You Never Know Who’s Watching…and Praying



Her arms were crossed. Angry brown eyes holding back the tears while looking across the street. Avoiding any eye contact with her lunch date. A wall of glass separated me from her, but the entire Atlantic Ocean separated her from her boyfriend who was sitting across from her icy demeanor. He reached for her hand. She pushed his offering away, making the physical distance between them seem like light years.

I was inside the restaurant with my kids. Enjoying lunch. GF pizza and a salad. My tummy was satisfied, but my heart was hurting. They were sitting outside on the covered patio. The air was cool and her heart was frozen. It was painfully obvious  something bad and irreparable had transpired to bring this couple to this deep crevasse in their relationship.

I kept watching, glancing, trying not to stare. I felt like I was watching a movie. This particular scene was unfolding at rapid pace. She rummaged through her black hand bag, trying to find her wallet. Upon finding her credit card, she tossed it on the table. He covered it with his hand and motioned for her to put it back up. She abruptly left the table and his head dropped. Her credit card still lying on the table, he got his wallet out and flagged down the waitress.

I munched on another slice of pizza and wondered what must be going on between them. I physically felt my body aching for them. I quietly prayed. Lord, help them work this out. Help them reach the other side of this icy crevasse. Just then, my oldest, who is intuitively brave with her questions asked, “mama, what’s wrong?”

Busted. By a 9-year-old.

I motioned with my head to the young man sitting alone outside and told her not to stare, but to listen to me. I shared that he was there with his girlfriend and they seemed to be having a disagreement. Then came the next question, “how do you know?”

Because I’ve been watching them for the past 15 minutes. Hurting for them.

About this time, the young lady came back to the table. Arms still crossed. Eyes still hurting. She plopped down into the chair and crossed her legs. Her body all tied up like a pretzel and her heart all tied up in knots. It’s amazing how much our body can reflect what we are feeling on the inside. It’s very hard to hide pain. We can numb it, but it’s impossible to hide it.

The young man slid her credit card across the icy depths of the 3 foot round table. She grabbed it off the table, took the last gulp from her wine glass, and left him sitting there. Alone. She crossed the street and he watched her every step. The crevasse was ripping open further. He could feel it and so could I.

I’ll never know what becomes of this young couple. Maybe this is what Cheryl Strayed meant when she said, “As long as I live I’ll never tire of people-watching. On city buses and park benches. In small-town cafes and crowded elevators. At concerts and swimming pools. To people-watch is to glimpse the mysterious and the banal, the public face and the private gesture, the strangest other and the most familiar self. It’s to wonder how and why and what and who and hardly ever find out.”

I’ll never find out. And I don’t have to know, but I will pray. For both of them. For them to each find their way, whether it’s together or apart.

Finding our own way in life. We can’t do it for each other, but we can encourage and cheer each other along our individual paths.

Who can you encourage this week? Who can you pray for?

I’m praying for you.

your fellow traveler


This post is part of my Moving Forward series. I try post something new every Sunday to prepare us for the week ahead. If you have enjoyed what you read, you can sign up to have my blog posts land in your inbox. Sign up at the top of this page, upper right hand corner. Thank you.



Moving Forward: I Believe…


You believe in what you know to be true.

Tonight, I am pondering three things I believe to be true:

I believe every little thing happens for a reason.
I believe life is full of hidden treasure.
I believe the best is yet to come.

So, if you take all of those beliefs and blend them together, I believe we can:

Look for treasure every day and know that the greatest Treasure is waiting at the end of your earthly adventure.

My kids love to hunt for treasure:

Buttons, bottle caps, and blueberries.
Rocks, rabbits, and rainbows.
Lizards, locked doors, and lightning bugs.
Pansies, puddles, and poodles.

Under rocks and behind trees.
In their closets and at Goodwill.
In my purse and under the couch.
Through the forest and under the bridge.
They are constantly looking and they always seem to find treasure.

What happens when we grow up? Where does the treasure go? I believe it’s still there, but hidden from our busy eyes. We stop looking for treasure. We stop seeing the good in things and make assumptions about people and things which then turns into what we know to be true and  becomes part of our belief system.

We get so bogged down in the day in and day out struggles, that we lose sight of the treasure. And the greatest Treasure becomes dim in light of our current struggles.

But, I believe, yes, really believe we can change our treasure vision…no glasses needed! We only need to pause and take a look at all the treasure around us. Choose to see the world the way you did when a stick was a sword, bottle caps needed to be collected, and lizards made great pets.

Friends, this week, take a few minutes each day to look for treasure. To see the things of this world with fresh eyes…those things that make you smile like a 6 year old. So hard your cheeks hurt!

What are you believing right now? What do you know to be true?




“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

Looking Forward: Don’t Freak Out…

Last Sunday, I started a new Sunday offering on this blog, “Looking Forward”:

Grace for the next 7 days of our lives.
The minutes we’ve yet to live.
The memories we’ve yet to make.
The masterpieces we’ve yet to create. 

May we pause together tonight and ponder the future minutes, memories, and masterpieces the next 7 days may hold.


The first day of vacation and between the 4 of us, we have a gastrointestinal virus, terrible allergies, and an encounter with a jellyfish that left the youngest Branch with his right foot tattooed:


He was playing in the surf, trying to catch little fish with his net. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him leap out of the water and start running towards his mama who wears her heart on her sleeve when it comes to her babies. I bolted towards him after I heard him screaming, “OUCH, OUCH, OUCH!!!” over and over again.

We met in the middle of what seemed like 15 miles between us. I glanced at his foot, which was already red and starting to swell.

“Right there on top of my foot,” he gasped. “It feels like a wasp stung me, but wasps don’t live in the water!” My literal son…love him.

“No, but jellyfish do!” I informed him.

“WHAT! What’s going to happen to me?” he seemed a little concerned…

I helped him back to the house and gave him Benadryl while googling “what to do when a jellyfish stings you”.

While I was googling, Sean was sitting on the bed with his eyes closed talking himself out of a conundrum. He wasn’t crying, not even a tear. He talks to himself all the time, but it was what he was saying that caused me to stop my googling and whisper a prayer of gratitude in the midst of our adversity. He kept repeating to himself:

“Don’t freak out, Sean.”
“Don’t freak out, Sean.”
“Don’t freak out, Sean.”

He was truly focusing on calming his heightened emotions. Now, it’s a miracle I didn’t freak out. I didn’t panic. I knew we had Benadryl and I knew worst case, we would go to urgent care.

But, I learned something from Sean today, my youngest teacher.

When life stings you, it would be so easy to just give in and freak out. To work harder to make things happen. To lose sleep worrying. To panic and stop breathing. But, there is a better way.

As we look forward and pray about the upcoming week which will hold stings of all types, let’s follow Sean’s example and not freak out. Even if we have to say it to ourselves out loud over and over again.

Friends, let’s not freak out! Let’s pause, breathe, and pray for help.


Looking Forward

Things have been quiet in this space lately. I guess you could say I’ve been on a sabbatical of sorts. Not announced, not planned, not fully understood. But, good for me. Really good for my soul.

I’ve been writing, just not publishing. Bleeding at the keyboard, just not sharing my bandaged covered soul with you.

Writing from your innermost place of quiet and introspection requires a lot of you. I have to go to a different place in my head when I write. And it costs me something because I’m giving something away. Sometimes it costs too much.

I’m learning that writing is much like being in a friendship. You can never pay backwards. You always pay it forward. This learning brings me to an announcement of sorts. I am going to start posting mostly every Sunday. A new type of post.

Every Sunday in my life, I spend some time with my calendar. I look forward to the week ahead. I plan. I organize. I make lists. I stop and take a moment to ask God to help me and give me supernatural insight. I look forward to all that lies ahead of me.

So, on my blog, I am going to start writing {and posting!} a “Looking Forward” offering almost every Sunday. I like the idea of an offering. Nothing is required of you, or me. It will be an offering of lessons learned, things observed, quotes, coaching tidbits, coaching questions, encouragement, and grace.

Grace for the next 7 days of our lives.
The minutes we’ve yet to live.
The memories we’ve yet to make.
The masterpieces we’ve yet to create. 

May we pause together on Sundays to ponder the future minutes, memories, and masterpieces.

Here we go. Let’s hold hands and leap!


As most of you know, we spent the last week at the happiest place on earth. One word…magical. Smiles plastered on our faces. Yes, all four of us. Big kids, too!

My daughter summed it up one afternoon after watching the Nemo movie come to life on stage at Animal Kingdom…

“Mom, there’s so much to see and hear…I can’t take it all in!”

As a mom, I cried.
As a coach, I cheered.
As a believer, I thanked my God.

May we all look at the week ahead and choose to see the positive. There will always be negative and we can choose to embrace it, but I challenge you and me to embrace something different. Choose to see the silver lining instead of the cloud. The sparkles instead of the blemishes. The glitter instead of the mess. As my 9-year-old said, you won’t be able to take it all in.

Let’s live our minutes making memories and creating masterpieces. He’s called us out upon the waters. Let’s keep our eyes off the waves this week. Much love to you all.