Tag Archives: Marriage

Hyvää uutta vuotta!



I suppose that since it’s a brand new year, I should write the proverbial New Year’s Resolution blog post.  I’m one of those middle of the road peeps.  I see some value in setting a public goal because then we’re accountable to ourselves and others.  I also understand thinking that NY resolutions are silly because almost NO ONE follows through, despite wonderful and sincere intentions.  I’m kind of a “make the vow to myself quietly’ kind of girl, not saying it out loud until I’ve research this life-changing goal and worked it consistently for a short time, mostly.  If I’m afraid I won’t follow through because my flesh can be SO weak, and I really want to in my spirit, then I’ll share one-on-one with someone in my inner circle, being sure to mention how unlikely it is that I will accomplish my task.

I have all of these ideas of ways I want my life to change for the better, like most people do.  As I was pondering this recently and throughout the past year, I’ve noticed I feel scattered and a bit overwhelmed, so I’ve broken it down into categories in order to see my goals more clearly and in a less complicated fashion.


I want to have healthy boundaries with some people who have hurt me on the regular over the years.  This is tough because I am a 2 (enneagram), a hard 2, and I just want to meet everyone right where they are and love them with all that I am.  When I don’t do this I feel like I’m letting God down, even though I know in my head that boundaries are healthy and I’ve spent WAY too much time standing in His way in the name of love.  In addition to this, I would love to stop caring about the opinions of people who have misrepresented or misjudged my character.  While entering my 50’s has helped dissipate much of this, occasionally, it still gets the best of me and I fantasize about the truth coming to light and having peace with those people.  I’m SO ready to be an Elsa and completely “let it go!”


THIS is the tough one for me right now.  My husband is such a lovely man.  Of course, he has stuff like every human being, but because of our very opposite dispositions, my pessimistic McDowell part has bit-by-bit squelched the optimistic and joyful Honey I fell in love with.  I find myself often overcompensating for my trespasses when I should simply ask for forgiveness, owning my junk and doing better because of it.  It’s awful how something can be ingrained in you from birth and decades later still wreak havoc in adult relationships.  It’s time to do better because I am capable of better, my husband deserves SO much better and my children deserve a better example.


This is the embarrassing one.  I want to figure out why I continue to gain weight even though I am eating less food and more healthily than I ever have.  I’m exercising regularly and getting enough rest (usually), so it’s discouraging that I’m seemingly getting less healthy day-by-day.  I’ve spent an abundance of time and money on the pursuit of physical health, and while I am almost never sick and I am quite healthy, this weight gain, sudden onset of hot flashes, and lack of energy are disheartening.  My hope is that I’ll figure out what is wrong with my adrenals and/or my thyroid and I can begin a plan that will bring them back to health – and that I can do this without breaking the bank…

Social Justice:

This is a subject that is very near and dear to my Jesus-loving heart.  There is little else that brings out my passionate side like racial injustice.  However, I’ve got to confess that I am intimidated to step into this full throttle for a number of reasons.  I feel like I have little to offer as a privileged white woman.  This causes me to be terrified to say or do the wrong thing because of my ignorance or any scrap of prejudice that remains.  I don’t want to appear to think I am some kind of savior or anything obnoxious.  I want to stand by my brothers and sisters and use my voice so that we can start moving through repentance, then restitution and finally reconciliation.  I’m not sure what that looks like, yet.  I have an entire bookshelf of every suggestion my BtB group has ever mentioned and then some.  I’ve read several of them, but I need to be more intentional.  I need to stop taking advantage of my white privilege by doing the inconvenient and hard stuff even though it may seem I don’t have to.  I am His daughter, which means I do, so I will.


My Honey and I would love to go away for a real vacation.  It has been 16 years since we’ve gone away alone together for more than a night or two – and that was in September of 2001 during the week of 9/11, as well as experiencing a hurricane on Sanibel where we were vacationing, and returning to find out one of our children had gotten into some pretty serious trouble while we were away.  We’re dreaming of a full week, all alone, somewhere we have to fly to.  If we can’t do it this year, then next year is the goal.  There are actually several other financial goals we have, but this is not our strong suit, so we’ll just leave it like this for now.


I’ve been praying about my word for this year.  I’ve intentionally avoided words like “love,” “help,” “inspire,” because that’s what I’m naturally drawn to and one or two of those have been my word in past years.  Yesterday, the word “Simplify” came to me.  This is a good goal for me.  It’s one I feel I’ve been working on for many years.  It’s one of the things I tried to instill into my own children.  I have successfully simplified many areas of my life, but I can see that in my desire to accomplish some of the above goals, I have complicated my life unnecessarily.  While I believe it’s wise to read and educate oneself about God, health, finances, relationships, ultimately, I know the first place I need to turn is to Him.

I think this looks like taking each of my areas of growth and choosing ONE simple goal, just one baby step and following through.  Breaking it down based on His leading and my strengths will produce a simplicity that will bring blessings into my life and those I serve and love.

In my marriage this looks like confessing to my husband first.  The next step is unclear for me.  I think we’ll need some kind of accountability, so asking him to join me in that is a definite possibility.

Emotionally, in my relationships I will continue to pray before I put myself out there.  I will do my best to check my motives and remember that He is so much better at loving people than I could ever be.  When He sends me, I will go, but I am finally ready to stop sending myself out of guilt or my icky savior complex, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel at times.  

My Honey and I have been researching the KETO diet and we are going to give it a whirl.  A couple of months ago I bought a planner that keeps me on schedule with my magnesium protocol and that has been helping me stay on track and get back on track when I fall off now and then.  My hope is that following these plans will jumpstart my adrenals and thyroid so that my body can start taking better care of itself naturally.

My goal is to read 2 books each month about racial reconciliation.  I have started to collect children’s book by authors of color about people of color for the grandchildren I hope to have someday.  I am going to purchase 1 book every 2 months and my hope is that I will have a library that will help another generation of my family to love and appreciate all of God’s people.  I have other goals, but in the name of simplifying and succeeding, I am going to make this the first step.  I am going to bathe each book in prayer and ask Him to show me what steps I take next.

Financially…  Yep, not my strong suit.  I’ll have to get back with you about this one.

Spiritually, I am going to keep spending time with Jesus.  His Word speaks to me in life-changing ways and quiet time with Him is the best way for me to stay centered.  I made a commitment to read my Bible daily a few months ago (again) and it’s going well.  Sometimes I find myself checking the box, but more often I am slowing down and taking His Word in. I have decided to work through the 12 steps again, joining a group at my church that will keep me accountable and help me grow where He shows me I need to this time around.  I bought myself a Christmas present from Cageless Birds that was a stretch for me.  Cultivate is a series of 4 volumes that are full of writing prompts, contemplative thoughts, and encouragement for artists of all kinds – because we are ALL artists in one way or another.  I bought all 4 of them and gave one to each our 3 youngest and gave myself volume 4, “Creativity Unlocked.”  I’m intimidated and excited to see how God works through the pages to help me walk more fully in the identity He has for me.

So, I started this post a few days ago and then as I prayed and journaled I was able to simplify my proposed journey for this next year.  I feel centered and hopeful.  I’m also seasoned enough to be okay if the end doesn’t look exactly like I’m imagining at the beginning.  New Year’s Resolutions are meant to help us move forward in hope, not to discourage us because we aren’t perfect.  I pray you find your rhythm in this new year.  I pray you find grace for yourself and others.  I pray you find yourself walking in your full identity more and more as the days unfold.  It’s okay to straight up fail or stumble to any degree, and it’s okay to get up and start again in February or July or December.  It’s not okay to let perceived failure defeat you for too long.  You’re worth a lot of effort and persistence is noble.  Quitting, not so much.

Happy New Year!







Usually when I post on my blog it’s because He’s put something on my heart to share in hopes that others who struggle with the same junk will be encouraged, or at the very least, not feel so alone.  Today I’m just feeling like I need to push myself to write because it’s good for my soul.  I’m a little nervous about just writing and putting it out there without a well organized agenda.  I’ve written plenty of posts whose main purpose was to help me work through painful junk in my life, but I couldn’t actually post them because they may have been seen as an attack on the person who had caused me pain.  I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I wanted to lash out with my words, but (so far) I’ve behaved myself.

I’m tired.  I’m ready for some changes in my life – some big, some not so big.  I’m trying to be sure that the changes I decide to move ahead with are chosen because He’s leading me that way and not just because of my emotions about the status quo of those situations.  I’m trying to be careful because of the “Unraveling” that entering my 50’s has caused.  I don’t want to make major life decisions, and then have my family (or me) live with bad consequences because of my choices.

There’s a part of me that keeps trying to figure out what happened to the past 25 years of my life.  I mean, I remember it.  I even remembering savoring every last drop of the time I had with my children.  I remember trying to make every holiday special so that they would look back and feel treasured.  Pool parties with all of the neighborhood kids, reading book after book, cuddling, trips to museums, water parks, visiting relatives, friends – these were all part of our time together.  The funny thing is that I still wonder how it went so fast.  I question how I could’ve done it all better, made it more special, been more present, created a stronger bond…

It’s one of the most painful and truly wonderful experiences in the entire everything; being a mom.  It’s a common theme in our culture.  Mom sacrifices it all to raise her kiddos well.  She gives up her career, her interests and social life for a while, and her dignity now and again, all for the sake of investing in other human beings that will buck her authority, break multiple valuables in her home, put the kibosh on her sex life, embarrass her in public, become bipolar in their teens and cause her to lose her mind waiting for them to come home safely once they have a driver’s license.  We’re more than happy to do it because we absolutely ADORE our little monsters and no sacrifice is too great.

and then they move out and move on.  Now, if we’re played this thing out smart, we still have friendships we’ve cultivated through the years, we can return to a career we love if we choose, our marriage is still intact because we’ve nurtured our relationship through the years.  If we haven’t, we may be in for a HUGE unraveling.  I find that I’m somewhere in the middle of this whole thing.  *Disclaimer:  I believe it’s a rare woman who escapes the unraveling completely.

I have returned to my career.  My marriage is intact.  I’ve several close friends in Michigan, but very few in Texas.

Unfortunately, the unraveling can cause your feelings of dissatisfaction to grow exponentially and it’s been my experience that it’s hard to tell when the feelings are really from Him and true, or when I’m allowing emotions and worldly junk to cloud my vision.  I’m just being honest… Sometimes I panic a little and think, “Holy crap!  This is how old I am and I probably don’t have much time left.  What have I done with the time He’s given me?!” – and then I feel trapped in a house I just want to move out of, a career I feel disrespected in (mostly), a life I feel is steeped in mediocrity, and the clock just keeps on ticking.

I also have moments when I can’t believe how blessed I am, but the unraveling is almost always there now, reminding me that time is slipping away and in the big picture I am not content with where I’ve been or how far I’ve come.  None of this has to do with my gratefulness for all He has blessed me with.  It has everything to do with what I’ve done with the life He’s blessed me with.  I get stuck in between that place of not being content in where I’m at, along with feeling like I’m a bad Christian if I long for more, and being confident that He’s the one who placed the unrest in me so that I will be more in His will.  I’m just not always sure I know which path He’s leading me down, so then I stall and wait and worry that I’m wasting more precious time because I’m not even a good enough Christian to know if it’s God or me that’s nudging me to move…

I wonder if other people feel this way.  I wish I could see into the future and know what decisions I will choose to move ahead with and if I will be any more in His will than I am now.

– Who doesn’t?!

So… there’s my ramble for the day.  This is me being transparent and raw, not wanting any well-meaning Christians to throw anecdotal Christianity at my struggle.  My hope is that I will hear/see/feel clearly what He desires for me and then very obviously open the doors He wants me to walk through.  I’m a hammer on the head kinda girl…  He knows that.  He created me that way.

Rambling brainstorm over… for now.

Destiny’s Project



I’ve been in the desert for about 8 years now…

Just before we left Michigan in 2007, our church fell apart in a painful, ugly split, my family of origin began the “dysfunctional disenfranchisement” (as I fondly refer to it), our closest friends seemed to step back a bit in preparation for the upcoming 1/2 of a country away separation, and another group of women who had regularly met in my home for several years, and I counted as good friends, suddenly excluded me, hurting me deeply. Just after leaving Michigan we began making two huge house payments because we couldn’t sell our house in Michigan and we purchased a brand new, furnished home in Texas.  A year after we moved to Texas, with our finances depleted, a week after we had decided to foreclose on our Michigan home, we sold it by paying the buyer $1200!

When we arrived, we knew almost no one.  Finding a homeschool community for our kiddos was my priority for the first several months.  The kids and I spent time exploring Austin and figuring out where we could fit in.  My husband struggled to find a place to fit in musically and had a rough time of adjusting to returning to teaching in a new state, especially with his wife and children in Michigan for the first 4 months he was in Texas without us.  We would talk on the phone for 1-4 hours every night.  He was incredibly lonely and I was busy at home in Michigan packing, cramming in last visits, and as much school as possible trying to be both parents to our kiddos who missed their daddy a bunch.

The first 6 months in Texas were lonely for me, but I was busy painting the kids’ rooms, finding homeschool groups and activities for my kids, as well as getting acclimated to our new surroundings.  Sometime after that first 6 months, things began to go sour in our marriage.  My Honey couldn’t find a band to join that fit his style or his talents.  He felt like he moved to the Live Music Capital of the World to really use his gifts and then he couldn’t figure out how to get into the “scene.”  He was also in his early 40’s, suddenly making much less than he had.  He was still recovering from the beating he took for almost a decade at his previous job.  It took awhile to find a church that we all liked, and I was still licking my wounds from what had happened at our church in Michigan.  Many of my closest and oldest friendships just disintegrated once we moved here.  When I was most lonely and reaching out, my dearest friends turned away.  Our small group in Michigan was one of those rare, transparent, supportive circle of friends that some only dream of being a part of and we are blessed that a few of them have supported us and loved us, long distance, through this past 8 years.

For the first time in our marriage, I was unable to hold everything together.  I was completely and utterly broken.  Too many things had gone wrong and I was so very alone… and, honestly, I could only be a Stepford wife for so many years before the facade came crashing down around me.  So, it did…  and I mean, BUT GOOD!!!

I was in the worst place emotionally I had ever been in.  I spent several weeks meticulously planning my suicide.  My only requirement was that I didn’t look too horrific if my children found me – you know, because there’s a good way for your kids to find you dead by your own hand…  I isolated myself almost completely.  I had no one close enough in Texas to confide in and I didn’t feel like I could reach out to any of my loved ones in Michigan because that’s who I was…  Helping others, never asking for help.  Not only because I truly love to help people, but also because I hope others will come to love me if I offer them enough (because I’m not) and because I have a deep fear that if I ask for help or support when I’m weak, I will find that no one cares enough to help me, so I wear my armor almost always.  It’s one of the things I most dislike about myself and one of the things I am working hardest to change… daily…

Well, a bunch of particulars happened during this time, but they’re not important to this story.  Suffice it to say that we decided to go to counseling – both separately and together – and our marriage improved immensely over the course of a year or two.  My husband began to treasure me and for the first time he truly saw me – because I allowed him to.

Things seemed to be going in the right direction for a few years.  We began teaching together, we argued less than ever, we went to church every week together, and we talked constantly.  My husband was forever trying to be who I needed him to be.  I slowly became more and more bitter as time passed.  I just felt so angry with him and almost all of the wonderful things about him didn’t mean much for very long if he did anything else not perfectly.  I cringe when I think of how ugly my behavior became over a few years.  Our children tried to point out that I was not treating their dad with respect, especially since I had worked very hard to instill in them a godly picture of what a Christian wife should be and act like.  I hardly listened to them.  I felt justified in my resentment and even more so when I felt my children were choosing their father over me.  Each time he would hurt or offend me, I would deposit my animosity into my bank of bitterness and my account collected interest exponentially.  My former arrogance is my present shame…

I made very few good friendships in 8 years of living here.  The ones I did make didn’t go too far, mostly because of the mistrust I had developed in recent years piled on top of the lovely martyr complex designed to keep me “safe” and because I didn’t really have anyone to confide in, I was terrified that I would vomit all over someone if I started to talk, so my walls were now thicker than ever.

I had some sunny days here and there, but I had started to feel that 8 years in the desert deep in my core.  I was accepting that there was really nothing to like about me since no one seemed to want to truly know me here.  I was almost complacent, it seemed.  I think the pain of accepting that was almost more than I could bear, so I became numb. I know now that I was moving toward believing God felt the same way about me and even toward not believing He existed at all.  I prayed, I read my Bible, I listened to praise music, I went to Bible studies, and I attended small group, and church.  I even watched some of those terrible over-acted Christian movies!  I just felt more and more lost or forgotten or punished…

We started attending a small group – the 4th one because I just couldn’t feel comfortable in the three before this one. One of the leaders there mentioned a women’s retreat that she was attending after being asked repeatedly to go to over the previous year.  I immediately looked the retreat up on my phone.  It was pricey, I’m not gonna lie.  Something in me (God?) told me that I had to go.  So, I got online, signed up, payed the deposit and emailed my list of questions to the leader.

I almost canceled daily, but He made it clear to me that I had  to go.  I hadn’t heard Him in such a long time that I was NOT going to blow this!  I spent many hours talking myself out of the fear of disappointment.  I was prepared to face that I didn’t matter and the little hope I had left would be completely gone if this was not at the very least a life-changing event for me.  I worried that I would emotionally vomit all over these unsuspecting women who didn’t even know me.  I worried my roommate(s) wouldn’t like me, the food would be unhealthy and filled with gmo’s, I wouldn’t be Christian enough, my clothes would be wrong, etc., etc.  – and then I started my period the day before I left, and now a days, this is no small matter!  Seriously?!

So, I drove 4 hours to get there and ate dinner with 12 strangers.  I was wrapped tighter than a Baptist minister’s wife’s girdle!  (Come on!  That was funny…)  I was in the abyss between desperately (truly desperately) needing to share my story, having human connection, finding some hope, and making a complete fool of myself and being rejected.  So, when the time came to share the “why” of our attendance, both of the women before me, who were in my age group, spoke of how wonderful their marriages and husbands were.  I remember thinking, “OMG, I feel like such a loser.”  I was truly terrified of how to tell my story, so, I vomited and became as vulnerable as I could because I felt like it was my last chance.  I had also paid several hundred bucks and the “frugal” part of me couldn’t live with not giving my money’s worth!

It was exhausting, unbelievably emotional, embarrassing, and somewhat freeing… only somewhat…

For the rest of the evening I was reasonably silent.  I felt like I had said too much already and I didn’t want to be that person at the retreat.  – You know, the one who makes everything about her, vomits her junk on everyone else and just won’t shut-up?  Before we went to bed that night we all chose a large rock and were instructed to decorate it in a way that represented what we wanted to leave behind this weekend.  For some this was a temporary thing, like worrying about their small children, for me, it was a permanent thing that had been haunting me for the past several years during what I refer to as my “midlife unraveling.”  My rock said “REGRET” on it.

The following morning as we all worshiped next to the river, I looked all around me and I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty of these sisters-in-Christ each worshiping our Father in extraordinarily breathtaking splendor.  It was at that moment I knew I was ready to release my rock/regrets and I lobbed that bad-boy into the river with tears streaming down my face and hope in my heart.  It felt like the beginning of my own little miracle was just beginning…

The retreat was not easy.  It wasn’t fluff or anecdotal Christian b.s.  It has been 3 1/2 weeks and I’m still not completed recovered.  It was hard, true, deep, excruciating.  It was fun, acceptance, encouragement, Christ – the real deal.  It was sisterhood, bonding.  It was hope!  It was all I had longed for and so much more and it just washed over me for days.  Sometimes it lapped gently and other times it bowled me right over like a tidal wave.

It was healing…

Our leaders told us that we would spend most of the day taking turns in the “love chair.”  They acknowledged that this was one of the most difficult parts of the weekend for many women, especially the ones who had a difficult time receiving.  I spent the entire day enjoying through tears, smiles and laughter each of my sisters as they took their turn in the love chair – except when I was dreading my own turn.  I continually envisioned myself walking out of the house, getting in my car and driving home.  I was terrified…

I survived.  It was one of the few precious moments in my life that I felt completely adored by my Father, loved and accepted by women, and healed of my bitterness.  No matter how old I grow to be, it will always be one of the most sacred, unforgettable, life-changing moments of my whole, entire everything.

Healed… as only He can.  He healed my heart and filled me with joy.  I am planted deeply in His love and grace and it is unlike anything I have ever lived in.lush garden

I thought I attended because I feel like teaching is not where I belong much longer.  I was hoping He would show me the path I was meant to travel professionally.  I hoped I could figure out how to become the girl people want to be friends with.  I concentrated on those two areas for the most part.  I decided the day before my last at the retreat to focus on my marriage for the exercise we were doing, because I hadn’t really and it just seemed like the thing to do since there wasn’t much time left.  I realized earlier in the day that I had fallen madly in love with Jesus again and with the person He made me to be.  That evening, as I focused on my husband and what had happened in our 26 years together, I began to see him clearly.  I saw how patiently and lovingly he had waited for me the past several years.  I saw how arrogant I had been.  I was convicted about my treatment of him, the example I had set for our kiddos and how slowly all of this had crept up on my and how unwilling I was to see it.  But, more than anything else, I fell deeply and madly in-love with the man that my amazing, who God made for me, husband is.

The last day was my “rubber hits the road” planning day.  Part of that was deciding how, where and when I would ask my husband’s and our children’s forgiveness for my many transgressions in recent years.  Part of that was forgiving myself and accepting the human parts of me by loving myself unconditionally and extending grace to myself much like I have so willingly done with others in my life.  This was so much more difficult than I realized and even more necessary.  I am still overcome with the truth that my own lack of self-love and grace was in large part what stood between me and embracing my Heavenly Father’s unconditional love.  The word “FREEDOM” was continually whispered in my mind for days.

For 8 years I was in a desert place in almost all areas of my life.  I never turned from God, but I dishonored Him more than I want to admit, BUT I AM.  I felt myself slipping away, although I would’ve sworn at the time it was Him moving in the other direction.  I loved my husband, but I despised so much of who I thought he was.  I shudder when I think what might have happened had my friend not “mentioned” the retreat, had I not made the decision to check it out and spend that wad of cash with my husband’s encouragement.  I kept fighting for what I hoped was in my future.  I kept listening, though less frequently and with less hope, for God’s still, small voice to bring me up for air and give me something to believe in.

I was brave.  I persevered.  After being shattered into a million pieces, I gathered myself, licking my wounds for a bit too long and with way too much self-indignation, but still, I gathered myself.  I got in my way a whole bunch more than any sane person should.  I sinned more than usual…  and I will have more moments of sin in my immediate and far-off future, God willing.          I mean I hope it’s His will that I have a far-off future, not that I’ll have more moments of excessive sin.

He waited for me.  Patiently, lovingly, quietly, all while leading and teaching me as only He can.  He waited for this haughty, isolated, prodigal daughter.  He gave me back my heart, full of love and grace and a bunch of other good stuff.  Parts of me are stronger and more resilient and parts of me are more tender and fragile.  This Broken & Healed Tricia is so much better than the old one.

I think the very coolest part about how this all transpired is that He healed me in such a way that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that HE did it.  It’s a miracle to remove such deep rooted bitterness from a heart in an instant.  I could NEVER have done that alone or even with help, as my treasured children attempted to do on the regular.

Can you stand it?!  That’s how much He loves us!  Not for what we do, but for who we are in HIM!!!  Please don’t give up.  Please persevere.  YOU are so very worth it.  You are His Beloved.

pink tulip


I am his and he is mine…



This is a HUGE year for me. I had my 50th birthday in January and in just a bit more than a month my Honey and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. I have been married to him ½ of my entire life!   I have joked about being married to him for 1/2 of my life when I was 5o since I can remember!  How did it get here already?!

There are times when it has felt like it has been twice that long. The months when we can’t seem to find each other or remember who the other person is anymore, days when we can’t agree on anything, the times when we just get on each other’s nerves all of the time, and we are just plain old ugly to each other have felt endless. Those times don’t happen very often, especially now, but when they have, it is excruciating….

There have been a very few times when I couldn’t even remember why I wanted to be with him in the first place because I was wounded so deeply. Those times never lasted very long, but I’d be lying if I said they never happened.        Marriage is hard. It’s also long – sometimes…  if you’re lucky and committed, but long means SO much can and will happen.

I think one of my most favorite parts of being married to my Honey is that we’ve worked through huge piles of our junk and decided that we are committed to being really present in this relationship, not just surviving it and staying married for a long time.  We always had a pretty good marriage on the outside, but it was pretty icky a lot of the time on the inside. I couldn’t admit this to myself for a very long time. I think that’s why I was such a good actress and contributed to the pretty marriage façade others saw for so many years.

I remember when things got the worst they had ever been and I was wavering between walking out the door and staying almost every other day, someone told me that if I chose to stay and really worked to make things better, God would bless my marriage and it would be more wonderful than I could imagine. I thought that person was on crack, honestly. I just couldn’t see past all of my pain enough to see anything ever getting better. I was just beginning to grasp how much of a lie my marriage had been for the first almost 20 years. After being given some more advice, I decided to just wait, to give myself time to heal some and to not make decisions based on pure emotion at such a low point. That was some of the best advice I have ever gotten. It saved my life and my marriage.

During counseling my Honey and I decided that we were all in. After all, we didn’t really have anything left to lose. I remember thinking that it truly couldn’t get any worse and I needed to know that I had put it all out there before I could walk away with a clear conscience: my fears, my insecurities, my sins, my needs, ALL my junk with complete integrity, no mixed signals, no games, no protecting myself.  My Honey did the same in a big way.  I think it was probably the first time in our whole marriage that we just depended on God to see us through.

I think we both felt like we were seeing each other for the first time when we first began to really talk candidly in counseling. There were times when he would admit something to me that I had questioned him about for years and I felt like he handed me back my reality and after an initial burst of anger, I was in awe of his honesty and vulnerability. Other times I was almost unbelieving when his deep love for me would come shining through. It took me a long time to fully trust his love for me. It took him almost as long to trust my love for him. The irony about that is that it was mostly because of our own junk that we felt this way, not because of the other person’s actions. I think that’s probably true of most relationships…

Our beginning wasn’t picture perfect.  We had both gone through ugly divorces just a year before we got married. We also each brought a precious toddler son into our union.  We dated almost 5 whole months when we got married (What in the world were we thinking?!).  We were both in our last year of college and my parents were living with me at the time!  Much of our first several years of marriage were spent in the courtroom dealing with constant custody and visitation issues.  The attorney bills were astronomical. Blending a family is not all Bradybunch-ish, I can tell you that!  We loved each other very much and that was the glue that kept us together in the early part of our marriage; that and God’s mercy.

There are things I have always loved about my Honey.  He has always made me laugh more than anyone else – especially when I didn’t even know I needed to.  I love that he loves to talk.  He’s like a best girlfriend, only SO MUCH BETTER!!  He has always been a gentleman.  He holds doors open, puts me on the safe side of the path whenever we’re walking outside, and always takes care of me when we go out, holding my chair out for me, getting my drinks, etc.  He has always been a loving daddy to our babies.  He rocked ‘em, diapered ‘em and coached their teams.  I don’t think he ever missed a school or a sporting event that he knew about.  I love that he works so hard for our family because he wants us to be comfortable.

There are even more things that I love about him now because they were hard won by us.  I love his willingness to put me and others first.  I love his humility which has replaced his angry insecurity. I love his presence with our family and his commitment to our health.  I adore his commitment to our marriage – its stability, its growth, its happiness and its authenticity.  I love that  now he understands that our family would rather spend time with him than have extra money and he is trusting God more to take care of us.  He still works VERY hard, but he puts relationships before money now.  He really seeks God now and is willing to be authentic with other Christians in a way he wasn’t able to be a few years ago.  I am mad about the way he bakes and cooks with our children!

Most of the time I can’t believe how quickly 25 years have zoomed by.  How did we have time to raise 5 children, move across the country and get this old?!  I can’t wrap my head around where we started, where we are now, and how we got here.  It’s been quite a ride and I don’t ever want to get off.  It still amazes me that this is my life. I get to wake up and live this life.  I get to be known and loved. Does it get any better?… I don’t think so…


I love my husband more than I thought possible.  Apparently, the lady on crack knew what she was talking about!  I like him more than anyone else in the whole world.  He’s strong, protective, hilarious, gorgeous, smart, sweet, kind, thoughtful, honoring, talented, silly, and beautiful inside and out.

He fought for me.

I am his and he is mine…

for at least another 25 years…

BOB'S PHONE 2014 035

Honey & Me Shady Grove 2014Honey & Me Laughing




Friendship, Motherhood, Girl Struggles…



I’ve been avoiding writing on my blog because I’m feeling a little like once I get started, I might just vomit my junk all over the place, and, really, who wants to be on the receiving end of that?! 

So, I’m apologizing in advance for any emotional puking I may do. 

I have had mostly unhealthy friendships for most of my adult life.  I used to want to save people.  Truth be told, I still want to save people, to love them unconditionally, make sure they feel included, valued, important.  The only difference is that now I know how unhealthy that can be.  I have an almost neurotic fear of anyone feeling left out.  I also can’t stand for anyone to feel unloved.  I am, by nature, a “fixer” and it looked pretty noble and sacrificial from the outside for most of my life.  But, as happens with most illusions, the truth begins to rear its ugly head eventually.  About 5 years ago, when my life was falling apart, a wonderful counselor, who is now an even more wonderful friend, helped me uncover my other motives for my choices in friends and how I behaved in close relationships (my husband, my children, my family of origin, etc.) in general.  It all began with the profound question, “So, how’s that working for you?” 

I realized that I felt left out much of the time growing up.  I’m the only girl in my family of origin with four brothers, so being left out on some level is kind of a given.  My mom and I were not close while I was growing up. The public schools that I attended, like most institutions, did not lend themselves to inclusion of all.  It is heartbreaking to me to see how unaccepting children and teenagers can be.  Even as an adult, I am usually the “odd girl out” when we have a get-together with my family of origin. 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why I want everyone to feel part of things or why I have a deep need for people to feel loved without condition.  Nor does it take a brain surgeon to realize that I long for people to return the favor so that I can feel part of things and truly loved.  The crazy part of all of this is that it took confirmation from some of the people closest to me that I was not loved unconditionally by them, not really even worth fighting for, for me to see who I am truly, deeply, madly loved by and who thinks I am worth fighting for no matter what. 

He thinks I am worth it.  He loves me and all of my junk and He knows all of my junk more intimately than ANYONE else ever could!  That may sound cliche’ to some of you, but the realization of this truth wrapped its lovely arms around me and enveloped me in a blanket of peace, grace and joy such as I had NEVER known before.  It saved my life.  It has changed my relationships with others in many ways.  I feel more free to love others with grace.  I don’t feel like I have to “save” people like I used to because I trust Him to love them SO much more than I could ever imagine.  I understand that until people are ready to take the steps toward healing, no other person can “fix” them or love them out of it.  But I can love them – no matter the path they choose.

I wish I could say that now I only have completely Christ-centered healthy friendships with other women, but it just ain’t so…  I still find myself longing to be loved unconditionally, to be part of the group, to be wanted…  I am struggling daily with knowing how to be in a healthy friendship – with give and take, seasons of unbalance that are just part of life, but grace abounds and love flows abundantly, where both people give each other the benefit of the doubt and trust each other because they’ve earned each other’s trust through their journey together. 

I wish I could tell you that when a friendship blows up in my face I just tell myself that He loves me completely and that is enough – and I wish I could tell you that I come to this conclusion immediately after the pain of betrayal and loss set in.  I can tell you that I always come back to this truth, but it’s usually after spending a lot of time feeling indignant, hurt, sad, angry, etc.   Pity parties do occur, I’m ashamed to admit.  I can also say that this truth still wraps its lovely arms around me and saves me so much quicker than it used to.  Knowing that we are all worth loving with all of our “junk” helps me to understand that someone else’s inability to reciprocate friendship is probably more about them than it is about me.  My shortcomings are not a reflection of someone else’s worth, but simply my junk getting in the way.  This isn’t an excuse.  I have to bring my junk out into the light so that it can be worked through, dealt with and deflated so that it doesn’t have the power to hurt anyone anymore.

The part of this process that I struggle the most with is what 12 Step people call step 3:  “Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”  I am aware of the problem, aware that He is God and He knows best, but I’m always unsure of what my part is after that.  This is probably my biggest struggle as a mom, and I think my kids are more frustrated with me than I am.

I was one of those moms who rocked all of my babies to sleep, made homemade baby food and my own healthy wipes.  I never missed a game or an event that our children participated in.  I was the PTA president, homeroom mom, and had HUGE weekly pool parties for 30-40 of my children’s friends and family members each summer.  My children had haircuts ever 4-6 weeks, dressed to the nines, and (most) always minded their manners.  In 2003 I became aware of the lunacy I was living one night when I was reading my daughter’s report card which complimented me on what beautiful outfits she wore to school!  I realized that I once took great pride in this and now I was full of conviction about the example I was showing my children and I began to question the why of it all.

Several things happened in the next couple of years; we began to homeschool, we changed churches, and eventually we moved across the country.  We began to value stuff less, sometimes too less, I would think as my ragamuffins would walk into church barefoot many Sunday mornings.  I would also feel thankful that we had changed churches, as this would not have been accepted at our former place of worship.  All of this made our family closer in many ways, and I am thankful for that, however, I was still overly mothering our children.  I would tell myself, in a very smug inner voice, that I was a wonderful mom, willing to sacrifice for my children unlike so many other moms who behaved so selfishly.  I knew that one day my children would arise and call me blessed because I had made them and their father my whole life.  I had loved them all unconditionally and created wonderful memories for them, so they would always love me.


So, when we moved to Texas and everything fell apart, I found myself sitting in a chair in one of the offices at our church.  I was lamenting how unfair it was that I would have this horrible thing happen to me when I had been such an amazing mother and wife.  I had sacrificed EVERYTHING for my family!  The next question changed my life…

Counselor:  “Why did you do that?”

Me:  “Because I’m the mom.  I’m the wife.  That’s what good moms and wives do.  They’re my life.”

Counselor:  “But why did you do that?  Who asked you to?  What were you hoping for?”

Me (indignant):  “Well, no one asked me to.  I didn’t want anything.  I just wanted to… I don’t know…”

Counselor:  “What did you sacrifice?”

Me:  “Myself.”

Counselor:  “What do you mean?”

Me:  “I gave up my dreams.  I lost me because I was so busy supporting, encouraging, and saving all of them.”

Counselor (patiently):  “Did someone ask you to do that?  Did they expect it?”

Me:  “Yes… No…  I don’t know.  It’s just what you’re supposed to do, isn’t it?”

Counselor (kindly):  “What dreams did you give up?  Why did you do that?”

Me (feeling defensive):  “I don’t remember.  I feel like you’re attacking me for being a good mom and wife.”

Counselor:  “I want you to really think about why you gave up everything for everyone around you when no one asked you to.  I want you to think about what you expected to get out of that – not in a selfish way, it’s just that whenever human beings do something there are always expectations, some unselfish and some not.  Try to figure out what kept you on that path.”

I went home that day feeling really beat up!  I had been respected for the kind of mom I was to our 5 children.  Our marriage was idealistic on the outside.  It wasn’t easy for me to be honest with myself about the why after convincing my “self” for two decades that I was a model wife and mother for no other reason than I loved my family immensely and this is what God called on me to be.  This was a big part of the reason I lived the way I did, but it was not the only reason.  He revealed to me that as long as I was putting myself behind everyone else’s dreams and struggles, I didn’t have to put myself out there and risk falling on my face pursuing my own dreams – or more importantly, becoming who He wanted me to become.  I also believed on some unconscious level that if I loved my husband and children unconditionally and completely that they would always love me the same way.  I guess I thought I was taking out “love insurance,” guaranteeing I would never have to feel that I wasn’t worth loving again. 

I’ve done a bunch of work since then.  It hasn’t all been pretty.  Honestly, most of it has been ugly and uncomfortable.  I’ve pulled back from being SO involved in my kids’ lives and tried to trust Him to take care of them and to allow them to stumble at times.  Most of the time my kids feel abandoned by me.  They feel like I went from being all over every aspect of their lives to not really caring what happens to them.  I’m just not very good at finding that healthy place, yet.  I think that it’s natural for them to want things to be as they were, but I know that is not what He wants from us.  I know it’s not what is best for them.  I just wish I could find that healthy, balanced place where my kids feel loved and they know that I really believe in them and where I am involved just enough.  I’m working on it.  I cling to 1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  I know it sounds like a cop-out, but really it’s just me being thankful that He knows my heart.  He knows I’m trying to be in His will and His grace and love coupled with my love will cover my sins in being a mama and in my other relationships.

He’s freed me from a lot of the superficial things that used to enslave me.  I don’t believe all of my children have to fit into a “Tricia-shaped” box that says they must earn a 3.5 or higher gpa, and then attend college immediately after where they will meet the perfect partner during their last two years at university, get married upon graduation, have big money jobs and live happily ever after.  I trust each of them to find their way.  Each of our children is a truly amazing human being with more talent than I could ever muster.  None of them fits into the ugly box that our society deems “good” and I am thankful that they are all finding their way in this world with no need for any shape box.  I wish I knew if and how to help them during this part of their lives.  I’m kind of like a drug addict.  If I start to get involved, I’m afraid I won’t be able to quit and I’ll just want more and more…  So, I pray a lot and I continue to be thankful for 1Peter 4:8, because I’m still feeling around in the dark and His love and grace are the only reason I’m still standing.


A Rough Week…


james 5.16 beach

It’s been a rough couple of weeks, Sister!  Two weekends ago our youngest son, totaled his car.  Not a scratch on him!  For such a terrible incident, it couldn’t have been more perfect, really.  The accident happened right in front of the Austin Police Department and it was the other driver’s fault, so there was no argument about it, and from what my son says the other people took full responsibilty and were very nice.  Both parties had insurance – HUGE!  NO ONE was injured – all that really matters… especially after I saw the pictures of his car.  Aaron was completely focused on losing his car, the financial loss, the loss of freedom, the inconvenience.  I know this is somewhat normal for a 19 year old guy, but this mama understands how little stuff means and how much the people that you love mean!  I think the poor boy was in shock.  After a few days he seemed to understand how lucky he was and put things in perspective.

On Sunday my Honey started complaining that he felt like he was getting the flu and that he had pain on his abdomen around a little bump from what he thought was an ingrown hair.  I have to be honest.  I thought he was being a little dramatic.  He wasn’t running a temp and he was eating just fine.  We called our doctor’s office Sunday evening and the answering service took his information and assured him the office would call first thing Monday morning.  I knew he was for real when he decided to call in sick on Monday.  He NEVER calls in sick.  My Honey is a workaholic and he would have to be almost dying to not go to work.

I called him at 9:30 a.m. on Monday to see what the doctor’s office had said and he told me they hadn’t called him, yet.  He tried calling again, only to reach the answering service who again told him that they had relayed his prior message and would do so again.  They told him that it had been very difficult to reach anyone at the office for a couple of weeks.  UGH!!  So, I do a search on my computer, find four phone numbers for the office and begin calling all of them.  No one answers until I dial the last of the four!  I’m told that they can get him in next week and that they never got our message.  I explain to her how ludicrous this all is.  This is my husband’s health.  He called over the weekend, no one called back, no one is answering the phones, and no one seems to care.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

She then tells me that they just got a cancellation at the office closest to us tomorrow morning…  How convenient…

Tuesday morning:  Bob says he’s not feeling great.  He feels like he is running a low-grade temp and doesn’t want anything to eat.  He looks a little pitiful, tired and pale. I go to work (a mile up the road) and tell him to call as soon as he knows anything.

He calls me four hours later from the doctor’s office to say that they want him to go to the emergency room at Seton (in Austin) as soon as possible because they can’t tell if he has a hernia or what is going on and they don’t have any equipment to find out.  Again… ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  Couldn’t they admit him?  I’m baffled, Jeffy…

Caleb and my Honey pull up to the school to go to the ER.  My husband looks terrible.  He is red, his head looks swollen,  much of him looks swollen, and he is in great pain.  We drive to the hospital.  We are told because of his diabetes, his risk of gangrene is very great and they need to remove the “mass” as soon as possible.  They don’t have any idea what the mass is from and don’t seem concerned with that part of it, just that we need to get it out, get rid of the infection, and get my Honey’s temp down.  They tell us that surgery will be in two hours or less.

After an hour they rush into the room, tell us by some awesome stroke of luck the surgeon has arrived early and will begin surgery at any moment.  We are relieved, mostly, but still overwhelmed by all of this urgency.  We talk about it, prepare to be separated, ask various staff members what is going on in my hubby’s body and wait…

and wait…

Four hours later, they take us to pre-op.  I’m terrified by the information they’re giving me about diabetes, infection, gangrene. Honestly, just the word “mass” has me a little concerned.  I know people who have lost loved ones with diabetes after an incident as seemingly insignificant as a cut on a foot.  I’m very much alone except for facebook.  It is like a lifeline.  My friends and family are praying for us and that is what holds me up.  I don’t let my husband see any fear, of course.  I just keep telling him how glad I am that he is getting such great care and I know that by tomorrow, he will feel like a new man!

They come for him, finally, 7 hours after we arrived that afternoon. They tell me the surgery will probably take about an hour and then he’ll be in recovery for a couple of hours. They will contact me on my cell, which is at 14%… I rush to my car, which is in the parking ramp. I charge my phone for about 20 minutes or less and then head back to the OR waiting room quickly so that I’m there when they call. Only I get lost. I’ve only been here one other time, in July, for Bob’s polyp surgery and I stayed in one place for a few hours and then we went home. I am panicked and it’s after 8:00 p.m. WHAT IF I’M NOT THERE AND SOMETHING GOES WRONG?!?!?! WHAT IF HE NEEDS ME?!?!?!?!
I somehow find my way up to the floor where he will stay after surgery. The ironic part of this is that we were there for a total of less than 5 minutes, but somehow this is what I remember. There are several nurses writing on charts in the hall outside his room, so I ask one of them if she can tell me where I can find the OR waiting room because I’m lost and if they try to contact me I won’t be there… She tells the other nurses that she’ll be back in a minute, puts her things down and takes me to the elevator… But, wait, there’s more… Then she gets on the elevator with me, takes me to the floor I need to be on and walks me to the waiting room! This is HUGE hospital and this was a journey… When we reach the waiting room, I begin to thank her and it comes out in lumps of incomprehensible gratitude covered in tears. I will carry this kindness with me and choose to honor it by passing it on as often as I am able. The other very kind woman at the desk then tells me that it will be at least 2 more hours before my Honey is out of recovery, but that he did very well in surgery.
My youngers call me to see how their dad is doing and I ask them to come and sit with me. I explain that I am having a hard time and I feel very alone in this big place. I need them. Less than 15 minutes later, my babies are hugging me and sitting by my side. We go to the vending machines, buy stuff I would NEVER ordinarily purchase, let alone injest. We even laugh a bit. I am blessed that they are so like their daddy in this way – making me laugh even when I’m miserable. It blesses me and amazes me and sometimes it drives me crazy! When we return to the waiting room, only 20 minutes have passed, but I decide to call about my husband’s progress in spite of being told it will be another hour. HE’S IN HIS ROOM WAITING FOR US!!!!
We zip around the halls to the elevator, take it up to the 5th floor and find our way to his room. I brace myself for how he will look because he looked so unwell before surgery and I assume he will look worse after going through the operation. I can’t believe what I see when I walk into his room. He looks better than he has in a week. His color is good. The swelling is gone. He is smiling… My heart is singing!!
Wednesday & Thursday: We spend the next couple of days helping him to heal and focus on getting his blood sugar levels down so that he can heal. They tell us every different thing depending on who we talk to and when we talk to them, but mostly it’s positive. When he finally gets to go home Thursday evening, he is doing well and will need homecare for his wound several times each week.
He is doing really well. His blood sugar is WAY down and his wound is nearly closed up. Smooth, I tell ya…

Aaron is supposed to get his check from the insurance company tomorrow. He didn’t get nearly what he put into his old car, but he’s coming to terms with it, I think. They gave him a rental car, told him that it was for a few days and then when we called the rental company to see what time to return it, they told us that we weren’t required to return it, yet, and we probably had 30 days or until Aaron received his check. A week later they called to say we owe them over $200! So, we will be struggling with that soon… UGH!

This past Saturday our neighbors house caught fire. It looks like the upstairs is completely gutted. No one was home, they have renter’s insurance and much of their belongings were in the garage and untouched, AND both of their pets got out safely. I know the coming weeks will be a nightmare for them and I understand that they lost their pictures and other irreplaceable items, but they aren’t going to the hospital and they aren’t having a funeral, so I’m praising Him for protecting them. Stuff can be replaced. People can’t be.

Yesterday my oldest brother texted me that our father is in the hospital. They aren’t really sure what it is. He had a terrible headache and has lost vision in one of his eyes. They’re doing tests and suspect Arteritis. I looked up what that is. Apparently it is the inflamation of arteries. His symptoms fit the medical defintions I found online. I’m so sad my mom is alone in Florida worrying about him with no immediate support. I hope their network of Florida friends has gathered around them. I’m praying for him… and her…

That’s a whole other blog…

Heck, that’s a trilogy…

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, I tell ya… But the one constant in all of this junk has been reaching out, asking for prayer and receiving support in exponential abundance. I feel emotionally exhausted, but lifted up so lovingly, that my faith is strengthened and my heart is full.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16



My Dresser


dresser drawer opened

There are a bunch of reasons why I believe in God.  Until my faith was TRULY tested a few years ago, I wasn’t sure how I’d fare if and when that all came about.  I mean, sure, I thought I was a regular Job (the guy in the Bible, not a career) when I went through some struggles in my life – financial, minor health issues, my scary pregnancy with our twins, but until my world was completely upside down, I had NO idea.  We just can’t know until we’re there…

What brought me to consider Him began when I gave birth to my second child.  I thought I was all modern woman, agnostic, guilt-free.  In fact, I had struggled with my past choices for years, but had managed to shove it all down pretty well for a very long time.  When I first saw my son, I could not believe that I got to have such a perfect, precious being – not after I had done something so horrible…

I was 19 years old and a freshman in college.  I had dated the same boy since I was 15 and a freshman in high school.  My roommate and I had saved up our money for months to buy a loft in order to have more space in our obscenely small dorm room.  The loft beds were wobbly and not really safe for us to sleep in, but we could afford them and so up they went! 

About two weeks after we got the lofts, I got terribly sick.  Just as I would wake up, I was having to jump down from my unsteady loft to lose my cookies down the hall in the community bathrooms.  One morning my roommate asked me if it was possible that I was pregnant.  I told her that of course I couldn’t be because I was on “the pill.”  When it kept going on for several more days, I decided to visit the campus clinic.  The doctor called me in, told me that I was pregnant and informed me that because I was on the pill, the baby would be born with many health and development issues, if it even survived the pregnancy.  He then gave me a card with information about how to terminate my pregnancy and told me I should do this as soon as possible.  I acted very “college-girl” and agreed that there was no other real choice.

I was a modern woman and I had little patience for those girls who “trapped” their boyfriends into marrying them with a baby, so I called my boyfriend, told him I needed $200 as soon as possible and informed him that I did not want to see him anymore.  My mother called me a few days later and even though I had no intention of telling her anything, I broke down (mostly from shame) and told her I had an appointment for an abortion.  She told me that she and my father would take me.  I objected a little, but I think I wanted them to be with me deep down.   I remember my mom telling me that she would support me in whatever decision I made.  She asked me if I wanted to keep the baby and I quickly told her, “No.  I can’t.”

I told myself that this wasn’t a real baby, yet.  I told myself that it would be born with too many problems and that wouldn’t be fair to the baby.  I did not want people to think that I did this on purpose because I was having a hard time adjusting to this huge college and wanted an easy excuse to quit and settle.  I also knew I should not marry my baby’s father.

The day that I went to the clinic was nightmarish.  My parents were hard for me to read.  It was a long, silent ride to the clinic.  The pain of the procedure was excruciating.  The people that worked there were very kind.  Afterwards, they told us that I should get something to eat right away.  The one vivid memory I have of my parents that day was pulling out of our parking spot and my dad asking me if I wanted to get something to eat at the Big Boy restaurant that was near there.  My mother abruptly said, “NO!  Just go home.”  I was so sure that she hated me then.  I’m sure now that she had a million emotions going on inside of her, but I was 19 and all I could seem to do was focus on closing my heart to what I had just done.  I couldn’t show any emotion because I was not the victim, my baby was, so I did not deserve any sympathy!  I slept most of the weekend and then returned to school with very little outward evidence as to what had happened.  A liberal arts college is the place to be if you want to behave like a liberated woman and stuff your junk down in the name of being modern…

It wasn’t long before I began to date my boyfriend again.  I drove him crazy with my accusations of him blaming me for killing our baby.  He never said a word about any of it, but everytime he did or said anything I saw it as a way to punish me for what I had done.   Guilt had become the ruler of my life.  Our relationship was awful.  It had always been a rollercoaster ride, but now it was even worse.  So, of course, we decided to get married.  Months later I called it off after everything was planned because I had a moment of sanity.  He moved several states away, my parents sent me to California for a couple of months and it seemed we were getting on with our lives.  He came back to Michigan for a visit and we decided we should get married again, and I would move to New Mexico with him.  My poor parents… I was a train wreck happening over and over again…

See, I thought he was the one because I had shared myself with him and deep down I believed that I was bound to him forever.  I also believed in my heart that I had murdered his baby and I had to make it right somehow.  I didn’t think any of this consciously, I had worked very hard to entomb my guilt and it wasn’t until more than a decade later that I could begin to see why I had made so many terrible decisions as a young adult.   I remember my father saying once that he couldn’t believe how little I cared about having an abortion.  I didn’t have any response.  How could I begin to tell him how I felt at 19, just trying to do what I believed was “right” for everyone and struggling to hang on to my sanity?

My marriage was awful in almost every way.  I cringe when I think of who I was during those three years.  The one thing that I still can hardly believe is that God blessed me with my precious son during all of this.  The truth is that without him, I would have probably stayed in that mess for longer than I want to believe.  I didn’t believe I was worth more than that.  I knew my son was.  I understand why this sounds like crazy logic, and it sounds very unfair to my son (and it WAS!), but I believe that it was His plan.  I found Him because of Scott.  I didn’t immediately become a full-fledged Christian.  It was several years before that happened, but I KNEW when I looked at my baby that very first time that there was a God and He loved me.  Unfortunately, my next thought was that if I was a good enough mom, He would forgive me for what I had done to my first child…

So, that’s what I did.  I tried like crazy to earn grace.  It seemed to work really well while he was young.  When he was three years old, I married my husband, whose father is a pastor.  We began to visit his church and I asked LOTS of questions.  I drove my husband crazy.  My father-in-love was such a patient teacher.  He never got upset with my doubts or my questions.  He helped me see Jesus in a whole new way.  Four years into our marriage, I was pregnant with our daughter and Scott was almost 7 years old, I was baptized and crazy about Jesus.  The one thing I still claimed to not completely agree with other Christians about was abortion.  I taught at an innercity school where I witnessed some unbelievable life situations.  One of my special ed. girls had two children.  One of them was her biological father’s and the other was her stepfather’s – both of which were in jail for what they had done to this child.  I used to tell my Christian friends that this was one situation where abortion may have been the answer.  It helped keep all of my junk stuffed and no one any the wiser.

In 1995 we had twin boys!  I was in the hospital for months with complete previa and they were born 6 weeks premature with several issues.  I lost so much blood during their delivery that they lost me on the table briefly. It took us awhile to get back on our feet again, but less than 18 months later, we were moving into a wonderful new home in a cul-de-sac with a beautiful inground pool and 4 bedrooms!  The first thing I did was had a fence put up around the pool for safety after walking out there with our little ones for the first time and watching them all scatter three different ways.  When it was done, I took our three youngest out into the backyard to run around freely.  It was a gorgeous sunny day and my babies were poetry in motion running around back there! As I watched them from a bench in our yard, I was suddenly overcome with deep mourning.  The emotions were so strong that I remember feeling overwhelmed with fear of such sorrow.  I took my babies into the house, laid them all down for their naps and went into my bedroom down the hall.

I mourned for several days.  I mourned the death of my little girl, because I always knew she was a girl.  I mourned the choices I had made because of what I had done.  My Heavenly Father sat in that room with me and it was as if we opened each drawer in my dresser of stuffed junk and He helped me clean it out with such love as I had never known.  Drawer by drawer, we cleaned, folded and put each thing away neatly.  He showed me that I could never do enough to earn grace.  So, I asked Him to forgive me, even as I told Him I didn’t understand how He could.  It was a lengthy process that took days to work through.  It was beautiful and sorrowful.  My tears seemed never ending.

I couldn’t share anything with my husband until my Father was done with me. He already knew about the abortion, but he didn’t know for several days that God was dealing with me about it.  At one point, Bob came to me and said, “I’ve been trying to figure out why you’re so sad and I want you to know that if you’ve done something, found someone else, we can work through this.  I love you and I don’t want to lose you.”  I don’t think I had ever loved my husband as much or felt as loved by him until that moment. 

When it was time for me to close the last drawer, I had a new understanding of His love for me.  I had a peace that was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life.  I felt lighter and clean… Really, really clean, inside and out. 

Since then I still have moments when I ask Him to help me accept His grace, love and forgiveness.  I find that I love more fully now.  I am able to extend grace in a way I wasn’t able to before.  I encourage people to open their drawers and deal with their junk, because we all have it and I believe we’re supposed to help each other not feel so alone by sharing our stories.  I hope my story helps someone else feel less alone and more able to be transparent so that He can show him or her His grace, love and forgiveness.  He knows when we’re ready and He’s waiting for us to allow Him to help us.  That is one of the things I hold onto when I have my doubting moments.  He came when I was ready.  He didn’t condemn me in hate, but He convicted me in love when I least expected it – when I thought I was all better and it was all over and life seemed so good, even though my past choices were controlling so much of my life still. 

That’s what sin does in the dark.



Love, Suicide, and Killer Whales


love killer whale

Last weekend our daughter streamed the movie, “Stuck in Love” into our gameroom for all of us to watch.  I was not thrilled with a few things at the beginning and had a bit of a negative attitude for the first 20 minutes or so.  About halfway into the movie I was starting to wonder what was wrong with Greg Kinnear’s character.  I loved that he was so dedicated to his children and his ex-wife, although I couldn’t believe that he hadn’t given up on her since she was remarried and the holiday placesetting and the stalking thing was a bit much…

When he reveals to his daughter, who thinks he’s crazy for waiting for her mom to come back, why he refuses to give up, it is simply beautiful.  By the time the credits rolled, I felt like this was one of the top 5 movies I’d ever seen. I’ve come to realize that deep, abiding love is not typically born on easy street.  It is difficulties and trials that show our true character and honestly, I’ve learned that while we may have played a scenario over and over in our minds and feel sure that we know how we would handle a traumatic event such as a death, a betrayal, or any great tragedy, we just don’t know until it happens.  I used to take great comfort in the confidence I had that I knew how I would handle things based on what a strong person I thought I was and my mores.  When tragedy hit our family, I found that I was shattered into a million pieces and I couldn’t pick myself up for a very long time.  I was so broken, that I spent most of my time planning my suicide.  The pain was deep and excruciating, and I just couldn’t seem to find any relief.  I spent months trying to find a way to “go away” without leaving too big of a mess, just in case my children found me.  I know there are people reading this who are appalled that I would think like this, but if you knew me, you would know that my family is my everything and this is just proof that I was in more pain than my “self” could endure, and I was learning that we never know how we will react when tragedy strikes.  I kept crying out to God to bring me some relief and then I would let Him know how pissed I was that He allowed this to happen to me, to us.  The cool part was that I would be doing something and I would suddenly realize that I felt peace – the inexplicable peace that only He can bring.  It wouldn’t usually last long, but it was like coming up for air and feeling my lungs fill again and I believed in Him and His love again.

Last night Hannah and my Honey were telling me about one of the former trainers at Sea World who had been attacked by a killer whale and survived.  This morning I immediately watched the attack on my computer.  The whale grabbed his trainer by the foot and took him under numerous times for several minutes.  The man was a deep sea diver, so he understood about expanding his lungs in order to be underwater for extended times.  Each time the whale brought this man up, he would pet the whale and talk to it soothingly, all the while, his foot was clamped in this killer whale’s mouth!  At one point, the whale releases his foot and they “play” for a few minutes and just when you think it’s over, that the man will escape, the whale grabs his other foot and takes him down again!  I kept thinking how amazing it was that this man stayed so calm during what could’ve easily been his last moments on earth.  It was very obviously the reason he survived…  But, we never know, do we?  We don’t really know what we’re made of until that moment is staring us in the face and we only have seconds to make our decision…

I was brought up to think that suicide was a terribly selfish act.  My parents had always been quite vocal about feeling that way, so I naturally felt the same way.   Feeling and acting like this went against everything I had been raised to believe about suicide, although I’m sure the reason I was so secretive about it  and wanted to leave as little mess as possible, had to do with trying to be as unselfish as I could in doing this.  Yep, I know that sounds ludicrous, but that’s how it was then.

After a couple of months, our oldest son began to suspect I was planning something.  He confronted me and I was filled with shame.  Gosh, what kind of mama puts her 22 year-old kid through that kind of pain?!  He saved my life…  Thank God, he saw my pain and had the courage to confront me about it.  I’m so glad that when he was faced with this reality, he chose to look me in the eye and hold me accountable.  He fought for me, for my life.
I decided at that point not to make any life-changing decisions for six months. I knew I wasn’t emotionally prepared to make the right decisions and as much as I wanted to just be away from the pain, I knew without a doubt, God wanted me to calmly sit in the pool and pet the killer whale until I came to terms with the lessons He wanted me to learn in my pain.
I wish I could say that everything got better that day. It didn’t. The whale took me down several more times and I wondered when he would finally let me go. I didn’t do what I had always said I would do if this happened to my family. You just never know…
I am much more aware of my weaknesses now and, in turn, much more aware of my total dependance on Him. I am amazed at the difference grace has made in my life. After sitting in the pool for almost 3 years, I am astounded at the strength and endurance I am capable of. I am coming to terms with how fragile I am.  I remember during one of the dark early days I was talking to an old friend and I told her through tears that I felt like I was broken into so many pieces that I would never be whole again. Lovingly, she quipped, “You know, some of those pieces weren’t all that great to begin with, Honey, so just leave those ones down there!”

She is a wise woman.

Sometimes we panic, sometimes we’re heroes… We just never know.
But He does…


From the 40 Yard Line


40 yard lineSunday morning…  The wind is blowing, the sun is shining and we’re getting ready to get ready to go to church…  My Honey and I have a heart-to-heart and I decide that what I really want more than anything for my birthday is for our family to gather at our home, eat, laugh and experience love – real love, the comfortable, joyful, teasing, reminiscing, comforting, supporting kind that is the rare and precious gift I have received from my Father in the form of my Honey, our kids – biological and in-love…

Our Banana-girl immediately tells me that she will do whatever I want.  She and I make a list of what we need for a great yummy brunch.  She rallies her dad and they go to the store.  When I call our oldest, he is obviously tired and has to work later today, but he responds in just moments and tells me that they will be over in an hour.  I am blessed beyond measure that he and my daughter-in-love make time for me at the last minute on a Sunday morning.

Once everyone is here, the rhythm of my family begins.  Scott and Caleb are cooking at the stove, Bailey is baking cinnamon rolls, setting everything out on plates or anything else that needs to be done, Hannah is making Belgian waffles after she finishes cutting up all of the fresh veggies for the eggs, my Honey is washing dishes and doing general clean-up, while Aaron and his friend are eating Bailey’s cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven.  I am wandering around, putting the occasional pepper grinder away or warming up the maple syrup… Mostly I’m just reveling in this moment and setting up my Pandora station  – Great Outdoors Instrumental – because I know that today my children will put up with it for my birthday…

Does it get much better?…  Honestly, if I found out that I only had a day to live, this is how I would want to spend it.  I wish I could bottle this.

We talk about why I stopped going to Ponderosa and other “trough” restaurants twenty years ago because of Silence of the Lambs, how queasy Aaron also gets because of gory movies, and when Scott and my Honey met for the first time.  We laugh and commiserate while we reminisce about pieces of our family history that would probably seem ridiculous to others.  And I sit and cherish every moment because showing up is enough.  I feel loved, accepted.  My cup runneth over…

Peace…  I remember when I first came to begin to know God.  The difference I most felt in my life was this peace that I had never experienced before.  I waited for it to end for quite awhile.  It didn’t…  I still had junk happen in my life that caused stress, but I also had this peace that was new and constant.  It was incredible to me.  It still is.

When I’m with my husband, our children and their loves, I am brought back to this.  They center me and help me remember how blessed I am.  Joy.  Not always happiness, but always joy.

Now, I’m not trying to sound like that Christmas letter that makes out like my family is picture perfect – My kids are all youth group leaders, on the dean’s list, my husband received several promotions and raises this year and I am PTA President while remodeling our entire subdivision…  (yes, you probably received one of those from me several years ago, but it will NEVER happen again).

We get mad at each other occasionally.  We tease a little too much sometimes.  We let others do more of the work and enjoy the bounty in spite of our laziness once in awhile.  Sarcasm is a special talent in our home…

Grace.  Love.  Peace.  Joy.

Today I am blessed with these things in abundance and I am in my 40’s…


Finding Mrs. O…


Saving Mr. BanksEach year on New Year’s Day we take our family out to a movie and then we go out for Chinese food.  This tradition began when our oldest two were just 3 years old.  We either had them on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day opposite years and we wanted to make the latter something special for them when they were with us.  In 2014 almost everything is open on NYD, but 25 years ago, the only restaurants that were open (besides fast food) were Chinese restaurants and it is my Honey’s favorite kind of food, so there you have it!  As our family grew, it became increasingly difficult to find a movie that everyone would enjoy.  There is a 7 year gap between the first two and the next one.  We have 4 boys and one girl, who all have VERY different personalities.  Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Narnia movies have always been no-brainers for us and I was SO happy when a new one of those made my life easier.   Although, the year Frodo’s eyes bugged out satanically when he saw the ring, I wasn’t so sure I had chosen a good movie for Aaron and Hannah who climbed on top of our heads in fear after Jordan and Scott whispered urgent warnings to us that that part was coming up – which we didn’t hear until it was too late.  It still kills me that Caleb just sat through it with a smirk on his face!

This year we went to see “Saving Mr. Banks.”  It was a tough choice.  There wasn’t a clear-cut winner while I was taking votes and doing the research.  I think we all love Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, but I was afraid it might be a bit girly for all of our men…  My Honey watched and enjoyed a preview and it fit into our time slot, so “Saving Mr. Banks” was the 2014 NYD Winner!!!

Kind of exhausting…  and charming…  and fascinating to see how she had worked through her past by creating this lovely child’s tale.  I’m sure it wasn’t a completely accurate picture of P.L. Travers.  I’ve read several accounts about her life that show she had an adopted son who was a twin and who recently died of alcoholism.  She was also confused sexually, having hetero- and homosexual relationships that were mostly unhealthy.   Gosh!  I wish that her life would’ve been like the movie in that she worked through her “junk” with her parents, and returned to England with a new lease on life.

I want that for her because I want that for me.  I want it for the other people in my life who are striving like me to move on with their lives in peace even though some days just weigh you down with such grief.  I love my heavenly Father and I know He loves me and most days I have such peace about that and it is enough.  Some (rare) days I hit this wall that says, “They’ve never really loved you and you aren’t worth the fight,” and that knocks me off of my everything for just a while.  I used to fight these days and believed that it meant I was right back where I used to be, living in the lie.  When it happens now, I just allow myself the grief.  I sit in it and move through it with Him and it’s okay.  The lie is still the lie… and so is the truth.

I’m working to make a different story for my children.  I’m still human and a product of my family of origin – the good and the bad.  I make mistakes – too often.  I work to remain humble in my relationships with my Honey and my children.  Our family code is “Grace” and we strive to live by it.  Defining it is not easy.  We’ve come to believe it doesn’t mean that you are a doormat and can’t have healthy boundaries, but it does mean unconditional love and acceptance.  It means we have to be very authentic with each other and that’s just uncomfortable sometimes.  Occasionally, in my attempt to be authentic, I overstep my loved ones’ boundaries.  Now and then, when my children make a critical observation about me, I want to shut them down and tell them to treat me with respect because I am their mother – but geez, who’s going to respect that kind of reaction?   I’m still working on getting better at that one.  It doesn’t fit into my perfect martyr mother picture of myself that I would like everyone to embrace…  We try SO hard not to sweep our junk under the rug because we’ve experienced very painfully how that blows up in everyone’s face, that sometimes we over talk stuff that just needs to be put to bed and left alone.  It isn’t easy, being transparent and choosing unconditional love.  I’m sure our children will write blogs one day about how we messed them up…  Well, truth be told, I’m hoping they won’t.  That’s why I’ve chosen this road…