Saturday, December 26, 2009

You will be visited by three ghosts....

So, just like old Scrooge himself, last night I was visited by three ghosts; "Christmas Past", "Christmas Present", and of course, "Christmas Future". I have a few vivid memories of early Christmases and those memories live quietly tucked away - coming out to play only occasionally. They're special nonetheless. When I was very, very young we still celebrated Christmas with my mom's extended family. Her Aunt Velma and Uncle Dave lived right next door to my grandparents' country home in Dinuba, CA. I remember floral curtains. Or was it a floral couch? It was definitely floral something. Anyway, there were maybe 20 or so family members at those early Christmas gatherings. One year my dad was given a pair of water skis. Even though there was a definite chill in the air, it was never too cold to play with my siblings and cousins outside among the orange trees, peach trees, and farm equipment. One Christmas when I was maybe 7 or 8, we spent a few days of our Christmas vacation in San Francisco with my dad's family. My Grandpa, Aunt Saundra and her family - along with several dogs, all lived in a two story walk-up in the Twin Peaks area of San Francisco. I remember waking up in the middle of the night. The lighted color wheel spun slowly in front of the silver tinsel tree, giving the illusion that the tree was changing colors every couple of seconds. I stood next to the tree and looked out the giant window in the front room. Since the house was high on a hill, I had a great view of what seemed to me to be the entire city of San Francisco - lights as far as I could see. The picture is seared in my mind's eye and the memory always makes me smile. I don't remember what I got for Christmas that year, but I remember my little girl self standing alone in a room watching over a sleeping city.

I remember Christmas, 1981. I had moved to Memphis, Tennessee in November and I didn't know a lot of people. My new boss invited me to spend Christmas Eve with his family. I got to dress up and spend a lovely evening in Germantown, eating a fabulous meal while sitting at a grand dining table in a beautiful home with Cecil Blackwood and his family. Their hospitality will never be forgotten. I have so many amazing Christmas memories from when the kids were little. They would sleep together in one bedroom, giggling and laughing 'till they fell asleep waiting for Santa to come. They woke to find gifts under the tree and a fire crackling in the fireplace. Santa had even filled the stockings :) Tom would always read the story of the first Christmas from the book of Luke, and then the wrappings and ribbons would go flying. The kids are now 21, 22, and 25, and yet - on this Christmas Eve - they all went to sleep in the same room, woke up to find that "Santa" had come in the night, and after reading about Mary, Joseph, and the baby Christ child, the wrappings and ribbons flew off the packages. The responses are a bit more subdued (only a bit), but their gratitude and appreciation is palpable.

One more Christmas past memory - last year was awful! There's no need to rehash, but I was so hurt and felt so betrayed last year. Sadly, when I shared my feelings, family members told me that I was the one who "ruined" Christmas by expressing myself. One family member told me that she would "no longer share" her life with me. My heart has been broken.

My life has been ANYTHING but calm. In fact, it has been downright horrible at times. It seems that every moment of joy is followed by hours of heartache, so I'm a bit superstitious about saying things like, "the future looks bright" out loud. I don't buy the "name it and claim it" life philosophy. I will say, however, that after years and years and years of happy memories peppered with unimaginable sadness, I do feel the anticipation of hope. The Ghost of Christmas Future looks happier and more hopeful than the character Charles Dickens painted.

Yesterday was a fabulous Christmas day! My three babies are adults now. They are people I love and respect. Even better - I LIKE them, and they seem to like me. We are all filled with gratitude and appreciation!

Hope. My word for today - and the days to come - is Hope.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Foggy Delay Couldn't Keep My Away!

I woke up this morning to find my city socked in, trapped under a heavy blanket of Tulle fog. This is typical for this time of year in the San Joaquin Valley here in Central California and the fog is so much a part of winter that it is, in fact, strangely comforting. Visibility is down to zero feet in many outlying areas, so traversing the streets and freeways will be dangerous this morning. The fog has also caused flight delays at Fresno Yosemite International Airport. I'm reminded of a foggy December morning five years ago, and a canceled flight that was to have taken my husband and me to our daughter in Utah.

In October of 2004 a miracle lead me to the streets of Santa Cruz, where I found our 16-year old drug-addicted runaway daughter. Two days later my husband and I wept as we drove down the long driveway away from the rehab facility in Loa, Utah where we left our little girl for much needed treatment. On that foggy morning 2 1/2 months later we had flight reservations for what was to be a surprise visit to our daughter. When we woke up and saw the wall of fog outside our window, we knew we should check on the status of our flight. Sure enough...canceled! We crawled back into bed for about 5 minutes before we looked at each other and said, "let's drive". Ten hours later we drove past that same long driveway and I was shocked at the sudden urge to leap out of the car and run to wake my daughter. I cried a little, checked into our cozy hotel - happy to be out of the Utah cold night air - and then we set the alarm for an early wake-up call. It was still dark outside when we were allowed into our daughter's room, where she lay sleeping in a bed surrounded by other young girls whose parents were desperate enough to seek help in this far away place. "I'm here", I whispered. She woke up, her eyes widened, and she said, "Can we go out for breakfast?"

Christmas 2004 was hard. Our daughter was in rehab, our oldest son was in jail, and I was barely able to summon the energy to hold it together long enough to get through Christmas. The only thing that kept me going that gloomy season was my 17 year-old son, who was still at home and needing us and much as we needed him. The memory of that happy moment, in the early morning darkness in a girl's dorm room in Loa, Utah, was a bright light that shined like a beacon of hope. This morning, when I woke to the wall of fog outside my window, I remembered that morning five years ago, when our flight was canceled and how we weren't sure we'd make it to the pre-Christmas visit with our lost daughter. Then, I was reminded that even when blanketed by sadness and grief, there is light and hope. So the flight's been canceled and you're not sure how you'll get from here to there? Find another way! Find another way....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Dallas!

My oldest child turned 25 yesterday. Incredible. Every anniversary is an opportunity to look back over all that has been survived and accomplished, and to look forward with hope and optimism to what lies ahead. I am especially grateful to be here in this place - sharing the day with my 25 year-old son. Five years ago I wasn't so sure Dallas would live to see his quarter century birthday.

2004 was a particularly awful year for our family. Our 16 year-old daughter had been lost to us - stolen by a wicked addiction to methamphetamine. A miracle led me to find her living among the homeless 200 miles from home, and in October of that year we sent her to a rehabilitation program in Utah. Dallas was also battling a meth addiction and he too had been living on the streets. Since he was over 18, there was little I could do to save his life and my heart was crazy heavy. On December 9, 2004, the day after Dallas's 20th birthday, several family members had gathered at my home to celebrate the milestone, and to welcome the prodigal child home. Just as we were about to eat, there was a knock at the door. The plain-clothes officer asked for my son, and within seconds he was sitting - handcuffed - in the back of the police cruiser. I'll never forget the agony of that moment. After the car pulled away, I walked back into the house where sadness and silence filled the room like a mudslide. It was terrible. 24 hours later I was sitting in a cold reception room at the Fresno County Jail, talking with my son on the other side of the acrylic window through a dirty phone handset.

Today we celebrate not a destination, but a journey. The road so far has at times been bumpy and scary, but we are on the road together. Exactly two months from today - on February 9, 2010, Dallas will be off parole. It will be the end of one chapter, and the beginning a bright future. Today I celebrate my child. Happy birthday Dallas! I love you.

Friday, December 4, 2009


a poem by elizabeth stoeckel

Before it slips away,
carried by the tides of time too far from shore;
I’ll write it.
Before my heart forgets the quiet yearnings,
before the gentle whispers are hushed by the beatings of life;
I’ll say it.
Before my body can no longer feel your arms around me,
your breath in my hair;
I’ll shout it.

I loved you!
I love you still!

Elizabeth Stoeckel
May 10, 2001

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Magnetic Pull of DNA

What is family? Well, I'm not the first person to ask that question, and it will certainly be asked millions more times by far more intelligent people than I. We are born into a family not of our choosing. Most of us have totally lucked out and we feel blessed to have the family we have. But for some, a birth certificate seems to almost double as a license to inflict pain. The newspapers and court dockets are weighed down with case studies of family grief. I love my church family and my work family, and I'm lucky to have been adopted by this eclectic and quirky mix of human beings. But there is something about sharing DNA that inexplicably, but most assuredly, connects people physically and emotionally.

There's a new television show on ABC called, "Find My Family". While I've not yet watched an episode, I glean from the commercials and press releases that the show reunites adopted children with their birth parents. Why do adopted children seek out their bio-parents? I submit to you that it is because of that strange and almost magnetic pull of DNA.

Fifteen years ago I learned I had a little sister who had been given up for adoption. My dad was the bio-dad of this little girl and just before her 10th birthday, she began asking questions about her family. Dad called me, told me about Megan, and showed me the photos the adoption agency had sent to him over the years. The moment I saw the image of that beautiful little girl, I knew I was connected to her and I loved her immediately! Her parents welcomed us into their home and they let their daughter be a part of our family. What a gift it has been to watch my baby sister grow from stranger, to sister, to young adult, to friend.

I was married for a short two and half tumultuous years a long time ago (well...25 years ago). If not for my son - who is the blessing of that marriage - I might have successfully tucked the memories of that union away with the cobwebs in my moldy brain. But, my husband and I have raised a son who looks an awful lot like his bio-dad, so it's not possible to pretend it didn't happen. When the marriage ended, I sadly lost contact with half of my ex-husband's family. I don't know why, but it is what it is. son always had a "hole", for lack of another word, that could only be filled by information - even though he'd been adopted by my husband and only knew HIM as "Dad". I can't speak for my son so I won't, but I do know that the old DNA magnetic pull thing sort of tugged on him. It's been almost two years now since my ex - totally out of blue - contacted my son through MySpace. Just "knowing" has filled the hole for my son.

In a couple of days my son will meet his grandmother for the first time. Well, there was that time when he was 6 months old, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't remember that. The door was always open, but life sometimes moves people away from open doors. Such is the case with Grandma. Even though this woman is no longer my mother-in-law, she IS my son's grandmother, and as such, she is family! I can't wait to see her again and to watch her look into the eyes of her one and only grandson - now a grown man. I know she'll see her son's blue eyes, his walk, and the cleft in his chin. How great is that!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"The House Of Me"

The House of Me
by Elizabeth Stoeckel

I pass by it at the end of the hall twenty times a day,
but today I stopped – really stopped to entertain the image in the full-length mirror.
Today I went to visit the house of me and I met strangers.
I didn’t remember the deep cracks and saggy walls
and I was sure they had not been there long.
They had responded to the invitation to submit,
Invitations sent by gravity and time.

The ravages of outside elements had left the hinges rusted
and the door impenetrable.
The windows in the no longer familiar house were shrouded with thick
dust covered webs of disappointment, loneliness, anxiety and fear.
The house I saw in the only slightly familiar reflection
was no longer a home for faith and wonder,
but a haven for the tired and weary.

You must excuse me now for a while as I tend to some much needed repairs.
While my time spent in the homes and gardens of those I love
was most precious,
I must now turn my focus to the place that is my soul and my home.
The door to my heart has been loosed with the oil of forgiveness,
The webs will be cleared with the life breath of peace,
and the light of hope will once again brighten the darkest hiding places
known only by me.
I hope you’ll be a frequent visitor to the house, the home that is me.

August 23, 2000

Monday, November 30, 2009

Things I've Learned From The Prodigal Son

1. Sometimes we will give our kids resources with which they will make mistakes.

Luke 15:11-13 - Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.

2. Don't hold your child's bad choices against him/her.

When the son returned home, his father did not ask him where he'd been or what he'd done. He simply hugged him, kissed him, and began preparing a welcome home meal.

Luke 15:20-24 - So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son'. But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

3. You don't have to know all the details of their sins.

There's no doubt that when they come home, it is tempting to ask them to spill the details of their missteps, but that's not what they need to do. They'll tell you what they want you to know, and in their own time.

Luke 15:27 - 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'

4. Understand that the other children will have issues with the prodigal and you might not be able to change that. The siblings might very well make some assumptions about what was in the heart of the prodigal. This is their issue...not yours.

Luke 15:28-30 - "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'

5. Defend your child and affirm his/her commitment to change.

The father was talking with the other brother and he said (effectively), "Look, you have always been here with me, but your brother has not been so smart. He's a part of the family, and we are going to welcome him home.

Luke 15:31-32 - " 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "

Monday, November 16, 2009

One Strong Teabag

"A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water." Yeah...I've heard that one a hundred times. While I believe the sentiment of the statement, I've come to hate being called, "the strong one" 'cause it means I've spent a ton of time in hot water. I do love that I have discovered how amazingly strong I am, but being in the hot water is exhausting. The other day I was reminded of the other half of that teabag analogy. Here it is; "...and the longer she's in hot water, the more bitter she becomes. Help her out, squeeze her with a hug and let her dry out."

It's easy to encourage someone with bumper sticker philosophy. Doling out wise quips to the hurting makes everyone feel better. I contend, however, that the "dol-er" gets more emotional satisfaction than the "dol-ee". I know that when someone we love is hurting, it's really difficult to know what to do, and sometimes words are all that comes to mind. I spent a lot of time in hot water and I know how desperately I wished someone had had the courage to help me out, squeeze me off with a hug, and let me dry out. For the most part, however, people around me only added to my bumper sticker collection.

I spent many years in hot water, and I'm stronger because of it. I am determined to fight the bitterness by using my experiences to teach and encourage others. You want to help me out? Turn off your hot water kettle, squeeze me, and sit with me while I dry out.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hearing From a Columbine Mom

Early last week I saw a story on Good Morning America about Susan Klebold, the mom whose son Dylan was one of the Columbine killers. I'm sure you remember the horrible events of April 20, 1999 when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 of their fellow students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. Susan Klebold wasn't personally interviewed for the story, but she wrote a column for O Magazine and Gayle King, in turn, shared the story on GMA.

Susan has spent the last 10 years questioning herself and how she could have known what her son was planning. She replays in her mind the morning of the shooting and the last conversation she shared with Dylan. She has been in therapy for all these years as she deals with the guilt and personal sadness that walks beside her like a constant shadow. She has written letters of apology to each and every parent who lost a child that horrible day, but her therapist has suggested she not mail the letters, as that would bring the hurt back to the surface for the victims.

For the Good Morning America spot, some of the parents of the students killed at Columbine were interviewed. One student's family said they were happy to hear from Susan and to "finally" hear an apology. Another family said it was too little too late.

Susan Klebold lost a child that horrible day in 1999, but she has NEVER been given the kind of support and love that the innocent victims' families have been given. This woman has been the subject of judgmental criticisms and unspeakable gossip. She is as much a victim as any of the other parents. It was a mental and emotional sickness that caused her son to take so many lives and then commit suicide. So much GOOD has come from the Columbine experience because teachers, counselors, students, and parents have learned to recognize the signs of violent despair in kids and teens. Young people change and reinvent themselves every few weeks and it is difficult to recognize what might be a danger sign of underlying violence, and what is simply a "phase". We've got to stop blaming mothers and we've got to reach out and support one another! Our kids are counting on us!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bread Or Stones

Happily, and I say this with great trepidation, my life seems to be settling down a bit. There’s a hint of fear factor in these words, because every time I settle in for some good old fashioned peace, another challenge comes along to knock me out of the boat and back into the ever choppy waters of life!

I’m going to try to cherish this moment and not just hold my breath while waiting for the other shoe to drop. My prayer has ALWAYS been that my struggles will not have been for nothing and that people might learn from my mistakes. I pray also that I might share some of the wisdom that comes from surviving.

Many times people ask me, “I feel so helpless, but I want to do SOMETHING. What can I do for my friend, when there’s nothing I can do?” Great question. So….let me share some of the things that people did for me that really helped, and some not so helpful things (although completely well-meaning).

Matthew 7:9 asks a question, which among you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? In this passage Jesus is saying that when you come to the Father, He will provide you with what you nee

Now, sometimes we ask for one thing, and God gives us something else – because He knows what we NEED. In Psalms 37 we also read that if we delight ourselves in doing God’s will, he will give us the desires of our heart. When dealing with someone in crisis, if you ask them what they NEED at that very moment, they will tell you. Do not try to give them a stone, if what they are asking for is bread. Oh, it might make YOU feel good to know that you were doing SOMETHING, but it may make things harder for the person in pain then you realize.

When my daughter was missing (a drug-addicted teen runaway) we had MANY need.

When people asked what they could do to help, we told them, but for the most part – no one asked. I think they (like us) were overwhelmed with the enormity and gravity of the situation, and most did not know what to say. I get that.

One day a friend called me up and said, “I know that if I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t be getting my chores done. So, I’m going to come over and clean your refrigerator. Don’t say no, I’m coming.” I KNEW she wanted to do SOMETHING, so I didn’t say no. However, what do you think I did before she came over? (Everyone) I cleaned my refrigerator! Well, I took out the really gross science project stuff at least. I also vacuumed the rest of my house, because I was embarrassed and didn’t want her to see how badly I was dealing with thing.

I cried the whole time I was cleaning because I felt guilty about the fact that I wasn’t out looking for my daughter. I know my friend wanted to help, but at that moment, I felt that I was being given a stone when what I really needed was bread!

A friend of mine tells the story of having a need being met and I love it. She told me that when her mother-in-law died, she was overwhelmed with all the details – family, funeral, emotions, etc…. A dear friend of hers called and said, “What do you need”. She told her to “be real”. So, my friend was raw and real. “What I need”, she said, “is for my laundry to get done”. The friend told her to leave it on her porch. So my friend loaded all the dirty laundry (underwear and all) into two huge garbage bags and put the bags out on her porch. The next day all the laundry was returned to her porch, clean and folded neatly. My friend didn’t even have to open her door, vacuum her house, or put on make-up. Talk about meeting a need! Awesome story!

The people who provided bread to me in my times of need will never be forgotten.

One day 50 people gathered in the parking lot of the church we attended and were given flyers featuring the face of my beautiful missing child. They spent the morning canvassing the city and putting those flyers on every pole and in every window they could find! I love those people.

On that very morning, I walked out of my house to find that my tire was flat. There was a nail in the tire! My husband put the tiny “donut” spare tire on the car and we went to the meeting place. One of the people who had arrived to distribute flyers offered to take the tire with the nail in it and have it repaired! When we returned home that afternoon, the repaired tire was sitting on our doorstep! I didn’t have to miss a step, or take one moment away from the enormous job at hand and I was so grateful. Bread!

I too find myself wondering what I can do to help. The needs of a family in crisis are HUGE. They need money, food, shelter, counseling, and sometimes a good attorney. Sometimes the only thing I can give is a hug or an ear with which to listen.

So many times people are so confused as to what to say that they ignore the hurting person all together. Don’t do that! I’ve spent hours on the phone with hurting moms whose children are lost in rebellion. I’ve talked women through the jail visitation process. I’ve sent Starbucks gift cards to friends. No pressure – they can use the cards whenever they feel like taking a moment, or they just need a cup of coffee! I’ve sent cards of encouragement, and emails saying, “I’m thinking of you”.

These aren’t big things, but believe me…they help!

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT assume that you know what a person in crisis needs. Ask them! Don’t give stones when all they’re asking for is bread. Surely we can find a piece of bread to give a hurting person.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Who Is Determining Your Value?

A few weeks ago I was out early on a Saturday morning running a few errands. When I jumped in the car the radio was tuned to the local talk station. It took just a few seconds to realize that I was listening to a question and answer show about cars and I couldn’t change the channel quickly enough. However, something caught my attention. I can’t say what it was, but something caught my attention.

The caller was telling the moderators of the call-in show that he was from the East coast, had never driven a car, and knew nothing about cars. The man was in Fresno because his stepfather had recently passed away and he was here settling the estate. Upon arriving in town the caller learned that as executor of the estate he was now the owner of an old car. His question was simple – should he repair the car before selling it, or should he sell it as is? The radio show host couldn’t answer the man’s questions without more information, so he pressed him a bit further. “What kind of car is it?” “It’s a Chevrolet. My neighbor says it isn’t worth much because there’s no value in a gas guzzler.” The moderator pressed for more answers. “Tell me a bit about the car.” The caller told how the car had been purchased for his brother while the brother was serving in Vietnam. Unfortunately his brother had not returned and so the car had been covered and in a temperature controlled environment for 40 years! “What kind of car is it?” “It’s one of those sports cars”, the man calmly explained. “It’s a Corvette.” You could almost hear the radio guys holding their breath and the hearts in their chests cease to beat.

The caller had allowed his neighbor to determine the value of his newly inherited treasure. Was the neighbor hoping to buy the never before driven 40-year-old Corvette for much less than it was worth? Whatever his motivation, he had misrepresented the value of the car. The radio show host gave this piece of wise counsel, “Look for an expert on classic cars and let him look at the car and tell you what it is worth. My guess is, you have quite a treasure on your hands.”

Over the past many years I've given other people the power to determine my value. Shame on me! I've been accused of saying things I never said, and doing things I never did, and I didn't stand up for myself 'cause I was a big chicken! I've let lies seep into my heart and mind. These lies diminished my value as I saw it. Shame on me!

I’ve sought reconciliation with some of those whose lies have broken my heart, but they have refused. I need to not let them determine my value. I need to go to The Expert.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Day

It’s January 1, 2009. Wow. Doesn’t it just seem like yesterday that the entire human population was questioning the world’s chances of surviving Y2K?

New Year’s Day is traditionally the day on which the whole world decides unanimously to get thinner, be better, keep in closer touch, and stop smoking. This is the day we make resolutions we will most surely not keep – like we need something else to beat ourselves up over. So, I won’t make promises I will forget five minutes from now, and I won’t set goals I am not smart enough, talented enough, or brave enough to actually pursue.

For me 2008 was not a bad year. For the first time in many years my children are safe and healthy and full of peace. 2008 was the first year in about 10 years when I didn’t cry more days than not.

January: Dallas’s bio-dad makes contact through his Myspace. 23 years ago we could not have guessed how the Internet would change so much about our lives. I’m so grateful I never kept the truth from Dallas and that he always had contact with his Dad’s family. The door was always open and I’m so happy to know Dallas has been given the chance to get the answers he has so desperately needed.

February: An amazing woman – a friend, named Rose MacAlpine, passed away. She was beautiful and her family is her legacy of faith and beauty. Pastor Doug spoke so powerfully at Rose’s service and he urged reconciliation and relationship building for all those in attendance, as Rose was all about people. I wrote him a letter and asked, if he believed all he said, if reconciliation with me would ever be possible. He never responded. Set out to celebrate my birthday in Disneyland, but instead spent the whole day in the hospital with Tom undergoing a myriad of tests. He’s fine.

March: Drew turned 21!!

April: Attended “Women Of Faith” in Fresno. I am hungrier than ever to be an actor!! Tom was laid off from the job he’d had for 10 years. In fact, he was given a glowing review, received a hefty bonus and raise, and was laid off.

May: Tom was re-hired by Autodesk…different job, new department. At first he wasn’t so sure that the new job would be a good fit for him, but time has proven that it was the perfect fit.

June: Giana and I went to Africa!!! There are not enough words to describe how fulfilling and amazing those three weeks were. Gia is the most amazing young woman you could ever have the privilege of knowing. Malawi, Africa lives up to it’s name, “The Warm Heart Of Africa”.

July: Returned from Africa and back to my real life. Finished up the GCP workshop, and as always…I love those kids.

August: I saw the amazing fruition of a long held dream – the gathering of hundreds of women to honor the legends who have paved the way for all of us who have come after them. 50 women were honored for the contributions they have made to the ministry of Northwest Church over the past 50 years.

September: Northwest Church spent the entire month celebrating 50 years of ministry…such fun. Giana moves home.

October: Started a new school year, teaching drama in Kindergarten and 5th Grade. Tom celebrated a birthday.

November: Drew moves to Santa Cruz. I emcee at the Women’s Retreat at the Tenaya Lodge. I also get the opportunity to work with some great women on a couple of skits, and I do a monologue. I want to be an actor! ☺ Working hard on Candlelight.

December: Candlelight was a huge success ☺ Drew comes home when his bus breaks down – which leaves him homeless since he lives in his bus.

Happy New Year!