Tis’ the Season

We’ve entered the season of giving with a joyful heart. My inbox is full of reminders of places to give money, gifts to buy, and packages to send. Generosity of spirit and snacks is in the air. I’ve made lists of my own. December is never short on opportunities to spread joy in boxes and bags and envelopes.

I’m great at giving. Sitting in therapy this week, however, I was reminded how hard it is for me to receive.

To be on the one asking for help and having people follow through without a sense of obligation or needing to do anything in return is vulnerable and risky.

One of the shrapnels of grief still stuck in my chest is sharp reminder that grief is ever present. Asking for help often made some people uncomfortable. There was an air of ‘you’re still here, huh?’ when being vulnerable, and while not everyone responded in this way, social stigma and my own shame around my emotions cause me to turn inwards. Unhealthy self-sufficiency only leaves more room for the wounds to seep.

My therapist asked, “How would you like to try to receive differently this season?”

I froze before answering. After a moment or two, I whispered, “I have to believe I’m worthy of being on the receiving end of generosity.”

In big block letters I wrote in my journal, Tis’ the season to PRACTICE RECEIVING.

When I woke this morning, I sent texts to several friends asking for recommendations on products I’m considering. One sent me a laundry list of things to consider, another said flat out, ‘Would you like to have ours?’ I was floored.

In minutes, I was reminded of the many ways people DO like to give, but they can’t know you’re in need unless you ask. Grief, tangled with shame, taught me not to ask.

I’m unwrapping old stories, and laying shredded ribbons of protection at my feet. In this new season, I’m going to need help. I’m going to need to receive. And practicing is a beautiful thing.

Changed A Life This Year

I’m inviting you to stop and think about just one thing that changed your life for the better this year. When I sit and ponder here’s one that comes to mind for me.

In September, I boarded a plane after a nine hour delay to join 100 young grieving adults. I had the opportunity to lead a writing workshop with The Dinner Party, a national organization who builds community for 20 and 30 somethings and mostly, I was terrified.

If grief makes you uncomfortable feel free to skip ahead. (I’m going to ask for your help)

If not, keep going …

I was absolutely floored by the beautiful, brave people who showed up despite terrible things happening in their young adult lives. People read obituaries, shared funny stories, and built altars in honor of loved ones.  We drank wine and toasted and sang songs and I found myself, for the first time, in a group of twenty five others who lost their dads.
When I shared my experiences, I was met with affirming mhmms and head nods rather than blank stares. While I have been attending a grief support table for two years now, this was the first experience I had where I felt completely welcome in my grief. I’ve known in my head I wasn’t alone. These people helped me feel less alone in my heart. You can read more about my experience here.

If you jumped ahead, pick up here:
Welcome back. This year I’m increasing my fundraising goal for The Dinner Party and am hoping to help raise $1,000 as TDP continues to grow. From April to September the organization placed over 2,500 people at tables all across the country and they need your help.

With an ambitious goal of being as well known as AA for alcoholics, we hope to grow this phenomenon as a fabulous grief support option for young people all across the country and need your help.

Please consider giving what you can here:

Give because you loved Roy
Give because there are thousands of young people are grappling with life after loss
Give because you love me
Give because you are craving a space to tell your story
Give because there is power in community
Give because connection makes a difference

I hope you’ll join me this year – thanks for reading – and if you know of other wonderful people who would be willing to donate, please pass along my note.
With so much love,


Confession – Giving Makes Me Uncomfortable

I admit it, I worry about giving. For someone who is so compassionate about the pain in the world, I often have a difficult time giving money or gifts to others, or even taking care of myself when money is involved. I work at a non-profit. All of our efforts in December are centered around asking others to give money to support us. The irony does not escape me. Quite honestly, I am that cheap friend. The re-gifter, the thrifty annoying penny pincher. Too, I spend money on coffee every day. So here I am, a walking contradiction. I am not sure where that fear comes from – the fear of not having enough. I have never spent a day in my life not having my needs met.

When the calendar rolls over to December 1st and the season of giving meets us whole heartedly in the face with jingle bells, and catchy songs, and all kinds of red and sparkles, I get rather uncomfortable. Not because I do not like making those lists for myself, or dreaming of ways I can creatively gift to others, but because I know this holiday merriment pushes me into a season of trust in having enough that calls attention to a part of myself that I am not particularly fond of.

What amazes me this week, are the multiple ways in which the universe is reminding me that I have enough. That I am worthy of receiving gifts, and have the resources to bestow blessings upon one another. Thursday morning a fabulous friend and mentor brought her five year old son to my office. They were on an adventure of random kindness. Grady wrote in his shaky handwriting on a coffee mug – find the beauty in everything. (Likely the message was prompted by mom, but who needs to know?) Now those are my two love languages right there – coffee and reminders that I need to look for beauty each day.  A child like wonder to remember that kindness moves mountains. It shaped my day, and my week, and reminded me that I too, need to work on being kind.

I went to a wonderful “Dining for Women” event where we went around the table before breaking bread and were asked to share what was bringing us joy this season. Once again, an amazingly refreshing reminder that there is joy in each and every day. My list included this blog, living in a beautiful state, Christmas cookies, and opportunities to grow. The woman standing next to me talked about how she went through an exercise this year in removing clutter. Her motivation was that we are always saving things for “some day” – shoes, bags, book shelves that don’t fit, pants that are just too tight. This woman wasn’t referring to my hoarding of money at all – trust me, I know I don’t need to be in her example of joy. However, her words struck my heart immensely. I do, I save money, and things and hoard for fear of needing them some day. Not trusting that the Lord will provide for me too in that some day moment. That doesn’t mean I need to go be irresponsible, or make stupid choices, but I felt called out to relax and breathe and trust, once again, that I will continue to have enough. This reminder in other’s words was immensely beautiful to me.

Weeks roll off calendars quickly and I can’t believe it is the middle of December. Holiday parties and cookies and sprinkles and cocktails filled my weekend and my heart was warm with connections to family. I was touched that my mom wanted to still spend a day baking holiday yummies with me. Might I recommend this Gingerbread Biscotti recipe? We had the privilege of being with Dylan and his extended family – aunts and uncles in from out of town. I was given these little misfit toy ornaments from his aunt – brought all the way from Germany from when they were growing up there.


Aren’t they cute and charming? I find such beauty in their tiny features and big eyes and delicate little selves. I am tickled to have these little guys dancing amongst my branches of my Christmas tree as I once again bask in the gifts that God has given me in family and human connection this week.

This week, family grounded me and the kindness of others were more necessary than I even knew I needed. Now, to get to work on finding the joy in giving to others. I can not wait to reciprocate the beautiful feeling of love and provision that all of these people have given me.

Does giving make you uncomfortable? What are some of your holiday delights?