2020 was a few days old when I was still searching for my word for the new year ahead. I like to search for words that become motivators instead of forcing their arrival into my life. So as each new day passed, I just listened for my word to make itself known.

Then it happened. The word “gather”. That was my word for 2020! It presented itself like a new book. The cover was highly anticipated, the story inside was going to be exciting and challenging, and for some strange reason I felt like it was going to make me uncomfortable. The kind of uncomfortable that forces me to grow.

I had no clue it would make others uncomfortable too.

So without any delay, I began planning a Super Bowl party. We’re not really a sports family. We love being outdoors and active, but no one I live with has a favorite team and we definitely have never owned any sports swag.  Our Super Bowl party invites said something like…

We are the most neutral NFL house in the county, so come on over for food, drinks and a place to gather. Go team!

Our home was filled with friends, kids dropping corn chips on the floors, and neighbors. It was a great kickoff to embracing my word. It felt so right.

That was the last party we hosted and the last big gathering inside a home that we’ve been to in 2020. In March things got really uncomfortable for our county, and basically the entire north east, when everything stopped. No one was gathering. It was not allowed.

But then we unofficially decided that as humans we need to come together. We need to see the nonverbals on our faces when we talk. We crave connection. It’s in the fabric of our beings to gather together. So, we began reinventing ways to come together.

It’s August, and I have realized the word gather is still my word for 2020. We have been challenged by creating new ways of gathering. We are craving ways to still be connected while staying apart. Our lives have embraced the value to gather in ways that might have been totally missed prior to rules about social distancing. We are made to be in community. We are made to stay socially connected. We thrive when we gather.

I had no idea that my word for 2020 would become the launching pad for innovation in the way we stay human during times like these. We are going to make it through this time of false isolation, because we have adapted to new ways of gathering.

They are more pure and intentional, the times together while still being apart, are cherished in ways that words can’t describe. We are made to gather, so we will. Our ability to come together, even while distancing is an example of the adaptability of the human condition. Our need to be a part of each other’s lives has sparked innovative ways to gather while staying a part.

Who would have imagined that here, in 2020, we are being forced to reimagine something we have been doing for centuries? Gathering together isn’t ending, it’s just repurposing our innate need to be connected.

My word for 2020 was and is gather.  I’m embracing all the beautiful mess that this word has come to mean.



At Home

We focus much of our attention on the things that go on outside of our homes. Don’t we? The stories in the news, the hype of the award shows, the sports games and certificates of achievement, all these things are how we measure success in our culture. It’s really easy to forget that everyone began at home, talking and having meals, and it’s where they, we, were anchored for our becoming.

“It’s in the houses that people talk, and do things and have meals. Nothing goes on in the in-between places.” C.S. Lewis

That idea is tucked into a paragraph found on the pages of C.S. Lewis’ book, The Magician’s Nephew.  It stopped me when I read it, and I began to think…

A home is the space that gives the other places their fill. We spend so much time being cultivated and nurtured inside our homes.  Then as we grow we end up spending time in the in-between and giving our gifts and talents to the places that need it, and in a way we need those places too. Eventually a familiar desire for home challenges us to move. If we grew up in amazing homes, we imagine modeling a home to be similar to where we came from. If we grew up in a not so amazing home, we dream of the ways to make our future home better. Either way, our hearts eventually guide us away from the in-between places toward home.

Home is more than a place. It’s an arrival, within your soul, claiming “I belong here.”

Home is were there is a quiet awareness of belonging, and from belonging grows a richness to create, talk and make things better. When we know and believe we belong, we can love and have the courage to fail. We can have hard conversations because we know talking won’t make us homeless, rather it feeds the soul and inspires relationships, thoughts and new ideas. That’s the stuff that fills the in-between spaces. That’s what home nurtures.




Girls Are Different From Boys

I’m approaching my four-year anniversary of motherhood. My two boys are responsible for this milestone. They are teaching me so much about life…

Recently I was in the bathroom when the door was busted open with the type of urgency an adult would use if there was a national emergency. I expected the person on the other side to yell, “Get out now! Your life is in danger!”

In the doorway stood a 40 lb three-foot tall boy in his Cat & Jack undies holding a mass of black fabric by his side.

“Mama, can you help me put on my Batman costume?”  I told him no and to please shut the door because people in bathrooms need privacy, and I am a person.

He slowly shut the door and asked, “Mama why are you sitting down on the potty?”

“Because boys are different from girls,” I said. Then the door closed.

I stared at myself in the mirror, while washing my hands, and thought about what I just said. I need to get ahead of this before it’s too late. I was snapped out of my thoughts when my cute chunky toddler opened the drawer of the bathroom vanity with a force that left a bruise on my shin. But in all fairness, he absolutely had to get out the hairdryer.

Son, girls are different from boys, and here’s why…, but first I’ll put on your Batman costume complete with fake muscles and a plastic mask. 

A girl will carry her baby doll, while singing a song about fairy dust. She will skip to the rhythm of her mud covered boots as they land on top of mossy rocks in the forest. She is equal parts nurturing and courageous adventurer.

You, son, can carry a baby doll in the coziness of your Batman muscles, while singing a song about garbage trucks. You will skip to the rhythm of your mud covered boots as they land on top of mossy rocks in the forest. You are equal parts unhinged curiosity and brazen adventurer.

You can fall and get back up. She can fall and get back up. She might cry because her baby fell down and got muddy, but you might laugh because your baby doll fell and got muddy.  Neither is bad, just different.

Son, you are not like her because you are a he. You will be given the same opportunities as she will, but you’ll approach them differently. She will deserve to be heard and you will deserve to be heard, but standing side by side you probably will hear the same thing with a different spin.

Your approach to cleaning up the toys on the floor might take you into a spacial journey filled with more building and destroying to finally get those tiny Lego pieces into the box. Her approach to cleaning up the toys on the floor might result in giving the Lego pieces names and putting them to bed in their box.

She will think slightly different from you. She’ll do math slightly different from you. She’ll run her mile in gym class faster or slower. Maybe she’ll chose to walk, because she hates running and rather be out rock climbing. Whatever. That competition doesn’t matter. What matters is that you respect her. It matters that you hear her and acknowledge her as a person, and all people are different.

You are different from them and they from you. Girls and boys weren’t made to be the same. They were made to share and to be compatible. Our world needs more compatibility. More sharing thoughts, sharing adventures, sharing responsibilities.

Learn from the differences. Choose to remove labeling the differences, and just recognizing we need to be different from one another to thrive.

Oh, and son, before you run away to save Gotham I have one more thing to say.

One day in the faraway future, but in this galaxy, when you have real muscles, you’ll have the privilege to work alongside a girl.  She’ll be across from you, and next to you, at the conference table. She’ll lead you on that building site as you look over blueprints. She’ll safely land the plane, despite turbulence, while you co-pilot. You might need to knock on her office door and gently open it. Please don’t just bust in like you own the hour. Be aware and kind.

Respect and love her differences. Don’t devalue her based on what she can or cannot produce or how she looks. Always look for her beautiful uniqueness and then figure out how it will balance out your weakness.

You’ll definitely save a lot of good people this way. . Oh, and girls can pee standing up, it’s just practical to sit down. Girls like efficiency. Girls are different from boys.

Okay, go Batman, make Gotham a better place.



Love you more than candy,

Mama Teresa







A Shocking Discovery

I’m over here trying to build something and it’s really easy to talk myself out of it, until  I reach back into my memories like I’m reaching into a bag of peanut M&Ms. There, in my mind, is a sweet crunchy reminder of a visit to Mother Teresa’s house. Yes, the Mother Teresa. And, also this quote. That and this remind me to keep going.

“Mother Teresa didn’t walk around complaining about her thighs — she had shit to do.”
 sarah silverman

Of all the people who were trying to build something out of nothing Mother Teresa definitely had things beyond herself to run toward. But I learned something shocking while in her house.

I stood where she loved and served others, where people would seek out her advice and wisdom and where her body rests. I stood in a calm quiet so unique in the city of Kolkata. Blue cotton curtains danced on the June breeze and the words of her story floated into my heart with just enough familiarity to be shocking. Shocking, because how could Mother Teresa and I have anything in common (anything other than: we share the same name.)

I read about her story to serve the poor with no money, no resources and no infrastructure. She only had a calling from God.

When you consider the intense motivation of a calling from the same voice who spoke out into the nothingness, “Let there be light,” and then there was light. When that same voice calls you forward, you go. So, she moved without anything, to build a great something, and left a legacy.

You and I are not unlike Mother Teresa. I totally believe that God created each of us to leave a unique mark on this world. To build something from nothing. And guess what else? It’s not going to be easy. Your calling to go requires extreme tenacity, and it may require you to stay. Sometimes staying is boring and lonely; the hardest part.

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Photo by Josh Sorenson from Pexels

How exciting and thrilling is it to need a passport then board a 16 hour flight? There you are just skipping over continents like a kid dancing from one puddle to the next. That’s the stuff people tell stories about at dinner parties.

They went somewhere in Asia and said it was a nine hour drive from the airport mostly on dirt roads. They had no access to Amazon Prime. They went to serve, because that was their family’s vision. Their team mission. They lived in a hut with a dirt floor and didn’t drink coffee for a year. They fed their kids rice mixed with whatever veg they could forage, and bathed them in the same basin the village goats drank from.

That’s the kind of “answering a calling” and “building something” people talk about between passing the butter and salting their steamed broccoli.

Back at the Mother House, I stood in the museum dedicated to her life and that’s where my heart and soul felt in awe of how familiar Mother Teresa’s life was/is.  That’s the shocking part. How can someone so brave and loving be so understood?

The words I read talked about her feelings; how she felt after laying the foundation she was called to build. And here’s the shocking thing about all of it…

Mother Teresa felt alone and depressed.

Not for a short while until her popularity increased, or funding came through, or a quota of people were fed and healed.  She felt alone for nearly half a century. 50 years of loving, serving, feeding, mentoring and leading people while feeling alone and depressed.

But she never gave up. She didn’t quit. She remembered the moment when God clearly told her to go. And then it turned into stay. So she did. She stayed through the hard and lonely season of building something great. Something noble.


Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Hey there, you! Called to stay or go. You. Called to build something with nothing. Called to do the very thing only you were created to do. Listen. Listen to the same voice that spoke it all into existence. Whether you’re at home with your little babies, you are on a great mission. Whether you are going to pack your family up and leave the suburbs for a row house in a zip code you only read about in the news. Whether you decide you’re not going to date anymore and live a life dedicated to serving a hidden people group, because you’re called to. Go and stay. Build a foundation.

A note for you, Mama, at home raising your babies. You’re on an adventure to build a foundation too. You might not need to bathe your kids in a water basin used for the village goat, but let’s face it, bathing your kids is a labor of love regardless of the location.  And although sometimes you crave nothing more than to quiet time alone, yet struggle with feeling lonely daily. You are never alone.

You’re seen and heard by the Creator of the Universe…a loving Father who called you from the beginning to love Him and then to love others. Find others, then love them. That’s how you and Mother Teresa are alike. She loved the people she was called to love. She didn’t do it for the feelings, she did it because of the calling.

I don’t know if she complained about her thighs or other stuff. What I do know is she got shit done.

Don’t get hung up on the stuff complaints are built on, you’ve got shit to do.

Love you more than candy,


Nurturing People Takes Root

Hello, I began Nurturing People as a hashtag, and it still remains as such.

But, I have a long relationship with writing. Mainly writing stories told by other people, and mostly those stories were shared through videos, but always began with words on paper.  Stop. I’m wrong. They always began with listening.

Although never proven, I think my heart is partially shaped like an ear. I adore listening to other people’s stories about the stuff of life. The second thing I love next to listening to others’ stories is composing her story or his story or their story for others’ hearts and souls to hear. Stories, when told in the right place at the right time, connect us and grow us.

And, so…

After three years of full-on-momming, and dabbling with freelance writing jobs, I decided to focus on my own thing and take Nurturing People beyond a hashtag.

My vision for Nurturing People is to share moments about growing through life as a nurturer. To share stories from my home and hear stories from your home, that grow you and will grow us. As this blog changes from less of my voice, and more of your voice, I hope we can stay connected.

And, just because backgrounds are part of who we are…

At home, I have two boys and I’m married to a great guy, both facts make me the only woman in my house. That’s a huge responsibility for many reasons. Sometimes I freak out about the depth of my calling to raise and nurture boys, but mostly I am grateful. Being a parent has taught me, and brought me into a live-able belief, that we are all created to nurture people at all seasons of growth.

My background in writing and interviewing began a long time ago in 1st grade. My teacher, Mrs. Findley, was most likely tired of answering all my questions and she told me I should be a journalist. So naturally I asked a question like, what is a journalist? Her direct answer lacked a sugar coating and was more like a hammer hitting a nail, a journalist is a person who asks a lot of questions.  I did in fact ask a lot of questions. My first spelling test was straight-up anxiety inducing because I thought I had to write out the entire sentence containing the spelling word I memorized. “Cat, the cat jumped over the fence, cat.” I raised my hand in the middle of the test and asked if we had to spell out the whole sentence. Getting the answer to that question, which was “no” with a laugh, “Just spell the word cat,” made me braver about asking questions. The right questions help with life. It totally grew me.

Fast forward through high school and into college where I landed at Liberty University for both undergrad and graduate degrees.  When higher education was all done with me, I left with a bachelor of science in broadcast journalism and a master of arts in communication. That nail hammered into me in first grade made a good kind of mark on my ego.

I’ve practice my interest for listening, asking questions, then creating content as an assistant news producer with ABC, a producer for The Zone Music video show, the executive producer and story producer with Facing Life Head-On, a producer with Zone Communication Group, a digital media producer at Possible World Wide,  a video producer at Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, OH, and a content producer for Water Street Mission. I plan on continue producing great content that inspires people.


Teresa B. Duffy