homeless man

Many years ago during my first job out of college, I became friends with a middle aged homeless man. His name was David, and he greeted me each day at the post office as I mailed packages for work.

David held a sign that asked for a smile or money, and I always gave the first and sometimes also the latter. For many months we exchanged greetings, sometimes talking in greater length depending on how busy I was. David was a little odd, but certainly kind, and while I didn’t understand why he was on the streets I did my best to show him compassion and love. For Thanksgiving I packed him up a bag of food, and occasionally I brought him dinner leftovers or a cookie.

I can’t remember what happened exactly, but after knowing David for a year he started making me feel uncomfortable. As a woman, I’ve learned to pay attention when the hairs stand up on my arms or my heart flutters faster than normal. While David didn’t seem dangerous, he was also a man on the streets and I was a young woman. When I started seeing him at the grocery store where I shopped, which was only a few blocks from our apartment, I knew my friendliness needed to be scaled back. I began looking for other places to take the mail, or going earlier in the day when I knew David wouldn’t be there. It was a slow break-up of sorts, sad and awkward but also necessary.

A few weeks ago, I took the kids to the post office by our house—the same one I frequented almost 10 years ago. Imagine my surprise when I noticed David sitting in the same spot next to the mailbox. His hair was still a bleached blond from the sun—or was it gray?—and his face was still tan but it wore more wrinkles than before. I hesitated before getting out of the car. Should I go inside? Would he remember me? Should I say hello?

As much as my I wanted him to know I remembered, my maternal instincts said otherwise. While it’d be extremely unlikely for him to hurt us, I needed to play things safe. Plus, he wouldn’t remember me, right? He very likely had some type of mental illness and probably watched hundreds of people go in and out of this post office for over a decade. I’ve aged. I have children. I’m just another face in the crowd.

When I reach the post office doors, I see him running over to me. My hands are full with children and he opens the door for me. We make eye contact for the first time and I thank him and continue inside. When I return outside and begin walking to the car, I thank him again. A few seconds pass and he yells, “I remember you, you know!”

I stop in my tracks, a kid in each hand. I’m not sure what to say, and I fumble in my words. Now is the moment when I can use his name—“David! Wow! Hello and good to see you again”—but I do not.

Instead I make an awkward comment asking if he’s been here a long time, and his eyes look crestfallen for a moment when he realizes I don’t remember or won’t remember.

“Yeah, it’s been awhile,” he says.

I smile and say it’s good to see him and then I head for the car. I am about ready to close my door when he yells, “I never forget a face like yours!” I back out and give a quick wave before driving away.

The whole interaction leaves me with so many questions. I question my judgment all those years ago, and then I question the walls I’ve since put up. I question if he’s really someone to fear, or just another lonely soul. I question if he remembers my kindness and compassion, or if he remembers my body and face. I’m a woman, after all, and things get a lot more complicated when a woman wants to care for someone living on the streets.

I think too many people fear or judge the homeless and don’t treat them as humans, but it’s also more complicated as a woman, and especially so when children are involved. There are real risks. How can we show love and kindness to those on the streets, even as women, even with our children nearby?

I’ve love to hear your thoughts and I plan to share more of mine next week.

Related post: The last day I walked away




Good day, friends! I welcomed this morning with blurry eyes, as I’ve done every morning for the last week. The kids have croup, and pink eye, and an ear infection, and what seems like twenty other ailments impairing their sleep (and mine.) With Jonathan gone on a cancer survivor’s surf trip for a week, I decided to flee to my parents’ house for the Memorial Day weekend. Owen has been so sick (like, coughing so hard he barfed all over me), that I decided to stay an extra night. We’ve done puzzles and played Candy Land and watched a lot of television. Have I mentioned my parents are really great?

We also received some inconvenient news this month: we have to move. (Hold me.) Our landlord is selling our current house which means we’ve been hunting for a new rental in a town where vacancies rates are less than 1% and rent prices have shot up 12% since last year. Discouraging? YES. Absolutely yes. I’ll admit, my attitude has been somewhat of a moving target. Oh, and did I mention some of my current work load at Kidaround is shifting too? Le sigh.

Our move, and my working situation, will be great changes for our family in the long term. I believe this. I know this. But in the midst of change, I’m tired and a little weary.

In between obsessively checking Craig’s List and working on a new website, I finally finished an essay I’ve been trying to write for years. It’s about gay marriage but it’s not really about gay marriage. This is a story about friendship, and I hope it leaves you encouraged and hopeful. I’m grateful to my friend Bronwyn for encouraging me to finish this piece and publishing it on her site. Please hop over there today and let me know what you think!




The hard part about weekend travel is that it usually puts a lot of pressure on the other weekends we’re home. So much to do, friends to catch up with, and little people who demand a lot of attention. We just had one of those epic weekends where Jonathan and I both had individual time with friends, I was able to write, and we caught up on a few much needed chores around the house.

I spent a few hours back at the Santa Barbara Public Market on Saturday working on my May Coffee+Crumbs post, and I also go to see Jenny and Lisa who were both here separately for other reasons. When you live in a beach town, especially the beach town where you went to college, people visit all.the.time. It’s pretty awesome.

Next week my C+C post will go up, but today there is a huge giveaway for an organic Ergo carrier, a Halo bassinet, and 4moms rockaRoo. I will just say, as an accidental baby wearing mama, I am especially lusting after that Ergo!

Here are a few other great finds from around the web:

First, for the twenty something crowd (or parents with a twenty something in your life), I highly, highly recommend my friend Paul’s new book All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith and a Freaking Job. I loved reading Paul’s memoir, partially because I was trying to figure out all the girls he refers to throughout who I likely know, but also because I needed a book like this in my 20s. This book has been a dream of Paul’s for almost 10 years, and it’s so fun to watch the way his path to publishing happened. The book is well written, funny and also very practical. Congrats, Paul!

Robin is kicking off her Pilates Summer Series again. Are you going to participate? Her beachy videos are so great, and I’m trying to do one or two each day but it doesn’t always happen. Her updated series kicks off soon!

Loved my friend Bronwyn’s real story about a miracle that took place in her life a few months ago. Bronwyn is the real deal- a great friend, mom, and writer. Highly recommend this read.

Making time for kids? Study says quality trumps quantity. “The study found one key instance when parent time can be particularly harmful to children. That’s when parents, mothers in particular, are stressed, sleep-deprived, guilty and anxious.” What do you think?

7 best podcasts to try (This American Life has been a long favorite, but I still miss Serial.)

Hope your week is off to a great start!



Wedding moments in Jackson

by Lesley on April 20, 2015 · 2 comments

in family,weddings

wedding collage 1

When I married Jonathan almost 10 (!!) years ago, his sixteen year old brother Matthew was our best man. He didn’t particularly like me at the time, as I was the girl stealing his brother and best friend away, but when he delivered an eloquent and funny best man speech at our wedding I began to see a tiny hint at the man he’d eventually become.

It was a huge honor and joy to watch Matthew get married last weekend in Jackson Mississippi, to his sweet bride Elizabeth. As the last Miller sibling to marry, our family is now  complete (besides the growing number of grandkids) and there’s something really sweet about everyone having a mate. I always felt like there was someone missing at holidays, and  looking back, I think it was Matthew and Sarah’s significant others.

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed my influx of #mattaboutliz photos. All of us traveled to Jackson to participate in the wedding festivities. Jonathan was the best man and planned an epic bachelor party on one of the days that involved steak and crawfish and shooting things. Meanwhile, Katie and I entertained the cousins at the Mississippi Children’s Museum and got lunch and milkshakes at Brent’s Drugs, a legendary lunch spot in the area (and a scene in one of my favorite movies, The Help.)

Besides our trip to New Orleans a few years ago, I haven’t been to the deep South, and Mississippi lived up to my expectations. Lush green fields, so many trees, friendly people, thick accents, amazing (fatty, fried) foods, humidity, and a city oozing with history. After studying civil right leader Medgar Evers in high school, I really wanted to visit his home where he was assassinated in 1963, and Jonathan let me sneak in a quick stop the morning of the wedding. (I know, sort of a weird way to kick off wedding day, but, you’re only in Jackson once, y’all.)

The wedding itself was lovely, and the bride radiant and calm. Jonathan’s dad assisted in officiating the ceremony, marking the fourth and final time he’s been part of marrying his children off. Anna made it down the aisle with a smile, and despite a few wiggles up front, she fulfilled her flower girl duties well. (Let’s not discuss her and Owen’s behavior pre-ceremony, and just focus on her darling white dress and flower crown, shall we?)

Southerners know how to do weddings, and we fully enjoyed ourselves at the reception which took place at a boutique hotel in the downtown area. Unlike other weddings I’ve attended, this one had no set program or assigned seats. Toasts took place the night before, at the rehearsal dinner, which meant there was less of a program to follow. I loved this! When we arrived at the reception the food and drinks were already flowing. Grits station in martini glasses? YES. Mini chicken and waffles? YES. Carved venison, pizza, and warm cinnamon rolls? YES, YES, and YES. And when the live band started…let’s just say everyone lost their minds. This was a party, and we all partied hard including Anna, who made her own dance floor out of glow sticks and then raced around it all evening until we forced her to bed, in tears, at 9:30pm.

While our weekend was so fun, it was also exhausting. I do not prefer flying with children between the ages of 6 months and three years old, but we all survived our 12 hour travel days and (happily) do not have any other flights planned with our kids until they turn 18. Or at least four.

Congrats, Mr. and Mrs. Miller!




It’s been a rough cold and flu season at our house. Like so many other families (yours, perhaps?) we’ve been through the wringer. It seems like we’ve been hit with one cold after the next. Throw in Owen’s newly diagnosed seasonal allergies, a few ear infections, fever, pink eye and our recent bout with the stomach flu and you’ll understand why I’ve basically turned into a hypochondriac. “What’s next?” I moan and lament. “What do we do differently?”

When Anna woke up sick on Thursday night, the second child to fall victim to a tummy bug, I cursed a few times under my breath. Jonathan was gone on a business trip and I’d already been trapped at home since Tuesday morning when Owen became sick. I was tired of cleaning up soiled carpets and bed sheets, and frustrated by the amount of work piling up before our upcoming trip. Plus, I was looking forward to MOPS in the morning and those plans would have to be cancelled.

And yet, as the long night wore on, and Anna awoke every two hours to vomit, my heart and perspective slowly (emphasis on slowly) began to change. These days, I have many opportunities to show up for Anna and Owen. I make them three meals a day, and bathe them. I take her to the park, and wash their clothes and kiss them when they fall. But, these caring moments are so frequent, so part of our routine, that my children take them for granted. At their ages, I don’t expect anything different.

But when I sort through the fuzzy and fading memories of my own childhood, I can remember the times my mother would hold back my hair and rub my back and lay down towels on the carpet next to my bed. These moments of physical agony, when we are completely helpless, is when the care of another person is so particularly memorable and meaningful. It is when we’re at our lowest that we truly appreciate and understand the meaning of love.

The last few days have provided many opportunities to pray over my children. I rub my new oils on their bellies, an anointing of sorts, and ask God to heal their bodies. I whisper encouraging words.

“I am so proud of you.” 

“I know this hurts.”

“You are scared and tired but you’ll feel better tomorrow.”

And when she does wake up, we cuddle and read and play all the games I’m often too busy to make a priority. Friday is long and busy, and when they sleep or watch movies, I do load after load of laundry, make meals, sanitize door handles, mop up messes. But in the midst of the crazy, I make an important realization: I am getting better at this job. I am confident. We have routines. I know how to clean up vomit effectively and contain an active toddler at the same time. I’m not a new mom…I am growing up. And the thing is, they are too.

These sick days are gifts, if I treat them as such. She will not always need me and he will not always want me. Someday I will wear a hat they find completely embarrassing, and I’ll cheer for them the wrong way at their soccer game. They’ll lambast me afterwards and I’ll probably cry, feeling like a new mom walking through uncharted territory. “Where did I go wrong,” I’ll ask? “What should do we do differently?”

When these days come, someday, faraway I hope, they will be new opportunities to settle into my motherhood role again. I’ll have to remind myself that just like babies be babies, teenagers are just teenagers. Colds and flus and temper tantrums and missed curfews are not an indication of bad parenting; they are an indication of growing up. And I hope and pray that in their desperate moments they will look back on the nights I rubbed their backs and held their hair, finding full assurance in the deep love surrounding them.

P.S. If you liked this post, you’ll love this article in today’s New York Times, “When My Daughter Called Me Sick, from College, I Got on a Plane.”

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