Category: Family Essentials

Fight if you can. Die if you must. But NEVER forget.

My grandfather, Frank Nolan, lied about his age so he could be old enough to enlist in the U.S. Navy and fight in WWII and the Korean War. He was deeply patriotic and a true hero. As part of the “Greatest Generation”, it was natural for him to want to protect the beauty and uniqueness of the American way of life. Many, even Americans, try to tear down, disparage and minimize our greatness, but as long as there is breath in my lungs, my voice will drown theirs out!

Our country, as flawed as it has been from the start, presented to the world a beacon of hope in democracy, capitalism and freedom from tyranny in a way the entire world throughout all of human history had never seen. Perfect? No. Still superior to anything else in the world? Absolutely. God-given? Yes. Blessed? Yes. And it is worth fighting for, and even dying for.

My grandfather died in January 2018, warm in his bed, at the age of 91. One of the last things he ever said to me was what a beautiful life he’d lived and how grateful he was for what God had given him. He was a proud and unapologetic American, as am I.

What can we do in return? REMEMBER. Today is Memorial Day, for those soldiers who have fought and died. (Veterans Day, in November, is for those servicemen who are still living.) America must never forget. We must shed tears, we must have parades, we must set out pictures, we must talk about it at the dinner table and we must speak louder than those who try to speak against us, and we must keep memories alive. We must inspire future generations to love our great country, and be willing to let them go and fight… and, yes, die when necessary. God bless you, and God bless America.

I LOVE YOU, GRANDPA. I WILL NEVER FORGET.

 

5 Reasons Why a Christian Would Have an Abortion

NOTE: This post is one I originally wrote it for my local news outlet, The Times Union where I run a blog called “An Everyday Kind of Jesus”. I am posting it here as well because the lives of unborn human beings are under threat now more than every before- and the numbers are rising. Did you know that in New York City in 2017 more black babies were aborted than were born?? That is horrific. What can you do to help?? A LOT!!!! Please read on and I will share my story with you…

While this travesty sometimes seems overwhelming, you CAN help in a meaningful and life-changing way. Please take a few minutes to read my thoughts on why a Christian would choose abortion over all the other options and PLEASE copy the URL and SHARE this on Facebook, in text, via email, print it out – share with anyone and everyone you can. You will see as you read why abortion feels like the only choice even for Christians… and what you can do to change the course of one woman’s life and even save the life of her unborn child. God bless you! Here it is:


Christians having abortions? Impossible….. right?! Actually, very possible- probable even. Every day and all over the world. But isn’t that a sin?? Let me start with this: Abortion is the most intentionally racist and heinous action ever perpetuated upon mankind and yet people of all races laud it as progressive, evolved and even godly. If it weren’t so deadly serious, the irony of that could almost be laughable. The worst part of the willful dismemberment, disembowelment and beheading of unborn human beings? The participation of Christians. If we don’t cry out, if we don’t DO something, who the heck will?

I have known the agony of staring down a life-or-death choice when you are a Christian who knows that abortion is an act of murder and yet here you are- pregnant, unwed and a pastor’s daughter. We all say things like “abortion is murder” and maybe it boggles your mind why a Christian would have an abortion, but it does happen. I hope you’ll read what I have to say here because there are Christians out there, right now, who are faced with this choice, and you might be the person they see, or overhear or turn to or confide in and what you say in those moments could change everything for the unborn, God-breathed human being waiting for a chance to live the life God has created them for….

NOTE: This will be longer than my usual posts, but I implore you to read on and learn something that might one day, literally save a life…

I won’t lie- these truths may hurt, and maybe they should, but from one who has walked this path, here are five reasons (there are more, of course) why a Christian would rationalize abortion as an option. Which of these resonate with you??

1. Shame: For Christian women faced with an unplanned pregnancy, abortion isn’t a “convenient choice”- it’s a desperate one. Shame is a powerful and motivating force. We all want to hide the things we are ashamed of, but it’s a lot easier to fly under the radar with a porn addiction or alcoholism or the tendency to slap your wife or kids in the face when they mouths off than it is to hide a growing child in your stomach. Historically speaking, people of faith have not been kind to women who sleep around, or even women who made one mistake, one time. If a baby shows up, it’ll be a forever reminder of her shame. “Who’s the father?” People will demand answers. She’ll always have to tell people how her husband isn’t the baby’s “real father” or people will do the math and figure it out, and that woman? She knows it’ll be that way. She’s seen you do it to everyone else and she knows she’s next. Shame.

Let’s be honest – we all judge on a “sin scale” and when a desperate woman sees a positive pregnancy test, make no mistake: She can already see the look on your face, and hear the things you’ll whisper behind her back. Removing that baby from the equation sounds like freedom.

2. Fear: Actually, I should rephrase that to “terror”. The terrors of a Christian woman faced with an unwanted pregnancy range from Who is going to take care of it while I work/go to school? to Will it be loved and accepted by my friends and family/boyfriend/church? to What about my life/my plans? The fear of bringing a “bastard child” into the world has a rich history in the church so much so that plenty of Christian women died from coat hangers, poultices, ritual cuttings, self-mutilation and worse in an attempt to hide a baby that will forever be the hallmark of what led to that pregnancy. While that’s not necessarily true in every Christian circle, those things regardless do run through the mind of every woman who got pregnant from an affair, or from a one-night stand, from a boyfriend or even from incest or rape. What good, Christian man would want to take on someone else’s used goods/baggage? Who would choose her over a virgin,or  over someone with a less sordid sexual history?

She’s terrified on every level that her life will never be the same – which is true either way – and she will cling to whatever catharsis will make her feel better now. The antidote to fear is LOVE. But if you wait to show love after she’s pregnant, you’re too late and that baby is as good as dead. Change the way you speak about this issue now. Change the look on your face now. Change your tendency to gossip now before she gets pregnant. She is watching you now, and the baby that results from her mistake depends on your example of love, forgiveness and redemption now.

3. Guilt: We Christians thrive on guilt. We have a guilt culture. Let’s be honest for a sec. We say that the Lord brings conviction and that Satan brings condemnation, but we are often quick to judge people who don’t seem like they feel guilty enough for their odious sin or who look a little too forgiven too quickly, don’t we? We like people to feel guilty because it makes us feel like they’re truly sorry and that they’ve learned their lessons and that they’re now, officially, deserving of forgiveness. Been there, done that. The Christian woman feels plenty guilty, I can promise you that. She doesn’t need your help. Maybe she’s smiling and putting on a brave face, but most of us seriously think about killing ourselves when we see a positive pregnancy test and the realization hits home that our sin/shame is about to find us out. How could we be so stupid? We ask ourselves that over and over.

Instead of facing our guilt and running to the cross of Calvary, the baby dies in our place, taking our guilt and shame away forever (we hope) like a little tiny Messiah – except the difference is Jesus was a willing sacrifice. An abortion feels like catharsis, but instead of dissipating, the guilt becomes a permanent fixture, branded into the heart for all of time an eternity. Abortion is a deception on every level and the only winner is Satan.

4. Hardness of heart: When I was 22 and starting graduate school at a Christian university I found myself unwed and pregnant. I took a blood test to confirm what I already knew and then then doctor tossed a stack of Planned Parenthood literature on the bed and left the room. Abortion. The only reasonable solution. The literature was very clear: There was a path forward to freedom. It would be quick, painless, inexpensive and private. Sign me up. I knew abortion was murder. I grew up sitting outside of abortion clinics with literature and prayers and signs. My dad had once gone to jail for blocking the doors of an abortion clinic. But when it’s youeverything changes. You steel yourself. You harden your heart and ignore what you know. You pretend it all away. You try to convince yourself it’s your life, your body and your choice, that the baby will be better off. You turn a blind eye. You justify. You rationalize. You compartmentalize. You apologize to yourself and your baby. You tell yourself the Planned Parenthood mantra: It’s viral. It’s just a lump of tissue, that it’s not “viable” yet. You tell yourself that God will forgive you. And you get yourself to Planned Parenthood under cover of night and a fake name.

Unless… Unless a Christian stops you. Unless a Christian asks what’s wrong and you pour out your heart. Unless a Christian speaks words of life over you. Over your unborn baby. Prays with you. Loves all over you. Rubs your back. Reminds you of your courage. Of God’s grace and mercy. Reminds you that you’re not alone in the fire. That’s what happened to me and 18 years later, I look at my son who is an artist and plays the saxophone and is in college and I desperately thank God for a woman named Renee Ross in Virginia Beach, Virginia, who saw me and stopped me, and softened my heart and saved his life. Who can you see, and because of that, who will you save?

5. Reputation – As the daughter of a pastor, I was often, and against my will, expected by my friends’ parents to be some kind of example of Christian purity, godly characteristic, 9 fruits of the Spirit and womanhood that all other girls should want to look up to. Not a chance. I was as self-serving and bratty as the rest of those pretenders. The biggest difference is that I tend to, ahem, “live out loud”. It’s both a blessing and a curse- pray for me. If discovering myself pregnant was a shock to me, it was Hiroshima to my parents. It launched me into “how the mighty have fallen” status for many years to come from smug frenemies and their parents everywhere. I can’t tell you how many people to this day “do the math” and realize I wasn’t married when my son was born. To this day. What the actual heck?!

For any Christian woman who has had an affair, or a one-night stand or a even slipped into sin with a committed boyfriend or fiancee, she already knows her reputation is about to be torpedoed. Most of us read “The Scarlet Letter” in high school so we are keenly aware of how “the church” views purity and sexual sins, even if we go to a grace-heavy fellowship. There is still a pretty pungent stigma surrounding pregnancy out of wedlock.

Maybe Christians aren’t overtly using words like “whore” and “bastard child” anymore, but plenty are still conflicted about the questions of whether a child conceived out of wedlock should be celebrated or hushed up. (The answer? CELEBRATED.) So, the Christian woman who just found out she has a very unplanned and probably unwanted pregnancy pictures the look on your face when you find out, what does she see? When she imagines what you will think of her, what words does she imagine you’ll say about her? About her baby? For the Christian woman who was, perhaps, raped by someone of a different skin color- she knows everyone, ever, ever, ever will notice and wonder why one of her kids is clearly not of the same father as the rest. She cares what you think so much so that she’s willing to dismember or chemically burn her unborn child to death so you can continue smiling and approving when you think of her. What the heck? An unwed pregnancy is, sadly, a brand we carry forever. And in one way or another, we are forever reminded that our child was conceived in a manner “Other” than a holy marriage.

Whose life do you hold in your hands?

Lots of people are pro-life and I applaud that, and many will be gathering to stand for that, but we have to do more than march and stand, and picket, and even vote.  We need to adopt children, and foster them, and embrace and love, support their confused and scared mothers…So, maybe you flat out don’t approve of what the Christian woman did who should “know better”… but you know what? We all should know better, about everything. And yet here we are still doing all the things Jesus died for- cheating on our taxes, speeding, being disrespectful, lying, fighting, holding grudges, murder, gossiping and having sex outside of marriage. Sin happens. No more high horses, please! But if you insist, at least go with this: A baby has nothing to do with it. That baby chose nothing. It simply lives. GOD KNEW life would come from that choice and He was okay with it – why aren’t you?

I didn’t become a news anchor, you know. I didn’t become a world traveler. I didn’t become an actress or a model or a missionary either. Those were my plans at the time I saw my pregnancy test. Instead, I gained 25 pounds and became a mom. And I realize now that that adventure was more wild, thrilling, frustrating, scary and maturing than any other experience could have afforded me. Satan tried to get my to kill my son, my heritage and God saved his life. I found a godly, Christian man who loved my son and raised him as his own. The joke is on you, Satan. All because of this: A Christian saw past my mistake and helped me to see past it too. Can that be you?

Christian woman consider abortion every day. They feel they have nowhere to turn. Can you be the person she can turn to before she needs it? Someone’s life depends on it.

I’ll Take Your Hand-Me-Downs, but I Won’t Give You Mine

I’m wearing a hand-me-down right now as I’m writing this post. I’m wearing a mustard yellow, knit duster sweater by a friend who said it was “too big for her”. While I wasn’t thrilled with the knowledge that she wanted to upcycle her fat clothes to me, at the same time… it was a super cute, comfortable sweater so whatever. I took it gladly and wear it happily, even though I think it makes me look like a tube of polenta.

If you look closely in the picture at the top of this post, notice the jeans. My friend’s jeans are rolled up and nicely pegged, per the style, while mine are… blousy and pleated looking. Yes, those were hand-me-downs I tried to morph into style. Such is the life of a kid who wears hand-me-downs. Eternally creative.

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I’m not complaining. I’ll take hand-me-downs gladly any time. As a pastor’s kid, we got hand-me-downs by the station wagon-load when I was growing up. It was like Christmas in July to get garbage bags filled with clothing to rummage through. While most of it was grossly outdated and, well, gross, I could sew and adjust, nip and tuck things here and there to at least stay a few years behind the fads, as opposed to whole decades behind- ala those pegged pants.

See this picture of the ginger kid? It’s me at Easter. I was about 13 years old, wearing a pale pink dress. I’ve always avoided pale pink with the knowledge that pale pink blends almost perfectly with my skin tone and makes me look like a dead body, but alas, it was a hand-me-down and I wanted to wear a new dress. It was all I had.

To this day we get hand-me-downs. In fact, we just got a bag of clothes from a friend for Emmeline and it felt just the same for her- like Christmas. She excitedly tore through the bag and held everything up, exclaiming how cute it was, and trying it on. Even Adelaide slipped on a bathing suit over her clothes and wore it proudly around the house for most of the day. It was joyous. See them? Aww. Happy Hand-Me-Down Day!

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And yet, no one will ever know that joy from me. I don’t do hand-me-downs.

It has been my secret shame. I am the perpetual receiver, but it’s the one area in life I refuse to pay it forward. Want to know why?

Because my kids wear their clothing. I mean it- they wear them while living life to the fullest and their clothes, once they outgrow them, reflect a life well lived. How parents preserve their kids’ clothing in a condition good enough to give to another person without shame, I will never know.

Actually, every time I open a bag of fabulous, generous clothing from someone, I marvel at how clean they are. I marvel like you’d marvel at a beautiful piece of artwork, or a feat of engineering. How do they do that?!

Of course, I have managed to salvage a few fancy coats and charming, monogrammed onesies here and there for posterity’s sake, but overall… nope. We Purdys live in our clothes.

See these costumes? Hand-me-downs- we just got them a few days ago from a mother whose kids probably sat in them and… I don’t know, had a tea party? Perfect, like-new condition. And oh boy, are they going to be loved to the death at my house. They will used for fighting epic battles, worn while eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Popsicles and slept in (let’s just be honest), if history is any indicator.

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While I’m not too proud to receive hand-me-downs (I love it, in fact, because it feeds into my love of all things second-hand- recycled, reused and repurposed), I am way too proud to give hand-me-downs to you. You don’t deserve the headache of sorting through them only to find orange stains on the collars or marker colors on the bottoms of the pants– and they are there.

I care about my reputation way too much to let you see that I cannot keep my kids’ clothing in giveaway condition. But- we all have our cross to bear. So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for your generous, thoughtful hand-me-downs. We love them, and love you even more; aaaaand after we’ve had them for a while, we’ll give them a proper burial…

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Our Handy-Man’s Special: Bathroom Edition

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Talk about perspective…! Our new home, a classic American Foursquare, built in 1927 is one of my greatest blessings- aaaaand projects. It has the most beautiful wood work and old charm, high ceilings and a really classic feel that is homey and yet stylish. But.

I can already tell it’s going to be a long journey to the end, when we’re finally satisfied with the way it looks and feels, but that’s okay. It’s more than okay, actually. I want it. I wanted a “handyman’s special” so I could make this house mine. 

So, when we moved in and two months later the bathroom sink started backing up with black water, I had a pretty cheerful outlook, sort of enjoying the idea that we were official home owners, doing home owner-y things. Broken pipe? No problem-o. My husband is a handy man, indeed!

Here’s my favorite (and most daunting part) – the woodwork. 😀

Buuuuut, then it became this awful “if you give a mouse a cookie” scenario that escalated very quickly, and it turned out we had to tear the entire bathroom out to get to that pipe. In the meantime, we bonded as we brushed our teeth over the bathtub and peed into a commode for a bit. The commode was actually a step up because for three days we were sprinting next door to do “the necessary”. I’ll admit that my cheerful outlook turned into a fake, plastic smile of sheer willpower to get through this as quickly as possible.

Here’s the bathroom before- somewhat outdated with the heavy, dark marble floor, a 3-cabinet vanity with outdated tulip light fixtures and it was actually decrepit. Rotted wood under the sink, broken drawers, painted-over rusty bits, cracked trim and the like. Not pretty, but good enough, and, well, free.bathroom before

But we’re blessed. It took about 7 weeks, mostly because we work jobs and have a life and two little kids in the house and could only do so much at a time. We stepped over screws, boards with nails, avoided the sink in the hallway at night, and piles of tile and joint compound And, while I am perfectly capable of attacking anything with a drill, hammer or paint brush, there were things I simply couldn’t do. So, we called in some friends to help with the demo and fixing that old, crusty (literally) pipe and started to rise up from the ashes.

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The sliver lining was, of course, a new bathroom! I was really excited to put it all together because we want to honor the 1927 look and feel of the house, so I kept that in mind as I chose all the new elements. The walls are a somewhat greyish-pinkish, which perfectly fits with the space. Muted, yet pretty. Lowe’s had the most beautiful tile and it was such a great price!! $1.50 per tile. That’s *nothing*. And I learned a new skill- how to tile, mortar and grout a floor!

Honestly, I could sit and watch paint dry and have fun with my husband. (Actually, we did sit for a bit and watch the paint dry…) So, we stayed up many nights until the wee hours of the morning to get this all done as quickly as we were able, but that was okay with me. Doing demo projects with my best friend is one of my love languages….

bathroom floorOh, wait, pause. Did I mention we had to tear into the ceiling in our dining room to address a leak? Good times….when you can look up through the ceiling and hear someone doing their business on the toilet.

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Once you get use to the dust everywhere, and on everything, you start to appreciate the softer, diffused light in the room, which hides wrinkles a bit… #perspective.

I wanted an inset bathroom cabinet, but it didn’t work with the space, so instead, we opted for an antique gilded gold mirror and purchased an old-fashioned looking bathroom cabinet from Houzz.com that fit with the style.

bathroom after4It’s a really small bathroom so I wanted to give it a better sense of openness and stuck with smaller, individual pieces, rather than the heavy, overbearing giant sink and cabinet that was there originally. The original sink was over 4 feet long and was so deep that you could hit your teeth on it when sitting down to use the toilet. I opted for a dresser style from Home Depot that was much thinner and shorter for the space.

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Shower curtain is from Pier 1 and it is fabulous all the way.

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Now that it’s all done, I am completely happy with the whole thing. The process was a little touch-and-go, but it had to be done. And I’m happy to have been able to do this with my best friend. I realize not everyone has the luxury of a guy who can tackle things like this- so I consider myself extra blessed. It really is fun, when all is said and done. And you learn a lot about your relationship, too!

One of the things I love about our house is actually how much work it needs. We bought it for a song, and now we get to work together to develop, nurture and shape it- powered by our own two hands, our aching backs, our blisters, our laughter, our intense personalities and strong opinions and all the blood, sweat and tears a home really deserves. 🙂

Look, the bottom line is, we ALL have seasons where everything is falling apart, literally- but there is joy to be found as you put it all back together. 🙂

 

It was a good death.

My grandfather died a month ago. He was a good man and his death broke my heart. I am the oldest grandchild on my mom’s side of the family so I had the most time with him, and the benefit of his younger years so we were companions, he and I.

 

I think about him a lot. He lived quite a remarkable life and would often tell me what happy memories he had when he looked back. I’m glad for that. I’m glad because it wasn’t actually particularly joyful, in fact, painful- very much so, for him- and yet he remembered the happiness.

I had the very great honor of writing his obituary (which you can read at the bottom of this post) and of speaking at his wake, but I had the even greater honor of being his “Alicia Darling” and his “#1 girl”.

At his wake/funeral, the entire family came together, differences aside to hug, and talk, and hang out. It’s funny how, when you’re apart from cousins for so long, separated by age, and distance, you come together and it feels like family. Oh, and we have differences. Check out the picture below of the Nolan grandchildren. Can you tell who is a model? Who is a Christian? Who is a Navy SEAL? Who is transgender? Who owns a successful business? Who has autism? Who is a cowboy? Who is a singer? Who just graduated college? Who just got out of jail? Who cares?! My grandpa didn’t. He loved us all equally and gave his time, his money, his help to any one of us who needed it. I was filled with joy to see such a wonderful legacy of one of the most significant and influential men of my life.grandpa after party2

My grandpa is the reason I became a journalist. There’s a whole story behind that! He took me to Disney when I was 12 and his wallet fell out on Space Mountain. He took me to Cooperstown because he wanted me to love baseball as much as he did (alas, no). He came to all my school concerts. He paid for my braces. He brought me dolls in their international costumes from every country he ever visited. My grandpa frequently sent me clippings from the newspaper in the mail with articles he thought I’d enjoy. My grandpa taught me to love and understand classical music. He heavily shaped who I am, and when he died, who he was in life became that much more pronounced in me. I’m proud of that.

And as does happen when a good man dies, the people he left behind are grieving and finding a way to move ahead with his absence, knowing that we’ll see him again on the other side, when our own times come. Praise God.grandpa funeral4Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13

All that being said- watching your family members grieve is a really difficult, stressful, bonding process. It’s one thing to work through your own sadness, but to see pain in the eyes of your parents, and your siblings, to watch them burst into tears randomly as the thought of grandpa flickers across their minds – it’s brutal all around.

Homer was a huge support. I mean- over.the.top. He shone like the glittering, radiating rockstar he is. My Grammy wanted to commemorate the entire event and Homer dutifully took pictures, stepping in front of grieving relatives, with tears streaming down his own face, capturing the most painful and poignant moments a family can share. He held me as I wept on my bed the day my grandpa died. He listened to my stories. He snapped the picture below so I could have a “4 generations” picture with my Grammy even though we’d all been crying 2 minutes beforehand.

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Homer made a very difficult experience bearable- but not just for me, for my whole family. Many of them had never met him because we’ve been living in Utah for so long. He came in an won hearts left and right with his tact, grace, strength, humor, kindness, friendship and the natural way he puts people at ease with his outgoing charm. I needed him, and I didn’t have to say that even one time. He knew, and he was there.

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In the end, my grandfather died as he’d wished- at a ripe, old age, at the end of a life filled with rich experiences, surrounded by his wife and children who were holding him, singing, praying and loving on him.

Death comes to us all, but not all of us truly live. ~Me

His was a life well lived, and it was a good death.

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What a difference 10 years makes…for better, or for worse

The picture on the left was taken on Feb. 13, 2008 – the day Homer and I met.

After meeting online (ChristianMingle.com, for those who want to know…), and chatting on the phone/IM for a few weeks, we decided to meet up in person to make sure our profile pictures were accurate. haha 🙂

Well, they so were. Homer was every bit as gorgeous as I’d hoped- tall, confident, handsome, and really fun. So, we snapped a picture at the place where we met up- the EcoTarium in Worcester, Mass., in front of their giant grizzly bear.

Well, on Feb. 17, 2018, we took the kids ice skating and snapped another photo, at almost 10 years to the day of that fateful trip to meet each other to see what if…

Wow. We have been through a lot, the wringer, actually- but together, always together. There were times when I wanted to leave, and times when he wanted to. But we didn’t. We toughed it out. We cried, screamed, prayed, threw things, despaired, triumphed, grew, changed, forgave, comforted and refused to sleep in different beds, even on our darkest and most painful nights.

What a difference 10 years ago makes! The people on the left thought they were two, strong people. The two people on the right have learned they are stronger together. Every day together is a gift. Treasure it.

How a Real Man Rocks Valentine’s Day

Showing the love, Dad styleMy husband is a rockstar! This week he goes into work late and gets home late, so while I get up early and make his breakfast and get his lunch packed and then start working at my job, he feeds the girls, homeschools Sunny and keeps Birdie busy. This enables me to finish working, so when he leaves I can be Mom for the rest of the day.

This is real, everyday love, not a lame Valentine’s Day extra push, or some grand gesture to over-compensate for a marriage filled with daily disappointments. My husband is the *real deal*.

And you know what? I have it so good. H. and I often ask ourselves if other people are are happy as we are behind closed doors. I just wonder, especially when I see other people just slogging through it all. I do not slog. I was made for so much more than that- I work for so much more than that with H. It’s worth every effort.

and romance? Oh yes. Take a look…

We dance together in a kitchen, not a ballroom. We don’t buy chocolates; we bake chocolate chip cookies together for the kids. We don’t buy flowers; we rake leaves and plant a garden together. We don’t buy teddy bears or lingerie; we hug each other and fold laundry on our bed. We don’t spend money on fancy jewelry; we pay the bills for the beautiful home we live and love in. We don’t rent dirty movies, read salacious BDSM novels or get into costumes to spice things up; we giggle at our grays, wrinkles and stretch marks, rejoicing at the pleasure of growing old together.

This is the love I dreamed of my whole life.

Fantasy has nothing on reality!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Dear “Special Needs” mom, you got it all wrong

Dear Special Needs Mom at the Grocery store, yesterday… Yes, you, the one I just called a “special needs mom”, even though it is clearly your child who has the special needs. I saw you.

You probably walked away from our millisecond encounter cursing people like me, the ones who stare at you. People like me who look really, superior and super judgmental at the way you’re managing your special needs child in a public place. People like me who you worry might possibly call Child Protective Services because you’re being really rough in “that moment” – when our lives collide across a bin of $1 Scooby Snacks. People like me who you can just feel looking disapprovingly at the tone you’re using, the death grip you have on your child’s coat, the way you yanked him roughly to make your point. Yes, people like me, at the store.

I saw you. I saw that look of defiance in your eye. The gritty determination of a mom who has already had enough of her “special needs child” by 9am and still has errands to run. I saw you dare me to to say ONE. THING. about what you were doing. You were fully prepared to say something mean if I dared open my mouth, I’m sure. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time you’ve had to brace yourself for the ignorance of the general public. You probably left the house with some phrases ready-to-go for idiots like me who stare. I know, because it’s what we do.

Yes, WE.

Although from the look in your eye, in the brief second in time our eyes met, I’m pretty certain you mistook the look on my face for judgment, disapproval and disgust, but nothing could have been further from the truth. You see, today was your day to wrestle at the store with a special needs teenager who is having a meltdown, but tomorrow it will probably be me.

I’m sorry I was staring, truly, because I know how it feels. I just couldn’t look away as my mind flooded with an understanding of what it’s like to say ONE stinking THING to your special needs child and have them react immediately by smashing/throwing/hitting/breaking something, screaming mean things and forcing you to manage the scene on the fly, at the store, with everyone staring and looking super judge-y, and superior, peeking into a moment of time they couldn’t possible fathom unless they’d been there. Like I have been.

Yes, I, too, the well dressed, very put together, full face of makeup and freshly done hair woman staring at you have an alter ego who is greasy-haired, pale, has a worn looking face, wears sweats 90% of the time and grabs her kids by the coat and yanks them while growling mean things under her breath, trying to SHUT. IT. DOWN at the store. You happened to see me in my Sunday clothes, the one day of the week I bother to put any effort into my appearance, but my real me, is you, gorgeous.

As you stomped away, head held high, defiant, protective, staring straight head, unblinking, still gripping the coat of a special needs teenager who was dragging his feet, clutching his Scooby Snacks and ranting about the change in his routine, I wish you could have known that the look in my eye wasn’t judgment. Really. It was shock. Mine was the look of someone who rarely, if ever, sees her own kind and is frozen in a moment of sheer awe that there are really more of us out there. We aren’t just an urban mom legend. I wanted to ask you: Did you get into the car and cry? That’s what I do.

It’s not every day that I see a “special needs mom” outside of her natural habitat. Probably because I am too busy managing my own chaos to do more than run in and out of places and get home before the drama ensues. The days when I could take leisurely stroll through any store are all but a memory, as you know, but yes, you are a special needs mom. You have a child who, for whatever his reasons may be, has special needs.

But did you know this? You have special needs too (although I highly doubt that you allow yourself to acknowledge them even for a moment). I know that you spend your days trying to find ways to avert a meltdown before it happens, finding a plethora of distractions and re-directions, utilizing endless negotiation techniques, choosing your battles, standing your ground, protecting your other children and keeping as much “normal” as possible in the house.

I won’t even mention the kind of fears and worries that occupy your mind – will he ever find friends who truly love him? Will he ever find love? Is he going to kill himself or harm someone else when his emotions overwhelm him and I’m not there to talk him down? How do I make him understand that everyone is a bully and that, yes, the joke is always on him, because he doesn’t get it. Will my other kids grow up to be emotionally healthy, normal people after growing up seeing this constant madness? Am I the one who did this? Will I have to do this for the rest of my life? Am I making it worse? I could go on, but you already know what occupies the mind of a special needs mom, as I do.

I knew you thought I was disapproving of the way you jerked your son angrily by his coat while hissing at him that you WOULD. NOT. put up with his tantrums, which, as you and I both know seem to come out in their full glory in public places. I could see it in your eyes and when you marched away, I felt terribly. I’ve been you. I AM you. It just so happens that today was  not my day to be you. Although I had no doubt in my mind that my turn was coming.

Is anyone taking care of YOUR special needs? That’s what I thought as I wandered down the aisle, lost in my thoughts. I know how often I feel alone in all of this, so I know you have those moments too. We should get coffee. Your greasy hair and pale face and sweatpants and the look of utter determination on your face hit so close to home that I could only stare, like one of those idiots we hate. Those “normal” people who make us dread going to the store because they call the cops when our kids decide to writhe around on the floor of Home Depot and scream like a swarm of bees is attacking. Those people who couldn’t handle one hour in our shoes, and yet blame US for having kids who just don’t get it, may never get it and need us to FORCE them to ACT like they get it, at the very least, and COMPLY, PLEASE, while everyone is staring. Don’t lump me in with them.

I hope someone is taking care of your special needs as you care for your son’s. I hope that this experience, raising a child with special needs, makes you stronger, braver and wiser person, more understanding person – as it has me.

So, dear, special needs mom at the grocery store, please accept my apology for the look on my face. It’s not often that I feel like there’s someone out there who really gets what it feel like to parent a special needs teenager and it was like a shock to my system, knocking me into dumbfounded speechlessness. I turned the corner and there you were, wrestling a teenage boy who was bigger than you, managing his drama and still getting the shopping done.

I wasn’t judging you. I think we could be friends.

Wellness for Real: What’s the Deal With Essential Oils?

So. You’re interested in essential oils? You’ve heard all the wonderful things they can do for your health. Maybe you’ve even experienced them for yourself from samples and classes. You’ve been looking into natural solutions to care for yourself and address the health needs of your family. Great. We have too, and do so more and more. That’s really the first step- willingness to break away out of a mindset that medicine is your only option, and open yourself to new (actually old) ideas.

SHOP for doTERRA essential oils here.

Aaaaand then you’re innocently browsing through the catalog or a friend’s website and suddenly your natural healthcare exploration comes to an abrupt end, like you just threw up a little in your mouth because you saw the prices. What the ever-living heck? These essential oils are so expensive I could never afford to even think about living a more healthy, natural life! WHERE ARE MY PILLS?!

Recent studies have shown that this mindset is also why people eat more box macaroni and cheese than they do salad, vegetables and fruit. (Note: recent studies have not shown this)

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Redirect: I was at the store with my 5 year old the other day and she saw a shelf of tiny bottles and cried out “Look, Mom! dōTERRA essential oils!” I graciously corrected her statement so she understood that they were, in fact, NOT dōTERRA. She said, “But it says ‘essential oils’, that’s what we use!” So, I took a bottle off the shelf and said, “See here, how it says, ‘not for internal use’? If you can’t drink or eat them, that means these oils are not really safe. dōTERRA’s are.”

Are you an essential oil skeptic? Read this first!

While I was proud of her for speaking her truth and for understanding how important a role essential oils play in our health and for being excited to think oils were that readily accessible, her enthusiasm mixed with a lack of knowledge reminded me why so many people think:

1) essential oils don’t work;

2) they are dangerous; 3

) you can only use them for smell therapy;

4) if they’re not $5 they’re too expensive.

Take the plunge! SHOP for doTERRA essential oils here.

I get “dōTERRA’s essential oils are too expensive” shade thrown at me a lot. But that’s okay! It’s a misconception, but that’s part of what I do: educate and dispel myths and manage the wellness of my family, in a single bound.

Let’s talk MONEY….

The cheap ones: SOURCING is a big part of what makes essential oils pricey. The essential oils you’ll find at stores are not “sourced” – The term “sourced” means ‘boots on the ground’- as in, the company you’re buying from has a first-person, physical presence at the locations where plants are grown, harvested and produced into oils. VERY few companies do this. Most (yes, even the expensive ones) use a “broker” or buy from farms they don’t own. A broker is a third party dealer who gets oil ingredients and plants from… um, someplace…. and sells them to stores and website companies to be resold in their packaging. Can you trace the life history of the plants that made your essential oil? I can.

amazonThis lack of information, and poor quality masked as ‘pure’ is a BIG part of why people have skin reactions, or vomit or have other real and awful problems from using essential oils. THIS is why you can’t take them internally (and their bottles WILL tell you that, they have to by law so read them). At best, you’ll see minimal benefits, if any. WHAT IS IN THEM?! If you’re buying at the store or from a website and the bottle is marketed as “Affordable” or implies that they are lower in cost than other brands, RUN. AWAY. Essential oils that are pure and safe won’t be cheap because they are sourced first-hand and real people around the world have to get paid for their hard work. So, what are your “affordable” “essential oils” providing you? Only God knows, and He is NOT happy.

The pricey ones: If you are using a “boots on the ground” company for oils, like dōTERRA, who sources around the world from farms they personally oversee in order to keep plants where they grow best- their indigenous environment, the next layer of expense comes into play: QUALITY and PURITY. dōTERRA has a chemical profile on EVERY bottle of oil they sell. Using a batch and lot number, you can trace the life of your tiny, brown bottle and read its chemical profile. That is IMPORTANT.

dōTERRA takes purity e.x.t.r.e.m.e.l.y. seriously, serious like a funeral. NO ONE is laughing or even smirking about side effects at dōTERRA. A lot of steps go into making dōTERRA’s essential oils and because they are so committed to purity, their oils are potent and strong, highly effective, but safe, even when taking internally, WHEN used properly.

Does it REALLY matter which brand of essential oils you use? YES. Read THIS.

When people tell me essential oils aren’t safe to take internally, that tells me they have not done their research because doTERRA’s ARE, friends. They stand behind that 100%. dōTERRA’s oils are “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” – This is NOT an FDA designation because the FDA doesn’t regulate essential oils. Did you know that, as the law is currently written, you can fill a bottle with 5% brokered ‘pure’ essential oil and fill the rest with…. (let’s get creative here…dog saliva and the tears of a heartbroken skunk) and it can be called “Pure”? That’s because “pure” isn’t a regulated term.amazon5

Hence the reason why dōTERRA created the “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” standard (read more here, it’s crazy mind blowing.)

doTERRA’s essential oils range in price, from $10 to about $130. Yes, $130 is a lot, but is it worth more than your health? In case you were wondering, pretty much all of dōTERRA’s oils cost between $10-$60, actually.

In the day-to-day, you’re going to use things like Lemon, Peppermint, Lavender, Wild Orange, Digestive Blend (dōTERRA Digest Zen), Oregano and Protective Blend (dōTERRA On Guard)- generally. Maybe a few others. You can buy a whole Family Essentials kit of 10 commonly used oils for $150. (see more here) For those interested in natural wellness $150 is an investment and a small one at that when you understand what you’re getting in return for that investment. By the way, it’s $150 for 10 drops 85 drops of the world’s most powerful essential oils (!!) including an *expensive* one- Frankincense. It’s a STEAL, actually. Plus beadlets…. mmmm.

An even better deal is dōTERRA’s Home Essentials kit which has the same 10 bottles of oil in larger 15 mL bottles (250 drops per bottle!!) and a FREE diffuser. Even with daily use, that’s 8-9 months of use, per bottle. You literally cannot beat that investment in your health!

Money isn’t EVERYTHING… is it?

If hoarding money is your priority, then we really have no argument. We’re simply not of the same tribe. No hard feelings. Bygones.

However, if your family is your priority, let’s talk. You want to do better by your family. You understand how pure and powerful essential oils can make a significant and lasting difference in your family’s health. You know dōTERRA is the world’s purest and safest for your whole family. So, what’s the hangup about investing in that? Do you believe in it or not?

common-mistakesHere’s my observation: Very few people in the richest country in the world have “NO money”. Some have very little, but almost no one has NONE. Ever seen a panhandler smoking a cigarette or sitting next to a pet? The bottom line is this: We all put our money toward what we feel is important. We’ll figure it out.

If your family’s health is a top priority, you’ll figure it out. So you fill the gas tank only halfway every other time. So you don’t treat yourself to coffee or dollar menu as much. So you cut back, trim some fat, have a garage sale or get onto eBay and sell stuff or reorganize your finances a bit. It IS possible to afford dōTERRA’s essential oils and to start a life-long wellness journey if that’s important to you.

No, you don’t have to buy a huge kit. One bottle of dōTERRA’s Lemon or Wild Orange is only $10 (wholesale), and you can those every day in MANY ways, so they’re worth the investment right from the get-go. Start with one bottle at a time if you have to. Everyone starts somewhere and at least you’re on the right track with your family’s health.

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The Bottom Line

“Expensive” is a relative term. It’s also a flexible one. It’s also a workable one. If you want to start using dōTERRA’s oils TODAY, you can totally do that, if you want to. There are options to get them into your home. Essential oils are life-changing, but whether that is life-changing for the better or the worse is up to you.

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dōTERRA’s essential oils are highly versatile and have a WIDE range of uses to address your health needs, meaning that, for the money, they provide a tremendous and lasting value.

It pains me to see people struggling with their health, or wishing they could do better, only because they think dōTERRA is too far out of reach. Better health, stronger body, deep, internal wellness starting at the cellular level IS within reach- you just have to take the first step and REACH for it!

Think about it. Pray about it. Do something about it.

PLEASE tell me if I can be of help to you. See below for ways to reach me! 🙂

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If you’re interested in learning more about dōTERRA essential oils, living a wellness lifestyle or how to get started with oils in your home, I’d love to connect with you!

Reach out to me and let’s talk!

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