So Much to Celebrate: Thoughts on A Wish Come Clear’s Second Anniversary

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Here’s what I’d like to share with you today:

1. A tremendous amount of gratitude. The launch of my new Kindle Single*, I Was a Stranger to Beauty, has been an amazing experience. I’m so thankful to have released this book with ThinkPiece Publishing; Adam Wahlberg and his team have done a phenomenal job. (And remember, sales support a great cause too: 5% of the proceeds from the first 30 days go to L’Arche DC.)

I Was a Stranger to BeautyAnd thanks to your support, the Single debuted at #3 in the Special Needs Memoirs and Special Needs Ebooks on Amazon. 

Going into this launch, I had zero expectations with regards to rankings. With every book I write, my hope is that the story speaks out to you. I hope that it makes you laugh and cry and have more brave days.

And of course I want it to do well. Yet as launch day drew near, I did what most writers do: I simply prayed that it would not be a complete flop. And even if it was, I prayed to keep it in perspective, to remember that real success is in the effort, the attempt, the ‘showing up’.

Given this, it was wild to see that we made the top three in two categories. Just wild. I was giddy, making ridiculous comments like, “Number three! You get a medal for third in the Olympics!”

The ranking was just icing on the cake, though. The substance of ‘success’ was the sense of having dared to put this book out there. It was the beautiful comments from you. It was talking to my parents, and seeing how our family’s struggle was actually helping others.

It was the feeling that this was exactly what I was meant to be doing. It was the same feeling I had as I walked up the stairs to a certain L’Arche home for the first time in 2007. It was the feeling of coming home.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

*If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry! You can read Kindle books with Amazon’s (free) Kindle Cloud Reader. If you have Amazon Prime, you can also borrow the book through Amazon’s Lending Library.

2. Two new guest posts!

My gratitude to Barrie and Tammy for allowing me to contribute to their lovely sites. And thank you to The Speech Ladies, Kristina and Cindy, who ran a special post to announce I Was A Stranger to Beauty.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Caroline and Willie

An illustration from my very first book, age 5, entitled, “My Brother.”

3. A revised version of Your Creed of Care: How to Dig for Treasure in People (Without Getting Buried Alive), thanks to my dear friend and designer Tamara Templeman. If you subscribed within the last week, you’ve received the new version; if you subscribed earlier, you can download the revised version here.

This book is my gift to you; feel free to share it with those you love. If you believe that it will serve someone else, pass it on!

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

4. A Wish Come Clear had its two-year anniversary last Wednesday; in the excitement of the launch, I nearly forgot. But two years, 126 posts, and an amazing community? That’s worth celebrating.

For two years, we’ve been sharing true stories together …

and sharing stories is a way of bearing the light.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


How will you spend the MLK Holiday? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


*L’Arche is a faith-based non-profit organization that creates homes where people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together. I spent 5 years serving the DC community in various caregiving roles.

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Relationships Matter, Not Things: An Interview with Tammy Strobel of RowdyKittens

This week, I’m thrilled to feature an interview with Tammy Strobel of RowdyKittens! (Tagline: Go small, think big & be happy.) RowdyKittens is one of my favorite blogs, because Tammy shares stories of her everyday life and the challenges and joys inherent in her relationships.

Our interview focuses on how simplicity connects with cultivating stronger relationships. Tammy talks about the ways in which simplicity played a part in her caregiving journey with her mother and her stepdad, Mahlon. (And yes, Tammy met Bootsie, AWCC’s very own rowdy kitten!)

We also talk about Tammy’s new book, which launched this week to rave reviews! Be sure to check out You Can Buy Happiness (And It’s Cheap):  How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too.

Here’s a quote from the book (from my favorite chapter, entitled, “Relationships Matter, Not Things”):  “We should be treasuring our time with each other, listening and sharing more of our beautiful stories, because the time will come when we can’t tell them anymore.”

Press play to enjoy the interview!



What role has simplicity played in your caregiving journey?

Join the conversation in the comments section below!


Liked this post? Receive new posts via email, along with your complimentary copy of Your Creed of Care: How To Dig For Treasure In People (Without Getting Buried Alive).

The Secret to Knowing When You’ve Done Enough

Photo Credit: Allison McGinley;

A few quick announcements:

1. Welcome, RowdyKittens readers! I’m thrilled that you’re here, and honored to have shared a 2nd guest post on Tammy Strobel’s site. Consider receiving posts via email; when you do, you’ll receive a copy of my book, “Your Creed of Care:  How To Dig For Treasure In People (Without Getting Buried Alive)”.

2. A Wish Come Clear community, you can find the RowdyKittens post here:  It’s Not Far:  On Finding Beauty All Around Us.

3. There’s a special giveaway for commenters on this post; read on!


This week it has come to my attention that almost everyone I know –myself included– has trouble knowing when enough is enough.

I’m not talking about the traditional addiction areas, like knowing when to stop eating or drinking or shopping. I’m talking about the more insidious ones, like productivity, or helping.

I’m not talking about the times when we have to step it up (like real emergencies, or situations wherein we’re called to love boldly and step out of our comfort zone.) I’m talking about treating our lives as ongoing emergencies, putting ourselves on-call 24/7.

Yet even for the most well-balanced among us, it can be difficult to know when we’ve done enough for others, for ourselves. It can be hard to rest in the sufficiency of a job well done, a day well lived…because we’re not sure where that point of ‘enough’ is.

It is impulse control, but not of the sort we usually think. It’s all about moving past the compulsion to prove oneself– to be more, do more, help more– and listening for the deeper guidance available to us. It’s about listening for the still small voice of sufficiency.

And listening for that voice makes us vulnerable. It makes us face up to all the things we’d rather ignore. Too often, we’d rather hide our hurt behind helping others than admit that we need help ourselves. Too often, we give from a place of emptiness.

I myself ask these questions:

  • What if, instead of trying harder to be a good friend to someone I know, I got honest and said, “It hurts me when we repeat this pattern:  you say you miss me, we start to make plans, and then you never call me back”?
  • What if, instead of pushing through 12-hour workdays (wherein I come home tired beyond tired), I committed to caring for my health and refused to over-schedule?
  • What if, instead of trying to drown out what I’m feeling with overwork, I chose to receive what I feel?

It’s tough love — for myself and for you– that leads me to write this post. And it’s that love that makes me think of my friend Kevin*, and what he’s taught me about sufficiency.

Kevin is a man with a sunny disposition. His vocabulary is limited, but his face communicates his thoughts exquisitely. If he’s excited, he rarely needs words; it’s all written on his face. (We have this in common.) He lives at L’Arche, so I’ve known him for the past 5 years.

One of the things I like best about Kevin is the lack of pretense. If he’s not interested in something, he’ll walk away or turn his attention elsewhere. And when he cares for someone– when he picks up your plate or pats your head– you can tell it’s coming straight from the heart. He doesn’t seem to struggle with the desire to impress others. He simply is who he is.

When I think of sufficiency, a specific memory of Kevin enters my mind. It answers the question I implied earlier:  How do we know when we’ve done enough, said enough, contributed enough?

To give context for this answer:  at L’Arche, we celebrate each person’s birthday, anniversary and farewell. In the anniversary celebration liturgy, we anoint and bless one another with water. We gently lay our hands on the person’s head, hands, feet.

Photo Credit: Allison McGinley;

What I remember is this:  Kevin putting his hands on my head and blessing me, his touch filling my spirit.

For perfectionists like me, anointing can be disconcerting. How long do you let your hand linger in blessing? How much water do you use? (Several of our members take delight in purposefully using too much.) And most of all, how do you know that you’ve really blessed someone?

As such, I’ve come to see the anointing ceremony as a metaphor for life, a way of discovering sufficiency.

First:  sufficiency isn’t in the gesture alone. The touch is important, but it’s not everything. Two people may make exactly the same gesture, and it may result in two completely different feelings within the person being anointed.

Sufficiency requires quietness of spirit and humility of heart. When Kevin anoints me, I can feel the love in his movements. He takes his time. He doesn’t rush. His hands on my head are gentle, yet purposeful.  He bows his head over mine and prays silently. He treats me with respect and kindness. And then he returns to his seat, and I am amazed at the beauty all around me.

Really, the secret of sufficiency and the secret of success are one and the same. Both arise from an internal compass, from an inchoate knowing. They cannot be predetermined. They must be lived moment-by moment, in the grace of the now.

As Wayne Muller writes in his book, A Life of Being, Having and Doing Enough, “There are two kinds of compassion and care. One is honest kindness, and the other, dishonest kindness. How many times have we promised, or pretended to be available, to listen, to care, when, in that moment, we honestly had no such capacity? And do we imagine that dishonest kindness actually brings healing and ease to another– or do we seed an unintended suffering?”

Kevin lives a life of honest kindness. And with his help, I’m learning, slowly, to do the same.

What does honest kindness translate to in your life? One day, it might mean scheduling your fun stuff in addition to your work stuff. On another day, it might mean taking a nap rather than returning phone calls. On another, it might mean listening instead of trying to fix, or loving rather than trying to control.

The secret of enough is found in making a believe shift from fear to faith.


How do you arrive at a sense of sufficiency? Tell me in the comments!

All commenters on this post will be entered to win a free copy of

“A Good & Perfect Gift” by Amy Julia Becker**. It’s a new book that explores

question of sufficiency, disability and faith beautifully.


If you desire to move toward sufficiency—to ground yourself and grow in relationship— you’ll want to get on the advanced notification list for the new book I’ll be publishing this winter (which will be offered at a 50% discount ONLY for those on the pre-sale list).

If you want to be on the advance notification list…

Simply click here & pop your email in the box!

And if you enjoyed what you read today, consider receiving new posts via email!

You’ll also receive a free copy of “Your Creed of Care: How To Dig For Treasure In People (Without Getting Buried Alive).”

*All names have been changed.

**”A GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT is more than just a narrative that spans the first two years of Amy Julia Becker’s new life with Down syndrome. From the initial dark moments in the hospital to the light and laughter Penny brought into the family, it is a story of a remarkable little girl who surpassed expectations. It is the story of a young couple coming to terms with their first-born child being different than they anticipated, and eventually receiving that child as a precious gift. It should appeal to any reader who wonders how grief can be transformed into joy.”