Only You Can Determine if Caregiving is a Burden or a Blessing

Only you can choose whether caregiving is a burden or a blessing! My Story is Your Story My life has been marked by many events. which if I am honest, made me who I am today. Life lessons abound and are interspersed with several periods of putting my plans on… Read more

When You’re Ninety-Eight, I’ll be Ninety-Nine

Continued from last week… March Louis and I swing into my parents’ driveway in Holbrook, Arizona, a few days after the last phone call, the one where Sarah sounded more like Sarah, the one where I realized maybe just maybe I could have my sister back. The car’s clock glows… Read more

A Soldier in the Service of the Ultimate Caregiver

The Ultimate Caregiver Well, yes, God. But not quite in the way you may think. When I’ve been told to ‘lean into God’, or ‘cry out to God’, or crawl into the lap of Abba-Daddy, I have nodded as if I understood. But the reality is this: I have no… Read more

Forgiveness and Caregiving Create Amazing Changes

My mom died before she grew old, I was thirty-nine. She was gone before my daughters, Jessica and Caitlin, graduated high school and walked down the aisle. I never thought I’d spend the last half of my life without her. It was Thanksgiving 1998, her diagnosis came as a shock… Read more

Don’t Dwell, Become the Dwell

Dwell: Verb: 3. to linger over, emphasize or ponder in thought, speech, or writing (often followed by on or upon). 4. (of a moving tool or machine part) to be motionless for a certain interval during operation. Noun: 2. a period in a cycle in the operation of a… Read more

Battling Resentment in Caregiving

In celebration of National Family Caregivers Month, we’re sharing the stories of other bloggers and caregivers. Today guest blogger Barbara Haper writes about the resentment she sometimes feels as a caregiver and offers some practical tips for battling resentment. Seven years ago we moved my mother-in-law 2,000 miles away from her home to live… Read more

An Important Life Lesson from an Epileptic Horse

…continued from Saturday. From the time I finished high school until I finished graduate school, I spent most of my summers as the horsemanship director of a Christian summer camp in central Oregon. One summer a coworker brought her horse to camp, a young, fiery-tempered gelding that she wanted to work with… Read more

A Tribute to A Sister Who Bears the Burden of Caregiving

In celebration of National Family Caregivers Month, we’re sharing the stories of other bloggers and caregivers. Today guest blogger Debby Hudson writes a tribute to her younger sister, who carries the burden of caregiving for their mother. You don’t realize how much of life you can’t know. When you’re a kid, you go… Read more

Introducing Hypomania-the Third Bipolar Sibling

…continued from Tuesday. Blood dripped down my wrist in small parallel lines and I didn’t know why. Well, actually I did know. It’s not like I just woke up and looked at my arm and saw this. I was the culprit. Minutes before, had I walked to the bathroom, crying… Read more

How to Overcome Misunderstanding When You’re a Caregiver

In celebration of National Family Caregivers Month, we’re sharing the stories of other bloggers and caregivers. Today guest blogger, Melony Lucas, explains how she learned to overcome misunderstanding when people didn’t understand her son’s sensory processing disorder. I’m standing on the street corner with my two boys when a voice calls out from… Read more

Hope Tools for the Holidays When You’re a Caregiver

In celebration of National Family Caregivers Month, we’re sharing the stories of other bloggers and caregivers. Today guest blogger Karen Sebastian gives practical tools for caregivers to implement over the holidays. Food and the holidays are linked especially during Thanksgiving. As the smell of pumpkin pies baking mingles with the savory aroma of… Read more

Bipolar Disorder: There is No Fix-it-and-Forget-it Cure

…continued from Friday. Whilst Pedro sped towards California to pick up Sarah, I headed home the long way to indulge in a little phototherapy. I welcomed the alone time and the opportunity to stop whenever I wanted to snap photos of the beautiful spring flowers or get out and hike around… Read more

The New Mommy Guilt: Putting Your Parent in a Care Facility

In celebration of National Family Caregivers Month, we’re sharing the stories of other bloggers and caregivers. Today guest blogger, Michele Morin, writes about the new mommy guilt and how she combats it. I heard her footsteps on the stairs last night—jolted out of a sound sleep and into the familiar world… Read more

At Last, a Breakthrough in Manic Behavior

…continued from yesterday “What do you think you’d like to do when you get out?” I asked Sarah on March 18. “I dunno. Go back to Walla Walla, I guess.” “Wonderful!” I said, happy that she had voiced an opinion and it didn’t include anything outrageously illogical. “Would you like… Read more

The Devastating Conundrum of the Manic Cycle

…continued from yesterday. 3:15 pm, March 17-St. Helena Hospital Center for Behavioral Health Happy St. Paddy’s Day! I’m not wearing green but up in this club we can’t touch each other, so I doubt I’ll get pinched today. I’m wearing my baggy grey slacks and a Newark (NJ) pink Tee… Read more

Bottom Line: Bi-polar Disorder Doesn’t Just Hurt One Person

…continued from Sunday. (Once again Laura writes from a sister’s perspective. In her last post, she spoke of ‘The Text’—when Sarah cut off communication with her and unfriended her on Facebook). We are house hunting in Oklahoma on a chill March day. One week has passed since The Text, and… Read more

Advocating for an Adolescent with a Mental Health Diagnosis

…continued from Saturday. {For those who have been following our story from October, we want to assure you that we plan on finishing it in November.  When we took up this challenge, we had no idea that the telling would stretch over more than 31 days.  Thank you for your… Read more

Mania: It’s Not Just What Happens on Black Friday

…continued from yesterday. St. Helena Hospital Behavioral Health Center Admission Inventory Valuable Name: Clothing: at bedside Bra Panties Shirt Shoes Sweater Clothing, other Slippers Socks Suitcase with other misc. clothing items. Backpack. Monetary: in safe Gift Cards—1 Target, 2 Barns & Noble, 1 Home Depot, 1 Driver’s License Money—16 cents… Read more

Crisp-as-Bacon Rage

…continued from yesterday. Sarah’s long night in the emergency room almost ended in disaster. Only through an act of God did she finally end up where she needed to be. Let me explain. After arriving at the hospital, Sarah continued to act erratic. She went from chatty compliance to crisp-as-bacon… Read more

Has My Daughter Lost Her Mind?

…continued from yesterday. Pedro’s brother had to use a little subterfuge to get Sarah to see the counselor the next day. First, he offered to get her more contacts from Costco. After they purchased the contacts, he somehow talked her into seeing a therapist. I don’t know how the appointment… Read more

Standing in the Need of Intercessory Prayer

…continued from yesterday. I don’t remember much of what happened next, but I vaguely recall being on the white ground and people walking by and asking if I was okay. Someone said they were going to call an ambulance and I remember a split second of being in an ambulance…. Read more

When Your Daughter Chooses to Live in an Airport

…continued from yesterday. Pedro’s parents called in the middle of the night and told him that Sarah had carried out her plan and ditched them in the airport in New York City. I prayed myself back to sleep. We woke up glum the next morning—unsure of our emotions. How does… Read more

What Do You Do When Your Mooring Comes Unmoored?

…continued from yesterday. Dear Reader, At the start of this journey I explained that no story takes place in a vacuum. The tendrils and tentacles reach out and touch other lives in myriad ways.  Today, you will read another side of the story.  Sarah and I have done all the sharing… Read more

I Know it’s Tough Love, but Why Does it Feel Like Abandonment?

…continued from yesterday. The part of me that craved knowing the details of Sarah’s ‘plan’ for what she would do when she reached New York City kept me probing and prying more than I should have. The idea of Sarah on the loose in New York City in her current… Read more

How to Act When Your Adolescent Acts Unreasonable

…continued from yesterday. When I shared Sarah’s news about purchasing a one-way ticket to London with Pedro, he didn’t take it very well. “Cut off her phone and let her go!” “I think there’s more to this than we can see,” I said. “I don’t think just letting her go… Read more

The Source of My Anger Was Fear of the Unknown

…continued from yesterday. *** In Puerto Rico I didn’t have any money so I started to steal things. I found it easy to steal makeup at Wal-Mart, slipping it into my purse and walking out of the store because there were no sensors on the items. I would also go… Read more

Is it Adolescent Rebellion or Something More Serious?

…contined from yesterday. A day later Sarah texted with yet another idea. This time, she wanted to go to nursing school in Germany. To my knowledge, she had absolutely no experience speaking German. It felt as if any suggestion anyone made to her (other than Pedro and I) suddenly became… Read more

The Looming Crisis I Didn’t See Coming

…continued from yesterday. After a very long day of travel, Sarah and her grandparents landed safely in Puerto Rico. Before she left, we had investigated whether or not our cellular carrier worked the same in Puerto Rico as it did in the U.S.—fortunately, it did. She called late at night… Read more

From the Pit to the Pinnacle is a Good Thing, Right?

…continued from yesterday. The new year brought a dramatic change in Sarah. Her meteoric rise from the pit to the pinnacle took everyone by surprise. Coworkers even noticed how different she acted, and asked me if this was the ‘real’ Sarah. I nodded happily—our daughter had returned. She even agreed… Read more

Why I Struggle to Live a Spacious Life

…continued from yesterday. It has taken me years to learn to ask forgiveness of someone when I have done wrong, so knocking on Sarah’s door took all of my self-discipline and courage. “Come in,” she said. “I am so sorry for the way I spoke to you just now,” I… Read more

Losing My Cool Over a Frozen Turkey

…continued from yesterday. I knew I was depressed but I didn’t know what to do. My parents seemed to be trying hard to help me but I thought nothing would help. I knew going to the psych ward in Flagstaff wouldn’t help. I was glad when I came back home… Read more

Relying on the God of Green Hope

…continued from yesterday. Every mother’s nightmare involves visions of their child homeless and adrift in a cruel world. While I fretted and stewed about Sarah’s safety after she disappeared that morning, she enjoyed some alone time—but her phone had died and she didn’t have a cable to charge it. When… Read more

Never Underestimate the Importance of Communication

…continued from yesterday. “I think I’m ready to get help.” Sarah’s discouraged voice over the phone line seemed like a beacon of hope. Maybe we had made the right decision to take her to the crisis center after all. She needed some toiletries and a change of clothing so on… Read more

Learning to Love From the Center of Who I Am

…continued from yesterday. Learning to Love From the Center of Who I Am We arrived at the crisis center in Flagstaff at the end of the day shift. The receptionist took Sarah’s information and asked us to wait for the next available counselor. I ran to Taco Bell to grab… Read more

When A Crisis Center is the Only Option

…continued from yesterday. When Tough Love Gets Really Tough Slowly, we put together a plan. Pedro felt that we had a duty to Sarah to not let her make bad choices during her difficult time. I felt that we shouldn’t harp on the eating issues, but should come alongside her… Read more

Giving to a Tired Caregiver – Inspire Me Monday

I awoke with a start, staring wildly at the profusion of trees to my left.  My gaze swung right.  More trees.  I sat partway upright and saw trees in front, but then my gaze hit the rearview mirror.  My four-year-old’s head glowed in the sunlight shining through the back window. … Read more

Reaching the Bottom of the Pit

…continued from yesterday. (Dear Reader–I don’t normally talk or text this way.  I apologize in advance for the colorful language you will encounter.  I left it in because it shows the depth of my frustration and, yes, anger at a situation that seemed utterly hopeless–as if Sarah wasn’t the only one… Read more

Desperately Seeking Help for an Adolescent in Crisis

…Continued from yesterday. The week Sarah and I spent together seemed like an exercise in futility. From my point of view, Sarah had entered full-blown crisis mode. From her point of view, no one could do anything to help her. From the medical/mental health point of view, Zoloft would fix… Read more

It’s Hard to Trust a System that Seems Broken

…Continued from yesterday. Some of you may wonder why we didn’t just find help for Sarah close to home. After all, the cross-country search for a treatment center had netted no results (other than additional grey hairs and wrinkles and a lighter wallet). Trust. I didn’t trust the mental health… Read more

How to Parent on the Same Page (Even When it isn’t Easy)

Continued from yesterday… Ever since we had children, I have fought my helicopter nature. Pedro constantly reminds me that God created me with a huge, empathetic heart, but that I need to carefully balance between empathy and enabling. He, on the other hand, has a natural knack for consistency. Pedro… Read more

Tell Me How to Do Tough Love

Continued from yesterday… I stormed in the beach condo and slammed the door behind me. “I can’t take this anymore!” I practically yelled when Pedro looked up inquisitively. “What?” “This constant texting with Sarah and her incredibly self-involved, wallowing attitude. She needs help!” I shoved my phone across the table… Read more

Sliding Towards the Pit of Depression

…Continued from yesterday. “You received a package while you were in Argentina,” I reminded Sarah as she settled back into her room at home. “I did?” I handed her the bag. “It feels like clothes or something.” “Oh, yeah.  I ordered a bunch of clothes on line.  I don’t even… Read more

Doubts and Decisions in Argentina

Continued from yesterday… Three days before we planned to leave to spend two weeks with Sarah at Christmas, Pedro’s brother called and told us that the passenger loads in and out of Argentina looked horrible. Evidently, the program he had been using had not been properly updating the real numbers…. Read more

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire

…. continued from yesterday All of a sudden, the doctor’s words came back and rattled around my head.  I held my breath. Had Sarah jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire? Swung from anorexia to bulimia? “No.” The dread receded like the tide on a beach.  “So… Read more

Is it Anorexia, Orthorexia, or the Female Athlete Triad?

…continued from yesterday. Every morning I would step on the scale and every morning the number went down. I wanted to lose weight, so it was a victory. Whenever people would tell me “You’re too thin” I would take it as a compliment. To me it was the same as… Read more

The Problem With Flashbacks and Cancer

Part I I walked out of the Holiday Inn and sucked in deep breaths of air. Shadowy scenes from five months earlier tumbled around my head, seeking to push out all other thoughts. How could something that hadn’t even happened to me evoke such traumatic and pain-filled memories—all because I… Read more

How to Add a Live Button to Your Sidebar Using Widgets

This tutorial should help you add a live button to your sidebar on your blog so that whenever someone clicks on your button, they are redirected to the landing page post for your #write31days series. 1. Open your “Media Library” and click on the icon of your button.       2. Copy… Read more

31 Glimpses into the Unquiet Mind

Every story begins somewhere, but some stories begin in a mist of memories and questions that evoke no clear answers. Our story belongs to this category. The stories you will read in this series chart a journey to discovery and healing, but the navigation through turbulent waters might shock and… Read more

How to Create a Button that Links to Your Landing Page

Last year it took me hours and hours to figure out what to do with my button once I created it.  Hopefully, these instructions will help you create a button that links to your landing page without producing a giant headache. If you want to create a button that you can use… Read more

Why Your Church Needs to Quit Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting

I have a love-hate relationship with all things churchy—especially Wednesday night prayer meetings. My first memory of prayer meeting involved a dimly lit church, really old people (at the tender age of seven, everyone over 15 looked REALLY old), off-key hymns (evidently the organist didn’t attend prayer meeting), intoned prayers… Read more

How to Celebrate Advancing Age

Not everyone gets to celebrate two birthdays each year—but my husband does. His second birthday falls on January 3rd, 2003—the day of his stem cell transplant. In a few months, he will have outlived the average life expectancy of a non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with CNS involvement patient by 13 years. Every… Read more

How to Reset a Troubled Relationship With a Child

“Can I borrow your cell phone?” she asked me. “What grade are you in?” I asked. “Fourth. I need to call my dad. It’s important.” School had only started two days ago, and I didn’t know all of the students—especially the ones in the lower grades. “Ok. I’ll let you… Read more

And the Survey Says…

Thank you so much to all of you who took the time to respond so thoughtfully to the survey–it’s really helped me make some decisions. Over the next few weeks, we’ll incorporate some of the great ideas that you guys made. The first change involves the revival of the Facebook… Read more

What Happens When Students Feel Safe

She stepped up to the microphone during the Monday night worship service and started to speak. “I didn’t know my dad until a few years ago when a man walked up to me and said, ‘So, I’m your father.’” During her first formative years, her grandfather held the family together… Read more

Saying “Yes” to Forgiveness

Gentle Reader: I confess that this took longer than five minutes to write.  I ask your indulgence and challenge you to think about how you have ever had the opportunity to say “Yes!” to forgiveness.  It’s not an easy yes.  Especially when you come from a heritage of abuse and… Read more

Twenty-nine Reasons Our Country is Great

The field of bright yellow flowers (weeds, really) spread behind the curving line of Old Glories set every twenty feet apart next to the long approach to the capitol of the Navajo Nation. Yellow signs with names hand-stenciled in red and attached to the flagpoles with wire proclaimed the names of… Read more

The Shocking Truth About My Neck and Calves

Dealing with Distortions I have a huge, thick, gargantuan neck. When I wear something with a rounded collar, my face doubles in width and takes on a moon-like glow. Ever since I noticed this amazing propensity of necklines to change the proportions of my face, I’ve avoided athletic t-shirts and… Read more

Tales from the Border Tell Two Sides of a Story

The Beggar’s Face Again I sat quietly on the steps of the farmacia on the corner, fanning off flies, vendors, and heat. Almost directly in front of me, young soldiers guarded the square dusty space between the town and the border crossing; the gateway to my own country waiting to… Read more

When Will I Learn that All I Need is to Rest?

When will I learn that I cannot do it all? When will I learn that my view of honesty and that of others’ doesn’t always match and that we each wear the robe of integrity so that it hangs differently from our shoulders? When will I learn that my people-pleaser-self… Read more

The Vendor and the Beggar: It’s all About Attitude

The Border-line is Up to You – Part II If you missed part one of The Border Line Series, you can find it here:  The T-Shirt Vendor and The Beggar – It’s all in the Attitude I’m stingy. That’s what started this. I was only a few yards from my… Read more

A Prayer for Here

God has me here for a reason. When the pressure builds and the bottom of my to-do list grows faster than the things I check off from the top of the list, he sends me grace notes to remind me that I am exactly where he needs me. Magical grace… Read more

When You Hit a Roadblock, Praise the Lord!

In between blogging about Pedro’s trip to the trauma room and subsequent surgery to repair his shattered clavicle and writing about how to rock your hospital gown, I failed to share the story of how God protected me in the Emergency Department. On Monday, June 15 I had laparoscopic surgery…. Read more

The Real Tragedy of Krakauer’s ‘Missoula’ and Acquaintance Rape

Whilst planning a road trip (that ended up not happening) with my daughter, we shopped the website together for books we could both agree on. My criteria consist of three things. The book must be 1) interesting 2) at least 12 hours long (I want my money’s worth), 3)… Read more

Why Go Set a Watchman is NOT Mockingbird (but You Should Read it Anyway)

When I first discovered that Harper Lee was still alive, I had read To Kill a Mockingbird nine times—six of those times out loud to my freshman English classes. I love Lee’s sly sense of humor and her use of understatement. I love how each time I read the book… Read more

When You Don’t Feel Inspired

I confess.  It’s been a rough month. Between surgery, kidney failure, traveling, spending 12 days working at a booth in a crowded convention hall and using all of my supply of extrovertedness (probably for the entire year), I don’t feel very inspired this Monday. I’ve scarcely looked at my blog… Read more

I Don’t Have Favorites, and Neither Does God

I’ve always hated the word ‘favorite.’ I don’t DO favorites, I never have. Who’s your best friend? I don’t really have one, I have lots of friends and they are each unique. What’s your favorite color? Oh, definitely blue. Well, I really like purple too, and sometimes green is just… Read more

How to Rock Your Hospital Gown With Class

What started out as a quick visit to my doctor to see why I had a post-op fever turned into a five-day sojourn in the hospital with a diagnosis of acute kidney failure. On the morning of the fifth day, I waited impatiently for the vampire cart (the lab cart… Read more

My Salute to a Different Kind of Warrior

After two days in the hospital and a handful of pokes and a pesky IV line constantly attached to my right arm, I’ve come to a sobering realization. I jokingly whine and complain a little about the inconvenience of it all. The size 3XL standard issue pants, for example, along… Read more

What to Do When Fear Creeps in the Doorway

Fear started with a fever. Three days after my outpatient surgery, I felt pretty icky (not that one ever feels great after a surgery), so I took a mid-day nap. When I woke up, I took my temperature and discovered that it had risen to 100.9—just a smidge over what… Read more

When Your Parents Age and You Start to Fear

Five-minutes Friday – where we’re given a prompt and a whole gang writes about that word in five minutes. This week the word is fear—cutting right to the heart of my week. Because yeah. I’m afraid. I’m not too proud to admit it. It’s the second year in a row… Read more

When it’s OK to Have a Caregiver Meltdown

  “We need to eat what’s in the freezer,” Pedro said yesterday morning when I asked him what he had planned for breakfast. “I know we have some waffles in there.” I flung open the freezer door and started not-too-gently removing things. I stacked Ziploc bags of frozen bread, leftovers… Read more

Five Lessons from the Slickrock Trail

The weekend before Pedro’s series of unfortunate events that resulted in a trip to the trauma room and a two-hour surgery to repair his shattered clavicle, we had an epic Memorial Day weekend in Moab, UT. It all started when one of our students—I’ll call him Rodrigo—ran away from school… Read more

The Gift of Your Presence is a Beautiful Present

Her voice came over the phone line, “You let me KNOW next time Andrew’s in the hospital and I’ll come sit with you!” I thanked her sincerely and hung up. Knowing that she’d never come. We’d been at this chemotherapy for a year and a half already and most people… Read more

Give the Best Gift to Everyone You Meet

The office (ok, it’s my office, but it sounds so much better to not claim it at this point) looks like a tornado whipped through it. The piles of books call from the middle of the room, distracting me as I write. The bookcase leans haphazardly (it’s a backless number… Read more

What Happens When You Believe in Teamwork

This week I’m writing on my friend Holley Gerth’s prompt: Who in your life lives these words: “I don’t have it all together. But I believe we’re better together.” The weekly prompts for Holley’s Coffee for Your Heart link up celebrate the publication of her newest book You’re Loved No… Read more

If Mockingbirds Sing in the Darkest Hours, So Can I

I like the idea of taking time to reflect on a regular basis—and not just at the end of a year. Maybe next time, I’ll do about post about what I’d like to learn in June so that I can compare my goals to my experiences. 1. If Mockingbirds can… Read more

What I Learned From the Trailhead to Trauma Room

It all stated over Memorial Day weekend when Pedro and I took two students camping and mountain biking in Moab, UT for the weekend (more on that another day). We arrived home late on Monday night and discovered that the school had guests staying in the downstairs bedroom where our… Read more

End-of-the-School-Year Blues

End-of-the-School-Year Blues The teacher’s dance of discipline and love has ended for another year. My prayers trail each student out the door and into the summer. I sit in silence as conversations past echo through my classroom and scenes replay from the year gone by. Did my cherubs learn? But… Read more

How to Harmonize Despite Diversity: Surrender All

My first child felt like a baptism by fire! I hold a Master’s degree in Education but could not keep my newborn quiet or content. She was strong-willed from the first breath. Her bright red hair drew the “stubborn” comments from observers and I grinned—they had no idea. I bought… Read more

Rise to the Occasion and Do What Terrifies You

Rise and follow seem to go together like macaroni and cheese. But sometimes, I feel like it would be easier to just sit on the ground—paralyzed and holding out my alms cup waiting for grace to trickle in. But when Jesus heals us—whether it’s from addictions, sorrow, grief, illness, depression,… Read more

Seeing God’s Face in the Stars

My middle child and I lay with our heads pressed together on one pillow cherishing the rare, uninterrupted time. Our hearts reached out to each other as we talked of God. The Milky Way sparkled above us, the Big Dipper was trying to catch the sun that had disappeared over… Read more

You’re Blessed in Unexpected Ways When You Follow

I loved my job, but I knew my husband wanted to work at his calling, too. Ever since cancer, he had been unable to find a job as a full-time teacher due to our location—we lived in a small town with a university that everyone wanted to move to. Each… Read more

If Insurance Companies Treated Cancer Like a Mental Illness

Imagine if insurance companies treated customers with cancer the same way they treat customers with a mental illness. Insurance Agent: Green Cross Super Insurance Agency, Melinda speaking. May I help you? Caregiver to a Cancer Patient: Good morning. My husband has non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and the hospital informed me that he… Read more

Proof that You are NOT Alone

You are NOT alone (even if most days it feels like it). One of the most incredible circumstances in my caregiver recovery happened one summer when I received an email from the professor of a writing workshop class I wanted to take at Walla Walla University. She informed me that… Read more

Real Life Friendships Through Virtual Relationships

“What?!” My daughter Katrina looked at me as if I’d suddenly sprouted an extra eyeball in my chin. “You and Laura are going to meet someone you met on the INTERNET this summer?” I could see the mind movie reels playing in her imagination—all the things we had warned her… Read more

Three Things You Need to Take Out of Your Purse

Dear Friend, You’ve been hauling three things around in your purse that weigh you down and make you feel burdened, depressed and desperate. Take a moment to sort though all that stuff you haul around and determine what you really need. I’m not talking about the lipstick, your kid’s dirty… Read more

How to Know if Your Saltiness is Balanced

As soon as the buzzer sounded signaling that the cinnamon applesauce cake had finished baking, I removed it and slid six loaves of rosemary garlic bread into the oven. “There,” I thought as I closed the oven door, “if I put the water on to boil now and make a… Read more

Peace in the Midst of the Storm

I walk in the wind and my eyes scan the approaching clouds, measuring my chances of making it home before the rain and predicted hail hit. The wind tugs strands from my ponytail and whips them around my face. I opt to continue my walk, instead of turning back. I… Read more

Passing Through the Dreaded Doors to Cancer

Five-minute-Friday prompts always surprise me with what they bring out of people’s souls. Here’s what it prompted in me today: Dreaded Doors The hallway is darkened and yet startlingly white as I creep toward the double doors. The knot of dread in my stomach grows with each shaky step and… Read more

Watching the Door of My Lips

Pedro invited two students over for dinner, and after dessert, I slipped away to join the Five-minute Friday Twitter party. The boys have been guests at our house before, and they know the tradition—after eating comes the loud music. Toby Mac’s voice pulsates through the house—right on cue with Kate… Read more

Lessons Learned in April

A few other blogger friends do reflective posts about what they learned during a month, and well, it looked like fun!  So I decided to do a blog post, too.   This is usually how I get into trouble–something looks like fun and so I join in and wish that… Read more

Why You Should Embrace the Unexpected

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in life (and then had to learn over and over and over again), it’s to embrace the unexpected. We all have dreams growing up—I dreamed of marrying a man with the last name of Baker and having 13 children. Instead, I married a wonderful… Read more

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest: A Book Review

Unexpected Gifts “She wrote my name in it!” a student exclaimed as she gazed in wonder at the title page to Melanie Dickerson’s latest book, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest and saw her name and a personal message from Melanie inscribed there. The squeals of the eight excited girls rang… Read more

Hiding from Cancer to Renew My Strength

Welcome to Five-Minute-Friday! A group of writers get a prompt and write for five minutes and post. Today’s prompt is: HIDE When the sight of the red-blood-cell bag would become too much, or the pokes too many, or the smell of the chemotherapy would overwhelm my nose—I wanted to escape…. Read more

Hide Me From My Children’s Mistakes!

“You’ll regret it!” I wanted to shout to the pregnant lady I saw in Wal Mart as she happily added sweet little pink baby clothes to her shopping cart. “They’re more trouble than they’re worth!” I felt like warning the young couple cooing over their newborn in the line in… Read more

Taking Risks and Discovering Rewards in the Grand Canyon

I hiked deeper into the canyon and found gold. “We’re gonna die, Mrs. Ojeda!” one of my students exclaimed as he pointed at the sign warning hikers to NOT attempt to hike from the south rim of the Grand Canyon down to the Colorado River and back in one day…. Read more

Is Jesus in Your Heart?

What do you do when Jesus is in your heart? The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7 NLT I reached out a hand to… Read more

How to Hug a Cactus in 5 Simple Steps

How to Hug Love a Cactus Tears popped out of my eyes when the voice on the other end of the line growled an angry “What?!” I don’t know why the tone of voice made me cry. Perhaps because it felt like the sudden, unexpected jolt of pain one gets when… Read more

Handling Annoyances in Everyday Life

We all have a choice when faced with annoyances in everyday life. See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are…I John 3:1 I was busy. I did not need interruptions. It had been raining all day and I… Read more

Relief for Cancer of the Human Soul

The costs of cancer are made up of more than just hospital bills. I signed the check and addressed the envelope and expected a feeling of relief to wash over me. After all, the check represented a huge accomplishment. After twelve years, we had finally paid off cancer. Paying off… Read more

You Need the Right Equipment to Enjoy Your Journey

Lost that loving feeling? Twenty-six years ago, Pedro and I purchased our first mountain bikes. Pedro still has his original bike, only now it stays on a wind-trainer in the house, and we use it during the winter to stay in shape. Over the intervening years, they have provided us… Read more

Everlasting Love

Everlasting Love I taught little ones in church for years. I joyfully told the story of creation to the 1-4 year olds who responded with absolute love to the Creator who fashioned them and declared them Good! Genesis 1:31 – “God saw all that he had made, and it was… Read more

Good Grief

Good Grief The absence of grieving burns a whole in a person’s soul. I know. No one close to me has ever died. Nothing traumatic has happened to me as a person. But certain events in life require grieving. Let me explain. When Pedro had cancer and every new report… Read more

How to Tell If You’re Being Encouraged or Manipulated

When the doctors diagnosed Pedro with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back in April of 2002, word spread like wildfire through our small community. People who had never spoken a word to me in our first eight months suddenly started dropping by to help and encourage us. It didn’t take long for me… Read more

Break (and Grow Back Stronger)

They say that when you break a bone, it grows back stronger than before, but that myth has been laid to rest. The truth lies in the process of healing—what bones do when they knit back together. Fractured (the same as broken) bones get immobilized, and thus they start to… Read more

When God Gives You a Word for the Year: Deeper

I’ve gone deeper than I ever desired. When God gives you a word for the year, and you decide to accept it, you never know what will happen and how you’ll stretch and grow. I could almost write a version of When You Give a Moose a Muffin based on… Read more

Missing the Obvious

Are you missing the obvious? The Costco in southern Phoenix has an odd gas station and exit system. If a person wants to purchase gas, one has to drive to the far side of the warehouse and after fueling up, the driver gets funneled through a small parking lot to… Read more

Mixed Messages

 Sending Mixed Messages The sign caught my eye from across the store. Big bold letters, the decorative kind that one arranges on a shelf, proclaimed FAT. I chucked. Really? What store would want to sell a grouping of letters that said FAT? In this politically correct society where everyone monitors… Read more

God’s Plan: A Blueprint for Life

God’s Plan is the Master Blueprint Dad sat on the end of the sofa and mom sat in the chair next to it. It was Friday night after my children’s Christmas concert. The kids were in bed and my husband sat on the loveseat while I sprawled on the floor… Read more

Two Rocks and a Lesson in Faith

Two Rocks Teach Me A Lesson in Faith A beautiful mauve and rose rock caught my eye as I stumbled across the red desert dirt. I bent down and picked it up. Jagged edges stood out like little mountains on three surfaces, while smooth swirls of color danced across the stone…. Read more

The Kite

Like a kite caught in the grasping branches of a tree and cut loose from the bonds of slender string that held it oh, so firmly in the grasp of love, you flap angrily in the wind, broken and unprepared for what you might face if the branches release their… Read more


Five-Minute-Friday: the group of writers who gather together every Thursday night or during the day Friday to grab an assigned word and write. Not a book. A 5-minute, unedited piece of your life, your dreams and your truth. If you had asked me, ten years ago, to write about the… Read more

Loss is Loss (but Love is Bigger)

I scrolled down through my Facebook post feedback–58 comments in just over an hour. Sympathy offered from friends and family far and near. My post touched a chord in many hearts. Loss does that. We’ve all experienced loss and it hurts. But I didn’t expect that response on my Facebook… Read more

How to Visit a Sick Person

How to Visit a Sick Person The force of the other car T-boning his car had thrown him partially through the sunroof—despite his seatbelt. He now lay in a coma with injuries to his head, spleen, pelvis, ribs, spine and legs. For four years, this young man had been part… Read more

Whispers of Love

As I sit at my table, my flowers nod back at me. A dozen deep red roses perfume my dining room—the Valentine gift my husband gave me just before he took off for a conference in Texas. Further down the table is the rose plant my husband bought for my… Read more

Visible Faith in Open Homes

Right when prompt came up for this week’s Five-minute Friday, I logged onto Facebook to let my blogging buddy know the prompt this week would be “Open.” Much to my surprise, I saw I had a direct message from the mother of one of my daughter’s friends and so I… Read more

The Rescue

The Rescue They said Pedro was lucky. “If you’re going to get cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is very treatable.” A little CHOP-Rituximab (four chemotherapy drugs, the P stands for Prednisone, and Rituximab, a monoclonal antibody), lots of rest, and presto, the cancer disappears. And it did. But then it came back… Read more

When Your Actions Scream

Have you ever noticed that your actions scream? When you rant and rave at your child’s basketball game, what message are you sending? When you excuse her school absence (when she chose to sleep in and was not sick), what are you hoping she’ll learn? When you get together with… Read more

When I Remember

The words from the song we sang at summer camp reverberate in my head. “When I remember that he died for me, I’ll never go back any more, Hallelujah!” As a staff member singing along with the kids, my favorite part involved the hand motions—all 300 campers and 80 staff… Read more

Goodbye Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day seems synonymous with knights on white horses coming to rescue damsels in distress. Or not. Maybe it’s a dreary day filled with what-ifs and if-only-I-would-haves. If February 14 leaves you feeling empty and blah, maybe it’s time to kiss Valentine’s Day goodbye. Valentine’s Day has lost it’s meaning—it’s… Read more

Sex Sells (but We Don’t Have to Buy)

“Mrs. Ojeda, Lenny called my momma a hoe!” The little one tugged at my sleeve, her voice indignant and outraged. “Whatcha you gonna do about it?” I responded with the first thing that came to mind. “Why did he say that, Susie? Did you call his daddy a rake?” Clearly,… Read more

Just Keep Swimming

This has been quite the year already. One month of the year out of the way and Dory’s song, “Just keep swimming…just keep swimming” seems to be the most fitting song for my life. My mother-in-law has to go into a care-home. Water rises. Spend Christmas cleaning out a lifetime… Read more

Keeping Memories

I keep the memory of the last visit with my grandpa tucked deep in my heart. The day before I headed back to college for my junior year I tiptoed into the front bedroom where my parents had set up a hospital bed and hospice nurses had brought in the… Read more

God Has a Purpose for Your Life

I haunted the hallways, waiting for the doctors to finish their regular morning meeting in the corner room. For days Pedro’s life had hung in the balance while a yeast infection in his blood ravaged his cancer-weakened body. The chemo treatment he had received shortly before the yeast started colonizing… Read more

Losing My Focus

My Super Bowl XLIX experience disappointed me. And not because of the final score—sure, I wanted the Seahawks to win, but at least both teams played well and the match seemed even. The Patriots were my second choice for winners, but hey, we can’t always get our preferences. What disappointed… Read more

Six Tips for Finding Financial Aid for Cancer Patients

Cancer Caregiving 101: Financial Aid for Cancer Patients? “Twenty-seven THOUSAND, six-hundred and six dollars?” my voice inched up the panic scale as I read the number out loud to an empty room and the kitchen table. “For ONE infusion of Rituximab?” I checked the number again, then flipped to the… Read more

Feeling Guilty?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from cancer, it’s that guilt won’t cure it. I’ve also realized that there’s nothing like a pregnancy or a bad illness to bring out the loads of advice from well-meaning friends, family and strangers. The important thing is to understand where the guilt comes… Read more

Fitbit Charge HR Review: Accountability on Your Arm

If you’ve ever tried to make long-term changes in your life—whether they are spiritual, emotional or physical, you’ve probably found that joining a group or having an accountability partner makes a big difference. My last exercise accountability partner had pointy ears and insisted that I walk or run at least… Read more

Follow God–Not Fellow Christians

“You can only go on the hike if you promise to obey me the first time, Ella,” I told her. “It’s not safe to take you if you don’t listen to me.” She nodded her head solemnly and smiled her sweet smile. Minutes earlier, she had disobeyed me when I… Read more


“Anyone need a pair of gloves?” I called out to the group of 17 excited students as we waited in the ski lodge. A chorus of “I dos!” overwhelmed me, and I noticed for the first time how inadequately prepared most of the kids were. Last night I sorted through… Read more

Safety: Redefined

“I was praying for safety for your long trip home, I guess it didn’t work,” said the voice on the phone. My hands still shook as my son and I rode in the back of the police car to meet with the rest of my family who had gotten rides… Read more

Blinded by Cucumbers: A Lesson in Communion

I really didn’t want to go to spa night at our church. I’m not into girly night out stuff—I’d rather curl up in a comfy chair and read a good book or spend some quality time with my husband (not necessarily in that order). The Women’s Ministries leader had passed… Read more

A Letter to Caregivers

Dear Caregiver Friend: I’m sending you this letter because I used to send letters. I used to do a lot of things… I used to be a great aunt. Well, I’m a great-aunt now, but I used to be a great aunt. I sent post cards and birthday cards and… Read more

A Letter to My Daughters

Every separation, every send-off takes a little part of my heart away with you. From the first moment your chubby legs toddled hesitantly away from me into your daddy’s waiting arms, I’ve known that one day, one day, you’d grow up and become you own person with, problems, joys and… Read more

Magnifying Your Mistakes

Dear Friend; I know how easy those phrases of condemnation can slip into the closet of your mind and pop out to torment you in the dark of night. “If only I had,” and “I should have,” and “Why didn’t I?” rattle around and poke you awake in the middle… Read more