We, the Prodigals: What it Means to Be Lost & Found

There are few terrors worse that the feeling that you've lost someone you love. This much was clear to me on that summer night in 2008. From my perch in the passenger seat, I scanned the sidewalks as best I could, reminding myself to breathe. Everyone was looking, even the police. We'd find her. But we didn't know that, really. Cassandra* had wandered away in the late afternoon, and now it was night. Aileen, my friend and fellow L'Arche** assistant, was in the driver's seat. She had to focus on piloting the van, but I could tell that she was ...
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Launch Day: I Was a Stranger to Beauty is Here!

Oh, happy day! Thanks to ThinkPiece Publishing, my new Kindle Single* is here! It's titled I Was a Stranger to Beauty: A Story of Special Needs, Simplicity, My Brother Willie, My Friend Miguel and A New Way of Seeing the World. (I'm fortunate to have a fantastic publisher who shares my affinity for ridiculously lengthy subtitles.) *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. *** This book is the story of a family moving ...
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Holding on to Hope (When Everything Seems Bleak)

There are days when it’s easy to be an optimist. These are the days in which your relationships are harmonious, when your work flows smoothly and according-to-plan. And all the while, you’re acutely, beautifully aware of the many blessings that surround you. On days like this, I readily believe in grace. And, in the words of Byron Katie, “Grace means understanding that where you are is where you always wanted to be.” And then there are … the other days. A tough day of flea-fighting The down days. The days that start with you over-sleeping, or maybe waking ...
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When You’re Not Sure What’s Most Important: A Course in Priorities, Courtesy of John Franklin Stephens & Tim Shriver

Reading at L'Arche I settled down at my desk to start my workday, plunging into administrative tasks. Deep down, I knew that this wasn't the best idea, but I didn't feel like writing. I didn't have any 'good' ideas. But then I started feeling guilty. Why hadn't I called my friends in the Northeast, where Hurricane Sandy hit? Granted, I knew they were safe, but I wanted to hear their voices. So I made a few calls. But then I felt guilty that I wasn't getting work done. I thought, My inner perfectionist is having a field day ...
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Instructions for Life: ‘Listen to the Rhythm. Don’t Be Scared.’

If you've never seen the movie Strictly Ballroom, I recommend that you remedy this oversight immediately. It’s hard to explain why I love the film. It has something to do with the fairy-tale feeling it evokes, with its over-the-top costumes and generalized insanity. It has something to do with the fact that it’s a family favorite, that I grew up quoting it. But it’s more than that. I love Strictly Ballroom because it’s a story about active rebellion and the gift of doing things differently, getting perspective and attending to the essentials, and celebrating and accepting people as they are. ...
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The Summer I Ran Away (and What Brought Me Home)

Hilton Head, 2012. Photo Credit: Donna Fischer Once upon a time, I ran away from home. I ran in a very structured, organized, responsible sort of way, which is to say, I disguised the escape. *** When my husband and I visited family last month, we spent time with my parents, brother, grandparents, and an aunt and uncle too. I'm blessed with a wonderful extended family, and I feel particularly close to this aunt and uncle. Why? Because I lived with them for a summer seven years ago. When people asked me why I was staying with my ...
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This is Real Love: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Sometimes, your choice to care comes back to bite you. Literally. Sometimes, the choice to welcome a sweet, spunky little kitten into your home -- a choice you made with gladness -- can get you into trouble.  Or to put another way: If you're ever in need of a punishment to inflict upon your worst (hypothetical) enemies, here's an idea: Infest their home with fleas. Do this while they're on vacation, so that when they return, travel-weary from, say, 10 hours of driving, they'll be greeted by legions of leaping, ravenous bugs that weren't there when they left. As you've ...
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Commitment Is (Not) For The Birds, Or, Show Up and See What Happens

Sometimes, it's all too much! I'm going to tell you a secret: I don't always feel like showing up to write posts every week. Much as I love to write, sometimes, I just don't feel the love. My mind kicks in with complaints: "Again? Can't I skip it?!" Often, I feel resistance because I'm scared to write about what's most alive in me, but other times, I just want to play hooky from the written word. And I have a feeling that it's true for you, too. It can be hard to summon the dedication it takes to ...
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When You Feel Like Giving Up … Welcome to the Family.

There's nothing like a learning something new to show you the truth about yourself. Long-time readers may recall a post entitled, "What To Do When You Feel Like Giving Up." It's the story of how, last July, I faced the challenge of learning to water-ski. This year, I have to say: water-skiing ain't got nothin' on learning to drive a stick-shift. (Even though we've moved to Alabama, I don't talk like that. Yet.) *** Learning stick-shift has been like traveling back in time -- once again, I am 16, and I have no idea how to drive a car. My ...
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Trying to Learn, Seeking to Love? Start Small. Always.

A mosquito lands on my leg, and I swat it away. I'm in our front yard, pulling weeds with my husband, Jonathan, and trying to understand my own confusion. It's the perfect time of day to be outside, just before the sun sets in our small town in Alabama. As I pull out the roots, I'm thinking about the conversation I just had with my mom and my brother Willie. I'm thinking about how, for all the knowledge we as humans have gained, there are still so many things we don't know. For example, we don't know precisely why one ...
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