Tag Archives: dreams



whatever you did
for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for Me.
Matthew 25:40

Boy oh BOY, I’m so excited!

I’ll start at my version of the beginning. Andy, my son-in-law, got my daughter, Ana, a purse for Christmas and asked me to wrap it. I confess I thought briefly about finding something else to put in the box, hoping that Andy wouldn’t notice I kept the bag for myself.

Oooo-la-la, I LOVE it.

On the front of the bag, a small patch was appliqued: Carry the Story. And underneath were the words Handmade in the USA by a woman who sought refuge here.

Good golly, Miss Molly. I was hooked.

This little bag was made in Glen Ellyn, right there in a little shop on Main Street. The sewing studio is at the back of the store, open to the public, where women who sought refuge make a living for themselves and their families.

Families who have run for their lives from situations so desperate, most of us will never be able to either picture or imagine.

Situations so ugly or cruel or dangerous that these women and their families were willing to leave everything behind just to escape.

Some of these women left professions of prestige and value. Some of them are educated at the post-secondary level and brought a wealth of ideas and wisdom with them to the United States. But language, connection, and wardrobe barriers have gotten in the way of finding positions worthy of their abilities.

So they come to Re:new five days a week. Having learned how to use the powerful industrial sewing machines in the studio, these artisans work with their hands, make friends and quality products, and live a life they never expected – but for which they are grateful every minute.

As I left my first ever meeting as an Associate Board Member of the Re:new Project, I thought how much these women deserve respect … how much they deserve a life of peace and contentment.

As I said the word deserve in my head, a few bells went off and pretty loud. For in recent days, I have seen this word used so many times it has become like a drone in my ears. He deserves this or that because of his good – or rotten – behavior. She deserves something so much better because she is such a wonderful person. They don’t deserve a bad rap just because they made a mistake.

I am particularly off balance about deserving happiness. As in …

  • You deserve to be happy. stevemariboli.com
  • You deserve happiness simply because you were born. (LiveLuvCreate.com)
  • I won’t settle for anything less than I deserve. (facebook.com/YouAreMyOxy)
  • You deserve happiness just as much as the next person. (awesomelifetips.com)
  • You deserve happiness in your life… (wisdomtoinspirethesoul.com)

You get the idea.

It’s just wrong. We here in the First World take a lot of time and exert a lot of effort making sure that we – and all of the ones we love – are happy.  We find what makes us happy. We get rid of what doesn’t. We expect it, we work toward it, and, when we have it, we take it for granted.

Happiness. Being happy. Being free of misery and burden. We deserve it, don’t we?

I’ve heard stories about families that fled the Rwandan persecution and genocide, starting over and making their homes in the United States with the help of compassionate organizations like World Relief.

All I can think of when I hear Rwanda is the story told by an observer whose name I don’t remember, but whose words I’ll never forget. As an outsider, a member of one of the relief organizations, he told of how he witnessed countless and nameless, bruised and bloody bodies crashing down a river, getting caught in swirling currents, unceremoniously dumped there as victims of a sweeping wave of violence and hate. A force so ruthless, 800,000 Tutsis were killed in three months’ time, the result of a twisted sense of revenge by a majority being ruled by the minority, and a government-led insurrection encouraging neighbor to kill neighbor.

I don’t know all of these Rwandan families’ stories, but I know that what they endured reached far beyond the inconveniences of a leaky roof or disrespect by a boss or colleague. I know that what you and I may consider unacceptable could be in the little detour category for these brave refugees.

I know that running out of half-and-half, making my morning coffee wimpy and sad with only 1% milk, cannot compare to days without enough to eat or drink while sustaining a life on the run.

I know that being assigned a queen room when we booked a king with a view of the Magic Kingdom – and booked it well in advance – cannot compare to sleeping on a cot, or even the floor, with a sense of dread and anxiety.

Honestly, my lovelies, just writing these words leaves me humbled and ashamed of my own sense of entitlement.

I hope and pray that my contributions to the Associate Board of the Re:new Project will in some small measure contribute to the comfort and happiness of a refugee woman who simply longs for peace and safety. I hope and pray that every moment I spend planning events or raising money or getting to know these admirable souls will enrich their lives – as I am sure they will enrich mine.

I hope and pray the next time I grumble about an empty container of half-and-half or a room without a view I remember writing these words. I simply must not continue to feel deserving of happiness or safety or convenience or peace.

And I hope and pray if – and when – I am confronted by sadness or danger or inconvenience or war that I demonstrate the same determination I see in the faces of those who have gone before and lived to tell their stories.

The faces of these lovely women who sought refuge here.

If you have any questions about the Re:new Project, please comment. I’d be honored to tell you more about what we have in the works!


I must not continue to feel deserving of happiness, safety, convenience, peace. Click to Tweet




What the editor said…


letters-1500992_1280The only “editors” I’ve ever worked with are college professors and Tim.

But in spite of all of the heart and mind prep I’ve done and all of the advice and cautions I’ve read, I knew there’d come a day. A day when I’d have to let go, open up, and be truly willing to learn and revise and improve. There would be a day when I would work with a professional editor on a project that I couldn’t do alone.

Last Tuesday was it. “Here you go, Andi. What do you think?”

When I got her email Friday, I sat down. I prayed that I would be a professional and a grown-up. And then I clicked it open with one eye closed.

I read as slowly as I could. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But my head knew that there would be a lot to process, even though my heart hoped for flowers and applause. This is a reasonably accurate transcript of my initial response.

Oh, how sweet. Thanks so much…
Okay, sure, I see that …
Really? …
Ouch …
I don’t see that …
What do you mean? …
Ouch!! …

How do I do that? …
(etc. etc.) …

Oh, okay, well thanks, I guess.

You get the picture.

It wasn’t flowers and applause, but it wasn’t a steamroller. In fact, I’ll bet it was very much like a lot of other comments written by a lot of other really good and honest and kind editors.

But it was my first one. So, a little bit of ouch. (Okay, maybe more than I want to admit.)

And then I remembered praying for the professional and grown-up approach. So I wrote back quickly, promising to ponder and reread and get back to her.

Which I did just this morning. I’d read her comments and advice several times. I’d read the work of suggested writers and then reread what I had submitted. I prayed again. And I wrote an honest reply, with a few questions, a few explanations, and probably a little bit of whining. And…

Good golly, Miss Molly, she answered right away.

You know what? Those Ouches and Really?’s and What does that mean?’s were a bit premature. My own tendency to pile on and assume the worst and return to “not good enough” turned her honest comments into more slice-and-dice than she ever meant.

Her thoughtful and expert intentions were clear – just not to me.

Not to the one who either doubts herself into surrender or blurts stuff out without thinking. Not to the one who can’t find the balance.

But, believe it or not, this was a good day. Because instead of stewing in the dark mess I had conjured up for myself, I didn’t wait or hesitate or dawdle about looking for some reason not to put words to my feelings. I didn’t let the fear of hearing “the truth” keep me from being a grown-up and facing the editorial process with faith. And a little bit of confidence.

The truth is that I really do trust Andi. And the truth is I can’t do this by myself.

Even if I think flowers and applause are in my future.

So, stay tuned for project updates. Right now, it’s just an alphabetical dream. But I’m hoping soon I can give you all a taste of gratitude – seasoned with my personal spice and stirred by, who else, but my editor, Andi.


What the editor said… the very first time. Click to Tweet.