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It’s summer. Day one.

Hubs last words before heading out to work this morning were “have a great vacation!”


Our oldest was offered a ride to his first day of basketball, then a ride to his first day of junior golf league.

The girls and I headed out for a morning of activities. First, the gym. Let’s be real. The gym membership hasn’t worked for me for the past two summers. I barely went at all, and by the end of both summers, I told myself I’d never do that again, that I’d put my membership on hold for summer because it was a complete waste of money. But this summer, I decided I’d add our oldest daughter and give that a whirl. She’s way too old for the child care center, but exercise is one of my lifelines. I need to workout for my sanity. So today was day one at the gym. The oldest already mentioned a bit of boredom, but we’re going as long as she can stand it. Or mama’s gunna be a crabby vacationer. After the gym, we hit the post office, which was followed by a quick lunch at Taco Bell, which was followed by a stop at the pediatrician’s office to drop off health forms that need to be signed for my daughter’s upcoming church camp. Next was a call to the music store to verify that her trumpet, stand and lesson book would be delivered to school in time for tomorrow’s first band lesson. They weren’t sure. They looked it up and nothing was showing up in the system. Daughter tells me the mass delivery was already made last Thursday, that all of her friends already have their horns. I’m not sure whether to believe her or the representative I talked to at the store mid-last week. We shall wait for the return call to confirm either way. We drove to Target. I didn’t want to make another stop, but truth is, we had enough toilet paper for two more trips to the bathroom, so that Target stop was a do or die. And yeah, we picked up some bug spray for “natural protection” at camp. After all that, we drove home and dear daughter literally jumped out of the car to go visit neighbor friends the second we pulled in the driveway.

The three year old fell asleep on the way home. I’d promised her a regular pre-nap episode of Sofia the First, but since she’d fallen asleep, my goal was to get her in the house as quietly as possible and straight upstairs for nap. She hadn’t used the bathroom in three hours, so I had to wake her enough for a fight to go “potty” on the toilet before nap time.

Oldest daughter was gone visiting friends.

Son was still gone at golf.

The three year old was “napping.”

So I broke out my computer to start a blog post. I knew I didn’t have much time at all. An hour of quiet at best.

Then she came down. “I want some oranges. Can you get me some oranges? I want lemonade.” “We already ate,” I said! “Remember we ate at Taco Bell?” So much for the argument. She kept asking. I couldn’t deny oranges. And I wanted to ensure a full tummy for sleep. So she won. I broke out an orange and asked her to sit down and eat it. “After you eat the orange, it’s time for nap,” I reminded her. “When you wake up from nap, you can play outside with friends!”

Back upstairs.

Back to “nap.”

Back downstairs to my laptop. Uploaded a few pictures, started a post I’ll no longer write. Heard the three year old walking around upstairs.

Back upstairs.

There she was. Up and about.

“I want some lemonade,” she exclaimed.

I put her back in bed and got her a glass of water.

She refused it. “I want lemonade!” she exclaimed.

“We’re not having lemonade now. We’re having water now. You can have lemonade after nap,” I responded calmly.

I left her on her bed, doubtful of a nap ever happening at this point.

Within a minute, our oldest daughter came in the door with her neighbor friend. They needed my help with their box house outside. I pressed save on my blog post. I’d only uploaded three pictures at that point. Not even close to approximating the dream or vision I had for that post. I helped them in their play box, closed the cardboard door, and reminded them to open the “windows” and not stay in it too long. “It’s hot today, and I want to make sure you don’t overheat.”

Back inside.

Back to the computer for a minute. Maybe less. I don’t think I got anywhere on that post.

Girls came back inside, went upstairs, then came back downstairs. “Guess what?” said dear daughter. “What?” I said. “Maisie’s awake upstairs! She’s playing in her room,” exclaimed my oldest daughter. She and her friend giggled. Apparently, they thought it was cool, funny. They asked WHY she wasn’t sleeping. “She knows there’s a whole lotta fun stuff going on around here today, I guess.”

The girls went back upstairs and began entertaining the three year old. They’re up there still. Talking and playing. Doors shutting and opening again. “Come on sweets, come on Maisie.” I imagine they’re going to do her hair now. I’ll go check in just a few.


I surrender the beautiful blog post I was writing. Not going to happen today. I surrender the thoughts of all the blog titles and posts I’ve been drafting and dreaming up in my head the last week of school and moving into this first week of summer. Posts on friendship and community, fighting for our God-sized dreams, our identities when all the external stuff is stripped away, a commemorative post marking my niece’s 5th birthday and all the trauma that led up to her birth, a post where I ask you what God’s working out in your life right now. I think about the writing group I’ll have to miss (again) this week, for the 3rd time in a row, because the hubs has work activities and I have an out-of-town baseball game for our son. I think about this season, how it seems I’m supposed to be here, surrendering the dreams, surrendering the visions I have for myself, for the NOW, the here and NOW. For the kids while they’re little. While they’re here. While they’re still playing and dressing up and going to golf and basketball and trumpet lessons and singing Sofia the First cartoon songs. While they still want me to come with them to the park.

I feel guilty for dreaming something for myself. It’s a tearing of myself in two.

I surrender the beautiful blog post for a simple one I can type as fast as my fingers will write in the in-between kid moments.

They’re downstairs now. The three year old came down in the blue “bow dress” my older daughter wore to her dance recital in preschool. The “baby” is nearly that same age now. The bow dress fits perfectly and is her favorite. “It’s time for memories,” the older girls prompted her as she came downstairs to show me her loveliness. “It sure is,” I said as I gave her a big hug.

They’re here now. In the room next to me, trying to determine what to do next. It’s loud in here. They’re playing kazoo. My fingers are flying, determined to get anything out on this page.

It’s a balancing act.

And I’m not perfect at it at all.

This isn’t vacation. This is a season.

A season of surrender. To what is. To the now. To living for today. To enjoying and finding peace where God has me.

Yes, they are small. This is their vacation. My words will wait. A different kind of beauty is waiting. She’s tapping me now. “Can I go outside with the girls?” Then, “Guys, guys let’s go outside. Come!”




When life is overwhelming…

When you can’t get out of your funk….

When all you can think of is heavy, deep and real…

When you’ve been disappointed…

When your dreams have been dashed…

When everyone seems happier and more peaceful than you…

When you can’t remember the last time you laughed hard…

When adults act like kids…

When kids act like babies…

When people are just annoying…

When you’re tired of drama…

When you have no clue how to answer the problems of the day…

When winter lingers longer than it should…

When you’re tired of seeing brown…

When you need sunshine, blue skies and a gentle, warm breeze…

When the to-do list never ends…

When the house looks like you never lifted a finger…

When there’s junk all over the kitchen floor and you just vacuumed it yesterday…

When you need some time alone…

When you need some time away…

When you need community too…

When you need someone to sit with you for hours and know it all…

When you want to fly away, zone out, drift off to a place where everyone just gets it…

When you need more time to do what you love…

When you wonder if you’re on the right path…

When life feels like a big question mark…

When all else fails…blow bubbles.













It’s been five weeks and one day since the doctors told my husband he has eye cancer. A lot has happened in one short month. In fact, I told you Wednesday that I wanted a do-over.

Let me do this month all over again.

Let me try again, God.

Can’t we get it right this time?

But time machines don’t exist. We can’t press rewind on life. We can’t go back and change the course of history. And we can’t deny or shame God for what He’s allowed. There isn’t a simple magical formula for going back and erasing all the things we’d rather not have experienced in life.

But we can embrace the mystery. We can trust, hope and believe that good can and will come from anything. We can relive moments and see beauty in all things. We can choose to live what we love, and love what we live.

I’ve learned so much about love on this journey through eye cancer.



Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and my husband’s still upstairs in bed resting from last week’s radiation and hospitalization. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and he still has to wear an eye patch and shield whenever he sleeps (which is still most of the time). Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and my husband won’t be able to pick up our baby girl and spin her around because she’s too much weight for the stitches in his eye. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and we won’t know if the tumor is shrinking until June. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and we won’t be celebrating with flowers, romantic rendezvous, sexy lingerie or 50 Shades of Grey.

Yes, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. We’ll enjoy a special meal out…as family. We’ll send the kids away…to their bedrooms. And we’ll hunker down quiet…on the couch. My husband with his eye patch, and me with my fleece pajamas and fuzzy socks. We’ll watch some romantic flick I chose from Redbox, and if we’re lucky, we’ll enjoy a glass of wine or champagne before we fall asleep all too early.

When we wake up the next morning, when we transition into the next two weeks of my husband working from home, we’ll remember the love we’ve shared and the love we’ve been shown. And we’ll know, more than ever, what true love is.


Love is patient.

Love is sitting for hours on end in waiting rooms and hospital rooms. Love is remaining silent while you watch a loved one come out of anesthesia. Love is caring for kids when a loved one simply can’t. Love is holding and lifting, getting wet and washing hair day after day when nothing about you says stylist. Love is understanding sleep patterns that never seem to end. Love is listening and forgiving when a loved one shouts out of fatigue for the poverty, sickness and misunderstood dreams of this world.

Love is kind.

Love is delivering a meal to someone you’ve met two times. Love is leaving a gift and words of encouragement for someone you barely know. Love is gracing someone with your presence, caring for someone with a knock at the door. Love is a hug, a look, a call, a text expecting nothing in return.


It does not envy.

Love is being glad when your loved one’s lavished on. Love is resting confidently when your loved one’s receiving more meals, more gifts, more paid time off, and more attention than you. Love is chilling out when your loved one’s getting a lot more sleep than you. Love is extending grace to yourself when your sick spouse is funnier and wittier than you are.

It does not boast, it is not proud.

Love is remaining humble at all times. Love is bowing down to meet the needs of others. Love is remembering that you, too, will need care someday. Love is knowing that anything could happen in an instant. Love is recognizing that healing, restoration and reconciliation is not up to us, but God.

It does not dishonor others.

Love considers whether a picture would be appropriate to share on Facebook or not. Love does dishes. Love changes eye patches and dirty sheets. Love acts without recognition. Love keeps things private when it would be easier to shout out wrong-doings to the world. Love behaves bravely, boldly and beautifully.


It is not self-seeking.

Love is staying home when you’d rather go out. Love is forgoing your night to make dinner for someone who really needs it. Love is going out of your way to buy someone a piece of cake. Love is allowing him to nap while you do everything else. Love is waiting in quiet spaces while you’d rather be moving right along with your own agenda. Love is laughing when you’d rather cry.

It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love gives. Love forgives when it’s really hard. Love remembers, but moves on anyway. Love sends emails, texts, messages and cards. Love expects nothing in return. Love graces those who don’t respond they way we’d like. Love never presumes or assumes. Love waits.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Love is brutally honest. “You need to get out of bed now.” “You have no idea what you’re doing.” “You need to take care of yourself.” Love goes above and beyond. “You’re brave.” Love is wise. “You’re going to make it through this.” And love rejoices long before it’s justified. “You will celebrate.” “Spoiler alert: the tumor is shrinking.”


It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love keeps on keeping on, even when it wants to give up. Love presses into hard things, ugly things, unseen things. Love delights in beautiful small things. And love knows it’s never easy, but always worth it.

Love never fails.

Love keeps the end game in mind. Love is a legacy. Love is faith with skin. Love travels and draws near in all things, at all times.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.




The evening was beautiful, lovely and inspiring. Singer, songwriter and new Christian recording artist, Jessica Joy, performed her CD release concert. Perhaps the lyrics to one of Jessica’s original songs, Daughter of Mine, along with photographs from the concert, will tell the story best.

“As I wait in the quiet, Lord I long for your presence.

I know you’re here, singing over me with the sweetest melody.”



“Singing daughter of mine, I’ll never let you go.

 Hold on tight, it won’t be an easy road.

But do you know how beautiful you are and the way you move my heart.

Daughter of mine, you are mine.”



“I’m amazed at your ways God, how you bought me with your precious blood.

I can call you Abba Father. You’re so unlike any other.”




“Singing daughter of mine, I’ll never let you go.

 Hold on tight, it won’t be an easy road.

But do you know how beautiful you are and the way you move my heart.

Daughter of mine, you are mine.”



“You are a pearl of great price and your hands do the work of Christ.

Your laugh makes me smile, cause you are my beautiful child.”




“Singing daughter of mine, I’ll never let you go.

 Hold on tight, it won’t be an easy road.

But do you know how beautiful you are and the way you move my heart.

Daughter of mine, you are mine.”




This is the last of a three-post series featuring singer, songwriter, and new Christian recording artist, Jessica Joy. Two weeks ago, we looked back and dug deep into the call on Jessica’s life to become a singer and songwriter. One week ago, I shared my experience with Jessica Joy in the recording studio. And today, it’s an honor and delight to share photographs from Jessica’s CD release concert. Learn more about Jessica Joy and purchase her new CD, Nothing Wasted, at  She’d love to connect with you on FacebookInstagram and Twitter! 



It wasn’t the first time I’d gone through his drive-thru window at McDonald’s.

I knew it wasn’t my first time because of his voice. It was unforgettable.

So when I drove through that window, having recognized “that voice” and “that personality” that captures your attention in an instant, I knew I needed to speak to this man. I needed to know more about him. Because he seemed to love his life. At least, he seemed to love his job. Or maybe he just did a great job making the best of his job.

I told Reno I’d love to contact his supervisor and asked if we could meet someday during his lunch break. I handed him my blog business card through the drive-thru window and promised I’d be in touch.

One week later, we sat down for 20 minutes together during Reno’s lunch break at McDonald’s.

I asked him what made him tick, what made him love his work. Because I’d heard the kindness and the depth of his soul through his voice. I’d seen the fire inside him come straight through that drive-thru window. And it was a beautiful, beautiful fire, like this man is ready to light the world on fire, kind of fire.

That’s when Reno told me. “I beat the odds in my life.”

In 2000, he experienced a house fire. He was 21 years old when that happened. And since then, he’s had a better perspective on life.

Prior to the house fire, he had a job at the YWCA as a child care provider. At that time, he felt the purpose of his life was to provide motivation and direction for younger children who desperately needed it.

After the house fire, he got a job at McDonalds working in the drive-thru.

One day when Reno was working in the drive-thru, a man came through. He’d been through before and had engaged with Reno on several occasions. On this particular day, the man approached Reno with an unexpected offer. “How do you feel about making more money than McDonald’s?” He had lost an employee at his metal finishing business, and was looking for a replacement. He wanted Reno on his team. Reno felt blessed to have been offered this great opportunity, which would also provide him more money than his work at the McDonald’s drive-thru.

So Reno left McDonald’s. And he began working in metal finishing – stripping metal, coating metal, and using a fork lift to transport it here and there. McDonald’s, in the meantime, realized the value Reno added to their business, so they asked him to come back. Now Reno keeps two jobs, one shift at McDonald’s, and another shift at the metal finishing business.

He’s busy “working on bettering himself” and “focusing on responsibilities” and his “well being.” He has five children to provide for – a 6 month old, 7 year old, 12 year old, 14 year old, and 17 year old. He takes his life and responsibilities seriously. I can tell.

Reno shared that he “talks to the man upstairs” and prays “morning, night, anytime.” He feels like he “has a direct connection.” It’s “like HD (high definition),” he says.

Reno’s communication with “the man upstairs” clearly translates to the McDonald’s drive-thru window. Heck, that’s what captured my attention when I came through his window. His voice is incredible, phenomenal, memorable by anyone’s standards. And his personality, just awesome, lovely, delightful. He’s a warm, gentle soul. A man you’d be blessed to engage with any day.

So I wanted to know – what motivates Reno, what keeps him so upbeat in the McDonald’s drive-thru, what’s the philosophy he’s operating under so we can all learn from this man?

Here’s what he said.

Reno is intentional about communicating well with the customers that come through the drive-thru window. He never knows what kind of day they’ve been having, so his goal is to “keep a positive beat.” Even if customers are not responsive, he tries to be “kind and grateful.”

Reno says “I’m kind of like the Dr. Phil of the drive-thru.”

People will change McDonald’s and become “regulars” just because they want to engage with Reno regularly.

I can totally see why people would rearrange their routes to have an opportunity to engage with Reno more regularly. And I can totally see why he’s the “Dr. Phil of the drive-thru.” Because he is. He truly is.

Our conversation was lovely and delightful and I loved every bit of who Reno was, who Reno is. But I had one more question to ask before we parted ways.

I wanted to know what Reno’s ultimate dreams were for his life. I had a hunch those dreams might have something to do with his voice, and I was right. He knew right away – he’d do voiceovers, be a radio DJ, or a motivational speaker.

And with that, I got goose bumps all over. Within seconds, he got goose bumps all over, too. We showed each other our holy goosebumps.

Perhaps we were on to something. Perhaps “the man upstairs” was trying to tell us something that day. Perhaps Reno was made to do voiceovers or become a radio DJ. Or perhaps, just perhaps, he was made to be a motivational speaker.

(Reno, this next part is just for you.)

Perhaps you’ll become a motivational speaker. Perhaps we crossed paths for a reason. Perhaps I’ll see you speak on stage someday. That would be awesome. And if not, I’m confident that you’re motivating people already through that drive-thru. Motivating people to be kind, motivating people to be grateful, motivating people to love, motivating people to live, motivating people to live this day a little differently than they had prior to coming through your line.

So motivate on, Reno. I’m 100% behind you. You are the awesomest.

I do believe your call is to motivate, to love on people with your voice, with who you are.

So motivate on, Reno.

Motivate on.




  1. Linda Johnson says:

    How awesome to not only sense this about Reno but to follow through and have mutual thoughts on letting your light shine wherever you are! Which McDonald’s does Reno work at? I’d love for him to meet my Brandon! (Kinda think they’d have a few similar things to discuss. 🙂 )

  2. Janaya Hopkins says:

    Reno I am proud of you and not only do you touch customers lives but our daughters lives and our family.I have seen you through some of life challeges and you still stayed motivated and determined.:-) You have come along way and your goals still in fast progress.To witness who you are and life experiences with you,you are strong willed and never let life keep you from pushing forward.You continue to be fine and grateful your favorite saying. I will continue to be apart of someone special to my heart :-). Congratulations on being you!

  3. Amy, oh, wow, girl–why have I been away so long? This is so beautiful–so Jesus. Just all of it. I will be thinking about Reno for a long time now. Thank you. I’m so grateful for your heart and how you listen and how you love!

    • Amy says:

      Thank you, Jennifer. You are just the sweetest. Praying for the day we’ll meet. And I’m going to love you even more than I already do.

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