Monday, November 25, 2013

Transforming Pain into Art - 'Vincent & the Doctor'

Last night one of my most favorite Doctor Who episodes came on, Vincent.

The transformative power of pain, and suffering expressed through Art, through his eyes to canvas.

He is to this day one of the most relevant Expressionism artists our time has ever known, and one of the most tragic.

Whether you're a painter, dancer, photographer, singer, instrumentalist, teacher, graphic artist, architect, or anyone who creates anything this is for you.

For every time that you pour your heart onto the canvas, your medium isn't always the paint, or the voice, or the pen, or the click... it's the beating of your heart, the pain of your past, the disregard for your talents, the misunderstood, the anger, the fist.

In this particular episode, the novel idea that a time traveler 'The Doctor' could give Vincent Van Gogh a glimpse of his celebrated art, years and years later is touching and gives Vincent a perspective of his prolific talents. That may be something we never experience, and if we did, would it redefine why we do what we do?

Why are you doing it?

What if you never received another commission for your work?

How many singers and entertainers have walked through the revolving door of the entertainment business to never be relevant to their field of work? Thousands.

It's a hard place in this world to remain "Relevant", that's why we scratch our heads when we see performers disembowel their dignity for twerking and crying kittens, because it is getting increasingly difficult to be "Relevant" when we continually throw out the baby with the bath water in the world of Art and Entertainment.

More than that, can we transcend our consumer mindset to be able to restore talent into the things that once again reach us in the darkest places where someone can transform pain and suffering into something beautiful?

Would we ever try if no one ever noticed?

Increasingly, I believe we are quitting on ourselves.

It always sounds like a great notion, "Dance like no one is watching," but I'm afraid that we've stopped dancing because no one is watching.

If you're an artist, a poet, a teacher, a dreamer, a singer, an iPhone photographer, a Tumblr, ... forget about the "Like" button today.

Go create something for you.

Whatever stirs your passion, makes you want to sing in the shower, gives you goose bumps, reminds you of the smell of dust after it rains, Go!! Create!! Do It!!

Life isn't Show and Tell, it's GO and DO.

And, if you don't know where to start... start with your dirty car and take your finger and in that annoying sticky film on your window, draw a heart.

Just Begin.

Start Again. Start Again. Start Again.

And Again.

Use your pain, use your joy, use your sorrow, use your life.

You may touch lives today, or ten hundred years from now.

That's why it's relevant.

It's not just a piece of Art, it's a piece of YOU and that becomes timeless.

That, is Relevant.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fix You

"Would you fix Dalton if you could?"

That is a loaded question.

The latest article on research of scientific claims can be seen here from The Huffington Post, .

University of Massachusetts researchers have found a way to shut down the extra chromosome that causes the syndrome in mice. I love how the article is brief to describe the test subjects as mice that have a "Down-like" condition. With a lot of big words thrown in, what it boils down to is the verbage of "Cure".

How one defines this cure may be left to the capable hands of those in Bioethics, but as a Mom of one very amazing little boy with this disability my heart first screams "Eradicate" and sees it as more of a threat than a victory for mankind.  The word victory becomes an inevitable kind of hyperbole for modern medicine.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Every day, if not only for the month of October, do many who dare look at my social media graffiti attest to the many shared pictures, videos, and amazing moments this family has had with one very exceptional member that has Down's Syndrome.

What if Down Syndrome Awareness is changed to a Memorial some day?

It won't happen.

When in Honduras, there was a family that I didn't have the privilege of meeting, but a friend on the trip snapped a picture of a very cute little boy, probably about the same age as Dalton. He also had Trisomy 21, and is living in the middle of no man's land on Boca Island. This spring I hope to visit again, and this time meet him. I assure you, this advancement has no probability of preemptively flooding all corners of the earth, whether impoverished dirt roads of Duyure or the strands of India to the vast landscape of Africa, or the orphanages in Russia and all over Eastern Europe.

There will always be someone with Down's Syndrome.

Jerry Risser, a Bioethicist wrote a compelling article on the notions of "Fixing" Down Syndrome from Trinity International University. Mr. Risser refers to the language used when describing a person who 'suffers' with Down Syndrome as a misinformed descriptive. He also warns that this also takes on the notion of eradicating a disease, and not the thought of robbing our society of a meaningful part of humanity.

If anyone has met Dalton, they rarely see suffering. And if you've met Dalton, you probably already knew this.

Within the first year he was born, the headlines were about the rate of which the unborn with Down Syndrome were being aborted. Dalton was featured in an article run through the Tennessean because we were a family who did not terminate his life.

After the article ran, I had people emphasize to me that my decision shouldn't be forced on women to keep their babies. I agree. It was my choice, and it's my hope that women are given the full spectrum, not just the bad. More than just the 'broken', more than just the absence of 'normal'. I'm still adjusting that word's definition, the world is still adjusting everything from social norms to the status quo. Screw the status quo.

When I spoke with a geneticist the first time after being diagnosed, my optimistic perspective was met with skepticism as she proceeded to show me what I can only describe as the worst case scenario. The pictures of individuals with Down Syndrome looked like they came out of a textbook from the 70's, and perhaps the worst case scenario should be presented. What I was lacking was the Best case scenario, the medical advances, the importance of being 'honest' (I'm a bit parentheses happy today) about how the quality of life for individuals with disabilities is vastly improving.

Frankly, I'm surprised that research is being done on how to extract the 21'st chromosome because of how fast and furious the eradication of these individuals with Down Syndrome has risen in the last decade.

What I'm not surprised with, is how as a human race we're quick to refuse 'Brokenness'.

These are scientifically flawed and broken babies. As if it's perfection that drives us to be exemplary and deserving of life.

You don't have to be a Bioethicist to understand how this kind of mentality is damaging, not only if you are a person with a disability, but just a person.

One of the most grateful things I am, is grateful for my children. They have goals, and will begin to create their own definition of success and happiness by what I set for them as the standard. The standard, has never been perfection and it is certainly not mediocrity either. Everyone has potential, and each has a gift. The pursuit of excellence is a hard left delineation from the expectation of perfection.

Dalton was labeled a broken baby, and through him shines a lot of Joy, just like that fiery opal that my Dad gave me 17 years ago, a living stone. That stone wouldn't be what it is if it had not the tiny broken fissures that allow it to reveal a fire beneath it's milky surface.

People are broken too, but what lies inside of them is what that brokenness displays. If it's joy, patience, peace, kindness, self control and so on with all of the fruits of the spirit they become evident through you. If it's the opposite, then that's what we see revealed beneath the present exterior. 

Yes, I have a faith that shapes my decisions and even my outlook on life and thank God I did when looking at that ultra sound screen for the first time at my broken boy. Thank God that when he took my Dad's life, and he succumbed to cancer he left me this opal to know better. Thank God for the broken things.

Because, it's the broken things that show what fixing can't.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I came home from Honduras, so excited to Blog about this missions trip.

As the week progressed, I began to shatter into a handful of pieces feeling the weight of emotion of coming back into the routines of average American life.

I marveled at running water, shoes, comfort, shelter, a freezer full of chicken that I didn't have to kill and quarter, everything was compact, programmed, convenient like our microwave lives. People had told me from my small group at church about re-entry but what really began to happen was more like robbery.

The Flickr feed was filling up with our trek through Duyure where the medical clinic was set up. Hundred's of people came all week for what Mary Anne and many other medical professionals called "Jesus and Tylenol". Many of the locals that had returned from the previous year testified to the miraculous healings they had received, but what was really claimed was the miracles that Tylenol couldn't.

It wasn't the Tylenol that brought those healings of things far worse than a common headache.

It was Jesus.

That spoke to me and to many others, that this place was a very special testimony of amazing faith.

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit says the Lord," Zechariah 4:6

One of the first houses I visited was for animal distribution, we were bringing live chickens to the family (they smell like poo), and made minimal conversation because I knew very little Spanish. It is true however, that the closest distance between two friends is a smile and I smiled a lot, and nodded. The dirt roads of Duyure were lined with modest houses, one with a tin roof and a wandering donkey and another with blankets for walls and the thick waft of smoke from an indoor oven baking tortillas.

"Que Dios Los Bendiga - May God Bless You" I finally learned this by the end of the week, as it was said as often as Dora yells 'Back Pack' from the only Spanish Immersion I had experienced from Nick Jr on TV.

My favorite house was from my first day there. A little further down at the corner of a road, where the wandering donkey broke free from his modest shack stood a tiny frail woman. She invited the four of us inside as we circled her little home. We had no interpreter, so besides our own Pastor who spoke little to no Spanish, the local Pastor spoke to the old woman as she received the smelly chickens, squinting as she smiled so wide. I thought I would adopt her right then and there on the spot, she had the sweetest demeanor and in what broken translation another of us could make out revealed a very long suffering soul with many thanks to God for his provision for her. Before we left, she asked the local Pastor if she could pray over us which we were later told was rare for a woman to lead prayer.

Her weathered hand touched my shoulder as she extended the other to the pastor. Slowly she began to pour out over us in prayer. I felt the warm streams of tears fall down my face onto the dusty tips of my boots and leave a small puddle on her dirt floor. I don't even know what she was saying, but the sincerity in the inflection of her voice was so intentional. A kindness, not a fanfare of "Father God Holy Jehovah" titles or regurgitated terms, it was a gracious and most sincere prayer of thankfulness and 'Carino"a Spanish word that not only means Love, but Affectionate Love.

This sweet simple woman with very little was pouring over us with deep affection, the way you kiss a baby's cheeks and cuddle your 'Loveables'.

I brought a chicken, she fairly traded 'Carino'

She gave me more.

The whole week was like that. No matter what I brought, it was too little.

The faith they had, was tremendous in comparison. I came to serve, and I was over served.

We drove up the spine of a mountain in Choluteca, it's hillside teeming with tropical and lush walls of green and fruits. This place was like paradise, the mountains would peak like the tips of meringue and covered with stone and rock. On our way up the mountain, at 3 pm as we passed a family walking to a church service at a house we parked and got out at the invitation to be treated to their coffee and cookies.

At first glancing to each other, knowing the risk of eating possibly contaminated food and water, we dipped the sweet bread in the thick dark molasses and I enjoyed listening to our Pastor give a sermon on the spot as our guide translated to the locals. Slowly creeping up behind me, followed three little boys enjoying a game of throwing centipedes in my hair and clothes. Eventually, a magenta flower and wide bright eyes and smiles.

Carino, and bugs. That's what little Honduran boys are made of :)

Every night was a devotional, and worship. Our group was engaging in the flourish of heart strings as every voice lifted up praise. I so enjoyed it, I love leading people in worship and hearing that communion of souls and this was truly a gift that week.

Children were playing, and smiling. I over projected a square kick of a pelota accidentally into a crowd of people waiting to see the Medical Team, and was later thankful for not hitting anyone and causing injury as the little girl I was kicking the ball around with promptly assured me that soccer was not my forte.

The people from Mission Lazarus are very passionate about their operation, and at times there was discord about procedure or approach but as I've seen during many hospital visits with my own son those issues are usually short lived and everyone appreciates the over all efforts as success. People were treated, and the medical staff that had come were able to not only see people in a school turned into the make shift clinic, but also climb steep hillsides (Lane!) and accidentally stumble onto a local that needed further medical attention. Rotten teeth were pulled (a lot of them) by one Dentist, Heart Murmurs were detected and referred for additional care.

Many came for 'Jesus and Tylenol'.

Many of us left with 'Carino" and Mary Anne Pence left with a new extended family in a woman she met, a divine appointment in Laura. She'll have to tell that beautiful story :)

So many great things happened, but the best things weren't things at all. Faith was experienced, in Matt Wade's devotional 'Messes became Messages, Tests became Testimony's, Scars became Perfect Wholeness'.

Sounds like an amazing week?

It was indeed...

I pray that if you are entering into a time of stepping out of the boat, and fully wanting to commit to serving and DOING life with God, you will have to continually 'STEP OUT', not just once but all the time!

I've had to have a pep talk with someone who was able to recognize that when Opposition is messing with you, the Defense is Blessing you.

Story not over, for a while none of these will be dismissed with THE END but instead with


God Speed, and Que Dios Los Bendiga

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sunshine in a Cup!

What a great morning! I was able to talk to Mary Logan for 15 minutes today! No tears, no awkward silence, beautiful girl had on a tutu and even walked and danced for me. That is huge given that she was not walking when she first arrived at The Raining Season. Praying over everyone there, caring and loving our kids. I think I said and signed (ASL) at least 10001 times today. Praise God!

On that bright note, I decided to use a lemonade recipe for Math today for Dalton. Visuals are so much easier, especially since as of yesterday I had Dalton's eyes examined since 2011 and he will need glasses. We are taking lemons and literally making lemonade!

Adding fresh mint from our garden gave it our own unique flavor, and I love his recipe added to my Sun Tea. Here's our recipe! Hope you're all having a Blessed Day.

Dalton's Le'Mintade

 6 Lemons halved, juiced and squeezed
1 1/2 cup of water boiled with-
1 1/2 cup of Organic Cane Sugar (or Coconut Sugar) 
added until dissolvedAdd it all for perfection! 

It's a concentrate you can chill and keep 1 Liter of in the fridge.
Dilute 1/2 cup of lemonade with 1/2 cup of water and a sprig of Mint.
It's Amazing!!

Good Job Dalton☀

Monday, July 22, 2013

Honduras in 10 Days

It was my 6th week (maybe 7) that I was temping at Cross Point Church, and there was momentum all around me. Different departments of ministry wrapping up summer camps, youth events, moving, missions, and a new series, new building, new offices, new, new, new.
The momentum was shifting constantly, and in the course of things I was praying about my own course.
What was next?
I have so much to be thankful for: a loving family, expanding my horizons in Sierra Leone, a music project fueled by an overwhelming dream, and so many other great ideas that come racing out of my brain for as many breaths as I take. 
What I hadn't done yet: Gain momentum, and listen for God's next calling to guide my steps.
I walked into the office the next morning, and over heard Jacob McGinnis talking to Laurie Stephens about the next Missions trip to Honduras. He was leading worship and wondered if anyone in the group sang since it was largely women going. And in two seconds flat, I blurted out..
"I'll GO!"
Laurie looked at me with pursed lips smiling and replied,
"Okay, you have 10 days."

Ten Days.

So this is what it's like to be my brother, an avid adventurer and Pro Surfer. Just throw everything in your bag, and Go.

Saying Yes, is EASY.

Believing what comes next, not so much. 

Oh, and I didn't have my Passport yet...

So, this is what followed.

In 3 days, after a few Facebook posts to a crowd funding platform for Missions called, through the generous donations of family and friends... I raised all the funds necessary to go, and had more left over to buy chickens, sheep-goats, and a cow.

A random tweet returned the sweetest Direct Message from Manny Martinez at Hello-Somebody, he was sending some of their Hello Somebody watches (I Love Them!) to take to Honduras for the trip. Manny, you are amazing!

By the fifth day, I had four volunteers (Kristil Lyle, Megan Jakes, Lisa Sanford and Pamela Hemphill) to answer the phones in my absence at Cross Point! YOU LADIES ARE AMAZING!!! And a HUGE thank you to my Mom and Bella and Dalton's Dad who would take on the responsibility of taking care of the kids in my absence.

Day 6, No PASSPORT...

Is this going to happen?

Day 7, drove down to Atlanta to see if they could expedite my Passport for travel by Day 10.  The morning of Day 8, I got in for a 9 am appointment. Filed, and told to wait until 2:30 PM,  anxiously pacing to see if I was approved,  I  walked around the streets of downtown Atlanta where I used to visit my Dad. I had no idea that I'd see one of the last places I had spent time with him as a child. That kicked up a huge lump in my throat. 

So, I had a conversation with him in my head as if he was still there, as if January 18th never happened.  The scheme still sounded as crazy as it did coming out of my mouth 7 days before. If he were here, I could hear him laughing.. his head drawn back and his tenor voice pouring out laughter like a song. As the sun sprawled over me on Peach Tree Street, I could see him smiling in the squint of the light. It made me happy, and it made me cry.

15 minutes later, I walked in the Passport Office to hear my name called. The Passport felt like a Golden Ticket in my hand. I walked back out onto the street, wanting to dance, wanting to scream!

Day 9, I retrieved Manny's gift of watches from the Post Office, and I spent time with my kids. Bella and I ran errands to get a few last minute travel items, and ice cream. 

Day 10, I was at the airport before the Rooster crows with a backpack, a suitcase, and a PASSPORT!

Oh, and by the way... I also found out about the San Francisco plane crash just seconds before we would be taking off and after one stop in Miami, on to one of the most dangerous airports in the world in Tegucigalpa. Holy Cow, here we go!!

Post Number 2, will have pictures and accompanying stories...

This is just the introduction to many adventures, this being the first to give way to a thread woven through many people and many different experiences...

Friends who have gone on this journey, I'm asking you for a favor.

Please email me, at with a picture, or two, or three and a piece of your story. 

I had such a great visual of these people by the last night, all of their faces making individual pixels that together became the face of Christ. These friends, were the hands and feet and light of the world for a week in a place of extreme poverty and endless faith. So little, and yet so much. My prayer is that they can share a collective on here, and that the thread woven between all of us keeps going and stretches into other places we may otherwise not travel. 

Parallel to what God was doing with me, my brother was getting ready to speak about saying "YES" at his church in Wilmington, NC with their Retro Series, I just watched it and am so proud of him and so thankful he has been praying for me to do this for 15 years. Man, you never gave up on me little brother and that is something I will always be thankful for and immensely blessed by! Here's the link to his own adventure Lifepoint Church - Wilmington, NC.

Stories, coming soon!

What's Next?

The Big Dreams: 
#1- Getting to Sierra Leone to see Mary Logan, and my newest little joy, Divine. Both have Cerebral Palsy and the caring hands at The Raining Season. Crazy Good Stuff!
#2- A music project that lends to linking music with Global and Local Missions
#3- Worship EP

And it's just begun... it's going to be a process, but I'm happy to say that I'm out of the proverbial boat, taking the waves one step at a time until Christ and I are face to face. 

Is it scary out here? Honestly, yeah.

But the boat was never the adventure, it was the catalyst.

So come on, Get OUT! 

The water feels great!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sweet Mary

My Mother's Day is now complete! 
A few months ago, I was moved to begin a new journey in the midst of a lot of questions still hanging like strings in the air. 
For ten years, I've followed the tragic civil war in the region of Sierra Leone, Africa. The details of which are grisly, inhumane, terroristic. 

350,000 orphans.

Many, many orphans living in a city called Freetown, a place established by the British to provide refuge to formerly captive slaves in 1792.
These people would become slaves once more, in the proverbial iron gates of Diamond mines and the terroristic corruption of the trade. Ten years ago I read a book by Greg Campbell that would later be adapted into a movie called Blood Diamonds, it details the horrific scenes of the now defunct RUF soldiers, cutting off the arms of mine workers who may be caught with rough diamonds or coerced into becoming child soldiers often forced to murder their own families.
Diamonds can buy a lot of guns.

The RUF dominated the scene under a now criminally charged former Liberian President;
 Charles Taylor

Finally extradited from exile in Nigeria, he was found guilty of 11 charges, including murder, terror and rape.

These are the children that remain orphans from the civil war brought on by the greed and wicked intentions of power corrupted by the hands that were meant to govern in a town less than 200 years old that was destined to free them.

On March 20th, I asked God; what did he want from me?

He answered when I found a news story that night, about a family that adopted 8 children from Sierra Leone. 
After doing more searching on the Tennessean about the family's journey to adoption, I found The Raining Season

I bawled, and felt so compelled to get involved and just 'GO".

This year I've been blessed to have my kids healthy, happy and their Grammy that lives with us has granted me time to leave for a week on Missions with Cross Point Church, and volunteer there on Tuesdays. 
I've made some amazing friends from that journey whom I thank God for, I've had the privilege of serving on a worship team with amazing people, I've had fellowship and freedom to stretch myself out and be a whole version of myself and yet, something was missing.

This little girl...

Did I tell you that Sierra Leone has over 350,000 orphans?

I have been bursting at the seams for today, my first Skype with Mary Logan and this little girl is totally my child.

She does not enjoy talking on the phone, or at least Skyping.

Mary Logan has Cerebral Palsy, and perhaps even other issues that diminish her ability to hear. Having navigated the world of Special Needs my heart is in it for her.

Maybe when I get to visit, see her face to face we can have a better chance to hang out and let the sensory experience of the beach sounds, air and water in a natural environment enhance our time instead of a boxed screen and awkward communication

That's the next plan, VISIT.

Perhaps putting this out here is like casting my pearls before swine? 

Things I'm aware of; I'm a single mother, I have limited resources, I have two children and one of whom has a disability that requires fastidious care, I have a LOT of responsibilities on my own.

Things you may not be aware of; He's God, he knows my steps and the How, When and Where.

What I have to do to be ready: BE AVAILABLE


Let's Go, I'm ready.... 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Go and Love

Stories are meant to be told in full, this one has just begun. I sat in my room one night, staring at the ceiling and thinking about the last 10 years. How fast and how swift God's grace and mercy can pick you up from where you call out and plead 'Rescue Me', and the years seem like mere minutes.
They're still years, and although I feel pretty young and in denial of my current age 'box', I can't help but think of what may be left in the hourglass.
I am only flesh and bone.
My spirit, she's infinite and she forgets that this body is a loaner. 
I sat and thought, 
"Whatever it is you want me to do, let's DO IT!' 
I didn't want to waste any more time, because while I was spending my minutes I couldn't help but feel I was putting God's blessings on HOLD.
It'd been over 10 years since I sang, and now I'm singing again!
Sweet baby Jesus how I love to sing, with kids and congregations, in the car and the shower, and my own home with my kids.
Have you ever had dreams where you're flying?
It feels like that!
I thought when I asked God to start whatever he wanted me to do last week it would have something to do with SINGING. It may still, but this was CRAZY.
It was obvious, and absolutely the worst timing, illogical, impractical, timing.
That usually means it's God's timing.
What is he thinking, doesn't he know where things are in my life right now like completely and terrifyingly UPSIDE DOWN?!
Yes, that is exactly where things are.
Yes, that is exactly where he's always been.

Although I can't fully explain the details right now, I can't wait to say..
"TA DAH!!!"

It's crazy.
It's trading a thousand tears, for 1001 Kisses.

It's that good..

No, it's better than anything I could have ever imagined or hoped for.

Bella grabbed this vase, and ran around the house finding any cash she could, in my purse, coat pockets, mini van, couch cushions. At the end of the day, any loose change or cash goes in here. 
This is our fund. 

Big Smooshy Smothering Kisses, and we will trade them for all Her Tears.

One Day.