My birthday purpose

I had a beautiful birthday. Filled with hugs, friends, coffee, sweets, love and a nap! After my nap the news was on (it was a late nap) and there was a heart wrenching story about a terrible situation in Syria-it is even being called genocide of the people in a particular town there. My heart was pretty much ripped out of my chest watching the story. What does this have to do with my birthday? Good question-glad you asked-
I don’t have that answer either…except this huge wave of empathy,love.compassion,gratitude and a feeling of wanting to do MORE poured over me.
I don’t know how to fix Syria…I’m not sure anyone does-except what is happening there is terrible…I want to jump on a plane and grab people and hold them as they weep for their dead children and their ruined world.
At the same time I know this is NOT likely to happen-I am a realist. I know that doesn’t mean I can’t do anything….
I can give to relief groups in the area. I can pray.
I can also do the mission I am given right now…to love my husband, my children, my family, friends, and community well. Does this fix Syria???
NO- but it fixes my heart from being hardened by this world.
I will have my heart and hands open to loving and helping where ever needed. I will live with purpose (most days- because let’s be real there are some days where purpose is a crock of crap and just getting thru the day is a win)
Join with me…as a birthday present to me…heck…as a birthday present to yourself!!! Live with love first! Make the life you have be a beautiful story for the world to see!syria-2015-photos


Grieve well…

Years ago this phrase *Grieve well* entered my life.

It is not a phrase you welcome. Not a wish anyone would love to receive.

We had just lost a child to miscarriage. We had already been called mom and dad to two beautiful children. Our third pregnancy did not end with a bundle of joy, but instead with heartache and grief.

We had a support and love. Family and friends that cared deeply. I had few people that actually understood. In loss- that is a lonely place.

When I opened a card ,from a dear friend, that had the words *Grieve well* written in it, I recoiled a bit. I thought, *Why would I do that? This hurts too much. Grieving hurts.* I hadn’t processed that there was a way to grieve badly or well. I was just hurting.

As time moved on, the hurt didn’t. I was tired,I was sad and the world around me kept moving on as if nothing terrible had happened.

Someone said to me that one of her friends had had a miscarriage and *she was fine*, *she got over it quickly.* My heart sank-my sadness grew- I decided that there must be something wrong with me if I was letting this bother me so much.

I decided to *Build a bridge*, *Pull myself up from my boot straps*, *Quit being a cry baby!*…..That was unsustainable…..I broke.

The sentiment…Grieve Well…just kept coming back to my heart. I prayed. I decided to let go of the expectations I had of myself, of my own body, of what I thought society expected…and I grieved.

I have seen National news clips of women from other cultures wailing in the streets over their loved ones. I was envious of their ability and social acceptance to let it loose…to not care if they were making other people uncomfortable with their grief.

I can remember feeling like I couldn’t let loose-feeling like I had to stifle my cries into a pillow, or in the shower-especially if I thought everyone else in the house was gone.

But I finally surrendered my heart. I felt like I could actually relax in my grief. That it was ok to be sad.That I was going to grieve well.

I likened it to a scrape on the knee. It may scab over but if the tissue under the scab is dirty and infected the bacteria will continue to grow. The healthy tissue will die too. That it could never be healthy until what was under the scab- the wound- was cleaned out.

I began feeling my grief and in that I let myself be afraid.I let myself feel. I felt betrayed by my own body. I was angry with other pregnant women-  they had no idea how lucky they were and how sad I was.

One of the most healing things was when I spoke with another mom-I had no idea she had ever had a miscarriage. She had had three. She told me ,even though it had been over 8 years,she still remember each of their proposed birth dates. That it had been hard for her. That she understood….

Those words washed my wounded soul. The weight in my heart and on my shoulders lifted. Granted, it took time but I kept letting myself feel every twinge of pain-I didn’t stuff it.

About 3 years after that my father died.

The lessons I had fought to learn during our miscarriage were put into action. I was so broken. I cried.I let myself be o.k. about not being o.k.. My dear husband let me  be sad. He just sat with me. He gave me permission- by his actions and love- to grieve well- no judgement. It felt like it took forever.

At the reception after my dad’s funeral, a friend from high school came over to me. He had lost his dad about 2 years before that. He knew….he had walked this crooked path of grief…the look in his eyes showed me that he wished I didn’t have to walk that path and that he wished he had never seen that path. But the words he spoke brought hope. He said *When my dad died, every time I’d walk into his shop-around his fields-or see his tools-my heart would be overwhelmed with sadness. All I could feel was how sad I was that he was gone. But, Jen-you need to know that after a while those same memories-those same places- when I walk by them now-or think about a memory of him-there is some sadness but mostly there is joy-there are these beautiful memories. These things that made me sad now fill my heart with thankfulness that I had this great man for my dad.*

I thanked him for his words and insight but I was very skeptical. I really didn’t know if this great grief could be anything but heavy and sad.

My friend Dean was right.

When walking into my Dad’s barn or going places that I had my strongest memories of him used to crush me now bring me a smile. I miss him. I wish he could watch his grandson graduate from high school. I still cry. I am crying right now…. but I let myself cry…I let the tears wash my soul….eventually the thankfulness shines through, tinged with sadness. Quite honestly- I think a life well lived can’t be fully appreciated with out the bruises and heart ache.

I just want to encourage, all of you that have and are currently experiencing loss,loss of a loved one, loss of health, loss of something hoped for or dreamed for that won’t happen, to GRIEVE WELL.

Feel the feels…let it loose…surround yourself with people that support your grief…find a good listener. Just sit and be. Let it wash over you. It doesn’t go away…the missing….it changes….there is will make it onto the other side.You will be changed. Your heart will love deeper.Share the gift you’ve been given during this hard time with someone else that needs it.

That’s how love works.


What is the deal?????

Over 18 years ago I gave my first,sparkling, OK maybe not sparkling, baby boy his first bath. Even before then I learned how to bath and clean infants in nursing school.

I have since then washed, scrubbed, lathered, scraped, bubbled, combed,cut, trimmed and brushed my way through 5 children.

At some point in their growing up, we as parents, nurturers and hygiene spies, hand the reigns over to our kids. We trade in our brushes for constant reminders and questions.

Did you brush your teeth?  Go brush your teeth….

You did NOT brush your hair….and if you did then go do it again!!!

When was the last time you washed your face??? You need to start doing it every day or you will regret not listening to me!!!

You haven’t showered since WHEN?????

SNIFF…Did you USE deodorant today???

In this last week I have found one child who hadn’t showered in 5 days, one child who’s toenails were curling under the tops of their toes (fun!). Another who could start a candle making company with all of the wax in the ear canals and one more who was starting dreadlocks by accident.!!!

I AM A GOOD MOM!!!!……. but apparently I happened to give birth to a herd of children with early onset dementia because the only answer I keep getting is…*OH, I FORGOT!*


I forget my keys or purse…..not to cut my toenails….

I know, eventually, the hygiene bug will bite hard and I will probably have to block the shower from over use.

But for now I am considering hiring a children’s hygiene guard. You know like the big guys that stand at the entrance of a bar, carding folks. Except this one will be sniffing, peeking in ears& mouths and inspecting nails as children leave my house!!

Send your kids over…the new hygiene security officer starts next week!!!!




Snarky Much?????

Last night  the WHOLE family, including one grandparent,loaded up in our SUV (8 passenger bundle of HURRY UP- WE ARE LATE) to watch our oldest child in a parade. His LAST time as a drum major….his LAST time doing this parade…..NOT the last time his mother  would be wanting everyone to *just be NICE!*

The twin girls- age 10- had this conversation- while getting settled in the car

Twin 1- It’s ok sweetie…I’m gonna sit right here!!!! (sarcastic tone inserted)


Twin 1- BUT…your nick name is PEACHES!!!!!!

Twin 2- NOT right NOW it’s NOT!!!!

…and cue the suppressed laughter from the rest of the car…..snarky is frequently our middle name(s)

BTW…the sign in the picture was one of my mother’s day presents….


Each day…..

Most of my nursing career has been blessed by patients in the 80-108 age range. I am in love with wrinkly skin and lives that have a story to tell.

Today I was reminded of a conversation I had with a patient in the upper section of my group demographics.

I went into the room and asked how he was doing. He smiled and said *Well,I don’t know WHY I am still here,but…..I’m gonna live today in such a way that no one else has to ask the same question about me!!!

This same patient told me EVERY night that I saw him that *I will pray for you and you pray for me!*

Those two mantras …no matter how old you are is how to live a beautiful life!

Life can get us down…the little things , the medium things, the annoying things and the BIG things.

It doesn’t have to. We can cast our cares out in prayer and bless those around with every  ability we have.


Failure is an option…..

As a parent I want to see my kids succeed. I would guess to say that that is one common thread for most parents world wide.

This seems like a no brainer. But the biggest part of this wish/dream/prayer for our kids is that failure HAS to be a part of their story in order for REAL success to occur.

Now , by REAL success I mean the ability to push thru something hard to achieve a worthy goal. I am not talking- how to make your child into a millionaire to support you by age 26. I am talking how to get out of your child’s way long enough to let them realize that any goal worth having is worth fighting for, that things don’t come easy and that just because they are living and breathing does not entitle them to success.

I wanted, with every fiber of my being, to be a cheer leader at my middle school. Back in the BIG HAIR days we had to try out, as 7th graders, in front of the ENTIRE school. I stood there and yelled out my best G.O. Let’s GO, F.I.G.H.T.Let’s fight …. all by myself in front of hundreds of judging eyes. As you can probably see where this is going, I didn’t get voted in. The popular girls got it and my heart was broken. My parents couldn’t fix it nor did I even think they tried to. There were no upset calls to the principal’s office. They supported me and let me grieve my loss and…we moved on.

This failure didn’t teach me anything at first…except that the popular girls always get what they want. But as I grew up I had that in my bucket of experience. I had compassion for the under dog. I also realized that if you don’t try…you for sure won’t succeed!

I tried out for cheer leader as a freshman in high school.My parents didn’t try to stop me.Even if they feared that I could fail and have  my heart broke again-although I’m pretty sure that crossed their minds. They didn’t call the school board and try to get the rules changed so that no one could get left out. they let me try-failure or not.

I  was able to be on the cheer squad  throughout high school and one year of college.

This is a small example of my failures. Most people have heard of the failures of some very famously successful people who kept trying. Michael Jordan, Stephen Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey. But what I don’t think gets talked about enough is those successful people’s parents. They didn’t try to go out before them and smooth the road. They supported them, but they didn’t remove the obstacles in their way.

My husband is a high school teacher. He has been one for 20 years. He has hundreds of examples of children who’s parents step in and make excuses for their kids failings…even lying at times for their kids or arguing with the teacher over a grade the child actually earned. He also has just as many examples of children that were held accountable. That had to walk thru hard consequences of their choices. Thru the miracle of social media he has been able to follow some of these students farther on into their life journeys. Not surprising, but for the most part, the students that didn’t skate thru their mistakes are more successful in their lives.

I went to college to study nursing. When it came time to apply to nursing school I didn’t get into the school I wanted- not once but twice. I was devastated. But thru prayer and perseverance I followed my heart’s desire into a *perfect for me *nursing school, 3 hours away from my original plan.

I am sure,that if I had not failed earlier in my life and not learned how to push through the disappointment, that I would not have  been able to push myself thru that experience as well as push myself through nursing school.

When we let our kids give up because we are afraid for their sweet hearts to get broken we are doing them a GREAT disservice. We want to and have the instinct to protect our kids. We CANNOT protect them from everything.  At some point in their lives we have to let them see the result of their choices. We can advise, love, pray…but we can’t nor shouldn’t do it for them or remove difficulties from their path.

It can be agonizing to watch them fail. As a mom of five kids I have more than a few  opportunities to observe some desperate moments. One of our sons is a goal keeper for his soccer team. The pressure is pretty raw. As he has grown in that position it can be full of frustration. He has had moments where a ball goes by him and he hasn’t handled it well. There have been tears, thrown goalie gloves and the cry that he wants to quit. We-as parents- have committed to making our kids finish out what they started,so quitting is not an option. Although my mommy heart wanted to scoop him up and flip off anyone that criticized and ride off into the sunset. But, I didn’t, I made my jaw like flint,gave him  support and encouragement.

There was a moment just a few weeks ago when he had a rotten game. More than one ball flew past him. Balls that really shouldn’t have…he cringed, I cringed… I told him to *flush it!* -cause that’s what you do when sh%t happens. And you know what??? The kid didn’t cry, didn’t throw goalie gloves or yell that he wanted to quit. He hung in there- he kept trying- he ignored a rude comment from one of his own players! One thing I can tell you is THAT was one of my proudest moments…he kept fighting hard and blocked several more balls that flew his way . I could have cared less if he won the my book he did!!! In fact we got ice cream afterward to celebrate his victory over his own self!!!

If their road is always flat …they will NEVER make it up a mountain!

FAILURE is an option. NOT an end result.




But…..I like tacos

Our 11 year old walked into the room. He saw a picture of Donald Trump on the TV  with a large headline.

His immediate response was, *That’s not fair…I like tacos. Geeze does that guy think he can change everything????*

Then he realized it said *Donald Trump changes  tactics*……..

PHEW….that was a close one….I mean I think the guy has been so practical and non aggressive or out of control until I heard he was changing tacos!!!!

Mom is NOT sick!!!

We all know that moms do NOT get sick!!  We just don’t feel well!

After caring for 3 or 4 (I have lost count) of the kids hacking, barfing, blowing snot….I have been the recipient of their generous gifts!

But, as we all know…Mom DOES NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS!

Life keeps moving on and so does the car pool….the taxi cab, the laundry, doctor’s appointments, meetings for some trip to Europe that someone desperately wants to go to ( unfortunately-not me!) and the endless practices for who knows what they could possibly be practicing! At this point I don’t care what you are practicing….just HURRY UP so I can go home a d lay down!

I have received several pitiful looks, a couple pats on the back and more than one look that indicates…you better get better quick-we are falling apart! God Bless my husband-who after working 12 hours tries to come in and make sense of the chaos all while trying to NOT breath my air!

While sitting in a parking lot last night, waiting for someone to stop practicing something…blowing my nose and hacking as discreetly as possible…of course the mom in the car next to me had her windows down also…but eventually rolled them up after listening to my symphony….I got thinking….I NEVER realized EVER that my mom was ever sick…..and considering that she is in fact a human I am sure she must of gotten a sniffle here and there …this is what we do…right or wrong…we keep making the show go on for as long as possible. We keep the ball rolling and in much more serious cases our friends and family keep things going.

The one thing I thought is one day (many many many years from now) these sweet ball kicking DNA sharing humans better have nothing but love and joy in their hearts while they are brushWIN_20160419_095912ing my hair, clipping my toe nails and wiping my rear!


Unexpected need….

Life has been very busy. In the last few weeks there has been tax preparation, birthday planning for our soon to be 18 year old, Easter dinner -and all that goes into a dinner for 18 people, planning and preparing for a most epic family trip -which includes an airplane-and I was nice enough to get tickets for all 7 of us -although a few may have been threaten that their ticket was going to get sold!

All of these things takes thoughtful planning. Most of it with out a lot of thought from anyone else.

As with most things moms do-most people just don’t really see how much hard work goes into EVERYTHING! It’s easy to feel a little under appreciated.

Earlier this morning, one of the kids asked if they could search something up on the computer.

So today when I finally got to my computer at 1230pm. THIS is what I found….. 0329161217

Life smudges

Have you ever noticed how your house, your floor or your windows look pretty clean until…WAMMO…..the sun shines on them? Then all of a sudden they have transformed into the dirtiest items in your house?

This morning as I lifted the blinds and *Let the sunshine in* I thought *Oh, how nice to have this beautiful light !*.Then I began to look around and saw smudges magically appear on my dark leather chair. Then dirt and something, started appearing ALL OVER the floor! I actually got up and closed the blinds- then settled back in feeling a little less stressed…trying to ignore my new found knowledge of my filth.WIN_20160321_090243….Thing is this is how sin is in our lives.

UN-FORGIVENESS, ANGER, the lack of SELF CONTROL….ALL of the things in our lives that smudge up our clean and beautiful souls.

We can comfortably ignore them when we are in the dark but as soon as the light of truth shines on them they are super apparent…and make us rather uncomfortable.

Several years ago, my husband and I chaperoned a high school dance. The lights were low and as we stood on the balcony above we witnessed quite a bit of *dirty dancing*. The administration was doing their best to keep things appropriate but it wasn’t stopping all of it. Then I began to notice that the strobe lights were blinking brightly and at times would stay on longer than other times. Each time the lights were bright for more than 2 seconds the kids looked uncomfortable and would *clean up * the dance moves. I realized that they felt safer, doing something they knew they weren’t supposed to be doing, in the shadows.

In fact we all are much more comfortable hiding in the shadows with our secrets..our personal dirt…thinking that we are some how tricking those around us. But,we can’t trick God. Our creator already knows our dirt! He just wants us to admit it. He wants us to *keep the blinds open*. To be willing to face our mess and to know that….


It’s only by God’s great love and power that the clean up can begin. Oh, we can try on our own…and YES we need to be active participants, but we can’t clean it up alone.

God knows every nook and cranny of our hearts and thoughts. He sees ALL of the dirt. And because of His GREAT LOVE we are not left to sit in our dirt of anger, bitterness, hatred, or shame.He knows exactly how it got there. He knows the raw hand we’ve been dealt. He sees the hurt, the pain, the shame.

All it takes is one simple prayer….SORRY…..HELP…..THANK YOU

All we have to do is step into the light. Let it brighten your life and GET A BROOM!