Listen To Your Tears

I’m a crier.  Always have been.  When I was very young, I learned the phrase “at the drop of a hat” because those were the words my dad used to express his frustration at how frequently and without warning I would burst into tears.  You cry at the drop of a hat!

Part of the hideous baggage that I’ve accumulated with a drop-of-a-hat-crying habit are the coping strategies that result from growing up with hair-trigger emotions and a frustrated father.  There are three main strategies I’ve enlisted, each one worse than the one before it, and they aren’t on my Things I’m Proud Of list.

My first strategy is to quickly pull it together, stop the tears, breathe deeply, wipe away the bleeding mascara, fake a smilie, and assure those around me that all is well.  “I’m fine.  I’m fine.  Really, I’m fine.”  Distract my mind, think of something, anything, to get the crying to stop.  Return to normal as quickly as possible.  Stop feeling, and do it as quickly as possible.

My second coping mechanism is to apologize.  It happens instantly, without much thought.  A quick, “I’m sorry!” is blurted out to whomever is being unintentionally forced to witness such a messy event.  What I’m really communicating is, “You deserve better than emotional outbursts from me, and I feel like I’m letting you down by letting you see me this way, and for all this unplanned emoting I am sorry.”

And finally, perhaps the worst on my list, is shame.  Yes, shame.  There is one vivid episode in particular where I felt deep shame for my highly inconvenient, unplanned tears.  The weeping descended upon me in full force, despite my best efforts to hold it back, in the middle of a song, which I was singing, in front of a sanctuary full of people, all eyes and ears fixed on me, in the middle of a funeral service for a friend and motherly mentor who died way too young.

I fell to pieces.

I couldn’t recover, and the song just sort of went on with me gasping for air and sobbing into a microphone.  I did the only thing I could think of when it was over.  I hid backstage, hiding my face in my hands, overcome with shame, inconsolable, now crying even harder because of how guilty I felt and how disappointed I was in myself for letting everyone down.

Even as I type those words, remembering many tear-filled experiences, I see the lies creeping in, full of toxic poison, telling my heart whatever it is feeling is ugly, unacceptable, unwelcome.  And expressing it?  That’s even uglier.  Shameful even.

I read a book a couple of years ago that suggested listening to our tears.  It wasn’t the main point of the book, but the idea instantly spoke to me.  What a concept, to actually honor the emotion that overwhelms us, and try to figure out what our tears are telling us.  Sometimes, things are hidden so deep inside our crowded hearts that we don’t even realize what’s hanging out in there until one day, sometimes out of the blue, an emotion gets resurrected and the only space it can find to crawl out into the open is through our tiny tear ducts.

What are those tears trying to tell us?  What’s happening in our hearts?  Why am I really crying?

Answering that question has led me way, way back and left me longing for the ability to intercept the lies before I had time to manufacture my arsenal of destructive coping mechanisms.

I want to go back in time to little Katherine, whose dad was frustrated by her crying, hold her hand, and ask her, “Sweet one, why are you crying?”  I want to discourage in her the instinct to stop the tears for the benefit of an inconvenienced parent or for the comfort of anyone who witnessed her raw emotion.  I want to tell her it’s ok to cry, to let it out, and I want her to listen.

I want her to know that she doesn’t need to apologize for her tears.  They are beautiful, natural, honest, and those who witness such vulnerability will only find it a point of connection and greater intimacy.  I want her to learn to trust others with her tears, to learn to share them freely, and to learn to listen to what those tears want to tell her.

I want to pick her up off the floor backstage at the funeral, hold her face in my hands, and tell her to lean in and listen.  I want to tell her that it’s no surprise she wept in the middle of the funeral song.  To suffer the physical death of a friend on the heels of the emotional death of her family is more than one heart can bear.  To even attempt to sing in the midst of such pain and abandonment is brave and courageous.  Not a soul in that sanctuary thought her a failure.  They felt overwhelmed by their own sadness, and shared that tender moment with her, wanting to reach out and comfort her even in the middle of the unfinished chorus.  Those tears are not a source of shame, but an offering, a precious gift, a tender heart pouring out all it had to give.

These days, I’m still the cryer I was as a little girl.  But I’ve stopped apologizing, I don’t feel ashamed, and I don’t try to pull it together and distract myself for the sake of appearing composed.  I try to listen to my tears.

Sometimes they tell me of a place I’ve left unattended for too long, an unfulfilled desire, a quiet calling back to things abandoned, or a deep beckoning to begin something new.

Sometimes they call up terribly painful reminders of loss, shedding new light on old wounds whose only comfort and healing can be found in a steady stream of hot tears brimming over from a well of sadness that seems to know no end.

Sometimes they whisper, mysteriously begging me to notice the beauty in broken places, the moments when the shadow of the eternal passes over something common and transforms it forever.

Whether they show up raw and unexpectedly, or slowly and quietly make their way down my cheek, I am learning to listen.  They unveil secrets beneath the surface, and tell the truth about all the places where life seems too hard to bear.  Tears always speak.

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Middle School

I knew that my children would one day finish elementary school and move on to middle school.  It makes logical sense.  But I held out hope that somehow, some way, something magical would happen to prevent such an event from ever becoming reality.  Two weeks ago, right on schedule, Annie, our oldest, started middle school.

Despite possessing adequate intellect and fully-functioning mental capacity, when you’re feeding cherries to your toddler, the idea of them ever actually attending middle school seems ludicrous.  “Eventually” might as well mean “never” in the thick of the snacks, sippy-cups, and strollers.  When Annie was little, middle school felt so distant and far away that I didn’t even bother trying to grasp it.  But here I am, fully immersed in the reality that I have a daughter in middle school.  My toddler turned into a sixth grader.

Think hard.  Do you know anyone who would volunteer to go back and relive their middle school years?  You couldn’t pay me enough dollars, grant me enough wishes, promise enough world peace for me to even consider walking back through middle school.

My middle school experience was awful.  Aw.ful.  I can’t even write about it without breaking into a sweat, feeling my stomach tighten up, and trying to nervously laugh the memories away.  Don’t believe me?  I wore glasses, thick ones with plastic frames.  My blonde straight hair turned brown and very curly almost overnight, and my solution was to cut it short.  My family struggled financially, so my wardrobe consisted of a couple of ill-fitting outfits that I rotated through with little variation and even less style.  My parents were very strict, conservative, keep-the-world-out-to-protect-our-children types, so I had no social life which was fine because I also had no friends.  I had nowhere to sit at lunch.  I got teased a lot and was picked on by the cool girls who thought it was fun to point out my flaws.  To top it all off, I played flute in the band.

Excuse me while I go breathe into a paper bag.

I admit, I was nervous for Annie.  I also admit, 99% of my nervousness came in the form of projecting my awful memories onto her.  I tried to hide it from her, slapping on a grown-up smile when we walked into the halls on the first day, nervously greeting everyone a little bit too loudly with a “Good Morning!” that was merely an overcompensating attempt to mask my dread.  I exuded fake confidence as we found her locker, dropped her off at first period math, then turned and walked against the current as waves of adolescents loudly made their way down the hall.  I had to remind myself that the reason none of the other students were making eye contact with me or waving hello to me had more to do with the fact that I was a middle-aged stranger and less to do with whether or not I was cool enough.

When I picked up Annie on the first day, my palms were sweaty.  “How was it?” I half-shrieked at her.  When she told me (while smiling from ear to ear) it was soooooooo good, I wanted to believe her, but I had to ask some probing follow up questions to assuage my middle school post-traumatic stress disorder that was flaring up.

Did you get lost on your way to your classes?  Did you have anyone to sit with at lunch?  Did you remember your locker combination?  Did you see anyone you know?

She sort of chuckled and gave me a funny why-are-you-so-crazy look, then answered my questions, convincing me that her day had indeed gone very well.  She actually enjoyed her first day of middle school and couldn’t wait to go back.

And then, as we drove away, it all hit me.  Thankful to be alone in the front seat, my face out of her line of sight, my eyes covered with sunglasses, I began to cry.  They were happy tears, little rivers of relief as I realized she was going to be fine.  More than fine.  She was going to be great.  My white knuckle grip on the steering wheel loosened and I could breathe.

I felt excited for her and for me.  Excited for her because she isn’t walking in my awful middle school shoes.  She has her own life, her own story, and it doesn’t involve my brand of awful.  Excited for me because never, ever, ever again will I have to return to that terrible phase of life where I felt alone, ugly, inadequate, and insecure with no idea how to make it stop.  It’s thrilling to realize the past is actually the past.  Sure, all those years of confusion and heartache formed me, shaped me, led me to the person I am today.  Hallelujah praise Him thank you Jesus those days are over.

Today, I get to stand on this side of middle school with a daughter who I love, who has a daddy who tells her everyday how beautiful and special she is, who is surrounded by examples of strong, smart, talented women, who has a home where it’s safe to fail, who has a family who celebrates her growth, who is continually reminded of her eternal worth, her real identity, her true beauty.  And that’s a middle school memory worth reliving.


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The Menu Board 09.08.14


A couple times a year, I become a cartographer.  My husband coined the label, based on a phrase I use frequently when he asks me what I’m doing.  “I’m mapping out some things,” is what I say.  By this I mean I’m busy making plans, getting dates on the calendar, or putting detailed task lists in writing.  So now, when he sees me busy making plans, he asks me how the cartography is going.  Clever man, that one.

This past August, while mapping out plans for our fall, I marked off space in our family calendar to allow time for us to intentionally invite some new people to join us around our table for dinner on a Saturday night.  This week we have our first set-aside Saturday dinner date, and half the fun for me is picking the menu.

I’m excited to take my time in the kitchen, prepping ingredients, setting the table, enjoying the process of creating space for others to enter and feel at home.  There’s nothing like it for me.  And it is because of careful cartography, the mapping out months ago, that the process will be enjoyable, creative, and life-giving.

Cheers to cartography, and have a lovely week!

Monday : : : Spaghetti Pie, Garlic bread, Salad

Tuesday : : : Roast Beef Sandwiches, Fruit, Sweet Potato Chips

Wednesday : : : Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Carrots, Apple Cranberry Cake

Thursday : : : Grilled Flank Steak Salad

Friday : : : pizza night!

Saturday : : :Spiced Pork Loin with Apple Pear Chutney, Green Bean Bundles, Butternut Squash Risotto, Fall Salad with Candied Pecans and Goat Cheese, Apple Crisp with Cinnamon Ice Cream

Sunday Supper : : : Scrambled Eggs, Cinnamon Raisin Bagels, Maple Bacon

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The Menu Board 09.01.14



We did it!  Our first week back to school is officially in the books, and we are all still friends.  The early mornings and long afternoons were an adjustment, but we made it.  Only 175 school days left until summer.

My favorite part of the week was the return of a regularly scheduled family dinner time.  We had the added bonus of getting to share our table with friends and family three times this week, including a family birthday dinner for my sister-in-law.  My love tank is full, and my heart is happy.

This week, our family menus include something grill-friendly for Labor Day, my favorite breakfast-for-dinner Buttermilk Pancakes, and Guacamole. Have a lovely week!

Monday (Labor Day) : : :  Hamburgers Sliders, Maple Baked Beans, Onion Rings

Tuesday : : : Weekend Beef Sliders, Corn Casserole

Wednesday : : : Skillet Chicken Fajitas, Rajas con Crema, Guacamole, Horchatta

Thursday : : : Babysitter Meal (fish sticks and macaroni)

Friday : : : pizza night!

Saturday : : : Buttermilk Pancakes, Turkey Sausage, Fruit Smoothies

Sunday : : : Portobello Lasagna, Salad, Garlic Bread

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The Menu Board

UntitledThis week kicks off a new school year for our family.  In addition to the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and pristine new uniforms, the smell of regularly scheduled dinners will once again waft from our home.

I love cooking dinner for my family.  I love having people join us for a weeknight meal.  And I love the challenge of carving out time in the midst of my busy day to prepare the food, to make it a priority to sit down together around the table.  It’s always worth the effort.

One of my favorite parts of cooking dinner is planning out the weekly menu, and today I am excited to begin sharing The Menu Board with you.  This isn’t an on-line-only fantasy-wish-list dinner plan.  These are my real, honest-to-goodness, actual plans for what I’m serving my family for dinner this week.  What you see is what we eat.

I hope this becomes a useful resource and source of inspiration for you and your family!  Here’s what’s on The Menu Board for this week…

MONDAY : : : Poppyseed Chicken, Rice, Green Beans Amandine, Garden Salad with Basil Green Goddess Dressing, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Vanilla Milk

TUESDAY : : :  Homemade Sloppy Joe’s, Broiled Corn on the Cob, Fire and Ice Tomatoes and Cucumbers

WEDNESDAY : : : Steak Fingers with Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Spinach and Strawberry Salad

THURSDAY : : :  Challah French Toast, Turkey Sausage, Strawberry Mango Smoothies

FRIDAY : : : Straw and Hay with Gorgonzola, Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette, Grilled Bread with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon Mousse

SATURDAY : : :  pizza night!!

SUNDAY : : :  Grilled Salmon, Fusilli with Lemon and Arugula

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Hurley House at Anthropologie!


I have big news to share!

Next Saturday, Hurley House will be selling delicious baked goods at the Fort Worth Anthropologie!

Come out and enjoy free samples and lots of homemade treats!
14-548FtWorthPop-UpMarket_VendorJPEG_01Hope to see you there!!!

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HH Open House & Bake Sale

I have a fun invitation for all my local friends!


Hurley House is hosting an Open House & Bake Sale!!

Come step into our world and see what Hurley House has to offer.  We will have lots of yummy things to sample, delicious treats to purchase, and opportunities to place your holiday orders.  We’ll have fresh hot coffee, Hurley House Hot Chocolate (with our homemade marshmallows, of course!), and lots of room to relax and enjoy!

Spread the word, bring a friend, and don’t forget your holiday gift list.  All are welcome, and we can’t wait to see you!

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Friday Favorite: Baking 101

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The other day I was standing in the baking aisle trying to remember the difference between natural and dutch-processed cocoa powder. How timely then, that I would stumble across this post from Joy the Baker this week. It is helpful, informative, and written in a funny and enjoyable voice by a good teacher.

I was delighted to find that this post was one in a series that Joy is called Baking 101. Previous posts include How to Read a Recipe, Why We Use Unsalted Butter, Must We Sift This Flour?, and The Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder. Though simple, each of these lessons are invaluable in the kitchen.

I am looking forward to see what she will cover next. Want to follow along with me?

Have a lovely weekend!

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Friday Favorite: Halloween Costumes for Kids

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All year my four kids talk about what they want to be for Halloween.  Eleven months out of the year I say, “It’s not time to talk about Halloween yet.”  But, now, it is time to talk about Halloween costumes, and they are in full costume-planning mode.

I’ve been browsing the web for some creative options this year, and I found two bloggers doing series on homemade costumes for kids that I think are worth sharing.

Victoria from A Subtle Revelry just started a series on festive party-themed costumes. I think this birthday cake costume is one of the cutest homemade costumes I have ever seen. It just takes the cake!

Jordan from Oh Happy Day picked her ten favorite costume tutorials from last year. I love all of the ideas but her little strongman cracks me up!

What are your little ones (or you!) going as this year? Have you come across any creative ideas?

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Friday Favorite: Hurley House on Pinterest

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The part of Pinterest that I like best is being able to see what other people (who I know or respect) like. I enjoy knowing what my friends (and some strangers that I am pretty sure would be my friends) find beautiful or inspiring.  I love the sharing of pretty images and fun ideas as curated by some of my favorite people.

I have personal boards, but they tend to be paltry and get very little attention from me.  However, when it come to my Hurley House account, I find it very helpful and exciting to pin images that fall in line with what my company is all about.  I like reviewing these pins, and I find myself excited, spurred forward, called to raise the bar, inspired, and even more creative when I check out the lovely collection of images.

Have you checked out Hurley House is on Pinterest?

It’s no secret what you’ll find…Pretty Parties, Darling Decorations, Sweet Supplies, Perfect Packaging, Sweet Treats and, of course, our favorite recipes. If you want to see some pretty little things I love, be sure to follow Hurley House on Pinterest. I’d love to see what you love too!

Cheers to a great weekend!


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