A Very Thankful Thanksgiving!


The food table. We did buffet style this year.

I know Thanksgiving has passed, but now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I’d like to share some important things that happened and for which I am truly thankful.

As most of you know, for the past six months or so I have been living with Cervical Dystonia.  What that means is that doing simple tasks is no longer simple.  Pain, frustration, and a soft neck brace are now my daily companions.  So, as you may imagine, the thought of cooking a Thanksgiving feast was a bit daunting.  The past few years my sister has been doing most of the cooking with everyone else bringing a dish or two.  This year, however, she was blessed with the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving in Hawaii with her son.  So, Thanksgiving at my house was on this year.

Praise Jesus, I had some help!  My sweet daughter brought several dishes, two of which were family traditions that I handed over to her.  My son and husband were big helps as well.  I feel I should stop here and explain that my idea of a Thanksgiving feast includes appetizers, a plethora of desserts, and a drink station to rival Buccee’s (that’s Texas for 7-eleven on steroids).  Just for fun, this was our menu plan:

164C0249-4EDB-42CC-8A38-B5681764275BOh!  We added deviled eggs which I boiled, two of my grands peeled, and Shauna deviled once she got to the house Thanksgiving day.  I also added Pumpkin Bread to the dessert list and the cocoa was homemade from scratch, as was everything, actually.  So, what happened that made me so thankful besides the availability of all this amazing food?!

Aside from all the help of my awesome family (my grand-girls Leah and Karlyn were especially helpful), I was able to do all that I did!  Two days of shopping and three days in the kitchen – cooking, baking, cleaning, and prepping.  I wasn’t sure that everything on the menu would make it to the table, but it did and then some!  We fed eleven people at a beautifully set table and the food was amazing!  In addition to all of that, we also had a thankful tree that my grands crafted and hung by the front door.  Beside that was a basket of leaves, pens, and tape so everyone could fill out a leaf with what they were thankful for and hang it on the tree.  I think we filled it up pretty good.  😊

I am amazed at God’s goodness! At one point during our planning and doing, my daughter, Shauna, said to me, “Do what makes you happy!  If it’s more stressful than happy, just step back from it and breathe instead.  We’re gonna love you either way, it’s going to be a great day!”  How sweet is that?!  And, she was right.  That’s exactly what I did and it all came together . . . beautifully!  In spite of missing some significant loved-ones, it was a fantastic day!  Great food, lots of love and laughter, and much thankfulness!

And today I rest!  I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little wiped and my neck muscles are a little more unhappy than usual.  All-in-all though, I feel extremely thankful, grateful, and blessed!  Bring on Christmas!!


The Strength of His Presence

“When I let Jesus walk with me through fiery trials, what I remember most is not the suffering but knowing a God so great and so good, that my life was forever changed not because of my pain but because of the Strength of His Presence.” -Just Jesus Devotional


This was a quote from my devotional this morning.  I want this!  I want to know the Strength of His Presence in the midst of my suffering.  I want Him to be glorified through my life.  I want His goodness to be obvious in spite of  the pain, or maybe because of the pain.  Sometimes I struggle with the whole “good God, bad things” situation as much as anyone.  My brain is too literal and analytical sometimes and I just don’t get it.  He is good, loving, and all-powerful so why doesn’t He just make all the bad stuff go away?

I’m not a theologian and God’s ways are way above mine.  I know He has a plan and a timeline, and apparently things need to play out a certain way.  Why?  I’m not entirely sure.  What I do know is that regardless of anything I think I know, God knows it all!  He sees the whole world  and all of time in a way we can’t.  That is why we Christians walk by faith and not by sight. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” –Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬ ‭NASB‬. ‬We are convinced.

I am convinced that Christ died for me, was resurrected for me, loves me and wants good things for me.  I am also convinced that His “good things” are not always the same as my “good things”.  I am convinced that His Word is true and that He knows best.  I am convinced of these things and many more, and cannot be swayed from them because my Heavenly Father was gracious enough to make Himself known to me in very personal ways during the 23-years that I’ve known Him.  Once you experience the Presence of God, you will never be the same.

So, even though I don’t “get” it all, I have faith that Jesus is in control.  He has a plan and a purpose for all of this and one day I will understand.  In the meantime, He allows things to happen in my life that I would not ask for.  Through those experiences He walks with me.  He strengthens me, comforts me, teaches me, and is raising me up to be the person He created me to be.  Sometimes it’s really hard and painful, and I can’t see any good coming out of it.  Like Peter though, when I keep my eyes on Jesus, I can walk above the waves.

Father, help me to keep my eyes on Jesus and walk above the storm.  Let me know the Strength of Your Presence in my suffering.  Let me come through this stronger, wiser, and more able to help others who have walked my path.  May You be glorified in all I say and do.  Walk with me through this fiery trial and let me feel that You are here.  In the healing name of Jesus I pray.  Amen!


C.D. Journals – October 23, 2018

closeup photo of journal book and pencils

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This morning has been a little rough.  I dreaded getting out of bed and starting the fight.  My muscles still contract, but my head can’t really go anywhere when I’m lying down.  Especially if I’m on my left side, which is the side my head goes to when the muscles contract.  I can almost feel a little normal then.  At least for a few minutes.

As soon as my feet hit the floor though, the owl inside me tries to come out and spin it’s head around.  I get so tired of it!  I know there are others who have it a lot worse and that doesn’t change how frustrating it is and how weary I grow of it.  Some days are worse than others.  Yesterday was a particularly challenging day in that my head was turning A LOT and my brace wasn’t helping as much.  Maybe that’s why this morning was so tough.

The muscle contractions are basically constant, but on good days they’re more like twitches or tremors, with occasional head spinning contractions.  On not so good days, like yesterday, they’re the head spinning kind with occasional tremors.  I never know what I’m going to get from one day to the next, but I know there will be pain and discomfort.  That I can count on.

Thank God for good friends!  I asked my bestie, Angel, to pray for me this morning as I was lying in bed not wanting to get up.  Not only did she say she would pray, but she texted me her prayer!  I felt so encouraged.  She asked God to help me “be in this day”.  I think that’s a beautiful way of putting it because that’s basically what I was avoiding.  Being in this day that I knew would contain almost constant discomfort and frustration.

I thought about what I would be missing by not being in this day and the trade-off wouldn’t really be worth it to me.  In exchange for less pain and frustration I would miss out on time with my son, daughter and grandchildren with whom I have an outing planned.  I would cause my husband more concern than he already has over me.  I would miss out on the cool fall weather, which I eagerly anticipate every year.  And, I would simply spiral downward into depression – a very ugly place that I don’t want to be in.

God has healed me before.  March 9, 2005 He healed me of Fibromyalgia.  I have no doubt whatsoever that He can heal me again.  I also believe that He has allowed this in my life for a reason and healing won’t come until that purpose is fulfilled according to His timetable.  In the meantime, I want so desperately to weather this nightmare with grace and a positive attitude.

I don’t like being depressed and I don’t like being the cause of anyone else’s sadness.  I want to be strong for those who are concerned about me, but I also want to be real when I need help.  Asking for prayer when I especially need it, like this morning.  I knew from the beginning that there would be a battle.  Staying strong isn’t easy sometimes.  We humans get weary.  I am so thankful for my God who is always there for me and who has blessed me with friends whose prayers He hears.

I’m out of bed, praise the Lord, and getting ready to spend time with kids and grandkids who bless my life immensely!  I don’t think there’s anything that’s worth missing out on that!


Moments of Mourning

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach

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Once upon a time I had small children.  My life was full and busy.  Sometimes I resented the demands put on me by motherhood, but most of the time I cherished and enjoyed it.  I actually had children in my home for 37-years.  There’s a big spread between my children.  Their ages are 37, 30, 24, and 21, and I took care of one of my grandchildren for awhile who will be 12 in November.

My children are all grown now and my granddaughter spends most of her time with her mother, which is a good thing.  I am finally, at the age of 58, basically an empty-nester.  My 24-year old son still lives with us, but he’ll be leaving for the mission field soon.

These days, instead of making breakfast and waking kids up for school, I wake up to a quiet house.  I make myself some coffee, turn on some instrumental worship music, and start my day with a devotional.  To young mothers, that probably sounds like heaven and some mornings it is.  Other mornings, not so much.

I try really hard to not make my life completely about my children, to have hobbies and other interests.  I don’t want to be that mom that falls apart without her children to take care of.  Now is the season to be just me again; rediscover passions and interests that there was no room for while raising children, reconnect with my husband in a whole new way and actually have time for him, deepen my relationship with Jesus and spend more time with HIM.  The world is my oyster again!

That’s my attitude some mornings, but other mornings, like this morning I find myself mourning the loss of my young children.  I miss them!  Their laughter, their sweet little faces, watching them play together, the way they’d sit in my lap and say adorable little kid things, and their pure love for their mommy.  Those wide-eyed little faces saying, “I love you, Mommy!”  God, I miss that!  I miss seeing things that I’ve seen a million times, brand new through their eyes.  I miss so many things!

My youngest is 21-years old!  He’s technically been an adult for three years now and still, from time to time, I find myself heart-broken and crying.  Will it always be like this?  Will there always be these moments of mourning?  I really don’t know because I’ve never been here before, in this empty nest.  They come to visit, children and grandchildren, but it’s not the same is it?

Some mornings the peace and quiet is really nice, and some mornings not so much.  Moments of mourning show up uninvited.  The question is will I let them in and visit awhile or will I embrace this new season of life and shut the door on them until they stop coming?  Good question.

5 Things I’ve Discovered That Change as You Age

adult aged baby care

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“Age Is Change”. That’s an AARP slogan, I think designed to help us feel better about getting older.  That should be a clue right there!  If maturing is so great, why do we need cheerleaders along the way?  “Age is Change”, “You’re only as old as you feel”, “Age is just a number”.  It’s all malarkey!  Some days I feel older than I really am and 58 is not just a number.  It’s the number of years I’ve been tossed around this world, collecting bumps, bruises, and gray hairs!  AARP’s got it right though.  Age IS change. A lot of change.  Some for the better and some not so much.

I feel like I was not prepared for this.  No one warned me about getting older or gave me any kind of advice on what to expect or how to get ready.  Well, I’m here to do just that.  I want my kids and my younger friends to have an idea of what they’re in for.  So, here are the major changes I’ve experienced and the advice I would give my younger self if I could.

  1. Physical ability:  The biggest change that hit me when I was around my early 40’s was the fact that my body was starting to have difficulty doing things that I had been able to do before with no problem.  For example, a somersault.  I can’t even explain the feeling I got after doing one in my 40’s vs. my 30’s even.  It was like an all-over body rush that left me with a killer headache and dizzier than I think I should have been.  Shortly after hitting 45, I couldn’t do any kind of exercise without some sort of pain – all the time – before, during, and after.  We think we’re bullet-proof when we’re young and it never crosses our mind that one day we might be physically limited.  Well, guess what?  It could happen.
    My advice:  Start working out early and keep working out on a regular basis.  Drink tons of water and when your joints start hurting, switch to low-impact stuff like swimming and cycling.  Walk a lot all the time.  Drink tons of water!  I can’t say that enough.
  2. Libido:  I’m not going to go into too much detail on this one.  It’s pretty personal and different for everyone, but trust me, one way or the other it changes.
    My advice:  Other than investing in little blue or pink pills, I don’t have a lot of advice except to communicate with your partner and be kind to each other as you go through this one.  Being on the same page will help a lot.
  3. Bladder control:  This was a surprise!  I wasn’t expecting problems here until I was like 80.  Apparently, it can start as early as your 30’s.  Maybe even earlier. I’m not an expert. What I do know is that the first time you start jumping up and down to your favorite song and all of a sudden you’re so glad that you’re at home and not out in public where you don’t have a change of undies, is a bit unnerving.  To say the least.
    My advice:  This was actually my GYN’s advice – Kegel exercises.  If you’ve ever been pregnant, you probably know what those are.  If not, look it up.  The other option is surgery, and according to my doctor, we don’t want that surgery.  So, start early and do them often.  I’m sure it’s not a guarantee, but it has worked for me.
  4. Complexion:  In my 40’s I started noticing things like skin tags, age spots, and other changes to the skin all over my body, not just on my face.  Spots I had never seen before.  And my face started trying to grow moles!  My dad had those so that wasn’t a total surprise.  My chin started sagging and fine lines started appearing around my eyes.  Seemingly overnight these thing appeared, although I’m sure it wasn’t overnight.
    My advice:  microdermabrasion is your friend.  There are over-the-counter products for getting rid of skin tags now. There are a plethora of high-cost methods for tackling these things, but I don’t invest my money there.  I use a concealer on my age spots, and my moisturizer is coconut oil – all over, even around my eyes.  The best advice I can give on this one though, is keep an eye on any spots that appear.  If they grow or change color, see your doctor.   And let go of vanity.  It’s not worth it.  I’m not saying to stop caring about your appearance.  I’m saying stop obsessing over it.  We all age.  Age as gracefully as you can and throw vanity out the window.
  5. Attitude:  That last one is a good segway into this one.  As I age I seem to have a better grasp on what’s important.  I have come to accept that I am NOT bulletproof and that people and relationships are more important than appearances.  Also, my relationship with Jesus has kept me from crashing into the rocks while navigating these changing waters.  He is my lifeline.
    My Advice:  Meet Jesus sooner and when you find your attitude changing, roll with it.  Enjoy being comfortable in your own skin and the shift in priorities.  Wisdom is setting in.  😉

Now that I’m past middle-age, I’m more aware of my own mortality and that awareness fuels a drive to know my Creator better and make my time here more meaningful.  I care less about what people think of me and more about how to make meaningful connections with them.

Age IS change, some for the better and some not so much.  The best advice I think I could give my younger self is to do what you can about the not so good changes – make the best of them – and focus more on the changes for the better.  The knowledge and wisdom you’ve (hopefully) acquired, the shift in priorities to things that really matter, caring less about what people think and more about the people themselves.  A positive attitude and being anchored to The Rock (Jesus) is essential.

This has all been MY experience.  Everyone’s path is different, but if you share any similarities with mine I hope this has been helpful.  And if you’re not in any of these places yet, I hope a little heads-up to possibilities has been helpful to YOU.  Whatever your season of life, know that the one constant in life is change and the more accepting of that you are, the happier I believe you will be.

Brenda 😊💕


C.D. Journals – September 29, 2018

closeup photo of journal book and pencils

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For the past two days, I have been fighting back tears and pushing myself to keep busy and try to do things as I normally would as much as possible.  I went grocery shopping, I cleaned my front porch and put out some fall decorations, I did laundry and dishes, and I even cooked dinner – a rare occasion these days, but something I’m trying to do more.  Everything takes longer than it used to and all of the above was done with my neck brace on.  Praise God for that hot, itchy neck brace!

I called it a “collar” at first, but Matt didn’t like that.  He said, “Mom, you’re not a dog!” 😂 So, I’m trying to be consistent about calling it a “brace”.  The brace doesn’t stop the muscle contractions or my battle to keep my head straight, it simply keeps my head from turning as far as it wants to and keeps my chin out of my shoulder.   I guess you could say it minimizes the battle.  It feels restrictive and after awhile, especially when the weather’s warm, gets hot and itchy.  It’s less frustrating than trying to do things without it, but frustrating nonetheless and I’m thankful for it.

I wake up every morning and procrastinate about getting out of bed because I’m not ready to battle my brain again.  My poor, broken brain that constantly – all day long – wants to spin my head around.  Some days it’s calmer than others, but it’s always there.  Except when I’m asleep, thank God.  I want so badly to handle this with grace and strength, to be an overcomer, and some days it’s just too hard.  I just want to sit and cry and all the things that aren’t great in my life are magnified; my baby boy is living 7-hours away and I rarely see him, my oldest son is headed to the other side of the world and I won’t see him for two years,  my husband is about to have a very expensive hernia surgery, and the neurologist I’ve been referred to wants almost half of our house payment just for an initial consult.  I could go on, and I really shouldn’t even start.  That’s focusing on the negatives and therein lies the emotional battle.

On the other side of the coin; my baby boy is doing great and getting a college education, my oldest son is serving the Lord and I couldn’t be prouder, my husband is going to be healed of this hernia he’s been walking around with for years, and there is hope of something better for my condition.  It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it?  I feel better already!

I know that God is not a vending machine or a genie who will grant my every wish right when I ask for it.  He has a plan and a purpose for everything, including my life.  I totally believe that.  I just really wish that healing me right this second was part of that plan.  He healed me once before, after nine years of suffering with Fibromyalgia and His timing was perfect.  That probably sounds weird that waiting nine years was perfect timing, but it was.  The circumstances surrounding my healing blessed a lot of people and the timing was just perfect.

The only people I know who have Cervical Dystonia are the people I’ve met on the two Facebook forums I’ve joined, and I’ve never met any of them in person.  On Facebook, I read about their challenges and their pain.  I read about their small victories and the ways they find joy wherever they can so as not to completely lose hope.  While I may be the only one in my small corner, I’m not the only one in the whole world.  There are so many others who face the same challenges I do – or at least similar challenges.  Each situation is unique.  It helps though, to remember that I’m not the only one and there are others who understand.

I have no idea what God’s plan is here.  Any day I could be healed, or I won’t be healed until I step into glory, I have no way of knowing.  Maybe that’s what actually gets me out of bed in the morning – not knowing what could happen that day and believing that anything could happen?  I think we’re back to me being a dreamer.  Thank God for dreams!  Right now my dream is to be healed and in the meantime, to handle this challenge with the grace of God and strength in Christ.  Actually, I dream of the day when there will be no more tears – no more sorrow, no more pain – only joy at being in the Presence of our Lord and Savior.  I dream of that for everyone.

Life is hard sometimes and sometimes it’s harder for some than for others.  Perspective and attitude are key to handling life’s curve balls, I believe that.  The trick is to maintain the right perspective and attitude.  Some days it’s easier to do that than others.  The past two days have been more difficult and that’s okay.  It’s going to change.  A better day lies ahead.  Don’t stop watching for it!




C.D. Journals – September 22, 2018

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When last I wrote, Rich and I were trying to decide the next step to take in my treatment.  After prayer and discussion, we’ve made a decision.  On October 3rd Rich is going in for hernia surgery and my treatment is going to be put on hold until after that.  We decided that his situation is more life-threatening and that our resources should go there for right now.  We made this decision together and we’re both at peace with it.

As far as dealing with the limitations of C.D., it varies from day to day.  Most days I think I’m doing okay.  I maintain a positive attitude and do my best to make the best of a bad situation.  My soft collar helps me accomplish things and allows me to feel somewhat normal, even if just for a little while.  Those are great days, when movement is less and pain and discomfort are minimal.

Other days, I struggle more.  There’s a lot of movement, pain and discomfort.  I can wear my collar for less time without getting a headache, which means I can accomplish less.  Some days it’s much less.  I feel angry that freedom of mobility has been taken away from me.  I feel fatigued and sad.  Those are good days, when I get to be thankful that I’m still here with my friends and family, and I get to practice patience and acceptance.  Ugh!  Not always easy.

No one promised that life would be easy.  I got this meme from a friend of mine on Facebook recently and I try to remember the truth of it:


I don’t want to find myself at the end of my time, realizing that I wasted it waiting instead of experiencing.  We humans are so adaptable when we want to be.  We are very capable of figuring out new ways to do things.  Since being diagnosed with Cervical Dystonia, I’ve been challenging myself to do just that.

I am naturally right-handed.  A few years ago I had surgery on both arms and wrists for Carpal and Cubidal Tunnel.  When they did my right arm, it was in a cast for weeks.  I had to rely on my left arm and hand.  I figured out how to do EVERYTHING with my left hand.  It was both difficult and amazing!  I was amazed at what I could do!  I’m trying to adopt the same attitude here.  I’ll admit, this is more challenging.  Trying to look at or focus on something while your head is moving, is a huge challenge.

I may never figure it all out, how to keep doing all the things I did before, but as long as I don’t give up trying I think I’ll be okay.  As long as I remember that no matter what, I have hope in Jesus, I’ll come out victorious.  I need to stay focused on that hope because without hope, the heart grows sick (Proverbs 13:12 paraphrased).  I have always been a dreamer. My dad used to tell me that I live life in a tree.  I’m okay with that if it serves to keep me positive.