“Smoke and Lemonade” Finds a Home

Super excited to find out that Tulsa Review published my memoir piece “Smoke and Lemonade” in their Spring 2015 issue. The issue is filled with wonderful writing and fantastic photography. I’m honored to be included with such amazing artists.

It’s pretty sweet that I get to post this on Father’s Day! When I told my dad I wanted to go off to school in New York and become a writer he said, “It’s a tough life to be a writer but if that’s what you want to do I believe you can do it.” And even today when I get a publication here or there his response is always, “Keep after it, babe. You’re about to turn the corner.” Love you, Dad!



My Only Prayer Was to Meet Christ…San Lucas, Guatemala – 2015.

Days before I left for San Lucas, Guatemela, on an international missions trip with my parish, my life felt like it was completely unraveling. Most notably, I received a notice that my marriage had, officially and finally, been annulled. After ten years of being divorced I did not expect the mix of emotions that came over me. Relief, anger, and sadness wrestled with each other. Relief that I could remarry in the Church or join a religious order. Angry that I would not get the life that I had dreamed of with my, one and only, husband and a house full of children. Sad that the man I so desperately wanted to love God the way I loved God was now pushed even further out of my life. What little sway I held as “the first wife” or “mother of his children” was gone.

When I stuffed my belongings into my backpack just hours before heading to the airport, I kept praying, Christ, I want to meet you. I didn’t want to think about my ex-husband, or my work, or my kids, or my family, or whether I should join a religious order. For months, I had been struggling with how to gently let my family and friends know that I wanted to talk about my interest in a vocational call as a religious. In straight forward language I wanted to say, “I want to find out more about becoming a nun!” Not “Hey, I’m moving in to the convent next weekend. Bring your truck for a moving party. Pizza’s on me!” I didn’t want to think about how my decisions could hurt others and change their lives so drastically. I just wanted to meet Christ in a real way. Whatever that meant.

So, with all that swirling around in my head (And much more! But hey, it’s a blog post not a novel 🙂 ), I found myself in a country 2,000 miles away from home with 16 other beautiful souls willing to step out of our everyday lives and be open to the graces that God had for us. For me, this trip meant surrendering to God in a way that was scary and exciting all at the same time. Could I trust Him to work through me and me actually stay out of His way? Could I trust that He would really take care of me? Would He ask me to do something I really didn’t want to do?

Flannery O’Connor says endings should be both surprising and inevitable. I’m ready to find out where this trip to Guatemala will lead this girl from Oklahoma. 🙂


Lake Atitlan, San Lucas, Guatemala

Rite of Election One Year Later

Sitting in the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville, I watched as catechumens and candidates stood before God and the congregation to go through their Rite of Election, an affirmation of the intention to join the Church. I reflected on my Rite of Election a year ago at Christ the King. My sponsor placed her hand on my shoulder as I signed the Book of the Elect (a tangible sign of my fidelity to my intention). My heart filled to the point of bursting. My head swirled. Cliché, I know. J A feeling of light permeated every part of my being, and I thought, This is what it feels like to wholly join your life to another!

A year has passed and I can say I am still very much in love with God and his Church. His love has never wavered for me. Gazing up at the crucifix in this beautiful cathedral, I am reminded He still pursues me and longs to have a relationship with me even on the days I am grumpy, a bit sulky, and demand my own way. Contemplating his sacrifice for me, my heart aches. Pondering his time in the desert where he faced temptations, I cannot hold back my tears. He knew the pain and agony that was to come, and he had the power to change what would happen. Yet because of his love for me stayed faithful to His father’s will. This is a gift I am unworthy to receive but will accept it as His grateful child and allow it to transform me.

Nashville Trip 2015

Nashville Trip 2015

Thoughts on Ash Wednesday 2015

A year ago I sat in pretty much the same spot I am right now (my big, brown comfy chair) and pondered what I should give up for Lent. This would be my first real attempt at Lent because I wasn’t raised in a household that observed Lent or any religious traditions beyond Christmas and Easter and those were just an excuse to exchange presents and eat chocolate bunnies.

My first Lenten experience didn’t feel like I “gave up” anything. I was still going through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and spending lots of time in prayer deciding if I should become Catholic. This time was filled with parish mission services, soup dinners with special speakers, and the Stations of the Cross. These were all new and exciting things to be a part of. But most importantly I received a new understanding of the relationship I could have with God, if I would allow Him to truly be a part of my life. It seemed I had gained so much during this time of self-denial and penance. But what had I given up? Wasn’t I supposed to deprive myself of something? Punish myself for the wrongs that I had done? Maybe I had missed the point of Lent.

As I am about to embark on my first Lenten season as a Catholic woman, my notion of what this season means has been completely transformed. Lent is not about giving up chocolate or wine or swear words for 40 days only to return to these things on Easter Sunday. It is also not a time to punish myself for every transgression I’ve ever committed. This time is about conversion. A time to turn away from sin (the things that take me away from God) and turn back to Him. A time to go into the desert, into the wilderness, into the darkness and wait expectantly for God. To venture into the wilderness, there are aspects of my life that must change. Things I need to “give up” to hear God’s voice. After much prayer and an attempt to bargain myself into a “doable” sacrifice, I was left with the only thing that brought peace. It was total and complete. Will it be hard? Absolutely! Will I slip up? Probably. But I trust when I come to God with a contrite heart and ask for forgiveness, he will forgive me, pick me up, and set out with me once again. Will I share it on my blog? Not this year. 🙂

As the darkness begins to surround me, I believe that God will draw close and guide me until the light returns.

Thanks to MD for the beautiful photo!

Quick Change on a Street Corner


A little slice of life piece that I wrote is included in “The Personal Issue: Essays and Memories”  over at the the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.  Sorry for the brevity of this blog post. Stacks and stacks and stacks of student essays are calling my name.

Happy reading!


What Teaching in a Prison Taught Me

Dearest friends,

My essay, “What Teaching in a Prison Taught Me” is now available on The Wordsmith Journal website. It’s been two years since I’ve taught at the prison, but I still remember my time there as challenging and ultimately life-changing.


Sorry for the blandness of the post. Teaching has consumed life once again. In a good way of course. 🙂

What I Can’t Throw Away

Another great writing exercise created by Steff: “What I Can’t Throw Away”

Prompt: What is the one piece of clothing (or a pair of shoes) that you know you will never wear again but you cannot bring yourself to throw it away and why. 20 minutes.

Each season I pull clothes out of my closet evaluating whether they should stay and be packed away or go in a black garbage bag headed for the Goodwill. I have long let go of the notion I will ever be a size 4 or 6 again. I am solidly a size 10-12 and I have come to embrace this reality. So I don’t hang on to clothes that are too tight. I’m too into comfort to be squeezing into jeans that I have to lay down to zip up. I’m no fashionista. I actually get most of my clothes as hand me downs from my sister so whatever was in style in 2010 is my style in 2013.

All this is to say I don’t hang on to clothes I won’t wear again. But there are a couple of things I haven’t been able to part with even though in all likelihood I’ll never wear them again. I’ve held on to all of my Irish step dancing costumes. And in all fairness to me, if the opportunity arose to do a show and tell about the skirts I could wear them and explain little details about the skirt. But my Irish dancing hard shoes are something I know that I will never wear again, but I can’t throw them away, give them away, or part with them in anyway.

My right foot is such a skeletal mess that even sliding on the shoe is a challenge. I just wanted to see if I could shuffle around a bit. Nothing too fancy, maybe just a cramp roll or some heel clicks. Not to be. I slid the shoe off and ran my hand over the broken in but still shiny leather remembering the last time I wore them during a performance at Oktoberfest. The performance where I came down wrong on a high kick and injured my foot, ankle, and knee but kept dancing on it.

So now I’m left with these scuffed, Irish hard shoes but can’t wear them. I turn them over and run my fingers over the engraved brand name of Rutherford on the sole. It looks like the name is hand-tooled into the leather. My name and phone number are written in a clear, legible print in case I ever forgot them at a performance- a holdover from the time my mom would write her name and phone number inside all of my dance shoes when I was little. I slide my hands into the shoes and clack the heels together simulating the action of my feet. I bend over and continue with a stomp and shuffle all as if my feet were dancing.

I lean back in my chair and let my mind drift back to moments dancing in competitions and pageants, hot and sweaty for hours in dance studios, auditioning for a spot in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and making the top 32, twirling around in a full nun’s habit as Sister Mary Leo, in a corset and pantaloons in the musical Oklahoma!, in a short can-can skirt, throwing my leg up as high as I could, high kick after high kick in Guys and Dolls, and my heavy straight arms nearly glued to my sides, as I executed near militaristic stomps, kicks, and jumps in unison with my Irish step dancing group.

I keep these shoes, these worn out and tired shoes, that I can no longer wear because they remind me of where I’ve been and the ground I’ve covered. The shoes represent the determination, persistence, and tenancity that I showed with every dance I had to master. When I have an “I can’t do this. It’s too hard” kind of day, I can look at my shoes and know that I can.

Irish Hard Shoes