40 things i’ve learned on my journey to 40



11:34pm, june 22, 2016. i’m listening to sara groves’ floodplain. i’m texting my friend shelly. “are you trying to cry?” she asks. “i don’t know what i’m trying to do,” i respond. “take it all in i guess-the happy and the sad.”  i’m turning 40 in a matter of moments.

i was born june 23, 1976. and now here it is.  yesterday i turned 40.  the women in the above photo, my mom and my sister, are not a part of my life. they haven’t been for a few years now. and it’s sad.

40 doesn’t look or feel like i thought it would. and i have learned a few things over the years.

in honor of turning 40, here are, in no particular order, 40 things i’ve learned as i’ve journeyed to 40.

  1. bodies of water are therapeutic-rivers, oceans, streams, lakes, ponds, mud puddles.
  2. bring butt wipes, air freshener, and magazines for the bathroom when you travel with friends. they will make fun of you at first, but then they’ll all thank you. and they’ll come to expect it.
  3. the church will step in when no one else will.
  4. it’s ok to stay up too late.
  5. you can face cancer with confidence when you know Jesus.
  6. proverbs 19:21 is true.image
  7. i thought having three kids was hard until i had six kids.
  8. i thought having six kids was hard until i had seven kids.
  9. i thought having seven kids was hard until i had nine kids.
  10. nine kids is a little crazy.
  11. when a friend calls for an after bedtime run to target or walmart or the grocery store, GO! there will be a day to catch up on sleep.
  12. your family of origin won’t always be your family. God will often use others to fill the traditional familial roles in your life when your family of origin can’t. see matthew 12:46-50
  13. it’s okay to be a bit out of shape.  i’m not saying i won’t take care of myself, but when i get to heaven the main concern won’t be whether or not i drank too much coke or ate too many french fries.
  14. it’s okay to get a tattoo.  more on that in another post.
  15. it’s okay if the house is a little messy.
  16. knowing you are doing exactly what God created you to do is awesome!
  17. when you pray for His will in your life-WATCH OUT!
  18. be careful of jumping on the oceans bandwagon. if you ask God to lead you where your trust is without borders, He might just do that.
  19. when someone offers help, take it. chances are they won’t offer again.
  20. when you’re so happy you could cry, go ahead and cry.
  21. when you’re so sad you could cry, go ahead and cry.
  22. if you’re feeling depressed, get help.
  23. if you’re not understanding things, seek counsel.
  24. parenting a teenager can be a lovely experience.  i only have one right now so my opinion might change. but right now, i love my 14 and a half year old girl.
  25. when your friend offers you a ride in her jeep, say yes!  and let your hair blow in the wind. and sing loud. and put your arms up like you’re riding a roller coaster.
  26. when you hold a baby, try really hard to take it all in.  they change so quickly and grow up so fast.
  27. God can redeem all of your mistakes. but you have to let Him.
  28. potty training-they probably won’t walk down the aisle on their wedding day wearing a diaper so it’s okay to relax and give it time.
  29. Jesus-surrendering my life to Him is the best thing i’ve ever done, the best thing i’ll ever do.
  30. if God is pulling your heart toward adoption, follow His leading. ask questions. get information.
    see romans 8:15
    romans 8:23
    galatians 4:5
    ephesians 1:5
  31. God will provide in really unexpected ways. be in awe. and say thank You.
  32. PTSD in children is no joke.
  33. take trips whenever you can. i don’t think anyone will ever regret traveling too much, but someone may regret not ever traveling.
  34. God will use all of your circumstances, good and bad, for your good and His glory.
  35. leave big tips at restaurants when and if you can.
  36. tell your friends and family what you like about them.
  37. compliment strangers.
  38. when you’re following God, and He asks you to do something that seems crazy, and most people don’t understand, and some people even tell you not to do it, do it anyway. He knows what He’s doing. trust Him.
  39. all you ever have to be is what He has made you
  40. God will give you more than you can handle, so you have to rely on Him.  in doing so, He will make you brave.










a few years ago, i chose a word for the year. i can’t remember what year it was. i can’t remember what word i chose. i didn’t choose a word for this year. but at the close of 2015, i feel a word has been chosen for me.

my word for 2015 is brave.


i got a bracelet. i thought about a tatoo. a bracelet is sufficient for now.

at the start of 2015, i didn’t think i’d survive if we had to let our littles go.  but i got to the point where i knew i could trust God and surrender them if He called me to do that. i didn’t have to. they are still here. but i think the point is that God needed me to have my hands completely open.  and by His grace, He brought me to that place.

at any point in time, in any year, i never wanted to hear “it’s cancer”.  but i heard it.  and i’m still here. i faced it. by His grace, i walked right into it with the confidence that no matter what, my soul was secure.






i won’t choose a word for this year. we still don’t know what will happen with the littles. we are still walking through the cancer journey. i think it’s better for me to see what this year holds, to look back at the end of 2016 and see what unfolded. to look back and see what word God has woven into my story.


it is well



surgery is today.  friday.  the 13th.  the surgeon said it doesn’t bother him to operate on friday the 13th and we don’t want to wait until after thanksgiving, so here we go.

i am having a total thyroidectomy, central lymph node dissection, and right modified lateral neck lymph node dissection.

basically, they are removing my whole thyroid and all of the lymph nodes in the central part of my neck as well as all of the lymph nodes on the right side of my neck.

4 1/2 hours of surgery time.  estimated.

tonight we had dinner with our two boys.  maddie was at a basketball game and the littles were settling in to their respite care.  praise God for amazing provision for them!

josh and max went to the bathroom and as soon as they left, mason asked me how i was doing regarding the surgery.  i told him i was feeling a little nervous and asked him how he was doing.  he said he was worried.

he’s worried that they’ll put me to sleep and i won’t wake up.

he’s worried i’ll die.

i told him the truth. the last thing he needs is his mom telling him she’ll be fine, and then she’s not.

i told him that, yes, i could die.  that they could put me to sleep and i may not wake up.

but i also told him that it is well with my soul.  because it is.

because of Jesus.

i told him there are some very, very important things in life.  things we need to be sure about.  but there is none more important than the salvation of our souls.  because when all is said and done, that’s all we have left.

i reminded him that Jesus came to save us.  He came and He died.  He died a very violent death, on our behalf.  and then three days later, He rose again.  He conquered hell.  He defeated death.

everyday, any moment, any breath, could be our last on this earth. now more than ever, as i’m heading into a complete unknown where my life feels like it’s literally in the hands of another, i am convinced that this is the only thing that matters.  the salvation of our souls through Jesus Christ.

i’m not guaranteed today.  i’m not guaranteed another moment with my husband, with my children, with my dearest friends, with my extended family.  but if my faith is in the death and resurrection of Jesus, i am guaranteed life forever.

and if my husband and children and friends and family also place their faith in Christ, they are guaranteed life forever too.  we’ll all get to be together.  forever.

what if i’m wrong?  i lose nothing.

what if i’m right?  i gain everything.

my life isn’t in the hands of another, it is held in the very hands of God.  and i know that no matter what comes my way, He won’t let go.  He’ll hold me while i’m here, and He’ll hold me once i’m with Him.

if you don’t know Jesus, don’t believe He is who He says He is, please reconsider.  please talk with someone who knows Him. talk with me.

He died for you. He loves you.



starbucks has a red cup and suddenly the church cares about orphans in america


this keeps showing up in my facebook newsfeed.

apparently some Christians have an issue with the new starbucks cup because it’s red and doesn’t have traditional Christmas designs.

and apparently some other Christians have an issue with those Christians caring more about a starbucks cup than things that really matter.

and apparently to show those Christians that the red cup doesn’t really matter, some Christians are grabbing this image and posting it all over the place to highlight something that matters.

something that really, really matters.

but, why didn’t it matter before starbucks rolled out their red cups?

why can starbucks cause the church to talk about orphans today, but what the Bible has to say about orphans has never really seemed to matter?

and who in this mix is going to be the one from their church to adopt a child from foster care so there are no more orphans in america?

sadly, probably no one.  because it’s fun to jump on the red cup bandwagon.  but it’s not fun to actually sacrifice your life for something you say you believe.

because the 104,000 children in foster care in america who are waiting to be adopted don’t really matter.

because some of the 349,000 churches in america are just waiting for someone else to pick up the pieces of the lives of these precious children in foster care.

because it would be too hard.

because it would take up my time and i couldn’t do what i really want to do.

because kids in foster care have issues and i can’t deal with those issues.

because i don’t feel “called” to that.

because i would get too attached and if something went wrong i just couldn’t handle having to give the child back.

people, Jesus died for us.


and we whine and complain about red cups.  and we throw out a statistic that highlights how the church can eliminate the number of kids in foster care waiting to be adopted.

and we are proud of ourselves.  of our “i’ll show them” attitude.

and kids still linger in the system.

and we still go to starbucks.  and we all drink from the red cup.

and the red cup doesn’t matter. 

“religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” james 1:27




there is no script for this

two weeks ago i was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

honestly, we thought we already had enough going on.

we thought we were already pretty far away from the safety of the shore.

we thought we were already deep enough.

but apparently not.

now we are going deeper.

being led farther.

there is no script for this.

we don’t really know how to feel.

this always happens to someone else, but now it’s happening to me.

there isn’t really a good way to share this news. there really isn’t a right way.

just like the doctor said, “it is cancer”, i’ve been having to say, “i have cancer”.

we don’t know why it’s here.

but we trust Him.  still.

and i’m praying that i don’t take my eyes off of Him.

i don’t want to lose sight of Him.

so we move forward.

we take the next step.  only the very next step.

for us, there is no script for this, though God has the storyline perfectly penned.

You make me brave