Change is so hard

adventures, an everyday moment, be brave By August 3, 2018 6 Comments

You know that icky, scared feeling when you try something new? What seemed like a great idea a couple days ago now feels like a completely awful idea. I’ve been having that feeling fairly regularly over the last few years Steve and I walked through a marriage crisis a couple years ago and it was one of the darkest, scariest times of my life. I was desperately unhappy and I knew I needed to make big changes–for me, for my life. We both needed to change and grow. And thankfully, we’ve both been working hard to do just that.

One of the biggest changes I have been making is, instead of trying to please other people and make them happy, I am simply trying to be ME. Simple, but not easy. Being me means saying what I really think, asking for what I need without apology and feeling my feelings {instead of trying to take care of everyone else’s feelings and ignoring my own}.

Steve and I at the Castle Ruins

The other day we were in the beautiful town of Helmsley, England, shopping and eating and relaxing. We walked up the hill to see the Castle ruins–which were breathtaking. We got a glimpse of the ruins outside the wall and it seemed like we were all winding down–ready to get in the cars and drive back to our Airbnb–but I really wanted to go inside and get a closer look at the ruins. I didn’t want to make a fuss or inconvenience our whole group and I almost didn’t say anything. But I reminded myself I’m trying to show up, say what I think and want without apology. It may seem like a small thing, but for someone who has lived a lot of life trying to please other people, it’s scary and stretching. I spoke up and it was no big deal. Everyone was on board for getting a closer look at the ruins. Steve someone how got tickets for just a few pounds and we ventured inside. It was beautiful, MAGICAL, so fun. I’m so glad I said what I wanted.

Helmsley Castle Ruins

Speaking up and asking for what I want is a change that has been HARD but so necessary. I gave a small example but there have been much bigger, scarier moments where I have said really hard, honest things and you know what, it’s been better. Better for me, better for Steve, better for my marriage, better for my soul. It’s so important. Best of all, it’s working. I am changing. I am more ME. I am happier and more relaxed. I wrote a poem about change and I wonder if you’ll relate to it?

All four of us at Helmsley Castle Ruins

Change


Change

A stiff shoe

To be broken in

New

Different

Uncomfortable

Aware of each step

Left, Right, Left

Awkward

Blisters

Maybe this was a bad idea

The old way

Before the change

Wasn’t so bad

My old shoes were fine

They were comfortable

But worn out

Too small

The soles were worn smooth

And slippery

No tread or traction

To keep me stable

To move me forward

Change

I can see ahead

These new shoes will take me there

I wear them a bit each day

I practice a new way

With each awkward step

I am changing

Slowly the shoes soften

My blisters heal

My feet adjust

The shoes become part of me

What was new

Begins to feel normal

To feel right

Right, Left, Right

Little by little

The old shoes are behind me

The old way is behind me

My new shoes fit well

My new way is working

Moving forward

Braver with each step

Stretched and Grown

Changed

Stepping away from what is safe and known is scary but necessary. Making change is brave. Be ME without apology is how I love myself and others–it’s how I encourage my family to be who they are without apology. Being honest, being real is loving and brave. It’s brave love. There is so more of my journey of brave love in my new book {so crazy, exciting}. More details on the book here.

Are you making any changes that scare you right now?

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big big announcement!

be brave By August 3, 2018 1 Comment

I’ve been working on a huge project and I can FINALLY share it with you.

I wrote a BOOK!

I kinda feel like I’m lying—it seems impossible, but it’s true! A real, live book!

{this is my author pic for the back of the book, by Heather Gray}

For so long I told myself I wasn’t a writer. Maybe I loved writing so much I was scared to admit how much it meant to me? Slowly I began to realize how much meaning I found through writing.

You know what else I’ve found?

Connection with YOU. In brave, vulnerable moments I’ve shared real life with you and you’ve encouraged me and shared your story, too. Through my blog and social media we’ve built a community filled with hope and love. It’s truly amazing and beautiful.

My book is called Brave Love. Wanna hear more? Wanna see the COVER? Click here!

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Right Here and Now

be brave, poems By June 14, 2018 47 Comments

Do you ever feel like everyone else seems to have it figured out? Sometimes I look at Instagram and have this overwhelming feeling that I’m screwing it all up. I wonder, “How do all these moms have so much energy?” Half the time I want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. Comparing my life to others makes me feel small and less than. The other night I woke up at 2am and this poem came to mind. So I got up and grabbed a pen and paper and wrote it down. {Then the next morning I refined it because, you know, I was half asleep when I wrote it!}. I hope it encourages you like it encourages me. Sending you a giant hug and reminding you it’s all good. All of it.

You Are Right Where You’re Meant To Be

Every step forward
Every step back
Each giant leap
The occasional trip and fall
Have landed you here
Nothing is wasted
Everything is useful
Each victory makes you stronger
Mistakes are your teacher
This is your path
You didn’t miss it
Or mess it up
You’re not behind
You’re not ahead
You’re right on time
The what ifs
The possibilities
The regrets
The forks in the road
Are all part of your path
They shape your unique journey
The right turns
The wrong turns
The u turns
Have all brought you here
To this beautiful place
This exact spot
You’re not lost
You’re not off track
It’s okay
All is well
Look around
Breathe deeply
Soak up this moment
And the incredible truth
You’re in the right place
You did it
You made it
You arrived
You’re ready
To take the next step
Believing it will lead you
To the next right place
Don’t worry
Even if it’s the wrong place
It will be the right place
You don’t have to be perfect
Or have it all figured out
Lean into the adventure
One step at a time
With boldness
And trembling knees
With faith
Giving love to yourself and others
Knowing this is your journey
You’re right where you’re meant to be
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Love Given Is Love Gained

be brave, david, the meaning behind the jewelry By March 14, 2018 21 Comments


A few months ago, as we traveled down to Southern California to see family for Christmas, we stopped at El Pollo Loco for lunch. Steve placed our order while I got David settled in the booth and pulled out his pre-prepared foods and a spoon. Because of his disability, David eats a special diet and all his meals are blended to a smooth texture. As I began spoon feeding him a woman come over to us. She looked at David’s small hand with only two fingers and compassion filled her eyes. I could feel her love towards him.

As she approached us I wondered what she would say. Would she ask for a hug from him? Every thing about her seemed like she wanted to wrap her arms around him and snuggle him.

“Hello,” she said with a tremble in her voice. “He is so precious. Can I give him a gift?” She pulled out a crisp $100 dollar bill and handed it to me.

“Thank you, you are so kind, but that is not necessary.” I said with a smile.

“Please,” she said, her eyes pleading with me to take the money.

“He is fine, don’t worry. Someone else must need this money more than he does.” I tried to explain.

“I want to give it to him. Please, please take it.” She pleaded.

“Okay. Thank you. Wow. God Bless you.” I stumbled over my words as I stood up and hugged her. We embraced and as we said goodbye she wiped a tear from her eye.

This isn’t the first time someone has given David a generous gift. I’m unsure what to do in these situations–we don’t really need the money–David has everything he needs and more. But, how can we reject a gift given with so much love? So much bravery?

We finished our food, gathered our things and headed back to the car. As we continued our journey Steve and I talked about what we should do with the money. Let’s keep our eyes open for the right person. We’ll find someone who needs this $100 and pass it on to them.

God please bless her, I prayed as we drove. I pray her gift comes back to her tenfold. 

Later that day we picked up our family from the airport. We shared the crazy story with them and talked about the kindness of strangers. We also talked about David’s beautiful heart and how he draws people to him. It’s something I can’t explain but I’ve seen it happen again and again.

A couple days later we woke up in a hotel room, threw on sweats and headed down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. We had been exploring Los Angeles with our extended family as we were all wiped out. It was Christmas Eve and the hotel was mostly quiet.  We were seated at a big table and our server came over quickly to fill our mugs with hot coffee. He smiled at the kids and made small talk–asking us what had brought us to town on Christmas Eve. We went around the table and each of us placed our order for an omelet or waffles. When he got to David I told the server David was fine–I had brought special food for him. Our server smiled at David and then headed to the computer to put our breakfast order in.

This server was extra attentive with a kind smile and a gentle heart. He kept checking on us, but specifically asking after David, making sure he had everything he needed. When I finished feeding David his pre-prepared blended food, the server asked if he could take the containers to the kitchen and wash them for us. We have never had a server ask to do that! It was so thoughtful. Steve and I were both touched by his kindness. We looked at each other and smiled. This was the person who needed the $100. This gentle soul, who noticed David and went out of his way to show kindness, should be the one who received this generous gift. When the bill arrived, Steve paid with a credit card and left the crisp $100 bill as a tip.

As we got ready to leave, the server made his way to Steve.

“I think you made a mistake.” He said, showing Steve the credit card receipt next to the crisp bill.

“No, no mistake. That is a gift for you.” Steve replied.

The look on the server’s face was a mix of genuine surprise, sheer joy and overwhelming gratitude. When I saw his face I thought I might burst into tears right then and there. I’m tearing up right now thinking about it. I am confident, this was the person who needed the $100 bill. I have no doubt God put this person in our path.

I wish we’d had time to tell the server the whole backstory–that it really wasn’t a gift from us, but a gift from a stranger we had met a few days earlier. I wished we could have found a way to explain that David, our son who only has two fingers on his left hand, our kiddo who is non-verbal, has a spark that brings out kindness in people. This kindness, this love, is bigger than David–big enough to connect strangers in different cities. Every good deed comes back bigger and better. Love stretches and grows and binds us together.

Love Given is Love Gained

Generosity brings freedom
Bravery makes us stronger
Smiles are contagious
Kindness rubs off on others
Gentleness calms the soul
Creativity inspires creativity
Laughter is infectious
Honesty breaks down walls
Forgiveness fortifies the heart
Love given is love gained
Good never goes to waste

It comes back bigger and better
Love grows and stretches and
binds us together 


This is the meaning behind the Let Love Grow Cuff.

Have you experienced the kindness of a stranger?

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How to Spell L O V E

be brave, finding love By February 21, 2017 1 Comment


First we need an L.
L is for learning.
Life is a series of Lessons teaching us about LOVE.
As we Listen and Learn, LOVE brings Lasting beauty that fiLLs our hearts.

Next comes the O.
O is for Overflowing.
When we come with Open hearts and Open hands we show LOVE to Ourselves and Others.
LOVE withOut fear Overflows with grace and hOpe.

V is Very important
Because V stands for Valiant.
True LOVE is an adVenture requiring courage.
Only the braVe see the Value of risking their hearts.

Finish off with an E for elastic.
LOVE stretches and grows to Encompass Everyone on Earth.
LOVE is Essential for a healthy heart.
It Enables us to know we are Enough, just as we are.


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I See A World

be brave, inspiration By January 20, 2017 78 Comments

Every Friday night our little family goes to a local restaurant down the street from our house for burgers and chicken tenders. It is our Friday evening ritual—the kids count on it and the parents love it too.

But on a recent Friday evening, a very surprising thing happened.

We ate our dinner, paid the bill and started to walk toward our car. David was happy and sometimes when he is happy he dances as he walks {you can imagine it is pretty much the cutest thing ever!}. Steve bent down and gave him a kiss and we all kept walking.

A gentleman approached Steve and said with a quiet voice, “I noticed your son and I was moved. I just want to do something for him. Will you please take this and get him a gift?”

David has a disability. He is very small for his age and has only two fingers on his left hand. He is non-verbal and spoon fed. It is common for people to notice him, but unusual for someone to approach us.

Steve looked at the man’s hand and saw a folded ten dollar bill.

“That is so kind but it’s really not necessary.” Steve responded.

“Please,” the man said with pleading eyes, “I want to do this for him.” The stranger was beginning to tear up a bit.

“Sure, okay, thank you so much.” Steve responded and took the ten dollar bill.

Steve buckled David into his car seat and we all climbed into the car.

As Steve started the engine he looked at the bill and realized it was a $100 dollar bill.

“Oh my gosh!” Steve said. “I thought it was ten dollars.”

We looked around the parking lot but couldn’t find this kind stranger anywhere.

As we drove down the street we talked about what to do with the money. We decided we would get a $100 Target gift card and give to David’s teacher so she could buy supplies for the classroom. That way the money would be a blessing, not just for David, but for the other special needs students in his class.

When I gave the gift card to David’s teacher she started to cry, and of course I got teary too. It was such an amazing, beautiful thing. This gentleman was brave enough to show kindness to strangers. I hope it returns to him ten times over! He inspires me.

I believe there is more good than evil in the world. Today is a good day to show kindness.

You have faith.
I have faith.
Each of us carries faith in our hearts.
There is no shortage of faith.
I see a world overflowing with faith.

You have hope.
I have hope.
Each of us carries hope in our hearts.
There is no shortage of hope.
I see a world overflowing with hope.

You have love.
I have love.
Each of us carries love in our hearts.
There is no shortage of love.
I see a world overflowing with love.

Today we have faith, hope and love.
And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

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where dreams and reality meet

be brave, hope By January 17, 2017 17 Comments

I had no idea joy, pain, exhaustion and sheer delight waited for us. I had no idea this tiny baby growing inside me had a genetic disorder. I had no idea he would break my heart, turn my world upside down and then slowly help me heal and grow into a person who loves more deeply.


I remember holding the positive pregnancy test in my hand. I was sitting in the bathroom of our small apartment near Los Angeles. We had been married for three years and we had been trying to start a family for the last six months. I felt like the wind was knocked out of me as the HUGENESS of the moment filled the room. I stared at the pregnancy test in disbelief.

“We are going to have a baby.” I thought. “Oh my goodness, there is already a baby growing inside me.”

We had boarded an unstoppable train headed toward an unknown destination. We wanted to start a family and we were trying to get pregnant, but when I saw the positive test I was terrified. I had been dreaming of this day since I was a little girl. When it arrived I was surprised to find myself so afraid.
My life was about to change in massive ways.

I was about to fall in love with a little boy who would forever change my heart.



The unknown is scary and I was looking into a vast world of unknowns.
The intersection where dreams and reality meet is perhaps the most terrifying place to be.
I stood on the edge of the known, looking into the unknown, with shaking legs.
Looking back, I could see where I had been.
Looking around me, I could see where I was.
But looking forward I could see nothing.
I took a step forward.
It was one of the most important steps of my life. David has brought beauty and joy to our family and changed us in amazing ways. He continues to grow and thrive and show us what it looks like to live with joy.

A couple years later I stood at another crossroads.
David was a baby, I was teaching part-time in our local school district and stringing beads into necklaces in the evening. A little dream started to grow inside my heart. What if I could turn this creative hobby into a little business? Friends loved my handmade jewelry and my coworkers were asking if they could purchase my necklaces and bracelets. I decided to make it official and get a business license.
As I got into my car to make my way towards City Hall, I felt sick to my stomach with nervousness.

“Surely they do not give business licenses to people like me. They are going to laugh me out of the building.” I thought. “They will know I am a fraud as soon as I step through the door.”

My heart was pounding and I felt my face go red as I asked the receptionist for a business license application. My hands shook as I searched for a pen in my purse and began filling it out line by line.

I had no idea incredible opportunities and long sleepless nights waited for me. I had no idea my little business would grow and change. I had no idea two years later I would quit my job to focus on making jewelry. I had no idea some day my husband and I would have a team of amazing individuals helping us with marketing, customer service and manufacturing.

The intersection where dreams and reality meet is perhaps the most terrifying place to be.
I stood on the edge of the known, looking into the unknown, with a shaking hands and a red face.
I took a step forward.

No matter how difficult, wonderful or mundane our circumstances, they are known—there is comfort in what is known. But the what lies ahead is unknown and the unknown can be deeply unsettling. We do not know what the future holds and deep down we know, we do not control the future.
We feel fear.
But we do not face fear alone.
We have a powerful force behind us.

Hope.

With hope at our back we take a step into the unknown.
At the intersection of dreams and reality, it is natural to feel fear.
Fear does not make us weak.
Fear makes us human.
When we move through fear toward what is true and right and beautiful, it makes us brave.
With each timid step the future becomes the present and the present becomes the past.
All that is required in any moment, is one step.
We take that step with hope at our back.

Have you found yourself at the intersection where dreams and reality meet?

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