The Great Carriers


“Mom, can you carry my……”

Stick. Backpack. Shoes. Water bottle. Glove. Coat. Trash. Sweatshirt. Books. Ball. Gum. Ripstick. Scooter. Skates. Hockey stick. Socks. Deer antler. Bug. Feather. Half-eaten food.

(Newly designed cardboard) robot?

Please don’t drop it. Or lose it. Or break it, ok? Just carry it all around downtown Kansas City for me. Please?

When they’re babies, we, parents, hold our kids. We carry them. They ask or demand, “Hold you, Mama?” Or “Hold-you-me?” On our hips. On our chests. On our backs. In car seats. In expensive back-saving Ergo baby carriers. But then, something changes, all of the sudden, they want to use their legs to walk. Run. Jump. Fall. They don’t need us to carry them anymore. Most of the time. But, they definitely need us to be the great carriers.

The holders of important stuff. The grown-up, living, moving trapper keepers of their kid adventures. All sorts of day-to-day things. There’s nothing too great or seemingly too unimportant for a parent to carry. Our hands are bigger. Stronger. And less preoccupied by the next activity. We are highly intelligent when it comes to knowing where trash cans are. Oh. “Right there.” We aren’t planning on using our arms to climb across monkey bars or break our wreckless falls attempting to parkour or climb a random pole.

“Mom, can you carry this? Pleeeeeease?”

Ok. Fine. Yes.

And so we do. We carry their stuff.

We also carry loads that our kids don’t see. We carry the enormous weight of being a parent. We carry our hopes, our concerns, and our worries for our children. We carry or perhaps, drag our fears. We carry our struggles, our insecurities. We carry the uncertainties of other children who don’t live in our homes. We carry the past, our own childhoods. We carry our constantly evolving parenting selves the best ways that we can.

Sometimes, we carry far too much for one worn-out body to hold. That’s when we need help. When we’re holding too much to manage on our own. We need those who walk alongside of us. We need those who see us and graciously reach out to help us clean up our messes. They recognize our hunched over backs and tired eyes. They say, “I’ve been in a hurry” or “I’ve carried too much before, too. Let me help you.”

Isn’t that what we’re all here to do: Love each other and help each other get through. Life can be heavy and lonely and overwhelming. We can make it less heavy, less lonely and maybe underwhelming if we take a second or minute or hour to stop and recognize each other’s eyes and the weights we all carry.

“Let me help you.”

And we do.


My Brush Pile


I semi-fled. Or retreated. Up the staircase. I plopped myself down with my back against the door. I stared out the window at a gigantic swaying tree. I took a few deep breaths. And I noticed my tiny closet window is the same shape as a stop sign. So, I stopped my overthinking. I stalled. Nobody was coming so I just didn’t move.

After I spent some time praying and looking out the window in my closet, I concluded that ultimately, I have to give somebody permission to hurt me. With their words or thoughts. I give them access to my brush pile. And if the conditions are right, they light me up and ignite a fire that has the potential to grow. And grow. Inside of my head. Trickling down to my heart. You see, it’s me, most of the time that gathers the fuel for the fire. I make a pile and stack it up. Nice and neat. The little insecure thoughts, the fallen twigs and sticks. The bigger, and much heavier branches also get thrown into my brush pile. They’re my doubts and fears. The fake truths. The lies I tell myself. My worries. All of the unknowns. In hindsight, it’s quite unfair to blame anybody but myself when my fire gets lit. Because I supplied the fuel. That was all on me. How could a person that loves me and that I love, too, know how big my brush pile had grown? If I didn’t tell them.

It’s not their fault.

Because it doesn’t matter how well you know a person or even how much you love them, it can be a tricky business knowing someone’s exact thoughts or fragile state at an exact moment in time. Or knowing their exact emotional or literal response to one of your thoughts. Ahhhh. Mind reading. If you could have any super power, would you choose the ability to fly or read someone’s thoughts? Could you help a loved one or even a complete stranger feel less insecure, perhaps more important if you knew exactly what she was thinking at a specific moment? Would we treat each other more gently and compassionately if we could slip past their outer appearance and sneak into their head to understand what they actually were thinking? What if we could know exactly how they felt? For better or worse.

I realize that I should have never been gathering sticks, stacking up all these bits of fuel. But I do. Like most people. And it’s extremely hard to let them go sometimes. We can oftentimes dodge or escape other people’s opinions or thoughts, but sometimes we are not as skilled in escaping our own negative thoughts.

We need help. With ourselves and each other. We all need the grace of God acting as the hose or the fire extinguisher, and we all need the type of person willing to stand there next to the flames helping us out. Or else we may continue to gather fuel, purposely or unintentionally causing our brush pile to grow. And grow. We may even go looking to pick a fight with someone with a torch who we know will happily light our fire. And not in the “C’mon baby, Light my Fire” Doors kind of way. In the self-defeating, humiliating sort of way.

It didn’t take a blow torch for me today. Just a few matches. My brush pile burned down. Which helped me learn that I need to stop gathering sticks, branches, etc. I need to be more kind and forgiving to myself. Maybe you do too.

Homeless. Not Hopeless.


I slowly drove past the building right off of the exit I take to get to work on Sunday mornings. The snow still gathered in the untrafficked places, on some of the sidewalks and at the corners of the abandoned downtown buildings. It rested on top of the hidden grass. Before the traffic light turned green, I looked up to the top of the steps. There. Sadness entered my heart. Cuddled up as close as possible to the entrance of the building. A homeless person still slept. Under a pile of blankets. I hurt. I wanted to stop and help. But I had to get to work. Knowing that he had slept outside all night long in the freezing cold downtown air made me feel helpless. And I thought my feet were cold last night. Under my blankets. In my bed. Under the roof of a safe and heated house.

I couldn’t stop thinking about him. Or her. Somebody’s son. Or daughter. Brother. Father. Or mother. Bundled underneath the dark blankets, most likely trying to get as close as physically possible to the warmth of the inside of that empty building. I thought how I would be scared. And cold. And confused. Alone. And hurt. If it were me lying there.
I don’t want to be homeless. I don’t want my children to ever be homeless. I began thinking and remembering many of the kids that I’ve met that have run away from their homes. The home that fostered abuse, hate, pain, lies, shame, violence and hopelessness. I thought about the choices a person makes that lead him or her to live without an address.


Then, I couldn’t help but think about my friend whose known on the streets of downtown Kansas City as “Amy the Angel.” She arrives in a Ford Fusion every Friday. Under the bridge. If she’s going to miss a week, she lets “her guys” know or she finds a friend to take her place. I’ve wanted to ask her why she invests so much of her time and energy into helping take care of homeless folks. Afterall, she’s an ER nurse so she already has earned a gold or platinum humanity badge for helping the littlest ones and their families in the scariest of times. Then, carrying the heavy emotional weight home with her exhausted self after she clocks out.

I couldn’t stop thinking about why she meets some of the downtown homeless every Friday with snacks, Mountain Dew, hand warmers, laundry detergent, shoes, etc. She looks them in the eye. She talks with them. She accepts hugs, long hugs. She offers them much more than a few snacks. She smiles. She serves. She unknowingly scatters hope, dignity and love in their ziplock bags full of necessities.

I think she sacrifices for them because they’re her fellow human beings. She loves them. Like her own.

If you’ve ever been bullied by somebody’s cruel actions or by your own thoughts or parents or life in general and you don’t possess the emotional skills or strength or people in your life to help you fight back, it’s really not difficult to imagine yourself lying on those steps. Without a home. Without food. Without a person to help you, to support and love you through it. Lying there without hope. Even if you can’t imagine yourself homeless or you would never be brave enough to meet homeless guys under a bridge with a car full of snacks, you can support a fellow human being. A thirsty, hungry, tired, cold, unstable or worried person that deserves kindness.

I’m privileged to know “Amy the Angel” and to call her my friend. She has changed my perspective. And she has unknowingly encouraged me to drive around with beef jerky snacks and protein bars in my car. Just in case. She has inspired me to stop, look, and smile and offer something that I would offer a friend.