On This Side of Heaven

I haven’t seen her in probably ten years. Facebook keeps me updated on the good stuff, although most recently, she has been bravely sharing updates from her family. Tough stuff. The agonizing process of saying good-bye.

Her family sits tonight, holding hands, because her dad just died.

I don’t know the intimate details and I don’t know how they are feeling – although I can take a gut-wrenching guess. Her dad died.

It just feels like shit.

I lit a candle for them tonight and send love and light because sometimes that’s what feels best.  Flames flicker burning brightly across the darkness.

Sometimes it just feels like there is so much darkness.

I had coffee with a dear friend this afternoon who is doing amazing work with refugees in Bangladesh. A crisis. It’s a crisis of magnificent proportion over there. She writes about her perspective training volunteers and bravely engaging in things most of us prefer to ignore. Her career has been in development work, traveling with students and caring hearts – people eager to make a difference in third world countries. She is used to seeing poverty on a global scale, yet nothing prepared her for the suffering she saw in that place.

I asked how the weight of this work is affecting her faith over a five dollar chai. She responded with many wise words, but this sentence struck me. Jenny, forgive me as I’m going to paraphrase.

She said, ” In the midst of all this suffering, I’ve come to realize, not all healing will be done on this side of heaven.”

The wisest thing anyone has said to me about grief, about suffering, about the mysterious questions we yell at God in our pain.

So much darkness, and yet so much hope. It’s a pendulum, I’ve learned, as I’ve leaned into my own suffering. Sometimes we go deep, deep into the darkness and sit there and scratch and ache and hurt.

Time passes and we can start to swing back to the other side. Hope that in heaven these so heavy pains will be healed.

We breath again, and see speckles of light in the shadows. Friends hold your hands and stroke your hair and invite you into fresh air if only for a brief, glinting moment. And you realize that somethings will never return to the way they once were.

I remember the moment I realized that other people were simply living their lives on March 18, 2016 – the day my dad died. The day life as I knew it stopped.

It was a year and a half later when I was reading Lauren Graham’s book Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between). Those famous actors and crew filmed the last episode of the Gilmore Girls revival the day my dad died. I was crying and staring and stopping and shocked while they filmed the last episode of my favorite t.v. show. They were living in joy, accomplishment, celebration, and success. I hadn’t even stopped to consider that other people were just doing their thing when all of my things came crumbling down.

And this afternoon, I was drinking chai and shopping and driving home while my friend’s dad died. That’s how it works on this side of heaven. While you are feeling joy, others are suffering. While you suffer, others feel joy.

Even more reason for us to be gentle in this great big ol’ world.

Oh, how I wonder what it looks like on the other side.


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


If you’re feeling joy, light, and brightness I invite you to share your good. Send me a brief description of the good in your world, and I’ll share it here. Details on the Give Light Giveaway can be found here.

If you’re suffering, know that there is grace in the darkness, and a hand to be held. We see you. We light a candle for you. We share our light.


Yay! A Fail!

Our washing machine broke this weekend so I procrastinated on a deadline.

Set the alarm Sunday night, planning for an early morning work session to compensate.


I woke up late today, my dirty jeans lay on the floor. No work session.

I wore snowflake leggings because my favorite pants are dirty too, and a little bit tight. It’s not even holiday cookie season. Not entirely cute since it’s supposed to snow tomorrow.

I went down the stairs to prepare dinner in the crockpot – stay a step ahead. Twist the cap off of the red pepper flakes, shake a dash – no- that was more like a pour. SHIT! That’s too many flakes floating in the broth.

That is going to be some spicy bbq chicken.

When making coffee at work, the grounds spilled all over the counter, drops of coffee dribbling on those white snowflakes. My signature move – spilling.

All day long I worried I was smoking out my little puppy while I worked. I imagined the house filling with red pepper fumes, sort of like mace or something.

I stuttered on the phone.

Forgot my wallet in my other bag.

Arrived late to a meeting.

Focused on too many things.

Got home. Of course, the dog was fine. Texted my mom.

“How was your day?” I asked.

She went to the dentist. Note – I need to call the dentist.

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A fail.

I stopped and smiled.

Yup – that spicy dinner was a fail.

And clean clothes must wait and smaller jeans may be a thing of the past.

I can see the imperfect in the world all the day long, but I don’t often like to acknowledge the imperfect beauty in me.

Today was my reminder to hug and to kiss myself. To give grace and permission to bend. To pinch my waist and say I love you too.

To make mistakes and forget and push hard against looming deadlines.

To go to sleep, only to try again.

Next time with less red pepper flakes.

Here’s to putting the perfect in imperfect.



52 Thankfuls

52 Things to Be Thankful For This Year (in no particular order)

1. My Husband

2. My Mom, My Brother, My In-laws

3. The Legacy My Dad Created

4. Kleenex Tissues

5. Travel

6.  Soft Slippers

7.  Friends who wipe your snot, pick up the phone, rub your back

8.  Writing

9. Lawn Furniture

10. Access to Resources

11. Mentors

12. God’s Grace

13. Photographs

14. My Puppy

15. The Mountains

16. Traditions

17. My Tribe

18.  Learning How to Make Pie Crust

19. Fancy Shampoo

20. Flannel Sheets

21. Wineries

22. Sunday Night Dinner

23. Sunday Football

24. Floral Arrangements

25. Tapas

26. Starbucks

27. Time to Grieve

28. Time to Laugh

29. The SNL Election Skits

30. Snail Mail

31. Oatmeal for Breakfast

32. Text Messages

33. Second Chances

34. Riding Bikes

35. Bitmoji

36. Self-Care Days

37. Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show

38. Treats – Cheese Danishes, Chocolate Covered Almonds, Peanut Butter Cups

39. Natural Hot Springs

40. Massages

41. Coupons

42. God’s Provision

43. Fires in the Backyard

44. Tea Before Bed

45. Essie Nail Polish

46. My Cousins

47.  Worship Songs – Particularly This One

48.  Clean Water

49. Our Caretakers

50. All the People who Brought Lasagna – Every Single One of You.

51. Being Brave Enough to Start Over

52. Patience

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours. What are you thankful for this year?


I have always identified as an introvert. Give me a glass of wine and a movie on most Friday nights and I am incredibly content. I am sensitive to other people’s struggles, and at times, prefer to just avoid humanity. Quiet please.

That is where my soul restores.


As a more ‘sensitive’ individual, I flock to the people who like to give noise a bad rep. We say that our world is full of noise – conflicting messages, messy business, soul-sucking meh that makes the important things blur away. This week, however, I’ve been thinking about the beauty and benefits of the mixture of sounds that create feelings of importance.

Loud voices in my head keep reminding me that I am alive in my new challenges. The cacophony of the rumbling thought waves need to be reminded to turn the confidence up. I yell at my inner-critics to shut up.

This weekend we tromped through massive drifts of white powder on another snow shoeing adventure. The noise of the wind whipping through the massive pine trees brought grounding and connection to forces bigger than myself. The loud, whistling branches sprayed stinging snow against my face suggesting that their noise may be less than gentle. If we take the time to observe all of the forces creating our surroundings, noise can be reassuring. As trees grow, bend, and sway, even nature groans messages inviting us to participate in the process of being alive.

And tonight, as I sit here and wait for the countdown to kick off for Super Bowl 50, I am tickled by the noise created when family gathers together around chicken wings, and beer, and pride in a football team. The yelling has yet to commence, but I know that my father-in-law is going to start pacing here pretty soon. Noises of excitement, of solidarity, of celebration for the kind of energy connection that only American sports can provide.

Perhaps it is trite to compare the decibel created in forests to those created by hundreds of thousands of Americans at a football game. For someone who takes comfort in quiet situations, I ask this week, what is the benefit of noise? The blending of crashes, voices, sizzling of preparing food, conversations to be had, or the gentle roll of a tear down our cheeks. Noise, this week, makes me feel beautiful.


In her series “Sound Form Wave,” Ukrainian designer Anna Marinenko draws a fresh comparison between visualized sound waves and jaggedly oscillating patterns in our natural environments.