Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Archive for September, 2014

Our Story

Do you remember when I told you that our Pastor asked our family to tell our story?  Well, I did tell you that.  And, we did tell our story.  Scott, Eddie and I met with our Pastor in  our living room in late summer.  He asked us about our struggles.  Our Pastor wants to know what happens when faith meets hardship.

When Pastor Bryan first asked us to do this thing, we were scared.  Being on camera is uncomfortable. But, we didn’t hesitate.  We said yes right away.

A long time ago, Scott and I  told God that He could use our lives as He sees fit.  We said, “God, if we have to endure this thing we don’t want to endure, could you please help us see the point?”

We’ve told God many times that we would be very grateful to have Eddie be healed.  We’ve also promised God that we would be willing participants in whatever He means for us to do, regardless of the outcome.

The thing about making promises to God is that He remembers.  You don’t want to back out on stuff like that.  I’m averse to hanging out in the belly of a whales, and stuff like that.  I would just as soon do as I’m told.   I seriously  doubt whales have wi-fi, and I just don’t even want to think about how bad that would be.

Others folks in our church will be asked to do this man-on-the-street type interview.  I love it.  Because, guess what?  God is relevant.  He isn’t an icon, or out of touch.  He’s real, and He’s in every day.

I’m excited to hear other people’s stories.  Here is ours:


How I Know It’s Time to be Quiet

Sometimes you just know things.  You don’t have to hear it from someone else, or read about it.  You just know.

I’ve never asked anyone else about this thing, and how knowing things happens for them. Maybe I should.

I have a way of knowing things that takes time.  It starts with one thought or an idea.  That idea grows.  I can work over ideas for weeks or even years. Then, suddenly I know it. I don’t work it over again. My mind settled it.  I’m ready for the next thing I should know.

I have memories of being a young girl and going through this knowing process; it’s familiar now.  As a girl, I was overwhelmed with all there was to know.  As a woman I am grateful that I will never get to the last thing I know.  I like learning.

The latest thing I know is about silence.  It’s about being quiet.  We live in a loud world.  I’m one of those people who is making a lot of noise.  Sometimes I need to be quiet.  Sometimes silence is restorative.  That’s what I now know.

Fall/winter is trying for our family.  Fall/winter is running the gauntlet.  The only thing worse than running the gauntlet, is preparing to run the gauntlet again.  You remember how hard it is.  In theory, you should get better with all the practice.

I have been preparing for my challenge with silence.  I’m trying to be quiet.  Being quiet is not my natural state.


I’m using the quiet to think about what I’ve learned from running the gauntlet before.  How can I avoid the same missteps? Where can I find sure footing?

I’m using the quiet to talk to  God.  I’m using the quiet to listen to God.

I think I hear him telling me more about silence.  I guess I know it, because right now silence is what my heart craves.   I’m tired of hearing my own voice.

The other night I took a late night walk. I was a little sad.   It was Friday.  It was dark; it felt like I was the only thing stirring in my small town.

I looked into the black sky, and I told God a few things.  Then, I listened.  I enjoyed the warm breeze and bright stars.  I walked longer than I meant to walk.  I came back with a measure of peace.

After that walk I thanked God for helping me know.  I thanked him for using the simplest things to help restore.  I asked him to keep reminding me about those simple things.   I asked him to help me know when to be quiet, so that I can hear His reminders.

being quet

Technology. You Should Try It.

Wowzah!  That seems like the right word for how I feel right now.  I’ve made some new discoveries, and I’m just super excited about them.  I am figuring out technology.  It is awesome!  I told Olivia this morning that my  next blog was going to be about apps.  I told her that I wanted people to know how crazy apps are.

Olivia said, “Mom, absolutely EVERYBODY knows about apps.”

I told her that wasn’t true.  Dad and Grandma don’t know anything about apps.  I’ll write a blog for them.

I have had a smart phone for a long time.  I’ve always needed one for work. But, I have never really used my smart phone.  Not like I should.   I am using my smartphone now.

It all started with Netflix.  The kids helped me download Netflix so that I could watch “Madmen” while the boys watched football.  Let’s take a side trip here for a moment and talk about “Madmen”.  You might know that this show is not always appropriate.  I feel like I need to apologize for that.  You may expect better from me.   Sometimes I make good decisions; sometimes I make bad decisions.   I don’t like pretending.

Scott and I started watching this show together.  Scott bailed.  He didn’t like it.  He’s super selective about what he hears and sees.  I could learn a few things from him.  He told me he’s too impressionable, and the characters were bringing him down.  He didn’t want to be negatively  influenced.  Sometimes I think my husband might be the coolest person I know.

I find the characters depressing too.  They’re pretty hopeless.  Kind of like people in real life.  The show is a tragedy, and that’s why I’m hooked.  It’s fascinating to see people trying to be content with an absence of hope.  I desperately want to tell these characters to cling to something that is permanent.  Someone needs to tell these sad folks that money, sex, power and status are illusions of happiness.  That’s why I watch this thing.    It’s all very spiritual and deep.  Not at all because Betty is so pretty, or because it’s totally interesting, or because they always leave me on a cliff hanger.  Not at all.

None of that though is really what I wanted to tell you about.  I wanted to tell you about technology.  After figuring out that I could watch “Madmen” any time I wanted, I started figuring more stuff out.   Here is what is amazing.  I have an app that measures my walks.  I have an app that plays my kind of music while I walk.  I have an app that gives me a daily devotional and Bible reading.  I have an app that recommends books, and allows me to participate in a virtual book club.  What is NOT to love about this stuff?

Besides the apps, the other technology that is making my life fun is my kindle.  Getting my book club recommended readings is as easy as a touch of my finger.   On top of that total awesomeness, I have “Fitnessblenders” on YouTube.  This is basically like my virtual personal trainer.  When I get back from my walks, I type in what I have time for in my browser: 15 minute strength training, 20 minute yoga, or 30 minute cardio.  How could it be more convenient?

I’m sorry that I’m telling you all this stuff you already know.  I just can’t contain my excitement.  I’m like Christopher Columbus, when he thought he discovered the United States.  You are  like the Native Americans.  You’re like, “We know.  We live here.”

I can’t wait to share all this stuff with Scott.  I told you that he has this big, shiny new smart phone.  He found a way to save us money by upgrading his flip phone to a smart phone.   Mostly his big shiny phone just sits on the coffee table like a big, shiny coaster.  I am so excited to tell him about how he can start using this thing.  When he first got the phone, he was more enthusiastic.  He actually carried it with him.  He kept telling me he had to check his Gmail.   Other then receiving calls and texts, Gmail was his only other use for his big, new phone.

Every time Scott told me he had to check his Gmail, it made me laugh.  He wasn’t sure why I thought that was so funny.  Truthfully, I didn’t even know why I thought it was so funny either.   Now I do.  Scott’s phone is the most grossly underused device imaginable.  I can’t wait to tell him.

Another incredible use for technology is learning that Beagles are nannies.  I think it’s fair to say that my life is better because of the video below:



Without YouTube we might have thought Beagles were just Beagles.  They’re not.  They’re also nannies.  Like I needed another reason to love Beagles.




Back to School Menus and Self Pity

Back to school.  They don’t ease you into it.  Like many other families,  our family is sprinting.  If we run fast enough, we MIGHT be able to keep up with all the stuff.   I’m not a fast runner.

This week I was proactive.  I told myself on Sunday that this week wouldn’t beat me.  I wrote our menu down on Sunday afternoon.  I made my menu selections based on what was already in the fridge.  I’m really very  clever.  Here is what I chose:

Monday – Chicken Tacos/lettuce/tomatoes/re-fried beans

Tuesday – Chicken Enchiladas (with leftover chicken – presumably) lettuce, tomatoes

Wednesday – Spaghetti with rice noodles/salad

Thursday – Egg and sausage muffins/broccoli/yogurt w/fruit

Friday – Homemade Pizza (grain free crust)/salad


I wish I could have tasted those meals.  I bet they would have been good.  Here’s what we ate instead:


Monday – Don’t know.  Worked late.

Tuesday – Don’t know. Worked late. (Culver’s drive through for me).

Wednesday – Broasted Chicken from Costco.  I think I told the kids to grab a handful of raw carrots for their veggie.

Thursday – Chicken wins again.  This time I made it.  I also sauteed vegetables.  I made  this meal after the football game.  It was done by 9pm.   When it was finished, everybody was too tired to eat.

Friday – Thursday’s chicken for Scott and me.  McDonald’s for the kids.

I know.  Just all together impressive.  Feel free to print off a copy of this menu for your family.

In terms of being busy, this week was not exactly typical.  This was a burn the candle at both ends type of week.  I’m not good at burning the candle at both ends.  I’m going to own that fact right now.  If I was your surgeon, and you needed emergency surgery that lasted all night, that would be bad for you.  There’s a good chance you would die.  I would look around at all the nurses and medical people at 5pm, and I’d be like, “I’d love to keep working on this guy, but has anyone seen the clock?   It’s quitting time.   Besides,  this guy’s insides seem good enough to me.  He’ll be okay for the night.  Let’s pick this up again at 8:00 A.M. tomorrow.  I might grab some coffee on my way in, so maybe more like 8:15.”

Did you see that funny saying that goes, “I don’t want to work hard/play hard.  I want to work medium and play my DVR.”  Sometimes those sayings just really make me emotional.  They so capture my deepest yearnings.

I am NOT feeling sorry for myself because I had a crazy week.  I hope you don’t think that. I wouldn’t do that to you.  I love that someone thinks I’m worthy of being employed.  I love that I have money in my wallet to buy Culver’s and Broasted chicken when there are no minutes to make dinner.  I love that there’s food in the refrigerator for my family to find and eat when no one makes them dinner.

I never realized until lately what strong feelings I have about the act of feeling sorry for yourself.  It’s just a thing I really hate.  And, I know hate’s a bad word.   I think it might be the right word to use here.   Now that I’ve discovered this thing I hate, I hope I don’t go overboard.  I don’t want to ruin my kids.

Generally, I’m pretty soft on my kids.  They’ve even told me they wished I’d throw down the hammer a little harder, especially on their siblings. I’m more likely to throw down a cotton ball.

I’m not really a tough love parent, but then, maybe I am.  I can’t listen to my people feel sorry for themselves.  I’m pretty hard on anyone in my house who does that.

Teenagers have plenty of things that don’t go their way: Dads  ride them about getting their homework done and making plans for their lives, they sprain their ankles, they make the “B” team, they don’t get the solos (even though they try out every single year). I’m just pulling from a random pile here.  Totally unrelated to anything going on in our house (just go with it).

When my kids are sad, I’m sad.  I want them to be happy.  But, have you ever seen someone round that corner from sad to self pity?  That right there is what I won’t have.  I just tell my kids, “Stay where you are.  Don’t go around that corner.  It’s dark around that corner.  You won’t find any solutions there.”

Sometimes, I’m surprised to find that I feel a little harsh.

I think maybe I’d be more sympathetic, but instead I want to be happy.  I want my kids to know how to be happy too.  Happiness doesn’t materialize without warning.   You don’t win happiness like you win the lottery.  You have to learn HOW to be happy.  Happiness is a skill.  You choose happiness.  The more you choose happiness, the easier it is to be happy.   Happiness is powerless to show itself in the presence of self pity.

I want to believe my kids see this.  I think they do.  Before school, Olivia was telling me that at practice she was almost certain she was going to learn she made the “B” team…again.  I kissed her forehead and put her sweet face between my hands.

I said, “Honey, I know that will sting a little.  Remember to ask yourself if what is making you sad is a real problem. Does this troubling thing have something to do with poverty, hunger, war or abuse (probably not an exhaustive list…but for the sake of my point)?  If it doesn’t, then there’s a good chance it’s not a real problem.  It’s a disappointment or an obstacle.  It’s an opportunity.  Embrace it.  You have just been given a chance to become stronger, learn new things or meet someone new.”

Olivia said, “I know, Mom.”  Then, she smiled.  I am SO relieved she knows.


self pity

Dear Daughter…Embrace Your Inner Goody Goody

I love watching you grow.  It’s my favorite.  I like watching your brothers grow too.  That’s also my favorite.  When I became your mom, I thought that I was supposed to teach you everything you should know.  I didn’t know that you would teach me things too.  You have.  I like who you are.

The other day you came home and told me some boys were bothering you.  They were asking you if you’re a goody goody.  You said you smiled and told them to “shoo”.  You said they meant no harm.  I’m glad.  You’re probably right.  Boys can be super weird.

I have been thinking about your story.  I think it’s funny how people say, “history repeats itself.”  I think they might say that, because it’s true.  The things that you are going through, have been gone through before. By by people like me.

I was also called a goody goody by boys.  When I was a little older than you (14), I remember being at a party.  Not a crazy, wild beer party.  Just a bunch of kids hanging out in the same place.  At one point in this party, I was alone with a bunch of older football players.  I was a freshman.  We were laughing and having fun.  These older boys seemed to really be enjoying my jokes.  I won’t lie, I didn’t hate the attention.

At some point during the fun, one of the boys pulled out a  bottle of whiskey.  The boys asked me if I’d drink the whiskey with them.  Now, I can’t remember the exact words I said , but I do remember responding with something like, “It will be a cold day in Hell before I drink a bottle of whiskey with a bunch of older boys.  I AM 14!”

I guess I wasn’t THAT big of a goody goody.  I cussed.  I’m sorry.  I did.

Even though that was  a great  idea those boys had, and I’m sure it would have been a lot of fun, I  just couldn’t shake the feeling that the boys would have come out better on the other side of that great idea than I would have.  I had this nagging feeling that those boys didn’t have my best interests at heart.

After I declined the boys’  generous whiskey offer, they told me I was a goody goody.  They didn’t think I was funny any more.  I’m pretty sure I never held their interest again.

Do you think I feel badly that those boys decided they didn’t like me?  Maybe I did a little back then.  Mostly I felt good.  Like you do when you know you did the right thing.

Do you know how MANY things happened to me in my 14th year?  So.Many.Things. I wish I could remember them all.  I can’t.  Don’t you think it’s weird, that this one thing that happened is something I  remember?  I think I know why.  This moment was one of those moments you get in life that help define you.  This moment was an unexpected, unplanned series of events that put me in a situation where I had to decide whether to impress and be liked, or to choose what was best for me.  I had to use some courage.

This is a story I wanted you to know.  You are standing at the gateway of  what could be some of the most fun you’ll have in your life.  There won’t be another time in your life when your main priorities should be to try new things and  have fun. I want you to come out on the other side of your teenage years with good memories, a clear conscience and the start of an understanding of who God made you to be on Earth.

I see already  that one thing God gave you  is a strong mind. I thank Him for that.  I see you making decisions that you feel are right for you.  That makes me happy.  I hope you never come to a moment where you make a decision to please someone else, even while you’re knowing it’s not right for you. You might do that. I have.  If you do, remember grace.  God has plenty.  Every moment is a chance to start over.

I wanted you to know that being a goody goody is okay.  It takes confidence and strength to be a goody goody. Strength and confidence are attributes that become more natural for you the more you use them.  They are attributes that will serve you well and help you live a good life.  Not everyone does.

Sometimes people favor you only when you follow their lead.  I want you to be okay with falling out of people’s favor.

I want you to know your mind. I want you to like the person God made you to be, and not try to be something else. I want you to do all that and also be humble and kind.  That’s it.  That’s all I want for you.  Just the world. I’m kidding you now, daughter.  I can’t give you the world.  I don’t know that it would be good for you to have it.

We are on this journey together; I want to point out the tricky spots that I’ve passed by before.  Maybe you will hear me and those spots won’t be as tricky for you.  That’s what I was hoping.


My Kids’ Inheritance

“Why is summer taking so long?” In the history of the world, has this ever been said?  I doubt it.  No. We are all asking each other where summer went.  What happened to it?  Summer was just here a minute ago.

Our family ended summer on a fine note.  I love long weekends. I like Labor Day better than Memorial Day.  Labor Day doesn’t come with all the guilt; no one posts Facebook messages on Labor Day scolding you for not properly celebrating Labor.  That’s a relief.

We went to Scott’s family reunion over Labor Day.   I don’t like the words “Family Reunion”.  Those words don’t conjure up positive imagery for me.  I get the same kind of feeling when people talk about Family Reunions as I do when I hear about dental appointments or weighted lunges.  I don’t know why; generally I’m totally in favor of families.

A family reunion sounds like there’s a chance I could be stuck on someone’s plastic covered sofa, drinking tea and listening to a story about Great Aunt Bertha’s favorite Hymns. That doesn’t sound fun.  I get it.  I’m selfish.

This reunion was fun.  This reunion was NOT like a like a dental appointment, or like weighted lunges (I could certainly stand to do a few.)  This reunion was with Scott’s Mom’s family.  Their kids, and their kids’ kids.  Scott’s Mom and her siblings have a story.  I wish that I could tell their story in detail and at length. It is way more interesting than talking about hymns.

Today I can give you the cliff notes:  Scott’s mom, Gail, had four siblings.   Gail’s parents owned a busy and profitable tavern in a small town in Iowa called Earlville.   Earlville is kind of like Chicago, only instead of all the buildings, people, streets and business, you have corn fields, corn fields and cornfiels; otherwise, exactly the same.

earlville is chicago

Earlville and Chicago = Same

When Gail was young, her mom, Caroline, would rise early and stay up late; Caroline took care of the family and helped run their business.  Caroline was cheerful and hardworking.

When Gail was 12, her mother died.  Gail’s father tried to keep the family and the business going, but it proved to be too difficult without his wife.   Caroline was a strong woman.  Her absence could not be overcome.  There were medical bills.  The family quickly went from prosperity to poverty.

After Caroline died,  Gail’s oldest brother joined the Air Force.  Gail’s oldest sister moved out on her own.  Gail and her younger sister were sent to live with an Aunt and Uncle in another city in Iowa.  Gail’s little brother was sent to live with a different Aunt and Uncle. The children never lived in the same house together again.

That’s the only part of the story I can tell; that’s all I know; except the ending.  I can tell you the ending.

Here it is:

specth family reunion

Almost Everyone


Gail’s oldest sister is in heaven.  The other four siblings are on Earth.  All four of these living siblings raised really, really (I’m tempted to add another “really” here) cool families.  I’m serious.  At this family reunion, I realized that every time I turned around there was someone awesome standing there.

How did those little kids in Earlville who lost their Mom, then their home and then their family survive in such a happy fashion?  How did they overcome their adversity?

I think the least those siblings could do is brag about it a little bit.  They don’t.  Scott doesn’t have the huggy- lovey-let’s-hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbaya before we share our feelings type of family.   That means I have to work extra hard to figure out how this all happened.

What I DO know is that those Earlville siblings were all gritty.  They were tough and hard working. They were loyal and devoted to their families.  It’s kind of beautiful.  Sorry, Gail’s family.   Don’t mean to go all mushy on you.  You can tell I’m not one of them.

It made me happy to take a tour of Grandma Gail’s little town where she was born.  I liked learning about her family.  It felt good to look my children in the eyes and say, “These are the people you come from.  That’s good news for you.  Your people are tough.  They value family, and they persevere.” I saw something good on the faces of my children as they listened to these stories.

tour of earlville

Grand Earlville Tour

My kids will face their own adversity.  It may help them to know that giving up and feeling sorry for themselves is not their natural way.  Strength is in their blood line.   It’s their inheritance.

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