this is three

Love bug
Baby girl

Addison Lane

We call you many names because no one name seems to define you well enough. You are equal parts innocent,

And today, little one, you're 3.


You love Minnie Mouse and Daniel Tiger and carrying around purses full of treasures, of trinkets, much like Ariel (or your Granny :)). You sing songs. All. The. Time. Songs you know. Songs you've made up. Songs that float in and out of your head. I feel like you live your life in a sing-songy way. You seem to only find joy in the world around you. Pure joy.

I think that's why you find it impossible to fall asleep at night or sleep past 6 am on any given day. The days are just too good in your mind. Why miss a single minute?

I must confess that those nights you fight sleep, you want one more rock, one more drink, one more trip to the potty, oh, darling I grow frustrated. But I know in my heart that this is just you, love. No matter what those sleep "experts" say--you just exude joy and want to soak up every bit of it. I know that this is you. And I want to soak it up, too.

Because you are 3 today and as I sit and write this note to you, I am aware that the days of you needing me the way you do, wanting to curl up into my belly as I rock you to sleep, wanting me to "hold hold" you as we walk up the stairs, or needing me to painstakingly cut up your grapes for snack time, all of that is slowly, slowly (yet quickly, quickly) coming to an end. In another year, that list will look different. It will be shorter or perhaps transformed into an entirely new list, with this day, these days, these particular wants and needs buried in our memories.

You're 3 today, baby girl!

You're funny. You're feisty. You're fierce.

I want to hold on to every part of what makes you this incredible you. I hope you hold on to the best parts about you, too. Don't let the world tell you you are ever too much. Just persist. Let your voice be heard. You love to roar like a dinosaur with your friend Pearl. I hope you hold on to that roar, that confidence, that playfulness, that fierceness with all that you are.

Here's to another trip around the sun. To more moments and memories to come. I sure can't wait to see where this next year takes you.

Happy 3rd birthday, Addison Lane. You delight us in so many ways!

March 5, 2018 (you slept in your big girl bed for the first night last night!)

Ages: 0-2 (golly, that went fast!)


now what?

Now what?

So here we are, standing in this tragic gap. The gap, as Parker Palmer states, "between the hard realities around us and what we know is possible." 

So now what?

We act.

We speak.

We write.

As a friend and colleague so beautifully wrote in her own reflective piece as a teacher recently talking with her students about this "tragic gap"--we don't wait for the bridge across that gap to be built. We build it.

These kids. They are building that bridge. No. They aren't actors. They are bridge builders.

Let's be bridge builders. Let's act in the face of injustice and cruelty. 

Have you had #enough?  

Want to make a statement about ending mass shootings and easy access to assault rifles? Participate in the National School Walkout from wherever you are on March 14th or the March for our Lives on March 24th.

Where else is your heart crying out for change and transformation in our world today?  Where can you be a bridge builder for that change?

Make your voice heard. You can march, yes, but make sure you let your elected officials know how you feel. Even if you're nervous or think you may not say the right thing. Even if those action steps feel like baby steps.

Find a cause. Reflect on that cause. And then take action.



the tragic gap

In Healing the Heart of Democracy, Parker Palmer writes of standing in the “tragic gap” between the world as it is and the world we know could be. A space that doesn’t feel just or fair. A space that can feel cavernous and hopeless. A space that can spur us to action or paralyze us with fear.

It’s a term I was asked to reflect on multiple times this past week during a week of conferences and workshops around the work and purpose of higher education institutions in community and civic engagement. It’s my professional field that brings me into these spaces. It’s my personal sense of agency (as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a teacher, a justice-seeker) that compels me to engage and listen and wrestle with the tragic gap that exists between a world of “wicked problems” and unjust systems and a world of peace and abundant quality of life for all.

I was first asked to think about how I’m standing in this tragic gap as a higher education community engagement professional. 

What I didn’t know at the time was that I was being asked to consider this while children were being gunned down and murdered in their school.

While 17 people died.

The tragic gap felt more tragic and urgent this week. 

When I began to read the news, my work in the “ivory tower” of academia felt inauthentic and futile. 

My work (our work), the work of this entire field was (not for the first time) called into question for me.

What is higher education really about these days? What is our role in reducing and eliminating this tragic gap? Are we doing enough to live into our public purpose? Or are we simply adding to the problem? When does research and scholarship leave us complacent?  When does our market-driven motivations and students as customers approach (necessary to “keep the lights on” as they say), run antithetical to being about educating the next generation of leaders and changemakers? 

As I wrestled with these questions in the company of others wrestling right along side me, I recognized that the tragic gap isn’t just about mass school shootings (no doubt what was heaviest on our minds).  It’s about why we have social justice movements like #blacklivesmatter, #metoo, and #bringbackourgirls in the first place. It’s about a world in which way too many people live at the margins.  A world where people feel unsafe or “less than” simply by being their authentic selves. 

The gap is tragically wide.

And it’s even wider for the marginalized.

If you’ve made it this far through this post, I invite you to consider the following:

Where are you standing in “the tragic gap”?

What are you doing to bring the worlds on either side of that gap together?

There is far more to write and far more to say.  There are actions to take. I will write more on those in another post.  For now, I will pause and leave you with this photo and verse. I had the pleasure of visiting and learning from colleagues at a college campus with a 100+ year old working farm this past week.  On a walk during my time there, just one day after Parkland, I saw this picture and captured it, with the following verse resonating in my head: 

“...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4

As we live in this tragic gap, let’s be about the work of beating our swords (our guns, our anger, our fear, our power) into garden tools, tools for pruning and planting, growing and watering, creating and nurturing life giving beauty for all. 


.this life.

This life.
It isn't glamorous.
At times it feels downright mediocre.

Truth be told:
The ever after following happily
Feels less sometimes.

(Instant photographs tell a different story:
Smiles and laughter
Sunshine and water
Siblings embracing)

And yet...

Isn't this what we've dreamed of?
Isn't this the life we've been building?
Isn't this the story of contentment?

It is.
It is the dream.
It is the dream in the mundane.
It is the dream in the mundane, and that is what makes it so glamorous.

It's the laughter that bubbles up when she hands you sticks,
calls it pizza,
and reminds you to say your grace before you take a "bite".

It's the delight they express over
splashes of water
and a box full of sand.

It's the weekend filled with unstructured play time;
Entire mornings in our jammies;
Photos not captured because we're living it;
We're living the dream.

It isn't world-wide adventures (unless you count that chapter book we just finished).
It isn't slow moving Saturday mornings with hot coffee and a newspaper on the deck.
It isn't dress up date nights and concerts in the city.

It's life.
This life.
It is glamorous.
It is mediocre.
It is downright mundane.

But there's beauty there.
Beauty in the mundane.
Beauty in the every day.
Beauty in this life we are building.

Because even in what it is not, it is



the heart of a father

Parenthood is many things.

It's choosing to get on the floor and play their game rather than sitting and indulging in a quietly unfolding Saturday morning. It’s reading the same books over and over because it’s just what she wants (even when you can repeat Brown Bear, Brown Bear in your sleep). It’s Lego building, video game playing, running sprints and soccer drills, all because he asked you to (please) do it with him.

It's putting in 8+ hour work days then coming home to a different kind of work (more fulfilling but just as, if not more, exhausting). It’s negotiating bottoms (not knees) on the chair at dinner, forks in the mouth (not the cup of milk) at the table. It’s the mundane task of scrubbing stacks of dirty dishes (while mediating sibling chaos), and then calling for bath time, teeth brushing, pajamas, then (the battle for) bed.

It's lying down at night and wondering if maybe you spoke a little too harshly when he kept asking for one more drink, one more book, just lay here a little longer with me, please. It’s feeling their soft, limber little bodies fold into you in the middle of the night when you can barely open your eyes but they just want to feel safe from whatever fear nighttime brings.

It's sharing your fries when you'd rather they eat their apples. Or jumping in the (frigid) swimming pool because they ask you to.

It's watching with delight as they develop an interest in your favorite childhood past time or beg for you to take them to that special place that means so much to you.

It's crouching down to receive a gleeful hug as soon as you arrive home, and listening to excited, words barely forming, breaths coming quickly explanations of the day they just had. The day they cannot wait to share with you.

It’s all these things.

And it’s so much more. More than words can capture. 

And I want you to know--I see you. I see how lovingly you respond to them.

I know how exhausting each day is. And I know the heart you have for living in the mess and delight of fatherhood. I see how they look at you, how they look for you as the afternoon becomes evening and dinner simmers on the stove. I know when you are abandoning what your pragmatic side really wants to do (That stack of mail that's piled up all week? Those baskets full of folded laundry that I am content to never put away?) to answer their calls to play. I see that. I know that's your heart responding.

You were made for them. And they for you. For us. You are the man Colin will model in fatherhood. You are the man from who Addison will learn mutual love and respect.

You are the father God created for our children. For you, on this day and everyday, I am forever grateful. It’s because of you that our children will always be able to live life abundantly, knowing,
without question, that your (our) love for them is eternal and unbound.

Happy Fathers Day, Christopher. The kids really are alright.

Our family, Easter Sunday 2017. 

Daddy and Colin special moments.


Colin's first boat ride.

Colin's first swim.

Louisville Slugger 

Silly noses
Their favorite past time--Legos!

Baking together.

Two peas. Looking at their St. Louis Zoo maps.

Daddy and Addison special moments.

One day old.


Addison's baptism.

Addison's first Christmas.

Two of my favorites in Mercer orange.

Reading together.

These moments are just that...moments. In our living we cannot capture them all. I (we) look forward to living and creating more moments with you.

Happiest of days to you, Love.



reflections on working today/international women's day

I worked today for the woman who cannot afford to take a day off. For the woman scared to leave her abuser because she lacks the financial freedom to take care of herself and her children. Then I made a donation to the Julian Center.

I ran today for the girl who thinks she can't because she's too fat, too slow, too awkward. For all the girls who look in the mirror and wish for smaller thighs, straighter noses, smoother hair. For all the girls who think they can't...because they've never seen a woman do that very thing they want to do (or because they've been told that a woman's "place" is elsewhere). I ran today for girls, then I made a donation to Girls on the Run Central Indiana and Girls Inc. Greater Indianapolis.

I made dinner for my family tonight and gave thanks for the abundance of food in my kitchen. I thought about the mother skipping dinner so her children can eat tonight. I stood still in reflection of the bare pantries and refrigerators in houses just a few miles from my own. Then, I made a donation to Open Doors of Westfield and Gleaner's Food Bank of Indiana.

I worked and I ran and I cooked today in honor of women. In honor of girls. I stand in solidarity with all those standing for women on this International Women's Day.  In the spirit of the values of this day, for the values of Justice, Dignity, Hope, Equality, Collaboration, Tenacity, Appreciation, Respect, Empathy, Forgiveness, I stand. And I give thanks for the women who came before me and the women who will follow.

My donations are not change agents. But they are something. My next bold step for change will begin in April as I start my journey as a program leader for Girls Inc--a journey I know will bring more opportunities for answering a bold call for women and girls. In the mean time, I will continue to support organizations who support women, girls, and equal rights for ALL people, no matter their gender identity. I will continue to contact my representatives and ask them to reject legislation that strips people of their fundamental rights, of the right to a healthy, safe, abundant life, and puts women, children, and families in harms way.

I will  #beboldforchange in whatever ways I can.

This is what I did (and will continue to do) for International Women's Day.


action steps. baby steps.

Actions thus far:

1. Postcards to my reps denouncing immigration ban; speaking out for women's reproductive healthcare and rights; denouncing defunding of Planned Parentood.
2. Calls to my reps asking my state and my nation to welcome refugees.
3. Will be attending orientation to become Girls Inc mentor and curriculum leader to help all forms feel smart, bold, and strong.

I was nervous writing postcards (joining a group at a local pub to do this) as I feared writing the "wrong" thing or not quite the "right" thing to really make a difference. My voice shook as I made calls because of the same fear- what if my words aren't quite "right?" What of the responder is short with me or unkind?

But the responders were kind. The words I wrote were well thought out.

Baby steps towards radical action. Baby steps but steps nonetheless.