the gift of tears

CemeteryI am regularly experiencing a new thing for me: tears! Lots of tears.

A couple weeks ago I reached out to my friend Angela via text. In that conversation, I mentioned that I find myself crying lots but that I’m not sad. She texted back admonishing me not to forget the “gift of tears.” I’d never heard of the gift of tears and the quotation marks in her text told me it was a thing, so I looked it up. 

This article said the gift of tears is a "phenomenon mentioned in spiritual writers since very early in the Church, and it refers to an intense personal experience of God that overflows in abundant tears. It is the overflow of a spiritual experience in an emotional/physiological expression that creates deep comfort in one’s soul, and deep encouragement for the person who receives the gift, . . .”

Lo, and behold, I think Our Lord has given me the gift of tears, at least for a season. It’s difficult to describe, but the tears seem purifying, a lot like prayer. They come unbidden and seem to be an expression of one of two things: deep gratitude that I haven’t the words to express or intercessory prayer where I have little knowledge of the facts, but sorrow over the need.

It’s not easy to describe, but I want to give it a try. One of my “happy places” is a large cemetery. I go there often to walk and pray. Here, the tears sometimes flow, feeling like intercessory prayers. Often tombstones deliver sorrow to my senses and I experience significant awareness of the pain in our world, that person’s pain, their family’s pain. I offer up my tears and the tears and pain that that tombstone represents for those people and their descendants.

Recently, I stumbled across a couple who, decades ago, lost four children under 10 years old. Two of those deaths were in the same year. The crushing grief! It is almost too great to think about. But it can illustrate how I think God may be using the “gift of tears” as a form of intercessory prayer.

Did these parents’ grief send them to God or did they grow bitter? Did they raise their other children in gentleness and grace or harshness and severity that sprung out of crushing grief? Did the other children grow despondent? Did they carry dysfunctional grief into their adulthood, damaging their children, who in turn damaged their children, and on and on and on. Tombstones represent people with eternal souls, not just the soul named on the tombstone, but the souls deeply impacted by him or her, too. God is all powerful and outside of time. How does God use my prayerful tears? I have absolutely no idea, but I know He is not bound by time and He is full of mercy. My cemetery prayers rise to Him and are not “too late” to make a difference. Many tombstones belong to souls in purgatory and I present those souls to Him through, what I have recently come to think of as, intercessory tears.

Regarding how the “gift of tears” are expressions of gratitude, I will use my daughter, Deborah, to illustrate. For years, I wondered why on earth God would allow what He allowed in Deborah’s life. I assumed I would never have any clarity this side of heaven.

Deborah’s life was marked by nearly every sin imaginable. That she is alive, is probably a miracle in itself. Recently a photograph of Deborah brought on tears of gratitude that words couldn’t express. The picture was on the day of her confirmation and it portrayed at transformed person. In it, I saw how God had even changed her countenance. The tears, laden with thanksgiving were also purifying. I realized how contrary to what I had assumed – that I’d not see any answers to why her life unfolded as it did this side of heaven – I saw her powerful redemption story in her countenance.

I can say in absolute honesty, if Deborah’s wild years were required to make her into who she is today, a young lady who wants Jesus to be #1 in every area of her life, then I’m so grateful for those years. I’d willingly go through those years again. I’d willingly go through even worse. What a breakthrough this is for me! Those years, and even the memory of those years, are shrouded in such darkness and despair. But now I see a reason to view them with thanksgiving and purpose. Deborah put her whole heart into rejecting everything good. She practically mastered the art of putting her whole heart into something. Praise be to Jesus Christ, with that expertise she is now putting her whole heart into pursuing Jesus.

And the tears flow. They are tears of inexpressible gratitude. They are prayer. The tears are communion with God.


Jan 6 1Last Saturday God answered another big prayer request. Deborah was confirmed into the Catholic Church and wee Atlas was baptized. Oh how glorious to see God expand his kingdom and bring more of my loved ones to him. My heart is so incredibly full.

In his kindness, God has been causing me to stumble upon notes and prayers - like this one - asking him for these gifts, as if he is saying, "always keep praying, my daughter. I love to involve you in my work." 

debs is engaged

EngagementThis weekend Deborah and Davis got engaged. We've been expecting it, but it's now really real. Happy engagement, kids. Their courtship has been sweet to watch. They met over Tinder, a dating website that's notorious for one-night stands. Deborah's profile had something to the effect of, "Not looking for a hookup; in it for the long haul."

In Tinder vernacular, they "swiped right." They had their first coffee date and it lasted hours. Davis later told Deborah that he left it thinking, "I'm going to marry her." The next morning, she told her sisters about him and Rachael could hardly contain her excitement because we had a bit of an inside track on Davis. It was an itty bitty bit, but it excited us!!

Very soon after moving to town, I got involved in my church's RCIA program. RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, and is a catechism class for adults who are exploring coming into the Catholic Church. I'm profoundly grateful to be in the Church and RCIA is a ministry I want to be in as I want to be part of bringing others into the Church. Because, after all, the Catholic Church is the best thing on earth.

I didn't volunteer in RCIA long before my mother needed my help in Arkansas. But during those few classes I attended, I was super encouraged to meet four young men who took their faith seriously. Jesse, Dakota, Devon, and, wait for it, Davis. I learned that they got together regularly to discuss The Summa Theologica, by none other than St. Thomas Aquinas, d. 1274. Not exactly lightweight reading material. I squealed with delight when I learned this, embarrassing myself, but seriously so excited to meet young men who were embracing the depth of the Church. Within a few days I had excitedly told Hannah and Rachael about these guys and how I was so encouraged to meet them. 

So after Deborah and Davis's coffee date, Rachael and I were beside ourselves that Deborah was seeing a Catholic man who took his faith seriously. Ooohlala.

Now, instead of volunteering at RCIA, I'm keeping little Atlas while Deborah and Davis attend. Deborah will be coming into the Church at Easter Vigil 2021, and they will get married the following Saturday, April 10. 

I'm thrilled that they found each other. I'm thrilled that they are committed to purity until marriage; that Davis is helping Deborah grow in her Catholic faith; that Davis has come into Atlas's life at such a young age and is planning to adopt him; that Deborah's life continues to get better and better. Her life hasn't been an easy one and there've been a number of times we didn't know if she'd survive some of her choices, but God has worked so gloriously in her. She radiates joy and recognizes she is a victim of God's amazing grace. Her life is a testimony that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is His faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

deborah shares

DebsMy daughter, Deborah, shares more about the work of God in her life. She says, “I really, really hope that this speaks to someone. Someone who is hurting, and who feels irreparably damaged.”
I am a privileged person. So privileged. Not because I’m white, not because I’m a woman, not because of anything that can be brought down to worldly things. I am privileged because I have God in my life. Please don’t stop reading, because there is more to that statement than you think.
When I was 13, I lost my virginity to rape. The boy I lost my virginity to was 16 years old. For so many years I hated him. I wished him dead. I was so damaged because of what I had been through, and no part of me ever wanted to forgive him. No part of me ever thought that I would be whole again. Through the years more events occurred. More assaults, and abuse, and a lot of dangerous and damaging situations that I subjected myself to. Needless to say, I became a virtually irreparably damaged person. So I thought.
I went through a lot as a teenager, a lot of it my own doing, and some of it not. My parents didn’t think I’d live to see 16, and frankly, I didn’t want to. Every year that went by I would find ways to try and numb the pain of my memories and trauma, my body physically fighting to stay alive, but my mind and my heart had little intention of making it very far through life. I used drugs, self harmed, attempted suicide, and partied my life away. I damaged my body, and my psyche, and those that I loved. I would scream and cry because I thought that I couldn’t ever be normal, or sane. I hated everyone, and I hated the idea of God. I hated it all because I so desperately wanted to be normal and undamaged. I wanted to be secure, and stable, but I had absolutely no idea how to be. I couldn’t do it on my own.
I fought the idea of God, and scoffed at people who believed. I deemed them stupid, and was certain that they only believed because they hadn’t been through or seen the things that I had been through and seen; and if I found out that they had, then I just assumed that they had found their crutch and that it helped them get through life. Little did I know that people would one day look at me in that exact same light.
This is already long, so I am going to try and summarize it to the best of my ability.
Since becoming a Christian my life has changed drastically. I have changed drastically. I used to be such a negative person. Always sucking the life out of fun events with my negativity, unless those fun events included drugs, booze, and other dangerous methods of trying to achieve some level of disassociation from my life. I now attribute this previous negativity to a complete lack of gratitude. I felt as though I had nothing to be grateful for. I felt as though I had been treated unfairly, and that the world was a terribly disgusting place, full of terrible and disgusting people. The latter part of that statement is true but what I didn’t understand is that I was, and am, very much one of those terrible and disgusting people.
I found redemption in Jesus Christ, and in God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. I found abundant gratitude, because I realized the grace and mercy that had been shown to me. You don’t know the freedom that comes along with being grateful until you have it. I realized where God had been in those moments where I didn’t see Him. Now, I am so immensely grateful for that trauma, and those tough times, because I am so immensely grateful for the relationship I have with my Lord. He turned all the rubble into gold. Something only He can do.
One of the things that stands out most to me, is that the boy I lost my virginity to, I have come to forgive. You may think that I don’t, but I do. My heart hurts for him because he, too, was just a child. I pray that He finds the same grace and mercy that I have found, because it is there. Because he can be forgiven in the same way that I have been forgiven. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is one of many things that I have been healed from through the power of Christ alone.
I’m 100% aware of the fact that the grace I have towards him can absolutely not be attributed to myself, because I know myself. I know how much I hated him. I know the changes that had to occur in my heart and mind in order for me to forgive him, and I know that those changes were not my doing, but Gods.
This may seem like some jibber jabber that some damaged person may spout, and I know that people will probably think “what kind of delusional person forgives their rapist?”. But I’m not delusional at all, I simply know how depraved I am. I know the atrocities that I have committed, and I know that I am no better than that poor, lost 16 year old boy was.
I know who I was without God, and who I am with God. I know that boy didn’t have God. I know that he needs God. I know that you need God. I know that I need God.
I am never able to glorify my Father in the way that He deserves. I will never be able to achieve that. I just hope that these little bits and pieces of my testimony, scattered across some random posts, will speak to someone. Please believe me when I say that I could never have become the person that I am today without God in my life. I wouldn’t be free of mental illness, and of anger and resentment towards the world. I wouldn’t be free of addiction. I wouldn’t have thriving and healthy relationships with those I love most in the world. I wouldn’t be grateful for what I have, even though this week has truly been a terrible week for me 😂 realistically speaking, I would probably be sulking in self pity if I didn’t realize how blessed I am to know the Lord.
I know that God has been so incredibly gracious towards me, and He has been so gracious towards all of us. I want everyone to know Him, because I know that the light in my life is HIS light. I wish I could show people what is in my heart, and my soul, and my mind, and that I could articulate the magnitude of the change.
Anger turned to love. Resentment turned to forgiveness. Disgust turned to empathy. Idleness turned to a desire to serve. Tears turned to laughter. Damage turned to healing. Darkness turned to light. That’s what it is. All by the grace of God, and by the grace of God alone.
I really, really hope that this speaks to someone. Someone who is hurting, and who feels irreparably damaged. I hope that you may allow God to work in your heart, and your life, because I truly can not emphasize enough just how much He will change everything for you. I know it, and I believe it with every fibre of my being. If you need guidance or help, please reach out. I don’t know much, but I know a lot about the grace and healing power of God. I know how present He is. I know that He desires a relationship with you more than anything.
May God bless you and keep you, and smile when He looks down upon you.
You are so unbelievably loved.

deborah shares some of her story

My Deborah writing about her journey. I'm so thankful. She writes:
Debs on drugsI’m coming up on two years clean and sober, and I just wanted to take a moment to glorify God and all that He has done in my life. He held out for me, and showed me the love that I had been searching for throughout those many years of my life. As many of you know, I struggled with drugs and mental illness all throughout my youth. There was scarcely a time between the ages of 11-19 that my life was not at risk. I had very little regard for my safety, and absolutely no concept of my own, God-given, value. I was trying, in all the wrong ways, to cope with trauma and to get through each and every day by the skin on my teeth. I committed grievous sins, and lived my life for the enemy with very little knowledge of the fact that I was doing so. Debs not on drugs
I held a lot of hate in my heart, and I resented God. Always funny how that works hey? I didn’t believe in God, but I hated him. Anyways, God never left my side. Through all my anger, and hurt, and disregard, He never left me. I am here now alive and well, with a beautiful son, a roof over my head, food in my cupboards, and no struggle with addiction or mental illness. You know how we often talk about being bathed in the Holy Spirit? I do believe that my life is a testament to that. My soul was made new, and I was given a new identity in Christ. Though very undeserving, the Lord showered me with His Grace and Mercy and Love. I am so very thankful, and my life belongs entirely to Him.

happy birthday, deborah

Debs and atlasHappy birthday to our beautiful daughter, Deborah Elizabeth. She is 21 today.

She was the sweetest child who gave us nothing but delight. Then adolescent years hit and she went off the rails so bad we didn’t know if she’d survive - and I’m speaking very literally. God be praised, He sent her little Atlas. We were so scared, afraid of how the drama would play out. God used Atlas so powerfully. She got clean and sober and began the work of putting her life together. Now we once again have the incredible Deborah back. She is strong, stronger than we ever knew she could be, funny, a devoted mother, a student of the Bible, a leader, generous, empathetic beyond compare, and just generally a most delightful soul.

I’m so thankful she survived. My world would be radically less bright without her in it. Thank you, Jesus. Happy birthday to my darling Deborah.

debs on abortion

My daughter Deborah has been through a lot. Here’s a piece of her story. I’m so incredibly thankful she chose life for our little Atlas and that she didn’t heed all the advice to get an abortion. Our lives will never be the same again; we adore Atlas.
Written by my daughter, Deborah:
Atlas 7moYou know, after years of being an abortion advocate (regrettably) I finally sat myself down, away from the crowd I was following, and did some in depth research on abortion. I have watched the debates, I have watched Planned Parenthood lie repeatedly to appeal to the eyes of its audience, and I can safely say that there is not a single argument in defense of abortion that cannot be refuted. So I recommend to anyone who believes that abortion is "empowering" to rethink your beliefs because it is ultimately setting us back whilst committing mass genocide. The dismemberment and starvation of humans at ANY stage of development is morally and ethically wrong. And to instigate such a radical attack on our own species in the name of empowerment is absolutely ridiculous. I read a post recently that said "telling women that they need to employ their "right to choose" in order to have a successful career is the opposite of empowering", and I could not have said it better. I make this post because I know that many people on my page are pro abortion or pro choice, I know this because I have had many conversations raving about how it is "only my right". I can give you dozens of reasons as to why this "right" will contribute to the collapse of any civil society that we have.
This is my son who would have been starved of his nutrients or ripped apart had I decided that it was within my rights. Luckily, Grace saved him as I was already 8 weeks pregnant when I called the abortion clinic and they told me I would have to get an invasive surgical procedure done. I couldn't go through with that. People said it was within my best interest to abort, even called me an idiot for choosing to keep him, but it was the smartest thing I've ever done and not only was it definitely NOT in my best interest to abort, but more importantly it wasn't in his. And it is our responsibility to care for and protect the innocent and helpless.

atlas rigel

We have a precious new grandson, born July 16. Buddy (Atlas Rigel) weighed 7.14. Deborah let me watch him gush into our world and then cut the cord. We’re all enchanted and Deborah is doing well. She is madly in love with him and he is madly in love with her. I am very in love with both of them. 

Atlas nb Atlas nb2

mother's day, from deborah

Like my previous post about Hannah, I want to share what Deborah wrote on Facebook for Mother's Day. Not only does this record allow me to cherish it over and over, it also reminds me, yet again, to not stop praying even when all looks lost. Deborah appeared to be a borderline-lost cause for nearly 10 years. Might those prayers have been the very way God brought her back to us? What if we had stopped praying? I will never cease to praise God for bringing these three girls back to us and to himself. 

I wrote briefly on my despairing feelings regarding mothering here on Mother's Day, 2012. To capture the difference between Deborah then and Deborah now, please read that post. My heart is full since reading this on Facebook:

Debs and vHappy Mother's Day to my beautiful, courageous, kind, loving, giving, mother. I am so, so, so thankful for you and I could not wish for a better mum. I remember when I was young and you would rock me and sing Amazing Grace and Love Lifted Me, and when I had nightmares you would come lay with me until I fell back asleep, and when you redecorated my room while I was away at camp and it was absolutely perfect, and how you made my birthday cakes and they were always amazing even though you doubted your skills, and when I didn't have many friends to come to my birthday party you gave me things to look forward to like extra gifts so that I wasn't too sad, and how you would bring chicken from Mary Browns to CASA on Wednesdays when I couldn't leave, and you would buy me gift cards for groceries when I was really struggling, and sooo much more.

You have been so supportive even though I know sometimes it isn't easy, because I don't always make the right choices. I admire you for so many things such as your empathy and ability to continue growing and loving and giving to others. You did so many things right, and I know that you really give it your all even when it gets tough.

You amaze me and I am so proud of you for your accomplishments and how you have grown so much in your faith and in yourself in the past few years. There are many things about you that I look up to and aspire to be. You are one of the kindest people I know, and I know you try very hard to love everyone with all of your heart. You are an amazing person and an incredible mother. And your smile warms my heart. We are all so lucky to know you and to love you and to be loved by you, and I don't know where me and Buddy would be without you. I love you so much mom. More than you could ever know. And it's all easy enough to write in a Facebook post, but I really do mean it with all of my heart. I think we have come so far together in our relationship and I am grateful for that beyond measure.

Happy Mothers Day  ❤❤❤ you are so beautiful and deserving of goodness.

During Rachael, Hannah, and Deborah's adolescent and teen years, I deleted my Facebook account because it was so very painful to read people's praises of their children. Every family looked like they had it together and mine was always in crisis. Seeing their happy faces and hearing their successes was like salt in an open wound. I'm very aware of how this post, and the one from Hannah, could hurt those who are still in that parenting valley. My heart feels your pain as I know it so very personally. Please read these two Mother's Day posts as coming from a humbled heart, not a gloating heart. I want to encourage moms, not pour salt in their wounds. 

Keep praying! Never stop praying!!


Debs2012Today Deborah enters CASA. CASA is a treatment facility for troubled teens. She is not happy about this and I'm praying with everything in me that God softens her heart to be open and accepting of help. We are in desperate need of a breakthrough. We have done all we know how to do and nothing has been successful. Maybe CASA can teach us how to cope with all this stuff and how to overcome.

I wrote her a letter and tucked it in her bag:

Dear Deborah,

The day has finally come and you're leaving for CASA today. Remember when you couldn't wait to go?, when a treatment facility was what you wanted? I wonder what changed? Do you know?

This a a good day and a sad day. It's a good day because I'm believing that CASA is going to give you, Daddy, and me the help we desperately need. We know you need help but we don't know how to help you. Hopefully, CASA will be able to help all of us.

It's a sad day too. Making you go somewhere you don't want to go is hard. Knowing you feel forced to go is painful. I want to encourage you to accept the help you're going to receive. It's going to feel like work and it will probably be invasive. But Baby, the purpose to to help you get healthy again. I beg you to submit to this help. Don't fight it. Don't reject it. Walk into it and let God work healing in you through it. 

Remember when you gave your heart to Jesus? Remember how good it felt? He is still the same loving Jesus who wants to be your very personal, powerful Friend. Please let him. He loves you more than anyone else knows how to. I want to remind you of a Scripture that I hope you'll think about every night as you go to sleep. 1 Peter 5:7, "Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you." Deborah, being able to tell God everything on my heart and mind is one of the greatest gifts in the world. The God who created the universe cares for you and and wants you to talk to him about everything on your mind. If you'll develop the habit of talking to him, you'll never be the same.

I have some special verses I'm going to be praying over you while you're gone. Philippians 1:3-6, "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers, I always pray with joy because, . . . he who began a good work in you will complete it."

I remember that 8-year-old girl standing in the pool before her baptism telling about Jesus's work in your life. Baby, that was just the beginning. He's still working on you and he won't stop!

Call me any night and I'll sing you your song.

I love you so much,


july's 12 in '12


2012 july 12in12
July's 12 in '12

This is my July 12 in '12 collage. As I wrote here, for the remainder of the year I am journaling each month in picture. This picture is loaded with signficant and meaningful stuff irrespective of how insignificant it looks. 

1. St. Francis of Assisi is one of the great mentors in my life. I read something in late June that sparked a desire to re-read some of the things I've read on this great man. I wanted to rekindle some of the truths that I learned from him. In July I re-read these books.

2 and 11. These pictures are from Deborah's 13th birthday. I officially have 3 teenage daughters.

3. Hannah found this kitten near 7-11. It was meowing and she looked down at her feet to discover him there. She brought him home and nursed him back to health. This picture was taken after we had him over a week. He was tiny and had already filled out by the time this picture was taken. It is pitiful that something so small was all alone in the world. Hannah named him Haze and was diligent caring for him. He temporarily softened her heart and since we were desperate for Hannah's heart to be softened, it was a no-brainer that we keep him. He was much work though -- I think he was blind and he meowed nearly constantly. Hannah soon tired of the job and I took him to the Humane Society where I figure he found a good home. But for the short time he was with us, he touched us with his helplessness and his ability to soften a young girl's heart.

4. In June I went to a seminar and heard the benefits of giving up grain products. I checked some Paleo lifestyle books out at the library and on July 1 started eating the way a Paleo enthusiast would. It has now been 36 days of having no junk food, no fake food and no wheat products. Bonus, I lost several pounds in July.

5. This picture of Hannah was taken a few days before going into PChAD. In this picture, although it's a fine picture, the subtleties of her expression reveal her hardness of heart.

6. I love summer and I love my little container vegetable garden.

7. While in PChAD, Hannah resumed her former love for painting. She painted four pieces while there. It blessed my socks off to see her embracing a former love. It's probably been a year since we've seen this side of her.

8. Deborah has had nearly two good months of not cutting. However in July she had a huge upset and she cut again. I'll be sharing some big news on that front very soon.

9. Casanova!, what a cool cat. One day I came home for lunch and found him on top of the cabinet. I couldn't be mad, it was too cute. However, when I came home in the late afternoon, the cow, which was a gift from Stephanie, was shattered on the floor. Casanova was still on top of the cabinet.

10. This is the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC) sign that hung outside of Hannah's safe house for the PChAD program.

11. Here's Deborah with her 13th birthday cake.

12. This isn't just a silly vain picture of my hand. There's some significance here. When Hannah's behaviour started getting erratic and volatile, I read her diaries to try to determine the extent of her drug problem. One thing I read in her diary was how she hates her fingernails and wished they were prettier. I realized that was something I could help her with. I have never tended to my nails with affection, but when I read that I decided I'd begin to stock our home with nail supplies and offer to keep her nails manicured. And I have. As a byproduct of this commitment, my own nails have gotten lots of babying too. This is the first time I've ever worn red fingernail polish. I feel eccentric.

self harm


Debs and daddy
Gordon and Deborah, 2007, 7 years old, no training wheels

Deborah fell asleep early tonight, and on the sofa too. Both of those - asleep early and falling asleep in the living room - are not usual occurrences for Deborah. She is on new medications to help her deal with several issues, poor sleep being one of them. 

Deborah has had a hard year. She hasn't had an easy time making friends and she's been bullied. The bullying hasn't been terrible, but for someone as sensitive as Deborah, it's been life altering. Deborah started self harming this year.

[Self harming has been around for years and years but back in the old days, they put those who hurt themselves in institutions. In Canada, it's not terrifically uncommon. A workshop Gordon and I attended indicated over 50% of teenagers try it. Most of those move on, but 25% adopt it as a coping strategy. A study in Louisiana reported that nearly half of high school students surveyed had self harmed within the year.

Debs and petunia
                       Deborah, 2012, almost 13

Self harm is not the same as attempting suicide. Most self harmers don't want to "end it all," they just want some relief from the strong emotions they're experiencing. Self harm releases endorphins which provide that relief. Unfortunately some of the coping strategies self harmers use can be fatal even when suicide wasn't the intention. And it can be addictive, similar to eating disorders.] 

Deborah is in therapy for depression, anxiety and self harm. She's had two good weeks and we are grateful. But it's been a hard year. She's been to the emergency room five times in the past six months. We are on a rollercoaster of emotions; sadness, anger, confusion and fatigue to name a few.

She is getting help and we've tapped into lots of resources. She hasn't cut herself since May 29. These two weeks have been the best in probably six months. But seeing her big almost-13-year-old body asleep on the sofa, totally submitted to medication, made my heart hurt yet again.

God, please protect and heal our little girl.


mothers' day blues

I sit on Stacie's porch and enjoy the quiet and beautiful North Carolina nature show. I will sorely miss this quiet-time spot when I go home in a few days. This is a foretaste of heaven. I'm so thankful for the reprieve from real life.

It's Mothers' Day. I'm thankful for all the mothers who have positively influenced the way I mother. Mama! I'm thankful for the hurdles she overcame and/or at least wrestled, to bring us up with values, conviction, humor, work ethic, warmth and smiles. She taught us manners which I didn't really appreciate until more recently. She modeled prayer and Bible reading and it was a powerful model and I'm grateful. Now I'm ear deep in raising teenagers and appreciate Mama's efforts more.

Mama reading to us
Mama reading to us, 1971 or '72

I am so disillusioned with motherhood. I want my kids to know my deep love for them. Gordon has told me a number of times that they don't feel I love/like them. It's a preposterous notion. I hope it's his idea and not theirs. My kids have all taught me special things and I adore each one in a different way. They're all so different and bless me in different ways. I'm thankful for the variety.

Stephanie's birth shocked my "old man" to death and brought forth the bones of this "new man," new creation. I'll ever marvel and be grateful for the profound spiritual awakening God brought to me through her warm, pink little body.

Full bodied and quite upset after the birth ordeal, Christopher was precious and sweet. I was shocked yet again by the intensity of this love called motherhood! I was a great mom to Christopher those first four years and when I saw him over the years after that. But as I only realized in the past six or seven years, he felt abandoned by me when I lost custody of him. Will this pain, his or mine, ever subside? Probably not in this life. Something about fallen man, sin nature, imperfect world . . . I get it. I just wish it were different. I wish he could know the intensity of my love. It's still there.

I'm thankful God let me be a mom. I tried so hard, put my heart and soul into it and it seems I've failed on every front. Deborah is an absolute mess. Rachael and Hannah have thrown all our values away. I feel like an incredible failure as a mom and I'm so puzzled why it went so wrong. I sought hard after God. I read parenting books, took parenting courses; prayed, taught them Scripture and applied the principles therein, homeschooled. Why is it all so f----- up? I don't understand and it hurts so, so badly. I expected to be so proud of my girls' choices at this time in life. I expected them to be pure, making good choices, etc. 

Mothers' Day. I know this will pass. But today all I'm thinking is how all my mothering seems to have gone awry and I'm confused and disillusioned. Maybe someday it will all make better sense. Today is not that day.


Gordon and Valerie I really suck as a mother to teenagers. I'm really, really bad at it. I don't understand how I trained them so diligently to do xyz and now that they're teenagers they don't do xyz. I've been known to pitch hissy fits, I'll admit. But more than fit throwing, I tend to be a melancholy reflector. I sit for hours wondering what I did to make it all go wrong. Why don't they do xyz? Why do they do abc when they know damn well I'm against abc? I'm quite pathetic.

Among my common thoughts is that a good time for a mother to die is when she has teenagers. Truly, at that stage of her kids' lives, they won't miss her.

One day recently I ventured out of my pathetic reflective mode and demonstrated my fit-throwing prowess. I threw a towel, I said a swear word or two or three, and generally behaved unseemly.

About the time I got over it Deborah had an emotional breakdown. I rolled my eyes and whispered to Gordon, "All these hormones are about to drive me crazy."

Gordon, who had eyewitnessed my fit just moments earlier, droned, "Yeah, not everyone can rise above their emotions like you."

deborah's perfume


(Deborah in NC, 2004, 4 years old)
When Winston Churchill was a little boy, his nanny, whom he loved very much, was diligent in making sure he had Bible and school lessons. His learning the Bible was important to her and of course school lessons weren't optional. Little Winston hated math. During one lesson he wailed that if she made him continue to study math he was going to "bow down and worship graven images." I love that story.

This morning I was looking for an article I wrote about five years ago. I didn't find it but I found this reminder of life back in 2005.

Gordon had just returned from his sister's house with Deborah. Aunt Joanne had given Deborah a gift box with six little bottles of perfume. Deborah was in smelly-good heaven. After much deliberation she gave each sister a bottle of perfume. Her joy in giving lasted about five minutes before she began begging and pleading to have her perfume back.

I explained that she had given it away and she couldn't now expect them to give it back. She wailed as though she was in the throes of death. Seeing that she was losing the battle, she wimpered desperately, "I think you want me to go to hell."

thursday thirteen

Greetings from Alberta.

1. I am home again, having had a wonderful trip to Arkansas to see the southern family. Deborah went with me, her first trip to Arkansas since she was four. Her highlight was spending lots of time with her biggest sister Stephanie.

2. I saw my precious grandchildren. I didn't just "see" them, I babysat them while Stephanie and John Mark took a little vacation to Cancun. (Sucks to be them, eh?) Babysitting Roman and Avery was amazing. I got really familiar with and fell more deeply in love with them. It was truly awesome.

(Memaw, Deborah and me, 2000)

Scan20104 3. There were a couple of unexpected turns during my trip that left me feeling extraordinarily blessed. My grandmother, the last of my grandparents, got very ill and the family was "called in" thinking she was dying. Because of this, I got to see extended family I haven't seen in 20-25 years. Specifically, I was very happy to see my cousins Paula, Vicki and Lisa. It had been so long. Without Memaw's illness, I wouldn't have seen them. Seeing them was a definite highlight of the trip.

4. My Uncle Corkey, on the other side of the family, passed away. It was very sad to see my cousins suffering, but I was so very glad that I got to see them. I haven't seen them in 20-25 years either. Seeing these cousins was another highlight.

5. It was great getting to be with my dad at his brother's funeral. All Daddy's kids were there and that was very very special for him.

6. My grandmother is still in the dying process. Her family is with her right now, probably singing and reading the Bible to her as I type this. That's what they've been doing over the past couple of days. They've expected her to die for several days now. All her remaining kids are with her and a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren. I can't be there, but I'm so very very thankful I got my goodbyes in last week when I saw her. As I was leaving her bedside last week I told her I was going back to Canada and she responded with "When will you be back?" Then we exchanged I love yous. I'm so so thankful.

(Memaw last year when I was down there, 2009)

Memaw 7. To be honest, I assumed my last three trips to Arkansas were my last time to see Memaw. But this time, I'm relatively sure was indeed the final one. She is 94. Thankfully she's been lucid up to now.

8. Deborah, who hasn't seen Memaw since she was four, got to sit by her bedside too. A couple times Deborah was briefly all alone with Memaw. When I walked in Deborah was stroking Memaw's arm. I was touched by her tenderness and sweetness. I was also touched by Memaw's gentleness. I'm sure she didn't know Deborah from Adam, but she smiled lovingly as if to tell Deborah she was special.

9. My book, which was dedicated to my dad, was a big hit with him. I just realized I've not posted since holding the first copy of my book, don't count the cows. It's a lovely little book, I must say. Chock full of mistakes though, typographical, grammatical, layout, etc. 66 mistakes. Yep, I counted 'em. And that's just the ones I caught. Very, very hard on my anal retentive tendencies.

10. School's back in session and this mama is very, very happy about that.

11. My work is going well. My friend Shelly pointed out that I never mention my job. That's because I want to keep it. Have you read about the people who've lost jobs because of saying things on the web? I don't want to be in that number. However, I love my job and am thankful to have it.

12. The sky was spitting white stuff today. What's up with that? It's September.

13. Rachael's boyfriend was over last night. He went into her bedroom. I jumped up and went in there and said, "Excuse me Rachael, is there a boy in your bedroom?" They both turned toward me as Rachael said, "He's just looking at my cds." I said, "So it's true, there is a boy in your bedroom? I thought we had some sort of house rule about this." While she and I talked around Scott, he left her room. I felt powerful and smooth.

for pabob

D's fish 1 These are the last pictures I'll share from our camping trip to Little Bow. Pabob is the fisherman in my family, so these are especially for him.

Click on the pictures to get a closer look at Deborah's face. So sweet.

Deborah reeling in her first fish.

Debs' fish 3



2)  Getting help from Uncle Tom.

D's fish 2


3) She's not exactly comfortable touching it. {Smiles}

deborah is 11 today

Brand spankin' new from the womb, Deborah and her daddy admire each other. Gordon leaned over me and whispered, "She's so beautiful and alert. She's perfect."

She was nearly perfectly content. The only exception was Sundays. For the child who was to become my social butterfly, it's strange that church provided too much stimuli in her early days. She was cranky and unsettled every Sunday till we were home from church. As soon as she and I were in our living room in the rocking chair, she was back to her easy disposition. She was an easy baby to mother.


We thought we were going to adopt little Shawny boy. His departure from our home was traumatic and painful. Deborah would have been a terrific big sister. We fostered several babies younger than her and she was wonderful with each one.

When Shawn left, Deborah talked about the social worker often. She had a broad vocabulary and talked with ease. During this time period, one of her big conversations was about Shawn's social worker. "Patty Jo is a very mean person. She was bad to take Shawn." It was a twisted time in our history. I wasn't doing well emotionally, which precipitated Shawn's leaving. When he left, I sank to deep depths of guilt. Not Deborah. Without a doubt, Patty Jo was ALL to blame for Shawn's departure. She grieved deeply, too.

Deborah was an adorable child. Always ready to love on people and ready to receive their affection too. Everyone loved her.


Deborah 2004 
 Christmas, 4 years old.

 Anniversary 055

Then suddenly she was old enough for Brownie camp. This was her first outing for overnight.
2010 camping little bow 025

We were camping last week, as has happened several times for her birthday. I picked up a cake and we celebrated at the campsite.

It was low key, but was warmly received by my little 11 year old.

Deborah, your life has made mine fuller and richer. I love you. Happy 11th Birthday, my love.


Eric and girls(Grandpa and the girls)

Eight years ago today my father-in-law passed away. He was 67. It was a hard time for our family, but I have some sweet memories from that time that I cherish.

We told the kids that Grandpa was very ill and that he would get to go to heaven soon. Deborah was nearly three. Rachael was nearly seven, Hannah was nearly six. Each of them processed it very differently. Rachael acted like it was no big deal, but that's a regular coping mechanism of hers. We knew it was big to her.

Hannah was astute and forthright. During prayer time at church on the Sunday before he died, Hannah's voice rang out clearly as she asked for prayer. "My grandpa in very sick and he hurts really badly right here," she said as she pointed to her side. (He had liver cancer.)

I thought Deborah was too young to process it one way or the other. I was wrong. One day I was in the garden and I overheard her talking to herself in the tree-house. "Grandpa is very sick and he's going to heaven soon." She said it several different ways, several different times. At that point I knew she was agitated too.

The call came that he'd passed away and we went to his house. We gathered around his bed and his kids and wife told stories, we prayed and sang a few hymns. We learned that one of Eric's favorite hymns was "Morning has broken, blackbird has spoken...." We sang it.

When we cleared out of the room for the funeral home to come, Hannah asked if she could see him once more. She and I went back into his room alone. She held his hands and thanked him for being a good grandpa. She told him she looked forward to seeing him again in heaven and then she kissed him.

After the funeral home had his body on the gurney, the sons and son-in-law carried him to the waiting car. We all stood in the yard, solemnly watching them drive away. As soon as the car turned out of sight, 2-year-old Deborah jumped up excitedly and said, "Yaaay! Grandpa's in heaven." In Deborah's mind, when he got out of sight, that's when he entered heaven.

Over the next day or two, even Rachael revealed her heart. We had learned that "Morning has broken, blackbird has spoken..." was a favorite hymn of his. Rachael drew her therapy. It's a card. The front page is a blackbird in a limb.

Rach's card 1 

Inside the card, there is Grandpa on his bed and Beppe phoning us to tell us he had just died. May always wore a bun back in those days. See her bun?

Rach's card 2 

These memories and this card are precious to me.

today in pictures

031 Deborah, hard at play, stripping the bark off a stick. She sooo reminded me of Christopher as she worked on this. Now this stick is a fine, sharp dangerous tool to protect her in the woods. {Smiles}




A lovely afternoon sky.



"...till the setting of the sun, the Lord's name shall be praised."


Our beautiful front lawn Maple Leaf.



deborah's 10th birthday

Debs bd 10 Today is my little Deborah's 10th birthday. As is the family tradition, she enjoyed breakfast in bed.

Yesterday was Canada Day. As we prepared to go out for fireworks, Rachael reminded me of something I use to say. When Deborah was pretty wee, she'd sit on my lap during the fireworks display and ask why there were fireworks. I'd say "because tomorrow is your birthday." Deborah and I smiled at the recollection of her thinking the fireworks were a big celebration of her birthday.

Deborah's turning 10 is bittersweet. This birthday means I don't have any children in the single digits anymore. It's a milestone, a reminder that time is slipping away, a reminder to number my days so that I may gain a heart of wisdom. Deborah is so social that I can easily lose touch with her. While she's out socializing and making sure she's not missing anything important that may be going on somewhere, she is not with me. With none of my other children have I suddenly been appalled by how big they are. Not so with Deborah. Sometimes she'll walk into the room and I'll be shocked and suddenly saddened by how tall she is. I'll have this feeling that I've not seen her for days. But of course, I see her daily. .

Debs july1 09

July 2, 1999; deborah's first picture When I shop for her I always start in size 6X. For some reason, I'm stuck in 6X. I'll study the jeans and think she's bigger than this. I know with my head she's much bigger, but my heart has to be convinced every time. I'll move up the rack and finally stop at size 12 and wonder, when did she get this big?. It's a disconcerting emotion.

But it's also quite sweet to see how our little lady is growing up. She continues developing more sweetness, kindness and politeness. She is strong in spirit and easily speaks her mind and mostly in a self-controlled kind manner. She recently went through her first series of sex-education classes at school. She was thrilled and took it all so seriously. When the boys laughed or made off-color jokes, she'd rebuke, "This is very serious and you shouldn't be laughing and joking about it." I know she must have been a wet blanket, but still it was sweet. She got on a little kick about how immature the boys are. I'm guessing they spent a lot of time talking about "maturity" as it became the buzz word with the girls in the class. "Girls are so much more mature than boys." "I can't believe how immature ---- is." Mercy sakes, I wanted to remind her they are just 9 years old, it's not necessary to be mature at 9, but she seemed too mature to rebuke. :-)

Deborah 2004Deborah is a very thoughtful sensitive child. A while back when I picked her up at school she said it had been a sad day. "Doug's dog Toby died. He left school early and won't be at school tomorrow." She came home and promptly made Doug a card. It said something like, "Dear Doug, I'm sorry about Toby. He was a good dog. He is waiting on the rainbow bridge for you in heaven. To be absent from the body is to be present with God." Theology aside, it was terribly sweet. She drew pictures of Doug and Toby and finished it off with lots of crosses. Then she took a box of Little Debbies and rode her bike to Doug's house for a bereavement visit.

Deborah finishes kindergartenEvery Saturday when we volunteer at the nursing home (this is something we started in January at Deborah's suggestion) you'd be amazed at Deborah's acumen for dealing with seniors. She speaks clearly and loudly. She touches them easily. She serves them cookies with a bright smile and a "how are you today?" Her favorite part is walking with Nellie. Nellie cannot string a coherent sentence, but she loves to walk with Deborah. They walk the wing back and forth, holding hands.

Today is a special day. I've had a Deborah for 10 years and positively cannot imagine life without her. She is nothing short of a delightful joy, a tender strength, a purposeful blessing.

God, I am thankful that you created Deborah and allowed me to be her mother. Please keep Deborah safe and healthy and continue to draw her to you, to personal powerful relationship with you. Help her be all you created her to be. Be glorified in Deborah's life.