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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tavin’s Tale

This is more of an update than a blog, because so many wonderful people, all across the WORLD, are praying for our son, Tavin. I’m so thankful for all of you!

Today we received the results from the bone scan, and not surprising, they came back perfectly fine.
Here’s what we’ve gone through and discussed with the specialist:

  • Jan. 16 is when this all began with a trip to ER. They determined he was NOT constipated, but gave him an enema anyway. He was in excruciating pain as he tried to “go”
  • Jan. 19 he went to his pediatrician and she determined he IS constipated and prescribed a laxative.
  • Jan. 28 was the 2nd trip to ER, they did an X-ray on his stomach and informed us that he was NOT constipated. The amount of feces he had in his bowel was normal; however, his lower intestine was filled COMPLETELY with gas. They determined the laxative was making matters worse. They prescribed something else, which was only a 5 day regimen.
  • Feb 4 we had to make an emergency call to our pediatrician who wasn’t on call that weekend. The on-call doctor recommended we buy “over the counter” laxatives because he sounds like he’s constipated. I explain everything. That the ER meds worked for the 5 days, but now we’re done and he’s back to being in pain. She refills the medication.
  • Feb. 6 Tavin is in SO MUCH pain, that we had to make an emergency doctor’s appointment. Our pediatrician was out, but the doctor on call would see us. While waiting for nearly 35 minutes, Tavin writhed in horrific pain on the lobby floor, screaming in agony, only to be told the doctor was “too busy” to see us. We decided it’s back to ER, although we know we’ll get no answers there again, either. (This is also the day my mother was admitted in the hospital.)
  • Feb 7 Another trip to ER, only to wait for an hour. We realized after all that had been done the last time, we wouldn’t get answers again, so we went to our Lifegroup and had Tavin prayed over.
  • Feb 8 our pediatrician calls us and recommends we put Tavin back on the laxative and double the dose. She refers us to a GI specialist up at Children’s Hospital. We take a video of Tavin in so much pain that every time he stands up to walk, he collapses down in pain.
  • Feb 9 is our first GOOD day with Tavin since the pain started. However, it just so happened, this was the day we went to see the specialist. The night before we took a video of Tavin in horrific pain so we could show the doctor. The specialist takes a strep test, a feces sample, and sends us to get an ultrasound done for a hernia. The specialist said that since Tavin looked normal that day, there wasn’t much he could do for us. He didn’t care to see the video, nor did he look at the X-ray we brought. Ultrasound was fine. No hernia. No strep. He’s NOT constipated.
  • Feb 9 back to ER, because the specialist recommended that we take Tavin to ER every time he’s in pain to try and get a CT scan DURING his pain. On the way back home, Tavin’s pain started again and we rushed him to ER only to sit and wait. He had a bowel movement and it was done. ER was useless.
  • Feb 17 Tavin has a colonoscopy and EGD, results are fine
  • Feb 27 Tavin has a bone scan
  • Feb 29  Results from bone scan are fine. We discuss dairy allergy, they say to try it, but after hearing more of Tavin’s symptoms, the PA from the specialist’s office determines that would not be causing these problems and it sounds like he’s constipated. When I asked if it’s possible Tavin is holding it in, she said with the laxative we give him daily, there’s NO WAY he could possibly hold it in. However, with the laxative we give him daily…HE’S NOT GOING either! But the pain, on the other hand, is not going away!

My child is screaming out in pain, and now he’s getting so used to it, he’ll hold his breath or put his hands over his face to keep from screaming! He even, instinctually, started doing lamaz breathing! While we are forcing him to go by spreading his legs wide open and holding him close as he sits on the toilet, he now screams, “NO! NO! NO! IT HURTS!! IT HURTS!! MOMMY, IT HURTS!!!!!!!!” Sometimes it works, but the last few days we’ve had no success.

So here’s the verdict: he’s constipated, he’s not constipated, he’s constipated, he’s not constipated, give him a laxative, no that’s complicating things take him off the laxative, put him back on the laxative, he’s constipated.

It’s not allergies. It’s not cancer. It’s not a bone infection. It’s not constipation. It’s not a hernia. It’s not strep. There’s no blood in his stool—so that’s something. HOWEVER…we did get results back that he has acid reflux. Go figure.

We’re at a complete loss; however, the pain is absolutely real and awful for Tavin to endure, for us to witness, as well as listen to on a daily basis.

So…now you all know as much as we do. Which isn’t much.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I Love You. Thank You.

Hand Tavin his milk: “Thank you.”

Give Tavin a snack: “Thank you.”

Open the door for Tavin: “Thank you.”

Let Tavin play with the iPod: “Thank you.”

Tell Tavin, “I love you.”: “Thank you!”

Tavin understands the value of “thank you.” He inserts it in the proper places and very rarely needs to be prompted. But to say “Thank you,” after you tell him you love him? Seems like those time honored moments when you told that hunky boyfriend you loved him and his only response was, “Thank you.” Your heart sinks and you feel…dejected.

Not with Tavin. When he responds with a “thank you” after you tell him that you love him, he genuinely means it. There’s something so sweet and sincere about. He’s truly grateful that we love him. He  doesn’t only understand the idea of thank you, he also understands the value of being loved. He’s honestly thankful for that.

There are a million people out in the world who feel unloved. I know, I was one of them for most of my life. I needed to be validated by those words, regardless if they were honest, because I didn’t realize the value of love. They seemed like empty words to me because no one seemed to say it without an ulterior motive. Jared knew this about me, and instead of always just telling me he loved me, he showed it, much like how we now show our love to Tavin.

Tavin is so loved that he’s truly grateful for it. Although it’s an everyday occurrence much like his snack or glass of milk, it’s still a gift to him. He still sees it as something that is being “given” to him and he cherishes it.

I’m not offended when Tavin says thank you after I tell him I love him, because although that’s the response I instantly receive, it’s also followed with, “I wuv you too mommy.”

If only we could all be so grateful for the love we receive.

circus 025

Friday, February 24, 2012

Circus, Circus

circus 017

Lately my life has felt like a three-ring circus. One crazy, freaky event after another. In the first ring is Tavin’s unknown stomach ailment; in the second ring is our lack of finances; and in the center ring is my mom’s deadly cancer. Each thing keeps taking it’s turn in one ring or another, but always making a debut in the center ring.
We’ve been cooped up in this house for months, unable to do anything. Recently we were incredibly blessed with some extra money, so we decided to do something fun for ourselves. The circus was coming to town and Groupon offered a deal we couldn’t refuse.

Since Tavin’s colonoscopy and EGD last week, we prayed that Tavin would feel well enough to make it through the big event. We had a good day on Tuesday, then Wednesday was awful. Yesterday morning was okay, but then he was in enough pain that he couldn’t even nap. We were a bit concerned about taking him to the circus, but we didn’t want to let it stop us. Being stuck in the house because you’re broke is one thing, but not being able to go anywhere for fear your child will end up on the floor writhing in pain is entirely different.

So we splurged on McDonald’s and Tavin ate well. He was incredibly excited for the circus, since I had shown him some videos to prepare him. He kept clapping his hands and then rubbing them quickly together to show his enthusiasm. “What will we see at the circus, Tavin?” I’d ask. And he grin wide and say, “Tigoors. Elfants. Cwouns!” And then he’d laugh hysterically.

So our trip to MickeyD’s was good. The trip up to Milwaukee was great. But the second we pulled in front of U.S. Cellular Stadium, his pain began. He began to panic and cry, holding onto to his tummy. The look in his eyes was heartbreaking. He knew what this meant: that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the circus.

When we were waiting to get our tickets, Tavin at one point collapsed on the floor in pain. I immediately held him close and prayed in his ear: “Lord Jesus, just give us this one night. Just let him enjoy this. Give him this. After all he’s gone through, please give him comfort and peace tonight. Let him experience some fun again!” And he was fine for the rest of the night!

circus 002circus 005

I’m not sure what’s afflicting my poor baby, but I do know our prayers are working. It hasn’t been an overnight success, but I was recently reminded of Daniel’s story. He had been praying and fasting for 21 days and saw no results from his prayer. On the 24th day, Daniel was greeted by an angel who told him this:
"Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia” (Daniel 10:12-13).
Whether we believe it or not, outside of our natural sight is a spiritual warfare beyond anything we can imagine. Our lives are at stake everyday, but we have been promised by God that we are surrounded by angels who protect us. We may not see instant gratification from our prayers, but God heard us the second we cried out to Him and immediately sent our answer. Those angels dispatched to our rescue are going through literal hell to reach us. It’s no different than Rescue Missions in war. It may not happen right away, but help IS on its way.

We also need to remember that this is not our battle, but God’s. In the midst of a terrible battle, Jahaziel did something unique that provided him with a great victory. He knelt down and prayed. While he did that, the rest of the congregation “praised God at the top of their lungs” (2 Chronicles 20:19).
“As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah and they all ended up dead…God had given them JOYFUL relief from their enemies!” (2 Chronicles 20:22, 27).
Joyful relief. That’s what we need.

Some people may not believe in spiritual warfare, or believe that what’s happening to our son is a demonic attack. But why is it then, that at every moment of joy he gets to encounter, it’s somehow quickly ripped away from him. Those instances just seem to obvious to be coincidental.

When we got home, Tavin had an incredibly rough night. Night terrors. Screaming. Fear. Crying. Coughing. Stuffy nose. All night. He finally got some rest at 6 AM and slept until 10:30 AM.

Monday morning Tavin will be getting a bone scan done at Children’s Hospital. They will be looking for Discitis and Osteomyelitis. These two things can be easily resolved through simple antibiotics. I’m not wishing any harm on my child, but I need answers and resolutions soon. One more day of his pain is too long for him to keep enduring. So we are praying for real answers. We are praying for our angels to keep fighting our battle and win quickly.

I’m desperate for our days to be more like moments like these:
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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blogs About Blogs About Blogging

blogs about blogs
It’s all the rage now: blogging about blogging. Everyone wants to know: How Can I Make it Big in the Blogosphere?

Since Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman website skyrocketed to fame and success, everyone’s out to be like Ree, anxious to get a piece of the pioneer pie. And if you truly want to drive traffic to your website, you apparently need to write a blog about blogs about blogging.

So why are these types of blogs making so many bloggers successful? Because they are feeding the need. The need right now is for easy access to stardom. To be a cyberspace celebrity. To make it big in blogging.

I must confess, I was one of those bloggers desperately seeking the secrets of success. Each site I went to gave the same advice, and as someone who has done all the steps, it doesn’t guarantee instant traffic. It takes a lot of hard work and a real perspective of who you are and what you truly want your blog to become.

Being Sponsored: What Does That Mean?

Not much really.

After spending days on end searching for product affiliate companies to “sponsor” my blog, and being selected by a a fistful of those sites, my blog traffic hasn’t increased, nor am I making any money at it. In fact, it was only last week that I found myself jumping around the house, all excited that Clever Girls Collectives accepted my blog and I signed an actual agreement. To be honest, I have no idea what will happen next. I don’t know what I should or shouldn’t be doing. I have no idea what this company is doing for me, if anything at all.

And then I got carried away with nine-million badges on my primary site, NOTE TO SELF: Daily Reminders from God. It began to look like a bored, silly schoolgirl’s notebook cover. I was under the impression that by having those badges, it too, would drive traffic to my site. However, I think all it really did was drive more traffic to their sites! So I decided to be a bit more choosey about what I plastered on my blog page to keep the integrity of my content. Speaking of…

Content is King

“Content is king,” they say. Who is “they”? Well, they are the bloggers blogging about blogging. Their content is apparently king, well, mostly queen, because most bloggers seeking instant fame are women bloggers, blogging about parenthood, life, cooking, sewing, and home organization. Then they begin endorsing products for money. Some of these bloggers seem to be making a pretty nice living doing that.

  nothing important
But here’s the real problem: No one is really writing about anything important anymore. The current objective in blogging is to blog about blogging. And the advice most of these sites recommend is to do just that: blog about blogging. Provide blogging tips, even if you’re new to the game because it will drive traffic to your site. Everyone wants to know “How To Blog for Cash.”

I’m very happy for those who are making a lucrative living off blogging, and I won’t deny that I wish that could be me. However, a very smart woman, Lisa Cash Hanson, founder of Mompreneur Mogul, reminded me that my blog is not really a “blog,” but rather a ministry:

“Your blog is centered on your faith so it is an entirely different audience than those who want blogging tips or do product reviews. In your case it is a challenge because the blog in my mind is more of a ministry. In that case, God gives the increase.”

Why did I have to dig through so much garbage in order for someone else to tell me what my blog is all about? The success of my blog isn’t about money, it’s about who comes and who stays and who cares to come back again and again. What matters most to me is that people will find Truth for their lives. I spend a lot of time researching scriptures and praying about how God’s Word applies to the topic I’m writing about, which is usually centered around a personal prayer that people can relate to.

Right Writing for Your Readers

There’s a problem with all of this, particularly when you write a blog with real content rather than fluffy fluff about fluff. I don’t write fluff. I write God’s Word. I write to encourage people, not sell them on a product. However, with that being said, I have collaborated with Book Sneeze and Blogging for Books, reviewing Christian books. Here’s why this works for me: I love reading, and I get to choose FREE books I want to review. I know my readers, I understand what they respond to, and I have control of my content. I’m writing about the right stuff for my readers.

How to Have a Successful Blog VS. a Greedy Blog

So if you’re hoping to have a successful blog, rather than just a blog about blogging in hopes of driving in traffic or making money, here are my suggestions:
  • Be Authentic! Don’t try to be like Ree. She found her niche, but her niche may not be your niche. My niche doesn’t fit into those popular categories, and my readers aren’t looking to be sold.
  • Know your readers: What are they looking for? What do they care about? What will they take away from your blog? Don’t minimize their needs.
  • Blog for a Cause: What are you passionate about? Write about it! Tell your story. Tell cyberworld why it’s important that they, too, get involved. Find charity organizations online that are looking for bloggers. I blog for Gospel for Asia and Compassion International. Each month I receive a writing assignment and I can blog however I want to on the subject. Those blogs tend to get more hits than others. (I’m currently getting 90-100 hits a DAY on just one post that was written for Compassion International, The Power of One Moment.)
  • Find Other Blogs Like Yours: Read their content and write comments on their posts, making sure to include your blog site address. Since I started doing that, I noticed TONS of traffic coming in from their sites. Some sites I comment on are very well known sites, others are just sites I truly love. I don’t write comments merely for hits, I write comments because I genuinely like the content. And trust me, commenting on Pioneer Woman will NOT get you hundreds of followers. There are way too many comments on her site to even get noticed half the time.
  • Blog Hops and Linkups: Some of the bigger sites, like Mompreneur Mogul, have a certain number of spots allotted for daily or weekly blog hops. Those who linked up will more than likely check out your site.
  • Follow Me: Start following bloggers from their “follow me” and social network links posted on their home page. Most bloggers pay a lot of attention to that and will actually check out who you are and what you are blogging about. This can be the start of a very wonderful relationship, much like when Chellie, from Art from My Table, saw a comment I posted on one of her threads. 
  • Join or Lead a Group Forum:  I run a group forum on with only 41 members. This is usually where most of my traffic stems from. I don’t post my actual blog there, though. I post a teaser with a link. Stick to sites that are pertinent to your niche.
  • Determine What Success Means: What does success look like to you? For a while I thought it meant hundreds of readers every day, but then something awesome happened through my blog. I will humbly admit my site only gets about 70-80 hits per day. I have very few “followers”, and I very rarely receive comments. However, since blogging for Gospel for Asia back in November 2011, I was informed last month by the organization that 14 children were sponsored through a direct link from my site! THAT is a successful blog.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Trying to Keep it Together

Yesterday was another incredibly rough day for our son, Tavin, who is suffering an unknown stomach affliction. With Tavin’s constant tormenting pain comes Tavin’s constant crying, whining, whimpering, squirming, collapsing, and nagging groans. 

I’ve been battling chest clutching anxiety attacks, and desperately trying not to release my anger by breaking stuff or punching an innocent bystander. My life has become chaotic and sporadic. This blog, which should only take a half hour to write has taken me four hours, as I’ve been called away to comfort Tavin, calm him down, get him a snack, give him medicine, get his juice, and hold him because he just needs his mommy. I’m happy to oblige, but unfortunately everything else in my life is suffering.

I was supposed to start my post-abortion counseling and facilitator training last week, and I couldn’t do it with everything going on. I was following a B90 (Bible in 90 Days) program and I’m currently three days behind. When my mom was in the hospital last week, I was only able to go see her once. I’ve had very little time to focus on writing. My primary blog, NOTE TO SELF: Daily Reminders from God, is meant to be “daily,”  not sporadic, reminders from God.

Everything I need to be doing, I haven’t been able to do either: church, Life Group, make dinner, clean, grocery shop, and even sometimes showering! (I know: YUCK!) This is what my life has become. And yet, I haven’t cracked…yet. I’m trying to keep it together.

I’m (barely) keeping it together by yelling at God, crying to God, humbling myself to God, worshipping God, praying, and asking others to pray for us. Although I’m three days behind in my B90 reading, I refuse to give up. I still open my Bible every night and read whatever I can before my eyes close in utter exhaustion from the day’s chaos and confusion.

I keep it together by keeping my connection with God. As often as I want to walk out on God like a betrayed lover and quit Him for good, I don’t. I keep Him nearby at all times. I remind myself of Who He is by teaching Tavin Who He is. I am convinced that whatever is happening in our lives, God will turn around for the betterment of not only our lives, but others, too; because God’s plans for our lives never exclude others who can benefit from our tragedies and heartache. I keep telling myself that…

I also keep it together for the sake of Tavin. I see his innocent face and determine to fight for him since he’s unable to do it for himself. And that sometimes means fighting the devil himself!

Last night my brother-in-law came over to watch Tavin so Jared and I could go out and celebrate Valentine’s Day and to get out of the house of a screaming, crying toddler in pain. We went to Red Robin’s and on our way out we grabbed a balloon to take home to Tavin. He loves balloons.

When we got home, I went in to say goodnight to Tavin and gave him the balloon. He wasn’t sleeping because he was still in agony and whining a bit. When he saw the balloon his whole face lit up. A sight we haven’t seen in quite some time! He laughed and played with the balloon and suddenly found himself able to stand up and chase it. As he giggled, grabbing for the balloon, it literally popped in mid-air! It popped so hard pieces of the balloon stuck to the wall! Tavin’s face dropped and he ran, crying with tears streaming down his face, into my arms. I was beyond angry at that point.

“That’s all he gets?” I boiled inside. “One lousy moment of joy and then it’s RIPPED away from him!?” I wanted to cry, but I wanted to comfort Tavin more. He just quietly sat in my lap, not moving. That’s been his story. Lifeless. Helpless. Hopeless.

In my Spirit, I felt the enemy tapping his talons in that balloon and screaming, “OH NO HE WON’T!” I felt it. I saw it. I was irate.

The devil underestimates me. He should know by now that the more he tests me, the more my anger is turned towards him. He’s trying to make me quit, and I won’t! He thought he could throw us off track by taking Jared’s computer, but I refused to cave in and bought a laptop on credit. He thought he’d get me to quit Care Net Family Resource Center because I didn’t have the energy or patience for it, but I’m not. I’m venturing forward to help women overcome the trauma of abortion, and help save the lives of unborn babies! He thought he’d get me to quit my blog by distracting me with Tavin’s illness, but I won’t, because God is using it in a mighty way!

I get it. I see what he’s doing and I’m going to fight, not only for my life and the plans God has for me, but for my family and the plans God has for them! My anger only intensifies my relationship with God. It only makes me want God more! And so I run to God. I drop at His feet and demand that He listens. I beg for an opportunity to kick the devil in the teeth and light the eternal flame to his doom. I’m sure I’ll be standing in a very long line, but I know God will grant me the honors, and maybe that’s why his doom is eternal, because so many will have the privilege of lighting his banishing blaze!

I’m trying to keep it together. I’m not giving up. I’ll never give up.


{See what God has to say about this. Click here to read, Just Being Real.}

I'll also soon be reading, K.P. Yohannan's book, Discouragement: Reasons and Answers, that I downloaded for FREE. Click here to get your free copy, too!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

An Open Love Letter

To my dear, wonderful, and loving husband, Jared:

cute couple

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the day you asked me to marry you. And this will be our first Valentine’s Day we won’t be celebrating it.

Our lives have become crazy and chaotic. Somehow the devil has taken us off course, and our focus has been on Tavin’s stomach afflictions, our financial downfall, and my mother’s cancer. At times there seems to be very little hope for our little family, but through it all one thing has remained true and faithful: your love for me.

While my heart has been closed off, and my affection has been concealed, the fact still remains that my love for you is stronger today than ever before. Your strength props me up, your faith in God inspires me, your dedication to your brothers humbles me, and your commitment to me and Tavin leaves me breathless and in awe.

I am far from perfect. Sometimes I feel utterly unlovable. I know that’s not true, but I often wonder how you can love me through all of my emotional ups and downs. Throughout my life, so many men left me because of that. Men always loved my outgoing, free-spirited, silly side, but when life gripped me and I needed tenderness, they refused to love the other side of who I am.

Together we are a perfect fit. When we first met, we both confessed that we didn’t want children. That was a relief. However, at one point you changed your mind, and it broke my heart because I knew I didn’t want anymore children after already raising Josh. I never saw myself raising another child. I never saw myself as a very good mother to start, so to do it again was something I had little desire to do. But there was something about your love for me that changed the way I saw myself. For the first time in my life I no longer believed the lies about myself. Instead, I saw what you saw in me, and I never felt more alive. Today we are raising a beautiful, intelligent, affectionate young man. You changed my life for the better.

When I had Josh, twenty-six years ago, my heart ached to find a man who would love him as his own. I wanted a man who would truly cherish me, flaws and all. I ached to find true, honest, real love that lasted not just for a moment, but for a lifetime. I needed a man who understood me, who cared, who wasn’t afraid to be weak at times. I needed a real man, not the world’s macho idea of what men were supposed to be like. I wanted someone to share life with me, and be my equal. I wanted to be taken care of for once in my life, instead of always having to take care of everyone else.

Through countless years of searching, all I found was heartache and misery. Abuse and instability. Until one day, when I had had enough, I cried out to God and told Him, “I can’t be trusted. My judgment concerning men is always off. I continue to keep repeating the same cycle over and over again, yet each time it hurts even worse. I want what You want for me, whatever that may be, even if it means being alone for the rest of my life. I trust that whatever You have for me is better than anything I could ever find on my own.”

God gave me my heart’s desire when He placed you in my life. In fact, at one point, God revealed to me that His love for me is in close comparison to how you love me. For the first time in my life, I truly understood unconditional love.

You think I’m sexy in my pjs, with my hair oily and matted. Not a day goes by that you don’t tell me how beautiful I am. When I snap, you never snap back (although you have good cause to do so). When I feel unaffectionate, you never push or complain, nor do you use it as an excuse to look somewhere else. You accept me as I am and never try to change me. You are not disappointed in my humanness, nor do you complain that we sit at home night after night. You love to sit together in silence, and you love to share your dreams with me. You support everything I do, and make a point to make sure I have everything I need to succeed. You cook. You clean. You do laundry. You change poopy diapers. You get up early with Tavin and let me sleep in. You give me my private time. You encourage me to do things I love to do. Simply put: You take care of me the way a real man should take care of a woman.

I am thankful for you every day, even if I don’t say it. But more than that, I love the idea that our son is watching every move you make and will someday make a woman as happy as you make me.

All my love and affection,

Your wife, Tristine

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Vision Board

As some of you may know, I recently put together a vision board. It was something I had wanted to do for years but never got around to. After hearing so many success stories about the effects of creating a visual dreamscape that I could pray over everyday, I was finally motivated and inspired to build my own board. And I was on a mission: Clipping, dreaming, envisioning, and creating. I felt hopeful and alive!

Below is a picture of my entire vision board which is in our bedroom on the wall next to the bed. It is divided into sections. In the center is the word “imagine,” where it begins and ends with “KEEP SMILING” above it all.

whole board2

The upper left half is dedicated to my financial success.

upper left

The lower left hand corner is reserved for family core values and needs. This includes pictures of my mother with the words, “BETTER HEALTH.” She is battling recurring breast cancer.

left side

The upper middle section focuses on my hopes of my blog, NOTE TO SELF: Daily Reminders from God, becoming successful, and prayers of one day getting published by Thomas Nelson Publishing Group.

upper center

Next to that, on the upper right hand is my “Choose Your Own Adventure” corner. This shows places I’d like to go to, or things I’d like to do.

upper right

Below that is my dream home, along with the types of furnishings I’d like to fill it with.

lower right

The lower middle section is my heart’s desire to give to a few charity organizations. We already give to Joyce Meyer, but it is minimal and we’d like to increase our giving, thus the upper left half of the board. Above that is a picture of some techy items we’d like and need.

lower center

And throughout the board are various scriptures of encouragement, hope, success, and salvation.

I probably should have been a bit more specific in some of the things I put up there and how I placed them. Within a few short weeks, some of my visions have come to pass, not quite how I was hoping, but nonetheless, the board is working.

The photo of Thomas Nelson is directly next to the “BLOG” picture. I am officially writing for Thomas Nelson, but as a book reviewer for their exciting new book review program, Book Sneeze. And although that’s exciting news, my blog has also been accepted by some very well known branding, promotional, and affiliate marketing companies specifically for women bloggers to help drive more traffic to their sites. I’ve been accepted by SITS Girls, Clever Girls Collectives, and SheBlogs. I was also informed by Gospel for Asia (a charity organization that I blog for), that fourteen children were sponsored from a link on my site in only two short months! And I also started blogging for another charity organization, Compassion International. And according to, I’m pretty darn influential in cyberspace.

Above the photo of me and my older son, Josh, is a cutout of hundred dollar bills. This month we have received $500 cash from various (generous) friends and family who are genuinely concerned about the financial situation we are in and wanted to help.

The magazine clipping of the laptops and computers came to pass, as I was finally able to purchase a laptop (mind you on credit, thus deleting the “WE’RE OUT OF DEBT” hopeful on the side of the board) and give Jared my PC that was built for me by a very wonderful and thoughtful friend a few years ago. Jared’s near-new iMac crashed a few months ago and was unable to compose any music during that time. We also had no money to get it fixed or replaced. It broke my heart seeing him so lost not being able to do what he was born to do. I just didn’t care anymore what it took. He needed a good computer to compose his music, and it paid off…

I volunteered to put together a video for Care Net Family Resource Center and Jared composed the music for it.

The owner of the video production company, Suite Imagery,  loved it so much, he hired Jared to do another project. When Jared completed that project, the owner was so impressed that he’s now eager to start promoting his business with Jared in mind!

As far as Disney World goes, unfortunately we won’t be going there anytime soon, but we were able to buy Tavin a Mickey Mouse talking Valentine’s stuffed toy. Again, maybe I should have been a bit more specific. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. Tavin loves it as if he’s at Disney World every day! He carries Mickey EVERYWHERE he goes.

We are also “FEED(ing) A NEIGHBOR IN NEED,” as we made it a habit to include Jared’s two brother’s for dinner every night. They are two young (broke) bachelors that literally live around the corner from us. We’ve made a commitment to help them anyway we can, and aside from loaning them our car when they need it, it’s all we have to offer. This fits into my family section of “FAMILY / CORE VALUES" that we are embedding into our son Tavin’s life.

I highly encourage you to build your own vision board. As you can see, the possibilities are as endless as your “imagination.” Pinterest is a fun way to put together a virtual vision board (find me there), but you can also find great pictures there to download and print and build a real board that you can see and touch and pray over every day…like we do.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Homophobic Myth of Christians

Do I hate gay people?

That’s like asking me if I hate TV. I like certain shows, but there are many I dislike. Be more specific.

Because I’m a Conservative Christian, that has automatically lumped me into the homophobic category of hate mongers. This is a homophobic myth of Christians.

There are three types of Christians in the world:

  1. Those who live in Old Testament Law abiding rituals
  2. Those who have taken it upon themselves to act on God’s behalf as Judge and jury
  3. Those who throw all of that out the window because they understand grace

I fall into category three. However…

I do not hate gay people. What I do hate is when gay people accuse me of hating them and go out of their way to somehow prove their point that I hate gay people.

One day on the city bus in Chicago on my way to work, a black man sat next to me on the empty bus and he started to talk to me. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying because he spoke like he had rocks in his mouth and the bus was loud. I kept saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you.” With that, he stood up and pointed his finger in my face screaming, “It’s because I’m black!” and other horrific obscenities he felt he needed to spit at me, most of which consisted with the color of my skin.

I don’t hate black people, but I didn’t like that guy much at all.

Once on friend’s facebook status, a gay man accused me of being homophobic because I was talking about Christ. No matter how nicely I tried to explain to him that I didn’t feel that way, HE continued to harass me with vulgarity. At one point, when I stated that Jesus loves everyone, he shot back with, “I hope your son turns out to be gay so you can hate him in the name of your God.”

I don’t hate gay people, but I didn’t like that guy much at all, either. I did, though, pray for him and hoped that whatever hate he had for Christians would be healed.

I run a group discussion on, and there is a young gay man who joined the group specifically to taunt everyone. Without really ever reading my blog postings, he would pick and choose what he wanted to pull apart and accuse me, and others, of spreading lies and hate. No matter how nice we would try to be to him and tried to share the love of Christ with him, he would ignore that and focus on his own misconceptions of who we are in Christ. He believes the homophobic myth of Christians.

I don’t hate gay people, and I don’t hate him, but I surely don’t like how he treats Christians. How, then, is gay people’s hate toward Christians any different than the very hate they are raging about?

Somehow these particular gay people need to justify their own anger. They are always looking for fights. I guess I could then in turn say that all gay people hate ME because I’m a Christian. But I’m smarter than the average bear. I don’t follow that rule of thinking. As a matter of fact, I have a very dear, wonderful friend who is gay. She is like a sister to me. I adore her, and she cherishes me. So that theory then, is shot right out of the water. Not all gay people are mean spirited and hate Christians, but those who do are the ones I don’t care for. Not because they are gay or black or whatever, but simply because they are cruel and close-minded human beings.

Many Christians have falsely taken it upon themselves to scorn gay people. That’s the sad truth, and I hate that many gay people have felt the pain of this kind of disgraceful behavior. I know what the Bible says about being gay and that it’s deplorable to God. I know that we are not to act in such ways. But I  know that Jesus told us to love one another. I also know that Jesus died for them just as much as He died for me.

As a follower of Christ, I know the difference between between right and wrong. And although many Christians think they are right in accusing and scorning gay people, I know that the Bible says that’s very wrong! We are to hate the sin but love the sinner.

Let’s not forget that Christ told the Pharisees, “Those without sin cast the first stone.” If you have a stone in your hand, you better put it down.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cancer is Pro-Choice

Over the past couple of weeks since Susan G Komen decided to halt funding to Planned Parenthood,  I’ve heard many pro-choice advocates screaming, “Cancer doesn’t care if you’re pro-life or not.” I beg to differ.

Cancer is absolutely, 100% pro-choice. It chooses who it will attack. It chooses who it will kill. It chooses when it will take over. Cancer has control of all choices, while life has none. So wouldn’t it make complete sense if we supported an organization that cared about life rather than deliberate murder?

Pro-choice has never been about the right to choose the food you eat, or listen to the music you want to listen to. Pro-choice simply means pro-abortion/pro-killing innocent lives. That’s the simplicity of pro-choice. It’s not really a “choice,” so to speak, that they are rallying for, it’s the right to be free to murder an unborn child they don’t want and didn’t prepare for, as if it were the unborn child’s fault for their lack of judgment or carelessness. (And don’t think I’m saying this out of spite, I’m saying this from my own personal experience.)

Planned Parenthood is the leader in the “pro-choice” movement. That means they are the leaders in the abortion holocaust. Susan G Komen should be granting grants to organizations that are in alignment with their purpose: to save lives.

The pro-choice movement is loud and obnoxious, full of hot air inflated by scandalous lies. The notion that anyone can be moved by this group of anti-life  supporters is both shameful and obscene, particularly any group who claims they are trying to make a difference for those who are battling for their lives.  But now we find out that Komen has backtracked their de-funding efforts. Worse yet, new local Komen affiliates who once never considered funding Planned Parenthood have now come out proudly to declare that they will gladly give your money to support killing innocent lives.

When did one person’s life have more value over the other? Cancer isn’t for a set group of people. It chooses whomever it wants to choose. No one is immune…and that’s the key to this problem. The money donated to Komen was intended for research to find a cure, instead they took your money and gave it away to other organizations that have nothing to do with cancer. Nothing.

Cancer is absolutely anti-life, pro-choice. It’s intent is to kill, much like abortion. It is at times hopeless, as in the case of my own mother. It doesn’t care whether you live or die. It’s purpose is death, much like the pro-choice movement. Cancer focuses on destruction of life. It does care if you are pro-choice or pro-life. It’s hoping you are on its side. And unfortunately, many of you are and don’t even know it.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Our two year old son Tavin has been tormented for weeks with a serious stomach issue. We’ve taken him to ER twice, and both times no one could give us real answers. His pediatrician has been incredibly ineffective in helping him, and instead of finding out what was causing the problem, she diagnosed it with medicine she thought would cure a problem she wasn’t even sure of.

The pain my son has been experiencing has been beyond anything any parent should ever have to watch their children experience. For nearly four weeks, our son has been writhing in pain, screaming in agony, and searching our eyes for some kind of help. This hasn’t been a moment here or there; it’s been four full weeks of torment! Screaming, moaning, groaning, crying, hysterical fits. And when he hasn’t been doing any of that, he’s been lying flat on his back lifeless.

I’m going to backtrack for a minute and tell you that we have always prayed with him, and would scream out the name, JESUS, in authority every night before bed. He got a such a kick out that and would always laugh.

But then we started struggling. Our world began to quickly crumble around us. All of our like-new computers and big screen TV just crashed and burned. At first we took it in stride, but when we saw that we couldn’t get these items fixed or replaced, it was difficult for us. My husband’s iMac was an important part of his need to get his music out there professionally. And my computer was my only source of income as a freelance writer. Without those tools, our connections were lost.

Soon our finances were beating us down. Our cell phones were shut off, our utility bills sky rocketed, and we couldn’t even afford gas to get to church. Our faith was shaky at best. We walked a very fine line. And our prayers stopped. Our hope diminished. But somehow we clawed our way out of the despair and soldiered on. Unfortunately, we forgot to include our son. We stopped praying with him. Stopped calling out on the name of Jesus. Stopped taking him to church.

During that time, too, Tavin started talking about a “ghost.” We believed him because we had “felt” something in the house for quite some time. There was a particular spot in our stairwell where it always lurked. You could feel it latch onto you. There were many times that my husband would need to walk down with me so I could go to the bathroom at night. But I got tired of that thing getting the best of me, so I demanded it to leave by the authority of Jesus Christ. I never felt it again. However, Tavin began to see it everywhere. He would point to a dark, empty room and say, “Look daddy! Ghost!”

During these last few weeks of Tavin’s sickness, we prayed hard over him. We were diligent. At first our prayers were, “Why God!? Why are you doing this to him?” That quickly changed to, “Please God, heal him.” During those prayers, when we would try to get Tavin to pray with us, it nearly drove him to the brink of insanity. He would scream louder and his face would contort and his eyes would turn blood red. We would try to get him to say, “Jesus,” and he would yell, “NO!!'”

Tavin refused to pray, wouldn’t even mention the name of Jesus, wouldn’t say his nighttime prayers, and began throwing horrific temper tantrums. Although that’s natural for his age, these were beyond the normal terrible two tantrums. These were outright hysterical fits. There were times the look in his eyes scared the daylights out of me. And this was all coming from a boy who is outlandishly generous with affection, love and tenderness. Sure he had temper tantrums before, but these were blood curdling fits of rage. Whenever we began to pray for him, his pain seemed to intensify and his screams got louder.

Then the night terrors began. The screeching, startling screams in the middle of the night…night after night after night.

The last two days have been my breaking point. I was beyond the begging prayers of healing and began declaring authority over Tavin’s body and life. When I did that, it calmed him down and it seemed as if his pain was relieved for a time. Again, I tried to get Tavin to come into agreement and pray, but he still refused.

Today was a different story. I proclaimed outright that the devil was not going to control this situation anymore, that I was standing on God’s Word as the Truth and declaring the devil a bold faced liar. Well, that’s when all hell, quite literally, broke loose.

Tavin got worse very quickly. We brought him to the doctor for another emergency appointment, hoping to get some help or be led in some sort of direction on what to do for him. Waiting in the doctor’s office, Tavin’s pain was excruciating. He was literally lying on his back on the floor of the lobby, writhing, screaming and crying. We waited thirty-five minutes and the doctor never called us. We were outraged and frustrated and decided to just leave and take him to ER again, knowing full well we’d get nowhere there, too.

In the car, Tavin was so exhausted by it all that he sat listless and miserable, but suddenly quiet which was unusual. So I suggested we take him home and let him get some rest and take him to ER later if things got out of hand again. Fortunately we went home, because right after we walked in the door, my mother called (we don’t have cells anymore) to inform me that her doctor was admitting her into the hospital. The chemo was taking a major toll on her body. So we put Tavin down for a nap, called my brother-in-law to watch him and off we went to be with my mom.

We came home to find Tavin lying on his back on the sofa. Within minutes the pain started and he was uncomfortable again. Then the screaming started up again, but this time I heard something else. Jared was praying over him, and a language I’d never heard screeched out in anger from his tiny mouth. To the normal ear it would have been frightening, but to me it just set me off in righteous anger.

I yelled for my brother-in-law to come into the bathroom where Tavin was on his potty chair, and said, “This is over! We are praying for him. We are casting this demon out of him.” We all laid hands on him and I began to demand the demon(s) to leave by the authority of Jesus Christ. “You have no stronghold over Tavin. No authority. No right! He is a child of the Living God and covered by the blood of Jesus! You have to leave his body, because you don’t belong here. No weapon formed against him will prosper. He is dedicated and committed to God, so you have to go now!”

As I prayed this, my son’s body began to convulse, and the rage was beyond anything I’d ever seen before. He was beet red and jumping up and down in hysterical fits, and the screams that came from him were unnatural. All of a sudden he began having a bowel movement that was probably the equivalent to ten pounds of waste. He couldn’t stop! At this point he was trembling and his teeth were chattering, so I pulled him close and held him while he sat on his potty and pooped that demon out, and it came out of him without him even having to try. He was terrified as to what was happening to his body. His arms were wrapped tightly around my neck and his body was weak. So I lifted him up, cleaned him off and brought him to the sofa to rest. He laid there quietly for about fifteen minutes and then got up and began to laugh and play just like he used to do nearly a month ago. Oh, how we missed that boy!

I brought Tavin to the hospital to see my mom later, and on the way there we saw the most gorgeous sunset and I blurted out, “Thank You, Jesus!” A tiny voice echoed from behind me, “Thank you, Jeesis.” So I said it again, and he repeated me again. And then we prayed together in the car. Before bed he prayed again and started yelling out, “Jesus!” giggling like he used to do.

Although everything is back to normal and wonderful, Tavin has started to talk about the ghost again. In fact, on the way to the hospital he said he saw it. I suddenly remembered how he used to talk about it before, but these last few weeks he never mentioned it. He didn’t need to. It was tormenting him from the inside out.

Jesus told us we have the authority to cast out demons. I take Jesus at His Word. As believers, we have the very same “plug-in” that Christ had to God; the very same power and authority. Many of us don’t believe that, so we never plug into God the way we could and should. Thank God I did!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Power of One Moment

As a child, I never received much positive reinforcement, if any at all. The nuns at school used to pull me aside in empty hallways and tell me how I was going to hell, and my parent’s were never ones for telling me that they loved me or were proud of me. So moving into my teen years, I never felt I had much potential to do anything.

Imagine my surprise one day when my high school Creative Writing teacher, Vern Weinke, pulled me aside and told me that I was a gifted writer. I will never forget my reaction: I laughed in his face and told him to get lost.

My very first day of class I sat in the back row and heckled him, sneering at the entire idea of the ridiculous required course. However, when I started writing, something changed inside of me, and by the middle of semester, when most of my other friends had dropped out, I was sitting in the front row, raising my hand, and meeting fellow nerds I typically made fun of.

I never trusted anyone to tell me anything good about myself because I never heard it, so I always figured if someone did tell me something nice there was an ulterior motive behind it. But Vern kept on encouraging me, sending my poetry to professors at UW Parkside, and enrolling me (with his own money, mind you) into weekend writing retreats at the college.

By the end of the semester, Vern called me in for a special one-on-one meeting after school. I sat at a desk in the empty classroom and Vern walked in and laid out college brochures in front of me. “I think you should consider going to college,” he blurted. Again, I laughed.

You see, my future didn’t look so bright. I was eighteen years old, getting ready to graduate with honors. Doesn’t sound so terrible, right? What made my situation unique was that I was a teenage mother. My outlook was limited. I didn’t have the luxury of my parents sending me off to college, because for one thing they never thought of me as ever doing anything important. That’s exactly what I told Vern that day. “There’s no way I can go to college. I have to support my son.”

When my son was six years old, and I had established myself at my first job as a very motivated and intelligent Assistant, I remembered Vern’s lecture that day and enrolled in college to become a teacher.
Throughout the several years of my part time college experience, every writing teacher I ever had pulled me aside, gleaming and grinning over my work, and would encourage me to pursue writing as a career. So I eventually changed my major to Fiction Writing. Unfortunately, being a single mom prevented me from completing college because I always needed to work and couldn’t afford to continue.
So I continued to miserably work in dead end jobs where my real talents weren’t appreciated. And then one day back in 2005, after a horrendous skit at a major non-profit organization organizing statewide meetings and being mistreated day after day, I had finally had it. I stayed home one day and plowed through craigslist (when it wasn’t a market for scam artists, but a legitimate job source) and stumbled upon a couple of freelance writing jobs, both of which hired me immediately. To say I eagerly turned in my resignation is an understatement!

Two years later my first novel, She Is…, was published with rave reviews. Today, several dozen of my articles have been published worldwide; my blog, NOTE TO SELF: Daily Reminders from God, is linked to two major charities, and I’ve never looked over another cubicle since.

What’s my point? That one moment with Vern changed my life. It also sparked many more afterwards, thus implementing in me a desire to do something I would have otherwise never considered. Writing was a fluke for me. It wasn’t something I knew I was good at, I just happened to fall into it because someone saw something in me I didn’t know existed.
Although it took me near a lifetime to figure it out, I know I can stem what I do now to that one moment in my life. Back when Vern pulled me aside, I didn’t have the confidence to believe in him or me, so I didn’t bother with it. Today I’m pursuing it head on. What I truly ponder from time and time, is where I would be today had I just listened to Vern in the first place and started college immediately out of high school.
Dr. Wess Stafford, author of the book, Just a Minute, and President of Compassion International, explains how brief moments in life can change a life forever! And scriptures tell us that there is power of life and death in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).

What we say, and how we say it, can spark life or death in someone’s life. We should always try to make a habit of encouraging people, especially young, impressionable children. We may be the only one in their lives who says anything nice to them or about them, and what we say may bring hope into their lives…hope they never knew existed.

How can just a minute change a child’s life? Watch and find out!

{Who has impacted your life in one moment?}