Trip Of A Lifetime Of Love

I don’t know if it’s getting older that makes me more nostalgic than ever or if it’s having so much more time to think since being retired from nursing. Either way, these days I find myself cherishing sweet memories of childhood and holiday traditions and especially my parents.

I know I am blessed beyond measure to have both my parents still here with me on earth. My dad will be 86 this year and my mom 82. They’ve been married almost 61 years! Even though the Lord knows the number of their days, I do not, and so I cherish the time we have left before one or all of us leave this earth!

My parents are as close to perfect parents that two people could be. That doesn’t mean they don’t have flaws and that they did everything perfectly. It just means that all the good so far outweighs the bad, that it’s easy to just focus on everything good. Shouldn’t we all be doing that anyways?

The Bible tells us: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8

My parents have given me so much of what is true and honorable and right and pure and lovely and admirable and excellent and worthy of praise that there is no room left for anything else that just doesn’t matter anyways. Fixing your thoughts is a choice and a discipline the Bible talks about a lot. Every action, behavior and habit starts out with a thought.

I have worked hard on my thought life the older I get and the more I’ve learned to apply Gods Word to my life and circumstances, not to just knowing it. Knowledge is fruitless without application.

The more I apply it, the more God reveals to me how too, even when it’s hard. So much of life’s sorrows is lifted and replaced with the peace of Christ when we fix our eyes and our thoughts on Him. I digress though.

Back to my wonderful, adorable, generous, loving parents. My parents and I have all battled cancer in the last 5 years and overcome! They are aging and I see the window of opportunity that is still open for now and wish to spend precious time with them while they can still enjoy it and before anyone goes to our heavenly home.

Last summer we got to spend over a month of time with them between two trips they took to visit here in California. During that time, my husband and I got away for a long weekend with them to our favorite place in San Diego and had such a wonderful time. This year I presented them with several traveling options and they really loved the idea of renting an RV and traveling around the US. The more we talked about where we would go and what we would see, the places started to get crossed off the list as the list of family grew longer which naturally expanded the locations. Isn’t that the best part of life anyways? Family.

So we are going to embark on a fun journey this month, my mom, my dad and me. It will take us throughout Texas to Florida/Alabama, up through Tennessee to Ohio, then to Illinois and across to Colorado, Nevada, California and then back to Texas through Arizona. In each of those states we have anywhere from 1 to 4 stops to make to visit family. By the time we are done my parents will have got to visit all their living siblings, and all their out-of-town children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. And a few extra family members and friends as well. This was the trip that meant the most to them. The people. The lives that God blessed them with here on this earth.

They could have chose Sweden, Europe, Canada, London. They could have chose National Parks, Monuments, museums, Niagara Falls, and more. But what they really wanted was to see the people they love and have invested their time and gifts into here on earth!

We are going to have such a special trip and have so much fun together! I am honored and blessed to be able to take them on this trip and spend this wonderful family time with them. As we journey, I will record about it on FB and maybe write a blog post or two. We are so excited. This is the stuff!

Thank you God for my parents, thank you for not taking them home just yet and allowing us the ability to take this grand adventure of love and family!

Cherish the ones you love, take advantage of all the moments life gives you. That is where our true treasure lies here on earth. Don’t waste it!

To God be all glory, our hope is in Jesus! So we can be assured that even after this life we have all eternity together in heaven! Praise be to Jesus!

No Words

In my entire life, I have never been at a loss for words. I have always been a talker, a communicator, extroverted, social, opinionated, and often argumentative. Over the last 10 years God has refined some of those character traits and flaws. Cancer hit in the middle of those 10 years and I came out changed in other drastic ways from that experience as well. This extrovert is now more of an introvert as much as that’s possible!

The one thing that I always had in abundance was words. I have been complemented often on my ability to write and express my story or content and to transparently share my life and testimony. It’s been suggested by a handful of encouragers in my life that maybe I should write a book. I don’t know about that, but several years ago I did start this blog. My purpose was to tell my story of Gods hope, love and grace. I wanted to be real and transparent, as He has created me to be, to show how He is due the honor and glory for taking my stories and working them together for good. To show that there is always hope.

I wanted my blog to be full of hope, encouragement, examples of Gods love and life beyond our struggles. I wanted to communicate to others that without God at the center of my story, life could have easily overtaken me and overwhelmed me and turned out much different. I wanted to show that with God all things could work together for good for those who love Him. And I love Him so very much and I am so grateful for what he has given me in my life, much more than I deserve. He deserves all the glory and my goal is to give him that honor and glory through my words in this blog.

It has been 9 months since I have written a blog post. I have started and stopped on multiple occasions with a sentence or two, but the words wouldn’t come. This past year has been a very difficult year in my life, filled with a deep grief that I have had to work through with Gods help. I struggled daily to not allow bitterness to take root in my life, fully aware of the possibility of that happening due to the wounds inflicted on me.

I have learned enough life lessons to recognize how offense can easily turn to bitterness and when bitterness takes root it grows and corrupts everyone it touches. It is poison. I wanted desperately for God to help me cover my pain and these offenses in grace, sometimes having to work hard to do it over and over so bitterness could not take root. I have spent this past 11 months plucking “bitter weeds” out of my garden on a regular basis. Replacing those little sprouts with grace, mercy, peace and love seeds. God has walked me through it and still is, because the hurt doesn’t just go away, especially when it’s ongoing. You could say the garden of our hearts needs constant plucking and planting and tending. I want to say I’m now an expert gardener after this past season, but in all humility I am still learning as I go. My teacher, He is the expert!

Sometimes we have to lay offenses down and give it over to God over and over again. We need to recognize when our thoughts are allowing hurt to dwell and become fertile soil for “bitter weeds” to begin to grow and take root. We all know that if you don’t pluck those weeds right away, they just grow bigger and taller and thicker and stronger. Then they become much harder to pluck out and often you need bigger tools to dig down and get the roots of the weed to fully eradicate it.

This year I have not only worked hard on plucking them quickly but also replacing them with seeds of love, mercy and grace. I didn’t want my heart to just be weedless soil but a carefully tended garden full of colorful blooms. My heart has been focused on this ongoing process of healing, loving, learning and recognizing the good things God has given me even when the loss seems overwhelming. How essential it is for us to keep our eyes focused on Him and not on our circumstances.

Every time I have started to write or wanted to pour out my heart, I found it so difficult to do that because of the conflict in me between the wounds and the mercy and love I was working so hard to cover the wounds in, through Gods grace. I did not want to eradicate the work I had done by talking about the weeds. How do you express one without the other? I could not find the words. So I would start to write wanting desperately to express my heart and then the words just would not come.

I could not find a way to express my grief without exposing it and diminishing the grace and love that had replaced it. I want mercy to triumph in my life. As I’ve expressed before, joy and sorrow often coexist. God is the author and finisher of our faith. He also tells us when trials come to count it all joy! Really?! How? When our faith is tested it produces perseverance and when perseverance has finished its work we become mature and complete and lack nothing! (James 1:2-4) Joy comes from persevering! It doesn’t mean we have to enjoy the trial, just realize that with Gods help the trials help us grow and mature and eventually lack nothing which brings joy even if the sorrow remains.

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Hebrews 12:14-15

In offering mercy and love to those who hurt us, (who hurt me), we ourselves receive grace. My grace filled garden is blooming this spring with beautiful and colorful blooms from the seeds planted where weeds could have been. But I am ever watchful over that garden of grace, tending, watering and watching to pluck out those nasty weeds as soon as they pop up! It’s a process and it takes work to have a beautiful garden. But it’s worth it!

There is hope beyond this! Thank you Lord for the grace you so generously give to us, the glory for my garden is yours!

God Created Me

I am passionate, I am opinionated, I am bold and outspoken, I am transparent, I am honest, I am faithful, and most would say, I am strong.

I am also caring, loyal, forgiving, trusting, and insecure. I am sensitive, I am emotional and I am easily hurt.

I have a passion for family and connection. It has driven my existence. When I was young it was babies, I loved newborns especially. It drove me into volunteering in the church nursery at a young age and then on to babysitting at 12 and 13. I wanted nothing else but to get married and have babies. I was even willing to skip straight to the having babies and prayed to God that he would “make me pregnant like the Virgin Mary,” when I was 12 years old. That didn’t work, but I’m sure God got a good chuckle. I wanted to be a mom more than anything.

I never fit in, not with friends in school and not with my own siblings. School mates saw me as opinionated, argumentative and loud. My siblings saw me as a “loud mouth,” a “tattle tale,” argumentative and always having to be right. I have spent my whole life trying to convince others that they misunderstand me, that I am not the person they labeled me to be.

I wanted so badly to belong and to connect with them and have always felt left out, pushed away, misunderstood and unlovable.

When I was 14 I was a candy striper (a volunteer) at the same hospital my mom worked at. She was a nurse supervisor on a medical floor and I always thought she should work with the babies. Eventually, she did become an L&D nurse. I knew that if I didn’t get married till later, I would become a nurse who worked with the newborn babies in some capacity. I ended up a NICU nurse (of course) for the majority of my 20 years in nursing.

I met my husband when I was 14. I was a freshman in high school. He was the older more experienced bad boy that transferred in from another state for the second half of his senior year. We met through a mutual friend and he was the first boy who truly showed me any interest. I didn’t have boyfriends in Jr High like so many of my friends did. Boys didn’t seem interested in me. So at 14, vulnerable, insecure and desperate to be loved and found attractive, he was my dream. He was charming and confident and knew all the right things to say. I was head over heels crazy about him.

Our relationship was a rocky one over the next three years. But I wouldn’t let go of him. It wasn’t exactly healthy. It wasn’t gods way. My parents didn’t approve. But nobody could convince me that they knew better than me because he made me feel all the things that I had longed to feel. Loveable, desirable, connected, beautiful, and wanted. It wasn’t easy, there were heart breaks along the way, but we married when I was 17 and he was 20. We started having babies right away because it was all I wanted in the whole world.

We did things our own way and not always in the best order. We separated for a lengthy time in the early years of our marriage, we almost divorced, we kept having babies, we reunited (by the grace of God alone), and we have now been married for 33 years. He is my best friend and the only lasting and deep connection I have had throughout my adult years. He sees me and he loves me just how I am. He is proof that God fulfills his promises to work all things together for good for those who love him.

I have struggled my whole life with people. Family, friends, co-workers, even God. I’ve always had a hard time connecting the way I wanted to. I always felt misunderstood and unseen. I have cared deeply and so therefore have felt deep rejection. I have friends, some have even been very close friends for a time, but the closeness never lasts and always felt one sided at some point. This, over time led me to believe there was something wrong with me. That people could only see a terrible person in me.

I have always loved God. He has been part of my whole existence as long as I can remember. I asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my Savior at a very young age, maybe 7 or 8. He has picked me up over and over, brushed me off and pushed me back out there. He has worked many very bad and traumatic things in my life for ultimate goodness, restoration and healing. He has shaped me, molded me and taught me through trials because I often had to learn life lessons the hard way. He has held me, he has been next to me when I didn’t always know he was there and he has rescued me time and again. He has spoke to me through others, through his word and through that still small voice. He has been my friend through it all. Even when I couldn’t see it. Even when I pulled away, or screwed up, he waited patiently for me to come around.

A few years ago I went through biblical counselor training and certification. It was a time of great healing and break through in my life. God showed me how to apply his word, that I had been learning my whole life, in real ways that changed me. I desired to pray more effectively, his will and not my own. I began to understand and see with Christ-like eyes and love with God-love and desire more understanding of his word.

During that time I met with someone in a class I attended who was gifted in the ability to prophetically speak to others. She had a basic knowledge of me and my goals and passions from an information sheet that I filled out. She had spent time praying for me prior to our meeting. As I walked behind her, into the room where we met, my heel broke off my shoe. (That’s never happened before). I picked it up and limped behind her one heel on, one off. As we began to discuss my information sheet so she could gain more understanding of my Christian walk and goals, she shared two things with me that day that God showed her during her prayer time. First, she said she saw me holding a sword but struggling to wield it. She talked about what a sword could mean, not only a weapon but also the word of God. She told me that God wanted me to understand that he created me to be just who I am with all the passion, and boldness, and outspokenness and opinions and strength. But difficulties in relationships over time had made me believe that those qualities were bad. God wanted me to know that they weren’t bad, but just as you have to learn to properly wield a sword or you could hurt others and cause more damage than good. I would have to trust God to show me how to use the qualities he created in me for his purposes and for his good. This made a lot of sense and made me feel like it was ok to be me.

This image of me wielding a sword with God as my teacher and guide gave me courage and confidence that God created me to be exactly who I am and that I’m not the labels that have been placed on me but that I have a purpose and God was going to walk me through that purpose. It also made me aware of the damage I could do and had done throughout my life when carelessly swinging my sword. This gave me a desire to wield it within his will and not my own any longer.

Then she said the second thing she saw was a little more confusing. She asked if I had anything wrong with my leg or hip. She said she could see me walking with a limp and didn’t know what that meant. Did it mean anything to me? Immediately, my mind went back to my broken heel as I walked in this little room which caused me to limp in. She asked if that had any special meaning or if any scriptures were called to mind that had to do with limping. Immediately, I knew it was Jacob. So we talked about Jacobs limp. He wrestled all night with an angel of God who couldn’t overpower him so the angel touched the socket of his hip and wrenched his hip, the angel then asked to be let go and Jacob refused to let go until the angel blessed him. So the angel gave him the name Israel there and told him because he has wrestled with God and humans and overcome.

Jacob then said he had seen God face to face and his life was spared and from that time he walked with a limp.

So what did I take from that message? I am an overcomer! I have wrestled with God and man and I have overcome!

I have wrestled throughout my life with friendships, family, in marriage, with my kids, with my bosses and co-workers, with trauma, with cancer, with even God. Through it all I have overcome, and I have come out stronger, forged in the fire, wielding a sword for the Lord now instead of myself and it’s ok that I have a limp! It’s ok that I’m flawed and sometimes still get it wrong, because I am a work in progress, as we all are.

The limp also represents Jacobs unwillingness to let go until the Lord blessed him. I will cling to my Jesus all my days, I will not let go. My eyes will be stayed on the Lord and not the problems in front of me.

Recently, I have been under attack. The devil has tried hard to remind me of who I was before my refining. He has tried hard to make me feel everything I once felt about myself. I won’t accept those labels. My identity is in the Lord. I won’t look back. I will continue to look forward, leaving what is behind and wielding my sword in humility, honor, mercy, peace and love. God will have the last word in my life. I may walk with a limp but I do so in Jesus name.

There is hope beyond this. God, may my whole life bring you honor and glory forever!

My Life: What would you like to see me write more about?

The Bible says: “And they overcame him (the devil) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” Revelations 12:11

In my 50 years God and I have been through many trials and struggles, some that concluded in a joy filled ending, some that just came to an end and God used it all and worked it for good. Our lives are filled with testimonies of Gods goodness in our lives. He is always with us even when we feel all alone. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. In those moments when we feel abandoned, he is there working out his plan on our behalf. Our trials and suffering do not catch him off guard. He knows what’s coming and he already has it all worked out for us in advance. Our job is to trust him, hold on to him and keep our eyes on him and eventually, in his perfect timing, we will persevere. In my life I have struggled with both God and man/woman and overcome, like Jacob. It is because I have overcome that I can tell my stories of hope and give God the glory.

I was born into a family as number 6 of 7 children. I was the family scapegoat and had a hard time fitting in and being accepted by my siblings and with my peers. I was fortunate to be raised in a Christian home with amazing parents that have been married nearly 60 years. My mom was the “Martha Stewart” of moms but also worked as a nurse full time and that was hard on me. My dad was introverted and always calm and peaceful, he led our family through pray and the Bible through regular church attendance and involvement, bedtime prayers, family meetings and constant teaching moments. We had many adventures when I was a child on family vacations, visiting out of state relatives and church gatherings.

Junior High was my hardest school years. Fitting in, making friends, being bullied and tricked and betrayed. I was naive and trusting and loyal to a fault. I was also bold and outgoing in attitude and verbally, also transparent like an open book which allowed more people to know me and hurt me.

High School was interesting. It opened me up to more people who hadn’t known me before and I tended to make older friends. I had always been more mature than my age probably due to having so many older siblings. My friendships where hard, I was betrayed by those who were closest to me. I didn’t have many boys interested in me, but I met my husband my freshman year of high school. He was a senior. He was a typical “bad boy” and our relationship over the next 3 years was rocky and on and off. He proposed to me when I was 15 which I kept secret for some time since I wasn’t even allowed to date until I was 16. We lived together in our own apartment when I was 16 for about 6 months. During my senior year, I took my CHPE and left school at the beginning of the year to go to work for the company he and his family worked for. We were fired together, by his stepmother, for leaving work early for a holiday celebration with my family that she changed her mind about letting him leave for.

I was raped by a stranger in a mask when I was 17 which left me horribly traumatized at which time my parents allowed my fiancé to move in with me in their house to help me feel safe. We had to have my parents and a Judge give permission to marry at 17, which we obtained, and then got married 2 months after the rape.

My husband was 20 and I was 17 when we got married and we lived with my parents for the first 2 years of our marriage. He broke his leg and had surgery the month after we got married. Between his incapacities and my rape trauma, jobs were difficult and income was sparse.

My whole life, though, all I wanted was to get married and have lots of babies, which I had a mad passion for. We let nature take its course and I became pregnant the same month we married and our first of seven children was born 9 months and 9 days later.

I gave birth to and raised 7 children. We fostered 3 children somewhere in the middle of that which turned into a nightmare, each for its own reason. We separated after 2 1/2 years of marriage when I was pregnant with our third child (but didn’t know it). We came close to divorcing but God had other plans and miraculously changed our lives by restoring our marriage after 2 1/2 years of separation.

I lived with my parents during our separation and attended college, then nursing school. I graduated as an RN 6 months after being reunited with my husband and 6 months after that we bought our first house and got pregnant with our fifth child. (We had number 4 during our separation).

I worked as a postpartum nurse for my first year of nursing and then trained to become a NICU nurse, which I loved and stuck with for the remainder of my 20 years as a nurse. I was fired from 3 jobs for being outspoken, honest and having a tendency to take on a fight for justice head on. It made me a target. With my personality and strong opinions I often struggled with my relationships with co workers. I always felt misinterpreted and misunderstood. I felt like people couldn’t see through my outspokenness to see my heart. God had a lot of work to do in me. I was a force and often had to learn the hard way.

My husband was on and off disability for years due to numerous chronic health issues. Somehow we raised seven kids deeply involved in sports, theatre, dance, cheer, and numerous other activities. We bought a bigger house. We had 3 foster children live in and then out again of that house. We homeschooled for a time. We moved to Texas for 7 years, during which we filed bankruptcy for the second time and foreclosed on a house during the recession/housing market bubble bursting years. We had multiple surgeries between us on knees, shoulders, leg, feet, tonsils, gallbladder, and stomach.

We split our family in half after our kids started getting married and having kids of their own, to move back to California to pursue a job opportunity for my husband. I finally retired from nursing after 20 years as a perk of that deal. We’ve had kids move back and forth between Texas and California to be near us, to pursue job opportunities, for medical reasons and to try life on their own. We have raised all seven of our kids to adulthood. We have seen four of them get married including one being married by my husband who got ordained online. Minister Dan! We have many grandchildren and bonus grandchildren and have also been through the devastating loss of seven grand babies due to miscarriage and stillbirth. We don’t get to see our grandchildren very often, mostly due to distance.

I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at 46 years old and went through chemo, a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction and beat it. I’m 3 years cancer free!

I have gone through several weight loss and weight gain journeys. We have been the poster couple for the Daniel Plan health plan during a year of our life. I have led many Bible studies and womens groups. I have gone through biblical church counseling training and certification and worked as a church counselor volunteering my time for over a year. God really reshaped my character through that journey especially. I started a blog and enjoy writing and sharing what the Lord has taught me.

I currently continue to overcome life obstacles, relationship disappointments and rejections with friends and family. I continue to suffer from some residual symptoms of chemotherapy, though doing better. Cancer has changed me into more of an introverted homebody then I ever imagined I could become. I have taken on dogs for companions and gotten passionate about them and wanting to try my hand at breeding puppies. I have always loved babies. I currently own 7 dogs!!! I love them. They are loyal and faithful and gods purest form in creation of unconditional love.

My wonderful husband and I are best friends and happier than we ever imagined we could be. We are grateful to have each other and cherish every day and moment we get to spend together after 33 years of marriage. God has blessed us in incredible ways.

Joy and sorrow often coexist. And we have had our share of both. Without Jesus in our lives, I honestly can say we wouldn’t be where we are. My biggest word of advice is don’t try to make it through this life without Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. He’s got us!

There is hope beyond this, to God be all glory for all our stories and our life together!

Tell me which of my stories would you like me to write about in more detail?

This Is Love

Do you know the first thing God shows us is love. John 3:16, probably the most well known verse in the Bible, tells us God loved the world so much that he sent his own son as a sacrifice for us, all we have to do is believe in him and accept him to be welcomed permanently into his eternal family. This is Gods ultimate example of love.

Sacrifice, acceptance, grace.

He loved us first, then he sacrificed for us accepting us while we were still sinners, he welcomed us into his family without condition and only through the free gift of grace.

He continues in patience, gentleness and compassion to mold us throughout our lives, loving us and accepting us as part of his family without fail. His love is never demanding, never conditional. He is a perfect Father. He sanctifies us never deviating from his loving character.

Does God correct us? Of course. But he only does it in line with his character for the purpose of sanctifying us, teaching us, loving us and gracing us with purpose and his gifts. When we aren’t ready for this process or we have closed ourselves off to the lesson, he loves us where we are. Even if we totally reject him. Love does not demand it’s own way. He is patient and kind with us. He doesn’t hold a record of wrongs against us. He is not too proud or self serving to continue being in relationship with us even when we aren’t ready to be changed. He loves us without condition and waits patiently to teach us when we are ready. No matter how many loving attempts it takes. He never gives up on us or rejects us from his presence, from his protection, from his family…because his love always hopes, always perseveres and never fails.

Does Judgement enter in, the Bible tells us judgement day is at the end. Not throughout. Is he aware of our wrongs, of course, he is God. But through the blood of Christ our wrongs are removed from us as far as the east is from the west. He looks upon us as holy through Jesus. White as snow. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that the picture of a perfect Father? No condemnation in Christ, only mercy, grace, forgiveness, compassion, love.

I praise God for his patience and love for me. Because I do not always learn things the first time. I thank him for loving me through it, accepting me in spite of it and never giving up on me all the while offering his love to me in all kindness, and grace. Never rejecting me, never placing demands on me, taking what I’m willing to give to him and holding no wrongs against me. Then in all his loving kindness He delights in me and dances over me with joyful songs. He fulfills promises to me of peace and wisdom, hope and provision. His blessings are beyond what I ask for or imagine. He is a good good Father.

That is love. That is how He loves you and me. Do you love like that? Ask and you will receive the ability to love like that!

There is hope beyond this! To God be all glory.

Pondering 2021

The six!

Pondering for me can often lead to a blog post!

I’ve always loved the scripture Luke 2:19: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Mary becomes so relatable as a woman and a mother to me in this short sentence. I sit often and treasure up so many things, pondering them and storing them away in my heart. Our memories are important. Focusing on the treasures we have leads to gratitude and joy.

For many, 2020 was the crazy year. For me, 2021 held so many more significant events to ponder. For starters, 2021 marked 2 years of being cancer free. I did have a good scare early in the year though and still suffer from many lingering chemo issues.

I remain cancer free! Cancer changed things for me in so many ways. Big and little.

The most significant way is that I became a homebody. I don’t go out much at all anymore and don’t really have the desire to. So I guess it was inevitable that dogs became something I decided would fill the void. I had no idea where that would lead once it started, but 2021 was significant in that I added 5 puppies to our home throughout the year. Heading into 2021 we had two dogs, one of which died this year of an unusual autoimmune disease. (We miss our Lexi girl). So currently we have 6 dogs. Now that is something to ponder!

They keep me very busy and they are my buddies.

I added so many mostly because I plan to breed my two females once they are old enough. So that will become my new hobby and give me the opportunity to try something new and fun that I’ve always wanted to try. More to come on that front.

I added a second bonus son this year when my second daughter got married in a beautiful ceremony in my back garden in April. All my children and grandchildren came together for the occasion which is a rarity these days. I also, added three new bonus grandchildren through this union.

My third son got engaged in July so we added a fiancé into our ever growing fold.

In October we welcomed not one but two grand babies! A boy in Texas born to my second son and a girl in California born to my first son, just 9 days apart! And our sweet granddaughter is only our second girl grandbaby with a 10 year gap between them!

Sadly and joyfully, we added two more grand babies to our count of grandchildren in heaven. 7 souls we look forward to meeting when we arrive someday! Bittersweet!

Covid struck us hard this year. Diagnosed at the end of July. I was very sick for three weeks along with other family members. My husband became so sick he was hospitalized on hiflow Oxygen for two weeks with significant lung damage. He lived through it, thanks be to God. He came home on oxygen and even though he is progressively healing he remains on supplemental O2 currently. This significantly changed our lives and activities! But God is so good to give him breath to live another day and now another year as he has for us all. I’m so very grateful we still have each other. It’s a gift!

We were also blessed to be able to travel to Texas in October between baby births to meet our newest grandson and visit with our people.

In November we received a bonus blessing and added a God-grandson, born to my dear nephew and bonus niece who are so very special to us! We are honored to be a special part of their lives as well.

Our holidays were so special and filled with love and good memories! Our cup runs over!

So we close out 2021 and enter 2022 with anticipation, gratitude and joy for all that God has done and will do! He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it until we meet him face to face!

We are blessed beyond measure and I treasure each gift from above and each trial I can now consider pure joy. We are promised whenever we face trials of many kinds, the testing of our faith produces perseverance. And perseverance when it’s finished its work will lead to being mature and complete, not lacking anything.

To God be all glory for 2021, there is hope beyond this!

Happy New Year!

Bring it 2022!!!

Half A Century

This is the year I turn 50. It feels monumental. More so than 30 or 40. Although each came with its own significance and milestones.

At 30 I felt as though I was finally old enough. Old enough to be married, old enough to be a mom of 7 children. Old enough to not be told I wasn’t old enough for…whatever, you fill in the blank.

At 40 I felt older and wiser, the wisdom of having lived lots of years and knowing that I had gained so much more experience, knowledge and know-how than in my 20s and 30s. I felt a calling to lead, encourage, counsel, and mentor others.

Yet here I am approaching 50 and it feels monumental. Maybe it’s because I will be officially “over the hill?” Maybe because I have lived half a century? Maybe because I headed into my 40s a mom of 7 but now I’m so much more with a quickly expanding family. Maybe because I faced cancer and lived. But honestly it’s all that and so much more. I conquered so much to make it to 50! Yes 50 is definitely to be celebrated!!!

The things I know now that I wish I knew then but learned along the way:

Stay skinny! It’s too hard to take it off once you’ve gained it!

Live within your means when you are young so you can invest and have more in your later years. That means set aside money for giving (to the Lord and other godly causes), 10% or more. Also set aside money for savings and building an emergency fund, 10% or more. Then live off the remainder. Once you get married live off of one income only, so it can be your choice to stay home if you desire when the babies come. Don’t pay interest!!! It just leads you down the wrong path!

Don’t just love your spouse, cherish them. Let them be your best friend. Look for a God loving partner, even during your teen years (I’m proof teen marriages can lead to happily ever afters), that exhibits fruit from his/her life. (Fruit of the Spirit), look it up! Age is just a number. Getting married to the right person at a young age is a blessing. People who wait, miss relationship opportunities, carry more hurt and baggage into their marriage, and ultimately have just as much chance for divorce. In many cases maturity is a choice. Besides, being a grandma at a young age is fabulous! Make Jesus the center of your marriage. Choose to stay (no matter how tough it gets), choose to love everyday even when it’s hard, choose to forgive always, and choose to be on the same side in every situation!

Learn, study and apply Gods word to your life everyday! And know that you will always be learning and growing in your relationship with the Lord until you reach heaven. You will never stop learning. It’s better to be humble than self righteous.

Be there for your kids during their growing up years, be involved, make special time with them to attend to their individualism, include them and teach them even if you can get it done faster on your own.

Don’t just teach your children what to do and what not to do. Teach them why. Teach them what it means to them, to others. Teach them how to sincerely apologize when they are wrong and why it’s important to have a repentant heart. Teach them how to be humble, loving, faithful, truthful, respectful, merciful and a hard worker. Teach them to love and respect others. All others. Teach them the value of words and when to be silent. Teach them the tongue is two sided, it can bless or curse, teach them to choose the blessing side and be aware that they don’t allow the other side to take over. Words can’t be taken back after they are out. Oh, and make sure you are practicing what you preach!

Most importantly teach your children about the world so they are aware that humankind needed a Savior and then teach them about Jesus! Everything the Bible says about Him. Teach them to love Him with their whole hearts and teach them what it means to love with their whole heart. The most important thing you can do is raise Jesus-loving children who will pour into generations to come. Teach them to love the Word of God and how to weave it into everyday life. Teach them how to pray, it matters.

Involve them in politics and government, what freedom is and what it all means at a young age so they can grow up understanding the importance every citizen has in voting and standing up for what is right and just. Teach them how to discern truth and not believe the lies and deception of the world.

Don’t be to proud to admit when your wrong and apologize to your children when you hurt them. Oh, and you don’t have to get angry and yell to get your point across or get them to obey. Gentleness and love always send the best message.

Learn at a young age what it truly means to “take your thoughts captive” and how to separate the lies we assume and conclusions we jump to, from the truth. Learn how to communicate clearly and how to clarify so they do not misunderstand others. Most offenses happen through misunderstandings.

Don’t gossip or spread falsehoods. Exaggerations and reading into others intentions and words are falsehoods.

What you focus on is what will dominate your thinking, your attitude and your behavior. If you focus on the good it grows bigger. if you focus on the bad then it grows and soon will overpower the good and make it hard to recognize. Know that joy and sorrow coexist. Choose joy to be what you focus on! Gratitude is often the key to joy! Learn how to count your blessings!

Learn how to let go and understand you will never be in control. God is in control. Learn how to trust Him completely, and I mean with everything. Learn how to deny yourself and follow His will instead of your own.

Be a loving friend, a loving son/daughter, a loving sister/brother, a loving neighbor, a loving wife/husband, a loving mother/father, a loving person and work at it with all you are because love returns to you when it’s given out. And because it’s the second command Jesus gives after loving Him with your whole heart. Love is everything.

Forgive. Always choose forgiveness. It removes the bitterness from your soul that festers and turns to poison inside you. Do it, even when they don’t deserve it. Then let it go as many times as you have to until your heart is healed. Leave it at the cross, never use past forgiven offenses to hurt, demean or shame someone you love. And forgive yourself because you will never be perfect this side of heaven.

Never judge others, correction with a loving and humble spirit is not the same as judgement. Too often we judge others by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions. Remember we all are sinners and God doesn’t differentiate between sins. If He offers forgiveness and grace to us, who are we to deny it to others?

Learn how to set healthy boundaries and how to surround yourself with relationships that seek the same values as you do. Give people second chances, they may surprise you. But also know when to separate yourself from someone who seeks to hurt and damage you without a truly repentant heart that bears fruit. Learn how to tell the difference.

Accept people for who they are. Love them where they’re at. Stop trying to make them into someone they aren’t. And don’t expect things from them they can’t give, or you will always be disappointed. Not everyone sees things the way you do. Not everyone thinks, loves, communicates and gives how you do. Get to know them for who they are, how they best communicate and what their strengths are. Your relationships will benefit!

Don’t allow Satan the ability to use you as a pawn against your loved ones. Never forget that in a relationship worth holding onto, you’re on the same side. Learn how to let the little things go. Choose not to be offended.

In everything you do, do it for the Lord, not for man. People are only human and even those closest to you will disappoint you but Gods long term plan for your life can not disappoint!

Focus your eyes, heart, understanding on Jesus because He is the author and perfector of your faith. And remember this world is temporary and stay heavenly-focused, so fear cannot take hold in your life. Spread the good news of Jesus and your testimony to others because it will overcome all. You will plant seeds even when you can’t see it!

Know from an early age that this life isn’t about YOU! It’s about your relationship with the Lord and expressing His glory.


50 here I come! I made it!

To God be all the glory! There is hope beyond 50!!!

In The Wake Of Surviving

Once cancer has become part of your life, even after “beating it,” its effects still linger. It’s never completely over with, this side of heaven. There is always that nagging thought, as subtle and far away as it may be, that it could come raging back with a vengeance. These past three weeks I thought mine had.

It really started months ago with the death of a friend. Her breast cancer, same type as mine, returned and spread throughout her body taking her life just one year later after it returned. Then another friend also had hers return and is presently going through treatment, again. These circumstances made me pay a little more attention to some vague symptoms I had been experiencing. Including some numbness and pins-and-needles feeling in my hands at night, different from my neuropathy symptoms. Also, back spasms and numbness and tingling sensations on the side of my head. I waited until my 6 month check with my oncologist and brought up everything to her. I complained about the usual side effects, of course, my body trying to decide if it wants to be in menopause after chemo which brought on heat intolerance, joint pain and fatigue, to name a few of the worst symptoms.

My oncologist is very good and willing to run tests to look into suspicious symptoms. My symptoms triggered her suspicion. She ordered an MRI of the brain and spine. One week later I spent 2 full hours flat on my back in an MRI machine. That was not easy. The results came back showing degenerative disc disease (rather common), but also some “nonspecific findings” in both the brain and spine. This triggered further testing to rule out the worst case scenario, if the cancer had returned and metastasized to my brain and spine.

This past week was a crazy week. I spent 3 days at City of Hope. I had labs drawn, a PET CT from skull to thighs and a Lumbar Puncture to check for cancer cells. In the midst of all this my annual PAP smear results came back with abnormal cells. So a colposcopy, endometrial biopsies (ouch!) and a pelvic ultrasound were also completed.

Initially, when I heard the MRI results, I wasn’t too worried. My God has walked this valley with me all along and I knew he would not leave my side now. I trust Him, completely. I knew that most likely it would turn out to be nothing. I did not feel any impending sense of doom and I had peace. My husband, on the other hand, could barely talk about it. He was terrified and majorly stressed out. Poor man, I have put him through a lot. He is a trooper and my rock! If Jesus is on one side, then my husband is on the other!!

When I heard that abnormal cells were found on my PAP smear, things shifted for me. Even though I knew it could be a coincidence, my thoughts kept going there: “what are the chances of it being nothing now?” “God must be preparing me for something bad” “what will this mean?” So inevitably I started thinking about death, my life ending, what that would mean for my husband, my kids, my grandkids. Closure, all that was required, writing letters to loved ones, decorating for Christmas in June! Wait what?!? I know you’re asking what Christmas has to do with this?Everything!!! If I’m gonna die, I’m gonna enjoy my favorite time of year throughout the process. And I know how to do Christmas!

These are the thoughts that fluttered around in my head. I didn’t obsess or dwell on them, by any means, but they happened. God truly gave me peace. But the reality is the unknown takes your mind many places. Sometimes it can be scary, sometimes practical and sometimes sentimental.

Yesterday’s appointments included a follow up visit to my oncologist. All the results were back except my ultrasound which was scheduled to follow my appointment with her.

Good news!!! Everything was negative. No evidence of disease. No cancer cells found. Nothing.

Praise God! I got a thumbs up from my husband. I smiled. I asked questions. I was kind of numb. What was wrong with me? Why didn’t I feel happier? It took some time for it to really sink in that I wasn’t dying. It really had been a fluke that my PAP came back abnormal, with no explanation, after 34 years of normals. Those “nonspecific findings” was just an overly cautious radiologist dealing with a patient “history” of breast cancer. My weird symptoms had no real explanation, I guess.

Somewhere along the way, in the course of just two weeks, I went from mostly believing it would be nothing to mostly believing it would be something. All the while trusting God that he knew what was best for me, even if it was calling me home.

I had actually started accepting that fate peacefully. Now she says it was nothing? All of this? All of these tests? Nothing? It took a couple hours for my mind to wrap around it. I texted out to those who waited to hear: “All good news. Tests negative.”

My doctor plans to take my case to the tumor board to discuss everything including my symptoms, she is referring me to a neurologist for my symptoms and to consult a neuro surgeons opinion for my spine issues. Also, a rheumatologist for my hands which she thinks could be carpal tunnel or just my neuropathy.

In the end, most likely I will hear that I’m almost 50 and I’m getting older, I’m not as young as I used to be. My body has been through a lot. I should loose weight and exercise regularly to relieve the joint pain and back issues.

But…I’m NOT gonna die…not yet anyways!

This time the “not knowing” was different than with my initial cancer diagnosis. That is because of where the Lord has brought me and what he has taught me. My trust and faith in him runs deep and real and I rely on him fully, not just in hollow words but in truth! That is a peaceful and light place to live. It’s full of hope and security, resting in the shadow of his wings. And maybe he is preparing me for something bad, eventually, and I’m ok with that too. The unknown isn’t fun, but at least I know I can count on the one who holds my future, it isn’t unknown to him. Knowing Him is all I really need. And I’m thankful!

There is hope beyond this! Praise be to Jesus all glory to Him!

Living Life On My Own Terms

I will be 50 this year. I’m close to being an empty nester. I’ve raised 7 children. I’ve had an awesome career I’m now retired from. I’ve been through cancer and beat it. I could name so many more things I’ve accomplished or been through up till now. But here I am with my time ticking down on my 40s, each day reminding me I’m “almost” 50! And I’ve decided I no longer owe anyone an explanation or excuse except the man I share my life with. If he’s on board, that’s all that matters.

When I was younger and wanted to get married when I was 17, I had to defend it. I had to convince people I was ready, explain why I would want to get married so young. When I started having babies right away and just kept having them, I got to where I actually dreaded calling certain family members to tell them I was pregnant again. Not because I wasn’t ecstatic, because I was. But because of the tiresome comments I knew were forthcoming. I was different, I knew it, wanting to get married young and have so many children. But it was right for me.

Anytime in my life that we made a change, a move, bought a new car, a dog, a cat, changed jobs, spent money, even ate unhealthy food, I felt I had to defend it. Well that’s ridiculous! I’m an adult. I’m “almost” 50 now. I’ve been through my share of crap. And if I want to do something that seems crazy or unreasonable to someone else, why should I feel afraid to share it, or do it?

People judge. That is why. My whole life I have lived under that cloak of judgement because I cared what people thought of me. Also, maybe, a small part of me thought I was being crazy too. But no more. I’m going to be me and that’s not crazy. So this year I’ve decided I’m too old to worry about it anymore.

No more am I going to allow myself to worry about other peoples responses or what they think of me, what I’m doing, or how I’m spending my time or my money. If I’m excited about something and want to share it, I will. If I need to loose weight but want to eat poorly right now, it’s my choice. If I spend money on something you don’t approve of, as long as my husband does than it’s not your problem. So if my response to you is not what you expect than this is why…I don’t need to defend my actions.

So my first announcement after this life changing, freedom giving decision to live on my own terms is this:

I’m getting another puppy!!! Yes I am. And not a little puppy, a great big puppy!!!!! Dan and I are welcoming a Saint Bernard puppy into our growing family of dogs. Because I want to, that’s why. My husband approves because he loves and supports me and we’ve always wanted one and he’s cute! So there!

Coming soon!

Watch out 50, here I come!!!!

There is hope beyond this too! Glory to God for 50 years of living!!!!

Raising Your Kids

I was obsessed with babies from a very young age. Newborns specifically. To me, holding an infant in your arms, was the best. I couldn’t wait to grow up and have babies! Lots of babies.

I volunteered in the church nursery from the age of 9 or 10. I knew all the babies in our church and they knew me. If there was a new baby to be held, I always asked to hold. I was extremely mature for my age and the parents liked me. By the time I was about 11/12 I was taking babysitting jobs for those children in their homes. Anywhere from 1 child, to a home with 6 boys. Back then you got paid $1 to $2 an hour for babysitting! I loved it and took every job I could.

When I was 12, I would walk back and forth on our front porch talking to God about how bad I wanted to be a mom. I prayed, “Lord, why can’t you just make me pregnant like you did the virgin Mary?”

I didn’t want to wait, I wanted a baby, bad.

Well immaculate conception was not in the cards for me but I did start young! I met my husband when I was 14, he was 17. One year later, at 15, we were engaged and when I was 17 and he was 20 we got married. No I wasn’t pregnant, but you better believe that was my first priority once I was married. So my cycle started a few days after our wedding and by the next month I had a positive pregnancy test. My first born arrived 9 months and 9 days after our wedding date. Finally, I was a mom, at 18.

Now I realize most 18 year olds aren’t ready to be moms, but I was. I had prepared for this mentally and emotionally for nearly 10 years. And I had the skills to care for a baby. Side note: Needless to say I also did a lot of growing up while I was raising my own children. But some 30 year olds aren’t even as mature as I was at 18. So I do condone young marriage and parenthood depending on the individuals and circumstances. Age doesn’t define readiness. Everyone is different and no situation is perfect.

What a joy it was to hold a newborn in my arms that was all mine. I couldn’t be happier. After that, the babies just kept coming! I knew I wanted at least 4. So, between 18 and 30 years of age, I gave birth to all seven of my children. I was either pregnant or breastfeeding for almost 12 solid years. I had babies in diapers for 15 years.

During that time a lot happened. Among which, I went to nursing school and became an RN and of course went directly into the maternal child area of practice. I started out as a postpartum nurse and within a year trained and transferred over to NICU nursing. My dream job! (If I had to work) I got to work with the tiniest of newborns! So after my last child was out of diapers, I still changed diapers and fed babies for another 10 years beyond that! I retired in 2013 from nursing (and 25 years of diapers) when we moved back to California. I finally got to be a stay at home mom for the youngest 3 of my kids even though they were mostly grown.

So, many would say I have experience with raising children. My kids turned out great, by most accounts and opinions. Not perfect but respectable, good humans with varying levels of success and some with children of their own. I became a grandma at 40 and love it! One of the many benefits to starting young!

Now that my kids are grown I sometimes hear about things from when they were little. Impressions left, hurts inflicted, mistakes made. I realize it’s the dramatic moments we tend to remember. The normal, mundane and ordinary often seems like the lesser of a childhood and the things that stand out to a child were the scary, hurtful, and big moments. (Good and bad). So sometimes kids grow up with a somewhat distorted perception of their childhood. But in reality that is how they remember it so changing their mind is nearly impossible.

My grown kids even argue among each other about what did and didn’t happen and what is true or truly exaggerated. Who had it the worst and the best will never be agreed on by all of them. I almost feel like I’ve learned more from their perceptions of things then I did raising them. Because no matter how good (or bad) of a job you do, perception is everything to your children. And the things you say and do in their childhood is what shapes and molds their memories, opinions of you as a parent and feelings toward you in general, as well as their emotional and mental well being.

That’s when you truly see the mistakes you made, little and big, even when you thought you were doing an okay job. And it’s different for each individual child and personality. The unfortunate part is, once they are grown, it is done and you can’t go back and have a do over. I’ve realized that it’s nearly impossible to know some of the things you may be doing that leave a negative impression with one of your children but there are some general things I’ve learned. Sometimes you just do the best you can and hope it will be enough.

So this is my advice for those out there who are still in the midst of raising up your children, or just starting out having babies.

Love is the number one most important thing you must give your child. Not necessarily what love means to you but what it means to them. We all receive love and affection differently, so try to learn what matters to each child. Is it quality time, affection, individual time, words of praise and encouragement, fairness, interest in what they love? There are many ways to give and receive love.

You may think that working long hours to provide everything for them they could want is how you show you love them or buying them gifts and toys and things they want should show them. They should be grateful for all your hard work and everything you do for them and give them, right? Wrong. In reality, most kids don’t care about that long term. There may be certain times that a special item they wanted really badly, when received, could be a good memory etched into their collection of childhood memories. For the most part, though, they won’t remember all those things you bought or all the time you spent working to support them, cleaning up their messes, doing their laundry, cooking them meals, making holidays extra special or whatever we do as parents to just responsibly care for and raise our children.

What they remember is whether you were there for them at the times they needed you or wanted you most. Were you compassionate to their feelings even when you didn’t understand why they felt the way they did. Did you show them respect even though you are the adult and they are the child and not belittle them or their interests. Trust me, you can do it without even realizing it, by telling them video games are stupid or you don’t like their taste in clothes or confirming truth to hurtful words their siblings have used toward them.

Raising children is hard work. Paying attention to all their individual needs and personalities when you are tired and overwhelmed with life, stressed out or fed up with bickering, messes made, disobedience etc etc etc. Sometimes you do have to pick your battles for your own sanity.

Although, it’s how you respond when you’re feeling the most depleted that they seem to remember later. When we lose are tempers, say things that are hurtful, ignore their needs and refuse to defend them when asked. Sometimes it’s just making the best of what life hands you that can become distorted in a child’s memory. We even often repeat similar cycles we didn’t like about our own childhoods.

For example, I hated that my mom was gone most of the time. I needed her to be there for me more but she worked swing shift, the hours that we were home from school, 5 days a week on rotation. She had very practical reasons for working that shift, that allowed her to help support her family financially and raise 7 children and run the household. All good. She did an incredible job of it too. As an adult I completely understand. But as a child I just resented that she worked when we were home. My primary love language is quality time. So yes, I took it personal that she worked a shift that kept her away. I can remember some of the special gifts they gave me growing up, but the best and most meaningful thing she ever did was take me with her alone to a women’s retreat weekend that happened to land on my 12th birthday. I don’t remember a lot of details about the weekend but the fact that she took me and only me to spend an entire weekend with her, that meant the world to me. It wasn’t planned, it was a last minute decision, probably because I made her feel guilty. But there it was, her decision filled my love tank and etched a memory that said she cared about me to my soul.

I also became a working mom out of necessity and when I was home I was sleeping because I worked graveyard shift. I only saw my kids for a couple hours a day and on my days off I was often running errands, doing laundry, running a household, taking kids to practices for various activities or just vegging in front of the TV because I was exhausted.

My kids memories are of a mom who wasn’t around a lot and too tired to meet their needs when I was around.

Obviously there are other important things that factor into raising children. Teaching them to love Jesus is the most important thing to instill in them. discipline, consistency, responsibility, protection, open communication, involvement, teaching them how to be good humans, all of these are important.

But the thing that will speak the most into their perceptions of you and their childhood memories is how well you show them love. I’m sure that is why the Bible tells us …”the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 14:1 (NLT) tells us, “Let love be your highest goal!”

God love! Not worldly love. 1 Corinthians 13 teaches us about God love. We often think about it in relation to marital love but this is how God loves us and how we are called to love others. All others. Including our children. Do yourself a huge favor parents and study what love really is in the Bible and apply it to your marriage, your parenting, and all your relationships.

I could go into all those other important factors in parenting and maybe I will in later blog posts. Maybe I will make it a series. But for now I will focus on the greatest of these…love. Everything else will come with it! Don’t believe me, Jesus said it in Matthew 22:37-40: Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The greatest commandment is to “Love.”

All the other laws and prophets hang on love!

With expressing love to your children don’t forget to let them see you expressing love to your spouse. One of the biggest mistakes we made raising our kids was not necessarily letting them see us argue, which wasn’t the best, but it was not letting them see that we had made up. Letting them know we were wrong and that we had forgiven each other and love each other no matter what. Don’t just assume they know it because everything is fine the next day. Your children don’t know the words of humility, kindness, forgiveness and love that you have spoken toward each other in private. We often left our children with the impression that we weren’t very fond of each other for many reasons. It wasn’t intentional, we didn’t know the thoughts they had about the state of our marriage until they were grown. It bothers me to know my children grew up worried our marriage wasn’t good and we could potentially end up divorced. This shaped many of their beliefs about marriage, love, forgiveness and how to treat someone you are in a relationship with. No matter what principles you may be teaching them, remember actions often speak louder than words. Although, reassuring words to enforce all the loving relationships in their life are also very important.

So show love, to Jesus, to yourself, to your spouse, and to your children! It is the greatest of these!

Pray often, love fiercely, be humble, do your best and never stop trying to improve. Your children will be blessed for it and so will you.

There is hope beyond this! To God be all glory!