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This is a guest post written by my younger sister, Tiffany, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. I recently invited Tiffany to be a regular contributor on this blog. Once a month, she’ll document a single day in her life. The purpose of these posts is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with a mental illness. I’m also hoping the posts will help readers recognize that we all have hopes, dreams, challenges and mountains to climb regardless of our mental health status. Without further ado, here’s Tiffany.

“Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.” – Martin Luther

I feel that in order to connect to our true self, we must connect in mind, body and soul. This particular day, I wanted to connect on all levels, but I was not sure how to achieve that goal. The day seemed to play out on its own.

I was having intense cravings. What is this feeling I am experiencing? I have not felt this for a while. I needed something, but I was not sure what it was. I thought about the possibility of attending an AA/NA meeting. I should be talking about these feelings so I don’t have a major relapse. I needed to relieve the cravings, so I took a drive around town with the kids. We take drives often. We stopped a few places before returning home.

Relief was in sight. My friend Emily called. She was headed my way from a nearby town. She came over, and I explained to her the feelings I was experiencing. We discussed how great it would be to go out for a few hours, just the two of us. After all, as Emily says, social time is important.

How to make an outing happen?

I called two neighbor teenagers who had previously told me they enjoyed babysitting. They were available for the night, so they came over for babysitting duty. I gave them each a ten dollar bill and a five to split. I bought them some snacks and told them I’d be gone no longer than three hours.

Now, what are Emily and I going to do?

I looked online and noticed that my friend, Seth Doud, was performing in town. Seth feels that his soul is exposed when he is performing. I have always felt a great connection to Seth’s music. What a great opportunity to go hear him play!

Seth was standing by an outdoor fire pit when Emily and I arrived at the venue. “Yay, I thought. I get to talk to Seth.” I introduced him to Emily, and they talked about the extravagant outdoor furniture. Seth went inside to set up. Emily and I proceeded to stand by the fire. I was messing around on my phone when a guy approached us. We were both getting anxious, so we started a completely fake conversation. The guy proceeded to raise his voice and said, “I’m sorry for interrupting your secret talk. I’m just out here for a smoke.” Emily attempted to mend the awkwardness by talking to him. I laughed to myself about the moment because I’d never had something like that happen before.

We went inside to get a Red Bull and soda. Loud noises and people make me extremely anxious. Emily and some casual conversations seemed to ease my mind. Then Seth, my musician friend, walked by and smiled. His smile made me feel good, as it always does. When is the music going to start, I thought to myself?

I found a place at an empty table behind a wall. Perfect!!! I wanted to hear the music, but not watch. I felt as though the girl across the way was analyzing me. Seth started to play. His music spoke to me. My soul felt better at that moment.

Seth’s first set was done. He walked outside. I followed to say goodbye. He informed us that he had broken his G-string and needed to fix it. He invited us to hang with him for a few minutes. I asked him for directions home, and he invited us back in.

As he played his second set, many emotions filtered through my body. Silent tears started to flow out of my eyes. I adjusted appropriately. We left as Seth was playing Purple Rain. I often leave at that point. I named my daughter, Raegan Rain, after that song. What a great way to say goodbye.

Sometimes we need a little something to fill our mind, body and soul cravings. What a great outing. It helped me to find a comfort zone. Thanks, Seth!

Thanks for reading. I look forward to highlighting another day in June!


A couple weeks ago, I shared that I’ve begun the lengthy process of cleaning out and cleaning up our entire house, top to bottom. One of you asked if I would please continue to share updates as I moved through the house. So here I am. In the kitchen today.

When I shared the last blog post about clutter, one of the areas I’d recently cleaned out was the kitchen island. It seemed like a small thing at the time. After all, the island only accounts for a tiny piece of our kitchen. (And just to be clear, the island doesn’t look much different than it did before the clean out. But hey, I know it’s been done and I feel better, so doesn’t that count for something?)

At any rate, I knew today was going to be another clean out day. I didn’t have anything planned outside of the house until early evening, so I had time to dedicate to a big project. It was time to get back to the kitchen.

I began on the far side of the kitchen, the side closest to the living room. I figured that way, it would be easiest to keep track of where I’d been, as well as where I’d left off for the next round of cleaning out and cleaning up. That brought me to the refrigerator and cupboard above it.

I started up top with the dusty cabinet near the ceiling. I wiped the cupboard door fronts well, and was quite surprised at how dirty they were. Then I opened them to discover all the things that are way up high, on top of our fridge, for good reason. Bottles of alcohol. A swath of glass vases. Random things we very rarely use, including an ice cream maker, an old-fashioned coffee pot, the turkey roaster, and a leather wine pouch for all the romantic opportunities we have to picnic together with wine.

I found an old bottle of alcohol in the back that had never been opened. Did my husband even realize it was there? I moved it to the front.

I combined two bottles of Two Gingers Irish Whiskey, a task I asked my husband to do last weekend when the screw top on one of the bottles was stripped. He told me we didn’t have another bottle of Two Gingers. Today, I was glad to discover we did have two bottles. I married the two and promptly recycled the stripped bottle.

I considered getting rid of the leather wine pouch, but decided who knows, maybe someday we’ll have another opportunity to picnic in the park with wine.

Then came the inevitable. All those glass vases. There was one big, butt ugly golden vase that had to go. No doubt about that. I wasn’t even sure why I kept it all this time anyway. Then all the others. I’m not even kidding you, we had about 25 glass vases. I inspected them all. I looked at all the different styles. I imagined how I’d pair them beautifully on tables when we hosted holiday meals. I imagined how I might need them someday if I host a fundraiser and want to line tables with flower vases. I imagined summertime, where I’d bring in beauties from the garden and arrange them in Mason-style vases. Sure. It was possible that any of those imaginings could and would be realities. But how many glass vases do we really need? How many pairings of vases can we actually use for our little family of five?

So I got rid of several vases. The ugly gold one had to go, of course. After that, it was just pick one, pick another, pick another, and so on. For the most part, I realized I really didn’t care. Vases are vases. There was nothing particularly spectacular about any of them.

I washed them up so I would feel better about donating them to the thrift store. (They were quite dusty, after all.) Then I got out a box and started loading everything in.

That led me to realize that I needed to just go ahead and fill up that box with as much stuff as I could. It was all going to the thrift store. Today. I was determined to fill that box as quickly as I could. So I moved a few cupboards over to the massive space I was so excited about when we moved into the house. The massive cupboard space that’s now full for the most part, full of a lot of stuff we don’t use that much. Within minutes, I cleaned out several water bottles that I hate to use or wash, some random glasses, four or five cheap plastic kids placemats, and other random junk. Okay, junk isn’t the best description at all. It was actually good stuff, decent stuff. I just didn’t have any attachment to it. I didn’t see any reason to keep any of it. In one swoop, I’d filled an entire box.

When the box was filled, I took this picture and just stared at all the items that filled it.

I didn’t care about one single thing in that box. Not one single thing. It meant nothing to me. Nothing was useful to me. Nothing was beautiful to me. Nothing was sentimental to me. Nothing.

I wondered. Why do we keep things we don’t need? What is the benefit? What is the point of having things around that we don’t need OR use? All these excess things do is clutter our minds, our hearts, our souls to the point where we can’t breathe anymore, to the point where we can’t think anymore, to the point where we can’t just BE anymore.

I’ve had enough.

Getting rid of the box of junk (a.k.a. good stuff, just fine stuff) I never use.

There’s no use keeping stuff I don’t need.

There’s no use keeping stuff I don’t use.

It’s cluttered my life long enough.

Good bye.

I promptly plopped the box in the front seat of my SUV, loaded my baby girl in her car seat, and told her we were going to the thrift store. When we got there, I picked up the box, walked in briskly, sat the box down on the donations table, walked towards my car, and didn’t look back one second.

Good bye.

Good riddance.

There’s no use keeping stuff I don’t need.







I’m pretty sure I’m in the midst of a major life transition. Call it a mid-life crisis if you wish. I prefer to call it a mid-life awakening.

Questions accompany awakenings. Big questions. Deep questions. Important questions. Hard questions.

If we want to change course, if we want to turn our back to old ways and pursue new ways, if we want to trust that what’s ahead of us is better than what’s behind us, we must ask the big, deep, important and hard questions of life.

I’m not an advocate of excessive complaining, lamenting and questioning, but I do believe that no matter how optimistic we are, no matter how upbeat we are, no matter how faith-filled we are, no matter how great our life may be, real life still happens. It’s undeniable, right?

We wonder. We ask. We want to know.

Why? What? Where?

When? How? Who?

So I’m asking the hard questions today. Because I want to. Because I need to. Because maybe you’re asking them too. Because maybe we need sit in the questions, be humbled, and realize we’re not God. We don’t know everything. We can’t fix everything. We don’t understand everything. We’re human, after all.

So let’s get to it.

I’m asking all the hard questions.

I’m just asking…

What is the point, God?

Why is there winter?

Why is it so cold sometimes I can barely breathe?

Why do people starve to death?

Why is there such disparity between the poor and the wealthy?

Why are children the victims of sexual assault?

Why do people have to suffer with autism, dementia, Alzheimers, severe cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness, severe mental illness and the like?

Why do people lie lifeless in comas?

Why do people live lifeless lives of oblivion?

Why do young men and women pass away long before their time?

Why do babies get life-threatening diseases? Why should a baby ever suffer to the point of death? What is the point, God?

Why do we love money so much?

Why don’t we want to help each other more?

Why are we so self-centered?

Why do we fight so much?

Why do we worry about stupid, pointless things?

Why do women think so little of themselves that they prostitute themselves?

Why in the world do people think it’s okay to expose themselves repeatedly to pornography?

Why in the world do they think that is sexy?

Why are near-naked women on magazine covers so often, but not nearly as many near-naked men?

Why are marriages going down the tubes?

Why do kids say mean things to each other?

Why don’t we have more friends?

Why do we live so isolated?

Why do we think bigger is better?

Why do we clutter our homes with stuff, stuff and more stuff?

Why do elderly have to revert to wearing Depends at the end of a good, long life?

Why don’t we value the elderly more in our culture?

Why are innocent people being beheaded?

Why do people talk behind each others’ backs?

Why don’t we love each other more?

Why are we scared of other people?

Why are we scared of being intimate with others?

Why do we so desperately long for more of everything and anything?

Why is there a void?


Why are we hurting?

Why are we totally disconnected from reality?

Why do we continue to think we’ll magically discover healing and transforming words, photographs, and videos on Facebook?

Why do people overanalyze what others say on Facebook all the time?

Why do we only want to hear the good stuff, the fun stuff, the light-hearted stuff?

Why don’t we talk about hard stuff more?

Why do we blame one another for stupid stuff?

Why can’t we all just get along?

Why are we arguing about the definition of marriage?

Why has it been nearly four months since I’ve gone on a date with my husband?

Why does work have to be so stressful?

Why does unpaid work NOT count for anything in our culture?

Why do I have 10 awesome dresses in my closet and nowhere to wear them?

Why did I get coerced into buying a belt that I’ve never worn?

Why can’t we seem to dig out of our messes?

Why did my neighbors have to get divorced and move?

Why have I seemed to have lost complete touch with an old friend?

Why aren’t woman supporting each other more?

Why does helping have to hurt?

Why are there smiling faces of children living in extreme poverty on my cupboard door?

Why does life have to be so hard that a senior’s daddy can’t attend her high school graduation party?

Why do people lie in bed all day?

Why do people hide away in their houses?

Why are people afraid of everything?

Why is extroversion so highly valued in our culture?

Why can’t our kids go outside and play without us being worried all the time?

Why do the experts make us feel guilty, as if we’re doing something wrong as parents all the time?

Why are stay at home moms undervalued?

Why did the mommy wars start in the first place?

Why do we have to “do it all?”

Why do I own several table books and never look at any of them?

Why do our kids need so many toys?

Why do our kids need toys at all?

Why do some kids go without any toys at all?


Why do we fight about stupid stuff?

Why do some people get pregnant like that, while others can’t get pregnant at all?

Why are there orphans?

Why do children have to live through trauma?

Why do we meet and love people, and then never see them again?

Why do people play games with our minds?

Why don’t people believe in God?

Why does church have to be so political sometimes?

Why do we allow kids sporting tournaments to run on Sundays?

Why do kids have to specialize in a sport by 4th, 5th or 6th grade?

Why do we have to label people?

Why can’t we all just recognize that we have different personalities?

Why wasn’t I there the day a friend had an abortion?

Why wasn’t I there when friends were going through divorces?

Why do people have affairs?

Why do people look for happiness in complete strangers?

Why don’t people just commit and get married after 10 years of dating?

Why don’t we see extended family more often?

Why don’t we take care of ourselves?

Why does life have to be so fast-paced?

Why are we jealous of one another?

Why don’t we support each other more in our passions and pursuits?

Why do we keep our dreams to ourselves?

Why don’t I have lunch with you more often?

Why did we fall away from one another?

Why does it cost so much for competitive kids’ dance?

Why do I have a huge house and others don’t have one at all?

Why do I feel guilty when I buy regular eggs, milk, meat and produce instead of organic?

Why does everything have to be evil?

Why does everything seem to require money?

Why is life so complicated?

Why do we live so isolated?

Why are we confused?

Why are we lonely?

Why are we stressed?

Why does life feel like it’s always in some sort of disarray?


Why don’t we have more peace?

Why don’t we have more faith?

Why don’t we share more love?

Why don’t we care more deeply?

Why don’t we invite each other in?

Why don’t we connect?

Why compare?

Why don’t we just ask for help?

Why don’t we just ask for what we need?

Why don’t we just ask for a minute to breathe, for a minute to catch up to this crazy life?

Why don’t we just gather?

Why don’t we just sit in community and ponder all the questions?







And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”  John 14:16-20



“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:25-27


Let’s just say I was convicted. Right there in Walmart. First in the Easter aisle, then later in the toy aisle.

It was Saturday, March 7th. Our two oldest were busy with out-of-the-house activities. Our youngest had just gone down for nap. My husband decided to nap as well. He was exhausted from his first full week back at work. That left me with a rare opportunity to get out of the house by myself.

I thought a trip to Walmart might be a good idea. (Okay, Walmart’s never a great idea. But I remember thinking at some point in the past that they had the most options for Easter candy, so I figured I’d give it a whirl.)

There I was. In Walmart. Shopping nearly a month early for Easter basket stuffers. Yes, these are the fun and crazy things I do when I get out of the house by myself.

I went down the Easter candy aisle first. I picked up three York peppermint bunnies, three Hershey’s chocolate crosses, and jelly beans for our kids. For the most part, it was a benign experience.

As I crossed the store to check out the rest of the Easter merchandise, I received a Facebook message. I’d conversed with two people on Facebook messages earlier that afternoon, but wouldn’t have guessed the conversation would resume so soon.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. The conversation was important. God was in the middle of performing a miracle, and for some reason, He was letting me in on it, as it was unfolding. I had a sneaking suspicion awesome things were going to happen that day, and I assumed all of it was going to happen without my direct involvement. But as I responded to the messages, I realized God created space for me, a quiet role for me. My job? To use my words, at that very specific moment in time, to encourage one person to do what they needed to do. One person revealed their basic, but significant need to me. One person revealed their doubt that the need could be met. All I needed to do was provide encouragement to GO, and assurance that YES, God would provide. (God did meet the need, by the way, and a whole lot more.) 

The gravity of the moment washed over me.

The Spirit of truth moved in my soul – right there in the Walmart Easter aisle.

I was paralyzed.

Literally paralyzed.

In another world.

The rest of Walmart was moving faster than me.

In-between the sending and receiving of Facebook messages, I stood still, leaned carefully against my nearly empty cart, and stared blankly at stuffed chicks, bunny plates and big bottles of bubbles.

In those moments of paralysis, I had a revelation as clear as day.

Easter has nothing to do with chicks, bunnies and bubbles. Absolutely nothing. Sure, they’re cute and fun and lovely for the kids and Easter baskets. But they have nothing to do with the true meaning of Easter.

Easter is about a great big God who loves us much and knows us so intimately that He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth. As a babe. So He could step in skin and live a human existence. So He could know our pain, our burdens, our every need. So He could share His wisdom, demonstrate His power, and reveal pure hope found only through Him. Then this fully-God fully-man, Jesus, died. His death was brutal. On the cross. For us. With us. Because of us. He promised, “It is finished.” In three days, He rose. So we might be saved. So we might live. So our ugly sins would be forgiven. So His power could be revealed through us. And then, yes then, He sent this Advocate, this Holy Spirit, this Spirit of truth. Because He wanted a way to teach us all the things, a way to remind us of all the things. God wanted a way to work through us, in us, and for us. As we live, work and breathe here…on earth.

It sounds crazy, I know. It really does sound crazy.

But here’s what I want you to know…

Over the course of the past 10-15 years, event after event has taught me to believe that this God story, this Jesus story, this Holy Spirit story? It has to be true. It must be true. I believe it’s true.

I’m not good at history. I’m not great at theology. I’m not good at “proving” anything beyond a doubt. But I am good at telling real-life experiences. I can tell you, without a doubt, that I’ve had enough real-life experiences to convince me that this Christianity MUST be true. It makes complete sense within the context of so many things that have happened in my life. It has proved itself time and time again.

So what about that miraculous, paralyzing event that happened in the Walmart Easter aisle one month ago? I know you don’t know the details of that story, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s more proof of God’s existence. Proof He wants to work for us, in us, and through us. Proof He’ll go to any lengths He chooses to demonstrate His power and love for us. But in order to experience the fullness of life He desires for us, we must be receptive to His prompting, His calling, His leading. Every. single. day.

I could have turned off my phone that afternoon.

I could have ignored the ding when the Facebook message came in.

I could have thought “Forget it. I’m busy. I’m shopping right now. I really need this time alone to focus and get this job done.” And left it at that.

I could have responded with a quick “Hey, I’m busy right now. Can we chat later?”

I could have shut down the conversation days prior. Then there wouldn’t have been any of that crazy talk in the first place.

I could have attributed any part of the conversation to random circumstance.

I could have responded any which way. And it would have been just fine, had I not believed.

But I wouldn’t have experienced God’s power. I wouldn’t have experienced the strong presence of His Spirit working in me and through me. I wouldn’t have understood what a miracle looks like and sounds like – on the ground – in real time. I wouldn’t have been there to provide encouragement when it was needed. I wouldn’t have recognized the great lengths to which God is willing to pursue us, love us, and develop intimacy with us. So we’ll believe, trust, love and hope. In Him.




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