Tuesday, September 1, 2015


For the second summer in a row, I have failed as a blogger.

Last summer I spent time in prayer, reading, and meditation as I tried to figure out what being a "peacemaker" looked like...ironically, this summer, I spent learning what being the mother of a Marine looked like.

It's hard to blog when you are struggling to form coherent sentences. The 13 weeks of boot camp Bree and I spent mostly encircled in on ourselves like the wagon trains of old days. Focused entirely on the matrix that showed what Trey would be enduring that day, trying to ease the hurt of his going, learning an entirely new vocabulary and struggling with the fact that words like "gas chamber" and "rapel tower" were part of our every day vocabulary. We stopped pronouncing qualification like a five syllable word...it was simply "quals".  As in swim quals, firing quals, etc. We also watched a lot of Doctor Who...it was therapeutic.

The people I normally lean on, vent to, look to...they could not help. I mean they offered prayers, comfort, etc but they could not offer understanding. It is one of those things you have to go through or have gone through to understand (PSA: please don't tell a mother who is struggling with her child being a boot camp that you know how she feels because your child went to college...it isn't that we don't understand that's difficult for you, it's just it doesn't feel like the same thing at all...and we are not exactly rational at that point) So I took to Facebook to find support, I joined the Parents of Parris Island page, the Hotel Company page and the Marine Moms of GA page.

I was immediately nervous...my politics, beliefs, values, attitudes were so different than so many of these people. I was sure if they became my friend on Facebook or found my blog they would immediately cast me out. I pictured townspeople running after me with pitch forks screaming "HOW COULD YOU VOTE FOR OBAMA???!!!"

Don't judge me...we all know I am dramatic and slightly prone to exaggeration.

Here is what I have learned from these groups...it is more about what we have in common than what we consider differences. When you've gone 11 days without a letter from your recruit and your entire day revolves around getting to the mailbox and there is a group of people who understand, you don't talk about the Republican candidates for president. When you are sitting in a church with a group of other MoMs (Mother of Marine), watching a mother bury her 21 year old son a week after he was killed by a terrorist in Chattanooga, politics have no place. When you are two days away from seeing your new Marine for the first time and you are surrounded by these women as they cheer your child and help keep you sane because after 13 weeks, the last 48 hours almost kills you, there is no thought to the differences among you...you are just ridiculously glad to have them in your lives.

Every issue is so divisive these days. When someone says "black lives matter" then someone decides what they are saying is black lives matter more so they scream "all lives matter" and then someone decides cops are being attacked and they scream "police lives matter" and everyone is focused on what divides us instead of what brings us together...a common belief that life is precious. And we do this in every area. We pick sides and focus on our differences and we are so determined to die on our platform rather than see the other side as human. Rather than focus on the things that would bring us together, we only see the things that tear us to pieces.

In Day of The Doctor, the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, the Doctor forces the Humans and Zygons to negotiate by using his sonic screwdriver and a device that wipes memory to make them all temporarily forget who is Human and who is Zygon. Therefore, they are forced to focus on what they have in common, what is best for both of them, and what they both want.

What kind of issues could we solve in our time if we did the same? What kind of reconciliation would be wrought? What kind of wrongs would be righted? How many hungry, homeless, hurting people would be helped?

Connections, relationships...they are forged by what we have in common. And when we make those connections, we find that the things that make us different aren't quite as important. As we find ourselves more willing to listen, we even find ourselves learning through the differences (and sometimes changing our mind).

We can die on our platforms or we can get down and get to know each other.

"For The Love" (a review)

In a casual conversation, a coworker once told me "you should check out Brandon and Jen Hatmaker. I think you'd like them." A quick Google search took me to Jen's blog and the very first thing I ever read by her, a letter to Trayvon Martin's mother. Shortly after, I read Interrupted, The Barefoot Church, and Seven. Each one described my journey, impacted my spirit and convicted my heart.

It was love. Like millions of other readers, I am pretty sure Jen and I are destined to be BFFs...she just doesn't know it yet. So, you have this as a disclaimer. I am not an altogether unbiased reader of Jen Hatmaker's newest book, For The Love. I picked it up expecting to love it and I did.

Recently someone told me they were not fans of Jen Hatmaker because they didn't do sarcastic well...to which I replied sarcasm is my first language. That might be one of the reasons I like her, her wit and humor. But another reason I like her is she tells the truth. In love.

In For The Love (Fighting For Grace In a World of Impossible Standards), Jen tackles balance (thank goodness the book is finally out so when I yell "off the beam!" there will be someone in the midst of the funny looks who totally gets it), the gospel (my favorite quote "If it isn't true for the single, Haitian mom...it isn't true"), family, marriage, the church, raising kids and fashion (is now a good time to confess how long it took me to get what "crotchless yoga pants" were?) with grace and wit. Her truths sting sometimes but at the same time her words say "you are not alone" and "we got this". She is comfortable in her imperfections and therefore comfortable sharing her imperfections and she gives you the right to be as well.

The fact she throws in laughs and recipes just sweetens the deal.

Grab this book. But don't read it alone. Grab a couple of girlfriends and read it together. The chapters are more like essays and read more like a conversation than tale and processing it seems to be done in pairs or groups. That isn't to say you can't read it alone...just that you'd enjoy the experience better with friends.

So, to help with this, I have three copies of "For The Love" to give away! In the comments below, tell me about you and two of your friends...how you met, what you like to do together, what you like best about them, why you want to read FTL with them...anything. We'll pick a random winner in one week so check back because I'll need your email to get your address for shipping!