Praying Fierce


If you’ve been praying, but feel that you don’t see results, feel anything, and walk away empty – I totally get you.  For a long time, I was in that rut.  Part of it was the way I was praying, the expectations of my prayers, and my internal disbelief that God really hears me or cares.  As I have grown in Jesus, I have learned a bit on the journey from then to here.

Sometimes the reason if feels our prayer life is limited, is because our connection to the Father isn’t quite clear.  Think of a cell to cell phone call where a tower in between the two networks is breaking, broken, or in the middle of a storm.  The call isn’t clear, either way.  Whether you have a new or old relationship with the Father, if the call or answer of prayer isn’t clear, it can indicate that there are things that we need to get cleaned up, fixed, or worked on before the connection between the two can be opened up.  The signal between you and God is not muddled by a cell phone tower, but a genuine relationship like any other that requires the substance of time, forgiveness, and learning each other.

Sometimes we are only praying because we are in trouble.  I remember praying to a God I had rarely prayed to when I hit my daughter in the head with a golf club and we were on a Life Flight helicopter ride.  Yes, I did.  No, it was not on purpose.  That story is for another day.  The point is, I went to a God I barely knew asking Him to make it right and save my daughter’s life.  You know that feeling, when someone only comes to you when they need something?  Thank goodness God didn’t reject me.  He was merciful and brought my daughter out of the hospital after seven days.  She came home to us with no long-term consequences to her sweet little brain.

He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.

Psalm 102:17

Aside from clearing up some old baggage, sin, disbelief, and praying only to get what you want to a God you rarely meet with, there is a strategy to prayer that can open up your soul and allow you to express to God the true nature of your heart.  If you’re willing, He’ll guide you to a place of correction and new life will begin.  A new or elevated relationship, that He so desperately desires, will begin.

The book that brought me out of my mediocre prayer life and instilled valuable tools within me to connect with the Father brand new was, “How to Develop a Powerful Prayer Life – The Biblical Path to Holiness and Relationship with God” by Dr. Gregory Frizzell.    This book was a gift from a friend and I had no idea I needed it.  The pamphlet-like feel and proportions of the book made it an easier book to read.  I have since read other authors that offer the same sequence or method of prayer, but since this was the first one that found me and the way it really changed my life, it gets the credit.

One thing I do caution myself from is making prayer an unemotional routine for the sake of saying I prayed.  Sometimes, for weeks, you may follow the prayer pattern this book teaches.  When life happens, I don’t think there is much more precious and beautiful to the Father than an authentic cry from a broken heart, rather than a rehearsed pattern.  Feel free to break up the cycle!  At some of life’s hardest moments, I didn’t even make a sound in my prayer time, other than the sound of crying and tears falling from my cheeks.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

The wonderful thing about learning how to pray in this guided manner is that it adds rhythm and routine to your life where there was none before.  With practice, the time with God is no longer an awkward list and visitation with someone you aren’t familiar with, but a sacred conversation between you and the One who loves you most.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Jeremiah 29:12

The key things this book taught me about prayer were:

  • Renewing the mind with scripture, daily and before prayer.
  • A prayer order of praise & worship, confession & repentance, petition, intercession, and meditation.
  • Writing and keeping a prayer journal.

Again, I would like to stress that there is no magical formula to prayer, specifically to answered prayer.  The condition of the heart and the willingness to show up and spend time in the Father’s presence, every day, are probably two factors that will most affect your prayer life.  It is in this relationship that the essence of your spiritual life will be transformed and the blessings will overflow.

May you find the same hope that I found in seeking Him.  Amen.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Matthew 7:7




The Thing About Chronic Illness…


…is that there isn’t just one thing about chronic illness.  You don’t plan for it.  You didn’t ask for it.  Yet, you are subject to it.

I have certainly played the victim of my circumstances.  And, I am super harsh on myself for not being one of those amazing “rise abovers” that go on to win Nobel Peace Prizes with their four disability’s, unstable childhood’s, or breaking of addiction’s coupled with a determinate attitude to persevere.  I’m just your average lady, trying to wing it like everyone else.

I am learning.  Willing to be taught.  Call me a slow learner.  Perhaps this is mid-life crisis time?  At 38, I’m no spring chicken.  I can say, with a bit of confidence, that I am getting a bit smarter.  Is that arrogant?  I hope it’s not arrogant.

My internal flight or fight is still easily provoked.  Due to my childhood, it’s still a little trigger happy, launching much quicker than others, I am assuming.  But, now I am able to look past single moments and try to find what is beneficial long-term, instead of what is just, what is right, what is okay in the here and now.  It is in the acute lows, feelings of blame, and moments of potential hope that pass me by that the fight or flight emerges.

This last week revealed some abnormal blood work.  It was this blood work that launched these old questions brand new.  It was this “abnormally normal” blood work that made me fight back fierce tears and realize that there was still a hope inside of me that life could be better.  I didn’t order the lab tests, the office called me back due to my last tests being off a few months ago as part of a wellness check-up.  This time, still off, the doctor disregarded them with no further investigation as to why.  Neutrophils are probably way overrated.  She said very few lab tests are actually indicative of something, most just relative and susceptible to clinical interpretation.  Only a few, such as Potassium, actually indicate something.  So, when you don’t find the standard, you just disregard the value and chalk it up as abnormally normal.  Can I live with that?  Am I a hypochondriac?  Where do I go from here?  So many questions, so few tangible answers.

I’ve come to a point where I know that choices must be made about this super long experience of chronic illness of mine.  A couple of decisions, actually.  I know I am a stubborn human.  As a stubborn human, I have been fighting the circumstance of chronic illness for years.  Lots of them.  About 17.  If you count when I first knew that there was somethin’ fishy going on, it was about 19 years ago.  That makes me gulp hard.  I think of Scooby Doo and the loud “Gulp!” that he would make when he was stuck in a debacle of sorts.


The thing about my situation that is somewhat unique, is that I lived in this chronic illness wonderland for nearly 14 years without a diagnosis.  The first neurologist I went to told me I was crazy and needed a psychiatrist.  If that doesn’t knock your socks off, I’m not sure what will.  I lacked confidence as it was and to hear this professional, who wasn’t able to find easy answers, disregard me as a nutcase…  man, that caused a lot of damage and still causes me to doubt myself.

The difference between now and then is that I have been diagnosed.  I have seen one neurologist for about 10 years or so, and though she is nice and kind, whether it be the vagueness of it all or the liability or the lack of courage, she was unable to officially diagnose me with anything.  It took a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona to get a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in 2014.  Or, 2015.  No, it was 2014.  Years blurring into years.

The diagnosis wasn’t obvious there, either.  Multiple Sclerosis didn’t come until I expressed, quite desperately, that I would rather be in heaven than live the way I was and a super empathetic resident demanded a spinal tap before I left my three day visitation at the clinic.  The overbooked lumbar-puncture lady suddenly became available and it was this test that confirmed that I was not crazy.  You should know that I had had one of these pokes before and it revealed nothing.  This time, though, a few years later, the oligoclonal bands would be too numerous to overlook.  Another puncture, in 2016, revealed several more bands.


So, it was official.  I was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  My Idaho neurologist will say it is ‘atypical’ or ‘chronic.’  Not following the same patterns that the typically unpredictable disease is supposed to trend toward.  Sometimes, I even get the feeling that she doubts the diagnosis and I fall into this category of “We are treating you, but we aren’t totally sure what you have.”  It does not feel good.  But, at least I am getting some treatment.

By treatment, I mean, I get prescriptions to respond to some of my symptom’s.  Baclofen is for spasticity and helps with pain I get in my arms, back, abs, hips, and legs.  That, in combination with the Ativan, do help my muscles to relax.  I have a pretty rad tremor in both hands, but much worse on my right.   The Baclofen, which I am now taking 20mg 4x daily, helps to settle this tremor down on most days.

I am unable to keep my head in one position for too long.  The rest of me stiffens up, but not as intensely.  My neck and back get super sore from straining one way or another, even for short periods (5-15 minutes).  An example of this, would be needing to sit straight on toward a speaker, stage, or screen if at church or watching TV.  Otherwise, I have to look away a lot, or prop my head on something for support.

My leg pain, which has been my chief complaint for most years, has been helped with the Baclofen, Cymbalta, a Quell tens unit,  and alternating Tylenol and ibuprofen throughout the day.  All of this still does not completely stop the pain.

My arms and legs both get tired quicker than they used to.  I really enjoy walking and try to walk regularly.  A few times I have tried to jog and I notice that my ankles respond by being unwilling to bend to absorb the stride when my foot hits the ground.  It is both a  painful and odd sensation.  “Why aren’t you bending, silly ankle?”  I am super thankful to be walking.  I have experienced a time many years ago of not being able to walk on one leg at all and throughout the years have needed a cane, during super difficult seasons of the disease, to get around.  Canes are not cool.

In addition to treating some of my symptoms, I was also prescribed Copaxone injections as my first MS disease modifying drug.  It was not bad in the beginning and I took the injections well for over one year.   But I slowly developed anticipatory anxiety and huge diversion from the treatment.  I was experiencing a large amount of anxiety in my overall daily grind, so I am not sure if it was just the shot, or a phase of my life.  It was during this phase that I started the Ativan for the anxiety issues and found it helped with other things.  After I struggled for some time with the Copaxone, my doctor prescribed Tecfidera.  It is pill form for fighting MS.  Like the Copaxone, it would not make me feel better, but would hopefully prohibit the disease from progressing.

I was prescribed the Tecfidera a little less than a year ago.  Unfortunately, I was given the full dose at the onset of this pharmaceutical therapy and the thing is, it is super hard on your stomach.  I was feeling sick daily and struggled through it for months before tapering off.  I had escalated issues outside of MS that made not feeling well for several months super inconvenient.  I do want to try this medication again with the appropriate low dose starter package that I did not get before.  I should have already called my neurologist and had this corrected, but life has been difficult outside of MS.  It is difficult to take something that may or may not slow the disease down, and does not offer any feelings of  better’ness now, but actually causes more problems in the present, when you’re already dealing with life and pain and life and more life.

And, that’s the thing with chronic illness, is that there is life beyond it.  Life struggles that everyone faces and you’re doing it with a hand and a foot tied behind your back.  Which, brings me to the whole point of what I was trying to get at eight paragraphs ago…  decisions must be made.

Decisions to accept or to fight.  Do I accept that this is some wonky type of MS that my own neurologist doesn’t feel confident in diagnosing, but is very staunch about treating;  I have not scheduled an annual exam just because I don’t want to be lectured about the Tecfidera.  “Maybe if you took the medication you wouldn’t have more lesions on your brain MRI.”  This came from the medical assistant when we updated my medications last year.  Those same lesions your doctor wouldn’t call MS in the first place?  Are those the lesions we’re talking about?  The ones that were there and have been gaining for 14 years before going out of state to get help?  Are you talking about those lesions?  On top of that, no, I do not want to pay a thousand bucks for another MRI that is abnormally different, but was never enough evidence to help me all these years.  I think I may be bitter.  Regardless,  here I am.

At a point where I know my heart, mind, and spirit need to align to the same purpose.  Accept this for what it is, think it is, have been told it is, or to fight for assurance in my diagnosis and the possibility for a better quality of life.  Will accepting this bring peace or will fighting produce different results?  Is it possible to do both?

As I fervently pray for the right choice to be made clear, my heart reaches out to those in similar situations.  If there is one thing I know, I know it sucks to be in a chronic illness whirlwind where life seems to pass you by while you’re just struggling to hang on and find some joy out of this gig.

When I contemplate my choices from a spiritual standpoint, I wonder what might bring the Savior more glory.  I wonder if the victory is the faith, the perseverance, the hope I have in Him WITHOUT getting the answers I so desperately seek.  Moses did not get to basque in the promised land he strove to get millions of Hebrews to.  I may not see healing this side of heaven.  Can I still believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing God who chooses not to provide my miracle in this earthly life?  Absolutely.  Is it hard?  Absolutely.  The measure of one’s faith is not weighed in the answers they receive, but perhaps, in the solutions that never come and the choice to seek, serve, and love Him, anyways.  With that in mind, I suppose perhaps I was led on this journey only to proclaim that I believe God is good even in the storm.   Even if my life turns out to be one big blessing of a stormy mess or a messy storm, God is still good.

I will continue to pray for clarity on which direction I should take:  surrender in this diagnosis or fight for a solid solution that brings closure to my soul.  I am thankful to serve a God who will answer my prayers, provide me with patience not to rush or question His sovereignty, and to feel loved in circumstances that I wouldn’t choose.

With love and hope to those in familiar trials, may you be blessed with endurance and assured with the salvation that only Jesus can bring, Amen.







Hangin’ Tough


This year will mark one of my biggest years of growth.  Spiritual growth.  Emotional growth.  Brain growth.  And you don’t do much growin’ without growing pains.  This year was easily one of the most painful.  Do I say that every year?  Am I getting punier, or do the trials just keep a’ coming?  Now comes the time for the scabs to dry up, slough off, and reveal fresh new scars.  Slightly tender wounds.  A little pink in the middle and somewhat raw.  Healing wounds, nonetheless.  Thankful for the healing.

On this trek of self-discovery I have learned a thing or two about myself, but mostly, I’ve been deeply entrenched in my identity in the Savior.  Who and how God has made me in his image.  How I fight it, surrender to it, work it, and fit it into this life He has planned for me.

At times it seems like it was much of a mistake.  “Are you sure, God?”  If this were just a bit easier, if there wasn’t so much pain, if this didn’t hurt, if this process was simpler, if…

I want to go back to the ooey gooey feelings of goodness of life that make me feel like a princess.  The ‘life is good’ feelings.  Lots of smiley face emoji’s.  Much of the time these last few years, however, my job has been to hang tough.  Quite possibly, a good majority of my life.

I am reminded of the amazing 1990’s band N.K.O.T.B..  For those less fortunate, the acronym stands for “New Kids on the Block.”  Yeah, yeah they didn’t last long. But they worked it while they could.  “Ooooohh oooohhh oooohhh oohhh ohh!  Just hanging tough!”

Christianity is very much embracing God’s glory and dwelling in His sovereignty.  It is absolutely about hanging tough.  Much fewer smiley face emoji than you think!  I consider Abraham, Moses, Joseph, and Job as I say this.  They didn’t earn their credibility as Milli Vanilli and fakin’ it til they made it.  They went through the school of hard knocks and learned to trust God the hard way.   By living it through and through, even when it felt so very bad.

I think for us post-Messiah folks, it is accepting less when you thought and hoped God would give more. It is taking pain instead of pleasure, when you know the pain could be taken away.  It is enduring the storm and still praising His name.  It is working hard and honestly in all of your dealings – personal, public, business and pleasure-and feeling like you’ll never get ahead.  It is continuing to earnestly seek him and devote a portion of your life to Him in the storms, in the hard times when you don’t understand, and most often, even when you don’t feel like it.   Those feelings, oh those feelings.  I have been fooled a time or two!  Isn’t it just a little ironic that “feel” and “fool” are so closely spelled?

I have long been a slave to my feelings.  I still struggle with doing what I want, or don’t want, instead of embracing the difficulty of doing what I ought.  I have been a victim of life’s discouragements instead of a victor in my identity as Christ’s chosen.  Without these tough, rugged roads, there would be no reason for me to seek  Him for my strength, to continue my learning, gain maturity and achieve the growth that I have.  The teacher of life is so smart.  Sounds kinda wonky, and maybe a bit obvious, but we wouldn’t get to where we are without being where we’ve been.

Praise and thanks to God for allowing me some hope and purpose for the pain among all the hangin’ of toughness.  Amen.




Tell me again, Lord


“Tell me again, Lord.”


I have found this phrase “Tell me again, Lord,” captivating.  I picked it up in a church book study of “Goliath Must Fall” by Louie Giglio late this last year.  


Louie  was encouraging readers to take a 40 day challenge of going back to Psalm 23, specifically morning and night, and through the day as needed.  Maybe even desired.  


“Tell me again, Lord, how safe I am.”  And read the Psalm.

Frustrated.  “Tell me, Lord, that you’ve got this.  The way is wonky, let me trust you”.

“Tell me again, God, how much you love me and have my best interests in mind.”   And read the Psalm out loud.  


Psalm 23 in my car.  In my workroom.  Delivery truck.  Psalm 23 on my dresser.  


Psalm 23 almost memorized.  I still love going back and holding the paper, though.  Is this a thing?  Do other people have this paper holding thing?  


Sometimes I laugh.  What is a “rod and staff?”  I thought it was one item, a shepherd’s stick.  A rod is when it’s used for discipline and a staff is used for staffin’ stuff.  But, Isn’t it the same thing?  Is that one ‘rodandstaff,’ like a transformer shepherd guiding tool turned walking stick?  Like, is it one utensil being referred to as having multiple abilities?  Not like a kitchen utensil.  Like, a sheepin’ utensil.  Or, are there literally two different objects at play?  Silly thoughts sometimes.  But, they lead me to research.


“Lord, I just love hearing this.  Tell me again.”  Different days bring different emphasis on different verses.  Work of the Holy Spirit.  Head knowledge.  Easy days.  Good feelings.


And then, of course, there are those days when you feel completely overwhelmed in frustration, sadness, and stuckness and it isn’t until a day or two later- or weeks or months or maybe years – God bless you – and the clouds clear up.  You feel like the progress you thought you had made was for nothing and honestly, as much as you see Psalm 23 pages laying around, the heart is so hard.  Walls so big.  Love cannot get in.  Head knowledge is not heart knowledge. Rough days.  Bad feelings.  


But you read and you pray with what you can.  You know those two things.  You can always do those two things.  Learn those things.  Sometimes, it’s just a moment of breathing in and out.  That’s all you feel you can give Him, because you don’t understand, you don’t feel loved, you don’t feel His light shine warm on your face.  And sometimes, it’s only tears.  That’s all you have to offer.  And, the kicker, you don’t even know why.  Depression creeping in hard and the pages of Psalm 23 find themselves underneath paperwork, under the mess that is under the mess in the back of the car, and on the bottom shelf of your work station.  


My heart broken and I was driven to my knees, the first time to my knees, and I found my Psalm page and gripped and prayed.  I prayed.  I cried hard.  “Tell me again, Lord.  I’m not getting it, help me to get it.  Tell me again.”


And then, at just the right time,  when you don’t think you can take much more pain, the valley darker and deeper than you’ve ever known.  It is in this unknown territory,  where somehow all the tools and lessons and understanding merge as one and you see a piece of Him.  You know.  You know it HAS to be HIm because it’s more than you could do on your own.  You realize that you are stronger than you thought you were and acknowledge that the strength was not your own.  You get back up. Slowly but surely.  You.  Get.  Back.  Up.


That is the sweet spot.  Standing in His glory.  My experiences there have been few, but worth breathing in.  They don’t tend to last long.  Sometimes, I think He gives us glimpses because He knew, in advance, that we would need a boost to keep us going.  


The Lord is my Shepherd.  I will lack nothing.

“Where is Dana? This is her fault, too.”


When I was about seven or eight, I was playing outside of my little country trailer house with my favorite playmate and cousin, Jessie, a year or so younger than me.  We would run around dirty, forts, cow chips, riding stick horses,  but mostly real ones.  Jessie always got to be rodeo queen.  Hmph.

This one night we were on my trailer side of the property.  A few acres of blooming green alfalfa separated our homes.  Her’s a large country ranch house, handed down a generation or two.  Big barn.  The most beautiful barn I’ve ever remembered, though beauty is often in the eye of the beholder.

As we played, we heard a crash, then another, and another.  Finally we realized that the windows in the little white trailer were being smashed out, one by one, down the skinny tin building.  I knew what to do:  Get the heck out of dodge!  Fight or flight kicks in easy for me.

I told Jessie we needed to get to her house and we needed to do it quickly and stealthy.  I probably didn’t use that language.  We scrambled, on all fours, to get through the alfalfa.  Fully covered in green stain by the time we made it to the small bridge over the creek.  We ran with our last breaths about 100 yards to the open door Jessie’s mom held for us.  She instructed us to get in and hide, he was coming to get me.

The most intense level of hide-n-seek would then enfold as I heard the man downstairs yelling for me.  I hid Jessie inside of me-we were both behind a door that swung open and back to an outstretched wall, creating a triangular space.   I held onto the door knob white knuckled, sure this would save us.

The man searched for us up the stairs.  Doors opening and closing to the other two rooms, soon to our bedroom, his hand on the other side of the hardware.  Two little hearts pumping, fear beating deep within us as we waited.  Breathing so fast, yet we were so good, so quiet.

The man yelled for me as he went back down the stairs, “Where is Dana?  This is her fault, too.”

Aunt Kim plead for him to leave.  She threatened to call the authorities.  He left.  Started back up the stairs.   Left again.  And, the rest of the night we were safe.

The rest of my life, however, I would always acknowledge, that this is my fault.   That the bad stuff, windows broken out, leaving the man in want, the not winning, the not being fast enough, good enough, right enough…  that’s my fault.   That if someone is upset at you for any reason, it entitles them to chaos, destruction, and violence.  It entitles them to yell at you and put you in your place, and it’s always your fault.  And when life just sucks, it’s your fault, too.  You’re to blame.  It’s a hard place to live.  Always on the lookout for people you have displeased and need to escape from.  It’s a very hard place to live.

Days that become years.



It would seem that just not too long ago, I was every perception of healthy.  Vibrant, maybe.  Lifelike.  Slowly, things just started to shut off.  Lower tolerance to stress.  To pain.  Less fight.  Fewer emotions.

With a chronic illness like MS, there are no doubt to be emotional and mental battles, trapped in a body that just does not feel well.  On my best day, I have substantial enough pain that I must medicate every couple of hours with both prescription and over the counter meds.  The fatigue comes out of nowhere to collapse the canopies over the top of your perfectly planned days.  It becomes difficult to schedule.  Difficult to see past today.

In February, I had a stomach bug.  I do not vomit.  I am not a vomiteer by nature.  (I totally just made that word up.  Nailed it.)  Wouldn’t you know, that the this flu would hit me, the owner of a flower shop, on the evening and day of Valentine’s.  The thing is, Valentine’s happens once a year.  It’s like the super bowl.  You have to wait a whole season to go at it again if you’re not one of the two teams playing or one of the devoted fans.

So, I start feeling nauseated the afternoon before the big day of love and, to make it even better, this year, this year only, I make a different plan and decide I can make enough flowers in advance to totally wing NOT having to have another florist come on staff.  In theory, and in actuality, it would have worked out perfectly, but I got sick.

Bending over, talking, moving…  all created the sense of nausea.  I was so exhausted from all the hours I had put in before the holiday.  My body ached in places I didn’t realize existed.  It was a true test of God’s stamina and endurance in me.  I worked until three that day and then had to leave my employee and a big group of family and friends in charge to finish the day.  Even though I was so sick, it was such a good day to me (the next day 😉 ).  A major core of the people I love most coming together to help me.  It felt good.

As I recuperated from Valentine’s, I still struggled emotionally and mentally.  I had completed extensive work with my therapist the summer, fall, and some winter before.  We worked a lot on creating a world for me where I felt safe.  I had some worth and some power.  I did put in a lot of time trying to get better from my depression, as much as being a mom, wife, florist, and my budget would allow.  Something was still not clicking, however.

Later in February I would discover that I was really thought to have PTSD.  I had been told this before, but evidently, it didn’t really register.  Silly brain.  The therapist explained to my husband that there are certain triggers that spur my already agitated, anxious body into full battle mode.  As I sat there listening, I felt like such a freak.  Not that she was calling me a freak, but that I really didn’t realize how sick my mind and body were.  Suddenly, nothing became real.  Are any of my feelings real?  Why now?  I was defensive, upset, overwhelmed.  Couldn’t breathe.  I left that appointment early.  I felt ashamed and embarrassed.  I haven’t been back to therapy.

I needed time and space to evaluate things.  To figure out who was safe.  It sounds so silly, but it’s true.  Nowhere in the world feels safe at times, except being alone.

As days faded into weeks, I purchased a great book on trauma, started doing research on PTSD, and started discussing it with some of the people closest to me. It seems that my case is probably complex-PTSD as it was the duration of my childhood.  The trauma occured at critical points in my development and it changed the way my nervous system, my physical and emotional self, my God intended design, would grow and blossom.

Since before my son was born, just over five years ago, I have regressed into a fragment of who I used to be.  I can trace it back now and see where PTSD took over Dana.  Empty and disconnected.  I lost a lot of friendships, could not engage in new relationships and experiences, and have suffered with depression, suicidal thoughts, and more.  I don’t have much of an attention span. I can hardly answer the phone at work and dealing with customers feels like a major ordeal.  Confrontation at any level immediately sends me into “CODE RED, find safety.”  Criticism at any level immediately sends me into “CODE RED, find safety.”  Rejection at any level immediately sends me into “CODE RED, find safety.”  Betraying my trust in the slightest sends me into “CODE RED, find safety.”  What is ‘code red?’  Like, in real life?  This is a real question, as if I heard it in a hospital or grocery store, it might have different meaning.  To me, I’m just sayin’ CODE RED is like, “Immediate danger!  Escape!  Run!  Flee!  Who is safe?”  My heart will be pounding and I will experience something similar to panic.

It is hard to digest that this is what you have become:  A “Code Red” machine.  Always looking for signs of new pain.

In the meantime, my neurologist has consented that she is treating me for Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS), rather than Relapsing Remitting.  There is a new drug selling in Europe, the first drug targeted at PPMS, that has just been approved by the States.  It is still in trial mode, but is expected to be a viable option soon.  It will not fix what damage has been done, but will delay progression.  I can’t help but wonder how the emotional deficits in my life are not to blame for the physical damage that has been done.  Autoimmune disease.  My body physically attacking itself.  I can’t fix the damage of one while ignoring the other.  So much damage.

I hate damage.  I’m at a juncture of what to do with this damage. Some of it is beyond me to heal.  Like, without the mighty hand of a valiant God, I will not get through this.  Where I go from here and how to get there, God please lead me.  Lord, grant me comfort, peace, healing of body and mind and spirit.  Rejuvenate my broken heart, Lord.  Consume my thoughts with you so that I may not destroy the temple you have created.  May I not be held captive to fear.  May God know my heart. In Jesus name, Amen.














That is a perfect summary to my 2016.  Just, “Wow!”


Mom, Toby, and the kids, my sister, my closest loves.  It was a wild ride, but we made it.

In January of 2016 mom’s 7th cancer occurrence would show up as multiple tumors on MRI scans.  Multiple tumors Idaho doctors would no longer operate on or offer a treatment plan that did not involve death.  They also wouldn’t help us find the next step if we wanted life.

That was a scary place to be.  I love looking back to see how God stepped in and made action happen despite Valentine’s Day at the flower shop followed by an annual February trip to see our long-distance relatives.

We were declined at first.  We were declined treatment by the #1 ranked facility in the United States.  It hurt.  But, again the Lord showed me right what to do and from that point in early February, we were taken care of by the University of California San Diego Moore’s Cancer Center in La Jolla, CA.  Family and friends brought funds together to make the flights, hotels, car-rentals, meals, and love just happen.


During the week of Mother’s Day mom received invasive surgery to remove 19 tumors (2 were removed in an exploratory laparoscopy a few weeks before, for a total of 21) and she also received HIPEC, an internal chemotherapy body wash.  She made an amazing recovery, an answer to prayers.  Over months she recovered and her improvements pleased our UCSD team at our July check-up.  We enjoyed the zoo and the California beaches with Tate and Tripp on this appointment.

Toby and our oldest, Quincy, went to serve God in the streets of San Francisco with our church youth group, the same time the rest of us were in San Diego.  I can still hear testimonies in my mind of how their week-long trip forever changed lives and hearts in our kids and those who they loved.  Perhaps the most meaningful message they brought back was that in their  intention to reach out to these homeless people, and not to just offer them a sandwich or fill a need, but to look them in the eyes and to talk to them as humans loved by another human and an awesome God…  It brought both people into a state of hope and joy, even just for a moment.

At one point in this mission, the group was confronted by a police officer in park in a rougher neighborhood.  The police officer cautioned the group against being there and encouraged them to leave.  One of the adults with the team of Christian middle schoolers replied to the officer that this is where they wanted to be.  What a revelation.  Looking at the area out of love and not out of fear or disgust.  Quincy was 12 on this trip and it changed her life enough that she pursued baptism on her own.


Q is a great oldest daughter.  We are blessed.  She fights and argues with her younger sister, as is the process, but overall, she has the heart of a little mama and protects and loves her younger siblings more than she comprehends.  She had good grades the first quarter and amazing grades by the end of the semester, almost all A’s.  She is on the Bible quizzing team for our church.  She is a percussionist in the band and we got to see her play snare drums, big drums, the xylophone, the triangle, and perhaps something else in her few band concerts.  What a fun girl!  She swam on the swim team, played volleyball, basketball, and plans to run  track this spring.  She is definitely more athletic than her mama ever was.  And, so willing to try.  I love that she tries. She seems to have figured out two things the first semester of seventh grade:  she is a girl who gets crushes on boys and she suddenly really cares about her hair.  Whoa.  We’ve all somewhat adjusted.  Toby will probably never really adjust!



Our middle, Tatem, is still pure sunshine. Thank you, God!  She has her dramatic side, but she brings smiles and light into the home from the moment she wakes up to the moment she sleeps.  She doesn’t complain.  She rarely enters the living room in our home without a cartwheel.  That is, if she is not on her roller blades.  She loves games of all sorts, jiu jitsu with her daddy, and something about “guava juice.”  Tate has a natural heart for animals and she loves her Grizzly dog.  She is in 4th grade this year and delights in school and learning.  She is blessed with a great teacher and she is so social, that we sometimes have to hold her back from jumping out of the car too soon when we pull in to drop her off.  She is a super fun beautiful blonde girl.  I still can’t believe I had a blonde.  Recently, someone asked if Quincy was my daughter.  Then she looked at Tate and said, “Who are you?”  Not like, are you her sister, but like, are you the neighbor girl?

Besides being beautiful, she is naturally athletic, pretty dang smart, very curious, and has used up countless things from our pantry and kitchen to make slime, sludge, cornstarch something, and whatever experiments, she can find online.  I have at least 8 different ice ball concoctions in the freezer and no baking soda.  She gets away with it by telling me, “it’s science, mom.”


Tripp, who is in preschool, loves science day, too!  He is not the best alphabet learner.  But, it’s coming.  We’re trying some different concepts to see if we can get his little brain to see things the way we do.  He is so smart.  He knows more about technology than most adults.  It is his world, for sure.  As much as it is something most see as negative, it is the world this next generation lives in.  Trying to adjust as parents.  It’s hard.

The Trippster has the best imagination.  Anything can become a toy.  It is most precious to watch him have an imaginary battle or conversation among toys when he doesn’t know you’re watching.  He loves to dress up as power rangers and super heroes.  He loves Godzilla.  He loves the old school black and white Godzilla.  It is bizarre.  It has been consistent.  Last year he wanted a Godzilla birthday.  Birthdays must be very important for four and five year-old’s because he has been planning another Godzilla birthday party for February for quite some time.  Only recently, has it changed to a King Kong birthday.  He almost always pounds his belly when he says, “King Kong.”  He is an amazing little boy.  Tripp has been going to jiu jitsu with his daddy for about a year.  He is learning to love Jesus and says with confidence, “Jesus loves me.”

Tripp had his first kiss this year in the hall at church.  His girl asked her mommy if Tripp could give her a kiss.  Her mommy gave Tripp permission to kiss her on the cheek.  He obliged.  When asked about it in the car he said, “I’m a kisser.  ‘Cause I wike her.  ‘Cause she’s my favorite.”  This boy would melt your heart as he has ours.


Besides me, of course, and this little cutie girl at church, his favorite person is his Aunt D’Ann.  They speak the same speak.

D’Ann has been so busy working so hard for UPS.  I’ve lost track of the years since she started for them, years ago at the Portland, OR hub, sorting packages.  She transferred to the Boise hub to be closer to mom and the family several years ago.  She has shown growth in management, worked hard as always, and demonstrated loyalty to the company.  This year, D’Ann earned the title of a supervisor, I forget the exact name, but I’m so happy for her.  Her job demands have escalated and I pray that she is able to handle the workload with ease and joy.  It is a big commitment.  She is driving semi-trucks, teaching others to drive them, handling accidents, is the safety inspector…  Her job duties are vast and growing, it seems!

Toby has also had a big year of growth, additional job titles, and more.  He continues to work for HP and ya know, he is some sort of technical consultant, in more of a global capacity, but I couldn’t give you a job title.  He is able to work from home 97% of the time.  He did an amazing job for HP this year and they are lucky to have him.  In addition to HP, Toby became a real, live pastor last winter’ish into spring time.

Bizarre, right?  Those who know and knew Toby, have to know that God is real, because you really would have never thought.  But, here he is, this man of God.  Stepping up, trying to learn to lead our family in the right and gentle ways of the Lord, taking up youth ministry, Christian college classes…  so that those who were maybe in his shoes as a youth, might relate to him and have hope, too.  When I met him, I knew.  I knew he would work with kids later on in life.  Very influential, this man of mine.  Very driven.

Another reflection of this drive:  10 years, or so, of commitment later, Toby also earned his black belt in jiu jitsu this December.  It is a big accomplishment in the world of martial arts.  He lives and breathes jiu jitsu.  It makes him the happiest of all things on the earth!  There isn’t much that can get him away from the mats.  Beyond HP, his ministry, and jiu jitsu, Toby also has to deal with the consequences of having a sick wife who made the choice to buy a flower shop nine years ago.  Yeah, I suppose that’d be me.


My health has not improved this year.  We wanted to see a more aggressive neurologist, the one who is supposedly #1 in our area, and she declined to see me stating I needed to see a neuromuscular sub-specialist.  Because one of those is in Idaho.

I am being treated for Multiple Sclerosis, but it does seem to be a variant of the disease, coupled with another illness.  My neurologist is treating my symptoms as she can, but I always leave feeling unheard, untreated.  She is doing the best she can, but will admit she will not be able”fix it.”  It is a difficult place to be.  My ribs, chest, and diaphragm are being affected with muscle spasms, contractions, and more.  I wake up and I am unable to bend my torso the left, these days, because it is so tight.  From sleeping.  On the contrary, the more I stand and work, it produces the same stiffness in my abs and back.  I have adjusted my schedule at work to accommodate an afternoon rest/nap.  I am unsure if the shop keeps me going or is pushing me to fall apart.   I question how long I can physically do this.  The flower shop draws me up and out into the world, and perhaps, I would wither away, otherwise.  I am not sure.  I pray for clarity on this almost daily.

I wish my 2016 was as amazing as the others.  I will share, not to compare, but out of desire to be real and vulnerable and authentic.  And, my story of 2016 is amazing, but in a much different way.

I started therapy in July.  Like, psycho-therapy.  I hit a huge wall of depression and darkness and at the same time, was restored to life because God changed my heart that maybe I could be helped.  I could change.  But, I didn’t know how.  So, I went to therapy.

I experienced repeated trauma in my childhood .  And, it started to come out in negative ways.  Thoughts and actions.  I didn’t realize that I viewed the world from the same set of eyes that I viewed the world in as a child, a place to be feared, afraid of, and judged.  I let perceived authority figures in my life, determine if I was good or bad.  I was suffering from a lot of anxiety.  I still struggle with self-esteem and self hatred. At 36.  Don’t people get past this in junior high???  I needed to find a love for myself, not out of arrogance, but out of honor to God’s creation.  I needed to find love for God, not out of fear, but out of reverence and awe.  I think I quit everything I was involved in. I just, I just stopped caring what other people thought, and started working on me and Jesus.

At first it seemed easy, but with time…  With time, you realize just how wonky wired you are, and it gets harder because you have to start rewiring what you’ve always known.  You start capturing the negative thoughts and feelings and correcting them instead of allowing them.  I have hope that perhaps the process of this emotional healing will also bring about physical healing.  There is a lot of intention in what I do.  I have been in a pattern of consistent Bible study, prayer, and meditation.  I have been using music therapy to work healing into the little parts of my brain that I can’t even name.  I have been doing homework on ‘my garden,’ what I will and won’t allow in my space.  I have gained confidence in standing up for myself and most importantly, am raising constant awareness to myself that I am safe.

I didn’t earn a good grade, excel at beating cancer, earn a new job title, or rock at any type of sport.  But, through Bible study, therapy, and more, I have learned that I am the daughter of a Father who loves me and wants me to thrive despite any of my circumstances.  He wants to see me get back up again when I get knocked down. And, He is there with me, and has given me the blessing of family and friends to help me along the way.  I am unsure what 2017 will bring for me.  I am completely open to God’s will changing my life.  He is worthy to be trusted.

God’s will gave us the gift of another Christmas with my mom.  We still pray that He will let her be the miracle and it is the first Christmas of many.  Out of the ashes of what we thought were a tragedy, just one year ago, He brought beauty and light into our lives, instead.  Let this testimony of our year be another stone, another rock to add to the stack of wonderful things He has done.  Let it remind us of His character and his heart’s desire to love His people.  Amen.