Chair #4

Tomorrow I go for the first of four infusions to treat Cryoglobulinemia. This is a super weird and rare disease where I get into trouble in my blood drops below body temperature.  My husband says I’m part of the Legion of Substitute Superheroes which is code for this disease is lame. I’ve been on steroids and immunosuppressants since April. My head is the size of a basketball…it’s not cute and I’m feeling pretty yucky. However, God has definitely allowed me to see HUGE blessings during this time and I’m super grateful for that! I’m hoping a positive attitude and winning smile make up for the fact that my glasses don’t fit on my head anymore and no amount of eyeshadow is going to hide my moon face (Prednisone…you are the devil).

I’ve been treated for kidney disease for 4 years and now (thanks to the world’s best neurologist) this “cryo” thing has emerged (I can also use slang like “cryo” because that’s how the peeps in my support group talk) we need to up our game and take care of this because as I like to say “winter is coming.” Enter infusions…goal being to kill my B cells and reboot my system and get my body to stop hating me and attacking itself.

I received a text confirming my appointment and was surprised when the text added my seat assignment, Chair #4. I’ve been thinking all day about who will be in Chairs 1, 2, and 3. Will I see them? What are they in for? Do we all start at the same time? Do we all end at the same time? Will I have to talk to these people? Will I WANT to talk to these people? I’ve had some nervousness over doing this infusion for 2 reasons. First, I don’t know what to expect and I don’t want to have an allergic reaction to the medicine. Second, my husband thought it would be reassuring to show me a YouTube video of someone receiving this infusion of medicine.  I’m pretty sure he picked the world’s worst case scenario to show me because after watching everything that could possibly go wrong happen to this poor person, I must admit that I was completely terrified.

Today, thinking about the occupants of chairs 1, 2 and 3 has really allowed me to take the focus off of myself and think about these other people. I’ve been praying for them and through prayer felt much calmer about the experience and what will or won’t happen. God’s in control. I trust my doctors with this course of treatment. I believe that I’m in Chair #4 for a reason.

I’ve got my book and a new season of Call in the Midwives loaded on my iPad. I hate those cliche sayings “let go and let God” but some reason, cliche is on the brain and that’s what I’m thinking…


The Squirrel Family Acorn

I’m a reader. I’ve always been a reader. It’s a joke in our family that I never saw anything on road trips growing up because I sat in the back and read the entire trip.  This is true. I missed the whole Pacific Coast Highway on a trip in high school because my nose was in a book.

I attended Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and decided to become a teacher. I went to become a weather girl but once I found out all the first year classes started at 8 am, I switched to education (no, I was 18 and a ding dong…I didn’t think through teacher hours). While I was there and receiving a GREAT education, I found out that I could add “endorsements” to my teaching certification making me more desirable to schools while they were hiring. I decided to pursue a reading endorsement which required an additional 18 credit hours. I soon found myself in classes where books and the importance of literacy and language were front and center stage!! These were my people!!! I clung to my professors, started my own professional library (thanks mom and dad) and studied best practice. I loved every second of these classes and am very grateful for teachers that made a difference in my academic life and supported my love of books, valued my thoughts on literacy and shaped my strong opinions that the book is ALWAYS better than the movie.

Toward the end of the classes required for my reading endorsement, one of the larger projects was to write a children’s picture book. This was much harder than I thought it would be. However, I persevered and wrote (what I thought) was the greatest children’s picture book to have ever been written. I finished the class, put the book in a drawer and forgot about it. Last year, it resurfaced and I read and thought it was TERRIBLE. Good bones but content???? Lacking. What I had on my side now (20 years later) was experience. Experience as a classroom teacher. Experience in children’s ministry. Experience as a Christian woman and a deeper walk in my faith and knowledge of who Jesus is. Mostly, experience as a mom, I thought about what was important to me for my own children to learn, not only as emerging readers but to help them grow in their faith. Nothing like this existed in the Christian market so I took my little book and revised, and revised, and revised. Then I left it alone for several weeks and then I revised some more. Now what started as a book for college class has turned into something for parents, churches, preschool, grandparents, caregivers, and anyone else wanting to share the love of reading while working on pattern development, sigh words and spiral language within the framework of sharing the good news!

The Squirrel Family Acorn is a 20-year work in progress that is now available!  I hope you consider adding it to your library to share with the children in your life.

Keep reading friends! Always KEEP reading!

K is for Kidney

When my oldest son was four, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Kidney reflux. This resulted in a bilateral ureter reimplant surgery and a 5-day stay at Riley Hospital for Children. He is now a healthy and active teenager and lives a normal life. I honestly haven’t given much thought to kidney’s since then or their extremely important job of cleaning blood and waste. These beans actually have a really special function!

In 2014, I started experiencing what I called “Machete” headaches. Think really awful “B” slasher movies.  It was beyond painful and the most horrific experience of my life. This led me to an amazing Neurologist and eventually through many difficult tests and procedures that I hope to never repeat a Stage 3 Autoimmune disease, IgA Nephropathy. Essentially, my kidneys attack themselves and “gunk up” my filtration system. Through drug therapy, I was able to go into remission in late 2016. However, several months ago, I started having neurological symptoms (my Neurologist and Nephrologist think it’s really cool that my kidney disease presents with brain stuff. I do not think it’s cool and would prefer to just have garden variety boring stuff) again and knew that something was up. My IgA is active again (I’m no longer considered in remission) and I’m now on the same course of treatment that I was on two years ago. I feel frustrated that I’m back at square one. This isn’t how I wanted to start my summer. This isn’t the plan I have for my life. It makes me tired, gives me brain fog and those who know me as an outgoing person, I would prefer to retreat to the safety of my house less I can’t find the right word to say (I feel like I’m processing through jello). Now we throw in the high dose steroid and I’ve got “hulking out” to deal with too. I feel like I could lift cars! But not in the “Oh, wow she must be a powerlifter” way. It’s the “Holy cow, here comes Satan” way.  Not good!!

I’m reading a really amazing book by Max Lucado right now called “Anxious for Nothing.” I highly recommend it. The intention is that when we practice CALM we are able to focus more on God and less on our troubles. The acronym stands for:

C- Celebrate the goodness of God

A- Ask for what you need

L- Leave it with Him

M- Meditate on good things

In full disclosure, I get hung up on L. I keep wanting to go back and check to make sure God got the memo. How’s he doing with that one? Does he need any help? Is he making progress? Ugh, my biggest obstacle is always ME! So, while I wait for the meds to work and I deal with my “roid rage” I’m going to work hard to Leave it with Him. I know that God’s got this and I’ve been specifically meditating on the verse from Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I’ve been called according to his purpose and that’s pretty awesome! I love him and believe his promise to me that all things he will work for good. I can handle the “roid rage”, brain fog, and host of other symptoms because I have hope in a loving God and his goodness (even when I’m in the parking lot turning green and flipping cars).

Never give up

Winston Churchill said “never never never give up.” As I have embarked on a career as an author, I can honestly say that I have wanted to give up more than once! Rejection letters are NOT easy on the ego and they begin to create a level of self doubt that I find difficult to compare to other experiences that I’ve had in my life. I am having my first children’s book, The Squirrel Family Acorn, published with Christian Faith Publishing. They have been terrific! I can’t wait for the finished product to be released in a few months. I decided to go with the self publishing route for several reasons. First, I could get my book out faster if I wasn’t waiting for publishing houses to accept my manuscript. Second, I could have more control over my precious manuscript. And third, I didn’t have to put myself out there and get rejected in case someone didn’t love my manuscript as much as I loved it (or my parents…thank you a million times for your unconditional love an support).

Since I’ve had a positive experience with CFP and I’ve got more manuscripts ready to go, my confidence was riding high and I decided that I could face the real world and began submitting my manuscripts to traditional publishing houses and literary agents. No amount of confidence can prepare you for the brutality of the literary world! I began receiving rejection letters on a regular basis and slowly my confidence started to dwindle and thoughts like “Am I good enough?” and “Can I do this?” began filling the space in my head where I had once dreamed of book signings and read-a-louds for my adoring fans. Last week was the final straw with yet another rejection and I decided I didn’t have what it takes to be a Christian author in today’s secular culture. I went to bed having decided that I was hanging up my pen and paper (or laptop if I’m being completely transparent).

In the middle of the night I woke up with the verse “I did not give you a spirit of fear” on a loop in my brain. I couldn’t go back to sleep and I knew that I would not be hanging up my laptop just yet. I meditated on Churchill’s famous saying and got out my bible to find 2 Timothy 1:7 ” For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind.” I decided to double down on my efforts to never never never give up!!! God did and does give me a spirit of power and I will use these gifts to glorify Him! Rejection is NOT easy but I won’t quit because of fear. I will continue to put myself out there and speak the good news.

After months and months of writing, research and rejection, I’m happy to report that I just signed a contract with my literary agent. Hang in there, fellow writers! The dream is alive and never never never give up!

Scared Straight

After a quick and uneventful C-section to bring my little angel into the world, I remember gazing down at my perfect baby boy. I timidly pawed at my baby to make sure everything looked how it was supposed to look. Ten fingers? Check. Ten toes? Check. I remember breathing a sigh of relief…for a nanosecond…until I realized that the hospital staff was going to require me to take this baby boy home and raise him. Panic that I was unqualified or ill-prepared to raise my perfect baby boy set in. I tried to reason that Mother Nature knew what she was doing. I had read all the books, taken the classes, this was a PLANNED pregnancy. Dr. Spock definitely knew a thing or two, right? And, as those parents who have blazed the trail long before me knew…it was all ok. My baby and I got to know each other and we’ve had our ups and downs along the way but the journey has been a blessing. I know a love I never thought was possible. Every stage of parenting has been exciting and new and I’ve looked forward to the roses and tried, unsuccessfully at times, to avoid thorns that have accompanied each stage.

…until Drivers Ed.

My sweet baby boy is no longer a sweet baby boy. He’s now an intelligent, funny, 15-year-old young man who wants to drive a motor vehicle! I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into when I paid the fee for him to enroll in On-line Drivers Ed. You heard me right…Drivers Ed…ONLINE! Who knew such a thing even existed? Well…it does. So, I get him enrolled. A few weeks later he tells me that he is ready to go get his permit. We check out the DMV website and find all the necessary forms of ID and paperwork that he will need, drive to the DMV, wait… and then eagerly head to the representative that’s going to help us. It turns out that between the two of us we DON’T have enough identification. Home we go to obtain enough forms of ID and ten years of report cards to ensure the DMV that we are, indeed, who we say we are. He passes the test, gets the permit and I take his picture standing tall and proud outside the DMV. Wow, this is a great moment, a slight snafu with the ID, but another great parenting moment in the books!

I’m silently congratulating myself when all of a sudden I see my son hold out his hand and ask for my keys. In an instant, 15 years are erased and I’m that scared mom back at the hospital. My son is in no way prepared to drive a car. It’s been a hot minute since he received his permit. This is dangerous! This is one of those moments where a decision has to be made. I shoot up an arrow prayer of protection, “Please God, let this child get us home safely.” I hand him my keys and slowly (oh so slowly) make my way to the passenger side of the car. He attempts to turn on the radio, “Let’s save the radio for another day,” I say as I have visions of him flying down the highway with Kanye blasting as a police chase ensues (yes, I do tend toward the dramatic). He gets us safely home. This does not mean that I’m in any way, shape or form LESS terrified. We talk a lot about safety and how to turn on the windshield wipers and how to navigate the roundabouts that are everywhere in our city. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I only screamed “BRAKE” 3 or 4 times. I do remember a significant hand cramp from where I gripped my door so tightly.

In the few months since getting his permit, he’s run a red light (he would say orange…I would not), run over a curb or two, forgot to put the car in park and hit a trash can. BUT he has gotten MUCH better. I’ve come to really enjoy the time we spend together in the car. It’s time just for us. We talk, we laugh, we tell stories. This little boy of mine is growing up and next month he will be 16. A few months after that, he will be able to get his Driver’s license and he won’t need me in the car with him anymore…most likely won’t want me in the car with him anymore. So, I’ve decided to approach these times with my student driver as precious moments that are just for the two of us. Time to know my son, hear him laugh, listen to his day. These times with him needing me are becoming less and less. I may not be able to let go of my death grip on the door but I’m going to be positive, full of praise, and enjoy this time with my boy. My baby is growing up much faster than I would like. I’m proud of the man he is becoming. I look back and think of that baby placed in arms of a scared new mommy. We have come so far and I’m so incredibly grateful for the journey. If you happen to see us cruising by and I have a look of sheer terror on my face, know that I’m doing my best and taking this motherhood thing one day at a time.

Error Worm

Have you ever heard of an ear worm? It’s when part of a song, usually the chorus, gets stuck on repeat in your head. Over and over the lyrics play…twenty…thirty…forty times. It’s without fail that I fall victim to the dreaded ear worm when I’m sound asleep. I wake up in the middle of the night with songs running through my head with no end in sight! It can be maddening. I’ll try to sing another song to break the cycle. Anything but the seven hundredth time of whatever I was listening to that day. The older I get the more difficult it seems to ward off the ear worm. I have visions of recording artists laughing maniacally in the corner wringing their hands saying “we’ve got her now.”

There’s just one problem.  I am famously awful at knowing the words to a song. Until very recently I thought the Go-Go’s hit song “Our Lips are Sealed” was “Are you for Real?” It made complete sense to me and I’ve sang this song forever the wrong way. It drives my husband bananas. I now have a car where the title of the song shows up on my dashboard. Wow…it’s like a whole new world of music for me! It’s completely changed the way I listen to music. I still regularly create my own lyrics and for better or worse, I’m like Frank Sinatra singing it “My Way.”


I listen to mostly Christian radio and last week I was listening to a song I’ve heard for years by Big Daddy Weave called “The lion and the lamb.” There is a lyric in there that I thought went like this:

My God is alive…

Of course, my God is alive! I move on with my day (sing my song). But that night I could feel it coming on…the dreaded ear worm. Closer and closer it called me “my God is alive” Ugh! I couldn’t take it anymore. I just had to look up the lyrics so I could sing the song in its entirety and then hopefully break the cycle of the dreaded ear worm and get back to the business of sleep.  I grab my phone (painfully aware that the glow of the phone is NOT something that will lull me back into a dreamless sleep). I start searching for the song “My God is alive” and I’m getting zero, zip, zilch in search results. What DOES pull up is “My God is a Lion” Wait, what???  A lion? That doesn’t make any sense…My God is a lion??? I’m desperate enough at 3 am and click on the lyrics and sure enough, I’ve been singing this song wrong forever and the lyric is actually:

Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah

I want nothing more than to crush the earworm from my brain and now I’m realizing that God is a Lion and the Lion of Judah no less and, like Alice, down the rabbit trail I go.

As you may know, Judah is one of the twelve tribes of Jacob and is commonly used to describe Jesus in the Christian faith and used once in the book of Revelation. I look up characteristics of a lion and these words come up “strength” “royalty” “courage”. I start to think about Jesus and know these are characteristics that he also portrays through the Bible. The ear worm ‘My God is alive” slowly start to recede and the words “My God is a Lion, the Lion of Judah” wash over me. My ear worm turns to praise for a Heavenly Father that sent this baby…this savior to us. A Savior who can be both lion and a lamb. I’m filled with peace and humbled by gratitude for this lion who stays by my side and fights for me and has courage when I’m faltering and is strong when I’m weak. I eventually drift into a sleep befitting the daughter of a King.

I woke up and shared this experience with my husband. His comment was that I actually had an “error worm.” How true! I’m so thankful for this “error worm” because it gave me time to learn more about God and reflect on Him and a few of His attributes.

I know I’m going to continue to goof on my lyrics to songs. It was brought to my attention recently that Journey did not write a song called “’Endlessly.” However, I feel that in this circumstance, God was using this as an opportunity to draw me closer to Him. Maybe it wasn’t an error worm after all but an invitation to sit as the feet of Jesus and rest in Him.

“Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah

He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles

And every knee will bow before You.”

Lessons from my Grandma

My grandma always said “growing old isn’t for sissies.” As a child, I didn’t give much thought to that statement. As I grew up, I thought maybe she was referring to laugh lines, or the need to color the gray hair that started to pop (God forbid). Or maybe she was referring to the need for reading glasses or “peepers” as she fondly referred to them.

I grew up in Indiana and my grandparents lived in a suburb of Chicago. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a week at their home every summer by myself…no siblings…just me! It was such a special time and I look back on it with such wonderful feelings of love for my grandparents. My grandma and I would shop, visit my great-grandparents, and play a lot of Gin Rummy. Through the years, I would hear her utter “growing old isn’t for sissies” and shrug it off and move on to the next thing. Now in my 40’s, I look back and think my grandma was so smart and dolling out words of wisdom like King Solomon!

The older I get, I start to understand that grandma wasn’t just referring to the pesky annoyances of physical beauty. Although, in full disclosure, I’m quick to have my roots done, just had my first experience with microblading for my thinning eyebrows (OUCH and yes, that will be another post), and am indeed, typing this wearing glasses that are now, regularly, close at hand. I’m beginning to understand that as I age, time has started to speed up. There are aches and pains I didn’t have before, my children are growing up at a pace much faster than I would like and the days turn to weeks turn to years in the blink of an eye. I now realize that you have to be tough to grow old. It’s not for the faint of heart! I have such respect and admiration for those who have walked this earth longer than I have. I’m no longer the school girl casually listening while waiting for something else to come along. I am upright and standing at attention. What can I learn from you? What words do you impart on me to make this journey in life matter? No! It is NOT for sissies!! It is hard and unfair at times and also wonderful and beautiful.

My grandma is no longer here. She is in Heaven watching over me. I would give a lot to have one more day with her and ask her to share her wisdom with me. I would sit at her feet and listen with such close attention. I would be present and acutely aware of the moments that we share. I would be intentional and not take a second for granted. And that’s her lesson to me…her final gift in all of this. Slow down. Be present. Laugh with your children. Enjoy your husband, family and friends. Growing old isn’t for sissies, so go for it! The gray hair is going to pop and the eyesight is going to fade. Love who you are now, today, in this very moment and enjoy every second.

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