For the Love of Community


image courtesy of Michelle Craig Discavage

Six months ago when I filled out an application to be part of Jen Hatmaker’s launch team for her new book, For the Love, I had zero idea what I was doing. Launch Team? I don’t know what that requires, but I have followed Jen Hatmaker for years {in a non-stalkery way} and love her style of telling it like it is without being preachy. Her style of communicating makes me feel like she’s my best friend and we’re having a heart-to-heart on my front porch over a glass of wine mason jar of sweet tea. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that a chance encounter at Target might go something like this:

Me, five aisles away, spotting Jen and a few of her children in tow: JEN!! {waving frantically}

Jen: {chatting leisurely with her kids, seemingly ignoring me, but I don’t take it personally… yet}

Me: JEN!! OVER HERE!! By the CANDLES!! JEEEEENNNNN!! {more frenetic waving}

Jen: {casually looking around… did I hear my name? Not recognizing anyone… let’s go along, children}

Me: {visibly getting frustrated… is she DEAF!??} JEN!! Uhhh. Jen? {pushing my cart quickly… okay, I’m now running like a crazy person… in Jen’s direction}

Security: Uhhh. Ma’am? Is there some kind of problem? I’m going to have to ask you to leave if you can’t control yourself.

Meanwhile, Jen has escaped and is wondering at the drama going on over by the candles. People can be so weird, man.

Obsess much? Yeah. I’m a fan. And I think Jen’s my friend. Her books have a way of making you feel like that. And y’all… I’m not alone. 5000 people answered that call to be a part of that launch team of 500. I still have no idea how I made the cut. Perhaps they needed a middle-aged voice prone to hashtagging her inner thoughts. I just might fit that niche.

This really is about the book and why you should get yourself a copy immediately. I promise it is… but it’s also about the community that’s been created around this book. This Launch Team {and yes, it deserves to be capitalized}. Nothing short of amazing how community sprung up almost immediately. We have shared our stories, prayed over each other, grieved together, celebrated life events and maybe even inadvertently spewed diet coke over online dating woes.  Jen didn’t just write a book…she wrote a community.

This book. You can read it by yourself. It’s stand-alone-awesome. But I think the best way to read this group is with people. Gather, share, delve in and really process. Challenge each other to be better. To love better. To be for each other.

“People crave what they have always craved: to be known and loved, to belong somewhere. Community is such a basic human need.  According to Jesus, the love of God and people is the substance of life.” —Jen Hatmaker, For the Love

Community. It is the life-blood of our existence. Gather your tribe. Even if it’s one person. And her person. And her person’s person. Gather. Share. Grow. Love. I know my life is forever changed by For the Love. I can’t wait to hear how it’s changing yours. If you’d like to read more about the book, several of my friends on the Launch Team have shared their own thoughts. Check out the blog tour on Jen’s page.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 10.41.45 AMI’m also giving away a copy of For the Love. Because it’s that good and I want someone to be blessed by it. I’ll draw the winner Sunday, so your submission should be submitted by 9 pm EST. Click the rafflecopter link below and BOOM. You’re in.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Great Expectations

With Father’s Day right around the corner, I guess I’ll chime in with my thoughts on this day. Reminiscing about my dad is tricky business… at least it has been since my parents died 15 years ago. With a sibling that left our nest before I was even born and two others older than myself, we grew up in much different environments. What was true for me might have been far from the reality for my siblings, but all I have are my memories…after all… they are mine.

I wish that stories of old were important for me years ago, but sadly, by the time I was really interested in them, they were gone, or locked away in the depth of a dementia-riddled brain. I wish I knew more about my Dad’s family other than sketchy details. My dad wasn’t an open book—far from it, really. Much like others in his generation, hard things were better left buried. Being raised by an alcoholic father with a quick temper {or so I’ve been told} paved the way to his own parenting skills. He was less Father Knows Best and more like a Fred Flintstone/Archie Bunker hybrid. {For you young whippersnappers who might be reading… these are relics from the 50s, 60s and 70s, and I’m seriously dating myself.} >on dadsMy dad was a man of few words {at least to his children} and I attribute that more to an inability to relate to kids and establish clear parent-child boundaries than his lack of love or a cold demeanor. While my parents stayed happily married until their dying breaths, during my years under their roof, my dad was absent more than home—such is the life of a traveling salesman. My father’s re-entry into our normal pattern of life on the weekends was upsetting to the dynamic of life during the week. News on in the evening. No talking during that hour. Meat and potatoes and no food touching {I never ate a casserole, something my father abhorred,  until after I left home!}. Not an air of hostility or anger, but just different.

My father might not have said much, but he loved through his actions. Working hard to provide for his family. Small PDAs with my mom, like little love taps and kisses. He always kissed us good night, always kissed my mom when leaving the house. He wasn’t much of a leisure-guy in the sense that we went on a ton of vacations or enjoyed picnics in the park, but he did teach us all the importance of appreciating the finer diversions in life… namely Saturday morning cartoons, sitcoms in the evenings and always Johnny Carson’s monologue. I think my dad enjoyed Saturday mornings even more that we did. He’d laugh boisterously over Road Runner’s antics and plottings against Coyote and was a huge fan of Tom consistently being outwitted by Jerry {not those lame new cartoons with them!!}. While his laughter was a constant, it was always accompanied by a glance to share in the joy with whoever was present. Similarly, I loved watching my parents watch tv… the looks between them made the shows that much more entertaining. When my dad died, I felt the loss of his presence profoundly when I would sit with her to watch tv in the evening.

Like my siblings before me, I tangled with my dad over principles. Each of us was entitled to his own opinion, but only if it coincided with his. My dad had hopes and dreams for me, as did I for myself… but we did a lousy job of working through our differences. I was head-strong {still am} and my stubbornness clashed terribly with his. His authoritarian demeanor rubbed me 50 Shades of Wrong, and I bucked back hard. I was invited to blaze my own trail, but on my own dime, and I was only happy to comply. I defiantly marched straight out of that house and went to college 650 miles away, never looking back.

It took me years to understand a father’s love for a daughter and the desire to protect her. Years to forgive him for not supporting me and cheering me on to go to college and imagine my dreams. I needed to grow up, have kids of my own and experience the art of parenting for myself before I could really understand where he was coming from. We parent from what we know, and his parenting model was broken. He did the best he could with what he was given. Likewise, I have tried to be a good parent and even though I have failed in so many ways, I hope I have improved on the legacy left to me.

I wish my parents could be around to see the wonderful human beings their grandchildren have turned out to be {not only mine, but my siblings’ children, too}. I’d love to be able to thank them for showing me constant love and apologize for turning my back on them. I’ve been able to take the lessons learned from my dad and use them to be a better parent for our children. We have such high expectations for our parents, and sometimes we just need to have our own children to learn that we are all just flawed humans doing our best to build the next generation.

Grace and mercy.

A lesson I learned from my Father, whom I met up close and personal when I was in my early 30s. His love for me changed the way I parented—not perfectly, but better because my kids grew up with that bedrock on which to build their own lives. And that’s a legacy I hope will be passed on for generations to come.

Friday Favorites: Sensory Perceptions

Friday-FunThere are several things I am loving about being a part of Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love Launch Team, but one of the best things has been the authentic community among the 496 women and 4 men on the team. I could go on and on, but that’s an entirely different blog post. Today, I’m joining some of my new friends in a Friday Favorite link-up, hosted by Kelly over at Mrs. Disciple. The nudge to write is so needed; my voice has been really empty for too long, and I’m thankful for this little exercise in writing. Thanks Kelly for the inspiration!

Summer tickles my senses in so many ways…

DSC_0575See    This morning, as I was watering my garden {love, love, LOVE my garden, even though it means more work}, I was crushing on my hibiscus. The biggest, most ridiculous blooms of hot coral pink against deep green leaves with these crazy, hairy stamens that are pure Seussian inspired! I could stare at them all day, and I should, because tomorrow… poof! Gone. I can’t get over the effort that goes into making these blooms only to wither and die by the next morning.

Hear    We don’t live in the country, but we are blessed with a wooded easement behind our house {more on that later} with a generous supply of big, mature trees in between our large lots. Even though we’re within walking distance of Starbucks, Krogers, Home Depot and more restaurants than I can count, we’re blessed with all types of wildlife. Listening to our little feathered fledglings is a hoot! {sorry, I couldn’t resist.} Bluebirds in one house, Wrens in another and tiny Chickadees in a birdhouse that hangs in a nearby Dogwood. There must be some crazed activity inside, since that little house literally rocks on its branch. I can only imagine what it sounds like in that house since I can hear them quite clearly inside my house with the windows and doors closed! Mourning doves {we call them Winnebagos with wings… let’s just say they are frequent attendees at our birdseed buffet every morning} to owls. We’ve got music from sun-up to sun down.

Smell    With the woods around us, we get some unwelcome guests, too. I’ve not encountered any snakes per se, but I have come across their discarded skin. I guess I can cohabitate with them so long as they stay out of sight and eat the things they’re supposed to eat and keep the pests at bay. Too bad they don’t tangle with skunks. We’ve had more than our share of unfortunate encounters with these noxious critters. Sadly, our dogs have been on the receiving end of their uncanny ability to hit their target—considering they aim backwards. A direct hit not only causes our dogs to wretch, but their owners, too… and the remedies are really never as effective as people claim. Just last night we had three of the cutest little black and white fuzzballs outside the fence. Fiesty little things… not afraid of our snarling weiner dogs in the least. But why would they when momma {you know, the one with the fantastic ability to hit her target from behind???} is poised and ready with the kill shot. Oy!

cherriesTaste   Summer comes with all kinds of produce bounty… but the best are the fruits. Nothing tastes as good as a crisp, ripe cherry. An extra bonus is the fact that my kids won’t eat them {pits}. I don’t beg them to try or change their wicked ways because more for me, yo. A close second is watermelon. Smells as good as it tastes. Mmmmm… almost makes me want to have a picnic.

Feel    I will not complain about the heat, humidity and the accompanying large hair. Will. Not. Because I absolutely loathe the cold and get all dark and twisty from January to mid-March. So even though I could wear oven mitts to hold the steering wheel of my car and melt at 9 am in my garden, I savor every ding-dang dog-day of summer.

So. That’s what’s been tickling my senses. What about you?

For the Love…

A year, y’all. A flippin’ year.

That’s how long it’s been since I thought I had something to say.

And still I struggle with this voice of mine.

{yeah, right, says anyone who knows me. girl can hardly shut the heck up.}

True. The struggle is real.

Fast forward a year, and here I am, one of 500 chosen to read Jen Hatmaker’s newest book, For the Love, due to come out in August of this year.

Pinch me.


I don’t know if you’ve ever read anything by Jen Hatmaker… book, blog, tweet… it doesn’t matter. She speaks truth, usually with great hilarity and after a few short paragraphs, I feel like she really knows me. Like if we bumped into each other at the Target, she’d wave with a big smile, scoot her buggy over to mine and we’d catch up on all of each other’s business. That kind of know. I realize that’s crazy with a side of nuts, but it’s how I feel.

I don’t remember much about the application I filled out to be part of this launch team, but I do remember gushing about how I cyber-stalked Jen for a day on Twitter the day she was speaking at our church. She laughed when she met me later and even looked “happy” to snap a picture of us together. Bless. She was probably scared. I also might have mention how I “get all stabby” when other people refer to Jen as their friend. I mean… she’s MY friend. Back off, girls.

It was not an application of high literary genius.

Much like this blog.

What in this ever-loving-world am I doing on this launch team? I facebook like it’s my flippin’ job, tweet about two times a year and Instagram pictures of my feet. {I know. I’m ashamed just typing this.} Clearly, I have mad social media skills and why wouldn’t they want me on this team? {Perhaps it was fear again… the stalker who gets all stabby…}

But I’m here. A voice for the WFHENMAMMOT {Working From Home Empty-Nested Middle-Aged Married Mother of Two}.

Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.

Or maybe they do. Of the 5000 who applied, these publishers have picked 500 {mostly} women to read Jen’s new book before it launches in August, then blog, facebook, tweet, instagram and shout from the rooftops about how awesome it is {and trust me, it is. I’d like to highlight the entire book!}. These 500 are already some of the most life-affirming, positive, creative, energetic, hilarious people I’ve ever met in 48 hours who absolutely know how to blow up Facebook.

My in-box runneth over.

500 extreme Raving Fans working social media and creating a heavenly buzz about this book. I know I’m not alone when I say that all 5000 of us have probably already pre-ordered at least 5 copies ourselves. Good move, Thomas Nelson. Genius, actually.

So there you go. Thanks, Jen, for helping me dust off my blog. This is going to be fun.

Dreaming and Reality. One {swollen} foot planted in each realm.

Over the past three months, I’ve been embarking on a new adventure. One that requires me stepping out in faith, not listening to my inner “no,” and having the fortitude to press on when the terrain gets tough.

I sort of wish this was me losing a ton of weight and being about ready to run a 5K, but who am I kidding. My feet still swell up like watermelons with little pork sausages for toes…

2014-02-28 17.31.06I wonder if I’ll ever get “back on my feet” or if what I just need is a small dose of get-over-yourself and dig in and do what I can to stay active. The doctor, as well as others who have had a similar surgery have said it takes a year for full recovery… so patience, grasshopper, you have permission to freak out on Oct 1. {I’m pleased to report that since returning from vacation two weeks ago, my feet have returned to a less-frightening degree of swollen, and the dr has declared me “healed.”}

Sorry. Small detour.

I’m back.

So I investigated a business opportunity, found it to be viable {although not without some on-line challenges, but then again, what business isn’t facing some cyber-challenges these days?}, and entered into negotiations.

Hello, people, that is huge for me. In the past, I would have just thought about it, said how great it would be for me, and then procrastinated until someone else came along and did it instead of me.

I kicked procrastination in the ASS, friends!!

Well at least this procrastination. I hardly have the edge on it’s hold on me… who am I kidding??

Apparently I kid a lot.

I have hit a bit of a roadblock… financially speaking. Not sure how I proceed from here…perhaps this is where I need a second round of some ass-kicking, as it would be easy for me to walk away thinking I came, I saw, I tried, but no.

So what to do with this no?

I’m inclined to shrug my shoulders and say it wasn’t that viable of an idea after all, but another part of me says reach for dreams. It’s just that dream-reaching for a semi-arthritic 51-year-old seems scary, and a bit foolish.

So I guess it’s dig-in time. Even though I’m about to hit the motherload of busy. Wedding, new stores {current job} opening, freelance projects, family life.

Pppfhsh…who needs sleep anyways!?


And So It Goes

Not too long ago, I wrote about declaring war on sugar.

Round One: Sugar 1, Me 0


I read an article about sugar this morning, and I have got. to. get. a. handle. on. my. addiction.

Crack, people.

24 g a day. That’s it. There’s 4 g of sugar in every teaspoon of sugar.

I’d like to tattoo all 25 reasons to eliminate sugar from my diet to the insides of my eyelids.

Maybe my thighs. Totally more room there. *sigh*

You. Sugar. I’m seriously digging in my heels.

And you little Girl-Crack-Pushing-Scouts can take your Thin Mints and Samoas and…


Place them carefully where I can’t reach them. {You are little girls, after all, and know not what you do.}

Sugar. You are dead to me.

I wish.