Imagine. Imagine living in your car. In a Walgreen’s parking lot. Then getting washed up in a McDonald’s bathroom. For months on end. Imagine.

Now imagine this happening to you as a child. Imagine having to hide your homelessness from your teachers, for fear you’ll be taken away from your mother. Imagine.

Joseph Shepard doesn’t have to imagine it. He lived it.

But his story and his struggle has helped him reimagine what life might look like for him. What life might look like for others like him, if he used his voice and his testimony to help and heal.

This conversation with Joseph was enlightening and inspiring. He’s got some stuff to say. And everyone should listen.

To choose love in the face of hatred, fear, oppression, obstacles and hard times isn’t required of us. It isn’t. We have …

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Whether it’s because of the stress and strain of the pandemic, the particular season of your life, or all of the above, we can find ourselves called to carry out tasks that we may not want to do or may not feel fulfilled by. (Hello piles of laundry and grocery shopping and substitute homeschool teaching.) How can we get through this? Not just this moment, but this life? When we have to slog through the humdrum, the boring, the mundane, the behind-the-scenes work that gets no glory. What if…what if we simply embraced the fact that we’re playing a role? 

“I want to be a good role player. Whatever role I’m called to do, I want to do it well.”

Dang. My friend Lyric said this at Bible study recently, and it floored me. She didn’t say …

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Being a working mother=hard.

(Heck, being a mother, period, means you’re working. And it’s all hard.)

Being a working mother with kids at home=hard. 

Being a working mother with kids and traveling while working and taking care of children while navigating being a business owner during a pandemic=superhero level hard. 

Meet Laura Haffner (aka Wonder Woman). She and her husband Ryan own High Plains Harvesting, based in Park, Kansas. I was fortunate enough to meet her through the Virtual Farm Food Tour, sponsored by Kansas Soybean Commission, Kansas Farm Bureau, and Kansas Pork Association. After participating in the Farm Food Tour several years ago, I’ve been honored to continue partnering with these organizations to help tell the stories of our Kansas farmers. 

Meet Laura!

Laura and I sat down for a Zoom chat, …

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You’ve seen the puzzle pieces, the lighting it up blue, the walks…but autism is so much more than these well-intentioned, but sometimes harmful awareness campaigns. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful autism is in the common lexicon now, but I am very passionate about telling the rest of the story. Or rather, letting autistic people tell the rest of their story. In this episode, I interview Heidi and Victoria, two Australian women who are also autistic. Their new podcast, Aspies Etc., caught my attention, and I wanted to pick their neurodiverse minds on everything from how to better raise my autistic daughter and what it’s like to launch into the podcast world. I’ve been writing about my daughter and autism for years. I haven’t always done it right. But I’ve done it. And I have …

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“A third-degree burn to the soul.”

This is how my mom describes the pain of losing a son to suicide after revelations of clergy sexual abuse and a cover up from the Catholic Church. She’s a fierce advocate for survivors and their families, and I’m so proud of the impact she’s had. 

As our family lit the candle of hope this week of Advent, I knew I needed to interview my mom, especially after I experienced a fairly severe mental health recently. Hope has a distinct meaning to our family.

My mom was also a teacher for many, many years, and was happy to answer questions from former students. Growing up, I was known as “Mrs. Patterson’s daughter,” and that’s an honor I proudly carry.

There’s so much more to unpack here. Our family’s story is…a lot. But …

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“Risk is the tightrope that connects us to what we want.”

Those words. This woman. (Who took great delight in the fact that I’d gotten water stains and a honey crisp apple sticker on her memoir.)

This week’s guest is poet and author Irene O’Garden, who Elizabeth Gilbert calls a “walking, writing, beam of light.” And she’s right. Irene shares with us her wisdom on how gratitude can be transformational, and why, in spite of all that is falling apart around us, we should be glad to be human. We talk about her newest book, and about the memoir that brought us together. Enjoy this week’s episode, and let gratitude fill as much space as possible in your life.

Learn more about Irene at 

Check out for all episodes and show notes, and subscribe on …

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