The five moral principals of counseling,  the pillars of the counseling  faith, if you will (too much?),  are Non-Maleficence, Beneficence, Justice, Autonomy, and Fidelity. 


It’s a fun banner to wave. Difficult to live, but nice as a tagline.


Today’s buzzword shall be autonomy.


Today’s example shall be chirrens.


Read on.



As a friend, lover, sister, daughter, I often fail at supporting the autonomy of the other. I tend to be a swooper. The Dancer called me out on it once. “You can’t just do this, you need to back off. You can’t just swoop in and try to fix everything just because YOU see a problem.”

Ouch. Good ouch.


As a group, counselors tend to be those who parentalize. We see a problem and we want to fix it. Usually out of the good, tender parts of our hearts. But to really support the other, most often “fixing” is detrimental.  For unless the other is completely without resource, someone coming in and fixing everything for them is  a crutch, a temporary fix, and worst of all:


it can contribute to the belief that without others to save them, they could not  successfully navigate through whatever is happening.



This is especially true with children. You know the kids who are never allowed to struggle and work through difficult situations because THESE are the kids who face an unknown and break down. They are never given the chance to face a challenge, and are therefore never given the privilege of seeing that they can conquer the challenge.  You see it in adults, later. Those who just BELIEVE they cannot do it. Whatever IT is.


I was this child.


I was NOT this adolescent.


I am NOT this woman now. Around about age 8, my living situation drastically changed so that I was faced with continual challenges that I needed to navigate on my own. Andplusalsotoo, a lot of time I had a 2yr old to accompany me on these misadventures. And you know what it produced in me? The belief that if I want to accomplish a thing, I damn well probably can.


Like the three year old who wants to brush his own teeth, I may get messy doing it. I may miss a few spots. Surely I’ve things left to learn but I’ll figure it out.


Problem-solver, yo. I LOVE IT. I thank my mama and daddy (really, out loud, I do) that I was given life skills really early in life, so that I was able to have grand life adventures before the dismay of “real life” set in and squashed my spirit.


So, my point is, in theory, I really really really support whatever is necessary to help others gain and keep their relative autonomy. (I DON’T mean outside of Jesus, I mean in the sense that when they see a problem, they view it as an opportunity for success.)


TO THAT END, while watching my little dudes last week, I supervised for safety but otherwise let them handle a lot of the tasks that i REALLYREALLYDESPERATELYWANTEDTOTAKEOVERBECAUSEOHMYGOSHYOUMISSEDASPOT  would otherwise have been more actively involved in.


Like washing bodies



BODYWASHAGGEDON. Did you know that soap is surprisingly more difficult than shampoo to rise out of hair? Maybe it was just HOW MUCH he used. :)



Also, picking out and putting on of jammies:


Shirt-as-pants and underpants-as-a-hat to satisfy my requirements of “at least bottoms…WITH UNDERWEAR.” (cause they are vehement protestors of the underpant) Let me say: points for creativity.



Anyway, I get that when you let people struggle through something, it doesn’t always go as smoothly or get done as well or as much as you’d prefer.


But I also get that when you let them, people will usually surprise you. And then you both get to learn.


What have you had to struggle through in order to learn, to master, to grow?

hares and hairs

I always do new, fun things when I hang out with La Familia.

I don’t think I ever tried to decorate a cupcake before this easter. Not too bad for a first attempt. (I made a stencil for the bunny out of paper. Turns out, paper stencils only work once on frosting. :)


or cutting hair. I do hair almost EVERY time I’m over there.

before side

after can tell i still needed to blend in the top on the other side

and FREAKING OUT when the younger/bigger brother looks, in a photo, JUST EXACTLY LIKE Q

eeby jeebers, pplfriends. I hollered "OHMYGOSH Jacob DO NOT LOOK AT ME." (oh and I had NOT cut the right front at this point. This was supposed to be a photo of his gnarly sideburn)

and the cutting the itty borther’s hair the next morning.

plz essckuse the look. I don't know what compelled me to pair those tops. ew.

or dying seester’s hair!!

told ya, i spend a LOT of time on hair here.


of course, she helped me with mine, too! (thx, seester!)

Omnipresent Accoutrements

I’m sitting in Starbucks enjoying free internet and home-brewed coffee (And not feeling guilty because I give them enough business;) while doing a little work (also known as scouring the interwebs for tchochke. lemme ‘splain.)

This summer, the kid’s program is doing another “Detective Academy” which is code for: we’re teaching the kids that God has all the answers, and gives us creation, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and each other to help US understand the answers we need. Then, after that 4 week series, we’re going to teach the kids about the omnis:


But we say things like “God is everywhere and always near.” And “God is in charge of everything!”

And, as providence would have it, I get to buy all the little doodads we’ll give out each week because a)it’s a helpful tool for getting the kids to connect the lesson to their lives and b)KIDS LOVE DOHICKEYS. (dohickies?! spellcheck?)

So, I’m getting like, judges gavels for “God is in charge” (omniscient/omnipotent) or magnifying glasses for the kids to explore how creation helps us understand the mysteries of God,


So i’m looking on the google and for lack of better ideas, search “omnipresent accoutrements“* and that got me to thinking of MY (almost)omnipresent accoutrements….all of which I of course have right now:

funky rings
and coffee

i like to call this series "why didn't i bother to fix the lighting?"

oh yeah. and sunglasses. big, obnoxious ones. (hint: big girls with big accessories sometimes look like smaller girls. banking on that.;))

see that ring? Ariel's voice lives in that ring.

also, just for funsies, this is me sticking out my tongue. i know, you can't see it, but that's as far as it goes.

(smile clearly NOT omnipresent)

and now i’m just gonna go skip to church. happy sunday, y’all.

Sorry for the Radio Silence

It was purely unintentional.

Because i got to take a totally spontaneous trip to see the squeezies. Dr and Mrs were taking a trip to the river. I had lost my joy, my appetite, and a bit of my mind, and just wanted to see them.

She cried when I left. she was just tired and i calmed her down, but it's still nice to be loved.

enter: a perfect two-day get away to somewhere so far removed that I didn’t even open my computer, and I let my phone go dead with no concern, since no one had reception anyway. I have not one single picture nor one single regret from the excursion once with left the Z’s house, but I do have a tan, a rested body, a smile on my face and an ability to eat. Jury’s still out on the sanity. ;)

But srsly folks, I’m SO SO thankful for this weekend. Having two days off in a row is a rare and special treat afforded only by the two-week break in school. (Don’t freak out. Yes I work 6 days a week, but I also get whisked away to Uganda sometimes. It all works out.) And two days away was SRSLY a need at this point.

i found this dead moth in my car. I was sad for the beautiful, muted colors on the strange, furry creature. I took her as a sign. I didn't want to keep loosing my brightness.

Lemme share something you’ve probably picked up on. I struggle with the occasional bout of depression. Thanks to the Lord and the amazing community around me, I’ve learned to recognize the signs, NOT FREAK OUT, and tend to myself (or ask for tending, when necessary).  One of the signs that I’m dealing w some emotional stuff I may not recognize is loss of appetite. Last week I ate one meal per day for five days. And the meals were getting smaller. I know better than to WORRY about this (never gonna make it better) and instead kept my closest friends up on the sitch, in case this lasted too long and I needed to start getting my calories from a cup. :)

But on day six, I finally felt hungry, and not like putting something in my tummy would cause reverse-peristalsis. Then I saw a picture where I looked fat.

Oh yeah,that IS me cuttin' bubba's hair. At the office.

Look y’all, bad posture bad smosture, I felt like i looked awful in this pic.

So I was TEMPTED to not eat. I knew it had been long enough that I could do it, without people really noticing. I used to be really good at not eating. And i lose weight when I don’t eat.

This was a big warning flag for me. I texted The Social Worker, “I’m tempted to not eat. I’m going to go eat dinner right now.”

There. accountability. Then I called Mrs Z.

“I feel awful. Can I come see you?”
“We’re going to the river.”
“Can I come with?”
“YES! Absolutely!”

Yes, it was a two hour drive, but I needed to shake the system. I needed to get out of the funk. And like I said, I’ve learned enough about myself to know it’s a BAD idea to just expect things to get better, if I want to get out of a bad funk, I need to do something about it.

i dunno what's up with the lighting in this one. after zumba, at the ball game.

When I got to Castroville, I told Mrs Z “I have to eat while I’m here. And NOT any gluten. If i say I’ll be okay or it will be worth it, I WONT AND IT WONT.”

We went to Zumba (secret: i love working out. wouldn’t figure it, i know) and then to a ball game for a niece of hers. sunshine, dancing, babies, friends, and lots and lots of hugs.

y'all are my teeth really that color? Don't tell me.

I hope, if you struggle like I do, you’re afforded the opportunity to know how to ask for help, to see what doesn’t need to be made an issue (In my case, missing a few meals because i’m tummy-sick) and what demands immediate attention (I am tempted to not eat because I feel fat).  And I pray you have someone, someones, who know and love you well enough to help you through it all. I thank God that I have the Spirit as my constant companion, and that he’s seen fit to give me lots of earthly companions too. But NOT the kind of companions they have on Joss Whedon’s Firefly. ;)

Once I could take this and laugh at it rather than stress abt it, i knew the fog was lifting.

And i just wanted to share. Because it was not always this way. I did not always have these helpful coping tools. I was not always able to look and God and say, “This is awful. Please come help me.”  I was not always able to look at my friends and say that. And I want you to be able to.

sometimes self care means walking around in flippers

On Mondays You Expect a Post

and I’m not sure i’ll be able to write one, so for now, here’s a recap of my day that it’s entirely likely only I will care about.

Mel had hermit crabs at the apt. one crawled out of it’s shell and died. (a bit dramatic of a reaction, i know.) but she asked me to take them up to the high school for the middle school ministry to use (don’t ask) and i did. Except no one was there when i got there, so i left them on a table outside the room where they meet. Later, E, the dude working that site’s jr high event, tracks me down, throws his hands in the air, and shouts,


Apparently he hadn’t found them. My cell had a similar message from mel.

“Yes, woman. Eric got the crabs. And THIS is a ridiculous conversation.”

So there you have it. Eric has crabs and I’m probably 15 for thinking thats funny but whatever, I’m putting it all out there.

A cop made fun of my fedora. but a tall good looking man (albeit beardless) complimented me on it and then smiled at me a while, so i’m calling that a win.

I got to teach the lesson to five classes of preschoolers. I hooked em with the line, “BUT THEN, KING SAUL HAD TO GO POTTY!!” and doing a little potty dance. then we all practiced being little creepers. You know, like david, when he crept up to King Saul in the cave where he was pottying. Whatever. it worked and the kids all repeated the bottom line, “GOD HAS THE BEST PLAN FOR MY LIFE.” It just so happens that this morning, a potty dance was in that plan.

The lesson today was so great to hear. Like the one given from the stage. Not the one I taught. Geez, I’m not that vain out loud. And they are recording a live album at my church. I don’t know how I feel about it. I got used to hearing Chris Tomlin live and now I can’t stand his recorded stuff ’cause it’s like Taco Bell compared to gamma’s cooking. i can’t handle the processed, packaged version, no matter how good it is. (I mean, not that Taco Bell is good. Taco Bell is a result of the fall of man, ppl friends.)

in a situation on which i will elaborate later, maybe, I had to take a person aside and say “someone told me that you said something mean about me.” Yeah, i sounded just that much like a 5 yr old when it happened, to. But it turns out that it was a misunderstanding (like i said, elaboration later) and afterward I was able to concentrate on worship. God tell us how to do things for a reason.

During lunch, I did The Dancer’s hair and make up for a wedding. Not her wedding. But “You’re doing my hair when i get married, you know that, right. and you’re pretty much the maid of honor. So you’ll need to live with me the week of the wedding.” “You know, last two times I was pretty much the maid of honor, literally the exact same thing happened. So, yeah, i figured. ” ;)

I also went to a meeting where I had such bad breath that I asked the man leading to step away as I asked a question. He obliged. But he made faces at me. Actually, the faces were earlier. I told him he was imitating me wrong and he said, “Uhm, duh. I’m right. I can see you.” “Yeah, but I can see YOU, and you’re doing me wrong. It looks different with a beard.” “Everything looks different with a beard.” Couldn’t have said it truer myself.

The 5 was so crazy i literally don’t remember most of it. Good crazy, though. OH! I do remember that one little lovey was coloring and all of the sudden stopped, looked up, and said, “OH! And excuse me.” Apparently she’d ::ahem:: released some pent-up frustration. The kind that was making her tummy hurt. She was all smiles after that.

At the 7, I got to hold a screaming baby. Which may not sound like your cup of tea, but I prayed for the Holy Spirit to come and calm his heart, and every time he calmed down, I prayed out loud, “Let’s thank the Holy Spirit little baby, for giving us peace in our hearts.” And when he would cry ‘daddy, daddy,” I could say, “I know baby. But Jesus missed his daddy too sometimes. He understands your pain and he can comfort you.” Eventually he calmed down and we went upstairs (he kept asking to go….turns out he wanted to hear the music!! he “sang” along, too) where two men who have better things to do gave me mad props for being a super nanny. Yep, i’ll take it. I’ll take the compliment knowing full well it’s 100% the Holy Spirit, but I’m glad he chooses to work through me.

Plus the baby was ADORABUNS. Total chick magnet. And dude magnet. Better than a puppy.

Speaking of better than a puppy, I found a cute little baby opossum (seriously, he was cute!! like if someone made a stuffed animal of an opossum that didn’t really look like one but was a cute version of one, that would be the little baby i found). I tried to play with him by enticing him with left over chipotle on a fork. He was gonna go for it, but i was late and had to go. Poor thing. he’s probably sad he missed the chance to play with me.

then i drove home and blogged. cause im cool.


Dar La Vuelta

Things have started to turn around,

the dark night of the new semester is lightening up, I’m starting to see the Son, who helps me appreciate the sun, which has, some days, been shining down on me.

Make sense? Of course not. ;)

I’m just saying, things were rough, I was having a hard time. A nothing-is-wrong-but-everything-hurts-and-I-cant-remember-how-to-smile hard time. Except, I can remember how to smile, because I actually have trouble not smiling, and thus difficulty displaying negative emotions.  It’s confusing when you tell someone you’re depressed with a smile on your face and bright eyes.

But life was hurting there for  about a month. The last week and a half have been a glorious reprieve. I was describing it to a roommate last night.

“What’s the opposite of needy?”
“I’m not sure, maybe content?”
“Yes, that’s perfect. I don’t find myself emotionally needy, but emotionally (and in all other ways) content. I know that I’ve got God and I can’t lose Him and that He’s my everything, so I have nothing to lose. I just feel like if this (the thing about which we were talking) works out, it’ll be great. And if it doesn’t work out, God and life will be just as great.”

I’m learning a lot lately.

I’m seeing how GREAT God is

and how UGLY I am in my sin and depravity,

and how all of His attributes in me totally trump my own, so there’s no need to throw a hissy. Just to trust.

lately, that’s meant TRUSTING during hard conversations. Trusting that He is enough and will guide my words.

It’s meant SHUTTING UP a lot, but probably not enough.

And giving grace in the guise of benefit-of-the-doubt. “Look, it doesn’t actually matter if they meant malice or not, I’m going to love them.”

It’s meant seeing my IDOLATRY and how it hurts people when I look for things in them that I should only seek in Him. And in those moments, going back to Him to talk about it.

And then seeing how life works better 100% of the time when you do it the way he wants you too.

It’s meant FINALLY figuring out one thing that will keep me from nightmares.

And letting that thing go when pursuing it means not pursuing God.

I’ve been learning to LISTEN and then ask questions so I can LISTEN some more.

And how much I am not good at parts of my job/school/life,

and how those are not condemnable issues, but opportunities to see God’s power and work.

Not to mention, I’ve been holding squeezies. A LOT.  Including but not limited to the genetic lottery babies at the rodeo, the Tuck for his first birthday, and (at different times) all three of the Angel’s kids. (EVEN the floppy little 5 week old, who, yes, I fell in love with.)


missing this exact spot in the world, but appreciative of this exact spot in my life. :)



after all, it’s Wednesday. And Wednesday is supposed to be update day. So there is your update.

Ritz is a Weird Name

No matter where you go,

if someone asks you your name,

and you say, “Ritz,”

you’ll get funny looks.

at best.

And at worst,

children will stick their tongues out of their mouths, scrunch their eybrows, and slur out some guttural sound, with a lilt at the end to denote they are asking if they’ve said it correctly.

And since it’s so cute,

you’ll say that yes,  they have.

Train’s first Rodeo

Oops, i forgot to write a post today.


guess what I did this weekend? I went to the rodeo! The 6th annual Kerri(mrs)-Jess-Ritz (and now)-Jake(dr)-Hank Rodeo. We saw Train. Yes, Train. oh YOU KNOW who Train is.


or even


Yep. These guys. At the RODEO.


we expected them to play songs we like.

we did NOT expect them to win or hearts about a million times over. but they did. they were just so fun.

Here are a few pics from the night.


First of all, I woke up from a nap with my boots on and FANTASTIC hair.

Then the squeezy was my seat buddy on the way to the AT&T center.

I kept her entertained with bubbles that yes, i so happen to keep in my purse.

The original troupe - we saw Montgomery Gentry in 2006, and Train this year.

I asked Dr Zinsmeyer if his hair was like this all day. "Probably," he said,"I'm a dr, I do what I want." (he was joking)


I wish i’d snapped some more shots, I used to be much better when I still had the cord from my camera to my computer, but now that its so much effort to get the pics, i mostly just use my phone…which now takes (no exaggeration) at least 5 full seconds to “load” so….

yeah, i’m not taking as many photos.

but if i HAD taken more,

they would have included the Panda Cow. which i loved.

The other day one of or kids at the 7:00 was NOT all about being in the classroom. We had plenty of staff, so I walked around with her. I asked her questions and we talked. I’m not sure of everything she said, but I do know this: she liked men with beards (le sigh, no wonder we got along) and her favorite color is “shoes.”



Her favorite color is “shoes.”



now, since it’s tuesday and tuesday is the day we go visit your moth….I  mean tuesday is support blog day, please go read this.

lo veo!

I just saw a child get healed
major healing
and then confess Christ amidst tears and fears that he couldn’t have Christ, because he was a Muslim.

We got to teach the love of Christ to a shaking, sickness-wrecked, emotional mess of a creature, and see that love change him into a stable, smiling, peaceful, LOVED little one.

just so grateful for this exact moment.