Tuesday, May 30, 2017

From my journal, September 2010: Lessons from a babbling brook

Originally written September 12, 2010, around the time of this blog post.
Right now, I'm sitting outside with Michael on the deck of the cabin we rented to celebrate our anniversary. We're in Luray, VA - in the Shenandoah Valley. I hear bugs, we saw woodpeckers and then a raven chased them off. We ate pie for breakfast (who ever would have known that dessert for breakfast would become such a thing for us and celebrations?) Now we're sipping our second cup of coffee and Michael is writing in his Bible and I'm here. All to the soundtrack of a real life babbling brook.

The occasional car drives by.

The simple life out here in the county is such a nice escape from the hustle-and-bustle of our lives in DC. As I listen to the brook, I think about how people pay major money to recreate these nature scenes in their own environments. Like the pond in my mom's back yard, or those little fountains people buy with the rocks and the flowing water. We are so funny. We want to grow and develop, and build all these conveniences, then all of the concrete and escalators and baristas shouting our names stress us out, so we end up spending $179 a night in a one room cabin at Brookside, escaping the man-made utopia for real, authentic peace.

That's man for you, isn't it? We are always thinking. Always working toward something bigger or better. I know I am. Pretty soon, our closets are over-stuffed with clothes and our kitchens have more gadgets than we could ever use. That's my own manifestation of this truth, at least.

THIS. Is. Church., though. Seeing the slow, slim stream of steam off the top of Michael's cup of coffee (well, 1/2 Swiss Miss, 1/2 coffee) seeing the brook flowing. Nothing stops it. When the warmth of that coffee hits this cool, crisp, fall mountain air, it creates steam. It has to, to escape. When the flowing water, running slightly down hill comes up on a rock in the middle of the brook, it flows over it, or around it, or back into itself. Whatever is necessary. It has to keep going. Momentum is taking it somewhere else.

As I ponder these challenges that we've faced in our first year of marriage, I'm thankful to have a clear head and these examples of triumph right before my eyes. What would happen if the warmth of the coffee didn't escape, if it weren't able to blow off steam? The coffee would probably end up weak and gross. And the term, "babbling brook," that is so much fun to say, wouldn't exist.

The babbling part is the triumph. And you know what? That stream running behind Brookside Cabins wouldn't be nearly as beautiful if it weren't for all those rocks in the water and running haphazardly around the edges. There's no rhyme or reason for where the rocks are placed. Some are big, some are small. There are places where there are lots of little rocks - one right after another. In some places, there is more space between the rocks where the water is more calm. Surely, the water can't see what's ahead, if it's a slope - where things pick up speed - if there's a giant rock that no matter what, the water is just going to splash up against it, there's no way to know what's ahead. But the water just keeps. on. going. It must. It has somewhere to go. It is compelled to keep running.

Oh how I relate to this! Funny though, how I do not see any water down there throwing a fit because it is cold, or wet, or not comfortable. I supposed that would be quite a scene, huh?

Thankfully, for the purpose of this illustration and just in general - water is quite obedient. I suppose that's why people say, "go with the flow."

As I gaze at this babbling brook, I'm inspired by it. I suppose since I don't see a section of water complaining and pouting and feeling sorry for itself, I must relate to a section where the water is just barely squeezing by. And in some places, it's kind of just sitting there. Some of it's been there a while, too - because there is moss growing on the rocks.

Oh, how I have been in that place! Where it's dark and cold and it feels so stuck. And slimy! I hate to say it's been a tough year, I hate even more to write it because then I have to actually see the words on the page. But that's the truth. It has been a tough year, but as I said to Michael this morning as I lay my head on his chest in the morning sunlight shining down through the skylight - "It's been a tough year, but we've had one heck of an anniversary!" Seriously. The Nats game, this trip. What an awesome way to celebrate all that God has brought us through TOGETHER this past year. I'm looking forward to many, many more. With much less "moss."

Gotta just keep moving. Go with the flow, because I've got somewhere to go. And remember, these rocks are what make us beautiful, and special and authentic!

Data doesn't lie, neither do hips, but this isn't about hips


Have you ever heard the term, "data doesn't lie?" This is something I've leaned on in my profession as a journalist and a TV news executive.

1. When you can find raw data, it will tell you the truth in a way a human cannot. Humans experience things through a certain prism. They can only get you so close to the truth. Even if they get you right up to it, it's only their experience/interpretation of the truth. Data spit out by a computer, though, that has no feelings or frame of reference. That is what it is what it is.

2. I used to pay really close attention to TV news ratings. This was how we measured how well we were doing with our audience. Did all the marketing and promotion work? Did people watch? We could tell by viewing patterns if people were interested and how long they watched something, and at what point they left and went somewhere else, by the power of the remote control.

It turns out, as I leaf through old journals and blog posts, I see the truth of myself. I wish it were a prettier, more put-together picture - but it's not - and the data doesn't lie.  I am mostly a compilation of coffee and pretty notebooks and lots of false starts.

I think false starts is how I grow. I am a low and slow processor. Like a brisket. I take a long time to cook on an idea before it's ready to come out and be enjoyed. I'm always afraid when I get back on here that all I'm doing is adding another post to a list of posts with notebook pictures that declare "I'm back," when I'm really not.

You know, you're not supposed to do that. All of the blogging experts tell you not to acknowledge when you've been away, because your readers don't care. They are just glad you're there and they don't really want to read anything about where you've been or hear you talk to yourself.

Oh well. Here it is. I guess I'm still processing, as I write these posts.

I've never stopped writing

It's been really quiet here in this blog space over the last few years. But the truth is... I've never stopped writing. I just stopped publishing.

I don't know that I have the "why" on that figured out. That has me somewhat stuck. That's the way I am. I always want to analyze and figure things out before taking the next step.
But, I have lived long enough at this point to know not only is that not always possible, it doesn't even matter.

A few years ago, I started writing a book. Then, I over analyzed. I read too many things about book writing. I reached out to agents. I had a writing coach. I listened to podcasts, took notes fervently at conferences, I have entire notebooks dedicated to this goal.

Then, I put the whole idea on a shelf. It's been about four years since then. A lot has happened in life. A couple of moves, a couple of big professional steps. Some major losses. Most of it has happened away from the pages of this blog. It's all n the pages of these journals, though.

They are the Dead Sea Scrolls of my life. Joy, love, pain, fear, tears, grief, hope, heartbreak, endurance, character-building, success, anxiety. The stories are all there. I'm so glad they are, too. Because life passes by too quickly to process and I can't publish it fast enough.

Not that it will all be interesting and/or helpful to you. It won't be. But I sure do enjoy looking back and spending time with these old thoughts. Like old friends. Familiar and comfortable.

I've been thinking for a long time about getting back into the game. I feel like life has loosened me up, and I'm good enough to get back in without getting hurt. The basics will come back, right? Like how when I go play second base in a softball game, I just know what to do - even if it's been years since I've done it.

It's grafted into who I am. I am a writer. I experience life as a writer.

Since I feel the call to put words back to the screen instead of just pen to paper - I'm going to be obedient. But - I am also overwhelmed by the task, so instead of trying to figure it all out, I'm going to find things in these pages, and share them just as they were written in my journals.

It may be raw. It certainly will be out of order. I hope, somehow, it does some good.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Do you ever watch yourself and wonder?

I don't know if this is just a me thing. Maybe it's a you thing, too.



A couple of weeks ago, I was working late and I walked around the corner to get dinner. And I didn't take any phones with me. Yes, plural. All the phones. Nothing was in my pocket dinging, buzzing, beeping. A good 10 minute walk with none of this. A rare experience anymore. My phones are my constant companions. I am a slave to the little red notification bubbles. Must clear them all, stat.

Everything is urgent. Everything is important. (except that is a lie from the devil, but you know what I mean)

So there I was, walking down the street - just me and my thoughts. Like the old days. And you know what happened? Something came back that I haven't had in years, probably because of the phones I keep in my right and left pockets and can draw out simultaneously like a good cowboy in an old Western movie drawing his guns from his holsters.

I could hear myself think.

I used to have this running commentary in my head, almost all the time. Like one of those shows that's narrated like a character - Doogie Howser, Carrie Bradshaw style. It was one of the things that made me, me.

It came back, y'all. And it was great. It felt like sinking into a big comfy chair with a hot cup of coffee and the perfect light blanket.

I was watching myself walk down that street and I was proud. Head held high. I am doing this! I have overcome so much. I have earned so much. God has seen it fit to place me right here, right now. I get to do this life of mine. And it's good.

What a complete and total honor!

Note: since this grand revelation, you'd think I'd leave my phones behind for 10 minutes more often. That has not happened. But I have thought about it. And now I'm writing about it, so - progress.

Seriously, though - do you ever hear that commentary in your head? Do you ever watch yourself and wonder how you got here, how you do this? Do you let yourself star in your life? Do you realize you are doing this? You're rocking it out and you're making it happen and you're enough and you're doing a good job? Do you ever tell yourself that, instead of hustling for someone else to notice?

Because you are. You're rocking that school lunch assembly line and still getting to work on time. You're listening to and encouraging your husband like no one else can. You're a best friend. And this is it! This is our life! These are the moments we live for. They're happening right now. Don't miss them.

Don't rush through to the next thing, or panic because you don't know how you'll "do it all." In the wise words of Nike, just do it. One foot in front of the other. You've got this. It will lead to something more.

I recently saw a video a friend posted of how she transfers her husband into bed. You can watch it here.  He is a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic and getting into bed is a long process, and anyone who doesn't understand this spinal cord injury world may wonder how does she do it? 

I think those of us that live life with an extra (obvious) challenge are sometimes tempted to say, "we just do it because we have to." But there is more to it than that. It's an art. And that makes us artists.

The truth is you have hard things in your life, too. They may not be as obvious as a wheelchair. And you endure. You put on the big girl panties. You wipe the dripping mascara off your cheeks and press on. You hear the test results, swallow, pray, and plan the treatment schedule.

I encourage you to watch yourself and cheer yourself on. You wonder how you do it? Here's a hint: you're not alone. Also, all of this has a purpose.

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into hour hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Did you catch that? Sufferings lead to perseverance, which leads to character, which leads to hope.

I get that when you're in the middle of the suffering the hope thing is kind of hard to grasp. Believe me, I've been there! You can't skip a step! But I promise you if you persevere, you'll get to hope. It will float up. I know this, because it is my life.

The character part is key. It's not fun, but it's a necessary step in growth.

My prayer is that you'll be kind to yourself, keep going, and learn how much God loves you and see yourself in a whole new light.

There you go, that was stream-of-consciousness writing. I'm definitely rusty writing for an audience, but hopefully you see my heart and understand the message I felt led to share with you guys through this.



Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday Morning Post, 2017 Edition


I haven't done one of these posts in years. But, here I am on the edge of my gray couch. Coffee to my right, next to my journal and the 6-week Bible Study I've been doing since November. Classical music playing, Michael still sleeping and Brokaw content with his blankie.

Saturday Morning Posts are where I take a deep breath, the tips of my fingers hit the keyboard, and we just see what happens. In the words of a Presidential tweet, "Enjoy!"

I can see the Pentagon from this perch. Isn't that unreal? Michael and I just have to pinch ourselves sometimes. Last night we ate out and walked home. We love living in this neighborhood so much.

I love my new job. Yes, it's overwhelming. It always is in the beginning. Like Hope Floats says, "Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's what's in the middle that counts. So when you find yourselves at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up. And it will."

I had a tough week, emotionally. Well - I guess it was the last two weeks, really. The Facebook pregnancy announcements are killing me! I mean, there is even a giraffe having a baby! I hate that it stings. I am happy for my friends that they have achieved the gold medal. That they have new life on the way. I promise, I am happy for them.

It's just, at the same time, it makes my emptiness feel so urgent. Like when you don't think your'e hungry but then you see an IHOP commercial and then you're like "oh dang I am starving and I need a giant stack of pancakes right now." Except it's not pancakes, it's this life changing opportunity to love like you never have before and this giant responsibility you feel like for some reason you haven't been trusted for. You haven't been picked for the team and it hurts, hurts, hurts. 

I think it was the Facebook announcements. But maybe it's because I wrote the check this week to continue paying off the IVF attempts that didn't work for us. Or maybe it's because I started my period, which every month seems like a cruel reminder of emptiness.

Whatever it was, I want it to go away. I want to be free from this. I want to be free to just be happy for people without thinking of myself. I'm praying for that. God, change the desire of my heart. Help me defer my hope.

I do believe God has a plan for us and our family. I do believe I am right where I am supposed to be right now. I'm so thankful for this new opportunity professionally. I want to use the talents and gifts He has given me for His purposes. I love that Michael and I have more time as "just us," and I want to soak up this season for every moment and memory we can.

I will continue to snuggle my baby dog, Brokaw.  I'll continue hoping. I won't stop dreaming. But it would be great if the emotional part of it could just work with me.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

5:00 p.m. Coffee


Currently having coffee at 5:38 p.m. in the tiny house. I made it in the tiny coffee maker. It's really not the best coffee, but it'll do. I had a 5:00 p.m. coffee the other day and the buzz was initially awesome, but then I was up all night and that was not so awesome.

I remember there being a lot of coffee when I was in DC before. There was the "Arlington" video with the Starbucks and the Starbucks and the Starbucks and the Starbucks. Y'all remember that?

I remember basically being a short, blonde ball of caffeinated energy with a White House hard pass, who worked and worked and worked and worked. I loved it.

I remember being a newlywed - overwhelmed trying to find my place in my new world. I remember coming into the role of "caregiver." This blog was kind of invented during that time.

I'm a different person now.

I've been back in DC for a couple of weeks. The novelty still hasn't worn off. There are memories at every turn. I am caught in the romance. This city, all that it represents and what it did for me years ago sweeps me off my feet once again. It's like living inside a high school reunion.

Yesterday, we interviewed the President. It felt great to be back at the White House. Like I'd never left, really. I'll never get over how cool it feels that they let me in. That I get paid to do this work. I love journalism. I'm so thankful for the opportunities it has given me to get to see, hear, and witness history.  After the interview, there was a rush to get clips out. The President made news. It was burning a hole in my pocket. So, I rushed back to the bureau and got into crank out mode, existing on the banana and blueberry muffin I had in the cab on the way back. 2:00 p.m. First time I'd eaten all day. I existed on coffee and adrenalin.

After producing the clips, I went to grab some real food. I walked by a restaurant that used to be McCormick and Schmick's. Now it's something else. But I remember the dinner I had there with Michael in 2012. We were out on date night and I had a big topic to discuss. I was ready for us to start trying for a baby. I wasn't sure what he would think. There was no logical way we would be able to make it happen, or care for a baby on our income at that time - so I didn't know how he'd react.

I just threw it on the table. He bit. And that was it. Cheers. We'd start trying. I left that McCormick and Schmick's bouncing on the inside. Full of hope and ideas. Possibilities. With no idea the road that was ahead.

I was gone for four years, chasing that baby dream. Believe me, I did everything I could think of to make it happen. Nothing, yet.

I didn't think I'd be back here. I didn't think we'd still be "just us." But - here we are. And maybe this is said in grief, and most people won't understand, but if I can't have a baby - being back here - doing this job - interviewing a sitting US President, that's a close second for me.

God has surprised me with His plans. So - I'm determined. I am going to completely live this life we get to have here in this city. Just us. I want to enjoy every bit of it. The journalism. The teamwork. The romance. The opportunities.

These are going to be good years. I just know it.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Back in DC

If it seems like the last two years swallowed me up, it's because that is the truth. What a challenging time! Most of it in a good way. And by "good," I mean the kind of good that totally sucks while it is happening... then you look back at old journals and realized God was at work on your heart the whole time.

How's this for a life curveball? I'm back in DC.

And - you know what? It feels like home. As I type this, I'm at the Panera Bread at Dupont Circle. (It will publish later, stalkers.) Jason Mraz plays in the background and there are a couple of college students behind me, talking about green energy across the globe, and a guy around the corner wathing videos on his phone in a way that makes me think he may secretly be getting video of me. Should I smile?

I'm back in DC. I'm back at CBN News, where I used to work - but in a different capacity. I didn't see this coming, but wow am I blessed to be here. I'm so excited for what is to come!

We are neck-deep in inauguration coverage planning and I love it. I love this stuff! But you already know that.

I didn't plan to come back.
I didn't plan on Myrtle Beach.
Sometimes, the plans come to us.

I know this much: His ways are higher than our ways. I know we are right in the middle of God's will. I just can't wait to get Michael and Brokaw here. After a season of hurt and loss and grief, I am looking forward to this season of us.