A Phoenix Rising


When Life is Bitter

Eight days ago I was awoken by one of those ever dreaded pre-dawn phone calls, the ones that always portent tragedy.  My 22 year old youngest cousin, Ian,  and his 26 year old friend Jeremy had been killed in a car accident.  Ian had been driving too fast for conditions, with balding tires, and hit a patch of ice rounding a curve on a local country road.  The truck jumped a guard rail, striking trees, and both young men died on impact.

Initially, I could not comprehend what I was hearing.  It wasn’t possible.  This beautiful boy, full of life, a bright spirit with his whole future ahead of him, was gone.  Simply unimaginable.  And to make the incomprehensible even more unbearable was the knowledge that another family was receiving the same news as we were.  Utter shock, profound loss, and overwhelming sadness surrounded my family.  It was inescapable and heavy, the reality becoming harder to bear with each passing day until Tuesday’s wake and Wednesday’s funeral.  The fact that Ian was the answer to 19 families prayers through organ donation was a comfort, but not nearly enough to erase the pain of our loss.

Ian was a hard working, happy, generous, warm, respectful, loving young man.  He lived hard and fast, always a worry to his parents and our grandmother, but his smile and charm would light up a room.  I knew how much we loved him, but I did not know the incredible impact he had on the lives around him until Tuesday.

The wake was scheduled from 4-8pm.  His family received the last of the visitors at 11:30pm.  The line of mourners for this beautiful man extended around the building and up the street.  People waited outside in below zero temperatures for two hours, only to have another two hour wait once they entered the building.  The sight was breathtaking.  Hundreds of young men in their Carhartts and workboots, sobbing on their knees…heartbreaking, yet so comforting to know that he meant so much to so many people, and that he had such a profound impact in his 22 short years, as to leave a lasting impression on so many lives.

On Wednesday, we said goodbye to Ian in a standing room only Church, the sea of black silent, except for the softly echoing sobs.  We mourn for ourselves, and for those closest to him that have to continue to walk the path of life without him by their side.

However, I am reminded of a Truth as we navigate through his loss.

It is not what we do that matters…it is who we are.

So often I have been guilty of wanting to DO something that makes an impact.  I want to do more, be more, make my life count.  What Ian has taught me, not only through his life, but also his death, is that the way to make an impact in this world is to simply be present in the lives of those around me.

Love, generosity, kindness, joy, sharing…that is the legacy Ian leaves behind, and that is the legacy I hope to achieve in his honor.


“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”

― Shauna Niequist

Something Happened…

Somewhere along the way, I lost my writing mojo.  I lost my desire to take photographs.  I lost my creative edge.

But I feel it beginning to awaken again.  My classes are finished and I have a little space freeing itself up in my brain.  And that is how it begins.

“Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it.”

-Dee Hock


I really really really really really intended to be here more often.

And then life just got too full.

I am working very hard to keep afloat.  So far, I have been successful, but it means I can’t be here very often.

Quick update:

Since you last saw me I have been taking two classes working toward my SBL (School Building Leader) Certificate.  That has been keeping me quite busy in and of itself.

I am also keeping up with my School Board duties, and working on a newly born Parent Advocacy Group within my district.  This has been more time consuming than I expected it would be, but it has also been quite rewarding.

Zan is still working from home consulting, which adds an air of uncertainty to our lives, but we count our blessings that he is still bringing in a paycheck despite being technically unemployed.

Add to that keeping up with my three kids and their crazy schedules, and Mama doesn’t have much time for blogging.

Life is good, we are healthy and busy, and life is full.

I will be back to tell you all about our second trip on the Disney Dream later.  ;)

Home from Heaven

Well, Zan and I are back from our Anniversary Cruise to the Bahamas on the Disney Dream, and all I can say is WOWIE-WOW-WOW-WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Let me tell you all about it…

First of all, I didn’t die in a plane crash.  (YAY!) The ship did NOT sink. (DOUBLE YAY!) The children stayed healthy, homework got completed, and though they missed us a bit, they survived!!!  (YAY, YAY, and YAY!!!)  In all honesty, I think they might have missed their XBox more than they missed us.  ;)

The morning of the 16th dawned cold and snowy.  As we sat on the tarmac having the plane de-iced, I thought, “What the Hell am I doing???”  Not being a good flyer, and never having left my kids before, I was filled with nerves and regret.  But then we landed.  All nerves and regret were gone as soon as I stepped foot out of Orlando airport into the bright southern sunshine and boarded the familiar Disney Bus.

Heading out to open sea...

Heading out to open sea…

The rest of the trip is blissful history.  We were able to relax, speak in full sentences, replenish our Vitamin D stores, and unwind in full bellied contentment. It was divine.  We were spoiled and made to feel special by the most excellent crew aboard, greeted with smiles and catered to in the way only Disney knows how to do.

We met wonderful people along the way, including our table mates, another couple celebrating their Anniversary.  I was once again amazed by Disney magic, pairing us with two people who we hit it off with so very easily, and with whom we had so much in common.  What a delightful addition to our trip: new friends!! (Sorry for the blurry shot…this was taken on our last rushed morning by Zan with his phone. Sadly, I forgot to purchase our dinner photos before we left the ship.)

Kevin and Dawn

The ship itself is a wonder to behold.  I had never before seen a ship in person. The size was overwhelming!  And to think these giants stay afloat???  Even more impressive!  Everywhere we looked were those special Disney details we always expect, although much more subtly woven into the fabric of the decor than you will find in the parks.  Spotlessly clean, beautifully appointed, and pridefully cared for by the crew, the ship itself was an incredible experience.  I was afraid I would not like the motion, feared it would make me sick, didn’t like the idea of being out in the middle of nowhere, with no land in sight.  However, I came home a changed woman.  I LOVED the gentle rocking of the ship, was not at all bothered by the motion, and felt so free being out in the middle of nowhere.  Sitting on our balcony to watch the sunrises and sunsets while we sailed were grace filled moments in time I won’t soon forget.

Our favorite spot at the Cove Cafe

Our favorite spot at the Cove Cafe

The Disney Dream's Lobby

The Disney Dream’s Lobby

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Sunrise on our first morning…

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Sunset on our last night…

As a married couple traveling without kids, we found plenty to do.  We were surrounded by families, which were fun to watch, but were able to escape to the quiet, adults only spaces on board.  Our favorite place was the Cove Cafe…specialty coffees, yummies, and drinks were available early morning into late at night.  Coffee Toledo with a shot of Bailey’s at 7:00am in the hot tub???  Oh, yeah, we went there!!! ;)

We spent our first day docked in Nassau visiting a chocolate factory with our tour group.  We made our own yummy chocolates, and ate lots!  We did not venture too far into Nassau, as we were looking forward to relaxing back on the ship.  Next time, we may explore more.  Instead we went back to the ship, ordered room service for lunch, and wandered around exploring all the nooks and crannies.

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The Port in Nassau…Disney Dream on the right, Disney Wonder on the left, and the Norwegian Epic in the distance

The weather was cool-ish on our second day, so we weren’t able to take advantage of all that Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island) had to offer, but we did enjoy a nice long walk to the lookout tower, and a stop by Serenity Bay, the adults only beach. After about 7 minutes on the hammocks, we gave up and headed to the barbecue, then back to the ship to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. We even played a game of BINGO, Disney style, which means a whole lot of dancing and yelling and ‘whoopwhoop’-ing! Tried for the $5,000 jackpot, but no luck!

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View of the ship from the Lookout Tower

The blue waters of Castaway Cay

The blue waters of Castaway Cay

On our last night, we treated ourselves to an Anniversary dinner at Remy.  Remy is worthy of it’s own post and was an experience we will always cherish.  A three hour meal, with at least seven courses (I lost count) the food and service were exquisite.

We had so much fun, we are going back in March, this time WITH the kids!!!


If you are interested in more photos of our trip, visit my Set at Flickr.

Back to Reality

Christmas Vacation is over. The kids go back to school this morning leaving me with memories of fun, laughter, relaxation, and letting the house go to pot.

This is what I’m left to deal with….just me, myself, and a very big two-weeks-in-the-making MESS!




Update: After an initial delay, school is now closed due to icy roads. So I guess I’m not alone with my mess after all.

The Post Just Bursting to Be Written???

So reads the third task for the Zero to Hero Challenge.

I have NO idea how to complete this one…I have no wise words to impart.  I have no exciting news to share.  I have no new photos to post.  Sooo….maybe I will go back to a couple of past posts that did just “burst” out of me.

Flying”- March 2008

“The Flower”-March 2008

“Curse of the Teletubby”-April 2008

“God Built Them That Way”-May 2008

“Some Photos Squeeze My Heart”-February 2009

“Life Themes”- May 2009

“Self”-October 2010

“In Which She Discovers 74 Explicit Songs on Her Daughter’s iPod”-February 2011

“Parenting Teenagers for Dummies”-February 2011

“Room 12”-February 2012

And here’s a new one…this one has been sitting around in draft form, unpublished for awhile:

Remember this girl?


Well, this girl is now a Junior in High School, a beautiful human being, heading God knows where, but it must be someplace really wonderful.  God didn’t create this beautiful soul for nothing.  I believe He has big plans for this one.  Only, this one has no idea what His plans are for her yet.

She is smart.

She is beautiful.

She is kind.

She is thoughtful.

She is a deep thinker.

And she trusts herself not at all.

She questions her path.

She questions her beliefs.

She questions her purpose.

She questions her intelligence.

She questions her beauty.

She feels “less.”

How do I make this girl see the beautiful soul that I see?

Pssst…Want to Hear Something Exciting?

Zan and I….

wait for it!!!

Are going….



DISNEY CRUISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


there’s more!!

We are going…

WITHOUT THE KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know!!!!  CRAZY, right?!?!?!

We have never ever left them for more than a night before.  In nearly 17 years we have been parents, we have never taken a vacation, even a mini one, without them.  This is a three nighter, and I feel like I’m leaving them for weeks.

I will let you in on a little secret….

I am excited, and nervous in equal measure.  I’m so conflicted.

One minute I am giddy with anticipation:

Sleeping in!

Blue beach waters!

An uninterrupted three days with my husband!

No schedules!

No responsibilities!!

And the next minute, I am nauseous with reservations:

I am going to MISS them!

They will miss US!

What if someone gets sick while we are gone?

What if someone gets hurt while we are gone?

What if my boy wakes up with nightmares and I’m not there to comfort him?

What if my girls need help with their math homework and only Daddy can help?

What if they’re lonesome and sad?

What if our flights get delayed on our way home, extending our time away?

I won’t even mention the unmentionable scary worries.

BUT…there’s that saying on my bathroom mirror:  Let your Faith be bigger than your Fear.

So we are going for it.  Doing something out of our comfort zone for US.

And after their initial, “HOW COULD YOU?!?!?!” reactions, the kids are actually supportive and happy for us.

I guess we’ve done something right.

“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” -Jim Rohn





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