Remember telling secrets as a kid?  Your best friend would entrust to you who she had a crush on and you vowed never to reveal it.  I have to confess I was always like Kristen Wig in the “Excited” sketch on Saturday Night Live.  I may not have told the secret, but whenever the boy my friend liked entered the room my eyes would get big, I would look at my girlfriend and giggle and just make a fool of myself. I’ve never been good with secrets.

Perhaps that’s because secrets in my childhood were always tied to painful events.  Happy secrets are tied to birthday surprises and spontaneous trips to Disneyland. In my household, secrets were much darker.  Don’t let anyone know.  Don’t talk about this.  One of the biggest secrets came out when I was about 12 or so and my Mom let it slip that my sister was not my “full sister.”  I was dumbfounded.  My mother’s friend was at the house and her 16 year old daughter took me upstairs and explained to me that my mother had been married before and that my sister had a different father.  I knew never to ask my mother about it.  My mother never revealed to me or my sister who my sister’s father is or was.  My sister was never given the opportunity to know anything about her father because of my mother’s shame.  I realize my Mother felt such tremendous shame about this because not only of the era she grew up in but also the shame inflicted upon her by her father.  But she brought that shame into our family and passed it to us.  Instead of sharing with us this event in her life, she hid it.  Discovering it the way I did was more painful than if she had just shared it with me herself.

We had lots of those kinds of secrets in my family.  We didn’t have the “surprise!” we have a wonderful secret for you.  We had the life shattering kind of secrets. Thus began my hate relationship with secrets.  I did manage to turn secrets into a good thing (I hope) for my kids.  We had the get dressed for school, drive past school, get on the freeway, oh by the way we are going to Disneyland kind of days.  But I still had secrets from my family history that I had to find a way to share with them.  Some of them, I waited until they were old enough to understand, some I couldn’t.  Life forced them upon us and I had no choice but to sit my kids down and share with them some of the ugliness from my childhood.  Kids are so funny, when you share things openly with them, they process what they can, then simply move on.  They may come back and ask questions later, but they don’t seem to dwell or freak out when it’s presented with love and openness.

Unfortunately because of all of this, much to the dismay of my family and friends, I am a chronic oversharer.  If you ask me how I’m doing I will tell you so be careful.  I’ve always said that I don’t want anyone, especially my children, to hear or read something about me and say, “I had no idea?!”  I am a pretty open book.  Some of my friends shutter at how I can share some painful details of my life.  I know.  It’s not for everyone.  I get that.  And I don’t share to hurt or inflict pain or people who might be involved in my story.  That’s not it at all.  I’ve learned that tied up in secrets is usually shame.  The bible says that darkness and light cannot exist together for the light will drown out the darkness.  Truth out shines shame.  Truth takes away shame’s sting.  Truth kills shame.  And I’ve found that so often when I share my truth, someone stuck in their own secret lights up and says, “me too.”  Sometimes that little “me too” is one step out of the darkness.

So feel free to ask me how I’m doing.  But be warned.  I will probably tell you.  If you are just making conversation, just say “but I don’t really want to know.” I will love that truthfulness!


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Grandma Ester

I didn’t really have a Grandma.  My Mother’s Mother died before I was born, and my Father’s Mother wasn’t really interested in the position.  So I never had that person in my life who thought I set the moon, who thought I did no wrong, who was my biggest cheerleader and my confidante.  I will tell you that it was a hole in my soul.  Everyone needs that person in their life.  This world has plenty of critics, but everyone needs unconditional love.

My relationship with my mother was always difficult.  She saw me more as overwhelming and annoying.  Her nickname for me was “wild child.”  She definitely didn’t think I set the moon, she was always finding something wrong, but to her defense she had her own struggles.  As you can see there was just a big ol’ hole in my heart needing some filling.

Then one day God brought Grandma Ester into my life.  She was my friend Lyz’s mother.  Grandma Ester never met a stranger.  She was always happy and uplifting.  If you ever saw Grandma Ester at church, she was dressed to the nines with a beautiful hat and lipstick.  She always had to have lipstick!

Grandma quickly became my buddy.  She would always go on about how beautiful my hair was.  She would encourage me with anything that I did.  But most of all, she loved my children.  They called her Grandma Ester.  They would run to hug and kiss her, because she thought they set the moon too.  She attended their weddings, and graduations.  My favorite story is when Grandma told my girls, “girls you are so beautiful.  You need lipstick, so I bought you lipstick.”  It was bright red lipstick.  My girls later put it on and sent Grandma a picture with their lipstick on.  She was thrilled.

Grandma and I had lots of adventures together.  We’d go to Green Thumb together, and I would lose her.  Even though she had a walker she was fast!  She loved Weinersnitzel.  I would take her and we would have lunch or I would bring some by the house for her.  She was so thrilled.  Grandma loved watching sports on TV and we would even sit and watch tennis together.

I’ve never met someone with so much love.  What I am describing about Grandma, hundreds of others could also share.  She loved everyone well.  She didn’t just compliment, she meant it.  She loved big.  She was always happy to see you and she loved to cook for you.  Grandma taught me to make salsa but hers was always better.

The last two years have been especially difficult for me in my marriage.  Grandma has faithfully prayed for me and would call me just to tell me she’s praying for me.  In fact, it had been quite a while since my husband had seen Grandma.  When we walked into her room last week although she couldn’t speak, you could tell she was so excited to see my husband.  She fought so hard to talk but couldn’t.  She then took both of our hands and put them together.  She kept trying to talk.  I went to her ear and whispered, “you don’t have to talk Grandma. We already know how much you love us.”  Then she puckered her lips for a kiss.  I went to my car and sobbed.

Grandma had a stroke earlier this year and though we have been preparing for her passing, walking in and seeing her unable to speak knocked me off my feet.  I thought I was prepared, but nothing prepares you to lose your biggest cheerleader.  Nothing prepares you for the huge hole it will leave.  I am a better woman for being able to call Grandma Ester my Grandma.  She taught me to love well and love big.  Because of her there will be lipstick and hats in heaven.  My only hope is that now I can pass on her legacy of love to everyone I meet.  Thank you Klopman’s for sharing Grandma Ester with us.




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Logan Middle School

Facebook now sends you your memories.  This one came up for me today.  This is my daughter Logan at her orientation for Oaks Christian Middle School.  You would look at this picture and say “cute” and move on.  But for me, there are so many memories tied into this picture.

At this time 4 years ago I had just lost a school that I though I could save.  Devastated would be understating how I felt. Logan was right in the middle of it.  Logan was in 6th grade at the school at the time.  She was the “owner’s daughter”.  The man who took over the school lied to people and told them I embezzled funds so even worse, Logan became “the embezzler’s daughter.”  She was told by friends that they could no longer play with her because her mother had lost the school.  She was subject to evil looks and whispers she could not even begin to comprehend at her age. She had adults say ugly things to her.  Her Momma was beside herself with grief, her friends were rejecting her, and she now had to abruptly change schools mid-year in 6th grade.  6th grade is such a hard and awkward year.

Logan ended up going to public school to finish the year then, by the grace of God she was accepted to Oaks Christian for 7th grade!  We were so blessed and grateful that Logan would finally be surrounded by security and love.

As I look at this picture, I see the insecurity that I couldn’t bear to see in her eyes at the time.  I see the face of a kid longing for some normalcy and peace.  But I also see the face of an adventurer.  Logan has always been an adventurer.  While her Mom is probably not the most adventurous, Logan has always been.  It’s a complete contrast in personality because she also suffers from anxiety and yet, she is always on a new adventure.

This new adventure for her was middle school.  She nailed it!  She nailed it with grace and determination to walk in the same footsteps her siblings walked in and yet blaze her own trail.

Logan DMV

This is Logan today.  Blazing her own trail and thriving.  Memories are a funny thing.  Logan looked at that 6th grade picture and said, “ew!”  I looked at that picture and saw so much.   Both memories are accurate.  I could live in the “ugly” part of the memory or I could celebrate the beauty in the growth by my baby girl.  I’m gonna live in the beauty today.  But fair warning – she can drive now and she’s an adventurer.

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Every year before Oscar night I swear I’m going to watch all the movies.  This year I’ve come very close.

Yesterday I watched the movie Manchester by the Sea.  This movie is profoundly depressing.  The pain is palpable throughout the movie, but the acting is superb.  The interesting thing about this movie is how pain was portrayed without words.  This man who was profoundly depressed expressed his pain on the screen not with words but with the lack of them; with painful long periods of silence that the rest of us probably would have filled with words.  His pain was beyond what any word could convey so he didn’t even try.  Have you even had pain like that?  I have.

Then I watched Moonlight.  In this movie you watch a young boy, a blank slate get molded and shaped by the world around him.  He is shaped not only by what he experiences and sees but he is profoundly impacted by the words that are said to him.  He is called little, and soft.  Later he is called faggot.  You watch this child struggle and ponder these words that are splattered on him without regard like someone splattering paint.  These words stick to him.  Unfortunately this boy doesn’t get many kind or uplifting words splattered on him, they are few and far between.  Those that do impart positive words on him, also lead dark lives and it is the dark side of their lives that ultimately leave the most impact on him.

My head was spinning after that movie.  It brought me back to the power of words.  Dr. Phil often says that it takes 100 positive words to overcome one negative word.  That is some incredible power.  Our words, our negative words have the power to impact a person 100 times more intensely than our positive words.  If we could really wrap our minds around that would we be so careless with our words?  Would our 10 minutes of anger be worth the lifetime of impact that those words said in that moment affect?

I have been the victim of those negative words.  We all have.  I can still recite them all to you.  In school I was called, weird and fat.  At home I was called the “wild child.”  I was always told I was too much.  In my marriage I’ve been called fat, unattractive, not sexy enough, etc. In my business I was called a liar, a thief, and incompetent. My own mother has recently called me a thief.  Now I preface all of this by saying that no one said these words to me thinking they would stick with me forever.  They were said in anger or frustration, or in ignorance.  But they stuck.  They stuck with crazy glue.

Don’t get me wrong.  People have spoken affirming words over me too.  In school I was called cheerleader, friend, sweet, etc.  At home I was called “darlin”. In my marriage I’ve been called beautiful, and best friend.  In my business I was called helpful and caring.  But it was those ugly words that stuck.  It’s like they were covered in crazy glue!  I’ve worked for years to unstick them, but it hasn’t been easy.  They are the default of what I think about myself unfortunately.

Now this doesn’t even take into consideration the ugly words I’ve spoken over others.  I shutter to think what lasting negative impact I’ve had on the lives of others.  As I process through this it makes me think.  Are those ugly words worth it?  I may mean them for 2 minutes but they last a lifetime.  It’s time to really think about what I say.  Silence can convey a great deal.  I don’t always need to fill up the void with ugly words.  Sometimes silence truly is golden.  To quote one of my favorite movies, Bambi “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

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I Hate Valentine’s Day

I declared war on Valentines Day back in my twenties. You see I LOVED Valentine’s Day.  I mean I really LOVED it.  Red hearts, white paper doilies, the whole works.  I loved it.  Not just for Valentine’s Day but the whole year long.  I love hearts, flowers and naked baby angels.  In high school one poor dance date had to endure my outfit of a white blouse covered with red hearts, a red skirt and red pumps.  All I needed was a cupid hat!

I still love hearts, flowers and naked baby angles, but I HATE Valentines Day.  It all started back in my twenties when a young idealistic “the world is all hearts and flowers” Jeannie decided to get married on Valentines Day.  Oh I had it all planned.  Guess what my colors were?  You guess it!  Red and White!  Hearts on the invitations, hearts on everything!  It was all planned out. The only problem was idealistic Jeannie was so enthralled with her hearts and flowers she didn’t realize that her groom wasn’t quite so enthralled.  He ended up leaving a note on my car saying he just couldn’t do it.  Oh don’t be mad at him.  You should have met idealistic Jeannie.  She was something!  But that began my war on Valentine’s Day.

I went on to get married and have children, but Valentine’s Day after that never lived up to the hearts and flowers idealism in my head. I love that scene in the movie Valentine’s Day where they have the anti-Valentine’s Day party with a piñata! It was always more of a Hallmark holiday after that or something for the kids.  This year I was going to declare war on Valentine’s Day and boycott it all together, but then I was struck with a better idea.

For people in love, Valentine’s Day really should be celebrated all year long.  But for the single, and the widowed Valentine’s Day can be painful.  So instead of wallowing in my own idealistic self-pity I’m going to try to share some love with all of my single and widowed friends.  Won’t you join me?  Let’s make those who perhaps are shown love less often a little extra love on Valentine’s Day. Just a simple text or note on Facebook would be awesome. As for me, when I’m finished loving on my friends I’m going to go make a piñata!

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Welcome to the Club

Have you ever been somewhere you knew you didn’t belong?  Someplace maybe that was way out of your league.  I had that experience this past week when I walked into the Riviera Country Club.  I’m volunteering for a golf tournament despite the fact that I know nothing about golf.  I volunteered partly because this was a club I could never enter normally and I wanted to see it!

It’s beautiful.  Old money.  Grand doorways.  Beautiful chandeliers.  Marble floors.  Sprawling greens.  High ceilings. People open the door for you there.  I didn’t belong. You could practically smell the poverty on me.  When I stepped inside I felt underdressed.  Any time I visit a special place like this, I always have to check out the restroom.  That’s always the sign that this is not your normal place.  There are no “paper” towels in the bathroom.  Only the finest Egyptian cotton hand towels.  They also have complimentary sunscreen, toothbrushes, deodorant, mouthwash and shoe horns.  I’ve never used a shoe horn, but people with lots of money who play golf must need them. I’m sure I would need them if I knew how to play golf, had a lot of money and belonged to the Riviera Country Club.

My first instinct was take all the free stuff I could.  I would load up my purse!  Then maybe take a few selfie’s just to document the fact that I was in fact in this swanky Country Club that I didn’t belong to.  I tried to find the proshop to purchase a t-shirt or a hat so everyone would know that I was there….. once.  I can just imagine myself filling my purse with all the free goodies when and employee walked in, busts me, and explains that I don’t belong there and kicking me out.  I wasn’t kicked out, and I didn’t steal anything.  I cannot confirm or deny any selfie’s however.

There are not many places I feel like I don’t belong anymore.  I’ve learned to act cool for the most part, but there are times when I am just so out of my league.  You know what I mean? Places where the chandeliers cost more that the annual income of a small family. As I was leaving I had a thought. I wonder if heaven isn’t a little like the Riviera Country Club.  Beautiful, dazzling, sparkling and over the top. When I get there I can just imagine myself running to the restroom to fill my purse with all the freebies when Jesus walks in and says, “no need to fill you purse Jeannie.  Your home. It’s all yours.  Welcome to the club.  You can have a t-shirt and a hat – whatever you want.  You belong here.”

Then I begin to think of all my loved ones that have graduated to heaven.  I hope they are all wearing the hat, the t-shirt and the whole deal.  Perhaps the logo would simply be “You Belong.”

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I have a savior complex…

Oh yes, it’s true.  I freely admit it.  I have a savior complex.  I believe with enough love, I can save anyone and anything.

This most recently manifested in my life when I tried to rescue a business.  I put my heart and soul into it and I was sure that as long as I put everything I had into it I could save it.  Unfortunately despite all the love I put into it, the lack of funding was ultimately victorious.

Lately I’ve been struggling with one of my favorite verses, 1 Corinthians 13:8 “Love never fails.”  I had this verse posted above the door in my office.  I believed it, and yet ultimately it did fail.  My love failed.  Love does fails.  I have friends who have poured love into their marriages and children only to watch them fail. Love does fail.  It fails hard.  In my case, it fails epically.

Last night I attended #Reviveus2016 put on by Kirk Cameron.  Francis Chan put things into perfect perspective for me.  I will try to give justice to his words.  The man in amazing.  His love for the Lord is so inspiring.

He said that our relationship with God is about being KNOWN by God and about knowing God.  He explained that when we are KNOWN by God he lives inside us so we are a new creation.  (This part I knew). But he went on to explain that when God dwells in us we take on his attributes.  We love deeper, we have compassion, etc.  He explained that’s why we are driven by justice and love.  It’s why when we are holding a foster child it’s so easy to love them because God’s love is flowing through us.  It’s why when we see a homeless person we can see past the dirt and the smell to see their heart because of God dwelling in us.

You see God dwelling in me gives me that burning desire to save people.  God dwelling in me gives me a heart and a passion for the widow and the orphan.  God dwelling in me makes me long to seek justice.  That’s the natural part.  That’s the good part.  The part that I mess up is when I think it’s me who’s doing the saving.  It isn’t.  I could have never saved that business, or a homeless man, or a widow or an orphan. But God in me can.

God is sovereign.  He does as he pleases.  Psalm 135:6.  HIS love never fails.  My love fails a lot if I’m loving out of selfish ambition.  Sometimes God chooses to save.  Sometimes he even uses me to do it.  Sometimes he doesn’t.  Businesses fail, marriages fail, and my love fails, but He is sovereign and His love never fails.  The desire I have to save – that’s a God given desire.  It’s a good thing.  I just have to remember WHO does the saving.

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