Ah, Kindergarten. It feels like such a huge step wrought with roller-coaster emotions -- happy, sad,
Image by Daman Galdal via Flickr
anxiety, excitement, all rolled into one.  I wish I could write a note to myself at this moment last year, standing on what felt like a precipice, wondering how it would go, what it would look like, wondering about how my independent, adventure-loving daughter would fare.  

Because my husband and I have decided to send our children to a public school, there are a few things I would do differently, and I few things I stumbled into quite by accident that I am so glad I did.  For those of you standing on the verge of this grand adventure, here the things I wish I had known as I fought back tears while waving to my precious daughter as she rode away on that first morning's bus. 

This week I had the honor of guest posting for my friend Sybil at She Lives Free for Make a Difference Monday about a Sole Hope Shoe Making Party I hosted last week! Here's what I shared:

I first heard about Sole Hope when I read a blog post written by Logan Wolfram chronicling her experience while on a missions trip to Africa with the organization. The pictures of her holding children as they cried out in pain while jiggers were being removed from their little feet was enough to make me search a little farther to see what Sole Hope was all about.

What I found was an organization that started because Dru and Asher Collie saw a need and decided to fill it. Jiggers (a parasite that burrows into your feet and lays eggs) causes infection, pain, and -- if left untreated -- can leave people susceptible to other diseases such as tetanus and gangrene.

But there is a simple solution to the problem: Shoes.

While many of us don’t give a second thought to the shoes we put on each day, in Uganda, shoes are a luxury and many of the children Sole Hope helps have never owned a single pair of shoes.

So how can we help?

To read the rest of this post, stop over at She Lives Free!

Tim and I were on a walk the other night and he mentioned Robin Williams' death. Yesterday, details on his suicide, his struggle with depression and substance abuse bounced around the Web like so many mismatched marbles, opinions thrown around without thought to their effect on his family or on others who have experienced depression. And then I read this comment from someone on Facebook:
I have actually shed real, mourning tears today. Such a fixture in my life, and whose stand up comedy literally kept my husband alive during his own debilitating depression. I wish that knowing how much people loved him would have been enough to keep him going one more day.
And I thought -- thank you for speaking to the heart of why this hurts. 

Because it hurts to know that people who are desperately loved feel anything but loved.

Because even though I've never struggled with depression, I've watched loved ones walk through agonies I've never encountered.

This morning, as I thought about Robin Williams and his death, and the deaths of so many others from suicide, my grief feels almost overwhelmed by my anger. And I found myself crying angry tears over a man I've never met.

Not because of the choice that he made, but at the lies he believed that led him to that place of despair.

I don't mean to take away from the impact of mental illness; I'm not saying the lies he believed didn't have a stronger pull than they may have on others -- and yet I know that I've sometimes found myself smothered and silenced by lies that feel true, even when I know they're not. And don't we all believe those lies, some days? Maybe on a smaller scale -- but don't they, nonetheless, often define our life? Determine our attitude, our actions?

If I smile enough, people won't notice that I'm empty inside.
I would have better relationships with others if I were thinner or better looking.
If I could just make $_____ in my career, I would be happy.
Someone else could parent my children better than I can.
If I spend enough on my clothes, people won't notice my lack of confidence.
I've lost my identity so much that I feel like my only value is found in my role as a spouse/parent. 

If you're struggling to overcome the lies in your life -- no matter what you might think or feel -- please know that you are loved by the God of the universe, and by those you've touched with your life. You matter.

That doesn't diminish the pain you feel and the struggles you face, but my prayer is that the truth of it will sink in until you feel overwhelmed by the sheer extravagance of the abundant love of Jesus.

"The thief’s [Satan's] purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." John 10:10 (NLT)

If you struggle with depression, this post from Sarah Bessey really touched my heart today, as I hope it does yours. You are so, so, so loved.

We're also linking up with Holley Gerth today.
When Kristin, Julie, and I started blogging two years ago, I never thought about how it was going to change our writing and, really, our lives. We were in the throes of finishing our first book and thought adding a blog would help us hone our writing skills as well as let others know we were actually writers! (Kristin is really the only true literary among us.)
Summer 2012 - The start of it all!
We did not realize that starting this blog would create and develop some amazing relationships with other women, forging friendships that were not only appreciated, but found to be oh, so necessary.

We've met women online and in real life who are making a difference, sharing honestly and courageously, joining forces with others, and just overall making the world a better place.

This past week I was "tagged" by my blogging bestie friend Sybil from She Lives Free for a blog hop on writing and my writing process, so here goes:

Why do I write what I write?

Our BTG writers meeting this past week!
Oh my. This is a loaded question. The first reason I write is to be honest about who I am and were I am. In all truthfulness, I find healing for myself through writing. Telling my own story allows for openness with those around me. It has been so encouraging to hear other people respond to our posts, understanding where we are, and realizing we’re all in this together! Life is not meant to be lived alone and sharing stories is one of the best ways I’ve found to join with others! 

The other reason I like to write is to remember: what has happened, where I’ve been, and what God has done. I’ve realized just how important story is and passing them on to my family and children is vital to who we are now. It’s what knits us together across time and distance, bringing us close, when we remember our story. To me, remembering is priceless.