Family, Food and Good TV – must be Thanksgiving Week!

True story: Within 45 minutes this morning, Stef from the Holyoke homestead contacted me for my Broccoli Soup for a crowd recipe, my dad called from rural Indiana to have me help him “make up” a chicken-veggie-and-rice casserole, and my son Rocky texted from northern Colorado asking for the ingredients and recipe for his Aunt Julie’s famous Corn Casserole so he can make it for Thanksgiving dinner this week! Ahhh, the fam!  :)

Dave and I with the ten little grandbebes, ages 6 months-12 years

It’s in the air, excitement around the year’s biggest meal. All of my best day dreams and plans for the future include being surrounded by the people I love the most, sharing some kind of amazing meal together. Sometimes that is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich under a tree at a park with little grandbebes. Once a year, it includes a turkey and all the trimmings – enough to induce a food coma. But at least we get to do it together. Food + Family = JOY!

Which brings me to the television part!

Breaking Bread with Brooke Burke

Affiliated links (below) provided for your convenience.  :)

As the holidays approach and it gets colder outside and darker earlier, I start looking for those great shows and holiday specials that warm you inside and out. So I was totally excited when Feeln asked me to preview their new series, Breaking Bread with Brooke Burke!

Feeln is the movie subscription service of the Hallmark Hall of Fame (Hallmark cards) and you know they have got what you want to see, especially around the holidays!

episode 1 with florence henderson

“Breaking Bread with Brooke Burke” is a food-oriented lifestyle talk-show that “celebrates the joyous interplay between family and food.” It features celebrity guests and in the first episode, Brooke meets with Mrs. Brady herself (Florence Henderson)! They share memories centered around special meals Florence has enjoyed with her family at a neighborhood Italian restaurant and get some amazing recipes from the chef .

I totally loved the episode I watched! It felt warm and inviting, the conversation was interesting and authentic, and Brooke fairly sparkles as she extends genuine hospitality and enthusiasm for her guests. I have one thing against Brooke Burke and it is that there are no visible physical effects on her from her passion for pasta. I want to know how that happens!

Breaking Bread with Brooke Burke

To help get the word out on the new series, Breaking Bread with Brooke Burke has launched a tongue-twister challenge. You HAVE to try this – you could win prizes!

  1. Just grab your phone and create a video of yourself saying BREAKING-BREAD-with-BROOKE-BURKE 5 times really fast!
  2. Submit your video on Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo or Facebook
  3. Then, tag your video with #BBwBBchallenge @BBBreaksBread. And be sure to submit it online here too.

I tried the tongue-twister. It didn’t go well. I have my pride. I didn’t submit it. But I got Hunter and his friends to give it a go. {see here}

Hunter and Friends doing the #BBwBBchallenge

It’s all in good fun! I hope you’re having a fantastic week. Here is the link for viewing the first episode of Breaking Bread with Brooke Burke {CLICK}.  If you’re like me, you’ll really enjoy it and want to see more!

Blessings, friends and familia!

God’s Pleasure, A Prayer for Mi Familia

Before I forget ~ I love you, mi familia. That has been my heart motivation towards you from the beginning. Some days my motivations were obvious. Some days, I am certain, they were a total mystery, and had you scrambling to understand.

But if I could exchange, in your mind, the times you got the “mom look,” which made you squirm or feel anything less than the true brilliance I saw in you, if I could trade that out for the gazes you didn’t see, for the times I was pondering you in my heart and I was beaming out of sight when you were singing at the top of your lungs in your bedroom or being nice to that rascal-of-a-neighborhood-kid who needed a friend and I just thought, wowmy children are the most amazing ones ever...Yes, if I could trade some of those moments so you would know the depth of my admiration, my respect, and my abiding love for you (still, more than ever), so that there would never be a way for you to doubt how proud I am of you, well, then, I would. I would do it in a flash.

Meanwhile, this is true: your dad and I pray for you and we pray for your {JOY} because the JOY of the LORD will be your daily, ever-present, help-in-time-of-need, STRENGTH for all the life and living ahead! If you’re choosing between utilizing your own gifts, talents and abilities to achieve successful living, life and love (which you could do, because you have so much in you), versus living a Holy-Spirit-empowered joy-strengthened life, and an abundant joy-strengthened life at that, well, please, my darlings – choose the JOY-strengthened life for sure!

A & G, summer 14

What does that look like? It looks like when Averi and Gemma start doing cartwheels all over the lawn. Here they are, sweet littles and they just start going. And it takes all their arms and legs and gravity and muscle-control and trust and having their hearts and arms opened wide. But when they start and we clap and cheer, those two girls just keep going and going and going like it is nothing at all. They are filled with joy in the moment and the only reason they usually stop is that it’s time to leave or night has fallen. There is no worry about how they will feel tomorrow, for they know tomorrow, they will more joy-strength for many more cartwheels! That is some joy-strengthened living!

Let’s plan to get more {joy}. We are praying that for YOU!

god's pleasure

“Since we first heard about you, we’ve kept you always in our prayers that you would be filled to overflowing with the revelation of God’s pleasure over your lives. This will make you reservoirs of all wisdom and spiritual understanding. We pray that you would walk in the ways of true righteousness, pleasing God in every good thing you do. Then you’ll become fruit-bearing branches, yielding to his life, and maturing in the rich experience of knowing God in his fullness! And we pray that you would be energized with all his explosive power from the realm of his magnificent glory, filling you with great hope and {JOY} in the Holy Spirit!”
Colossians 1:9-11 The Passion Translation

AMEN! Oh, yes – Amen!!!

Before I forget to tell you ~ God is pleased with you.

And so am I. {mom}


A Woman’s Life by Stonehouse

By Stonehouse, the artist

I just wanted to share this beautiful “live” drawing as a reminder to see past what we think we know about the women around us.

My sister-in-law, Dawn, recently shared these words from a Twila Paris song, “Same Girl,” in the comments at this blog, a post about my mom, who is dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease.

“Picture with me if you can, a little girl in a younger land, running, playing, laughing, growing stronger. But now her aged limbs have failed and her rosy cheeks have paled. Look beyond the lines ’til you remember. She’s still the same girl running down the hill, she’s still the same girl, memories vivid still. Listen to her story and her eyes will glow. She’s still the same girl, and we need her so…”

My mom on the right.
My mom on the right. 1942?

“Listen to her story and her eyes will glow…”  This is true of every woman, from the little girl so small she can barely express in words, to a young woman falling n love for the first time, to a harried wife and mother who is living to serve and run. It is true as the children leave the nest and the gray hair emerges. It is truer than true as age and aches and pains become the norm, And it is true for even the woman who is struggling to maintain some sense of who she is while suffering dementia.

{{Listen to her story: from my youngest granddaughter and the bigger ones, too, to my lovely daughters, to my sister and the sweetest sister-in-laws I have been blessed with to my cherished mamala, and all the dearest of friends and godly women who have invested in me and younger women who so kindly allow me access to their hearts...}}

My mom on the right.
My mom on the right. 1940?

If some one, anyone, will just listen, we have a story to tell. We know some things, in spite of anything we’ve forgotten or how old-fashioned and outdated we may seem to have become. Because where you are, we once were, too.

My mom on the left. School days. She might be 8 or 9 in this photo.
My mom on the left. School days. She might be 8 or 9 in this photo.

And to tell you, too, that even as Alzheimer’s robs my mom of more and more of her abilities, her confidence and cognitive skills, what we are seeing is, miracle of miracles, Norma Jean :: the little girl who loves all the pretty things and all the people and has the simplest faith – she re-emerges, she is herself, true and pure. “She’s still the same girl, and we need her so!”

Me, my mom, and my little sister :: out on the town
Me, my mom, and my little sister :: out on the town, Avon, IN. Oct. 2015


Everyone with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer’s.” –

See more things I have written about this Alzheimer’s journey here

I’d Buy Tickets to See…

We had our family October-birthday celebration a couple of days ago (three of us were celebrated, our years totaling 96…do not ask how many of those years I hogged up). We may or may not have had two big pans of homemade brownies, 2 types of ice cream, chocolate cake (icing on the side) a giant pumpkin pie and whipped cream, sang the birthday song three times with appropriate claps {happy birthday to you *clap-clap*}, passed out dozens of presents to oohs and aahs and had a major paper-fight with wadded up gift wrap.

We also did the birthday-question-hot-seat where we ask the birthday celebrants questions about anything at all, important and not so much.

10 30 15

Jovan, Hunter and moi.

One of my kiddos asked who I’d like to see in concert. I couldn’t even think, there were so many names in my brain. I totally forgot I started this list last February. So, here it is, even though I know I have more to add (who are they???)! :)

Kenny Rogers

Dolly Parton

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton together, I’d get front-row seats.

James Taylor

Carole King. Her story. Her songs. Her piano-pounding.

James Taylor and Carole King together would make me pass out with delirious happiness, possibly never able to recover.

Neil Diamond. Because. I love singing along with the Neil.

Elvis Costello

Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss. I’d see Alison alone and I love Willie, but I want them together!

David Cassidy. No question. Please come to Denver, David Cassidy (“we’ll go up into the mountains so far that we can’t be found…” But my husband Dave will be there, too, of course. I am simply after some singing.)  :)

Paul McCartney. I should not have to explain this.

Leonard Cohen. I say this. I said it once before on this blog and he was IN TOWN without me knowing it. That is not right.

Sigur Ros. Because my kids tell me their shows are amazing and they have such great taste, those talented children of mine.

Brad Paisley. Musical genius and such a great lyricist!

Elton John, again. Last time was with Billy Joel, which was very cool, but I want more Elton, lots more Elton. The man can write the anthemic like nobody’s business. His melodies and his fingers on those keys!

The Eagles, again. Because they are The Eagles. Also, I really like Glenn Frey.

Boz Scaggs. He has just gotten better with age, I think. I would volunteer to be one of his back-up singers. :)

Bobbie Gentry. But she doesn’t tour anymore. Boo-hooooo.

Diana Ross. In Vegas – I want the whole over-the-top, coat-dragging show!

Matt Redman. In Denver TONIGHT! (Dave & Tara are taking me as part of a belated birthday gift, yaaaaay!)

Speaking of which, Dave and Tara Powers, at the Armory Performing Arts Center in Brighton, Colorado.  Check this out! :)


Oh, I am going to be at THIS concert for sure and getting my picture taken with Santa! ABSOLUTELY!

Sunrise, sunset

I decided to try something this summer-just-passed and I have been pretty good at keeping with it. I took note, via the weather app on my iPhone, of the time of each days’ sunrise and especially, each sunset.

I was inspired by my experiences in Maui, the two times I have visited. I loved how people rang dinner bells on their back porches and local restaurant personnel would all stop and invite you to notice, not time-to-eat, but rather, sunset as it occurred. There it was, the burning sun, hanging over, then sinking into the ocean, coloring the sky. The islanders invited us all to pause and observe the moment, the beauty of the setting, paying homage to the end of another day.

Why can’t we do that here, I wondered?

flag at blue hour

I was at a party and stepped outside to take a call, just a few minutes past sunset. The blue hour is intoxicating. Plus, my mom is thrilled by any photos of flags. This is at Tara’s house, so she’ll be proud of her granddaughter. :)

So I have been doing it. Originally I meant to try through the summer, but I’ve continued. I have enjoyed many sunrises (at least 50%, I’d say), and I can watch them from the comfort of my bed through the wide-open window, if I desire. But the sun-settings, I’m seeing almost all of them, at the very least 4-5 days out of each week. I just watch as the light of day fades into night, the light sky turning blanket-blue, a quick azure, then indigo. I try to be outside somewhere, watching, noting the passage.

It has made me so much more aware of the passing time and how I spend the hours I have. And let me just tell you, so much of what passes between the bookends of a sunrise and a sunset daily, even in the mundane rituals and running of everyday life, there is great treasure. It waits to be found and if we’re wise, we’ll observe these blessed two moments daily, first with anticipation, then thanksgiving and gratefulness.

Morning Sunrise Prayer: Wow, Lord, the sun! I am going to arise and shine because Your glory is risen upon me! Give me eyes to see all the things You see. I am so thankful for these new mercies and another day You have entrusted to me. I wonder what will become of these next day-lit hours? “Christ in me, live this day.”

Evening Sunset Prayer: What a day. Thank You for [list it all here – everything you can recall], and I trust You to redeem and restore [anything broken or marred; may as well list it, He knows]. I am so grateful to have had this day, knowing You were with me all the way. Now I rest, and let You tend to what needs tending…

Yep. I am STILL learning that last part!

10.31.15  Sun-up, 7:28 am; sunset, 5:59 pm, Denver time. Just in case you wanted to know!

Remember to set your clocks back tonight. You get an extra hour! :)

So kiss me and smile for me

So kiss me and smile for me

Tell me that you’ll wait for me

Hold me like you’ll never let me go*

My mom asked me a few months ago, having watched a documentary about the late John Denver on PBS, if I would maybe “go in” with my siblings and buy her a John Denver CD for Christmas. She didn’t want to tax me too heavily, lovely woman that she is. <3

jdenver leaving

So, Dave made a CD of John Denver songs from his iTunes and I took it to her when I went to visit 2 weeks ago. She was so surprised. She barely remembered the documentary, if at all, and certainly didn’t recall asking for a CD, but she was happy to have it.

My visit this time has a musical soundtrack. And it is the sound of John Denver music drifting from her corner room, from a little CD player she can no longer remember how to work on her own, even though my sister painted “play” in large white letters.


My sweetest mamala is suffering dementia, being treated for Alzheimer’s Disease. And the changes are so gradual if you’re in the room with her, that they’re much less perceptible. But I am not there, so when I visit, changes are glaring, and I lose my breath for a moment when I see another part of her gone. My dad always asks me what I see as different because he is “in the room,” day and night, night and day.

When I visited 2 months ago in August, during our family reunion, she kept asking me what words were on a stitched pillow her best friend had sent to her. “Friendship,” I’d tell her. She’d look intently at it and then say, “Oh right, there is the ‘i.’ Oh, and that’s ‘f’.” Then she’d say, “Friendship.”

15 minutes later, she’d pick the pillow up and ask me again. Everyday I was there, several times.

I asked my dad, “When did she begin to lose reading?” He was so surprised, he had been wondering why she wasn’t reading her Bible each morning like she always has. Reading is not totally lost to her yet. But it mostly is. She still keeps her Bible and her beloved dictionary close by at all times, but they are rarely opened. Sometimes she has to really focus her gaze for a long time to make out what the newspaper article is about. And if the article is continued in another column, or heaven forbid, on another page, she thinks they somehow just quit writing and finds it foolish for them to have done that.

This time, my most recent visit, she couldn’t sing Mairzy Doats, a beloved song from her childhood, with me anymore. Wherever it is she is going, down whatever hall dementia is taking her, that song doesn’t make sense and those aren’t real words so she cannot remember them at all. And she has no desire to recall them. My mom sang that to me my whole life. Then she sang it to my children. She and I sang it to some of my grandchildren. She always thought it was so funny and delightful, singing those tricky words that were really other words. But now it’s just “nonsense” to her, which it really always was, I guess. But still.

mom laughing oct 2015
My main goal, when we are together now, is to laugh with her. Laughter is so good for the bones.

So she wanted to listen to John Denver’s soothing beautiful music. She particularly loves Rocky Mountain High and Sunshine on My Shoulders. And the song all our family legends are made of was on repeat one day, Back Home Again. She had to call to play it and sing it for her best friend in Tennessee. She mostly hummed, unable to recall words she has always loved. And she’d comment to her friend when a line of the song said something sweet, like, “…the light in your eyes that makes me warm,” She’d say, “That reminds me of you, Ronnie!” It was sweetness.

mom at sundown

But all week, Whenever the song, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” began, she’d come and hug me and say, “Oh, I don’t want you to go…how many more days do I have?” And I’d usual just say, “I’m here for a whole week,” even as the week was moving along. Because it would put her at ease and she’d say, “Oh, good.”

Then we’d giggle and sing along with John Denver, mom mostly humming and inserting comments.

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go. I’m standing here outside your door*

“Oh no, Jeanie. Here let me help you un-pack your bags!”

I hate to wake you up to say good-bye.*

“Don’t wake me up for that!”

‘Cause I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again*

“You better get back here again quick!”

That is so true, mamala. I know you won’t see this blog (computer navigation was one of the first things to go), but we’ll laugh about this in heaven…

A couple of days before I had to leave, three of us were sitting on the love seat singing together, my mom, my little sister, and me. It was hard finding songs my mom could recall the words and following lyrics on the computer was’t working either. I went to a karaoke site and pulled up “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” We started singing away, getting that tight 3-part harmony from heaven found among family members alone.


But as we came to the words, “So kiss me and smile for me, tell me that you’ll wait for me,” I had to look away and I couldn’t sing. A catch in my throat and the tears began, because I heard her singing the words, but I knew, she won’t be waiting for me. She is going to keep walking this path and each time I see her, there’ll be a little less of her there.

I have heard Alzheimer’s called The Long Goodbye.  And so it seems it must be. My sorrow at watching her have to endure not just the memory loss, but the confusion, the frustration, and the growing inabilities to do what she loves is compounded by living over a thousand miles away. Knowing my time with her will be so limited by the miles between us, I will take every possible second of this long goodbye to hold in my heart.

Every chance I get, I will go to her and bless her and praise her for the woman she is and hug her tiny self as long as she wants (and she loves long hugs). I’ll massage her shoulders and brush her hair and stroke her face and let her curl up on my lap like she is my little girl. There is so little I can do, but I’ll hold on as long as she needs me to….

Hold me like you’ll never let me go*


Give her everything she deserves!
    Festoon her life with praises!” Proverbs 31.31 The Message

Learn more from The Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death and is not just about having a diminishing memory. As the disease progresses, a person with Alzheimer’s loses their ability to walk, to sit and eventually to swallow.  Please pray for my sweet mamala, if you will. *Norma Jean*

*Lyrics to Leaving on a Jet Plane, John Denver.

“I collect pretty things”

mom alzheimers


“I don’t know why I have all these things,” she said.  “I guess I just like to collect pretty things, anything at all that is pretty.  I just like them.”

Mom is aging.  Mom is losing memories to that dreaded disease {we can barely whisper it, dementia}, like the autumn tree loses leaves, softly, quietly ~ leaf begins its’ descent, down-down, a swirl and a sudden swoop upward, then, swept away in the wind, settling in a crevice on the earth’s floor.


And she has a drawer, or two…maybe 4 in which she has stored photographs and newspaper articles and pictures of puppies and magazine tear-outs of scroll-y art which she plans to glue to an envelope or piece of paper for writing lovely, loving letters to some one she cares about.


“I just wanna take pictures of the whole world.”   -Norma Jean, my mamala. November 2013

Some of us wish to “help her clean” those drawers, to lighten her load by getting rid of things and scraps we are certain she doesn’t really need.  I start to offer my help, I resist this urge.  Because despite the diminishing certainty in her brain,  and that facts and details are being swept out to a sea of forgetfulness (how very God-like, really, isn’t it?), these notes and papers and pictures and print-outs are all important to her, her tangible hold and her physical memory.  She wants them, needs them, she desperately clings to the information they hold for her.

I resist my urge to purge on her behalf. Instead, I let her pull them out again to recount the story of why she loves each one and her plans for what she’ll do with them. “I’m going to make a book of cars for Hunter to read to Kai. And this is a cartoon I thought Ronnie May would find so funny. Oh – look, here is my pattern for those Christmas-card trees I’ve been wanting to make…

I note something very new on this visit: I have a terrible time getting her to go for walks – this woman who has always loved outdoor activity and horseshoes and playing baseball and lassoing imaginary cattle.  Fear is the cruelest part.  She fears the walks on uneven surfaces because of the falls of the past year.  But when finally I get her there, her most vibrant, youthful, excited self shows up to investigate the woods and explore the paths with utter abandon and childlike enthusiasm. She out corn-holed both dad and me, twice! And she’d have kept throwing those corn-filled bags if night hadn’t fallen fully.

For my mamala is losing pieces and snippets

{a few leaves flutter to the ground around us on our walk}.

She is missing moments and words are escaping her

{a breeze – then swirls of yellow leaves swish and swoop finally making their way to the ground}.  There they go–

{the larger Elm and scarlet Maple leaves whisper as they pass us falling to the earth}

and simple tasks and skills slowly, slowly falling down.  Leaves flutter toward our feet {gravity is winning} catching the late day sun and something

 ~{a memory, a knowing} ~

once so sure, falls with them.

Then in a sudden flash of exuberance, “Oh look at that leaf, will you?” she’ll ask, and she picks it up from the ground and with it comes a vibrant, razor-sharp recollection.  And I’ll hear a story with detail-complete clarity and accuracy, but one I may never hear again – because she’ll remember it no more.

mom11-2015 indiana

She sometimes knows with utter and complete understanding, and seconds later is completely unaware that it is so.  And I have no desire to rush this process.  For whatever she loves, I will love.  Whatever brings joy to her heart, I will find joy in, through her eyes, Please help me with that, Lord.  Help me not to rush these days and these “silly things” she collects with child-like delight. Oh God, help me hold her most valuable treasures for her, as she loses the strength to do so…

She makes me laugh, her sweetness.

An assortment of colorful leaves falls from her handbag as I help her search for her wallet.  Because.  They are pretty.

“That’s just me, I reckon. I collect pretty things.”

This morning, rising early, I saw her on her back deck which faces the eastern-sky, just as the sun was rising and flickering through the tree branches which have formed a black lace as they have started to bare.  Beyond the expanse of grass, a wooded area where she daily enjoys the deer family as they graze, the sun began to emerge, finally exploding into bright light just above the trees.   It is where she goes to watch and wait for the return of Christ each morning.  I stood in the shadows, on this morning, and watched her worship, watched her raise her arms to welcome the day, to tell the Lord she looks for His return.  Every part of her open, loving heart belongs to the One she longs for…

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22.17


True story: {she is this very second showing me her biggest, prettiest Maple leaf, making sure I know all the reasons it is as beautiful and special as she thinks it is}…and I look at gentle and animated, piercing-blue eyes with a halo of ever-whitening hair, and I say yes, so beautiful, mamaladeeply beautiful, for so she is.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus…my mama is looking for You. And that, she does not forget.


NOTE 10.28.15:: I just wrote about my recent trip to visit my mom and mentioned the dreaded “A” word for the first time (Alzheimer’s Disease) on this blog.  You may read about it HERE

They call it labor because it’s hard work

One of my most stunningly incredible life’s successes is that I had 5 babies. I brag on myself that I did pregnancy and delivery so well. I have proof: 5 gorgeous adults, ages 29-36 walking around the earth. :)

Maybe I wasn’t as good at it as I remember, but the end result turned out, anyway.

Labor is hard work!

My sweet niece is in labor today, a baby girl to arrive soon. She texted to let me know because I predicted today to be the day (I LOVE being right) and I texted her back: you were born for this…baby girl is coming today...adding pink bows and hearts and happy emoticons, like aunties do.

Then, I had to give a little advice, because I love to give advice. All women who have ever had a baby in the history of humankind like to give birthing advice, but I know mine is good because of previous evidence presented here! :)

I told her what I tell every mama who is heading into labor. Because labor is work. It is hard work!  And as exciting as it starts out to be, somewhere in the middle, your uterine muscles contracting with strength that could knock you flat, when you’re tired and the centimeters are not reflecting what your body is doing to you – somewhere before the baby comes, almost every woman starts to doubt she can do this, she begins to wonder if she can’t just quit for today.

christiana at 40 weeks and 1 day

So, we breathe deep and slow. We moan so those vocal vibrations reverberate deep into our own bodies to relax them. And I tell all the mommies, all the young beauties about to give birth: you were born for this. You are the chosen one. Baby is almost here. Now – see the ocean. You’re on shore wading towards it, you have the strength to meet that wave that’s coming. Don’t wait – go meet it… 

The waves grow larger and stronger.

The way I see it, there are three ways to deal the power of the sea heading your way while you’re in labor:

  1. Run back toward land as fast as you can, screaming in fear.
  2. Clench your teeth and fists and close your eyes and plant your feet firmly and let it hit you while you attempt to resist.
  3. Or, and this is the best way, take a deep breath and meet that wave – go to it, go deep. Let the waters rise and cover you, but keep those hands and your heart wide open and tell the sea, I am here for my baby! And you’ll find the the wave has taken you out further towards your destination when it subsides. It’s true!

I have gotten to be in the room with a few mommies now as a doula (“a woman who serves”), experiencing the moment of birth, getting to pray laboring women through, encourage and cheer them on. And that is how we do it.

And it takes incredible bravery and so  much strength, in spirit, soul and body. But a contraction starts to rise, and mommy breathes slow and deep (in through the nose, slowly-slowly out through the mouth) and into the ocean she goes. Those of us near a laboring woman can cheer her on, we can breathe along, and we can pour our courage in to her, but she faces this daunting task with a power she did not know she had, just mommy-to-be and the wild, holy waves of labor.

I often think of the birth experience and how it relates to the rest of life, for God had this amazing way of placing repetitions in creation, things that became signposts and touchstones for us.

And today, as I was thinking of sweet niece and this amazing day of adventure, one that will change her forever, a day she will never forget, I was thinking about the waves. Right now, they’re easier and she can handle them and still text her aunt. But soon, they’ll begin to almost overtake her and there will not be time for idle chatter. She’ll have to wade out and show her strength.

Life is hard, too, sometimes.

And I was thinking about things we face in life, less noticed – the things no one will throw you a fancy shower to celebrate (though you deserve it now, if ever!). But they are life-changing nonetheless. They are things that will change you at the core, and you’ll never be the same. Things happen. And they aren’t always what you would have chosen. And I have said, in the not too distant past, “I didn’t think I’d be here at this age. I don’t think I can do this…” 

And quite honestly, I have run screaming the opposite direction, and stood bracing myself, fists clenched, eyes shut tight – trying to ignore and wait for certain things to pass. There are just things I absolutely do not feel like I can handle and I don’t want to handle and I am so afraid of the unknown sometimes. Am I up to the challenge? Pretty sure I’d like to wait awhile, thank-you very much.

Deep calls to deep at the [thundering] sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.  Psalm 42.7 Amp.

But I was minding my own business thinking about the niece, when it hit me (is that You, Lord?) we can face whatever happens this same way. Birthing babies is proof. I can resist all day long or I can believe I was born to conquer this thing, whatever “this thing” is. I can, after all, do all things through Christ who strengthens me! See Philippians 4.13.

Let’s open our arms wide, throw our heads back in courage, take a deep breath and go meet those waves. We were born for this! We’ve got it, baby! All the new things are out there waiting for us to come and get them! And if we get knocked down a few times along the way, if the waves overcome us now and again, the One who promised never to leave us nor forsake us is right there, cheering us on, pouring His courage into us. Let’s birth some promise here!


Image from Pinterest, Calling by Yongsung Kim, oil on canvas

Christiana-girl: your birth signaled the entrance of spring and new life to me so many years ago at a time of  “beginning again” (Spring, your middle name). I am cheering you on from Denver today! xoxoxo

Everything is just so beautiful.

We walked the meadow behind the house. We walked it again and again, my mamala and I, this past week when I went to visit. The trees were barely turning and the assortment of wildflowers and weeds were thriving in the mild midwest autumn. Butterflies and moths darted flower to flower, a cow moo-ed just beyond the treeline.

“I think that cow is hungry,” my mom told me following each moo. She wants to feed all the hungry, like always.

10 15 15 mom 2

Camera ever in hand, she took pictures of every possible thing out there, because, as she told me repeatedly, “Everything is just so beautiful! Do you see this? I’m telling you, it is just so beautiful!”

And I thought the neighbors might wonder why on earth she was snapping pictures of a weed gone to seed, or a whirligig on her back fence, or the clouds in the sky or a tree, then another and yet another, and sometimes a single leaf? A pretty rock? *snap* The neighbor’s barn? *snap* These purple flowers? *snap*snap* Oh, but wait…those purple flowers, too *snap!*

As if she heard my thought, she responded, “I know people might wonder why I am taking these pictures, but I just love life! I do! I love everything about it and God made everything beautiful!  Everything is just so beautiful, I’m telling you!

10 15 15 mom 4

And in the time we’d walk and talk and sing and snap pictures, she’d tell me the same thing over and over. Everything is just so beautiful! Every-thing!

Because she really didn’t remember she had just told me…3 minutes before. And she wanted to make sure I would know.

mom and cam oct 16

My mom has dementia (most likely caused by Alzheimer’s Disease). I have wanted to write about it, but couldn’t because on occasion, though her computer skills were among the first of the losses, she might still have occasionally found her way to my blog. But no more. And each time I see her, I see less of her. So I am keen to hold on to what remains: her wisdom, her laughter, her zeal for nature and taking pictures. She still hugs me like there is no tomorrow (does she know?) and tells me I’m wonderful, my biggest cheerleader. She is losing dates and names and physical strength, but her creativity and love for beauty and her love for family remain intact. So far.


So each trip to see her, I look for the message she is still intent on writing on my heart (ever my mommy). This time it is this: No matter where you are and how unsatisfactory the circumstances might seem, look around, Jeanie. Open your eyes. See all God has done. Everything is just SO beautiful – you are surrounded by beauty. 


I hope I get my mom’s loving, appreciative, grateful, beauty-seeing, clear-visioned eyes. I think she is trying to impart them to me.

so beautiful mamala

All you need is a seed

All you need is a seed.” – me

This is Kai. Age two. We walked around the park and he blew dandelion dead-heads and a great future for the yellow flowers into the air, again and again.

kai two blowing dandelions

We shall not discuss the merits (some might call them a bane) of the dandelion’s existence. I doubt one could argue the beauty of the yellowest yellow against green grass, nor dispute its’ place as the #1 child-to-mommy bouquet annually.

We just know that in its’ short life, it blooms pure yellow-happiness. Then dies. But the story isn’t over for the dandelion, oh no. The slightest breeze, a person shuffling by or an exuberant, puffing 2-year old can give the dried up ‘old dandee’ another chance. A lot of other chances, actually. The life is in the seed.

So don’t give up your day dream, as they say, even if it’s looking dead. Every possible chance for it to live again is in the shriveled, dried up grain of a plan, a hope, a heart’s wish. You never know who might come along and give you another chance, or even more. The life is in the seed. *poof!