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

What Inspires YOU this Monday?

It’s a beautiful rainy Monday here in my little corner of the world. We live in the high desert, so rain in the winter doesn’t happen very often.  My husband and I stood out on the front porch and watched the rain glisten in the street lamps and listened to the… Read more

Always Welcome (Really)

    She threw the cupboard doors open and slung open a drawer in one grand gesture. “Here are the glasses and the silverware. So now you know where everything is. You just make yourself at home!” I smiled self-consciously and apologized for the umpteenth time that we were in… 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


Yesterday, I had my whole afternoon scheduled down to the minute (in an attempt to get more done and be more efficient). Guess what, it didn’t work. When I finished my blitz shopping at the local store, I pushed my cart through the doors and found my way blocked by… 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

One Word-2015

I adjusted my mask and dunked my head under the turbid water. The low-hanging clouds and wind-whipped white caps occluded the surface of the ocean, and I had no idea what I’d see when I dunked my head under. The previous days’ snorkeling trips had all started in crystal clear… 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

The Beautiful Gifts We Bring

Mary walked down the aisle of the church, head down, as if in shame. Her bulky dress covered her slim body, and an old, ripped up sheet held in place with a green headband covered her hair. Joseph walked beside her, hesitant and proud at the same time. When they… Read more

Why Do I Adore Him?

Why do I adore him? A child born in a dank, dark stable, filled with dung, animal feces and cows softly chewing their cuds. Why did our Savior come to us this way? If Jesus had been born in a fancy palace, with attending physicians and 600 thread-count cotton sheets… 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

Is it for Reals?

“Can you deliver this to your mom?” my dad asked as he handed me a small poinsettia plant. “It’s to decorate the library,” he explained, “I bought her a big one for the house.” He got back in his car and drove on home whilst I continued on my way… 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

Something for Nothing

We won’t celebrate Christmas at home this year, and so we agreed (for the second year in a row) to forego purchasing a Christmas tree. Our first year in Arizona, I ended up buying a live tree—with the idea that we could keep it on our back porch and drag… Read more

A Holiday Gift Exchange…Um, Giveaway!

Susan Baker wrote a wonderful blog post about what the blogger in your life really wants for Christmas–and it has more to do with ‘presence’ than ‘presents’.  A group of blogging friends have gotten together to present you with an opportunity to win an Amazon gift card for $125.00. We’ll call… 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.

When Life Feels Sour, Give

Do you ever feel as if your life consists of a hopeless round of rinse and repeat? A tree full of sour lemons? That no one notices the efforts you invest in other people’s lives? I confess to feeling this way a time or two—especially since I’ve invested myself in… Read more

Thankful to be Cancer Free

Just yesterday I watched a blond-haired mom smile weakly at something witty the receptionist said and reposition her son’s bald head on her shoulder. The little guy whimpered and cuddled in closer. He was around three years old and his bare head showcased a huge scar arching over his right… Read more

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… 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: 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: 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

An Unexpected Turn in Conversation

    The weight of the full moon seems to slow its journey and it takes longer than usual for the light of the sunset to fade from the sky. The girls in the van chatter eagerly about the volleyball game and their surprise victory. The girl who called shotgun… 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: 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