Landing in the Right Place

For about a month we have been preparing for Yosa and her family to arrive. As soon as they were assigned to Greensboro we were alerted that Yosa – a 13 year-old girl – had some serious health challenges and would need to go straight to the hospital upon landing at the airport.

Because of the housing crisis, it is the rare occasion when we can have a new apartment or rental home ready by the time a family lands. Most often new arrivals must stay in temporary housing for a few weeks before their new home is ready. But in this case, I knew it would be best if we could have a home ready for this family of 5. It could make all the difference for Yosa, her parents, and two younger brothers, to have a comfortable and safe place to rest as they adjust to their new life in the US, and also do what is necessary for Yosa to receive the medical care she needs. I was able to connect with a local landlord who has worked with us many times in the past – Mr. M is supportive of our work and has lots of experience working with refugees – the best kind of landlord! Thankfully he had a 3-bedroom rental home coming available right on time. And at an affordable rental price! Jackpot! We immediately got to work assigning the set-up of this home to our superstar volunteer, Ms. K. She has been volunteering with us for many years and we knew she and her team could make things happen and have this home move-in ready when the family arrives. It is such a blessing to work with people like Ms. K and Mr. M. When we say “It takes a Village” we mean it!

In this case, Ms. K was able to use her many connections in the community to completely furnish the home. (It helps to live in High Point and have links to the Furniture Capital of the World!) Mr. M had a couch and chair for the living room, and Ms. K was able to secure the bedroom furniture, dining table & chairs and household items. Most of these items are gently used, but they look great and are in fantastic condition! I have been so happy knowing things were coming together perfectly to accommodate this family and their unique needs.

We know Yosa and her family left Afghanistan in the fall of 2021 during the Taliban takeover. From Afghanistan they travelled to Jordan where they have been for a year or so. Yosa has been receiving her needed medical care while there. Now they are finally headed to the US. I cannot imagine such a journey – the trauma they have endured leaving their home and having to stay in an unknown country for an unknown amount of time. The stress and fear her parents must feel trying to take care of their children and especially a medically-fragile child in all of these new and unknown conditions. It is hard for me – a middle-class white American – to fathom.

Their scheduled arrival date is less than 7 days from now. But within the last 48 hours we have learned more about Yosa’s condition and we have realized that Greensboro may not be the right place for her. While we have excellent medical care here, she needs a medical center that can provide specialized pediatric care. UNC Chapel Hill is probably the best place. So while details are yet to be determined, there is a strong possibility that instead of coming to Greensboro this family will be placed in Durham/Chapel Hill, so Yosa will be in the best location for her medical needs. We will know early next week – a few days before their scheduled arrival – if our sister office in Durham can make things happen so the family can land there this week and settle there permanently.

If things work out, the family will hopefully be able to fly directly into RDU, Yosa will be able to go straight to UNC Hospital, and the family will be able to have a place to live in that community. The details are unknown at this moment! If the switch to Durham will not work out in the next few days, we will welcome them here, they can stay in the safe & comfortable home that is ready for them, until new arrangements are made to move them to Chapel Hill/Durham.

As the Housing Specialist who made all of the housing arrangements, a change like this is not easy. It is frustrating to fight the housing systems in the US to get things lined up quickly, only to have to undo all the actions already taken. But in this case, it is the right thing for the family. Yosa needs to be where her medical needs can be best cared for. The family needs to be in a place where the public transportation system is easier & more reliable to get Yosa to her doctors as needed. Landing in the right place will make all the difference for this family.

*Yosa and her family are from Afghanistan, but otherwise all names & details in this story have been changed to protect their privacy.

I have been doing the housing/refugee resettlement work for about a year and I’m sorry to realize I have only blogged twice! This work is hard and demanding and while there have been many incredible stories, I have done a poor job of finding the energy or time to share. I will try to do better! Hearing the stories of these courageous families puts our privileged American life in perspective. I’m grateful for the experience of doing this work.

Making New Friends

We spotted them by the white IOM bags they were each carrying. Jimi* was one of the tallest, darkest men I have ever seen – at least 6’5″. He walked gently down the concourse with his mother (65), his nephew (13) and two nieces (9, 6). I think Jimi is in his mid-20s but cannot remember because I have already read dozens of case files this week and it’s only Wednesday! Such is life when you work for a refugee resettlement agency.

My colleague Olive greeted them in Arabic. They were a beautiful family, it was obvious even behind their Covid-required face masks. I wish I could have taken a picture to share with you, but privacy! Jimi speaks Dinka and enough Arabic to be able to communicate with Olive. He tells us his mother speaks a little Arabic. The children may not, it was hard for me to tell. They were each decked out in what appeared to be new clothes – smart looking sweats & jeans – probably provided by IOM when they left Egypt or landed in DC. I still have lots to learn!

Displaced Sudanese teen, photo by Mauro Fermariello 

We collected their luggage (2 large and 1 small suitcase) loaded into our cars. I had Jimi and his nephew in the car with me, it reminded me of driving home from the hospital with my newborn — precious cargo aboard! The women rode with Olive. We drove them to the Long-Stay Hotel. Affordable housing is elusive in our community – like most US urban areas – so we had to place them here until an apartment opens up in a couple weeks. A local volunteer brought them a hot meal which is standard protocol for arrival and Olive would be heading to the grocery store for them in the morning. After getting them checked-in, the youngest, Maddy, quickly turned on the TV and we found some cartoons. I sat with them while Olive checked their temperatures (we are still in a pandemic, after all) – they were all fine. Since they came from a refugee camp, they are required to quarantine in their hotel room for 10 days before going anywhere. Then Olive gave them a quick cultural orientation in Arabic. This was enough for safety and communication for the first 24 hours — it includes how to call 911 (“Help. No English. Arabic.”), how the amenities work in the room (A/C, door locks, not letting strangers in and where smoking is/isn’t allowed). Then Olive presented Jimi with a new cell phone and made sure he knew how to use it (he did). She left a 2nd phone for Mama when she was ready to give it a look. She seemed tired from a few long days of travel.

Olive and I left them to rest and we wrapped up our day. She had the chance to briefly speak privately with Jimi, where she learned that his sister (the mother of the children) went missing, so he and his mother have raised the youngsters. They have not seen their mother in years. Jimi told Olive his mother has “seen too much” and suffered greatly. I don’t know the particulars but they are probably like many Sudanese who land in our community — they flee the war in Sudan and end up in a refugee camp in Egypt. They are usually there for a few years (or longer) before they are able to get their refugee status approved and travel details confirmed. Even when they know it’s their time to ready for leaving the camp, it can still take more than one year to get all of the Is dotted and Ts crossed. Refugees are highly vetted – they undergo numerous security screenings that occur over 12-15 months, and when that is attained, they undergo the health screening which is valid for 90 days. Hopefully travel arrangements will be confirmed before their health screening expires!

They go through all of this because it is not safe to live in their homeland. They chose to leave their family and friends and their home to these unknown experiences because they felt leaving gives them a better chance of staying alive. Can you imagine?

My official role is to secure housing for the refugees that are constantly arriving in our community. There is a solid system in place, but safe, available housing is a challenge so I have my work cut out for me. Right now it is exciting and a bit daunting. I look forward to sharing some of my experiences via this blog. As you settle for the day in your home, take a moment to be grateful for the roof over your head, the clothes on your back, the food in your refrigerator; and the healthy people in your family. These things cannot be taken for granted.

*Names and some details have been changed to protect privacy

A Memory of a Memory

I wrote this on 9/11/2013 but don’t think I have shared it here before…

Anniversaries. Most are meant to remind us happy days, but some some will always remind us of sad days. I wish the sad anniversaries didn’t have to come around. It’s uncomfortable & sometimes heartbreaking to remember them. The anniversary of my grandmother’s death – sigh. The anniversary of my first wedding, and the anniversary of that divorce – blah. The anniversary of my father-in-law’s death – sniff, sniff. My wedding day! My sons’ birthdays! My parent’s 50th wedding anniversary! Thankfully, my happy anniversaries outnumber my sad anniversaries and for that I am grateful. But this one. Sept. 11. It rattles me. I want to push it from my mind, pretend it didn’t happen. But that would be insensitive and un-American. I was 15 weeks pregnant, on a business trip in Hartford CT – not that it really matters. But like most everyone else I remember watching the news (standing in Sears, watching on the For Sale TVs). We were on the road and had to get to some news. The horror of seeing that plane crash into the 2nd tower. Wondering what the hell was going on?? Who would do this? Those poor people stuck in those buildings! Hartford is a commuter city to NYC so everyone around me seemed to have a neighbor or friend or family-member in the City at that moment; some in those buildings. I was stuck there for a week and finally made it to DC via train on Friday. My sweet husband drove from Greensboro to DC to pick me up & we drove straight home, with the demolished Pentagon in view. It was exhausting. But it did not compare to the heartbreak & anguish of those victims & those families. So what now? What did I learn? I learned that we are vulnerable. Not always vulnerable, not nearly as vulnerable as most countries & economies on this planet, but we are vulnerable, one way or another. We are strong. We came together in those following days and it was then that my personal feelings of American pride truly developed. I learned that yes – bad things do happen to good people – but life can & will go on. The best way to move past a tragedy is to live a good life. Remember the tragedy, honor those who suffered, and then vow to live a fulfilling life as a gift to those who cannot do so. Live a good life in protest to those who might think we don’t deserve it. Live a good life to serve others in need, to honor God, and to find meaning in the everyday. Live a good life that will allow our children & the next generation to do the same. So that is what Sept. 11 brings me this year and every year. A time to remember those who suffered on that day, and who suffer every day, and a time to remember my blessings. It’s not much. But it’s all I’ve got.

The Pentagon - September 11, 2001 | Remembering september 11th, September  11, September 11 2001
View of the Pentagon as we drove out of DC
XX station exterior
Hartford, CT Union Station

Change – LOL

Change – LOL; July 29, 2020

Mystery. Wonder. Connections. Play. Jesus. ODC. Creativity. Feminist. Worship. Questions. Laughter.

I’m sure you have some amazing friends but you know the one or two that really shine? The select few that you cannot believe you were lucky enough to meet? Today I’m celebrating a friend like that.

This woman rolled into my life about 9 years ago when my boys were little. She was the new Director of Children’s Ministry at church and came in with a bang. At first I remember hearing how amazing she was and how lucky we were to get her! She came with a wonderful reputation. And then she started sending email to the families and we thought “Good Lord! What is she doing?” but it didn’t take long for me to understand that she had joy and energy oozing out of her being and she was so excited to serve our children and us. It was the grace and the wind of the Spirit blowing through.

The creativity and energy she shared with and for the children was spectacular. I was a Sunday School teacher at the time and learned so much about relating to the kids and meeting them where they were. She loved all kiddos, but especially embraced the child who could not sit still, who could not stop talking, who could not really focus on the lesson. (One or more of these kids might have been mine! Ssshhh.) She taught us (the teachers) that the simple lessons are the best. That the wonder and mystery of God and the love of Jesus was what we wanted to impart. It’s okay if they didn’t memorize scripture versus or sit still the whole time. When they left did they feel loved? Did they make a connection? She taught us that it is in relationship where each of us find God.

She led these fabulous local and distant trips with the older elementary kids, one of which was called Outdoor Challenge (ODC). My younger son, Sam, was able to to go twice. On this trip the kids and leaders go hiking, white water rafting, caving, rappelling, high ropes coursing, biking and camping for 7 days. Seven days of wonder in God’s creation, enjoying adventure, enjoying each other, pushing their limits, overcoming fears, building confidence. “That was the best trip of my life, Mom!” Sam told me when they got home. It was definitely the best trip for my kid (Mr. High Energy). Could a mom ask for anything more than to see her child excited, grateful, happy and confident? My friend said great things about him, but what mattered most to me was the relationships he made with her and the other campers. He met God with them and through them. What a gift!

I ended up serving on the Session (volunteer governing body of the church). It was a new experience for me and we were in a difficult chapter of our church. One of my assignments was to be the liaison between the church and my friend (luckily this was not the difficult thing our church was dealing with) because she had enrolled in seminary to finish her ministerial education to become ordained and our church had sponsored her enrollment (or something like that – details, shmetails).  We met for coffee or lunch every few months and it was such a treat! This women’s joy and struggle and calling was so evident (still is). We compared stories about parenting tweens and teens, about faith, about feminism, about politics, and confided in each other accordingly. She ended up with a cancer diagnosis that did not stop her, and later Don received his diagnosis and she was there for me (and us). What was a volunteer assignment became a special friendship for me.

And now the pandemic is here and the church has had to tighten the belt, resulting in a few lay-offs that included my friend. She served our church so beautifully for 9 years and now has to move on. I cannot imagine life at our church without  her, although she has reminded me that we will be fine. (I know we will.) When she told me the news of her departure, she said she woke up the day after getting the news and knew she would be okay. I understand this is a difficult time and difficult decisions have to be made (been there, done that, still doing it). But it’s hard to face this kind of change.

Tonight we gave her a LOL (Love on Lynn) Zoom send-off since we could not gather in person. I’m only one of many people who love and cherish her. But I am so blessed by this woman and her friendship and grateful for how our paths have crossed. Praying they continue to cross some way, some how.

This is us Loving on Lynn.




I love a flash mob

I love a flash mob. I’ve never seen one in person, at least I don’t think so. But when they first started popping up online I was watching all of them.

But this one really fed my soul today. I’ve probably seen it before. Maybe you have, too? It’s full of surprise, pure joy, glorious music.

I watched and thought, we are the music. We humans, in groups, together, side by side. Now that we are under stay-at-home orders thanks to COVID-19 we’re not physically together anymore. Thankfully we can be together in a virtual way, and it helps, but it’s not the same.

So as I watched his flash mob from about a year ago, it made my heart ache. The music will do that. But seeing the people standing tightly together, letting the music take them away, smiling, laughing, seeing the little kids pretend to conduct, seeing the smiles on the musician’s faces … I felt the tightening in my chest loosen. I felt my shoulders relax. My breathing deepened. It’s what I needed.

Let’s be the music, friends. The music doesn’t happen without us. We might be a musician, we might be a singer, we might be in the audience watching. All are integral parts of the experience. Today being the music might include social distancing. But eventually we’ll be back to bigger crowds. Celebrating music. Celebrating life. Celebrating each other.

I miss you. Enjoy.

Little Girl’s Money In Hat Starts Chill Inducing Flash Mob


I Remember Those 10 Months…

My two experiences with pregnancy were not my favorite seasons of life. Both times I had polyhydramnios, which means my body produced way more amniotic fluid than needed. In layman’s terms – my babies were swimming in an Olympic-sized uterine pool. At first this was cause for possible alarm – it could indicate a serious birth defect. Was he peeing but not swallowing? Are his organs and systems developing properly? Most typical pregnancies only had 1 or 2 ultrasounds in those days (not sure how it is now?) but I had one almost every month. This allowed us to take a good look at baby and do


Colin says hello 3/8/2002

regular measurements of the fluid and my belly. To give you a reference, when I was 30 weeks pregnant my belly measured 42 weeks! And I still had 10 weeks to go! It was uncomfortable to say the least. Uncomfortable with all the stares, with people asking “you haven’t had that baby yet?!” when I was barely halfway through! Uncomfortable with the weight and the strange way my body was changing. Uncomfortable being a spectacle, “Are you having triplets? … Are you sure?!” I was lucky to not have to deal with morning sickness, gestational diabetes, or other issues that lots of moms have to deal with. But the physical changes and attention it brought me made it not my favorite time of life. When the babies came, they were both big fellas. Healthy but big! Colin arrived at 38 weeks weighing 8 lbs and 8 oz. Sam arrived at 39 weeks week at 10 lbs and 2 oz. Thankfully I had c-sections both times. When Sam greeted the world the doctor said,  “This baby needs a manssier!” because he looked like a little sumo wrestler. I’m so grateful we were all healthy. But it was a difficult time.

As we follow our state and local Stay At Home orders right now, thanks to COVID-19 and the havoc it is wreaking in our community and country, I remind myself that this is temporary. Surely it will only last a few months (Dear Lord, 3 months or less, please!). I have been home since January when I was laid off, and now the kids are home from school, and Don’s employer has had to cut hours & salaries due to the virus’ economic impact so he is home some, too! I think we are managing (mostly) but this morning I thought, “I don’t know what I’ll do if this goes longer than 3 months!” It’s a scary thought. Not only because of the worry of someone I love getting sick, but also our mental health after being stuck at home for months on end. I bet you can relate.


Sam announces his entry 12/29/2004

And then I remembered those 10 months. They were not my favorite. There was lots to dislike during that time. But now that I’m 18 years and 15 years out from them, those 10 months seem like a blink. I somehow managed. We somehow managed. I knew then that one day-at-a-time would get me closer to the end. Closer to the blessing of my baby. Closer to the joys and challenges of parenthood that Don and I signed up for. (More on that in blog posts past and future!) With that in mind, I think we can make it through this season of Stay At Home.

Connecting with family and friends virtually via phone calls, texts and Zoom has been so helpful. Seeing their faces, mostly smiling, sharing our angst and some laughter and some concerns helps me feel connected. Seeing live musical performances online via facebook or elsewhere has been a life saver for me. Tuning in to live-streamed worship services, online quick homilies, or thoughts of day have been comforting. The down time has been nice – time for podcasts, puzzles, dog walks, fires in the fire pit. I hope you and yours are able to take some deep breaths and try to embrace this new life. New for now, anyway. Remember, all we have to do is take it one-day-at-a-time. We can do this.

In the comments I’ll share some links to things that have brought me comfort and joy over these few weeks. Please add what you have found, too! So glad we are in this together.

Riding the Coronavirus Coaster

March 17, 2020

Well, here we are social distancing – hopefully like the rest of you. Nothing like a global pandemic to bring a family together, huh? I would love to hear how you are spending your time these days; please comment below with a few thoughts. 

A lot has happened since my last post. I will touch on most of it in the lists below. 

Things I am worried about: 

  • The impact of this pandemic. Will my family stay healthy? How many people in my community – in my circles near & far – will be affected? Will our hospitals be able to care for all of them? Will we survive the obvious recession that will come from all of this? Will my son and his fellow members of the Class of 2020 be able to have their graduation ceremony? 
  • I was laid off in January. I have come close to a few opportunities, but nothing has panned out yet. Now with the virus situation, and looming recession, the hiring environment will obviously change. How long will it take for me to find something? Should I take “anything” or should I hold out for the right thing? 
  • Colin has decided on UNC-Charlotte for his next academic step. He wants to study engineering. We are excited for him! Will we be able to get financial aid & loans so this will be a reality for him? 
  • Our governor has ordered schools to close for two weeks (at least) and I am guessing there is a strong likelihood it will last longer than that. This is hard, but it’s the right call. I worry about our teachers who have been thrown into this just like we have. I worry about my kids and other students – will they be able to keep up with their academics? 
  • Will my children and I drive each other up the wall before this is all over? 

Things I am grateful for:

  • Don has a stable job and as far as we can tell it should not be hugely impacted by the pandemic; or at least not immediately. Things are leaner than normal, but he can support us. 
  • My healthy family. Don’s diagnosis was three years ago this month! He is doing well, living with NETs but carrying on with life. 
  • Colin earned his Eagle Scout Award this month!
  • We lost my friend Elizabeth two years ago after a challenging battle with cancer. But I’m grateful that her amazing husband Bob is still blogging, still living life fully, along with their two precious daughters. I learn so much from them.
  • Pets who bring lots of entertainment and joy.
  • Finding Katie Churchwell and Pop-up Prayer on facebook. Look her up!
  • We celebrated 20 years of marriage on March 8, 2020!
  • Livestream worship services from my church –, now that services are cancelled due to the virus impact.
  • My friends who share funny texts with me related to life, politics, and parenting. You know who you are!
  • I was able to take a fun & relaxing girls trip to Richmond in February with some special friends. 
  • Losing 22 lbs since Christmas! Thanks, Noom!
  • Having more time for the super-fun Jazzercise workouts since I’ve been home for a few months. Although they have now been cancelled due to the current climate, I can check out online Jazzercise workouts – yay!
  • My dad is feeling good, back to his old self, after some leukemia treatment. 
  • Favorite podcasts: NPR’s Up First, Hacks on Tap, For the Love with Jen Hatmaker, Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders, Poetry Unbound.
  • Teachers who care about my kids and their other students and are doing their best in less-than-ideal circumstances.
  • My sisters who are only a text away! And who are available to help my parents when needed.
  • My friend’s daughter finally made it home from her study abroad program in Italy that was cut short.
  • My adult coloring book – Beautiful Cities. My version of Florence, Italy is featured here.
  • Spotify and playlists it makes for me.
  • The childcare gig Colin and I have picked up this week & next week – caring for children of medical professionals who cannot get off work to care for their children, because they are caring for the community. It feels like a good way to help, plus I’ll be earning a little income which never hurts.
  • Being able to close my eyes and breathe when things seem like too much.

Do you see a trend? The worries are questions to which I don’t have answers. Isn’t that just like our darn human nature to obsess over things we cannot control? Things we don’t know or couldn’t know? And do you notice that my Gratitude list is much longer than my worries? This is a worrisome time, but I challenge you to list the things that you are grateful for. Even if you only consider the last 48 hours, I’m sure it will be a long list! 

Finally, I’m grateful for the wisdom of Maya Angelou. I’m counting on this!


The Gift of Community

The Gift of Community

I was a little late, so when I arrived the ladies and men were already busy. Fall leaves, apples and sunflowers were being arranged. The tables were skirted and pound cakes were being dropped off, unwrapped and sliced – flavor & name cards along side each one. At least 15 pound cakes plus one gluten-free version. And of course, nuts, grapes, strawberries and cheese straws. Even Wynn made a huge batch that we all couldn’t resist. The helpers always get the broken ones, ya know. We placed the cakes on pedestals and pretty serving plates and found room for them on the three food tables. We arranged plastic plates, forks and seasonal paper napkins on each table. We chatted while we worked – caught up on the kids, remembered how we met — when we were pregnant together, or when we had young children. Most of us knew each other already, but there was a crossover of a few different circles, so introductions were made when needed. But jobs like this already make you feel like family.

Pound cake was Angus’s wish. They were representative of the people — traditional, lemon, bourbon, IMG_0688brown sugar, raspberry gluten/lactose-free, poppy seed, five flavor, butter, sour cream, coconut — and probably some others I missed. Each made with love and fine ingredients, ready to offer comfort and grace.

Then the family arrived. Wynn arrived first, “I was dressed and the others were still getting ready. I knew it was time for me to leave that chaos behind and head over!” From the moment I first met Wynn about 15 years ago, she made me feel like a special friend. Today we lavished her, Winston, Dale, Liam and Parker with hugs, smiles and small talk. Winston proclaimed, “All the peeps are here!” and I corrected her that she surely meant all the important peeps were here. Over the years Winston and I have compared boy-mom notes and our love for social justice. We met Kate, Angus Jr. and the other non-Greensboro family and friends with handshakes and “we finally meet!” comments. Parker said the college sophomores were finally into their rhythm, especially this time of year and I told him I loved watching his card trick videos. I remembered the time my kiddo was invited to Liam’s birthday party – I think they were maybe 6 or 7? Now they’re high school seniors. Liam told us that today all of the grandchildren wore a necktie from Angus’s collection. You know that pastors have lots of neckties, right?

The time finally came for us to gather in the sanctuary. The service to celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Angus McGregor had begun. Angus was a retired Presbyterian pastor and in his family is a solid lineup of Presbyterian ministers. As the family came in, and the organ sang, it was already feeling like a holy moment. I don’t always get this feeling at funerals, but this really was a time of worship. The sanctuary was full and I saw lots of familiar faces. We listened intently as the homily was delivered by Angus’s niece (also a Reverend) and a prayer offered by his nephew (also a Reverend). We knew that Angus loved people, the church, and justice. We learned that he played an integral role of helping integrate Clemson University when he was there as an undergrad. We learned of the time he invited Klan members into a prayer service that they were there to protest. I thought back to the first time I met Angus – he said hello and asked me if I was a Democrat! Wynn chastised him for being so presumptuous. This still makes me smile. We heard his son talk of Angus’s stories and his last visit with his dad. As he held back tears, our tears welled in our eyes.

I let the feeling of worship and grace envelope me and all I could think was this was the gift of community. Friends showing up to prepare the reception, bring cake, usher at the service, serve at the reception and clean up after … the list goes on. My role was small, and in fact, just a drop in the bucket of the McGregor community, but it’s such a blessing to be a part of something like this. The McGregor family has known how to build community for many generations and I am so grateful to be included and to learn more about acceptance and friendship from them. I hope your community is like this one — made with love and fine ingredients, ready to offer comfort and grace.


From the service program:
Give us a heart for simple things: love and laughter, bread and wine, tales and dreams. Fill our lives with green and growing hope. Make us a people of justice whose song is Alleluia and whose name breathes Love. Amen.                                             – A prayer by Walter Wink

Photo credits: S. Keaney

You Will Be Found

It’s been awhile. Let’s see … homecoming, college applications, football games, recomendation letters, band performances, essays, club responsibilities, confirmation activities, good choices, not-so-good choices … not to mention work and grown-up volunteer gigs … we’ve been riding the coaster, for sure.

So I’m late to the party on Dear Evan Hansen. I guess I was too caught up in Hamilton to notice. Of course this is my little circle of suburbia … I haven’t seen either of them yet, but you can bet I have the Hamilton soundtrack memorized. And now I’m realizing I need to memorize DEH, too! They don’t seem linked, but actually are both centered around a person who is not sure how he will fit in. As a human, I think that resonates with all of us. And as a parent, I think it especially resonates with young people. In case you hadn’t heard, parenting teens is not for the faint of heart. We are doing our best to help our  kids navigate the murky waters of high school, when days are full of confusion and stress with a few bright moments woven in. They are bookends in the high school life – one freshman and one senior with a serious case of senioritis. One wanting to plug in and one ready to fly the coop. One day we think we’ve got things covered, and other days we realize we may not have a clue. But I guess this is how parenting teens go. I’m thankful for friends to lean on and compare notes with.

Today is also Worldwide NET Cancer Awareness Day – the whole reason this blog was started. I’m thankful beyond words that we are still here able to do the parenting thing together. There are about 115,000 NET patients in the U.S. The online NET community has taught us so much about living with this disease. We found some people who can help us through the difficult moments – carry us through, so to speak.

As DEH and Hamilton tell us —
When you don’t feel strong enough to stand
You can reach out your hand
And someone will coming running
And I know, they’ll take you home

‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
Lift your head and look around
You will be found

Raise a glass to freedom
Something they can never take away
No matter what they tell you
Raise a glass to the four of us
Tomorrow there’ll be more of us
Telling the story of tonight
When our children tell our story
They’ll tell the story of tonight
If we hang on, we will find our people. The ones who will support us through the dark times and celebrate with us during the happy times. This is what being human is all about. You will be found.

P.S. If you or someone you know is feeling sad or lonely, there is help! “No matter what problems you’re dealing with, whether or not you’re thinking about suicide, if you need someone to lean on for emotional support, call the Lifeline. 800-273-8255″ Or contact an adult mentor, teacher or clergyperson whom you trust. They will be happy to talk.

I made it to Fifty

September 22, 2019

I woke up today earlier than expected. But I woke up! Heart pumping, lungs breathing, stomach hungry, mind wandering. The love of my life next to me. The apple of my eye down the hall. (The other apple away for the night.) One dog snoozing at my feet, another dog ready to greet me with my coffee.

I made it to Fifty.

Last night I was able to celebrate with some of my favorite people and it was so fun! We enjoyed some wine, beer or water with lime and some delicious cake. We played 80s Playlist Bingo which we were all masters at because it was OUR music! It was a great night and especially fun to have a reason to celebrate.

I made it to Fifty.

I am embracing it because not everyone has the privilege of reaching this milestone. I can think of a few childhood friends who passed on before graduation. A few college friends who did not see 30. And now in my middle age, I have had a few friends who did not see 50 or just barely made it past 50. (Thanks, cancer, you suck.)

I made it to Fifty.

I started this blog when Don got his cancer diagnosis in 2017. I knew I had to write to process my thoughts and record our journey. We have been blessed to have 95% of that chapter behind us. Other than monthly treatments in the form of a shot, it is business as usual for him and for our family. I recognize what a blessing this is. I hope and pray it will be like this for a long while.

I made it to Fifty.

The blog is named Riding the Coaster on Red Forest Road because I knew that life is like a roller coaster. Ups and downs. Twists and turns. Surprises that make your stomach jump to your chest. Quick stops. And, of course, parenting teens makes the ride even more adventuresome! This year we have a high school freshman and a high school senior. I’m not sure how that happened, except that we’ve been riding the coaster and here we are. Mostly smiling and enjoying the ride, sometimes holding on for dear life, gripping the safety bar, hoping the scary part ends soon. But here we are.

I made it to Fifty.

Today I will relax and hang out with my family. Probably putter around the house and take a nap. This is what 50 year olds do! I will revel in the memories from last night celebrating with so many wonderful friends. And I will thank God for another year.