Shine a Light for Me

This year is off with a bang…and it’s only January 30th.  As per our usual, this year we’ve seen more than our fair share of medical professionals; we have been enduring a cancer scare with my 4-year old daughter, Jera; I’ve been working through a challenging MBA course…and  all of this has culminated into the ridiculous body of tension that I have become.  This day, Monday, January 30th, was especially overwhelming for me.  I had a quiz due that I have been killing myself studying for…and while that weighed on me heavily, there was more to my stress level today than school.

I have been a total stress case.  Caring for Jera following her tonsillectomy last week, trying to keep her comfortable and happy, working to master my MBA course, Corporate Finance…it has all been…hard.  

I’m not normally a crier, at least not without good reason (I mean, aside from when I watch Marley and Me…but really if you don’t cry during that movie, you’re just stone cold).  In the past two weeks, I’ve found myself in tears more often than I care to admit…trying to sort out my thoughts and feelings…trying to manage myself by myself. Until I just can’t anymore.  My poor family…my mom has received a crying call, my husband has been tearfully dialed, my best friend has gotten sad text messages.   While I’ve worked hard to hold it together, the stress and worry have taken a toll on me and my soul is drained.

The surgeon told me I could call his office in a week to check on Jera’s biopsy results.  Today, five days following the surgery, I couldn’t wait anymore.  I dialed the office mid-morning and left a message with the nurse, hoping that Jera’s biopsy results would be in.  When lunch came and went and I didn’t receive a returned call, I figured the results hadn’t arrived and I would have to wait.  I went online and took another dreaded Corporate Finance quiz (what kind of quiz takes 90 minutes FOR SIX QUESTIONS?!!!)  I was relieved to score better than I had expected.  But still, in my heart was a heaviness.  I decided to take Jera for ice cream and we pigged out.  There’s nothing like soft serve to soothe the soul.


Then, as I was making dinner, my phone rang.  It was the ENT’s nurse.  She was calling to tell me that Jera’s biopsy results are in and the biopsy was NORMAL.  That’s right folks, Jera is CANCER-FREE!!!  She’s just my little fruitcake of a daughter with a former set of goofy (AKA asymmetric) tonsils.  I thanked the nurse for calling and hung up the phone.  I can’t describe to you the feelings that moved through my mind, body and soul in that moment.  Relief, joy, gratitude, exhilaration…there aren’t enough adjectives on this Earth to describe the happiness that call delivered.

There are people whose calls are different than the one I received.  There are people who aren’t  relieved of their worrisome burden with a phone call delivering normal biopsy results.  People I love have received devastating news instead.  I’ve watched those I love wither away with cancer and pass on in the most painful, devastating way.  I’ve also watched others I love fight bravely, becoming the very essence of strength and beauty and beating the fearsome beast.  Today, I am so thankful.  I am so thankful that my sweet daughter doesn’t have to face that fight.  So thankful that she will continue to be her bright, funny, reserved, goofy, girly, wonderfully-made self.


There are no words to repay the prayers that have gone up for us.  There are so many who don’t believe in the power of prayer.  I do.  While prayer may not always change test results, it certainly can lift you up and carry you through difficult times.  Prayer lets us know we are not alone.  Prayer is love.  You cannot pray for someone without loving them.  In praying for your neighbor, you strengthen not only your neighbor, but you grow love in your own heart as well.  And even more importantly, in praying for yourself, you invite God in and allow Him to help. I have been stressed.  I have cried.  I have been short and snapped and laid awake wondering.  But through prayer and the support, prayers and love of our friends and family, we have made it through this trial and we are ready to move on to brighter days.  The start of this year has been difficult, but after the good news we received today, it has also been awesome.  God is good.

I’ll end this blog with the lyrics of a song I heard for the first time yesterday by Brad Randall. I had never heard of him or his music…I was listening to a “popular” music station, not a Christian station…but this song came across my speakers at the exact moment I needed it and I know it was a God-thing. 

Make a path for me, make it wide for every man to see

Maybe I’ll find it

Shine a light for me, make it pure and hang it from a tree

So bright I’m blinded

If I said I don’t want you to come knockin’ on my door

Then I’d be lying

If for some reason I told you I don’t need you anymore

Then I’d be lying… lying

Enough, hearing voices I can’t stand to hear like thunder from a storm

Where is your lightning

I’m tossing and turning underneath my sheets at night in a room no longer warm

My chest is tightening

If I said that I could get through this without any help

Then I’d be lying
If my lips claim I’m strong enough to take care of myself

Then I’d be lying… lying

I’d be lying

Cover my ears and my heart is broken
Bruise on my knees when the walls start to open
I’m searching through the tunnels of the feelings that are running deep

Wasting time because the answer is right in front of me
Battling an enemy that is standing about five foot ten

Wondering if I’m ever gonna be myself again

Hold me in your arms and take away my worldly fears

Please don’t tell me all the things that I don’t wanna hear
I’m so afraid of what you’re gonna tell me
The fears come but I know you led me

Know the problems that are wearing out my soul inside

It’s the only way that I can make the wrong go right

Make the wrong go right

And I love everything about you

Everything about you 

If I said I don’t want you to come

Knocking on my door

Then I’d be lying… Lying…

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Priorities Heal Disappointment 

Can we talk just for a moment about priorities? Today is a day that I need to talk about this…about not only making choices about what is important but accepting the consequences of those choices. The logical part of my mind knows that when we realize our priorities, we inevitably miss out on something else (although that doesn’t ever stop me from trying to have it all). But when the inevitable opportunity cost is paid, when I reach my capacity in one form or another, it just about breaks my heart. Does anyone else struggle with this?

This weekend I made choices that ultimately led to a less than desirable grade on my exam today. I know I could have studied harder; I could have taken more time to prepare. I didn’t do anything wrong. I chose to catch up on rest. I chose to spend time with my husband and friends. I chose not to miss my son’s Boy Scout meeting or church with my children. While none of those choices were bad choices, those are the choices that led me to feel disappointment today.

This is my point. There is too much in this life. Too much to do, too many places to be, too many people to please. I come back to the fact that, not only do I have to have my priorities straight, I also have to be okay with the consequences of those priorities. 

I’m learning that our priorities not only can change throughout the stages of our lives, but that they should change. When we take on new responsibilities our priorities must shift. We must take inventory of our to-do’s and make decisions about what falls where. I’ve recently taken on the responsibility of earning my MBA and it’s radically changed my life (and the lives of those I love). Things that used to be important to me (exercise, rest, fun) have taken a backseat and I’ve reorganized my life to meet this goal. 

For me always, God comes first, then my family, then my job. But now, after those absolutes, comes school. It comes before all other responsibilities, wants and needs. It is hard. It is hard to sacrifice and give up so much. But it is what I signed up for, and it is what I have to do.

Today I feel as though I let myself down. But I know I was not prepared because  I spent my afternoon with my son at his Boy Scout meeting. Because I spent the evening with my husband and best friend feeling like a real, actual person for the first time in weeks. Because I went to church and spent time there. Because I wanted to make it to my son’s basketball practice. These are the choices that led to less study time. While it is so disappointing to not meet my own expectations for school, I have to be okay with the choices I made. I have to be okay with the priorities that I set out for my life. I have no one to blame but myself and I have to learn to roll with the punches, knowing that I’ll find a way to make it work better the next time around.

I share this because we all have too much on our plates. We all have sacrifices and we all make choices. Sometimes the consequences of our choices hurt. Sometimes we are limited in our ability. But those moments of hurt are the moments when we have to look back at our priorities. Sometimes what we had because of those priorities…because of the choices our priorities led to (in my case a pie to the face by 4 Boy Scouts and my stinker of a daughter)….the gifts we were given in place of what we missed are actually worth what is sacrificed. 

I hope that makes sense. 

Sometimes coming to terms about what we can’t do is actually about knowing what we did do instead. At the end of the day, if we look back and can’t feel better after this type of review, maybe it’s time to look at our priorities and realign. When our priorities are in order, we know that what we’ve gained with our choice is so great, that we can be okay with what we’ve lost. Our priorities can actually heal our disappointments. That realization is an amazing gift for me. I hope it is for you too.

A Good Day

Today was a good day. We have been anxiously awaiting an appointment with an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist to discuss our daughter, Jera’s, asymmetrical tonsils. Our family doctor had thrown around the possibility of lymphoma as an underlying cause for the asymmetry, and with Jera’s many health struggles, we have been stressed, holding our breath, and biding our time until we could talk to a specialist about his thoughts on her unusual tonsils. Today, January 10th, my husband’s 34th birthday, was finally the day.

I feel so blessed to have been referred to Dr. Ehrhard. He was friendly, warm and kind. He spoke directly to Jera and allowed her to sit on my lap. We talked through her health issues. His calmness was contagious. He asked Jera to open her mouth and then confirmed what we had already seen. Her right tonsil is enlarged, and while her left tonsil was also enlarged, the right tonsil was considerably larger. 

This is where he paused and took a moment to address all of the thoughts that were running through our heads. He said, “From one parent to another, I want you to know that when these things happen, we think about what could be causing it. I want you to know that in my experience, I’ve never come across this (asymmetrical tonsils) and had the cause be something bad.” There was an audible release in the room, as Phil and I both sighed out all of the tension that had been building.  I told him we had been so worried. He told me he understood, that your child being in danger is a parent’s worst fear. I checked with him again, “You’ve seen this before?” “Yes,” he told me, “and in my experience, I’ve never found a bad cause.” 

He wouldn’t even say the c-word…never let it come to his lips…he said “a bad cause/thing”. He knew what we feared. He’s trained to know the signs and symptoms of abnormalities in the throat. But he also knows a parent’s worry. What a tremendous blessing that this compassionate man is Jera’s doctor. 

Jera is scheduled for a tonsillectomy on January 25th. Her tonsils will be biopsied and we will know for certain that our daughter is okay…she’s just a girl with goofy tonsils. Oh…correction, soon she’ll be a girl with NO tonsils, and I’m okay with that! 

I’m praying Jera remains healthy and we’re able have her surgery as planned on the 25th. I’m praying that her recovery is quick and as painless as possible. And I’m praying that following her biopsy, we can confirm that she’s just a girl with goofy tonsils…with the reassurance of her doctor’s previous  experience, I feel optimistic about what is to come.

So tonight we celebrated my husband’s 34 birthday. We lit candles, sang the birthday song and ate some terrible, gluten-free angel food cake. And I mean TERRIBLE cake (Jera still ate it happily, just thankful to have cake). But we celebrated with hearts that were lighter, hopes that were higher and faith that continues to grow.

Thank you to everyone who has held our family, and especially my precious daughter, in your prayers. I believe in the power of prayer. I cannot express how I’ve felt lifted up by the outpowering of support and love from my readers, our friends and our family. We are blessed beyond measure. Please continue to pray for Jera as we move through this journey to a healthier, stronger tomorrow. 

Another Day, Another Diagnosis 

Yesterday I celebrated turning 32 years old…well, sort of. I started out celebrating, but by the end of the day, my birthday had taken a turn for the worse. For those of you following my blog, you know we are anxiously awaiting an appointment with an Ear Nose and Throat specialist next week. The specialist will be investigating my 4 year old daughter’s asymmetrical, enlarged tonsil. We’re not sure what is causing the abnormality but fear the underlying cause could be cancer. Her appointment is on the 10th and we are praying to hear that she just has a big tonsil. 

In the mean time, Jera woke up with a strange rash under her right eye two days ago. With a long history of allergies and eczema, we are no strangers to rashes. So I gave her a dose of Benadryl and we went about our day. However by yesterday morning, the rash had become worse and her eye had begun to swell. Time to get another punch on the old doc card. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect but was utterly shocked to find that my 4 year old has shingles. SHINGLES. Yes, the virus from chicken pox that you normally hear about from your 90 year old grandparent. I left the doctors office in a bit of a daze. Because the shingles rash is so close to her eye we have to get into an eye doctor today to be sure the shingles hasn’t made it into her actual eye. Shingles in the eye can cause many vision problems, even leading to blindness.

So I jumped online to try to understand how my young daughter contracted something that I had never expected. Let me preface this by saying, I realize this is a mistake. I know we should never Google any illness. It’s never good news. But my heart sank when I read that shingles is extremely uncommon outside of the elderly population unless a person has a suppressed immune system due to HIV or cancer. There was that word again. Cancer. 

The tears came fast and hard last night. I am praying my little daughter is fine. I am trying to remain logical and rational. I know it could be and hope it is nothing. But I am scared. The 10th can’t get here fast enough for my little family. 

I continued to peruse online last night and found a blog where another mother has a child with severe eczema, like Jera, whose daughter also had shingles at 4 years old. Jera is prone to skin infections and her immune system is in a constant struggle against her eczema and allergies. She just had the stomach flu two weeks ago and pneumonia a month ago. It makes sense that her immune system would be down. She is bright, cheerful and happy. She doesn’t understand the tears or hugs or worry. 

I am scared but trying to hold fast to my faith that God will guide my family through this crisis. We’ve made it through things I couldn’t have imagined before. This time I lean on Him with my entire being as I struggle to maintain normalcy in a moment where I feel anything but normal. Please continue to pray for Jera. For her strength, health and resiliency. 

I turned 32 yesterday and I continue to learn daily that faith and family are the two things that make this life, not only bearable, but beautiful. Today I choose to believe that anything is possible with the help of God. Today, a year older, I choose to be happy in the face of adversity. I will take it a moment at a time and be thankful for the time I am given with the sweet little monsters I call my children. Speaking of which, I get to wake now and tell my oldest he has a two-hour snow delay…this parenting thing can still be fun! Parenting is both the hardest and most rewarding responsibility I’ve ever known. Today and everyday, I choose to be thankful for it, both the burdensome worry and the great joy. It’s all part of it. Duty calls….off to make the snow day announcement!

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.