I’m not coping well.


Black and white, but life falls somewhere in between. So rarely are experiences the “best” or “worst.” We like to dramatize and exaggerate as such, but the news smarts with the cruel, sweet truth: our worst is someone else’s dream. Our best means nothing.

My grandmother is dying. Someone I love is dying! I can’t stop it. I can’t make it better. I feel like screaming this at the highest mountain I can climb:


I’ve copied her recipes from handwritten, scribbled index cards housed in decaying three-ring binders. I’ve stolen her jewelry for moments on holidays when she’d be pleased to see me wearing it, but not too keen on me taking it home. I’ve listened to her stories and tried to replicate her cadence, word choice, kindness, smile.

My love for this woman is found in the thousand shades between. Her peanut butter chocolate balls — given Christmas morning, wrapped in in recycled cottage cheese containers. Delicious, but too big. So rich, you can’t really enjoy the entire thing without a stomach ache. Then again, this will be my first Christmas I remember without them, and I what I wouldn’t do for that sick stomach. To see that frosted-haired maven in her kitchen, plopping candies on warped cookie sheets with care. Humming along to her favorite on Lawrence Welk.

Her love for the southwest. Namely, her chunky Native American jewelry that defined her fashion for decades. The rugged three-stone rings set in sterling silver. The giant cross pendants. The cuff bracelets worn on each arm like Wonder Woman. This Pennsylvania farm girl fell in love with the desert at first sight. The pearls and other family heirlooms remained in her small cedar jewelry chest. She was known for her love of turquoise — the color of Sonoran opulence.

I think about the years I have to live and how I can do so to honor my grandmother. She wanted nothing more than to see me get married and have my own children. (To the extent of hilariously strong-arming boyfriends during holiday meals. “When are you going to make an honest woman of her? NOW is the the time!”)  If I am so lucky to share these moments with her, she won’t know. I’m left to consider what I can share with my future family to capture who she is — how very much she shaped who I am.

My Grandmother Maxine, along with my parents, gave me the opportunity to study in Mexico during high school. Spanish has given me a chance at many jobs for which I wouldn’t have otherwise been considered. Also, she’s always been a devoted pen pal. My first, second and third letter in the Peace Corps in central Africa were written by her nervous and supporting hand. The letters came with red crosses marked on the envelopes.

“No one will mess with mail sent with God’s wishes, honey.”

She taught me how to make a pie crust. How to put on make-up. How, and why, to tithe. She showed me how to love children with abandon. She epitomized frugality. To live a life as an example in loving Christ, family and community.

Today, she doesn’t know who I am. That pain is sharp. I can’t put to words how very much I miss her spirit. Or how deeply I am troubled by the change this has caused. My dad’s voice isn’t the same. His heart is heavy. My uncle is angry. I miss his quickness to make others laugh.

My reaction is ugly. I am unfairly angry with my mother, who listens with her own unabashed, patient love for her children. (Never mind she’s loved this same woman since her teens. My parent’s loss is that much sharper. Unsurmountable.)  Why I thought Grandma Max would live forever is unknown. I never thought it would be this painful.


This is how you know you’ve lived a life well loved — all are shaken by your retreat. I feel her with me. She is in my every breath and prayer. She may be in this life today, but her soul is with God.

I miss her so very much.




Halloweenies 2012

Dear Friends,

You may know I was adopted by this crazy tall woman about a year ago. It was a pretty good day. I was tired of hanging out with all those ruffians and defending myself at the “humane society.” (We don’t want to be treated humanely. Treat me caninely. More treats. Fewer clothes. But that’s getting ahead of myself.)

I may only be 32 pounds, but the word terrier is just the dog version of terrorist. I can be, let’s just say, a bit impatient when a larger dog tries to make me his boyfriend. So, when I saw Tall Lady peeking into our kennel, with one bat of my eyelashes I knew she was a gonner.

Charm. I gots it.

Halloweenies 2012

Coming home to Tall Lady was cushy. She kept me in the kennel at night for three days; today, you’ll find her clutching the edge of her bed. I’m comfy on the other two-thirds. There are treats, walks, a nice backyard and she doesn’t mind that I can’t go 10 minutes without touching her.

What? Don’t be so judgmental. I can be tough and needy.

In turn, I’m a good guard. Postman? Squirrels? The Siberian huskies next door? Leaves? Sometimes even my shadow? Yeah. They know my bark and they know it well. This is my house. That is my street. I’d really prefer if the other dog owners of the neighborhood would ask before just casually strolling by. (Rude!) And they let their mutts pee on MY bushes. (Ruder!)

I drink extra water those days.

Halloweenies 2012

But people, someone has to talk to her. This is getting out of control. I am not a doll. I am not some drag dog who wants to be dressed up in tiny hats for the rest of my life. I AM NOT A VILLAGE PERSON.  I have a reputation to maintain! I am a survivor of the pound! I am a guard dog!

I am not a damn cowboy!

Mamas, don’t let your doggies grow up to be cowboys.

Send help. Bring treats.

-Willie Nelson Mandela.




It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like…


Christmas is less than two months away, and oh do I have my sights on another great handmade holiday. This year, the focus isn’t on quantity, as it has been in the past. Instead, I’m putting self-care as top priority. I will not run ragged to produce handmade gifts; I fully recognize my family and friends appreciate a good mood far more than they’ll ever love yet another wonky handknit.

To meet this, I have to get my stuff organized.


To get started, I create a Google doc spreadsheet. (The template, if you’re interested in playing along.) This document will help follow both a financial and time budget. I can give one hour per day for the next 7 weeks toward projects. That’s a chunk of time, most of which will be spent late at night in my little upstairs office, listening to tunes and working at my sewing machine. Or watching British television shows on Netflix, knitting like mad.

Additionally, I create a timeline. I love sending holiday cards, creating my own package tags, decorating the house, baking for neighbors, etc. If I place these into a calendar, I know what the next 8 weeks look like by task. Everything doesn’t hit me at once and I can actually enjoy the holidays rather than feeling overwhelmed.


To see this handmade holiday vision come to life, the tentative schedule:

Week 1:

  • Complete gift list spreadsheet, including budget
  • Buy necessary crafting/art supplies
  • Start any extensive knitting projects
  • Schedule photo for Christmas card

Week 2:

  • Update Christmas spreadsheet
  • Knit
  • Take Christmas photo, order cards
  • Print holiday address labels
  • Review gifts to be sent to friends abroad, and schedule early post dates

Week 3:

  • Update Christmas spreadsheet
  • Knit
  • Address Christmas cards
  • Purchase Christmas stamps
  • Mail after Thanksgiving
  • Coordinate holiday travel with family

Week 4:

  • Update Christmas spreadsheet
  • Knit
  • Decorate house
  • Create baking list for neighbors
  • Buy baking supplies

Week 5:

  • Update Christmas spreadsheet
  • Knit
  • Begin sewing projects
  • Stamp gift tags
  • Wrap gifts as completed
  • Mail international gifts

Week 6:

  • Update Christmas spreadsheet
  • Knit
  • Find holiday dress(es)
  • Coordinate holiday party list with date
  • Prepare party hostess gifts, tags
  • Mail gifts that can’t be hand delivered

Week 7:

  • Update Christmas spreadsheet
  • Deliver gifts to neighbors
  • Complete any remaining projects

Week 8:

  • Create list to send thank you cards after the New Year
  • Rock a great holiday dress
  • Drink egg nog with friends; immediately remember you don’t like egg nog
  • Drink Christmas margaritas with friends
  • Go to church. Thank your lucky stars. Hug your friends and family.
If you are making gifts for friends or family this year, I’d love to hear your ideas!
Happy planning, y’all.






Sisters in Spirit: Discipline

Sisters in Spirit is a series of blog posts by a group of women who felt that a spiritual perspective was lacking from the steady stream of news and information that flowed through their daily lives.  They each agreed to carve out a space on their blogs on a monthly basis for a spiritual conversation.  

 More religion

I’ve had a quote scrawled on a chalkboard by my front door for the last few months: “Discipline is the difference between ambition and success.”

{You know that section at the book store with all those “Lose 50 pounds” “Retire at 45!” “Live your dreams!” crap that healthy adults run away from as quickly as possible?

Total. Sucker.

Results pending.}

Oh, discipline. Considering I was born with a 45-year-old librarian’s soul, I’ve always been pretty good at setting goals, figuring out how to chase after them, and going full steam ahead until the finish line is crossed. Relaxing? Spontineity? Impulsivity? A touch trickier.

Discipline in regards to faith isn’t complicated in some ways: spending time reading the Bible, finding, attending and participating in church, and prayer. Lots, and lots of prayer.

And then there is the discipline of doing what we are taught to do, regardless of the circumstances. No lying. No stealing. No gossiping. No coveting — even those amazing Loubies you’ve had your eye on for years. I am not great at these disciplines. I mean, I’m not exactly smuggling bread out of the grocery store, but I do love an earful of hot secrets. I stretch the truth, blaming it on my “exaggeratory story telling nature.” And oh, do I covet. Lifestyle. Biceps. Success.

I’m in a Bible study with a girlfriend; we have been pouring over Acts for the last six months or so. Paul might be the most amazing example of discipline in the Bible. His willingness to suffer in the hands of his haters (and there were lots) because he had the discipline to do complete the task God placed before him is remarkable.

And not “remarkable” in the, “Wow, this pizza is so good! It’s amazing! It’s remarkable” kinda way. More like, “Holy shit. He was willing to go to jail a bunch of times and sang songs of worship and praise while his haters beat him? Dude’s remarkable.”

Paul’s story is a great reminder of strength, stubbornness and discipline used for good.

Sagrado Corazon Church, Granada

Other areas in need of more discipline:

1. Money. Spending and saving wisely.

2. Gossip. Listening to friends without wanting to repeat their stories, or add my spin.

3. Love. This election has made me nuts with the angry, hateful words thrown back and forth in the name of democracy. My Facebook feed is a polarized, miserable conversation. Look friends: either way? How freaking lucky are we to have a President who loves America as much as these two? How blessed are we to be able to vote? How fantastic is it we get to be mouthy? I love the passion for politics. And I love the Wednesday after the election. It cannot come soon enough.

Do you have areas of your life where discipline is lacking? Where you feel the Holy Spirit (or maybe just the Holy Waistband) is pushing you to be better? Where do you need a kick in the pants?


Rebekah is a blogger, amateur photographer, and missions volunteer with Adventures in Missions. A lifetime of being a pastor’s kid, attending church regularly, and a private Christian school education gave her a lot of knowledge about the nuances of theology without a lot of faith. Now she’s trying to figure out how faith and theology applies to her relationships and daily life. You can find her online at www.honeysucklelife.com.  (on leave at the moment)


Sarah is municipal attorney, mom to a toddler boy, and United Methodist’s pastor’s wife.  (She does not play the organ.)  She is a life-long Missouri girl with a heart for hospitality and social justice.  Sarah enjoys cooking, running, knitting and embroidery, reading, and playing in the sprinkler.  Sarah blogs at www.beautyschooldropout.net 


Bianca is a newlywed Navy wife from the great state of Texas (where she coincidentally currently resides), and she and her husband are expecting their first child in late summer. She has a passion for serving others, asking hard questions and sharing The Gospel with both her words and actions. Bianca loves Jesus, her hubs, authentic friendships, traveling, making lists of all kinds, and trying new recipes which she blogs about on BecomingBianca.com.  (on leave at the moment)

Book Report

Bookcase at Cape MacLear

I’m back in a writing class that doubles as an intense book club. A few reviews of recent reads:

Queen of America: This is the follow-up novel to Hummingbird’s Daughter, written by Luis Alberto Urrea. HD is one of my favorite books in the last few years. Poetic writing about the desert southwest and Mexico grabs me every time. Queen is a great continuation of the story, but doesn’t quite grab the magic of the first book. All the same, if you love fiction set along the Arizona-Mexico border, or have a love of all things quirky Mexican (Nacho Libre, for example) — you’ll dig this. Read both. Three out of five bananas.

The White Tiger: I read this book on a flight across the country in a matter of hours. That isn’t to brag about my ability to read quickly, but at how funny and entertaining the book is. Aravind Adiga writes the story of a young chauffer living in India. The writing is sharp, funny and at times cruel. I really enjoyed this story and am looking forward to discussing it at the next book club. Four out of five bananas.

The Talented Mr. Ripley: this is the first of four books we are reading for the Lighthouse class, “Housewives and Evil Do-ers.” I liked the movie considerably more and found Tom Ripley as a character to be unbelievable. There was simply too much coincidence that went in his favor to make this story relevant today. The conversation we had last night about the book, however, was excellent. Have I mentioned how much I love Lighthouse? Too bad Mr. Ripley isn’t as entertaining. Two out of five bananas.

On deck:

The Paris Wife — for fun

and, Mrs. Bridge for the next class.

What have you read lately that rocked?


No Bad Days

Birthday weekend

Birthday weekend

Birthday weekend

Lithium baths, Vail, trail mix, altitude sickness, hot gossip shared in hot pools, skinny jeans, boots, babies, husbands, boyfriends, burritos, margaritas, Glenwood Springs, wine, dogs, travel, parents, siblings, canyon drives, books, movies, face cream, budgeting, music, friends, mascara, Africa, Catch Phrase.

Sue came to visit for a weekend. If you are feeling a shortage of oxygen in the Denver area — that the air has gone anorexic — I apologize. Throw in my friend Sheila and we didn’t stop talking for, oh, three days. And let’s be honest, what makes women happier than talking? Very little. Unless you throw in a spa retreat, great food, board games, a break from children, and a serious confirmation of your values and way of life.

Yes, this blog is cheesy optimistic. (A fair reflection.) And no, I’m in no way as funny as Mini or crafty as Finny — but damn if I can’t make the sweetest friends from this little space. Booyah.




The Brittany Yoga Bag

Brittany Yoga Bag

My friend Brittany recently celebrated a birthday, and this summer completed a 30 day Bikram challenge. She is a dear friend; we met through a mutual girlfriend in Phoenix and immediately hit it off. Brit introduced me to her friends in her hometown of Indianapolis, who hosted a book signing and party earlier this year for my novel. In another odd story, I bought a house full of furniture from her now fiance. My life is richer, funnier and more entertaining because of her kindness.

Brittany Yoga Bag

I’ve been wanting to make a yoga bag that holds the full length of a rolled yoga mat in an exterior pocket. This was the perfect opportunity. The pattern I designed resulted in a HUGE bag, enough for a clean set of clothing, towel, water and a box of post-class smugness.

Brittany Yoga Bag

Brittany Yoga Bag

Brittany Yoga Bag

I will play with the dimensions for a future tutorial, if there is interest. I am particularly pleased with how this decor weight fabric worked in creating a cross-body strap. This bag is not going to die anytime soon.


::interior zipper pocket, 8″ zipper

:: interior set of deep pockets for keys and a phone

:: 1.5 yards decor-weight fabric (this is from Ikea)


Big Manzana


I’m on the road this week for work and had a chance to wander NYC for the first time this weekend. I am staying in New Jersey, and took the train into the city. This gave ample time to consider my surroundings and debate what stereotypes would ring true.


Where New Jersey is metal and rock; New York is glass and chrome. New Jersey seems like the place where the ugly, critically necessary work gets done. It’s the workhorse. The dishwasher up to his arms in muck in the kitchen of a 5 start restaurant. The man at the carwash with the toothbrush scrubbing the grill of a fancy sedan. The squeaky crane pulling load after load of broken cement during the birth of a sky scraper.


NYC is the over indulged trust fund baby throwing the party. Never mind he still invited a few friends who drink too much (don’t breathe too deeply, be careful where you step) and the RSVP list got out of control (elbows in.) The good news is the host has friends of every country and religion. He has excellent taste in public transport, food and art. And he employs some of the nicest people imaginable.

By the end of the day, I felt like writing a thank you card for the invitation.


That hype about New Yorkers being rude is just that. I had plenty of eye contact and manners, even from those on the street. The kindest group of all? Police officers. They were out in force for a parade. I watched as they directed handful after handful of tourist, with patience and a smile.


I can’t wait to come back, with more time and money, although I’d guess there is never enough of either in this great city.

More photos here.