My Interrupted Day

She had an unfair advantage because I wore an employee related name tag, but I didn’t even know her name. We’d had what amounted to a briefer than brief conversation a couple days before. But today, she obviously needed to talk because my simple “Hi, there,” resulted in a ten minute conversation about difficult personal stuff—a judge’s ruling, the realities of divorced parenting, and the pain of separation.

My mind already spun with the details of the full day ahead of me. I didn’t have time for a lengthy conversation. At first I inched away but pretty soon, I stopped moving. All she needs is someone to listen.

Relief washed through me when she mentioned crying out to God that He would provide a way through what she could only see as an impossible situation. In fact after a night of prayer and soul searching, she felt His guidance directing her toward what only yesterday she would not have considered. And she was okay with it—she could see the possibilities. God in His infinite wisdom knew what her humanness could not comprehend, and His all-encompassing grace and power had begun to mold her will to His.

I didn’t have answers for her tough situation, but I could tell she wasn’t expecting me to. All she needed was someone to listen.

freedigitalphotos by Kittisak

freedigitalphotos by Kittisak

Throughout the day, other random occasions came to mind. Times when I was in the right place at the right time to reach out to someone. Today, my racing mind put aside the details of the day and made a conscious effort to listen. But that wasn’t always the case. I wonder to which side the scale would tip to if I could look into the past and weigh when I took the time to be there for someone versus the times I insisted on being too busy to care. I’m pretty sure the results wouldn’t make me feel good.

We set aside, in an obligatory sort of way, a week to do nice things for people –Random Acts of Kindness week which fell on February 10-16 this year. I’m not sure I realized the yearly observance was happening at all. I was probably too busy, trying to burn the candle at both ends and somewhere in the middle too. But that’s not how I want to live… missing the chances to love on people.

I want to be a person who doesn’t miss opportunities to be kind, to be a listening ear, to just be there. Someone who will sense a need—you know, not have to be knocked over with a bulldozer—and take the time to do something. And not just that one week each year.



There’s nothing wrong with a national observance. It raises awareness and prompts intentional consideration. A lot of people probably extend the acts of kindness for at least a little while. Like the way the “drive-thru difference”, the act of paying for the order of the car behind you, has caught on. People have been blessed—both the givers and the receivers.

But what if we practiced a random acts of kindness life? What if, each day, we chose to go out of our way to assist or befriend or hug someone? What if we looked closely at the people who cross our path? What if we took the time every day to care?

I can only imagine how that much looking out for others would impact the world. You see, if lots of people are keeping their ears and eyes open to the needs of others, there would have to be a lot less time for “me, me, me” thinking.

I hereby pledge to be intentional about seeking and finding random opportunities to practice kindness. Will you join me?

What’s the nicest random act of kindness you’ve experienced?

Celebrating Life and February 14

I started to research the history and origin of Valentine’s Day for this blog, but that got really boring really quick. I chocolate heartslasted about twenty-four seconds. So I moseyed onto recent trends related to Valentine’s Day which proved to be a lot more interesting. Did you know…

  • Hallmark began offering Valentine’s Day cards in 1913. Okay, yes, this qualifies as history but it’s a quirky, interesting tidbit of history so I’m going to include it.
  • Somewhere between 142 and 151 million (figures vary) Valentine’s cards are exchanged each year, not including the packaged kids’ valentines for classroom exchange. Valentine’s Day falls behind Christmas and in front of Mother’s Day in the number of cards exchanged for a holiday.
  • According to the National Retail Federation, the average person celebrating Valentine’s Day spent $130 in 2013. Ho-ly cow!

I guess we’re not “average”. Not even close. Oh, we like Valentine’s Day. We’re definitely not part of the it’s-a-totally-manufactured-holiday-that-I-refuse-to-participate-in camp. In fact Valentine candy shows up in our candy dishes right about February 1. We have a thing about holiday candy—any holiday candy. The special shapes, colors, flavor combos are a big hit at our house. And we LOVE homemade sugar cookies with buttercream frosting—heart shaped, of course—complete with red, pink, and purple sprinkles. Yum…

But I got really excited when my research led to the discovery that Valentine’s Day shares February 14 with another very important event: National Organ Donor Day. This nationwide awareness campaign focuses on five points of life: organs, tissues, marrow, platelets, and blood. Many non-profit health organizations choose this day to sponsor blood and marrow drives and encourage people to sign-up as organ and tissue donors. National Donor Day began in 1998 with the Saturn Corporation and its United Auto Workers partners in conjunction with the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other non-profit health organizations.

organ donor dayWe’ve long supported organ donation, but our interest in this life-saving procedure took a personal turn when one of my daughter’s friends was listed for a transplant. At first Ashley Pearce, 26, of Eureka, California, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of 5, needed a double-lung transplant. Then it was determined she needed a new heart as well. And finally, the announcement came that she would also need a kidney.

What began as basically a “routine” hospital admission for Ashley who had lost count of how many times she’s been admitted over the years, turned into more than sixty days at Stanford University Medical Center, some six hours from home. Her husband, Marcus, and her mother, Lisa, kept vigil at her bedside, filling the roles of advocate, supporter and encourager. As prayers poured in from family and friends across the country, fundraising efforts, already underway for some time in anticipation of the need for transplant, were stepped up.

Ashley’s condition worsened rapidly, and it appeared time was running out. But thanks to the generous nature of an unknown young woman, Ashley received her triple organ transplant at Stanford on January 28. Even as her family celebrated Ashley’s chance for a new life, they prayed for a family mourning the loss of their precious daughter.

Ashley’s fierce determination and amazing strength had pushed her to overcome so many obstacles just to make it to the point of transplant. Due to the criticalness of her condition at the time of surgery and the extensive nature of a triple-organ transplant, Ashley’s recovery will be a lengthy process. The road to recovery has already been paved with numerous bumps, but every positive step is celebrated by a legion of family and friends.

I’ve dubbed Ashley’s husband Marcus “the warrior by her side”. His commitment, devotion and sacrifice toward his bigger heartsyoung wife—they married in the summer of 2013—is nothing short of breathtaking. With a positive attitude that never seems to wane, he journeys beside her. Theirs is a true love story. One that should be celebrated on Valentine’s Days and every other day of the year.

For more about Ashley’s journey to transplant visit You may follow her recovery at

I hope you have a great February 14. After you indulge in that mega box of chocolates from your honey, gaze with appreciation at the bouquet of flowers from your sweetheart or savor the romantic dinner-for-two at your favorite restaurant, take a moment to visit to learn more about giving the gift of life.

What’s the best Valentine’s Day gift you ever received? The best you ever gave?

It’s the big -0!

birthday card

In just a few days I have the privilege of celebrating one of those milestone birthdays that ends in a zero—one that a lot of people mourn about endlessly.

How will I spend the next couple days leading up to this momentous occasion?

I could allow myself to sink into a depression while eating my weight in ice cream and chocolate. I like ice cream, and I LOVE chocolate.

Or stay in bed with the covers tucked snuggly under my chin, seeking blessed escape in slumber land. Sleeping in is one of my favorite things.

I might ponder all the things I wish I’d done differently, list the do overs that will never happen, and then plummet into despair. Who doesn’t have regrets? I do wish I’d been more in tune to my kids’ hearts and minds as they grew up. Wish I’d been less concerned about stuff that didn’t really matter like dirty dishes, missed bedtimes, plans gone awry. Maybe a tad more flexible.

Birthday candles

But instead of  boo hoo-ing, sleeping or regretting, I’m going to celebrate and look toward the days ahead. I plan to grab each and every opportunity to connect with my family and give less of myself to those things that don’t deserve so much attention. And loosen up a little too.

No matter your age, each of us faces the choice to look ahead or look behind—to focus on the past or look toward the future. Not one of us can honestly say we wouldn’t change something—maybe a lot of things—if we could live parts of our life over.

We’re human. Sometimes we make hasty, truly awful decisions. Let ourselves be led astray. Momentarily forget everything our parents, teachers, coaches, grandparents and every other person who cares about us taught us.

But rather than focus on all the things we can’t change, I vote we learn from the past. And the first lesson to learn is this: the past doesn’t have to define us. It’s possible to chart a new course, set out in a different direction.

It might be tough—really, really tough in fact. Take it one day at a time, and if you trip, get back up and forge ahead. That’s what I’m going to do.

What’s your best tip for not letting the past drag you down? What are you striving for in the coming days?

Favorite Opening Lines plus a chance to win Lauren Oliver’s Delirium!

Vanessa Morton writes:

My favorite books are those with a stunning opening line. I want the words to grab me by the shoulders and pull me into an engrossing story, like these from Alexa Privet’s The Ophaedron.

When Septimus Mawbry was a very young lad among the living, his parents were stolen through an ancient mirror by a woman who wore a gown of woven emeralds.

Privet’s opening line raises several delicious questions: if Septimus is no longer among the living, what happened? And who is that woman wearing a gown of woven emeralds? And why did she steal his parents? I need to know more.

Then there’s this opening from Lauren Oliver’s Delirium.

Delirium copy

It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure.

Love is now a disease to be eradicated? Really? And what is this “cure?” Tell me more!

A clever opening lets you know you’re in good hands, so sit down and strap in for a great ride. Lauren Oliver’s book delivered with pages of beautiful language and world-building. See my complete review here.
What’s your favorite opening line and why? Share it with us by leaving a comment below, and your name will be put in a hat. If you sign up to follow this blog or share this post on Facebook, your name will be put in twice. One lucky winner will be drawn from the hat on November 1st, and will receive a digital copy of Delirium.

If you want to leave a comment, click on the title of this post, then scroll to the bottom for the comment box!

Stories that live on… and on…

What makes a book one you’ll remember for a long time and will recommend to others? For me it’s about relevance to real life and voice. Stories that don’t shy away from the nitty-gritty, not-always-so-fun stuff that surrounds and invades our everyday lives. Those stories get inside my head. Story lines with fleshed out characters whose unique, quirky personalities spill across the pages, whose “voice-y-ness” oozes between the lines, whose pain and joy ripples through me—those stories seep into my heart. And when a stuff-of-real-life plot with engaging, memorable characters is threaded with God’s love and grace, well, it doesn’t get much better than that.

My friend, indie author Stefne Miller, writes those kinds of books. Her first book,“Salvaged”, tells the heart-wrenching story of seventeen-year-old Attie Reed and the tragic events that lead to a life transformation. When a car accident leaves her seriously wounded and takes the life of her mother and best friend, Jesus comes to Attie in an amazingly personal way. Her past and present meld when she spends the summer with the Bennetts, the family of her deceased best friend. Reminders inhabit every corner of the familiar and once loved home. Questions assault her sleep deprived mind. Is this the right place to heal? Do they really want her there? And what about Riley Bennett? His sole purpose in life used to be to torment her. Has that changed? The biggest question that looms is whether Image Attie can ever rebuild her life? Their story will leave its mark on you long after you flip the final page.

Fans of this great story were thrilled to learn “Salvaged” is now in development to be a television series! In May, a production team shot a forty-four minute pilot episode that is being released as a six-episode web series. The first episode aired on September 25, 2013, with new episodes posting every Wednesday through October 30th. Installment four airs this Wednesday, but you’ll want to start with episode one and watch Attie and Riley’s story come to life in this high quality introduction to Miller’s novel.

Each episode is available for viewing on YouTube:

Once you get acquainted with Attie and Riley, you’ll be chompin’ at the bit to read the sequel “Rise”.

A great story line and interesting characters tied together with God’s heartstrings—that’s my kind of story.

What Christian book stayed in your heart and mind the longest? Answer in a comment below for a chance to win a digital copy of “Salvaged”!