April 25, 2020

Hosea had always scared me.

Hosea is that man whose calling as a prophet was to marry an unfaithful woman, so he could demonstrate to people what God was feeling. It always seemed unnecessary and cruel to ask this man to suffer so much. It scared me because if God called Hosea to a life of such humiliation and suffering, surely the same fate lay ahead for me if I followed Him wholeheartedly. Of course there’s a lot more to the story, but I never was really able to get past Hosea’s pain and see the bigger picture.

Recently I started thinking about Hosea a lot. When I looked at my life, it seemed as though I had been putting out a lot of love and not getting very much returned. I wondered if perhaps I was already living a Hosea type of life filled with more than my fair share of rejection and humiliation and hadn’t really noticed it. So I braced myself for a painful lesson and settled in to reread the biblical book I so often avoided.

And what I found was a piece of God I had never understood before. A piece of Him you can only understand if you have suffered in the particular way Hosea suffered. Which I guess is why God wove this harrowing story for Hosea to live. God needed–or maybe He just desired–for a man to tell us how it felt to love us. Hopefully you haven’t felt the acute pain of loving someone who didn’t or couldn’t love you back. Or the choking, suffocating feeling of love that cannot be expressed or appreciated. But for those of us who have, we understand a part of God that we can tell you about.

Many years ago God called me to become Rahul’s mom. He was 7 and he had been traumatized, and I was re-traumatizing him by pulling him out of the only life he knew to move him across the earth and become Family with me. I knew we would spend our lives battling his demons and I understood that he might always be angry with me for taking him away from his home. I knew that he might always be broken and that I could potentially spend my whole life trying to mend a heart that could never heal.

The journey with Rahul these last 12 years has been harrowing. Rahul has battled his demons valiantly and worked harder on growing and healing than anyone I’ve ever seen before. He has looked his traumas straight in the eyes over and over and fought with all his strength to overcome every obstacle that has threatened to undo him. As for me, I’ve lost money, friends, sleep, sanity, and health. I have been bruised and bloodied, crushed and broken. It feels like Rahul and I are army buddies. We continue to fight the good fight together and we love each other a lot.

But one thing that has been difficult for me is that Rahul has a disorder that makes him very resistant to attaching to people. Attachment is a foreign language he has had to learn. I have had to teach him how to need me. How to reach out for me when he’s hurting. How to ask for help when he’s stuck. And still, even after 12 years and all these battles later, he can only open his heart so much, he can only trust so much, he can only feel safe loving so much. Rahul fills me with joy and delight, but I am also filled with longing. I long for him to love spending time with me as much I love spending time with him. I long for him to feel whole and complete because of my love the same way I feel whole and complete because of his. Rahul and I were laughing just today about how ironic it is that while we are sheltering in place at home together during this pandemic, he is the only person who is allowed to touch me. I long for a hug–from anyone! And the one person who is allowed to hug me is my boy who prefers to wrap himself up in a blanket cocoon as far away from me as possible. Rahul is very kind to me. He does nice things for me that are really special: sometimes he brushes my hair at night while we talk, sometimes he rubs my feet at the end of a hard day, once he sang me a lullaby and held me while I cried about my car breaking down. I have taught him to do these things. He has trusted me enough to allow me to teach him. These moments are pure gold to me. But I long for more. As I read Hosea’s words about God’s longing for His children to come near to Him and love him with the same ferocity that He loved them, I realized that I knew exactly what that felt like.

It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.” Hosea 11:3-4


Unrequited romantic love is the worst pain. I have known it intimately. It is humiliating and demoralizing to fall in love with someone who does not love you. It is exhausting to hold your heart open for a man who does not want it, not because you have chosen to torture yourself, but because God has marched you up to the top of a mountain and shown you the most exquisite vista, the most amazing man you have ever known. Then He has left you there with no seeming plan to carry you to that vista, so you wait and watch and wonder if you should go back down the mountain or if you even can! You wonder if God has forgotton you there on the mountain. Or maybe He’s mad at you and has plans to throw you off the mountain to humiliate you. And the vista is always in view, growing brighter and more attractive with each encounter you have with him. You decide, finally, that God has brought you up this mountain and you’re going to trust Him to get you off of it. You decide to not be consumed with worry or despair, but to trust Him. To wait faithfully for the vista He has led you to. And you decide to believe that one day your love with be returned and you can love the man you love. Freely and safely pouring out your heart to him.

“I will be like the dew to Isreal; he will blossom like a lily…His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon…He will blossom like a vine, and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon…I will answer him and care for him. I will heal [his] waywardness and love him freely.” Hosea 14:5-8; 4


Living through this pandemic in NYC has been painful in many ways. Friends have been sick, others have lost loved ones. One of my best friends lost both her parents to the virus on Easter weekend. She had given birth to her daughter just two weeks before they died. The pain my friend is feeling is unmeasurable. It is unknowable. It is unendurable. All I want to do is go to her and hug her. I want to sit at her side and hold her hand and let her cry into my hair. I want to be in the same space with her and breathe the same air as her so we can mourn together. But all I can do is bake her bread and hang it on her doorknob, trusting that God will make that bread taste like a hug from me.

“Wait for your God always.” Hosea 12:6

“In You the fatherless find compassion.” Hosea 14:3


Last night I went for a walk in the middle of the night. I wrapped a scarf around my face even though I knew I would not encounter anyone else in my neighborhood that I would need to social distance from. I walked and cried and prayed, as I often do. And as I passed my son’s former elementary school I stopped in my tracks. There, staring straight at me, were hundreds of daffodils. There was just enough light from the moon and the streetlights to make them out. They were facing me and I felt overcome. Spring had come and was shouting at me and I couldn’t acknowledge it. I couldn’t appreciate all the beautiful flowers and colors and smells because I have been holding my breath for weeks. I have been wrapped up and closed up and bottled up emotionally, and as I stood there staring at these flowers that had been holding themselves open all day, all week, probably, just waiting for someone to notice them and appreciate the generosity of their beauty. I just said outloud “Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.” My heart broke for them because I know how they feel.

“My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. For I am God , and not man–the Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath. They will follow the Lord;

He will roar like a lion.

When He roars his children will come trembling from the west…like birds…I will settle them in their homes, declares the Lord.”  Hosea 11:8-11

So I stand on my mountain and I spread my arms open wide. I turn slowly as I search the entire horizon for those that I love. I can’t see them, but I can feel them. I know they are near. I draw in breath and fill my weary lungs with air. And I release the sound that will make them come running. It will make them know that I love them and that they are free to love me back. It is the sound that contains all my compassion, all my humiliation, all my desperation, all my love.




September 15, 2019

Jesus taught that even if we have a very small amount of genuine faith, we can move mountains from Here to There. We can even tell a mountain to throw itself into the sea and it will! I take Jesus at his word and believe he meant this literally. He wanted us to understand that we have access to the power that created the universe. That whatever we want, whatever we ask for in prayer, if we believe and do not doubt, will be given to us. That faith is a gift from God because we are special to Him. That our desires and our needs are important to Him. That He wants us to reach out to Him and ask Him for what we want. That in fact, He created our hearts and planted desires in them in order that we might see how much He loves us when those desires are answered.

God created those mountains Jesus talked about. He created them and He planted them exactly where He wanted them to be. And for my part, I don’t have any desire to rearrange the mountains. They seem good right where they are! The mountains I’d like to move are the mountains of bills sitting on my desk. The mountains of chores that pile up in my home on a daily basis. The mountains of projects that have already passed their deadlines.

And to be honest, lately there are mountains sitting on my shoulders that are crushing me. The Mountain of Loss. The Mountain of Parenting Failure. The Mountain of Heartbreak. The Mountain of Financial Strain. The Mountain of Constantly Struggling Because I Never Have Enough. Never enough money. Never enough time. Never enough sleep. Never enough joy.

Single parenting is lonely business. When my son struggles, I bear that pain alone. It’s always up to me to find solutions for his problems, stay ahead of his challenges, protect him, fight for him. I have lots of helpers, but I also have a son with lots of special needs and there is no one who cares for him the way I do. So I carry around his pains, his losses, his trauma, his struggles the way any parent does, but I do it alone. Like only single parents can understand.

I started my own business almost a decade ago, and it has been my family’s only source of income since day one. So when my business struggles, we struggle. There have been times when I couldn’t afford milk. Or tampons. Or toilet paper. There have been times when I appealed and groveled and begged for debt relief or payment plans or reduced rates in ways so humiliating, only someone who has done the same can understand. There is an exhaustion and a shame in struggling financially that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I love my work and I love my customers. But I am a one woman operation. Renee Smith Hair Design. It’s all me. I bear the entire weight of my business on my own.

My heart has been so broken and crushed lately that I don’t think it will ever completely recover. It will always carry around the disappointment and embarrassment of unrequited love and the grief of loss. My dog has died. He was my best friend. The most constant companion of my last 16 years. He cared for me when no one else did and he comforted me when no one else could. I will always have a Baby Fish Mouth sized hole in my heart.

So. The idea that Jesus tells me that I have the power to move all of these mountains is amazing to me! Of course, I realize that no matter how it feels, I am not bearing the weight of all these mountains alone. God is with me. He fights my battles. He comforts me in despair. He has a beautiful plan for my life that includes joy and restoration and comfort. He doesn’t want me to suffer and He doesn’t want me to feel overburdened. What He wants me to do is to move these mountains from Here to There. He wants me to tell them to throw themselves into the sea! He wants me to move them off of my shoulders and into His hands.

And that is what I will do.


“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”  Mark 11:23


Baby Fish Mouth and his person, 2011


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July 3rd, 2018 I woke with a start. In that moment right before I woke up I had a vision. And it startled me so much that I sat straight up in bed with my eyes wide open. The vision was one image: God showed me a screen, like a smartphone with a message on it that looked like a text. It said, “Help is on the way.”

As I sat there in bed, relief and gratitude washed over me. God saw me. He saw my struggle and He was sending me help. Relief was on its way and His message gave me the strength to hold on.

I have been walking with God for a few decades now, and over the years He has spoken to me in lots of different ways. My relationship with Him is very noisy; we talk to each other a lot! But until that day a year ago I had never heard Him so clearly.

June 2018 was a really hard month. Bad news, heartbreak, but worst of all, confusion. All year I had been hearing God’s voice so clearly, directing me and encouraging me to open up. To be faithful. To trust Him. To hope. I would often be praying, asking Him questions and walking, and I would stop in my tracks when I heard His answer. It felt like lots of lightbulbs going off in my head, in my heart. Anxiety would settle immediately and I could breathe easy again, because God had comforted me and shown me what to do. I followed His direction and sought His guidance in everything.

But in June I suddenly couldn’t hear Him anymore. I would pray and ask Him why He was being so silent.  I would cry and ask Him to please let me hear Him again. He did send me comfort and communication, indirectly. Friends rushed to my side, music gave me a way to express my feelings, scriptures gave me life and direction. But even with all of that I was still confused and couldn’t understand what was happening or why.

So on July 3rd, when He told me, “Help is on the way” I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. I told my friends about His message and we all wondered what it would be. And the very next day, help began to arrive. God brought the most incredible people into my life all summer long. They brought excitement and romance and encouragement with them. They made me feel more special than I have ever felt and showed me that living life with an open heart didn’t only mean that it would be sure to be broken. It also meant that other open, worthy hearts would be drawn to me. God knew exactly what I needed and He provided healing and comfort and joy in ways I never would have expected. And as the summer drew to a close I found my footing again. I heard God speaking to me again.

One friend, the one who had given me the most strength through his encouragement, sat down with me at the end of the summer. He thanked me for something God had shown him through my friendship. And through tears I told him about the vision I had received. And I thanked him for being the promised help that I had desperately needed.

And today as I look back over the past year, and over my whole life, and recall all the ways God has spoken to me I am filled with gratitude. And I am perking up my ears to hear What’s Next.

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Why Things Happen

July 1, 2019


That’s the top math award in his hand. And that’s the look of being exasperated at me in his eyes:)

You could look at my son’s life and say he has terrible luck. You could spend lifetimes trying to wrap your mind around why his young life was filled with trauma. You could shake your fist at God for allowing this innocent child to suffer abuse, abandonment, neglect, ridicule, desolation, hunger, disease and shame with no adult in his life to protect him or love him. You could really get stuck. Questioning. Blaming. Doubting.

When Rahul began to develop a faith in God as a young teenager, he reached an impasse when he started to think about why all these terrible things happened to him. He and I would talk about it, and I advised him to search out the answer to that question on his own. I could tell him my conviction about it, but I knew he had to have his own rock solid belief in God’s Providence and Love if he was going to have a genuine faith. I could guide him, but I couldn’t give him the answer. There is an answer, I told him, and you will  find it. But you are going to have to find it for yourself. I can’t give you mine. His Bible teacher, Marc, provided him with lots of food for thought from the scriptures and also introduced him to several adults he knew who had also suffered trauma as children and had made peace with God and found genuine faith. They generously shared their stories with him and Rahul guards their identities and testimonies to this day. He also talked to other kids his age who were wrestling with similar questions and together they would puzzle out what they were thinking and support each other.

Finally, Rahul reached conclusions and convictions about this question and others that didn’t just satisfy him, they gave him life. He is passionate about asking these questions and discussing them and they are the cornerstone of his faith in God. He understands things about life and pain that most seasoned Christians don’t fully grasp. Feel free to ask him about it, he loves discussing these topics.

But while he understands the long range Providence of God more deeply than most, sometimes he loses sight of the short range reason for Why Things Happen.

He was recently accepted to City College (yay!), but for a whole bunch of reasons, he won’t be admitted to their Grove School of Engineering until he completes a math class at the college this summer. It’s a long story and really not that interesting. But it’s one of those things that can feel tedious at best, maddening at worst. Wondering, Why Me? Why did other students get admitted without having to take this course? Why do I have to take it when I have already taken it–and also higher level math courses–in high school and received accolades and awards for my performances in these classes? What did I do to deserve this?

Why Do I Have Such Bad Luck?

This is what Rahul was asking me the other day. I stopped what I was doing and looked him in the eye and told him the following:

I can understand why you are feeling disappointed and discouraged, but you need to stop thinking about your life as though everything that happens to you is either based on your merit or your luck. That. Is. Not. Why. Things. Happen. People may think they do, people may say they do, but they don’t. You have an amazing brain. You know that, your teachers know that, your college will soon know that. You don’t have to feel like a failure because you got put in this class. It was not meant to be a message to you that you are undeserving or that you have to prove anything. You are God’s Man. If you can believe that you will be saved from so much unnecessary pain. The reason things happen is because He needs you to be exactly where He puts you. Take this class, for instance. I don’t know why you’re there, but there is a reason that you can’t see yet. Maybe you will meet your wife there! Or the professor teaching it may become your mentor! Or another student in the class may need a friend who has experienced the things that you have! Or the homeless person riding the subway with you may need the lunch you buy them! Do you see? You have to expand your thinking. There is a reason, you just can’t get stuck feeling punished or discouraged or frustrated because then you’ll miss it. 

He seemed to understand, as much as he can for now. It’s one of those lessons that doesn’t really make sense until you see it played out. But I feel it’s important that he not get stuck.

This morning, as he was leaving for what is essentially his first day of college he asked me to pray for him. He was feeling too nervous and emotional to do it himself. Of course I’ll pray for you, Honey, I said.

And as he walked out the door,

I will pray that you meet your wife in this class!


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March 28, 2019


Sur la plage

Lately I feel swept away. Like I can’t find my footing and the current is pulling me all over the ocean. Like my throat keeps filling with water and I can’t quite breathe. I know God has hold of me and He won’t let me drown, that He’s spreading Himself out beneath me like a net, like a floor, like a foundation. I feel Him urging me deeper into Him. Urging me to dig down with my hands until my knuckles bleed, to stretch my toes all the way down into Him until I find true footing. Until I grip the bottom and the waves can threaten and shake me, but they won’t sweep me away.

I didn’t grow up with an open heart. I was a fearful child who became a hardened young women with a tight wall around my heart. It wasn’t until I was about to adopt my son that my heart truly opened. God had been working on me for years, chipping away at the death grip I had around my emotions, my vulnerabilities. As I prepared to become a mother all the walls just broke away and I was reborn with a soft heart. Raising Rahul was harrowing, and God kept me strong and tough skinned. But the new, soft heart He created within me was a wonder to me. I couldn’t believe all that I was feeling. I couldn’t believe how much I loved this child. I felt like I was truly living life for the first time.

And I loved mothering so much that I began to open my arms and my heart to other people around me. I cultivated a beautiful group of friends and have learned over and over again how to open my heart to the people God has put in my life. As a hairdresser I have the opportunity to connect with people on a deeply personal level, and I truly love my clients. I love learning about them and listening to their stories, their experiences. I love that they trust me and listen to my stories, too.

But one of the consequences of living life with an open heart is that it gets broken over and over again. I never want to go back to living with closed-off emotions, but sometimes the heartbreak is overwhelming. And lately it feels like wave after wave of pain. Oceans of pain. As I hold on to people I love while they are drowning in depression I feel myself being pulled under, too. As I hear them pour out their hearts in grief and remorse, I feel those waves knocking me around. As I give my heart to people who don’t want it, I feel myself sinking deep below the surface. Oceans of unrequited love, behind and afore, overwhelm and horrify me. Waves of humiliation break over me as I give my heart where it’s not wanted. I’m stretching myself as wide as I can, reaching out my arms, but they can’t steady me.

So I am trying to dig down. I’m searching for footing. Stretching vertically, not just horizontally. I’m pressing my toes down to the mud and reaching my eyes up to the heavens. A favorite song rings through my soul. I will call upon Your Name, and keep my eyes above the waves when oceans rise…Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior. Going deeper is finding surrender. Digging deeper is something I can DO. It is not passive. Deeper is safer. Deeper is grounded. Deeper is less me, more God. Going deeper allows me to stretch my arms out as far as I want to without toppling over. And God is there in the deep, calling out to me. “Deep calls to deep, in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Psalm 42:7

You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown, where feet may fail. And there I find you in the mystery.

In oceans deep my faith will stand.


(Here’s the song. Oceans by Hillsong UNITED)

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December 14, 2018

When I woke up one morning 7 years ago, I knew something was wrong. My neck ached, but in a different way than I had ever felt before. By the time I stepped out of the shower, my pain was gone, but the next morning it returned. Each day it stayed a little longer and strangely, it moved around my body. One day my neck would ache, the next day it was my left knee. Then the next day the bottom of my foot, followed my my right shoulder blade. I have a very high pain tolerance, so it didn’t slow me down at all, but it was beginning to worry me. After a few weeks the pain was widespread and never dulled. I would wake up in the middle of the night because both my arms were inflamed with pain. I would feel vomit rise to my throat as I worked, the pain washing over me in waves that made me nauseous and breathless. I thought about my life: I’m a single mom who only sleeps a few hours a night as it is. Losing any of that sleep could break me. And I’m a hairdresser. Without the use of my hands I can’t make a living. I worried that the extreme stress of raising my special needs son on my own had created a crisis in my body that I wouldn’t be able to outrun.

I went to see my doctor, an amazing woman who really listens to me. She tested me for all the suspected culprits of this type of pain, but found nothing. She continued to think about my case and would check in with me every few days, letting me know she hadn’t given up on me and was committed to figuring out what was wrong. One day after driving for a few hours I looked down at my ankles and they were swollen to twice their size. I stopped by my doctor’s office and drew her a picture of what my ankles looked like and the next day she called me with her diagnosis. After looking at my picture she had me tested for sarcoidosis and the test was positive. It’s an auto-immune disease that can be deadly, but can also go away in a short time. I went to 3 or 4 rheumatologists in the next year to seek treatment, with varied results. One told me I was perfectly healthy. “Good news!” she said. “I’ve tested you for several things and there’s nothing wrong with you!” Another sent me away with a prescription for steroids, which did wonders for my pain and enabled me to keep working and sleep through the night. And one walked with me through the illness, teaching me how to step down slowly off the steroids, advising me that one auto-immune disease can easily morph into another. (He was sure I was developing Lupus).

After several years I had still not been able to ween myself from the steroids and I was gaining a lot of weight. My face had the tell-tale moon shape that prednisone gives you and my body was lumpy and swollen. I still had pain–enough that exercise was excruciating–but could manage to sleep and work. I felt like I was always bracing myself. I was afraid to turn my head too fast or run or put too much weight on my ankles or wrists. I felt fragile and puffy and tentative.

Two years ago I lost my health insurance for good and at the same time I began to notice the tell-tale butterfly rash on my face that indicates Lupus. I started getting sores around my hairline and on my wrists and when I Googled them, I saw they were also symptoms of Lupus. I knew I had to do something about my health and I decided to reach out to a client of mine who is an acupuncturist. I have known him and his family for many years and I trusted his expertise. We decided to barter acupuncture treatment for haircuts and I resolved that even though I knew very little about Chinese medicine, I would do whatever he advised me and I would trust him.

I faithfully followed his dietary suggestions and saw him every few weeks for 3 months and I noticed that I was beginning to really feel better. I felt like energy was moving through my body again, I wasn’t always bracing for injury. My daily pain level had been cut in half. We decided I would try again to slowly step down off my steroids, and in another 3 months I was feeling even better. My acupuncture treatments were really painful and I had no idea what he was talking about when he described the energy channels and yin and yang and all the other Chinese medicine stuff he tried so carefully to explain to me. I really didn’t care. It seemed to be working, so I was like, I’ll do whatever you tell me to do! And if you need to twist that hot needle around in my leg until I scream in pain, carry on!  As long as I keep feeling better, do whatever you need to do!

Then last December, a year ago, he suggested that I try intermittent fasting. I had no idea that it would do me any good, but he advised me to drink only water or plain tea all day, except for 3 hours in the afternoon, when I could eat and drink whatever I wanted. For 3 days. I hated it, but I did it. And for the first two days I felt horrible. Then halfway through the third day I began to feel better than I had in years! It was amazing. It really felt like my body was healing itself, becoming whole again. Energy was flowing through me and I felt very alive. I began to make it a regular practice to fast intermittently several days a week, and I was quickly able to completely stop taking prednisone. I dropped dozens of pounds and began to practice yoga again. I would stare at myself in the mirror in yoga class and couldn’t believe that I could bend and stretch and stand on one foot–all my weight on one ankle–with no pain. My body got stronger and leaner. By the summer I added running to my routine, something I hadn’t been able to do in years.

When people noticed my weight loss, they would ask me my secret. Was I dieting? Oh, I was fasting? Maybe they should try that, too! Acupuncture? Did that help you lose weight? I had no idea. I really could care less about my weight. How could I explain the gratitude and the relief I felt at not being in pain all the time? At not constantly worrying that I would only get worse and worse, compounding illnesses until my body wore away? I have no idea how to help anyone lose weight. I have no idea how to explain why acupuncture and fasting have worked for me. I don’t know how to help anyone heal. I don’t understand why it worked for me. But I do know one thing: I have never been so grateful for this amazing, energy-filled, yoga-praciticing, regenerating, shrinking body of mine! I don’t know why I healed, but I know that I did. And I am beyond grateful for what I consider a second chance at life. I feel blessed and I feel lucky.

If you ask me to explain sarcoidosis or fasting or acupuncture I can’t. If you ask me why I healed when so many others only fade away, I definitely can’t. I know it’s not because I am more faithful or more good or more blessed that I have found healing and renewal. It’s not because I found the best acupuncturist in the world or because fasting is a cure-all. I can’t explain what has happened to me, I can only tell you how I feel. When I work a 14-hour day and have no pain in my hands or cramping in my feet or swelling in my ankles if feels amazing! When I practice yoga and watch my body bend and stretch and strengthen I can barely contain my surprise and awe! As I run around my neighborhood in the middle of the night or through the woods in the middle of the day I literally hold my hands up in the air in praise to God because I can’t believe how alive I feel. I appreciate my health every day. I do everything I can think of to maintain it and celebrate it. As I pray for my friends who have lost their loved ones to terrible disease and for my friends who’s bodies are wasting away from illness, I also thank God for the gift of health.

I didn’t earn it and don’t deserve it, but I will appreciate it every single pain-free, healthy day.


Me and George Bailey

November 29, 2018

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

George Bailey is my hero. He is my favorite fictional character (followed by Jean Valjean and Lorelei Gilmore). Every time I watch It’s a Wonderful Life I discover a new part of his story that resonates with mine.

When I created this blog, many years ago, I had just adopted my son and I was looking for some medium where I could tell my story. I was learning so much and I wanted to share my experiences and reach out for support at the same time. When I was trying to encapsulate what the theme of my life was, I kept thinking of George Bailey. The journey I had taken to motherhood was not what I planned at all. I had a completely different life envisioned for myself! But God determined my steps and gave me things I didn’t even know I wanted or needed. I was full of gratitude for my unexpectedly wonderful life!

George Bailey is a man who knows what he wants from a young age: he wants to travel and explore and see all the things he reads about in magazines. But each time he is about to set off on a journey, a crisis occurs that presents him with a choice. Each time he can either choose to follow his heart and go traveling or he can stay home and take care of his family and his community in some way. He always chooses the unselfish path, but he pays the price by becoming bitter. When he finally becomes so discouraged that he wants to die–when he sees no other way out than to kill himself–an angel intervenes and shows him the magnitude of all the difficult choices he made in his life. He gets to see what the world would be like if he had never existed. And it’s pretty bleak. It turns out that even though he felt like his life was small, he had an enormous impact on his community. Seeing this helps him to be grateful for the life he has and stop yearning for the one he thought he wanted. He understands that he has lived exactly the life that God wanted him to live, and it’s actually been pretty wonderful.

I knew from the time I was very young that I wanted to leave my hometown, move to NYC and become a Broadway actress. I had a clear path to those goals and no one ever stood in my way. I moved to NYC when I was 17 to go to NYU and found a lot of success in the musical theater department. My senior year I held the lead role in both the school opera and the musical and by the time I graduated I had sung for top casting directors in the city and had an agent who was submitting me for Broadway productions. I started getting job offers in theater, and I began to be overwhelmed by the choices I was being asked to make. Each job took me away from home for months and over the years I turned down work because the jobs were too small to warrant leaving home, or they didn’t pay enough. Twice I turned down good jobs to stay in NYC and be the Maid of Honor at friends’ weddings. I didn’t know how to choose work over friends or responsibilities and after a few years I had turned down more jobs than I had accepted. Eventually, the job offers dwindled and I pursued a different career altogether. God opened the door so wide to my hairdressing career that I ran through it and have never looked back. I have found success and happiness and every corner of the business. I had never seriously considered doing any other kind of work than performing and was so surprised and grateful to love my work and have success come so easily to me.

I had always intended to get married. My parents got married when they were 22 years old and that seemed like a good plan to me. I did have a serious boyfriend at that age, but at just the time when we would probably have begun thinking about getting married he went through a very difficult crisis and I saw clearly that I needed to give him space. I couldn’t explain to him why I was breaking up with him, but I was 100% sure it was what I was supposed to do, not for my sake, but for his. And he did recover and flourish. And move on without me. The same thing happened again and again with other men until I began to realize that maybe I was supposed to be single. I didn’t stop dating, but I did start to really appreciate all the awesome things about being single. I had intended to marry, but I loved my independence more than I loved any of those men. (To be honest, there has been one man I really wanted to marry. But that’s a whole other story…) Looking back on my life now I can see that God knew exactly what would be make me really happy and fulfilled. He created me and He knew how much I would love adopting and raising a child on my own, owning my own home, owning and running my own business. I have had a really wonderful life and I’m grateful that God wrote a special story just for me. I know He is still writing my story and believe me, He constantly surprises me.

Becoming a mother was never a dream of mine. Until it was. And then I adopted Rahul! And being his mom has been the most unexpected, wonderful blessing of my life. Who knew I would love mothering so much? I dream of adopting 10 more children and who knows? Maybe God has that in store for me as well.

Some people may watch It’s a Wonderful Life and wonder why someone would make the choices George Bailey did. It might seem like he chose his own failures by not following his dreams. He always had them in his reach, but he constantly makes decisions that he knows are the right thing to do, but probably couldn’t explain them to other people. I know what it’s like to be a disappointment to people who shared your big dreams. I know what’s it’s like to be so boxed in and lost that you want to give up your life. But I also know what it’s like to find contentment by following unexpected paths and to be fueled my a greater gratitude than you even knew existed.

Basically, I’ve given up trying to write my own story. God has such better ones written for me! I’ll just document what I learn along the way, through this wonderful, George Bailey life.


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