Your Journey Is Perfect and I’m Sorry

Religion and Faith.  What a tricky conversation.  In my lifetime, I have been a preacher’s kid, a missionary, a church employee, a bible reader, quasi-cult member, medical mission operator, a religious non-profit founder, a reformer, a fanatic, a harsh critic, and finally a questioner. Questioning saved my life and connection to faith, even though it has been hard for some people I love. I understand, though, because I’ve been there and it was hard for me to understand, too.  


This weekend, I was faced with a reflection of myself 15 years ago.

I was fervent. I was committed. I was totally drinking my own kool-aide. I had zero grace, understanding or compassion for people who did not hold the exact belief set I did.

I was a complete asshole.

I am so sorry.

It doesn’t matter that it came from a good place in me. I didn’t believe you when you said you felt great about your (very liberal) relationship with God. I didn’t believe that you were okay in your complete unbelief, or anything inbetween. I could not fathom how you could claim Mohammed or Buddha as your deity. I lost sleep over your belief system, or lack thereof.

My heart genuinely broke for you and in that brokenness, I BROKE YOU. Not irreparably, and it wasn’t a new break. But I broke you more. With my zealous beliefs and narrow, judgmental rhetoric, I tore the scab off your healing wound and (lovingly) kicked you in the teeth.

I am so sorry.

Your spiritual journey is yours. You invited me to walk beside you as you carved your path, and instead I handed you the map for my journey and demanded that you make it yours.

I am so sorry.

You and your journey are exactly right and can be trusted, even if I don’t understand it.

If there was ever a moment you believed that I loved you but I came at you with a misguided sense of righteous anger instead of connecting to the deep love I hold in my heart for you, I am so sorry.

You showed me grace, and in a few instances, rightfully showed me the door. Being the hands and feet of God never meant being the voice.

I didn’t understand. I didn’t get it. I get it now. It was never my job to change you. There as never anything wrong with you to begin with. You just echoed the fears and doubts in my own heart.

To all of my friends, regardless of belief, thank you for being here. Shutting you up/down/out only serves to show you how broken and scared I am, too. Thank you for staying even when I’m intolerable and self-righteous and just flat-out wrong.  I want to change that because you deserve love without conditions.

I am so sorry. I’m here now. I love you.


A Food-Free Halloween Treat Guide {Teal Pumpkin Project}

A couple of weeks ago, Ashton Kutcher tweeted this:


And my heart skipped a beat. Why? Because people are starting to catch on to the Teal Pumpkin Project.

As a mom to a small child with profound food allergies, I get a little terrified around the holidays.  Halloween is the beginning of a challenging food season for our family.  Seasonal treats are everywhere, and impossible to ignore.  As a healthy adult who tries to avoid sugar and can’t tolerate wheat, I find it hard to abstain. It’s an issue of willpower for me. But for my son? It’s a matter of life and death, or at minimum, a trip to the ER. All that separates him from a potential terrible reaction is our vigilance and the respect of strangers.

I would like to say my son is part of a small group of children, but he’s not.  Food allergies in children have increased exponentially in the last 15 years, and now 1 in 13 children has some form of diagnosed food allergy here in the U.S.  Those numbers are only rising.

Peanut allergies get a lion’s share of the food allergy talk, as it should.  Some people are so sensitive to peanuts that even a trace of peanut dust can kill them.  Unfortunately, peanuts are not the only food that cause deathly reactions from trace amounts.  Wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, oats, cinnamon, bananas, peppermint, and many others are just a few that have serious consequences for those who are allergic.

Because we want to keep our kids safe, but also include them, we are joining the Teal Pumpkin Project this year. Here’s how you can join us:

  • Paint a pumpkin teal, and put it on your doorstep with your other pumpkins. Kids with food allergies know they can come to your house and get a safe treat, and THEY WILL!
  • Offer trick-or-treaters a choice of candy or non-food treats. Kids with food allergies are often singled out for something they can’t control, and feel excluded and embarrassed because of their allergies.  Giving all the kids a choice makes it easier for them to be safe during Halloween festivities without shame.

I know some of you amazing, non-allergy friends want to participate but might not know what give out instead of candy.  This is a new-ish thing, so I’m putting together a handy little guide to help you navigate your Teal Pumpkin Halloween.


Please feel free to grab this image and share it!  Keep it handy and ask questions here or over at FARE. They’re the geniuses behind #tealpumpkinproject and we are so happy to support this awesome movement.

Also, don’t worry about getting the color exactly right or painting it pretty. The message is the most important part! Thank you for keeping our kids safe this season

Funny Tricks and Food-Free Treats,

Our janky teal pumpkin. As it turns out, I'm much better at cooking the food than painting it.
Our janky teal pumpkin. As it turns out, I’m much better at cooking the food than painting it.


Roasted Delicata Squash with Fennel


Fall is my absolute favorite. Why?

Because FOOD.

Who else wants to eat ALL THE THINGS? Well, so do I, friend.  So do I.

A few years ago, we discovered this gem of a gourd. It’s name is Delicata and it lives up to all the whimsy and subtlety that the name would suggest. It’s light, slightly sweet, and so crazy delicious that YOU WILL WANT TO EAT ALL OF IT IMMEDIATELY.

I’ve tried it a few different ways, and the easiest and tastiest way to prep it is in the oven.  A simple roast with coconut oil and pink salt elevates the squash to another level.  It’s a level you want to be at, trust me. It’s also simple and quick to prepare and the squash doesnt’ require peeling, unlike some other squash cousins.  Yep, I’m looking at you, Butternut.  You’re too much work! But delicata takes all the work out of it.

This super simple dish is great as a side, but honestly, I eat it on it’s own all the time. Because it takes no work to prepare, it’s comforting, and very filling.



  • 2 delicata squash, de-seeded and sliced (no need to peel!)
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut in half and sliced
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp pink himalayn salt
  • 2 tsp rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fennel fronds (the soft, feathery green things that sprout out of the the fennel bulb)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (more for spicy)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, place fennel, delicata squash, and rosemary.
  2. Add coconut oil, and stir quickly.  Add salt and red pepper flakes and mix again.
  3. Spread squash and fennel out on a large baking sheet, and try to get as many pieces to lay as flat as possible.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring once.
  5. Remove from oven and garnish with a little more salt and fresh fennel fronds,
  6. Eat immediately and enjoy! Or save for later and mix up a salad with some quinoa, spinach, and dried cranberries.

Enjoy the season!


7 Speedy Self-Care Hacks for Busy People

I loathe the term “self-care”.  I’ve never been a huge fan of it, but now as a mother, I super dislike it.  I support it. In theory.  Taking breaks to rejuvenate and come back to life as a better person? Sign me up. A massage? Sign me up twice. A long hike in a forest? I’ll get my boots! A getaway with my husband?  TELL ME MORE.

The ideal setting for the best self-care ever of all time.

But here’s the thing with self-care.  It doesn’t always look like a massage or pedicure or magical trek through the woods alone with only your (greatly neglected) journal and a Lara Bar to keep you company. And it almost never looks like a relaxing, kid-free trip somewhere else with my husband because it’s expensive and takes many elements of planning and, uh…it’s expensive.  It could happen, but the reality of securing childcare, paying said childcare, going on the trip, taking time off of work, paying for lodging and food and travel?  It’s pricey and time consuming.

The bottom line is this: Self-care can sometimes feel like a privilege instead of a necessity for mental and emotional health.

It doesn’t matter if you are in a committed relationship, a single person, a parent, a single parent, a grandparent, a circus performer, totally bankrupt, rolling in Kanye amounts of cash, worked to the bone, a teenager or college student, whatever.  YOU NEED TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.  Instead of carving out an hour, a day, a weekend, or any other difficult amount of time, focus on small things.  It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or spendy.  Taking care of yourself can be simple, free, and take 30 seconds or less.

  1. Pee first. Whatever you have to do, it can wait 30 seconds while you pee.  Screaming kid?  I get it.  Pee first.  You have to start dinner right this minute? Pee first.  You need to take a call? Send it to voicemail and call right back after you pee first.  Because peeing is important to your well-being.
  2. Slip off your shoes and feel the grass.  When was the last time you slipped off your shoes during your lunch break and stood in the grass?  Never?  Well, start now.   Let your kids play at the park or in your yard and sip your coffee with your shoes off for a minute. Enjoy the way the grass feels between your toes and the soft earth beneath you.
  3. Breathe on purpose.  Just take a deep breath, okay?  Not because you “need” it, but because it feels freaking wonderful to expand those lungs and breathe in deep, then exhale fully. (10 points if you take a deep breath while you pee barefoot. -10 points if you do that in a public restroom.)
  4. Massage your hands. Before bed, when you need a minute to refocus, or just because you like soft hands.  Grab your favorite oil or lotion, and be sure to gently pinch the soft spot between your thumb and pointer finger for extra relaxation.
  5. Add fruit to your water. Your toddler didn’t finish his apple slices?  Toss a few into your water bottle or pitcher.  Slice up a lime or orange while you’re at it and toss those in, too.  If you’re feeling super fancy and have it on hand, add a mint leaf or two.  Stimulating your taste buds can help keep your mind clear and connected to your body.
  6. Quote it. Find a short quote or poem. Read it. Twice. Return to it when you need to fuel your spirit.
  7. Eat a spoonful of peanut butter. Or sunbutter. Or almond butter.  Or Nutella.  You probably need the protein or chocolate fix. Go ahead and do that now.

If all else fails, drink that extra cup of coffee, or turn up your favorite music and dance. Or hide.  Yep, sometimes straight up hiding can be self-care.

Oh, and if anyone has any ideas about how we can abolish the term “self-care” and replace it with something more fantastically fun, go for it.  Let me know.  We will sprinkle that phrase like glitter from a unicorn.

Take good care,


Supporting Simon: Empathy for Autism

Friends, meet Jessica.  We met over 15 years ago as teenagers, bent on changing the world for the better.  Over the years, we have remained dear friends and are happy to have sons just a year apart.  Last year, Jessica’s youngest son, Simon, underwent a long process of therapy and testing which finally culminated in an autism diagnosis.  I asked her to share Simon’s story here.  She graciously complied. In a conversation last week she said, “Could you imagine someone telling us all we would encounter now, 15 years ago? We wouldn’t want to even open our eyes to the future. Yet here we are and we are thriving!” And that is why I wanted her to share.  Life keeps going.  We are stronger and braver  and bigger than our diagnosis, disease, and dysfunction. We have access to hope and healing, even if we have no cure (yet). I’m proud to call this woman a friend.
        Its been close to four months now since D-Day: the day we received the package. A package full of the numbers, paragraphs and codes. The package that labeled my dear son Simon as a boy who was autistic.
Simon and Jessica
        I was expecting this, but I was not prepared for the avalanche of emotion that followed, seeing it all in black and white on crisp smelling paper.  The heavy blue folder filled with advice on teeth brushing, sensory processing, oh and a list of lawyers to contact should our school district not be cooperative.
        What is NOT in the big blue folder is how to handle your relationships. How to talk to people you know as well as strangers about your sons neurological differences. Nor was there a guide titled “Emotionally Processing Your child’s Diagnosis and Letting Others Know How They Can Be There For You”.
        One can find a million articles on autism and plenty of them start with the “37 Things You Should Never Say to a Parent of an Autistic Chilld”. I struggle with these articles, not because the content isn’t true, because it leaves people feeling paralyzed and fearing they will say the ‘wrong’ thing. So, they either avoid the topic all together in order to avoid saying anything hurtful or, perhaps, say nothing at all.
        After doing a bit of self care in the last few weeks, I was truly blown away by some of the truths in Brené Brown’s research on vulnerability and especially, how Empathy helps propel us into relationship and away from shame.
        With much of this truth, in addition to realizing how I personally process grief, I can look back and tell you exactly what I needed in this time. I needed a cozy, safe space where nothing I said, or felt, was perceived as wrong and held against me. A space where I could scream, freak out, ask “why”, followed by more crying. In this space, the nights would feel long and dark and alone. This space is grief. It is real and evolves each and every day. Some days laughter comes back for a moment only to be followed by more tears. Eventually, the tears flow less and less frequently.
“To every person walking through a major life-changing situation, you need to allow this space in your life to exist.”
        To everyone else who is watching from the outside looking in, you need to simply choose to sit in that space with that family for a moment. There is no need to fill up this space with empty works. Simply let them know that they are never alone. It can be liberating to acknowledge that nothing you can say verbally will change the grief and trauma they are experiencing. Instead of filling space with words, YOU simply hold the space and share it with them.
        On our way home from the Cleveland Clinic with that big blue folder on my lap, my husband and I cried and remained quiet without any music playing as we drove. We let the silence and sound of our tears be our song. We pulled into the driveway to find our fantastic neighbors in the driveway.  They knew the diagnosis was possibly coming that day, and not even a minute out of the car they were there with open arms and tears to match ours. They listened to the few words I could utter and instead of filling the air with ‘I’m sure it will be fine….or my nephew is autistic and doing great…’  They chose to inhabit the space with us and be in it too.
        An hour or so later, we’re trying to just get back to our day and a friend had told me she wanted to bring something by. Truth be told, I wasn’t up for any visitors but something in me also really wanted her there. I knew she was coming clear across town and she pulled in the driveway and when our eyes met, it was like she understood what we had just underwent.  Her hug was compassionate and gracious. She also did not fill the air with ‘Gods got it under control….everything will be OK…’ because she wasn’t actually certain of anything in that moment.  What she DID do was hand me a six pack of beer for Joel…fruit snacks for my kids and flowers for me. She also handed me a card and it wasn’t filled with words of empty flattery or ‘Only special Moms get special kids…’ – what it was filled with was ‘You are not alone. We love you.’ She joined me in my space. She brought a little light in.
        I could go on about the beautiful conversations, hugs and acts of kindness sent our way upon, during and before Simon’s diagnosis. What I am most grateful for is those who chose to sit with us, look us in the eye, wipe our tears and cry a few of their own. If you’re unsure on how to be there for a friend who is going through something you do not fully understand, just go and be with them or practically love on them.  It is as simple and dropping off a coffee or a little bouquet of flowers and a hug.  Never under estimate the power of a hug.
Miller Fam
Jessica and Family
        In four months, we may have a gained a diagnosis that will likely effect Simon forever. We have also gained a support system of Grandparents, teachers, therapists, and a new found surge of power within my husband and myself. This gives us courage on hard days and helps us see the progress. Even progress many would regard as trivial, is a big deal for Simon. Simon is growing, learning, and understanding more of his world every day. Ultimately we are so grateful to all who have helped us and are still helping us process this new way of life.
Proud Mother of three fantastic sons and one exceptional Simon,