I was hoping our waitress didn’t see each time I told my child to sit down, he sang a song about shaking his booty to make his brother laugh hysterically. Sure, I threatened to take him to the car if he didn’t start eating, but to be honest, I was too hungry and tired to follow through. Who was I kidding? I knew she saw it. Everyone in an 8 table radius saw it. I wasn’t aiming for any parenting awards, and lost my follow through motivation after the portable dvd player waged war against me a couple hours into our road trip. The boys weren’t all that angelic for our dining experience, my husband had a headache, and I was trying to rush the kids so we could get back on the road. She caught me eating a sliver of pie over by the dessert buffet. When she looked at me inquisitively, I explained to her I was hiding since the pie was something one of our kiddos is sensitive to. She smiled, patted my back, and offered me a cup of coffee. Each time she checked on our table, she chatted with our kids and made us all smile. It’s safe to say, I liked her. I liked her a lot.


As we were leaving the table to go to our car, our sweet waitress shook my husband’s hand and then hugged me goodbye. She either felt sorry for us, or she just really liked us. Either way, I appreciate a good hug, especially from someone like Ms. Barbara. The thing was, I was planning on going in for the hug first, but she beat me to it. So yeah, take that, dark world. Love isn’t as dead as you want us to think it is.


Barbara practically glowed with love and grace. I noticed it from the start. What we thought was going to be a pit stop to refuel physically, turned into a refueling spiritually for me. I love tangible reminders there is still good in this world. They feel like whispers floating down from God above saying, “I’m still here.” In today’s world, we need all the reminders we can get.


What would it take for you to be a light that shines as Ms. Barbara did in her restaurant near that interstate exit? Would it be they way you speak to your children today? The way you act towards your spouse this week? Could it be in the grace you show others when they aren’t on their best game? How about the way you love a random stranger you cross paths with?

Let’s look for opportunities and take them. Let’s send a message to this world that love is alive and shining bright.



Giving Thanks


For some time, after our Grandmother died, we longed for the broccoli casserole she had perfected in her kitchen. Eventually, my sister had a revelation, “Our broccoli casserole will never taste like Grandma’s because we don’t use expired cheese whiz.” It was true. The cheese whiz was the secret ingredient, and Grandma’s jars were always at least a couple years past expiration. And just like that, it was the end of her casserole era. Thanksgiving would never be the same.

Thanksgiving with my in-laws brought a bit of change at first. I grew up having small family gatherings where all of us fit around one table. My husband’s family Thanksgiving was bursting at the seams with a crowd of loved ones. I was quickly outed as a foreigner, to the group of southerners, when I referred to the dressing as “stuffing.” It’s practically sacrilegious to even whisper the idea of white breadcrumb stuffing while in the sacred midst of cornbread dressing. Even so, the family embraced me like one of their own from the beginning, and I fell in love with them and their turkey day traditions.

After the death of my Mother, many of our holiday traditions changed. She was the center of every family tradition, and then suddenly she was gone. We moved forward, with the heartbeat of change. However, our hearts were forever achingly different.

Sometimes change is easy. Sometimes change is hard. Somehow, during the holidays, the challenge of change can be compounded. I’ve learned, although still struggle with, the benefit and beauty of being present in the moment. How can you focus on the blessing of the now, when distracted by the fact it may be different than the past? How can we live in the moment if we are fearful of change to come in the future? How can we truly appreciate the day to the fullest?

As we sojourn through an ever changing world, we can cling to the fact there is One constant. The Lord of yesterday, is the Lord of tomorrow, and the Lord of the now. He is still on the throne. He is still in control. The now is a gift. It’s a beautiful moment wrapped up in a package with growth, love, and potential to prepare you for the tomorrow. There is peace there for those willing to sit with it, be okay with it, and be thankful for it, even if it doesn’t look like what they would have asked for. Beauty is revealed in this place.

Last night, I read a book to my boys about giving thanks on Thanksgiving. I intend to do just that this year. I invite you to join me. Whatever our Thanksgiving may look like this year, may we embrace each moment for what it has to give. May we be grateful, thankful, and expectant of its beauty and blessings.