Showing posts from 2020

The Power of Shared Experience

When I worked as a hospital and hospice chaplain, one of the lessons I learned was the power of sharing an experience, joyful or sorrowful, with another. Life experiences can inextricably tie us to those faces we see in our memories. I remember one family in particular, whose daughter was a pediatric hospice patient. We worked as a team: doctor, nurse, chaplain, social worker, nurse tech (to help with bathing and toileting). We often made visits to this family, both individually and together, through the months she fought for her life. We shared with each other about the difficulties the family faced, and we also leaned on each other when the grief was heavy. You see, home hospice is a very unique place to minister and serve. As a member of the hospice care team, I was ‘assigned’ to a family who had recently been referred to hospice. Most of our patients and their families were served in their homes. We were invited into living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms of our patients. Their

What Story Am I Making Up?

Recently, a friend told me about a quote she heard on a podcast by Brene Brown. She said, “What story are you making up?” It took me a second, but then I began to understand what she meant. And it hit me. I make up stories all day long. Instead of living in the what is, I live in the ‘what might be,’ especially when it comes to my family. Since our daughter came home to us in 2011, I have parented in a style that anticipates everything: her needs, her desires, the possibilities of what might happen. A counselor once called it ‘lawnmower’ parenting…clearing the way of anything she might encounter that would be hard. As a kiddo who is likely to experience hardship in some areas, I’ve just assumed that she would and I’ve tried to parent defensively for things that may or may not ever occur. I’ve become a master at anticipating her needs before she even has them. And I find myself trying to live out of a reality that hasn’t even happened (and most likely won’t!). It has affected my relat

325 Gigabytes

325 Gigabytes That's how many pictures we have on our hard drive. Today, I am sorting through photos. I double-click on the hard drive to open it, then “Miller backup,” then “pictures.” I find the list of around 100 folders, each named by month and year. I begin to compile them into new folders in five-year increments. Photos from a musical I was in in 2007? How can that be 13 years ago? And our trip to Taiwan to adopt our daughter? Almost 9 years ago. As I move the most recent photos from my phone into their “September 2020” folder, I stop for a second, sad when I realize that September is over. I’ll never add another memory to that folder. In the blink of an eye, I’ll be looking back on September 2020 from somewhere down the line. I’ve always been the photo/video taker in our family. At times, it’s become a distraction from being in the moment. I want so badly to hold on to whatever we’re doing, that I’m determined to capture it, even if it means missing out on some of the ‘l

46 years, 364 days

 Tomorrow, I will turn 47. That means that today, I’ve been in this world for 17,154 days. That’s a long time to have already lived. I was telling Justin this morning that in the past, on the day before my birthday, I usually would think about the things I haven’t done: The changes unmade, the pounds undropped, the relationships unforged. I’ve always been pretty hard on myself. I expect a lot of myself, but I also see (glaringly) where I fall short of my own unrealistic expectations. But finally, gently, year by year, grace is breaking through. The same grace I try to extend to others in my life is beginning to take root in my daily existence. I could sit here tonight and write about all that I’m not, all that I haven’t accomplished, and all that I don’t do. But as I scoot closer to 50 than to 40, I’ve decided that I’m going to celebrate. I’m going to celebrate the moments, the people, the real, the grit, the pain, and the soul-deep JOY that life is. There’s something sobering about re

What I learned from the Grinch during Advent 2019

Everybody knows about the Grinch who Stole Christmas. It’s a classic. I remember hearing it when I was a kid, then reading it when I was older, now reading it every year to my daughter. It’s terrible what the Grinch does, right? He doesn’t like Christmas. That in itself is a little strange to me because I’ve always loved the season. But I know not everyone does, so the sentiment is not too hard to imagine. But he doesn’t just not like it…he hates it…the noise, the presents, the decorations, the singing, the food. Wait, what? He doesn’t even like the feasting that happens at Christmas! It’s just all too much for him, presumably because he has no one with which to share it. So what’s his plan? He decides to steal Christmas. Um? How does one steal a holiday? “I must find some way to stop Christmas from coming,” he says, in his grinchy voice. And inside, we all chuckle, knowing that no one can literally stop Christmas from coming. So, with the reluctant help of his dog Max (who i