Little Bit’s Mom

I love being a mom. I have no idea how I was even able to breathe before this kid was born. We just celebrated our eleventh Christmas and on Christmas Eve, when the house was quiet and I was the only one awake, I found myself getting all sentimental.

We tried to have a baby for what seemed to be forever, though it wasn’t as long as some other couples. I remember the holidays during those five years as mostly heartbreaking. The one thing I wanted more than anything in the world, Santa couldn’t deliver.

When Heaven and earth opened up and I was finally able to stay pregnant, this little miracle made his grand entrance about a month early, putting him here in time for Christmas.

Oh, you don’t even the know the joy I felt, having that little angel in my arms on Christmas that first year.

When I got pregnant, I made a vow to myself not to forget the lonely road we’d traveled. Therefore, I know what a privilege it is to bake Santa cookies, to cuddle up with my beautiful son and watch Santa’s sleigh on the radar, and to read him “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Two nights ago, as I stood looking at our beautiful tree during Christmas Eve’s wee hours, a contentment I can barely describe washed over me.

It’s in those moments when grace slides in almost unexpectedly, that I remember just how eternally grateful I am to be Little Bit’s Mom.

This Girl’s Heart

Are you a giver? Oh yeah, me too.

Have you given things to your friends? Yeah, me too.

Have you given to the collection plate? Yeah, me too.

Have you given a toy for the toy drive? Yeah, me too.

Have you given to a family who lost their home? Yeah, me too.

Have you given to a person on the corner with a sign? Yeah, me… oh, wait a second.

I used to. Often. So much so that I wrote several stories about it on this blog. I used to give freely to random people who needed help, as a way to teach compassion to my young son.

Then one day, trauma waltzed in. A public place. A man who lived in the streets, with a staring eye, and unkind intentions. My intuition immediately alerted me to the danger. My instinct kept us safe. But the incident stole something from me:

Part of my giving heart.

After that, fear of strangers stormed in and set up shop by building walls around my heart. Fear boarded up its windows and hung a Closed sign on its door.

I remember driving away that day so scared that I was shaking. A mile later, I saw someone standing at a stoplight with a sign for help. For the first time ever, I looked the other way and in that instant, my heart shattered into a zillion pieces.

You see, normally I would’ve been digging for change or a cereal bar to hand out the window…

The more the days passed, the easier it became to not notice the signs so much. Until one afternoon while sitting in the left turning lane, my son and I both saw a person standing right beside our truck with a sign, asking for help.

My son said, “Someone needs help.” My reply was, “We have to be safe.”

Ugh. And, we do right? Have to be safe? But, at what cost? Are we missing out on something really wonderful by being super protected?

It seems like things in life can rock us to the core and essentially who we are can change because of a circumstance we are in. Maybe it’s a divorce, a loss, a trauma, a friendship gone wrong, or even something we think we did to someone. In those moments self protection seems to become the only option.

A few days ago, I opened up my Facebook feed and saw the most beautiful picture of my friend, Courtney. The sun softly lit up her face and she was absolutely glowing in joy.

Her post that followed was about something that happened to her while driving to her doctor appointment that day. By the time I finished reading it, I felt my “closed-to-strangers” heart begin to shift.

In the days since, I’ve found myself looking back at the trauma and I realized that in order to move past it, I had to sit with it and remember why I was so scared that day over a year ago.

Ultimately, I came to see that even though fear served its purpose that day, it’s really not serving me now. In fact, it’s keeping me from being my authentic giving self.

Well, no more of that! I’m giving that story back!

So, on this eve of Christmas, with her permission, I’d love to share her story with you.

The following is by Courtney W. ~

Today as I was driving to my rheumatologist appt. I saw a homeless man and his dog sitting on the side of the road. I immediately turned into the next drive thru even though I was in a time crunch for my appt so they could have food and a small gift card for another meal in the future. A mini toiletry bag & some Larabars (I take hotel toiletries to make baggies & keep in the car) & I went back & approached them. Breezy has traveled with his dog Snoop to 38 states but the first thing he will tell you is he has a severe alcohol problem & he wants help. He wants to go into a rehab program at a local facility if they can get him a bed but they won’t take Snoop. His most precious support in life would be sent to a pound & either possibly adopted away from him or put down. He asked for no money. He ate his burger while Snoop ate his meat & cheese off my fingers so delicately and polite. All the while giving furry love & kisses. We talked about how they are treated by most people & about philosophy & world religions. I was a bit late for my appointment; but it didn’t matter… I changed his day for the better. I listened. And if he gets into the program I will be driving down to pick up & watch Snoop briefly so he can focus on sobriety knowing his best friend is safe and sound waiting for him. They say it “Tis’ the season” but we should treat each other like humans & see the light in one another every day. Christ asked it of me today & I got just as much if not more than this man. We took a picture in hopes of inspiring others to be kind, have compassion, know we are all just trying to make it in this world. When I looked at my phone to take the picture it was 11:11 and I knew my Angels were with me and his with him. Be there for one another. Love one another. Full heart tonight.”

Thank you, Courtney, my dear sweet friend, for being exactly who you are. Your love for others allowed me to start tearing down those boarded up walls and in turn, I was able to flip that Closed sign over to Open, in this girl’s heart.

Merry Christmas.

The Wind and the Waves

Have you ever just needed a vacation? Just a break to step away from the every day? 

Yeah, me too. 

The past several months I haven’t been writing much. I’ve been reading and researching health issues. Sure, it’s great to learn about all that stuff, but after a while, it flat gets heavy! 

Our vacation came at the perfect time because walking away from researching was exactly what I needed. 

Quite honestly, I’ve had a ton on my mind and realized I’d almost taken up residence in Fear. Like it’s a town with an area code or something. Fear of what? 

  • Fear of a mystery illness
  • Fear of finding the right doctor
  • Fear of following the right path
  • Fear of finding the right remedies
  • Fear that these headaches would never go away
  • Fear of being enough and doing enough
  • And, just the general fear that creeps in out of nowhere 

When we arrived at the beach, it was like the ocean opened its arms and called out, “you are safe here.” 

In those moments, my soul searching began. In all the muck that fear creates, it’s easy to lose ourselves. But, I actually began to see myself again and because of that, I was able to set down the worries I’d been carrying. 

That beach set me free. Standing in the sand, all senses completely submersed, I found the healing power of the wind and water. After eleven days, I returned home stronger and less afraid. 

Since then, I feel more at peace about my health. Believe it or not, the right doctor did come along. So did some answers. Not all, but some and that’s a start I’ll take. 

I just thought I’d tell you where I’ve been for so long. On a healing path, I guess, that started with the wind and the waves. 

Over Pies

A few nights ago I heard lots of kid voices on the gravel road in front of our house which is  highly unusual.

I mean, we hear our share of frogs croaking, birds singing, and coyotes howling, but there are hardly ever kids on this dead end country road.

They came to the door with a flyer and said they were having an upcoming fish fry and pie auction at their church a few days later and were inviting people in the area to come.

We set the flyer out so we wouldn’t forget, and yesterday we ventured a mile up the highway to their church called Friendship Church.

We’d been there two or three times several years ago when we were trying on churches, so to speak, but it was so long ago that this was a new experience for us.

I’ve got to be honest here, the “how are we going to walk into a room where we don’t see anybody familiar” butterflies were making some serious racket in my stomach.

It’s kind of unnerving, you know? To walk into a place where everybody already knows everybody else. It does makes it pretty easy to pick out who is new.

But, maybe that’s a good thing because we were greeted with lots of smiles and warm welcomes. In fact, one of the ladies even recognized us from the time we were there like 5 years ago.

The kitchen was a buzz with meal preparations and after everyone was seated, chit chat filled the room.

As weird as it sounds, in a room full of virtual strangers, I was almost transported back to when I was a kid at my grandma’s Iowa farmhouse.

When we got together, the adults in our family used to sit at the kitchen table and tell stories that filled the whole house and meals with laughter.

Last night I realized that it didn’t really matter if we knew anyone or not, just being there was enough.

For the pie auction, Little Bit and the kids took turns carrying the desserts through the sanctuary to show each one to the potential bidders while the auctioneer was busy calling out the dollar amounts.

While waiting in line for his turn, Little Bit spotted something on the table that he really, really wanted:

A pie.

Ok, this is a really, really huge thing! My boy has never even eaten pie! Like ever!

So, with money in my back pocket, this momma set out to get him his first ever fruit-filled confection.

Well… I lost by $5.

After the last of the desserts sold, everyone was gathering their things and getting ready to head home.

I was standing near the pulpit when a kind gentleman I’ve never met before approached me and offered his lovely raspberry masterpiece.

What?? Me?? My response was “Let me give you some money for it,” which he refused to take.

So, there I stood, dessert in hand and a lump in my throat. Then, a sweet gal I don’t even know came up to me with her arms outstretched.

I about fell over when I looked down and saw her gift! It was the very pie that Little Bit had wanted so badly.

Seriously? Who does that? Who is soooooooo kind that they buy something and hand it over to someone else? Someone they don’t even know?

Evidently they do.

Suddenly as I started to thank her, I felt the lump in my throat make its way to my tear ducts.

With extreme gratitude about to  spill down my cheeks, the only words I could seem to muster were,

“Who cries over pies?”


Smile Wearing is Sharing

Have you seen that phrase “Sharing is caring”?

Mostly, I’ve seen it used on social media sites, like at the end of blog posts or on Facebook pages.

The concept seems quite simple. If you like what you see or see anything that would help you or others, please pass it on. 

Pretty cool. 

I love the idea of extending something we have to someone else. Whether it’s a shoulder to lean on, encouragement, or even a meal, there’s such a beauty in it. 

Last week, on our way to deliver a couple of meals to sick friends, we were sitting at a stop light where a man was also sitting. 

Only he wasn’t in a vehicle, he was on the curb. With a sign. 

The only word on his sign that I can even vaguely remember was Homeless. I was too busy watching him to pay attention to what it said. 

There was just this way about him, you know? It was different. If you’ve read any of my other stories, you may recall that sometimes the folks I see with signs are kind of sad. 

Not him. 

He was smiling. 

And, waving at cars as they went by. 

I can barely get words around what a joy it was to see. It was almost like when sunlight beams through clouds on an ordinary day. If it’s not too cloudy, those rays may go unnoticed. 

Did anyone else notice that unyielding smile among a sea of asphalt and concrete? Hard to say. 

We did. 

The lesson learned? 

That even smile wearing is sharing. 

THIS Day

RIGHT now, in this moment, I am walking around my house smiling.

It’s November 1st, and our front door is wide open. My Little Bit is rattling the piano keys. The dog is panting. The cats are sleeping. 

I stepped outside and found that the wind is in a duet with some bird who seems to be as happy in this day as I am. 

Leftover ghosts, sway in the yard. Party signs still lead the way to Sunday’s fun afternoon we had here with friends. 

That day the house was filled with kids and costumes. With laughter and noses wet from bobbing for apples. 

The kids ran about and there was a barefoot baby on my wood floors. Is there anything better? 

Today is filled with thoughts of Sunday, Little Bit’s songs, a table of leftover crafts, and sun that is streaming in all of our beautiful windows. 

I love every single one of our every-single-days. And today, I’m finding myself pretty much in love with THIS day.



Enjoy The Ride

Have you ever been on one of those amusement park rides that whips you all around and flips you upside down? 

That happened to me exactly a year ago today. Only there was no admission price, no cotton candy, and no waiting in line for this ride I’ve sort of been stuck on. 

On September 15,2015, I was driving. Little Bit and I were on our way to meet friends at the bowling alley. 

We never made it. 

About 15 miles from home, my health somersaulted resulting in an ambulance ride, 13 hours in ER, extensive testing, being scared silly, lots of tears, and a 4 day hospital stay. 

It. Was. Hard. 

And, not just on me. 

The doctors were talking about the possibility of some terrible things being wrong. Cancer, Lyme Disease, MS, stroke…

We were devastated. 

At one point I remember looking over at my husband and seeing tears on his cheeks.

I could barely see him through my own…

My parents drove 5 hours to be with me. My husband and Little Bit STAYED with me the entire time. Little Bit slept with me in my hospital bed.

Only I didn’t sleep.

I laid there looking at him, thinking I was dying of brain cancer and I’d never see him again. 

If I could’ve reached into my gut and pulled out that knot of fear, I would’ve. 

During the days, my friends showed up with their kids and gifts to cheer us. 

The nights were excruciatingly long, worry packed, and nurse filled. 

I was put on a really strong iv medicine those four days. It made my blood sugar spike and I had to get insulin injections. 

I’ve never been on insulin. Ever. 

I was sent home with a prescription of the same medication in oral form and a prescription for insulin. 

Oh, and I was sent home with a “diagnosis” by the doctor who was treating me at the hospital. 

He was absolutely positive he knew what I had and even yelled at me in front of my family when I questioned it. 

His diagnosis was not a good one. 

We prepared the best we could. Immediately after I got home, I started researching diets, alternative care, outcomes, and statistics. 

Then, over the course of the next 3 months, we found out his diagnosis was wrong. You read that right. 

Misdiagnosed. 

We spent a total of 5 months in and out of doctor’s offices and on the phone with them when they called with more devastating news.

However, at the end of those 5 months, the best they had to offer was guesses. 

Guesses. 

With my life. 

Guesses are great for gum balls in a jar for a prize, but man, guesses tied to health are difficult to carry around. 

One even suggested doing a surgery and if I still had the symptoms afterwards, we’d know it was something else. 

Seriously?

I passed. 

After that and a failed attempt to get into the Mayo clinic, I cried for 2 solid days, then declared “enough.”

Enough questions, enough doctors, enough worry, enough putting my friends and family through it, enough guesses, enough sleepless nights. Enough. 

We took a medical break. 

It was in the months that followed, that Clarity came skipping in, with a smile on her face, and flowers in her hand. 

Soon Hope, Grace, and extreme Thankfulness barreled through the door and wrapped their arms around me. 

Was this last year something I had in mind? Never in a gazillion years. 

Do I know what’s wrong? Still working on it. 

Did it end up being one of my most interesting years ever? Most definitely. 

It’s been a beautifully rough year. 

What I choose to carry around with me, is that life really is like those crazy amusement park rides.

It seems like once we’re buckled in, it’s up to us whether we close our eyes and duck our heads, or stick our arms above the bars. 

Even after all I’ve been through in 12 months, my arms are stretched up high, there’s a smile plastered on my face, and I’m still trying to enjoy the ride.