Friday, September 30, 2005


Please meander over to Stacy's blog to read two of her recent posts at The first one I want you to read is entitled "A New Racism" done on September 29th. Please read the comments section, and leave your thoughts on this subject. Then, read the post for today, September 30th, which is entitled "Racism Again". Stacy highlighted some of my remarks in her post (thanks, Stacy). So, again, please feel free to leave a comment for Stacy there, and you can even come back here to comment.

As The Gray Tie commented about my recent post about racism - "ah, a cliffhanger". I originally didn't intend for it to be a cliffhanger, but this week has been very stressful, so I didn't have the energy to post about it. I promise to work on it this weekend. Life happens, huh?

It's a gorgeous fall evening out there, and I plan to sit out on the enclosed back porch for awhile, just enjoying God's beauty. The house is quiet this evening - TP is at work, and hubby has taken DP to a football game. I needed some time by myself, so here I am.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Take Me Away

Oh boy, it's been quite a week. The hormonal ups and downs of teenage girls are making me dizzy and exhausted. Add to that, the uncertainties of hubby's job, attending two conferences for CEU's, a dog with serious separation anxiety disorder, and a headache that just won't quit - and you have one lady who's about ready to finish off a six-pack (and I don't even drink).

The phone doesn't stop ringing. There seems to be at least two dramas/crises a day. My empathy has dried up, and my "active listening" skills have regressed to "Just get to the point now, please". I wake up in the morning, groan, and say "Do I have to be a Mom today?". My favorite phrase seems to be "Oh great, just what I need right now". Everybody seems to want a part of me, and I seem to want NO part of them. What I want/need more than anything right now is a week away, in a small bungalow by the beach - and no cell phone, land-line phone, computer, or human bodies. Just me, myself, and I - and the waves lapping at the shore.

But, the likelihood of that happening would be like Jesse Jackson saying how much he admired and loved President Bush. Not. Gonna. Happen. Any suggestions for this little ole' mamma whose hair turned gray a long time ago, and who just wants Calgon to take her away?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Prayers Have Been Answered

I received a phone call yesterday from TP's doctor's office. TP's labs were "perfect", and they have remained within normal limits for quite some time now. So, the doctor has now decided to reduce the Prednisone to 10 mg. a day! Last year at this time, she was at 30 mg. a day. Also, the Solu-Medrol infusions (that's a liquid form of prednisone which she gets through an IV drip - it's the equivalent of 1,000 mg. of Prednisone) will be reduced, too! She is currently getting those infusions once a month. She will get her next one in 4 weeks, then if her labs are still normal, she will get the following one in 6 weeks. . . and if those labs are normal, then she will get her FINAL infusion six weeks after that. Compare that to last year when she was getting them three times a week.

So - by the end of this year, if all goes well, she will be totally off the Solu-Medrol!!!
At that point in time, they will then reduce the oral prednisone even more.

Do you know how long we have waited and prayed for this day to come? Do you know how grateful we are to her wonderful doctors and nurses at Children's Hospital? Do you know how thankful we are to God? Words can't even convey what this news means to us.

When I told TP the news, she started jumping up and down - "Are you serious?", she asked. She couldn't contain herself, and she jumped right over to me, and we both started jumping up and down, hugging and crying. It was quite the sight to see!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Racism still exists

I am not an expert on racism, by any means. I am a Caucasian female, and while I think there have been times I was discriminated against due to my gender, I've never really experienced discrimination because of my race. As a white person in this society, I don't know what it's like to be called names or hear racial slurs flung towards me with hate. I don't know what it's like to be given treated poorly or looked down upon because of the color of my skin. Nonetheless, I do know that racism still exists.

I am the mom of an adopted biracial daughter. My husband and I knew there would be "issues" surrounding the fact that DQ is biracial, and before the adoption we discussed whether or not we were going to be able to deal with those issues as they came up. We didn't adopt her for noble reasons. We knew she needed a home. We needed/wanted another baby - and we could have waited another six months or so to get another white baby. But when our lawyer called and said DQ needed a mom and dad immediately, we knew it was meant to be.

Initially, there were the typical adjustments of getting used to a new baby in the family. The oldest daughter, TP, immediately fell in love with DQ, and there was no jealousy. Our family, friends, and church community were very accepting of the newest member of our family. for the most part. The general public greeted us with stares, at times, and some comments were made, but most of them were positive in nature. I'll never forget the time some elderly black women were just making a fuss over DQ, and one of them leaned over and whispered to me, "There'll be a special place in heaven for you, sweetie". Throughout preschool and grade school, DQ was very accepted and loved for who she was - a bright and precocious girl with a beautiful smile which melted your heart.

In seventh grade, we decided to send DQ to a different school where her sister already attended high school. This school combined junior high and high school together, and it was in a smaller town 20 miles to the north of here, and a school bus was provided for transportation. TP had been welcomed there with open arms, and was benefitting immensely from the smaller class size and personalized attention at that time (this, too, has changed - but I will save that post for a later time).

Seventh grade was very hard for DQ, however. The kids in her class were (and still remain) extremely rude and obnoxious. They didn't allow for "differences" of any kind for any person, and were quick to put down others who weren't like them. They didn't listen to the teachers or the administrators, and they were known (quite frankly) as "the class from hell". You know it's pretty serious when the religion teacher tells you, in confidence, that the girls in DQ's class were the worst he had known in his 50 years of teaching. He even said to me "Valerie - you wouldn't want DQ to be a friend with any of those girls".

I gave DQ the option when it came time for her to go into 8th grade (a year ago) as to whether or not she wanted to return to that school or go back to the school she had attended up until 7th grade. She ultimately decided to return to that school, stating that she wanted to be able to teach the girls how to be nice and kind to others. I went to the principal of the school before the school year started, and discussed my concerns to him. He assured me that he and the teachers would keep an eye on things, and so I gave DQ the go ahead to return.

We would ultimately live to regret that decision. I will continue this post in a couple of days.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Welcome to my New Home!

Isn't it beautiful? Darlene at Chameleon Blog Skins designed my new "home", and I absolutely love it!

Those of you who know me well will understand why I fell in love with this design the moment I saw it. First of all, it reminds me of the works of Thomas Kincaide. But secondly, it reminds me of the neighborhood in which I grew up. I lived in a small town in Michigan, and the streets in my neighborhood were lined with Victorian homes on either side. I can remember each home vividly even now, so many years later. I can remember going from house to house trick-or-treating, or selling Girl Scout cookies, or delivering newspapers, or just seeing if a friend could come out to play. I remember walking down each street on cold and snowy evenings on my way to the outdoor ice skating rink, and glancing in the windows to see what was going on inside - and wondering about the stories of each family within each home. I wondered what it would be like to be a member of each family - and if the kids in that particular family were happy and loved, or sad and in despair. Some homes looked warm and inviting and cosy - others didn't appear to be very welcoming. And finally, I fell in love with this picture because it brilliantly reflects my most favorite time of the year - autumn - with its' beautiful foliage and crisp air.

Home has always been so important to me. I have tried to make the house we live in now to be truly a "home" to my kids. They know that they are safe here. They know they can dream their dreams, speak freely about their problems and their joys, and just feel a sense of comfort and security here. The picture which Darlene crafted so beautifully captures the essence of what I've always wanted in my home when I grew up, and what is actually here in my home now that I am a grown up - love, beauty, security, and warmth. Thank you, Darlene, for capturing the heart and soul of my home so wonderfully!

So, I extend to you a very warm welcome into my home. . .

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I've Been Tagged!

This is my "first time" being tagged, so please be gentle with me! HeyJules at so graciously nominated me for this honor, so here goes. . .

5 Things I Plan to Do Before I Die
1). Watch my girls get a college education, get married eventually, and provide me with grandkids (and yes, in that order!).
2). Decide between getting a Masters of Divinity or working on A Great American Novel (watch out, Theodore Dreiser).
3). Spend one week, by myself, in a fully-equipped beach house by the ocean (I'm not into roughing it).
4). Volunteer more of my time towards those in need
5). Read the Bible from beginning to end, without jumping all over the place

5 Things I Can Do
1). Play piano
2). Be firm, but gentle, with discipline
3). Listen between the lines when people are talking
4). Help my kids with their English and Statistics homework
5). Teach my dog how to sing "Silent Night" (and you DON'T want to hear that!).

5 Things I Cannot Do
1). Vote Democrat (sorry, Jules! - but we love each other, anyway!).
2). Water ski (I end up on my belly everytime).
3). Watch Reality TV.
4). Help my kids with their Algebra and Geometry homework.
5). Drink alcoholic beverages (and that's perfectly okay with me).

5 Things that Attract Me to the Opposite Sex
1). Strong yet gentle personality
2). Smile
3). Sense of humor
4). Secure in who he is without being conceited
5) Being kind to all women and kids

5 Things I Say Most Often
1). Ya know
2). uh
3). girls, are you done yet? (or, are you ready yet?).
4). I love you to God, my hubby, and my kids
5). Thank you, God

5 Celebrity Crushes
1). Michael Landon (ok, I know he died several years ago, but he still was a good looking guy).
2). Dennis Quaide (the smile - I melt).
3). Denzel Washington (sweet).
4). Viggo Mortenson (not sure of the spelling - but that's not important when gazing into his handsome face).
5). James Caviezel (those eyes are incredible - the bod's not too bad, either).

5 People I Want to Do This Next:
Oh gosh, I guess I'll choose:
1). Paula at

2). Darlene at
3). Jeff at
4). Stacy at
5). Barbara at
And any of my other blogging buddies, if they want to!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

My, Aren't We Exciting???

Here it is, Saturday night, and both girls are at work. My husband is sitting in his easy chair, with his laptop on his lap. The tv is going with some sort of murder/mystery movie going. The dog is snuggled up next to me, trying to shove my laptop away from me so that I will welcome her onto my lap. My husband and I just returned back from our "date" for our anniversary - we had a lovely dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. I am sitting here thinking "is this what it's like to be old?". I mean, we are just the PICTURE of excitement here.

But, I don't need "excitement". I thrive on contentment. I value the time when things are "normal", and perhaps even a bit boring - because I have experienced so much turmoil and crisis in my life. To me, it can't get any better than this - the house is quietly anticipating the girls' return, and my hubby and I are just hanging out together.

So, while I don't really consider myself "old", I know I am not exactly young anymore. It used to be that Saturday nights were spent in a vastly different way than they are spent now - but you know, that is all right with me. I don't need to be young to appreciate and value life. I don't need to be young to have fun or be content. I don't need to be young - age is just relative, anyway. All I need is love - and I have plenty of it here, on this quiet and peaceful Saturday evening, from my husband and dog (who are now both sound asleep and snoring - exciting, right?), and from my girls who will soon be returning home with stories from their day.

I love my less-than-exciting life.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My Maid of Honor

Today is my 30th anniversary, but I am not blogging about that event (already did so on God's Gals). Today, I want to write about my best friend, Ruth.

I know I mentioned in a previous post that I had set up Ruth with a friend of mine on a date. While Ruth and this friend had a good time, Ruth said that she thought this guy and I belonged together. And wouldn't you know, that guy and I are now celebrating our 30th anniversary today. And Ruth was the maid of honor at our wedding.

Ruth was the daughter of a preacher. She grew up in a suburb of Detroit, and went to college in my home town on the northern shores of Lake Michigan. We met one day in our sociology class when I asked to borrow her pencil. We talked after class for over an hour, and decided to go out for dinner (Burger King) that night. The rest, they say, is history.

We didn't have very much in common in the conventional sense. She grew up in an upper middle class family within a close and loving family. I grew up in a lower middle class family where arguments were frequent and the words "I love you" were rare. She was extremely prim and proper and very naive. My mother was a very genteel person and taught me etiquette, so I can be prim and proper when the situation calls for it, but I am sometimes a bit "rough" around the edges when my dad's raunchy sense of humor kicks in (I am proud to say that I can even embarrass my teenagers with my "mouth" at times!). Ruth would sometimes be aghast at what came out of my mouth - but not in the "how dare you say that" sense but the "oh my gosh - I've always wanted to be able to say that" sense. She admired me for my free spirit, and I admired her for her constraint. I think we eventually rubbed off on each other - she loosened up, and I toned down (well, sort of).

We spent so much time together during our freshman and sophomore years at college. We cried on each other's shoulders as a new "love" broke our hearts. We talked about the future and what our hopes and dreams were. We talked about our upbringings - how different they were, and how they helped to shape the persons we were becoming. We laughed - a lot. What a gift that was to me, as I hadn't had much to laugh about prior to meeting her.

The college we went to was only a community college, so at the end of our sophomore year, it was time for her to move back to Detroit, and I moved to Grand Rapids to continue on with my college. We stayed in touch, and when it came time for me to be married, I asked her to stand up for me. She stayed at my house the night before I got married, and we stayed up quite late talking about marriage. She helped to calm my jittery nerves, and helped me to see that I had picked quite a guy with which to spend the rest of my life.

Even though we never lived in the same town after our college years together, Ruth and I always stayed in contact. I went to her wedding. We exchanged letters, card, and phone calls. We always picked up right where we left off. When my husband and I adopted our first child, Ruth made a beautiful patchwork quilt for TP - which TP still treasures and which she has slept with every single night of her life (even when she's in the hospital).

Ruth found out she had breast cancer in 1992, after the birth of her fourth child. She had a mastectomy and went through months of chemo. Our conversations took on a deeper signifcance as she talked about death, God, leaving behind 4 kids and a husband. She utimately went into remission - and was considered to be cancer free at the 5 year mark!!! What a relief and celebration that was.

Then, I didn't get my usual Christmas card in 1997. I thought that was odd, but I just assumed she was busy with her life. I called her in January after the holidays, but she wasn't available. I called her on her birthday in Februaary, but her son said that she wasn't feeling well and that she'd call me back. I was beginning to get very, very uneasy at this point, but I thought that I would wait for a few weeks and call her then to see how she was doing. I waited too long. I got a call on my birthday (in May) from her husband. He said he was going through her date book, and he noticed that my birthday was marked on that day, and so he thought he'd call and let me know that she had died a few weeks before. He went on to say that they thought at first that she just had a bad case of the flu in January and February. Finally, in the middle of March, they decided to go to their family doctor, who ordered some blood work. The liver function results were way out of whack, so they ordered an ultrasound, which revealed a huge tumor on her liver. It took them a week to get into University of Michigan hospital for an evaluation, but by that time, the cancer had spread everywhere. She was not conscious for the last week of her life, but before she slipped into a coma, she was able to say her goodbyes to her family, her husband, and her kids. I wanted to ask her husband "Why didn't you call me - why didn't she want to say goodbye to me???" - but I didn't. His grief was too raw, and I didn't want to add any more to his burden. We talked about this special, extraordinary woman whose gentleness was her defining strength, and whose love was her legacy to all those she touched. We talked about the huge void she left behind. We wept and laughed - all in celebration of this woman we loved like no other.

At times, I wonder why she didn't call me. But, deep down, I know the answer to that question. Ruth saw in me a wounded soul - and she was my healer from all my childhood hurts. I think she thought she was sparing me pain by not sharing her pain, and by not saying goodby. Little did she know that I was no longer that wounded soul - thanks to her - because I had never told her what she had done for me. So, not only couldn't I say goodby, but I also couldn't tell her "thank you". I know, in my heart, that she knows those things now - but how I wish I could have said those things to her face!

I miss her to this day. And especially today, as I remember her so vividly on my wedding day, in her special role as my maid of honor. For it was an honor to be her best friend - it was an honor to know her and love her. So, in her honor and her memory, please call up your best friend and tell her/him how much you love them and cherish them. I talked to mine already - and told her how much I miss her, and how I know she's smiling down at me today and wishing me a Happy Anniversary!

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Please visit for a video about this day which we will all remember forever. It is very moving, poignant, and it makes the day's events come rushing back as if it were yesterday.

Please BE PATIENT - it takes several minutes to load, and even longer to watch. It will be well worth your time.

May God bless America.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Thirty Years Ago

The thirty year anniversary of my marriage is coming up on September 13th. I have posted an entry about this at Please visit there, and drop a line!

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Visiting DQ's new school last night for "Meet the Teacher", I was struck with how vastly DIFFERENT it is to her prior school. The teachers are amazing - they are there to actually work for and work with my child. The principal is incredible - she has a zero-tolerance policy on any infraction of the rules, and follows through on consequences - yet, at the same time, she is a very warm and caring person. She commands respect, and gives you the same. She listens to your every word, without noticing everything else that is going on around her. She runs a very tight ship - and the kids going there are happy, friendly, and kind.

Contrast that to the reception I received and TP's school for their "Meet the Teacher" night on Tuesday. The teachers were aloof and wouldn't look me in the eyes (the ones whom I begged to help DQ for two years - and who wouldn't do anything to stop the torment she was going through). The principal brags about the "quality" of his teachers and his own abilities as a leader - yet nothing belies his words. He's a "schmoozer" - yet, if you dare question him or ask him about something, he will personally denigrate you and your family to other staff and families. When I was at this school Tuesday evening, and at the football game last Saturday evening, I felt like I had leprosy. The icy stares were so full of contempt.

I know I keep on promising to write about DQ's experience at this school. I have written several paragraphs already, and have them saved for future publishing - but it is so painful to write about. The amount of prejudice and disdain that she received at that so-called Christian school was beyond belief. All I can say right now is, thank God she is in an environment where she is treated with the respect and kindness to which everyone should be entitled. Thank God, the "old" DQ is resurfacing - she is getting back to being her fun-loving, bouncy, happy self. She has healed tremendously over the past few months, for which I am very grateful.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


There is such suffering all around us.

Please pray for Rebekah and her family. Her daddy's post last night was heartbreaking. Please pay a visit at and leave a comment.

Of course, the victims of the hurricane are constantly on my mind and in my heart. However, I am beginning to sense much hope and resolve from those people who were affected by it. I am amazed how many Ameriican people are now offering to open their homes and hearts to help the displaced. We are a blessed country who know how to reach out and help our fellow citizens.

Some of my clients are going through an especially difficult time. Their faith in others and in God has been shattered, and they do not have the strength or courage to pick up those pieces. Their stories would render you silent and make your heart stand still.

And, of course, each of us have some degree of suffering in our lives right now - whether it be financial difficulties, loss of a loved one, a chronic illness, relationship "issues", unemployment or threat of losing a job, or other painful things.

What do YOU do when faced with suffering? Do you whine and complain? Do you blame others for it? Do you bury your head in the sand and try to ignore it? Do you offer it up to God? Do you try to find meaning in it? Do you ask others - especially God - to help you through?

I probably do a little of each to a certain degree, and at different stages of my suffering. Sometimes, I even switch from one way of handling suffering to another at the drop of a hat. But what I have come to realize is that even though I may complain, blame, or try to ignore - I fare far better if I offer it up to God, try to find meaning, and ask others and God for help. I am not able to exactly "conquer" my suffering, but at least find the strength to face it head on.

I shall keep each of you in my prayers as you face your own suffering today. I shall ask God to help you through so that hope will replace despair, strength will replace exhaustion, and faith will replace the longing for answers.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

A Prayer Chain

Please visit, and add your prayer for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Let's get a prayer chain started! Thanks!

Friday, September 02, 2005


As I wrote my check for the house payment on Wednesday, I thought about all the people who lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina. What they would give to be able to make their mortgage payment this month! Usually, I kind of grumble when I pay this bill - but this time, I paused and said a grateful prayer of thanksgiving that I have my home and the ability to pay for it.

What would it be like to lose everything? What would it be like to be roaming the streets, searching for loved ones, searching for food and water, searching for a safe place to rest? What would it be like not knowing what you were going to do for employment? How much despair would you be feeling? How much anger? How much depression? How can the human mind even begin to comprehend the ramifications of all this loss?

As a counselor, I am humbled by the stories which I hear from my clients. The amount of pain that people can withstand is amazing to me. But even more amazing is their resiliency and ability to survive, despite the pain. They are able to draw from within an ability to go beyond their situation and make a better life for themselves. The Chinese have a proverb which points out that out of every crisis, there comes the opportunity to grow and change as a result of it. Hopefully, the victims are able to get beyond this horrible tragedy, and start rebuilding their lives - literally and figuratively. It is my prayer that these people, each and every one of them, are able to find the strength and courage to start over. It is my prayer that they do not lose faith in their God to help them through this. It is my prayer that this brings our nation together again, and that this doesn't become a political quagmire of blaming others for what can only be considered a tragic act of nature.