18 years

At approximately 2:42 a.m. on November 18, 1999, the 59-foot high stack, consisting of about 5000 logs, collapsed during construction. Of the 58 students and former students working on the stack, 12 were killed and 27 were injured. This ended the tradition known as Bonfire on the Texas A&M Campus, and forever changed the face of the university and those who participated in it.

This year’s graduating seniors have lived in a world where Bonfire – at least the student-led campus-housed one – didn’t exist.I let that sink in today – something that happened 18 years ago. I was 20 years old. Man, how life has changed.

To those families of the fallen, every year my heart aches and more over the past few as I have my own child, who’s own life could end at any moment — and that makes every moment a little more precious. Lately I have struggled with looking at the ripe old age of 40 – just a few years more up the hill for me – I keep thinking that life is going to start soon. That I’m going to finally “get the break” “get going” whatever that is…I realize that I’m probably silly for thinking that, that life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans – and my other plan making never quits…

Sometimes I don’t stop and listen to my little dude babble – I think to myself, “I’ll just get this one more thing done and then…”…or “I’ll stay an hour extra during lunch or later after work because I’ll finish this one project and then…” and inevitably, I find that “and then…” never really happens – the moment is gone, missed and written in the history books – and while I was too busy cooking or sweeping, I missed my kid seeing something for the first time, or meeting his need to chat.

All I can imagine now is for the parents of the fallen students of Bonfire, how many times “and then…” may have run through their heads. The Lord’s Prayer, often cited by our pastor at church, says to, “Give us THIS day, our daily bread” – and I’m not doing that enough – being present in THIS day, rather than preparing for the next, and the next.

I need to realize the gifts I have, and stop planning the gifts that my brain has convinced me I need. I have everything right now, I have my daily bread in my hands, and I admit that I am taking it for granted. The here and now is already provided for, I just need to start living it.



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It’s Been Awhile: A New Purpose

It’s been awhile since I visited this space. 70 lbs and 16 inches of hair ago even. My church is in the middle of this wonderful series on “Always Moving” – Serving Greater. Growing Deeper. Giving Bigger…and that last one that rang a little close to home since it’s essentially the name of my little space here on the internet: Living Louder.

I’m a Christian. I’m a Christian Mother & Wife who works in Oil & Gas. Christian is not the noun – it’s the describer of all the other things I am. God owns my soul – and for the longest time in my life, I lived quietly in my faith. I didn’t want to offend others by inviting, and I didn’t want to press people to find my way – but to find their own way.

Nobody is perfect, God knows that and accepts us for who we are, just as we are. But I still struggle with trying to tell people quite blatantly that they need to get a church, get to walking with Jesus. Trust me, in my line of life, there are alot of people I know who definitely need to “get with Jesus and get right”, but in all seriousness, I’m not the type to say “Hey, come on by my church and see the Light”. I know taht perhaps I should be a good fisher of men, and I’ve tried to help a few friends along before when they’ve asked about our church and how much we like it, but overall — I’m not the type who’s having her breakfast in a diner and leans over and asks the stranger next to me: “Is Jesus Christ your Lord & Savior?” – mainly because I’ve had that done to me, and it’s mixed parts creepy and offensive to get up in my personal space.

But, that said, this is MY personal space on the interwebs, and if you choose to read here, then I guess we’re good. I don’t have all the answers, I’m not always completely right with God, I’m human, and my faith is a daily walk – sometimes I trip, sometimes I’m running with Him…but I’m putting this out there, if you have questions on how it all works – I’m here.



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Getting Away – Portland, OR

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I’m Nowhere Near Weight Loss

I’m still 50 lbs away from my wedding weight. 23 away from my pre-pregnancy weight. and 6 lbs away from 200 lbs, which every morning I get up and see that scale and want to cry.

I drink coffee and have a diet breakfast sandwich for lunch. I eat a salad or lean cuisine for lunch. I work out for 30 minutes 4 times a week on an elliptical. Dinner is pretty normal.

Even for me, losing nothing over 6 weeks, that’s too much.

I’m weighed down – literally, emotionally, existentially, figuratively, whatever – and every time I put on an outfit, order something and it doesn’t fit right, and well, enter my closet in general, I just fall apart.  I’m so tired of feeling like I don’t have a worth as a woman, let alone being attractive. I went to an event last night with Ray. I couldn’t get over how large I was in the mirror. I can’t get over how much I count calories, how starving I am, and unsatisfied with everything I feel.

I feel like I’m disappointing everyone. I don’t look right, feel right and apparently I’m not doing it right. I hate this. I hate it. I hate it.

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Dear Class of 2016

It’s one of my long time dreams to speak at University or better yet, High School, graduation. I have no idea why. It’s not like I have a huge amount of wisdom to impart at my ripe-old-age of 37. Maybe it’s just this time of year when school lets out for summer and the weather turns hot and there’s graduation parties, watermelon, beach trips, barbecues and the feeling of freedom, despite that I’m still working a regular day job and summer is merely a season now, not a vacation. It’s with this nostalgia that I watch Ray’s students graduate, become adults and see the first families that made up “our band family” move on to the next chapter of their lives, hoping that we made a lifelong friend or twelve along the way.

That said, I figured, since this is my slice of the interwebs, and I can say what I want. Well, then I should.

To the class of the sweet ‘16…Enjoy whatever is next. If you’re going to college, study, but have a life. If you’re heading out to the workforce, work to live, not live to work. If you’re doing something else, embrace it with the same commitment as an occupation – for all of  these options may not be choices of our own, but they are the next step where our lives lead us. Treat them as an opportunity to learn, to evolve and become an even better version of yourself. The next years are the ones that truly take time to unfold – but will go by in a blink. You are entering a time in your lives that will shape you for the rest of your days. Just graduating doesn’t make you an adult, going through this transitional time, establishing yourself and your own place in the world as a citizen and contributor marks a new chapter.

You have two ears, one mouth. Listen twice as much as you speak. There are so many experiences out there that you’ll never hear if you are only talking. When I was young, I spoke too much. I should have taken in so much more. Not only just the words of wisdom from folks around me, but also the experience of hearing silence of the moments around you. Take time to be mindful of the choices you make, the paths you drive down and people who you choose to take with you to the other side of this metamorphosis.

As you make your way through this new chapter, realize that your success in life will not award you a participation trophy.  Do more than show up to this next part of life. Contribute with marked effort to the world around you, make an impact. Leave the world a better place than where you started. Take pride in what you do, do those things that you are passionate about and provide a greater good to the communities you choose to serve .That should be enough. That, in itself, is your reward.

In closing, a short walk through my advice on life: Live big, you only get one chance. Be nice. Work hard. Love harder. Know that there is always someone who can do it better. Live gracefully. Pay it forward. Give the benefit of the doubt. Embrace whimsy. Respect both up and down the ladder. Treat everyone equally. Forget color, gender, race, creed or religion – embrace humanity. Live ethically. Own your decisions. Have a savings account and a retirement fund and a rainy day stash and an escape plan and save in that order for them. Take educated risks. Make your own way, don’t ride coattails. Learn something new every day. Make sure to have a hobby that isn’t work related. Travel. Learn a language. Everything in moderation. Don’t forget others’ needs or your own and not always in that order. Take photos. Give 110%. If you take the last cup of coffee, make a new pot. Follow your passion. Take part in the trends, but don’t forget the classics. The simplest answer is usually the right one. Stay grounded, but believe nothing is impossible. Pay your bills, but don’t get a credit card. Realize it’s never too late. Treat everyone as if they are fighting battles you know nothing of. Know that mean people will never succeed, even if you don’t witness their demise. and finally, if you aren’t doing what you know you were meant to do, listen to your gut, get out, and get going – you clearly have other places to be.

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So, I’m a Mom. and I’m still more.

Remember when I wrote this lovely little ditty amidst a passionate need to make sure the world knew I’m still me?

Welp…I survived birth, but more difficult, I survived Maternity Leave. Kudos to Stay at Home Moms. “Good for you, not for me”…I cannot go 8 hours a day without intelligent adult conversation. I can’t. I know that I could probably take on Stay at Home-ness if I had to, and find play groups that would help this need, but I realized that as much as I adore my kid to bits and pieces, I need more than motherhood to keep myself sane.

There’s some lovely stuff though when you’re on maternity leave that folks asked…

“Aren’t you breastfeeding?” (upon seeing me make a formula bottle)…nope, I’m not, I did for 6 weeks, and then my kid basically screamed bloody murder despite diet changes every time I gave him my milk. He has Zantac and Colic Drops and Formula now, and I assure you his pain is everyone’s (including his own) gain, because he can sleep and get rest and enjoy life.

“How are you ever going to put him into daycare?”…drive him and drop him off. I love my kid, I want to be around him alot, but not 24/7. I want him to learn independence and social skills, the likes of which he won’t get with me being a helicopter parent. I need him to learn to be around other adults as well as kids, and quite frankly, a little “controlled” germ exposure may not hurt either – God made dirt, and dirt don’t hurt.

“Are you able to focus on work now that you’re back?” – YOU BETCHA. and guess what, when I go home I’m TONS more excited to see my kid, because the guilt of “I’m on maternity leave and I should be bonding affectionately with my child constantly instead of trying to do chores or get rest” is gone. I go home and it’s like “MOMMA TIME!! LETS DO THIS!” and for whatever reason, my brain is tons more well rested after a day of work – I can focus on fun and silliness much better.

Fact is, I’m going to make a conscious effort to stop the guilt, and it’s been paying off. I’ll be adding going back to the gym, buying myself stuff as my budget permits, and taking some couple and me time. It’s been an adjustment, but my life continues to be my own, even after that precious baby came out.

Yep, lots of stay at home parents where we’re from. Lots of them do all the right things and all the correct methods. But, guess what, so do I. Good for them, not for me. Chant it.

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