growing up with depression: a note to parents from a millennial

Every parent hates hearing the words “You just don’t understand” from their children. Because 99% of the time, of course they understand. Parents have been through more than their children generally give them credit for. Just because they’re technically from a different generation doesn’t make them clueless on the challenges of growing up in the modern world. Especially when those challenges include various struggles due to mental illness inherited through birth, such as depression. Sometimes, our parents know better than anyone else the battle of being handed a certain collection of genes that we may not be too fond of, because they share the same genes.

However, social media has drastically changed today’s culture, and for some of the older generations, it is hard for them to comprehend the acceptance and understanding of mental illnesses amongst today’s youth. The internet has created a whole virtual world of “support” for young adults who feel they are struggling with anything from questioning their sexuality to dealing with an eating disorder. Anyone with internet access can log into chat rooms, connect with social media groups, and so much more, with people all over the world who are being faced with similar road bumps on the journey of life. While this can be a helpful benefit of today’s technology, nothing beats the one on one support of a child that a parent can provide.

Unlike in the past, when people would get embarrassed and clam up with the mere mention of mental illness, today’s youth is much more outspoken and straightforward when it comes to the said topic. So, parents today should not be afraid to call their kid out if they feel something is wrong but their child won’t come to them for help, because it is likely that their friends at school/ sports/ clubs/ etc. are already talking freely about their own problems. Therefore, taking a blunt and straightforward approach, which may have been frowned upon in the past and viewed as “inappropriate” or “invasive,” is very fitting for helping a growing child in a world that is rapidly adapting to helping those with mental illnesses.

Coming from someone who has struggled with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and more since the age of 14, it is extremely scary, but mostly confusing. Growing up, I was never sure of my feelings, my thoughts, and my actions. I had so many questions throughout my daily routine and I would obsess over little moments every day, wondering if I had said or done the right thing. I wish my mom had sat me down, related to me the best she could, and welcomed my problems with open arms, ready to hear whatever I had to say. She tried the best she knew how, and would ask me daily how I was doing, checking in to make sure I was okay. But, to say the least, I was stubborn and of course wanted none of the help and support my mom was offering. Because I was young.

I didn’t know up from down in my life, no matter how much I thought I had figured out, I may as well have been going through every day blind and deaf. My hormones were way off, not only due to going through puberty but also due to a chemical imbalance within my brain. What may have seemed like just a moody teenager who thinks she knows everything, was really just a confused, sick young girl, needing an outlet for all her questions and concerns. Looking back now, I can see that my mom had tried the best she knew how to help me at the time by just trying to be there for me whenever I needed her. But, like I said, I was young and unable to comprehend her potential to truly help me conquer whatever battles I was fighting. At the time, I needed her to sit me down and basically force me to talk to her. That might sound aggressive but it’s truly not; it’s strong guidance from a person of importance in a young one’s life.

Today, I can talk freely with both of my parents about my ups and downs, how I’m working on balancing medications, and how I’m getting through my day to day life. It took a lot of growing up but I am finally reaching an age where I am mature enough to come to my parents when I need help, on my own. I’ve talked with my parents about the past and explained to them what I was missing from them in my teenage years. I’ve even given them some tips to help keep an eye on my younger siblings as they grow through their young adult years as well.

If there is one conclusive piece of advice I would’ve given my parents years ago to help my younger self, it would be this: don’t be afraid and don’t give up. Kids are hard to raise, especially teenagers, but parents, don’t let a moody teenager that claims they “hate” you scare you off or make you question your parenting. Give undying love and support and make it clear to your kids that you get it; you were there too once. Tell them stories, relate and connect with your kids on a more personal level so that they aren’t constantly faced with answering the questions “how are you?/how was your day?” because a lot of the time kids/teenagers truly don’t know their answers to such broad questions. For someone young, trying to figure out themselves, their growing bodies, and where they fit into the world, a question like “how was your day?” can instantly shut them down because their day was full of so much, that they don’t even know where to begin answering that question. A teenager’s day may be going great all the way until the last 5 minutes of school when something put them in a bad mood, but those 5 minutes can dictate how they feel about their whole day.

So, don’t be afraid to dig deep and get personal with your kids, parents; just keep trying and give them time. I promise, we’ll thank you someday.

Kaylyn Brooke


[Photo by]

accepted the way we are?

Early in our relationship, my wife and I debated the proposition that people have the ability to change who they are — the attributes and characteristics that are most deeply ingrained in their being — personalities and orientations, so to speak. The way we respond to situations, the way we compose ourselves in different circumstances, the lifestyle choices we make that bring definition to our lives; all originate in the roots of our natural dispositions. Earthly wisdom tells us that we are who we are and we should learn to accept that, because once we do there is no greater freedom. And why? Enjoy this life, find total carnal happiness for yourself — live your life according to you. The notion of American distinctiveness has been culturally entrenched since Hoover, but because of an increased desire for uniqueness and personal happiness, this country has seen an unprecedented rise in individualism on the social landscape. People, now more than ever, not only believe that they wield total autonomy over their lives (as opposed to the sovereignty of a higher power), but they desire such control for others, which, in turn, has contributed to the development of a sweeping trend of increased tolerance of unorthodox lifestyles, behaviors, and viewpoints. This might lead us to assume that religious belief would see a gradual decline in society, but ironically, nine out if ten Americans still believe in God.

Though the self-esteem movement of the 1980’s gained some traction, there is an even more popular movement of self-love and acceptance that has swept American society in recent years, driven by one defining factor — we do not like to be judged. We believe that we are who we are and for others to criticize our ingrained attributes is offensive and hypocritical. And the influence is suffocating. Pop culture icons write songs about it; secular and Christian authors write books about it; and our favorite movies and shows formulate storylines that embrace it. Lady Gaga seemingly incorporates her beliefs in a universalist God in her chart-topper “Born This Way”; Joel Osteen reminds his readers of their unlimited potential in his best-selling The Power of I Am; and as arguably the most influential person on TV, Oprah promotes 10 day plans on “how self-acceptance can crack open your life.” While these examples might seem harmless to most, this constant stream of vanity stimulation has helped to create an over-developed sense of narcissism. We need to feel important, valued, accepted, affirmed. This movement teaches us that we are the priority; that we should put our own happiness and well-being first (the mission statement from the “self-love movement” website). Even the widely valued Five Love Languages takes one of our deepest human-based egotistical insecurities, the need for affirmation, and promotes it as an inherently endearing quality that should be not only accepted, but nurtured. This mindset naturally leads us away from religion because the onus is no longer on any deity to preserve us; we are responsible for ourselves. But, since 89% of Americans still believe that God exists (Gallup, 2016), there is clearly a philosophical conflict waging in us about how much control we have over our own lives. We want what we want, but in the back of our minds we are uncertain about the end. But, since the percentage of people who still believe that God exists is so surprisingly high, let’s assume, then, that there is a God and quickly indulge a putatively uncomfortable question: Does God accept us the way we are?

As this movement has gained steam, people have departed from the traditional, uncompromising legalism of the Christian religion (found in both the Old and New Testaments) that permeated much of American culture for centuries and flocked to the more groovy, “progressive” teachings of Jesus, who even modern secular scholars believe was a great moral philosopher. This forward-looking perspective focuses almost exclusively on God’s boundless love, while omitting the reminder that God is still capable of great wrath. But because of their increased levels of tolerance for unorthodox social behaviors that derive from “who people are,” the potential for wrath doesn’t make sense to millennial Christians. If there is a God, why would he have programmed someone in such a manner to innately defy his edicts? If we believe that we are were simply born a specific way — that God made us this way — there is nothing to change. We are who we are.

First of all, God wove an intricate web of elements together to make you who you are – and for a purpose. But, unless one believes strictly in moral relativism, Christians and non-Christians can agree that people do bad things, making them inherently imperfect. Let me be clear; this is not a piece on the concept of “original sin,” but if God is perfect and we are imperfect, and perfection is the absence of imperfection, then prior to a relationship with God, “the way you are” is separated from him. Logically, then, it is not possible for us to be in the presence of God while covered in our iniquities, so how could God accept us the way we are prior to entering into a relationship with him? Because of our innate imperfection, then, something has to change for us to engage in communion with God. This is not meant to be dismal or condemning; this is the reality of God’s holiness against our deficiencies.

The most significant flaw in the movement for limitless acceptance is that it equates tolerance with love. Why do we think that just because God loves us, he accepts lifestyles, actions, and decisions that are contrary to his teachings and nature? If God had simply established an underlying, universal acceptance of human beings, there would have been no need for Jesus, the man who even secularists invoke when justifying their choices to Christians. My wife loves me, but she would confidently affirm that there are things about me that need to change. Consider, for example, that, sometimes, I can be driven by pride. Scripture consistently and frequently speaks against pride. So, if I know that God would rather me not rest in my pride, why wouldn’t I strive for humility? Because he made me the way I am?

People like to think that since God created them, they must be perfect in his eyes —  otherwise, why would he have created them only to reject them because of something that is out of their control (personality, orientation, etc.)? In this confidence, we convince ourselves that we are fashioned with a natural righteousness that provides us with an ultimate, unconditional acceptance as long as we not only maintain, but even cultivate that outward righteousness toward others. But Jesus offers a different outlook on this and because 71% of Americans still believe the Bible to be a holy document and God-inspired, it would seem worth the look. In his parable of the Pharisee and tax collector, which was given specifically for people who think highly of their own righteousness while looking down on others, the Pharisee thanked God, through prayer, that he was not like “robbers, evildoers, and adulterers,” — sinners — and reminded God of his own righteousness in regularly fasting and tithing, which the Pharisee would have considered part of God’s law. The tax collector, meanwhile, stood further back, in shame, unable even to lift his head, because he knew that he was a sinner. Instead, his prayer was simple: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Jesus told the people that the tax collector went home justified before the Lord because of his humility, prompting that “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” To the world, this self-love movement is exactly what we need to help us achieve true happiness for ourselves. To God, we have made ourselves the idol.

Respected author N.T. Wright notes an important point in his biblical commentary regarding the half-truth that God simply accepts us the way we are: “will ‘God’s acceptance’ do as a complete grounding of Christian ethics? Emphatically not. Grace reaches where humans are and accepts them as they are, because anything less would result in nobody’s being saved… but grace is always transformative. God accepts us where we are, but God does not intend to leave us where we are…” If you are prepared to justify questionable actions, lifestyle decisions, or personality quirks based on the premise that because God is full of love, he unconditionally accepts you — guess again. Thankfully, we have pop icon Alessia Cara to remind us everyday on the radio: “you should know you’re beautiful just the way you are; and you don’t have to change a thing; the world could change its heart….”

We are not a God.


who will speak up?

One of my favorite fairy tales is “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” You remember, I’m sure…

… the vain, egotistical emperor who is duped by a traveling salesman to buy this fabulous fabric for some new apparel… fabulous for its color, its feel, oh yes, but even more so because the fabric can only be seen by those who are wise. It would remain invisible to all those who were too ignorant to see it.

Now the salesman, knowing the character of the king… his pride, his conceit… his vanity… knew he would make the sale and that the emperor would wear his new clothes in all his assumed dignity and love of showmanship. After all, how could he admit that he could not see the fabric… to admit to himself, to the salesman, to any others that this was a hoax?

So indeed, he purchased the fabric and ordered his seamstress to make his lavish garment. And then to herald his first appearance in his new garb, he ordered a parade for all to “see” him in his new finery.

Of course, all the subjects came to see the strutting emperor. Imagine their reaction. What a sight to behold! But all remained silent. Why, who would acknowledge the fakery… to themselves, to others, to the emperor?

EXCEPT… a child… an innocent child not yet contaminated by pride or the opinions of others… proclaimed loudly for all to hear…” WHY THE EMPEROR ISN’T WEARING ANYTHING!”

Now I am not suggesting that we are surrounded by nude “emperors.” But I do wonder about all the “blindness” in our culture…

… our unwillingness to advocate for truth in the face of rampant relativism…
… our “anything goes” mentality…
… our no boundaries in what is acceptable or appropriate.

Who will raise a voice and say, “Really?”


“That’s wrong!”

“No more!”

“It’s called sin!”?

Is it only the innocent not yet tainted by our cultural climate, those not yet intimidated by a what-will-others-think mentality, those not fearful of rejection for the advocacy of truth?

Where are the voices of wisdom?

Where are the grown-ups who really know that the “emperor” really isn’t wearing anything?

The question for us all is, “Who will speak up for truth?”



[Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash]

the body

Sometimes we think too small. Sometimes we get stuck in the details. We lose sight of the big picture. Our bodies are composed of matter as is everything around us. Sometimes we forget that just like our body has many parts, we are part of a larger body. Many days I feel we are focused on our separateness rather than the whole we are a part of.

Author and pastor, Rob Bell suggests that in the modern age, we have become fixated on the individual. Our culture idolizes the “rugged individualist.” The TV show “Survivor” celebrates the winning individual. The Miss America pageant searches for the ideal individual female to represent American beauty. “American Idol” pits talented individuals against each other in an effort to determine the most talented.

Many in America have been frustrated with the inability of Congress to work together to function in a way that best serves our country. Unfortunately, our political system is based on competition rather than cooperation. Competition does not encourage unity. Our forefathers wisely noted that unified power can often be destructive so when they designed our government, they built in checks and balances to prevent consolidated power from running amok.

We have become focused on our differences, and instead of respecting those differences, we have built walls around ourselves to protect ourselves from the other. We have become contemptuous of those who think and act differently than we do. We have allowed partisan politics to divide and separate us into groups focused solely on survival of the group. We have ceased to see others as members of the whole body, and instead, we view them as threats to our well being.

Imagine if our body systems began to fight against each other? How long would we survive if our nervous system was at war against our circulatory system or our digestive system was at war with our immune system? Those suffering from auto immune disorders are painfully aware of what the war between systems does to their body. We have bodies composed of systems, and we are a part of a larger body. We are members of a family, a neighborhood, a city, a state, a country, a world. If we stay stuck at an individual or group level we may make the mistake that we can and should survive apart from the whole instead of as part of the whole.

I think we have forgotten our membership in a body much bigger than political parties. We have forgotten we are American citizens with rights and responsibilities to the whole system. Our country also operates as part of a world body. Some leaders think that we should adopt a policy of isolation and focus solely on the needs and wants of Americans. I can see where there might be times when that strategy is wise and makes sense. When you get sick, your body has a way of slowing you down and forcing you to pay attention to the system which is out of order and needs healing. But staying at home in bed permanently would be a path to death, not life. Sometimes we need to focus solely on our own families to ensure that the individuals in it are healthy and thriving. Sometimes we need to band together to solve community issues. When this happens, we are more concerned with our own community than the one down the road. I think America has a well deserved reputation for helping out countries in need. And sometimes we help to the detriment of our own citizens.

What I am suggesting is that for systems to work well, there needs to be balance. Instead of focusing on the destruction and elimination of a system within a body, we need a thorough examination of what is working and what is not working within our systems. We cannot afford to isolate ourselves and focus solely on how we are affected. We must recognize the whole. We must not insist on our own way. We must realize that different members of our system require different things in order to function properly. If our country is to move forward, we must change our focus and shift our viewpoint to adjust for a much wider range than the needs of only ourselves, only our neighborhood, only our community, only our state, only our country. We are members of a much larger body. We need to think bigger, not smaller.

Now let’s refocus a little closer to home. Change begins with us. We cannot expect our country’s leaders to cooperate and get along when we cannot get along with our family members or our neighbors. We have to stop pointing our fingers at each other insisting that the other is what is wrong with America. We are a country of others. We have to begin working with individuals before we can work with groups. And we must work with other groups before we can fix systems. Ignoring each other or bashing each other keeps our focus small and leads nowhere. We can choose to be gracious toward one another or we can choose self-righteousness. But the choice is ours. We have to stop assigning blame and start working together. Or we can keep doing what we’re doing and we’ll keep getting the same result wondering what’s wrong with people. If we want true change, we must be willing to change ourselves.



[Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash]

introducing our annual guest writer series

Since the inception of the Intramuralist nine years ago, we have enjoyed a spirited discussion covering hundreds of — actually, well over a thousand — topics. It’s been thought-provoking, encouraging, and often challenging… sometimes all at the same time.

As stated here frequently, the goal of this blog is not that we persuade one another into all thinking the exact same thing. We don’t. We can’t. And I don’t believe such clonal thinking is wise nor necessary.

The goal of the Intramuralist is to learn to communicate in such a respectful manner that others can actually hear what you have to say. The reality is that if a person isn’t willing to communicate respectfully, the chances of them being heard readily diminishes.

The Intramuralist desires to be heard. I desire to hear you. I desire for each of us to actively listen to one another. And if we listen well, ask good questions, and interact respectfully, each of us can and will be sharpened.

I desire to be sharpened. And yes, I desire to grow.

Exemplifying that desire to listen to others, for nine years, we have offered our infamous Guest Writer Series at the end of summer. The series is a collection of insight, opinion, and offerings from someone other than me, published in late July/August of each year. If we are going to be sharpened, we need to listen to persons other than one — or rather, other than only the insulating likeminded.

I believe this year’s writers to be excellent. They are intuitive, thoughtful, and diverse. They hail from various professions all over the country… from a business executive to a stay-at-home mom… from a writer to a nurse… from a student to a salesman…

They speak with different styles, using varied tones.

Collectively, no less, they have chosen a wide variety of subjects — subjects in which each of the respective writers is individually passionate. For example, beginning Tuesday, in the next few weeks, you will hear opinions on evolution, climate change, adoption, etc. You’ll hear from one about the importance of our individual, physical health — encouraging each of us to take sincere stock in such. You’ll hear from some articulate millennials — one on what it’s like to live in a foreign land this summer — and another talking to parents about what it’s like to grow up with depression.

We learn from the varied angles… angles different than our own.

You’ll also hear several commentaries on current challenges affecting our society, culture, and government. I appreciate the varied approaches to how we navigate through the seemingly increasing incivility. That is a theme mentioned by many.

Also planned is a multi-part series on why a person would choose to be a Democrat or a Republican. It is logical and well thought out and not inflammatory in any way. Remember that each perspective is sincere and respectful; hence, we can be sharpened and grow.

Let me also be clear to state that the perspectives shared may or may not be opinions I agree with. But again, agreement has never been my goal. My goal is for respectful dialogue. I am committed to respectful dialogue. Always.

Additionally, during this time, I will be taking a bit of an intentional respite, resting and reflecting and being recharged. Rest is good, my friends. It helps us do what we’re called to do; it’s important to rest intentionally. I thus look forward to the break, but I look equally forward to being back and penning multiple (exceptionally witty) posts upon my return.

So sit back. Enjoy. Learn. Be sharpened. 

Let the author know what you think.

But do so respectfully. Always.

Here’s to the 2017 Guest Writer Series, introducing 15 expressive guest writers, starting Tuesday. I can’t wait. The broad diversity, the sincere articulation, and the mutual respect…

This, my friends, is good.



[Photo by Thomas Martinsen on Unsplash]

the “together”

Seasons are good because they don’t last forever. With eternity being the only thing that lasts, wisdom is gleaned by maximizing the seasons… recognizing what’s present while it is there — not immobilized by pining for the past nor reaching only for the future. Seasons give life value.

I’ve been struck by the seasons shared in my current community, seasons that surpass our individual differences, differences we too often choose to use as a divisional source or force.

Together, we have experienced the tenures of presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump.

Together, we have watched seven summer Olympics — in Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, and Athens… in Beijing, London, and most recently in Rio.

Together, we cried the day Diana died… maybe, also, for Michael or Pres. Reagan. At least then our heads were bowed, our voices softened, and our hearts were full of respect.

Together, still, on 9/11, we stared at the television in shock but no awe. That remains one thing seemingly still so huge to attempt to wrap our heads around.

But the experiences within these seasons shared have not always been so “big”…

Together, we have celebrated the birth of our children, their noted growth and accomplishments — ours, too — both personal and professional. We have huddled, too, in some heartbreaking moments of mourning. I will never forget, for example, our “Best Friends for a Day” post, where a series of planes, trains, and automobiles in the middle of a blizzard in the wake of my sister’s death on the eve of one of my son’s greatest successes led to a precious, shared experience. Again, it was together.

The beauty of shared experience is the “together.” The value is that it comes and goes in seasons.

Are you maximizing where you are while that you are there?

The moving vans soon come to pack up my stuff and haul it away. No worries; the Intramuralist will continue… just from a new home base. We are moving to a new community.

While there is excitement in all the newness that accompanies a move, this isn’t, obviously, totally easy. It’s hard, in fact, for we have maximized our seasons. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This thought keeps swirling in my head, such seemingly simple words…

“There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.”

“Where the Sidewalk Ends” is one of those iconic Shel Silverstein poems written to children but yet so poignantly also written to us. We often miss the joy that children inherently have; we let obstacles and other stuff get in the way. We thus miss the beauty of the seasons. Silverstein encourages us to go to the place that children know… stepping back, sensing the joy, seeing what our kids see.

What do they see?


And they see the value of sharing them together.



[Photo by Joseph Young on Unsplash]


1. a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.


No doubt the Intramuralist is fascinated with much — from the big to the small, serious to silly. I am fascinated with much. For example … how the media has morphed into a generous giver of editorials as opposed to an unbiased sharer of news… how even the intelligent seem to utilize extensive hyperbole and exaggerated rhetoric… and how my very friendly dog continues to ferociously bark at any under the grand height of three feet tall… (watch out, Yogi…).

But one aspect that fascinates me time and time again — recognizing that fascination is not necessarily good or bad —   is the all too frequent assumption of motive.

We assume we know why someone does what they do or says what they say. We assume we know the why. In other words: we assume we know — and… we know with certainty the motive of another.

Excuse me, but may I be so bold to repeat the above definition?

A “motive” is a reason for doing something, especially, one that is hidden or not obvious.

Hence, if it’s hidden, that means we — you, me, Yogi, etc. — can’t actually see it. And if we can’t see it, we can’t confirm it to be true.

What is true is that sometimes we can make an educated guess. But educated as it is, a guess remains still at its root, only a guess; it will never qualify as fact. Because a person’s motive is hidden, we cannot confirm a guess as fact without the other’s verification.

Oh, yes, I’ve heard the convenient, clever logic, posing a thoroughly thought through motive for another and then attempting to reinforce our, uh, guess with the logically porous, “well, what else could it possibly be?”

It could be lots.

In fact, it could be something that we don’t know or are incapable of knowing.

On last week’s edition of “The Rubin Report,” a YouTube political commentary created by Dave Rubin, the self-identified classical liberal interviewed author Andrew Klavan, who shared that he’ll often opine about the current President, assessing what he feels  the President has done either right or wrong; he sees some of both.

Klavan and Rubin then discuss the many who can see only right or only wrong. And then they address the assumptions we make about the motives of others — supporters, detractors, or none of the above. Here’s the part of their conversation that yes, fascinated me [emphasis is mine]:

KLAVAN: “… People think that if they disagree with you, their reasons are rational and your reasons are personal — that’s what they think…”

RUBIN: “… that concept of impugning your intellectual opponent’s motives is such a sad thing that has seeped into everything.”

Yes. We tend to think there is only one right perspective.

We tend to think we can accurately identify the motives of another.
And when we find others who don’t hold our same perspective, we are often tempted to impugn their motives.

We then also tend to forget that motives are hidden and not obvious.

That, my friends, is, well, fascinating.



Yesterday was my birthday. It was full of all sorts of precious moments…

… waking up, thanking God for a beautiful, mild temp day in the smack-dab, middle of summer…
… indulging in toasted coconut donuts — a treat — also a favorite…
… attending a baseball game — with sweet seats — an all time favorite pastime…

There was some work, too, to complete this day, as my current “to do list” remains ongoing and especially active. But work is a necessary part of life; it made sense that some would be true on my birthday, too.

But the simple key I wish to speak of this day stems from the warm and witty wishes shared with me throughout the day…

… cards in the mailbox…
… calls and texts on the phone…
… meetings face-to-face…
… greetings via social media…
… from the moment I awoke until I went to bed…

It was so fun to hear from hundreds…

… my family…
… friends…
… persons I’ve treasured for decades…
… persons I’ve treasured for days…

But here’s the part that made me scrap what I previously intended to share this day…

I am a big believer in community: a feeling of fellowship amid a group of people, doing some sense of life together, with a common interests or set of values. Yesterday, I got a sweet sense of authentic community.

I heard from all sorts of people…

… from 9 to 95…
… men, women…
… children, teens, college kids, adults, and the elderly…
… my college friends, my kids’ friends…
… friends from elementary or high school…
… friends from baseball, show choir, church or even my favorite vet’s office…
… singles, married, widows, and divorced…
… gay, straight…
… black, white, Latino, etc…
… Christian, Jewish, Muslim, even agnostic and atheist…
… Democrat, Republican, and WBNRN (“Want to Be Nothing Right Now”)…
… white collar, blue collar, and varied levels of education…
… friends from all across the globe.

My point is this: none of the above differences diminished the community experienced yesterday. None of the above differences got in the way. In other words, we didn’t let our individual differences trump what’s most important… that is — dare said on my birthday — loving one another well.

I felt the love, respect, and appreciation that all people deserve regardless of individual difference.

I felt community.

And it was good.

Thank you to those of you who reached out yesterday. Thank you even more for the contagious example of authentic community you modeled to the rest of us. 

Let’s not allow differences to obstruct what is good. Let’s not choose that. Instead, let us allow those differences to educate and sharpen one another.

Respectfully… always…


The meeting was called to order. Together they recited the Pledge…

“… one nation under God…
… indivisible…
… with liberty…
… and justice…
… for all.”

And then the small city’s mayor, after four minutes of sharing only his own thoughts, ended the meeting due to a public comment on a fellow council’s member’s Facebook page — a member with whom he shares multiple dissimilar views. The comment suggested that another council member’s behind be kicked. This was then referred to as the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and “threatened violence.” On a hotly contested night by a hotly divided vote, the meeting was abruptly adjourned. There would be no governance taking place that night.

“… one nation under God…
… indivisible…
… with liberty…
… and justice…
… for all.”

In my sweet, small town, we seem to currently be having trouble getting government right. We seem to have trouble remembering that those in charge only have said position and power due to the consent of the governed — all of the governed… not just the ones with similar views. And then we justify a lot of fighting. The fighting obstructs the fixing of the challenges they were elected to address.

I suppose we shouldn’t be shocked. Our quaint suburb of 12,000 plus is merely a microcosm of what we’re seeing on a grander scale… the finger pointing, the indignant offense, and the vast hyperbole articulated in the offense… and then, of course, more resulting division.

Have our leaders forgotten what “indivisible” means? Have we?

And what will it take to end the fighting and start the fixing?

One of the movements the Intramuralist has been watching is a group called “No Labels.” It’s an organization that began some seven years ago, as over 1,000 citizens from each of the 50 states gathered together, sharing their frustration with Washington’s “business as usual” way of doing things. And so Democrats and Republicans convened for the purpose of launching a movement that would prioritize our entire country over any party. Party affiliations need not be shed, but fixing America’s problems is more important.

I appreciate, especially, this stated belief: “As long as they are intellectually honest, we respect conservatives, liberals, and anyone in between who has a sincere desire to address the nation’s problems. No Labels supports a diversity of viewpoints; we think it’s one of America’s strengths.”

Agreed. Allow me to share more…

“No Labels is building a movement for the legions of people who are tired of a political system that simply doesn’t respond to the priorities of the vast majority of the American people.

We believe that to solve a problem — any problem — leaders first need to unite behind goals, and then commit to a rigorous process to achieve those goals.”

So when I see the diverse co-chairs of Jon Huntsman and Joe Lieberman… the varied viewpoints, backgrounds, etc. of vice-chairs Charlie Black, Lisa Borders, Al Cardenas, and Mack McLarty… when I see the left and right come together — with no place for the yellers, screamers, nor disrespectful — I’m encouraged ( I also think they know their Pledge.

What again does “indivisible” mean?

It means to stop fighting, start fixing, and commit to being respectful.



a chipmunk, robin, & toad

As the boxes are packed and the moving van looms, I’ve learned to sit back, relax, and intentionally reflect upon the things I love about my house…

… the conversation booth, where we’ve sat and shared and laughed and cried and even lit numerous birthday candles through the years… friends, strangers… all have been welcome…

… the basement built for (mostly) playful roughhousing and fictional reenactments, remembering the many days my teens and ‘tweens decided to channel their inner Batman, Han Solo, and Adam West…

… and my outdoor, covered patio — shielded by the winds and the rain all seasons of the year, where we’ve sat with blankets in the cold, shorts in the sun, and coffee, etc. in so many precious quiet times…

… so many days have been sat in silence there… so many times I’ve sensed something so more than me…

Off of that patio, we’ve been blessed with near three acres of land. It’s all pretty flat — good for the 70 yard football field our boys enjoyed each fall — goal posts and all. And in the very back of the yard, we share woods with the neighbors — full in the summer and leafless in the fall, when we can actually see those neighbors.

What else we see in the yard has been beautiful these past 18 years. I’ll admit… this city-girl has never been a huge nature fan, but God changed me these many years, showing me a beauty that the city never sees. There’s just something about deer grazing and galloping through the yard each week that causes the me to stop, drop, and watch roll. Then the hawks soar high above, again reminding me of something bigger than me.

The wildlife sightings have been wonderful. In fact, just yesterday, all at the same time, I spotted a chipmunk, robin, and toad. And then it dawned on me, the bigger point for today’s blog…

The chipmunk scampers about the ground, taking everything in so quickly… making such fast decisions on what to believe and where to go. It’s small and spotted and mostly brown, but with that lightning quick speed, I don’t often notice his color.

The robin seems to either sit or soar. It sits on the branches, with its seemingly proud perch, taking in all of its surroundings. But then on a whim it takes off, soaring either low to the ground or high above — a totally different viewpoint than the chipmunk.

And then there’s that toad. With no disrespect intended to the tailless amphibian, he’s a little bit slimy. And he just kind of sits there. He only seems to jump when he feels like it, and while he’s not exactly my favorite kind of animal, I find myself fascinated with how he takes it all in, observing, aware of his surroundings, never moving seemingly irrationally.

Here the chipmunk, robin, and toad are all so different. They are animals, no less, but they see the world differently.

And yet, we don’t have conversations about how better a toad is than a chipmunk… how wiser a robin is than a toad. We recognize the irrelevance of comparison.

We appreciate each for who he is — never expecting them to be something they are not… never judging the robin for his red breast nor the chipmunk for his spots.

We appreciate each for who he is, thankful for how he/she was uniquely, beautifully created by the God of the universe.

There is no judgment. No comparison. Simply appreciation.

Oh, how I love my backyard…

Oh, how we can learn from the animals…