In The Face Of Another

Sometimes, when I would be fiddling around on the computer I would stop a moment and head to Google.  I would plug the words “who is my biological mother” into the empty information field and click “search”.  I would always chuckle to myself and shake my head as if to say “Silly girl. It’s not that simple, you know.”  And I knew it.  I knew it wasn’t that simple and would never be that simple to find my beginning.  Tell that to my heart of hearts, however.  There was always a part of me that was hopeful–even if it was a dim hope–that there would magically appear a name and a photograph of a strange young woman with a subdued smile on her face and a faraway look in her eyes.  I never imagined what she would actually look like, just that she would suddenly be there and I would have that feeling; the one that provides the “ah-there-you-are” moment.  You know. The moment where something that has been unrealized, hovering toward the back of your brain, suddenly is brought forward into the light and it seems as natural as breathing.  I wanted that moment.

I did this particular google search several times and, I’m here to tell you, Google doesn’t always know all.  I never had my moment.  Each time would end in a sigh and then I would move on to my next task…still wondering where the strange girl with the subdued smile and faraway look was. She certainly wasn’t on my computer screen.

So, I did nothing.  Many days of nothing.  Over a span of years, my desire and actions to find her would wax and wane with the seasons of my life.  Realizing that I, legally, had no rights as an adopted child of the 70’s was angering and disheartening.  Several times I told myself that my day would come but I only half believed it.

As my daughter was preparing to serve an LDS Mission to Nuku’Alofa, Tonga, I suddenly became overcome with the thought of having my DNA tested. Word on the street was that I have hispanic blood in me–given from my biological father’s side of the family–but I had no actual proof of that. For those of you who have seen me, I have had my fair share of people calling me Polynesian because I am a big girl.  Six feet tall and the build to match.  I was intrigued.  What if I really was polynesian?  What if my girl was being sent to my people?  I had the luxury of using my imagination and allowing my mind to follow the “what if” trail. But, I never did get the DNA test.

There are a few different places that will do it now and the price is downright reasonable (around $99 plus shipping). She and I discussed it several times and she even offered to pay for half of it, as a gift. I couldn’t justify spending that amount of money as all of my funds were going to prepare her to leave on her mission or to feed my family.  I just let it go. I figured it would be a passing fancy and that I wouldn’t have to worry about it much longer. I would simply teach myself to forget about it.

A week after she left us, I received a phone call from a strange number. Usually I don’t answer calls from numbers that I don’t recognize, but this time I decided to live large.  After picking up the phone, I learned that my mother-in-law had been talking to one of her friends about my desire to have a DNA test done.  This friend just ‘happened’ to have an extra DNA test kit lying around her house and was now calling to offer it to me.  I was amazed and truly grateful.  It was as if this test kit had fallen out of the blue, straight into my hispanic/polynesian lap.  Who has an extra DNA kit just laying around?  Its a common occurance, right?  This was completely unbelieveable.  I felt the hand of God in my life, gently pushing me in a direction I would gladly go.  This would be the biggest slice of information I would ever know about myself, independent of family myths and stories. The DNA results wouldn’t be ready for 6-8 weeks, but I would somehow fill the time.

Four and a half weeks later, my results came.  I was giddy.  The results were posted online, and after logging in, the first thing I saw was a pie chart of my ethnicity…a wagon wheel with many colors…each one representative of a region in the world where my DNA had come from, as distant as hundreds of years before. Percentages were approximate and after studying the results (luckily there was more than just a fancy pie chart available) I discovered that I am a woman of the world.  Many ethnicities: mostly European, Native American (which does not necessarily mean American Indian–hell-lo hispanic!), Irish, Italian/Greek, Iberian Peninsula, only a little British (‘ello govnah!) and to my surprise: traces of European Jew, Middle Eastern and African.  Not a scrap of Polynesian, anywhere, however.  You know what?  I was okay with that!  I loved the results!  I was like the freaking United Nations and I never even knew it!  My husband and I sat on the couch looking at the results and I cried.  I cried because this was myself right in front of me in percentages and colors and ethnicities.  This was the closest I had come to knowing anything about my past: concrete evidence that I did, indeed, exist and that there was more to my history than the moment my parents picked me up from the hospital.  This was my proof. This was me, all me.

Accompanying my DNA results were contacts of potential family members: folks who had previously taken the test and who’s DNA matched my own enough for the scientists at to say “We think that ‘so and so’ may be your 2nd cousin” or “we think that ‘what’s her bucket’ may be your 4th-8th cousin once removed.”  It was pretty cool to see the list of names in front of me.  To think of the potential resources on my computer screen that could possibly open the door to me finding my biological mother! Suddenly Googling her again seemed feasible.  Productive. Hopeful.

At the top of the list was a lone name.  This particular individual had been placed there because my DNA was close enough to his to deem him a “close family member” which, upon further investigation, meant that he was either my brother, my uncle or my father.  Hold up.  What?  Yes.  He was either my biological brother, uncle or father.  I was taken back.  I looked at the hubs in disbelief and the tears flowed again.  While I knew that the test would provide me with SOME biological family leads, I had been warned that, more often than not, there is not typically a  match for close family members and not to get my hopes up.  Yet there he was.  He had only taken the DNA test 7 months before I received my results and his name–not a username–but his legitimate, legal name was there in front of me on the screen.  Suddenly that young woman with the wistful smile and the faraway look in her eyes seemed not like a vision, but a reality.

It didn’t take me long to start the investigation.  I took his name and headed straight to Facebook and looked for the most respectable individual.  As if I was being led, he was the first one I had selected and my investigation started again in earnest…almost with a fervor that I had a hard time keeping up with. I took the little information that I knew about my biological parents and started googling this man.  I went through his list of Facebook friends.  I found out a bit about his family and came to really discover that he was my connection and that he could possibly be my father.  I read and reread the limited Facebook posts he had available and discovered that his age wasn’t right.  He couldn’t be my father….too young. The first word that popped into my mind after this discovery was “sister”.   Sister.  I had to find a sister!  Back to the friends list and everyone that had his last name.  Again, more investigation of each of the candidates.  I was feeling a bit apprehensive at this point because I was unsure if she would be on Facebook and if she was, perhaps she didn’t use her maiden name if she was married.

I saw the smile first.

Not a wistful smile, but a sincere one.  I saw the eyes.  A different color than my own, but the shape was the same.  No faraway look.  She looked as if she knew right where she was. Then the nose.  She was wearing my dimples.  Not allowing myself, to get my hopes up, I told myself that I was only seeing things that I wanted to be there. I investigated her.  She is his sister.  Older sister.  Age matches up with how old I believed she was when she had me.  Pushing my hopes back down, I called the hubs to the computer.

With a voice wavering and sounding like it belonged to someone else, all I said was “I think I found her.”   He looked at the electric photo glowing in front of us and suddenly the electricity became tangible.  “Jen, I see you.”

Five hours after my results came back from, I had found my birth mother and was staring at her.  44 years of life on this earth and nothing could have prepared me for that moment.  It was beyond bedtime but I knew that sleep would not be coming for me that night. I felt as if I had already been sleeping for years and awoke to a whole new life.  How could anything ever be the same again? It couldn’t.  In just a short moments time my whole existence had shifted to a new sense of being.  I was looking at my beginning and now was wondering how to bring it into the present.  Broaching time travel.

Over the course of many years, I have had to come to think of and make peace with every possible scenario that finding my birth parents could bring. Every good and bad situation, every hopeful and disparaging outcome and all of the shades of possibility that lie in between must be considered, evaluated, dealt with and put away until the time you are faced with it.  I had no options at this point.  I had to contact her and have her confirm to me what I believed was true: she was my mother. I felt it and I was trying so hard not to get my hopes up but I knew in my bones it was her.  Certainly, I thought, since I came from her we would be enough alike that she would not ignore me or reject me.  I tried to keep my hopes In check, wanting to preserve myself in some way.

Writing the letter to her was not as difficult as I assumed it would be:

“Dear Mrs. Rosh,

The beginning of this letter is going to be very awkward.  There is just no way around it–I hope you can forgive me for that.

My name is Jennifer and I recently received my results from an DNA test.  Not only did I receive an ethnicity report, I also received a list of contacts that were possible biological matches.  One of those, your brother Steven (I am assuming he is your brother!?!) was listed as a close genetic family member–meaning he is either my brother, father or uncle.  

As a fluke, I found him on Facebook (what I assumed was him) and through deduction and my limited information I think we may be related.  

I was adopted 44 years ago in the state of Utah.  There really is no delicate way to ask this:  are you my biological mother?

I understand that this message and this question may come as a surprise and a shock to you.  My goal is not to hurt or annoy or anger you. I also do not want to be a disruption.  My goal is quite the opposite, actually.  

I have been searching for my biological mother because it has been one of my life’s ambitions to be able to thank her for the selflessness and wisdom she showed at such a young age. I have lived a blessed life and it has nothing to do with who I am, but absolutely everything to do with who she was and, I’m sure, continues to be.

Please know, if you answer this question and you happen to be “her”, I am not looking for a “long lost mother”.  I would love to be able to find more about where I came from, how my life began and what makes me innately me.  

I am not trying to be a burden or to dredge up pain.  I understand if you would like your privacy and I will respect that decision. On the flip side, I’m sure you can understand that after 44 years of questions, to be this close to my beginning makes me feel vulnerable and, yet, joyous. I don’t know what to expect and who to expect it from. If you are not my biological mother, please accept my apologies for the intrusion.

If you are my biological mother, please accept my love and gratitude for what it is–a sacred and sublime tribute to the one who gave me life.  

I eagerly await your reply.  
Thanks for your time,

P.S.  I’m a really fun girl. Not as stiff as this letter would make me seem.”

Pressing the send button on Facebook messenger would be the easiest part of trying to contact her.  Now I had to remind myself to breathe and to keep on living my life, reply or not.

I sent her the message on June 1st.  It wasn’t until June 17th that my reply came.  Painful is the only way to describe life during those two and a half weeks.  Like I was waiting to be born all over again, I was so close and yet so far away from my destination. My message had been held up in Facebook, going to her “other” message box instead of her “inbox” and she had no idea it was there.  There are no notifications for that box.  (You can find it on your computer next to your inbox when you are in “messages”. Go look now.  You’re welcome.) I tried to call her; phone number disconnected.  I had a friend contact a friend in her city to give her a message on how to find the message…it didn’t happen.  There was an address I had but was unsure if it was her mailing address or just her physical address, so I hesitated sending her a letter.  I almost road tripped it a couple of times to just end the pain and go for broke. I had friends praying, strangers praying, me praying and my heart breaking all at the same time—all waiting for her to find my letter. Tears and sighs and time spent wracking my brain.  So close and yet so impossibly far. Hope dwindling each day…and yet I still felt I was where I should be.

One night, as I poured over the internet–wracking my brain for a solution to my dilemma,  I discovered that I could pay Facebook a dollar to put my message into her inbox.  Since I had already tried to send her a message it wouldn’t give me that option.  Posing as the husband, I hacked into his account and changed his profile picture into something respectable—like a real photo of him instead of the ostrich picture he currently had.  I then sent her the message, acting as him sending it on my behalf, hoping that it wouldn’t look, like some freaky scam that originates somewhere in the world I have never heard of.  It had come to this: I was hacking and posing and lying and finagling and groveling and stalking  and crying for mercy all at the same time. I was nearly emotionally bankrupt. The only thing left after, this would have been to crawl to California on my knees.  It felt like a plausible option at this point.

Hope came for me the following day. One of the greatest days in my life.

“OMG! This letter is a dream come true! I have longed to know you, to meet you, to touch you. The answer to anything you want to know is yes! Yes! yes!

Steve is your uncle…..had he been born a girl…..he would have been named Jennifer.

My two children have grown up knowing all about u and how u came to be. They will be so excited to hear that u have reached out…..something we all have waited for.

I am eager to take the next step in this journey with you.

Thank you so much for being brave, reaching out, and most of all…..searching. This is truly an answer to my prayers.  I’m hoping it will be an answer to yours.


All I could do was cry.

Tears of gratitude and tears of relief.  I sobbed as I felt her love envelop me.  She hadn’t really left me behind all those years ago, she had continued to carry me with the bright hope of meeting me again. She walked a road I could never really understand and she held none of it against me.  This beautiful life–my beautiful life–I could now present to her as a testament to what she had done with me. For me.

Messaging one another was constant almost immediately.  From that moment on we messaged one another until late at night and began again first thing in the morning.  I was hungry for information and to get to know her.  Like a hand knit sweater, she was mine for the unraveling…a mystery waiting to be taken apart and examined.  I noticed the way she wrote, how she explained things, what she found funny and what kinds of questions she asked me. I could tell just from those simple things how alike we were.  My list of questions was ever growing with each reply but nothing seemed as pressing as pinning down a time I would meet her.  This could not wait another moment longer; we both felt it.

Only two days after our first contact, she traveled 11 hours to see me.  I could not have hand picked anyone more suitable or  perfect to be the vessel through which I would come into this blessed world and be placed into my family.  I feel so fortunate to have her in my life. We are the perfect story.  We are the happy ending.

Meeting her has become almost a sacred event to me.  I won’t share what happened that night or since then because that story is one that is still being written.  Even the events that brought us to this point 44 years ago are not mine to give because she is the one that lived it before I came.  It’s hers for the telling, not mine.

What I will tell you is this:

The times that we see God in our lives is often after something has happened and we use our hindsight.  We can see the big picture while we are not caught up in it.  Usually I can see divine direction in moments I experienced but didn’t recognize as providential.  Looking back is when I see His hand in creating an experience that becomes meaningful–changing my life and possibly the lives of others. Hindsight is golden.

From the moment the DNA test dropped into my hands, I felt Him.  I felt myself being propelled and taken on the journey of a lifetime.  Things happened without my power.  His fingerprints are all over this miracle and I can’t deny that he is aware of my life and what is happening in it.  I saw myself in the middle of an outstanding journey that I had hoped and wished and prayed for, yet was utterly powerless in.  It was as if I was being swept along by His good current, bobbing and flowing wherever He deemed would be of greatest benefit to me.  I didn’t need hindsight for this one.  I was living it and recognizing it and being swallowed up by it’s goodness and wonder.  I felt Him, so strongly, orchestrating it! Do not tell me God is dead.  Do not tell me He doesn’t exist.  Do not tell me that he is unloving and unmerciful.  I have seen him in the face of another and felt him in the marrow of my life.  He lives. He is real. He is alive and well and in control. God is good.

I have also learned one of the most comforting and powerful ideas I have come to embrace: God never forgets.  He didn’t forget that 19 year old girl delivering a child far away from her family and he didn’t forget that little baby that was never held or seen by her.  I firmly believe that God simply turned around and 44 years of my life had passed…He turned around and utilized others and technology in helping my little life…He turned around and turned that little life into something more stunningly beautiful than it had been and that I ever believed it could be.

There are those that have asked about what role my biological mother will play in my life.

I have never heard of a human being who simply didn’t have room to love someone else.  There have been no reports of closed hearts due to “over-loving”.  Not one person has died from inviting others into their life and accepting them and including them in their circle of family.  No, she will not replace my adoptive mother. I was meant to be in the family I grew up in.  No doubt about it.  They are my people. Tina and her children and husband; her cousins and aunts and whoever else wants part in this miracle are more than welcome because they now I belong to their tribe as well.  I am encircled with more love than I could ever use up in this lifetime and I don’t suppose that such a great amount of love will kill me. Common to popular belief, people are not replaceable. People are priceless and meant to be welcomed in–arms and hearts wide open–and loved more fiercely than we allow ourselves to believe that we could.  There is no limit to love.

I got my moment.  The “Ah. There you are!” moment.  Now it washes over me in waves.  There she is;  my Hope, my Tina.

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Be Still

“Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me.

“Be still,” they say.

“Watch and listen.  

You are the result of the love of


Ushering Away Ushering In

Today my daughter flew across the pacific to a new place filled with new people and the unexpected.  Just little her in the big blue, taking her message to whoever will have it.  I love her and I miss her.

Today I found someone.  I think I found her. THE her.  The “her”. The one who gave me hope. I have loved her and missed her.

These two women did a dance today, neither one knowing the other.  The only thing they have in common is me.  While one is ushered away the other is ushered in and I am blessed enough to be the center of this mystical and wonderful movement.

Don’t tell me there is no God.  Through them I have seen Him.

Daily Gratitudes

1.  Chicken pot pie.

2.  An unexpected short work day.  Makes me feel like I am getting away with something!

3.  Walking with a good friend while getting some “therapy” chatting in.

4.  Attending the temple with my husband and daughter last night.  So surreal.

5.  Pajama day tomorrow!  (aka day off.)

Six Years

Six years.

It has now been six years.

Six years today.

Six years this very day.

Six years since I chose life instead of a bitter ending.

I’m six years better and six years bolder.  Six years wiser.  Six years grayer.  Six years more wrinkly.  Six years and my lap is softer, my curves are more curvy and parts of me are saggier.  Anyone who looks can see lines under my eyes that tell the story of where I was six years ago. Six years closer to what I want and six years further away from who I never wanted to be.

Uphill years.  Happy years and sad years.  Downhill years.  Sliding backward and holding on with my fingernails years. Learning, hoping, wishing, needing, trying, failing, laughing, crying and silently praying years.  (Some not so silent praying years, too.)

Six years.

Six whole years.

Years of loving and enduring, Years of second guessing and feeling inadequate. Years of feeling that I can’t take another step and of knowing that I am boundless–progressing and moving forward.  Years of change.  Years of strength and years of stagnation.  Vulnerable years. Powerful years. Grateful years.  Forsaken years. Years of looking back to what was and looking ahead to what will be.

Six years of reflection and growth.  Six years of trying to make the world a better place; a happier place.

Six years scraping my soul against the jagged rocks of what my brain often tries to tell me I am, just to feel deep in my gut that I am worth so much more than I can imagine.  That I could do this.  That I can do this.

Six years of kissing little faces and breathing in the scent of my children.  Six years of holding the artistic hands of the one who has fought for me and with me and, sometimes, against me.  Years of “someday” and “one day” and “today”.  Years of grabbing fear by the horns and showing God the parts of my soul I thought I had hidden away.  Years of rejection and of rejoicing.

Years of desire. Years of satiation. Grieving and giving and loving and living years.

Living years.

Six living years.

My six living years.

A little lifetime lived in six small years.

I’ve been walking on this earth for six years longer than I once planned on…but I cannot state how much in love I am with these past six long, blessed, beautiful and excruciating years.

Six years holding it’s breath for the seventh. Come what may.

Make Me An Instrument Of Peace

I graduated from school this past May.  I received my National certification in Surgical Technology.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, think back to those medical tv shows where they showed the surgeons and staff operating on a patient.  In real life, I would be one of those people at the patient’s side.  A surgical technologist is the one that creates the sterile field in the operating room and does everything possible to ensure that sterility is maintained.  They are also the individual that give the surgeons what they need: they pass instruments and supplies and quite often assist the surgeon in retracting, suturing, suctioning and whatever else is necessary.


The beginning of this year I was required to complete 600 hours of clinical time in operating rooms at local hospitals.  As my first rotation was at the University of Utah, I had lots of time during the commute.  Often times I would listen to the radio or music on my ipod but sometimes I would just leave the car silent and just drive and think.  It was then that the seeds for this talk were planted and they have been laying dormant in my mind until we were asked to speak.  When I learned what the selected topic of our talks was, I suddenly knew why I was given the little seeds of ideas that I was so long ago.  Those morsels were the beginnings of my talk.  It is my prayer that the spirit be with us today and that the true intent of my message be felt and understood.  I know full well that it’s not MY message but my Heavenly Fathers message and that it is something I need to work on in my own small life.


In the surgical setting, there are hundreds of surgical instruments…several for every kind of operation you could imagine.  They are all named after the physicians who invented them and some of them are only subtly different from each other.  In many cases, it takes a trained eye to notice the differences.  There are also different categories of instruments: dissecting, retracting, grasping, suctioning, and occluding.  Each category of instruments serves a different purpose.  For example a hemostat, or clamp,  a kind of occluding instrument.  It is used to clamp vessels closed and stop bleeding.  A ribbon or malleable retractor is used to retract or to pull or push back tissue so that the surgeon can better visualise what he is doing.  While each of the categories has their own purpose, they can also serve other purposes.  The hemostat can also be used as a retractor or a grasper, depending on what the surgeons needs are.  The ribbon retractor can also be used to protect tissue underneath while the physician is suturing on top.  These tools have the uses they were specifically made for and they have also evolved into tools that have many uses.


In reviewing my instruments for my clinical sites, I became aware that we–as humans–are much like surgical instruments.   There are many, many kinds of instruments that are all created and intended to be used by their Maker.  The differences between instruments can be subtle, but make no mistake, they each have a purpose and a plan and are instruments in the hands of our Father. We can be instruments used for good or ill. Sometimes we are the proper kind of instrument for the job and sometimes we just aren’t–and that’s okay.  We don’t have to be every kind of instrument for every kind of task there is….it’s not humanly possible. Our uses change through our lives, depending on what season of life we are in.  That is the beauty of being an instrument in the hands of God , His purposes can be brought about by our strengths when we are able to give.  He knows each instrument, it’s nuances and it’s limitations.  If we live able to be used by Him at any given time, no matter where we are in our life, He will use us for His good and for our benefit.


There are instruments that bring comfort, those who lead, those who teach, those who follow.  There are those who serve, those who give and those who command.  Some bring laughter, some bring tears, some listen, some fellowship.  You have your truth tellers and your ego builders as well as the difficult ones and the obstinate ones. One may bring strength, one tenderness, one turmoil and another–peace.


President James E. Faust once said: “You can be powerful instruments in the hands of God to help bring about this great work.… You can do something for another person that no one else ever born can do.” May I propose that the most powerful instrument we can be in the hands of our God is to be an instrument of peace.  It is this kind instrument that brings the spirit of Christ to those who need it.  It is the tool that soothes broken hearts and spirits and the means by which Heavenly Father can impart of His goodness and graciousness to those who desire to feel close to Him in these days of turmoil.  It brings hearts to Christ and binds us to Him.


We have been told that Satan will stir up the hearts of men to anger in the latter days.  Men’s hearts are failing them. Aren’t we witnesses to it?  We are made aware, on a daily basis, of the kinds of anger that our brothers and sisters face all over the world and we see it in our own communities as well. We see it.  We feel it.  We are sorrowful and weary from it.  Think of the tragedies that have happened across our nation in the past year.  It seems as if we can barely take a breath before there is another one upon us and don’t we wonder “Where is peace? When will there be peace?”


We have been taught in Matthew 24 “…for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places.  All these things are the beginning of sorrows…”  I believe that more now, than in any other time of the world, there is a need for us to be instruments of peace–giving gifts of mercy and grace as our Father would do Himself.  I also believe that this need will continue to grow until our Savior returns again.


President John Taylor taught that peace is not only desirable but “it is the gift of God.” How can we do it?  How can we become the tools in God’s hands to bring peace unto others?  How can we give this gift? Simply said, we cannot bring peace to others until we have  some semblance of it ourselves. We need to make ourselves familiar and close to the sources of peace in order to be used as an instrument of peace in other’s lives.


In April 2013 General Conference, Elder Quentin L. Cook succinctly taught:


“… Many search for peace in worldly ways, which never have and never will succeed.  Peace is not found by attaining great wealth, power, or prominence.  Peace is not found in the pursuit of pleasure, entertainment or leisure.  None of these can, even when attained in abundance, create any lasting happiness or peace…the answer is the Savior, who is the source and author of peace.  He is the Prince of Peace.”


Elder Cook then goes on to explain that it is by staying close to the Savior we can have abiding peace:


“Humbling ourselves before God, praying always, repenting of sins, entering the waters of baptism with a broken heart and contrite spirit, and becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ are profound examples of the righteousness that is rewarded by abiding peace…repentance and living righteously allow for peace of conscience which is essential for contentment.  Perhaps there is nothing to compare with the peace that comes from a sin-wracked soul unloading his or her burdens on the Lord and claiming the blessings of the Atonement.”


When I thought of how I could become a peacegiver, I couldn’t help but reflect on all of the “sunday school” answers we have come to know over the years: Read scriptures, say prayers, attend church, have regular family home evenings and all of the other answers that so easily flow off of the tips of our tongues.  Why do these things matter? Because they are courses through which the goodness and the influence of our Savior can flow unto us. Even just a drop at a time, they introduce peace into our daily lives and we, in turn can pass that “gift of God” on to others.  Knowing full well that every day can’t be a perfect day and that sweetness doesn’t flow through my veins, I realize that sometimes I am the giver of peace and sometimes I am the glad receiver. I have to face this fact as well: sometimes I am just a thorn in the side of those around me.  I can be difficult and I can be demanding. My struggle with the “natural man” is great at times.  I can do my best, because my best is all I can do, to live my life in a way that I can be used as an instrument in the hands of someone who is indeed so much greater than I.


May I share just a sampling of what I believe an instrument of peace can offer to others:

  • they give love even when it is difficult to give

  • they speak words of encouragement and hope

  • they understand that diversity is what it is and that everyone chooses their own path

  • they speak truth, even when it is hard to do so

  • gentleness is their way

  • they withhold judgement, knowing it is not theirs to make

  • they serve

  • they give thanks and help others to recognize their blessings

  • they comfort those that mourn

  • they seek goodness in themselves and from others

  • they forgive and ask for forgiveness when necessary

  • they look past the exterior and into what really matters

  • they are the ones who bring the spirit of hope and peace of Christ to those who may not even know His spirit when they feel it.

…they do all of these things and more…so much more.  They are an instrument of many uses, bringing peace to those who need it in all of the different ways it can be so graciously given. Just like Jesus Christ does for each of us.


There is a Catholic prayer, called St. Francis’ Prayer, that has been widely used and turned into many lyrics for both sacred and secular music.  It is the basis for the following lyrics:


Where there is hatred, let me bring love

Where there is doubt, let me bring faith

Where there is falsehood, let me bring truth

Where there is pain, I’ll comfort you


Where there is silence, let me sing praise

Where there’s despair, let me bring hope

Where there is blindness, let me bring sight

Where there is darkness, let me bring light


And with these words I speak, grant that I may not seek

To be heard; but to hear

To be consoled; but to console

Not to be seen; but to seek

To be loved; but to love


For when we give love, we will receive

When we forgive, love, we find reprieve

It is in dying, we’ll be released

Make me an instrument of peace.



Please, make all of us instruments of peace.


I never stepped foot onto a plane until I was 21.  I kid you not.  I flew first class to Las Vegas with my best friend. It was a new and exciting experience for me and I learned that traveling could be quick, efficient and wondrous all at the same time.

My family would take to the road when we traveled.  At a young age I learned that driving in the car with mom and dad was just the way things were done.  I spent my childhood visiting the western states and Canada including the many towns and tourist traps along the way.  I learned to count the dotted white and yellow lines on the highways during the day and the reflectors on the roadside at night.  I was keen on watching for the mile markers because their number dictated how much longer we would have on the road.

Truth be told, even with all of the times I have been on an airplane since the Las Vegas trip of ’92, I still love to road trip.  Not only do I love it, but it seems to be something that is part of my genetic makeup: the blacktop never stops calling to me.  I find the need to drive as often as possible, either by myself or with whoever wants to tag along, gladly heading whatever direction is offered.  Just as the freeways and highways of the U.S. are the veins of the nation, so a gypsy’s blood feeds my heart and flows through my mind.  I have a never-ending case of wanderlust. I look forward to the driving itself just as much as I do reaching the destination.

I want to travel the roads of North America.  I want to drive Route 66 in a convertible and drive along highway 1 from North to South.  Forget Europe.  I won’t be satiated until I have driven across the plains of the mid-west and the spanning bridges of the northwest.  I dream of traveling across the hills of the northeast during autumn and of venturing south to see the lush bayous and the immense Gulf of Mexico.  Traveling the backroads and byways of the country is what I want to do.  Driving those roads is how the untold stories of people and places come alive.  The things never seen or heard or experienced can blossom on country roads and “off the beaten path” routes.  Those are the things I want to be a part of because I experience that kind of awakening in myself when I turn that key and start the wheels turning.

Driving is a way I process my thoughts and ideas.  My brain is a movie and the humming of the wind across the windows is my soundtrack.  As I travel 80 miles per hour down the freeway, I am able to catch up with myself and finally take a moment to analyze where I stand firm and where I am crumbling.  Something about the monotony of a long stretch of road enables me to open up my Pandora’s Box of thoughts and problems and I can attempt to solve life’s mysteries.

The most intimate and important conversations I have ever had were in the confines of my car.  Talks in the car with my husband, my children, sister, parents, best friends, and other traveling companions have a way of bringing out truth in conversation. It’s easier for me to be a little braver, a little more unrestrained than normal and a little more inquisitive because I have a captive audience.

Talks with myself as I have driven and driven to who-knows where have been both torturous and blessed.  I can even proclaim that the best–the very best–conversations I have had with God have been in the car…eyes open, arms unfolded, head erect.  Maybe it seems irreverent talking this way, but I have felt Him every time I have called on Him and I don’t know that he cares so much HOW I am conversing with Him as much as he does that I simply AM conversing with Him.  Heading down the road, just He and I, I have poured myself out of the very deepest and darkest corners of my hidden soul for Him to see and hear.  When I reach my destination, I know He loves me just as much as He did before we stepped into my automobile and I feel closer to Him than I did when sensed the click of my seatbelt.

I have even had conversations out loud in my car with people who aren’t with me.  I’ve told some people EXACTLY what I think of them and pled with a broken heart for others to forgive me with only empty seats as an audience around me.  Yes, it takes a minute to find my voice and then another to stop it from shaking but I do it because it helps me feel stronger and more empowered in situations where I may be entirely powerless.   I lose inner fear and find outward force on the open road.

When I drive, I drive to lose myself. Somewhere along the way I see myself and there are many times I don’t recognize who I am.   Still, I greet me and pick myself up like a lonely hitchhiker who needs a friend and it is then I am found again.

I drive to lose myself.  I drive to be found.