Ministry and Life Update: Fall 2021

Most people who follow my blog also follow me on Facebook, so you know that I have spent the last few months running around with my head cut off. I recently realized that I had not done a ministry update in quite some time so here it is! Fashionably late.

You would think that being in the mortgage business, we would be able to anticipate and avoid any drama around a move, but it turns out we got to experience all the things: house sold, fell out of escrow, sold again, tried to find small renovated house but ended up with big house needing lots of work, because the market was crazier in Texas than in Colorado, movers not showing up as planned and then overcharging us to fix their mistake, last minute hiccups with home inspection for new house…but PRAISE THE LORD, here I am sitting in my home office finally feeling a bit settled, if one can feel settled as our world spins like a whirling dervish.

The day that our home closed, I drove to Beaver Creek, Colorado to serve at the Thrive retreat for global workers home on furlough. What a joy to be able to meet in person and see how God works to meet the needs of those serving Him! My husband is a saint for meeting the moving truck and dealing with the initial move in without me, before flying back to Colorado to drive our car down to Waco together. At that retreat, 20 volunteers and attendees tested positive for Covid but fortunately everyone got to build their immunity, without any reporting that they needed more than some time at home recovering. However, the whole event has caused Thrive to reconsider the upcoming retreats overseas, which changes my game plan for the next year.

It would seem like I would be sitting around waiting for an opportunity to go overseas, but my work has been relocated for the time being, to the seat I am sitting in right now. Thanks to technology, I am able to continue counseling with women who need ongoing support. I continue to run my private practice online, using a specialized secure application, and I intentionally reserve spots in my schedule for women serving in ministry around the world.

I share this with you, my supporters, because I want you to know that your financial support is enabling me to continue this important work. I receive a small monthly stipend from the donations sent to my ministry through Paraclete Ministries, so that I can offer highly discounted counseling to women who are unable to afford ongoing treatment. I have become quite good at managing communication with various time zones and offer sessions at all times of the day and evening when necessary. Under my current stipend, I can offer a few women a weekly session each month but I hope to expand this while we wait for borders to open up. Click here if you would like to participate in making counseling available to women serving globally…and never hesitate to connect me to someone you know that may need this service. 

As I settle into Waco, I have already had the opportunity to get acquainted with amazing people doing local and overseas work and can’t wait to see what evolves out of these initial conversations. My inclination is to get excited and jump in wherever there is a need but I am feeling a sense that I need to wait for just the right fit, where I can use my gifts and time most effectively. Please pray with me, as more than ever, I want to use my time here on earth to God’s glory.

On a very personal note, I have had some interesting moments in the last few months as I continue with what will be lifelong cancer treatment. As is common with those battling chronic cancer, my current protocol has become less effective over time and while my tumor markers are still lower than they were even a year ago, we are starting to see my body resist my current treatment. We will be making some big decisions next month and I covet your prayers. I often truthfully joke that I not afraid of dying but I am afraid of suffering and currently my suffering is confined to only my treatment days. I honestly feel fantastic the rest of the time. So a change of treatment is a big decision.

In closing, I will share the fun part of our new life in Texas! I get to see my precious girls all the time and I might never be cold again! Mike says he traded shoveling snow for skimming leaves out of our pool. We are currently drinking the Baylor Kool-Aid every chance we get…football, theater, taking walks on the campus. Last week we joined Antioch Church, where we have been attending online for 5 years. We still need to put a few more pictures on the walls but it is all coming along and we are excited that family and friends have already booked some weekends in our guest room during the upcoming months.

Thank you, dear friends and supporters, for all you do. Y’all will never know how much I appreciate you! (Working on my Texas speak!)

With love,


Shaming: A Form of Cultural Manipulation?

Warning: I am on day 6 of a round of chemo so my inhibitions are down. You can only imagine what this one week on/one week off protocol  is like for the people I live with. But I got some things that my boundary seeking self just can’t let go…

There is a very popular post going around on Social Media that basically says that because you don’t know what is in a McDonald’s hamburger or what is in your deodorant or what was in the vaccines you had as a child, you should blindly accept what is being passed out as the savior of the world: the Rona Vaccine. Honestly, it is not my opinion of the vaccine that feels insulted, it is my intelligence.

Let me publicly state that if you want to get the vaccine, I encourage you to do so. If that alleviates your fears and allows you to interact with your elderly mom or the people you work with, by all means, do what you have to do. But listen up…if you try to SHAME me into your line of thinking or act as if you have some moral pedestal custom made for you, then I have to speak out for myself and my growing list of clients who are literally being traumatized by the smugness out there. 

The fact of the matter is that we will not know for a very long time what the lasting effects of any new drug will be. There may be many good reasons to risk the long term effects for the immediate result of having life get back to normal. People’s lives are being ruined by unemployment, mental distress, lack of human contact and if a vaccine offers a return to normalcy, let’s have an open discussion that evaluates the risks and the benefit of accepting those risks. As a cancer patient, I take straight poison in hopes that  killing cancer cells will outweigh the destruction of the healthy cells happening at the same time. I am not risk adverse, but taking educated risks is healthier than uneducated, naive and I-choose-not-to-think risks. SOMEONE, ANYONE, give me an amen.

Until you have received a diagnosis that changes your life forever because you took Zantac for an ulcer or used talcum powder to freshen yourself up…or watched a child suffer from Guillain-Barre after a flu vaccine, or are living with autism in your family because your child had the reaction that only a small percentage of people have, it may be in your best interest to make a decision that is right for you and not feel that you need to condemn those who may not agree. And please don’t ask those people who trusted once, to blindly trust again because if they don’t, they are hindering others from going to a concert. 

I commented on a few of these posts and the response was basically that because I have cancer, my circumstance is different and maybe I was over-reacting to the post. Ironic that one of those who thought I was overreacting was the Biology teacher that taught me about viruses to begin with. He is the reason I know that we can’t outrun a virus…it will always catch up through mutation. I respect his decision to vaccinate because he is elderly and wants to see his grandkids…but oohhh…anyone who knows me, knows that I advocate for boundaries, freedom and personal empowerment and I hate it when people try to shut me up by suggesting I might be overreacting. Didn’t your mama tell you to never tell a woman to calm down when she is just getting started?

Wanna know something funny? The literature that comes with my chemotherapy says in bold print: DO NOT RECEIVE VACCINATIONS OF ANY KIND WHILE ON THIS TREATMENT. ALSO, REFRAIN FROM CONTACT WITH ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN RECENTLY VACCINATED. I don’t know why this warning on a box of poison makes me crack up. Don’t be near anyone who has recently been vaccinated? Think that one through as it should inform anyone who is wondering about how to protect themself, either with a vaccine or otherwise.

I am fortunate. It turns out that despite being exposed to Covid several times, the most I seem to get is what feels like a bad cold. My health limitations do not seem to be a hinderance but I can’t help but wonder if the fact that I do know what is in my food, shampoo, deodorant and cleaning products is helping me fight from a position of strength. I actually research vaccines before blindly accepting them after I watched my daughter loose the use of her legs for 3 days after a routine flu vaccine and was told we got lucky because the paralysis wasn’t permanent. Maybe this is why I choose to understand my risks and not just follow the crowd out of fear. 

Many of my clients have shared that they are exhausted by the shaming that comes with having a counter cultural thought process, and I am not just talking about vaccines. Are you living life in fear, by letting others coax you into decisions that don’t feel right for your situation or are you making your decisions from a place of confidence, after doing research that matches your life situation? Are there other situations in your life, marriage, job, education and family where you see this pattern? Fear based decisions or choices made because people have made us feel bad, are rarely our best decisions. I encourage you to advocate for yourself in your relationships, your job, and your health by knowing what risks you are taking,  and evaluating whether or not the outcome will be worth it to you.

And when you make a decision that is right for you, I will be the first to cheer you on.

As always, let me know if I can help.

With love,


Discernment: Use it or lose it

If I had a dollar for every time a client said to me…

“I knew that I shouldn’t have (married that guy, trusted that person, stayed in that job, gone to that party, taken that loan, bought that car, tried that drug….) but I ignored the feeling”…

Well, let’s just say I would have a few dollars.

We all have an inner compass that guides us through life. We refer to it as our gut, intuition, our energy, the Holy Spirit. That internal guide works to convict us, warn us, alert us and protect us. It can also work to confirm decisions, tell us who to trust and push us to do something good. But for some reason, many times when we are getting our strongest messages, we hesitate to listen because it may mean that we have to give up something we want or alter our path to a journey that appears more difficult to navigate and because of that, we ignore it.

Unfortunately, when we fail to trust our gut, listen to our heart, and use our discernment, it all gets a little foggy. That muscle doesn’t increase in strength, it gets weak and confused and maybe even stops working at all, leading to more bad decisions, disappointment and heartbreak.

Ohhhh….if I could back up my own life and walk away earlier from that bad business partner, that terrible church, that boss….right? Can you think of times that you allowed yourself to get beat up because you didn’t listen to that inner voice?

If you feel like you need to strengthen that muscle again, take some steps to build it up by pushing the pause button when it starts to work for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are wondering if you should listen to the warning bell ringing in your head, or pay attention to the red flag waving at you:

Do I have to make this decision RIGHT NOW or can I take some time to get good counsel and think it through?

Am I making this decision just to please other people?

Does this decision benefit me as much in the future as it does in the present?

Is this situation similar to anything in my past? If so, can I use the wisdom gleaned from that situation to inform this one?

Is there anything about my situation that appears too good to be true? Should I examine this a bit more?

Will other people get hurt by this decision? Do I need to consider that before I commit to it?

Discernment is a gift. You may not always like what it is telling you to do. Honestly, that most likely is the time to really listen. Learning to trust the spirit in you is a process that leads to empowerment. Give it a try.

As always, let me know if I can help.

With love,


Sex Education: Wanna go there?

Lately, all my ‘magazines for therapists’ that I get, have one thing in common. They are attempting to educate me on how to work with people who have gender identity issues and/or people who have chosen lifestyles other than heterosexual relationships. There is an ever increasing need for therapy for those struggling with sexual addiction as well, including everything from porn addiction to sexual addiction within and outside committed relationships, crossing the lines of gender, age and species. This rampant addiction is ruining marriages and important relationships. An article I read recently was discussing the need for diversity in sex education at the elementary and middle school level so that all children could have an understanding of the issues they may encounter as they discover their personal sexual identity.

I remember when my own children had sex education in our local public school. We had some VERY interesting conversations in our home during that process. To be clear, I am not averse to sex education being offered at school…for goodness sake there are a lot of good reasons that the people spending most days with our kids need to make sure that they know some stuff. But for those of you parenting our impressionable youngsters, you may want to involve yourself in the process no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. Just because there is a curriculum being followed does not mean that the person teaching the curriculum doesn’t bring their own perceptions, opinions and let’s face it, baggage, to the table. For example, 1 in every 6 women has been molested or sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Depending on how she processed that event, she may be struggling with her own thoughts of how to be sexually healthy. This is only one example of something that could influence how sexuality conversations might be impacted within your child’s school setting. There are many more.

I also remember my own 6th grade sex education class and when I make the comparison to what is culturally acceptable today, it makes me laugh that my parents had to sign a waiver back then. What we learned back in the late 70’s/early 80’s was mostly science…there was not much sexuality being discussed. From a developmental stand point, this was very appropriate as what 6th grader is ready to make a commitment to a life long decision such as sexual preference? What adolescent should be making decisions that could impact them for life? And goodness knows that most 11-12 year olds are not going to enter into relationships that have good boundaries and heart protecting communication applications. To drive home the idea of who is teaching your children may impact their thought process, I had a teacher who literally told my class that oral sex is most effectively used when a woman is pregnant and may not want to have intercourse…huh? I can still see my mom’s face when I relayed that little tidbit. Oh goodness…I am laughing out loud as I write this, remembering that moment with my mom.

Is it possible that sex education in our elementary schools and junior highs should be focused more on personal development? Maybe instead of focusing on the sex act, we should be teaching communication skills, ways to communicate deeper level emotions, expectations in reciprocal relationships…I could go on. Let me spell it out for you. Very few couples come to counseling because they are confused about how to have sex. They are struggling because they have unmet expectations in their relationship, they have destructive ways of communicating, and life has been less than perfect so their relationship is suffering and thus, their intimacy isn’t near what they hoped it would be.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that personal identity choices are best made when we are emotionally healthy, when we execute good boundaries and when we have a firm grasp on our non-negotiables in our relationships. Teach your elementary school and junior high kids about how to respect themselves, how to have healthy relationships evidenced by good communication and respect, and they have a better chance of making sexual choices that are healthy for themselves. If you don’t teach them these things, they run the risk of making sexual choices as a result of low self esteem, need for validation and the mistaken expectation that sexual interactions are always an indication of true love.

As always, let me know if I can help.

With love,


2020: Best year ever?

Wow, it has been a long year. When I think back to my last overseas mission trip last February, it seems like it was 5 years ago! The initial Italy outbreak was occurring when I was in nearby Croatia, so our volunteer team was on high alert, being so close to the devastation. We thought it was a short term current event. Who knew that we were on the cusp of our whole lives being shut down! So much has happened, and not happened, since then.

My girls were on a senior year “Spring break hurrah”, with friends, when they got the news that their university was closing down for an extra week. It would be the last time they saw most of their friends, and they never did get to walk across a stage after 4 years of exemplary work. As one of my daughter’s shared, “I was living my best life and then it was gone in an instant!”

When I talk to clients, I hear stories of incredible loss: Loss of jobs, friends, freedom, community, mental health….and more. Many people have experienced lack of closure with those they used to go to school with or folks they worked with, loved ones who have died during this time, even people who have moved away.

On top of Covid, we in the United States have had political tension that has come between even the closest of family and friends. We are divided into camps where there isn’t a lot of common ground, since many of the polarizing issues rest in people’s core value systems. Even folks who value tolerance are struggling with how to live that in our current climate.

As a counselor, my job has always been to assist people with overcoming trauma and altering victim status to empowerment status, resulting in a life well-lived. Are you able to do this with 2020? I encourage you to try…

Here is what this processing might look like. I use my own life as an example.

I am grateful that even though I was forced to close down the office space that I LOVED, I am able to see clients via Telehealth. Because of this transition, I am able to meet with clients when I travel to Phoenix for cancer treatment! I don’t have to stop working because of my diagnosis, which is an enormous blessing because I love my work and I have to work in these economic times!

I am grateful that my daughter, who had planned to take a gap year to earn money to attend grad school, could not find anyone hiring during the shutdown, so she applied to grad school early and ended up with a full ride scholarship. She would never thought that possible. Covid forced her into pursuing her dream!

I am grateful that my online church encouraged me to join a virtual small group, because they were proactive in creating community during the shutdown. My church is in Texas, so I never dreamed that I would connect, as I have, with anyone in the congregation! Now we have dear friends in town when we visit our girls! I also have numerous friends who I talk to more often because we have scheduled weekly, bi-weekly or monthly conversations using Zoom or Face Time.

I am also grateful that through this last year, I have seen people’s colors…some of those colors darker and some brighter than others. I have been able to see people’s love and hate, and their thoughtfulness and lack thereof. I have been disappointed in some behaviors but motivated by others, as we all respond to the crisis at hand. I have learned who are my people and who are not. As painful as that can be sometimes, it is a gift.

I could go on…but you get the process. Romans 8:28 tells us that, “In all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”. The promise does not say that life will be easy but rather, we can turn hard times into purposeful living. What hardship of 2020 has lead to an unexpected blessing? Are you able to resist the urge to see this as a terrible, no good year, but rather see it as a time of refinement of who you are going forward?

World-changers are people who take their trauma and do something good with it. They use their character building tough days, as motivation for making their family, their community, and even the earth a better place. Google “People who overcame adversity to do big things” and you will see lists and lists of people who didn’t stop because they endured a hardship. We all have 2020 as a springboard into a great 2021. Do you accept the challenge?

As always, let me know if I can help.

With love,


Counseling: Asking for a Friend

As many of you know, I am the Lead Mentor for a ministry called Alongside, designed to help women who are serving overseas, who might have the need for emotional support. The ministry is run through Thrive Ministries who strives to empower women in ministry around the world. My team of 25 mentors give a few hours a month to encouraging. listening and praying for women who have given their lives to be world changers. Our mentees are running orphanages, teaching English, rescuing women from sex trafficking, doing community development…they are strong but they are often somewhat alone and in need of support. My mentor team is an amazing group of selfless women who have incredible life experience but only a few of them are trained counselors, so we have some guidelines in place to put boundaries around the service we offer. Recently I was asked to put together a list of reasons to suggest professional counseling to women who might need more than we can offer in a mentorship capacity. It reminded me how often I have been asked in private practice how people can identify if a family member or friend might benefit from counseling. I thought it might be beneficial to adapt the guidelines we use at Alongside for my clients….

Here are some reasons that your friend might need counseling:

Your friend is having difficulty regulating her emotions. Of course you may have emotional moments with your friend where there are tears. However, if she expresses that she is crying all the time, struggling to keep her anger under control or fluctuating between extreme emotions, she may need more than an accountability partner.

Your friend isn’t performing effectively in her roles at home or work. Deeper mental issues can effect us cognitively and we can struggle to focus and engage effectively with people as a result. Sometimes it is a fine line between an overwhelmed mommy and a person who has ceased to function in a healthful way. If you sense that your friend is struggling, please advise her to seek counseling.

Your friend complains of not being able to sleep, eat or perform other normal human functions. Oftentimes, clinical depression and/or anxiety can lead to physical issues. Unplanned weight gain or weight loss, chronic insomnia or other symptoms such as headache, stomach pain, or even back pain, can be an indicator of a deep emotional need. If these symptoms are worsening for your friend despite your time together, she may need more attention than you can give in a friendship role.

Your friend reports an ongoing struggle with numerous relationships or an inability to build and maintain relationships. Many women have relationship struggles that they need to process and this is normal. However, if you start to get the feeling that your friend has no healthy relationships in her life, she might need to explore this at a deeper level.

Your friend has unresolved trauma. If your friend shares about past trauma, and you suspect that this trauma is part of the reason she is struggling, it is appropriate to ask her if she has ever gone through counseling for that trauma. Trauma comes in many forms. She may have experienced sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, a profound loss, or may have childhood trauma that has never been resolved.

Your friend struggles to find joy in activities that normally provide joy. When you are encouraging your friend in the area of self care and she can’t seem to find anything that brings her joy, she may be experiencing clinical depression. Is she isolating herself or focusing only on the negative? Encourage your friend to seek professional help.

Your friend has deep or unresolved grief. Women often experience grief because of job loss, relationship conflict, cultural challenges, divorce or death of a loved one. She may benefit from time with a therapist.
Your friend is using substances or obsessive activities to cope. If you suspect that your friend is struggling with addiction, it is important to suggest counseling.

Your friend suggests that they may self harm. Self harm in any form can be very dangerous. Please encourage your friend to seek professional services if you are concerned that she is a danger to themselves or others.
Your friend seems to need more than you feel capable of giving. If you start to feel overwhelmed by this relationship, the answer may simply be that the needs of your friend are too great for a reciprocal relationship.

As always, let me know if I can help!
With love,