Stand close to people who feel like Sunshine.” Anonymous
One of the biggest blessings in my life has been the best group of girlfriends that anyone could ever ask for. I have many people that support me, pray for me, encourage and love me. Truly, I am blessed beyond measure. I’ve also had the extreme privilege of raising my sons (three teenage boys currently) alongside a tribe of incredible women. How we met and formed a sisterly bond that will stand the test of time is a tribute to God’s goodness. There are four of us (Laura, Jane, Amy and yours truly) and as we navigate the adventure that is parenthood we are thick as thieves, stronger than the Ya-Ya’s and closer than traveling pants. In 17 years, I can’t recall a time when they weren’t by my side (and vice versa) raising our 13 kids in all. They are second mothers to my boys, women we can count on and I want to be like each of them when I grow up. Strong women of faith who give great advice, have the best shoulders to cry on and can make you laugh so hard there is a dribble of pee running down your leg (Amy). They are my Anthem for strong women, faith, trust, courage, and bravery to face the challenges of life. I would never want to do this life without them.
In the beginning, we called ourselves Playgroup. All of our oldest children are the same age. I remember going to restaurants where we would get out our recycled paper placemats (the table was way too dirty for our little darlings to eat off of) coat the kids in purell (because you know…germs) and order our organic yogurts and whole grain sandwiches for our angels (because of you know…preservatives). I remember getting to playgroup once on the verge of tears because my son had just measured 28 inches long and my car seat only accommodated a 26 inch long baby (for shame)! I was really jealous of Jane because her car seat had a really cool carrying strap and could accommodate darling Veronica until she was 29 inches long (what a great mom). I long for the days when we were only worried about making it to music class on time and where we were going out afterward.
Now we use the term “playgroup” to talk about a function or get together that includes the husbands and the children. When it’s just the four of us we are “Baker’s Dozen” ie: mom’s on the loose with 13 kids at home with the dads. Bakers Dozen doesn’t happen as much as I would like it too. As the kids get older we find ourselves busier which is funny because I always thought I was pretty busy taking care of three boys under the age of four. I cherish this time with my girls and when Playgroup gets together nothing warms my heart more than to see all 13 kids running, laughing and hanging out together. I’ve been able to watch my tribe grow up. Next year the “oldest” will be seniors in high school. So hard to believe…I’m so proud of them and could burst into tears simultaneously (time…you cruel beast).
Laura, Jane, and Amy- thank you for being my rock, my sanity, my soul mates. I don’t know what I did to deserve friends like you but I thank God every day for you.
Proverbs 27:9- A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
Indeed it does!
1 Peter 5:8 says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
High school was relatively easy for me. I was on the Varsity tennis team and very involved in theater. I had a great group of friends and on most days, loved my family. My only bullying experience was when I was a senior and briefly started dating someone. I inadvertently found myself in a teenage love triangle where the ex wanted him back. This was a quick relationship because I didn’t care that much to begin with and I certainly wasn’t going to put up with being bullied. She could have him. I was headed to college and had my sights set on bigger and better things.
Over the past couple of years, I have found myself in another bullying situation. Being a self-proclaimed Jesus girl and heavily involved in church, I have regularly used the “kill them with kindness” strategy. My mom says you can never regret being kind. While I won’t state my political views, I resonated with Michelle Obama saying “When they go low, we go high.” My wise grandmother also said, “never write anything down that couldn’t be read from the pulpit.” But what happens when kind doesn’t cut it? When kind bounces off and becomes worthless?
You may be asking why I can’t remove this person from my life? Trust me, like a cancerous tumor, I wish I could but that is not my current situation. So how do I handle this? How do I handle someone that spews lies, deceit, hurt, wickedness and immorality? I have had my closest spiritual mentors come around me and we have discerned an answer and it is found in 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion waiting for someone to devour.” I’m on the right track spiritually, in my home and with my family. I’m doing kingdom work and that really ticks Satan off! I know he sends easy targets my way to prowl and devour. Spiritual warfare is real and I want to say here and now that we are armed with the word of God as our greatest weapon. This is not the defensive move of someone tormented by a bully. This is the greatest offensive move! I believe in the power of prayer and victory claimed in the name of Jesus Christ. I ask you to join me… if you have a bully or any situation where the devil is prowling to put on your armor of God. Wrap yourself in the belt of truth. Put on the breastplate of righteousness. Stand firm with the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation and take up the sword of the spirit. God is with you and he hears our prayers. There’s more to the story in 1 Peter 5:9-11 where we are encouraged to “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing to the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever Amen.”
Tomorrow I go for the first of four infusions to treat Cryoglobulinemia. This is a super weird and rare disease where I get into trouble in my blood drops below body temperature. My husband says I’m part of the Legion of Substitute Superheroes which is code for this disease is lame. I’ve been on steroids and immunosuppressants since April. My head is the size of a basketball…it’s not cute and I’m feeling pretty yucky. However, God has definitely allowed me to see HUGE blessings during this time and I’m super grateful for that! I’m hoping a positive attitude and winning smile make up for the fact that my glasses don’t fit on my head anymore and no amount of eyeshadow is going to hide my moon face (Prednisone…you are the devil).
I’ve been treated for kidney disease for 4 years and now (thanks to the world’s best neurologist) this “cryo” thing has emerged (I can also use slang like “cryo” because that’s how the peeps in my support group talk) we need to up our game and take care of this because as I like to say “winter is coming.” Enter infusions…goal being to kill my B cells and reboot my system and get my body to stop hating me and attacking itself.
I received a text confirming my appointment and was surprised when the text added my seat assignment, Chair #4. I’ve been thinking all day about who will be in Chairs 1, 2, and 3. Will I see them? What are they in for? Do we all start at the same time? Do we all end at the same time? Will I have to talk to these people? Will I WANT to talk to these people? I’ve had some nervousness over doing this infusion for 2 reasons. First, I don’t know what to expect and I don’t want to have an allergic reaction to the medicine. Second, my husband thought it would be reassuring to show me a YouTube video of someone receiving this infusion of medicine. I’m pretty sure he picked the world’s worst case scenario to show me because after watching everything that could possibly go wrong happen to this poor person, I must admit that I was completely terrified.
Today, thinking about the occupants of chairs 1, 2 and 3 has really allowed me to take the focus off of myself and think about these other people. I’ve been praying for them and through prayer felt much calmer about the experience and what will or won’t happen. God’s in control. I trust my doctors with this course of treatment. I believe that I’m in Chair #4 for a reason.
I’ve got my book and a new season of Call in the Midwives loaded on my iPad. I hate those cliche sayings “let go and let God” but some reason, cliche is on the brain and that’s what I’m thinking…
I’m a reader. I’ve always been a reader. It’s a joke in our family that I never saw anything on road trips growing up because I sat in the back and read the entire trip. This is true. I missed the whole Pacific Coast Highway on a trip in high school because my nose was in a book.
I attended Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and decided to become a teacher. I went to become a weather girl but once I found out all the first year classes started at 8 am, I switched to education (no, I was 18 and a ding dong…I didn’t think through teacher hours). While I was there and receiving a GREAT education, I found out that I could add “endorsements” to my teaching certification making me more desirable to schools while they were hiring. I decided to pursue a reading endorsement which required an additional 18 credit hours. I soon found myself in classes where books and the importance of literacy and language were front and center stage!! These were my people!!! I clung to my professors, started my own professional library (thanks mom and dad) and studied best practice. I loved every second of these classes and am very grateful for teachers that made a difference in my academic life and supported my love of books, valued my thoughts on literacy and shaped my strong opinions that the book is ALWAYS better than the movie.
Toward the end of the classes required for my reading endorsement, one of the larger projects was to write a children’s picture book. This was much harder than I thought it would be. However, I persevered and wrote (what I thought) was the greatest children’s picture book to have ever been written. I finished the class, put the book in a drawer and forgot about it. Last year, it resurfaced and I read and thought it was TERRIBLE. Good bones but content???? Lacking. What I had on my side now (20 years later) was experience. Experience as a classroom teacher. Experience in children’s ministry. Experience as a Christian woman and a deeper walk in my faith and knowledge of who Jesus is. Mostly, experience as a mom, I thought about what was important to me for my own children to learn, not only as emerging readers but to help them grow in their faith. Nothing like this existed in the Christian market so I took my little book and revised, and revised, and revised. Then I left it alone for several weeks and then I revised some more. Now what started as a book for college class has turned into something for parents, churches, preschool, grandparents, caregivers, and anyone else wanting to share the love of reading while working on pattern development, sigh words and spiral language within the framework of sharing the good news!
The Squirrel Family Acorn is a 20-year work in progress that is now available! I hope you consider adding it to your library to share with the children in your life.
Keep reading friends! Always KEEP reading!
When my oldest son was four, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Kidney reflux. This resulted in a bilateral ureter reimplant surgery and a 5-day stay at Riley Hospital for Children. He is now a healthy and active teenager and lives a normal life. I honestly haven’t given much thought to kidney’s since then or their extremely important job of cleaning blood and waste. These beans actually have a really special function!
In 2014, I started experiencing what I called “Machete” headaches. Think really awful “B” slasher movies. It was beyond painful and the most horrific experience of my life. This led me to an amazing Neurologist and eventually through many difficult tests and procedures that I hope to never repeat a Stage 3 Autoimmune disease, IgA Nephropathy. Essentially, my kidneys attack themselves and “gunk up” my filtration system. Through drug therapy, I was able to go into remission in late 2016. However, several months ago, I started having neurological symptoms (my Neurologist and Nephrologist think it’s really cool that my kidney disease presents with brain stuff. I do not think it’s cool and would prefer to just have garden variety boring stuff) again and knew that something was up. My IgA is active again (I’m no longer considered in remission) and I’m now on the same course of treatment that I was on two years ago. I feel frustrated that I’m back at square one. This isn’t how I wanted to start my summer. This isn’t the plan I have for my life. It makes me tired, gives me brain fog and those who know me as an outgoing person, I would prefer to retreat to the safety of my house less I can’t find the right word to say (I feel like I’m processing through jello). Now we throw in the high dose steroid and I’ve got “hulking out” to deal with too. I feel like I could lift cars! But not in the “Oh, wow she must be a powerlifter” way. It’s the “Holy cow, here comes Satan” way. Not good!!
I’m reading a really amazing book by Max Lucado right now called “Anxious for Nothing.” I highly recommend it. The intention is that when we practice CALM we are able to focus more on God and less on our troubles. The acronym stands for:
C- Celebrate the goodness of God
A- Ask for what you need
L- Leave it with Him
M- Meditate on good things
In full disclosure, I get hung up on L. I keep wanting to go back and check to make sure God got the memo. How’s he doing with that one? Does he need any help? Is he making progress? Ugh, my biggest obstacle is always ME! So, while I wait for the meds to work and I deal with my “roid rage” I’m going to work hard to Leave it with Him. I know that God’s got this and I’ve been specifically meditating on the verse from Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
I’ve been called according to his purpose and that’s pretty awesome! I love him and believe his promise to me that all things he will work for good. I can handle the “roid rage”, brain fog, and host of other symptoms because I have hope in a loving God and his goodness (even when I’m in the parking lot turning green and flipping cars).
Winston Churchill said “never never never give up.” As I have embarked on a career as an author, I can honestly say that I have wanted to give up more than once! Rejection letters are NOT easy on the ego and they begin to create a level of self doubt that I find difficult to compare to other experiences that I’ve had in my life. I am having my first children’s book, The Squirrel Family Acorn, published with Christian Faith Publishing. They have been terrific! I can’t wait for the finished product to be released in a few months. I decided to go with the self publishing route for several reasons. First, I could get my book out faster if I wasn’t waiting for publishing houses to accept my manuscript. Second, I could have more control over my precious manuscript. And third, I didn’t have to put myself out there and get rejected in case someone didn’t love my manuscript as much as I loved it (or my parents…thank you a million times for your unconditional love an support).
Since I’ve had a positive experience with CFP and I’ve got more manuscripts ready to go, my confidence was riding high and I decided that I could face the real world and began submitting my manuscripts to traditional publishing houses and literary agents. No amount of confidence can prepare you for the brutality of the literary world! I began receiving rejection letters on a regular basis and slowly my confidence started to dwindle and thoughts like “Am I good enough?” and “Can I do this?” began filling the space in my head where I had once dreamed of book signings and read-a-louds for my adoring fans. Last week was the final straw with yet another rejection and I decided I didn’t have what it takes to be a Christian author in today’s secular culture. I went to bed having decided that I was hanging up my pen and paper (or laptop if I’m being completely transparent).
In the middle of the night I woke up with the verse “I did not give you a spirit of fear” on a loop in my brain. I couldn’t go back to sleep and I knew that I would not be hanging up my laptop just yet. I meditated on Churchill’s famous saying and got out my bible to find 2 Timothy 1:7 ” For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind.” I decided to double down on my efforts to never never never give up!!! God did and does give me a spirit of power and I will use these gifts to glorify Him! Rejection is NOT easy but I won’t quit because of fear. I will continue to put myself out there and speak the good news.
After months and months of writing, research and rejection, I’m happy to report that I just signed a contract with my literary agent. Hang in there, fellow writers! The dream is alive and never never never give up!