Glitter & Good News

It’s the second most magical time of the year! You know, the time when we all have a fresh start. We have clean homes, new calendars, goals and themes for the New Year. We’re getting healthy, keeping our closets organized, and planning our meals.

Except . . . I’m sitting here at the end of the first full week of the year, and there’s glitter on my cheek. Why? Because last night I finally started putting up the Christmas decor, and still today have piles of lights and ornaments and pine needles in my living room floor. And I overslept and skipped the shower, so I keep finding specks of glitter in random places.

Read the rest of this post over at the Orange Leaders Blog!……

I’m SO honored to be guest posting over at Orange, and passionate about what they do. If you’re visiting me for the first time from there, Welcome! Check out some posts and learn some about my wild life, and I’d love to meet you too.

Baseball, Pumpkins & Not So Perfect Moments

Our weekend was made up of these perfect moments that take your breath away and make you wonder how God could trust you with these precious lives he made. That included Ben sipping on his hot chocolate, and then sweetly smiling and telling me how much he loves everyone around him. It included Michael arriving at dewy baseball fields two hours ahead of most anyone else, to quietly and without thanks, prepare for kids to play. And Ben laughing so loud it makes your heart hurt. That included Drew coming in as the pitcher when there were already bases loaded, and working his team out of that jam, cool as a cucumber. And Drew running while pulling his brother in a wagon that also held their prized pumpkins, both laughing heartily. It included Drew happily making a sandwich for Ben. It included both boys cuddled up with me at the end of a night, eventually drifting off together.

These are the moments we love to remember, to take photos of and store away in our hearts and heads forever.

And I could end the post here, with a few photos of these beautiful moments. But I won’t.

Because our weekend was also made up of these ugly moments. Ben telling me that I’m making him crazy, in a very serious tone, and me not responding in love. Ben swinging on a kitchen drawer, sending silverware crashing as the drawer broke. Drew  procrastinating on homework and ending up much too late finishing it. Michael and I not communicating about something simple that led to ugly words. Me losing my cool way too often.

That’s reality. We have this amazingly beautiful life that is full of the sweetest moments, but is also real and full of ugly. And heck, that’s on the good days.

I’ve been praying for a good friend of a friend and their family, as they are just praying for any moments with their son after a horrific accident this weekend. We shouldn’t need tragedies to remind us to just be grateful for whatever moments we have, but as is so often true, in those moments I just forget. I should have taken photos of some of those moments we’d rather forget, because they’re part of this life and part of who we are.

So, here are a few photos from the weekend, but with some honest captions to go with them.


Excited to play 2nd! Cries when he has to play somewhere else, and sat down in the grass at one point. (though in reality, one ball hit the grass all game, so I kinda got his point!)


so mad about the umps erratic strike zone that he threw his helmet


B&D_WagonRunning 2014

me too busy trying to capture the moment to really enjoy the moment

Brothers_wagon 2014

I take back anything bad I said- they’re perfect! 🙂

Jumping Off

I almost always feel like I’m on a spinning carousel, that’s going too fast and making me a bit ill, with it’s fancy horses, bright lights, and tinny music. Every now and then I jump off, but it’s such a short time of being off, that the spinning never feels like it stopped. You know what it’s like, when you were a kid and would roller skate around a rink for hours and afterwards you still felt like walking was foreign, or when you step off a boat and still feel the waves. So I step off and before the spinning feeling stops, it’s time to get back on.

And here’s the thing, I want back on. Those lights! That music! It’s so much fun! Before it makes me dizzy and sick again.

A few weeks ago the spinning was too much, and I decided to make one small change for a week. I was going to stay off Facebook.

As I write this, it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve been on Facebook.

The spinning from my interactions on Facebook had been too much and I’d gotten lost in waves of dizziness. Caring too much about what others thought, about what they said and how they hurt me, about if I was liked enough or good enough or whatever enough.  And I jumped off. But mostly I was hiding out, catching my breath and praying that when I got back on I’d be able to keep out of the fray. I decided it was easier, less messy and maybe necessary that I just stay away for good.

But I had these few hours just last night that reminded me of some things…. what it feels like to laugh hysterically, what it feels like to truly listen when someone is pouring out their heart, but mostly the need to create these spaces to do that. So no, Facebook isn’t perfect, but it’s a tool to connect when used right. Not a place to get likes on your photos, or find funny videos, or get your news (I mean seriously, who thinks that’s a reliable source?). It can be so much more when we use it right.

So I’m jumping back on Facebook… as soon as I post this. And I’m trying to do it differently. Spend less time on it, not let it replace true interaction, and make my own music. And I emphasize trying because I know I’ll get dizzy again and struggle with all that again…. because that’s what I do.

See you there.

Needed Some Happy…

I needed some happy and some beauty today as I pull myself out of a funk. So, I thought I’d share it with you, because maybe you too need the reminder that the world is a place full of wonder and beauty.


sunrisesunsetSunrise over Fort Lauderdale, Florida


537446_10151298533738762_1868271586_nSunset over our house

Abaco Islands, Bahamas

A special beach- Abaco Islands, Bahamas


trees_sunSun shining over a search


Praying over you my friends. For eyes that are open to beauty and wonder, and for reminder of it when you need them.


Showing Up

A few weeks ago marked the annual “worst week” for us, which is the week 7 year ago that started with such joy, and ended with such heartbreak.

7 years ago, a little boy was turning 4 and celebrating with people who loved him, with cake and swimming and toys. The world was perfect that afternoon. One of his favorite gifts was a big green dinosaur that moved and roared, from his Uncle Austin. He was excited most of all to be going on a trip away from mom and dad for the first time, heading to the beach with his beloved Nina.

The trip was cut short, the beach had to wait, as he and his Nina rushed back to help find Austin.

This year, that little boy turned 11 and he celebrated with people who loved him, with cake and swimming and electronics, and a carbon copy 4 year old brother. The world was almost perfect for an afternoon. He slid down roller coaster type water slides, posted photos on his new Instagram account from  his new phone, and stuffed his face with pizza. He was excited about his baseball trip the next weekend, ready to hit the clay.

But before that trip, he helped welcome his Nina back, as she came to help find Austin.

So much the same.

7 years ago, friends and family rallied beside us, determined to help find him. Now, in all honesty, most of those who knew Austin don’t show up anymore. But more people than we ever could have asked for, that never knew Austin, do show up. They showed up in large groups, from all over the Southeast (and a few even further).

And the same story was told over and over. They showed up, because my mom shows up. She showed up and sat with them on the side of the interstate while their son was pulled from the water. She showed up and wouldn’t go home when planned, because they needed her. She showed up and handed out tough love, pushing searchers hard. She showed up and was cut and bruised and swelling and kept going.

There is so much to be said for showing up.

This group stood together, on the side of a busy road and hugged and cried and loved. They showed up. For my mom and for Austin. For Rosemary and her family. For Mark and Bryan and their families. For Josh and his family. For John and his family. For the others represented there that night.


And then they searched.

For 2 days, in 100 heat index weather, in long pants and long sleeves and boots, with short breaks for water and snacks.

Including my mom.


And we reached the end of this part of the journey. Austin wasn’t brought home. And that creates more questions than answers. It felt like our story of the search for Austin was coming to an end. But instead, it was the end of what we know to do for now.

I don’t know what’s next. Before I even thought about it, we needed to go enjoy some family time and be reminded of all the joy there still is. We cheered on Drew in baseball. We swam in freezing springs. We listened to bullfrogs and crickets and horses. We reconnected with friends and twirled sparklers on a beach in the dark.

We celebrated summer like we didn’t get to 7 years ago.

We won’t ever stop searching. We won’t ever stop yearning for answers. We won’t ever stop aching with miss.

But we’ll keep showing up. For me, that mostly means showing up for my kids. Because they deserve summers full of all the things my brother and I enjoyed.

And I’ll keep hearing his laugh, knowing that we haven’t lost all of him.



What’s keeping you from showing up in areas you maybe should? For hurting friends, for fast growing kids, for yourself.

Showing up can look like many different things. It can look like a hug, a text, a card. It can look like a freshly mowed yard, a plate of cookies or an afternoon entirely dedicated to them.

Something is coming to mind- somewhere you need to show up.

Show up. Celebrate. Laugh. You won’t get today back.




Things that Matter

I get overwhelmed with this writing thing often. A few years ago, when I started, I didn’t have any real goals but to share my heart and search for Hope with you all. I got lost in trying to find my audience and caring if you showed up and read my words and wondering where this would go and learning how to make a better site and questioning if it mattered and comparing my words to others, my story to others.

I’m not getting anywhere I want to go fast enough. Or maybe at all.

And then I get overwhelmed with all the things I want to say, all the things that need to get done, the feelings of it not mattering anyway, and so I don’t. And that’s why it’s been too long since I’ve shared here. Cause my life and my thoughts and my feelings are messy.

But I’m here.

Because it does matter. Not because I’m of any significant importance- but because we all are, and because the stories of all of us matter. And I want to keep hearing yours.

Oh, and the revelation of the day for me? (And yes, this is one of those that I think God keeps revealing to me over and over and must frustrate Him sometimes.) There is no fast enough, there is no timeline. There is today, and what I can do with that. He’s got plenty of time to use me and love me, and let me do the same for others.

Today I’ll beat myself up a bit less over my time away and release the pressure valve that says I’m not getting “there” fast enough, and just hang out with you here. Because really, there is no “there”- it’s just simply “here now.”

Do you believe any of these crazy lies, like that your voice doesn’t need to be heard? It does my friend, it does.



3 Years & 167 Posts

I just realized that I recently passed the 3 year mark of writing and sharing here.

It was a crazy idea at first, one I toyed with for some time. Who would care to read what I said? Did I have enough to say to bother? Was I brave enough to share?

It turns out that some of you do read and care, I have a lot to say, and no- I’m not that brave and have to push through a lot of fears as I write. But it’s been good. Really good.

I think about shutting it down a lot, or letting it fade into oblivion. But tonight, there’s this kid, sitting beside me working on a speech that he’s to give to his class tomorrow. And he’s sharing about his Uncle. He didn’t have to choose that, and he’s fought through some emotions as he dug into the details and thought through what he wanted to say.

But he wants to tell about Austin, and said it’s okay that it’s hard.

It’s okay for things to be hard.

It’s okay to slow down and take breaks, but eventually I come back. Because it’s hard, but because it’s good. Good to be here, good to share here, good to be with you.

Over time, this has become more about our family, and as Michael’s health has worsened, it’s had a lot more focus there than I thought it would. But the intent is still the same- to share our world and our challenges, to show you where we find Hope, so that no matter what darkness you go through, you can find it too.

Not much has changed, yet quite a lot has in 3 years and 167 posts.


3 years & 167 posts


A Moment to Remember

We all need more moments like these. Or at least I know I do.

Complete abandon, going down screaming with joy, one hand raised in the air in triumph, with no concern about what’s at the bottom.

Have one of those moments today.

Let’s do it.


Not Our Ending [and wondering if there ever will be one]

I read things from all these brave people, who put their heart and emotions out there like gifts, for people who need to hear them, to know that their own emotions and shortcomings and failures are no worse than anyone else’s. I read them and I break. Because I measure out what I share in very tiny doses. I compartmentalize and bottle up. And almost two years into this journey of sharing my words here, I still am terrible at it.

So I’ll try to tell you about it. About this week, about another search for Austin, about walking away again empty handed.

It started almost two years ago really- back in August of 2012- when Monica Caison, the CUE Center for Missing Persons founder had a few days of not being able to stop thinking about Austin and where he was. She had images in her head of an area that matched the description of where we grew up. My mom had always thought that area was too far away from where he last was and didn’t make much sense as an option. I always thought it did. I’ve even had dreams over the years that we find him there. The only other area that we felt strongly about has been covered so many times, and that was all that really seemed left.

And in January of 2013, a small search took place. (You can read about it here) Much of the area was under water, and there were areas that really needed to be cleared to be able to fully search. It was swamp like and forest like, all at the same time. So the decision was made to come back at a later time, with equipment and more people, when it was also dry.

Then, 15 months went by. 15 months is a long time when you’re trying to stay hopeful that answers will come one day. It’s times like that where I start feeling like we’ll never know, and we’ll never bring him home. Where it feels like the positive outlook I’m constantly trying to keep up is crumbling. I tread very lightly and don’t ask often, because it’s a lot different when your mom is also a searcher.

But finally, a few weeks ago I got a call that they were coming back.

A group of people that we love and respect so very much arrived on Tuesday. These are the toughest women (and one man) that you’ll ever meet. They come from all walks of life, and from different areas around our state. They are a force that can’t be matched. Including my Mom.

But, it’s Spring in Florida, and the area that wasn’t covered previously due to how thick and wet it was was even more wet than before. And no less thick. So though some areas were researched, some are still undone. The team and their caravan of equipment, dogs and searchers kept on though, researching other areas that had always concerned us, and some that never seemed likely to me.

And left empty handed once again.

They worked hard, sacrificing time and money and emotions that they could have easily spent elsewhere. When I say they are heroes, it’s only because I don’t know a bigger word. I stood with them and laughed and shared and could not possibly have any more respect for them.

But yet, here we are.

And for one of the first times ever on this journey, I’m out of hope.

That’s the raw truth. I can no longer envision how this story ends, how I help someone else going through darkness with the hope that I know is true. I can no longer picture a service where we finally get to say goodbye and honor his life.

I’ve always said that Hope wasn’t about an outcome, but about knowing that good can come in any darkness, and we’re not alone. I know that’s true. I know that God isn’t limited in how He uses us, requiring a bow on a story. But how I wanted that.

Not the happy ending, but some ending.

Today hurts. Tomorrow will be better.

Thank you for loving us, for showing us Hope in human form, for searching with us or praying with us or feeding us or laughing with us.

 Tomorrow will be better.




From the Heart of a 10 year old as we Search for His Missing Uncle

I don’t know what to add to that.

Except to please pray for him too.