Dear 39,

Thank you.

Its’ been a pleasure.

On this day a year ago all I wanted was to peer around the bend, just a snippet of what lie ahead.

No looking glass that night or the nights after, more uncertainty unfolding one day after the next.

But, at some point, living with the uncertainty became ok.

I stopped orchestrating.

I started listening.

And now 40 is not a single bit like I thought it would be.

I’m not who I thought I would be.

I don’t have to be finished.

I don’t have skip ahead to know the end to this chapter.

I can believe.

I can trust.

I can look back now to see that all along this 39th year was designed to lead me here.

In his time, in his way, answered prayers.

Thank you for all that you were.

If you don’t mind, could you put in a good word for me with 40? You’ve built a great foundation for her to work with.






“I said I love you Momma and now he’s gone”, the words choked out between the sobs.

“I shouldn’t have loved him if it wasn’t going to be forever”, the ache in her heart a reflection of the joy his presence brought.

“Baby girl but isn’t that how Jesus taught us?” My words offered in the moment through God’s grace.

“We are to love without expectation”, I reminded her and I.

“You felt it and you gave it freely. Don’t ever feel badly about giving your love”.

“You are my brave girl”.



Talent Show

She caught me as I walked in the door.

Waving the green paper in her hand, telling me she was going to do the school talent show. All she needed was my signature.

What if she froze on stage?

What if kids laughed?

What if she looked at the others; the gymnast flipping, the ballerina leaping and the boy and his violin concerto, and somehow she felt less then?

How could I place her in the path of those possibilities?

Wasn’t my job to protect? Yet there she stood asking me to be a willing accomplice.

I was worn down in the moment. The paper signed, off she went.

For weeks she practiced with her friend and talked excitedly about the show.

Even after the preparation, I worried.

The evening arrived.

Glowing faces, happy smiles as parents and grandparents lined the aisles.

I sat glued to the hard, metal, folding chair wishing the night away, placing my own elementary school fears squarely on the shoulders of my ten year old.

Fears of rejection and failure from a recovering perfectionist, no wonder the air felt heavy.

But, as it always happens, she took the chance to teach me.

She sang.

Her face flushed with excitement, voice beginning softly then growing in confidence. The two friends side by side supporting one another.

Two minutes gone in the blink of an eye and it was over.

The exhale was for me alone. She had not needed it.

My story was not hers.

She wrote her own that night.







We took a break.

The four of us in a little bubble for 10 days.

We traveled.


Saw ones we loved.

Woke up late and enjoyed our new toys.

It was a glorious holiday season.


And when New Year’s Day rolled around I found myself wanting nothing more than to curl up with my girls and enjoy the last remnants of the season.

Now we are all back to school and work and activities. Finding myself in a reflective mood; so very grateful for the year that was.

The adventures we had, the dreaming we did.





And as we begin a new season of dreaming, I realize what I want for this new year is all rather simple.

One of these little ladies is only 5 years away from moving out on her own.


Soaking up her light in my home is my new year’s desire.

Helping her find her calling will be another.


Gifted with a laptop for Christmas I’ve found her typing away on the keyboard. Essay’s and musings by Audrey Hope; that makes a Momma’s heart swell.

And this one, bringing up the rear.


I will hold her more. I will carry her whenever she asks. I will read her stories before bed and sing her lullabies. Because, experience has taught me, I will not know the exact moment that it is the last time I carry her in my arms or loll her to sleep with an off key rendition of Baby Mine.

So that is how I will choose to live out this new year.

I’ve spent too many years looking back. This is my year to live in the present.






It was that time.

Our yearly trek to the Christmas tree farm.

Determined this year to find the biggest one that these 4 sets of hands could cut down and haul back to the barn unassisted.

We hadn’t quite found a way to make it out earlier in the month when the weather was hovering in the low 50’s.

Instead, we managed to pick a 21 degree morning to put on our boots, pick up our saw and head out in search of holiday perfection.


There was a pep talk first, which when looking at the picture makes one believe it was much more of the “stern warning” variety then the uplifting kind.


Consensus was reached 20 minutes into our adventure;

after of course they all made their case for a tree they had “discovered”.


Ultimately we did the happy dance when we found this guy.


Then my phone died and with it the chance to document Momma on her side chopping down nine and a half feet of white pine goodness.

We warmed up with some pizza from our favorite pizza shop that’s right around the corner from the tree farm, then headed home to put her up.



This year all 5’8 of Sid proved to be particularly helpful.


She was the untangler of lights and Ellery Jane’s own personal ladder.

Audrey our comedic relief when Momma got frustrated with setback.


Sometime around 4pm we stepped back to marvel at our doing.


We’d done it again, together, our tradition.

Making memories, my team, my family.





You’re not married because of us Momma.

The night was drawing in when she spoke the words with a chuckle.

Some days she’s my twelve year old and others she still the 6 year old wanting me to kiss the boo-boo on her finger.

You’re not married because three girls is a lot Momma.

Why can’t this cocoon I have wrapped us in shelter my children from the language of the world?

The pause was long while I waited for the words to come.

I told her of how our hearts were broken after the divorce;

of how important it was to heal and protect them until the time was right for someone to enter in.

I told her of my belief that our God would pick just the right partner, friend and mentor to join our family when he felt the time was right.

I looked into those blue eyes and spoke of how special she was and whether I married or remained single it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with God’s plan.

I reminded her of our community, knitted together of friends and family. A community of people who live around the block and half way around the country and choose to participate in our lives simply because they want to be near her radiant light.

And then as I always do before bed, I kissed her forehead five times. Snuggled in tight, with the smell of her freshly washed hair on my pillow, I promised myself I would begin each day with a whisper in her ear, you are special.








My Tribe

We can do almost all of it.

Dinners, homework, carpools, trips across the country or to the grocery, the four of us have got it down.

We are a team. It often makes me feel unstoppable.

That is, until I find us one night on the side of the highway, only corn fields to be seen for miles, a tire blown by debris in the road and me as the leader of this pack unable to do anything. Chicago bound, I am now trapped with an immovable car and a setting sun, on the outskirts of middle America.

As I direct children to exit the vehicle and realize that the roadside assistance I pay for each year is not going to get the job done, I begin to feel very alone.

And in that moment of panic I glance at my 11-year-old texting.

I spit out the question, what does she think she is doing right now, can’t she see we are in quite the bind?

The response stops me in my tracks, immediately ends my downward spiral.

“Momma, I am asking my friends to pray for us”.

As teammates often do they lift one another in their moments of weakness.

I am still the momma, the one responsible for bringing us out of this mess, but my beautiful, thoughtful, spiritual daughter is really the one who will change the course of that evening.

Good Samaritans arrive by the carload and then the highway patrol.

Within an hour they have us back on the road with instructions to drive two exits down stay overnight at the Marriott and then hit the Wal-Mart Supercenter when it opens at 7 am for a new tire as that spare donut will not get us to Chicago.

Ellery laughs at the baby tire.


We find our way to Van Wert and find the hotel pool which wipes away the remaining concerns.



Audrey decides that before bed we must pray for those who lifted us from the side of the road and instructs me that I am to find a way to pay it forward to others.


The next morning we awake and find two tires, marked down just the day before, and a grandfatherly gentleman able to put them on for us. In what feels like seconds we are back on the highway heading west and the incident is just a minor pothole on the way to perfect weekend.


I am once again reminded that I am not alone. My tribe and I are in this together.








Her five is unique.


She pushes me to do it differently this time around.


What worked for her sisters isn’t what is best for her.


So as she stretches and grows, I get the chance to start over.

I’m not expected to parent perfectly.

All she asks of me is flexibility and the acknowledgment that she is an individual.






In my house summer is made for adventure.


There are road trips,


airplane adventures,


and days spent laughing until we cry.


They are old enough now to maintain memories of their childhood.


As they age I want them to recall the feeling of  wet grass on their bare feet,

the sharp contrast of a dark nights sky and the flickering of lightning bugs.

I want them to smell smoke and remember their momma trying hard to start a campfire and the taste of burnt marshmallows on their tongues.

Time here, in this place, moves so very fast.


I want summer to be their soft landing, for a few months the slower pace of life that lends itself to memory making.




There is a wedding on Saturday.

In navy blue dresses my girls will stand in front of friends and family as they watch their father marry.

I want to be there,

to curl Sidney’s hair;

whisper words of encouragement in Audrey’s ear before her toast and

cuddle Ellery when half way through the evening her legs grow tired of dancing.

Saturday is important to them.

But, no matter how good the relationship is between their dad and I, there are simply days when the past does not get to participate in the present.

There is sadness in the missing of the moment.

When Sunday night arrives and they scamper though our front door, the moments will have become memories. Memories made without me present.

And that is the reality of divorce.

I won’t linger there long in my own sorrow.

Instead we will make ice cream tonight, watch the sunset and talk about all the fun they will have this weekend.

When our eyes grow heavy, we will climb under my blankets and I will wrap them in my love.

And in that I will find my joy.