How to Honor Older Relatives Who Have Hearing Loss

How to Honor Older Relatives Who Have Hearing Loss

At my age (I’m a proud 57), I and many of my contemporaries are dealing with aging parents. With age comes hearing loss, and, although I haven’t practiced audiology (MA in audiology, University of Memphis, 1984) in 22 years*, I do still remember a thing or two about hearing impairment and its impact on individuals and their loved ones.

To that end, I offer these tips on how to help your hearing impaired friends and relatives continue to feel included in family and group activities.

Understand that hearing aids are not a panacea. Yes, they do amplify sounds, but they do not return hearing to normal. Even with a hearing aid, a hearing impaired person will not be able to understand speech in a situation that is full of background noise. Think of this when you’re cranking up the background music — you’re essentially excluding your hearing-impaired loved one from the conversation. It’s worth it to forego the music to make your friend or relative feel included.

Make the extra effort. It’s not easy for them to follow your conversation, but they are trying. You’ll have to try too. Show them how important they are to you by ensuring that you’re looking at them when you speak. Don’t raise your voice; that just distorts the sound and the movement of your lips and makes it more difficult for them to understand. Speak clearly and don’t mumble; make sure you’re facing them. Take the time to be sure they understand — they’re worth it.

Never tell them, “Oh, it’s nothing.” That signals that it’s just too much trouble to help them understand and further isolates them. Fill them in, in a way they can understand.

Don’t get impatient or irritated with them. They can no more help their hearing loss than you can change the color of your eyes. One day you’ll be old and maybe you won’t hear so well either. You owe them your patience.

Be empathetic. Try to walk a mile in their shoes. Imagine if you were in a room of people and could barely understand what was being said. How would you feel? Don’t berate them; help them as you would an elderly relative who can’t stand for a long time.

Understand. Sometimes they may get tired of trying to hear and zone out. Have you ever attended a lecture by a speaker with a heavy foreign accent? It’s mentally exhausting to listen and try to interpret the speaker’s words. Hearing-impaired folks sometimes feel the same way and need a break. Be understanding if they zone out for a bit because they need the mental rest.

Loving care and compassion go a long way to help an older relative feel vital and loved. Yes, our world moves quickly, but if you don’t slow down for your elders, you’ll miss a lot of love and wisdom. And that’s a damned shame.

*I did practice audiology for 11 years, and spent many of those years working with older hearing-impaired patients and their families. 

How Important is Milk, Really?

How Important is Milk, Really?

Musings of a Bad First Grader

I attended a Catholic school in first and second grade, a perfectly fine school. However, in Jonesboro, Arkansas at that time it was the only private school, and 99 percent of all of the children went to the public schools in town. They were creatively named North, South, East, and West, and I desperately wished I could attend one of them. I hated being different.

Our Lady of Jonesboro Catholic School* was small, with only one class in each grade, taught by nuns from the adjacent convent. I can only describe myself as possibly the worst Catholic school student in history.

Each morning we went to chapel. Girls were required to wear a veil on their heads, and I was fascinated with the many different designs and colors available. My parents probably spent a fortune on them, because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t keep up with a chapel veil to save my poor scatterbrained soul. Thankfully, our teacher, Sister Ann*, kept a supply of extras for girls who had no veils, but I’m pretty sure I depleted her stock a couple of times that year, which did nothing to endear me to Sister Ann.

Sister Ann just didn’t like me, no matter what I did — I’m pretty sure I knew that, even at six. She didn’t like that I couldn’t keep up with my chapel veil, and she didn’t like that I didn’t like milk.

After my first day of school at Our Lady of Jonesboro, I knew I was in trouble and that first grade was going to be a long year. Apparently Sister Ann thought it was very important for little first graders to drink their milk. All of it. And lunch came with one of those small milk cartons that sat squarely in the very special milk-carton-shaped space in the lunch tray. I still hate those things.


Sister Ann would stand at the cafeteria’s exit, next to the trash can where all of the good children threw their empty milk cartons. The good children would crumple the top of their milk cartons into the bottom, signifying to Sister Ann that it was empty. She would look at them and smile and nod as they threw away their empty cartons and ran out to play. Good, nice, milk-drinking children.

I knew I’d be in trouble if she caught me with a full milk carton, so I would wait and watch for her to become distracted, then bolt to the door, pitch the milk and leave. But more often than not I was stuck at the door with Sister Ann. She would pick up my milk carton, shake it, and send me back to my seat to drink my milk. No smile. No nod. I tried to bash in the top to make it look empty, but they don’t bash all that well when they are mostly full. Once I tried just telling Sister Ann that I didn’t like milk. I was sent back to my seat to drink it anyway.

I began to develop strategies for disposing of the milk. By the second week of school, it dominated my entire lunch, as I searched out other kids who might drink my extra milk. As my welcome wore out with one group, they would finally tell me they were sick of drinking my milk, so I would move on in search of true milk lovers. No time for socializing, I had work to do. I had to get rid of that milk.

Soon I got the idea to mix the milk in with uneaten food. This meant I had to leave food uneaten, so there were a lot of hungry afternoons in school. Spaghetti was especially good for soaking up extra milk, and the rolls looked good, but I only used them for milk sponges.

I realize how obsessive this sounds; but the fact that I remember these thought processes means I had far too much anxiety as a six-year-old. I spent my entire first grade year in dread of lunchtime. All morning I’d be sick with worry over how I would deal with the milk and avoid Sister Ann’s reprisal. Then after lunch I could relax, only to do it again the next day.

I’m not sure why I never told my parents about the milk anxiety; I’m sure they would have done something to help. They weren’t milk drinkers either, and my dad really didn’t think it was that good for you. But I didn’t tell, and I spent my first year of school unnecessarily miserable about lunch. I made few friends because I spent lunchtime table hopping to find takers for my milk. I probably didn’t learn a thing in the classes before lunch, preoccupied as I was by lunch anxiety.

I also remember feeling that I didn’t fit in; everyone else liked milk, why didn’t I? What was wrong with me? Sister Ann sure thought something was wrong. I remember wishing I could just like milk and be like everyone else. And I wished I could go to public school like everyone else, where I was pretty sure there wouldn’t be a Sister Ann.

I was thankful when the year ended, and even more thankful when my second grade teacher turned out not to be a nun, but a lovely woman named Mrs. Garfunkel* whom I admired greatly. And Mrs. Garfunkel didn’t care about milk.

This dumb little story tells me a lot about myself; it at least partially explains why I still feel like I never fit in anywhere. We never know the full extent of the demands we make on children, and the impact it can have. I’m not blaming Sister Ann for all of my issues, but in her stubborn insistence on my drinking milk, she planted a seed in me: that I was a screwup who couldn’t remember her chapel veil, and a bad girl because I didn’t like milk.

We never know what the children in our lives are miserable about and don’t tell us. But I think the lesson is that we need to be very careful that the hills we choose to die on are worth it. Sister Ann chose milk and chapel veils. And, partly because of her choice, there’s a 56-year-old woman who still doesn’t fit in. I wonder if she would think it was worth it.

*All names have been changed. This is not a smear piece, just some thoughts and insights I wish I’d had when my girls were six. Also, I have nothing against nuns, but Sister Ann was really just not a very nice woman.

Epilogue: I got smarter in the ensuing years. I didn’t like tomatoes either, and remember telling one of the counselors at church camp I was allergic to them. Much to my relief, they kept me far away from tomatoes the entire week. If I’d only known the word allergic in the first grade, my entire life might have been different.

A Parent’s Paradox

A Parent’s Paradox

When you become a parent, you sign up for a life of mixed emotions.

You want them to sit up, but you know you’ll miss holding them.

You want them to walk, but you fear they’ll fall and hit their head.

You want them to go to school, but it means they will leave you. It means they’ll have 180 days away from you. And they might fall on the playground and skin their knees.

You want them to make friends, but it means someone else will influence them in ways you won’t anymore.

You want them to know what it’s like for a boy to make their heart beat faster, but you don’t want them to get their hearts broken.

You want them to enjoy their first kiss, but you don’t want it to go any further.

You want them to pursue their dreams, but your heart breaks at the thought of them leaving.

You want them to grow up, find their passion, but it’s so hard to let go.

Until you do.

Until you watch them fall in love. And the child that you held on your knee is in someone else’s arms and that’s their home now.

Or maybe they don’t fall in love, but they make a life for themselves far away and you watch them become who they were meant to be.

It’s strange when you realize you don’t know their wardrobe, you don’t know their friends, or what music they listen to in the car.

And even though somewhere that isn’t your house is home for them now, you can hardly contain your joy as you watch one make a home with their love — the same way you did all those years ago — and the other build the life she dreamed of and a promising career.

It’s a paradox that our greatest joy is both in holding them close and in letting them fly on their own. Yes, it’s ridiculously hard to let go. But it is so worth it. 

Letting Go — and Letting Go for Real

Letting Go — and Letting Go for Real

Throughout our girls’ college years, we moved each of them at least three times. From home to dorm, dorm to apartment, and from apartment back home.

Today our oldest, Elizabeth, 25, moved again. This one is for real.

In fact, as I write this, she’s driving a U-Haul, towing her car, somewhere between Birmingham and Atlanta, on the way to Charleston, South Carolina. Which in and of itself is a major Mommy Freakout Moment.

But amid the anxiety is a swell of pride and a sense of excitement for her. She left our nest years ago, but today she flies far away.

Her move reminds me that our primary job as parents is to equip our children to live independently, and to prepare ourselves to loosen our grip as they pursue their dreams.

The hardest lesson for parents to learn is to hold our children more loosely with each passing year. The times we most wish to wrap them tightly in our arms to protect them from harm and struggle are the times it’s most essential to let go. It’s not easy. But I choose to be thankful — and a little proud — that we’ve raised a strong woman who can handle this challenge.

Elizabeth, a three-time marathon runner, ran the last 10 miles of her first marathon after badly spraining an ankle. Rather than quit, she kept running through the pain, and completed the race with a more-than-respectable time. She knows how to gather her strength, but rely on her faith to see her through adversity.

Not far from Aniston, Alabama, the U-Haul truck blew a tire. Every woman’s nightmare is to be stranded alone at night on a highway with car trouble, but Elizabeth kept her head, called for help, and is now on her way again, frustrated at the loss of travel time. She is strong and determined — she is not patient.

As difficult as it is to watch our children take risks, the rewards of watching them face uncertainty with courage as they run toward their dreams are manifold.

I’m letting go for real this time, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Look out, Charleston!

Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open. — Corrie ten Boom

On the Occasion of the 21st Birthday of My Youngest Baby

On the Occasion of the 21st Birthday of My Youngest Baby


My youngest baby is 21 today. It makes me a little misty eyed, I’m not gonna lie.

I tried to resist the motherly instincts last night when she told me she was going out at midnight to buy her first legal drink.

Me: Be careful. Are you taking Ethan (longtime boyfriend) with you?
Her: Yep!
Me: Well, have fun.

(Ethan is big and strong and not the sort of guy you want to mess with. And very protective.)

See how well that went?

Don’t get me wrong; I love having adult children. I love the adult conversations, and it makes me happy to see the great women they’ve both become. But it’s real, on-paper, legal confirmation that this phase of my life is over.

Which is awful and awesome. It’s the end of being needed in many ways, but it’s better to be wanted anyway.

Parenthood is a long journey, and I’m not sure you ever really reach a destination in the sense that the trip is over. But I’m loving where I am now.

I love the laughter, the fun, and the friendship. The adult relationship that isn’t based on dependence, but on love, commitment and many, many shared memories. The ease of being with people who know you inside and out, have seen you in a swimsuit and without makeup and still love you.

It’s been an incredible journey. The best/worst, most rewarding/hardest most heart-rending/touching journey of all, I think. I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve done my best and I have no regrets.

I’ve never made a quilt, but I think parenthood is how I imagine it would be, and someday I will make one. It’s a panoply of squares, each of which represents a smile, a hug or a tear, all joined together into one beautiful piece. If the last 24 years of my life are that quilt, I’m grateful for one so beautiful, that covers me when there is a chill and comforts me when I cry.

Here’s to you, girls, and to the next 24 years together.

3 Things to Understand About Teenagers

3 Things to Understand About Teenagers

Yes, it is possible to communicate with teenagers — in fact, I believe most of the time they really want to invite us into their world.

But what happens when they do?

When they want to share their ideas about music, clothes, activities, do we call it stupid or let them know how much better our way is?

Three ways to build bridges instead of walls with teenagers:

  1. Get with text. For teens and young adults, their primary mode of communication is the text message. Yet all too few parents are willing to adopt this quick, efficient mode of communication. Instead they complain that it’s silly and ask, “Why don’t you just call?” Instead of dismissing it because it’s less familiar, join them. Many times my girls texted me in situations in which they’d never have called, when they were out with friends, or even dates. They would let me know where they were and just chat about how things are going.
  2. Music. There has to be something you can find to like. When I was a teen (in the ‘70s), my parents hated all of the music I listened to except Simon and Garfunkel. My dad had derisive nicknames for rock and disco and constantly let me know how awful he thought it was. The only positive comment either of my parents ever made about my music was when I played Bridge Over Troubled Water for Daddy. He loved that song and I thought it was fabulous that he liked something I played for him. These days, much of what our kids listen to is remakes from the 70s. It’s so much fun to sing along and watch them wonder how I know the words.
  3. Social Networking. Yes, they spend a lot of time on Facebook and, increasingly, Twitter. It’s not stupid and it’s not, except in extreme cases, a waste of time. They are preparing themselves to live in this technology-saturated world, they are learning to network and to embrace technology, which is a positive thing.

One question I get asked a lot as many parents begin to join Facebook, “Should I friend my kid?” I say no. Let them friend you. Don’t make it a requirement or an obligation. My policy has been not to friend folks my kids’ age, so they don’t feel obligated or uncomfortable, however I’ll certainly accept their requests if they friend me, which they generally have.

As for monitoring their postings on social networks, as long as they lived under my roof, I had the password or the account was closed. Complete and total access. No exceptions.

If you want to communicate with teens, you have to do it on their terms, come into their world. When they invite you in, be a good guest.

Godspeed, Srannie

Godspeed, Srannie


I’ve felt unusually emotional the past couple of days, without really knowing why. It hit me sometime yesterday while I was trying to think through something at work. I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but now I think I know.

If you’re a mom, you feel what your children feel. When they are tiny and they have colic and cry, you’re at least as miserable as they are.

When they’re a little older and it’s chickenpox, ear infections, strep or a broken bone, you hurt too.

When they go to junior high and they feel like they don’t fit in, or the kids are mean, you remember when you felt the same way and you feel it all over again, but this time it’s worse because it’s your child.

The first time they fall in love and their heart breaks, yours breaks too.

You’re excited with and for them as they leave the nest, even though there’s an empty room in your home and a place in your heart that aches for them just a tiny bit.

As you watch them build their own lives and follow their dreams, their dreams become just a little bit yours, too.

I think that explains why, when I watched my oldest, Elizabeth, cross the finish line for her first marathon, I could not stop the tears. Thinking about the commitment, sacrifice and dedication it takes to complete 26.2 miles amazed me, but thinking about what that finish line meant to her brought the lump to my throat.

And maybe it explains why there may be a tear or two in a few hours when I see my youngest, Sara Ann, off to Zambia for a mission trip, which she has dreamed of since middle school. The fact that what she’s wanted for this long is to go to Africa and serve humbles me and fills me with admiration.

I don’t live through them, but being part of their adult lives is fulfilling in a way I never anticipated when they were small and I didn’t want them to grow up.

I’m so glad they didn’t listen.

Godspeed, Srannie.

It’s All In the Letting Go

It’s All In the Letting Go


A very long time ago, when I had a tiny baby, someone told me that successful parenting is a series of letting go moments. I didn’t believe it then. But now that I’ve lived it, I know it’s true.

I remember holding her, rocking her, inhaling the baby smells, feeling her little head nestling on my shoulder and thinking there was no way I was ever letting go.

Then one day I held her in my lap and felt her pull away, lean forward and try to sit up on her own. I let go and she sat up.

A few months later, I let her pull up on the coffee table and stand, sort of, on her own two feet.

Then she took a step, by herself, without my hand in hers.

After that, she learned to use the potty and sleep in a big-girl bed. She wanted to dress herself and she chose some interesting combinations of clothing. We took her to church in an outfit that didn’t match and we didn’t (much) care what anyone thought.

It seemed only moments later when I drove her to preschool, stopped the car and watched as she hopped out the door to go fingerpaint, run on the playground and listen to someone else read to her.

Soon she began Kindergarten — all day long. She learned to read and to write her name. And while she still wanted me to read to her occasionally, most of the time she wanted to read to her baby dolls and stuffed animals.

When it was time for the middle school dance, I couldn’t believe I was letting her go. To a dance? With a boy? But I helped her choose the perfect dress, watched her curl her hair and put on just a little blush, lip gloss, the tiniest bit of mascara and shoes with heels that were way too high. And she was beautiful.

Her freshman year, it was her first high school dance. She wore a long red dress and she looked way too grown up. But I let her go and after the dance, in the wee hours of the morning, she told me about her first kiss.

We taught her to drive cautiously and to concentrate on the road, knowing full well that when driver’s permit became license, away from our watchful eyes she would turn up the music and drive too fast and ride with boys. We were scared to death, but we watched her drive away.

All too soon we packed the car with her belongings and moved her into a tiny dorm room to live with another girl she barely knew. We helped her arrange her room, find a place for the mini-fridge and then I hugged her, afraid to let go, because I knew I was letting go for real this time.

A year or so later, we moved her into her first apartment. We bought a couch, a TV, a bed, gave her hand-me-downs from the attic, helped her hang pictures and cautioned her to always lock the door. Somewhere else became her home; now she comes to visit. When it’s time to go, she says, “I have to go home.

One day, she’ll hold onto Jim’s arm as he escorts her down the aisle. She’ll let go and take the hand of a young man who loves her enough to never let go. Then someday she’ll become a mother and she’ll read this post and understand.

And that’s parenthood. It’s okay to let go. All of the growth is in the letting go.

From First Steps to 26th Mile

From First Steps to 26th Mile

Race Update

Another medal!

Elizabeth finished the Atlanta Marathon with an unofficial (as of now) time of 4:40. She’s exhausted and hurting all over and on her way back to Memphis. Congratulations, sweetheart, we’re so happy for you! Here’s what she had to say about it on Twitter.

Elizabeth with her marathon medal

Elizabeth with her medal from the St. Jude Marathon

Just a few minutes ago, I got off the phone with Elizabeth, my oldest daughter, who in 2009 ran her first marathon. She called me just before getting in the car with friends to travel to Atlanta to run her second.

It was a very cold morning in December of 2009 as we sat in AutoZone Park to watch her cross the finish line. We had been there with her since the start and had waved to her at several points along the way. As excited as we were to share this day with her, I was completely unprepared for its emotional impact.

When she crossed the finish line, the tears of joy came as we watched her accomplish a feat that only one to two percent of Americans can claim. I admired her discipline, her commitment and the courage she found to finish nearly half of the race with a badly-sprained ankle.

But most of all, I admired her. The baby with blonde curls whose first wobbly steps thrilled me as much as her 26th mile.

I wish I could be in Atlanta this Sunday to see her cross another finish line. But my heart and my prayers will be with her. Run fast, my girl! We’re proud of you, not for the steps you run, but just … because.

Empty Nest Countdown: One. Week.

Empty Nest Countdown: One. Week.

This countdown is getting serious. She leaves in One. Week.

What do you do the last week before your last child leaves for college?

It’s busy for her as she says goodbye to her friends, packs and cleans her trash pit dumping zone room. Busy for me as I plan the send-off dinner, try to enjoy every minute with her without smothering her to death and cry. A lot.

In some ways, the anticipation has been worse than the actual event. At least it seems so now — ask me again next week after she leaves.

She’s ready.

  • My dining room is full of dorm and her room is full of boxes and suitcases.
  • She’s excited about the challenge and ready to prepare for her future.
  • Over the weekend I got to hear her share insights on faith that were deep, thoughtful and meaningful, which gives me such peace.

I’m ready.

  • Yes, it’s hard. Hard as crap. But my Daddy taught me that few worthwhile things are easy. So that means this is very worthwhile.
  • I’ve got lots of exciting projects of my own to work on and that is going to be so much fun.
  • I can’t wait to watch how she’s going to use her gifts, talents and passions to work for good in the world.

At this point, I’ve either prepared her for adulthood or I have failed, so, in a way, the pressure is off. Now I get to just enjoy her last week at home. And try not to cry. Much.

Yeah, right.

The Empty Nest Countdown: 20 Days

The Empty Nest Countdown: 20 Days

In 20 days, my youngest daughter, Sara Ann, leaves for college. It’s the most significant life change since I first became a mother in 1988. I’ve been counting down the days, not to be morbid, but because it’s easier for me to process if I’m aware of what is happening.

We spent this past weekend at my family’s lake house on Greers Ferry Lake in Arkansas — the setting for some of the best times of our lives. It was our last lake weekend before The Empty Nest and my first inclination was, don’t think think about the fact that it is the last, just enjoy the time.

Except … while thinking about it certainly brings tears, do I really want to look back on these days and remember nothing special about them? No — I want to savor every moment; I want to be fully there. Tears are a small price to pay for the memory of:

  • The last dinner at the table at the lake. Steak, baked potatoes, garlic bread and peach cobbler. A nice bottle of Cabernet.
  • The last day on the lake. An idyllic sunny day with a pleasant breeze, screams of joy on the inner tube and time to relax and enjoy the clear water and unspoiled beauty of the foothills of the Ozarks.
  • The drawer. As we packed to leave, she showed me “her drawer” in the master bedroom. I hadn’t known about this drawer. It contains things she has kept there since she’s been old enough to open a drawer. Books, markers, hair clips, coloring books, rubber bands, some small toys, pencils. Little girl things, not college girl things.

The drawer took me back to a time when college would happen someday, not in 20 days; when many more dinners, sunny days, skinned knees, broken bones and broken hearts lie ahead.

I’ve never believed that to display emotion is to show weakness, that it’s necessary to deny what we feel in order to be strong. In my experience, it requires more strength to face that which is painful; to walk through rather than try to walk around and pretend to be unaffected.

So in 20 days, when I leave my youngest three hours away in Conway, Arkansas, I will feel it. I won’t distract myself with busyness, or try to take my mind to a happy place. I’ll curl up in a ball and cry if I need to and I’ll remember every thought, every feeling, every moment. And I know there will be a time when it hurts just a little less.

But for now, I’m going to count down the last 20 days and treasure each one. Even if it costs me a tear or two.

In Permanent Ink

In Permanent Ink

What is the one thing you are least likely to do? Jump out of an airplane? Go camping? Run a marathon?

There is no skydive, no tent and definitely no 26.2 in my future, but if you had asked me this time last year what I’d be less likely to do than any of those … it would be get a tattoo.

So nearly a year ago, when my youngest daughter started talking about getting a tattoo for her 18th birthday, I tried to pretend I didn’t hear her. She already has about six ear piercings, so I’ve grown accustomed to her unconventional look and am far less concerned about her outer appearance that who she is on the inside. But a tattoo is so … permanent. And she’s only 18.

As I listened to her, I realized that she didn’t want it for the purpose of rebellion; she’s a lot of things, but rebellious isn’t one of them. She wasn’t interested in the impression it would make on others. She wanted a tattoo because she wanted a visible symbol of her faith in a place where she, and others, would see it every day.

So I began to warm to the idea, accept that her preferences and tastes may be just different than mine and respect the fact that her faith is something she wishes to carry with her in a visible way for the rest of her life.

Sara Ann’s dove, on her right wrist

Then the other shoe dropped.

“Mom,” she said. “For my 18th birthday, I want to get a tattoo and I want you to get one with me. I want it to be a mother-daughter thing. I want us to do it together.”

What? No way. You have got to be kidding.

But …

She kept asking. She was not joking.

And I realized something. This was not another hole in her ear. This was forever. Visible to all. For her, it was a profound moment. The moment she would put a symbol of her faith on her body in a way that all would see. Irrevocably. And she invited me into that moment.

One thing I’ve learned in 21 years of parenting: When your teenager asks you to be a part of a significant moment in their life, it’s a high honor, not to be taken lightly or scoffed at. So, at 51, this suburban housewife got inked.

It brings to mind this:

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.* Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (*emphasis mine)

My cross, duplicated from a silver cross necklace Jim gave me years ago

In ancient days, observant Jews bound what is believed to be these verses to their bodies in leather boxes called tefilin, translated into Greek as phylactery, so the idea of having a visible reminder of the faith attached to the body is not a new one. Perhaps in the same way, the dove that will now always adorn her wrist will remind her of the Holy Spirit’s constant presence in her life.

I know that the cross on my left shoulder blade, the same side of the body as my heart, will ever remind me of the sacrifice of the Cross, the grace of the Cross and the glory of the Cross.

And a sacred moment between mother and daughter that took place late at night in a funky tattoo shop in downtown Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Never say never.

What’s one thing (you think) you’ll never do?