Moving on UP!

After just over three years, I have decided to put Middle of the Mess to rest. Not because life isn’t still messy. It is. But it was time for an update, I wanted to expand my theme, and I needed some of the advantages a self-hosted site could give me. From now on, please join me at I so appreciate all of you who have read my words in recent years. I’m not giving up yet!


Simple Joys



Candace Payne recently rose from relative obscurity to Internet fame by posting a video of herself wearing a Chewbacca mask she bought herself for her birthday at Kohls. It quickly became the most viewed video ever on Facebook, and brought millions of people joy as she expressed her unbridled mirth over her find. At the end of the video she says, “It’s the simple joys.”

That phrase has resonated with me ever since I watched the video.

The week before I left for vacation included a number of discouraging moments for me. The day before we headed out was particularly frustrating and sad. I found out some terrible news, and had a handful of annoying and expensive things get in the way of me getting ready for our trip. One of my tasks included making a stop at Walmart. When I checked out, the cashier asked me how I was doing. I replied that I was having a pretty crummy day.

“Do you like butterscotch?” she replied. I answered in the affirmative, and she reached in her pocket and handed me one.

“A man came through here earlier and gave this to me. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings and tell him I didn’t care for them. Maybe this will help you have a better day!”

“You’re paying it forward!” I exclaimed, as I teared up while checking out my travel pillows.

I walked away, and Candace’s words instantly came to mind. It wasn’t the butterscotch, and it didn’t matter that it didn’t even cost my angel disguised as a Walmart clerk anything. The whole idea was that simple acts can have a domino effect. Spreading joy often doesn’t take much…a hug, a kind word, letting someone cut in line, a compliment, and yes, even a butterscotch.

On one of our recent plane rides, I loved watching my youngest get so excited about the simplest things…a face mask or sleeping, a blanket, ear plugs, plastic purple silverware, and bright red socks just for the flight. His eyes got bigger with each new discovery.

austin mask

socks simple joys

What I loved most about Candace’s video was the light in her eyes, and I was happy to hear later that she is a Christian. If that is the faith you claim, then your joy should be contagious. I feel like I am a work in progress in this area.

I choose a word every year as a theme. This year my word is “fun.” Sometimes I need to take life a little less seriously. Maybe I need a Chewbacca mask, too, but last I heard they are selling out quick!
Search for the wonder. Spread some cheer today. You never know what a difference it might make!



P.S. Candace is selling the above shirts, and 50% of the profits goes to the “All in” Initiative. You can click the picture to take you to the place to order!

Hope Is an Anchor


So what if this is heaven? Here. Now. How would you feel about that?

Last week as we sat around the dinner table, our oldest explained to us that he had been doing some speculating with some of his friends. Somehow they got on the topic of heaven. They decided that maybe we are already in heaven. All I could immediately think of was The Truman show, the movie Jim Carrey starred in back in 1998. The main character, Truman,  thought he was living a normal life, only to discover his whole life was a reality TV show.

We unpacked Joshua and his friends’ idea a little together. The theory instantly fell apart, of course, when he considered the part about heaven having no more sorrow, pain, or tears.

I had several thoughts from that conversation. First, I love how my big guy is a little philosopher and takes the time to analyze the world around him. Second, I love that he has friends he can talk with about heaven. Third, I considered what if that fact was indeed true. If this is heaven, I’d hate to know what hell is like, is all I can say.

Ultimately, what struck me most, is that my son’s life is good enough that he could even consider our world to be heaven. Just yesterday I read some local news including gun shots fired, an attack at an apartment complex, and an assault on a woman on our college campus in an area I’ve walked many times. The violence continues to grow and gain severity in our used to be quiet town. And let’s not even get started talking about the poor pregnant mother that was shot in the head just an hour away, the wife of a pastor, who clearly had a servant’s heart.

My mind has a hard time comprehending earth as heaven as I read about Syrian refugees and terrorist attacks. How can my son’s life feel so wonderful while others in our world are suffering through incomprehensible circumstances?

Apparently, I have many blessings to count during this holiday season.

My faith wavers at times. I have moments of fear that this life of mine may be all there is to experience. I think I would be infinitely more selfish if the hope of heaven didn’t exist in my life. Forget about using religion as a crutch; it’s one of the few things making me a decent human being.

Take a few moments to reflect on the following scripture. In light of all of the evil in the world, thank goodness we have promises that tether us to a better future.

Hebrews 6:11-19
11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. 12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.
13 For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying:
14 “I will certainly bless you,
and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.”
15 Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.
16 Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. 17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.
Wishing you hope that will see you through the messes of this life!