Life Ain’t Always Beautiful 

I wrote my first blog a year ago in January. Since that time I’ve shared some funny moments, some sad and some of those moments have been breathtakingly scary. I think about this year and for all of its ups and downs, I don’t think of it as a bad year. I’m not sure if this makes me an optimist or an idiot, but it is what it is.

I’d like to think that the frightening moments are behind us, but I know that’s not the way it works. Life on life’s terms means that your turn is never up. There are no dues to be paid. We aren’t punished. We aren’t given reward after enduring pain. Instead, life continues to be unpredictable and we just hold on for the ride, cherishing the good moments and holding tight to our faith for the bad.


Tonight I’m afraid. I’m afraid for my daughter. She’s four and to say that her health has been a challenge over four short years is an understatement. We’ve battled severe eczema, allergies, five bouts of pneumonia (two of which led to hospitalization)…but through it all, Jera remains a bright ray of joy in our lives. We will visit a pulmonologist for the first time in January for a likely diagnosis of asthma. But all of this I can handle. All of this is manageable. 

Three weeks ago, however, I visited our family doctor for my son’s annual checkup. The nurses overheard Jera wheezing from in the waiting room (her respiratory distress had skyrocketed overnight) and the doctor thought it was wise to see Jera while we were there as well. This was much to my son’s dismay as he did not appreciate sharing his appointment with his kid-sister. During the checkup, the doctor checked Jera’s throat and noticed that her right tonsil was considerably larger than her left. The doctor prescribed a round of antibiotics hoping the swelling  was due to an infection. Three weeks later, there is no change in the abnormality in the tonsil. Jera’s right tonsil is still enlarged with no signs of infection. To my disbelief, to my horror, assymetric tonsils are a symptom of lymphoma.

I can’t even write the word. Just that thought is unreal, horrifying, sickening. But there it is. In print. Lymphoma. It is very rare. I am reassuring myself that my daughter is fine. I’m telling myself that this is one of those things that I’ll look back on in a year and be so thankful that it turned out to be a false alarm. We have an appointment with an ENT on January 10th. From there, we expect to have to a tonsillectomy and then the abnormal tonsil will be biopsied. Then…then we will get confirmation that our daughter is fine.

I’m telling myself not to panic, telling myself to stay positive. I’m sad that things always seem to be so difficult for Jera. That her little body always seems to be in a battle against itself. I wonder if these issues will ever end for her. As a mother, my heart hurts because she struggles. Because she has to take medicine everyday and doesn’t complain about it. Because breathing treatments are routine for her. Because she gladly understands that she can’t eat those cookies, chips, that birthday cake, because she is allergic. I’m sad that I can’t fix this all for her. That I can’t make it better and I can’t make it go away.  And I can’t begin to imagine her having to bear anything more than she already does…


I started writing this blog a year ago. I felt a calling to write and so far it’s been a rewarding experience. With this, the most precious and sacred part of my life, the health of my children, I wonder how much to share with you. At this point, nothing is certain, and hopefully nothing will come of this. But this is real. This is life as a parent, or friend, or child, or sibling. One moment you’re cruising along fine, and the next you’re praying for good test results. One moment you’re at your most joyous and the next your heart has ceased to beat again until you know your child is safe. We’re not guaranteed another day together. 

So I write. I choose to share my experiences, even the most scary, with you. Life is not all funny moments. It’s not all sarcastic wit and heartwarming humor. It can be hard and cruel and unkind. And it is that way for all of us. And even while it’s not okay…it’s okay. 

In a few short days it will be Christmas, and I am reminded that God sent his only son to us so that we could be saved. As a parent, today, I truly understand that sacrifice. For all my worry and angst right now in this moment, I am still grateful. I am still blessed. I am the wife of a wonderful man, I have two amazing children, I am healthy and capable, and I am a child of the most high God. My family and I will be okay.


I encourage you to hold your children tightly tonight. Savor each and every moment of unwrapping and assembling and buying more and more and more batteries. Watch their joy and wonder during your Christmas Eve church service. Pray for them. And please, if it crosses your heart, pray for my Jera too.

Rolling With Life’s WTF Moments

I often feel like my family lives by Murphy’s Law. Things tend to go wrong in uniquely bad ways for us. Have you ever been there? In that moment that you can’t even believe your luck? I’ve been there…I hang there…heck, that moment is my permanent address.

This all ran through my mind tonight as I was driving home. I was headed home from my in-laws’ house where I was baking cookies. Not just any cookies, but gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free cookies (I’ll explain later). Anyway I was driving home from baking cookies at 9:00 p.m. (which is past my bedtime…yes, I’m old). 

Why was I out so late baking cookies you ask? Well, let me tell you. We need to go back to a few weeks ago to Thanksgiving when I was baking my green bean casserole for a family party. I set the timer for 45 minutes and went about getting myself and kiddos ready for the party. Yay…Thanksgiving…my favorite holiday…what could go wrong? When the timer beeped and I checked my casserole 45 minutes later, I was puzzled to find it luke warm. I turned up the oven and sure enough, 30 minutes later, my casserole was still cold. Yes, I am the person whose oven quits ON THANKSGIVING. 

So here I am, two weeks later, an oven on order but not installed in time to make the Christmas cookies due tomorrow for my daughter’s holiday program. Following my son’s program tonight (two holiday programs in the same week…gotta love Christmas), I took my one open window this week at 8:00 p.m. to find a functional oven and bake up some cookies. Yes, I could have just bought some at the store, IF my daughter wasn’t allergic to everything. So if this momma doesn’t make the cookies, my sweet, little, walking hive of a daughter can’t eat the cookies…so momma makes the cookies, after a 9.5 hour work day and an adorable 2nd grade Christmas program at 9:00 at night, with no oven of her own…momma makes the cookies. 

This turn of events…this crazy day…this crazy week, month, year, got me thinking, “WTF?!” So I started counting all of the other WTF moments in my life. 

Like when we locked ourselves out of the house last month and had to break out our window to get back inside. It was a learning moment. I learned that glass windows are a lot harder to break than they appear. I learned that if all else fails, a cast iron Dutch oven will do the trick. I learned that the head rest in every car (yes, even your car!) is detachable and has a glass hammer on the bottom. I learned that when you’re ready to murder your husband for locking the keys in the house, if you just don’t speak for an hour an a half and clean your garage from top to bottom, you will simmer down and remember what a great guy he really is….even if he did just cost you $300. Some moments all you can think is WTF.


Also… the time last year when a set of my car keys just stopped working one day. Remember when keys were keys?  And when you stuck a key in an ignition, the engine turned on? Well, they don’t make ’em like they used to. Apparently, keys become deprogrammed and just stop working. So since it can happen, of course, it DID happen to me. Then, my husband lost my remaining set of keys and I had to have my car towed, reprogrammed (thanks to the nifty anti-theft feature) and then rekeyed. That was certainly a WTF moment if I ever had one.

Sometimes I feel like my family, my sweet, clumsy, forgetful, messy family…like we’re the only ones who experience these moment. I’m not one to walk around cursing throughout the day and when it comes to the F-bomb, it’s serious business. But there are moments when that’s all there is to say. And then…then I have to laugh. Maybe not until after the hour and half of rage cleaning, but the laughter does come. I know we’re really lucky. We’re lucky that these are our problems. In the moment, it’s hard to remember. These inconveniences are aggravating. They’re expensive. They’re ridiculous. But they’re fixable. They’re temporary. They’re also just so us. What would we do with ourselves if we weren’t breaking into our home or destroying our own property???? I guess that’s just our style and at the end of day, my daughter went to bed with a warm, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free cookie in her belly. Life is good, especially for my WTF family!

Have It All Together?

Do you ever feel crazy? Like full on, off your rocker, make me a strong drink, kind of nuts? I seriously surprise myself daily with the range of emotion I can get through in just one day. Being a human is so weird. Just saying.

Anyhow, today was an ordinary day in our household. I woke up, full of energy, feeling like I had plenty of time before our first “appointment” of the day. Wake the kids, find the elves, flip on the cartoons, make the chocolate milk, let the dog out to potty, feed the cat…look at the clock…begin to panic….listen to my husband snoring…begin to rage. 

I see a lot of women who seem to have it all together. They’re on time and they look disapprovingly at me as I sprint across the parking lot dragging my adorable and completely powerless preschooler behind me. Ha! If they only knew how I also snapped at her the entire last 15 minutes of the morning because she needed to brush her teeth, brush her hair, get her backpack, tie her shoes, get her coat, faster faster FASTER! I feel the mom-guilt pang my heart and I want to do better...to be better.

 The very best days of my life begin early. Getting out of bed on time, getting a workout in, waking up my children on time, being relaxed, being on time. I tend to run in spurts with this on-time thing. A couple of months of smooth sailing…followed by a couple of months of hectic chaos. For me, in those weeks of struggling its  so hard to remember how wonderful the day would be if I get out of bed at 5:00 a.m. AT 5:00 A.M.! My logic doesn’t serve me well when I’m snuggled under my blankets (again, husband snoring).

To survive, to love myself in these harder times, I have to find comfort in knowing that I’m doing the best I can. I tell myself that even those “got-it-all-together” moms, aren’t as perfect as they seem. 

I write this tonight because someone actually said to me this week “You’re always so put together.” What? Whaaaat? I looked behind me but no one was standing there…no, for sure, she was definitely referring to me. I have it all together??? I’m late. I’m messy. I’m uptight. I’m stressed. I get lazy, sad, angry, tired…crazy most days. But someone out there thinks I have it all together. This is a crazy life.


My point is that it’s okay. My husband and my kids are so loved. My home is still standing. My dog still loves me. And my cat likes me most of the time. Some moments, hours, days, I feel crazy. But really, I’m okay. I’m just living and sometimes that’s enough. When we feel crazy, maybe we just need to remember that someone out there thinks we’re doing a great job. And maybe, more importantly, we remember that those even closer to us, those we tuck in at night, those we open our eyes to morning after morning, those that mean the most, those people think we’re pretty fantastic. So maybe a little crazy is actually alright. Maybe crazy really is beautiful.

Turkey Day Everybody!

It’s finally here!!! Thanksgiving…my absolute FAVORITE day of the entire year. Thanksgiving beats out other holidays for so many reasons. 

First, no gifts….not one single present. I love that…a holiday where no one has to worry about money, where people aren’t focused on what they get or what they give, but instead of the time. Time, being present in the moment, enjoying those around us. That is the focus of this day. 

Second, come on now, the food! I’m a total glutton…so this is my day. The greenbean casserole is in the oven. The pumpkin caramel cheesecake is in the refrigerator. Yes, you heard that right…PUMPKIN. CARAMEL. CHEESECAKE. Exciting, I know. And before we eat, we pray. A prayer of Thanksgiving, my favorite moment of the whole wonderful day.

So on this day, I hope you can look into your heart and find deep gratitude for all of your blessings. Be thankful…thankfulness is a true gift and it allows us to see life in a totally different and amazing way. Be thankful today and everyday.

Today and everyday, I’m most thankful for:

  • My relationship with God through Jesus
  • My husband…my unbelievable, sweet, loving, funny, amazing husband
  • My children, for all their joy and innocence. The light that they bring to this world 
  • My family. My mom. My dad. My sister, brother-in-law. My brother. My mother-in-law and father-in-law. My sister-in-law. My nieces and nephews. My aunts and uncles. My cousins. For the memories we’ve made. For the memories yet to come. For always being there. For being such an awesome and joyous part of my life.
  • For my friends. For the ways they make me a better person. For the laughs. For the tears. For the special place they hold in my heart.
  • For my career. For the way my employer has helped me to grow professionally. For the opportunities I’ve been given. For the way they help me provide for my family.
  • My education. For the way it has opened my mind. For the way I’ve grown and continue to grow. For the future it provides for me and my family.
  • My home. To have a place that is comfort. A place that I am always happy to come home to.
  • For my pets. For the way they are always happy to see me. For the way they’re never put off by sweatpants or morning breath. For their enthusiasm. For their love.
  • For so many things. Too many to name. For all of the blessings I’ve been given. For the pain that’s help me grow. For the moments that have made me stronger. For everything.

I wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings today. Eat. Talk. Nap. Eat again. Be thankful.

This Election…What Now?

I watched the election with the rest of the world, knots in my stomach, anxiety in my heart and eventually ending in a state of pure shock. Let me say that I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I am a human being, a mom, a Christian, an employee, a woman. This election season I felt at a loss and couldn’t vote for either party with confidence. I questioned many of Clinton’s actions. However my issues with Trump were greater and those issues resonated in my soul. Trump represented a lot of things to me: hate, bigotry, misogyny, exclusion…I could go on but the truth is that none of that matters anymore. 

Whether or not I approve of his character, Donald Trump will be our next president. What can be done now? What is there to say? 

What I want to say, and what I choose to say, is that I still believe in the goodness of humanity. There are people who have used this election as an excuse, as a pulpit, to hate. But those people are not the majority. They are not the greatest number of Americans. While Trump took home the electoral vote, Clinton won the majority. And yes, even many who voted for Trump did not do so based on his message of isolation, but rather on his financial policy. 

While this election may feel like a defeat for civil liberties, the truth is that the majority of America still stands behind ALL of its people of this great nation….our women, our people of color, for our LGBT communities, for religious freedom. We still believe that we began as a nation of immigrants and we appreciate that our future will also be shaped in a positive way by those same hardworking individuals looking for a fresh start in a land where anything is possible.

We will continue to teach our daughters that they are not defined by their bodies, but instead by their minds, hearts and souls. We will teach them that they deserve equal pay for equal work and that they are capable of whatever they dream. 

We will tell our neighbors that although our God is different than theirs, that we can live peacefully together and have respect for our differences. We celebrate the fact that our children no longer recognize skin color as something that sets them apart from their peers. We relish in the idea that marriage is an equal right to ALL loving couples, regardless of their sexual orientation. 

I’m not sure who these hateful people are that I hear on the news or read in my Facebook newsfeed. These people are not the Americans I know and love. My friends, my colleagues, my church family, my family, my husband, my children, my circle is made up of the Americans that will continue to move forward, spread positivity and love, and work towards a brighter tomorrow. 

If you’re part of a minority group today (I’m with you…woman speaking right here!) or your heart is hurting for what we stand to lose after this election, take faith in knowing you are not alone. Our America is still here, still real, still hopeful and still strong. Tomorrow is a new day and the future is promising. 

I have a lot of hesitation about posting my political opinion. There are so many opinions out there and it is, quite honestly, exhausting. I’m sure some will read this with disdain because my opinion is different than theirs. But in America, that’s okay. I’m proud to stand up for my belief that all people are equal, we all deserve the same rights and freedoms. I encourage you to have respect for our election process. But I also encourage you not to lose sight of your passions and hope for the future. It is never too late. It is by standing together with love that we show what we are truly made of. We don’t always win, things don’t always go our way, but we won’t be bitter. We will move on and continue to lift up our voice for the causes that matter most. Let your voice ring! 

Life Changes, Rearranges

As I grow older, life that used to seem so joyous becomes more and more difficult to bear. As a child, the losses in life seem few and far between. But in this stage of my life, while my joys are still mountain peaks, the losses have become steady. Life certainly changes and rearranges. The old, steady features in our lives pass on to heaven and the little nuggets of children we have brought into the world are growing into real, actual people. This cycle is sad, it’s rewarding, it’s amazing, it’s so many things that can’t be described in text. There are moments I sit back and just marvel at the complexity of this life.

This week I sat and watched grief wash over my husbands grandfather, Curt, as he yearned for his wife. We lost grandma Betty last week after a long and painful decline in her health. After the funeral, we all went back to work, to school, to activities, to life…because we have to. But watching this strong man, still lost in that moment of grief, it struck me in a way that will be a part of me forever. 

Curt shared with me that he enlisted in the air force as a young man, unsure at the time where that choice would take him. Rather than being thrown into battle, he was asked to sit at a desk and learn to type. He had never typed a day in his life. He had been put in a class of 12 men and as he sat at his typewriter, the fingers of those men around him flew while he struggled to find the next key. He may have felt in over his head but he did not give up. He persevered. He learned. And he was sent on his life journey to places he didn’t expect. He won the coveted position, along with three of his cohorts. They were sent one direction while the eight others were sent another direction . Curt had great success in the air force and climbed rank in his time there. He was on a four year commitment, when three and a half years in, a lifetime ailment of asthma flared. He was able to leave the Air Force at that time and came back home to Perry County. 

In Curt’s telling of the story, there was doubt in this moment. He wondered if things would have been different if he had been able to continue his Air Force career. He wondered where he would have ended up. He wondered who he would have been surrounded by on this day had his path been different.

But those doubts vanished when he began to talk about Betty. He said he knew it was meant to be because when he came home, he met Betty. I look at my husband and know Curt’s path was destiny. My own life would be very different had Curt made a different choice all those years ago. Curt had gone out with a friend to a dance in a neighboring county (Curt and Betty’s favorite pastime was dancing throughout their marriage). My favorite line of his story was “I saw her ‘south end’ moving north and that was that.” I admire his honesty and sense of humor. 


Curt and Betty were married for 58 years. They had four children together. I know many years were not easy for them. For those of us who have chosen to devote our lives to another person in marriage, we know the road can be difficult at times. But watching Curt today, knowing he is now half of the person he was a week ago when Betty was still by his side, my passion and advocacy for the unity of marriage is alive and well. Curt and Betty were a team. They enjoyed life together, built a legacy together. They were still jumping in the vehicle for adventures long past the time that their children approved. They visited local stores and restaurants up until Betty’s very end, brightening the day of all who encountered them. They made the most of their time together. But most of all, they loved each other. On the good days and the bad. In the hard times and the easier times. Curt is still loving Betty today, and I believe wholeheartedly that she is still loving him as well. There are some bonds that not even death can sever.

My life has changed. I see the older generations passing on into heaven, becoming glorious characters whose stories are retold at each Christmas or birthday gathering to our children. These stories of their character, of their eccentricities that made them so lovable, help them to live on in our hearts and minds. New children are born and we see grandma’s chin or grandpa’s jawline and we remember those that we’ve lost along the way. And me and my husband? Yes, even us, we’re getting older. I see many ways we’ve changed and some ways we’ve stayed the same. All of this helps to remind me of how special our bond is, how much I treasure my partner in this life, how thankful I am that Curt met Betty and had a daughter named Roberta, who met Tim and had a son named Philip, who met me and has meant everything to me in this life. God works in mysterious ways. It is in finding the blessings that we can make it through all of life’s losses. It is how we manage to move forward. I look at the man standing next to me and know without a doubt, I am blessed.

MBA – Day 1

I started my first class for my MBA today….Masters of Business Administration…Graduate Degree…it sounds so nice, so fancy. Right? I always thought I would get my Masters. It’s always been a part of my plan, at the back of my mind, tapping me on the shoulder, saying “hey you, busy wife, mom and employee, remember me??? We have work to do.” 

At four and seven, my kids are quickly becoming self-sufficient. The days of diapers and bottles are long gone. They can feed themselves, bathe themselves, dress themselves. So there’s no time like the present to put a little focus on me and my goals, right?


I vaguely recall what it was like to work on my Undergraduate Degree when Jace was a small child. I was working full time and commuting  to school at night. I remember spending weekends parked at the computer. I remember the late nights and early mornings. I remember missing the parties and gatherings because I had to study. So I should have known what was coming…how quickly we forget.

I had my first night of materials tonight. I completed my first assignment, hit the discussion board and began to study our first chapter. I worked on my course from 5:00 until I called it quits at 9:30. The material was fascinating and challenging and overwhelming. I felt parts of my mind come alive that I haven’t exercised in years. I focused only on the task at hand and I couldn’t have been more intrigued and excited. I’ve always been a real nerd for school….

Then I came home and found my whole sweet family asleep. I crawled into my kids’ bed and kissed their heads. They didn’t even stir. I ate and I lie restless now. 

It dawns on me…so this is what this is going to be like. This is what being in school is like. It is so strange that you can talk about a reality over and over again, but until you experience it, until you feel it, you don’t know. I’ve been away from my kids for exactly one night. So why I lie in bed, my heart squeezed tight, tears sliding down my cheeks, I have no idea. It must be the realization that there are going to be many nights like this. Nights that I don’t get to do their homework with them, hear their mealtime prayers, help them into their PJs, read them their bedtime stories. Those moments are my favorite moments in the world. Missing those moments truly breaks my heart.


So why? Why am I doing this to myself? Why is it so hard to be everything you want to be? The best mom, wife, daughter, friend, the brightest student, hardest working employee, the most loving Christian…why can’t we be all things to all people? Or better yet, why do we feel like we have to be? 

I’ve always wanted to get my MBA. I love to learn and grow and stretch myself beyond my limits. I certainly made things hard on myself choosing to start my family first and complete my education second. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. I wouldn’t give up all that I have even if it hurts to do things my way at times.

My hope is that my children see what is possible. That my accomplishments mean more to them than my time away sacrifices. My hope is that when my kids have a goal or potential they do whatever it takes to reach it. I hope they see how important it is to never stop learning, growing, pushing yourself. I hope that they are proud of their mother. And I hope they know how very much I love them. 

So I have one night down. Approximately 917 nights to go. No sweat.