Sam, the Tazmanian mathematician.

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I married this.

At the end of July, Sam and I spent a couple of nights at what has now become our favorite place in Colorado – Grand Lake Lodge. While there, we got acquainted with two young girls from Macedonia who came to the United States for the summer to work.

They told us about their scary beginning when they landed in Ocean City, New Jersey only to discover that the jobs promised to them were filled and they were abandoned in a country they had never visited with nowhere to go. Through fortunate circumstances and other Macedonian friends who found employment in Colorado, they ended up at the lodge and had only been there two weeks when we met them. Over the course of two days, we learned about their lives and their country and took them to the top of the world for their first visit.

In other words, we connected.

When we told them goodbye, we promised we would come back to see them one more time before they flew back home . That happened to be this past weekend.

We are on the road a lot in this season, back and forth from small town USA to Kansas City, five hours each way. But small town USA is also just five hours from Denver. Piece of cake. And besides, if Sam is on the road, he is not tiling, sawing, mowing, fertilizing, building, demo-ing, fixing, watering, hammering, digging, etc.

I look FORWARD to these road trips because it means my workaholic husband actually takes a break and relaxes.

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So, off we went on Friday evening; however, on Saturday morning, I did concede to stop at the monster tile store that has become our favorite store before we went on to Grand Lake.

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Besides, that’s not work – that’s just dreaming, as we walk up and down the aisles looking at all the beautiful tile. Saturday morning, 8 am, we had a date with Floor & Décor.

Nevertheless, not only did we end up buying the tile for our new kitchen backsplash, we also bought tile to re-do an entire bathroom and shower. No biggy. I’ll give him THAT much space to fit in some work, loading the boxes of tile into the back end of the truck.

Off we headed to our favorite place in Colorado to see our Macedonian “daughters,” tile strategically and securely loaded.

We had a wonderful time with Jana and Valeria. We enjoyed driving Trail Ridge Road again and saw lots of elk. We walked downtown Grand Lake and visited with our artist friend and her husband and had a late lunch.

Grand Lake Main Street

We sat around the fire at the lodge and visited with the girls and enjoyed a steak dinner during a cold rainy evening.

The next morning, we decided to get up early and head back onto Trail Ridge Road to “truckhunt” wildlife one more time this year, and when we opened the door of our cabin, we discovered SNOW! What fun it was to see the first snow of the season, and then to see one moose before breakfast and goodbyes with the girls.



But what do ya know. That crazy husband of mine…

Why take a road trip without adding in some extra work? What a waste of gas money, right?

We said our bittersweet goodbyes and loaded up the truck for a long 8+ hour drive back home, only to drive five miles. Sam talked to several people the day before who knew a guy. And someone else who knew a guy. And wouldn’t you know it, Sam had to know this guy, too. This guy cuts firewood.

Therefore, before we could leave the lovely town of Grand Lake, we drove five miles to this guy’s place, UNloaded all that tile in the back of the truck and repacked it in the backseat, and then filled the entire truck bed with pine firewood. So relaxing…

Sam's Firewood


I was a little looney tunes, but only in my mind.

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We made it as far as Denver before he hadn’t had enough. “Let’s stop at a thrift store and try to find a new door for the pantry!”

No door was found, but a used vanity was, so it had to be loaded on top of the firewood and strapped down. Off we go again.

We made it as far as Hays before he hadn’t had enough. “I need to stop at Home Depot for some wood and supplies.” You gotta be kidding me.

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8+ hours to get home. The key symbol here is +. When traveling with Sam, always add a +.  During your adventure, you will always need to + some stops.  Or maybe add a <. When traveling with Sam, your adventure will always be < you anticipated.

I’m learning.

And, I am so grateful for road trip memories made and my looney tunes husband. Life is an adventure with this guy.

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A heart full.

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Today is my brother’s birthday. I like to imagine he is having a piece of cake with Mom and little sister Judy. I wish I could bake him a cake today. I’d try to make the best one ever and let him know how much I love him.

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Happy birthday, Steve.

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Today, I received a package from my daughter. I cannot remember a time when my heart has been so full. Inside was a personalized calendar with everyone’s birthdays, a grateful board to hang on our wall, and a beautiful picture of her family that is now hanging next to my desk. But THIS is what makes my heart overflow with love and gratitude and an overwhelming sense of Mama Bear:


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I am very grateful today for a heart that is full.



Tending to turtle.

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Yesterday morning, Sam and I sat at the dining room table in the quiet of the morning before the day began. I read a devotion, and it sparked a good discussion about the words, “I am sorry.”

When I was a teacher, one of my pet peeves formulated when children would be directed to apologize for something, and immediately, the standard response was, “Sorry.” I would always correct them.

“I’M sorry that I…”

“I’M sorry for…”

Obviously, in those immediate moments, the apology was less than heartfelt, and my insistence was annoying.

Back to our morning:

We talked about those who grow up in homes where those words are rarely if ever uttered, homes where children never witness the example of remorse from their parents, homes where spouses never humble themselves and admit their mistakes and failings in order to offer or receive forgiveness. What would it be like to never hear those words?

I know. I lived it once upon a time, and I raised my children in the same type of environment.  Saying “I’m sorry” is hard. Remorse may be there, but vocalizing it is another class. Now that I am in my post-parenting season, this is a lesson that I wish I could re-teach, or re-learn.

When our children are raised never seeing their role models admit they were wrong or owning up to mistakes, surely this affects how they grow up to view their own mistakes.

It is something that Sam and I do often for each other – he, more so than me. In fact, before we began our devotions, we were discussing a to-do list and we got short with each other.

I tend to “turtle” and hide in a dark, quiet corner of my mind.

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Sam doesn’t allow me to do that any longer. He likes to deal. Right now. And he did. He apologized on the spot, and we worked it out.


“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. – Matthew 5:23-24 (THE MESSAGE)


I am so grateful that I have a husband who says the words “I’m sorry” and “Thank you for…”

I am so grateful that the “silent treatment” is not acceptable in our relationship.

I am so grateful for the times when we take the time to discuss devotions and have heartfelt conversations, appreciating the moments and growing in our relationship to each other and to God.

I am so grateful that confession and remorse are not prerequisites to forgiveness. For all the apologies we have not received in our lives, we daily ask for the graciousness to forgive.

The truth is this: being human allows my loved ones to be human. Getting back up after I fall down gives others courage to do the same. Asking for forgiveness lifts a weight – not only from my shoulders, but also from the shoulders of my beloveds. It gives us a chance to discuss what we wished we would have done differently and how we’ll react in the future. – Rachel Macy Stafford in Only Love Today


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Burrrr, it’s a rainy day and Monday.

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I was walking around this morning, hating the underwear I put on. Man, they were uncomfortable. I shifted and pulled, and nothing seemed to help.

After a fast breakfast of an egg in a cup, I told Sam I had to get to work, which meant walking upstairs to my office with a window on the 2nd floor.

Every step was irritating, thanks to my annoying underwear.

I sat down at my desk, the desk I love at the window I love, AND, it was a rainy day, which is another reason to love my work today. After 10 minutes of not being able to concentrate due to infuriating undies, I decided I had ENOUGH.

They’re comin’ off. And then, THIS fell out.



I am grateful today for underwear that are free of sand burrs.

And since I am focused on underclothes, I am grateful for new socks with good elastic, just because.

I am grateful for rainy days and cooler weather.

And, I am grateful for home office, because this experience would have been much more awkward in the work office.

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I am grateful for the ability to update so many people on Sam’s progress:

I am grateful for a truckload of ginormous mums.

I am grateful for lemonade stands on a hot September Saturday.

And I am grateful for anticipation of rain and cool days in small town USA this coming week.

This is my story on Friday afternoon. This is my song…


…praising my Savior all the day long.

I am grateful on this Friday afternoon to have a chair next to a window on which to sit in this chemo room.

I am grateful that Sam is sleeping through this treatment he so dreaded this time.

I am grateful for his surgeon who knows how to make patients laugh and feel very loved at the same time.

I am grateful for blankets in warming drawers.

I am grateful for dings on a cell phone, indication of a sea of support and encouragement via text messages.

I am grateful for clean socks.

I am grateful for the hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour.” I do.

I am grateful for good news of a sister helping a brother through a crisis, for a high risk pregnancy successful ultrasound, for a grandma’s treat of seeing a granddaughter’s volleyball game during a visit, for friends who share their good news with me.

I am grateful for a scratchy throat, a gentle reminder while I sit in this chair in this particular place, that I am healthy and have been so blessed.

And I am grateful for carbonation.


Friends are friends forever…

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These two beautiful ladies lived in the same neighborhood when I was in high school. One was a year older than me, one was in my class. One shares my first name, one was my bridesmaid. Both share birthdays in the same week, this week.

Both were two of my best friends as I navigated some rough years called teenagerdom.

They know things about me I hope they keep a secret.

They are evidence that while some girls can be catty and mean, other girls can be rock solid friends and forgive the trivial and seasonal. While some girls come and go in our lives, a few remain as lifelong friends and sisters.

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corduroys * Chorale * dragging Main * Def Leppard * big hair * Mr. Yount * french fries at The Hutch * cassette tapes * Ken’s Pizza * E.T. and The Blue Lagoon * writing notes in class * Pac Man and Frogger * Love’s Baby Soft and shiny lip gloss * South Hutch softball games * Trapper Keepers * freezing in that girls’ bathroom * Mrs. Olsen and her scripture singing “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth…”  * the pay phone in the corner * Rhonda’s unforgettable laugh and Cindy’s killer legs, two things I wish I had

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Ah, the memories.

Happy birthday to you both.

I love you, Cindy and Rhonda, and I am grateful for you. I am grateful that you have loved me in spite of.

LOTS of in spite of.

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