The White House and Ford’s Theater: both saturated in history, color and dedication.

Washington DC highlights, (Part 4).

If you’ve been to DC, you know what I’m talking about when I say the city itself could be a study in saturation. From the people, sounds, colors and everything in and outside – Washington for us was a week full of blessing, rich pictures of God’s delight, sovereignty and presence.

The next stop on our tour of tours brought us back to the White House, this time in the daylight! My Mom and Dad had done some incredible legwork securing tours of the Capitol and White House through our Congressman’s office and we were all blessed. It was a gift to have these opportunities and it did not go unnoticed.

Though we took a small detour through the White House visitor’s center, we did indeed find our way to the real visitors entrance at the actual White House. The path IN and security required was nothing short of a very well -oiled machine. Each member of the secret service who checked our credentials could not have been more respectful. I sat in my wheelchair, waiting for the uncomfortable looks, or looking away, or talking to me like I am a child that sometimes happens. It is a real thing when I am in the chair. It did not happen this time, for which I was very grateful.

A model of the White House in the Visitor’s Center.

When we eventually made our way through multiple security checkpoints and walked through the doors to the White House, I could hardly take it all in; part museum, part office and partly home to the Biden’s, currently. We slowly wandered through the East Colonnade, gazing at framed pictures of various First Families throughout our nations’ history, including their beloved pets. To our happy surprise, a week after returned from DC, one of the questions on Jeopardy was about a pet racoon who had lived in the White House and we knew the right answer, because of our visit! (See photo below!)

Grace Coolidge!

We were a tad bit jealous of the presidential movie theater, imagining our own many movie nights. There were beautiful sculptures, paintings and gifts given to various family members. It was surreal to move through the hallways, seeing sights from movies and tv, as we moved along the long hallway. I gazed out the window, reminded of TV shows that have used the White House as a central character, how we all are fascinated by the mystery of power and elegance here. (Any Scandal fans?)

Oh, this is lovely!!

We moved on, seeing historic rooms, furniture, dishes and so much more. As my husband pushed me slowly along the hallways, I made eye-contact with another dad who was pushing his son in a red stroller/wheelchair. His smile and dedication to his boy, (who I instantly recognized as another CP warrior,) was sweet and tender. As we approached a room filled with books, Matt and I joked about going to put a copy of the The Forgotten Five by my friend Lisa McMann on the table where about 30 other books were displayed. (The Secret Service may not have been so respectful if we actually tried this! You’ll just have to go buy one to read, well worth it, I promise!)

So much history here.

I put my hands on the wheels to slow down and motioned the dad and his precious boy ahead of us. The dad gave me a wink and a silent, thank you and it was another sweet, “CP warriors unite” moments. I had seen quite a few warriors on the trip, something not lost on me at all. 1 in 350 people are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. It is a truly rare incidence for me to run into anyone with CP, let alone a few in the same space. The night before on our dusk tour, I had seen another tour guide with CP, as well as Dre.

We came to the end of the hallway, finding a marble staircase, which others in the tour began climbing to the second floor. Before we had a chance to ask where an elevator was, one of the many people who took such pride in their roles here, motioned us his direction. We waited while he walked the man and his son behind a set of screens behind him. Another man came down the stairs and encouraged us to follow him, asking us to refrain from taking photos while we followed him to the elevator. He explained some of the history of the White House, as the location of the elevator is not in a “public” part of the White House. We were able to see a few behind the scenes portions of the White House including one of the beautiful kitchens, where we were given a smile and exuberant “Hello!” in French from one of the chefs as well as some of the original stonework from the White House at the time of the first fire in 1814.

Once we got off the elevator, we walked into the “Red Room,” beautiful lush wallpaper and many historical antiques, centuries old and in beautiful condition. The “Green Room” was similar, gorgeous in color, pristine architecture and antiques. We next went into a ballroom, a formal dining room, then came out into a long hallway that displayed many portraits of former Presidents and First Ladies.

The Red Room
The Green Room

As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the Presidents. We had gone to Cape Canaveral and Boston when I was young, both of which awakened my interest in President John F. Kennedy. I know there are many rumors about his life and sad realities related to JFK’s death, but in my youth, his charisma, youth and tragic death had always made me want to learn more about him and his seemingly fairy-tale family. As we made our way down the hallway, we came to the portrait I’ve looked at so many times.

To see all the history, the rich tapestry of tradition, belief, hard work and trust in God was an unforgettable experience. I was so thankful to share it with the kids, my parents and other fellow visitors. (Americans and those from other nations.)

All too soon, our time at the White House was coming to a close. My husband and I waited to get our picture under the Presidential Seal, the same one we’ve seen in countless press conferences and speeches. As we left the elegant, gleaming furniture and priceless works of art, I thought about how quickly time passes…all that these walls have experienced, lost, rebuilt, changed and changed again. I thought about the time in our family, how quickly are kids are growing and how much we too have experienced.

And then…how absolute and unchangeable God is. All the ideals our country began with, trusting God was at the forefront. While much has changed, God has not. HE is the holy of holies, the beginning and the end. While His Word tells that the “flowers wither and grass fades,” (and all other things,) “the word of the Lord lives forever.” (Isaiah 40:8). As much as this city and our country honor tradition and history, unless it is all built on the truth of God, this too, will fade. My brain has been reflecting so much on all the things we’ve taught, built and put our absolute faith in.

Our next visit was to The Ford’s Theater and the Petersen House, where President Lincoln died. It was a somber visit, almost as though you could still feel the heaviness of the President’s death. We all crammed into a re-created version of the bedroom where President Lincoln fought for life. Again, I was struck with the reality of change that can happen in an instant, to individual families of entire nations; or anything in between.

The Ford’s Theater
A replica of the bed President Lincoln died in at The Petersen House

The National Park ranger stationed at the Petersen House took great care in telling about the events of history in the most authentic and honoring way. I wondered how much that becomes a part of you if your job is to share the details of such an important time in history. It was clear, the level of pride and honor it was, with the ranger we spoke with. She talked with great reverence about President Lincoln, his impact and his tragic death. It was a personable re-counting, gratitude for our president’s sacrifice and pride in her own post here. We left feeling like we had personally come to know the President and his life a bit more than what we’ve read.

The room in the boarding house

From the painstaking reconstruction of the bedroom where the president fought for his life, the detailed museum filled with endless details about the President, his family and his presidency, and the honor throughout, we were completely saturated by it all. At The White House, history, color, details and meticulous care ; we were in awe. And the dedication given to it all was a beautiful representation of sacrifice on many levels.

I am grateful for every good and perfect gift, the skills and gifts of those who live and work in our Capitol, striving for the best of our country and her people. (Yes, I choose to believe this is the best hope of most who work in the political arena…)

I am grateful for the architects, builders, dreamers and the many others who’ve built, designed and created and so much in Washington and around the world. Isn’t there so much to see, every where we go? I am amazed, by it all.

I am grateful for the opportunities and freedoms that we take for granted here in United States. These days in DC reminded and encouraged me to appreciate it all, every single day.

Most, I am thankful for the sovereignty, hope and reason to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of him, I (we) truly have nothing to fear.


Isaiah 40:8


October 16 or “someday.”

Have you ever had a someday? What I mean is, have you ever said to yourself, “someday, I will be ready for that role. Someday, I will pursue that dream or be prepared enough to take on that challenge. Someday, my _______ will be right, and then I will be happy. Someday, when I meet______ I will be happy (or get into the right college, live in the right city, etc.)” Can you relate?

October 16 is the realization of my own “someday,” one that continues to become more and more a part of my present and my future, but realized, because of my past. It is both the continued work of my own and that of helping others with theirs. And it is a visible portion of my path that feels like it has been influenced by so many: family, friends, mentors, pastors, professors, friends, therapists and in a very real and tangible way, the stories from clients and their very bravery that has influenced my path to someday most of all.

There were many, many poignant moments in my relationship with Jesus, but the path, the day Jesus whispered to me in Graves Hall, the first day in a social work class with Dr. Jim Piers, that THIS was his plan for me. I wasn’t at all sure what it meant, but I knew HE led me to THIS. I graduated from Hope with my B.A. in social work, ready (and not ready) to care for others, one of the very few things that felt natural to me. I applied a few different jobs, but it was the one in a grassroots relational ministry with teens that changed me for good. In the seven years of ministry, I had co-workers who taught me more than I had learned in some classes, met many unforgettable families, brave students and learned about trauma in ways that only God could understand and redeem.

I had, at the encouragement of a dear friend, applied to graduate school in the Spring, 2000. I was shocked when I received a quick acceptance, having struggled for as long as I could remember with my own value and confidence. Another dear friend was killed the week after I began, putting me on a path of learning so much about grief, trauma and perseverance.

The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center happened almost one year later, the same day I began my first internship at our local Hospice organization. Our small and mighty teen ministry suffered the same as many non-profits that year. Our fearless fund – raiser, Prett, believed with 100% of his being, what our ministry was doing: loving and supporting kids in this community in the name of Jesus. But with the state of the world in 2001 and Prett’s declining health, God began to bring the season of ministry in my life to a close. And as much as I could not understand it then, the path led to a deep love and respect for counseling, (that I didn’t know yet) a life-changing supervisor and further experiences with such beautiful patients that it still touches my heart.

Then there was a plan for a 2nd internship that somehow seemed to be what I wanted, what I said I wanted, but did not FEEL right. 3 weeks before I was to begin, our little ministry closed for good. I needed a part-time job in which to survive while I finished this last year of grad school. I got a call from a friend, saying that her supervisor in a local counseling center wanted to interview me…

As only God could, my life changed in that one afternoon, a whole different path, one that had been whispering so quietly that I hadn’t even been aware of it. I began that fall with an internship and a JOB in that counseling center, scared, fulfilled and RIGHT. I had informed the first placement of the sudden change. As I turned toward this counseling path, I knew God was indeed, behind, beside and before me. I knew both that HE was leading, even though my confidence suffered a deep wounds from another professional who made me an impending job offer, then denied the promises of “hiring me when I finished grad school,” as graduation loomed. The mixed messages from a respected person in the counseling field sent me reeling into self doubt and insecurity.

God paved and redeemed my path with supervisors who helped me re-learn trust myself clinically, co-workers who became the dearest of friends, skills that I still, many years later, still rely on daily. I met my husband that year, and two months after my graduation, I married him – the easiest yes I’ve ever said. At that, I began marriage AND a counseling career, a life that felt nearly too good to be true. I loved who I was becoming as a clinician and I stayed there for the next 8 years, during the birth of our first daughter, and close to giving birth to our son. I had worked primarily with court-ordered clients, some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. I learned some unhealthy patterns, witnessed those who were unaware and unhealthy as well.

I had logged all my hours for licensure, passed my test and was finally hoping to see clients who came by choice. It was a long wait. I was tired, very pregnant and ready to spend time with our precious kids. I was home with our 2 year old and infant, happily enjoying motherhood when my dear supervisor from Hospice called. I went back for the next 3 1/2 years, until I came pregnant with our youngest daughter. I was again home with our babes, happier than ever. Our oldest went to kindergarten that year and the time I was home with them was worth EVERYTHING to me.

And yet, that deep desire, the deep longing to help and counsel remained an ember for me….

Over the summer of 2013, I encountered an acquaintance who was suddenly thrust into grief and tragedy. I heard God so gently remind me to return to counseling, to help and trust. I just needed a place…

I returned to the same organization and spent the next two years growing, through both positive and negative experiences, again, cultivating my skills as a therapist. I had been doing my own work for the last few years, a firm believer that a therapist can only go with clients as far as their able to become aware of themselves. And as I sat in her office one day, we talked about “my someday – my hope and desire to be in private practice.” She gently asked, “when is that?”

“I need to know more,” I said, not really knowing what that meant.

Over the next few weeks and months, she asked gentle, yet pointed questions about “someday,” and helped me understand that someday could be now. I had so many questions, hopes and wonder. Could I, really?

And then, on October 16, 2015, I welcomed my first client in my private practice. It was the most wonderful, natural moment for me, the someday that was indeed, now.

8 years later, I am humbled, blessed and have learned more from clients than I believe I teach them. I am grateful for this career with each and every hour that I spend, hearing stories, difficult and heart-wrenching tragedy, trauma and the joy of growth and change.

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you; plans for hope and a future.” Jerimiah 29:11

Thank you, my Jesus, for knowing every single step of my and all of our pathways. Thank you for never giving up. I would not be anywhere without you or your sovereignty. Your truth and provision, the fact that NOTHING is random to you. Your intentionality, all – giving for our good.

Thank you to clients and those who have trusted me with your precious truths – referring friends and loved ones so that I may witness so many journeys. I am nothing but thankful and pray that this someday is now for many years to come.


Jeremiah 29:11


Washington in the the moonlight…and still more ways God saturates.

Washington trip highlights (Part 3)

It is pure joy to remember our trip and put the many thoughts and connections from my heart into this format. It is one of my favorite ways of making meaning.

Have you heard that phrase before, making meaning? (Meaning making” designates the process by which people interpret situations, events, objects, or discourses, in the light of their previous knowledge and experience. – Bruner, J. S. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.)

I believe that how we interpret, in light of our knowledge and experience, makes the difference between how one person and another who experience the same event, can see, feel and interpret it, entirely different from each another. Maybe I can explain it better with Washington DC as a breathtaking backdrop….

I left at this spot on the last post, we’d just finished with our Capitol and Holocaust tours. Our senses, hearts and minds were saturated with so many things (see previous post). We had just enough time take the Metro back, grab a sandwich at the condo, then get on a tour bus for an evening tour of the monuments.

I’ve always been a night-owl, relishing the stillness that happens as most are sleep. Some of my memories from growing up include staying up really late reading, cleaning, sorting, journaling or simply enjoying the quiet in my own room. I’ve always loved the moments in the Christmas season when we bundle up in the warm car, enveloped in the dark and look for twinkling light displays. And, legitimately, don’t even get me started on Walt Disney World at night. PURE MAGIC, at least to me. Needless to say, as we looked at tour options, I was most excited by the idea of “Washington at Dusk.” That said, our timing wasn’t great, as we had toured all day, all of us were tired, but oh my stars, it was SO worth it.

It started out a bit…bumpy, literally and figuratively. Our bus driver, (who we later learned was named, Tanisha), was skilled and fearless behind the wheel of our massive tour bus! The streets in Alexandria seemed ultra skinny and bumpy, but Tanisha was a pro (and fearless!) Though we had not known that our actual TOUR started in Washington DC and not as we boarded the bus at our condo, we were still so excited to see sights and the beauty of the city at night.

Our tour guide, Dre, was truly an unlimited fount of historical knowledge. He was so smart, so aware of many details of Washington and American history, that I could’ve listened to him much longer than our 4 hour tour.

Our first stop was the White House, which at least initially, left us still wondering about the quality this tour. About 20 of us hopped off the bus, crossed a big open field and then – found ourselves staring at the historic White House, lit up against the inky black sky. Just breath-taking….

This does not do it justice.

Dre shared some inside information about the United States’ most famous home. He took pictures for us, then we all began to trek back to the bus. I was humbled as my husband pushed me in my wheelchair across the thick green grass. As we got back on the bus, someone said in a soft voice, my husband is not here.” You could feel the buzz amongst those of us on the bus, some identifying with “losing someone,” others murmuring concern after the woman whispered, “my husband wanders off easily.” Dre literally, bounced off the bus, quickly looking for “Bob.” After what felt like a very long time, Dre returned with dear Bob and was visibly relived that he hadn’t lost a customer in the dusky evening. Dre made sure to keep this sweet couple with him at each of the next monument stops.

Beauty abounding.

We visited the National Mall which included the Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington, Korean War, WWII, and Vietnam memorials, as well as the Capitol building. We were struck again and again by the history and beauty we were privileged enough to see. Each of the memorials were a wonder of resources, both natural and financial, design, honor, emotional heaviness and thoughtfulness. From the looks on chiseled, sand-blasted and sculpted faces, the placement of landscape, the meticulous detail and honor, built into every. single. model, monument and memorial was nothing short of miraculous. From the grandeur and design of monuments, the details and the way the former presidents gaze over the national mall…each was awe-inspiring. And as the night grew darker and later, the monuments themselves seemed to be sitting on hallowed, holy ground.

Korean War Memorial

As we rode up the decades old elevator to find Abraham Lincoln gazing over the reflection pool, I couldn’t help but stare. I have always loved history. I sat in the wheelchair staring out at the reflecting pool, thinking of all the history that has taken place in this very spot. (Also, cue Forest Gump…)


I found myself staring around every corner for another view of the Washington Monument or feeling rooted to the ground as I stared at the names on the Vietnam War Memorial. Every detail meant to honor and bring remembrance; From the the dog tags, the detailed expressions on the immortalized veterans faces and the significance in every sculpture, I felt compelled to better understand our nations battles, sacrifice of every person serving and cultivate more gratitude. Even in the night, God himself was here, saturating our time, our knowledge, and our abilities to be grateful to every veteran who has fought for the freedoms we share in the US.

World War II Memorial

We finished with the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. I think I still can’t comprehend it, weeks later. As the night seemed to fill in every space around us, we arrived just outside of the Martin Luther King monument area. There was immediately a sense of reverence, at least for me….

When our sweet oldest daughter came home from school her first grade year, she flew up our driveway, a colorful piece of paper flapping wildly in her hand. She had painstakingly colored it, even staying in for recess. (Not sure about the eyeshadow, nor is she, now that she is nearly 18.)

“Mama!” She bounded in the door, bursting with information (and her own depiction) about her “new hero,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. From that day on, she has held a very special spot in her head and heart for the well-known Civil Rights activist. He is “hers,” much like Mr. Rogers is “mine.”

We passed through the “rock of despair” once we arrived at the statue and I felt all the air escape from my lungs as we attempted to take it all in. The centerpiece for the memorial is based on a line from King’s “I Have A Dream” speech: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” A 30-foot high relief of King named the Stone of Hope stands past two other pieces of granite that symbolize the “mountain of despair.” It is a visually stunning representation of the Civil Rights leaders unfinished fight and a life cut short. Dr. King himself stands overlooking the Tidal Basin, arms crossed, gripping a sheath of papers.

I sat in my wheelchair, uttering a grateful prayer for his life, endurance and sacrifices; looked up to see my daughter walking slowly toward the massive monument to lay her hand so gently on on part of Dr. King. Her love, admiration and desire to emulate the man who deeply lived like Jesus moved me to tears.

Awe-inspiring …

I had a hard time rolling back to our tour bus, to be honest. I tangibly felt God’s presence while we visited this beautiful memorial, surrounded by a 450 feet long inscription wall which includes excerpts from many of King’s sermons and speeches. On this crescent-shaped granite wall, fourteen of King’s quotes are inscribed, the earliest from the time of 1955 and the latest from his final sermon, delivered in 1968 at Washington, D.C.’s National Cathedral, just four days before his assassination. We saw the beautiful pulpit a few days later.

The Both/And was not lost on me, amidst the holiness; both sadness for the world in that Civil Rights fight then (still NOW) and the magnitude of grace in how Dr. Martin Luther King followed his calling. Both the respect deserved and the sense of questioning, “Please Jesus, when will this fight be redeemed?” Both gratitude for his wisdom and an apology for all he and so many others have endured.

Though I am white and cannot relate to the struggles of so many who are of equal, but different races, I can relate to some of the feelings of injustice, complexity and bias because of my disability. I felt a small bit of that, (being able to relate) as I sat staring up at Dr. King’s image in the rock. It was a moment I will never forget.

Every year on Dr. Martin Luther King day, I share my favorite of his quotes on my social accounts: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” (1963, Strength to Love)

This quote has moved, shaped and most often reminds me, we can’t reach each other without the ever-present love and goodness of Jesus. We absolutely cannot…but we must keep trying.

If Mr. Rogers can continually “preach” about being born with the indelible goodness of God in our being and Dr. King gave his last breath for the hope of equality, light and love (ie, being like and with Jesus,) then, oh my goodness, I can certainly do my part of loving, caring and making continued efforts to value one another. And when I can’t, my God can within me. All I must continue to do is try….

We have come so far and we have so far to go….both…and.



Saturated (part 2)

After we left Pittsburgh, our travels took us through the rest Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and finally into Washington DC.

Our youngest daughter, who has always struggled with motion sickness, forgot about her worried tummy as we took in the scenery. This was not a trip we’d ever taken as a family, so the colors, the landscape, changes from rural to urban and so much more, were inspiring to all of us. Saturated, indeed! Our daughter’s wonder never ceases to amaze and show us more who Jesus is…

We arrived at the Club Wyndham, Old Town, Alexandria. As condos go, top notch. Pure delight to be immersed in a part of the nation that is as old as it gets, and updated beautifully. Our kids were so appreciative and the joy on their grandparents faces was well worth the wait to get here. Timing (three weeks into the school year and in the midst of senior year swim season) was not ideal but already, the time together was proving to be so worth these few sacrifices.

After a grocery trip and ultra-affordable dinner at Costco, we were all thankful, tired and thrilled to spend time in the greater DC area in the days to come…

The next day brought joy in many ways. It is so interesting to me how we all have unique interests that truly make us who we are.

Do you remember one of my first posts about Tiffany & Co? My daughter has great taste in jewelry, which means, I have followed her lead. About a half hour from our condo was a Tiffany store, that though most items are well past what we want, she and I love to oooh and aaaah over the sparkle, history and the sheer artistry of Elsa Peretti, just one of the many talented artists of Tiffany. E did an art project last year about her Elsa’s and talent that left me so curious about her. E also made her first “big-girl” purchase from Tiffany during a trip to Chicago last year and it will forever hold a special place in her jewelry-loving heart. Even this, feels saturated to me…the beauty and joy, the wandering and conversation and holding value for others’ talents.

The day held adventures of it’s own, riding the Metro for the first time, experiencing the tiniest bit of DC and it’s beautiful history, architecture and massive differences from Michigan. Time together, vacation hopes and all the blessings that come with changes to daily routine and responsibilities. Our kids befriended Metro workers, (Miss Sugg, who greeted us happily after a few different Metro rides), Craig our concierge, offered to help carry groceries for an elderly woman at Costco and generally left us amazed as well. So many ways to see how God himself that turned up the saturation. We had dinner at Bob and Edith’s, a nostalgic 24-hour diner just steps from the condo and another fun experience!

Our first sight-seeing trip was the Capitol building. It was hard to take in all the history, the architecture and the wonder in just a single day. There was something profound about the history and depth to the space, statues, and the traditions that are embodied here. We saw and heard it again and again, throughout every tour, visit and moment of learning history here. It was impossible to not be awestruck as we saw the first Supreme Court, the Rotunda and the memorial statues sent here by each state. Our kids had recognition and wonder at learning about their historical role models, almost as if they were meeting them in person. To stand in the gallery in the House of Representatives felt important – all the important moments that up until then, we’d only witnessed on tv and here we were. You couldn’t help but respect the time, space and grandeur of every square inch of the Capitol building, as well as appreciate the sacrifice and work done in these walls. It is easy to believe the negative, difficult and jaded ideas about politics, but for me, I saw so much respect and pride from every employee, volunteer and caretaker we encountered.

After the Capitol, we made our way to the United States Holocaust Museum. We knew it would be intense, but also, “knew,” that we all needed to experience it. My mama’s heart felt concerned for my youngest, especially because of her age, her sensitivity, and the incomprehensible horrors, but, I could not have known how God would saturate us, even there…

I can’t put it into words, I would not even know how to begin. It was gut-wrenching, incomprehensible, and entirely mind bending to walk through this miniscule representation of the real-life horrors endured by so many. “The total of the Jewish victims is just over 5,750,000 and is based on such country by country and region by region records as survive” (Martin Gilbert in his book “Atlas of the Holocaust”). I read also that the real number, in reality, is impossible to gauge.

Our time looking into vacant, heroic eyes in photos, listening to their stories via recordings, small models of rail cars, barracks, and even models of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, though horrifying and sickening, were nothing in comparison to the unimaginable reality. I have thought about this chapter in our worlds history since I was young. I watched the Hiding Place, the story of Corie Ten Boom, when I was about 12, I think. I had difficulty processing it then, with good reason. I hope and pray we as a society can never comprehend it. This time, the reality hit me hard, in such different ways than the movie in my youth.

I used a wheelchair this trip. It wasn’t lost on me as I rolled through the exhibits (more information than I had the time or ability to take in on one trip), how if I had been Jewish in that time period, I most likely would have been killed very quickly. I drew in many difficult breaths, thinking about the many vulnerable in this already vulnerable horror. I had SO MANY questions…and so much empathy.

It was both heartbreaking and holy to notice our kids awareness, empathy, listen to questions, even witness their apprehension and tears as God left unmistakable impressions on all of our hearts. We stood in the beautiful chapel together at the end of our time, only able to whisper, “God, have mercy.”

We wandered into the bookstore at the end of the tour and there were a few key themes.

What You Do Matters

Never Stop Asking Why

Remember the Children

Think About What You Saw

Never Again

I couldn’t help but think how much these phrases are both unique to the horrors of the Holocaust and can be applied to so many present day situations. We still to need to consider our own brokenness, the plight of many around us and the value of all humans. I found myself praying fervently as we made our way back to the condo. I did a lot of asking God how could the world have been so turned upside down? How can it still be sometimes? By God’s mercy, the Holocaust is not happening again, but oh, the world is still, so, so lost sometimes….

I spend my days talking with many, sometimes myself about the unanswerable whys. Often in my office, we discuss the the hope found in feeling feelings, even if, we may never get the black and white answer that so often, we desperately seek. I cannot take away the pain or fix, a problem most days. And as much as I ache to do just that, to provide the easy out of the pain of so many experiences this side of heaven, MY hope, my one and only hope, is the love and sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ.

8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.

9  pFor as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

I cannot, with any of my limited thoughts, make sense of the massive loss of human life, the brutality and lifelong wounds of the unthinkable Holocaust. Nor can I make sense of the sudden death of a friend’s beloved spouse while we were on vacation; recurring cancer, or a recent diagnosis. Families estranged, addiction and depression that rob so many of life, love and joy. I cannot, and if I get stuck in trying, I end up more frightened, desperate, and perhaps angry at the one who DOES understand it all…

Not that God himself can’t handle ALL those feelings. I have not a single doubt about that.

So, in the effort to sit with the pain, the things we will NOT understand this side of heaven, I am authentic with Jesus, my questions and sheer agony as I look at the history here. We thanked him for the gift of being able to honor those who died, talk with our kids and point them back toward HIM who IS HOPE. And we continue to help our kids live and shape the world we live in at present; and I hold on to Jesus with all I’ve got.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20

This is what the first few days looked like to me, saturated in time, relationships, beauty, unfathomable horror, conversations, processing and connecting the hope of Jesus to it ALL.

The evening would bring a whole other kind of saturation, one that you’ll have to wait for in the next post!


Isaiah 55 and Ephesians 3

Startle reflex, PSA’s and awareness.

“Jeez, Stacy, you are uptight!”

“Nervous much?”

Laughter ensued from my friends. I was thankful that the movie theater we sat in was dark and they could not see my quickly heated, tomato red cheeks. Even though I knew in THEIR minds, this was “just teasing,” I HATED how my body was “tense and jumpy” when there was a loud bang, scream, crash or any other surprise reason that my body would startle. I HATED IT…the lack of control I felt, how my body seemed so much more reactive than ANYONE else I knew and how in high school, this became such a point of teasing, so much more than I had experienced in middle and elementary school.

I began to feel immense shame and embarrassment about a part of myself that I did not know at all was a normal part of having cerebral palsy. I was hard on myself for not managing the “jumping,” reactivity, hard on myself when friends began to startle me on purpose because I couldn’t just “have fun with it.” It hurt. Beyond that, however, I just didn’t understand my own body mechanics that were so out of my control.

I don’t think I knew how to even talk about that, the embarrassment at people’s comments, how I would hope that movies did not have jump scares, or the tension I felt when music indicated something was coming. I don’t think I asked my parents how to help because I just wanted it to all go away and assumed it was just a “me thing.”

I have said many times over the course of my life, that I just did not SEE others like me. Cerebral palsy affects more than 17,000,000 people world wide, is the most common lifelong disability and no two people with cerebral palsy are alike. (From the Cerebral Palsy Foundation). For these and many other reasons, it is exceedingly difficult to process and understand the unique challenges that each of us with CP face, individually and collectively. Another contributing factor to that complexity is the reality that as kids with cerebral palsy age, services and support are less and it is even harder find connection to others who are similar. My physiatrist (Dr. Rush, Grand River Rehab) told me this week that he normally refers adults with CP out of state for orthopedic work, such as knee or hip replacement because of the innovations being done in places other than here. I don’t say that to throw shade at Michigan, but rather, it is a statement on the lack of resources and connections here, in my home state as an adult.

I have been allowed an incredible journey of awareness, understanding and self acceptance. Therapy, a support system like none other and first and foremost, a path that I can see was nothing less than God’s presence and provision have all provided some chosen, some mandated processing and accepting both my own worth and limitations. As I have aged and social media has emerged and evolved, I have experienced many people who bravely share themselves, challenges and their victories through various accounts and stories. Especially in the last few years, I sense understanding and comradery as my feeds include more and more brave CP warriors.

There is Colbie, whose friends and family regularly celebrates her strength and achievements, defying expectations. There is sweet Peter, who consistently defies the odds, smiles and communicates though he is non-verbal. There is Stephanie, an authentic woman, fitness professional, and advocate. She regularly discusses her needs, her frustrations and even depression related to CP, as well as her tremendous, spirit. Rachel is both fearless in sharing the realities of being an adult with cerebral palsy, unabashedly displaying the challenges and the normalcy she experiences, hourly. Joseph regularly shares his own fitness and life journey and again, the nuances of what it means to engage the world as a healthy person with CP. It was in watching a TiKToK of his, that I again had another a-ha moment: He described, “walking across the room carrying his cup of coffee with CP for the first time without spilling it. I have battled my own “sloppiness,” for years, thinking again, that it was only me, that could not carry my tea without spilling it on my shirt, the floor or both. It was bittersweet to watch Joseph because of the struggle AND the validation.

There are many others…this tribe of warriors, including their families. I would also include my own. Having lived with cerebral palsy for my half century of years, I am so proud. I am proud of us, those who did not ask for this set of circumstances and who show grit, “normalcy” and inclusion. I am amazed by rockstar support systems, and continually improving adaption options. I am thankful that though the world, globally, has a long way to go in regards to valuing ALL life and experience, we’ve also all come SO FAR.

Did you know that an athlete who was born with CP WON (yes, you read that right…) WON American Ninja Warrior this season? (Sorry for anyone that watches…I am just so excited that I added this spoiler in!)

Justin Gallegos became the first ever professional athlete with cerebral palsy to sign with Nike in 2018. We have come so very far.

Yesterday, I was scrolling a bit while drinking my tea. The Cerebral Palsy Foundation regularly posts fantastic content that is informative for both those with and those without CP. But as I scrolled, my eyes fell on a graphic they’d posted just a few hours earlier that was another big moment for me. (See below).

It stunned me for a minute because though I have learned over time about my own startle reflex, that same one I took a lot of grief for in middle, high school and even currently sometimes, this was new to me. I know how to deflect it or give a quick comeback to whomever is teasing. But still, STILL…after all this time that I’ve lived with CP, I hadn’t thought about others’ startle reflex. Granted, I still don’t see “ALOT of OTHERS” with CP around me, but still…it hadn’t occurred to me. We ALL startle easily and have not control over it.

I felt newly informed as I scrolled, but more importantly, I felt so cared for, along with the other warriors around me. I felt advocated for as this graphic was informing US on a global scale, “be aware of people around you with CP AND, know that the STARTLE is a normal thing.” Absolutely, the most wonderful blessing!

There are many times that my “normal with CP” requires much thought and planning to do seemingly “normal” things that the average person without CP may not have to think twice about. One of the pools in our conference does not have railings to get up to the bleachers. It is impossible for me to make that climb solo without the rail. Other times, the parking lot, even handicapped spots are miles away from an entrance and even further from our actual destination at events. It is tiring sometimes to explain my particular challenges or needs and sometimes easier just to suck it up and manage a situation at a significant cost to my comfort or needs because honestly, I could be explaining things all. day. long. This got me thinking about how others might experience this as well….

My friend Aria told me recently how “people don’t always know how someone with kidney disease has to monitor their water intake.” In her words, “I couldn’t even freely drink water when I was I was thirsty during dialysis. Too much could really hurt or even potentially kill me. I couldn’t take showers without much physical and emotional exhaustion because I had to be so careful with my catheter. If I got it wet and water got in my bloodstream, it could have also been dangerous for me.” It is in her brave sharing that I value my ability to drink water, not take mundane things for granted, like showering. (Yes, I did share this story with a few teens I know who don’t always value of, ahem…TAKING a shower.)

I wonder…is there anything you would share about a particular battle that most people wouldn’t be aware of? I am so grateful for awareness and though there are difficulties with how we treat each other in the world sometimes, there is also so much that is good, possible and beautiful.

The graphic felt so holy to me and here is why: everyone you or I encounter is fighting some kind of battle. That is not a cliché,’ but instead, an absolute truth. The more we can become aware of each of each other, the more we value how God has created us each individually, the gifts and the challenges this side of heaven. I think we all want to be seen, represented and seek connection with people who get us. Look at this video. If this doesn’t prove how meaningful it is to see and experience someone we can relate to in our own joys and challenges, I am not sure what does.

Yesterday was World CP day, October 6. I celebrate each and every warrior who lives with CP. If I had the ability, I would make a DAY to honor each and every struggle around the world. I am in awe of each, and every one of us, challenging, battling and victorious related to whatever our struggles are. And on this and every other day, may awareness, celebration and love lead the way to acceptance, value and seeing one another as God himself does: made in HIS magnificent image.


Psalm 139


Saturated…(part 1)

Though we had been planning for well over a year, our recent vacation to Washington DC snuck up on us because, well, September is September. Maybe it’s just me, but September seems to be right up there with May and December, the two busiest months of the year, at least in our house: purchasing school supplies, attending open houses, shopping for clothes, ordering athletic gear, learning new schedules, rediscovering school year routines and so much more. The summer wrapped up and fall began at freight-train speed.

3 weeks later, we blinked and realized our long-awaited and once rescheduled vacation to Washington DC was upon on us in a few short days! We all packed in a rush between informing school the kids would be gone, taking senior pictures, swim practices, meets and inevitable high school drama. In what felt like a discombobulated hurricane, we pulled out of our driveway at dawn, some of us with already nervous traveling stomachs, others a bit buzzed with an awaiting adventure and another nearly sleeping before we uttered traveling prayers and left our own street. We were armed with Whoppers, combos, Hydro flasks full of water, iced tea and kombucha; DVD’s for the ride, Air pods fully charged and audiobooks downloaded and ready.

The idea for the trip was from my parents, with my parents. Our kids ages made for the perfect time to soak up all kinds of American History in our country’s capital. I hadn’t been there since I was little and the rest of my crew? Never. I could feel my parents excitement as we caravanned through Michigan, then Ohio, stopping at a familiar antique mall because my mom has had a lifelong love of antiquing, which is both her hobby and business.

As I wandered with my oldest daughter, I felt like I was coming home – many antiques that had been in my childhood home, many more that whispered from my heritage. My grandparents, my mom and her sister all curated multiple business ventures and expertise about antiques. They each honed the ability to see great value in what someone else may have deemed, “used junk.”

I am a bit ashamed to admit it, I don’t always understand the love and skill my mom has in this area. I definitely do not enjoy the hunt involved with antiquing as mom does. But as we wandered this time, I found myself a bit awestruck by the history, the memories and joy in so many “vintage” items throughout the huge space. The kids found sweet treasures, a tiny windmill, various Mickey Mouse items, a Marvel character my daughter “HAD TO buy for brother,” a tiny Wade White House once included in boxes of Red Rose Tea. I felt like I was discovering something different while wandering this antique mall, finding comfort in the smells, beauty in so many colors of china and the sight of an old suitcase just like the one my Grandma carried when she came to visit.

As it turns out, that feeling on this first stop on our journey would be recurring many times over during our weeks vacation, not necessarily with antiques but rather the slow, deliberate pace, the saturation of small, bright and beautiful details that so often get overlooked and the pure joy of just being. While I intended to write about our travels while on vacation, I was so busy being present that I never found the right moments.

A day or two after we got home, I was listening to a daily Bible reading app when I heard the host say, “We know God is everywhere, but he can certainly turn up the saturation when he wants to.” -Tara Leigh Coble, The Bible Recap.

YES!! Like many of the ideas I write about, I listened to that quote over and over, turning it over in my mind like my trusty Rubik’s cube. When I thought about the word, “saturated,” I immediately thought about my kid’s wet towels on the pool deck or how my youngest likes to run through the rain, fully clothed. I thought about color, how my friends John and Jeannine load the color onto screens when creating t-shirts. But I felt like there must be a bigger definition, especially when I think about this quote.

“Saturation is the process or state that occurs when a place or thing is filled completely with people or things, so that no more can be added.” Oxford English Dictionary

YES. Every moment of our vacation was saturated – filling us in ways that no more could be added. So much laughter, learning, poignant experiences, history, God-breathed interactions. Let me try to explain….a bit at a time.

Other than a few rest stops, we made our way through the rest of Ohio and into Pennsylvania. Our next stop was in downtown Pittsburg. My family members were honoring my long-held dream of seeing the Mr. Rogers memorial statue that sits next to the Allegheny River at a former Manchester Bridge pier near Heinz Field. But as my hubby drove through increasingly busy traffic like a professional driver on a closed course, we found ourselves in the middle of traffic and happy people all around us. We were swiftly, smack in what seemed to be, the biggest baseball game of the year: The Pirates v The Yankees at PNC park.

The game started in 15 minutes as our phones directed us closer to the 10’10” statue. There was not a parking space to be found, ANYWHERE. Still, my sweet hubby circled, searching for just one spot to park.

“Mama, there it is! Mr. Rogers!” My daughter certainly knew how to get my attention.

As we drove past, I caught the shortest glimpse of the back of Mr. Rogers head. And still, no option in which to park. After trying for a long half hour, my husband squeezed my hand, “We’ll come back tomorrow morning, babe.” I nodded, touched by the effort and slightly concerned I wouldn’t get to see it the next day either, as we made our way back out of town.

Our hotel for the night was about 30 minutes away and we were all hungry. A late night pizza party, a long late talk for my son and I, late in the night as my hubby snored. We had been awestruck by the sheer magnitude of the baseball and football stadiums, the beauty of the city- so many things we would not forget already on this first day of travel.

The next morning found us heading back to Pittsburg like we were now ALL professional drivers, on a closed course.

As we suddenly rounded the corner, there sat my friend Fred, the sun shining on the larger than life statue.

“Dad, it’s closed!” My son said from the back while we drove past again. The park next to the statue was filled with people and again, parking seemed sparse. My heart skipped as I heard his comment, craned my neck in order to see the statue, look for parking and not rush to anticipating disappointment.

Parking space finally secured, we made a short walk to the statue I have waited so long to see. As we walked up, Mr. Rogers voice, calm and reassuring, was saying “It’s you I like.” The sound system was state of the art, as it broadcast 29 different Mr. Rogers sayings and songs, outdoors. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve guessed I was in the very room with dear Fred. LITERALLY. I listened, then glanced toward the statue. The gates behind Fred’s back read CLOSED, there was scaffolding sitting between the statue and the gate and black and yellow caution tape blocking any path to the statue itself.

I stood there, listening to Mr. Rogers familiar voice and feeling crestfallen as the statue sat just out of my view. My family was quiet, disappointed for me.

“Come on, babe.” My husband took my hand, lifted the tape and smiled at me. My youngest daughter, a sweet, sensitive rule-follower, was instantly concerned. “Daddy, don’t get in trouble! I can’t watch!” She covered her eyes while we walked around the corner to the statue.

There overlooking the river in an amazing tribute, sat a huge, heartwarming memorial to one who still teaches so many how important they are.

Saturated, indeed. The care of my love, kids and parents to make sure I could see it in person, their understanding of it’s importance to me and their sweet treasured words about “how you are just like him, Mama.” The overlook at the river, the fountain, these photos and the sound of Fred’s voice was icing on the cake. I couldn’t not feel the very presence of Jesus in those moments, how he tried so hard to love a world like Jesus did, the natural beauty all around, the sheer creative talent of Robert Berks and the gifts of Cordelia May and her Foundation.

The other side…the “and” with this experience?

I think some have a really difficult time with experiencing beauty and the ways God turns up the saturation.

I gave a beautiful classmate of my kids a compliment after church this morning and it seemed she wanted to crawl in a hole. As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, “The Bad Things Are Easier To Believe. You Ever Noticed That?” In the world this side of heaven, I believe it is much more common to hear, say and experience the harder side of humanity than the good. It can be bullying someone who is kind and good, because maybe the “bully” had never experienced that kind of good and therefore, needs to bring the good down to their level.

Or perhaps, good, for who hasn’t experienced it, is not understood, comprehendible or not attainable so why should anyone else get to either?

Perhaps in those situations, “the saturation” of God’s beauty, goodness and grace is just TOO much to take in and apply to our own humanity.

I think this was also true for Mr. Rogers. When viewing the documentary, there was a section on people’s doubt, or flat out mockery of his kind and beautiful purpose. From SNL skits featuring Eddie Murphy, rumors about “tattoos under his sweaters” and far-fetched stories about “Fred being a Navy Seal.” The hardest for me about were about his motives with children, those who would taint the goodness of his calling into something perverse.

Needless to say, there will always be those who have greater difficulty with “good,’ than with mean, unkind or even cruel.

As I stood looking at the statue, I noticed something dark brown in the corner of Fred’s mouth. My husband is 6’4, therefore higher than my own 5’3″ frame.

“Someone put a cigar in his mouth,” my hubby said, as he continued to squint upwards at Fred’s distinguishable face. Sure enough, there it was, though it was now broken off and could be seen as a “cavity” in the corner of the statues teeth. I was sad, but not surprised that someone had wanted to impact the good of the statue. Not that cigar smoking is bad, mind you. It is just…. for a tv icon, one who promoted, physical, emotional and spiritual health, the inserted cigar felt like, (no pun intended) making Mr. Roger’s goodness, the literal butt of the joke.

All in all, people will always be people, people have been wounded for thousands of years and God is the best redeemer. God does indeed saturate, but always allows us to CHOOSE if we want to come to him and revel in ALL of his colorful, holy goodness.

I am so thankful for our trip, for perspective, for legacy and truth, history and God’s very presence in the world. This adventure was just the beginning of feeling God everywhere, and being in awe how HE saturates.

I pray he turns up the saturation, revealing more of who HE is, no matter where you are in the world. I pray you see and hear him in ALL things and that the beautiful examples of God’s own heart are many, saturated in fantastic, vivid colors.


Ezekiel 38:23