That’s How the Cookie Crumbles

This morning in church we studied the passage in Luke 18:16 where Jesus says,

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Such as these. Children. Kids see things from a different perspective than adults. At some point as we get older we loose that child-like perspective. The one that is easily accepting of those who are different than us. The one that is so quick to forgive without explanation. That one that naturally trusts and expects the best from those they love.

And I was once again reminded of this true story that happened about five years ago with my middle child, Karly. In her child-like way she forgave me without a moment’s hesitation. She unintentionally reminded me of the beauty of a child-like perspective.

And that’s how the cookie crumbles.


If I’d had one of those fancy interrogation rooms and a bright light, I would have used them. But I didn’t, so sitting my three-year-old daughter in a kitchen chair across from me was the best I could do. I wasn’t about to let her big blue eyes and blonde pigtails fool me. This kid was guilty. And she was going down for it.

Today Mommy was playing prosecutor, judge and jury. Court was in session.

The crime? Oh, it may sound trifle… and yes, it really was. But that wasn’t the point. I didn’t care about the Hershey Kiss that had disappeared off the top of the peanut butter cookie. I cared about the truth. All I wanted was a confession so that this kid could learn her lesson, be forgiven, and move on toward better obedience.
The gavel had been banging in my brain and the evidence lay nearby on the counter. The container of cookies was mostly full, but when I had lifted the lid, one of the chocolate kisses was gone, leaving a little round dent in the sugary peanut butter dough.

The defendant sat swinging her little legs as I paced the kitchen floor. I began to present my case.

I had clearly instructed Karly to stay out of the cookies. She had asked, she’d been given an answer, and she had defiantly disobeyed by taking that little chocolate morsel. And she thought she’d get away with it too.

Karly kept claiming that she was innocent. But, oh… she was not.

Had she been able to read and write I would have, at this point, slid a piece of paper and a pen in front of her and asked her to write out her confession. But I was going to have to settle for a verbal explanation. So I sat down and waited.

And did I ever hear a story.

In her sweet, high-pitched little voice, Karly told me that I had it all wrong. She was being framed. It wasn’t her that took the candy, but instead a bird.

A bird?!

Her plea continued as she explained that a bird had, in fact, flown into the kitchen through the window over the sink, taken the Hershey Kiss, apparently put the lid back on the cookie tub and then had proceeded to fly out the same way it entered.

Mind you this was in the middle of winter when that window hadn’t been opened in weeks.

That’s it!! The jury has made their decision and you, my dear little one, are guilty! You are guilty of disobeying and now lying to mommy. I sighed deeply to show my frustration and disappointment.

It was at this point that my husband entered the crime scene and was given a recap of events. He then walked over to the cookie tub and lifted the lid. After looking at the cookies for a moment he picked up the container and walked over to me. We looked inside together and there, stuck to the bottom of the another cookie, was the missing Hershey Kiss.

The bird had been exonerated.

I looked over at the adorable little defendant. Apparently she had been proven innocent as well.

What had I done? I had been so focused on getting what I thought was the truth from her that she had made up a story to appease me.

Nancy Grace is going to love this one.

Case dismissed. Court was over. But now I was the one who had some explaining to do.

I sat down across from Karly and told her that we had found the missing piece of candy. I told her that I knew a bird hadn’t flown in and taken it, and that I now knew that she hadn’t disobeyed and taken it either.

I admitted to her that Mommy was wrong. And I told her that I was really sorry.

She shrugged in that toddler way and accepted my apology faster than she’d conjured up the bird story. She forgave me without a second thought and off she skipped without a care in her mind.

I stayed in that chair for awhile. Though the jury box and the courtroom was emptying out in my mind, I felt full of regret. Why had I gotten so riled up over a Hershey Kiss? Why had I pushed Karly so hard for a confession that she had to make one up to calm me down? And how had she been able to forgive me so quickly and easily when she could have easily pointed an accusing finger right back in my face?

She forgave me because she’s a little child. In her toddler mind she wasn’t out to get me or seek revenge. She could forget the offense in the blink of an eye and never bring it up again.

Apparently I took her to court that day, but she took me to school. I had been shown a great lesson in how to forgive and forget.

To this day, I can’t look at a peanut butter cookie adorned with a Hershey Kiss without laughing about that crazy bird story. And believe me, though Karly has forgiven and forgotten, my husband delights in bringing up my interrogation blunder. That’s okay. It’s good for me to be reminded now and then. I’m reminded that I’m not always right, even when I think I am. And that sometimes I have to confess my mistakes and accept the forgiveness of others.

I hope I can forgive and forget in the same way Karly forgave me. I want to experience forgiveness and give forgiveness completely… skipping away, as free as a bird!

Is this going to be on the test?


I’m a big fan of mnemonic devices. I know that may sound a little intimidating. I promise, I’m not going to hurt you. A mnemonic device isn’t a weapon, it’s a tool. Big difference.

According to Wikipedia, a mnemonic device is “any learning technique that aids information retention in the human memory.”

I’ve got many of these little aides running around in my brain and plugging the leaks where the memories are threatening to ooze out of the crevices.

These aides help me to remember the notes on the treble clef scale (Every Good Boy Does Fine) (PS: This phrase happens to be true in parenting a middle school son as well.)

The aides help me to remember that when writing an email to my daughter’s principal, I can address it to her as the princiPAL, not the princiPLE, because she’s not only in charge of the school,she’s my pal. See what I did there?

The aides helped me to memorize the names and birth order of Jacob’s 12 sons in the Old Testament. That’s right. You never know when you’re going to need this information, and quickly. I haven’t come across a time yet, but I’m prepared for when I do.

And just last night my son was studying Latin root words for an upcoming test and he told me his own mnemonic devices for each one. It was a proud moment as his mother when he explained that he remembers the definition of “superfluous” by thinking of a super hero named “Super Floss” who has too much floss. Brilliant. (And I think most of us can relate to this super hero as we also have too much floss and not enough motivation to actually use it. Actual flossing must be the superpower of another hero?)

All of these little mnemonic devices help me keep things straight. I don’t have to remember EVERYTHING, that’s what Google is for, but it does help to have a few stored memories when I’m not getting a good wifi signal.

And we’ve all learned from school that the real question is, “Is this going to be on the test?” Translated, this means, “What do I really have to remember here?”

And granted, this is a big question when it comes to life. What do we really have to remember here?

There are many things that seem important. Traffic rules (‘Hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2 like on the face of a clock!’) The order of the planets in our solar system (My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodlesand who can forget ROY G. BIV. Everybody knows him and his colorful personality.

Yes, all good things to know. But when it comes down to it, I believe the most important things to remember in life are these:

  1. Love God.
  2. Love Others.

Those are the big ones.

Everything else is just superfluous.


This blog is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are challenged to write about a topic for about 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: TEST.

Miscarriage: A Story of Loss and Love

I originally posted this story three years ago. In fact, the ultrasound appointment I refer to was exactly three years ago today, October 4th, 2013. I remember, because I had so looked forward to that date!

Kraig and I had hidden this pregnancy from everyone because we wanted to tell our children first. I was so excited to go to that doctor appointment and hear a little heartbeat! I was almost 11 weeks pregnant. We had plans to go home and tell our kids, and then the rest of our family, that we’d be adding a fourth little one to our home.

Instead, there was silence.

No heartbeat was found.

Because of the impending surgery and recovery (and some rough unexpected physical issues) we decided to tell our children what had happened. We were all heartbroken. I struggled with sadness, but also with anger. I was angry with God. This blog essay tells the story of how I struggled through those emotions and how ultimately, God’s love is the very thing that comforted me.

I always feel so vulnerable when I share these types of stories (it’s a little scary!), but I know that maybe someone else will feel hope because I was brave enough to share. And so today, I’m sharing it once again. It’s fitting because October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.

And, even though it has been three years, and our family is now at peace with being a family of five, we remember this loss and grew from what it taught us. There is pain in remembering, but also momentum to continue forward.

And mostly, this story reminds me that I was angry with God- told Him so- and He waited patiently for me to accept His love and comfort in the midst of the pain.

And His love still awes and sustains me daily!

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17-19


I knew it from the first moment I looked at the screen. The ultrasound technician was silent, but I didn’t need her to tell me what was so obvious in front of my own eyes. As she desperately tried to find signs of life on what should have been a wiggly, busy, tiny baby with a rapidly beating heart, my heart was breaking into a million little pieces.

And for the third time, my husband and I tasted the bitter loss of miscarriage.

The tears flowed heavy and often over the next several days. I was so very sad and my heart continued to break as I watched my three children grieve in their own little way. They had wanted this little baby to join our family too. We all missed this little person that we didn’t even have a chance to meet. It wasn’t fair.

Yes, of course I took great comfort in the hugs and kisses of my children. Their presence was a balm to my wounded soul. As they wiped my tears or cried along with me at the dinner table when my hormones were raging and my efforts to conceal my pain were useless, I felt extreme love and gratitude for them. But even surrounded by our three precious children, I knew I had lost another one. A life was gone and off-handed comments of, “Oh, maybe you’ll still have another one!” felt empty, as if this life was so easily replaced.

And I got angry. I was angry with almost everyone and everything, but most of all, I was mad at God.

How could He allow this? Was He trying to teach me something? Had I done something wrong? Was I to learn from this?

I wanted a baby, not a lesson.

The anger and frustration from this loss built in me, and my tears were hot on my cheeks. It didn’t seem fair that I had spent weeks dealing with morning sickness and had worked hard to hide the fact that I was always on the edge of queasiness. I had fought the super-fatigue of the first trimester and dealt with the guilt of needing to nap during the day while I allowed my preschool-aged daughters to watch too much TV. My body had already started physically changing and, as if I needed another reminder of what had been, it held on to the weight that I had gained.

Emotionally, I had allowed my anticipation and excitement to grow along with that little baby in my womb. I had been constantly daydreaming about its arrival and wondering if it would be a boy or a girl and what name we would give it.

And even though I was only 10 1/2 weeks along when I had that shocking and awful ultrasound, I was 100% in love with that child.

It hurt to the core and my anger toward God came to the forefront.

Intellectually, nothing had changed for me. I knew God was sovereign. I knew God was good. I knew God loved me. I knew all of those “right things.” But I didn’t feel them. Emotionally I felt empty and alone.

If God loved me, then I felt like this was a rotten way of showing it.

Through the long days of physical healing that followed I had a lot of time to think. And feel. It seemed that my emotions were winning every battle and though my rational thoughts of what I knew was true were trying to come to the forefront, my anger and bitterness were pushing them back down.

I realized after a day or two that I couldn’t trust my emotions. I was a wreck. I wasn’t in control of my feelings and though I was trying to rally them to help me feel what I desperately wanted to feel… God’s love… it wasn’t working. I was going to have to call upon what I knew was true instead.

It wasn’t easy. My feelings of loss and hurt and pain were so strong that my efforts to see glimpses of God’s love were strained and difficult. But little evidences were there. I decided to take mental note of them and store them in my mind as ammunition against my anger. Perhaps over time I’d have enough to once again feel God’s love, though for now I’d have to be content without the feelings, and take what I could get from the knowledge alone.

And God didn’t disappoint.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly didn’t feel all warm and fuzzy or enveloped in His love. On the contrary, I felt like He was distant and even harsh. But I kept looking with my eyes since my heart wasn’t playing along.

And I saw.

At first my teeth were gritted and my arms were crossed. They stayed that way for several days. I took a lot of deep breaths and used a lot of tissues as the days ticked by and the list began to lengthen.

I still didn’t feel God’s love the way I wanted to feel it. But I was seeing it.

In fact, the evidence of God’s presence and His love was obvious to me in a way I’ve never known before. His love did not feel gentle, but oh it was there! It seemed undeniable. It wasn’t the easy, sing-songy “Jesus Loves Me” kind of love, but the love of an all-knowing, Almighty whom I knew with my mind that I could trust.

I felt as if He’d taken me through a dark place of brokenness, emptiness, anger and desperation so that His love and His truths… HE would stand out in stark contrast. And He did. He was so obvious in the darkness that at one point I actually wondered if He was enjoying showing off!

I had to make a choice. Would I surrender to what my eyes had seen, His love and His presence in the midst of the darkness, or would I continue to wait for my emotions to shape up and start feeling the way I wanted them to feel.

And so I leaned on what I knew to be true.

For days my emotions continued to lay in shambles. I was still angry and I said and thought things that I didn’t mean. But God was okay. He could handle it.

For days my heart was hard and stubborn. But as I saw God’s love so evident around me, eventually my heart started to warm and I began to desire a contrite heart. The softening of my heart wasn’t immediate, but I could tell that the thawing and molding was happening in God’s hands.

To this moment, my mind cannot figure out what the point of this loss was in my life and where it leaves my family’s plans for the future. But my biggest desire now is for peace and joy in the midst of the unknown. I want to be ok with simply trusting God completely for the future, though there is nothing that feels simple about the process.

And in my surrender I knew this truth from 1 John 3:1,

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

I’m a child of God. I am His precious little one that He loves and delights in as I love my own children. No, His love is even more powerful than that. His love has been lavished on me and He calls me His child.

This loss was difficult. It hurt. It still hurts. But when my heart is broken and my emotions are all over the map, I can rest in this truth.

No matter what I am feeling, I am His child, and His love is there.

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The Eyes of the Beholder

img_9544_jpg-version-2I remember holding my infant daughter one day and being struck with a realization about beauty. Although I believed I looked like “death warmed over” in my sweat pants, greasy hair and smeared make-up, her eyes reflected a different woman. She looked up at me as though I was the most beautiful creature she’d ever seen. As her little eyes locked on mine they were full of love and admiration. It didn’t matter how ugly I thought myself to be at that moment, she saw me as perfectly beautiful.

Recently, that same daughter looked at me as I again sported my sweat pants and smeared make-up and she said, “Mom, are you even going to try to look pretty today?”

I was in the middle of cleaning a bathroom and so I smiled back and said, “No honey. No, I’m not.” As she shrugged and walked away I laughed to myself. Oh, how quickly we women learn. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then us beholders must have some pretty tough standards. And we learn them young.

The truth is, our Creator has some pretty tough standards too. He desires– and even commands– us to be holy, above reproach, to bear the good fruits of patience, kindness and self-control. And what’s more, if we are His children, He even calls us “saints.” Wow. Can I ever live up to that? Sometimes when I hold myself up to those standards I feel pretty ugly.

However, I know the Truth. And thankfully, the Truth looks at my heart.

As the Lord told Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7:

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

It’s like my baby daughter’s eyes. No matter how ugly I may feel, my Heavenly Father’s eyes are able to see the beauty in my heart. And what’s more, he put that beauty there and is able to help me as I strive to become more beautiful in Him.

I’ve found that as I hold myself to the standards of this world I can feel ugly, defeated, and lonely. At times I’ve even felt like no one even cares to see me at all.

Am I going to choose to believe that?

God’s Word paints a different picture about beauty. Being beautiful in God’s eyes means I believe what He tells me about who I am.

God’s Word is full of truths that tell me I am His child (John 1:12), that I am complete in Him (Colossians 2:10), that I have been given the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 2:7), that I can find grace and mercy when I need it (Hebrews 4:16). It even reminds me that I may approach the throne of grace itself… with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12)!

The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter how I “look” to others. What matters is who I am in Christ.

And when I truly feel secure in my beauty, the beauty that God desires, then I am able to in turn love others in a more true and meaningful way- no matter how they see me. And that makes us all feel more beautiful.

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some days I may actually pass the world’s beauty standard, and other days I fail miserably. But that doesn’t really matter.

The only eyes that really matter belong to Him who is able to behold my heart.

Our Marriage Needs A Prefix.



Last night I told my husband that I miss him. And he nodded in agreement as he sat beside me.

We are together a lot. But our moments of non-distracted, non-exhausted, non-sick, non-stressed, non-necessary, non-rushed, non-interrupted communication are slim. We need those little nons in our marriage. But they’re elusive little prefixes.

We strive to have non-distracted conversations, but the texts and the emails and the demands keep breaking our concentration. Not to mention our kids.

We desire to talk about non-necessary topics, but there are needs and fires to be put out before we can intentionally try to fan into flame our love for one another.

We want to give each other our non-exhausted selves. But, we can’t seem to find them.

We need the nons in our marriage.

But adding that prefix takes work.

And it should. Life moves forward after the wedding day and so should our relationship. It should grow and blossom instead of wilting. But it takes effort to remember to care for it in the midst of dizzying schedules and bursting calendars.

The daily, “What time should I plan dinner?”,and, “Did you remember we have that thing tomorrow evening? Did you find a sitter?” questions cause us to put a finger in the leaking dam and leave us in a bind the next time we hear, “Babe, can you give me a hand here?”

The days of long uninterrupted dinners and fun filled dates are taken over by quick, “How was your day?” volleys and conversations squeezed in while sitting in the bleachers.

You have to make an effort to add those nons. And that looks like many different things.

Some days you make your kids gag as you kiss in the kitchen. Other days you put a movie in for them and you finish that difficult conversation that’s been driving a wedge between you. Some days you splurge on a nice dinner for two after they’re all in bed, and you tuck your phones away in another room too. Some days you go out to a movie neither of you really care to see just so that you can sit beside each other and hold hands.

And some days you simply acknowledge to each other that you miss the nons. Both of you do. That you’re striving to find them and you believe in each other and miss each other in the meantime. That the effort to find the nons is a small price to pay for the love of your life. You’re a team in the hunt.

Marriage. It sometimes needs a prefix.

And together, we’re going to work to add it.


The Visible Woman


Her real name is Susan Storm Richards, but most know her better by her alias: The Invisible Woman.

According to Marvel Comic’s website, this member of the Fantastic Four has powers that allow her to “render herself wholly or partially invisible at will.”

This could be handy. There are moments when I’d enjoy being invisible. It would be interesting to hear what others say about me when I walk out of a room and perhaps more fun to reek havoc on friends and family members by appearing at will when they least expect me!

But if I’m being honest, I don’t really wish to be invisible. In fact, being invisible can be a disadvantage.

As a women, wife, mother, and human I can attest that there are times that I feel invisible… but it doesn’t strike me as a super power. Instead, it stings as a frustration.

There are times when my perspective vanishes and I allow my attitude to get out of line. When this happens, I feel like I’m the Invisible Woman. I work hard all day and yet it’s not noticed or recognized by anyone. The tasks I do need to be repeated again and again and my wheels spin in a thankless, exhausting rut. It feels like no one sees what I’m doing or cares about the mundane, but necessary tasks of life that I must accomplish… unless I don’t accomplish something that they want, and then suddenly I’m seen. I feel as if then I’m only seen as a failure.

Am I really invisible? Does no one care? Can anyone take the time to stop for a moment to see me and meet my needs, for once?

I’ve lost sight of the truth about God’s love.

I think a servant girl from the Old Testament can relate. In fact, she was the original Invisible Woman, although Marvel doesn’t acknowledge her on their website.

Hagar was the maidservant of Sarai. Sarai was the barren wife of Abraham who so desperately wanted a child she gave her maidservant to her husband hoping to produce a child through their union. Hagar was a means to an end. She was used. She was not seen as valuable for who she was, only for what she could produce. Once Hagar did, in fact, get pregnant with Abraham’s child she was mistreated by Sarai and despised. Then she ran away.

Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her. (Genesis 16:6-9)

The angel of Lord proceeded to give Hagar a prophecy about her unborn son. He spoke to this maidservant. He not only saw this seemingly invisible woman, He also knew her circumstances and spoke directly to her.

Hagar’s response?

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me. (Genesis 16:13)

For the first recorded time in the Old Testament, God is addressed at El Roi; “The God who sees me.” Hagar finally felt as if someone cared for and saw her.

How great is God’s love for each and every one. While we become consumed with our lives, our selves, and our tasks, we lose sight of the truth about God’s powerful love.

But His love requires obedience on our end too. God told Hagar to go back to her mistress and submit to her. It may sound harsh, but by doing so God was giving her a way to be cared for and for his prophecy to be carried out to completion. I love how this command is worded in the Young’s Literal Translation.

Turn back unto thy mistress, and humble thyself under her hands;

God offered Hagar His great mercy and love. She just had to humble herself to receive it.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;

Because of the Lord’s great love. Not because we’ve worked so hard. Not because we are superwomen. Not because of anything we have done. But because of the Lord’s great love.

We don’t have the super power. He does.

I’m not invisible. El Roi sees me. He knows me. He made me. He cares about me. He loves me.

I simply need to humble myself under His merciful and loving hands. By obeying God’s Word and trusting in His never failing compassions I regain my focus on the Truth.

I become The Visible Woman, with the power “to render myself wholly valuable and unconditionally loved by the God who see me.”

Take that, Susan Storm Richards!

Today’s Bucket List.

When my kids were little we owned a toy that I liked… yet didn’t.

It was educational, so that earned it some points, but it also was comprised of several pieces, for which I had to deduct some points in the clean-up category. Had it played a song and used eight “C” batteries it would have earned a negative score (also known as the garage sale pile) but it was fairly quiet and simple so it stuck around for awhile.

You didn’t know toy delineation was so complicated, did you?

Don’t even get me started on Furby.

Anyhow, this toy was simply a yellow bucket with a blue lid. The lid had various shaped holes in it and inside the bucket were colorful plastic shapes that matched the holes.

Yes, you know what I’m describing.

We’ve all seen these toys in various versions.



There was the ball shaped one (technically, it was a decahedron. I really learned my shapes. And I know how to use Google) that had little yellow handles you pulled on like an accordion and then shook the thing so all the shape pieces would fall out (and one would always get stuck). There are pink buckets, and blue ones. I’m sure Bob the Builder has a variation out there. It’s a classic toy.

Basically, it was the original Tetris game without the pressure.

The thing about this toy was that each evening when I did the clean-up rounds, I would find the little shapes all over the family room. Some evenings I’d pick them up and gently drop them into their respective holes and listen to the satisfying plastic rattling sound as they landed in the yellow bucket.

Other days I was in too much of a rush. Forget finding the corresponding shape holes. I’d rip off the blue lid, throw the shapes into the bucket (and possibly other small toys, puzzle pieces, or Cheetos that I had also found on the floor) and be done with it. I didn’t have time to put things through their proper channels. I didn’t have time to do the job with excellence, I just wanted to get it done. Shove the lid on that thing and stick it on the shelf.

The last month or so as we’ve tried to find the pace of our “fall routine,” I have returned to my “rip the lid off” ways. I haven’t actually been picking up little plastic shapes, but I’ve been helping with homework, folding laundry, teaching a class at church, grocery shopping, working, having family fun nights, emailing coworkers, attending meetings, having meaningful conversations with my husband (he especially loves the long emotional talks…), making dinner, and thinking about how nice it would be to actually exercise. Kraig and the kids have been busy and trying to figure out their school and workload too.

It’s been a “I stressed, you stressed, we all scream for ice cream” kind of month.

Our to-do lists are seemingly scattered all over the floor.

The pieces are varied in shape and size.

I would LOVE to nicely and neatly drop our to-dos onto our calendar and hear the pretty rattling sound. I want to be organized and see all the pieces fit beautifully where they belong. Yet, this deliberate placement of my time and efforts has so far eluded me. Right now we’re just going for “in the bucket.” Let’s get stuff done however we can and eventually we’ll hit our groove, figure out our pace, and drop the shapes into the holes like the game is supposed to be played.

Either way, we’re getting things done. It’s not pretty. There are a few Cheetos mixed in with our activities and agendas. That’s okay.

The lid comes off of the bucket for a reason.

We all need a little help sometimes. We all need to cut ourselves some slack.

I still know what a triangle is and where to put the star. I’ll get there eventually as we move into this busy season.

But for now I’m good with taking the lid off.

That’s today’s bucket list.


Photo from 


Temporarily derailed.

I walked through my kitchen this week and the sight I beheld across the room into my family room caused me to stop dead in my tracks. My body’s physical reaction is difficult to put into words. It was mixture of nauseous and weakness along with a heightend sense of adrenaline.

Cue the emotional and dreadful music.

Hold your breath.

Wait for it.

Thomas and Friends was on my tv. My 6th grade son was laying on the couch covered in a blanket and staring at the screen.


Granted, this may not sound like your typical horror scene. I don’t think the little blue train with the happy talking face has been a villain in many settings. He and his colorful train friends are actually quite cute and sweet.

But it’s not them, it’s me. I associate those talking trains with something else. Something painful. Something sad.

The same lanky preteen boy who now lays on the couch fighting pneumonia was once a toddler diagnosed with leukemia. We spent over three years watching this boy get chemo treatments and we lived in isolation. Our most frequent companions were the colorful trains from Thomas and Friends. James, Percy, Gordon, Thomas, Edward… I can still quote many of their friendly British lines.

But it has been over six years since our son finished chemo and he is now a happy and cancer-free middle schooler. He’s active in sports, does his homework, and rarely sits still.

That is until this week when he caught a nasty virus that decided to settle in his left lung and cause him to miss several days of school. It’s pneumonia, but it’s not cancer. It’s “one of those things” that he probably caught from the germ smorgasbord known as public school. It is unrelated to the cancer. It is going to be okay.

But as I walked through the kitchen and saw him sick on the couch not caring enough or possessing the energy to change the channel when Thomas and Friends came on PBS, I stopped and took notice.

Not this again. Please!

After I caught my breath, I took a picture on my smartphone and texted it to my husband. He understood its meaning without much explanation.

“This makes me sick too,” he replied. “But remember how far we have come and that this is not our norm anymore.”

Yes. Another quote I want to commit to memory.

This is not our norm anymore. Time has passed. Change has come.

Our son is healthy. Our God and brilliant doctors helped to heal him.

It took me a few minutes to calm my heart rate and sooth my nerves, but the moment and the perspective I gained have stayed with me.

Sometimes, remembering where you’ve been brings gratitude.

Sometimes, seeing how far you’ve come brings hope.

Sometimes a little blue talking train can remind you that healing does in fact come with the passing of time.


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where writers are encouraged to write on a topic for about 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: HEAL


Our Reality (TV). 

We are not exactly “camera ready” people. We’re far from glamorous. Very far. We’re just a regular, plain, run-of-the-mill family. 

 But we’re willing. 

And it appears that’s almost as good. 

Willing to tell our story and then simply showing up when we’re called. We’ve tried to make that our practice. 

Recently we were asked to share about our son, Karson’s, battle with leukemia. How he is a survivor, and the amazing research being done that has helped make this our version of reality TV. 

The camera man and reporter met us outside on a 90 degree day. I started to melt from the heat and could feel sweat rolling down my back before we even began the interview. My husband, Kraig, had driven straight from an appointment with our eye doctor where he’d had his pupils dilated. After being asked to remove his sunglasses for the filming, Kraig squinted his way through the next hour and we laughed at his expense. I got emotional about the topic as I answered the reporter’s questions with honesty and openness. This all made for a less than perfect shoot. 

But that doesn’t really matter. 

What matters is that we were able to share our story.

That maybe another family out there who is currently in the trenches, watching their child fight a serious illness, will see a glimmer of hope. 

That maybe some more attention will be given to pediatric cancer research. 

That maybe someone will feel a little less alone in their struggle.

That maybe gratitude will trump the pain. 

That maybe this will be the boost someone else needs to share their own story. 

That maybe willingness and showing up is even better than perfection and glamour, after all. 


Here’s the link to the news story: 

Where I Want To Be.

My left hand rested on the top of the steering wheel freeing my other hand to hold the warm travel coffee mug. Through the speakers the morning weatherman projected a mix of sun and storms. Seemed about right. A new front was moving in.

Late August meant the seasons were about to change. Summer was bowing out and preparing to yield to the beauty of a Midwestern fall.

One season coming to an end and another on the verge of emerging, not only on the calendar, but also in my life.

I couldn’t get the parallel out of my mind as I headed south from my Indiana home toward Music City. According to my iPhone, I had over six hours of driving before I reached my hotel in Nashville.

Before I even left my hometown city limits, I passed the hospital with the sprawling campus that sits beside the highway. I swallowed hard. It was at that very place my three babies entered this world. Twelve years before today’s road trip the oldest had arrived, a week late, proclaiming that I no longer possessed the same control over my schedule or emotions. I had quit my job and stayed home with that baby boy. I stayed up nursing and rocking him and watching infomercials in the middle of the night. I changed him and helped him learn to walk and eat solid foods. It was an exhausting season, but it was where I wanted to be.

Two years later, when that little boy was diagnosed with cancer, I spent hours upon hours in that same sprawling hospital watching his body receive chemotherapy and blood transfusions from strangers. I cried tears of agony and snuggled beside him in the hospital bed. It was a seemingly impossible task of motherhood. And though I never would have chosen the leukemia for him, walking beside my son through the healing was where I wanted to be.

Within a few years, two more precious babies had arrived. Sisters, less than two years apart. Three kids under six and a now healthy boy starting Kindergarten. The days were long and messy. Exhausting and delightful. I did much caring and loving and teaching and helping. I put in the pigtails and the hair bows. I dressed the baby dolls and learned the names of all the wooden trains. I lost sleep and found joy in the mundane. It was where I wanted to be.

Home full-time with three kids for more than a decade. It had been difficult and blissful wrapped up in a bow. It had been a gift. The life I’d always dreamed about and was so blessed to be given by a supportive husband. It was the path I’d always wanted to walk.

But now the path is changing.

The winds of a new season are picking up speed and blowing strong emotions through my heart.

My youngest child climbed the bus steps for the very first time just last week. Her little blonde head barely visible through the bus window as she headed off to Kindergarten and I ventured into a new stage of life.

They’re not babies anymore.

They’re in middle school and happy elementary classrooms filled with friends and caterpillars and great learning curves.

The season of being home full-time with little ones is over. The trail has narrowed.

A few tears threatened to spill out of my eyes and were making it difficult to see the road ahead. I blinked them away and remembered once again. I was blessed to walk a path I’d dreamed would one day lie in front of me. It hadn’t been an easy stroll, but it had been a gift.

And now the terrain is taking on a new look.

I’m still a mommy. But during the day my nest is empty and my focus has changed. I am sad that the preschools years are over, but I have no doubt the next season will be just as beautiful, but in a different way than the one before it. Just because the trail has narrowed, doesn’t mean there is not still beauty all around me.


The road this day was leading to a writing conference in Nashville, Tennessee where I’d be learning and growing as a writer, as well as pitching a book proposal to two literary agents and an editor. I was so excited about the potential and my dreams, that I could barely fall asleep the night before.

And as the hospital campus faded away in my rearview mirror I smiled to myself.

The seasons were changing. The path was narrowing. But it was where I wanted to be.

I could look ahead with anticipation and an obedient heart to what God would lay before me. I was confident in this because I have sought Him as my trail guide. He knows the path. And He will gently lead me in the days ahead.

I loved the season of baby toes and onesies. Though painful, I was faithful through chemo drugs, steroid rage, and scary trips to the ER. I did the Kindergarten round-ups and registrations and back-to-school shopping. I found the green vinyl folder with the two pockets and three metal fasteners.

And I will treasure those moments for as long as I live.

I had the honor and privilege of being home with my children. But the preschool years are now behind me.

The highway is leading to new places, and adventures, and trials, and rejections, and hopes, and thrills.

I set my cruise control, turned up the radio and sang along with the music of the day.

The trail narrows. It’s time.

And with my eyes on my Trail Guide, I can trust that the journey ahead will be another beautiful gift. It’s where I want to be.

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are encouraged to write about a topic based on a one-word prompt. We are a challenged to write for about 5 minutes. This week I cheated. Gasp! I had already written this essay, but had not posted it yet. I used my FMF time to edit and tweak this post to work with this week’s word: PATH. I’m sorry! I hope you’ll forgive me!😉