What I Wish Christians Knew About Harm OCD

Editor’s note: The following piece was submitted by an anonymous author.  Whilst many of us invision repeated hand washing, or perhaps Monk’s compulsion to have everything orderly when we hear the words ‘OCD,’ that isn’t the only kind of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It first happened six months after I turned eighteen,… Read more

What I Wish Christians Understood about Cheer

Are Kind Words Enough to Cheer Up an Anxious Person? It says it right there in Proverbs 12:25, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Unfortunately, some Christians believe kind words can serve as the only antidote to anxiety. They can’t. Kind words provide a… Read more

What I Wish Christians Knew About Prayer and Mental Health

Are Mental Health Issues Demon Possession or Something Else? Today’s guest post comes from Jim Miles. My sister spent her twenties declaring that she would never, ever have children. By the time she reached thirty-three, however, things had drastically changed. Her insecurities over her ability to be a good parent… Read more

What Would You Try if You Knew You Had Already Won?

What Would You Try if You Knew You Had Already Won? “What time are you hoping to run it in?” the well-dressed, silver-haired runner in front of me asked as we waited in the chill morning air near the front of our color group. “I just want to make it… Read more

How I Wish the Church Would Treat Those With a Mental Illness

Guest writer Tara Ulrich gives some great advice on how she wishes the church would treat mental illness. “There are so many board and care facilities in the shadows of our steeples and we don’t even know they are there.” These very words jumped off the page at me as… Read more

Suspect Someone Has a Mental Health Issue? Read This

People Never Expect to Have a Mental Health Problem I didn’t expect to hear that my twenty-year-old daughter had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in a text message from my sister-in-law—who heard it from someone who came along with the person who came to the emergency department to evaluate Sarah before… Read more

What I Wish Christians Knew About Anxiety

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become… Read more

What I Wish Christians Understood About Mental Illness

What I Wish Christians Understood About Mental Illness Today guest writer and blogger Marisa Slusarcyk talks about the true cost of mental illness.  Be sture to check out her backstory post over at her blog Trendingmama.com. We Pay with More than Money $26.30 $21.23 $44.42 $16.87 $25.44 $10.09 Total $144.35… Read more

What I Wish Christians Knew About Caregiver PTSD

One Woman’s Journey Through Caregiver PTSD In this guest post by Anna Smit, author of Love Embraced: A Journey in and through Suffering, shares tips for dealing with caregiver PTSD. I was diagnosed with PTSD in April, 2015, a year after losing my mother to glioblastoma multiforme, one of the most deadly… Read more

Don’t Miss the Obvious

In retrospect, I wonder how I could miss the obvious. In fact, looking back at my adult life, I think I’ve missed the obvious on more than one occasion. For example, a student gets caught smoking weed in the dormitory and spends three hours going berserk and ends up in… Read more

What I Wish Christians Knew About PTSD

PTSD, God, and The World They call combat trauma an illness. And it has symptoms—hyper-vigilance, exaggerated startle response, insomnia, quickness to anger, emotional numbness—the list goes on. You can look it up. But it’s one other thing, and you have to understand this. PTSD is homesickness. We’re supposed to go… Read more

A Living Forward Update

Living Forward Update At the end of March I spent a night away from home at a free campground on my Life Plan retreat. I really wanted to take life planning seriously, because my caregiving journeys derailed the vague plans I had for my life back in my 30s. I… Read more

What Goes Down Must Come Up

What Goes Down Must Come Up (More Lessons from the Grand Canyon) Don’t tell my students, but my legs really hurt. My feet ache. I think twice before using the facilities because, well, my quads hurt when I sit down. When I went for a jog this morning, I wondered… Read more

Why Should YOU Care About Mental Illnesses?

National Mental Health Awareness Month Depression. Bipolar Disorder. Schizophrenia. Mania. Anxiety. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Eating Disorders. Sleep Disorders. Autuism. Disassociative Disorder. Oppositional Defiance Disorder. The list goes on and on. Mental health issues and mental illnesses leave those who suffer AND those who care for them feeling left out, sidelined, and… Read more

From Holeness to Wholeness

From Holeness to Wholeness I teach English.  I can make up words, can’t I? If you look at any word long enough, it just starts to look weird. Take ‘whole’ for example. We all know the ‘w’ makes no noise—someone just tacked it on to distinguish it from ‘hole.’ Which… Read more

March Lessons Learned and Relearned

Lessons Learned and Relearned in March 1. I learned in March that our first grandchild will be a grandson! Pedro has already talked about tiny motorcycles and gear, not to mention mountain bikes for tykes. The ultrasounds always make me ponder that the Creator of the universe knows ME and every… Read more

Just Jump! Inspire Me Monday

“Go ahead.  You can do it!” “Don’t over-think it, just jump!” “If you don’t leap, you’ll always wish you had.” We both peered over the edge into the turquoise waters below.  Way below.  Way, way below. My daughter looked at me again.  “Are you sure?  That’s scary!” “Just jump.   Don’t… Read more

National Nutrition Month Recipe Roundup

National Nutrition Month Recipe Roundup Life isn’t about making giant changes and experiencing instant success.  It’s more about making incremental changes the eventually equal success with staying power. March was National Nutrition Month, and I asked some of my friends to share their favorite healthy recipes with you. At the bottom… Read more

How to Mentor Even if You’re an Introvert

My phone rang during class and I checked the number before stepping outside to answer it. “Yes?” “I have Maria here in the office with me,” the principal said, “and she wants to know if you’d be her mentor.” “Um, I guess so,” I answered inelegantly. “What does that involve?”… Read more

A Life Plan Retreat on a Budget

My Living Forward Life Plan Retreat It seems appropriate that I spent yesterday and today—Easter Sunday—away on my Life Plan Retreat. I started my adventure yesterday afternoon by learning how to hitch up our trailer by myself and backing it up the hill and around the corner in order to… Read more

Accepting the Rescue

Could anyone rescue my daughter? A year and a month ago, I didn’t know if I would ever see my daughter alive again. I had visions of her beaten, bruised body lying unclaimed in a foreign morgue whilst I searched the world over trying to save her. Her life seemed doomed… Read more

Light the Next Step (and trust the Guide for the journey)

Single file, we trudged through the darkness.  Silence surrounded us, punctuated only by the strained breath of those not used to trekking up a mountain in darkness.  We’d never been on this trail before, and other trails branching off in different directions reminded us to stay closely behind the guide. … Read more

Clueless Christian Surprised by Subtle Sin

During vacation last week I bravely went on a solitary hike down in the Chiricahua Mountains in southern Arizona. For some reason, no one else in my family felt like getting up at four in the morning, driving two hours from our camp site, and spending the day looking for… Read more

Living Forward is Triage for Life

Living Forward: a Book Review God has a sense of humor. First, he gives me a word for the year with a double meaning—constrain—which means to both compel and to hold back. Next, he puts three books in my life (books I received for free with the understanding that I… Read more

Learning to Share is Harder Than I Expected

To Bear is to Share I can never make up my mind what the Christian’s response to that verse in the Bible that exhorts us to ‘Bear one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2 NKJV) really means. Sometimes, I shy away from it—sure that the God only wants my tithe, offerings and… Read more

Peace for Lifetime: The Self-Help Book I Didn’t Know I Needed

Peace for a Lifetime Review This book is the first in a trifecta of books that I really needed to read (but didn’t realize how much I needed to read them). Reading Peace for a Lifetime is like sitting down with a friendly counselor in the comfort of my own… Read more

February Taught Me My Need for a Plan

What I Learned in February I’m joining Emily P. Freeman at www.chattingatthesky who hosts a monthly link up where bloggers share what they’ve learned during the month.   For almost fifty years I’ve drifted along, and life has been good.  Sure, we’ve had some serious bumps along the way, but that… Read more

Why You Need to Read the ‘You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide’

God always lines things up in ways that I never expect. For example, I recently applied to participate in two launch teams for authors I respect—Holley Gerth and her You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide and Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy’s Living Forward book. Due to our small town post office’s… Read more

The Morning Miracle on Eleven Long

I started awake and rolled to a sitting position on the narrow Naugahyde chair-turned-cot. Each time Pedro stirred, I jerked awake again to check on him. He seemed more feverish than before, more confused as he mumbled in his delirium. I pushed the call button, and went to the bathroom… Read more

Triggers is Not Just for Mothers of Young Ones

  It’s not often that I read a non-fiction book that that has me turning pages as quickly as Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses. In fact, it’s not often that I read books on parenting, since our two girls have entered adulthood. But Triggers touches a… Read more

Why That Proverbs 31 Woman Really Chaps My Hide

The Proverbs 31 woman irritates me. I think of her in my head as Mrs. Perfecta Esposa (in a snarky sort of way). Ok, maybe it’s the ideal of Perfecta that really rubs me the wrong way. Well, in all honesty, the fact that people think that anyone should live… Read more

Traumatizing Help: squirrels and caregiving

It all started with a normal hunt for food.  An innocent little squirrel dashing across a seldom used road to get some food for his family.  He darted and dashed in a frantic hurry, but the maintenance truck zipped around the corner and the poor little squirrel saw stars and… Read more

Almost Losing to Completely Understand

Almost Losing My Husband and Daughter Helped Me Understand I grew up in a conservative family, attended private schools from kindergarten through college, married, had two children and thought I had life all figured out. I kept myself squeaky clean and did all those things that ‘good’ Christians should do and… Read more

Do You Have a Life Plan?

 out-of-control focus? A Life Plan Can help: Part II (CLICK FOR PART I) Have you ever had a focus problem? Mine started when I became a parent (parenting is HARD work and seems to require all of our focus!), and intensified during my caregiving journey. About three years after Pedro’s miraculous… Read more

Out-of-focus Caregiving Can Harm Your Health

I learned the hard way what happens when I lose my focus. I opened the box and quickly tore the wrapper from around its contents. Ah. Pure bliss—a thick layer of dark chocolate covered an incredible sweet bar of chocolate ice cream. “How do you spell relief?” I asked myself…. Read more

Little Green Tractor – Lessons on Obedience

Just like that, he was gone.  I ran all the way around the house and my little red-headed four-year-old was gone.  I hollered and yelled.  No answer. I had been hanging sheets on the laundry line in the backyard and he’d been peddle-pushing his little green tractor around and through… Read more

Count Every Heartbeat a Present

“There’s the heartbeat!” the tech exclaimed as we ignored our daughter and crowded around the TV screen. Sure enough, a tiny pulse of light beat out a staccato rhythm in the raspberry-sized formation—our grandchild-in-progress at seven and a half weeks gestation. An awed silence filled the room. “I never thought… Read more

Do You Need to Check Your Coffee Grinder’s Settings?

“Which grinder do you use for your decaf?” I called out to my daughter. “The small one.” I grumbled inwardly—at home I used a nice burr grinder, and I worried that the blade grinder wouldn’t produce the same taste (I’m not a coffee snob, really). My burr grinder odyssey had… Read more

You Need This Book if You’re Affected by Bipolar Disorder

Here’s the skinny on the book that everyone should read if they know someone with a bipolar disorder diagnosis. I remember the nurse wheeling me out of the hospital with a lanky newborn on my lap dressed in a white onesie with vibrant giraffes strewn all over it. My first baby… Read more

Meet the Ultimate Blood Donor

This month our country celebrates those who donate blood during National Blood Donor Month. This got me thinking about my experiences with blood donation. I donate blood when I can—but often the techs turn me away. After registering and going through the health history and mini-physical, the tech does a… Read more

Good Blood from Bad – Unexpected Blessings from Caregiving

“You need to come on over to the student center,” my husband, Randy, spoke softly over the phone, the noises in the background almost overriding his voice.  “The students are turning out like never before!” “I can’t bring Andrew down there though, his counts are too low.”  I responded.  We’d… Read more

First of All, Just Plead Guilty

I thought I’d share my $190 photo of a bird with everyone. It’s the first good photo I’ve taken of a Painted Redstart. You’re probably wondering how a photo I took could cost $190. Let me explain. My plane had arrived after midnight, and I needed to teach in just… Read more

The Last Word on My Mental Illness

Continued from… Today’s guest blogger authorized and participated in writing our #write31days series “31 Glimpses in to the Unquiet Mind” back in October of 2015.  This final post serves as an update and an explanation for all that Sarah went through and why she chose to participate and authorize this series…. Read more

Don’t Be Afraid! Just Believe!

Even in the mid-90s, no one was still listening to records anymore, but for me, there is still some Christmas music that must be heard against the crackling of needle on vinyl. Classical guitar, organ and chimes, brass quintets—all instrumental arrangements of ancient carols whose lyrics, inscribed in memory like… Read more

Semantics Matter! Do Your Part to Stop the Stigma!

Continued… On Thanksgiving morning Sarah and I woke and prepared for our quest—to run a 10K on Thanksgiving Day. Four years earlier, back before her bipolar disorder diagnosis, she, Laura and I had run in Huffing for Stuffing, a 5 and 10K event in Bozeman, MT that benefited the local… Read more

Practical Advice for Keeping the Holidays Happy

The shorter days seem to suck minutes out of each hour—causing me to rush around and get things done at a breakneck pace. Meanwhile, little chores and tasks seem so laborious. Who wants to file the growing stack of papers on one’s desk when the weak winter sun beckons to… Read more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Audible.com 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eleven Ways to Make Sure Your Houseguests Don’t Feel Welcome

It’s that time of the week again–when brave bloggers join together for a twitter party (#fmfparty), laughter (well the LOL sort), and a challenge from Kate Motaung (our hostess) to write for five minutes on her brainchild prompt.  Sometimes, the prompts stir profound thoughts in my soul, and I rush… Read more

Why Go Deeper?

We sat down at the table and Pedro made sure that our three guests knew each other’s names before he blessed the food. “I bet you guys are starved,” I said with a smile to the two teenage students who had joined us for supper. “It smells so good,” Caleb… Read more

Being Content With Who I Am

“Mrs. Ojeda! You have a bloody nose!” the sweet little second grade boy exclaimed as he walked into the cafeteria for supper. “It’s just a cold sore,” I muttered, and smiled at his concern for me. By the time the students found their seats, no fewer than ten students had… Read more

Setting My Camera on Auto

We entered the forest in a pool of light, which disappeared as the road narrowed and climbed towards the parking area three-quarters of a mile away. Redwoods shot upwards on every side, and leaned in over the road, blocking sunlight, blue sky and even sounds. The temperature outside dropped, and… Read more

Invoking Your Citizenship

I made a mistake and I felt like a failure. I even got called into the principal’s office and chastised for hurting the cafeteria lady’s feelings. It all started with a great assignment gone awry. As part of my English III curriculum, I had students read and analyze the Declaration… Read more

Prepare Your Heart, Not Your Hearth

The year we lived in the ancient yellow farmhouse near the end of the holler near Clarksburg, West Virginia, my decided that sacrificing a tree for Christmas was wrong. At least, I think that was his reasoning. That’s what mom said, anyway. My older sister may remember a different reason—maybe… Read more

Five Tips for Fighting the Holiday Blues

The verse of the day on my phone app popped up and bopped me upside the head the other day. Psalm 42:11. In fact, it surprised me so much that I had to read it in four different versions and I concluded that I liked them all, but I loved… Read more

Fifty Marathons after Sixty? Let Lillian Inspire You!

At 23, I felt pretty invincible. So, when my Aunt Lillian casually asked me if I’d like to run in a 5K race, I accepted on a whim. I should have known better than to accept an invitation for a fun run from a 65-year-old—no matter how charming her smile.

Sovereign or Souvenir? Which Kind of God are You Looking For?

The young girl walked up to my daughter and declared, “I’m ready to say my memory verse, Miss Sarah!” “Go ahead,” Sarah said. She listened patiently as the student recited from memory Habakkuk 3:17-18. When the youngster reached verse 19, her words caught Sarah by surprise. “The souvenir Lord is… Read more

When Caring for a Parent Means Quitting Your Job

        Meet: Tobi Caregiver Connection: I met Tobi during the #write31day challenge. She selflessly quit her job and moved back into her parents’ home in order to care for her mother. Blog: Simply Jesus Ministries Who she cares for: Her mother, who suffers from dementia and anxiety…. Read more

The Vegetarian’s Guide to Roasting a Turkey

Love inspires me to do crazy things. For example, decide to roast a turkey for my students for an early Thanksgiving Dinner.  My husband and I work at a boarding school, and each staff member chooses a faculty family–a small group of students that we’ll mentor and hang out with over… Read more

Caring for a Child with a Rare Metabolic Disorder (GA1)

    Meet: Sara Caregiver Connection: I met Sara online during the #write31days challenge and was inspired by her story of making positive changes in her life AND caregiving for a child with special dietary needs. Blog: www.saraborgstede.com Who she cares for: Her son Zack, who has a rare metabolic… Read more

Caring for a Child with Albright’s Hereditary Osteodytrophy

    Meet: Amee Caregiver Connection: Amee’s siblings attended elementary school with my daughters, and I met her for the first time after her involvement in helping her alma mater (where I happened to work) win a half a million dollars in the Kohl’s Cares competition about six years ago…. Read more

Three Simple Steps to Unlock the Secret to Happiness

    Dear Friend, You are brave. Crawling out of bed on a cold, dark morning when you’d rather cocoon yourself in the comfort of your covers takes bravery. Whether dark depression or mild dissatisfaction whispers in your ears that the solution lies under the guise of more sleep—you’ve ignored… Read more

Caregiving for a Child on the Austism Spectrum

    Meet: Sarah Ann Caregiver Connection: I met Sarah Ann through the #write31days challenge in October. Her amazing story caught my attention, and she graciously agreed to guest post and share part of her journey. Blog: Faith Along the Way Who she cares for: Joy, her autistic daughter. Favorite… Read more

Five Ways to Help a Caregiver This Thanksgiving (Inspire Me Monday)

Thanksgiving means different things to different people. For men, it might mean football (either as a couch potato or out on the front lawn). For women, it might mean cooking for hours on end all to have the feast disappear in thirty minutes and turn into hours of clean up.

When a Community Becomes a Caregiver

    Meet: Bethany Caregiver Connection: I met Bethany through the Five-Minute Friday twitter parties (where scads of bloggers meet each Thursday night to chat, encourage each other and wait for our prompt from Kate Motaung). Who Cares for Her: Bethany discovered the beauty of a community that stepped in… Read more

Be Still and Let God Fight

I thought that once my children were out of the toddler stages, life would become easier. I thought that once they could do more for themselves I wouldn’t be doing as much for them. I thought when my son finished cancer treatment I could “return to normal” and have time… Read more

Caring for a Spouse with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)

    Meet: Shorna Caregiver Connection: Shorna, who currently works as registered nurse in the ICU,  graduated from high school with Carol and Pedro back in 1984. Who she cares for: Her husband, who was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) Favorite Bible verse: “When I am afraid, I will trust… Read more

Pumpkin Spice Waffles

If you love all things pumpkin, crisp mornings and a hearty breakfast, you’ll love these pumpkin spice waffles.  Made with things like whole-wheat flour, flaxseeds and pumpkin puree, one waffle will make your stomach sigh with contentment from breakfast to lunch. You can make your own pumpkin puree from those… Read more

The World Needs YOU!

The world needs you! Yes, you. Don’t give up. Don’t check out. The world needs you. Despair starts with a lie that seems like a feather but feels like lead. Maybe the deceiver whispers in your ear that the things that others have done to you make you worthless, without… Read more

Caring for a Parent with Multi-infarct Dementia

Meet: Leah Caregiver Connection: Leah is a pharmacist and a writer who, together with her sister, had to help their mom decide what to do when multi-infarct dementia quickly changed their mother’s abilities to care for herself. Blog: Point to Jesus God’s Care in the Caregiving It hit us out of… Read more

Caring for a Spouse with Vascular Dementia

    Meet: Barbara Caregiver Connection: I met Barbara through the #write31days challenge and her series on “Dealing with Dementia’s Demands” Blog: http://scrapper123.blogspot.com Who she cares for: Her husband, who suffers from vascular dementia. Favorite Bible verse: Psalm 116:1-9 Wearing hats is not who I am. They just aren’t comfortable; and… Read more

Inspire Me Monday–What Inspires YOU?

What inspires me this week? Family caregivers and their millions of selfless acts of kindness towards wives, husbands, children, parents and sometimes even acquaintances when a sick person has no family nearby. Family caregivers don’t receive a salary or use a time card to keep track of the time spent… Read more

You Do It Because It’s Your Turn

November is National Family Caregiver Awareness Month. I’m sure most people are not aware of this little fact; I wasn’t. Through the years I’ve known some amazing people who cared for catastrophically ill people. A mother who cared for her very young son (my friend) who had a brain tumor,… Read more

Royal Tea or Royalty?

I stood at the castle school door in my evening gown and tiara waiting for the junior high and high school girls to arrive for an evening of tea and tiaras. A gaggle of pajama-clad (it was wear-your-pajamas-day at school day) elementary girls caught sight of me and started oohing… Read more

Caring for a Spouse With Parkinson’s Disease and Stroke

    Meet: Paula Caregiver Connection: Paula wrote a beautiful series of letters to Richard, her husband of over 40 years, for the #write31days challenge. Blog: http://smidgensbitsandsnippets.blogspot.com Who she cared for: Her husband Richard, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the 1990s and had a stroke in 2011. Favorite… Read more

Caring for a Parent with a Mental Illness

      Meet: Tara Caregiver Connection: Tara wrote for 31 days about living as the daughter of a mother with a mental illness. Blog: Praying on the Prairie Who she cares for: Her mother, who suffers from a mental illness. Favorite Bible verse: “I can do all this through… Read more

Celebrate National Family Caregivers Month With Us

Unsung heroes live and work quietly beside you. You might know them from church, the grocery store, the library, the coffee shop or work. They might disappear for stretches of time, and reappear–a more tired, worn-out version of themselves. We know them as classmates, colleagues, acquaintances, bowling buddies and friends,… Read more

Sticky Fingers

“Are you by yourself?” My sister asked me when I answered the phone. I could scarcely hear her over the whine of saws and the pounding of nails as we rushed to finish the house we had started on our lot. I looked around and gestured (yes, I gesture when… Read more

Burdened

The pile of hospital bills proclaimed Pedro’s million-dollar-man status (I think I added them up once, and the grand total equaled about 1.5 million dollars). God blessed us through this entire time with steady employment for me, and an outstanding employer provided insurance plan. But the bills still created a… Read more

God’s On Your Map, Guiding Your Journey

“I want to shout, laugh, dance and sing! Andrew is in REMISSION!” I wrote those words in my journal at the end of the first month of chemotherapy for my four-year-old. The hospital staff carefully explained that it was a chemo-induced remission and didn’t mean that his bone marrow was… Read more

First (and the Inspire Me Mondays Link Up)

About a year after Pedro returned from the hospital and his successful stem cell transplant, I woke up one morning and decided I’d had enough. Enough moping around the house whining about my weight. Pedro had regained his pre-cancer weight—but I hadn’t lost mine. I’d walked 10,000 steps a day… Read more

Regrets

I thought my caregiver journey ended when Pedro came home from the hospital. But it didn’t. Not really. Yes, I had a new focus for my caregiving instincts, and life looked promising and full of hope. While I acknowledged the incredible blessings in my life, I also continued to experience… Read more

Rest

Some days, I just wished that Pedro could have stayed in the hospital for a few more months. And this made me feel terribly guilty. I wanted him home, where I could attend to his every need and ensure that he gained weight and made progress—and most of all where… Read more

Dare

The funny thing about growing up in a conservative Christian community is that I never learned to share my faith—after all everyone I knew already believed the same things I did. I went to church with the same kids I went to school with. We had the same Bible classes… Read more

Redeemed

One of the biggest challenges came out of left field a month after Pedro’s successful stem cell transplant. My goal in telling this part of our journey is not to point fingers of blame or launch accusations—I simply want other caregivers (and potential caregivers—so that’s just about everybody) to know… Read more

Downcast

In the interest of full disclosure, I wouldn’t want anyone to thinks that caregiving contains miracle after miracle and daily evidence of God’s intervention (although those things did happen time and time again). Nor would I want anyone to think that caregivers live in a sheltered super-power-type world where quotidian… Read more

Wait (it’s Not Always Easy)

After Pedro’s stem cell transplant, we settled in to wait. Wait for the stem cells to race to repair all that the chemo had killed. Wait for the doctors to discharge Pedro from the hospital. Wait for the release to return home to Montana. Unfortunately, I had to wait in… Read more

Hope (and the Inspire Me Mondays Link Up)

Hope smells like rotting grapefruits. I’d smelled it before, as Pedro and I shuffled around Elven Long on our daily exercise laps. The first time I smelled it, I joked with him, “It stinks just like the gymnasium did when you guys sold fruit last year!” He looked at me… Read more

Lavish

We celebrated our most lavish Christmas three days early, and I can’t even remember where we were on Christmas Day. I don’t remember what we gave as presents. But presents didn’t make our Christmas lavish. Presence did. Pedro spent ten glorious days at home with our girls—and the present of… Read more

Long

Remission. The word conjured up hope, impatience and longing. I hoped that the remission would stick (unlike last time). I wanted the procedure to start yesterday, thank you very much. And I longed to have Pedro home again where he could recover surrounded by everyone who loved him. The doctors… Read more

Troubled

After my spelling lesson from God, I arrived at the hospital to make a difficult decision with Pedro—one that it turns out we didn’t actually have to make. But a worse trouble awaited us. After another round of chemo, Pedro contracted a fungal yeast infection in his blood. With no… Read more

Mourn

My cell phone rang in the middle of a team parent’s meeting at Laura’s gymnastics class. Pedro’s voice sounded worse, but I wasn’t sure if it was because of his facial paralysis or because he really was worse. “I’m back in the hospital.” I breathed deeply and gripped the phone…. Read more

Dance

The blue sky simmered overhead and a gentle breeze twisted the golden leaves in a graceful dance. Sarah and I revved our motorcycles and headed carefully up dirt road towards Bear Creek. It was a first. The first time I’d taken the motorcycles out without Pedro. The first time Sarah… Read more

Quick (and the Inspire Me Mondays Link Up)

Welcome to Inspire Me Mondays! Here’s my contribution–I’m on Day 13 of the #write31days challenge issued by The Nester. “But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27 NIV) Tubes sprouted from Pedro like a crazy hamster maze. A team of nurses moved quietly… Read more

Faint

The doors of the hospital whooshed open and I nodded at Pedro’s intern who headed out as I headed in. She smiled and stopped to chat. “That was quite the experience last night, wasn’t it?” I nodded numbly. Pedro had started convulsing just hours after receiving his first chemotherapy treatment… Read more

When Strangers Care Enough to Give

Michelle had been on duty the night we first arrived at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital with our extremely leukemic four-year-old. Her kindness, patience and caring over the first few days of our new life was comforting and reassuring in those stressful days of learning about our new life. One day, after… Read more

Care

I glanced anxiously at the sky as the thunderheads built up and menaced the airspace surrounding the airport.  Pedro HAD to make it on the air ambulance flight.  If he didn’t, I feared the hospital bed awaiting him at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco (UCSF) would… Read more

Miserable Comfort

Right before my caregiving journey, I found out that a dear lady and her husband (parents of Pedro’s students) were in the midst of their own cancer journey. He had prostrate cancer—and his health and healing became a matter of daily prayer for me—even during my darkest hours. Even though… Read more

Abound

Dear Caregiver, I know how frightening and fragmented your life feels. Nothing remains the same as BC (before caregiving). Sure, you try to put on a strong front with those who ask how you’re doing—after all, the focus of prayers and petitions should be on the one you care for…. Read more

Afflicted

After my experience with God’s hand on my shoulder, I returned to Pedro’s hospital room, comforted and ready to face whatever came next. A few days later, the doctor came in to announce that the chemotherapy regimen advised by Pedro’s California oncologist, Dr. Mirda, would have to be put off for… Read more

Unfailing

Never Fails. Never Quits. Always works. Always there. Never Changes. Never wavers. That’s the kind of love you can rely on, dear Caregiver, as you journey through your season of caregiving. But sometimes, it seems as if God is distant and not interested in our journey. We feel overwhelmed, stressed… Read more

Promise

Dear Caregiver; I know your confusion and despair. I’ve sat with Deep Sadness and he makes an uncomfortable companion—especially when he invites his buddy Hopeless to join us. Everyone seems to focus on the one you selflessly care for—conversation revolves around the latest tests, remedies, prescriptions, progress and setbacks. And… Read more

Inadequate

Inadequate. Incredibly inadequate and unable to perform the simplest tasks. That’s how I felt after the initial adrenalin rush that carried us through Pedro’s cancer diagnosis and first few rounds of treatment. The last quarter of school had progressed in a haze of lack of sleep, worry and multitasking. I… Read more

New Song

In preparation for this series, I’ve spent time this last week thumbing through my journals from my season of caregiving. I thought I’d find minute details of what I did each day, and the state of Pedro’s health and outlines of what treatments he received at which hospital and at… Read more

Rod and Staff

Dear Caregiver, Whether your journey leads through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, or just a deep, narrow valley of quotidian duties that never seem to change and never seem to end, God himself offers comfort. When my season of caregiving began, I felt like a sheep—clueless and lacking… Read more

He Is

I shoved my feet into my boots and grabbed a pair of mittens before I headed out the door towards the crusty snow that formed a dirty blanket in the field across from our house. I turned back once and saw the warm lights of our home mocking me. Cancer?!… Read more

31 Days of Comfort for Caregivers

Because caregivers need a daily dose of comfort. (tweet this) That’s what I craved during my caregiving season. It didn’t matter if I found myself in the midst of a medical emergency, surrounded by frantic hospital staff, or awakened in the quiet of the night from my restless slumber on a… Read more

You are Worth the Effort

Dear Friend; You are worth the effort. It’s not easy, struggling through each day and learning to squash the automatic thoughts that the evil one has planted in your subconscious. But you are worth the effort. Answering endless questions posed by psychiatrists and counselors feels like an invasion of privacy… Read more

Butternut Coconut Soup (Vegan and Gluten-free)

I’ve discovered that our family of four can’t eat a whole butternut squash as a side dish in one setting, so this is a creative way to serve the leftovers up the next night. This is how I prepare the butternut squash the first night: I cut it in half, scoop… Read more

What I Learned in May (aka Mental Health Awareness Month)

Until last March, I had very little awareness of the varity and severity of different mental health issues.  I used the word ‘crazy’ with abandon and insensitivity.  If people didn’t agree with me, or their actions seemed incomprehensible to my moral code or background, I wrote them off as loco…. Read more

The Waif in the Grocery Store

I stood in front of the produce display, contemplating the relative merits of organic ‘still alive’ butter lettuce and prepackaged hearts of romaine when a quiet voice caught my attention. “Excuse me, Ma’am, could you buy me and my friend some food?” I turned to see who had voiced the… Read more

The Beautiful Pretender: A Book Review

If you’re looking for a graduation gift for young reader, look no further! (Ok, I loved the book and I’m not exactly young). If you love fairy tales and medieval intrigue, you’ll love The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson. If you’ve read The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest you’ll remember the… Read more