True Love & His Glory

Nine years ago, the Lord allowed me to be stricken with a debilitating tumor.

Six years ago, the Lord allowed me to begin to heal… still, I was not able to write again after that very much, not even in my own journals. My emotional pain arose from concern for my family, and grief over the long-term loss and struggle.

Three years ago, we underwent a most painful period of time where my family had a new set of trials, transitions and changes all at once, including tremendous loss and grief. My tears were a hot, tight band around my voice and throat. This served as a constant concrete diving tower from which to plunge into my need for God’s help and comfort.

If the Lord had not been on our side—” Psalm 124

Two years ago, the Lord allowed my kids and I to be in a car accident which caused multiple latent injuries for myself. Again, the cycle of grief and sorrow was upon me. I began to wonder if my life was going to always be like this: living in pain, living with God-sanctioned insanity; hurting too much to process things beyond the moment or the hour.

SO THANKFUL we weren’t T-boned. Could have been so much worse. As it was, Mama Bear had five herniated discs and more than a year in physical therapy. Oh, Lord, help!

As my body and my heart began the healing process afresh (afresh? anew? it didn’t feel fresh or new)… I spent a lot of time grieving over the loss to my family of a functioning mother. I grieved the loss of opportunity to grow our family or participate in ministry. To cook for others. To clean the house. To work in the garden. To be sane.

I grieved many things. I learned how to grieve deep and wide.

And I’ll tell you (if you don’t know already): The Garden Of Grief is a funny thing. It is the sort of place that needs constant tending, otherwise it can easily be overrun with roots of bitterness.

Many different morsels of help came to me along the way, from my loving Father-God. Maybe a song, maybe a verse, maybe a dream. Other times it would be a feeble step of faith and trust through all the insanity of my mind…. that there would somehow come so much good out of this. Other times I would get a word of comfort or guidance… for example:

Two days ago, I listened to the most beautiful story of a man, Andrew Klavan (international best-selling author), who learned to cope with incredible pain. He said, in a moment of truth, God showed him HOW TO KEEP GOING even though he was in so much pain.

“How do I live?” he asked… Ya prob’ly know by now, I CRIED.

But… It’s not like the pain stops coming. Am I right? Can I get an amen?

One day ago, our community lost a dear friend to cancer. She was a lovely powerful prayer warrior, a special sister in Christ, and a woman who dearly loved children even though she had none from her own body. She was a foster mother and mentor and placed children in homes throughout our city.

Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me | PSALM 27:10 <–click on this Bible verse to visit her foundation, Homes With Hope.

Makes me feel silly to share the following, as well… But yesterday we also lost the sweetest chicken in our flock. She was the kind of chicken who loved to be one; was proud to be one.

Little bird, little bird, fly through my window….

In the last few days, I have cried openly and more often than in the several years previous. I suppose it is finally, thankfully, a sort of “safe” time to let the fountain flow and clear itself out (what else are you going to do in Covid-19 quarantine)? Anyone else? Everything makes me cry these days:

A friend recently quoted John 3:16 in Russian (she and her family have been learning it during quarantine) and I wept tears of joy.

Click on the video above to listen!

I read sections of a novel to our kids every night, and anything that spotlights the growing pains or beautiful life moments of the characters will instantly choke me up!

In reading the daily passages on Bible Gateway, I drip, drip, drip from my eyes AND my nose. It is good.

Yesterday, even as I felt the fresh sadness of loss in little waves, it struck me that despite all the tears, I am still overjoyed that our departed friend (and our chicken) are both in a much, much better place, with brand new bodies and hearts full of joy.

Heaven is a wonderful place… (image copyright info/source)

In the end, I blew my nose (again) and wiped my weyes (again) and said to Scott, “I would never, ever, EVER, ask God to give them back to us… yanno, in fact, why did Jesus raise Lazurus from the dead, if he was happier in heaven?”

Scott said, “It is because it would bring glory to God.” So that is the main thing. Not what we will but what He wills.

Our model for this kind of prayer about pain.

So…. Ok, Lord, I surrender. Again. Because we know You are truly good, we can submit to You as truly God. We love you, Lord. Help us who remain to “play in pain.” Don’t bench us Lord. Let us keep doing the next thing that brings you Glory.

Sending prayers of comfort, and virtual hugs, and lots of love to any of my friends who find themselves at this place today.

“Bah Humbug” Allowed Here

At least three of my friends have mentioned/posted about feeling joyless, sad, or grieving at Christmastime today. I just wanted to share the following thoughts.

If your Christmas is a hurtful time, I would like to say, you are NOT expected to be happy — at least around me! Go on with your bad Bah Humbug. Seriously. What if you lost someone important at this time of year? What if you are estranged from people you love? What if your dreams have been dashed to the ground and run over in the mud? What if your spirit feels broken? What if you don’t have a penny to give anyone else, or the energy to brighten up your home? Or worst of all — what if you feel God has abandoned you or cannot salvage your heart?

The truth is, that is what Christmas is all about. No, I am not kidding.  Read on.

The truth is, the very first Christmas was all about humble circumstances: primarily of the world itself, but also that of a new-born king meant to be glorified.

Think of the song “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  It speaks hauntingly of the captive people Israel, in need of redemption, in need of hope. “Rejoice, rejoice, O Israel” — because they were hurting!  They needed to be rescued.  They had been robbed of all peace and joy.

Here came their king; his own world capsized… born into a dingy stable instead of a palace.  How backwards!  That was an odd representation of any real hope…. yet, what a clarified picture of God, mingling with those of us in lowly circumstances.

If you feel alone, if you feel scared, if you feel naked and abused, or if you feel stricken and needy…. you are in good company. Christ himself, a naked and needy babe, shares your sorrow. Yet, “this little Babe so few days old, has come to rifle Satan’s fold.”

Satan is the celebrator of our pain and the enemy of your very life breath. God himself weeps with you and works to comfort you in your suffering, to be with you.  He is the truest friend we have in the midst of weeping.

God himself cherishes you.

God himself is your very help in time of need. He understands it well. Do not let false cheer, hurried well-wishes, or stale hope become the acceptable standard for Christmas. If you need Christ, he has come, and that is our source of joy, meant to be heralded most especially by hurting hearts.

If you are hurting, I send you these words with a hug and a sisterly kiss. God bless you with comfort for your pain this Christmas.

Thanks for reading, Friends.

Waiting For A Hurting Heart to Heal

I have thought about writing several times in the past few months.

But my heart said, No.

I’m not ready.

It’s been too long, my “Editor” side said.  Get busy.

No.  I’m not ready.

There’s been a lot going on!!!  What great source material.  You might forget it all.  Wouldn’t want that! That’s my author-side calling.

No, my heart said.  I’m just not ready.

SIGH, my fingers wiggled, anxious to type again.

No, my heart said.  It’s not time.

Much like the Song of Solomon croons, “Wait, do not awaken love until it so desires,” my heart cried out for more waiting. My heart did not desire to go there: to think, to recover, to feel… Recovery is arduous.  It needs a foundation of good rest and healing.

So I did not pick up my journal.  I laid down my pen.  I put them away where they could get dusty.

I did not open the writing programs on my computer.

I had to wait, because if I poured out my heart before God met me there, it would seem almost false… as though I am putting a tiny bandaid on a perforation the inner self.

“For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, says: Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved; in quietness and confidence is your strength…”  Isaiah 30:15 (TLB)

I did not desire to indulge those wretched emotions, but in humanity and trust I instead shared my broken weeping with Christ alone.  My own rugged and arduous garden of wretched sweat and prayer.

And there, have I been met by none other than our very Lord.  Meeting my faithlessness with a comforting embrace.  Receiving my tears in a precious vial.  Mingling them with His, in that very holy fountain of His own sorrow.  Sharing each stab of pain.  Meeting and teaching me as only He can.  Giving me new hope, new dreams, new understandings of things.  And what is this?  Joy?  Wow…

Thank you, Lord, for stripping our relationship down to the bare roots of Your unconditional love.  What a gift it has truly been!

In my personal experience… there are a couple parts of hurting.  One is waiting to hear from God.  Will He speak?  Does He care?  I have failed!  It’s my fault! Or, It’s not my fault!  This is terrible and God allowed this.  Will He change these circumstances?

The second part of hurting is the vulnerability we experience when we step away from that tiny space of intense communion with God before we are healed up (which sometimes must happen due to the demands of life –jobs, children, you name it).  Oh, how painful!  Perhaps we just want to curl up and be loved… Perhaps we have nothing to give.  Or, perhaps the outside world is untrustworthy.

When our wounds are openly bleeding, they need a safe, tranquil, supportive, and clean place to heal… it is better to avoid whatever slime or sewage the world can thoughtlessly throw at you without even realizing it.  It’s good to take a break.  God is so good, to be a safe place.  A thin space… where our sorrow can be soothed by His utter compassion and fathomless hope.  Only those most trusted friends are allowed to visit us there, and then, I find quick visits are best.  Sometimes, even they might fail, and it is God alone who sits quietly by our side.

So now — I find a slow dawn melting my frosty landscape.  On this dark morning, I find a quiet glow.  My heart is ready.  I might need a warm blanket and some fuzzy socks, but I am ready.  It’s not excruciating to think of relating to anyone else what treasures I see in my life after all the mess.  My ponderings can be released, from being between God and me, in that most sacred inner place…  to being shared openly.

For those who want to read, maybe these thoughts will be a warm balm to your heart, if you are also hurting.  I believe, and trust, and celebrate, that God has encouragement for you, too.

Anyway…. May God himself be your comfort, if you are hurting… you have my prayers right now for God’s rich comfort and tangible embrace.

Thanks for reading, Friends.

1-23-14 Update

Just FYI, for those who are praying, my recent blood test results showed a real improvement.  I am praising the Lord.  Some things still need to improve, but I am thrilled and motivated to keep going.
Please pray for the doctor who is skeptical, that she will work with me and lend her expertise in the process.  
Please pray for protection of my mind and heart in the process.

“Nutrition will not cure you.”

“Nutrition will not cure you.”

My endocrinologist interrupted me twice to say this.  It has been three months since I started my new diet and lifestyle, and I usually feel like a million bucks compared to the zombie I was before (I need bloodwork to confirm things).  I waited, then restated: “What I am trying to say is that I feel better.”  He chided me and then said, “We’ll DO the bloodwork, and then you can come in and we’ll chat some more about this.”  I got off the phone as quickly as possible.

In frustration, I then asked my OBGYN group for a referral for a brand new endocrinologist, hoping to get a little more of a listening ear from the new doctor.  I requested the bloodwork I need along with a second opinion on my case.  This doctor was as bad as the first.  She scoffed before I was done with my inital sentence: “I was supposed to have surgery but was told I could try nutrition to see if it would help.”

What is the deal?  I cannot ask questions, cannot look at options, cannot try the least invasive method first?  I must roll over and let you cut out my entire adrenal gland?

I am beginning to realize just how skewed even the most well-meaning doctors can be.  I MUST manage them managing me.  We’re not in Little House on the Prairie here, with the doctor that cares so much they’ll explain, or their efforts are totally vested in your best options.  I trusted these doctors, and they used me to pay their bills with their preferences over my body and the rest of my life.  I will forgive them — but I will not hesitate to challenge them ever again.  Poor doctors.  I know, they truly think they are right.  I pity them.

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” — Nelson Mandela

A Zombie Story

I have been working for a while on this other blog… I have been sick a lot this year, and we finally found out I have a tumor.  Yikes.  But it turns out I will be able to avoid surgery.  Hooray!

For anyone who is interested, please follow the link below to my quirky, fun-loving, authentic blog on the subject.  Thank you for reading friends.


15 Photos of The Loveliness of Nursing

I would like to thank my husband for his support of me nursing, as well as sharing these photographs.   From 2009 to 2013, a range of the loveliness I have experienced in nursing my children until they were ready to wean.

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Beauty & BF

Happy World Breastfeeding Month!  I am inspired by the events this week at The Leaky B@@B and am planning three upcoming posts in the spirit of supporting the beauty, health and importance of breastfeeding.  Welcome all who need encouragement and/or are curious!

To start off, today I just want to reminisce….

Twenty Places I Have Nursed My Children

(listed in order of the impact they had on me to be more confident)

20. In the rank bathroom at a restaurant.
19. Sweating under a light sheet covering in a meeting at church — the cover was ripped off by my unhappy nursling and I pretty much flashed another leader guy, who was AWESOME and didn’t even blink twice.
18. On the couch, sweating under a light sheet covering at a Bible study full of single guys (all of whom are either about to be married, are now happily married, or even expecting kids… kinda nice to realize I didn’t scar them forever).
17. Around the corner on the stairs without a cover, at #18.
16. Discreetly but without a cover, sitting fourth row back from the front of church, because I finally realized my church is AWESOME.
15. Discreetly but without a cover, at Starbucks at an outside table.
14. Metro bus (babies don’t wait)
13. At the hospital after C-section birth and VBAC (same hospital for both)
12. In the car after a funeral in the country (dirt roads are bumpy… see #14)
11. In bed while simultaneously cuddling with husband
10. In a living room with other moms and their nurslings
09. At the zoo, with a bunch of nursing moms, surrounded by a bunch of other mammals nursing
08. In a cozy armchair in my pastor’s living room, bought specifically for nursing moms who might visit
07. On the couch, with my almost two-year-old toddler on one side and my newborn on the other (a.k.a. Tandem Nursing)
06. In mixed company, at my house, because it’s hard to get out with a nursling
05. At my Doula (now a Midwife)’s house because she’s awesome and has parties for her Mamas and their families
04. At my in-law’s house, where it has become the supported norm for me to nurse my speaking & walking toddler
03. In the church nursery while helping care for other kids
02. At Young-N-Restless Resale store, where there are chairs just for nursing in
01. In the brand-new rocking chair bought for me by a friend shortly before my daughter was born


Thank you to those of you who have supported me nursing along the way.  I hope to help others down the line, for the rest of my life!  It has truly been a lovely, wonderful, life-changing, life-giving experience.  I am grateful to everyone who has said “Go ahead!”

No-Bake Secrets


Summertime circa 1985

I clearly remember being a girl, helping my Mom make No-Bake cookies by the wax-paper-sheet-full for our “BackYard VBS” summer meetings.  Once a summer, we ran out and invited kids from our neighborhood over to our backyard every day for a week.  I remember the bright sun, the healthy green grass, and our narrow kitchen where Mom let me help with her cookie preparation like I was a little sous chef.  What perfect delight.

So, it was the mid-80s in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  A group of happy, sweaty kids would run into our yard and crowd around my Mom as she told Bible stories for a few minutes.  We played backyard games like Red Rover, sang kids’ songs or did some kind of activity, and we ALWAYS ended with a snack.  A VERY YUMMY snack.  (I believe God cares about delicious food as much as kids do, and I am not kidding.)

I remember the first time Mom and I mused together over a newly-finished batch of No Bakes that there must be some hidden trick to making them come out right.  One which we did not always get.  Actually, we rarely got it right.  Perhaps it was the humidity, or the ingredients (if we ran out of something and had to substitute).  From one batch to the next we would sometimes get a gloppy mess.  Or, on the flip side, they might come out rock hard.  In the end, we did our best and dubbed them “Gooey Cookies” to signify how unpredictable they were.  We never stopped making them though!

Despite the rarity of a moist, soft No Bake cookie outcome, “Gooey Cookies” became a family staple.  I still have a seasonal summer craving after my childhood Backyard VBS experiences.  It became my go-to recipe for any hardcore chocolate needs, and it is the recipe I now pull out for quick-cookie situations.  If you’ve never had them, YOU ARE SERIOUSLY MISSING OUT!  If you have had them and disagree, your recipe might just need a little TLC.

Here’s the run down from my kitchen.  Let me know how you do it if you see something different!

No Bake Cookies

In a 2-quart-ish pan, combine:
2 c. sugar (I have used as low as 1 1/4 cup successfully, usually use nat’l cane)
One stick butter (usually use unsalted)
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 c. milk  (usually use whole)

Begin heating the mix on high heat with candy thermometer (makes a difference but does not always ensure perfect cookies) clipped in place (not touching the bottom of the pan), and separately prepare:

3 c. oats (I usually use 5 minute but quick is also good).
1/2 c. peanut butter (I usually use natural)
1 tsp. vanilla
A counter lined with kitchen parchment paper or wax paper
A hot pad for the pan
A tsp.- or tbsp.-sized spoon for cookie dropping

Let the mixture on the stove boil til soft-ball stage.  **On non-humid days (below 50% humidity) this is about 1 1/2 minutes.  On humid days it can be three to five minutes (you can add a pinch of salt to lower the boiling point).  Soft-ball stage is when you can let a drop fall into a clear glass of cool water and it forms a solid/soft ball at the bottom — ideally, what you want your cookie to look like!**  Remove from heat and quickly add the other ingredients.  Stir quickly and begin dropping the cookies immediately.  They should set up quickly as they cool and you can eat them almost immediately.  If they don’t set, pull out a spoon or fork and go for it.  Yep, you heard me.  Right off the countertop.

What I have run into as the “problem” (never stopped me from eating them) is the variations possible on this recipe, causing the cookies to come out too hard or too soft.  In my mind, the cause could be anything: 5 minute oats or Quick oats?  Jiffy Peanut Butter or Natural (no salt or sugar)?  Butter or margarine?  Humid days or non-humid days (where I live, high humidity is a way of life for most of the year)!  Processed sugar or Cane sugar; Cocoa powder or baking chocolate (or Hershey’s kisses)!  The only thing I have not done successfully in any form is to double the recipe in one batch.  (I’m open to suggestions!)

My decided plan is to edit this post/update with the variations I have this summer what the occasion was for, and see what the outcomes each time were.  I am up for anyone else’s experiments too!  Let’s see how well we can do.

07-05-13.  Friends coming over!  Used 5-min. oats, cocoa powder, 2 full cups cane sugar, no-salt butter, natural PB, and boiled to just above soft ball stage (243 degrees-ish).  No added salt, Today’s humidity 34%.  GOOEY COOKIE outcome this time…. shaking my head.  I still ate them but didn’t serve them because they were way too grainy.

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07-07-13.  Anniversary day!  Used 1 1/4 cups cane sugar, boiled to well above soft ball stage (245 degrees-ish).  No added salt, but used a wider pan and added 2 c. raisins!!! Today’s humidity 50%.  Crumbly cookie outcome this time (as you can see, I could not get the whole pan scooped into cookie form before it dried out).  Shaking my head.  Still ate ’em!

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07-08-13.  Plumbers at the road needed a treat!  Used 1 1/4 cups cane sugar, about a 1/3 c. PB, boiled to almost hard-ball stage (more on that in a second).  Added a pinch of kosher salt, used my regular pot to cook in, and mixed up some powdered milk since we were out of whole.  Current humidity 60% (rained all morning).  It took forever to get to soft ball stage, then suddenly shot up to hard ball stage so I had to act fast.  It didn’t get as much PB or any vanilla as a result.  I mixed in the oats and PB I could scoop out super-fast, then dumped it out of the pan and patted it into a big circle, which I then scooped off into individual bites as the cookie mix stayed just soft enough just long enough.  Weird but true.  I have never done it that way before but I wanted it out of the hot pan.   Actually a really great cookie outcome!  They were soft and held together.  Yum!

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08-02-13.  Kids and Mommy needed a treat!  Used 1 1/4 cups cane sugar, a full c. of nat’l PB (the stir kind — not whipped), and also have increased the chocolate to 4 tbsp.  Added a pinch of sea salt, humidity was 63%.  Last but not least, I have finally decided to throw away my candy thermometer, and now I just use the method of dripping some of the “candy” into a cup of cold water to see if it’s soft ball stage yet.  It works the best for me because then I am ready to drop cookies at the right stage best on a picture of how they’ll come out, not what a thermometer says.  More hands-on.  I like that.  They came out deliciously perfect this time actually.

Are you still here?  Go make cookies!  Give some away if you need an excuse!

God bless you, friends.  Thanks for reading!

Pioneer Life: Part One

Once upon a time, I knew a brave woman who lived a pioneer lifestyle in many ways (God rest her soul).  She told me I would have hated it.  Maybe she was right.  I disliked her for saying it, anyhow.  Part of me wrestled with the fact that she may be right:  about the life being hard, or me not having what it took.  I wasn’t sure which she meant, and I was too afraid to ask.  Maybe both!

I have come to believe that we are all potential pioneers, if we have the guts to wake up and look at life with a new set of eyes… then, to stay awake! and press in to that pioneer mindset.

For the past year and three months my family has been embarking on an incredible set of adventures.  I will tell more later about how and why, and what spearheaded each part of it.  Some of the story is powerful and moving to myself — a “Thin Space” even, when I look back, though I could not have told you that in the middle of it.  From health and wealth to hearth and home, we have been working like true pioneers, walking foot by painful foot, or heaving our hungry hearts and harshly hewn wagons over wintry ruts and winding rivers.

Did I hate it?  Oh yes, certainly, parts of it.  Was it worth it?  Oh… my…. a resounding and reverent “Yes!”

After this intro I will share with you an adventure both life-giving and life-taking.  An ongoing journey that is most incredibly God-centering.  I am humbled, yet more built up than ever.  The shallow parts of me that remain have been drained and dredged out into deeper pools which are being refilled, and I know God is not done yet.  I may yet be a reservoir someday.  I dance in thankfulness and rejuvenated hope.

More to come… and apologies (kind of) for the long wait between posts….