Amazin’ Grace

I went to a funeral service on Saturday, a younger childhood friend of mine who had left this life too early. The message was simple and sweet and the point of it all – we were there with the purpose to remember, grieve, and love, not to cast our judgment.

I left with the phrase, “There but the grace of God go I,” ringing in my ears.

I am a bull in a china shop when it comes to relationships and life! I thought, “I am sure one person that needs a lot of grace to be in people’s lives.” I trust very few people and let very few into my innermost thoughts. If you think I overshare, here, there is actually MORE you don’t get the privilege of knowing!!!  How about that?  And even if I let you in, you’re on, like, a 10-year probation period to see if I can really trust you. It’s part of my past, part of something I am working on, and if you can’t accept it, I am sad, but I am okay with it. Very cautious with my heart.

For two days after my last post, on changing the negative thought life I was condoning for so long, I felt awful.  I could not combat the dark voices in my head and wasn’t feeling supported in my environment.  It was so hard.  I had just written about overcoming negative self-talk and the process by which God was showing me to do it.  There seemed to be a cement veil between what I knew when I typed my blog message to when I needed to act on my message.  I was crushed.

My consolation was to hide, to isolate, to protect myself.  I know that pattern isn’t right, but it’s self-preservation.  We go back to what we know our brain tells us we’re in fight or flight.  I muddled through Monday, still not quite able to bounce back.  Monday night posed an even bigger struggle as I was challenged and defeated.  I didn’t understand.  I didn’t do anything right – I didn’t talk right, I didn’t listen right, I didn’t apologize right, I should have done this, I should have done that.  I was bad.  Very, very bad.

Tuesday came in with a busy day and I slumped my way to the dentist for a tooth extraction.  Ugh, right?  As I sat, I texted, and when I got home I couldn’t sleep.  I was just so disturbed by my bad feelings and overwhelmed with confusion.

I am 100% confident someone prayed for me about 2 on Tuesday afternoon.  Thank you to whoever did this!  I am aware of the Spirit manifesting its presence in me and I knew I felt God.  I felt His peace, spirit, and power come back to me and I knew, with certainty, I wasn’t as bad as I thought I was.  I got confidence in myself because of God’s confidence in me, through the mercy of Jesus, and by the work of his Holy Spirit.

I went home and tested His will, and found that instead of approving my confidence, it disproved what I had been feeling so sure of moments before.  And just when I thought I was a real whack job, the mystery unfolded.  The light came on.  In a precious little twinkle of His love for me, He gave me a glimmer of His sovereignty.  God gave me the chance to show pride, arrogance, and the muscle of how I had been wrongfully accused and treated.  He also gave me the opportunity to be His very precious daughter who is gracious, abounds in mercy, and chooses love.  I chose love!  I chose to speak softly! I chose to speak life!

My confusion about how bad I had been quickly withered away.  “There, but by the grace of God go all of us.”  We are not here as judge and jury.  We are here to love.  We may do things differently than others, but if at the heart of it is love, the intention will always be revealed as pure.

God’s love never fails.



1 Corinthians 13:8

My get up and go might be busted.

Feeling a bit stuck today.  Not just today but lots of days, but especially today.  Stuck in a sort of good place.


I’m puny right now.  Been on the couch quite a bit.  I’m not very good at this “listening to my body” crap and normally I do what I want or have to do regardless of my body.  These days, I feel like I don’t have the gumption to get up and go.  Sucks.  However!  I was stir crazy enough by yesterday evening that I was excited to go to Bible study last night!  That’s a good sign I’ve learned to recognize in myself.  When I *want* to get up and go and have the motivation to do it.  A real good thing.


I’ve left my last two shifts at work early.  I sent out a message to get another florist hired to replace me ASAP.  It’s not what I want to do, but it’s what has to be done.  I know who I want to hire.  I’d appreciate prayer that the flower shop continues to thrive, that I am able to give it over to God in every way, and that my team continues to make it happen while I’m absent.  Thankful that my mom is there to oversee a lot of the day to day operations.  Thankful for my Barbara and her loyalty to me over the years.  I love you, B.  Thankful for Shannon, Alexa, Greg, Kelsie, Toby, and D’Ann.  They all make the shop what it is. 




In an effort to understand God’s love for me, I’ve decided to start documenting stuff about God and His love.  I’ve been wrestling with some ideas.  A lot of us look at “love” as one blanket term.  I’ve learned that with God, love is revealed in different forms.  They even have names that I don’t know how to pronounce.  As a parent, you can identify some of them without knowing that there are scientific psychological scholars who were paid tremendously for making up a word we can’t pronounce, but know is there.


See, if you put yer kids in time out, you love them in the way of discipline.  You want them to be better human beings so you choose to punish them to correct behavior.  Welcome to my relationship with God!  Seriously.  I have a lot of discipline left to learn before I am an acceptable human.  I’ve gotten a lot better, but I still need so much refinement in this area.  Doing what needs to be done even if you don’t want to do it.  I suck at discipline.  And, I respond to it in anger toward God, a lot, which He doesn’t really honor so much.  I look at it as rejection and being disliked.  Regardless of how *my* brain interprets things, I think we can all agree that discipline is a difficult form of love. 


In contrast, some of the more obvious forms of love – affection, time, and gifts – are the way that most of us have learned to receive love.  When God plays the ole switcheroo and suddenly love is not in the form of provision or protection, but in the form of discipline…  um, it’s a stinky baby.  Ha.  Not that I haven’t been provided for or protected, because I have.  But, the physical withdraw from God and His replacing that physical love with spiritual love, has been very difficult for me to understand.


This is how I think God would be talking to me right now. 


“Dana, we need to talk.  (*sigh*)  You’re going to sit in time out and think about things because I need you to realize that my love for you hasn’t changed.  I still love you the exact same way I love all of my kids.  But, I want more for you!  It’s ready and it’s yours!  But, you’re going to have to go through some tough crap to get there.  I promise that it’s going to be worth it.  But, I guarantee that at some point you’re going to want out because, girl, the tough stuff hasn’t even started.  Here’s the thing – whether you choose to acknowledge me or not, I’m there.  You can choose joy, because I am there providing you with joy when you have none.  You can choose peace, because I am always there offering my peace when yours is rocked.  You can let go of those negative, scary, anxious thoughts and think about me and my stuff.  My stuff is way more powerful than anything you can contrive.  My stuff, added onto your uniquely made self, is a pretty rad combination.  You are where you are for a reason.  Look at those babies, look at your adorable husband, Toby.  I’ve given these gifts to you.  Look at your beautiful mother and sister.  They may not make it to me, without you.  You need to be here.  You need to get over yourself.  You have a purpose.  You better buck up, pull up your big girl panties, and get’rdone.”


Yesterday Toby held the kids and they were all crying over me.  It really sucked.  We all know my health is getting worse and they are so scared.  My throat issue is pretty intense.  It’s actually kind of funny because it feels like the sensation of being choked.  Not painful, just awkward pressure.  I have to gulp extra sometimes.  Food doesn’t seem to bother me as far as choking on it, but I get tired eating meat or cheese type of textures.  Yesterday, it was as though every 30 seconds to two minutes, I get these waves of choking in some parts of my throat or esophagus.  If this is an MS thing, it basically falls on the mercy of our Lord.  I don’t think that there is much in the way of treatment and it’s associated with more severe forms of the disease.  The 28th can’t come soon enough!  My friend, Elise, has some of the same swallowing issues and she is warned against eating alone and stuff.  I’m not ready for those types of restrictions!  Like I would really obey that. 

Anyways, the funny part about it is that my husband is a purple belt (?) in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  A big part of this sport is submissions and choke holds.  It is the goal.  It is what Toby works so hard to learn how to execute and what I am seeking so hard on how to avoid.  Irony.  God is grinning right now.


Until we know what is next, the girls have been asked to step it up a notch in our home and that is difficult for me.  I know I rely on my Q a lot already.  She doesn’t complain.  Toby doesn’t complain.  Sometimes he gets frustrated, but seeing how statistically men tend to bail ship when the wifey gets sick, it’s pretty profound that he’s still here.  I am not a big ball of sunshine, so the only reason I know I have him is because God loves me. 


God loves me enough to give me three amazing, healthy children.

I know God loves me because he blessed me with the best mother on planet earth.

I know God loves me because he gave me D’Ann, aka “thebestbigsisterever”

God loves me enough to bring me the most loving, supportive church family a girl could ask for.

I have a flower shop and more importantly, my Barbara.

I have a house, car(s), and more than I physically need. 

I am blessed enough to have to deal with 1st world problems.

A door opened to get me into my neurologist much sooner than expected.

I know that God loves me because he has taught me to be more obedient with my money which has helped with a lot of stress in my life. 

Today is my real day off.  Which is really a day at home with my babies.  Homeschool.  Housework.  I’m so thankful the Lord has given me a rest.   I could get used to this “love” thing.


For *MY* Toby


Charming.  Charismatic.  Goofy.  Funny.  Hilarious.  Naughty.  Smart.  Competitive.  Brave.  Strong.  Sexy.  Alive.  Energetic.  Compassionate.  Selfless.  Magnetic.  Inspirational.  Those are just a few of the words that I think of when I think of my sweet Toby.  There is nothing more perfect in my life than our imperfect relationship and my connection with a man so much bigger than anything I could have dreamed of.

I am sick.  We don’t know what’s going on, we’re getting more blood work and pushing paperwork for OHSU and a neurologist in Boise.  It is so difficult to get an appointment anywhere.  I have been laying around sleeping, mostly, for a few days.  So not me.  I’m not sure what to do.  If I listened to my body, I’d be asleep a lot.  But, if my body is goofed up, do I listen to a goofed up self or just push through it and do what has to be done?  Is that attitude of just doing it anyways actually hurting me?

Yesterday I got outside to breathe nice air.  I shoveled the driveway.  I am able to start okay, but I can’t do much and my arms are dead.  It took me a couple different times of trying, and finally, Quincy offered to take over.

The biggest concern right now and the scariest – I’m having swallowing, chewing, talking difficulties.  We’ve noticed it here and there over the past six months, but right now, it is more evident. Still somewhat sporadic, but seemingly progressive.  I am an eater by design.  I love eating.  It takes a lot to make me not eat.  I’m finally surrendering.  Yesterday was mostly liquidish meals.  Everyday is something different.  Every.  Single.  Day.

My Toby is such a brave little soldier.  I know he is so scared.  He has been watching his wife deteriorate since our engagement 13 years ago.  13?  I love 13.  I really hope it is 13.  It’s Christmastime and we are opening presents with our seriously crazy roommate Brian.  He was amazing!  I love him.  He tolerated me.  Toby got me this humongous gift.  It was time to open it and he brought it in front of me.  It was a box of styrofoam peanuts.  It had to have taken me several minutes to get them out.  There was a paper stuck to the bottom of the box.  Nice.  I pull this paper off and it says, “Turn around.”

I’m like, “Turn what around?”  So, I flip the box over and try to figure out if I missed some other paper or something.

“Dana!  Turn around!”  It was Toby.  On his knee.  With his grandmother’s ring.

I said yes.

What an adventure.  I don’t think I have ever loved and hated and wanted and detested and liked and been frustrated with anyone as much as Toby.  None of it is negative.  Even the negative stuff.  Because, two negatives make a positive, or something like that.  I’ve complained a lot about him.  Verbally or in my mind.  I made a choice awhile ago not to do that anymore.  It really helped.  I think the Lord used that to help protect me from bitterness and envy.

It is so hard to be married to someone so very amazing as Toby.  In his shadow.  He gets reports from his boss and they are perfect.  Refrigerator worthy.  He gets raises and bonuses and belts and medals and he does it all while being an amazing, hands-on, in yo’ face dad and husband.  Seriously.  Who does that?

When I met Toby, his messy spiky hair and that naughty twinkle in his eye…  within minutes of sitting down at the table at Denny’s…  seeing him across the floor.  I knew.  I told my friend Shaun that I had come to coffee with…  Okay, I’ll back up.

I’m in college.  BSU.  My boyfriend had just broken up with me.  I was heartbroken.  Seriously.  I thought I loved him and he thought he loved me, I think.  My dad actually had kicked me out of his home, so I think the break-up with this boy wasn’t so devastating because it was the boy, but because I cringe at any form of rejection.  So, my girl friend Shaun and I are supposed to go see the play, “A Doll’s House.”  Me, in my infinite wisdom, tell Shaun, “Let’s just skip it.  I totally know this from high school.  Let’s go play.”  So, we did.  I am so naughty.  We ended up at Denny’s and we passed by a table of three boys and one chick.

I saw Toby.  I told my friend Shaun that was the one I wanted.  In a few minutes the chick at the boys table came over to us.  She asked us if we wanted to come and join their table and meet her guy friends.  We talked about if privately and finally went over. I’d like to say that the first day we met we fell in love, and maybe we did, but here’s the thing…

The chick that came over to our table to bring us to her guy friends, was actually Toby’s girlfriend.  Seriously.  One week.  He broke up with her in a week.  In the great big land of Boise we lived down the alley from each other off of River Street.  A 30-second walk, at most.

We made out constantly.  Ha.

Toby told me where he’d been.  The life he’d led – drugs, girls, arrested, jail, and more.  I should have ran.  Here’s the thing:  when I come into the picture, I see a thriving, joyful, muscle man of potential in Toby.  He was working at HP.  Through a contract employer, but he’d just received a significant promotion.  At 19 he was rubbing shoulders with adults twice or three times his age.  And he was shining.  That takes some balls, people.  It takes something so amazingly special to get out of the depths of where he had been and into the life that he was now leading.  i just knew.

I don’t know if there is another man in the world that can love me as big as Toby.  He tolerates me on days when I am angry and mean to everyone simply because I don’t feel well.  He has never doubted me.  Not once.  With all of the doctors telling me they don’t know, to go to another specialist, to take a pill, to get to a psychiatrist IMMEDIATELY… through all of the collections, debt, financial struggle that this has caused…  through sacrificing what he wants to do because he has to do my chores around the house.  For years.  He doesn’t complain.  Ever.  Instead of saying, “I need a break.”  He says, “Can I get you anything, doll face?”

I am so blessed to have this Christmas and many more with you, Toby.  I’m looking at our tipped over tree, no presents underneath, so thankful that our love and the love we have for our children cannot be displayed once a year, wrapped with a bow.  We have a relationship rich in detail, memories, laughs, connection, and togetherness.  Thank you for asking me to marry you.  Merry Christmas.