Stop Telling Me What to Post (or not to post) on Social Media–The Blue Mug Edition

It started like it normally does. I couldn’t concentrate, I followed links out of my Facebook feed and read articles. This one happened, I read it, saw comments on the publisher’s feed, and then I shared the article with my own little message:

“Here’s the thing–if you don’t like pics of my food, my dogs sleeping, my Christmas tree, or of my husband of 20 years and I hugging, *then unfollow me* mmmmkay? Because I’m not changing what I like for what you don’t like ?”

1419148_10151978089964264_20737953_oThe comments kind of blew up.

A friend said it bothered her when people posted pictures of Starbucks cups with their names on them. I replied that my cup never has my name on it, so I’m in the clear. (And since she posts from her husband’s account, I told her it bothered me when husbands and wives shared accounts.)

My friend Katey shared the page.

Let me tell you how I met Katey. One year, I was sponsored to go to this Christian blogging conference. I went and roomed with a girl I’d never met,  Brooke (who happens to share a birthday with me) Brooke and I were introduced by Toni on Twitter. Toni and I lived in the same town and both homeschooled our sons, who are the same age. That first conference, I also met Dawn and we became quick friends.

Year two of the conference came around and I didn’t have money to attend because Phil had just been fired from his job and we had just moved because of that huge shock. Dawn took up my plight, encouraged me to rely on the help of others and in 3 days, my entire trip was paid for. I roomed with Dawn and Katey and another gal that year. Katey and I, both being INTJ’s really got along and have every since.

Present day, Katey’s  friend Cassie requested to be my FB friend (I accepted) all because of this article telling me not to post more than one picture of month of my husband.   We started being rather sarcastic, because apparently we’re all really good at it.

Cassie posted that her husband was home then posted a picture of him and the kids.

I posted a picture of the French-press coffee I was making, blue snowflake mug included.

Cassie posted a picture showing that we were both drinking coffee out of blue mugs.

I had the same mug in my cabinet, so I took it down, switched and took another picture and posted it.
























Katey wasn’t drinking out of a blue mug, but a mug that was a present from Cassie.

Then a mutual friend of Katey and Cassie’s  (Lisa) said she had a blue mug.


As Lisa was posting a picture of her blue mug, I was linking to the story of my blue Starbucks mug. The one that Jill gave me before she died. Jill loved to shop at Goodwill and picked up things at random. She’d never been to Starbucks, but loved the blue Starbucks mug and knew I loved Starbucks, so she bought it for me. Later, I took Jill to Starbucks for the first time in her life and she kept the cup insulator and wrote a note on it for me thanking me for “sharing the love.” She meant my love for Starbucks and my love for her.  I broke the blue Starbucks mug Jill gave me and on the anniversary of her death this past January, I wrote about it because I woke up crying. I drank out of the mug on her birthday and the anniversary of her death because I miss her and I allow myself the time to grieve her.

Imagine my shock when I received two boxes from two different friends with more blue Starbucks mugs in them!!! (Linda and Sheena) Linda sent me two (one arrived chipped) Sheena sent one. So now I have one chipped one in my art room that holds water and paint brushes to remind me that even broken things have value and two good ones in my counter to drink out of as I wish.

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Lisa read my post and then tells me her story about her blue mug.

“My PawPaw was a very unique man. During the last year that he was able to live independently, he purchased quite a few random things, including a blue Starbucks coffee mug. He wasn’t a huge coffee drinker, which made his purchase of a very fancy Starbucks coffee maker and random blue mug even more bizarre. I can remember my aunts commenting about his purchases while they packed up his belongings. He was coming to move in with my mom, and I was helping to pack his things for storage. The best we could come up with was that he bought it because it was blue – his favorite color.

“Two years later, after his funeral, mom reached up into her cabinet, retrieved PawPaw’s blue mug, and gave it to me. Since I was the only one who really drank coffee, and I loved Starbucks, it only made sense for me to have his mug. For years, I drank from that blue mug, almost daily, without crack or chip. Two over zealous little girls, wanting so badly to help their pregnant mommie, dropped the bubbly blue glass while trying to wash dishes. The chip made my mug unsuitable for coffee sipping and it was retired to the craft shelf where it still sits, holding my seam ripper and tailor’s chalk.

“The mug in the Facebook picture is a replacement blue mug, purchased by my mother at a yard sale. I still drink from it, every day that it is found clean in the cabinet, and I think of PawPaw. I think of how God gave him the inclination to visit Starbucks one day, and buy a coffee maker, and a random blue mug….just for me.”

But Lisa still has the chipped one.

Just like me.

She uses hers to hold sewing supplies.

I use mine to hold paint brushes.

Lisa said, “God takes all the little broken pieces and puts them together.”

Amen, sister. Amen.

So here were are, each one of these ladies intricately laced into my story of friendship. How I lost Jill too early to breast cancer and how God has blessed me with Toni, Brooke, Dawn, Katey, Linda, Sheena, and now Cassie and Lisa.

Because of Social Media and because we were being ridiculous and posting silly things that some people don’t want to see. So thanks but no thanks,  John Weirick, author of that blog post telling me not to post stuff because it ruffles your feathers, I will continue posting blue coffee mugs, kissy face pics with my hubby, my food pics, my dogs sleeping, and anything else my little heart desires because the beauty of Social Media comes through in many forms, even blue, chipped, and broken Starbucks mugs. Especially in brokenness. 

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EDIT TO ADD: Lisa just messaged me saying she was AT that second blog conference. I was doing Visual Prayer during the key note address and my whole table joined in. She made one and gave it to her mother!!!! Lisa was also sponsored to go to the conference. Her mother’s life was torn apart and the one thing that couldn’t be physically torn in half was the Visual Prayer Lisa made for her that evening.

I’m kind of beside myself here.

Listen To Your Mother {Eastern Iowa} Cast Announced

A little story:

The first Mother’s Day after my mom passed away, this girl was producing a northwest Indiana show for Mother’s Day called Listen to Your Mother. She invited me and I declined. I was appreciative and wanted to support her, but I didn’t think I could deal with the emotions. She emailed a few days later and asked if Phil would be an usher at the show. I asked him and he said yes. (sneaky girl. I love you for that.)

So many of my friends were there that night and I felt loved and I loved them and it was good for my heart.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was urged to submit something for the Eastern Iowa show and with moving and the chaos, I just didn’t think I could add one more thing to my plate. But then, one morning right after we moved in, I was looking in the backyard of our new home and I saw some lilac bushes I’d never noticed and I wrote it. I cried and I wrote it. Then I sent it without even thinking I’d ever be chosen.

But I got the email and the announcements are made and there is my name. I will (somehow) be reading my story on stage. I’m not a stranger to the stage, that’s not the intimidating part. It’s the part where my emotions will be uncontrolled trying to tell my story. So far, I can’t even *think* of reading it without crying let alone actually reading it. It’s probably one of the most emotional pieces I’ve ever written. (deep breath.)

2 years.

4 years ago today I created my first Visual Prayer.

2 years ago today, I sang Amazing Grace to my mom as she took her last breath on this earth.

today is difficult. this whole week has been challenging.  we almost lost dad. it was so close, i couldn’t think of anything except how are we (my brother and sister and I) going to hold it together if we have to bury dad the same week we lost mom?

I’m sorry I didn’t have more faith. I’ve asked God’s forgiveness over and over for that this week. “I believe, help me in my unbelief!”

After we knew dad was making a pretty miraculous recovery, A friend said something about answered prayers. I thought to myself, this hasn’t happened before. This recovery is a new thing for me. The list of very close friends and family members I’ve lost in the last 6 years is staggering. I think I counted 9. Jill, Sara, Uncle Ed, Grandma, Mom, Phil’s  Dad, Grandpa Jack, Grandma Schalk, and Grandma Barnes.  Almost 2 a year. When dad was intubated I’m sorry to admit I didn’t even think recovery was an option.

And so today is…bittersweet.

Grieving my mom in a way I haven’t experienced. Watching my dad reach for my sister’s hand the way he did mom’s was so touching. I’m glad my sister can be his comfort.  He and I haven’t had that kind of relationship.  My mom and I never had that relationship. I distanced myself and pushed away for most of my life. And on top of the grieving, so relieved that dad is ok. Amazed that he didn’t die.  I’m exhausted physically and mentally and truthfully cannot process yet what just happened.

Reading this post again again and trying to remember to count the blessings not dwell in the pain.

Marriage Monday–Camping Edition

*missing camping…

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Just last week, I blogged a Praying In Color entry.

When I started praying, I had no clue it would end up to be a picture of a canoe camping trip, but subconsciously it must have been on my mind. I know that getting Phil to relax was weighing on me. I’d been trying not to nag him so I’d say, “I’m worried you’re not getting enough rest.”

“Got things to do.”

“They can wait, they’re not as important as your health and you need to rest.”

“When I’m done.”

“You’ll keep adding to your list.”

“What do you want me to do? Things got to get done around here.”

“I want you to at least take Sunday off.”

“How about Sunday afternoon?”

So I compromised for a few weeks. Phil works from seven in the morning until nine or ten at night five days a week. Then on the weekend, he’s out mowing the lawn, fixing the cars, and tending to all of the other mishaps that inevitably happen. We’re Murphy’s red-headed step children. Seriously. Ask people who have seen the chaos in action.

For the last few weeks, I haven’t had to beg Phil to relax, he’s taken to enjoying an entire Sunday off. Except cooking. But cooking is one of those activities that bond and solidify our relationship. I’m his perfect sous chef.

We took a two day float trip last summer on the Tippecanoe River. We camped at Tippecanoe State park. I don’t necessarily enjoy the work-out a canoe trip on a windy weekend gives me, but it melted my heart to see Phil truly relax, fish, and enjoy himself.

He doesn’t do well relaxing at home. I think all of the things to do dangle in front of him and taunt him. I know, they do that to me too, but mothers have the ability to tone out frequencies that are annoying. Sure dads tune out things, but typically if they’ve tuned one thing out they’ve tuned everything out. Moms can tune out the irritating stuff. Tell me I’m wrong!

So we go camping.

I love, love, love campfires. Cooking breakfast over a fire brings out the maternal in me. Who knows why. I don’t care why. I know I’m up at the crack of dawn wrapped up in a flannel shirt, throwing another log on the fire. I get the water boiling for the coffee and sip it while I add bacon to the cast iron skillet. Phil gets up, drinks my (by then) cold coffee and I make another steaming cup for myself. We take turns flipping the bacon and Zane yells from the tent, “I smell bacon!” and we sit by the fire waiting.

So I prayed for some extra money and for Phil’s boss to let him have a weekday off and I planned another float trip for our family. Next year, my goal is for more than one camping trip.

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*originally posted August 4, 2008


Most of you know my dad was a door-gunner in Vietnam. He lost his best friend. He saw things he’s never talked about. He came home and did the best he could. He and mom met at the E, J, &  E Railroad. Got married in April of 1971, had me in March of 1972.

Most of my memories are blurry. I remember in 5th grade, Mrs. Kaczmarek made us write a dictionary on our choice of topics. I chose “Car Parts” so that I could spend time with my dad hearing what an alternator does and putting it into my dictionary. I also remember Mrs. Kaczmarek chastised me for not picking a “girl” topic.  That was also the year I was running a relay race and I blacked out and ran into a cement wall like a football player doing drills on the field.  I broke my right clavicle.

The summer of 1987 is the one I remember most vividly though. I think it was summer.  It was 1987 for sure. And dad had watched Platoon and started having flashbacks.  He’d wake us up screaming, “INCOMING!!!” and he’d be huddled between his bed and the wall. Shaking. Screaming. Always screaming.

I’m not prepared to tell the whole story right now.  Dad had a nervous breakdown. It was bad. I was the target of his anger.

Years and years later, in 2007, I attended a conference and listened to a man I’d never heard of tell a story so eerily similar to my own, that I cried and had flashbacks the entire time he spoke.  Jane was there with me, listening to him tell his story and she was crying, too, because she’d been through it with me.  After composing myself the only thing I could say to Gary Braunbeck was, “It wasn’t WWII, it was Vietnam and it wasn’t a gun, it was a crossbow.”  All I remember is him saying, “I’m so sorry. So sorry.” and hugging me. Forever maybe. It was a really long time.  He was the only one I’d ever met like me.

I received Gary’s new book and was reading it last night. The story was in there. The same one that gave me flashbacks at the conference. Only this time, there was a lot more detail.

I had a hard time sleeping last night.

I had a hard time concentrating today.

I tried to fill my head with things other than the past.

But my brain leaks and my memory leaks and my eyes leak tears.

So I do things, like planning out Zane’s lessons, and mapping goals for ccPublishing, and I watch shows like Jesse Ventura’s Conspiracy Theory about the assassination of JFK because if I can focus on something else, anything else, then I don’t have to go there.

I’m tired and planning to go to bed early. I check Facebook and my dear friend Alexis has posted pictures and I look at them, not knowing what effect they’d have on me.

She’s in Vietnam. These are the Chu Chi Tunnels. All photos posted with permission of Alexis. (Thank you sweetie)

I am pretty sure I was having some PTSD symptoms. My chest tightened. My muscles clenched. My breathing was labored, my heart raced. I commented on her Facebook page, “Wow. Gives me a little ptsd though, seriously. My dad was there and had big-time, full blown ptsd (is medicated for it now and has been for years) but going through the pictures made me realize just how badly I was affected by it.”

As I was typing, I got a text. It was from my brother. It said, “I just had a strong presence…I’m to tell you I love you!!!”

“What??? I mean, I love you, too, but what happened??”

“Not sure. I was outside with Layla {his dog, like his kid} Layla was looking up in the darkness and I asked if grandma {my mom} was talking and I felt something…and when I came inside something told me to tell you mom loves you.”

and all i can do is cry

it feels like a dream, like i need to interpret it

but i don’t think it is

How to Traumatize Your Kid

Lovely thoughts of Christmases long gone fill my mind. Pierogi and fried lake perch. Snowballs and kolachy.  Midnight Mass.  Big family dinners at grandma’s house.


We’d walk across the alley back to our house, all excited for Santa to come. Dad would get his gun out and start teasing that he was going to shoot Rudolph. He was a deer hunter and he needed more freezer meat.  “I’m gonna have my gun ready for the first click, click, click up on the housetop. St. Nick better not land here!”

And we thought he was joking. Teasing. He wouldn’t really shoot Rudolph.

Bullets in. Coat on. Boots on. Door open. Door slam.

“Mommy is he really going to shoot Rudolph?”


Faces pressed to the picture window. His body just out of site. Gun barrel raised.



Ears covered. Tears streaming down hopeful little cheeks. A mama’s heart broken. Kid’s hearts torn to bits. Blown up.

Every Christmas Eve, falling asleep crying.

One Christmas, though, I woke to go to the bathroom and saw mom putting the Atari under the tree.  My heart raced, ran to my brother, woke him, brought him in the hallway.

Dad saw us. Mad. Yelled, “Get back to bed!!”


No more killing Rudolph.