One of the hardest things to do is to take the first, timid, questioning step toward another.

Years ago, when Mr Darcy and I were dating, we had season passes to Six Flags. It was a great deal. We could go get a bite to eat and then ride a coupe of rides and have a fairy eventful date night. One night, after a last moonlit, slow train ride around the park where our hands brushed up against each other, we found ourselves tired and ready to go to our homes. As we silently walked through the parking lot, his arm neared mine. It was a crazy moment that seemed like it was hours long when actually the moment was like a swift intake of breath. He took a step closer to mine. Closer. And then…

It was the greatest moment when his hand reached for mine. He was reaching for me! Wanting to be connected in that way. We’ve never forgotten it, although it’s been 24 years since it happened. In that moment, it didn’t matter what my life had looked like before. It only mattered what happened after. Hands clasped together. A little squeeze. A smile.


When you’ve had a bad day

Today was not my favorite day. In light of my last post, this one is going to be honest.  It may be painfully honest. It feels a little painful on this end, at least.

What happens when I’ve had a bad day? Allow me to give you a glimpse of the end and work backwards:

I arrived at the school parking lot with tears in my eyes.  I had just shoved the last McDonald’s french fry in my mouth and slugged down some sugar-laden Sprite while I called my sister.  Dear Reader, did you know that I am allergic to McDonald’s french fries? Well, I am.  This is in addition to the fact that they aren’t remotely good for you. It didn’t matter to me. I was sad and those fries were my tonic.  Every bite was delicious.

My last few moments at work today involved crying to my boss while I blew my nose. There’s nothing that says professionalism quite like runny snot and a quivering, can’t-catch-my-breath voice that says, “I’m sorry I keep crying.”  Awesome.  I’m pretty sure I scared him to death with my specialness. I knew french fries were going to be part of my day after that.

This Hallmark moment was preceded by me walking at Olympic race-walking speed down the stairs to Mr Darcy’s office. I was trying my darndest not to sob hysterically along the way nor make eye contact with anyone I encountered. I made it to his office – where he was not – when the eye contact occurred with a co-worker. Cue waterworks. She asked me what was wrong and I tried to pantomime getting a phone call that was not delightful. There is no game of charades that could adequately prepare you for acting out “I had a disturbing phone call.”  It was more like a mixture of “hang loose” and “Help, I’m trapped in an invisible box and I can’t get out.” All because I was terrified of opening my mouth. So now I was doing a ridiculous hand jive and crying. Fantastic. I’m all for honesty, but my hubby’s office is smack-dab in the middle of CounselingLand. It’s similar to CandyLand, but without the Peppermint Forest. Seriously, I did not want the people who have devoted their lives to helping people get past their “stuff” see me having a breakdown moment. That’s a little twisted, isn’t it?

Within minutes, Mr Darcy magically appeared. I am quite sure he was not thinking, “In just a few moments I’m going to round this corner and my precious wife will be having a meltdown in my breakroom.” But yet, there I was. He listened while I cried and talked and then he hugged me and prayed for me. At that moment, I was so very thankful for two things: First, that my hubby loves Jesus and me so much. Second, that we both work in a place where praying during work hours is actually part of what we do. I decided right then and there that my workday had ended. The french fries weren’t even on my radar.

Prior to my speedwalk downstairs, I received the not-so-much-fun phone call. The caller was not intending to be unkind, I’m sure. Right? It happens. I won’t give you details on the call, but it wasn’t my favorite moment of the decade. This phone call from the pit of Persephone’s vacation home was preceded by several nights of poor sleep and exhaustion. I’m sure that didn’t help.

So what’s a girl to do after she’s had a rough day, scared her husband, boss, and several co-workers, and made herself sick on french fries? She blogs. She blogs because she thinks it’s important that people know that we ALL have bad days – bad moments – bad phone calls. Sometimes, we’re the instigator of the unkind phone call. Sometimes we’re on the receiving end.  Either way, it’s rough. Sometimes, french fries seem like a great temporary band-aid.  But this is real. It’s part of life. So, at the end of a bad day this girl will sing. I”ll sing at the top of my lungs if that’s what it takes to feel better. I’ll sing and I’ll remember this verse from Psalm 59:16:

But I will sing of Your power;
Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning;
For You have been my defense
And refuge in the day of my trouble.


Here’s to finding our voices.




One of the most important things I’ll ever write

I was scrubbing my waffle iron this morning, thinking about *things* and pondering the “why’s” and “what-if’s” of this blog.  You haven’t heard from me in a long time and while I go back and forth with never writing anything here again, I always come back to it.  I can’t seem to help myself. Cue Rick Astley’s “Never gonna give you up…”

All of this pondering brought me here today – actually, it brought me to last week. I started writing a book.  I’ve asked my sister to write it with me. I have chapter outlines and everything. It’s fun. And scary. And terrifying. All wrapped up in one package.  So, there I was, scrubbing the waffle iron (after making some AMAZING grain/egg/ dairy free waffles) and thinking about it all. The book. Me. My sister. You.

I was at a wedding last night – sitting at a table that was assigned to me and talking to two ladies I don’t know all that well.  As I looked around the room at ladies and girls of all ages, some were dancing, some were enjoying delicious cupcakes, and some were just sitting at their tables watching it all. I couldn’t help but wonder what they were thinking.  I really wished I could tell. I hope they knew how beautiful they looked. How amazing they were on the dance floor. How awesome it was we could all just enjoy a night off with a yummy cupcake or two.

Here’s the heart of the matter…everything we see and hear and are inundated with tell us (the females) that we should be comparing and measuring and striving to be something that isn’t what we already are.  It makes me sick. We are convinced we are the only ones who feel or think or act or dream the way we do and we are an isolated, lonely, and terrified gender. I hate it. HATE it. I want to be brave and tell others that I know…I KNOW what’s it’s like to be so sad because there is no baby in my tummy. I want to be honest and say, “You aren’t the only one who doesn’t have her house clean because she’s so exhausted from being the mommy that she’s stopped caring about whether or not there are week-old Cheerios glued to the kitchen floor with Mrs. Butterworths.”

I think if we stopped trying to be who we think we are supposed to be and started embracing who we were CREATED to be, we’d be healthier, happier and less lonely.  We are so afraid to show who we really are that we’ve stopped inviting other ladies into our lives in any way.  We won’t open up our homes because we don’t feel like they are decorated like Pottery Barn and we sure as heck don’t cook like the Food Network hosts and we are all suffering for it. Sure, we’ll meet for coffee at Starbucks and a salad at Panera, but who are we asking over for a PB&J just to enjoy their company? We hide online and only post Facebook statuses that reflect who we think we should be.

We are eroding ourselves. We are destroying the very core of what we were created for. We were created for relationships. If that wasn’t true, there would have only been one human in the whole world. We’re so afraid that we’ll be rejected if others knew who we really were. We have to stop this. We have to start being honest with one another and tell each other that we want to throw in the mothering towel or the wife towel or the whatever towel for the day (or week).  We have to be real. REAL. Real enough – brave enough to say, “You aren’t the only one who drove the kids around until they fell asleep, so just you could put the car in park and cry without being interrupted.”  Real enough to say that you fed your kids chicken nuggets for all three meals in one day and you are actually good with that. Real enough to whisper that you don’t know how you got to where you are. There was a song in the 80’s by Talking Heads that I think of sometimes. It’s called Once in A Lifetime.  One line says, “Well, how did I get here?” I think of that song periodically. Of course, if you ever saw the video, you’d be making the same chopping arm movement as I am right now…(Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.)

Years ago, I was at a ladies’ retreat where the speaker was admonishing us to stop going out without makeup on and our clothes not looking good. It made my stomach ache. Why can’t we let someone else see us without makeup on? Why can’t we let them see how beautiful we are without a facade? When we say things like this, we are saying that you aren’t good enough as is. “As is” is exactly who I want to know. “As is” has the ability to make me laugh when I can’t see past my tears. “As is” can get in my face and tell me to get over myself.  “As is” can make me feel like I am not the only one walking on this path. “As is” is okay with my laundry being undone and Mrs. Butterworths stuck to my table. “As is”  is real and is my friend.

Our outward appearance – and that includes our homes and our Facebook statuses- are temporary. Stop trying to present a version of you that you think you should be.. a version you think is acceptable.  If you like blue country geese in your home decor, stop Pinning modern, sleek couches because it’s what you think you are supposed to like.  Embrace the geese, friends. I don’t have to like the geese. I like YOU.  I’m convinced this is why every third Facebook status is a selfie. We want to know that we’ve measured up. We are desperate to hear it. Are we good enough? Are we pretty enough? STOP IT! You are someone’s EVERYTHING. You are a friend, a daughter, a mama, a lover. You are enough.

So here is a sampling of me…I don’t like matchy-matchy jewelry.  I hate sunflowers. I love 80’s music and showtunes. I love singing at the top of my lungs. I will watch Pride and Prejudice, Notting Hill, and The Holiday pretty much anytime I see them on tv – even though I own two of them.  My kitchen floor is in a perpetual state of grossness. I don’t like it that way, but the guys I love don’t care and I’ve stopped fighting with them over it. Sometimes, I don’t serve any vegetables with our meals. Sometimes, I serve cereal as the entire dinner meal and I’m good with that. I don’t sort my laundry – except whites (sometimes). I don’t fold my fitted sheets. I stink at decorating. I have a pile of books and magazines next to the couch and my side of the bed. I love to laugh.  I have grey hair and I can’t color it because I am allergic to hair dye. Our townhouse is NOT my favorite place in the world to live in. I long for real friendships.  I love Jesus with my whole heart. My kids’ rooms don’t resemble ANYTHING from a Pottery Barn catalog. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life – some of them were really, really bad ones. I have hurt people and I pray daily they will forgive me. I have been hurt. My name is Janna and this is who I really am.


Thanksgiving thoughts

It’s November. I love November, but for the first time in my married life, I’m not putting out one STITCH of fall decor. Really. I’m being serious. We’d have to go to the storage unit and find the Rubbermaids, haul them over here, unpack them, find a place for the items, pack up the Rubbermaids, and haul them back to storage. All of this for a few items because, honey, we ain’t got no room for no decorations. It’s a little liberating, actually. After Thanksgiving, we’re going to go get our Christmas decor and do what I just mentioned, because we aren’t ready to go without Christmas yet. Baby steps.

As I type this, Mr Darcy and middle son are doing Greco-Roman style wrestling on the floor. That’s how we roll over here. (Pun intended) The two other boys are having a lively discussion downstairs about country music vs techno music, and I’m debating if I should make an espresso or not, while rubbing my aching muscles from a push-up marathon last night. No, not the frozen sherbet treat…

Next week, we are going to head north to Chicago for the holiday. It’s just a couple of hours away and it’s our family tradition. I love it. We stay at a hotel that we love and have a great time. This year, I have several family bonding activities planned. We are going to make vision boards, do a silly scavenger photo hunt around the city, and bond. I’m trying to think of some fun snack foods for the room – any ideas?

Boy, I wish you could be here enjoying this wrestling match 3 inches from me.  Boys…

I invented a new family favorite dinner.  The guys like it so much.  I think I just might need to share it with you! It’s a crockpot dinner, so I like it. Take a roast and put it in the crockpot. (I put mine in frozen, even though there are varying opinions on the safety of doing so – what can I say? I like to live dangerously) I drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil on top. Then I start sprinkling on the following spices to cover the top of the roast: cumin, garlic salt, salt, cayenne pepper (not as much as other spices),and chili powder (not as much as the other spices). I turn that bad boy on high, put the cover on, and don’t think about it again. This morning, I put it in at about 7:30 and we ate at 5:00. About 1/2 hour we are going to eat, I shred the meat with two forks and take the lid off for 15 minutes. This lets the meat absorb a lot of the liquid.  I get out tortillas, avocado, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. I also made cilantro-lime rice. Wowza, this is good. When I see a cheap roast at the Krogers, I always buy it and put it in the freezer. This is Mr Darcy’s favorite way to eat roast. Let me know if you try it.

The wrestling has ceased, but the downstairs discussion has now moved on to Kanye West and his religious-undertoned lyrics. They don’t like it. Me neither, boys.

Because I’m now so cold that I’m shaking and trying to warm up with the heat on the bottom of my laptop, I think I’ll sign off for now and do my night-time chiropractic exercises. Oldest son just informed me that if my muscles hurt this bad after only doing the measly amount of push-ups that I did last night, it should tell me something. I told him I didn’t want to hear his muscle interpreting skills any longer.  He just laughed and flexed his biceps as he ran downstairs. He’s quite pleased with himself. So, I really feel the need to start my warm-up so I can show him my biceps.  I hope you are warm and no one in your house is wrestling at your feet.



When we first started talking about downsizing – it was kind of exciting. To be honest, I probably was prideful – I mean, look at us!  We are pretty amazing…we are making this against-the-grain decision to get rid of the excess in our lives. Excess “stuff”, excess medical debt, excess “flashiness”, and more. Really, don’t you wish you were as cool as us? That’s what I thought.

Then came moving day. That’s when the rubber hit the road. We were so blessed – so BLESSED by a multitude of friends who came over and moved us. I’d like to say they helped us move, but the truth is that they did it. Women were all up in my business – packing up my junk drawer, and under my bathroom sink, y’all. I was not packed and they packed me. I was a mess and they cleaned it. I was overwhelmed. So overwhelmed I seriously ugly cried. Like, I couldn’t talk because I couldn’t breathe because I was crying so hard. It was bad. I called a friend in Texas and couldn’t even say anything because I was crying so hard. I couldn’t make eye contact with the precious people who were moving us. The extrovert hid.

The next day, a very precious friend met me at our old house and helped me clean all day. That was a bonus lesson in humility. Not the first. You see, the place where we moved to is not pretty. I described it to my family as something reminiscent of an Eastern European ghetto. Inside, it’s dated (from the 70’s), but clean…but outside? Child, it’s ugly.  As I cleaned the granite countertops and Brazilian Cherry wood floors one last time, I couldn’t help but wonder if we had made the right choice. Would living in ugly make us more beautiful? God asked me how I felt when I thought of our pretty neighborhood. I knew my heart needed work when I answered “proud.” I knew my heart needed even more work when He asked me how I felt when I thought of our new townhouse. Embarrassed.  God, help me.  My heart needed more cleaning than those floors.

We’ve been here for nearly two months. In two months, we’ve existed here. Tiny kitchen, no garage, the fridge freezes all of our produce, and the dishwasher leaves our dishes dirtier than we we loaded them. We’ve been going through the motions, but not really changing. I asked God to help me change. How can I be a friend to anyone that I come in contact with if I think that where I live makes me a better person somehow? Do I believe I am more blessed because my home is prettier? Worse yet, do I believe I am less blessed because my house is not so attractive? Lord, change me!

This week, we had to get everything off of our back deck so they could power wash it and re-stain it. As I type this, I’m sitting in our family room with our grill 4 feet away. Precious. Mr Darcy and the boys moved our patio furniture to the front porch this morning. When I got home at lunchtime, I was heartsick to find that someone had stolen the beautiful patio cushions off of my furniture. I was so angry.  Spitting nails angry.  After I stomped around outside and inside, I sat on the couch and asked God why He let that happen. Those cushions were my birthday present last year. Didn’t He remember that? Furthermore, did He forget that we are doing everything we can to be extra frugal so we can pay down that stupid, idiotic, makes-me-think-cuss-words medical debt? (Just trying to be real, people) And God, you know that buying new patio cushions is not going to be prioritized. Can’t I just have something nice, Lord…something pretty?

He was quiet. Maybe He was waiting for me to finish my tantrum. You can’t listen well when you are too busy throwing a fit. After a while, when the tears were threatening to fall, He spoke.

It doesn’t matter, Janna. It’s cushions. It’s not people. I want you to care more about people. I want you to feel this emotional when it’s a life that’s being stolen.  Stomp around when you realize what’s been taken. That’s what worth it.  We asked Him to help us reduce our load excess. People are never excess. Pretty patio cushions, while there is nothing inherently wrong with them, are excess. They get dirty and ripped and eventually wind up in the dump. People get dirty and ripped and downtrodden and weary and He wants me to notice them with the same acuity as I noticed those cushions missing. I noticed it right away and I started searching. I didn’t stop and debate if I had time to look for them  – or if it mattered. I didn’t think, “someone else will take them time to find them…probably someone who is better than me at finding cushions.” Oh, how I wish I had that same mindset when I thought of our new neighbors. The people who look a little dirty to me. Who are visibly tattered and torn and headed to the dump. The people that I smile and wave at and sometimes even say hello to when I walk past them.

I’m not going to say that I’m glad the cushions were stolen today. I’d be telling a lie. I still want them to magically reappear on the furniture. I want to be real. I want to admit it when things are hard, or painful, or embarrassing. This is real life. This is what matters. If I place a high value on what really matters, surely my address and all my “stuff” will matter less.

John 3:30 – He must increase, but I must decrease.



The Weekend Experience Meeting

Weekend Experience.  That’s what we just had. Once HECK of a weekend experience.  Let me back up a little bit and tell you about it from the beginning. It’s long, but important.

Mr Darcy left last week to attend a conference in Nashville. He left on Wednesday morning, sick and on antibiotics from a virus/bacterial/sinus infection.  We here at home soldiered on in his absence. Work. School. Football. Homework. Laundry. Dinner. Repeat. 

On Thursday, I have a meeting at work called “Weekend Experience.” It’s basically a “What-All-Is-Going-On-This-Weekend-At-Church” meeting. Prior to this meeting, I had been e-mailed the announcement topics as I was the person giving the announcements during all of our services. I love LOVE getting to do announcements. I get a microphone. I get to talk. It’s live. I get to make eye contact with thousands of people. Did I already mention the part about getting to talk? It’s awesome.  Anyhow, at the Weekend Experience meeting, our Creative Arts Head told me to make a segue between the last announcement and the worship song to follow. “Gotcha”, I said.

On Friday night, I sat in front of my announcement notes, waiting for Divine Inspiration. Within a few moments, I could see myself in my minds’ eye saying some things to the congregation for that song segue. I also saw myself saying a few other things to them as it related to one of the announcements. Thanking God for speaking to me in an easy way for me to understand, I wrote them down. I was feeling rather inspired. It had been a not-so-fabulous day and I was thankful for any break I could get.  I decided I would drive to the Krogers and pick up a few things – not ready to commit to the serious grocery shopping I needed to do, but wanting a few treats for the boys on Saturday. At Krogers, I couldn’t stop thinking about red meat. Now, I am a carnivore. I love a great ribeye steak and all, but focused solely on red meat? That was a little weird, even for me!  I pushed my buggy over the meat department and lo and behold! RED MEAT!! As a bonus, many, many packages with the “Reduced” sticker on them as it was nighttime. WooHOO! I was excited! I had $50.00 extra in my budget and I spent nearly all of it on red meat. Roasts, steaks, hamburger. Awesome.

Saturday afternoon, it was time to go to rehearsal. When I arrived, our Creative Arts Head informed me that I would need to cut out a lot of my “extras” as she was worried about time. Just stick to the bare bones, she requested. I had to cut out my great, revelatory stuff. Bummer. I wondered why I had had that inspiration when I wasn’t going to get to use it, but got over it and muddled through rehearsal and then service. 

Later on that evening, it was time to pick up Mr Darcy from the airport. Insert Peaches and Herb song, “Reunited and It Feels So Good!”  He was really not feeling well when I picked him up and said he was having trouble breathing. When we got home, I gave him a breathing treatment, using the nebulizer that belongs to our youngest. His back was bothering him from the long flight so he took a muscle relaxer.

Sunday morning, bright and early, it was time for me to head to church for rehearsal. 7:30 am. My van was STILL in the shop for transmission issues, so Mr Darcy had to give me a ride. We kissed in the parking lot and I told him I would see him later on that morning.

Just before the first service began, I saw him enter.  Feet shuffling, hand on his back. I was sure his back was worse. Ugh. After I gave the announcements, I headed downstairs to his office. If you didn’t already know, we work at the same church. He’s one of the pastors and I oversee volunteers and assimilation. He works downstairs in the basement (sounds worse than it is) and I am on the main floor. (I have a window office, which is just as awesome as it sounds.)  When I arrived in his office, he looked awful. I asked him about his back and he told me his back was fine but that he was so dizzy he could barely walk. His head was throbbing and he couldn’t catch his breath. He said he was pretty sure he was going to need to go to the doctor that afternoon – maybe after church? We made a plan that I would check on him in a little bit and I headed upstairs. Within a half hour, our youngest came upstairs and told me that “Daddy needs you downstairs, he is not okay.” I quickly walked downstairs to his office to find him pale, laboring for air and curled up on his loveseat. Now, my man is six foot eight. Curled on his loveseat is not a normal way to find him. He told me that he was worse and couldn’t get off of the loveseat at all. He thought I’d better take him to the doctor right after I did the next set of announcements. I asked him if maybe one of our first responder volunteers could take a look at him. He agreed. Our first responder volunteers are trained medical professionals who volunteer during a service as need arises. Need just arose. A coworker grabbed the first responder bag and I asked a nurse who just “happened” to be down the hall from my guy to take a look at him as we waited for first response to get there. Within minutes, life shifted a little.

The method we use to contact our first response team is walkie-talkies. This means that anyone with a walkie-talkie knows when the alert goes out. On this day, the alert was to go to Mr Darcy’s office.  First responder and my nurse assessed that Mr Darcy was most certainly NOT ok and 911 was called. By now, my man was a color of pale I had never seen before. Before I knew it, the EMT crew was there and hooking my giant husband up to wires, leads, oxygen and more. The hallway was quiet as we watched, everyone with a walkie-talkie watching, anxiously.  A pastor made me take off my mic and give it to him. I’ll have to admit, I put up a fight on that one. I was sure all was fine and I’d be able to do the announcements (which were about to begin in approximately 10 minutes) and join everyone at the hospital, everything hunky-dory. What does hunky-dory mean, I wonder?

So, to recap: My man is being loaded on a stretcher, he looks like he’s about to meet Jesus face-to-face, AND I have just had to give up my microphone. That’s where I was. I should have been crying. I should have been panic-stricken. But I wasn’t. I had peace. I had so much peace that I didn’t even realize I was supposed to NOT have peace at all. Crazy peaceful peace. My friend tells me she’ll get the boys home and I follow the ambulance that’s carrying my sweet husband.

All the way to the hospital, I was still rocking in that same peace. I was singing the songs in my mind that I had heard 4 times already that weekend. As we arrived, someone ushered me to a chair in the waiting room, telling me they’d get me later. I sat there, alone and quiet in that sterile room, waiting for them to call my name. I could hear them asking Mr Darcy questions. Questions like “when did this start?” “Are you usually this pale?” and more. I sat in that stillness – an extroverts’ nightmare – and felt peace. They finally called me back and asked me if he was usually that color of pale and some other questions. Doctors, nurses, and techs all rushed in and out. I heard one of them gasp as they said 3.9. I didn’t know what that meant. What is 3.9? More people in scrubs and lab coats, hurriedly moving around him. Touching, examining, asking. Finally, someone told us that they had done a test to determine what his red blood cell count was. Aha! That was 3.9! Well, 3.9 is apparently not so great when you are supposed to have 14-15. Anything under 7 means a blood transfusion, they say. They do another test, more accurate, they tell us. Now 3.9 has become 4.5. Higher, but not really better. They tell us he’s bleeding somewhere. Before I know it, hours have passed. They are trying to find a match for his blood and antibodies. More hours pass. More tests run. 8:30 pm and finally the nurse tells us they have found a match for his blood. I feel like I can leave and go home and hold my children. They need comfort. They need to see me and hear that Dad is going to be okay. Quite frankly, I need them. It’s not the same over the telephone lines. I wait until the nurse says the blood is there and I leave. Mr Darcy has been so weak, but they assure me he’ll be okay. I drive home, still filled with peace. I don’t sleep much, but I sleep a dreamless few hours and start our morning routine as normally as possible.

The next day and a half are filled with test results that give us no answers and hours sitting in a hospital recliner, looking at Pinterest on my iPad. As I sat there on that plastic recliner, I was recalling the weekend. The Weekend Experience. Did I do a good job on the announcements? What kind of outfit will make me look skinnier? Can I work these Pinterest fashion looks I keep pinning? Will I ever get that microphone again? Then finally…I wonder why I had that moment with God where I saw myself saying those things to the people sitting in the auditorium. Remember them, I will myself. Remember what you wrote on that paper, Janna.

Here’s what I wrote: 

            As you stand with me and continue to worship, I want you to be thinking about some phrases from our next song…I Trust: You can trust in the Almighty God who loves you.  I Believe: You can believe everything He says and in His Word, the Bible.  You Are All I Need: God knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He is faithful! Nothing is Impossible: The God we are singing about spoke the Universe into existence. He breathed His breath into man and man became a touchable reality. If God can breathe and do that, we can believe He can meet us exactly where we are right now!

Oh. My. Goodness. It was for me. It was for ME. God had that moment with me because He knew what was to come. He knew I would need those words to coat my mind and my heart . He wrote me a most intimate love letter. He loves me so much that he prepared my flawed mind with these precious words that would repeat over and over again during the time in the hospital. He is so good to me. He loves me. He loves me.

Yesterday, Mr. Darcy was discharged from the hospital. He’s not out of the woods yet. His 4.5 has turned into a 7.7. Better, but not where it needs to be. Oh, and that red meat bonanza from the Krogers? Guess who has to eat LOTS of red meat and other iron-rich foods? Yep, you guessed it. We trust that he is going to make a full recovery. We don’t know why this happened. We might not ever know. All I know is that God knows and He is all about the Weekend Experience.




Football Fever

Around this house, we care about football. A lot. Our two oldest boys are playing for their high school and the youngest says he’s going to once he gets there. We have practice every day but Sunday and games on Friday and Monday nights. Right now, as I type this, we have college football on and we are a family of Alabama and Dallas Cowboys fans!

Here’s a secret: Football makes me hungry.

Well, I am always hungry (especially on steroids), but after watching a live game, we are a hungry bunch. Last night, I planned ahead and had something waiting for us in the slow cooker. I had purchased a large package of carne picada at the grocers’ on Sunday. It was cheap. It’s basically shredded beef. Yesterday morning, I popped that entire frozen package of meat in the slow cooker and added spices: oregano, crushed red pepper, salt, and cumin. I am sure garlic would have been lovely, but I can’t have that. 🙂 No liquid. Turned it on low at 7:45 am and stirred it once at 4:15pm. We ate at about 7:00pm.

As soon as we walked in the door, the two football guys had to shower, which bought me a smidge of time. I put basmati rice in the saucepan (my favorite rice) and added some salt and about a tablespoon of Olive Oil that Mr Darcy brought me from Israel a couple of months ago. It is delicious Olive Oil. After the rice was pretty much cooked, I added about 1.5 tablespoons of dried cilantro (I buy it in the produce section of Krogers) and about 1 tablespoon (more or less) of lime juice. I always have those items in the house because I heart them.  I sliced up an avocado for me and some tomatoes for our oldest. A co-worker has a prolific garden and shared the tomatoes and some cukes. The guys all had cukes. I miss tomatoes terribly, and hope I get those back in my “allowed” list someday. Cucumbers are not something I miss so much. I would have thought I’d miss them, but I don’t.  Now you know.

As the rice was cooking, I heated up the cast iron skillet and added about 2 teaspoons of oil. I heated up corn tortillas to make them pliable for the wheat allergy boy and me. (others ate them, too – because they are YUM!) I wound up heating the flour tortillas after the corn because Mr Darcy gave me “the look.” He knows he has me with that look! Cheese and salsa were on the table for the guys. We had four slices of leftover vegan Texas sheet cake (the best I have ever made)  and one gluten-free bakery cupcake leftover for dessert.

Verdict? Delicioso! Everyone loved it. We had an allergy free meal for everyone without it being a pain in the behind to do so. It was so nice to come home to that yummy smell in the slow cooker and the knowledge that the bulk of the cooking was done.

What’s your favorite football food? Is it something that can go in the slow cooker? I’d love to hear about it!



Yesterday and the day before that, I was all alone in my office at work. That’s a hard thing for an extrovert like myself. Very hard. I tried to compensate for the lack of the others in my entire department (almost everyone on the main floor) by singing loudly to the Showtunes station on my ipad.

I’m an excellent showtunes singer-alonger. I don’t know if I should admit that – but I just did. I sing with gusto. As if I could quite possibly win a Tony award in office-singing-showtune- accompaniment. It was awesome. You totally should have been there.

You see, almost everyone in the entire building was away at a staff retreat. I could not go. This is one of the hard things about living a million miles away from any family when you have children. You are stuck. No one says, “I need to see my grandsons/ nephew/cousins…send them over.”  And sometimes (like this past few days for me) a million miles away is a really hard place to be.

You know, not once when we were driving around, breathing the midwestern October air on our interview here, did I imagine I’d NOT be homeschooling the boys. And yet, here we are – boys in public school and me working. I love my job. I love the people I get to work with. This week I realized how much I counted on them to make my days brighter and so much more fun.

Which brings me back to showtunes. It’s true, you know. People who need people are the luckiest people in the world. We need others to make us stronger, braver, and more polished (even when the polishing process is a bit painful).  We need people to make us laugh, to comfort us when we cry and we need some special people who won’t judge when you scream and throw a pity party because everyone else got to go on a getaway and you didn’t. I know this to be true. I just lived it. Even if you are not an extrovert like this girl, you still need people.

And just for you, Melanie…I do have a great new recipe to share. It’s tasty. I made it two ways: regular and vegan.  Baking makes me happy. Make it soon. Share it with others. Thank me later.

Cinnamon Roll Cake (Regular version first, vegan substitutions in parenthesis)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cake Layer:

  • 3 c flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 &1/2 c milk (I used almond milk)
  • 4 t baking powder
  • 2 eggs (1/2 c unsweetened applesauce)
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1/2 c butter (1/2 c Spectrum Shortening or Earth Balance PLUS 1/4 t butter flavoring)

Swirl Layer:

  • 1 c butter (1/2 c Spectrum Shortening or Earth Balance PLUS 1/4 t butter flavoring)
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 2 Tbl flour
  • 1 Tbl cinnamon


  • 2 c powdered sugar
  • 5 Tbl milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 t vanilla

Mix everything for the cake layer together first, adding melted butter last. Pour batter into a lightly greased 13×9 pan.

In another bowl, mix ingredients for swirl layer. Drop by large spoonfuls onto cake layer. Use a knife a swirl into the cake layer.

Put pan into oven and bake for 28-32 minutes.

While cake is baking, mix icing. Pour over cake after it has been out of the oven for 5-7 minutes, but still warm.

Enjoy! It’s great warm or cold.


Back in Black

It’s been well over a year since I blogged last. March, 2012, to be exact.  I had nothing to say. Well, I always have something to say, but I was feeling too raw to say most of it.

Let’s get reacquainted, shall we?

In late December, 2012, I was finally diagnosed with what has been making me so sick. After seeing multiple specialists, I don’t know how many units of blood drawn, trips to the ER, and more…at last, I knew.

Food allergies. SEVERE food allergies. They tested me for 96 different foods, and at this time I am allergic to over 42 of them. Yes…42. It’s weird. I’ve always had some weird auto-immune issues – and had an allergy to chlorine since high school, but this is weird. I can no longer eat yeast, dairy, eggs, soy, legumes, sesame, celery, carrots, tomatoes (anything in the nightshade family, actually), all melons, all squash, fish, shellfish, nitrites, nitrates, safflower, garlic (the entire lily family, too), ginger,all nuts except for almonds, pineapple, coconut, and more. That’s all I can remember off of the top of my head for starters. Youngest son, who has struggled with asthma since he was itty bitty, has recently been diagnosed with a few food allergies as well. We are hoping that by managing his allergies, we can reduce his daily meds for asthma. Y’all there are so many awful things we are ingesting without thought. It’s gross.

It’s a pain in the rumpus. On one hand, it’s great to not be so mysteriously sick, on the other hand…the food is so terribly boring. Since my diagnosis, I’ve been in the ER for anaphylaxis 3 times – the last time, they almost had to put a tracheal tube in. Not cool.

Now, for what else has been going on. The boys did their first year in public school and it was awesome. They loved it.  This year, we have a sophomore, a freshman, and a 7th grader. The two older guys are both playing football and love it. We feel so blessed to have the great schools here. Going from homeschooling to public school has been a great thing for our family – but certainly was not done without much prayer first.

I started working at our church. When we made the decision that the boys were going to go to school, I told Mr Darcy that my extroverted self was not going to be okay every single day…alone. Within a week of telling him that, I was being asked if I was interested in working at our church. I love my job, I had my one-year anniversary at the end of May. It’s a great place to work and I really enjoy it.

We moved. This has been the most recent thing. I’ll blog more about it later. We had a great big house in a great neighborhood that Mr Darcy found for us to rent in about 3 days when we we moved here. We even thought we were going to buy it. But we didn’t. And oh, how glad we are that we didn’t. So glad. We purposefully DOWNSIZED (and are still in the process) the first of August.  We are in our new place for a year as we continue to reduce our load and are hopeful that we’ll find a wonderful old farmhouse at the end of it.

That’s all for now.  I’m looking forward to blogging again. I like to be able to get my thoughts out and have been cooking more as I attempt to revamp recipes so I can eat them.

Thanks for reading…



Recently, I had a moment. Yes, a moment. I realized that I had been wearing my hair in a ponytail every single day. When had it started? I didn’t even know. I don’t really even like the way I look in a ponytail and my hair is seriously heavy, so what was I doing with all that long hair?

It was Saturday afternoon and I walked upstairs, inspired. I took my shower and promptly took the scissors out of the nightstand drawer and started whacking away at my thick, curly, misbehaving tresses. When it was all said and done, I took about 5 inches off. I applied some product, diffused the newly-cropped hair and checked myself out in the mirror. Not bad.(I actually said that out loud.) I already felt lighter. Not just my head, but my whole self. My mind felt like I had released it from burdens that it just couldn’t carry anymore. All with a few chop- chops of those scissors. Magical. After getting some makeup on and getting ready for church, I floated downstairs to where my beloved was watching basketball on tv.

Ask me now if Mr. Darcy noticed that I had just relieved myself of 5 inches of hair on my head. He did not. He did look at me a little strangely, but that was it. Now, as soon as I got to church, a friend noticed immediately. 🙂

Why do we notice some things and just absorb the other things as “status quo?” What takes us so long to notice subtle changes and maybe even the not-so subtle things that we come face to face with?

Why did a haircut make me feel like things were going to be okay in my life?

I have been having some “health challenges” for many months and have an appointment to see a doctor this week. I have looked up every weird symptom I have and I either have something I picked up in Africa (which would be really crazy because I have not yet been to Africa!) or some other dreaded, horrible thing. The internet can be a scary place. I’ve since stopped trying to diagnose myself on the internet and I am waiting until I see the doctor to figure this out.

In the meantime, I have been working on some core issues. They have become burdens that I was never meant to carry. Burdens that start with “what if?” and things I don’t need to think about. Fear. I have been in combat with fear and I haven’t been equipping myself the right way.

You know, faith is a growing process. You can’t just say that you have faith and that’s it. It’s constantly changing-emerging – hopefully it’s growing so it will permeate more and more of you. Fear destroys. It pulls up all the beautiful faith that you have planted and throws it away and mucks up the beautiful soil you prepared in hopes of a sweet-tasting harvest. You can’t have a sweet-tasting harvest when you are tending and fertilizing fear. I am making a choice to weed out the fear and let faith flourish.

Just like the scissors I wielded on my hair, I am boldly cutting away the fear that weighs me down by applying The Truth. The book of Hebrews says this:  For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  (Hebrews 4:12) Everyone knows a two-edged sword is sharper than a pair of scissors, right? Right!

It feels good. The truth is liberating.

I don’t know what I will hear at the appointment but I know it will be okay. In fact, it will be better than okay. It will be an opportunity to praise the Lord, no matter what I find out. He gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21) It will be a chance to get down on my hands and knees and work in my faith.

I can apply this scissor/sword combat to everything… EVERYTHING in my life. Not just weird medical symptoms. How about my children? My husband? My friendships (or lack of them in a new town?)  YES!!

He is with me always…even to the ends of the earth. (Matthew 28:20) (Or when my boys go away on a van with a STRANGER driving, or when my Mr. Darcy goes on a trip to the other end of the world, or even when I wish for a friend to sit with over a cup of coffee). He is with me always.

Them’s fightin’ words.


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