Five minute Friday – last

We are a good team doing a very reluctant task.

We are a good team doing a very reluctant task.

I have fallen into a black hole of despair

Beyond depression

This abyss

Has left me wondering where I went

But I’m not the one with a brain disease

So it’s weird…

Sometimes the Hubs and I feel like we’ve lost our minds

While caring for someone who is losing his

It’s the last thing I want to do

photo copy 3But oddly enough, it’s the first thing I want to do because I have no choice. And I love him and I know it’s the right thing even though Alzheimer’s is the last thing I would ever wish on a person.

Comfortphoto copy








Those are first places in my heart

But here I am doing the last things

Removing rotting food from a fridge

Counting pills to help prevent a medical emergency

Cleaning poo off a toilet seat for the millionth time

Being afraid of what’s going to happen next.

Abba, Father!

There’s so much more…I’ll save it for next time.

So what does the word "last" make you think about? Join this writing community and share! You'll feel better, trust me!

So what does the word “last” make you think about? Join this writing community and share! You’ll feel better, trust me!

Weird people

This is cool, join me in this life-changing journey!

This is cool, join me in this life-changing journey!

As I begin the 21-Day Challenge on YouVersion and read the book of Mark (or Marc en francais) in the Bible, I want to occasionally articulate what God is saying to me. I will share bits of the process and encourage you to check out the different Bible reading plans. Maybe one will work for you!

Looking funny
Acting strange
Eating weird stuff

John was clothed in camel’s hair.
He ate wild honey and bugs.
He spent time in the wilderness.

I wonder if he smelled funky too. John led a supernatural, “crunchy” natural life and encountered Jesus personally. In modern days, he could have his own reality show. I would have watched it, that’s for sure.

God uses unusual people for His purposes. He also uses regular people. Sinners, tax collectors, adulterers, murderers became some of the Lord’s redeemed children.

I’m somewhere wedged between the weird and the wild. Former feminist/abortion rights activist, blasphemer, scoffer, mocker aptly describe who I was before Christ came into my heart.

Sitting on a table in France. Just one of the many dumb things I did.

Sitting on a table in France. Just one of the many dumb things I did.

Everything changed in December 1997 when I invited, pleaded with Jesus to enter my sorry soul.

Somedays I

Look funny
Act strange
Eat weird stuff

My cursing days are gone and I have told thousands my story of victory and redemption. Still a HUGE work in progress, I am a new creation because of Christ!

IMG_3493Each day we are to answer questions after reading the assigned Scripture. After reading Mark (Marc) 1:1-8, here’s are my thoughts.

God would have me start doing – Be more attentive to His opinion of me rather than others’ assessments of who I am.

God wants me to stop  – Squandering my time. I need to recognize how the Lord wants greater intimacy with me. He does not speak to me in a distant voice.

As I read the Bible in French (with my English Bible and my French dictionary close by), I notice how the Lord uses the familiar pronoun when speaking to his disciples. He “tutoies” his followers. It’s like when someone uses my favorite childhood nickname when speaking to me. I won’t tell you what this nickname is, you have to know me well enough and you probably don’t, no offense. Most people who use this nickname do not even know how much it blesses me.

Or like when my olive shoots though young men call me “Mommy” or “Mama” and not “Mom.” I feel that they REalLY like me, they know me. I let down my guard, my facade. It’s a sacred place even if we’re laughing and being silly. We have history and are connected. My heart is warm, I want to draw closer.

The Lord is tutoie-ing ME. I’m flattered, humbled, blessed.

What does God want me to continue doing? – Read the Bible in French and English. Note the subtle differences in words. Abide, rest, listen.

This is what I learned in just eight verses of God’s Word in one day. Merci bien Mon Seigneur! Je t’aime!

One-word prayers


Before having our first dinner of 2013 –

photo copy 4And after the Hubs had prayed,

I had an idea

(A truly beautiful idea if you ask me)

Initially it wasn’t warmly received

But I insisted

And so we went around the dining room table

Falafel, salad, mung bean sprouts and such, they paused

Cherishing these moments together

Cherishing these moments together

Three precious olive shoots

– A Soldier

– A ministry-minded middle

– An orange hair, freckle face sophomore

The Hubs and I

Offered a one-word prayer for the person to our left

Here are the brief utterances we spoke to each other

The one-word prayers we shared for each other. I am curious to see how these words are fulfilled.

The one-word prayers we shared for each other. I am curious to see how these words are fulfilled.

A simple, carefully selected word emerged from our lips individually

Handpicked from God, I’d like to think

A collective sigh of relief

And blessing manifested

As we feasted (finally) on all we had been given

photo copy 2

What color was your dinner?


“Hey everybody, this is important!”

Food is on the table

Getting ready to pray

When I look at the spread before us

And notice

Hey, this is a bi-color dinner!

Quick, grab the camera!

People need to know!

Edamame – green

Massaged kale salad – verdurous with splashes of bright yellow (mango) and sage green (pepitas)

Italian quinoa salad – social butterfly yellow, green pepper green, yellow corn

This is my unintentional bi-color dinner, everybody!)

Within arm’s reach, a shaker of homemade celery powder, made in my dehydrator

Over to the side

Popcorn – hints of soft yellow amidst the white explosions speckled with Fire Dancer seasoning

Then I realize, WHOA!


The plates are

Green plate swirls

Garden spot green

Witty green


Optimistic yellow!

The Pyrex bowl containing the roasted kale (brown green), you ask?

Cut the Mustard gold

I love all the beautiful colors in Pyrex!

I exclaim, “Hey, guys! This is really important!

But no one else noticed,

Neither, the Hubs nor the orange hair, freckle face OS cared.

They were just hungry. Phooey.

This blog post was brought to you by the colors yellow and green and by the word observant

Find your colors at Sherwin Williams and this amazing app on Sherwin Williams ColorSnap. I didn’t know about this app until I started writing this post. But you can use your smart phone to match real-world colors with paint colors. All for free! You can take a picture of your dinner (like I did) and it will tell you the names of the corresponding paint colors! How cool is that! 

Five Minute Friday – celebration time, come on!


As much as I miss the high-pitched voices of my OS when they were little –

As much as I cling to those chubby snuggles and hilarious toddler sayings,

I’ve got to say, there are things about this stage of life that have perks!

“Woo hoo! Gonna take my beautiful sweetheart out for a date night!”

I got a text from our oldest OS on our 25th anniversary. A $100 gift certificate to Ruth’s Chris was on its way!

He and his brothers had pitched in to make this possible

When I was a kid, I remember celebrating my parents’ wedding anniversary but my OS haven’t done this before.

2/3 of my OS even publicly acknowledged our special day on their facebook pages and it sincerely made me happy.

Because it’s not like we made 25 years easily.

In the past, we threw the “L” word and the “D” word with regularity. When my oldest OS was a toddler, we took him with us to the marriage counselor.

He played with a little toy on the floor as the Hubs and I sat on separate couches. We were at impasse. Would we stay together or would we go our separate ways? As we celebrate this hallmark anniversary, I can still see that toe-headed fella on the carpet. He is now an Army officer.

I began reading the card and then Ike took it from my hands and said he wanted to read it out loud to me. ❤

So as the orange hair, freckle face OS stood in front of me (the Hubs had to go to DC to attend to a speeding ticket (!) he got on the way home from Nate’s graduation from West Point), Ike presented me with a homemade anniversary card.

It’s unlikely Ike will be a great artist in the future but we love him anyway. I love these goofy cards and I really, really hope I don’t look like this in real life!

Funny how his drawings look kinda like Tess the Guinea Pig Girl dolls

Here’s what he said,

“Dear Mom and Dad,

Thank you for setting a wonderful example for us on what a faithful marriage is. Raising 3 great children and the last one possibly being the great is not easy to do.   You have shown us what leadership and sacrifice is and have blessed us by walking beside us in our Christian walks. We love you and thank you for the love you have given us. 

Isaac, Nate and Aaron 

PS. Thanks for making us”

Ike has always been such a funny guy!

Ike’s drawings look quite similar to my Tess the Guinea Pig Girl doll collection, don’t you think? Not sure what to do with that!

Jesus alone has salvaged the Hubs and me. Individually, the Lord has also redeemed my children’s lives when they repented of their sins and asked Christ into their hearts. Aaron and Ike exist today because of the mighty work Christ has done in this really human family.

My OS know our story and they see our flaws on a daily basis. And they celebrated our marriage anyway. I’m looking forward to a festive date night.

Here’s the link if you want to see more of the Guinea Pig Girl doll collection!

Purple, silver and green anniversary


“We just got married and have no idea what that means!”

When you’re a 25-year-old bride

walking down the aisle

scared, excited, feeling as if it’s not your own feet that are walking toward a guy

who will soon be your husband

You don’t, you can’t fast forward to

25 years later

three children

OUR awesome olive shoots too long ago…

three SONS!

three awesome olive shoots –

a Soldier, a ministry minded guy

and an orange hair, freckle face ginger -WHAT???

And you don’t expect that

25 years later

you’d go to Whole Foods

Excited to buy organic purple kale

for a green smoothie

with your Hubs

on your anniversary

And no one could have told you that

while you were talking to the produce guy about brocco-sprouts

Your husband would make a funny face and interrupt your conversation

No, when you were a young bride, you wouldn’t have believed that a quarter century later

You’d go over to your husband

by the apples

Dramatic re-enactment of the box. I had already torn off the bow. I was completely flummoxed!

And see a box

A small, black box with a bow

And that your first thought would be “Hey, you’re going to buy the WRONG apples! I said GREEN apples!”

And your second thought would be “Hey, don’t mess with that little box in the apples. That’s not ours. Leave it alone!”

But then you see that man you love, beaming

It’s your box

At the Whole Foods

and yes, you did say GREEN apples…

but you’ve moved past the offense and you open the box

You see THIS

“Ok, that was a weird/awkard/wonderful sparkly surprise!”

The produce guy is as confused as you are

But everyone is smiling

The Hubs and the sweet man at the produce aisle. He was so happy for us when I told him what had just happened. And guess what? He had gone back to the back room and found fresh brocco-sprouts for us!

You place another ring on your finger

Kissing the man you love

An assortment of yummy things and a sparkly blue diamond ring – this was the best grocery trip EV!

AND you get some brocco-sprouts along with your green apples and organic purple kale

That walking on air feeling

You had when you were dressed in white

Happens again

Different place, more casual attire

But the same man is still there

And then just as you are getting ready to publish this post

The doorbell rings

Bells of Ireland, delphinium, rubrum lilies, roses, a breathtaking bouquet!

And this is delivered to your door

You think to yourself

September 5th is truly a momentous day

So you press the publish button because you have to tell everyone

How blessed – really, really blessed you feel today. ❤

Birth, beads and a baby, part one


“Ok, so I let you take pictures of me with your homemade dolls. Isn’t that enough, Woman?”

There are certain family stories you just don’t share. There are other stories which become legendary. This one is a toss-up but for posterity sake, I must pass it along.

“Mom, are you really going to do this to my brother on his b-day???”

It’s my middle OS’s 18th birthday today I’m going to embarrass him/myself and anyone else I can by telling this story. I love Aaron desperately. It’s his first birthday away from home at Moody Bible Institute. BLECH! Truly, Aaron brings immeasurable joy to my life and since his conception, this guy has been making me weirder by the day. Read on for the deets.

While pregnant with my middle OS, I began to love beads. And I mean LOVE. On many Saturday mornings, you’d find me at the flea market pining over ways to make unique jewelry. Actually I never made it myself but some mother/son flea marketeers pieced together my baubles in their simple tented outdoor booth. It was a win-win situation though we were a strange trio to be sure. They lived together in a cramped trailer home in rural North Carolina and didn’t get much exercise, I was a then career-minded, super busy, suburban mama raising a family in a middle class neighborhood near Raleigh.

I believe these three beads represented each trimester…

As my due date approached, I was insistent that beads become a central theme in the delivery, second only to my pending OS. Beads were symbolic of fertility and womanhood. According to my birth plan, everyone with the exception of medical personnel had to wear beads if they wanted to see Aaron enter the world.

The Hubs didn’t/doesn’t have an impressive jewelry stash. If you add marbles, you might say that his bead collection was scant at best. But being the ever dutiful wife, I wanted to resolve his burdensome problem.

I’m not sure what these represented but they represented something!

One afternoon I set off to personally visit the mother/son duo. They had told me they had an even vaster selection of beads at their home and many more masculine beads to choose from. It was now close to my delivery and I was determined. Aaron wasn’t going anywhere until his daddy had a bead necklace to wear for the big day. The miles I logged on that mini-van were astounding. At times I thought about giving up but how could I do that to my incredible husband and precious Aaron still stuck in the womb? I finally arrived and spotted the ramshackle trailer off a dusty, unpaved road. It had taken much longer to get here but Mom and Son were waiting for me.

We all waddled into the showroom. It was similar to a greenhouse only filled with a million or so beads. I noted the selection. Daunting. How could I choose? It had to be perfect and I wanted something to match the overall color scheme and mood of my necklace.  After great thought and with my bead friends’ approval, I found the perfect pieces. For added manliness, I even included a few African bone beads. The Hubs was going to love it. They knotted and strung them all together and even gave me a satin gift bag. We all smiled and waved as I backed up my mini-van leaving a trail of dust in the midst. Mission accomplished…

“Um, thanks Mom?”

Here’s the link to Olive Shoot Institute and the aforementioned dolls. Stay tuned for part two, we’ll call it “the unveiling…”

What to do when pastors are people


I might NOT be the world’s best sleeper but I am a pretty decent cook and I can throw a good dinner party so I got that going for me. Things are going well with me not using Ambien but I really want to have my sleep become an effortless aspect of my life and not something that requires much time and practice. One day I pray this will be so. Until then, I keep moving forward and looking for SAFE and NATURAL ways to get restful sleep. Keep sharing my friends, I really appreciate it!

Welcome to my home!

But back to two things I manage to do fairly well. Last night we hosted a dinner party and invited our pastors to join us. Gulp! That adds an additional measure of pressure, don’t you think? Sure they are just people but you really don’t want to do anything stupid when your pastor’s just arm’s length away from you, right?  Plus you want everything to taste good, for conversation to flow and for there to be a sweet fellowship among the guests. And you certainly don’t want your kids to embarrass you by discussing that less than stellar parenting moment you had during the week…so I’m wondering if based on all of their congregants’ insecurities, can pastors really have any social life at all? Hmmm…we need to change the paradigm and bless these folks.

Getting ready for company

For days I had been planning Saturday night’s dinner. I moved furniture, consulted with the family regarding the menu, bought groceries and made the chicken broth for the gumbo. I ironed napkins, wrote on our kitchen chalkboard and did one of my all-time favorite things, set the tables. Oh how I love to make a pretty table for my family and friends.

It wasn’t the easiest thing to put on the wall but definitely worth it.

A few days prior, the Hubs had placed a super cool decal on our dining room wall. It aptly expresses who we strive to be as a family. Here’s a link if you want one of these decals.

Water lily napkin fold with a dehydrated tomatillo husk in the middle, they are so pretty!

For this dinner, I did a super easy water-lily napkin fold technique and added some tomatillo husks that I had dehydrated to the center of the napkin. I have never cooked with tomatillos until a few weeks ago and I was simply smitten with the husks. They looked like little flowers to me. Yes, I felt like a fancy girl and it reminded me of playing with my doll house many years ago. A smattering of the husks dotted the tables. Privately I prayed the pastors and their wives would shriek with delight the moment they entered the room.

And while I’m not sure that happened, we had an absolutely lovely time.

Pastors and their wives can be super fun! Trust me, we know!

And we played Think-ets which became the highlight of the evening. With Think-ets we learned more about each other than we might have just in having simple table talk. Our conversations were personal, deep, hilarious and fascinating. I’ll tell you about Think-ets more in my next post.

We have been blessed to have many Jesus-loving pastors tending our family throughout the years but sadly we have never done anything like this before. It was time to offer hospitality to the people who have cared for us and we sought to bless them. If the thought of having your pastors or members of clergy over to your house invites fear and worry, do it anyway as a way of saying thanks. What to do when pastors are people? Easy. Love them, feed them, pray for them big time because they’re dealing with people like you and me and welcome them into your home. They deserve it and so do you.

We called this table the grown up table! It was a lovely time!

Visiting West Point for the very first time


We arrived at the Admissions Office at 8 am on Friday.

Since that time we have learned a lot of impressive things about West Point.

I am honored that my son is even considering this place.

West Point has a nobility about it that I haven’t felt at other universities.

Having not grown up in a military family, it’s strange walking around in a camouflage-colored campus where people all walk the same and salute each other.

General Patton with Quote

This beautiful print is available through a talented USNA and USMA mom. Check it out here!

I’m not saying I don’t like it, it’s just a whole new culture. You don’t see any dread locks in anyone’s hair or piercings or tattoos, no facial hair either. It’s a very clean-cut campus body.

West Point info we learned:

4,400 students attend

7 to 1 student/teacher ratio – This is less than in elementary school!

81% graduation in four years

Upon graduation cadets commit to five years of service in the Army – this is a very serious commitment

It’s estimated that a West Point education is worth $448,000.

Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, Norman Schwarzkopf are just some of the notable graduates

Wake up time: 5:00, not 5:01, not 5:15.

It’s not pretty if you don’t wake up on time.

If Nathan goes there, it should be a VERY interesting considering time to see how he does with that.

Considering how much prodding his brothers do to get him up at 7 am, I wonder how he will adjust.

Your room stays clean. Impeccably clean.

I mean so clean not even a hair should be on the ground.

You don’t want a hair on the ground or a dust bunny or anything out of place. It’s not pretty. You will walk the plain (a large flat field on campus) or worse.

When we were walking around the campus, Mark was impressed with how many cadets called him, “sir” as he passed them by.

I only heard some cuss word while on campus.

When we visited another university, the cuss words were flying all over the place. I’m not saying they don’t use them (wouldn’t that be nice, though), it was such a totally different atmosphere.

I’m praising the Lord that I brought my trusty long undies as I was able to handle the chilly temp thanks to the layers of clothing. I wasn’t exactly working it but sometimes you have to forgo high fashion, you know what I mean?

I have cried at least six times but not in an embarrassing way. One time, yesterday morning, the lieutenant mentioned something about saying good-bye to your family and I almost lost it.

I drew a deep breath, getting ready to let loose of a few years but immediately Nathan looked over at me (he knows me pretty well) and I knew I had to try and get myself together. I sucked the tears back in and waited until Mark and I were together to let a few fall from my eyes.

We are awaiting news on his eye exam and physical so he hasn’t been officially accepted yet.

Nothing is a done deal yet.

My sugar boy and me. I'm not a flyer btw.

My sugar boy and me. I’m not a flyer btw.

However, I have to accept is this – I have to accept and yield God’s will for my son’s life whether it’s at West Point or somewhere else.

The Lord and not me, determine my precious boy’s future. We are earnestly praying and if I get ahead of myself, I’m a wreck but if I stay in the moment, I can handle things. It is obvious the Lord is using this experience to make us lean into Him more and more.

We pick Nate up at 1 pm and we’ll learn more about his overnight time with a cadet. Check back for more details as we continue on this incredible journey.

If you like the picture posted in this blog, check out this talented artist’s prints. She’s a USNA and a future USMA mom!