New York City – The Marathon – Part 4

I’ve had some major upheaval in my routine for a long time and have put my writing on the back burner—so much so, that it’s in someone else’s house, on someone else’s stove (I actually started writing this in July of 2020). I know I’m not the only one, in this unbelievable reality we’re all trying to exist in right now… But I’m hoping that things are settling down, at least in my personal life. And I also hope that I haven’t forgotten too much about our trip to NYC over 3 years ago. Let’s see, shall we?

Part of being married to a runner, is getting up early on Saturdays and Sundays, freezing your ass off in the Spring and Fall mornings, while waiting for him to start his race. Killing time until he finishes. And a lot of bag carrying.

The morning of the NYC Marathon, the three of us got up around 4. Allen is a creature of habit. His routines before a race are not unlike Rain Man’s affinity for underwear from K-Mart. The boy knows what works for him and he doesn’t deviate. The routine is: bathroom, getting dressed in his painstakingly chosen singlet, tiny, tiny shorts and flashy, weird-shaped shoes, drinking his special “race beverage,” bathroom again, pinning on his number, and throwing a shirt and pants on over his race outfit before we head out the door.

He went into the race with a goal time of 3 hours, 15 minutes. 26.2 miles.  I “ran” a 5K before. No one could twist my arm to get me to spend the 3 days “running” it would take me to finish a marathon. But he’s good at it. And he’s gotten so much better even since that morning.

Like all race mornings, the anticipation was electric. As we walked through Times Square around 5AM, the streets relatively clear, save the runners and racegoers making their way toward busses that would take race participants to the starting line in Staten Island. It was like a scene from some apocalyptic movie where Times Square is empty except for all the people in sweat pants moving with purpose in the same direction. The flashing lights of the Square seemed out of place without the roar of traffic and tourists, like watching a fireworks display in a silent film. We’d been through Times Square when it was packed just the night before and the calmness was surreal. Then again, what kind of nutjobs want to be up at 5AM on a Sunday? Oh, wait…

At one point there was a couple of guys quarreling right behind us.

We parted ways near the New York Public Library near 5th and 42nd, where he got on a bus that would take him to Staten Island for the start of the race. He would hang out in the “runners’ village,” drink some coffee and have a bagel before getting into Corral A, not too far from some of the world’s most elite runners.

Ariana and I started back toward the hotel, a walk I’d been dreading. We headed back the way we’d come and crossed through Times Square again. Some guys were hanging out in an alcove amongst the store fronts. One stepped forward as we passed and asked, “What are you doin’ later?”  Never mind that it was 5:30AM. We picked up the pace and my ears were tuned behind me, hoping he wouldn’t follow. Thankfully, he didn’t. We hustled all the way back to the hotel, grateful to be back inside, albeit a little shaken, but a lot relieved. We flopped on our beds, me to nap and Ariana to say she probably wouldn’t nap—and then napping anyway.

We dozed and showered and watched the start of the race on TV, hoping to pick Allen out of the crowd of thousands. No luck. I fired up the TCS New York City Marathon app so we could track his progress and used Facebook to encourage everyone back home to do the same.

We went over a block or so and had brunch at Junior’s Restaurant and Bakery. For all the hype and the atmosphere, the food wasn’t worth blogging about. It was a cool building though.

Not my picture.

At some point, I realized we needed to get moving toward Central Park and the finish line, and that we needed to hurry or we might miss him running by. He’d bought tickets for us to sit in the bleachers placed on either side of the road as the racers made the final turn, heading into the home stretch. I was starting to worry we wouldn’t make it due to a lack of signs directing spectators and multiple security check points. Then we were there, climbing the metal steps, brushing past other race watchers to squeeze into an empty space.

The lady next to us let us borrow a couple of her noisemaker bells and when Allen ran by, not 15 minutes after we sat down, we screamed, whooped, rang our bells and hollered his name. He never saw us, though he was looking! In a perfect example of why the running community is the absolute best of all sports, the lady who’d lent her bells asked, “What’s his name?” and when we told her, she joined in screaming his name.

He disappeared down the home stretch and I might have seen him cross the line, arms in the air, on the huge video screen across from the bleachers. It wasn’t until the app refreshed and I saw his finishing time that I knew for sure.

Then we were off to backtrack through the park and find the meeting area and wait for Allen. There were letters on posts, alphabetically down the blocked off street, to help racers reunite with family and friends.

When he came into view, he was elated. He’d had a dream race experience and the enormity of running in the New York City Marathon in the iconic city was coursing through him, through me. I’d seen him have a bad race, involving a ride on a stretcher strapped to an ATV and IV fluids. This was the complete opposite of that. And we were so grateful –For the good run, for the experience, for the chance to run for more than just the personal accomplishment and for our family and friends following along at home, cheering him on.

By the time we got back to the hotel and he got cleaned up, we went to a really late lunch at The Grey Dog in Chelsea. This place was one of our favorites from the trip. The location, art, vibe and food were perfect. Very chill and welcoming.

When we left, we spotted what looked like a garage full of junk. It was a thrift/antique store called No Particular Hours, and it literally was a garage full of junk (tray-sures!). I found a box of gears from the old clocks my home town had been named for and purchased one.

We stumbled upon Artists and Fleas, a venue with tons of vendors selling their crafts and arts. I bought two NY shirts from Jason Laurits of Paste and a literal candy necklace from Debbie Tuch’s Glitterlimes.

Then we strolled the Highline, a swath of green in an otherwise concrete neighborhood. It’s a public park (and nonprofit) constructed upon the remains of a historic, elevated railway. It was dark by this time and the view was impressive.

After our walk, we went to The WoodStock, where I’d made a reservation earlier in the day, not thinking we’d have such a late lunch after the race. While the pizzas this place served were ok, (and an effort to eat, since we were still full from lunch) the atmosphere was where the place wowed. Though we didn’t book one, they had rooms decked out like living rooms from the 60’s. (As of December 2021, it seems this place has closed)

Crammed full of pizza and fairly exhausted, we made our way back to the hotel.



Drive It Like Your Insurance Rates Will Go Up If You Ding It

In what can only be described as “winning at adulting,” I purchased new tires for my car. And not the cheap ones. The nicest ones I was quoted. And all four, not just two. I’ll give you a moment to appreciate my awesomeness.







So, I went through the SVG Chevrolet dealership in our area and in order to get my service completed quickly, they offered me a loaner. I was surprised, partly because I haven’t been offered a loaner in years, and have just had to play musical cars to get mine dropped off and then picked up once it was finished. But mostly because I still feel like an irresponsible kid. Like, on the inside. I don’t know when I’m supposed to feel “grown-up” but it ain’t happened yet. I briefly thought, “Are you crazy?” Then I gladly accepted.

I dropped my car off and gave my proof of insurance, ID, debit card, some hair from my head, and a urine sample and waited for them to point me to the mini-van or Fiesta from the 90’s they planned to loan me.

The very nice service man walked me over, not to a dated jalopy with a tape deck (I actually consider that a win), but to a 2019 black Chevy Traverse. As I realized this is what they intended to let me drive out of the lot, I thought again, “ARE YOU CRAZY?”

Then I realized this is what it feels like to be a grown-up. I’m old and posed no threat to this awesome ride. The fleeting image of me peeling out of the service area, doing 80 down a back road with the stereo thumping, and turning corners on two wheels dissolved as quickly as it manifested. In it’s place, I imagined what would happen if I damaged this new car in any way and what it would do to my insurance rates.

I left the lot carefully, and thought everyone was out to get me all the way home. I knew my luck and wondered how long I’d have this beautiful machine before it got scratched, dinged, or smashed up in an accident. I touched it like I could break it with my bare hand.

I felt like the Secret Service.

I imagined what it would be like to own it, hauling all my friends everywhere just because I had third row seating and I could, filling the back with garage sale finds in the summer, and jamming to the XM radio.

Ah, Hell yeah

But then, in the glove box, I found the sheet that shows all the features, gas mileage, and most importantly the price.

I just about peed myself but remembered I was in the Traverse and how that “damage” would come across on my insurance claim…”Urine stain/odor removal”

So, as much fun as it was to drive, and comfortable, and super techy, and downright sexy, I was glad to return it 24 hours later and hop back in my 2011 Malibu that’s paid off and fits me like a worn out pair of sweat pants with elastic that gave up years ago. And besides, with my knew tires, taking those turns on two wheels will be much easier.


Mr. “What If”

Almost everyone’s life story has a chapter titled “The One That Got Away”. The story line is almost always the same, someone amazing comes into the picture, but for some reason, doesn’t stay. The reasons for separation make up the climax of the chapter. The desire to stay with this person clashes with unforeseen events that change the course of the relationship forever. The end of the relationship writes itself a cruel paradox.

Sometimes both parties know why it ended, they were in two different places in life, one or both could not meet expectations of the relationship, or maybe there was too much distance between them. Sometimes the reason is unknown. Nevertheless, that person seems to leave a hole in the other’s life or a thought that never truly diminishes. Life goes on, other relationships come and go, but what about that “one that got away”?

I was seventeen when I met my “what if”. I had just left a relationship with who I’ll call Mr. Rebound.

(me at seventeen)

I came off of a bad breakup and ran into Mr. Rebound while out with friends. He was all wrong for me but I just had my heart broke. I wasn’t attracted to Mr. Rebound, but he made it known that he was interested in me. I felt a desperation to find someone who wouldn’t hurt me in the way I was hurt in my previous relationship and Mr. Rebound said all the right things. We dated for a while but something was missing, there was no spark and I couldn’t think of a relationship with him in the long term, so I ended it.

Some time after my break-up, Mr. What If and I were spending time together. I was a bit apprehensive because I had met him before, he was friends with my heartbreak. Spending time with him didn’t concern me, but the more time I spent with him, the more I felt a change in the way I felt with him.

When I started to have feelings, I began to overanalyze everything. Did his friend talk to him about me? Could I allow myself to be vulnerable again? Would I get hurt all over again?

His friend was my first intense relationship. I was very young and I had a hard time picking myself up after the breakup. Life for me was complicated beyond this breakup, so I decided to take everything very slow. I was afraid.

I was afraid of the feelings I was developing. I was afraid of getting hurt. I think he needed more than I was willing to give. As great as it felt to feel that spark with someone, it ended rather abruptly. He told me he decided to pursue a relationship with someone else. I was disappointed. I felt like it had ended before I allowed myself the opportunity to let go.

Of course Mr. Rebound was waiting with his promises not to hurt me. And because I believed all my fears had manifested, I went back to Mr. Rebound. The truth was, I was vulnerable and he interjected himself back into my life.

I gave up the passion I felt with Mr. What If for the promises of Mr. Rebound. I didn’t have to be afraid of my feelings when I wasn’t overrun by them. Sometimes control is lost in the moment and I tried to control too much with Mr. What If.

Many describe a good romance as a “whirlwind romance”. They get caught up in the emotions like the turbulent wind of a tornado, exhilaration and fear lift in unison. I have wondered what it would have been like if I would have just let go and let myself be taken in the updraft. I know I missed out on a passionate experience that could have broken my heart but that’s always a part of falling in love. Falling in love means letting go and losing that control. Why didn’t I see that great highs always come with the possibilities of crushing lows?

That’s essentially the mantra of a good life, live it as well as possible without fear. Fear kept me from experiencing the fullness of this relationship. Fear made me go back to a relationship that broke me emotionally and eventually ended four years later.

Staying or getting into a relationship out of fear is never a good idea because when a relationship isn’t pursued for the right reasons, red flags can be missed.

I missed lots of red flags with Mr. Rebound. I missed out on what I could have had with Mr. What If. Instead I was going through the motions, trying to convince myself that the “spark” didn’t matter. Relationships are worth going all in for, but with the right person and for the right reasons.

Once I realized I may have missed out on an opportunity to fall in love, I didn’t want to miss it again. This meant my first marriage ultimately ended in divorce. I was single for several months and I never had the opportunity to try again with him, so this chapter of my life closed when I remarried almost fourteen years ago.

Life has a way of using each experience for growth. Although I wish I could have changed some things in my past, my past helped shape who I am.

Every one of us has a story in our book of life that makes us ask, “What if I made a different choice?”

“What if I took the wrong job?”

“What if I moved to the wrong location?”

“What if it could have been wonderful?”

I don’t think the “what if” is as important as living life to the fullest to eliminate as many “what ifs” as possible.

Love without fear of heartbreak because a broken heart means one loved with all of their heart.

Live each moment to the fullest because you may not get a second chance.

So this is my chapter entitled “The One That Got Away”. Thank goodness it’s not where my story ends. There were still great things to come.


Mean Girls?

I ran into a classmate I hadn’t seen in maybe 15 years at the pet store where I was stocking up on cat food prior to an impending snow/ice storm. The last thing you want to do is run out of food and be snowed in with your cats. They love you, but if push comes to shove, they’ll eat you. Don’t let their cute little faces fool you.

That’s hunger in her eyes.

So, anyway, I’ve been planning our 20th Class Reunion for this year and trying to track down current addresses for class members. When I saw her, I was super excited because I didn’t know how to reach her easily since she wasn’t on social media (good for her, BTW).

When I asked her if she had any interest in coming to the reunion, she immediately said, “NO. I don’t do anything with that school. NO…no.”

I laughed a little and with my hands up defensively said, “Ok! Understood.”

I went to turn my cart around and she said, “Nobody liked me then so I don’t have any desire to hang out with them now.”

To which I replied, “Oh, I get it. Definitely. Nobody liked me either. You too, for that matter.” All of this was said with a grin and no attack in my voice. But it was true.

“Oh! That’s not true! I just didn’t really talk to anybody,” she said, laughing.

When we checked out, she teased me for holding up the line fumbling for my debit card and I told her to let me know if she changed her mind about the reunion. That was it.

But as I drove home, I thought about our high school experience and how they had apparently been similar. What was very odd to me was that she wasn’t nice to me in school. While she might not have talked to me much, the only things I ever heard come out of her mouth were snide, snarky and intimidating. I always saw her as one of the many “mean girls” who made my day-to-day struggle through school so nerve racking. It turns out that she might have felt just as I had and her defense was to come off bitchy and mean, while mine was to cower and stay silent. It made me wonder if all the people who were nasty to me in school, and seemingly nasty to this pet-store-shopping classmate, were only that way because they had someone above them making them feel just as terrible. I’d say the answer is probably yes.


Does it make any of it right? No, absolutely not. Is it indicative of the age group we’re talking about? Yeah, unfortunately. But that doesn’t have to be the case either. There were plenty of good people in our class, and plenty that didn’t feel like they had to lash out to keep from getting shoved to the bottom, some of which I chose to ask for help in planning this reunion.

As to why I was able to put aside my memories of torment and my long-lost classmate was not, I feel like that is a personal choice. It takes effort and an unpacking of some yucky baggage. I totally get why she feels the way she does, and why she might have opted to NOT forgive the way she was treated by our peers. I choose to believe that everyone should be given the opportunity to prove that they’ve grown up. As for adults who still behave like they’re in high school, ain’t nobody got time for that.


Filling Out

I usually don’t openly complain about my own body issues but I have them. I recently got a little annoyed while doing some online browsing.

I’m small busted. Not just small busted, I’m “God forgot to give me boobs” small busted. It’s been an issue with my self-confidence since middle school. As we all know, kids can be mean, downright jerks. To their defense, a lot of growing is about trial and error. Sometimes, that trial and error comes at the cost of others.

For me, I noticeably didn’t mature like the other girls in my class. I didn’t reach “maturity” so to speak until I was almost fifteen. It was too late for my new surge of hormones to grow the necessary parts to be attractive to most boys jacked-up on hormones my age. By that time, they had noticed all of the other girls were growing and I soon became an easy target for humiliation from a biological process I had no control over.

Memories of my awkward years are as muddled as my complexion at fourteen, but I will never forget boys wading up paper and throwing it down the front of their shirts to humiliate me. I was called names and reminded how unattractive I was because I didn’t have breasts at fourteen.

Middle school is an awful experience for most. Most kids in their early teens are experiencing surging hormones that suddenly make classmates they’ve known since the age of five attractive, voices shaky, and body parts stuck somewhere between the little kid you thought you were and the adult you would be some day. Emotions were confusing and relationships didn’t seem as simple as they were once.

Nothing screamed awkward like the full page close up of fifteen year old me in the yearbook. I was the cheerleader that no one anticipated making the squad. My face was broke out and my insecurities seeped right through my crooked smile. Thankfully I didn’t find that gem until I was looking at yearbooks during study hall in the library my senior year.

If I had anything, I had hope. That hope came from the summer between middle school and high school. That happened to be the year I discovered padded bras. It worked. I got off the bus on my first day of freshman year and the change was noticeable. A boy in my class said, “Looks like you finally grew some”. The appearance of breasts are the only thing I felt that got me noticed. It wasn’t my face, I struggled with acne so bad that I had to see a dermatologist, it wasn’t my body, I was teased and called “monkey arms” in middle school, and it wasn’t my personality, boys didn’t want to get to know “that” girl.

Yes I was “that” girl. In eighth grade, I dated one boy. I really thought he liked me. He was on the football and basketball team and I was a cheerleader. I broke-up with him after I found out his teammates were making fun of him for being my boyfriend. He was too immature to stand-up to them and I was too insecure to see my own worth.

I’m 38 and I have never been able to see myself as beautiful because of my cup size. I thought once I graduated, I would leave the judgemental world of body shaming behind but that hasn’t been the case. Some women would use passive-aggressive tactics to tear me down using their obviously bigger bust size as leverage. In my head, I was not only unattractive to men, but to other women as well.

I have never really felt like a woman. I came close while nursing my children. While nursing I could fill out a size B cup. I at least looked like woman physically. I could put on a dress and not worry about the front falling forward because of the lack of assumed physical form, I could wear a bra without it riding up over the lack of breast tissue. I had confidence because I felt like I was the woman I was supposed to be. Nursing had it’s perks. Obviously for a woman who naturally had little breast tissue but for my children as well. I didn’t read the fine print when researching breastfeeding, “once nursing is finished, expect to loose breast volume”.

I finished nursing my last child in 2015. The fine print didn’t lie.

The years of teasing compiled on top of my own distorted view of beauty, has led me to where I am today. I am unable to see myself as feminine and beautiful.

I am aware that I have to be the change agent in how I view myself because years of reassurance has not helped my frame of mind. I just want to feel like other women feel. I want to be able to wear something beautiful and not have to worry if I will be able to fill it out.

This leads me to my annoyance. Valentine’s Day is approaching and although my husband and I never celebrate the holiday, I thought I would browse lingerie, specifically “lingerie for small busted women”. My search led me to several articles and every article recommended lingerie modeled by women who had average sized breasts.


I want to wear something nice for my husband but nothing “fits” me. One piece lingerie is out of the question because the bottom half needs to be smaller than the top half. I can’t fill out even the smallest bras because there is always a fold where breast tissue is supposed to be. Nothing fits me. Nothing…..

In my desperation, I went to Victoria’s Secret to be fitted. The level of anxiety in someone else even coming close to seeing my upper half is overwhelming. I sucked it up because I was told they can find something for almost anyone. Guess who left without a bra? This girl. They couldn’t fit me. I was too small.

After that, I began to research breast augmentation. I made an appointment with a surgeon who had excellent reviews. I thought there would be hope for me to feel whole. Unfortunately, hope comes with a price tag. My appointment also came with humiliation. They take a photo so they can have a before prior to surgery (if you decide to go that route). I didn’t expect to have to stare at it during my consultation. I finally had to ask him to take it down.

I still hope I can pursue surgery but I also know I need to figure out how to change my frame of mind. It’s hard to do when I can’t even feel comfortable in a bathing suit. It’s hard to do when you’ve been made to believe one’s beauty depends on a natural process my body seemingly forgot to finish. It’s hard to see myself as beautiful when I feel like I have come short of expectations. How could anyone look at me and be satisfied knowing I will never look like a woman?

I may never figure it out. I hope I do, or I hope I can at least figure out how to feel better about myself.

Some women dream of fame, I dream of a “B” cup!

– D

New York City – Part 1 – Why We Went

New York City has always been one of those far-off, bucket list trips for me. Husband (Allen) and I talked about it numerous times when we discussed where we’d like to go on vacation down the road. But it remained a dream, an enigma of a city to a couple of folks who grew up among the cows, corn, and beans.

Manhattan and the Manhattan Bridge

We knew “of” each other in high school and I remembered him as “That guy who runs all the time.”  That’s how everyone seemed to know him.  Even in the years where he’d given it up, gained weight, and all but lost who he really was to a crummy marriage, people always asked him, “You still runnin’?” The answer was a reluctant “No.”

Allen circa 2011 and our recently departed “Princess” Onyx.

Then we got together and though it was definitely not overnight, he started to remember who he was, and what he was passionate about, and he began hitting the pavement again.

5King with friends is the best way to 5K.





In his younger years of running, he had qualified for Boston, more than once, but he never went. So, that has become his goal: to qualify and actually run the race.

2015 YOLO Half-Marathon.

YOLO Half-Marathon 2016









With all the training, we talked of other Marathons that could be good to run to try to qualify for Boston. The New York City Marathon came up quite a bit, but in the end, we decided to wait another year before diving into that race and the immense culture shock we knew we were in for. I imagine that was mostly me, since I was going to have to mentally prepare my-super-mega-ultra-introverted-self like never before, as well as plan most of the trip.

YOLO Half-Marathon 2017






Then, *d* shared a link on Facebook that the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance was looking to fill some spots on its NYC Marathon team. If you’ve read any of the blogs she’s written here, you know that her youngest son has Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. We’ve always felt helpless when it comes to saying the right thing or offering the right help to her. Suddenly, there was a way to help the Alliance, draw attention to this terrible disease, and honor one tough little boy and his family.

YOLO Half-Marathon 2018, used as a “training race” for the impending NYC Marathon

So, Allen contacted the Alliance and got a place on the team. The Alliance set a goal of $5,000 to be raised by each runner and set up individual donation pages. I set up a Facebook page where his training progress could be followed by friends, family, and fellow athletes, and the donation page easily found.


After being interviewed by the local paper, multiple people sharing the donation link, contributing to the cause, rooting him on, and a year of diligent training, it was time to fly.

Literally. We took a plane to NYC.

On our way!




View of the city from the plane. (Photo courtesy of Ariana)







And our adventure began.


Evening Ponderings

After several hours of clinching my hands in restlessness in the emergency room this morning, I began to cry. The pain finally overcame my will and I broke down. It was the same news I usually hear during my seldom trips to the emergency room for pain. The majority of the pain was from a flare but now I have additional issues that have no immediate treatment. I opted for the steroid injection and walked out in equal pain as when I walked in. My tears were more of frustration rather than my inability to handle the pain. I have learned to deal with chronic pain and I was frustrated because of my resistance to treatment. 

I just came off of Humira. The benefits were not out weighing the risks. Risk versus benefit is something I have heard often in the last nine years. The goal with my son’s anti-epileptic medication is to take the smallest dose with the best possible results and the benefits need to outweigh the risks. While thinking of my disappointment today, I thought about the numerous times I have experienced this same feeling when I weigh the benefits and risks associated with my own choices. Do I make reasonable choices concerning my life and relationships? Am I doing what is right in accordance with my beliefs, or am I acting in accordance with what is acceptable to the world? Should I put my needs before the needs of others and do I really need to be liked as much as I think I do? What will it really cost me?

My grandma has a big heart and like many of us, she has a desire to be liked by those around her, so it has been particularly hard for her since a close relative chose to terminate their relationship. Even after an apology, they chose not to forgive. It’s been years and she is still very hurt. Her son and husband (my uncle and grandfather) have both passed away and it hasn’t been enough of a reason for her estranged relative to heal these once very close relationships. If death didn’t make her relative chose to forgive and heal their once close relationship, what will?

I once believed that the worse case scenarios were rare, but life will eventually prove the contrary for us all. Bad things happen to everyone and they can happen more frequently than desired. Relationships erode to the point of disrepair, health deteriorates, promises aren’t kept, people will disappoint……. The only guarantee we have in life is the ability to control and change our own actions in situations, even those that are out of our control. Others will certainly remember how we react when life gets rough. What kind of person do our actions make us out to be and what kind of an imprint do our actions leave on the hearts of others? The best view of ourselves maybe through our relationships with others.

I don’t have a life conducive of healthy relationships. I have complexities others don’t and it takes a special person to remain patient enough with me to be my friend. Although I have few close relationships, I deeply value the ones I have. I know all too well how much a minute can change the course of life. I am thankful for today because I’m not guaranteed another. I have learned that the hard way. I lay awake thinking my baby boy could have a life threatening seizure when we are all asleep. I wonder how long my body will hold out when I am literally falling apart. I don’t understand why so many people choose to threaten a relationship over petty things. Each day is a gift and should be treated as such. I can’t understand why so many people can let the sun set on things that should be rectified.

Relationships are the medicine of life. There will be those who don’t value a relationship with you so you have to ask, are the side effects that come with relationships doing more harm than good? When it comes to my health, I have to consider how much I am willing to suffer for a desired result. In the end, it’s my body and I have to make the choices that are right for my health. I have to be willing to make changes to better my life, even if they are scary. It boils down to me. The only person I can control is me. I cannot always control the future but I can change the way I view it.

Fruitful change has come through the difficult circumstances and how I handle them is influenced by my faith, but it has been hard to handle each situation as I should during times of depression. Until I truly began making an effort to rely on the only thing that can promise real change, depression dictated. Once I began to discover how to live according to my own values and beliefs, the promises of peace came with it. My depression hasn’t disappeared, but I have more hope putting my faith in something other than myself. I was broken and unable to handle what I had been given. I was constantly overwhelmed by circumstances beyond my control, including the actions of others. I made a choice to pick up the yoke of the Lord so he could fulfill his promise to me in the book of Matthew, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

The Lord has went through great lengths to get my attention and I’m glad he has, because I realized I couldn’t change anyone but me and I needed to change! I began reading the Bible regularly and learned so much about myself in a short period of time. Maybe what I learned can help you too.

Life is too short to spend time hurting others with words. More often, making the right choices regarding what we say is a battle because falling into temptation is easy. Words said behind closed doors will eventually be brought into the light (“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be know.” Matthew 10:26) and a choice to pursue hurtful actions against others will cause harm to onself. The bible speaks candidly about the hurt that comes from words. He’s especially asking believers in the following verse not to bless him in worship and curse another, because we are speaking against others who were made in his image. It’s hurtful and not congruent with Christian behavior. 

“… but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness if God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” James 3: 8-10

More simply put, “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers…” James 4:11

Along with a venomous tongue, we ought not to do fall into additional temptation and judge one another. Judgement hurts relationships. By taking time to pass judgement, time is taken away from working on nurturing healthy and supportive relationships. Taking time to study the word and work on our own downfalls is a more productive use of time. We gain strength, learn how to live a fruitful life, and grow closer to God, who is the only one true judge. 

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7: 1-5. 

There is a clear warning about judgement in this verse, but it is still summed up  by helping another.

“..For in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice such things. We know that the judgement of God rightly falls on those who practice such things.” Romans 2:2

All can be summed up here, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned: forgive,and you will be forgiven, give, and it will be given to you.” Luke 6: 37-38. 

But even as I worked in this piece, I felt the anger and hurt in my heart toward those who have wronged me. I am reminded again of how this discovery is about me and my journey in obedience to God. 

“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full if mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3: 14-18. 

Change doesn’t happen overnight and I still worry about how I’m living my life and how I can truly let go of the anger and hurt brought on by the people and circumstances I cannot control. 

“… do not be anxious about your life… But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousnes, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6: 25, 33-34.

Obedience isn’t always easy, especially when he tells is not to be anxious but He is a God who understands the conflict taking place in the heart of man. 

And I cannot forget when I have failed at all things, God is forgiving and merciful and those who have true salvation are as well. The following footnote on Matthew 18: 21-35 summed up how salvation should change a sinner’s heart.

“The central points of the parable are: first, that the gift of salvation is immeasurably great and, second, that unless a person is comparably merciful to others, mercy has not had a saving effect upon him and will be liable to pay the consequences himself….. A transformed heart must result in a changed life that offers the same mercy and forgiveness as has been received from God. Someone who does not grant forgiveness to others shows that his own heart has not experienced 
God’s forgiveness.” Foote note on Matthew 18: 21-35 from ESV study bible by Crossway.

I forgive because he has changed my heart, I will not be fearful of those who hurt me or anxious about my life, because I trust in Him.

“..I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to he brought low, and I know hot to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4: 11-13

If you remember anything from this message remember this verse:
“So whatever you wish that others do to you, do also to them…” Matthew 7:12



Yesterday the extent of my hair loss reached out from behind the mirror and smacked me in the face. “Could who I’m looking at possibly be me?” Yep, it was. The open empty, thinning spaces seemed like a good representation my life, empty space and barren in some places and holding on for dear life in others. But then today I was reminded of something miraculous. My boys and I read “The Purpose Driven Life” every morning and we are readung the chapter titled “God’s Power in Your Weakness”. I was so excited to start this chapter because I haven’t felt more weak in my life than I do right now. After we began to read the first chapter I was sure the words were meant for our family.

“Your weaknesses are no accident. God deliberately allows them in your life for the purpose of demonstrating his power through you.” It goes on to say, “That God uses imperfect people is encouraging news for all of us.” Then it hit home. “A weakness, or ‘thorn’ as Paul called it, is not a sin or vice or a character defect that you can change, such as overeating or impatience. A weakness is any limitation that you inherited or have no power to change.  It may be a physical limitation, like a handicap, a chronic illness, naturally low energy, or disability. It may be an emotional limitation, such as a trauma scar, a hurtful memory, a personality quirk, or heredity disposition. Or it may be a talent or intellectual limitation. We’re all not super bright or talented. When you think of the limitation in your life, you may be tempted to conclude, ‘God could never use me.’ But God is never limited by our limitations. In fact, he enjoys putting his great power into ordinary containers.” 
Yesterday I was looking into the mirror wondering what purpose I even serve. I wondered if my husband could ever find me attractive after all the changes I am going through. Yesterday I looked in the mirror and thought of all the reasons I am useless, worthless, and served no real purpose in the world. My life is thin and barren of so many things because I have made so many mistakes in my life and surely I deserve the pain. It’s easier to believe the awful things I tell myself and it isn’t that hard to find reasons why I feel like I deserve it.
About a year ago I was submitting a lot of stories to The Mighty. I liked the idea behind the site, finding hope through disability and the stories were mostly submitted. I had good luck and a few of my stories got picked up, one even made its way to Yahoo Health. It was a very personal story that included photos of my life with chronic illness. This piece was in opposition to my personality. I am not someone who likes to open myself up to public scrutiny and putting this post up on Yahoo Health did just that. I told myself not to read the comments but curiosity eventually got to me and I did. There were kind comments but the trolls came out as well. The comment that stung the most stated that I was a waste because I had a chronic illness. He validated all the horrible things I have believed about myself.  I am chronically ill so I am worthless, I serve no purpose, and my family is better off without me. You would think I would have been happy after my work was being recognized, but shortly after I sank into a dark depression. My health was slowly getting worse, my son was going to have neurosurgery soon for his out of control seizures, and the depression made me feel very alone. Medication changes, depression, and stress are a bad combination. At my most desperate, I asked my husband to leave me. I negotiated and gave him every reason why he deserved more than what I could offer. Thankfully he could still see me under it all and reminded me of how much he loved me. I thought everyone else saw me as I saw myself. I didn’t allow my husband to see me as he wanted to see me. It turns out, he still saw me as the woman he married. He still does. I don’t know how he can see past what I see in the mirror every morning but he does and so does our Creator. Love is funny like that.
Contrary to what others have said about me or what I have said about myself, I have a purpose. My broken vessel can still carry a something precious. I don’t need to have a full head of hair, the perfect job or perfect family to serve my intended purpose. In fact, perfection isn’t part of the message God wants to share. He wants to share a perfect message through imperfect people. Those are the best kinds of messages, aren’t they?
When our son was diagnosed years ago, I found a lot of support online. When I searched for a group, I didn’t search for a diabetes support group, he doesn’t have diabetes. I searched for groups pertaining to his disease because I needed to talk to those who have personal knowledge of it. Experience is a useful tool, it also makes for a pretty powerful message. I have made friendships with people who understand  when others may not. I have realized, the more God allows me to suffer, the more useful I am to his message and to the service of others. Assuming I have no purpose is questioning God’s own purpose in making me. I don’t need need a full head if hair to minister to others, just because I now have some physical limitations doesn’t mean I don’t have spiritual strength, and useless to the world never means useless to God. 
I have spent the last eight years since my son was diagnosed pushing others away. I already hurt so much, I didn’t want any more hurt. It was easier for me to be alone than it was to take a chance and get hurt by someone else.The truth is, I was the one doing the most damage. I was isolating myself with the one person who had the most hateful opinion of me….. me. God is constantly challenging me in unexpected ways. Sometimes it’s through a sermon, sometimes it’s through a book, and sometimes it’s through those who won’t let me push them away. I am thankful God still had a purpose for me when I made some big mistakes but then again, he knows me better than I know myself, he is my creator. It may be about time I started looking at myself through His eyes, I may start to like what He created.


Much Needed Grace

While thinking about this piece I wanted to write on grace I wanted to familiarize myself with how to define the word grace. I have decided for this piece to paraphrase it simply as “eloquence or beauty of form or manner”. I think of grace further defined as “eloquence in action as well as in form”. When I think of a life that embodies grace, I visualize it lived as a beautifully choreographed dance. It isn’t a dance executed to perfection, but one that flows beautifully, stepping round and turning through those unexpected obstructions of life. 

But life isn’t experienced alone and how we extend our grace to others in our lives speaks volumes about who we are compared to who we want to be.
Finding a person who truly embodies grace is difficult these days. We live in a world where jealousy and judgment run rampant and no one bats an eye when sharing or hearing gossip. Revenge is encouraged and acceptable as not to allow offenders to get away with their deeds. And as long as exclusion can be rationalized, what’s the harm, right? But what happened to grace? What happened to extending grace to others who dance in and out of our lives, not just to those we feel deserve it? In light of current events, it isn’t too far fetched to say that grace is a huge piece missing from the world today. Instead of grace, we see slandering, name calling, and judgment. Our children are learning that those holding high position(s) of power get where they are by ruthless tactics and not by grace. Shouldn’t those who claim to lead by example have some small bit of grace as part of their character?

In theological terms, grace is defined as “freely given and undeserving favor of God, the influence of the spirit of God that gives strength to a believer, or a virtue of divine origin”. I think the most important word defining grace in theological terms is “undeserving”. The word undeserving is also becoming an offensive word in the world today. Some people don’t want to work as hard as their ancestors at what they desire but feel like they have just cause to have whatever it is they want right away. They are entitled. Sadly, I have been very guilty of an entitled nature myself. I get frustrated and want things to change right away. I get so frustrated with the difficulty of our circumstances that I ask God,  “Just give me something to ease my load.” I think I deserve it, but I don’t. I am not deserving of the grace I think I’m entitled to but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been given it. Grace has been an eloquent pardon of my offenses and undeserving gifts, either by another human or by the divine.

My husband reminds me of the true nature of grace daily. I am not the woman he married eleven years ago. I have advanced rheumatoid arthritis and in the two years since my diagnosis, the disease has progressed enough to damage the joints and bones throughout most of my body. Whereas I feel like I have to prove my daily pain and physical limitations to other people, he never asks me to explain why I cannot finish even the most remedial tasks. Often he comes home and supper isn’t started and I’m laying in bed consumed with pain, but he doesn’t question me about the kids, the house, or what I could have done, he gives me grace. He makes supper, cleans up, and helps get the kids to bed. He extends me grace I know I need but I don’t often feel like I deserve. Without that grace, our marriage would never survive. We also have a disabled child with complex medical issues and if we didn’t allow one another certain graces, we would have never found a way stay together with all the challenges we face. My husband doesn’t come home and ask, “What about me?” He asks, “What can I do to help?” His grace makes me want to keep trying because I know how hard he tries for me. My husband could tell me he understands, but without his actions, the words would be empty. It would send a conflicting message. His grace could quite possibly be what has saved our marriage and what has kept my dwindling hope alive. He never let’s his “but” get in the way. “I would help but I’m tired too.” “I could be there but I’m too busy.” “I could accept the apology but I’m still too hurt.”

I may not have said that last statement out loud, but I have thought it. Forgiveness is a hard part of having a graceful nature. I know it’s very hard for me to forgive and extend grace to people who have caused me hurt, especially those who have been the cause of hurt more than once. Deep down I have wanted to withhold my grace and turn my back, cutting ties with those who have hurt me repeatedly. Sometimes cutting ties is necessary, but the people who are hurting others repeatedly are often hurting themselves. We may not be in the position to help that person or heal their hurt, but extending our grace, no matter how hard, is a good place to start.

Everyone needs grace, whether we think they deserve it or not. I am thankful for the many times others have given me grace and especially thankful of God’s graces. Fourteen years ago I was seeking forgiveness over my failed marriage.  I asked forgiveness, but I also received God’s grace. His grace put my husband into my life at a time when I feel like I didn’t deserve it. His grace gave me a friend when I really needed it. Grace gave me the husband that would love me in our years of health and now my sickness. God gave me love I was never good enough to deserve. It’s a good thing God doesn’t listen to me when it comes to what I deserve. He knows those circumstances in my life that others didn’t know or understand and gave me His abundant grace. I am so glad he did, because I know nothing I have done deserves anything God has to offer. 

Grace has saved me. I have hope because I have been given me grace. I can be something contrary to this world when I follow the examples of those who extend it to me. Thank God for grace!


There Goes My Memory

​I’m a few months shy of turning 36. I ponder on the fact that I am going to be closer to 40 than 30 and I wonder when it was I left my twenties. I wonder when will I ever feel like I am grown up.

I wonder if suddenly finding amusement in every single aspect of aging is considered a mid-life crisis, because if it is, I am knee deep in one. Last night I woke up abruptly from a disturbing dream. I was dreaming that I was at the grocery and I forgot my list. I say the dream was disturbing because it I woke up just as I would for an actual nightmare, heart racing and with the desire to jump out of bed. Apparently what I’m afraid of now includes shopping without my grocery list. That’s seems to be my life right now, forgetfulness. I can’t keep anything straight unless I write it down. I double book my schedule often because I can’t remember what is scribbled on my “reminder pad”, I use that term loosely because it can turn into the kid’s doodle pad at any given moment. A calendar seems like a great idea! I have a dry erase calendar on my fridge and another calendar that’s keeping track of my bills but it’s keeping track of nothing else of importance, like let’s say, ummmmm appointments, birthdays, or anniversaries! So forget getting a card of any sort from me until I remember the month is almost over and I forgot to check my, no, not calendar, card holder. Oh dear……

The more I try to become more organized the worse it becomes. I will seriously “organize” my house only to forget what genius place I put my things. The only thing I can seem to find is my dry erase calendar with nothing on it. I think it’s because I have to make room in my head for where everyone else’s stuff is located. For example, the other day my daughter was going nuts because she wanted to sleep with her Rapunzel doll. Yes, I knew where where that doll was but I can’t make it to my son’s field trip because I just scheduled my daughter’s dentist appointment on the same day. 
Yes, appointments can be rescheduled but thinking twice about anything these days scares me since I have no idea what I am doing in the first place. I blame my rheumatoid arthritis and fibrommyalgia. Explaining to people I have “fibro fog” seems to spark some recognition in them because it was most likely a part of a drug commercial promising a miracle cure for fibrommyalgia pain. Those commercials are a joke and quite annoying to someone like me. A woman living in a world of gray is suddenly able to fly a kite and laugh with her family after taking a magic pill. I think they’d be better off if they’d just sell me directions to the junk I just organized, that would make me happy. 

Happiness takes on a whole new meaning as I get older. I’m happy if I really do get to the grocery with all my coupons and a list in my hand on a day I didn’t forget to do something else, but that’s just a dream, we all know that list is sitting on my kitchen counter.