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Every life has a purpose. Every person
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The call to write, not just for myself, but for others, began in 2003.

Let’s just say I was a little slow to listen.

Yep. I’m admitting it here. Now.

I was a little slow to listen.

Okay. Maybe I was really slow to listen?

I witnessed events unfold through the years. They’re all detailed in a private document I wrote in April 2014, titled “A Possible Calling.” Perhaps the truth’s in the title. As much as God’s tried to (gently) bat me over the head with His truth, with His vision for my life, I’m still calling this whole writing gig “A Possible Calling.” Because I’m human. I’m not God. Even with all the evidence, even with all the unfolding of this and that, it’s still hard for me to prove to myself and everyone else that this is my calling.

I struggle with this, can you see?

A wiser and older owl I met in November 2006 affirmed the vision I shared in the quiet of a dark hallway nook. A vision, which at the time, seemed like utter crazy talk. I seriously felt like I was making stuff up, people. Like I was pulling dreams from the sky and taking them on as my own.

Anyway, that day, among other words of wisdom I wrote down in detail when I got home, the wiser and older owl shared two pieces of advice I’ve never forgotten…

“Don’t look to people to affirm what God has already made very clear to you.”

and this…

“Walk. And follow the lily pads of grace.”

She clarified, stating that if this vision is God’s will, if this is God’s call on my life, that He will lead me through. One by one, He will place “lily pads” in my path, next steps along the way. And I will know. This is what I’m supposed to do next. This is His call.

Doesn’t it sound mystical? Maybe even a little kooky? “Lily pads of grace?” What the heck does that mean?

Well, let me tell you in plain words, friends. Maybe I didn’t know then what she really meant. But I know now. “Following the lily pads of grace” quite literally means to take one step after the next, after the next. First take this little leap of faith, then this door will open. Go through it. Take another little leap of faith here, and you’ll feel a tug to go there. So you do it. Then, you get a kick in the butt and realize there’s no other way but to do that next thing. So you do it. And it goes on. And on. And on. Until the light bulb turns on. I’ve taken 20, 30, 40 steps towards this vision. And truth be told? All of those steps have been leaps of faith.

Leaps of faith can be scary. Leaps of faith require courage. But after a while, leaps of faith make way for the answers you’ve been looking for. Things start to make sense. Little by little, the purpose of your life becomes clearer.

So today? I’m announcing the next leap of faith I’m making on this journey I’ve titled “A Possible Calling.”

I’m jumping on the next “lily pad of grace” God’s set before me. And as far as I can see, I’m jumping on over to a big one.

Well, I’m not really going to be jumping. I’m going to be flying, down to South Carolina where I’ll be attending my first writing and blogging conference! It’s happening next month while I’m doing that crazy every day writing challenge called #31Days.

I already know this writing conference is a lily pad set before me by God…

Because I’ve been a part of this community for more than four years.

Because I’ve been following this conference closely for two years and I’ve longed to be there.

Because it’s never been a possibility for me to go until this year.

Because I approached my husband about going to the conference just one week after I’d written that document, “A Possible Calling,” and he said yes. Pretty much right away. Without much persuasion on my part.

I already know this writing conference is a lily pad set before me by God…

Because my all-time favorite blogger, Ann Voskamp, was scheduled to be a keynote speaker when I signed up to attend, and then we got word she wasn’t going to be there at all. With or without Ann, I knew I was supposed to go anyway.

Because I asked Jennifer if we could room together, but she isn’t going this year.

Because I emailed a different Jennifer, Michele, Anna, Nasreen, Alia, and Kris to see if any of them would want to room with me. Four of them aren’t going to the conference this year. And two of them are, but already had roommates.

Because the week I’d planned to just go ahead and book a hotel room by myself, it was announced that the place was sold out. No more rooms available. Everyone make space. Find a place to crash. Bunk up.

Because I knew there was no other way but to put an announcement out there – I need a roommate. And believe me, that was the LAST way I wanted this to happen.

Because the eighth potential roommate decided she couldn’t afford to go this year.

I already know this writing conference is a lily pad set before me by God…

Because the ninth roommate? She had a room. And hallelujah, she had space for me! The funny thing is that we were already connected through Twitter, but hadn’t ever connected in that space personally. I’ve since discovered that there’s only one thing I need to know. She’s beautiful. She’s amazing. She’s kind-hearted. And God was determined to match us as roommates. In other words, God had the pad laid out. It just took me nine tries to find the right one to hop onto.

So I’m taking this leap of faith. Because after all of that? After all these years of feeling called to write, way back to 2003? I think it’s high time I attend a writing and blogging conference. In fact, it’s long, long overdue. Clearly God thinks so, too, or He wouldn’t have made the way.

So yes. I’m leaping. To a Christian writing and blogging conference called Allume. It’s next month and it’s sold out. 450 spirited, sold-out souls will gather to share and learn what it means to be called to write. And bless my leaping soul, I’ll be one of them.



Today, I’m excited to introduce you to a 17-year-old young woman named Jessica Joy. She’s an incredibly gifted singer, songwriter and Christian recording artist. Jessica just recorded and released her first CD, Nothing Wasted. She’ll be performing her CD release concert on Sunday, September 28, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. at Plymouth Covenant Church in Plymouth, Minnesota. The concert is FREE, so come one, come all! If my intuition is right, Jessica is going to have a long career in the Christian music industry. Come witness this treasure of a young woman live out her life’s calling right in front of your eyes. Because years from now? You might have to pay big bucks to see her in concert.

I’ve had the incredible privilege of connecting with Jessica on several occasions. I met with Jessica and her mom in January 2014 to chat about Jessica’s call to music and ministry. Then, I had the great honor of joining Jessica in the recording studio in March. We met again last month for extended conversation about the events that led her to record and release an album.

This is the first of three blog posts I’ll be writing about Jessica. Today, we’re going to look back and dig deep into the call on Jessica’s life to become a singer and songwriter. On September 22nd, I’m going to share my experience with Jessica Joy in the recording studio. And on September 29th, I’m going to share insights and photographs from Jessica’s CD release concert. I hope you’ll catch all three posts. I guarantee it’ll be a joy to meet Jessica Joy.

Without further ado, let’s move right along!


When I sat down to talk with Jessica in January 2014, I’d prepared a whole series of questions for her…

“Do you ever doubt your gift?”

“What obstacles have gotten in the way of you recording this CD? How have those obstacles helped you grow?”

“This feels big, unknown, all about faith. How does it feel to know it’s in God’s hands? Do you ever just want to plan it out or change course to something more predictable?”

This is just a sampling of the questions I had for Jessica. But even this sampling makes me realize that perhaps my questions were more about my fears than Jessica’s. Hmmm…maybe this 38 year old has something to learn from a 17 year old?

I should’ve just started with these and left it at that…

“Tell me more about how God’s prompted you in the quiet to follow your dreams.”

“Do you believe this is God’s call on your life?”

It was then, when I put away all the fears and what ifs, that Jessica was able to lay out for me, very clearly, God’s call on her life to become a Christian singer and songwriter.


Jessica grew up in a household that was filled with music. Both of her parents are licensed ministers of music, so she heard her parents tell lots of stories about their music ministry. Jessica had a whole host of opportunities to perform and lead worship from a young age. In fact, she knew early on that her future was going to be in music and ministry. When Jessica was eight years old, she wrote an entry in her journal titled “Goals for my Music.” The third goal? “Record my original album by the time I am 17.” It was around this time that Jessica also began writing songs in her journal.


From then on, there was a “continual calling” on Jessica’s life to become a singer and songwriter. Jessica explained all the “little signs along the way” that were an affirmation of the calling. As each event unfolded, Jessica knew. God was calling. This is what she was meant to do with her life.


When Jessica was approximately 12 years old, she wanted to learn how to play the guitar. She kept telling her parents she wanted to play guitar, but her parents had been insisting for years that she learn piano first. So she learned some basic piano and chords, and then found an old guitar in the basement and taught herself enough so she could start putting chords to the songs she was writing. It was then that Jessica’s parents realized how serious she was about guitar. They got her a guitar for Christmas and signed her up for guitar lessons, which very quickly morphed into songwriting lessons as well.



In May of 2012, Jessica suddenly got very sick. That summer, she often used a wheelchair to get around because of all the pain and fatigue. After a year of many doctor visits and extensive tests, she was finally diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease.

Jessica continues to battle this illness, so she’s had to learn how to manage her chronic Lyme. It has impacted her physical strength and support for singing and performing. She has pain in her hands, which makes it harder to play guitar. And pain in her feet, which makes it hard to stand for lengths of time or walk long distances. But as Jessica reminds us, God wastes nothing. Many of the songs she’s written have come from her battle with chronic Lyme disease. If you listen closely to some of her songs, you can, in fact, hear her pain and all the ways God’s helped her overcome it.


The week Jessica began treatment for chronic Lyme disease, she received a prophetic word from a friend’s mom. She prophesied many things God was speaking over Jessica Joy’s life, including this: “Worship is your weapon…I am giving you the ability and authority to prophetically sing over people – the enemy will release his grip on those I call you to sing over…I have given you an open door to usher in My Kingdom to the Nations.” She also wrote “You are chosen, anointed for such a time as this. I will waste nothing in your life.” This was before Jessica wrote the song “You Waste Nothing,” before she knew she’d record her first CD and it would be titled “Nothing Wasted.” God was speaking blessing into Jessica Joy’s life long before she knew what was to come.

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Jessica wrote her song, Beauty for Ashes, and recorded it as her first single in the summer of 2012. She was 15 years old. Remember, when Jessica was eight years old and wrote the journal entry titled “Goals for My Music,” her second goal was “Professionally record a single by the time I am 15.” On a whim, she decided to enter Beauty for Ashes in the Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival Music and Songwriting Competition, an annual national conference for professionals in the film, writing and music industry. She submitted the song in the last five days entries were accepted.


Jessica traveled to Tennessee to attend a youth convention with her church youth group in July 2012. She was experiencing a lot of pain due to her chronic Lyme disease, which at that time was still undiagnosed. Jessica had spent a lot of time in the wheelchair that summer, and the convention was no exception. In fact, Jessica says her “worst time managing [the chronic Lyme disease] emotionally” was during that Tennessee trip. Every night during the convention, she’d sing herself to sleep with one of her original songs, “Do You Hear Me?” Her singing was a way to cry out to God. “Do you hear me? Do you see my aching heart? Can you feel the pain that’s tearing me apart? This trial feels so long. Oh where have you gone? Do you hear me?” Then, by the grace of God, while Jessica was still in Tennessee, she got word from her mom that her song, Beauty For Ashes, had gotten her in to the Gideon Festival’s Top 10 for songwriting and performing! This was yet another confirmation of the call on Jessica’s life to use her gifts of singing and songwriting.


When Jessica got home from Tennessee, the clock was ticking. The Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival was in just two weeks! Jessica didn’t have the funds to make the big trip to North Carolina, so her friends started a secret Facebook page to help raise support for her to make the trip. Funds were raised for Jessica’s travels. Someone even donated their frequent flyer miles so Jessica could book a flight at no cost.

At Gideon, she was still suffering and in her wheelchair the whole time. But she decided and felt assured that whether she won or not, she was going because God clearly had someone there who needed to hear her song. It turns out, there were several people who were greatly ministered to by “Beauty for Ashes.” Fears and pain aside, Jessica played her heart out. She won 1st place in the songwriting category and 3rd place in the artist performance category.



In the summer of 2013, Jessica’s guitar and songwriting teacher, Andre Rodriguez, suggested she should consider recording an EP. An Extended Play (EP) is a professional recording that includes more than a single, but doesn’t contain enough songs to be considered a full studio album. It’s usually comprised of five or six songs. So Jessica began putting together a portfolio of songs she could record for an EP. Keep in mind, Jessica was still 16 years old at this point. What were you doing when you were 16? Is this girl special or what?


Jessica knew that if she was ever going to record an EP, she’d need to raise funds. Because she was an unknown in the music industry and didn’t have a label or agent, it’d be up to her to fund the project. So in September 2013, she drafted a letter to family, close friends, and people who knew her well at church. In the letter, Jessica stated her goal to record the EP album, which made her feel particularly vulnerable since her dreams were now public. The first week, there was no response. Then, she received her first check in the mail. It was $600! Within a week or two, support was, according to Jessica, “insane.” It was then that she knew. She wanted to press forward and try to fund a full album. But God would need even more supporters to step forward for that dream to be accomplished.


With the EP funded, and a full album now a possibility, Jessica launched a Kickstarter Campaign in November 2013. Her goal? To raise an extra $5,000.00 to completely cover the costs of recording a full album. This was an all or nothing proposition. She’d meet her Kickstarter goal within the 30-day timeframe and receive the funds, or she wouldn’t meet the goal and wouldn’t receive any funds at all. So Jessica shared her Kickstarter page with hundreds, and asked family, friends and church members to spread the word. The Lord spoke. He continued to open doors for Jessica Joy. By the end of the 30-day time frame, her Kickstarter account was fully funded, thanks to the generous financial donations of her supporters. She exceeded her goal by over $1,000.00!

Jessica was well on her way to making another dream become reality. Her calling had been confirmed, yet again. And this time, in a big, big way. A full album, her first professionally recorded album, was now fully funded.



While Jessica was raising funds, God was putting together an incredible team of studio musicians. Her producer is from Nashville, and is guitarist for Christian artist, Natalie Grant. The rest of her band all tour professionally with renowned artists such as Owl City, Jeff Deyo, Jeremy Messersmith and Natalie Grant.

Everything was in place. Jessica was ready to record.

In February 2014, Jessica and her mother stepped foot into the recording studio for the first time.

She was just days from her 17th birthday.

She’d written this nine years prior…“Record my original album by the time I am 17.”

A friend’s mom had prophesied this a year and a half prior…“I will waste nothing in your life. You will bring down strongholds by your heart for worshipping me.”

Jessica’s album would be called Nothing Wasted.

Among the 11 original songs on the album? One of my favorites, You Waste Nothing.

God wasted nothing. Nothing. Jessica Joy’s journey was ordained from the beginning. And the journey’s just begun.

Will you join me next Monday, September 22, as I write about my day with Jessica in studio? It was one of the most amazing, incredible and inspiring days I’ve ever experienced. I’m so excited to share a bit of it with all of you. You’re invited, right here, to witness dreams come to life. God’s call on one young woman’s life has become reality, is becoming reality. And it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Learn more about Jessica Joy and purchase her new CD, Nothing Wasted, at  She’d also love to connect with you on FacebookInstagram and Twitter! 

Jessica Joy_Screen Display



On July 11, 2014, I published a post titled “Change is Coming to this Blog!” In the post, I explained that I was working on a new blog mission, vision, tagline, guiding scripture, and core values. I also wanted to define, more clearly, what I’ll be writing about from here on out.

Well, today’s the day, folks! It’s time to launch the vision I’ve had in my mind for the past six months.

But before we get started, let me share a little behind-the-scenes secret. Earlier this week, I woke up in the middle of the night, in my half-awake half-asleep state, and all I could think about was this launch. My worry was that it was too much, too complicated, too wordy. So in my middle-of-the-night state, I vowed that I would keep this as simple as possible. So here’s my best shot at making that happen!

It all started with this – the tagline for my blog had to change. I always LOVED the “extraordinary encounters” part of my old tagline, but as I wrote these past two years, I realized there was something bigger I was trying to communicate through the blog. Three individuals I engaged with in February and March 2014 inspired me in specific and complementary ways. As a result, I knew what I could write about forever, “love what you live. live what you love.” So here it is, the new tagline integrated into my logo!


As of today, you’ll find the updated logo in the header on the home page of my blog. You’ll see it at the top, like this…


I have new covers for my Facebook and Twitter pages, and I also have new business cards which reflect the changes to the blog. The business cards are my favorite. LOVE the way these turned out! (Thanks to Shalon Estrada from Pretty Lovely Design for her beautiful work.)

Business_Card-REVISED-FRONT Business_Card-REVISED-BACK






So you might be asking yourself what all of this means. And why did I feel the need to go to such extreme measures to change one little tagline?

Well, there’s actually a good reason I’m making these changes. Like I said earlier, I want to more clearly define my worldview and what I’m going to write about in this online home from here on out.

In the past six months, I’ve taken a lot of time to define and refine the foundation of this blog. The changes I’ve made will benefit all of us. Starting today, my writing will be funneled through the new parameters I’ve set for the blog. If a post doesn’t fall within the parameters, I won’t publish it. This will benefit you because you’ll know more what to expect when you visit my blog. I’m hoping the posts won’t feel quite as random as they might have in the past. Under this new model, there will definitely be a theme, a big-picture message that’s weaved through all the posts on the blog.

So I made this graphic. I’ll be honest, I kind of love it and I kind of hate it. I spent too much time making it, and unfortunately, it was one of the too busy, too wordy images I couldn’t get out of my mind earlier this week in the middle of the night, but I’m not going to remake it! So here it is. It’s intended to give you a quick rundown of all the new bloggy things launching today. I’ll explain in a minute. For now, just take a peek!


Let me be clear up front. This vision is BIG. This vision runs deep. This vision has the potential to last the life of this blog. Sure it may need tweaks, refining and rewording along the way, but big picture, it’s good to go for a LONG time.

So let’s get to it! These are the foundations of this blog from here on out.

I believe that God created every human being to fulfill a unique and specific purpose here on earth.


My purpose is to inspire people to discover, embrace and walk boldly in their unique purpose.

Based on the observations I’ve made about life on earth so far, you’re likely to discover, embrace and walk boldly in your unique purpose IF you

love what you live. 


live what you love.

You can expect every post on this blog to be written with these qualities, these core values in mind…









From here on out, ALL posts on this blog will fit into one of four categories as follows:


These posts will feature people who love their life. My goal is to observe and interview people who love a particular aspect of their life, or maybe they love everything about their life! This might include their work, their hobbies, the volunteer work they do, or just about anything about their life that they LOVE. I’m planning to be generous with my borders and boundaries on this one. At this point, I’m envisioning everything from Mary Kay consultants to body builders to real estate agents to pumpkin farmers. Everything from muddy race running to blogging to mosaic making. From nonprofit thrift store management to Special Olympics coaching to animal rescue missions. There’s something to learn from people who love their life. I don’t know about you, but I’m eager to learn their secrets. I’ll be writing these posts with the belief that if you LOVE your life, you’re most likely tapping into your purpose.



These posts will feature people who whole-heartedly embrace the life they live. The original vision for these posts is to observe and interview people who love what they live, people who are making the best out of less than ideal situations, people who are living in joy, beauty, peace and love even though life has proven to be challenging. At this point, I’m envisioning a whole host of individuals, including people who have special needs, people living in poverty and extreme poverty, people living with mental illness, people who have suffered abuse, people who have battled addiction, acutely and chronically ill individuals, infertility, stillbirths, adoption, and a whole host of others unnamed and yet to be imagined. Within this category, I would also like to dive deeper into the impact of these special situations on the family at large. Therefore, I hope and pray I’ll be able to interview moms, dads, siblings, special friends, and family members that have been impacted and have found beauty in the ashes. I have a feeling that God has more in store for this category than I’ve imagined. I can see already that He’s going to expand my definition of “love what you live” exponentially through these interviews. I’ll be writing these posts with the belief that God wastes nothing, that your purpose might very well rise up from the ashes.



These posts will be personal reflections on embracing and walking boldly in my purpose. I’m going to work this “love what you live” and “live what you love” out in my own life, and I’m going to share it with you in real time. What does it mean to love my life, even when it’s hard, even when it’s messy, even when it’s less than desirable, even when it’s barely tolerable? What does it mean to live a life I love? What makes me tick? What fuels me, makes me feel lit up inside? What risks will I take? How many times will I step out of the proverbial box or boat? In what ways will I be stretched like never before? And how will I know if I’m living my purpose? I’m not exactly sure how these posts are going to look. Some might look a lot like posts I’ve written before. But I think many of these posts are going to cause me pause. I’m going to need to reflect and look at my life from angles I haven’t before. And one thing’s for sure, I’m going to be jacking up my courage. Big time. Because in order for me to live out my calling, the purpose for which God created me, I’m going to need a lot of courage. And faith. I’ll be writing these posts with the hope that you’ll feel empowered to live, love and discover your purpose if you know someone’s on the journey with you.



These posts will be written for you. And I’m SO excited about that. Among the handful of careers I wanted to pursue for the longest time was psychologist, and one aspect that’s been missing from this blog is getting down and dirty in the trenches to help YOU. So with these posts, I’m envisioning that I’ll step back and draw some big-picture conclusions. What words of wisdom can I draw from interviewing people who love their lives? What words of wisdom can I draw from interviewing people who have chosen to embrace the lives they live, even if they’re less than ideal? What words of wisdom can I draw from embracing and walking boldly in my own purpose? If there was ever a how-to aspect of this blog, these posts will be it. I want to empower you. I want to inspire you. I want to engage in meaningful, authentic communication with you. I’m going to get vulnerable and real, and I hope you’ll be willing to go there with me. Oh yeah, and I’m guessing that I’m going to ask some hard questions. Because nobody ever started loving their live and living their purpose until they started asking and answering some really hard questions.


Last, but not least, I’ve chosen two scripture passages that will guide this blog.

Psalm 139:13-16 (click here to read the passage)


Isaiah 61:1-3 (click here to read the passage)

These are some of the most beautiful pieces of scripture there are. They both speak beautifully into the new mission of this blog. I can’t imagine any better words to guide my writing than these.

So yeah, let’s do this!

I feel like I’m baby blogger with this gigantic God-sized vision. And I have to be honest. This scares me. This is most definitely going to stretch me beyond my wildest imagination. Because in and of myself, I don’t have the power, the connections, the strength, the resources to make these interviews happen. In and of myself, it’s going to be a real challenge to embrace and walk boldly in my purpose, and share vulnerably with you. In and of myself, I don’t have the power to create change in your life. In and of myself, I can’t make this God-sized blog vision come to life.

But as Kristin Welch of “We Are That Family” stated in a recent blog post:

“There will be a big gap between your yes and the reality of your dream. That space is God-sized. If we have all the answers, resources, funding, the perfect plan, it might be our dream and not His. But when we don’t know all of the details or have all the answers, it gives God room to show up.”

God’s assured me with His still small voice that He’s prepared and trained me for this, that He’ll equip me because He’s called me. So I’m choosing to say yes. Because I don’t see any other plan for this blog. And I believe this is what God is calling me to do with this space. I believe He will show up. Big time.

So let’s go.

You and me.

Let’s live and love. And on the way? Perhaps we’ll discover the purpose of our lives.






The cake’s lit up. Today’s for you, dear one.

What wish will you have? What wish will it be?

Dream grand. Dream big, sweet one.

For there’s only one you. You, beautiful you.

Where would you go? Who would you be? How would you live life that’s meant to be?

Do you believe it is possible? Do you believe it is true? That you are the one and only you?

What will it be, dear? What will it be?

Tell me, tell me. I long for you to see.

What does your heart say? What does it say?




What, dear one, will be your wish?

If you could have anything, anything, anything? What would that be? What would that be?




To see is my wish for you, for me.

To see the beauty every day.

To see the purpose in your pain.

To see life’s canvas, waiting, white.

To see your future, beauty, bright.

To see miraculous you, you.

To see the love that’s waiting on you.

To see your life for what it is.

To see that you are truly His.

To see.


My birthday wish, for you, for me.

To see.


DSCN6809It was the second week of August 2013. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. For some reason, I had more time than normal before my last speech-language therapy home visit that day, so I took the opportunity to stop at the grocery store where I planned to do business banking and pick up an ice cream treat.

But I never did make it into the store that day.

This thing that happened? It was a little crazy.

So I got out of my car at this grocery store I’d never been to before, and all I could hear was somebody whistling in the parking lot. It was the kind of whistling that was hard to ignore, although everybody but me seemed to be going about their grocery shopping business as usual.

I looked around and looked around some more. There were NO signs of a whistling person anywhere. But then I looked a couple rows down and saw an older man with a line of grocery carts. He was pushing the carts towards the store, and I noticed he was the one, HE was the one whistling!

So I crossed the two lines of cars separating me and that man in the parking lot because, hey, I had a little time and I really wanted to know what compelled this man to whistle so intently while he was working! I approached, told him how lovely his whistling was, how it captured my attention across the parking lot, and asked if I could tell his story on my blog.

When the man responded, I discovered a MAJOR problem…

He didn’t speak a lick of English. In fact, he responded to my inquiry in Spanish.


What was I to do?

I’d only been blogging for 13 months at that point, and I’d never run into a situation like this!

If I was any other sane person, I would’ve let it go at that. But no. I had to do something!

So I went back to my car and pulled up a translation website on my iPhone while keeping a close eye on the whistling grocery cart pusher. One of the first sites that came up was, so I clicked on the link, found Spanish translation, and crafted something to say to the man. (And ya, I knew that whatever I said had to be simple and to the point, because I hadn’t taken a Spanish class since high school, so even with translation, I wasn’t going to be blowing the dude away with my Spanish proficiency.)

This is what I had translated on my little iPhone…

I love your whistling. Can I write an article about your lovely whistling for the internet?

OK. OK! So 8 1/2 months later, I realize this is craziness, utter stupidity! The fact that I went back to this whistling, Spanish-speaking grocery cart pushing man just to say that seems ridiculous. I admit it. But for some reason, in that moment, I was compelled to return to him and know more about his story, and those were unfortunately, the best words I could muster in those moments of rush in the parking lot.

So I got out of my car, took my handy dandy phone with those words translated to Spanish, and sought out the whistling grocery cart pusher once again.

Utter craziness, I know.

When I approached the man, he recognized me from before and stopped immediately. I pulled out my phone and read the words, in my feeble attempt at Spanish.

Amo su silbido. ¿Puedo escribir un artículo sobre su silbido encantador para el Internet?

(I love your whistling. Can I write an article about your lovely whistling for the internet?)

The man must have understood at least some of what I said, and must have thought I was fluent in Spanish, because he then proceeded to tell me what sounded like his life story – IN SPANISH! 

As he proceeded, sentence after sentence, I debated in my mind – was this rude, demeaning and inappropriate to let this man go on and on in Spanish, when I don’t understand much of anything he’s saying? Or is it OK? I let my heart and my gut rule, and I decided I’d stay. Although I have to admit, it made me feel a little uncomfortable and desperate for a translator because I knew he was revealing to me, right there in the grocery store parking lot, a story that was heart-wrenching and incredible.

So there I stood, in the middle of a grocery store parking lot, listening to this man tell me his life story, in Spanish. And I didn’t understand a thing. Or did I?

My “translation” and understanding of bits and pieces of the man’s story compelled me to stay when logic told me it’d be better to flee.

This is what I understood of the whistling, Spanish-speaking grocery cart pusher’s story, despite our language differences. Words paired with gestures, paired with my strong intuition and skill interpreting others’ communication from 14 years of experience as a speech-language pathologist, led me to understand this.

The man had been whistling since he was born. There were no tears when he was born, just whistling, right from the start. He was most definitely sure of that.

He had no schooling. He could write only a few words.

He’d experienced and observed many devastating and horrific things over the course of his life. His wife died. He gestured having an arm cut off from the elbow down three times. He gestured getting his head cut off another time. He took my pen and wrote “WICKED” on his hand, and had many names for Satan in Spanish.

But even in all his pain, the whistling, Spanish-speaking man had a deep faith. In our short time together, he pointed to the ground and then back up to the sky several times. There were many references to “Biblia.” And he even brought out his lighter and lifted it high to the sky to demonstrate the power of God in all the pain.

After about twenty minutes of chatting, it was time for me to go. I didn’t want the man to be fired, so I found an opportunity to politely wrap up the conversation and bid the man a warm farewell as best as I could.

I returned to my car and scribbled notes about my encounter with the man.

I went home that night and told the story to my husband. It all seemed a little crazy, but there was another part of it that felt holy, like it was a divine appointment between me and this whistling stranger.

My notes and the grocery store flyer sat on my night stand for weeks. I finally decided to tuck them away in a special spot in case I wanted to refer back to that story someday.

Six months later, I took that trip to Haiti. And it wasn’t until I returned from Haiti and sought wise counsel about next steps for my life, that I realized – my encounter with that man was profound. I finally got it. I finally understood.

That whistling, Spanish-speaking grocery cart pusher taught me the only thing I need to know about LIFE. Though life’s handed us the worst, the most devastating and horrific of circumstances, we can CHOOSE to be joyful, we can CHOOSE to whistle and make the most of each and every day. We can CHOOSE to let faith rule our lives rather than fear.

It’s true for me, and it’s true for you. Will you choose to be brought down by your circumstances? Will you choose to let life get you down? Or will you whistle your way through life with faith, finding joy and opportunity in every moment?

That whistling, Spanish-speaking grocery cart pusher taught me the only thing I need to know about the PURPOSE of my LIFE, too.

The purpose of my life is to be a translator-of-sorts.

To translate stories of fire and ashes – into beauty.

To translate stories nobody understands – into stories everyone can understand.

To translate stories untold – into stories told.

To translate stories of lifelessness – into stories of true life.

To translate stories of pain – into stories of purpose.

To translate stories hidden – into stories brought to light.

To translate stories of misunderstanding – into understanding.

To translate stories of doing what you love, and loving whatever it is that you have to do.

Yes, it’s mysterious work. And I’m still trying to figure it all out.

Before, I believed there was no purpose in me sharing this story – because I didn’t know all the details, because I didn’t understand all of the man’s words, because I didn’t really know his story after all – so I stuffed it away in a hiding spot to keep to myself. There was simply too much mystery in it to believe it had value.

But now, I rest in peace, knowing the mystery is what’s profound. The mystery is where I’m meant to reside. This gift of translating mystery into some sort of beautiful reality? It’s what I’m meant to do.

So whistle on, whistle on people.

Whether you’re winning or losing or somewhere in-between, whistle on, whistle on.


  1. Peggy Lynn Groenwold says:

    Of we could be so happy and caring.

  2. Vicki Thunstrom says:

    This is just my very favorite! It is also one of my most cherished lessons in life…The joy of the Lord is our strength…. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Deb says:

    You have such a beautiful heart and a peace about you that makes others feel at ease & want to share. Glad I finally got to meet you this weekend!

    • Amy says:

      Thank you, Deb. I, too, enjoyed our time together this weekend and am grateful we were able to meet. I LOVED our table of women! What a great combo of personalities and life stories. Looking forward to connecting more online and in real life with you and the other ladies. 🙂 Have a great week.

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