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Katie, Martha, Louie

Family is what you make of it. In the beginning, as children, we take what we’re given and do the best we can. For some of us, it’s a continual blessing that grows richer and deeper with time. For others, we recover from the original family and, with some help, create a family out of the people in our lives. It’s all good.

However, for either one of those scenarios to work, we have to be willing to love and forgive on a continual basis. As it turns out, the biggest thriller any of us will ever know are the journeys we all take to be a part of something bigger than ourselves – a family.

This week I discovered that there’s a patch of family on my mother’s side living just 15 minutes away that I’ve never met before and I no very little about them, except for one important detail. My mother, Tina, rarely talked about her past at all, never told very many stories of what her childhood was like, for whatever reasons. I don’t really know. There was one exception and that was Ivan Toler, who she clearly loved and remembered fondly.

They grew up together in Georgia and he’s the one person I know of in the world that shared the best memories my mother had of those days. Today I get to meet him and sit quietly to just listen. No expectations of what the day may hold or what may be revealed. A new connection to family that comes with the best kind of loving invitation already secured by my mother.

Mom passed away in April of 2014 and I miss the phone calls with her because she was the one person in the world who would worry about me, even if there was no need to be concerned. She was also the one who cheered me on when I started the new thriller series, and said with confidence, “Oh, that will be easy for you.” I wasn’t so sure but Mom said it so easily and so quickly that I decided to just go with her view of things. People who love us can grace us with that kind of confidence from the inside, out.

They’re sharing the kind of love that doesn’t take anything away from anyone.

There’s more that can come with being part of a family, like old stories that sometimes run through our head and hurt our feelings and disrupt things like Thanksgiving dinners. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Look at it from a new angle by taking a good look at everyone gathered around your own Thanksgiving table. Chances are, no one else at that table even knows your old stories. For them it never happened and doesn’t exist because the past is gone. All they know about you starts with the day you met and moves forward. That’s their gift to you.

Don’t return the gift with the tags still on it by drudging up what no longer matters. Be in the moment and forgive the past by letting it stay right where it is. Then, try sitting quietly and listening to the stories as if you didn’t really know anyone in them, but knew you were really going to love them all. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. More adventures to follow.


Photo by Nick Bianco

So far, internet dating has reminded me that people lie, a lot. Also, flamboyantly kissing a woman’s hand is not cool on that first coffee date but is apparently a trend. (It’s happened twice with two different men.) I’ve also learned that meeting someone for the first time for just coffee is a really good idea. And keeping my sense of humor is a necessity because I may get referred to as ‘fresh meat’ on one date and occasionally I won’t make someone else’s cut either.

I’ve been trying for about three weeks so far and it hasn’t been pretty. One man took the time to cynically explain to me how it all works and that lying is the norm – that’s why he does it – and other nuggets of wisdom like those who don’t have a picture are probably married, which was okay by him.

Thank goodness I’m packing a bit of faith in God or I’d give up right now. Dating is a rough sport. Thank goodness I also have friends who can laugh and then tell me to get back out there. I’m not sure I expect anything to really come of internet dating. I’m really trying to be willing and take some action. But it’d be nice if something positive happened even if it didn’t lead somewhere like a nice, long relationship or yes, even marriage at some point. So far, three coffee dates later I’m mostly left with the idea that this has been a lot like job hunting and not at all like the movies and maybe that’s a good thing to learn.

Just like a good job, I’m only looking for the one that I can fit in, be happy, be of service and have some fun. There may be a lot of false starts, horrible interviews or near misses but eventually I’ll catch on that I’m a lot like most everybody else and eventually, the right person will come along.

Until then, I’ll give the three months I said I would and I’ll go on about my life without making this a test of my self worth or whether or not God is present at all. That last one is not always easy but is a Truth that I keep learning, one day at a time. More adventures to follow.