how it really goes

I would like to start my day off strong and early, a mug of bulletproof coffee in hand as I review the day’s schedule and go over the tasks that need to be done. I begin my day, free of distractions.

As the rest of the family gets out of bed, I have breakfast waiting for them. Everyone knows what is needed to be done and we transition yet into another day. Husband goes off to work, baby does as babies do, and 10-year-old does her thing.

But of course, this is what REALLY happens.

I forgot to plug in my phone before climbing into bed last night so it died, not waking me up at 5:15 this morning. My baby managed to not wake me up either, because BOTH of us managed to somehow sleep in until 11:00. 

So I finally get out of bed, at this unorthodox late hour, with a pounding headache. My baby is lying on the bed, her happy, cheery, morning self. I find my 10-year-old watching MLP (My Little Pony). My head is pounding.

After my 10-year-old starts on what she’s supposed to be doing, I manage to guzzle down water and make a cup of coffee in between taking care of the baby and trying to work my business. It’s 12:30 by the time I put on food for myself: eggs and sausage that I don’t eat until about 1:30 after I put my baby down for her afternoon nap.

My head is still pounding. I throw back some keto energy, try to get focused. 

Baby wakes up way earlier than anticipated. I’m trying to get work done. I’m failing at welcoming the interruptions with love and grace.

Meanwhile, the 10-year-old is making progress in her room.

I’m too blessed to be stressed, right? 

I spend my afternoon juggling baby and trying to work and laundry. Not much work is getting done, which makes me anxious, because we need the money I’m trying to make.

It’s at this moment I want to call my husband and tell him to fix it. Unload everything onto him. Because that’s what I’ve done in the past, to both of our detriment. 

But I don’t. I stay strong. I breathe. I pray. I wonder who I could call and talk to and then get really sad about the fact that I don’t know who I can call.

My husband hasn’t been home in the evening all week, because he’s been driving for Lyft all week, making extra money that we need. We decided TOGETHER that he should do that this week. So I’m not going to call him, unload all my trash on him, giving my stress so he feels obligated to leave what he’s doing and come home to save me.

I’ve done that before. It doesn’t help. It actually only makes things worse.

I’m in no state to try to even think about making dinner. It’s Friday night. I’ve been home all day. I was hoping for productivity, but not a lot has happened. In fact, my 10-year-old got more done that I did!

I call Papa Murphy’s.

Baby is crying. I’m not sure if I’m going to make it to Papa Murphy’s anymore.

I go after I get the baby to sleep. She’ll be asleep for at least half an hour, right? I’ll only be gone for 15 minutes. Papa Murphy’s is just in town. The 10-year-old knows I’ll be right back.

So I go, praying, trying not to cry, not understanding why today is so frustrating for me, feeling anxious about money.

As I’m leaving the store with my pile of pizzas, I recognize the lady sitting on the bench. Mrs. Kathy Troll, a principal and teacher from my high school past.

The last time I saw this woman, I was single, living with my parents, and at the tail end of my fight with depression.

We catch up. And as I tell her my story, it suddenly hits me all over again that God wants me here. That this frustrating afternoon is a part of the plan. I’m supposed to be married to my husband, raising my two daughters, and working to make ends meet. This is my place, as difficult and stressful as it can be sometimes. 

It happened so quickly, I tell her. A complete 180 from the life I had. I was planning on going straight back to Taiwan, and now this.

And THIS is wonderful. This is how it really goes. 

(After such a frustrating day, I stayed up with my 10-year-old doing clay face masks and cucumber eyes while the baby slept. Because that’s just what you have to do sometimes. Make lemonade out of lemons.)

Cliche ending and out. 😉



The Art of Rebuilding

Yesterday, I turned 31. 

I woke up before anybody else did that morning to get gas and go to the grocery store, since there were pretty slim pickings at the house. I wanted to have fruit and veggies in the house on my birthday.

I ended up run/waddling into the restroom at Safeway, since I had apparently left the house “too soon.” Oops!

I was very disappointed to not find a “birthday award” in my Starbucks account. I was looking forward to a free drink, as I had scored one last year on my birthday. Anyone know what the deal is these days or am I missing something?

When I came back home, the baby was already awake. As soon as she saw me, she started making those little sounds of desperation that babies do when they’re hungry and know food is near.

My husband and I had bagels and cream cheese for breakfast together. Then he left for work.

I spent the morning with my 10-year-old cooking and cleaning in preparation for the Noonday Luncheon I had planned for that day. I thought it would be nice way to celebrate – invite others to support jewelry artisans around the world in developing countries. No one came, due to sickness and schedules and other reasons they remained silent about. Well, except for the Noonday ambassador and my mom. It was a small little party. Lots of jewelry to try on! My 10-year-old enjoyed that.

Our pressing financial needs are ever before me, so I was still working from my phone all day, though, in retrospect, I could have been working “smarter.” There’s still so much to learn.

My baby joined us all at the dinner table in her highchair and ate banana for the first time.


My dad spent hours making me the richest, 3-layer chocolate cake known to man, with buttercream filling and a layer of FUDGE for the frosting! We were all barely able to finish our one piece.


My husband and daughter found a creative way to put “31” on the cake, so I was able to blow out a birthday candle.

After all the eating, we played Scrabble. It’s one of my favorite word games.

The point of this whole thing is to paint a picture. An incomplete picture. A picture of a life that is being rebuilt.

When I was in Taiwan, there were times I felt I had reached the peak of my existence. I didn’t need more friends. I didn’t need more adventures or stamps in my passport. I felt so alive and full. I had purpose. I had a community. Life was SO GOOD.

But if I am to let the past be a school that teaches me how to move forward, I would have to say that’s it when you reach the peak of anything, it’s only a matter of time until you have to descend. And this all for the purpose of scaling the next peak. 

I’m a sucker for analogies, so here you go:

There are mountain climbers who like to bag peaks in a matter of days. One such trek involved Mount St. Helen, Mount Adams, and Mount Hood – two climbers went up all three peaks over Memorial Day weekend last year. (Read their story here.)

Accomplishing that doesn’t mean they were just hanging out on mountain tops all weekend, hopping from peak to peak. They had to get to the top. Then they had to climb down to get to the top again.

I’ve realized, after 3 decades of life on Planet Earth, this is what life is like. Taiwan was the peak of just one mountain. And when I think about it, there were other smaller mountains I had already scaled before then:

  • Winning a Father’s Day essay contest
  • Winning the 5th grade spelling bee
  • Getting to perform a speech in front of 3 different audiences before I was even 14
  • Taking 3rd place in a speech contest
  • Employing myself as a piano teacher when I was only in high school
  • The colorful, exciting, and successful college years

Unexpectedly returning from Taiwan and not getting back on the plane almost three years ago, I found myself at the base of a brand new mountain.

And it took me a while to start climbing. Honestly, I really just wanted to turn around and climb the same mountain again. I missed what it felt like at the top.

But the reality is, the weather on a mountain, even the land and the snow conditions, is always changing. Even I did climb back up to the top, it wouldn’t have been the same. 

So here I am. Not even close to the halfway point of scaling another one of life’s mountains. This time, my husband and two daughters are climbing with me. 

And I always thought I would only need to build one life for myself.


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