the whole mind of winter thing.

I'm going into this winter with a job I adore, another season of a Christmas show to be a part of, a list of books to read (fall and winter reading lists coming SOON), and all the Christmassy stuff I look forward to each year. It really should be good.

In other news, I'm currently...

Realizing: People realllly expect you to live your life for yourself and that somehow it always surprises me. I don't really know how to answer them. What if I told them spending my life the way I do IS fulfilling? What if I told them I simply can't imagine being mainly concerned with me?

Stirring: Lots and lots of soup. I've already made chili and clam chowder and beef stew and broccoli soup. What's YOUR favorite soup?

Appreciating: The way God leads His people. I haven't written about it here at all yet, but we've got some tough days ahead of us at my house. We've been in the trenches for a while and the ball finally dropped. If I'm honest, the church we're part of didn't handle it very well. I'm grateful that I KNOW God for myself and am secure in Him. He tends my soul better than anyone else can ever hope to.

Investigating: The Fitzgeralds for the book I'm working on. Military uniforms for that Christmas show I'll be behind the scenes for. How to pace myself and my priorities. NF's new album (Outcast, 10 Feet Down, and Let You Down are my fav tracks so far).

Following: The leads...People who have been around the block at work and in life. There's something so freeing about asking questions of people whose answers you know you can trust.

Linking up with Anne and Julie.

Snowy Saturday Afternoon

Saturday, November 04, 2017

November 4, 2017

I'm looking out of my window and it might as well be the middle of winter. Snow has been coming down off and on since yesterday afternoon. Oddly enough, most of the trees still have a fair amount of leaves on them. The tamaracks haven't shed their needles. And yet, the sky is moody and gray and the ground is covered in white. I'm curled up with a coffee and a quiet evening ahead of me.

Grab a mug of your own and let's chat!

After I got off of work today, I sat at a table and tried to write out an essay about the coffee shop where I worked in high school and college. It's going to close before the end of the month. That little building brought a lot of life to the town where I grew up and an essay seems like the least I can do. I sat for most of an hour and scribbled down over four pages worth of words, but I'm really not sure they're the ones I had in mind.

By now, most of you know about this new job of mine. I'm working in a library and I'm absolutely loving it. Everyone who asks me about it, gets the same response, "I keep having to remind myself I'm getting PAID to do this." It's that great. I've been writing a post in my head for a while now about what working there has taught me so far. One of these days I'll type it out and leave it here for you to enjoy. You'll be surprised at some of lessons that were waiting for me.

In completely unrelated news...Murder On the Orient Express comes out Friday! It's the first movie I'VE wanted to see in theatres in a good long while. I'm a little nervous that the director is playing Poirot and was very intentional with putting the spin on him that he did. BUT. It's Christie on the big screen, a classic, and I'm just excited that another generation is about to see her genius.

I've been kicking some new words around in my mind lately...Grateful and love and too, to name a few. I've said one, been told another several times over, and put some flesh on the last one. Words can be important. We speak them in such a half-hazard manner sometimes. More often than not, if we're honest. Let's not do that, okay? Let's think over our words and speak the ones that are true. Let's allow ourselves to be shocked by what is shocking and not shy away from asking for clarification. Let's not mull over words that should never have been spoken and be sure to apologize when we've said something we shouldn't have.

It's a snowy Saturday afternoon and we're in for an extra hour of sleep if we play our cards right. Here's to that hour and the difference it's sure to make in the week ahead!

What's on your mind?

The Scenic Route: Turning 27

Friday, November 03, 2017

For my birthday this year, my sister and I set out on another adventure. My birthday fell on a Tuesday, so we took my brother to COLLEGE and then headed out for coffee and a penny walk. I read about penny walks YEARS ago on some blog written by some lady in New York City and I fell in love with the idea. Here's the deal: you go for a walk in a safe place and every time you come to an intersection, you declare heads one direction, tails another, flip that penny, and then go the way the penny directed.

I sipped on the last of the iced toasted marshmallow lattes and my sister sipped on a mango jet tea. With penny in hand, we set out to explore a neighborhood that has captivated me ever since we've moved here.

We ran into a very promising geocaching hidey-hole, a stylish creepy guy (at the beginning AND end of our walk), a ton of beautiful houses, and even more beautiful trees. The air was just slightly crisp - as it always is in the first days of fall - and the sun was still shining in full force. I learned that sweet gum trees may just possibly grow here (a HUGE surprise).

We had all morning and it was magnificent. God gave me a sister, you guys. I'm still amazed at what a blessing that is!

After the penny walk, we went for Chinese at our favorite buffet before picking our brother up. We even squeezed in a little time at the beach where we ran into a woman in a bikini. It was far too cold for a bikini. But...I'm always running into older women in bikinis using the sand to give themselves exfoliation treatments by the water's edge. I'll remember her along with all the others. There's a lesson there. I'm sure of it. I kicked my tennis shoes off and rolled up my pants and stood in the water as long as I could. That's my version of bikini exfoliationing.

K...So, I'm breaking the rules with more words in the middle of a scenic route post, but...This is exactly two seconds after ALMOST walking through a cloud of cremation smoke. A noise erupted out of my throat and I couldn't stop my sister fast enough...This is no joking matter. I was totallllly creeped out. Needless to say, we took a picture to text to our Mom. And then we RAN. After I took a few more pictures of course...

That was 27! It was all kinds of special. The theme this year was brown paper packages. And can I tell you something? It's possible to have a special day even when things go wrong. My cards were late, there wasn't any cake, and I spent the evening ALONE before making a late night run for Dominoes and dropping it by the theatre. The morning with my sister, the phone calls and texts, and gifts that did arrive all added up to something pretty great.

I found out later that my Mom was TRYING to plan a surprise party for me since she knew that the rest of them had to be at rehearsal. On the morning of my birthday, one of the people she had asked to help head it up texted saying something about how it just wasn't going to work. THE MORNING OF MY BIRTHDAY. Go ahead, please laugh. I know I will be for YEARS to come. 

The cards finally came, in case you're wondering. And 27 got off to the kind of start that seems fitting for the year ahead. Things are in God's hands and we can trust Him. There is joy right where you are even when things seem beyond pitiful. You never know when a little extra thought and care and TIME can mean so much to someone in your life. But they do. 

And trust me. They do. 


Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Here's a post I drafted back on August 29, 2017. I'm not sure why I never shared it, but today seems like just as good a day as any to hit "publish", so here you go. 

October 22, 2016

This word has a few different meanings. It can mean an excessive amount of something. Too hot. Too cold. Too old. Too young. Too different. Too much. Too, whatever. We use it all the time. We look and we use "too" to describe the person or the thing or the feeling and we step back from it. We let it change our mind, or at least, shape our mind. We have observed and decided and described.

Anything and anyone can be too whatever.

Every once in a while, we run across the other kind of "too". The kind of "too" that means also. Me too. It's the "too" we use when we can't help but relate. When we look at a person and realize that there's something really great happening. It's the "too" that brings us closer. We use the word to speak our mind and reveal a little piece of our heart and we step forward.

We meet people and we immediately size them up. We hear about a place or visit a place and immediately begin to compare it to what we're used to or to our expectations of what it would be like. One way or another, we're going to settle on some kind of "too" to use. Sometimes it's a way to express excess and sometimes it's how we announce perfection.

Three letters are useful and say so much. Sometimes, we're wrong. Sometimes, we think it's one kind of "too" and then time goes by and we realize we really meant to use it the other way.

I have so many friends who are a lot different than me. I met them and we both probably thought we were "too" whatever...but, we got to talking and kept talking and met up to do things and helped each other out and listened and all of a sudden, the differences melted away. It always catches me by surprise. I'm wondering if it'll ever stop, but I'm kind of hoping it never does.

There's something special about seeing yourself in someone else and clicking right away. Really special. But, then there's something to be said for discovering a friend in someone who is the exact opposite of you too.


Sometimes, what you thought was excess was actually just perfection waiting to be discovered.