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#SurvivorSeries Giveaway!

***This contest is closed – congratulations to Claire on winning the survival kit!  Claire, check your inbox for a message from me.  Thanks to everyone for reading and sharing.  Have a great weekend!  Love,  Kate***


Survivor Series is going out with a bang.  This week I put together a survival kit filled with some of my very favorite things – the tiny anchors that bring joy to the details of my day – no matter how CRAY everything is around me.

I am giving away $150 in coffee, music, books, and little indulgences.

Here’s the breakdown of my survival essentials:

-A $25 Starbucks card, because coffee.
-A $25 iTunes card, because music.
-2 copies of Erin Davis’s “Connected,” the subtitle of which is “Curing the pandemic of everyone feeling alone together.” Because RIGHT?  Community.  We carry each other.
-2 of my favorite polish colors this year, because nothing says “I AM PUT TOGETHER” quite like freshly painted nails (except for maybe the days when your underwear matches your outfit, and I’m not going there).
-2 boxes of pop-up cards featuring inspirational quotes.  Give them away or tape ‘em to your walls, whatever.  Smile.  Hope.
-A Knock Knock “I’m Doing My Best” journal, because we are.  Plus, lists!
-My favorite ever, ever lip balm (Revlon Colorburst) in 2 shades.
-3 rolls of washi tape, which is the answer to all your problems.
-A pack of Sharpie pens, which are the only writing instruments worth their salt.  They will make your handwriting pretty, which is important when you are making survivor lists in you new journal with your freshly painted nails.  It’s an experience, people.
-A copy of Lisa Congdon’s “Whatever You Are Be A Good One.”  Because Lisa is one of my favorite illustrators, and the quotes that she chooses to illustrate are perfect in every way.  I keep my copy propped on a little easel on my book shelf, and display a new page every few days.

It’s a good one, friends.

Here is how to enter:

Share your favorite Survivor Series post (on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest) using the hashtag #survivorseries and leave a comment here saying that you did so.  For an additional entry, share this giveaway and leave an additional comment.

I will contact the winner via the email address you provide with your comment.  You have one week to enter!

You can browse all of the #survivorseries posts here.

Or for quick reference, here’s a list: Survivor Playlist, Send Your Roots Down (Surviving “The News”), The News (She Will Never See Like We Can See), We Carry Each Other, Surviving a Break Up, First Lesson, Hope (On Grown-Up Optimism), Surviving a Move, I Have a Fever, and the only Prescription is More Laughter, Surviving Jealousy, You Can Do Hard Things, When Motherhood Hurts, Surviving Parenthood, Gotta Go Through It, Passion is Overrated (On Surviving v. Thriving), To The Survivors, I See You.

Happy surviving and happy sharing!

Reason # 8396 you should read my book:  “A person who won’t read has no advantage over a person who can’t read.”  Mark Twain said that, and he was smart.  So read my book.  You can get it on Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and in bookstores August 1.  

Survivor Playlist


  • 50 songs fit for survivors – spanning generations, moods, and genres.


  • 3-minute dance party.
  • Lie motionless on the floor  with the feels.
  • Scream “How you like me now?!” with  The Heavy.
  • Turn it up so that the only thing you can feel is bass.
  • Listen to “It is well with my soul” on repeat until you believe it.
  • Get your Beyoncé on.



***fist pumps around the room to Gloria Gaynor***



You can listen from here, or follow this link to open the playlist in Spotify.



The Survivor Series giveaway is still live!  Share a #survivorseries post for a chance to win $150+ in coffee, music, books, and other survival essentials.  Click here for details.

You guys, I wrote some books!  They’re really good and if you buy them and read them I will bake you cookies.*  You can get it on Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and in bookstores August 1.  


*and eat them myself because you live too far away.

Send Your Roots Down (Surviving The News)

(Image by Michael Halbert)

A person surviving The News is like a growing tree.   You can’t rush the process.  If a tree grows too fast, it will snap – unable to sustain the weight of it all.  A tree can’t grow up without first growing down.  The same is true of you, survivor.  You can’t rush through to the “look how seasoned and wise I am” part; you’re going to have to send down some roots.  If you rush it, you’ll snap.  The News is too heavy.  The weight of the truth – of your new reality – is going to take some time to be able to bear – you’ve got to grow into it, to grow up under it.

That you cannot rush the process is terrible news, because it means you have to sit with the hurt.  You cannot skip this step.  You can delay it – that’s called denial – but you can’t skip it.  If you delay it for a decade, it will find you on the eve of the eleventh year, and it will hurt just as badly as it did on day 1.

But it’s also great news, because the pressure’s off.  You need to grieve, so grieve.  Smash glass vases.  Cry all night.  Throw pillows and remote controls around the living room.  Scream at the sky.  Eat burgers and fries every night for a week.  Or don’t eat anything at all.  You are not unhinged.

You will go through the 5 stages of grief:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  Give each one the time it needs.  Send your roots down.

Eventually, you will have enough roots, and it will be time to push up.  Eventually you will be able to say, “This is how I am stronger.  This is what I learned.  This is how I was carried.  This is how my deep compassion and empathy and mission were birthed: through those labor pains.  Eventually you will be able to grow up through it and see the redemptive purpose – the sustaining hand.  But you can’t rush it.  If you rush it, you’ll snap.

If you are surviving The News, just wake up and show up.  Take your time.  Send your roots down.  Carve out space for yourself.  Just do the next right thing, and remember that sometimes the next right thing is lunch.


The Survivor Series giveaway is still live!  Share a #survivorseries post for a chance to win $150+ in coffee, music, books, and other survival essentials.  Click here for details.

You guys, I wrote some books!  They’re really good and if you buy them and read them I will bake you cookies.*  You can get it on Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and in bookstores August 1.  


*and eat them myself because you live too far away.

The News (“She Will Never See Like We Can See.”)

This is the last week of #SurvivorSeries.  This week I’m sharing a Survivor playlist (**fist pump**), hosting a giveaway (holla), and we’re talking about surviving “The News.”

There is news, and then there’s The News.

The News is cancer.  Autism.  The affair.  Fired.  The News is cops at your door saying, “There’s been an accident.”   The News comes in all shapes and sizes and it is always catastrophic.  An earthquake in your soul, cracking and upheaving the foundations of your life.  The things you thought would never change – change.

Tomorrow, I’ll share a short post (because when you get The News, you can’t be bothered with things like WORDS or ADVICE) about how to start surviving The News.  Not how to get through or find hope.  Just how to live.

Today, I’m re-sharing a post about a time that I received some News.  It is one of the first posts that ever appeared on this blog – I copy/pasted it from a Word document I’d been using as a journal.  I deleted all the cuss words.  (If you’re getting News right now, email me.  I’ll send you the cussy paragraphs.)


A journal (literally) of the hours, days, and weeks following Madeline’s diagnosis.  That you may share in our (eventual) joy and amazement.

April 17, 2008
“I’m going to be honest with you Mrs. Conner; I’m not sure how well she can see at all.”

Deep breath.

“She has decreased vision; probably congenital.  It’s possibly an optic nerve problem.”

The weight of a continent is on my chest.

“She has a searching nystagmus – the reason her eyes roll is that she’s looking for anything she can see.  I wish I had better news for you.  She needs to go to Emory for further tests.  I’ll make you an appointment for next week, but you need to know that I don’t think time will matter much here.  I’m sorry.”

I must look like a frightened animal.

Wait, what?  You’re telling me there’s something wrong?  Like, really wrong?

Oh, baby.  My baby.
Have you been living in darkness this whole time?
Have you ever seen my face?

The world is spinning and I am sick.

I can’t get out of this office fast enough. Something inside of me has snapped and I am consumed; all I want in the whole world is to get home and hold her.   I don’t want doctors, I don’t want information.  I don’t want encouragement, I don’t want prayers, I don’t want lunch.  I need to get home NOW.  I need to get home and hold her all day long.  I’ll feed her and rock her and sing to her and let her fall asleep on my chest.  I’ll kiss the top of her peach-fuzzy head and tell her everything will be okay.  We’ll take care of those eyes.  Those big, beautiful blue eyes.

Later that evening
There are five days before our appointment at Emory. 120 long hours.  That’s a lot of time to think.  Is it something I did while I was pregnant?  Something I ate, maybe?  Did I not take enough vitamins?

No – I’m assured by a still small voice, “‘Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’  ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned’, said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.’” John 9:3.

What if it can’t be fixed?  They can fix anything these days, right?  I’m not afraid of surgery or medical bills.  I’m afraid she’s going to have to live with whatever this is for the rest of her life.  In my heart, I think I already know.  I’m really not even worried – I’m just sad for her.  Yes, fear has given way to sadness, and it is unbearable.  It’s not fair.  What did she ever do?  She’s just tiny and small and soft.

God is good all the time.  My life has changed – God has not.  He’s good – and I know that.

Think clearly, Kate.  Worst case scenario: she’s blind.  Helen Keller was blind, Fanny Crosby was blind, Ginny Owens is blind.  Blind women can live full, meaningful lives.  I wonder how hard it is to learn Braille.  Oh, God, don’t let other kids make fun of her.  Please, please don’t let them make fun of her; she’s too sweet.  I will level some idiot fourth grader to the GROUND if he teases my Madeline for this. Oh, Lord, don’t allow her to feel un-beautiful for even a minute.

And here springs my very first positive thought:  This is why God made me to love words, why I learn languages well.  This is why music is so close to my heart.  Why He made me a teacher – so that I can communicate with my daughter in ways that have nothing to do with vision.

After all, this is not a surprise to God.  To us, certainly, but not to God.  Madeline was born this year, this time, to these doctors, and to these parents.  Me and Dan.  I was created to raise her.

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

I’m thinking of Hannah Hurnard’s words.  “…In the life of a child of God there are no second causes, even the most unjust and cruel things, as well as all seemingly pointless and undeserved sufferings, have been permitted by God as a glorious opportunity for us to react to them in such a way that our Lord and Savior is able to produce in us, little by little, his own lovely character.”

It will be glory if, somehow, we live more like Jesus because of this.

April 22, 2008
Optic Nerve Hypoplasia.
“See, she doesn’t blink or squint like most children do when I shine this light in her eyes.  Her optic nerves are 5 percent of normal size.  Think of a garden hose, the smaller the hose, the less water that can pass through it.  Optic Nerves connect her eyes to her brain in the same way; so with underdeveloped nerves there is no way for information to pass from her eye to her brain. Her eyes are healthy; it’s the nerves that caused the vision impairment.”

Let’s cut the doctor speak.  I can read between the lines.  You can say ‘blind,’ I won’t freak out.  My little girl is blind.

“She will never be able to see like you and I can see, but it’s possible that her vision may improve marginally by the time she’s one year old.”

Marginally.  She may be able to tell the difference between day and night?  That’s a pathetic attempt at good news.  Suddenly there is poison in my heart. Bitter, angry poison. God, it’s not fair.  She never did anything wrong.  Why would you make her live with this disability for the rest of her life?  It’s too terrible.  To never see sunrises or sunsets.  She won’t see the ocean. Mountains. Wildflowers.  Waterfalls.  Lightning.  Color.

“There is no known cause for this condition.  It just…happens. And unfortunately, there’s no known cure or treatment either.  Here.”

He hands me a card for CVI – The Center for the Visually Impaired – and for Blind Services in Atlanta.  It didn’t register, I just stared at the card; it felt alien in my hand.  I’m thinking, “I won’t need this card, I don’t need this.”

As we leave the hospital, we start making phone calls.  To all the people who wanted us to let them know right away; they had been praying for us.  How do I even start these conversations?  There’s no good way to do it, no matter how you phrase it, it still punches all the breath out of you.

“Hi Dad, it’s me.  We’re driving home from the doctor now and … she’s blind.”  The words fall like an anchor, an anvil.  I make my way through the long list of phone calls, listening to people on the other end of the line grope for words.   It’s not their fault; there’s nothing to say.

No tears yet, just numbness.  I suppose we’ll just go home, eat supper, and keep living.

One week later
Dan is having a really hard time.  A friend of mine, who works with children with disabilities, says that dads often take it the hardest, because dads are fixers:  heroes and protectors of their baby girls.  I’m sure she must be right, because here is my Dan, a first-time dad smitten with tiny Madeline – and there’s not enough money, enough love, enough medicine in the world to fix it.

We are grieving a loss, and I’m learning that all of the stages of grief apply: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  I don’t really know where I am; I am floating, but Dan is very, very angry.  We were playing around with a conversation book tonight – asking each other funny questions for the sake of lighthearted conversation that had nothing to do with disability income or MRIs.  One of the questions asked “If you had to wear a button on your shirt that summed up your outlook on life in five words or less, what would your button say?”  Dan’s response, without skipping a beat, was “God made my daughter blind.”

Dads definitely take it the hardest.

April 30, 2008
I feel like my life has started over from the beginning and I’m having to re-do all the difficult ‘firsts.’  The first time she cried in her crib AFTER we knew: I couldn’t bear to let her put herself back to sleep.  I rushed in, touched her, and whispered, “I’m here, I’m here. You can’t see me, but Mommy’s right here.”

The first time I left her with my mother-in-law so I could run errands: I gave Sandra a 30-minute crash course, left pages of instructions, and shed tears on the way to the store.  And the first Sunday we walked into church: Everyone knew, and they looked at us.  All the same look: heads cocked a little to the side, sad eyes, grim smiles.  The sanctuary was thick with pity and I tried to make eye contact with as few people as possible.   Only a few decided to say something to us.  Most of them, in hindsight, were well meaning and kind, but they just didn’t understand – and it was awful.

“At least it’s only her eyes.”  Excuse me?

“Well, you know, everything works together for good.”  Your daughter didn’t have to be blind for the good.

“I know how you feel, my nephew is legally blind and he had to have all these surgeries…”  Let me stop you right there.  Your nephew?   He had surgery options? You have no idea how we feel.

And so, I am indebted to a few tender people, full of compassion and wisdom that said helpful things during these first weeks.

My Aunt Jan said, tearfully, “Kate, I’m so sorry.”  And my mother, in response to my statement “I just want to hold her” said, “I just want to hold you.

(The “Prayer Jar” we received as a gift the week we got home from the hospital. A blessing.  How frightened and exhausted do I look?)

May 1, 2008
The next step is an MRI to make sure that the rest of her brain is developing normally.  Apparently a large percentage of babies who have optic nerve problems also have a bunch of related conditions.  Their hypothalamus and pituitary gland are affected.  They have to take hormone treatments for growth hormones, stress hormones, and thyroid regulation.  Sometimes adjacent parts of the brain are missing as well, causing learning disabilities and developmental problems.

Yesterday I spent the whole afternoon on the phone.  A call to the children’s hospital to schedule an MRI.  A call to Emory’s children’s center to schedule the endocrinologist.  A call to social security to apply for disability benefits.  It’s amazing how many questions a man named Douglas can ask about our income, assets, accounts, and medical history.  (In the end, we were denied.)  A call to Georgia Pines, an association that works with disabled children.  Another call to Babies Can’t Wait – a local resource for parents with disabled children. Physical therapy.  Occupational therapy.

I am now officially a project manager.  My PR major is coming in handy after all.  Yes, I was created to raise her.

To be continued…

(9 months later, first steps.)

If you want to fast-forward to the end of the story, here is the most recent post I’ve written about Madeline’s vision:  ”Letter to 22-Year-Old Me”

You can find the things I’ve written about vision loss by clicking the Vision Loss tag here.

The Survivor Series giveaway is still live!  Share a #survivorseries post for a chance to win $150+ in coffee, music, books, and other survival essentials.  Click here for details.

You guys, I wrote some books!  They’re really good and if you buy them and read them I will bake you cookies.*  You can get it on Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and in bookstores August 1.  


*and eat them myself because you live too far away.

We Carry Each Other

Originally published October 2013.

This week I gave away my kids’ baby clothes.  12 storage tubs, 180 gallons, 6 years, and approximately 1 million memories worth of baby clothes.

I used to dream about MAKING BANK at a yard sale.  My little first-born, type-A heart wanted to WIN at yard-saling.  I wanted to plan and organize to infinity and beyond: outfits washed and pressed and hanging by size.  Or folded neatly into Zip-Lock bags, labeled and organized by season.  The cutest clothes, the best prices, the best signage.  Lord knows that between Madeline’s wardrobe and our Thomas the Train collection we could fund our retirement.

But then I remembered what it felt like to be twenty-two with a surprise baby and no money and a tiny apartment states away from every single person I knew except for my husband.

What it felt like was numb everywhere, all the time, with a heaping side of Crippling Fear and a tall glass of If I Stop Moving I Will Die.  I remembered the faces of the people who gave me storage tubs and trash bags full of little girl clothes, and of how many seasons I didn’t have to buy winter coats.  I remembered how it felt to be carried along.

It felt like a sisterhood, like hope.

Suddenly making bank at a yard sale didn’t sound so rewarding.

Last month I began to pray for a family.  I asked God to send me a family to bless, to whom I could say, “Here.  You don’t have to buy winter coats this year – or next year – or the year after that.”

Through my friends and some of you lovely readers I found a 16-year-old expecting a baby girl this December.  I found an adoptive mother of 2 baby girls, one of whom is in chemotherapy.  I found a Ukrainian couple, too far from family, expecting a little boy in November.   I found a single mom, a brand new mom in grad school, and a mother of 5 under 7.

I folded and packed 12 storage tubs, 180 gallons, 6 years, and 1 million memories worth of baby clothes, and I shipped off every last onesie – every last dress and little pair of moccasins.


I believe that it is more  blessed to give than to receive.
I also believe that giving hurts sometimes, and I think it’s glorious how often blessing and hurt coexist.  That the things that hurt you can crazy-BLESS you.  I do not understand the math of heaven.

Giving away my babies’ clothes didn’t sting, like I was losing something I needed, but it ached, like I was losing something I loved.

The evening after I shipped the first box, I was sitting on the couch feeling achy and nostalgic when I got a message from a blog reader titled “ONH.”

Mercy.  These are my favorite emails, even though they are always fraught with fear and sadness.  This reader told me about her baby, eight months old, who doesn’t see like other babies see.  She asked me about crawling and about introducing solid foods and about how we made it – how we are making it.

I wrote answers that seemed to come from a lifetime ago – things I would have forgotten had I not taken the time and discipline to remember.

I wrote about physical therapy and introducing textures and early intervention.  I remembered how it felt to be twenty-two and to learn that my surprise baby had a surprise diagnosis - how it felt to go from knowing precious little about mothering to knowing Absolutely Nothing.

I remembered the faces of the people that told me they were sorry.  The people that told me I was brave, and that everything was going to be okay.  I remember the people who introduced me to their surprise babies with surprise diagnoses, and the people who carried us.

Friends, we carry each other.  People carried me.  People carry me still.  I carry people, too, which makes my heart feel fuller than about anything else I do on the earth.  (Except for maybe kissing my kids’ dimples and stroking their cornsilky blonde hair.)   I could have consigned all those Ralph Lauren rompers for money, but I would have been poorer for it.

What I’m saying is this: if you have tubs of clothes sitting in your attic or your basement or in the tops of all your closets waiting for an eventual yard sale, maybe start praying for a family to carry.  Then just ask – the need is everywhere and it is great.

If you have a story, tell it.
If you have wisdom, share it.
If you have experience, lend it.
We carry each other along.



The Survivor Series giveaway is still live!  Share a #survivorseries post for a chance to win $150+ in coffee, music, books, and other survival essentials.  Click here for details.

You guys, I wrote some books!  They’re really good and if you buy them and read them I will bake you cookies.*  You can get it on Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and in bookstores August 1.  


*and eat them myself because you live too far away.

Surviving a Break Up

There are three people you need in your life to help you survive a break-up.

Adele, T-Swift, and Beyonce.

The end.

Oh, it also helps to have a den of vipers, an includer, and a wise soul that’s been married for a while.

I’ve been the breaker-upper and the break-upee.   Both are awful.

It might be less awful if you are not addicted to being liked, but I have the misfortune of wanting everyone to find me adorable, so even when I knew I was doing a right thing, it still made me beat around the bush, cry A LOT, do things the WORST, HARDEST WAY POSSIBLE, and nearly vomit.

In every break up, I’ve leaned so heavily on these 3 categories of people that if I hadn’t had them, I’d be lyin’ on the cold hard ground.  Oh!  Oh!  Trouble, trouble, trouble.

The Den of Vipers:  These are the people that love and accept your significant other with open arms.  They rejoice and party and double date with you!  And they are so fiercely loyal that after the (non-amicable) break up, they become downright venomous towards the offender.  They are full of love and poison and righteous anger.  They cannot believe his immaturity, his short-sightedness, his selfishness.  If he starts coming around, they strike.  If he tries to be all friendly-friendly, they strike.   Do not call this immature.  It’s a very important part of the process.   One time in college, an offender that shattered my heart into a million tiny pieces came by my room all friendly-friendly asking to borrow a book.  Three of my loyal viper friends were with me at the time.  After I handed the book over, he tried to start a conversation.  He asked, “So, how are you?”   In my head I thought, “REALLY?  We’re doing this?  I don’t even know how to answer that question towards you.”  And while I was thinking, my amazing viper-friend looked at him, then back at me, then back at him and said, “Are we done here?  I think we’re DONE.”   STRIKE.   I still feel a huge surge of love for her when I think about it.

The Includer:   One of the most difficult things about a break up is the time.  What the heck are you supposed to do with all that TIME?  There’s a lull in your day, who do you text?  It’s Friday night, what do you do?  There’s a festival downtown, who do you call?   You can have legions of friends, but after a major break up, all of them still feel a little too far away to call.  You need an includer.  An includer invites you EVERYWHERE.  If you say no seven times, she invites eight.  The includer invites you along to every little mundane piece of the day, so that you always know there’s a place for you.  My friend, Megan, is an includer.  After my break-ups Megan was always saying, “We’re going to the gym, want to come?”  ”We’re walking to the intramural fields, wanna come?”  ”Hey, lets go get Mexican food!”  ”Been wanting to see this movie, when are you free?”   Megan made sure I never had to ask, and she made sure that I never felt left-out.  The minute I began to feel an empty space in my day, I could turn to her and have a friend.

A Wise Soul:  I’ve had the privilege of having quite a few wise souls in my life.  My mom alone has carried me through IT ALL.  50% of this blog is just me taking credit for all her words and hard-learned lessons.  Here is a small sampling of the things my wise souls have told me during a break up that actually helped me.

1.  (When I was the breaker-upper)  “If you sincerely believe that you are not supposed to be together, you have to cut ties completely.  You’re not breaking up because you don’t like him.  You’re not breaking up because you’re not attracted to him.  That means that YOU LIKE EACH OTHER, YOU’RE ATTRACTED TO EACH OTHER, and you have a huge bank of memories and history together.  Nobody, no matter how wonderful or perfect for you will ever be able to compete with that as long as he is still in your life.  They don’t have the history to fall back on because they haven’t had the opportunity to build it.  You don’t know how to be around this boy and not love him.  So you either stay together, or you break up.  But if you really think it’s best to break up, you’re going to have to cut ties.   Neither of you will ever be able to move on if you don’t.”

2.  (When I was the break-upee)  “I am praying 2 things, mostly.  I am praying for peace, and that you both come to believe the same thing about it.   That you’ll both have peace with breaking up, or that you’ll both have peace in staying together.  Either way, no matter what happens, I am praying that your hearts agree, so that you can have peace.”  (Before this wise comment, the idea of me being OKAY with getting broken up with was nowhere on my radar.  It was stay together or suffer.  The idea that I could have peace, and actually personally agree in my heart with a break up so filled me with hope that I’ve never forgotten it.)

3.  (For both)  “Try to love him like Jesus loves him.”   When I first heard this, I wanted to punch everyone and everything in the face.   I know that Jesus loves everyone the most, forever, perfectly, unto death.  So when I wanted to break up with someone, the idea of loving him MORE sounded dumb.  Like, “No you don’t understand,  I’m b-r-e-a-k-i-n-g  uuuuuup.”   And if I was getting broken up with, I wanted to STOP LOVING HIM ASAP so that my heart could SURVIVE.   But I learned in time what the wise souls knew all along:  When you love him like Jesus loves him, you stop loving him like you love him.  The Jesus love takes over.  You stop seeing him as your future, or your ex (or the guy that saved you or broke you or turned your life upside down).  You just see him as a person.  No more, no less.  And you love him the way that you love everyone – the way Jesus loves everyone.  You want good things for him, not because you want to tie your life to his, but because you’re nice and you wish that for everyone.  And when that happens, what do you know, you’re free.

If you’re surviving a break up right now, I’m so sorry.  It’s the pits.  The worst.   I promise that one night in the future, you’ll lay your head on the pillow and realize that you went an entire day without thinking about it.   One day, someone is going to ask how you’re doing and you’ll say “Great!” and there will be no asterisk in your brain that means “Great*  *considering I just got dumped.”  You’ll be just plain, old, regular great.   Lean on your vipers, includers, and wise souls.  Laugh as much as you can, and I’M TELLING YOU:


Dance like nobody’s watching,


The Survivor Series giveaway is still live!  Share a #survivorseries post for a chance to win $150+ in coffee, music, books, and other survival essentials.  Click here for details.

You guys, I wrote some books!  They’re really good and if you buy them and read them I will bake you cookies.*  You can get it on Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and in bookstores August 1.  


*and eat them myself because you live too far away.

First Lesson

First Lesson

“Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man’s float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.”

-Philip Booth



The Survivor Series giveaway is still live!  Share a #survivorseries post for a chance to win $150+ in coffee, music, books, and other survival essentials.  Click here for details.

You guys, I wrote some books!  They’re really good and if you buy them and read them I will bake you cookies.*  You can get it on Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and in bookstores August 1.  


*and eat them myself because you live too far away.

Hope (On Grown-Up Optimism)

I am the kind of person that is often frustrated that there is no jazz-hands emoji.   That is to say I’m an optimist.

The glass isn’t half-full.  It’s all the way full if you think about it, because no one ever fills it to the rim anyway, that would be silly.  And if it’s 3/4 of the way full we should just round up!  Cheers!

Between my natural disposition and my training in PR, I am THE QUEEN of silver linings.  This is not an entirely positive trait.

I had to learn how to sit with hurt – to just let things suck when they sucked.  I learned that when I was sad or mad or hurting, I didn’t need a positive spin, I needed to let it be.  This taught me that when other people are sad or mad or hurting, they don’t need silver linings.   They need someone to sit down beside them and say, “Yeah, this sucks.  It’s the worst.  I’ll sit here with you, if you want.   And if you want to be alone, I’ll just fold the laundry on my way out the door.”  I am growing in this.

I am still an optimist, but I am no longer a rainbows-and-unicorns optimist; I ‘ve seen enough of life to know that things are not always good.

When I was in high school my optimism looked like **jazz hands**.   Today, it looks like hope.

I believe unswervingly that there is always hope.
I believe that everything is redeemable.  Everything.

The thing is, redemption almost never looks the way I think it will.

Isn’t that always the way?   They looked for a king and got a baby.  They looked for a conqueror and got a servant.  They looked for a throne and got a cross.  Redemption never looks like you think it will.  It’s hard to see coming.

My life looks nothing like I imagined, in a lot of good ways, but also in some hard ways.  I have no idea how things are going to turn out.  I’ve given up guessing, because I’m not yet thirty and I have three kids and three books and I’ve moved 8 times so just WHATEVER.  But I am not discouraged by the fact that I have no idea what’s going on, or by the fact that a whole lot of things look pretty darn UNREDEEMED.   I am steadfast in hope because of this glorious mystery:

Christ in me, the hope of glory.

I have Christ in me.  I can’t not live a redemption story.  I could no sooner stop hoping than stop breathing.   I can’t stop thinking that everything is going to turn out great, because I actually believe it.  

I actually believe in crazy-grace and Jesus the death-conqueror.  I actually believe that I could not extinguish the love, the providence, or the delivering, sustaining arms of God if I tried.   I am His, and He won’t stop redeeming my life.  (Oh my word, is this what it is to trust?)

Christ in me, the hope of glory.  That phrase is tattooed on the front lobe of my brain these days, on the inside of my eyelids.  That is where my hope lies.  That’s the source of the spring of my relentless, grown-up optimism.


So maybe you are in the middle of surviving, and are running a little short on hope and optimism.
Maybe you thought redemption would look like healing, but you’re finding it looks more like purpose.
Maybe you thought it would look like saving that relationship, but you’re finding it looks more like beauty from ashes.
Maybe you thought it would look like a good job, just in the nick of time, but you’re finding it looks more like a tribe of people to carry you through.
Maybe you thought redemption would look like a baby, but you’re finding it looks more like the birth of compassion, a calling.

I don’t know what it’s going to look like like, but I know that it’s gonna be good.  I know that some days will suck like leeches, but it’s going to be okay.  I have Christ in me, his breath in my lungs, and he makes everything glorious.

Hope has become an accidental theme of my life.  I chose Hope as the middle name for my daughter, not knowing the prophecy on my own tongue.  She is Madeline the hope-giver, and she is glorious. 

I am a grown-up optimist.  I cannot have it any other way.

“As for me, I will always have hope, for He who promised is faithful.”  (Psalm 71: 4 and Hebrews 10:23)



The Survivor Series giveaway is still live!  Share a #survivorseries post for a chance to win $150+ in coffee, music, books, and other survival essentials.  Click here for details.

You guys, I wrote some books!  They’re really good and if you buy them and read them I will bake you cookies.*  You can get it on Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and in bookstores August 1.  


*and eat them myself because you live too far away.

Ambushed (And How You Can Help)

Yesterday I was ambushed.  In the best way.

Around lunch I started getting texts from friends that were receiving their Amazon pre-orders in the mail.

Then my friend Heather Instagrammed a picture of the books on the shelf (early!) in Virginia.  I shared it, and the floodgates opened.

ALL YOU AMAZING HUMAN BEINGS started posting and tagging and heading to your local Lifeway stores, and celebrating.  I was BLOWN AWAY.

I handled this turn of events not at all by lying on my back on the living room floor and listening to love songs.   I need professional help.

Here is a quick update, what you can expect of the next 2 weeks, and how you can help.

Update:  The books are now in Lifeway stores and in stock on Amazon.  The official release day is still August 1, after that it will be at Barnes & Noble, etc. .  They ARE available for Kindle and Nook.

Now what?:  It’s a progressive book release!  Like a progressive dinner only with less drinking and driving!    We are gearing up for August 1 with an amazing giveaway in which we are giving away an iPad, some Amazon gift cards, and autographed copies of the books.  You can enter here:  “Enough” iPad Giveaway

The Survivor Series will continue here for 2 more weeks.  So far we’ve covered surviving parenting, surviving jealousy, surviving a move, surviving when you’re not “doing what you love,” and surviving by LAUGHING.   Still to come:  surviving break ups, surviving faith, surviving “The News,” and the things that carry us through – like music, community, and beach vacations.  Tomorrow’s post is about hope.  You can read all the posts here:  Survivor Series

There will be quite a few blogger reviews and giveaways going up in the coming weeks, too!  I can’t even.  I will be sharing links to them on Facebook and Twitter.  If you don’t follow me there, now is a good time to start!    (Facebook.   Twitter.)

So many of you have asked how you can help.  This blesses me in ways you cannot even know.  Here are some practical things you can do that would be the most helpful.

Write an honest review, anything you say would be helpful.  Amazon reviews are particularly helpful.

Share the book on social media.   The more the merrier.  I’d love to see pictures of you with it, or of how and where you’re sitting down to read.  Breakfast table?  Nap time?  Airplane?  Evening on the porch?  Feel free to share quotes that you enjoy; I’d love it if you did.  Use the hashtag!  Include #10Things in your captions and comments, it will be amazing to see them all.

I bookmarked this article last year because it was spot on:  10 Ways to Help Your Favorite Author.  It’s a quick read that gets it right.

Mostly, just THANK YOU.  I am humbled and stunned and doing a lot of dancing and praying and lying on the floor.  This is not for me, this is FOR YOU.  It is my great, big, audacious prayer that everyone who is supposed to read this book will read it.  Thanks for helping me tell everyone about it.

And to all a good night.
***Turns up Ben Rector/John Legend/Coldplay/Colibe/Ingrid/Sara B./ALL THE SOUNDTRACKS***

Surviving a Move

From my inbox this month:

“We will probably be moving from Texas to Connecticut (God is really hilarious) when baby #2 is about 8 weeks old. I have never moved with one kid, much less a 3 year old and a newborn and I was thinking about who I knew who had moved with kids and naturally you came to mind.  Do you have any advice you could give me about moving with kids?  Anything would be helpful.”

I move a lot.  If I’m counting every home, I’ve moved 8 times in 7 years.  It comes with its own set of challenges, but mostly I don’t mind.  (HAVEN’T minded.  For the sake of my babies and my own tired heart, I’m ready to be finished for a bit.)

A major move is among one of the most stressful life events a person can experience (it ranks near the top along with the death of a loved one, divorce, pregnancy/new baby, and getting fired).  Even a positive move for positive reasons is a total disruption of almost every category of life.   Different jobs, different homes, different streets, different friends, different grocery stores, different hair dressers, different daily interactions.  Add the stress of packing/unpacking, the inevitable financial hit, and the affect the process has on children, and WHOA.

No matter how wonderful the situation to which you’re headed, you must uproot – and uprooting is stressful.

I wrote a post called “Puppy Box” a few months ago, right after we arrived in Raleigh.  It was about surviving life-change.  The three things in that little post are what I would tell to anyone who is staring straight down the barrel into a major life change – move, divorce, death, pregnancy, et al.   There is no quick fix, but I think that those are the start to a real one.

I am still personally pressing through that list, holding my own toes to the fire, doing the next right thing.  I am cultivating a beautiful space, I am sharing with my safe friends, and I am finding routines that work for me.

As for the nuts and bolts of moving, I’ve learned a thing or two.  Here’s how I minimize the chaos:

1. When in doubt, throw it out.

(Or give it away).  Stuff costs.  The more stuff you have, the more stuff you have to wash.  And store.  And care for.  And fix.  More clothes don’t help you do laundry less.  They just help you put laundry off until you have THREE TIMES AS MUCH to do.  I halved my wardrobe 2 moves ago and it changed my life.  I got rid of our coffee table and it changed my life.  I got rid of all but one set of glasses – because why?  I am in a constant state of re-evaluating “need,” and moving is a perfect time to do it.  You already have to lay hands on everything.  If you don’t want to move it, consider how badly you really want to have it.


What goes in them?  Makeup, nail polish, 24956230946243 pieces of play kitchen food, silverware, Play Doh tubs, scarves – I put every sub-category of thing in its own bag and when I look down into my organized moving boxes my heart swells with joy.   There’s nothing floating or rattling around in boxes.  Everything shuts and stacks neatly.  Be still my heart.  Hefty makes Jumbo sized ones, 2.5 gallons or something amazing.  They are the new heavens and the new earth.

3. Don’t undervalue comfort items.

In your overnight bag, pack your kids’ cup, plate, sheets, towel, soap, and nightlight.  Of course you could do without them for a day or two, but in keeping as much familiarity as possible, you give those little hearts some tiny anchors.  They’ll sleep better and transition better, and therefore so will you.

4.  Use disposable dinnerware and/or eat take out for a week, or three.

The environment will understand.   50% of all your boxes will be kitchen boxes.  This allows you to JUST DO IT.   No “Will I need a colander this week?  A knife?”   Save the time and mental energy of categorizing and planning and agonizing – you have more important places to spend it.

5.  Color-coordinate your boxes by room.

Get a few rolls of colored duct tape and slap a piece on your boxes so that all your helpers (YOU HAVE HELPERS, RIGHT?) don’t have to ask you where every. single. thing. goes.  And you won’t have to re-move everything after they leave.  Blue tape?  Bedroom.  White?  Kitchen.  GAME CHANGER.

6.  Set up your bed before your help leaves.

You’re going to be exhausted, and you’re going to want to sleep in your own bed like you want to BREATHE.  As the truck gets emptier and people start asking, “Is that all?  Is there anything else?”  Say, “Yes!”  Pay them in pizza or ice cream or whatever you have, but assemble the frame while the help’s still good.  At 11:00 at night when you walk into your room, sweaty and spent, the difference between a bed and a pile of beams and screws will be the difference between life and death.

7.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Early on, it’s easy to one-more-thing yourself to death.  I get excited about nesting and settling in.  I love unpacking.  I love creating a beautiful space.  I want to create Apartment Therapy-worthy bookshelves and hang ALL THE GALLERY WALLS.  But that’s a recipe for burn-out.  The kids’ and mine.  I am learning to say, “That’s enough for today.”  Eat dinner with your kids.  Don’t unpack the plates while they munch, sit and look them in the eye.  Play the Wii amidst the boxes.  Get out of that chaotic house and go for walk.  Turn off the music and sit in the quiet.  Sleep.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

8.  If you can get someone to watch the kids for a week, do it.

Send ‘em to Grandma’s.  A week will sound like FOREVER.  It will be hard, and you’ll miss them.  But when they get to their new home, it will be a HOME.   If you can, schedule it so they’re gone for the 2 days before moving day, the day of, and 2 days after.  You’ll be able to move 12 times as fast, you’ll be able to pack up their rooms and toys without saving things for “the last minute.”  You’ll be able to run errands – drop off the donations, clear the boxes, make their beds, GET GROCERIES.   It will save them from the most chaotic part, and alleviate some of your mom-guilt for being busy and feeling like they’re in the way.

Also these 2 moving hack links are ON POINT.

 Brilliant Moving Tips

Master Moving Hacks

And with regard to finding your way in a new city (literally or metaphorically), don’t be afraid to turn around.  You’re never lost if you know how to get home.

You can do this.


The Survivor Series giveaway is still live!  Share a #survivorseries post for a chance to win $150+ in coffee, music, books, and other survival essentials.  Click here for details.

You guys, I wrote some books!  They’re really good and if you buy them and read them I will bake you cookies.*  You can get it on Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and in bookstores August 1.  


*and eat them myself because you live too far away.