Click, click record & repeat!

Do you take a ton of photos on your phone? What about video? Who is the subject matter most of the time?


When my husband died suddenly  seven years ago at age 37, I was lucky that I had taken so many photos and videos. But, it was all about my son…which is typical. We wanted to catch him making that funny face, documenting his  new wiggly dance, listening to him speak in complete funny sentences at such a young age. But the result was not many photos of mom or dad! In the videos I can hear my husband’s voice occasionally, but rarely see his face. I see this happening with other couples. We stop taking photos of each other, and just focus on the kids.


This fall season, while picking out pumpkins, tasting fresh apples, getting sticky from donuts and cider, please make it a point to capture photos of the kids but also the Mr. or Mrs. AND BOTH Mr. and Mrs.  For single moms this is especially hard, but ask people around you to take photos. Better yet, ask your 3-year old to take a photo – you know they have years of experience with your phone! Find another family and offer to take family pictures for each other.  I guess “selfies” have helped tremendously in this area, too.


Take more videos. Record the everyday ramblings of not just the kids but of dad cooking bacon on a Saturday morning. Record mom as she asks the kids to pick up their rooms…because someday they will miss that voice, even asking them to do chores. Record the contagious belly laughter. It might make you cry someday to hear it again, but you’ll be glad you captured it.


Finally, DO something with these photos and videos. Take time each week to at least email yourself your photos, or upload them to a photo site like dropshots or shutterfly (or dozens of other options). Move the videos to a safer place or get them transferred to a DVD. You will be glad you did.   I have spent many hours making photo books on Shutterfly and Snapfish. (I wish they were compensating me for advertising for them!). My books generally take 10+ hours to make, but I do it in stages over several nights: upload photos, choose book, edit/crop photos, add text & stickers and review. I save the book in my cart until there’s a half off sale…which is often. (Traveler’s tip: Great Wolf Lodge offers a free 8×8 Shutterfly book – be sure to ask for the coupon!)


So this fall…………click, click, record and repeat…a lot. Enjoy the moment without needing to get “the perfect” shot. Instead, focus on getting mom & dad’s photos and voices documented. Record the laughter and the tantrums. (You heard me. Document those, too!) Instead of checking facebook while at a family outing, record the chillens picking on each other or holding hands. You’ll miss their squeaky little voices! And as a family, look at the photo books together and recall those quality family moments. Even if the kids moan about watching the footage, they’ll be grateful for it…someday. And, as scary as it sounds, you won’t all live forever, and to be able to listen to voices again…trust me – it’s a great thing. 




It’s a dirty job – and I’m an expert.

Do you remember that show “Dirty Jobs?” I remember thinking, who in the world wants to do that for a living? Who wants to work with sewage, or be covered in mud on a daily basis? Who wants to shovel manure all day, or work in a meat-packing plant? There are many grungy jobs I would never want to attempt. 

Which dirty job would you never want to do? Realistically, someone has to, or should do, this job in order to make the world function, right? They may not be fun jobs, but we rely on others to do the dirty jobs in this world. For a lot of people who do those dirty jobs, they are actually really good at it, passionate even. It doesn’t matter so much what job you are doing, as long as you do it with all of your heart and soul; you are helping someone, you are creating to help others, you are servicing others and you work hard while doing it.

I never had a dirty job. With the exception of diaper duty while babysitting, I’ve had pretty clean jobs. Well, until….the last seven years or so.

In 2009, I was thrown into a full-time job that I never wanted. I didn’t dream of becoming an expert at this. I never wished that people would consider me a “go-to” person in this field. I dreamed of a wedding (singular)  and babies and vacations. I didn’t hope that someday, people would call me for advice on this awkward topic. I didn’t want this dirty job….GRIEF. It just may not be as visualy dirty as Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs but people hope to avoid it.


Grief is a dirty job. It is messy, unpredictable and lasting. It is downright hard. It might get easier one moment and then throw you right back to where it all started, with a smell, memory, song, or the way the wind blows. Grief doesn’t end at 5pm or at the end of 5 years. Grief lingers. But here’s the thing – grief affects everyone. Every single human being. And it’s awkward. We struggle with what to say, or what not to say, or how to help – really help.

And now God has given me the experience so that I can call myself a sort-of “expert” in the field. I’ve been through the variety of emotions, experiences, learned practical tips, attended and led support groups and grief conferences, read a lot of books, and made many friends along the way who have been there.

What about you? What are you an expert at…that you didn’t want to be? What have you gone through, that has equipped you to be a “go-to” person? If you are open about it, please comment on this post.

“God allows pain because it is the secret to our purpose.”  –Emily Wierenga, author/speaker.

Most importantly, (read this twice): Do you recognize your painful experience as a gift from God? Do you realize you’ve become an expert, maybe unwillingly, in order to help others? 

 Share: “I am an expert in ________.” 

Just Breathe…


When is the last time you absolutely dreaded a conversation? I mean, ache in the stomach, sweaty palms, wishing-you-were-on-a-sunny-beach somewhere-not-here…feeling??  Maybe it is a work-related scuffle with a co-worker, or giving someone bad news, or admitting you’ve made a mistake, or calling someone out on an important issue, or finally coming clean about something?

There are all sorts of reasons we get anxious about conversations. We anticipate what might be said, what we will say in response or in defense. We fear different outcomes. We fear the “not yet known.” We fear things won’t be the same, or will be the same, despite the difficult conversation. I think that is one of the many reasons why Facebooking, emailing and texting is so popular.  If you don’t have to face that person, if you don’t have to see their reaction and emotions, it makes it easier on you (and maybe them). But sometimes there is no option – in person it is.

Whether it is anticipated or we are blindsided, whether it is work or personal, life-changing or about laundry-changing, with people we know well or barely know…there can be different levels of anxiety.

How do we prepare for those anticipated scary conversations? How do we suit ourselves for being ready on the spot for the unanticipated scary confrontations?

I have one of those anticipated, scary conversations coming up this week. I am analyzing, role-playing, imagining words that might come up, preparing for the worst, praying that I can take the high road instead of saying something I might regret.

I am clinging to a verse I heard today at my church home:

1Peter 3:9: Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Our God knows the whole story. He knows what’s been said and done, and what you want to say! He knows your heart, your worth (beyond measure!) and he wants good for you and has good in store for you.

This week, I must remember this and just breathe. I must offer a blessing instead of being defensive  or insulting. Can I really do this?? Can I??  I will have to let you know if I did!

Take the high road. Always take the high road. Bless others instead of insulting them. It’s hard. It’s reeeeally hard sometimes. I’ve not always been successful at it. Because we are not always successful at these things, God provides ways to remind us and equip us.  Seeking encouraging verses from the Bible, attending church, calling loyal friends who remind us to do good, and keep us on that high road.

For those times when we are blindsided by confrontations: breathe. Clench your fists and pray for silence while we let those emotions fly in our mind…until we can say something in response that is calm and less impulsive…and maybe even, a blessing.  While this is very hard, when you’re not sure you can do it, when you’ve got a million things going on in your life and you don’t need this chaos…..JUST BREATHE. Then, thank God for that ability to inhale and exhale…and even bless someone in the hardest of situations.

Breathe – Jonny Diaz   -If you need a reminder this week to “Breathe”….listen to this and read the words. I’ll bet you can totally relate.


Let Labor Day be Opposite Day

My family recently had an “opposite day.”  We ate cake in the morning, wore our pajamas to church (we totally did) and had pancakes and bacon for dinner.  I used to do this more often, when my son was younger. I recall making Mac ‘n Cheese at 8am for breakfast, followed by mowing the lawn in pajamas. I highly recommend this tradition.

With tomorrow being Labor Day, we had plans today to drive up north to relax….but with kids is it really “relaxing?” My son is old enough to get himself ready and keep himself happy, but my daughter definitely takes work …. A lot of labor to get everything packed, tossing toys back at her during the ride, and being her constant shadow while she discovers all of the awesomeness that a lakefront cottage has to offer. So, due to the thought of all that “labor,” plus recovering from a fun-filled day yesterday, and still monitoring my daughter’s low-grade fever….we decided to stay home today and probably tomorrow.  (Note: to prevent any tone of ungratefulness, I am thankful to have access to that cottage, grateful for the fun-filled day yesterday, and glad that it is just a fever…but stay with me here). 

In honor of Labor Day, I am doing the opposite: not Laboring. It’s, I guess, “Opposite day of Labor Day.”

I certainly hope this is the case for you, too. We live in a world full of deadlines, have to’s, need-to’s, and miscellaneous obligations. We rush around- not smelling any roses, not looking up at the clouds imagining what the shapes of fluff resemble, not even checking things off of our list – because, “wait, there’s more!”  What is the #1 answer when someone asks how you are or how your summer has been???  “Oh, you know, busy….”  It doesn’t seem to get any less busy…ever.

This Labor Day….no matter what stage of life you are in…I hope you can “not” Labor. As soon as you are done reading this (and after telling all of your friends to read it, ha ha), make an announcement to your family that you are NOT going to Labor this Labor Day!  Play board games, play lawn games,  just lie on the floor and let your littles crawl all over you and bury you with pillows and blankets. (In fact, you might be able to get a 4-minute cat-nap in this way!)  Put a sheet on the grass under a tree and tell everyone to grab a snack and a book and head outside.  Make your “to do” list something like this:  1)    …….and then throw it away!

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.

I know, I know! Easier said than done. Someone has to make the food, keep the house (somewhat) in order… oil the machine.  There will always be a hundred things to do.

But come on….if you are weary, if you are burdened, if you are both (like a lot of us)….let “Labor Day” be “Opposite Day.” DO put off today what you can do the next day, if it entails hard work.  Relax. BE with your family-with not just your body, but your mind, your eyes, your hugs, your ears.

Do the opposite of Labor…on this Labor Day.  And don’t forget to thank the Maker…. for …everything. 

girl looking at clouds