Snap, Post, Share or Put it Down

Sometimes it happens on accident, but recently it’s become intentional.

Either way it leaves me moments that are mine alone as well as sharing memories with someone by my side.

In the age of social media, I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to over-sharing. I love a good Instagram or Tweet.

Last Friday night we had friends over to celebrate Allison’s big accomplishment of leaving the school she has been at for nine years to enter Roseburg High in the fall.

I handed my camera to a friend who always gets the good shots. She knows us so it’s not hard for her to see what’s important in our moments.

…when I put the camera down I find myself drinking it in.

As she left, she handed me the camera with a big hug and said she got some great shots.

If only I had put the memory card back in the slot.

It took me an hour after the party to realize my mistake.

I was so sad to have nothing to share, nothing to post or save.

Several months ago Russ and I started deliberately leaving our camera at home. While on a short getaway to the coast we said, “This one is just for us.”

You have to know, I adore the ocean. Over the years some of my favorite pictures were taken of waves, rocks and sand. Driftwood has a beautiful texture and the blue skies bring color and life.

I love capturing it, but when I put the camera down I find myself drinking it in. Smelling the ocean, feeling the sand between my toes and hearing the waves crash against the shore.

I am more aware of the hand I’m holding and the laughter we are creating.

Sometimes you have to stop recording life in order to enjoy what’s in front of you. Those are the times you capture them in your heart for you and the one your with to keep sacred.

These are your moments to keep. You don’t have to share.

My friend reminded me that I was able to sit back, enjoy my daughter and play with the children around me.

That is captured in my heart, no gigabytes required!


When Life Doesn’t Turn Out the Way You Planned


In the movie While You Were Sleeping, Lucy reminisces about her father as she narrates, “He would get these far-off looks in his eyes and he would say ‘Life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan’. I just wish I’d realized at the time, he was talking about MY life.”

Mother’s Day was just an ordinary day for us this year. Okay, not that ordinary since our life seems to be filled with constant twists, turns and surprises. Why should this day be any different?

My husband Russ and I traveled north on the I-5, just north of Seattle to attend a Disaster Relief Training the Thursday before. We’ll join a team of trained chaplains and associates who are able to respond in case the need arises either nearby or anywhere in the country.

After two full days of training we began our journey back to Roseburg, tired and emotionally drained by all the information. Our oldest daughter was graciously taking care of her sister at home.

By the time we reached Portland we decided to take a night in the city. Pulling out a travel app I found an amazing last minute deal on a downtown boutique hotel.

I love my rural home but I must confess, there is something about the city that rejuvenates me.

My mind raced with the possibilities. Yes, our purpose was to rest but I couldn’t do that until I explored the city. After a late dinner we took a short walk and settled down for the night.

The morning of Mother’s Day I woke up without my kids around. It was a really odd feeling. After all, it is the amazing blessing they have brought to my life that has allows me the title Mom anyway.

Still, I sprung from bed ready to take on the city. No makeup required. I would pop my hair in a barrette and walk to streets with Russ, looking for a good cup of coffee with a side of atmosphere.

We made our way to Stumptown, a great little place attached to a hotel lobby full of character and charm. I quickly made a call to my daughter to let her know we were going to hang around for a bit, perhaps find a good brunch before heading south again.

As she answered, I heard her voice, raspy and tired, my girl was sick. She hadn’t wanted to call and bug me but I could tell she needed to sleep. We walked back to our room, checked out and drove back to do my job nurturing my offspring.

As rough as leaving Portland before brunch was, we found ourselves a week later in an ambulance headed north with our youngest aboard. Her high fever and abnormal blood counts gave cause for concern. I’m writing this in the hospital room in Springfield, post surgery and waiting for the next piece of news.

Over the years I’ve been learning to hold on to expectations with an open hand. That doesn’t mean I don’t wish for different outcomes or events. It just means I’m understanding more that life doesn’t derive its rich moments in out of high expectations or well laid plans.

The best moments of our lives are in the every day. They can even be found during illness and days of sadness. They are woven with light and dark threads and the foundation of joy that keeps the pain from sinking us into the deep.

I often think of Joseph in the middle of his life. He must have wondered if his dream was really from God. The road he took to get there is one he couldn’t have envisioned but nothing went to waste.

There is nothing we go through that doesn’t pass through God’s hands first. Sometimes we feel as if we are being sifted while we choose to trust Him completely. I think it’s path being prepared for our hearts purification.

I believe this is where wisdom grows.

My friend Christa taught recently that Joseph wouldn’t have made an impact on those who paved the way to his dream if His heart had been in the wrong space. If he was holding bitterness towards the brothers who threw him in a pit or the woman who falsely accused him of rape.

In Isaiah 26:3,4 says,

Lord, you will give perfect peace

to anyone who commits himself to be faithful to you.

That’s because he trusts in you.

Trust in the Lord forever.

The Lord is the Rock.

The Lord will keep us safe forever.” (NIRV)

When the road bends, it is my heart that must be stayed on Him. It’s in His Word, not my circumstances that I find peace.

Even when life doesn’t turn out the way I planned.



Crossfit at 50

If you haven’t noticed, I’m the senior mama in this sweet group of writers you know as the Douglas County Moms.

This doesn’t mean anything more than I have lived longer.

It’s given me a chance to fail a bit more.

One thing I know is that I have so much to learn and still have time to change my mind about things I’ve said I’d never do.

Working out is my latest change of heart and mind.

I finally drank the Kool-Aid.

I’ve written before about how my diet needed to change over the past couple of years. There were some health issues cropping up and it was obvious that food was one of the culprits. At least it was a place I could start.

What I’ve found is that “everything in moderation” doesn’t work when some foods, even in the smallest amounts, wreak havoc on my system.

Another lesson that has taken hold is when I say “I could never do that,” I cheat myself.

Over the past few years, like other writers have mentioned, CrossFit has gained popularity.

For me it fell in the “I could never do that” category.

There were a few others I rejected as well based on the time commitment involved or the emphasis on having an attractive body.

In my twenties I spent far too much time chasing body perfection in order to prove my worth.

My thirties added parental perfection to the list. (I also taught fitness classes for part of that time.)

In my forties I relaxed in those areas because I was busy keeping our youngest daughter alive while trying to parent a teenager.

Now I’m fifty. I absolutely love this age. I think I looked forward to it with more excitement than turning five.

As I’ve become better educated in the area of nutrition and as my body has become more healthy, I’ve realized that there was something else I needed to be focusing on: I needed to work on strength.

My 14-year-old doesn’t walk (although she is learning). She is around 85 pounds, uses a wheelchair and needs help transferring into other chairs or the van.

After all of my research, CrossFit seemed the logical choice.

A little over a month ago Russ asked me if I was still interested in looking into it and I was.

I spoke to the coach, took a tour, set up a sample workout and took the next step.

Tonight is my last fundamentals class. Everyone must take this class in order to know the moves before starting in a group.

It’s for safety more than anything, but it will help to keep from slowing down others in their workouts too.

There are a few things that have surprised me: I’m so much stronger in some areas than I thought and I have so much work to do in places I thought I had it all worked out.

What has shocked me most is how much I can’t wait for the next class.

I’ve teased my friend for a few years about her cult leader status and had to admit that I finally drank the Kool-Aid.

No matter how humiliated I’ve felt over my inability to catch on to a few things, I seem to forget the embarrassment the next morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be stocking up on Epsom salts, investing in a foam roller and keep talking walks on the in between days.

Through achy muscles I realize that for things to take shape in our lives, we just have to keep taking steps forward.

These steps might involve kettle bells, rowing machines, double-unders and wall balls.

More than that they come with the confidence of knowing I not only tried, but it fits and I’m really good with that.


Mother’s Day Post from The News Review

Motherhood in and of itself is inspiring. The sheer act of bringing life into this broken world is a gift like no other.

Regardless of the circumstances, precious life has found its way here through the miracle of birth.

The act of childbirth isn’t the only path to parenthood, and becoming a mother doesn’t guarantee a life surrounded by love.

On the second Sunday in May every year, we stop to honor mothers.

Some of us wait in breathless anticipation to unwrap a handmade treasure. Others hold their breaths, waiting for the day to pass.

For those whose Mother’s Day flowers lie on a headstone, you are not forgotten. You rise above disappointing expectations to bring friendship and grace to those whose hearts are open.

Not every mother is a birth mother and not every birth mother will witness her child reaching maturity.

The weight of empty arms are the heaviest some will ever know.

This year you’ve opted for a quiet morning at home or a quiet morning at the river.

What you need to know is this — you are not alone.

You belong to a club that is not exclusive enough. A sorority no one wants to join, but are forced to live with every day.

Some of you have gone on to raise other children. As they graduate from university you cherish it more, knowing there should have been one before this.

Yet somehow, the one you still miss has influence here and now.

My friend, Melody, is creating a painting titled, “The Journey of My Heart: The Unveiling.” She shares each stage with friends. It’s still in process, but so is she.

This will be her fourth Mother’s Day without a child on earth, yet she keeps putting one foot in front of the other.

Like so many grieving parents, she shares her son’s meaningful life in a way that makes things brighter.

Mother’s Day is meant to honor the contribution we bring to the lives of our children. Women deserve no less tribute, even though their gift to this world looks different than others.

Theirs are days woven with wisdom and courage and an exquisite understanding that life is truly precious and love is something no one can afford to waste.


How to Do Disney with the New Disabilities System

Almost sixty years ago, Walt Disney stood at a podium at the entrance to Main Street and declared: “To all who come to this happy place, Welcome.”

Ask my family, every time I hear a recording of that speech, I turn to mush.

Why? Because “all” means all. Young, old, middle aged, those with physical limitations and everyone in between.

Ten years of experience taking my child to Disneyland (once to Walt Disney World) has given me a perspective I can’t wait to share.

In fact, I love it when I find out that others are able to take advantage of my experience.


Our recent trip was an introduction to the new Disabilities Assistance System.

Although I don’t own a plaid vest, I’m happy to be your tour guide to this magical place.

Planning is our first stop to making your trip successful. It starts with being able to articulate your loved one’s needs and desires as well as limitations.

In our case, the crowded line gets frustrating for Allison. Imagine sitting in a small wheelchair in a crowd of people where you can only see backsides and thighs. It takes a very short time for a meltdown to occur so avoiding that saves our day.

We have specific times where Allison needs to have her g-tube hooked up. This means any attraction we use at the time has to be one that accommodates her chair. We plan transfer rides around her meals.

We factor in heat issues, toileting times and even schedule in quieter moments.

Knowing these things makes it easier to express our needs so the Cast Members (employees) can help with accommodations.

Getting in and through the park

Plan on getting to the park early to stand in line at the gate. Once you get in, depending on what park you choose to start with, go straight to City Hall at Disneyland Park or Chamber of Commerce in Disney’s California Adventure Park.

Your whole party will need to be with you for this process so they can count heads. They will list the number of your party on the front of the pass so you can stay together. This is an improvement from before because the previous limit was six – this time they included all 12 of us, two being in wheelchairs.

Among the days we went, we found the line at California Adventure’s Chamber of Commerce had a much shorter line. That may not always be the case, but it worked nicely for us.

Let me give you a tip that will not only help with everything: Always be polite. Always speak kindly. Even when you have to be firm, being abusive or demanding isn’t a right any of us have earned.

When approaching the Cast Member, go as a learner. “What can I do to make my daughter’s day at Disneyland special?” That is their goal too, after all.

You will be given a small booklet with a photo of the passholder on the front. Inside there are lines to fill in for the attractions you’ll want to visit.

They’ll use the current wait times (how long the current line is) to determine when you should arrive. Sometimes you’ll go straight there, other times you’ll be able to fit in something else along the way.

This is where the planning comes in. There are strategically placed kiosks all over the parks where you can check in for the next attraction. It helps to have a couple of choices in mind so the Cast Member can help you plan your next moves.

In extreme cases they will offer a small amount of “readmission passes.” They are given case by case and are meant to meet very specific needs.

You will have a small brochure that tells you where every kiosk is located. Every single one was convenient.

It isn’t a perfect system and one size does not fit all, but from first hand experience I will tell you, Disney has thought this through and are still willing to take feedback to improve.

Familiarize yourself with the park you’ll be in that day.

Get a map and locate First Aid. We use First Aid for toileting needs. The bathrooms are large, private and come with cots for tending to incontinence issues. We are more familiar with the one in Disneyland Park at the end of Main Street to the right. California Adventure has one set a little further back in the park.

When we were at Disney World, every park has fantastic First Aid stations that were fully equipped as well. (Anyone with a child too big for a “diaper deck” will appreciate this.)

They will also offer you pads to change on and trash bags for your use.

In the warmer weather they offer places to cool off but we choose cooler attractions at those times. It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Enchanted Tiki Room are our top cool down spots.

At the entrance of the Tiki Room there is a Dole Whip stand to buy a treat that is so good it has a cult following. It even has wait times posted.

Disney has worked very hard to give every guest a wonderful experience. It even shows in their food preparation.


Part 1 of this series can be found HERE