Category Archives: A little of this and that

Discovering Who I Am

It is my 43rd birthday today. A few years ago that age may have freaked me out. When I turned 40 my dearest friends surprised me with a getaway weekend and the transition into what felt like would be a tough life change was made beautiful. Yes I am aging but I am finally coming to that place that I am ok with who I am.

The last several years have been ones of extreme changes. 2015 into 2016 were, admittedly some of the most difficult days emotionally that I had walked through. I was a woman that really struggled with being perfect. Some days it can still rear its ugly head, don’t get me wrong….but in those days it was BAD.

I spent all my time worrying about what people thought and trying desperately to keep up appearances so that I looked like I had it all together. I would go to church on Sunday all prettied up and smile at people and talk about how great God was and then come home and be a monster to my husband and my kids. I was angry and bitter and broken inside and I basically wanted to run away from my life.

I believed in God, I believed that He could redeem and restore my broken pieces but I was also so stuck in myself, so full of pride that I was unwilling to admit that my attitudes were a huge part of the problems we were having. I fought seeing a counselor, but when I did things started to change.

It was a sacrifice I had to make. Weekly I drove almost an hour and 1/2 to meet with the Christian counselor that had been recommended to me. We talked about a lot of different things and I did a bunch of recommended reading. I had to deal with some things that were really painful and let go of other things that could not be “fixed” at that time.

I found a freedom during those 12+ months. As I began to be more honest about what was going on, things inside of me started to change. My circumstances had not necessarily changed, but I was able to see them with a fresh perspective. I share this because we all have things that we may feel ashamed of. Things that threaten to hold us down, tell us that we are not good enough.

But one thing that I have learned deep in my soul is that I don’t need to be “good enough.” God has always been there for me, standing in the gap when I am too weak, lifting me up when I am not strong. He gives me strength to keep going and a passion to encourage others who may be feeling the same.

A few weeks ago a couple of my girlfriends and I went to see The Greatest Showman at the local movie theatre. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet – go today. Make it my birthday present to you. Seriously it is a must see! We left the show and I immediately bought the soundtrack to have on my phone. Like so many, one song, in particular, has spoken volumes to me.

The words to This is Me go like this…

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are
But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me


Who can’t relate to those words? How often do we feel like we can’t present our broken, bruised selves to the world. Because if we do we will be judged. People may talk about us or cast us aside. How often as an adult have I felt like I was right back in middle school? Worried about what I said, or analyzing what someone else said…trying to put on appearances because gosh darnit I just want people to like me.

But as This is Me suggests, we don’t have to be afraid anymore. We are warriors. Yes we are broken and bruised but we are strong and we don’t have to apologize for not being perfect. This is a truth that I have learned slowly over the past few years. It is one that I have grown into but it feels good.

To finally be in that place where I feel happy with who I am. I am 43, I am aging. I am a wife and a mother. I make mistakes all the time but I am loved. I am a child of God and I am forgiven. I am learning what makes me laugh and discovering deep friendships that are the true gifts during this time in my life. I will probably always take a shower and put on makeup before I go outside. I am vain yep, absolutely. I work hard at our business and care about the clients we help, I have a heart of mercy and would probably donate to every tear-jerking cause I come across if I was able. I can be passionate and outspoken and also quite shy. I will share my heart with those I trust and have difficulty trusting again those who have betrayed me. I am a sinner saved by grace, sometimes that grace is needed minute by minute. I trust God with my life and believe He has given me freedom in areas where I suffered extreme bondage. I am ever grateful to be His daughter. This is me.

The You Tube video below was shared on FB by a friend of mine with the backstory that when Keala Settle showed up to perform this when they were trying to get the show funded, she believed that she would not get the part…that it would be cast by someone more famous than she. But after she sang her heart out below, after she got out from behind that stand and stepped into the center and sang her heart out…the producer came over and hired her on the spot. I love that don’t you? Step out, start discovering who you are…stop being afraid of being judged and just be you!

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Link to video

Photo Credit: via

My Hysterectomy Surgery – Part Three

Hello friends! I thought I would do a quick update for you on my surgery recovery since I am now {almost} at the 4-week mark! If you want to catch up on my past posts you can read here about Part 1 and Part 2.

So it has been a couple of weeks since I shared an update and it is mostly because there wasn’t much to report. I felt pretty normal during the days but fairly tired by dinner time. I was so grateful to have all of those freezer meals prepped because I am usually to tired to think about cooking once I get home from work. We did have 1 night in 2 weeks that I was exhausted and Dominic was working late and I didn’t have a meal thawed, so the kids did cereal and fried eggs. But in 4 weeks we haven’t done too bad!

I hadn’t started exercising yet, I was waiting for my follow up appointment to get the all-clear for that, and I was afraid that even 20 minutes of hard walking on the elliptical might wear me out too much….so I gave myself grace to let that go for now.

I saw my doctor yesterday for my 4-week visit and got the good news that everything is healing even better than she expected at this point! I still have 2 more weeks of all the typical restrictions, no lifting over 15-20lbs, no hard exercise (light, slow walking only – no resistance) etc. But it was nice to know that everything was healing as planned. I am so grateful that I didn’t have any issues.

When I first decided to consider this surgery I found a website called HysterSisters. It is a website that offers information, forums etc. for women going through this process. You “join” by entering your email address and anticipated surgery date and then each week I would get an email with links to information about what to expect either before the surgery (how to plan, prep for it) and then after the surgery. Other women share their experience and offer support and encouragement.

One thing I had to be careful about, and would caution anyone else considering this, is that every woman is different. Every case and doctor and treatment plan is different. Some of the experiences I read about could have filled me with fear. Not every surgery goes as well as mine did. Many women have experienced difficult recoveries and complications. I will say that I didn’t allow myself to read too many of the negative stories because I know how fearful I am prone to get. I said it before that I felt such a peace about this surgery the entire time. I decided to trust God with this surgery and stopped researching all the what-ifs.

I guess the bottom line is, pray about it, seek counsel from your doctor (I really trust mine!) and make the decision that is best for you!

My surgery notes say that my uterus was enlarged and sharply retroverted, something I shared in a previous post that my doctor commented on, saying she hadn’t seen one that twisted. Several of the symptoms that come with having a retroverted uterus are issues that I dealt with for YEARS. I didn’t know it was likely the cause of so many of my problems. I don’t know when the uterus became so retroverted, it can happen with pregnancy, as a result of endometriosis (which I have had) or it can be genetic!

In addition, my doctor shared that my pathology report showed several fibroids (which I didn’t know were there!), all benign thankfully, but that she believed would have continued to cause me problems in the next several years. All those issues have been removed. No cancer risk, no fibroids, no pain caused from the retroverted uterus. And because my one ovary looked very healthy and remains intact, no hormones and hopefully a typical transition into menopause when that time comes.

I know that my story may not be typical. My doctor said I was the perfect candidate for a vaginal hysterectomy. And everything went as planned and I am so grateful for that. I hope these posts have been helpful for anyone considering this type of surgery. Again if you have any questions please feel free to email me at and I would be glad to answer them!

Happy Wednesday!

My Hysterectomy Surgery – Part Two

Hello friends! I am back again with part two of my surgery and recovery story. And first can I just mention the beautiful flowers pictured above?! My sweet grandma sent those to me on Friday to brighten my day and it was such a nice surprise!

So I shared about my surgery and the first few days in the hospital, now I thought I would share a little more about my recovery at home. It is funny because as I sit here now over a week later and try to think about what I have done it feels like a lot of nothing! I suppose that was to be expected though.

For those that don’t want the TMI details you can stop reading now…but I said I would be honest about my experience, so here goes. I have given birth vaginally 4 times. I remember what it was like those first few days recovering. I remember sitting on ice packs because everything down there was so swollen. Going into this procedure and knowing that everything was being done vaginally, I honestly expected the same kind of response. But this was not the case.

One of the things the Dr. warned me about that I didn’t fully understand was that with this type of procedure people often feel too good too soon and then over do it. I woke up and besides the terrible cramping in my abdomen, I had no other physical symptoms of having had surgery. No swelling, no pain – nothing. Because there are no outside stitches, one may not even know that I have just had a major surgery.

The cramping was deep inside my stomach/abdomen and felt a lot like labor pains. When my Dr. stopped to check on me we asked about it. Why would I have cramping pain in what felt like my uterus when it was gone? She said that there is a lot of connective tissue that had to be separated from around the uterus to remove it. The pain I was feeling was likely the brain sending signals down to those nerve receptors, just like it does in labor. So it was like the phantom pain that someone who has lost a limb often experiences. Crazy right?!

So for the first few days I did need to use the pain meds almost every 4 hours or so. I don’t like the side effects of using narcotics (constipation) but tylenol wouldn’t cut it for the pain. I spent the first few days mostly on the couch watching Netflix and sleeping. It is tough for me to stay so still. I can get bored pretty easily. But even just taking a shower was exhausting.

I think that is the part of recovery that has surprised me the most. How incredibly tired I am. I didn’t lose a ton of blood so I guess I don’t understand why I feel so drained. Someone explain it to me please?! My doctor said that my recovery would be a lot of walking and then resting, walking and then resting. And she was right. I can handle small tasks for a short time. I can walk for a little bit but then I have to rest for what seems like even longer.

I begged Dominic to take me to Walmart to get groceries one day (I just wanted out of the house) and he said he didn’t think I was ready and took the kids instead. He was right – that day it would have been too much. Three days later I did get a short trip to the store because I needed an extra pair of comfy pants and that 30 minutes was enough to land me on the couch for over an hour. It felt good to walk a little and then it felt really good to rest. If you are having this procedure done don’t push it. It is hard for me to do too, but I can see why so many people tell me to take it easy!!

I have about three different areas that I spend most of my time. Our bedroom and then two different couches in two rooms. One of the best things I did was purchase this Heating pad/neckwrap set from Amazon. I have the heating pad on our bed and the neck wrap on one of the couches. Having a heating pad over my stomach has really helped with the pain and it keeps me warm too! On the other couch I have a heated blanket that I use. Not having to move these from space to space has been really nice. The set from Amazon is unavailable right now, but I believe I paid $40 for the set, best money I have ever spent.

For the first several days I didn’t have much of an appetite. And the only thing that tasted good to me was fruit. Thankfully Dominic went to the store and picked up several different kids of {highly overpriced} fruit for me. Everyone responds differently to surgery and medicines etc. So my diet has consisted of a lot of toast and fruit and small meals. I don’t have my full appetite back yet.

Thankfully I had several weeks to prepare prior to my surgery and I made a bunch of freezer meals in advance. I think I had 11 pre-made and today we are using our second one. The first one was jumbo stuffed shells and it provided at least two meals. It will be nice as I have to start working again to be able to come home and have a meal to throw in the oven when I get the kids from school and it will be ready by dinnertime. If you can prep ahead I recommend it! I think as I try and get back to a semi-normal routine I am going to be exhausted by the end of the day and cooking dinner will be the last thing I would want to do. Having pre-made meals ready will be perfect!

I think that is all I have to share this round – as I get into the full second week of recovery I will come back and share more details again. I don’t see my Dr. for a follow up visit until January 23rd so at almost the 4 week post surgery mark. I will be interested to hear how everything is healing because I really can’t feel anything at all!! Again feel free to comment/message me with any questions you have and I will do my best to answer them!!

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed

If you are friends with me on Facebook you likely saw my oversharing of photos from this past weekend. (Sorry) I had the opportunity to take a trip to Houston with Karlena to visit my best friend Gindi and her daughter Lillie. We also got to spend a little time with my dear friend Cathryn and her daughter as well. Cathryn was a friend of Gindi’s and over the past year I have gotten to know her through Gindi and Voxer and it has been such a gift to share life with these women every day.

It was the first time that I have ever traveled alone with one of our kids. Karlena was both excited and nervous. She was a wonderful travel companion and it was so much fun watching her experience all of these new things. Her unique personality came out this weekend and it was interesting seeing a different side of her outside of our family unit.

I was worried about Karlena being shy around Lillie, but the moment she got in the car they started talking and they played so well together the entire weekend. At one point they both needed a little alone time to rest, but there wasn’t any fighting or arguing. Gindi and I talked about how it was just such a joy to see our girls becoming friends. Just a few short years ago she and I were strangers and today I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it.

We had dinner on Friday night at a yummy Mexican restaurant, Los Tios. On Saturday the kids had breakfast, made cut-out sugar cookies and played and we got ready to head out to see an afternoon showing of the Nutcracker. Gindi had some very special tickets to the show and so we were treated to some light snacks before the show, pictures with a couple of the characters, a beautiful nutcracker to take home as a gift and the most fabulous ballet production as well. The costumes were stunning, it was definitely a show to see if you are ever in Houston in December!

Saturday night Cathryn came by with her daughter Carsyn and the girls decorated sugar cookies and had a little “contest” where everyone was a winner in one way or another! Next we loaded up the car with hot chocolate in hand to drive around and see some of the beautiful light displays that Houston residents have to offer. My favorite were the wrapped trees with the light strands that hung down. I don’t suppose that would work in the cold and snow of Minnesota, but it sure was beautiful.

Sunday morning we went to church and then made a stop at a nearby mall so that Karlena could experience the American Girl store for the first time. She was so overwhelmed, she walked in and told me that she was just shaking all over. I had a weak moment and let her pick out a little dog that she has since carried at her side non-stop. We made a few more stops in the mall and then went back home for lunch and relaxing a little before our next big event.

We had tickets to see a Broadway production of Sleeping Beauty on Sunday evening. So we went downtown to the Hobby Center and had dinner and then went over to see the show. We all thought that we were seeing the classic fairy tale rendition, but this version was a bit different. They had a bunch of audience participation, which was good to keep the kids awake through a show that lasted until 10pm, but there was a lot of “adult” humor in the show, many Houston related jokes and some songs that were way over Karlena’s head. I was entertained, but I think we expected something completely different!

Karlena showed her first real signs of being homesick on Sunday night. She climbed into bed with me that night in tears telling me that she felt so lonely and just wanted to see her brothers and daddy again. It was really sweet and was such a precious reminder of how valuable our entire family is.

On Monday we got up and Sam, one of Lillie’s brothers was home so Karlena got to hang out with a brother figure for a few hours! After breakfast Gindi pulled out gingerbread house kits and the girls got to decorating. They had planned on doing it the day before so there wasn’t an extra house for Sam, but he didn’t mind. He got out some graham crackers and set to work making his own gingerbread creation. It was fun to see him make something so amazing.

Sadly after we cleaned up our mess it was time to shower and pack and get ready to head to the airport. While our trip was a short one it felt like we filled it with so much laughter and fun. It was interesting because we got on the plane and Karlena said that she was glad to be going home, but she had tears in her eyes as she said how much she would miss Lillie. I think we all can understand that struggle when we leave a piece of our hearts with dear friends that live far away!

I too was excited to be heading home to see my family, and yet so very grateful to have been given the time to get away. We come home to a busy week of last minute things before celebrating Christmas with our families. A winter storm is now in the forecast for later in the week and we had to make some changes to our work travel schedule as a result. And I have a pre-op appointment with my Doctor on Wednesday to discuss my surgery which as I write this is a mere 9 days away. Life keeps speeding on by it seems….

But this weekend I was so blessed to be able to spend some time laughing with my girl and my best friends and it filled me up in more ways than I can count. Thankful, grateful, blessed indeed.

Randomness From My Life

Days seems to run together lately. It is almost Thanksgiving, can you believe it?! I am so ready to decorate for Christmas but Dominic is encouraging me to wait until after Thanksgiving to do so. There are so many things that I want to remember, and laugh about from this time so the easiest way for me to do that is to share them here.

On Tuesday we had our first band concert of the year. Gabe is in 8th grade and this will be our last year of middle school concerts for a while. I love the format they have, they match two grades together, 6th and 8th, and each grade play two songs. It is a nice, short concert. Perfect for my younger kids to sit through.

The only problem with these concerts is that we need “Sunday Best” dress. Now our church is a little more casual. So Sunday best for us is nice jeans and a sweater. But we needed dress pants for the concert. My now 14 yr old boy has grown again and is tall and thin. His waist is skinny-appropriate for the boys pants, but his legs are so long he really needs men’s lengths. No store in our community carries pants in a 26/32.

I unfortunately forgot about said concert until the day before and frantically ran around town buying every pant remotely close to his size. None of them worked. I found an old pair from last year that we decided were good enough for this concert if he wore dark, long socks so his legs wouldn’t show.

Then in true, I have it together fashion, just 10 minutes before we had to leave we found his only pair of dress shoes and discovered they were a size 8. He is a strong 10 these days. There was no cramming his feet into these small shoes. So our only option was to tightly tie on a pair of dad’s old dress shoes, size 13. He flopped those babies onto the stage with ease and thankfully didn’t trip. I need to be a bit proactive about concert number two so we don’t have the same issue again!

I have somehow pinched my sciatic nerve and have been suffering with weird, shooting pains in my rear end for the last week. It is super fun and after a few days of what I thought was healing time and no pain, I did a dance workout on Monday morning and apparently irritated it again and man it is bad now. It hurts to sit and walk and lay flat. So basically everything I do is marked with some form of pain. If you see me rubbing my own backside, you know why! haha

Yesterday we found a large hunk of blonde hair on the floor by the bathroom. It appeared to be cut. So I called Karlena into the bathroom and showed it to her and asked if she cut her own hair. She emphatically explained that in no way would she cut her own hair, she would never do that! Then she went to get her blonde haired horse out to speculate if somehow its hair had been magically cut. I assure you, sir, it had not.

So I started brushing her hair and noticed in the back that there is a small part that is shorter. It isn’t hugely noticeable. I asked if she got something stuck in her hair and attempted to cut it out herself and her eyes dropped to the floor. Ahh yes, mama knows.  She is a terrible liar, she does have some incredible story-telling abilities, but I know better.

I received the nicest letter from grandma in the mail yesterday. She wanted to encourage me about my surgery. She has arthritis in her hands and I know writing a handwritten note isn’t easy for her. I will treasure those notes forever. And I could take a lesson from her. A call or text is nice, but a handwritten note can’t be beat!

My surgery is still set for December 28th. I have complete peace about it so I am grateful for that. I made my first freezer meal last night and had my mom pick up some special aluminum pans and lids from Sams so that I can make a few more. We don’t have a ton of freezer space right now, but I should be able to freeze and store at least 5 meals. That should help.

We have applied with and enrolled in new health “sharing” with Liberty Health Share. It will start in January and will replace our traditional health insurance so I can’t really speak to how it all works right now, but I will give you some of the information I do know.

For our family, this seemed the best fit. We chose the Liberty Complete Plan and the monthly share amount will be $449 per month. We will have an out of pocket “annual unshared amount” of $1500 for our family. So we are responsible for everything up to the first $1500 and then after that we can share all our expenses. This will require that we be proactive at each appointment, asking for detailed records/billing notices so that we can upload them into the Liberty Share system. But we know a few people that use this program and have had success over the past year so we are hopeful it will be ok.

A dear friend of mine works for a health care system in the South and she has told me recently about how many changes we are going to continue to see with healthcare. It is probably going to get worse before it get better unfortunately. We all need to advocate for ourselves.

She advised me to call the surgical center where I had my recent surgery after I got my bill and ask if there was a discount if I paid the bill in full. Honestly, I didn’t expect there would be a discount. I had submitted it to insurance and what was remaining was mine to pay. But they did in fact tell me that if I paid in full I would save 10%. On this bill it was over $400! That’s $400 I can use to pay my remaining radiology bill, or my surgeon’s bill. So take notes friends, don’t be afraid to call and ask!

We have conferences tonight and I am excited to hear how our kids are doing in school. I was most worried about Karlena but she really enjoys school and at least from what I can tell is doing very well.

We are hosting Thanksgiving next week and will have a nice sized group, 18 of us! Our kitchen is all put back together and I am excited to host. Now if I can just find time to dust those pesky built-in shevles…

I have purchased almost all of my Christmas gifts and will start wrapping very soon. I am taking a very special trip with Karlena to Houston on December 15th for a long weekend and basically I need to have all my gifts wrapped, my treats baked and freezer meals done before then because when we get back on the 19th we will have a couple of days before Christmas and then just a few days before my surgery. So basically I have 29 days to do a whole lot of stuff! Better get to it!!

Have a great rest of the week!


Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner

Memories, A Medical Update and That Time I Talked About Health Insurance

So once again it has been awhile since I have had a chance to sit down and write. Lots has happened and I wanted to share a few of those updates! On Saturday we had our family pictures taken by a friend who has some crazy amazing talent. I have only seen some of the sneak peaks…but what she has shared so far has blown me away. Her name is Stephanie Werner and she can be found here on Facebook. Seriously, if you need pictures taken and live in or near Marshall, MN, call her. I can’t wait to see the final edited CD!!

We have had a few really crazy weeks with work, and we just had some of the carpet replaced in the office space that we lease so things have been in a bit of a disarray here. But as of yesterday, everything was moved back into its proper place and the carpet looks really nice.

I couldn’t help but think that my grandpa would have really loved to see the before and after pictures. He and my grandma really supported us when Dominic first started this business. They gave us the loan that made it possible to buy the furniture and supplies he needed to get going. When I was cleaning out my desk drawers before we had to move everything I came across the paid off promissory note that he sent back to us after we had paid off everything in full. A sweet memory.

Speaking of memories, yesterday was the 7 year anniversary of my best friend Karlena’s passing. Honestly, I couldn’t believe it had been 7 years. Sometimes that seems impossible. But then I look at my girl, her namesake, and realize that she will be 7 in 6 short weeks. I was organizing pictures on our shelves after the move in the office and many of them are of our family and you can see how we have all aged and changed. But the pictures I have with Karlena and I will forever be from 2010 and earlier. It is sad when you think about the fact that someone so crucial to your faith walk isn’t there for new steps. But her presence and memory are certainly felt and I will forever be grateful that I had the opportunity to love her and be her friend.

On October 19th I had a follow-up visit with my OB/GYN Dr after my surgery. The good news was that everything was healing well and the biopsy from both the cyst (which was the thing I was most concerned about) and the tubes was benign.

In addition to having those things removed, I also had an ablation procedure. I shared back in September that because of the way that my uterus is tipped they were unable to do a standard biopsy in the Dr’s office, so instead they had to do it in the operating room prior to doing the ablation. My Dr had talked to me that there was a small chance that if something showed up in the biospy of the uterine wall that was concerning, I may have to have a hysterectomy in the future.

At the time there wasn’t anything in my history that indicated that might be a concern so we went forward with the lesser invasive procedure. Unfortunately, when they did the biopsy of the lining there were some sections of concern. In medical terms, there was some focal glandular crowding, proliferative-type endometrium, and cystic dilatation….in layman’s terms I like to call this my angry uterus.

Right now my angry uterus is just that…angry. Ha ha!! It isn’t cancer but if left unchecked and untreated it could become more serious. She said that we could wait a few months and then if my cycles don’t quit completely (like they do for 85-90% of women that have the ablation procedure) she would recommend a hysterectomy. (For people without an angry uterus bi-annual biopsies done in office can be used to watch for any changes….mine would have to be done surgically)

I am 42, almost 43. I won’t be having children physically in the future and so from a medical perspective, I don’t need this darn angry, funny tipped uterus. The reason we didn’t just do a hyst right away is because it has a longer recovery time and more risks….we were both thinking that the biopsy would be normal and hoping that I wouldn’t have the need for any more surgeries.

Well then last week we got the wonderful news about our anticipated healthcare premium increases. And just so I am clear, this is our experience and I realize that there are many of you that have had different experiences. I don’t know what the answers are, I wish I did…but I want to share what we have gone through the last 6 years and what is happening now as a result.

Let me just be frank with you, Obamacare for our family was a nightmare. Our premiums have doubled, tripled, quadrupled in the course of 6 years. I was fortunate for many years to work in a corporate environment and so as a result up until 2011, had access to a large group plan that offered reasonable rates and low deductibles. We were involved in a health coaching group and kept accountable for our health needs. Except for some major unexpected things, our group was healthy because we as a whole exercised, ate healthy and went to the doctor when it was medically necessary.

When we moved to MN and I was no longer working with that larger corporation and Dominic started his own business, we were in the position to look for healthcare on our own. I was clueless to what it would cost and we were shocked at how much more expensive rates were than the rates I had paid through the bank. But in 2011, it was manageable.

Then came 2012, 2013…and so on and with it extreme increases in premiums and out of pocket deductible costs. In 2011 we were paying approximately $400-450 a month for our family of 6 with maybe a $2000 deductible. Today we are paying $1600 a month and we have a deductible of over $7000 out of pocket. If we stay with our current group plan for 2018, one that we were lucky to get because we work together at the business….one that we were grandfathered into last year, our premiums will be almost $2100 a month.

$2100 a month just to have insurance. Our plan used to have a $40 co-pay, so at least when the kids got sick we could justify the expense of going in and getting checked out. In 2018 our co-pay will be eliminated. In addition to the $2100 a month, we would have to pay 100% of all medical costs per person up to $2300 each before any “insurance” would kick in.

Dominic and I work very hard for a living. We are fortunate, we know that. We make just enough that we do not qualify for any subsidy programs. Our cost of healthcare is fully our own. I know that we are not alone in this. I am friends with other families, many of them also self-employed, who have found themselves in a similar situation.

How is this “affordable healthcare?”

Last year we researched the options available to us in regards to the various Christian Health Sharing ministries. Fear kept me stuck in the what-ifs. Dominic was more ready to make a switch than I was but with promises of “reform” all over the news last November….we decided to ride out one more year in hopes that change was really going to happen.

Clearly that change isn’t happening anytime soon. The insurance companies continue to increase rates, decrease benefits and lesson the available networks that the plans work in. When my health care premiums are more than my mortgage payment each month, something is wrong.

So, as a result, two things are happening. One, we are looking into all of the options and companies out there that are considered Christian Health Sharing Ministries. I have spent hours reading and researching the differences, asking for input from friends that are using each plan, and honestly in prayer for wisdom and discernment over our decisions. I can’t live in fear of the unknown. When we get to that place where we have made some decisions I will share the whats and whys here for anyone that is interested.

I still have some questions and am hoping to get those answers soon. I am saddened that this is the state of our affairs and that we have to make these types of “between a rock and a hard place” decisions. But I am trusting that God will guide our choices and our steps.

And two….I have been back in contact with my doctor to discuss and schedule a hysterectomy (one that leaves my ovary intact!!) for the very end of December. While having another surgery in 2 months isn’t on my list of the best ways to end 2017 and ring in a new year, I can’t afford to risk waiting and having to do the surgery in early 2018. If there is a drastic change in my cycles in the next 6 weeks, the surgery could be canceled…but at this point, it looks like for many reasons, it is the best option for me.

I thought the week-long recovery of the last surgery was tough. This one will challenge me even more I am sure. But Dominic has been incredibly supportive and we will just have to schedule our workload very light in early January as a result. We have some pretty incredible clients and I know they will understand.

And sometime in the next 6 weeks I need to come up with about 10 freezer meals that I can make and freeze in advance so that I don’t have to worry about cooking. I won’t be able to lift anything over 20lbs for 6 weeks for sure, no laundry, no vacuuming….seriously what will I do?! Haha!

But joking aside, can I tell you that I have such a peace about all of this?! When my doctor said it might be something we would have to do it was like “ok…I can deal with that.” All the fear and anxiety I felt over the last surgery is just gone. Praise God! I know that having come to that place with Him, trusting that whatever the outcome, He would be there….that truth has carried me through today. It can only be explained by Him. He has given me a peace and I am so grateful for that.

So I do covet your prayers as we make final decisions about our health care situation and for December 28th and my surgery. It could be so much worse, I know that….so I just move forward seeking to get to the healthiest place that I can for myself and my family!

And if you are using a Christian Sharing Ministry and want to share your experience please do! What do you love, what works…what doesn’t, would you go back to traditional insurance? What questions should I be asking…give me all your knowledge!

Well Hello There!

It has been quite a time away again hasn’t it?! I realized that almost 6 weeks has passed since I shared anything here. In many ways I miss writing and honestly in other ways it has felt good to step away for awhile.

I have been writing though, a little. I am excitedly involved in 2 projects that I will be able to tell you more about this fall. It was an honor to participate and once again I will get to see my words in actual print! Some of the other writers involved are my writing heroes so to be included alongside them is surreal!

Speaking of printed words, I spent several months this winter working on a surprise for my mom and my grandma that I was finally able to share with them on Mother’s Day so I can finally share it here now too!

We participated in a leadership training class through my church this year. One of the other participants has an interesting hobby. He loves to print and bind books! He has a detailed process for how he goes about it and when I heard that I asked him if he would be willing to take some of my blog posts from this blog and my old family blog and put them into a book for me to give as a gift.

He agreed and I set to work copying the posts I wanted to use over to a Word document. It was a big task as it was over 121,000 words! Stories from my heart and my life from 2008 – 2016. He helped design the cover and the font etc., he really was such a gift to me and it was incredibly special to be able to share my words in printed form like that with my mom and grandma!

That is the one thing that I love so much about blogging, it is a record keeper of our life. As I went back through some of those old posts I could see how much not only my writing had matured, but how I had changed as well. Spiritually, emotionally…it has been a journey and not always an easy one. But my prayer has always been that my words would be a reflection of God’s work in my life.

God has always been there, even in the hardest, darkest moments. I don’t always see it in the moment, but when I read old stories it is a reminder of all He has done!

Speaking of God’s work in our lives, on Easter Sunday we did one of those Cardboard Testimonies during the worship service. There were about 10 of us I think that got up to share how God had worked in our lives. Dominic and I went up as a couple and it was really powerful and a testament to all that God can do! Here were my signs…

We are nearing the end of the school year here, an after Labor Day start means we are in class through June 1st. Our kids are ready to be done but have a few more days of mandated testing and then the last few days should be a little more fun!

I have been helping with the prep work for VBS at our church. It is such fun to participate in VBS each year, I always look forward to it. The kids are in for a treat again this year too with the decorations! I haven’t helped as much as I would like because I am at work during the day, (I really need to talk to my boss about that!!) but after work I have been spending my evenings at the church painting and creating.

The brains behind this operation are my dear friends Steph, Christina, Carol and Zita. Man, these ladies are talented….and funny! I seriously just want to help so that I can go and laugh for a few hours! So they tell me what to do and I do my best, I bring limited craftiness and lots of laughs and sass to the party. It’s a good fit all around!

I am still exercising most days. I skipped today because I was just too tired to get up…but most days I get a 30-minute Beachbody workout in. Being able to do a workout in the comfort of my own home has been one of the reasons I am still with this after 6+ months! That and an awesome accountability group that encourages one another. Dominic even started getting up early starting this past December. I don’t think he is very happy about it still, but it does make us both feel better. Since October I have lost and kept off 10lbs and 8+ inches!

And even better I still get to eat the things I love. Interestingly, as I have started to eat more healthy I am finding that there are certain foods that really don’t agree with me. I may not ever eat something deep fried again as I feel terrible after I do, but I don’t miss it anymore! If someone tells me I can’t ever have something again, I would crave it for life! But as I make more healthy choices I am finding my cravings change. Weird stuff happening around these parts!

And don’t think I have gone all out crazy health nut over here, I am eating peanut M&M’s as I write this. Seriously, out of all the candy/chocolate available, these have become my favorite! YUM!

Dominic and I will celebrate 21 years of marriage on June 1st and plan to sneak away for an overnight to Red Wing, MN at a beautiful bed & breakfast they have there! We have been to a couple of these and have enjoyed them. Our time was limited when I was trying to plan the surprise, so we are just grateful to be able to get away even if only for 24 hours!

We will be taking a trip up to Northern MN as a family this summer and the kids are anxiously awaiting some warmer temps so that they can get back in our pool. Dominic set it up in mid-May when we were having unseasonably warms temps and then it got cold and rained for a week straight so the pool is a balmy 51 degrees. It may be mid-June before they get back in, but they ask about it almost every day!

Beyond that we are just living life. Busy with work life and home life and everything in between! Our garden is planted and the potatoes may not survive the 4 inches of rain we got in 2 days, but if we can get some warmer and windy days here to dry them out they may have a chance! I’d love to catch up with you…do you have any fun summer plans? Are your kids still in school or are they done? Drop me a comment and let me know!!

Where’s Your Mission Field?

I used to think that I needed to be called overseas to be on mission for God. I used to think that I needed to publish a book to prove that I was writing for Him. When those things didn’t happen, it was easy for me to believe that maybe God hadn’t called me to anything special.

But I was wrong.

This morning my daughter came to me with her backpack. The liner in it had ripped at the top and she didn’t want to use it anymore. I told her that I thought I could fix it, at least enough to use it. So I got out some thread and a needle and with just minutes to spare before leaving for school, I repaired her bag. Sometimes my mission field looks like a bad sewing job on a broken backpack. My girl was so grateful for the fix and it took me less than 5 minutes to serve her well.

Yesterday I spent 3 hours in a hospital room holding a very sick baby boy. His mama (with strong encouragement that she wasn’t being a bad mother) went to support her husband at his grandmother’s funeral. She struggled with leaving, but as a mom who has spent days in a hospital with a baby that almost died from rsv…well she knew I understood what to do. For 3 hours yesterday, this boy was my mission field. I took pictures and sent them to his mom to reassure her that he was just fine. I got to rock him and sing to him and even fed him his first bottle! What a gift that was to be of service in that way.

Every day my husband and I go to his office. We work hard to help people plan their estates so that their family doesn’t have to worry or fight once they are gone. Sometimes the days get long and we are at the office into the early evening. Sometimes we have projects or plans that are mentally taxing and it feels overwhelming. But we have the honor of helping people. We don’t take this responsibility lightly. Even though we aren’t a church or don’t serve people in a foreign country, we still have a mission field right here. 

I have always been someone that struggles with comparison. I see my friend who is leaving on a mission trip and I wonder if she is doing it better for God than I am. I watch as more and more of my author friends are releasing yet another book, or signing their first book deal…while I struggle to get posts out on a consistent basis. I wonder if God knows He can use them more than He can use me. I see those involved in the church and leading in ways I am not and believe the lie that my past failures make me unqualified.

It would be very easy for me to see myself as not valuable and unworthy. But that is crazy! God whispered to my heart this morning and reassured me that I was on a mission for Him.  My mission field is found in the ways I serve my family in love, in my prayers for others, when I find ways to be an encouragement to someone who is struggling, when we go to work each day and strive to do the best job we can for our clients.

Friends, we each have a mission field. Find ways to be of service to those around you. And do so with a happy and grateful heart. When we love others well, we are sharing the love of God. And what a mission that is!

Friday Loves on Tuesday

Friday Loves

Ok so I know it is Tuesday and NOT Friday…but I couldn’t get a Friday Loves post up this past Friday…and with October right around the bend, I thought I would share some Loves early mid-week instead!


Fervent Prayer

I am really excited about the series that God placed on my heart for this October. This will be my third year participating in the series. Writers from all over the globe commit to writing/posting every day for 31 days during the month of October. After leading a Bible Study on Fervent in my church I felt led to also write a series for October! I have several posts pre-written and hopefully will be able to get the remaining posts done for the end of the month! I would love it if you would join me in exploring the topic of fervent prayer!

Five Minute Friday Book


Over the years I have participated in the flash-mob of writers who join every Thursday night to write for five minutes on a specific topic. It has been awhile since I have written but about a year ago I heard that they were putting together a book of Five Minute Friday pieces and I submitted one for consideration! I, along with 150 other writers, are included in this amazing book! What is even more awesome is that all the proceeds from this book will go to benefit 2 different charities. You can find out all the specifics over at Kate’s blog. You can purchase the book at Amazon here.

From the Depths We Rise


I have been following Sarah’s blog for over a year now so when I was contacted by my friends over at Icon Media with an opportunity to review Sarah’s new book, I jumped at the chance! I started reading it this weekend and it is SO GOOD. This book is a memoir of Sarah’s journey through some of the most difficult and life altering circumstances. She writes with such transparency, unafraid to discuss the hard and sometimes unanswerable questions…and yet does so with such grace.   Sarah’s faith in God, even in the face of her worst nightmares coming true, will challenge you to examine your own faith as well. She is a reflection of the truth that God never said that this life would be easy, but He would be with us the entire time and our hope should be in the promise of his redemptive power over all of our troubles. This is a book that you want to read, and follow her blog too…a beautiful soul who is bringing light into this dark world! You can purchase your copy on Amazon here.

Dayspring Nativity Hurricane Trio


The Dayspring Hurricane Candle Trio is one of my most favorite items that I display in my home. I initially purchased it for Christmas, but I love it so much I honestly leave it up on my shelf all year round! Today and tomorrow only, Dayspring is having a flash sale and the Trio is only $50! And will ship for free!! If you have ever wanted to have this for your home, buy it today! You will not be sorry!!

So what are you loving this week? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!!

The Sounds of Praise

Lake walk

The black-and-white butterflies danced in front of our feet as we walked down the rocky path towards the shoreline of lake in front of us.

A bird circled overhead and cawed, reminding us that this was his territory.

The wind was strong that day and the trees sang and danced as the gusts caused their limbs to sway to and fro.

We were taking some time away with family, free of meetings and client calls. A time to breathe, something my husband and I both desperately needed.

There were sounds and movement all around us but I was filled with peace.

That kind of peace where you know all is well. Being able to unplug and just drink in this world that was created just for us.

I couldn’t help but feel a sense of gratitude at the multitude of ways nature sings praises to the One who created all of it.

The trees making a song with their branches and the birds soar high on the currents of the air, rhythmically moving with the wind. The waves join in on the lake as they build and crash across the surface of the water. The plants and flowers provide beauty. All of it is a reminder to me that God is ever present.

There has always been something about nature that has drawn me closer to God.

It is as though in these moments where I step away and just pause to see, that I am overwhelmed at all He is and has done for me.

I need to be more intentional about taking the time to seek Him in the world around me.

Stepping away from the clatter of the busyness of life and into the sounds of celebration and praise that nature provides.

Is there a place that you connect most with God? Take some time this week and unplug so that you can connect with God!

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