I want to cry.

I want to wail.

My heart is sick.

I can’t breathe.

I feel as though I am shaken to the very core of my soul.

I want to shake my fist at the sky and scream and ask God, “why?”.

Why, Lord, will there be at least 18 mommies without their little ones to kiss and read bedtime stories to again?

Why will there be more than 18 daddies who will never again be able to chase or tickle or hug their sweet kindergarteners?

And I wonder about those parents, and brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunt and uncles and friends who will feel this loss for the rest of their lives. How will they face tomorrow, when what seems like a bad dream today begins to become reality?

I think of teachers and administrators and school employees – doing their job, as so many of my family and friends who have answered that call.

I think of children, for whom school may never feel like a safe place again.

I think of first responders, who will live with this scene in their memory.

Why, Lord, why?

And I want to know, Lord, what breaks a person’s soul so deeply that destruction on a scale like this becomes a viable option?

No matter how deep our darkness, He is deeper still.”    ~Corrie Ten Boom

There are no easy answers. This story seems to get more distressing with every detail that emerges. There are no words that can bring comfort or even a good explanation.

But I am confident that God hears those that mourn. I know that He will bring a peace and a comfort that passes all understanding. And I know that He is good, even when understanding and sense eludes.

Side note: this message of Lee Strobel’s seems especially appropriate today, especially this thought:

“As that wise man once said to me: God’s ultimate answer to suffering isn’t an explanation; it’s the incarnation. Suffering is a personal problem; it demands a personal response. And God isn’t some distant, detached, and disinterested deity; He entered into our world and personally experienced our pain.”

And in that, I find great peace.


somehow, Christmas

Somehow, we’re already counting down to Christmas.

It’s going to be different this year. Favorite faces are no longer with us, and that’s already painful. Tom is serving at two churches…which means two Christmas Eve services…which means I don’t know what Christmas Eve will look like for us. The kids are attending different schools, which means somewhat different breaks.

Somehow, the Christmas card is ready to print.

I’m in shock about that one. I decided to make it easier on myself and go with individual shots of the kids, rather than trying to force a family or just-the-kids shoot. Costco had the perfect card to put them on – almost like it was designed just for the photos I wanted to use. I just need to print and send, and it’s not even December yet. I’m feeling rather awesome about that.

Somehow, the shopping was easy.

Even on Black Friday. I’ve made notes all year long, drew up my list and budget and so far…it’s been pleasant. The best holiday decision I ever made was the one a few years ago to limit the kids to three gifts each. I still need an idea or two for them, but everything else – parents, nieces and nephews, even Tom – is done.

Somehow, the house got decorated.

Mostly. I have a couple of areas I just can’t get a handle on this year and I think a trip to Hobby Lobby might be necessary. Hanna was a huge help this year. Next year, I may just let her go with it.

Somehow, I know that Christmas spirit will be felt and even the different will be good.

November 6: Aunt Cindy

Every family has that one person that just is always there. You know the one – it’s the person that comes to help before help can even be requested. They don’t need accolades, they don’t need to publicly thanked or patted on the back. They do it because it’s who they are.

In our family, that’s my Aunt Cindy.

She’s the one that plans wedding and baby showers and family reunions, and makes sure everyone knows what to bring for holidays. She’s the one that gets up from the table to get things for others and, when everyone else moves to the living room, she goes to the kitchen to get started cleaning. She is there for my grandparents – uncomplaining and unfailing – for whatever they need, as she is for the rest of the family. She is welcoming and kind, and she makes the most incredible cookies you’ve ever tasted. She makes things better just by being who she is.

When I was little, she was the cool aunt that drove a Camaro, always had Juicy Fruit gum and wore her sunglasses like a headband.

Today, she is my hero and I’m so thankful for all she does and has invested in me over the years.

November 5: Papa

Yesterday, my grandfather passed away. He left this earth as he had lived upon it, with his family surrounding him and his wife of 63 years by his side and holding his hand.

To say that I am blessed to be his granddaughter is an understatement. So much of who I am, of who I want to be, of what I value and of the life I choose to live is because of him.



November 1: thankful to be here


First and foremost, I am so thankful simply to be where I am this fall.

For six years, we lived nearly 3000 miles away and it was torture for me to be so far during family crises. This Fall, we’ve endured two big ones – the loss of a cousin and my grandfather’s fall and his continued deterioration. I can’t imagine what either one would have been like from so far away.

To be here physically – to give hugs and be able to go where needed without worrying about plane tickets or a week’s worth of driving – it’s huge. Two years ago, when we found out Tom’s job would be cut to part time and we made the decision to come home, we had no idea where that road would lead.

I’m thankful that for this season, it lead here.

Join me this month for a daily 5 minute muse on something I’m thankful for. Want to do it to?

It’s the Great Pumpkin Party, 2012

Last year’s party was a huge success.

I think this year’s was even bigger.

We kept it simple again – hotdogs, beans and chips to eat. Tables covered with disposable plastic covers, lots of pumpkin carving sets and templates. I made popcorn balls and brownies, and it was just enough. We set the donated pumpkins up as a pumpkin patch so that each kid could pick their own, and we didn’t have a single one left at the end of the night.

Next year, we’ll start earlier. It got too dark to carve and we ended up having to take some pumpkins inside to finish up. We had a lot of younger kids this year, and some games or activities to get some of the wiggles out would have been nice. And I think we’ll skip the movie next year. I’m pretty sure Hanna, my mom and our 3 year old friend Cheyanne were the only ones that watched it.

We really saw a deeper impact this year with the pumpkin party. Our community is one that mistrusts the churches, usually with good reason. It’s something that iss hard to overcome. It’s also why we don’t do a gospel presentation or anything like that at events like this.

Tom likes to refer to this as incarnational ministry – simply being Jesus to those around us. It means being welcoming, being open, accepting, listening, loving on and planting seeds while encouraging the families – whatever form they take – of our community.

Personally, I think the fruit of events like this will have a wider impact and be far greater when we look at them in Eternity’s timeline.

the new kid

Say hello to Awkward Girl Gets Fit, my new baby.

This past year has been one of searching for me. I realized a few months ago that I’m just sort of bored. As much as I love my children and being mom and homemaker, the seasons when they’ve needed me to be so hands-on and immediate have passed. It’s been a year of prayer and seeking, trying to figure out where and what God is calling me to.

I’ve known for a long time that I want to work in the nutrition and wellness field. I thought I’d even found the perfect way to start on that journey. Sadly, that’s not the path for me right now. The school is saying there was some miscommunication, but in reality it was bad information that they gave me after I was very specific in my questions months ago and I’m starting the search again.

It’s disappointing, but it’s also given me a chance to really flesh out what I want to do.

I was planning on going the Registered Dietician route, but I see now that perhaps that wasn’t going to be the best choice for me.

Ultimately, I want to work one on one, or with a family, to reach their health and wellness goals through diet and fitness. Help planning meal plans, navigating allergies and sensitivies, finding the right diet for an individual, making it all work for a familyn – that’s where I’m feeling called – even doing crazy things like help learning to grocery shop for special needs or going into the kitchen with new or reluctant cooks. I also believe that food and fitness go hand in hand when it comes to wellness, and I’d like to be able to offer that.

I can offer the more holistic viewpoint I personally believe in and know to be more beneficial than conventional nutrition. While there’s less oversight, something that concerns me, there’s more freedom. I’ve found a few courses of study that are more tailored to these desires, and that I can complete a lot more quickly.

There’s a lot more research to be done before I get too much further on my journey, but Awkward Girl is my first big step. I never intended for this blog to become so diet and fitness focused – originally, it was intended to keep our family up to date when we moved across the country. We’ve been back for over a year now, but I feel like it’s time to make the split. This blog will remain more family and faith focused, the other will be more food and fitness.

And I promise I’ll do better at updating both than I have this summer!

Oh, and the Awkward Girl name – you can read about that here.


Last May, I applied to the University of Alabama’s Distance Learning program for their nutrition program.

It’s been something I’ve felt called to for the past few years now and after a lot of prayer and a lot of searching, I was confident I’d found the perfect fit. There are a lot of schools that offer BS’s in nutrition, but few distance learning programs that offer the BS that can lead to becoming a Registered Dietician (actually, it’s the only one I’ve been able to find). And while my interests will always lie in more holistic nutrition, I’ve always been concerned that there’s so little regulation and true accreditation in that area. UA seems like it’s where I need to be.

I applied.

And it’s been one roadblock after another ever since.

One of my transcripts – for two classes I took in high school – took over 2 months to get to Alabama.

I had to fill out extra financial aid paperwork and send in extra documentation – because they couldn’t figure out how we live on such a low income.

A box got checked incorrectly when my paperwork was being filed, leading to me being admitted to UA’s on-campus program.

The advisor in the on-campus program forgot to transfer me…for a week.

And because all of the rest of this took so long, when I finally got transferred to the distance learning program the one advisor in my department was on vacation until last Wednesday.

I was supposed to hear from her late last week.

I didn’t.

Classes start today.

Everything is done.

And I’m registered for no classes.

I’ve called, I’ve emailed, I’ve done everything I can think of…and I can’t seem to get a response my advisor.

I want to cry.

I’ve worked so hard to get to this point – not just through the paperwork of the past few months, but for the past 3 years to get healthy enough again to even be able to consider going back to school. I’ve worked all summer, trying to get new routines in place so that it’s easier on my family.

I know that technically, I can still register for classes until the 29th. I don’t like feeling like I’m starting out already behind, but I still feel like this is supposed to happen. And I don’t get that sense that it’s time to wait. For every roadblock, there’s always been a clear answer and path through.

Say a prayer, would you? If I’m supposed to defer my enrollment a semester, I’m praying that I get a clear sense of that. And if I’m still supposed to push forward, please pray that what needs to happen does.