Not that anyone is actually reading this, because I began writing this as a sort of catharsis for myself anyways, but it’s been a long time and I felt like it was time to write a bit of an update. Life’s been so hectic, I haven’t had two seconds to just stop and think, let alone read or write!

In December, Kris and I started talking seriously about getting married. As soon as it may seem for some, we were literally spending all of our time together anyhow–and honestly, when we stopped to think about it, the thought of either of us ever going back to doing life without the other was just impossible. We were meant to be together. It just made sense to get married and join forces! Of course, that meant that we needed someplace bigger to live as well, as we each have a gaggle of kiddos.

In January we were fortunate enough to find the home we are presently renting (which, holy cow, could be a blog post in and of itself with all the renovation, moving nightmares and issues we initially had) and we had to move in within two weeks to seal the deal! Oh, and to further complicate things, BOTH Kris and I had started college classes in January on top of working Full-Time. So, picture this: we are each working full time, frantically packing his place, doing homework, raising kiddos, and MOVING (out of his place at least). Happy January!

Enter February. Our new home was being gradually unpacked, we were still working full time, raising kiddos, living out of boxes, going to his old place to clean it so it can be re-rented (because paying rent at his place, my place and new house?! OMG.) and then we decided that we should get married. Right then and there, February 10th to be exact. We were two people crazy in love, embarking on this grand adventure together–and let’s face it–we didn’t have the money for a big wedding and I couldn’t really think of having a big wedding without my mom there, so one Saturday afternoon in the middle of a stretch of days where I had to work, we got married. We did it in a way where I didn’t have the pressure of organizing “the perfect day” but I dressed up a little, and I knew mom was there when the JP mispronounced Kris’ middle name (which is seriously an easy one) and we all laughed hysterically. We went out to a nice dinner, and then I totally got to put on jeans and a hoodie (I AM still Andrea).

March was a little hard, I’m not going to lie. The anniversary of mom’s death sent me reeling, and I have to hand it to Kris, he gave me so much grace and patience during that weekend. We had all the kiddos, and I was a mess. Just a fricking mess. I was crying one minute, and yelling at people the next–it wasn’t pretty. That man is my absolute rock, though, and he just kept reminding me how loved I am and that he’s here no matter what. I seriously thank God for him every day.

Also, in March, Kris and I had to make the tough decision to retain an attorney due to some ongoing issues with communication between him and his youngest son’s mother. I’m not going to go into great detail about things, because to some degree, I do respect her–but I will say this much about the situation. It’s been a bit of a battle, but we felt that it was necessary to try to make the best possible decisions for what will be in Liam’s best interests as he grows older. My heart aches as we go through this ordeal, because as I reflect on the entire situation, I see so much of myself at earlier stages in my life and how much anger I used to feel regarding my oldest son being raised by his stepmom. I know now that all of that anger stemmed from me feeling shame, and inadequacy–and plain old hurt. In that way, I really am trying to give Liam’s mom some grace and remember that once upon a time, I was there. I have an amazing biological son who has been raised by a wonderful stepmom that I didn’t give nearly enough credit to throughout the years. Nicole, if you ever read this, I can never thank you enough for being Jayden’s mom.

Lastly, in March, we were able to bring my kitty cats (Harley and Skunker) over to our home and to finally get my townhouse emptied out and cleaned for the next folks to rent. It was such a relief to finally be done paying double or triple payments and to focus on getting all of our things entirely unpacked and put away.

April was super exciting, as we decided that it was time for Kris to quit his job and become a full time student and stay and home dad. We’re so fortunate that he’s able to do that–since he’s a Navy veteran, the post-9/11 GI Bill is covering the cost of his education as well as providing him with a housing stipend, so that is helping to cover what would be his part of the bills. It’s awesome, because we were able to adjust how much time we get with his two older boys and so now we have them around 50% of the time. I never thought that having a house full of kiddos could be so much fun! In April, I started spending Tuesdays working in the SIM lab up at United Hospital teaching Critical Care SIM to RNs that are new to an ICU environment (in addition to my normal work), and have really enjoyed learning that aspect of healthcare. Also, I took another certification exam and PASSED!!! I acquired my CCRN on April 28th!! I was SO excited to achieve that certification so early in my career, as I’ve only worked in a critical care setting for a short time. We also added a new member to our family in April, Kane the Lab/Bulldog mix joined our family. He’s definitely Kris’ dog, that’s for sure. He’s about 10 months old and has lots of energy…

And here we are in May! Kris and I are (finally) done with our Spring Semester of classes and are about to start Summer Semester. Kris got two A’s and a B, and I got straight A’s! Not too shabby for all we had going on, huh?! I just started working day shift after about 2.5 years working nocs…not sure how I’m adjusting yet. The kiddos are excited that school is winding down, and they’re eagerly anticipating summer vacation.

All in all, it’s been a huge change since my last post during Thanksgiving. We moved in together, got married and went back to school–but what hasn’t changed is how I feel about him. Marrying Kris is the single best choice I’ve ever made in my life aside from becoming a Nurse. He is hands down the love of my life. He is the kindest, funniest, sexiest, sweetest man that I’ve ever known. I seriously just look at him some days and am absolutely blown away that he chose me to be his forever. I mean, it isn’t paradise every moment–hell, we have five kids (depending on the day), two cats and a dog–but even when it’s crazy and loud and chaotic, there’s no one I’d rather share it with.


Today is Thanksgiving–and clearly it’s been some time since I’ve written on this little blog of mine. For once, it’s not because I’ve been busy working or avoiding life–it’s because I’ve been enjoying LIVING. Enjoying the day to day. And although tough sometimes, man it’s beautiful.

So many things have happened this year, and so many things have changed…and in turn, I’ve changed in many ways. When all has been said and done, I’m thankful that I can look at myself right now, Thanksgiving 2017, as a completely different person than I was on Thanksgiving 2016. Some of the things that have changed are menial, superficial even–while others are huge and have effectively altered the course of my life. All of the changes, the growing pains, even the heartache have resulted in who I am right now and I’m thankful for all of it.

-I’m thankful first and foremost for the littlest loves of my life. Bailey and Zalen are my greatest joy and the single best accomplishment of my life. Watching them grow and change into these awesome people continually humbles me and fills me with so much love.

-I have so much gratitude for my friends who have rallied around me this year more than ever, surrounding me with love and support during what I can only imagine are some of the hardest times I will ever experience. People that I hadn’t seen or talked to in a long time came from near and far to support me during the time after my mom passed and I will never be able to properly thank them. A special thanks to Katie–who after 18 years by my side is still my rock, my family, let’s just face it–we just know too much ūüėČ

-I’m thankful for my career. Being a Nurse is my passion, my life’s calling. Having the opportunity to work in a field where I have the privilege to enter into the sickness and suffering of others and try to use my knowlege and skills to make an impact to alleviate symptoms or pain, or just to cheer people up is something that I will never take for granted. I’m so thankful for an employer, manager, and colleagues that encourage me to further my knowledge base and am proud to be an RN.

-I’m thankful that I have the most AMAZING man in my life, Kris, that is without a doubt the love of my life. I haven’t laughed this much, smiled so much, or felt this much joy in a relationship–ever. He absolutely rocks my world, mind/body/spirit. I can’t say enough about how over the moon happy he makes me and how absolutely excited I am to see what the future holds.

This year has definitely been a challenging one on many fronts, but God is so good and He has provided for me in just the perfect ways, as He always does. Of course I wish that I could call my mama today, but instead I am happy that she’s spending her first Thanksgiving in Heaven today with Grandma and Grandpa.

Happy Thanksgiving to anyone reading this, and my God Bless you and yours!



The air is turning cooler here in Minnesota, the kiddos are back to school, the leaves are falling from the trees, and my favorite season–yet the one that I was fearing the most this year is upon me in full force.

Now, one might ask why on Earth I would possibly be afraid of a season, of all things…specifically one that I have always loved. I have a few thoughts on that; Fall symbolizes a time when the days are becoming shorter, the darkness is prolonged, the cold air is more prevalent and can result in a desire to “nest” or to stay in side with loved ones rather than to be out and about, it’s a season in which things are dying in preparation for a long period of stagnation and cold–and to be honest, I was looking at the first period of time this year in which I would be facing life (mostly) alone.

See, my world had gotten a whole lot smaller this year, in many ways. My dad had come to stay with me much of the summer, so I had his companionship–but he has since returned to his home in Florida. My dear friend and mentor, Karen, has followed her heart and her dreams and moved from MN to Missoula, MT (and although I’m super proud and happy for her, her absence is certainly felt). My super awesome (and blessedly quiet) next door neighbor Teri got engaged and moved away, leaving me to miss our brief interactions and chats (and to have to tolerate quite a bit more commotion next door). Then the obvious. 6+ months into the grieving process and I just want to call my mama. Like, every day.

But just as it was starting to cross my mind that I MIGHT be all alone and it MIGHT be tough to deal and I was having all this additional anxiety…and worry…and unrest…

I met someone.

First of all, that sentence doesn’t even do this man, or this situation, or the way that I feel about him even the tiniest bit of justice. I truly feel as though meeting him was divinely orchestrated by the good Lord Himself.

I had joined a (pretty stupid and very well known) dating app at the urging of some coworkers earlier this summer and was bored and often appaled with the prospects. Let’s just say that I “swiped left” on the majority of the state of MN and much of Western Wisconsin. I met one person and didn’t have a connection, leaving me pretty convinced that I should just continue life as I knew it–after all, I have great family and friends, fantastic kiddos, a job that I love…not everyone finds their match. But then, someone whom had caught my eye a some time ago suddenly “matched” with me. Honestly, I didn’t give the conversation my all, I was pretty disenchanted with the whole dating app thing at that point–but he was funny, polite and interesting and we easily went from the app to texting to a few epic long phone conversations and then met a short time later.

And this is the part where I feel like a goof.

For YEARS (seriously) I have been plagued with well-meaning people saying, “When you find the right person, Andrea, you’ll just know,” and I have honestly thought that they are a bunch of lunatics. But when we met it felt easy, natural, like I had known him forever. When he kissed me…I quite literally have no words to express what I felt, what I still feel. There is such an insane connection between us that I don’t even know how to describe it appropriately. I truly feel things for him that I hadn’t felt before, and things that I have felt before but didn’t know that I was capable of ever feeling again. I knew from the moment that I met him that something was different this time.

Let’s be real here–is he “the one?”

Man, oh man, I sure hope so. I have never felt this way for anyone before. It is seriously like my mom and Jesus sat down at the kitchen table in Heaven and had a heart to heart and were like, “Okay, let’s send her the one that was made for her now. She’s been through enough. Let’s give her the someone to make her laugh, and make her smile–and how about we make sure that he has some kiddos so that she can have the potential for a big family, and on top of that he is super kind and cute and there is a fantastic attraction.” The night I met him, I drove away and thanked God, and my mama for sending him my way. As it stands now, I am thinking that he is IT.

He doesn’t know it yet (officially), but I love him. I truly do. And if for whatever reason, things don’t work out (as they sometimes don’t in our complicated adult lives), I will always be so thankful that I got to experience this kind of a connection. Getting to know him and his kiddos, getting to spend time with him and just be myself and laugh and learn to enjoy myself has changed me, made me better, is reminding me of who I used to be and who I can be. He makes me want to be a better person.

So, I’m not afraid of the Fall this year…or of falling. I have the most amazing man in my life, and the most perfect Father God in Heaven who has heard and answered the cries of my heart and has not–and will not–leave me or forsake me.

Six Months Later.

Six months ago today, my life completely changed forever.

I start a lot of my days with a little anxiety–it’s how I’m wired–but March 3rd, 2017, I had a whole bunch of anxiety. See, I was scheduled to turn in a ton of paperwork into my Bankruptcy attorney to hopefully start closing the door on the financial nightmare that I had worked myself into both separately and together with my former fiance, and I was plain old scared that things weren’t going to work out and I’d be trapped forever in a vicious cycle of working my tail off and being unable to keep my financial head above water. I arrived at the attorney’s office with my heart beating fast, a little ahead of schedule, so I sat in the waiting room for a few minutes.

And then, my cell phone rang, and my anxiety level jumped to level 20 when I saw who it was–my mom’s husband. He and I weren’t so much on “friendly, call-you-up-and-say-hi terms,” so I knew that something odd was happening when I saw his number flash on the screen of my phone. And I stepped outside for a moment and took his call, heard him ask if I’d had talked to my mom lately, heard him mention that he was working out of state and he hadn’t talked to her in “a while,” and I not-so-politely dismissed his concerns, told him I was busy and that I’d call him back.

And I went about my business. I continued with my meeting with the attorney and pushed his concern out of my mind. Just one of the many things that has haunted me all of these months later. (I. ME. MY. SELFISH. BUSY. SELF-CENTERED. All of it has echoed through my head and had to be prayed through and cried over, time and time again.) Obviously, in retrospect, it wouldn’t have changed anything at that point, but it’s crummy to know that once again I didn’t even stop my own agenda to consider that something may have been (and was) seriously wrong. I called him back later, and ended up sending the Rosemount PD over to check on my mom, as I had to go get the kiddos from school.

Those of you who know me the best, know the nitty gritty details about what transpired that afternoon and that night. Details that I won’t share here, not because I’m ashamed of them, but because that’s not what is important now. The gist is that my mama, who had been so very strong in the face of adversity time and time again her whole life–my whole life–had finally been so beat down, so exhausted by her anxiety, her depression, the sheer isolation and desperation she must have felt, ended her life.

So here I am, six months later.

Losing her has changed me in ways that I never knew that I would be changed. It’s broken me, in ways that I never imagined that I could feel broken–inexplicable ways, as though I’m a member of an elite club, and you can’t completely understand unless you’ve lost a parent yourself. It’s made me so deeply appreciate the gift of being a mother myself, and has made me grieve for being less than the mother my two younger kids deserve–and barely a mother at all to my oldest child. It’s left a giant hole somewhere in me, that I know will only be filled in glory when I see her face again, hear her laugh, see the sparkle in her green eyes. It’s made me sensitive in ways that I wasn’t before, where I might bust out laughing in the middle of a store when I hear a song that reminds me of her–or I might sob when I pick up the phone to tell her something and remember that she won’t answer. Conversely, It’s hardened me. It’s given me a sense of humor that is a little twisted, a little off kilter that I probably need to reel in a little. I’ve lost parts of my childhood–the inside jokes that don’t mean anything to anyone besides the two of us, the memories that were made with just us to witness the events. I’ve lost my biggest cheerleader, my biggest fan, and my hugest critic all in one. My favorite comfort food? Gone forever. She truly was my very best friend.


I swear I catch a glimpse of her red hair in my rearview mirror from time to time and it makes me smile. I always tell her she doesn’t have to sit in my back seat (LOL). I have a deeper appreciation for the music that she played at top volume when I was growing up, for the movies we watched together. I am managing my own physical and mental health better than every before to ensure that I will NEVER leave my daughter (or son) earlier than I absolutely have to. I will live every day of the rest of my life PROUD that I am her daughter, that her blood courses through my veins. I will fulfill my dreams and her dreams for me. I will press on, because that is exactly what she would have wanted for me. She was a fighter, and I am too. I will keep reminding myself that this ISN’T my fault, that NOBODY could have prevented this, and I will continue to be a good nurse, a good advocate for mental health and substance abuse and a voice for those who don’t have one. I will live my life, be open to love, and continue to be SO very thankful for my kids and my AMAZING friends who will stand in the gap for me when things get hard and I feel alone. I will continue to thank God for my mom’s life, for bringing me into this world through her and with her as my mama, my role model, my friend–and I thank Him for all the ways He has protected me, provided for me and guided me along these rocky six months and pray that He will continue to do so. I am beyond lucky to have grown super close with my dad throughout this time, and I know that it’s never too late to form bonds with those in our families that we haven’t always been very close with.

I will always miss my mom, of this I’m certain. And I know that some of the time it will be easier on me than others–it will ebb and flow. But my mama was in mental pain here on this Earth, and I know that she is at absolute peace in the arms of Jesus–which gives me a comfort that outweighs any pain that her absence could cause. And someday, she’ll be waiting for me when it’s time to come Home.


Today is (thankfully) the last day that I am 32 years old and I am ending this year of my life with such absolute peace, joy and gratitude in my heart. I really am. It’s been a hell of a journey getting to this point, but in recent weeks I have suddenly realized that there’s a stillness and a peace in my mind and in my heart that I’m not familiar with, that can only be explained as a divine gift–and I’m elated to begin a new chapter, a new year in my life this way. For the first time in a long while, maybe ever, I feel like I can breathe.

32 has taught me many things about myself and about life. Here’s just a few of the things that I’ve learned this year:

Time, is the biggest and toughest one. There’s never enough. You can’t have any more. When it’s gone, you can never have it back. It’s finite, and there are no second chances–no do-overs.¬†Along with time, however I’m learning more about forgiveness. We all know to forgive others, but this year I had to learn to forgive myself. I’ve been notoriously terrible at hiding behind busyness and not being intentional at making time for the people and things that truly should have come first in my life and it took the events of this year to give me the biggest wake up call of my life and make me realize that these years are flying by, and there are precious moments that I’m missing that I will never get back. I’ve been much more intentional about my time lately–and I’ve had to stop beating myself up about the past. Forgiving yourself is critical to moving forward.

Then, there is the truth. Which, although it can sometimes really (REALLY) suck…the truth will, indeed, set you free–just like the Bible says. There are things that I needed to learn about myself this year that I didn’t like very much initially but have helped me grow. For example, I’m a hardcore control freak which can manifest itself in crazy nitpicky and naggy behaviors as well as yelling and generally being mean to those closest to me when I’m super stressed–and for no good reason. Mostly, because I have huge issues with anxiety and didn’t have good coping mechanisms in place. I’m a work in progress, but things have improved. In losing my own mom, this year I realized how important having a good and stable mom is, and I really had to acknowledge that I haven’t been a part of my oldest child’s life at all since he was very young (and only minimally back then) and give his dad and stepmother the credit they deserve–and I’ve intentionally become a more attentive, more involved and better mom to my two younger kiddos as a result of mistakes made and missed opportunities with my oldest child. The truth is, I needed help with managing my stress and anxiety, I’ve had to let go of control and I’ve been a less than perfect and often selfish mother. I’m thankful to have had the chance to learn and work on these things.

Next, Codependency…ah, the topic of codependency. Codependency is generally defined as, “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.” Codependent relationships can take many forms, and have, in my life. In my personal life, from childhood, codependent behaviors were ingrained in who I grew to become due to my mom’s mental illness issues–I grew up feeling the need to take care of her and keep her happy, to make her proud and not upset her in any way. Certain aspects of my codependent traits are a part of my personality and they’re not ALL bad–wanting to make people laugh and be happy, helping others, being concerned about others’ well-being. Being a Nurse, my career is built around helping and “fixing” others. It is what I love, what I feel is my calling, and what supports my family. The issue is that subconsciously, codependency crept into my romantic relationships throughout the years and presented itself most vividly in my relationship that ended this year, leaving me in a state of utter depletion financially, emotionally, mentally etc. I’ve come to learn through a combination of studying the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (my former fiance is an alcoholic/addict) as well as my own journey through Celebrate Recovery that I have struggles and victories with Codependency and enabling behaviors. Thankfully, this year I’ve learned the steps, listened to speakers and their stories, spoken and listened in groups and done a whole lot of work on myself to get to the root of some of my thought processes and behavior patterns. I will likely always battle some degree of codependent thought patterns, but it doesn’t have to have such a big part in my life if I do the work, and I’m so thankful that it’s come to the forefront this year. Maybe someday when I’m ready I will be able to have a healthy relationship.

Lastly, I’ve learned that when you go through tragic and truly life altering circumstances, when you truly surrender your heart and life to Jesus–open your hands, and drop to your knees in surrender and admit that you can’t handle it anymore…. He will step in and lead you through it. Be prepared though, because you will change. I’m still me, but things look different now. Things feel different now. Things are processed emotionally and mentally differently now. At the risk of sounding trite, He has taken my mess and turned it into my message. He has taken some of the most soul crushing loss and pain and stress and devestation and turned it into peace. I truly praise no other name but Jesus for this past year and give Him alone the glory for every victory, for every day I was able to wake up and move forward, for every choice I was able to make correctly, for every single moment that I was able to hold it together when everything inside was falling apart–it was all Him. It’s still all Him. And I see Him in my amazing (did I say AMAZING?!) friends and family and colleagues and loved ones near and far who were there day in and day out through crying spells and yelling spells and mood swings and innapropriate humor and silence…and who just listened. Or sat with me and didn’t talk. I’m such a blessed gal.

Is there still some pain? Yes.

Unfortunately, the presence of joy and calm doesn’t negate the pain. I will always feel the ache of my mom’s absence in my life. Many days, I’m okay….but I miss her terribly at times like now, knowing that she won’t be calling me at midnight for the first birthday in my adult life. She was everything to me, and I will honor her memory with everything I do and know that I make her proud. As far as W goes, I pray for him every day…that he’s clean/sober, that he’s happy and successful and that he’s laughing that great laugh of his and having fun in life the way we used to do before life got so messed up for us. If he’s reading this, I want him to know that I will always love him, his cats are super snuggly and happy and well cared for and that if I ever have a chance, I have a 9th step for him.

Please join me in welcoming the next year of my life. I eagerly anticipate the lessons and blessings that 33 brings for me. Thanks for reading and God Bless you all!

Reality Bites.

I find it totally and completely odd and funny that I can blink and the weeks have flown by since I’ve written. It’s an uncanny reminder that time slows for no one and these precious moments of our lives slip from our hands like sand through our fingers–some of which we are thankful for, others we wistfully wish we could hold onto just a bit longer.

At any rate, life has been “busy.” I’m a self-proclaimed personal champion of busyness– Want me to work overtime? Sure! Cook and clean and run errands and chauffer kiddos around and snuggle kitty cats–AND AND AND…?? Absolutely. This is truly one of my biggest faults–being “busy.” Truth be told, I hide behind my busyness, the many tasks that demand my attention (sometimes all at once) and I immerse myself into the mix of DOING…so that I don’t have to do much thinking. Or evaluating. Or, to be painfully honest, feeling. The past six or so months have had me moving from one thing to another–highs and lows in rapid succession. Relationship ending. Christmas time! ICU training! Mom dying. Meeting a new friend at work and spending tons of time together…and later his return to his home state. Concert I’ve been anticipating for months! Trip to Chicagoland to see some old friends!

And now? Back to reality. But, like the 90’s TV show title states, reality bites.

Reality means that the lengthy period of distraction that I’ve been living in, whether intentional or unintentional, is over. It’s time to officially face life as it is right now. It’s been a blessing in disguise, the busyness getting me through the most fragile part of the grieving process, but life continues and like Ellis Grey (of Grey’s Anatomy, obviously) says, “It’s awful being a grown up, but the carousel never stops turning. You can’t get off.” Isn’t that the truth? It’s like life just expects us to be resilient, to keep on truckin’ despite the painful and wonderful and harrowing and hard things that come our way. It’s odd and sad and hard when things stop long enough to evaluate it all.

It’s been 2 months now since my mom died. The death certificate has been filed, I have copies of both the police report and the autopsy findings. For all intensive purposes, things are finalized. But when I actually stop the busyness long enough to let it hit me that she ACTUALLY DIED–she’s GONE FOREVER?? Well, it’s like being hit by a truck. Oh, and Mother’s Day is next week–the cruelest of reminders that I AM a mother, but I’m WITHOUT a mother. I hate it. I miss her so much it physically hurts to think about it. I see her in my mannerisms, my patterns of speech, hell even the way that I defrosted hamburger yesterday! I still hold tight to the assurance that God has a plan, that He orchestrated all of her days and has orchestrated mine as well, but man it hurts.

And there’s the whole relationship thing. For months and months I was so ANGRY at him, that it didn’t really hurt that he was gone. I was so focused on the crap that I had gone through with and for him, that I didn’t stop to think about the good things. They say that holding onto that much anger doesn’t hurt anyone but yourself, and through these past 6 or so months, I’ve really tried to let go of the majority of it–to give it to God. For the most part, I’ve been successful at doing so–but in doing so, gradually the mourning has begun. I do miss him, that is the parts of him that were truly mine. The parts of he and I that included cooking and laughing and inside jokes and motorcycle rides on country roads. Those times I’m tucking into my heart for safekeeping, knowing all the while that in the grand scheme of things, we just weren’t meant to be. I do wish him well, I pray that he is clean and sober and successful in all he sets out to achieve–I’d like to say that maybe we could be friends someday, but I know him too well to give that much thought.

Apparently this is what I meant when I initially wrote, “Learning to live afterward,” I guess THIS PART RIGHT HERE is afterward. To be honest, I don’t know how to do this part. No clue. This is as bare and as raw and as clean of a slate I can imagine at this point, and the ONE EFFING PERSON in life I would generally call to talk about all of this with is dead. Sure, of course I have wise counsel–friends and family members and mentors etc and I’m not discrediting any of them by any means. But it’s like being the lone oak tree standing in a field. The birds and animals stop by periodically, but at the end of the day the tree stands alone. I’m never alone (thanks Jesus!) but sometimes it sure feels that way…and sometimes it’s that way intentionally. It can be hard learning how to be around people when things have been in such a tailspin. Reality bites. But you know what mama always said?


Today is Easter Sunday. Today is also the first Easter–the first holiday–after my mom’s death. I haven’t stopped to write recently because life has been crazy and busy and I get so caught up in DOING that sometimes I forget to stop and make myself process the many emotions that days like today bring up inside me.

I do, however, have a pretty fantastic writer and activist that I look up to who can sum things up in a way that I can’t articulate. Glennon Doyle Melton is the bestselling author of “Carry on Warrior” and”Love Warrior” as well as a blogger, an activist and a self-proclaimed “truth teller and hope spreader.” In a Facebook wall post dated 5/7/16, Glennon writes, “That’s the thing about truth and God: They will set you free but they’ll hurt like hell first. First the pain, then the rising. First the pain, then the rising–again and again forever.” This phrase rings so true in my life–and in the Easter story. Good Friday we were hopeless–the Savior was defeated by death and all the hope we put in Him died too. The pain. Then, the rising–Easter morning. The tomb was empty, the Savior was risen, death was defeated forevermore. The afterward. The “bounceback,” if you will.

As a Christian, obviously the Resurrection is one of my favorite Bible stories–the one that gives me hope of Heaven, the one that solidifies my faith–but this year, more than ever, I’m reminded that you don’t get the Resurrection without the loss, without the death. You just don’t get Easter Sunday without Good Friday. You don’t get to rise above without going through the tough times first. What I want to talk about though, is Saturday.

On Holy Saturday, it is pretty likely that those who were followers of Jesus were doing one of two things: Hiding or mourning–maybe both. The disciples of Jesus were very likely hiding, because they were in fear of being imprisoned for their faith (John 20:19). The Bible states that they scattered when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:50). I can only imagine that those who had put their faith and hope in Him and in the miracles and teachings of Jesus were reeling with disbelief, grief and loss–how could their Savior be dead? And what happens next?

Much the same, I’ve been living in a very long state of Saturday. It seems lately as though those that I encounter expect me to either be in a Friday or Sunday state of mind (absolutely grief-stricken or moving on and totally fine) but to be completely honest–it’s all Saturday in my mind and my heart. I’m not doing too much hiding, because I really believe that if I let myself get swallowed up in the grief and hide from the world, my responsibilities and my life–the darkness wins. But the disbelief, grief and loss? Yep, all of those. These days, I swing wildly between “duty calls” and business as usual….and feeling like I’ve been punched in the gut. I cruise through the day, clean the house, take care of my kids, go to work and in between all of the doing–WHAM–out of nowhere, a song comes on…someone talks about their mom…something funny or great or crappy happens and I wish more than anything that I could call her. That I could hear her laugh. That I could just hug her and tell her that I love her so very much and that she means the world to me. But then, I take some deep breaths and wipe the tears and continue with life. I know the rising will happen, I’m bound and determined to make my life a life well-lived, a life that will honor my mom’s memory. The darkness in my mom’s mind may have resulted in her taking her own life, but it didn’t win. I effing refuse to let it win. And thanks to Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice, death doesn’t win. Not in the Easter story, and not with my mom.

See today, Easter Sunday, reminds me that after the pain, there’s the rising. After the rain, there’s the sun. After the heartache, there’s hope. Without Good Friday (the sadness), Holy Saturday (the waiting) and Easter Sunday (the rising), there wouldn’t be hope of heaven. Now¬†that’s a blessed assurrance you can take to the bank. Sunday’s coming for me, eventually, but right now I’m totally learning to work through Saturday and that’s okay.

I’ll end this with another awesome quote from Glennon’s Facebook page on April 13, 2017, “When her pain is fresh and new, let her have it. Don’t try to take it away. Forgive yourself for not having that power. Grief and pain are like joy and peace; they are not things we should try to snatch from each other. They’re sacred. They are part of each person’s journey. All we can do is offer relief from this fear: I am all alone. That’s the one fear you can alleviate.”

Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone, and Happy Easter!

Shovel the Sh*t.

We’ve all been there, the moment where you’re walking along and minding your own business…and then something stinks. Congratulations, you’ve stepped in poop. It’s slippery and smelly and makes a huge mess, even if you discover it right away. It’s one of those clean-up jobs that seems to get worse before it gets better. Now, the best case scenario is that you’ve discovered it immediately and although it’s disgusting, the clean up is generally easier. The flip side, is that sometimes you step in it…and have no idea. You end up figuring it out later when you’re searching for the stench and realize that it’s you and you’ve successfully tracked it everywhere you’ve walked as well. Cleaning up this situation can take much longer because of the widespread nature of the mess.

Similarly, there are situations and people in life that cause some “stinky” situations. Maybe your workplace causes you more than the average amount of stress, and you have huge panic attacks while you’re getting ready for work. Your significant other is struggling and you’re staying up all night feeling sick worrying about making ends meet. Or your closest friends decide that they have strong opinions that you oppose, and the interactions that you have with them are causing you to want to avoid spending time with them. Perhaps your family isn’t on board with your life choices and they go out of their way to tell you all the ways you’ve let them down. These are just a few of the MANY life situations that stink.

When you’ve got an animal who uses your backyard as their toilet, you need to get out there and clean up the mess so the yard doesn’t stink, the grass doesn’t die and poop doesn’t get tracked all over your house by Fido or Fluffy. The solution? Shovel the sh*t. You’ve GOT to take control of your life and your emotions, similarly to how you’d avoid stepping in poop. The people, places and situations that cause you the most distress, the most grief, the most trauma–they need to be dealt with or “cleaned up.” Obviously some situations are delicate and a great deal of time and planning can be required (for example finding another job or setting aside money to leave a relationship), but whenever you’re able to safely and confidently move forward with resolving the situation–don’t make excuses, just do it.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how many people stay in our lives out of duty or obligation, how many uncomfortable situations we ignore rather than address, how many times we complain about something without taking action–and for what reason? It’s important to be intentional about the situations and people that we willingly permit to be a part of our lives. Naturally, we cannot control other people and every circumstance that presents itself, however we can react in a proactive and meaningful manner that will set a precedent for the type of behavior that you will willingly tolerate and the situations that you’re agreeable in participating in. I absolutely believe in being kind and civil and polite to everyone that crosses my path, to look for the good in humanity; but there’s a certain point in which loving yourself will help you to love others better.

Earlier this week, I had a very necessary encounter with someone whom had at one point in my life been very important to me–my late mom’s husband. He and my mom had dated from when I was about 12 until I was 18, and then reconnected later in their lives and eventually married. Without sharing all the details, I will just mention that he and she were very happy together for the first period of time that they were together and my teenage years were a lot of fun. He definitely contributed to my upbringing, and was involved in many of my milestones (taught me to drive, cheered at my graduation, etc). Later in life, even after he and my mom had split, we kept in touch. He held my babies when the kiddos were born and we would go out to lunch from time to time and I was happy to keep him as a part of my life. When he and my mom reconnected a few years ago, things changed a bit and we lost touch. Their relationship this time around had a myriad of ups and downs, largely due to her uncontrolled mental illness and his relapse into alcoholism–and to be honest, I developed a lot of resentment towards him. My mom had significant medical needs that he refused to acknowledge or address, and while I don’t blame him for her eventual death, I don’t think that he was the type of husband that she deserved. We made it through her memorial service in a civilized manner, however from that point forward every time I would think of him or hear from him I would instantly feel angry. I’m not generally a very angry person, and I totally agree that anger (although at times, healthy) can be harmful to someone if they harbor the emotions. After some serious thought and discussing things with some wise council, I made the choice to write him a letter sharing my feelings in a calm, non-blaming manner. I also thanked him for being there for me in my youth and then requested that he and I have no further contact.

Anger, resentment, grief, sadness etc. left unadressed WILL end up getting tracked into other areas of your life. Do your best to work through the situations and relationships. Be kind but be firm, and deal with things. Does “dealing with things” mean that you have to end contact with the person or situation? No. What it does mean, is that you bring whatever feelings you’re having to the forefront and let the other person know how you’re feeling and/or what you’re thinking. It may be as simple as an honest conversation with people who likely do care about you enough to listen. Life is short. Honor the relationships and people and situations that make you feel safe, loved and happy. Shovel the shit–and if you can’t do it alone, ask for some “landscaping” help from those who love you.

So it begins…

Hi there, and thanks so much for checking out Being Unbroken. In this first post, I just want to take some time to explain how this blog came into existance and my humble explanation of what it means to live (and be) Unbroken.

Honestly, I’ve mulled around the idea of starting a blog for 3-5 years now–but just didn’t take the initiative to get things up and running. Like many others, I have kiddos and work full time and life just gets busy. How many times have we all put things off that are “non-urgent,” sometimes indefinitely? Well, lately it has been made very apparent that life is SO super short, and I’ve been making a point to change some of my ways…like letting dreams and goals go unrealized, so here we are. I’d like to give a huge “thank you” to my friend Angie for suggesting that I use the word “unbroken” and brainstorming with me about how to make this all come together. I totally know that God puts people into our paths at certain points for a reason and I’m so thankful for friends like her.

The concept of Being Unbroken comes from the thought that so many things happen in our lives leaving us a bit broken. Trauma, loss and change are inevitable in this life, and they can leave us reeling. Being broken is something that we all have in common and truthfully, brokenness is part of the human condition. We all have stories of how various circumstances have “broken” us.

The issue, however, is that some of us set up camp in the middle of the brokenness and decide to just stay there. I’m all for taking time to pause and work through the emotions that may arise during tough times (sadness, anger, fear, grief, etc.) but part of processing the brokenness¬†is deciding what to do next and attempting to carry on with life–creating a new normal. I know, for me, at some points in my life it just felt easier, or maybe even safer to just pull the covers over my head whether literally or metaphorically and refuse to make any steps towards moving on. Many times, the biggest issue with moving on with your life means that you have to actually acknowledge that the trauma, loss or change has happened and things have changed irrevocably. The good news, however, is that we have a great big God who meets us right in the middle of our brokenness. In the Bible, the book of Isaiah says that God will give “beauty for ashes” which has always meant that the hardest worst most terrible things that occur can and will be used for His glory if we just trust in God to get us through them. But how do we get from broken to UNbroken?

We all have a story, a path to becoming broken. Here’s an excerpt of mine: In the past 3 months, I have broken an engagement with someone who meant the world to me. Then, my mother was found to have suddenly died at the age of 56–cause of death still unknown. I’m in the process of a major financial overhaul. I also completed a Critical Care course which required 56ish hours online, 3 months of clinical hands-on experience and classroom learning and a test. Talk about stress. All I wanted to do was hide and eat things that aren’t good for me and cry. But here’s the thing: how does stopping my whole life and hiding under the covers and eating Nutella out of the container with a spoon help me long term? It totally doesn’t! Because the truth is, the longer that I spent in the thick of my grief and shock and stress, the worse I felt. The more I tried to control every last detail of every little thing, it actually imprisoned me, rather than setting me free! So, I started intentionally choosing to live “UNbroken.”

Living an UNbroken life is somewhat of a new concept to me–one that I have come to refer to as “living in the afterward.” My life looks totally different from how it did 6 months ago, and although I still grieve my relationship and most definitely my mama (at the time that I’m writing this, it’s been less than a month since she passed), I have chosen to live. It has become so apparent to me that I can either be stagnant, or I can MOVE. I chose to move. I choose to live. I choose to laugh and love and try my best to find joy. Without all the heartache, I never would have been able to learn and grow in the ways that I am–and for that, I’m so thankful. My faith has never been more intact. I absolutely know that God has a plan for my life and while I am here I will make it a life well-lived. ¬†By no means do I have “the afterward” all figured out, but I’m looking for joy in the simple things–my big soft kitty purring next to me, the way my kiddos snuggle and make me laugh, midnight lunch and laughs at work and especially making the time to connect with people that mean the most to me.¬†The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is MAKE THE TIME. The rest? I’m still on the journey…

Thanks for reading my incredibly long-winded explanation of Being Unbroken’s origin story. My hope is that through this blog, I can post some things that offer hope, humor, distraction and some random tidbits along the way. I’m totally open to guest posts, so if you have an idea to share, click the “contact me” tab. Let’s learn how to Be Unbroken together.