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Happy 17th Chickie

Happy 17th Birthday Chickie!

How is it possible that you’re 17? When I picture you in my mind you’re about 3 or 4 years old, with chubby cheeks, short red hair, and smudged glasses… I guess the only difference is that you’ve gotten taller 😉


You are a beautiful young lady. There are so many things that you are passionate about… your cave, animals, music, friends, Netflix, reading, Dutch Bros, sarcasm, babies <– not your own, other people’s babies! People often tell me how impressed they are that you volunteer in the toddler room and that you’re good at it. I love to see you interact with them.

This year the training wheels are coming off. That’s scary for me. I want to shelter and protect you from all the nasty, hurtful stuff in the world. But, I love you. And I want to give you time and space to encounter the world while still in the safety of our home. A chance to try new things. I know that you will fail. And I want to be the safety net that will catch you, reassure you, and help you get back on your feet. I am praying for grace for both of us this year. I’m trying to let go – I promise. Just try not to fly too fast or too high – okay?

Have fun your senior year. Get involved. Try new things. Don’t have regrets. Be fierce.

I love you so much. I am incredibly proud of you.



I read this blog post today:

Jenny and Victor lost their dear Meemaw and Jenny wrote a beautiful post. Her story so reminded me of my own Grandma… She used to tell us stories all the time. Stories about growing up as the daughter of the town sheriff… One year for her birthday she didn’t have enough friends to play a game of softball so her dad let out some of the guys in jail to play ball with her and her friends. Or another time when her mom was out of town and she was the one responsible for cooking the meals for the prisoners… they asked when her mom was coming back! Lol! Or another time when she was watching her younger brother, Cliff, while her parents were out on a date. They came home after everyone was in bed and they couldn’t find Cliff. They finally found him in the “drunk tank” curled up with the town drunk. Yes, she grew up in a very small midwestern town.

My favorite story involved my brother and a snake. I always used to ask her to tell me the story of Johnny and the Snake. Sadly, I don’t remember much of the story any more. Just that my brother got bit by a snake that my grandma wasn’t familiar with so she walked down the road with him asking random people (?) if the snake was poisonous.

Towards the end of my Grandma’s life she lived in a care home. On one of my last visits with her she laid down on the couch (or davenport as she would say) and put her head in my lap. I gently rubbed her face and closed eyes in a manner that the two of us called The Sandman. She used to do that to me to put me to sleep and now it was my turn to love on her. As I rubbed her face I asked her to please tell me the story of Johnny and the Snake. She replied to me, “Oh, I think you remember it better than I do… you tell it to me.”

I have so many wonderful memories with my grandma but I think that one is my favorite.

Top Five

That title is a bit misleading… it really should be Top Five of the Moment.  I have a love affair with books and my my top favorites are always rotating.  I very, very rarely re-read books – even my favorite ones.  I find that a bit odd.  I mean, if I love the book so much why wouldn’t I want to visit my literary friends again?  I actually do know why.  My mind never stops going – even when I’m reading.  Which means that when I’m re-reading something my brain is saying, “Oh, I remember this part… this is when XYZ happens and next ABC is going to happen.”  It’s like going to the movies with someone who has already seen the movie and they give you a play-by-play while you’re watching.  Annoying.

Here are my current Top Five (of the Moment) that I will probably never re-read.

1. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King
I don’t read much King any more.  In fact I don’t recall the last one that I read.  But back in the day… hoo-boy! he was my fave!  And the Tower Series??  King included so many other characters, places, story lines… even himself!  I loved it! 

2.  The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Do I really have to explain why this is a favorite?  She weaves a compelling story using beautiful, well-rounded characters.  And it’s just plain out fun to read.

3.  Modoc and Zamba both by Ralph Helfer
I love elephants and this is a true story about the greatest elephant that ever lived; Modoc.  Unbelievable story.  I wish I could have met her.  Zamba is the story of Ralph’s lion.  Amazing.  Again, I wish I could have met him.  Epic stories – both of them.

4.  Half Broke Horses: A True Life Story by Jeannette Walls
This story is a biographical story of Jeannette’s grandmother growing up in the West.  Most of it takes place in early Arizona; Flagstaff and Phoenix.  The opening chapter had me hooked… who was this girl that recognized impending doom and saved her brother and then at 14 got on her horse and rode from Texas to Arizona by herself?  Life was so different back then.  Jeannette’s first book Glass Castles is the biographical story of her mother and herself.  I found it to be depressing but still interesting.  I chose to read her books in chronological order rather than the order in which she wrote them.  It made more sense to me.

5.  I’m not quite sure at the moment.  I recently finished up a few books and while they were captivating I don’t know that they really qualify for the Top Five (of the moment) list.  So really this post should be titled Top Four (of the moment).  Sorry I lied.


Ah, beauty.  It’s so mysterious and so personal.  What I see as beauty may not be what you see.  And then of course, a beautiful person may not be pretty at all but have a beautiful soul that shines though their exterior.

I find beauty to be comfortable and confident.  Personally I feel comfortable when my clothes fit properly and the style reflects my personality.  I feel confident when my skin is flawless and my hair behaves.  That sounds so shallow but it’s the truth.  I am less confident when I have a blemish or when I’m wearing jeans that are a bit too tight or a top that feels frumpy.

The beauty that I see in others though is different.  I see beauty in different shapes, sizes, colors, genders.  I see beauty as someone being themselves.  Being strong.  Being brave.  Being ordinary.  When the light filters through their hair just so.  When something catches them unaware and they crack up laughing.  When they are quiet.

It is so hard to see the beauty in myself and so much easier to see it in others.  Perhaps that’s the way it should be or we would all be like the Greek god Narcissus.  I think we should tell people when we see their beauty.


Do you remember the Richard Pryor movie from the 80’s called Brewster’s Millions?  Basically he’s set to inherit 300 million dollars but there’s a catch – first he must spend 30 million dollars in 30 days without telling anyone what he’s doing.  That really gets you thinking doesn’t it?  How would you spend that much money….  It’s easy to dream of vacations, shopping sprees, new house, new cars.  But how would you spend it if you wanted to make the best impact on society by donating it all to only one charity or cause?

I had a tough time answering that.  I think the first option I would explore would be to identify the 30 poorest counties in our nation.  Then put together a team to analyze how one million dollars would make the biggest impact in those communities.  Would it be best to spend it on education? Maybe finding ways to add local jobs?  Or improve living conditions? Or provide medical attention.  Do the food banks need fresh and healthy food?  What about foster care funding?  Is there a way to tie these things together?  If the money was invested to create a type of neighborhood co-op… creating jobs to garden and provide food, building community homes for foster families, community education classes for all ages. 

I would want to include my faith.  Not in a “let me thump you on the head with my Bible” type of door-to-door witnessing but the quiet kind of faith that is spread through loving on your neighbor.  I think if neighborhood co-ops were started by quiet Christians who truly love people, if they they walked along side of their neighbors, played with their kids, taught community cooking classes, organized a clothing swap, gave a ride to a job interview…. If they did these things without judgement, without holding their neighbors hostage with “let me tell you about Jesus” at their door, if they did these things because they loved them – not because they want to add one more number to their team… If they continued to love on their neighbors even after they said NO to the church invite… I think that would make an impact. 


Did ‘Santa’ bring you what you were hoping for this year?  Maybe the new year finds you still giddy about that special gift or maybe it finds you disappointed that your hints fell on deaf ears.  Like most, I have received countless gifts from birthdays, Christmases, and special occasions.  Many have been forgotten over the years but there are always those special few that will be remembered.

I remember the Christmas when I was ten years old.  I had opened my last gift and was facing the age old dilemma of which new toy to play with first when my parents indicated that there was one last gift for me.  I don’t recall which parent wheeled it in – I only had eyes for my new bicycle!  Up until that year I had ridden a cobalt blue bike with a fancy glittered, silver banana seat.  Oh that was one rockin’ bike but I was ten now and wanted a grown up bike… a 10-speed.  Unfortunately for me, my mom was afraid I would use the hand brakes to flip myself over the handlebars so instead of the 10-speed I coveted … I got the sensible 3-speed with the pedal brakes.  Although it wasn’t the bicycle I dreamed of it didn’t stop me from riding it as often as possible.

My grandmother was a notorious gift-giver especially in her later years.  I remember the year that she gave my mother onions for her birthday.  As a child I thought that was the worst gift ever but as an adult I now realized how delicious sweet walla-walla onions are!  As my Grandma got older she lost quite a bit of her eyesight and a lot of her common sense.  Which is why, at my bridal shower, I was nervous to open her gift in front of my guests.  I waited for a distraction to quickly and quietly open her gift.  I almost got away with it until someone asked me what was in the gold box… The box itself was recycled – it was a chocolate sampler box.  Inside was an array of used cocktail napkins, coasters, and paper doilies.  In her defense, I’m sure with her failing eyesight she had no idea how apparent it was that the items were used.  She lived during the Depression and was also a widowed mother.  Recycling items wasn’t just vogue – it was daily life.  How apropos is the saying “It’s the thought behind the gift that matters”.

One of my most favorite thoughtful gifts came from a dear friend.  For three years she and I would spend every Thursday together sipping coffee and chatting for hours on end.  We would frequent different coffee shops – from well known chains to local haunts to church cafes.  Sometimes we would stay in and brew our own.  But one thing would remain constant… the connection we shared.  When I moved away I feared we would lose that connection.  Silly me.  Her gift connects me to her every morning – and sometimes several times throughout my day.  My thoughtful friend visited all of our coffee shops and bought me a mug from each one.  She also had a mug custom made with pictures of us and a note “Happy Thursday!”

I hope that this Christmas season brought you the gifts that matter the most… love and time with those that matter most.


I’ve shared here our struggle with The Boy’s temper over the years.  His rage got so bad that we finally went to the Melmed Center for help.  They diagnosed him as being a difficult child.  When we discovered his brain tumor I asked the neurologist if that could be the culprit for the temper tantrums.  He wouldn’t give a definitive answer.  Nor would he confirm if it was causing the migraines. 

After The Boy’s surgery we waited and watched.

And sure enough… the weekly migraines were gone and so were the outbursts!

That was a huge relief.  Except… now he’s a tween.  And all that that entails.  I expect him to be rotten to his sisters, to have growing pains, to be tired and cranky.  I see that happening more and more and it’s so difficult to decide if he’s just being a tween boy or if there is something more sinister going on.  I hate that I have to second guess – that I have to tell myself to stop worrying.  I am grateful that we have regular check-ups with his team of doctors so that I can share these things with them.  They reassure me that they aren’t concerned.  That he is healthy and everything looks great.

I still worry.