Category Archives: family

This is Us….Really

This_is_usThe television show This is Us played after the Super Bowl last night.  A night we’ve all been waiting for.  Not the Super Bowl, but the show. Spoiler alert: Jack died. We knew he would, but we just didn’t know exactly how.  (Isn’t that true to life…we will all die, we just don’t know when or how.) I don’t usually stay up past eleven, but for this show, I had to.  I actually wanted to get it over with.  These teenagers were about to lose their father and I wanted to get it over with. As you may have seen, a young, vibrant, healthy father died of a widow maker heart attack. Sometimes these things happen.  I know, because it happened to me.

I was 16 when my father died of a heart attack and the show This is Us portrayed the gamut of emotions that those teens faced pretty true to life. I’ve wondered about my last words spoken, I’ve mourned my father not knowing my husband, and I’ve talked to a tree to tell my father my troubles. Yep, I’ve done it all and though those characters were fictional last night, the pain they emoted is real for many. I cried along with them….but not as much as I expected I would. I’ve relived the moments that I shared with them and I’m sure I’ll relive more as next week’s episode promises funeral scenes, but I didn’t actually relate as well with them as I expected. You see, their grief is new & raw, mine has been with me for 38 years. Time really does heal, but it never erases. I found myself watching the show and then comforting myself that the “Jack” character wasn’t really gone, he’ll be reappearing in flashbacks for months. In real life, that is not the case, or is it? Actually, the thing I remember most about the night my dad died was not wanting to close my eyes because when I did, I was afraid that I wouldn’t remember what he looked like. What if he vanished from my mind and my memory? How can I preserve the images?  Well, Kate (the daughter on the show), even if you lose that videotape of him, he will remain. My dad was only a part of my life for 16 years but he, too, reappears in flashback scenes. A saying he used, a smirk, even someone jumping to the front of the line at the grocery store will make me think of him. I didn’t forget, I won’t forget, so that fear is gone. Thank God.

This is Us.  This is many of us. This is some of us, yet to come. I don’t know exactly how Kate, Kevin, and Randall are going to cope with it, but I now know how I did. I can do all things through him who gives me strength. –Philippians 4:13 

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.        –2 Corinthians 12:9



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“Be A Finisher!”


It is so frustrating for me when I ask the kids to clean the kitchen and I return to find that they put most of the dishes in the dishwasher or that they did everything but wipe off the crumbs from the table. I often find clothes folded, but not put away, rooms vacuumed but the vacuum remaining in the center of the room, an envelope addressed with the recipient’s name, but the address is pending.  Wait!  Are we still talking about my kids?  Probably not!  Some of the above happen to be my doing….or more correctly my un-doing or perhaps, my “not quite done”s.

A friend and I were talking a while ago about our jobs and tasks around the home and she reminded me that another friend of ours says, “Be A Finisher.”  Finish a task completely. I started to see that this was a message that my kids needed to hear and understand months ago, but only recently have I noticed how much I need to implement this practice.

I am not a finisher.  I’m one heck of a starter, but I am not a finisher.  I find this in projects like crafts and home improvements, but also with my day to day life. I brush my teeth but set the toothbrush on the sink instead of putting it in the cupboard. I make my toast, but don’t put the toaster away. I butter my bread, put the knife in the sink, but not in the dishwasher. “What is so hard about completing these tasks?” I ask my children daily. This morning, after coaching myself to be a finisher, I found out where the difficulty lies. The task never finishes.

Today, I wrote a letter.  I know for some of you this would be the hard part, but for me, brightly colored envelopes and stationery are right in front of me and I’m ready to begin! I wrote the letter and put it in the envelope. I put the recipient’s name on it and set it on the counter. (Be a finisher!) I got out the address book, wrote the address, left the address book on the counter. (Be a finisher!) I put the address book back in the basket where it belongs, but the basket was on the table and not on the shelf where it belongs. (Be a finisher!) I put the basket on the shelf where I saw that some books were on the floor that should’ve been on the shelf. (Be a finisher!) I put the books away and the task was completed or so I thought. The drawer where I got the stamp was open. (Be a finisher!) I shut the drawer. The scissors that belong in the drawer are on the counter. (Be a finisher!) I put the scissors in the drawer and the address labels in that junk drawer got all jumbled up and the drawer wouldn’t close. (Be a finisher!) I straightened the labels and thought, “I should write a blog post about this.” (Be a finisher!) I wrote a blog post. (Be a finisher!)



3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.     –Phil 1:3-6

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Gorgeous Christmas Card Photos

IMG_2442They arrived yesterday.  The Christmas card photos.  Gorgeous families that I am blessed to call friends.  There were no notes, just photos of smiles and Christmas scenery emitting feelings of joy and peace. I know these families.  Some of these families are indeed celebrating the season with joy and peace.  Their children are young and would make every day special.  The twinkle in their eyes is sincere and they will indeed be awestruck come Christmas morning.  The others, though, are not quite as fortunate.  Some of them have been transparent with me this year and have allowed me to know that behind the superficial smile on their child’s face is a deeply troubled soul who causes havoc in the family. These kids have troubles.  These parents have troubles.  But, for an afternoon, they tried to get all the personalities represented in the photo to cooperate and to smile.  I don’t know how much blood, sweat, and tears went into this photo shoot, but I do know that in the end, it was worth it.

The ones who are not dealing with mental illness will laugh at the antics their kids did while trying to get the perfect picture and the ones who are dealing with mental illness will cling to the photo that represents a tiny bit of normalcy in an otherwise chaotic home. I hope that the struggling parents will feel a sense of accomplishment in actually getting a photo that can be sent out to others and I hope the “typical” parents can treasure and appreciate the gift of happy children.

I thank them all for sending the cards to me.  I will display them all season and I will pray for them.  I will pray that the holidays do bring them joy and peace. I will pray the same for my family….with or without a gorgeous Christmas Card photo shoot.

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I visited a cardiologist this week and was diagnosed with PVCs (Premature ventricular contractions.) The doctor took a lot of time with me and attempted to explain the complicated heart and ventricle electrical system.  Even with his drawings and lengthy description I didn’t understand.  And, I decided that I didn’t need to understand, but he did and I told him so.  I didn’t think there was a chance that I’d understand in a short office visit all the intricate things he learned during medical school.  I was comforted by the amount of information he had and his full understanding of it.

4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

—Proverbs 3:4-6 NIV

In the doctor’s office, I decided to not lean on my understanding and it was a relief. The following day, I had lunch with my friend.  She has spent the last 7 months dealing with breast cancer and surgeries. She is an adoptive mom friend of mine who adopted because she was unable to have biological children of her own due to cancer in her youth. She adopted two children from hard places (aka foster care, trauma, unknown backgrounds) who have serious mental health issues and her life is anything but easy. She shared with me that the doctors said her cancer may return within two years and possibly it will return in her lungs. She said this and then went on to describe the temper tantrum her boys had the day before, the calls from the school and how both kids have been acting up due to the added stress in the family.  Kids from trauma facing potentially more trauma is a bad combination.

On my way home from lunch, I was talking with God and wondering why she had to face so much.  I don’t know anything about living with cancer, but I do know about parenting kids from hard places and I know the struggles she faces daily with that.  Couldn’t God just heal those boys and allow some peace in her home?  I know He could, but why won’t He?  And, why won’t He now so she can focus on her health? I just don’t understand. That’s right.  I don’t understand.  And, guess what else?  I don’t need to.  “Lean not on my own understanding, acknowledge him and he will make my paths straight.” Again, I don’t need to understand, I just have to place my friend into the hands of the one who does.  As much as I trust my cardiologist’s understanding, I trust God more. There is definitely comfort and relief in that!


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Psalm 5 – Rad


I’m sure you’ve heard of many Scripture versions, the KJV (King James Version), the NIV (New Internation Version), etc.  Though no one can say for sure, there are about 900 versions of God’s Word, but I bet you’ve never heard of this one:  The RADmom.  Yes, The Reactive Attachment Disorder mom’s version, but trust me, it is very real.  It is like no other.

This morning started with  my RAD son (I know, politically correct I should say, “My son, who happens to have RAD,” but not today.  No PC in me today.)  Anyhow, the morning started with him waking groggy after about 2 hours of sleep.  I don’t know why he is not sleeping, but it was a struggle for him to stay awake long enough to get dressed for school.  I sent an email to the teachers saying that we have a doctor’s appointment soon to see if there is a med error and he got on the bus.  I was looking forward to a day alone with nothing but my thoughts and hopefully some paper to write them down.  I decided to throw in a load of laundry and that’s when it happened.  That’s when the RAD in our home took over.  Even without him here, he leaves a big wake!

IMG_2100 (1)

My washing machine was full of one pair of pants (who does that? Washes one pair of pants?) about four packs of gum sans the wrappers which were already stuck to the side of the drum, a can of beef jerky & some other indescribable items. I attempted to scrape the gum off the sides with no luck, so I threw my hands up and had a good cry.  Well, a mini cry, I guess. I phoned my husband and started sending texts to his teachers (who have been teaching him to do laundry for a couple of years,) and I took my own advice that I mentioned before in a blog post and I called a friend who would make me laugh.  Well, actually, I texted her and her goofed-up voice texting back while driving made me laugh out loud.  I attempted to regroup and then was faced with another pesky annoyance.  Where would my help come from?! My help comes from the Lord as I am reminded in Psalm 54:4 (Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.)

So I turn on some random instrumental praise music and the first song is Hallelujah.  Not feeling that so I skip ahead to the next random song and a Piano plays a tune titled, “Psalm 5.”  I decided to turn to Psalm 5 in my Bible and I was blessed as I was able to hear from God.  I’ll share from Psalm 5 – RADmom.
5:1-5   Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing . (O Lord, what the heck?!) Listen to my cry for help, (What am I supposed to do? Help me out here!) my King and my God, for to you I pray. (Well, I’m not talking to myself!) In the morning I lay my requests before you (I need to get some laundry done) & wait in expectation. (Do you want me to get laundry done?) You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; (You didn’t want this gum stuck in my dryer) with you the wicked cannot dwell. (So if I want your help I better not start screaming and swearing!) The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; (Wow Lord, I’m humbled, I can’t even do my laundry without crying out to you.) you hate all who do wrong. (Keep me biting my tongue!)
5:7-8 But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; (I will open my Bible and visit you.) in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple. (My shaking head becomes a bowed head.) Lead me, O Lord, (What am I supposed to do next)in your righteousness (What’s the right thing to do?)because of my enemies–(That stinking sticky gum!)--make straight your way before me. (Don’t let me waste the entire day on this mess.)
5:11 But let all who take refuge in you (who sit at the kitchen table with an open Bible and open ears) be glad; let them ever sing for joy. (Lalalalalala) For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; (You will allow me to move on.) you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (You will make sure that someone checks their pockets next time.)

My hope is truly found in the Lord and the Lord alone.  Only he can understand my joys and my sorrows even if today it is only gum stuck in a washing machine. He will make my paths straight and today I think He knew my hope and joy would be found in spending a little more time with Him.  Now, unfortunately, I think he wants me to go back to the basement and try again.

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Book Review: Adventures of Jordan

IMG_2044Grab an afghan or a fleece blanket and have a child by your side as you read and enjoy Adventures of Jordan – A Children’s Bible Story from a Bird’s View by Linda Hemphill. This 77 page, 5 chapter book would make a great read aloud as you wind down at the end of the day. Children who are transitional readers will also enjoy reading this book by themselves as the safe, warm, characters will make reading alone less lonely. The large, easy to read font along with the occasional illustrations make this title reader friendly.

The story of Noah is brought to life by personable conversations between a curious, young bird, Jordan, who was injured and finds himself aboard an ark full of animals. These likable characters do an excellent job of sharing the word of God in a fun format that children will enjoy.

The author’s love of scripture becomes evident as she makes these characters shine the love of Christ and engage the reader.  Actual scripture passages are included in the Addendum for further exploration.

From the beginning when Jordan “opened his right wing and plucked a loose feather from underneath,” until later when Noah “stopped to gently stroke a horse’s neck, scratched a llama behind its ears, laughed at the antics of a pair of kangaroos, and smiled as a small monkey climbed up on his shoulder,” the author’s descriptive language makes you enjoy your time spent in the company of these characters who will feel like friends by the end of the book.

Pair this book with a book light and a cuddly stuffed animal and it will make a great Christmas gift for all of the children on your list.

book tree

Adventures of Jordan – A Children’s Bible Story from a Bird’s View – Noah

Written by Linda Hemphill              Illustrated by Richard Hemphill


95 pages including NIrV Genesis 6-9

ISBN  978-0-9992378-0-9

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“Gotcha Day”

confetti-celebration-background-colorful-vector-illustration-43624485In my family, we don’t celebrate what many in the adoption world call “Gotcha Day.”  We celebrate our kids’ birthdays, but we don’t celebrate the actual adoption day because we were a family long before the courts announced that we were.  Many families who adopt out of foster care feel the same way.  The actual adoption day is so full of emotions and not all of them should be celebrated.  So many years, the date and day go unnoticed by me, but today I noticed.  Six years ago today was our final adoption day for K.  She would love to be hosting a party tonight, but instead, it’s business as usual with her at a dance lesson, her dad out hunting, her brother watching TV and the sun rising and setting the same as it always does.  So, though I won’t celebrate, today, since I noticed, I will reflect.  I dug out my journal and thought I’d share:

10-3-11           K’s ADOPTION DAY.  Oh Lord, my house is full. All of my family safe and sound under one roof. What a blessing. What a gift.  Today is Kaylee’s adoption day and I am full of emotions. I’m nervous, excited, scared and still a tad worried.  What a journey this has been.  There have been times when I’ve held a broken K and cried, there have been hugs to reassure her return, there have been days of crying in my closet refusing to eat. So, today we rejoice. Help me Lord to be a witness to you. Help me be grateful in all circumstances. Help me to witness to you. Let your light shine through and let this day be a celebration. Bring JOY to this family and healing to K.            *** Wrote the above and then read the Upper Room.  “In the same way your light must shine before people so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven. — Matt 5:16 TEV Thought for the day: People are watching. What will my example inspire?”

“Your example will inspire others.”

It is my prayer that I’ve set a good example for others and that I have been a good witness in this continuing journey.  Let’s all try to make our examples inspire others!


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