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An open letter to the man sitting next to me on my flight today:

You were an older gentleman. Maybe in your 60’s. You had a huge binder with a cover title Christian Apologetics Teachers College. The smaller print said “Building an army of Christian Educators”. You were not a large man but you spread out so that I could not sit back in my seat without leaning on your shoulder and arm. When the plane got up on the air you pulled down your tray table and opened your binder out halfway covering up my space. When the woman came by with snacks you rudely waved her away without looking at her or acknowledging her. When the drinks came you asked for Dr Pepper. She opened a diet Dr Pepper (on mistake) and you yelled at her. When she couldn’t find a regular Dr Pepper you loudly expressed your annoyance and said “I guess just give me juice mixed with sprite” and then proceeded to tell her how to mix your drink. (this is not a cocktail bar).

I was still huddled up against the plane wall as you were taking up so much space I couldn’t sit back in my chair. For an entire three hour flight this is how I sat. I had to ask you to move your things so I could put my tray table down when I got a beverage.  I made sure to loudly thank the kind woman after you had treated her so abominably.

I would just like to say that as a Christian, I am annoyed with your behavior in every aspect on this flight. But I am also thankful that you sat next to me because had you sat down next to someone who did not know Jesus and acted the same way with your bible notes spread out for all to see, I am scared to think how much damage you could have done. No wonder people despise Christians. No wonder we are given such a bad name. I urge you to think about your attitude, the comfort of others, and your general behavior in the future. You never know who is watching. I also suggest you find a better Bible college. One that teaches you first how to love others and treat them with respect. Until you can learn these basics, presented by Jesus as one of the GREATEST commandments (Love your neighbor as yourself), I hope you don’t begin teaching others about how to be a “Christian”.


The woman sitting in 9A

P.s. to the person in front of me listening to music without headphones… rude

Get off my bus

Imagine you are a bus driver. You have a beautiful new bus that you can design and decorate any way you want. You have spent time making it look so cozy and inviting. There are only two rules about your bus. 1. You have to follow your designated bus route. 2. You have to pick up everyone at the bus stop that wants to get on your bus. You can’t turn anyone away.

You start your first day of work so excited! Your bus looks great, its a sunny day and you are so excited to meet people and drive around your beautiful city. The first stop comes into view and there are three older woman laughing and talking waiting for you. They look like they are having the time of their lives! You are so happy to welcome them onto your bus. Their names are Joy, Hope, and Faith. They chat with you as they board and sit in comfy seats around you and continue their happy banter as you progress to the next stop.

As you approach the next stop you see a man standing there. He is the scariest looking man you have ever see. He looks ANGRY. You hesitate. You don’t want him coming onto your bus. But… rule #2. So you stop and open the door. He GLARES at you as he comes up the steps and sits in the very back right behind you, so every time you look in the rear view mirror you can see him staring angrily at you.

And you move on.

The bus is you. The people on the bus are your emotions, events happening in your life, bad days, good days, chronic pain, migraines, laughter, etc… The point? Who is driving your bus? YOU. You should be driving your bus. You shouldn’t let any of those other things/feelings/events drive your bus. It is YOUR BUS. This is a scenario I talked with my therapist about the other day. Who is driving your bus? The point is you can continue on your day, go through and fulfill all your responsibilities, hang out with friends, go to your job etc, with these things/feelings/events sitting on your bus. They are just passengers. You are still in charge of the bus’ route. But as soon as you let anger, or fear, or pain start driving the bus, you lose control of where the bus is going.

Today my pain is driving my bus. It has been a LONG day. A HARD day. A day filled with a lot of tears. I went to band practice, and then I stopped in at a party. I knew like 5 people and I felt so alone and out of place, so I left after 5 minutes. As I was driving home I looked in my rear view mirror and looked at my pain and said “ MAN I JUST WISH YOU WOULD GET OFF MY BUS!” I know it doesn’t work like that, but in that moment it felt good to yell at it. Tomorrow is a new day. Fresh with no mistakes. Fresh with me starting at the wheel. Hopefully pain will have a harder time taking over tomorrow.

Who’s driving your bus?

I hope it’s you.

Chapter 7: Steve


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This is Chapter 7 from my book. No, I haven’t finished it yet. Yes, I am still working on it. I just got an email from Steve, whom this chapter is about, and as the 6th anniversary of the bombing is upon us, I thought it was an appropriate time to share. Steve will always be part of my story. He was there when I desperately needed to not be alone. I was in and out of consciousness, had no idea what was going on, Colton had put me in an ambulance and they wouldn’t let him come, so I was terrified and confused. I don’t remember much about that ambulance ride, but Steve held my hand the whole way. And that is something I will never forget.

Chapter 7: Steve

“How we all came together that day, that’s what’s important to me. Not the evil part of it, but the best of us.” Mery Daniel

A few days before being transferred from Boston Medical to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, a nurse came into my room to let me know that the man who rode in the ambulance with me was hoping to see me before he also left for rehab. They rolled him in on a stretcher and when he saw me tears formed in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks. I started crying as well. Our journey is one we will probably never share with anyone else. 

I asked if they had found his son. (Steve had been with his 4 year old son when the bomb went off and they were separated when Steve was injured) They had. He only had a small scratch on his head. Thank God. And Steve? He said he was fine. But I pushed. Really?



His leg had been amputated from the knee down.  I cried even more. This sweet man who had been watching the marathon with his four-year-old son would never be the same. None of us would be. 

Tears on both our cheeks, we promised to find each other at rehab. A few days later when I was taken to Spaulding, we ended up on the same floor, and when I saw Steve my first day in the gym for physical therapy, I rolled my wheelchair over to him and he hugged me so tight. Something our hospital beds hadn’t allowed.

We have a bond, one that no one else will ever understand. When Steve testified at Tsarnaev’s trial, he talked about being in the ambulance with me. “I asked her to give me her hand,” he said, “because I wanted to hold someone’s hand.”

Sometimes, in suffering, you need to know you are not alone. You want to know there is someone who has gone through the same thing. Someone knows how you are feeling without having to say anything. Who can cry with you and give you a hug. 

Sometimes you just need someone’s hand to hold. I don’t know Steve very well, but I know he held my hand during some off the scariest moments of my life. That is something I will never forget, and also something for which I will be eternally grateful.

Now 6 years later Steve is an INSPIRATION! He is doing amazing things in Boston and his son is almost 10 years old! This video is amazing and I just couldn’t be happier for Steve and his family. Proud to call him my friend.

Steve Woolfenden • Adaptive Sports at Spaulding from Design Museum Foundation on Vimeo.


Lent Day 1

Growing up I always thought Lent was a Catholic holiday. My grandparents were Catholic and Lent meant fish fries on Fridays and that’s about it. Grandma told me to give things up for lent. One year I think I gave up chewing gum. Another year I might have given up chocolate.

This year for some reason, I’ve been thinking about lent a lot, so I started doing some research. What does it means, what is it’s purpose, why do people observe it? It is observed in preparation for Easter. 40 days, to represent the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by the devil, or also 40 days that Moses spent on Mt. Sinai. Ash Wednesday, which is today, is the beginning of Lent for Western Christian churches. It’s a day of penitence to clean the soul before the Lent fast. Lent ends on the Thursday before Good Friday.

The word “Lent” comes from the old English, “lencten,” which means “lengthen” or “spring.” It comes from when the days begin to lengthen as spring is approaching.

Lent is a period of abstinence preparatory to the Feast of Easter. Father J. Michael Sparough says that Lent is a way to “Renew our spirits by entering into this season of holy discipline to prepare for the joy of the resurrection.”


I ordered this book by C.S. Lewis to use as a devotional throughout Lent. I’m not sure what I’m going to give up. I think it will be television. This year has been hard and I want to make sure I am doing all the right things. Following the right path. Doing the things I need to do. I’ve been listening to Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio and I just love that he said that “We are not David in the story of David & Goliath. Jesus is David. Jesus is the giant killer. Jesus fights the battles for us. Jesus stares down the face of impossible odds. The giant falls because of the work of JESUS.” Louie Giglio (Goliath Must Fall) So maybe there aren’t too many things I need to be doing. But I do know that I need to work on my foundation. My relationship with Jesus.

With my neck and back problems there’s a lot of talk about your brain and your body not working together ad how you need to reprogram it and I see this reflected not just in my body and my mind, but also my spirit. My body and my mind think I have to DO things all the time. I have to keep working and keep trying and keep moving forward, trying to be better, trying to figure it out, but my spirit keeps telling me to be still. And to be honest, I am really crap at being still. Since the bombing especially, I haven’t had too many quiet moments. I either have music, an audio book, or the television on. At the beginning it was because I was scared. The hospital was loud. I did it as a coping mechanism to drown everything else out. I don’t know if that is still why I do it, or if it is just because I am so used to it now that silence seems like impending doom. But maybe that is what I will focus on this Lenten season.

Being still. Being ok with the quiet. Spending time listening. Just being. Without distraction. My phone says I pick it up 116 times a day. I get 714 notifications per day. I spend 30 hours a week on my phone. Yes my job requires me to be on my phone, so a lot of that is work, but that’s still insane. I’ve forgotten how to be still. How to be quiet. How to relax without checking my phone, or my computer. So, I guess for the next 40 days, I’m going to be learning how to be quiet. Are any of you doing something for lent? I’d love to hear about it.

Middle finger to the darkness


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Be loved. Be known. Love people and know people. Be so brave as to raise a hand for help when you need it. Make friends and make sure they know they matter. Be loyal to them and fight for them. Remind them what’s true and invite them to do the same when you forget. If you do some losing or you walk with someone else in their defeat, live with dignity and grace. 

It is a middle finger to the darkness.

Words by Jamie Tworkowski

2018 Book List


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Every year I make a goal to read as many books as my age. I know its not that many yet, but someday when I’m 80…yeah it will be a lot of reading! I probably won’t be able to do much else at that point. Anyway, here’s my 2018 book list. Happy birthday to me! Getting started on my 37 books for 2019…I’d love to hear your suggestions!

  1. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows
  2. Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber
  3. Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau
  4. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  5. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  6. *Harry Potter All 6 Books by J. K Rowling
  7. *The Chronicles of Narnia All 7 books by C. S. Lewis
  8. Spirits In Bondage by C. S. Lewis
  9. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  10. The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  11. The Baker’s Secret by Stephen Kiernan
  12. The Night Circus By Erin Morgenstern
  13. The Plantagenets by Dan Jones
  14. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  15. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  16. The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking
  17. Wonder by RJ Palacio
  18. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  19. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
  20. Everybody Always by Bob Goff
  21. Scary Close by Donald Miller
  22. Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
  23. The Shadow of Death by James Runcie
  24. Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
  25. My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
  26. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  27. Rare Objects by Kathleen Tessaro
  28. Casual Vacancy by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
  29. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  30. The Eternal Current by Aaron Niequist
  31. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  32. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  33. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  34. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  35. The Road Back to You by Suzanne Stabile & Ian Morgan Cron
  36. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
  37. The Broken Way by Anne Voskamp

*  I don’t count the Narnia and Harry Potter books because I read them every year so it’s not like they are new material

British TV Shows


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Yes I know. I quit my job then immediately write a post about television. I promise I have been working on this one for a while. Even before I put in my notice at starbucks.

I am OBSESSED with British TV and I am honestly surprised I haven’t discussed this before now! I wish I lived in the UK. Their Netflix is so much better! I thought I’d make a list for all of you out there who are looking for great shows to watch. Here are some of my current favorites.

  1. Grantchester (really because I just LOVE James Norton)
  2. North & South (is basically the perfect mini series)
  3. Pride & Prejudice (BBC version)
  4. Happy Valley (James Norton again)
  5. Broadchurch (so creepy but so good)
  6. Marcella (another so creepy/good)
  7. Great British Baking Show (they’re just all so nice!)
  8. Sherlock (Benedict. come on.)
  9. Poldark (Ross Poldark. Need I say more)
  10. Endeavor (similar to Grantchester)
  11. The Killing (Danish, not really British, and very scary, but amazing)
  12. Victoria (so perfect)
  13. The Fall
  14. Hinterland (Welsh? The accents took me a while to get used to)
  15. Lovesick (funny and so cute)
  16. Downton Abbey (just watch it all the way to the end I promise. You have to make it to the end!)

This list really could go on and on but these are some of my faves. What are yours? I’d love to know the shows you are into right now!



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“Every single Thursday, I quit something.” – Bob Goff

I have been thinking all week about how to write this, and Bob’s words have been going through my head. “What can you quit today?” I have been feeling this day approaching for a few months, but now that it’s here, it isn’t any easier to put these thoughts down on paper. (or on the computer screen)

It’s Thursday.

So I’m going to quit something.

And that something…

Is Starbucks.

After 14 years, I am walking away. Turning in my green apron. Saying goodbye to free coffee, cheap healthcare, flexible hours, and triple filtered water. But I’m also saying goodbye to so much stress, shifts that are impossible to get everything done, always feeling like I’m a failure, being yelled at by terrible customers about…COFFEE. I’m saying goodbye to cleaning drains, trash runs, Frappuccinos, what size…what size…what SIZE???, 4 am alarms, syrups all over my arms and face and dripping down my leg.

Coco said it best today when we were talking about leaving. “I really just want a job that doesn’t involve windex.”


That’s what I want.

So I put in my notice. Saturday is my very last shift. When I started at Starbucks in 2004, it was a different company. A company that was about customers, and community, and loyalty, friendship and great coffee, and connections. Now it isn’t. I miss the “good old days”. The days when I could know 100 customers in a row, their names, and their drinks. We used to test each other to see who could get the most. I definitely made it to 100 or more on multiple occasions. I miss opening SO many days in a row that we thought we were going to die. Doing shots (of espresso) to try to keep ourselves from falling over. Closing at 11 and playing darts at the bar until it closed at 2am. A store that was a family. People I worked with who knew everything about me, who came over for dinner, who called when we weren’t working together just to chat. When we went out for lunch or shopping, we knew everyone. People would pay for our food, come over and give us hugs, yell across the grocery store “hey honey look its our Starbucks people!”

But it hasn’t been that lately. It hasn’t been that for a while. It has been draining me and I am so relieved that it is coming to an end.

I won’t miss the drive through times. I won’t miss Frappuccinos. Happy hour. (which goes from 3-close and no one is happy so WHY is it called HAPPY HOUR??) I won’t miss very much.


I will miss people. Some friends I’ve made. It was a great company for me to work for, for a long time. I learned a LOT. I grew up.

So now, I am pursuing other things. I’m going to finish my book. (books!…yeah I started another one) I am doing social & digital media as an independent consultant. I am going to make my house an air bnb (come stay!) I am just trying to figure out what my adult job is and where I want to go!

It is exciting.

It is terrifying.

But I can’t wait.


Since it is Thursday.



5 years


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It’s been 5 years. Can you believe that? It’s so crazy! Sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes it feels like a dream that never happened. I think this week it’s been feeling close because I had to have a small surgery on the toe on my bad leg and have been driving my car with my amazing left foot gas pedal. Brings back so many memories. Remember when I was trying to learn to drive with my left foot and I thought I would surely kill someone? Now it’s second nature and I don’t even have to think about it.

Five years is a long time. But it is also not that long.  A lot of things have changed. I moved away from NY. I bought a house last year! I have (almost) 3 nieces and 1 nephew since the bombing. My parents have also moved to live near my sister and I. I’ve travelled to so many places since the bombing. I’ve grown in so many ways. I think I still have a long ways to go. A lot to learn. But who doesn’t?

I thought I’d share some clips from 2013. In case you haven’t known me long, and don’t know what I’m even talking about. Here’s a BLAST from the past. (pun intended) It’s long so I won’t be offended if you don’t read it all! (there’s some pics at the bottom too!)


Today I met Steve. Steve was in the ambulance with me when we rode to the hospital. He was watching the marathon with his 4 year old son. He was hurt far worse than I. But all I remember from the ambulance ride is him holding my hand and alternating a between telling me it was going to be ok, and yelling at the medics to find his son who was now all alone. He held my hand the whole way. i have been wondering about him. How he was doing. Did they ever find his son? So today, then the nurse told me the man who rode in the ambulance with me was hoping to see me before he left for rehab, I was of course eager to see him. He came in on a stretcher, on his way out of the hospital. when he saw me tears formed in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks. I of course started crying as well. his son had been missing when we were together in the ambulance so I inquired after him first. They foun him and he only had a small scratch on his head an was fine. Thank God. And Steve? He said he was fine. But I pushed. Really fine? No. His leg was missing from the knee down. I cried even more. My leg is useless and probably will be for a very long time, but at least I have it. Steve is going to the same rehab center that I am so as he was pulled out of my room we promised to find each other. I don’t know Steve. But I know he held my hand during some off the scariest moments of my life. And for that I will be eternally grateful.


When the bomb went off, something made a huge gash in the back of my right leg right near the bend of my knee. It is about a 9-10 inch horizontal cut. It was so deep that it severed my main artery and 2 main nerves. I lost a ton of blood. I think I got at least 4 units, but I’m not sure if I got more than that. My left leg has some cuts on it as well, but nothing that required stitches or anything. It is all black and blue and ugly with scratches and cuts, but it will heal fine. Back to my right leg. So in my first surgery they repaired my artery and cleaned it all up. A portion of my calf was also cut off/blown off? But it was small so it’s not like I’ll have a huge gap in the back of my leg where my calf should be :-). Ok so second surgery I have no idea what they did. Third surgery they reattached my nerves and closed up the wound. My entire leg is in a splint with my knee kept bent at an angle. The reason for this is so that the nerves don’t get stretched while they are trying to heal. I also have a boot on my foot. I am getting a hard cast on Tuesday and it will again be my entire leg. And I’m sure I will keep the boot on my foot.

My foot has no feeling. I have a small spot in the arch of my foot where I can feel if someone is touching me, but other than that, nothing. I also can’t move my foot or my ankle. This is because of the nerves being cut. Nerves repair at a very slow rate. In my case, since the nerve now has to “grow” from my knee to my toes, they said it will take roughly 400 days for the nerve to get all the way down. So I may not feel, or be able to move my toes for over a year. I’m not sure what this means for walking. Also, since it is my right leg this also means I may not be able to drive for over a year. Which is a very frustrating thought!

Since the nerves have been reattached I have CRAZY nerve sensations going on all in my foot and toes which is a really good sign, but still no feeling.


The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
Psalm 34:7


First of all, there must have been hundreds of angels all around us. The new Chris Tomlin song Whom Shall I Fear kept running through my head. “The God of Angel armies is always by my side”. So yes, I believe there were angels all around us. We were so close to the bomb, we should be hurt much worse, or even dead. Although our injuries are extensive, they should have been much worse. Second, Colton brought this up to me today. People keep asking “where was God in all of this?” Just look at the pictures. Look at the chaos and then look at me or Rebekah, or Peter or Kim or Colton. That’s where God was. We are His children, filled with His Spirit. In the midst of chaos, He WAS there. Third, I believe that God gave us so so much grace. Grace to think clearly. To know how to respond in trauma. To know to tie tourniquets. Or to coach people to breathe. Or to know how to communicate with the first responders. Not one of us lost control or freaked out.

Someday I’m sure I will look at the pictures. But I just want you to know today, that God was there. He was with us. We would not be where we are today if it weren’t for Him. And as we are experiencing more and more of His grace everyday, we are amazed and speechless and we just keep clinging to Him.

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies is always by my side

left footed gas pedal installed in my car


Toe off AFO that I wore after my leg brace. I had this on my leg for almost a year.


After the wound healed, it looks a bit better than this now, but these are my scars.


Full leg brace for MONTHS and crutches for 8 months.


These two are COMING TO SEE ME TODAY! But they were my first outing I think. They took me out for coffee after they flew in from Kansas to visit me when I got out of the hospital. (yes I’m in a wheelchair)






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for some reason, I kept calling today black friday. not Good Friday. but maybe.

maybe that’s what it really is.


a perfect, innocent man. betrayed with a kiss. sold for silver. whipped. beaten. crowned with thorns. mocked. crucified. killed.

from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. (Matthew 27:45)

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. (Mark 15:33)

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45while the sun’s light failed. (Luke 23:44)

He cried out

The veil was torn

An Earthquake

The tomb.


I know it was good. I know it was the best day. The day that changed all of history. All of our lives. Forever. Gave us life instead of death. Gave us hope. A bridge. A way.

But the sun went out. The Son of God was dead.

That Friday…

It was also black.