of sound mind?

This week has been a week of advocating for one of my dear clients. We began our relationship many years ago, and he has always had a clear mind and a strong voice. Although his ways may not always have seemed logical to others, to him, it has always been clear why he is doing what he is doing.

tobeheardA few weeks back he was admitted to the hospital, and I was drawn into some of the conversations. I noticed “dementia” on his list of diagnosis. In discussion with the doctors, there was a reference to him not being of sound mind. I could not remain silent and challenged their assumption, as everyone in this conversation was new to him. Although they cordially listened to my challenge, they ordered a neuro-psych evaluation with the full expectation that he would not pass. Two days later I learned he passed with flying colors and he was discharged back to his condo with the freedom to make his decisions and to live his life as he pleases.

He is back in the hospital again, and I am frustrated by the conversations that are repeating. As I have advocated again for him, I heard some of the following from the medical professionals.  Is he really of sound mind? At 90 I would not expect his reasoning to be rational. I can not understand his speech, are you sure his thoughts are clear? I maintain eye contact with these people and remind them that two weeks ago, he passed his neuro-psych with flying colors. I share with them that if they take the time to listen to him, they will hear how clear his thinking is.  I assure them that the more they treat him like he is not clear, he will ensure that they understand that he does have a voice and it works. Often that comes through as resistance and adds to where he is misunderstood.

If you or a loved one are aging, please be willing to have someone alongside who knows your strengths and represents them in spaces you are misunderstood, misdiagnosed or plain overlooked. We have big systems today that are often filled with professionals who are too busy or multitasking and not investing in the relationship of the person who is sharing their space at any given moment.

I am grateful for the opportunity to engage with my clients based on their strengths and join honest conversations about their struggles. I do believe one of the most rewarding spaces I have ever stood is to create the space where an individual, who deserves to be heard, can be heard. I used to think speaking for them was my role. I am grateful to have learned how that is equally disrespectful.

I wonder where you are able to create space for someone else to be heard? I encourage you to look for those opportunities and use your voice just long enough to allow the one you are advocating for to speak.

Be a light


Oh, this quote fills my heart with a reminder of all that is true. It feels as if in today’s world, we can become paralyzed by the brokenness that surrounds us. I struggle some days to choose hope. Waiting for the world to mend can make us powerless. Waiting for a new president, government funds or a solution to hunger, homelessness, addiction or abuse can cause us to be passive. To merely gather with well-meaning people and discuss the problem is not enough!

I do not want to be passive when it comes to bringing hope. I do not want to settle into the reality that brokenness abounds. I am encouraged that time is not the answer.

Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally!

That decision to live in that manner lies within our own control.

Where are you making this choice?

How are you making this choice?

Yes, make it with those closest to you, but do not limit your love and light to your inner circles. Please, go out and love others and spread the light that offers hope! Do not get lost in discouragement with the condition of our Nation. Bring love and hope to the people you interact with and cross paths with every day. We must choose to love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally! Every person can make a difference.

Love Intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally!

If you are living in darkness, I hope and pray that someone who carries the light will cross your path today. Keep your eyes open for God’s provision of light through people who choose to love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally!

Believe today that the light that you can bring through love can make a difference.

Believe today that the light you can bring through love can bring hope!








My Tribe

Find-Your-Tribe-Project-Bond-LaporteI wonder whose faces come to your mind when you read this. I love thinking about the faces of my tribe.

I know the faces of my tribe because they have been light in my darkness, hope on my hard days and people who speak the truth and remind me of what is true in kind and loving ways. And they have been more than that. We have shared good food and wine, heartfelt conversations, summer nights and winter blizzards. My Tribe has been with me in the day to day and on the mountain tops and in the valleys!

My Tribe has a core of my family, and yet others have joined my tribe over the years. My tribe has also lost people. However, their faces still come to mind. For me, my tribe reminds me that God created community to give us a taste of heaven. I do not believe a tribe has to be huge, but a tribe does demonstrate a commitment to each other.

There were some years in my life when I did not embrace my tribe. I look back on those years and recognize that I was sorting some things out and instead of relying on the relationships of my people, I began to isolate. Let me tell anyone who is feeling isolated, it is never too late to return and renter. I am so grateful for my journey back and for the beautiful opportunities, I have had to love my tribe hard.

Loving my tribe hard, for me, is about showing up. Showing up in person, in words, in a text, or in sharing a remember when photo even. For me, love is about presence. For you, it may look very different. The beautiful thing about a tribe is that every person brings something unique and what you bring can only be brought by you!

I wonder how strong your tribal ties are today and what you can do to bring strength and goodness to your tribe. Love your tribe hard and let them love you back!

Let me share some of the faces of my tribe with you! It is not my complete tribe, but it is many who I hold very close to my heart!


Story Work

I enjoy Thursday nights. This is the night that I drive down the highway and walk into the counseling office and visit with courageous individuals who are willing to explore their stories. During the time I sit with my clients, I find myself admiring the journey each person has walked. I am pretty willing to pause someone mid-sentence and ask permission if I can ask more about what was just said. I enjoy prodding with gentle probes to explore aspects of a story that feel neglected or underdeveloped.

I appreciate the tenderness of tentativestory hearts that know they want something different. I admire the tenacity that bubbles up and commits to the work that is required to find what different might look or feel like. I am grateful for the brave souls who are willing to laugh and cry, explore and live in the tension as their stories unfold, recognizing that rarely if ever, does a story fall neatly into place, honoring structure and order. And so often, I stand in awe of how the discovery work of owning your story creates a longing for more.

I wonder how much time you have spent discovering and owning your story? I know, from the experience that it is one of the most difficult and most rewarding things I have ever done. I was invited to explore so much of who I am, how I behave and what I believe about God, myself and others. Discovering and owning my story freed me up to love God, accept myself and pour my heart out for others. It is the best journey I have ever taken.

Love on the court

Tonight I was reminded of the goodness of team sports. I watched Isaiah’s tournament game, and in some ways, it was basketball at it’s best. Our team won, which is always fun, but that is not what made tonight sweet.

There is always something sweet about the opening prayer at the start of these games.


And then it is the moments when they are playing their hearts out, giving high five’s, helping each other up from the floor after a dive is made for the ball or encouraging each other after missed shots that inspire my soul.

Tonight there was a moment when a boy on our team shot to the wrong basket and made it. His eyes welled with tears, and I could feel the shame that filled his body. He struggled for the next number of plays. Up and down the court I could see his red cheeks and his watery eyes. He was trying to shake it off.

And in that, the kids kept playing. They rallied around him with a pat on the back and a word or two that seemed to say you’re ok,  but they did not rescue him. They engaged his shame and did not let the shame win. The coaches left him in the game, the plays continued, and in time, this young fellow was back and entirely present.

The game was fun, the kids played hard, but most impactful to me was watching the kids engage one boy’s shame with kindness, truth, and love.

I wonder what you do when you feel shame. Do you stay in the game and press on? Does your face express honestly what you are feeling and do you allow your friends to remind you of what is true? I believe that as we grow older, we learn to hide our emotions and shame. Tonight reminded me of the goodness of being young and engaging in the good spaces and in the difficult spaces.

I am thankful for that sweet blonde boy who so innocently made a basket for the other team. It gave me a picture once again of living life honestly in the presence of peers and receiving the love that a community of friends can offer.


admiring Judge Rosemarie Aquilina

Today while Heather and I worked we listened to the live news feed of the Larry Nassar courtroom. It has been a while since I have felt such intense conflicting emotions in my heart all at the same time.

I felt horror at the details shared by these brave and courageous girls and women. The magnitude of specific details I heard in an hours time caused me to feel nauseous and want to scream for the torment this man inflicted on these girls.

I felt rage at how our institutional systems allow for the cover-up of such horrific events over such an extended period of time. I value institutions and institutional loyalty, but when the people who serve the community go silent and allow criminal acts to go unaddressed, it is difficult for me to honor the institution in any way. It is my hope, prayer and deep commitment to ensuring that I am always willing to speak the truth and advocate for what is right for the many communities I am a part of.

rosemarie-aquilina-03-ap-jef-180119_19x14_992I felt gratitude and admiration for Judge Rosemarie Aquilina who has created space for so many women to find their voice and face their abuser. I am amazed at the capacity of her heart and all it is holding. I admire her for the way she is responding to every story spoken with words and spirit. To hear and respond to 100+ stories of harm requires her full attention and I have begun to pray for her daily. Perhaps she can bring her amazing gifts of truth and grace to our judicial system in other places in Michigan as well.

And I was amazed at the courage, clarity, and passion that exuded from every woman who spoke. From their ability to address their abuser, look him in the eye, talk with crisp words and still hold their vulnerability in their tears and honesty. I was reminded about the power that comes when one person begins to share honestly. It is an invitation of sorts, to others, to join in and unite. When people gather to share their most significant pain and in that identify their amazing strength, a bond is formed that overpowers evil and brings beauty from ashes.

And so, as I end this day, my heart aches for the ways so many women have been affected by this one man’s evil ways. And yet I marvel at how through their stories, they are declaring a commitment to continue on their journey of healing and to protect young children from this day forward.

We live in a broken world and are faced every day with a decision on how we will live. Let us live with a willingness to move into each other’s pain, sorrow, tears, and grief, believing that shared pain lightens the load and creates space for love, joy, purpose, and peace!


Keeping things positive…

Yesterday I looked at my Delta app and it told me how many days until my next trip.

Today I looked again.

It is not that I couldn’t remember how many days it was, but there is something motivating to see the days diminish, one day at a time. There is something I so enjoy
about the anticipation of something good.

lookingforwardToday was a gray day. The winter thunderstorm was impressive only for a few moments and then it was damp and cold. There is something good on days like today to have something to look forward to.

I know I can’t always have a trip planned, but I have incorporated looking forward to something into my personal motivational plan. It might be a scheduled massage or a day away with a friend. It might be trip or even just a day of biking. Honestly, some days I focus on how much I am looking forward to Spring. I believe the greatest benefit that has come from the discipline of looking forward to something is how it keeps my thoughts and energy going in a positive direction.

I wonder if you have something you are looking forward to?






Hair education

IMG_007712 years ago this sweet girl came into our lives. When we went to Haiti to meet her for the first time, I learned that the girls at the orphanage loved to do hair. Even with my short hair, they managed to fill my head with ponytails and beads.

Over the years I found someone locally who excelled in extensions and every so often when Sonta was in town we would make an appointment with Jewel. I was pretty proud of myself for finding the right hair salon, but I didn’t really educate myself about all this Haitian hair involved.

As Sonta entered her teen years she began to learn to do her own hair. The first time I walked into a beauty supply store that sold hair, I was overwhelmed with all the choices. I began to understand the options and costs of the many variations. I had a greater understanding of the financial implication related to hair that was managed very differently than the hair on my white head. I saw Sonta’s eye’s light up with all the possibilities from color and length to straight or curly.

This weekend we revisited the beauty supply store. Sonta is now into crocheting her braids and can change her look with her own fantastic skill. No need for appointments with Jewel anymore. I was reminded again of how this young woman navigates her world, learns what she needs and wants to learn and portrays God’s beautiful design for her whole being.

Last night I watched Sonta change up her look. I learned how she takes out what hair she has in, oils her head (glad I had bought the high-quality Olive Oil), braids her own shorter hair and secures the new hair we had bought.

Honestly, I felt a bit ashamed of how long this dear girl has been in my life, and I had never been curious enough to ask more. I wonder where you would benefit from being curious this week. I learned about hair, but in the process of being together and learning more, I learned about so much more than hair. I learned even more about this brave courageous Haitian girl whose heart really longs to return to her birth country and who loves her family right here in Michigan as well. We talked about the upcoming trip we hope to take to Haiti and envisioned what that will be like all while her hands moved like magic with a crochet hook making braids.

Go and learn something new this week, be curious and admire the soul who is teaching you!



Strong is the new pretty

I am a lover of words. It is no secret. I have words all over my home. I like to write them, speak them, study them and believe they hold power.

Words have the power to bless or curse, heal or wound, invite others to laughter or leave them unsettled for a long time. I will always be an advocate for people to think carefully about the words they write or speak.

It has been fun to see my 8-year-old niece enjoy one of the gifts I gave her for Christmas. I gave this book to her and her Mom as a joint gift. She then bought the calendar because she loves it all so much. There is something in the words and the pictures that ignite a powerful sense of acceptance.

strong is the new pretty.jpg

Girls being fearless. Girls being silly. Girls being wild, stubborn, and proud. Girls whose faces are smeared with dirt and lit up with joy. So simple and yet so powerful, Strong Is the New Pretty celebrates, through more than 175 memorable photographs, the strength and spirit of girls being 100% themselves.

Real beauty isn’t about being a certain size, acting a certain way, wearing the right clothes, or having your hair done (or even brushed). Real beauty is about being your authentic self and owning it. Kate T. Parker is a professional photographer who finds the real beauty in girls, capturing it for all the world to see in candid and arresting images.

A celebration, a catalog of spirit in words and smiles, an affirmation of the fact that it’s what’s inside you that counts. Strong Is the New Pretty conveys a powerful message for every girl, for every mother and father of a girl, for every coach and mentor and teacher, for everyone in the village that it takes to raise a strong and self-confident person.

I wasn’t sure it would resonate with this spunky niece of mine, but she has caught the idea and it is so fun to hear her identify her favorite pictures and why she likes this one or that one.

If you have some girls in your life and you are committed to building their self-image and understanding of their beauty, consider the messages you are communicating through the words you speak. Commit to using your words or the words you gift to them, to inspire a vision for all they are and can be.

filling my beds…

Tonight is part of what I love about my life. I planned for a quiet night home. It has been a busy week, and my brain is full. I received a text today from Sonta: can I sleep over? Absolutely I said!

Tonight I learned Olivia was driving in from Detroit to hang out with Karolyn. Can we sleep over? Absolutely I said!  I picked Karolyn up at 8 and Olivia will arrive soon.

And the amazing thing is that Karolyn is working on her computer in the other room and Sonta is upstairs calling it a day after a long week. I am home, it is quiet, and I have some of those I love the most right in my house with me. I had a sweet texting conversation with my nephew, and we are making plans to watch two basketball games tomorrow of the cousins.

I am committed to more routine and structure this year in the spaces where spontaneity sabotages my goals. But spontaneity is also a gift and rolling with it and letting my beds fill up is one of my favorite things.

I wonder where spontaneity will show up in your weekend in a way that offers you some of what you deeply enjoy and not throw you totally off track. Enjoy where goodness surprises you and enriches your life. At the end of a busy week with lots of questions and unknowns, I am aware of God’s incredible goodness. I am grateful! auntrishandkids


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