Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. Plans for a hope and a future."

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The meaning of life

Last week, I sat with a family while their mother died. She had spent the night in the hospital. Her daughter called me, frantic, the following morning and pleaded for help.

The whole way there I questioned my ability to offer support for this family in their time of need. I cried- reliving some of my own feelings during Zeta's last moments. Then, I remembered the bittersweet memory of how joyous it was to know that she would never be in pain again....the faith that God has healed her little body. I remembered all the people who held my hand (literally and figuratively) throughout our journey....and I knew...I just knew God was sending me right where I needed to be that morning.

Witnessing the cross from life to death is a very humbling, albeit emotional, experience. You're instantly reminded of the fragility of life and your own morality. Another thing it forces you to do is check your own motives and purpose in life.

I only knew this family a week, but I witnessed pure, selfless love....and It was awesome to know this mother also knew the love of Christ.

Being there- in that moment- made me check myself and my own meaning in I doing what God calls me to I loving and leading and caring for my own family in the way that I should?

What's the meaning of life? It's the meaning you give to it.... we all know that one day our own time will come...will we be able to say we accepted Christ and lived for Him?

"A life without meaning is to cease to exist. We all have a purpose in life; a unique plan that has been mapped out for us from birth. In attempting to discover our purpose in life we often experience difficulty because we look for it in all the wrong places. We all have specific interest and desires which leads us in the right direction, and when we discover our purpose we usually find that we have been preparing ourselves for fulfilling our purpose all of our lives."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Butterfly Crackers

Strange title?


Who would think butterfly crackers are something to talk about?, that would be me!

You see, I attended an event last week for my new job. On the menu, butterfly crackers.

Why is that so cool?

If you follow my blog you already know. If not, well let me tell you. Since 2013 butterflies have held special meaning to me.

It was a few months before our sweet baby girl left my arms and crossed over to Jesus. It was an especially hard day. Stevie and I were fighting to come to terms with the fact that all signs were pointing to Zeta not being with us much longer. We were fighting to let go. On that I walked outside...crying...begging, and questioning God about all the decisions and circumstances we were dealing with...I saw 2 of the most beautiful butterflies I had ever seen in my life! They seemed to dance right in front of me....intertwining....a spectacular show for my eyes alone. I knew then it was a sign....a sign to comfort my breaking heart...a sign that God's grace and mercy would cover my pain. The next day, we met with the team from Hospice Care of South Carolina. The nurse seated across from me at my dining room table was wearing butterfly scrubs. All of that is just the beginning. So many times after that, butterflies would visit us. Butterflies are a sign of freedom, resurrection, and hope. For me, butterflies became "Zeta's sign."

So, it shouldn't really be a big deal that I notice butterflies a lot now....

....except that it is.

It had been a very long while since butterflies repeatedly appeared for me....

Now, it seems to be happening a lot again.

My 2nd or 3rd week with Hospice Care of South Carolina, I was invited to ride with one of our Chaplains. When I got in her car, I noticed a butterfly ornament on her bag. On the ride to our patient's house we discussed the special significance of what butterflies meant to each of us. (By the way, she uses butterflies with a lot of her bereavement groups.) I was a little nervous about the visit we were going on. There was some concern that the family felt "the time" was close. I wasn't sure how I would handle my first up-close situation while working in an "official position" with hospice. I have a history of being able to "keep it together" in tough times....but the question still always dances in my mind, "Can I keep it together when the pain is so familiar?"

I was mesmerized when we entered the house.....the walls were covered in butterfly wallpaper!......I'm pretty sure there isn't much more to say about that. There was a lot of love and peace in that house, and I'm very thankful I was able to witness a small part of it.

Yesterday, I talked briefly to a lady with a beautiful butterfly pin on her badge. She told me about the loss of her mom and how hospice was such a blessing for her family.

Today, I'm praying for someone who also lost her sweet girl.....her latest tattoo....just take a look....

so, butterflies are pretty special to her too....

I'm convinced nothing is coincidental....sometimes, it just takes us being a little more assertive....sometimes we have lots of questions.....and sometimes the answers are as simple as butterfly crackers <3

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

My Why

In the world of competing and fitness there's a saying that goes, "Always know your why."

I've been thinking about my "why" a lot lately.

It's weird because Hospice Care of South Carolina recently posted a video on their Facebook page entitled, My "why" behind Hospice Care of South Carolina.

Our upcoming mission trip, my health and fitness journey, and my upcoming career change......I've been pondering my why....

There are times I keep to myself and other times I feel like showcasing my life for the world to see. It's easier to share when I'm really in tune with my "why".

Well, I was going through an old phone today and came across some pictures.

It's a flyer I came across at a conference I attended shortly after Zeta went to Heaven. It's from Hands of Hope - Hospice Care of South Carolina. That's Jena, Child Life Specialist, holding our sweet baby Zeta. The caption in the corner reads, "This past year, under the care of Hands of Hope, our family lived a life full of hope and purposeful memories"...... a statement I made about our care from Hands of Hope and Hospice Care of South Carolina.

THIS is my WHY. This should be the "why" of why I do live a life full of hope and purposeful memories....It's why I chose to go to Haiti, it's why I push to make myself better, and it's why I chose to be a part of Hospice Care of South Carolina.

I want other people to understand the mission and benefit of hospice care. We were blessed in already having a great home care nurse. With the addition of palliative care from Hands of Hope we had even more support....and finally, during Zeta's last month of life we transitioned to true hospice care.

A loving support network rooted in God's love can move mountains and calm the seas even in the most unbearable situations. I want be the hands and feet.....

So, that's my why....what's yours?

Sunday, May 21, 2017


It's just hard to consider some things a coincidence.

I've always felt this way, especially when a particular verse of scripture continues to show up - like God is screaming at me to listen to whatever He's trying to tell me.

Take Jeremiah 29:11. How many times that verse manifested itself in my life even before we knew all that was to come.

Well, it seems the scripture I should be concentrating on right now comes from the book of James:

Funny thing is, it's not like I feel like I'm going through some big trial right now. If anything, I'm more at peace with myself...and my life...and God...than I have been in quite a while. Maybe He's just trying to remind me through the little things.....

A friend of mine gave me the Made to Crave Devotional by Lysa Terkeurst last week. My friend is someone I really look up to and rely on when it comes to healthy eating, motivation, inspiration, and self-discipline. She knows at least 2 things about me - I love God & I often struggle with disordered eating.....thus the awesome devotional!

Well, just look at what I ran into on Day 4 of the devotional:

(I just shared the whole devotion...just in case it helps someone:)

If you read my last couple of blogs (hey, I've managed one per week...I'm on a roll:P) then you know that this scripture has been staring me in the face a lot lately...and if I'm honest, it really came in pretty handy this week. I fought kidney stones again since last Sunday. This gave me a complete lack of appetite....which led to craving lots of bread and cookies and all things dough-y (think giant cinnabons!) That disordered thinking about food led me to believe that all the soft, bread-filled, gooey goodness would make me feel better....and in all actuality, considering I was eating only half the calories on my meal plan the extra food probably would have given me a least momentarily.....thing is, the moment I would have allowed myself to fall into the trap of comforting myself with food I would have lost my battle. Would I have immediately gained 10 pounds? No, but I would have beaten myself up...probably decided I already failed so I should just go ahead and eat a bag of reeses too...then that would lead to binge eating everyday until I was feeling better....which would have led to who knows how long to getting back on track. Would any of that have been worth it? No, not to me...not right now....venturing off my meal-plan doesn't help me meet my current goals. I guess I can relate it to an alcoholic. I don't always know how to enjoy things like that in moderation! So, right now...if I don't plan for it, then it doesn't need go into in my belly! (side-note, I did plan that once I was feeling better I would have some raw cookie dough I kept eyeing....and Friday afternoon when I started feeling better I did!!!...just don't tell my trainer:~)

I'm sure you can see how that particular devotional was perfect for my mindset this past week.

What's funny goes so much deeper than that.

For some reason, I've had lots of second-guessing going on in my mind this week. Maybe it was because I wasn't feeling well....or maybe it was because of the food struggle going on in my head...who knows.

Stevie and I are going to Haiti on a mission trip this summer. When I volunteered to go I had no idea how we would pay for it and I had no thoughts of safety or anything else. I just felt like God was pushing me to do it. I think Stevie just signed up to protect me:-P Anyway, for some reason there have been lots of little thoughts going on in my head this week. Lots of what-ifs and worries. Like, I don't know where they're even coming from....but they're definitely there. I believe it's Satan's temptation making me question God's hand or protection in appropriate that the scripture from James has been so fresh on my mind for the past 3 weeks?!

One more thing....last week I shared about changing directions in my career....... I have to say I think it caught quite a few people off guard. Understandably so. I had only shared the news with my immediate family, a close friend, my preacher and my administration. I can honestly say it's still something that I can't even fully's just something I feel I'm being nudged to do. There have been some questions people ask - mostly "Why" and "What will you be doing?" A few have wondered why I would leave a job I love and the security of teacher retirement, benefits, and summer break. One person even asked if I would be making a lot more money (because that's the only logical reason people leave a job they like).....with all of these questions I've had all kinds of thoughts in my mind.....but still it's something I feel like I should do. So maybe...just maybe God is using the scripture from the book of James to remind me not to feel deprived over the loss of summers off...maybe there's a bigger purpose and a bigger triumph somewhere.....who knows....I just know I have to keep praying and keep trusting. Maybe Hospice is what God's plan has been for me all along or maybe it's just where I need to be for now....any way that it goes, I'm just gonna trust Him!

Hopefully, if there are questions you have in your own mind right now, maybe something from the book of James....or something else is speaking to you....just hang on!


Friday, May 12, 2017


Change can be scary. I don't think anyone can argue with that.

Change can also be exciting.

Change can be something we desire, something we didn't see coming or something we don't like very much....but still...any way you put it...change is scary!

I feel like my life has been full of changes for the past seven years. What's funny though is how I can sometimes see just a glimpse of God's plans after things have changed. I've often stood amazed at God's timing and how life things often come full circle...even when it seems it would never end up that way.

When I was put on bed-rest in January 2010, I didn't really have any idea that within the next few months I would be resigning from the career I loved so much - a job I felt I was called to do. I had no idea that a sweet baby girl would steal our hearts and change our lives forever. I had no idea of all the challenges we had yet to face.

After Zeta died in 2013, I felt I found another true calling in life (which doesn't seem to happen often)....we helped continue the idea of Team Zeta (started by family and friends) as a mission to serve sick and special needs families and their children and families......and my friend and I took on our own personal missions to "save the world" by spreading the word of Jesus. I loved being able to tell others our story and witness about all the wonderful things that God had orchestrated in our lives....and she enjoyed being the manager, cheerleader, and P.R. director (at least she acted like she enjoyed it :p)..... It gave me a purpose and calling...a way to deal with the grief and also a way to help others.

Within a couple of months I had a couple of job offers and I went back to work. That's what people do. They get on with life and try to get back to "normal" after death. I went to work at AJA. Though my title was the same (school counselor) - the setting was different. I was working with a different group of children in a different atmosphere....but I loved it. I liked the family atmosphere and being able to work through difficulties with older children. I liked being able to openly witness in the school setting.

October 2014 - I heard the sad news that Anita passed away unexpectedly. Anita was the sweetest soul you'd ever meet. She was one of my peer observers during my first year teaching in Barnwell, and she taught my oldest child in elementary school. She even came to visit us in Arizona when Zeta had brain surgery (she was close by on vacation). She always had the brightest smile....seemed forever happy....and never had a bad word to say about anyone...and no one ever had a bad thing to say about her either! Anita was also the person who became school counselor after I resigned. So, January 2015....under bittersweet circumstances, I returned to my passion as school counselor at Barnwell Primary School. Few people can say they have the opportunity to return to "life as they knew it". I realized right away how God had somehow brought all of this together. I still don't understand the whys or all of the ins and outs....but Anita was the perfect person to fill the role of school counselor....the reasons and timing of why I left were not of my own choosing and I knew in my mind I would never be able to return to the same position...people just don't leave this job....she was meant to be there for a purpose.....The first day I walked into the office I remember just sitting there.....dumbfounded. I questioned why my little girl....why Anita... why death...and at the same time I was so grateful that I was back to where I felt I belonged. I ended up writing a lengthy letter to Anita's mom... ..pouring out my heart....sharing my soul....and hoping I could offer at least a little comfort to her. There's a connection you have as a mom who has lost a's not a club that you want to belong don't even ever have to say anything...but there is a connection.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about going back to my old job. I mean, Anita was a class-act. You know, those people that no one can compare? Well, it wasn't like that. Everyone welcomed me with open arms. Just about all the teachers were the same friends I left a few years before. The biggest difference was the administration. Not one administrative person was the same! I was quite worried about how I would fit in.....thankfully, my insecurities were quickly laid to rest and even my new administration felt comfortable and familiar. I knew I was back to where I belonged.

A big thing that changed during all of this time was my drive and mission to share our story with others. Granted, much of it had to do with slipping back into worldly ways and not reflecting and listening as much to God....I mean...when Zeta was alive and in the few months after she died that's all I did.... I prayed...I reflected...I prayed some more...I wrote...I shared...I reached out....because it helped me heal....and because I had so much to tell about all the ways we were blessed. The more I worked and fell back into "real life" the less I prayed, reflected, and shared. It wasn't on purpose.....and no one caused it....I guess maybe I just couldn't quite figure out how to balance my "old" life and "present" life.

So many things have changed in the past 7 years....and things continue to change all the time....Just when I think I have it figured out, I realize there's a whole lot I don't know or understand. I know that I love my life and I am appreciative of every opportunity given to me so far. I know there are so many things I wish I could change, but I also realize that I don't understand God's whole plan. I understand that God calls us to do certain things....and I know that I don't always want to listen....I also know that sometimes I worry about whether I'm doing what God calls me to do or what I want to do....

No wonder change is so scary....I can look back and see that some decisions I've made were absolutely on-point and in line with God's direction in my life....other decisions - well, let's just say...not so much! The best I can do is pray and have the faith that God protects me.

So.... with all of this talk about change, I just wanted to let you know this.....I feel God has led me in a different direction in my life and has given me the opportunity to share our story in a different light. In the next few weeks, I will, again, walk away from a job I love.....I'll miss hugging all my school babies and seeing their smiling faces....... but what I hope to do will be just as rewarding...share a story of hope with the medical community and the community as a whole. I will be working with Hospice Care of South Carolina as an educator/advocate/community liaison....I'll have the opportunity to share our story and experience first-hand!

I'm sure I'll be sharing more about exactly what all it entails as I figure it out myself. Just pray for me. Pray for my family as we embark on yet another change <3

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Count it all JOY

It used to be a common (albeit amazing) thing for me to notice all the ways God chose to speak to me. After Zeta was born, and the year after she died, I experienced the most intense, real, and fulfilling relationship I'd ever had with Christ Jesus.

Regretfully, the two years that ensued after that were filled with chaos, confusion, bad decisions, hurt, and what seemed an impenetrable wall between God and me. I went back to work, my marriage appeared to crumble before my eyes, I had (yet again) lost my plan, seemed to fail at everything (or worse - gave up attempting at life...not caring about myself or anyone or anything else seemed to be the easiest option).....I felt I had totally lost my health declined....and life continued to happen (maybe spiral out of control is a better description). I continued to try to smile, but I felt so empty inside.... and that emptiness filled every aspect of my life....and left me continually searching.

Slowly, over the past year and a half or so, I've started to talk to God again...or maybe I should say I began to listen again....I don't think I ever gave up talking to God....I had plenty to talk about...plenty of reasoning for why I felt the way I felt and why I chose the things I chose and why there just wasn't much purpose to my life anymore. Yep, I had tons to talk about....I just didn't really care to listen!

Well, I've done plenty of listening lately....thing is, I have trouble with the thoughts of how I messed I ran a million miles in the opposite direction of where I had been...that's just Satan trying to remain in my way...If anything, through all of my experiences, I've learned that God is merciful...and forgiving.

A friend recently gave me a book titled Move On by Vicki Courtney. The back cover gives this message "...Once we face our messes, God, with his sweet mercy, can help us get real, deal, and truly move on. Then with Mercy by our side, we are able to break free and experience the grace and freedom God intends." Just a couple of days ago, in the book, I read Courtney's take on James 1:2...."Count it all joy...when you meet trials of various kinds." I spent a lot of time thinking of how that verse sustained me many times during Zeta's short life and how I could count the joy because of the HOPE I held in my heart.....the HOPE through every hospital admission, every procedure.....and even the HOPE through Zeta's death...and the assurance that, through God, she conquered life and death...and that one day I would too....but that's where things changed. After thinking about my running so long from life and God, I began to question how God could have 'allowed' me to make such poor lose my purpose, my vision, my hope....I wondered how He could 'let me' quit caring about much of anything....I wondered how He could 'let' my body fail me.... once I got a grasp on the fact that God didn't cause those things- 99% of it was direct consequences of my own actions - Once I realized that and decided to seek HIM again - things started changing....BUT I wondered if I was so far away from Him that it was just too much work to hope again...or maybe that I don't have the credibility to be "preaching" HOPE to the masses...that's what I have such a hard time overcoming now....Spiritually, I'm in a much better place than even a year's the forgiving myself and feeling 'worthy enough' to share God's great mercies and sing His praises that I have difficulty with right now. I mean, who am I to talk faith when all I did for so long was run away from God - not to mention it was after the fact that I had already fallen flat on my face and understood His power and my weakness when I let go of any control I thought I had after Zeta was born....

Today, our pastor's sermon came from that same verse in the book of James....and he preached on it again tonight...All, I can say is that I'm listening and I'm hearing every word loud and clear. God loves, God forgives....we have control of our own decisions...and yes, even the trials that we bring upon ourselves can produce suffering that leads us to understand the MIGHTINESS of God.

So, you know what? God is still speaking...I'm admitting my mistakes...but (more importantly) I'm also moving on past them...and the most amazing thing? Though our hearts fragile...our marriage is support network life has purpose and most of all.....God is showing up just as real and as intense as before...

Today marks 4 years that Zeta left this earth. That day is a bittersweet memory for sure....The day we held our baby girl as she left all the suffering here on earth to stand in GLORY with JESUS...It probably sounds strange to most...but it was a calm and peaceful series of moments that I cherish...because God had His hand around me as she took her last breath and I in those final moments I never doubted His plan. What's glorious about today is how He used this verse of scripture (more than once) to prove to me that He is still present...still holding His arms wide open...and is still the KING of HOPE and GLORY.

You can take it from me...and ordinary, messed up sinner...searching for longer searching for answers...or read it for yourself here in the book of James....

While you're at it, take a listen to two of my favorite songs:

If I can accept defeat, start again and move on....YOU can too<3


Friday, March 24, 2017

Letting God back In

Grief happens in about a million ways.

Just look around.

March to May always seems the hardest. Zeta was born in March. Three years later, she died in May. Perhaps its not harder....maybe I just reflect more....or take time to either actually feel my thoughts - or run away from them....maybe both..A tumultuous journey of ....well, feeling. No more running...just feeling...and dealing with it.

I think about my grandmoma, who lost her oldest son last year. (His birthday was just this week.) I can't begin to wrap my head around that. Your. Grown. Child. Your hard-working, full of quiet personality grown-up child. A person you've known and loved longer than most anybody else in the world. I can understand at least a piece of that, but certainly not in the same way my grandmoma feels and experiences it. Logical human reasoning tells us that our children should not die before us.....I've seen how much that grief has changed her. We can blame it all on old age. I mean she has a few years on 90....but I know where her mind is...It's tired, it's hurting, it feels broken.

I think about my mom, who lost her brother. They were 12 years apart, so I'm sure, in some ways, maybe he seemed more like a father figure when she was younger. Maybe they didn't always see eye-to-eye.... just like my sister and me (and 99.9% of all siblings).... but he was her brother.

I think about my closest cousin who lost her dad. A pain I don't even want to begin to understand. The expected order of life is that our parents will pass on before us....but where does that leave us?

I think about the thoughts that must surely flow through their minds. I wonder if they feel normal. I question what normal even really means.

Loss impacts us in ways we could never imagine. It can strengthen your faith or crack your soul....perhaps a little of both...depending on the moment.

If I thought I was normal before Zeta died, then I often question if I'll ever feel normal again.....Grief pushes your mind to places you never knew existed...places you wish to never visit again...and places you can't seem to escape...on the other hand it can force you to examine yourself, your strength, your faith. It can cause you to break in ways you never dreamed possible and make you question your trust in everything around you...your trust in yourself....maybe even your trust in God.....

....but God understands that....He created us....He knows we are imperfect....He knows...He just knows. The most wonderful thing is He is always there. HE never gives up.

The first year after Zeta died, I felt at peace. I knew God was there and I felt my place in life. After that, Satan slowly crept into my life. I began to question my capability as a mother, a wife - a functioning person in society. I questioned my purpose. I questioned my worth. I struggled with all sorts of addictions...if you know anything about addictions, you know that not all involve drugs...addictions (simply) involve actions or habits. Some even seem healthy....some not so much.....BUT if you're using your actions, habits, things, whatever - to fill a void or escape feelings....well...then its an addiction. Without even realizing it, I was determined to run away or destroy my life. Slowly, I've found balance...some days I feel almost like a normal person....and some days...well, I might just feel disconnected.

Grief....and addictions can poison your body. I've been there too. Whether health woes manifest from stress and anxiety or an unnamed autoimmune response has yet to be determined....but it's real.

Now, put the grief of 4 very different individuals in one house. Sometimes, we hold the grief in for fear of making someone else hurt. Sometimes the pain of grief comes out as anger towards people who love us most....but sometimes grief gives you awesome perspective on just how precious life really is....

I worry.

I worry about my boys - the fact that they're teenagers now....and they've had this front row seat on a journey they never asked for or even saw coming....I am amazed at how resilient they have been and fear the things that they keep stuffed inside. I worry that me being wrapped in my own grief -and decisions I've made- will one day cause their own brokenness.

I worry about Stevie. Sometimes it is easy to forget that he lost a child too. Sometimes I get so wrapped in my own head...needing and wanting my own things...that I forget.

It sounds is awful.


It is also amazing....and....incredible....

IF you have GOD....IF you have FAITH.

With God All Things Are Possible.

With God, life on earth is not eternal.

With God, Love is gracious, and wonderful, and merciful.

With God, we can beat life....and grief...and death.

During (and after) Zeta's short life I witnessed, first-hand, God's everlasting grace, and strength and mercy. I knew a peace unsurpassed. A peace so unexplainable that all I wanted to do was share it with others. With God, I truly understood the meaning of "All things are possible." I knew....and I know. God has courage when mine is gone. God has understanding when I have questions. God has love when my heart feels bitter. God is everything.

What's frustrating is I know this....I truly, honestly, 1,000 percent know this....and I still fail. I've failed in so many ways that I sometimes question how God still loves me and blesses me in the way that he does. What's frustrating is the fog in my brain, the searching for purpose....the constant thoughts in my head....when I know God is peace.

I let God back in...What's reassuring is HE never left...

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