Little happy… little sad

His voice cut the 30 minutes of silence that had filled the car. After a bit of small talk and my attempts to gather some information about the young man earlier in the ride it became clear he wanted to escape into his air pods and the music I could hear softly from the front seat. I had never met this young man before and I had hoped I would learn a bit more about him and his home country, Vietnam, on our hour and fifteen minute ride to the airport. I succumbed to the reality of the quiet ride and drifted off to my own thoughts.

‘I don’t even know what I’m feeling.”

At first I did not realize he was talking to me. He had been speaking to someone on his phone earlier in his native Vietnamese tounge but this time his words were in english and directed towards me.

When I snapped to attention – I leaned in to his comment – “Yes? Feeling about what?”

“I’m a little bit happy and a little bit sad – all at once.”

Hmmm.. I replied – “What is making you feel happy and what is making you feel sad?”

“I’m happy to see my mom, eat my home cooked food, sleep in my bed. I’m sad to leave my friends and this school. I like it here.”

This young man had developed a reputation for not caring about school. His efforts appeared to be enough to just skate by. One would think all he wanted to do was leave and never come back. For a couple of minutes in the car he revealed the label he had of not caring, not connecting may not have been entirely true.

A little bit happy and a little bit sad.

I affirmed him that it was indeed a strange reality to experience two opposite emotions at the same time. One coin, two sides – flipping back and forth between the two trying to figure out where to land. He spoke a few more words on what appeared to be a first time experience for him in his world of teen emotions and then drifted off to the silence and his music. We reached the airport, unloaded his luggage and I bid him farewell. I do not know if I will ever see him again.

Yesterday was full of happy/sad moments for our community. We celebrated the graduation of our Senior Class and the reminder that the relationships that had grown during the last year would now take on a different reality. A large portion of our student body are international students which means the end of the school year means our students will not just return to their homes around our small town but to twenty different countries around the globe. Goodby takes on a whole new level of happy/sad when it takes 24 hours and three flight changes to return to your home land.

One American student commented that she didn’t realize she would cry so much during the graduation ceremony. Another student from Armenia reminded us of her offer to host my husband and I in her home if we would ” Please come visit!” Every year I tell myself I will get better at handling my feelings on this day but like my new friend from Vietnam I have landed again in the happy/sad conundrum that sneaks into the silence of our souls in the midst of the busy of transition to a new season of life.

Little happy, little sad.

As I pulled away from the airport I reflected on my brief yet important conversation. I was reminded that so much of life is not all happy and all sad. I thought of the tug that I have when I label life ‘good’ when I’m happy and ‘bad’ when I’m sad and I rested in the fact that both joy and sorrow can hold the same space and actually work together to make it more beautiful, more appreciated, more loved.

I am grateful I decided to say yes to a last minute request to drive this student to the airport. He was an unlikely candidate to remind me of an important truth of life on the eve of dropping my son off at a camp where he will work this summer and a couple of weeks before we drop our daughter at another camp to do the same.

Little happy, little sad… all at once.

The sweet dance of life….let the music begin.

Ani from Armenia – We can’t wait to visit

Head pats, bear hugs and a hand squeeze

Allie pats my head.

Jonah gives me bear hugs.

and Brooke….

she grabs my hand.

Three humans -now swiftly moving to adulthood – grown and flown as they say, that once spent the first 9 months of their lives inside of me. They were physically closer than any human can get with another – literally attached by a cord of life, needing my heartbeat and my nutrition. Is it a wonder the emotions shared between mother and child are so intense, complex, beautiful……

I’m so glad I’m a girl.

I’m so glad I got to be the one that housed the lives created by the love of my spouse and I.

I’m so glad for the months of wonder, and heartburn, and joint aches, and weight gain and doctors appointments.

I’m beyond grateful that our journey to parenthood was simple and text book and in many ways just like I’d imagined it would be.

And now 23 years into the parenting journey I am even more grateful for the gazillion moments of joy, challenge, sweetness, frustration, growth, that far exceeded my expectations. These three humans: The head patter, the bear hugger, the hand squeezer have impacted me more than anyone else on the planet. They are gifts that took residence in my heart from the moment I knew of their existence – deeply rooted, deeply loved.

And tomorrow, for some reason, the world has told me – I should expect a grand celebration commemorating all the blood sweat and tears I have shed in the raising of my tribe. It is a pretty big bag of expectations we’ve placed on our husbands and children.

Some moms will enjoy breakfast in bed, brunch after church, bbqs with family.

Some will receive flowers, jewelry, appliances and depending on how creative the childs teacher – a sweet hand made gift you’ll have sitting on your desk or hanging on your wall for years to come.

Some will get the “day off” while their spouses take their kids to the park or the zoo.

And it will be good and sweet and lovely.

And it may not.

This past week I have read several blogs and listened to several podcast with the theme of Mothers Day. One reflected on the importance of Moms staying grounded in God’s word as they raised their children. Another was advice to dads on how to best show appreciation for their wives on this special day. One discussed the pain that many will feel due to their inability to have children, the loss of a child, a challenging relationship with their mom or the loss of their moms. All of this input surrounding this day left my mind swirling with what to say as I made my weekly pause on this blog that would post the day before the yearly tradition of showing our moms all the love.

I realized as I thought about all the ways a woman will enter this day – with either anticipation for the celebrations or the dread of another year passing in pain…there is an important common denominator that we would be wise to recognize. Whether your quiver is full or empty. Whether you are in a season of peace and calm with your children or you are feeling deep sadness over choices you or they have made that have severed relationships that seem far from being able to be mended. Whether you are on your third round of fertility treatments or your child has left this earth before you. Whether you will wake to three toddlers bouncing on your bed in excitement or the sound of dishes clanging in the kitchen as children attempt to create a feast…..

The desire for motherhood provides us all with one important gift…

the one that drives us to our knees in prayers of gratitude, anguish, anger, praise,

the gift that points us all to the need for a Savior.

Recognizing our need that can be filled to overflow with a powerful, peace giving God is the gift to all women.

The desire that he gives us to nurture will be filled, can be filled when we trust the One who does both the creating and the filling.

When I was a young mom my unspoken expectations of the day were for peace and calm and maybe a bit of pampering. The days when I felt the need for a break are long gone.

Today my desires are simple…

A head pat.

A bear hug

A hand squeeze

And the reminder that even though tomorrow I’ll physically experience only one of those three…

My Lord, my savior, my life giver …

Your Lord,

your Savior

Your live giver

will meet me and will meet you right where you are.

Let the celebration begin.

Head patter, bear hugger, hand squeezer.

Deck pillows and other avoidance techniques

It’s when I start scrolling the internet for good deals on outdoor porch cushions that I know I’ve got a problem…

I’m trying to avoid.

Finding just the right pillow that will match my newly planted flowers was top priority yesterday evening, or so it seemed. There I was three sites in when I caught myself. I had pillows placed in three different carts – some striped, some floral, some solid. Did you know you can spend $75 on one deck pillow? #Potterybarn. And yes it was in my cart. I know – I was in full out avoidance mode. After 30 minutes of scrolling I realized I felt just as empty as when I had started. The $5 pillow I had picked up at Walmart earlier in the day would just have to do.

And I would need to sit in the yuck that I was running from.

My mom has cancer.

My mom has cancer.

My mom has cancer.

Maybe typing it multiple times so it shines back at me on my screen will help it all set in. Similar to the old school discipline technique of writing sentences 100 times promising to change the behavior of an elementary child.

I will not talk while the teacher is talking.

I will not talk while the teacher is talking.

I will not talk while the teacher is talking.

I actually still struggle with this one. It’s just better if I don’t sit next to a friend in church, or a conference or anything where I need to pay attention. I’m a verbal processor so it’s very likely I’ll feel the need to do so mid presentation. sigh.

There I go again. What were we talking about?

Oh yes.


My neighbor stopped me a few days ago to ask about mom. He said he was sorry and that he was praying. I believed him. His wife was taken by this awful disease 4 years ago. No history in her family that they new of. Out of the blue. Just like my mom. I responded that I was sorry that cancer was part of his story as well. There we were – a man that could be my father and myself – both holding our membership cards to a club you never want to join. We share a connection, a knowing.

This week my mom got to ring the bell. The one that signifies the end of treatment… in her case her chemo. There are bells in chemo and radiation clinics all across the world. When my mom rang her bell the staff of doctors and nurses and any staff in hearing distance clapped and cheered. My dad gave my mom a long hug. She had crossed an important finish line and her crowd had showed up to let her know what a very big deal that was.

My sister sent me a picture of the event. Neither my sister or I live close to my parents so we have taken turns each time mom has a treatment and she was there to celebrate the bell ringing. She promptly sent me a picture and I promptly posted on social media.

When I clicked over to instagram to share the big news… I found I was not the first of my friends to post a bell ringing picture. My moms pic would follow behind the news that a college friends young son had also finished treatment ……

for cancer.

And then yesterday….. a young mom from my community posted a picture of her bell ringing day, one stage of her treatment finished….

for cancer.

Another friend from town posted her pic after chemo #4. 13 to go.

Geez Louise.

Another friend shared she would not be able to attend a group of friends gathering today for tea because she was making a quick trip out of town to visit her dad… in between treatments…..

for cancer.

It’s dang everywhere.


As I sit and write this, eyes off the deck pillows and on to the reality I’m living I am reminded of some things that have also become clear in this season.

When I posted the pic of my mom ringing the bell I received over 400 “Likes” and counting. Countless comments of love, support, prayers, encouragement. It was beautiful – It is beautiful…

This unified community that surfaces when a cancer diagnosis is revealed. When strides are made to bring it to its end.

The demographics of the cheering fans was fascinating.

Different ages..


skin colors

sexual orientations.

Im certain we all didn’t vote for the same candidate for president.

Some have been vaccinated. Some never will.

Some double mask, some have never felt cotton touch their facial skin.

Some have not left their house in over a year, others roam freely around the planet.

Some city.

Some country.

All showing up. Cheering in unity for my mom.

Because of cancer.

Interesting isn’t it?

It’s the one thing, the ONE thing…. that I have found that has had the power to gather us all – to lay down our differences that feel so loud and appear to be working so hard to drive wedges in our friendships and family bonds.

So Cancer. Listen up.

We see what you are trying to do. Kill. Steal. Destroy.

Somedays it feels like your are winning. Some days the darkness feels like it’s just too much.

But Cancer – you forgot.

You forgot the power of people when we get poked in the places that connect us all – our human fragility.

You forgot what happens when you mess with one of our own – one of God’s created. One that has been given a plan before they were even born. What you wanted to use to divide is actually causing us to unite. Nice try. Nice freaking try.

Over 400 likes – from a group as diverse as the day is long.

The most I’ve ever had for a post. As an extroverted, enneagram 7 with Significance in my top 5 strengths – I pay attention to these things.

Maybe cancer is our springboard. Maybe its the place we can all sit in agreement. Maybe its the hot cup of coffee that brings us to the table in empathy, love and a listening ear. Maybe its the starting point for healing and conversation.

It’s this belief, this opportunity I see in this very hard season… It’s the truth that lifts my eyes from my deck chair pillows and on to…


I actually don’t need any more deck pillows……