Underneath the Drywall

Note: This is a post I originally wrote in November 2015 for Weaving Influence. Thank you, Stacey, for continuing to inspire. 

I have been unable to get the image of this simple wooden beam out of my mind over the past few days.

Personal Messages

An acquaintance of mine here in Tallahassee, Stacey, passed away at the age of 46 recently. She had been a true shining light in countless lives. Although I did not know her well, an overwhelming number of people in my social circle were taken to their knees in grief as they said goodbye to their friend.

On her memorial page, one of the pictures that was shared was one of the wooden beams which were part of the structure of her church. She had written a sentiment on that piece of bare wood before it was drywalled over and turned into a “finished” place of worship. Her friends and family found solace in the verse she had chosen, and I am sure they would all confirm that she lived by the verse she chose: Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your path.

This piece of bare wood got me thinking about two other times I have seen someone write on the “raw” construction components of a building.

Once, when my previous employer was transitioning to a new Third Party Administrator, we were taken on a tour of their contact center as it was under construction. One of the workers had written “a sentiment” on a bare piece of wood. My Spanish isn’t that good, so I asked our tour guide what it said. She said, “You don’t want to know.” I’m thinking the message wasn’t “may this business serve every child of Florida as if they were our own sons and daughters.” Probably something more profane than profound!

About ten years ago, when my church was constructing a new sanctuary, we were invited to come to the unfinished church and write on the bare wood underpinnings as a perpetual message and a way to bless the future of the congregation. My son was very small; I am pretty sure his contribution was a line drawing at best or perhaps a scribble. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but I attempted to prayerfully convey my hopes and dreams for the future of this parish as it tried to fulfill its mission.

All of us have some type of “raw wood” at the core of who we are. We cover it up with fashion and makeup. We embellish the things we say with attempts to fit in, to appear to be more than we are, to impress and persuade.

As I read people’s comments about Stacey, my acquaintance, I read example after example of how she encouraged, empathized, and motivated others to be the best selves they could be. I thought about how many times in this state capital town I have dealt with people who have completely lost sight of who they are at their core, who make personal choices which hurt those they love as they give in to stress, a hunger for power, and confusion about what really matters.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself mindful that so much of our lives are covered up with window dressing and exaggeration. And I ask myself if the words on the “raw wood” of who I am shine through in what I write, the words I say, and the way I interact with others.

What would you write on your “raw wood?” It’s never too late to strip away the superficial and inscribe a new message.

Personal Messages

This post originally appeared at Weaving Influence as Underneath the Drywall.

Five Minute Friday: BLESSING

Welcome to this week’s “Five Minute Friday.” Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: BLESSING.

Five Minute Friday

This week, I picked my daughter up from Jacksonville (about 2.5 hours away) when she arrived home from a friend’s wedding. That was Monday night.

Tuesday, we celebrated her 21st birthday (which had been Monday) and returned home to Tallahassee. During all of that, my father-in-law was  moved to Hospice House from our House.

Wayne (husband) remarked that night “it’s so great to have all four of us home, just ourselves” on the day he was moved.

It was true and serendipitous.

When we’ve been driving around, Tenley and I have been listening to the Waitress soundtrack.

My earworm has been the song “You matter to me.”

It applies in so many ways. So. Many.

Blessings-wise, it has been my privilege to try to tell my father in law through my actions “you matter to me” and it is a blessing to have so many people in my life who have made it a point to let me know I matter to them.

It’s a beautiful song. I can’t even remember the scene details from the play. But the song will bring back the memories of this week in our lives, and the passages (my son turns 18 Saturday as well), for a long time. I hope I always embrace the blessings and acknowledge them. They aren’t to be taken for granted.

Blessings come in so many different forms. This time around, some of the biggest have manifested in small ways – a hug, a text, a message. A kind ear and a blind eye to the horrible state of our house. I love small blessings, and trying to create them for others. To show them “you matter to me.”

My daughter had her wisdom teeth out – a blessing to have dental insurance and to have her with me this week.

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

Five Minute Friday: STEADY

Welcome to this week’s “Five Minute Friday.” Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: STEADY.

Five Minute Friday

When I picked up a prescription for my husband yesterday, the staff person said hello to me as if he knew me. I scrambled to see his nametag (I am Faceblind, so these types of interactions are complicated). Turns out it was Justin, who usually works at the Publix where my father-in-law has his prescriptions. He happened to be doing a shift at “our” Publix.

“Yeah —- your brother comes in sometimes to pick up prescriptions right?”


I corrected him: HUSBAND.

But this question, like the “are you retiring?” questions I received when I left my job in 2014, carried so much more weight than the questioner intended.

We celebrate our 25th anniversary in August. Are there times when this marriage hasn’t been “fiery,” volatile and spark-y? Yes.

But brother?

The thing is, I have grieved the opportunities for a “spark” thing over the years, in very deep ways.

BUT over the last six months, I have watched my husband be the steady hand/arm my father-in-law needs as he becomes increasingly Unsteady. It has not been pretty and as I have written about elsewhere, lots of bodily fluids have been involved. Lots of difficult behavior wrangling too. But there’s nothing more attractive than a man taking care of a loved one.

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

2017 Goals: Announcements and Moves

I still believe that, to paraphrase Brian Tracy, “Only 3% of people have written goals and the other 97% work for them.” While I am not dying to have lots of people working for me, I think the principle applies to success in general. We are more likely to succeed when we document our goals (and seek accountability).

Somewhere along the way, I stopped writing my goals down. Six years ago apparently. SIX. YEARS. AGO. My last “here are my goals” post was in 2011.

Now it is 2017, and a couple of catalysts are calling me out of the goal-less quagmire:

My friend Laura Petrolino wrote this post that outlines the four reasons we fail to reach our goals (hey! I’m 4 for 4!).

My friend (and Laura’s boss) Gini shared a motivational recording with the PR Dream Team that gave me a kick in the butt.

My personal aspirations the last three years have become increasingly hemmed in by my father-in-law’s caregiving needs. As his time with us is finite, I am going to wake up in the not-too-distant future and ……be free of the obligations/excuses/responsibilities that come with caregiving.

It’s long past time to write down some goals

Number One: Improve my Spanish

The “become fluent in Spanish” goal began long, long ago when our family was stationed in Puerto Rico. As a kindergartner, I took Spanish. The seed was planted.

Even though I took Spanish in high school, and minored in Spanish in college, I am nowhere near fluent. I joined a bilingual Toastmasters club to improve. Although the club is great, and my speakings skills improved significantly, it wasn’t the best choice to improve my Spanish specifically (we were allowed to give speeches in English and frankly I defaulted to that 90% of the time — it takes a long time to put together a speech in Spanish.)

The plan: I’m going to do Berlitz’s online self-paced program, partially because I can get an initial assessment that will give me some type of objective bar for improvement. I’m still going to seek some local (and less costly) option for conversation practice.

Number Two: Improve my nutrition

I am heavier than I have ever been. Heavier than during either pregnancy. I haven’t made peace with my inability to run due to multifocal atrial tachycardia but it’s time for the excuses to stop. Maybe the issue is I have been running to the refrigerator instead of around the block!

I’ve tried to explain emotional/stress eating to a couple of significant people in my life, and a not uncommon response is “just stop eating.” I wish it were that easy!

The plan: For now, I’m starting with a very small, but hopefully beneficial step. I’m increasing the amount of fruit I eat per day. This involves (gasp!) buying healthy food in advance at the grocery store. Publix, here I come.

Number Three: Reinvigorate my exercise routine

Numbers two and three are closely related, Exercise should probably precede nutrition, but they are connected.  Running is out for now and I can finally say that without crying, But the list of things that are not out is much longer than I have been willing to acknowledge: walking (duh), yoga, indoor cycling, most boot camp/rowing activities as long as I take my beta blocker in advance and swallow my pride when I have to sit out a running drill.

The plan: For now, walk a mile every day.

Goal Setting

Goals in the Wings

If you are reading this, I would love your involvement in keeping me accountable for the three above! Hablo español conmigo, eat healthy things with me, or let’s go for a walk.

But the three-goal trio is not all. Here are two other goals.

More Learning!

I am always up for more learning. Always. But to be specific. I am considering getting a Pharmacy Tech certificate so there is something flexible and easily accessible I can do once Dad passes away.

Secondly, I love my freelance work for Smartbrief and want to position myself to do similar/more responsible work with them or another similar organization. I mean, I managed to break up with the Oxford comma (painfully) so why not keep drinking the AP Style koolaid?


Ironically, my freelance job at Weaving Influence revolves around helping authors expand their digital presence. I love helping authors promote their books, but in the back of my head, always is a little writerly voice asking, “when are you going to be promoting your own work?”

I have kind of evolved from considering writing about Camp Gordon Johnson to writing about caregiving, with an emphasis on the ironic humor of the whole caregiving situation but a healthy dose of useful advice too.

What now?

I scrolled through Pinterest (What? You go elsewhere for inspiration?!) and this quote from The.Success.Club struck me:

Goal Setting

Let’s call this blog the “announcements part.”

Now it’s time for the moves.

Five Minute Friday: WORTH

Welcome to this week’s “Five Minute Friday.” Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: WORTH.

Five Minute Friday

Worth is a concept that presents a challenge to me. It’s easier to ascribe worth to someone else than it is to myself.

Especially over the last three years, after I quit my “real” job and began the patchwork of caregiving + part-time work + life, I have increasingly found myself asking “how do they do it?” when I see friends/acquaintances juggling a “9-5,” family, and community obligations.

I have had several conversations recently with friends about what “counts.” I will admit I am a bit driven by external recognition — certificates, being mentioned on social media, winning awards (I used to aspire to be an FSU “Grads Made Good” but that ship has probably already sailed as far as it being a possibility – unless I write an amazing book – you never know!!). But there are smaller, subtler things that have worth too. A couple of times recently, people have made it a point to mention how they used a green pen I gave them and it made them smile. A simple green pen!

But I don’t give green pens to just anyone. Choosing to give one means something worthy, maybe just to that person and me, but there is optimism in the exchange. Maybe I need to remember to give myself that same optimism, every day.

The caregiving life is full of times you wonder if your choices matter, if anyone notices, especially the recipient of the caregiving. [STOP]

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

Everything Worthwhile is Bittersweet

I am delighted to welcome my friend Shea Atkin as a guest blogger today. This post started from a simple Facebook exchange about the fact that healing is not linear. I asked her to expand on that idea, and she did so beautifully. Thank you so much, Shea. 

Trauma Touch Therapy

Why is 500 words of my own story so hard to write? I mean, it’s my story, but where do I start? How do you succinctly craft 500 words together to tell the journey of what feels like a million nights? And what is the texture and content of authentic–and how does it and feel and taste inside this body that I’ve been given?

My authentic heart feels free now, but the process has been messy and I can’t count how many times I wanted to just give up and say fuck it. But sometimes I would say it, and keep on walking and not giving up. As a survivor of sexual abuse and a lifetime of alcoholism and addiction, sobriety was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was also the hardest because I had to take personal responsibility for my healing, recovery and actions (past and present). That will introduce you to true humility and freedom–but with no anesthetic. Raw and unfiltered and interwoven with a lot of grace.

I’m a big believer in synchronicity. I stumbled into massage school at 19 because I was already failing out of community college. My mom said that it would be best to get licensed in a trade so I could at least start making money if I couldn’t make it through college. She gifted me a massage for my 18th birthday and I remember thinking how amazing it must be to have a job where you could make people feel that good. It truly felt life changing. So I started massage school.

As I started giving and receiving massages, emotions and flashbacks started to occur. One day the rape (that I blocked out of memory for 7 years) surfaced fully and unapologetically. That was the defining moment that I knew a) that memory was stored in muscle and symptoms present psychosomatically and b) I wanted to dedicate my life to healing others from this as I continued to heal from multiple layers of trauma.

I continued to transition through 7 more years of active addiction until I finally let go and got sober.

The real work of finding my authentic self really started when I put the drugs and alcohol down. Only then was I able to truly process, grieve and accept the things that happened to me and the things I did to others while caught up in active addiction. I’m still amazed that I was of any use at all in those years but that’s the thing about grace and mercy–it’s free and everywhere.

I was used as a vessel of healing despite my weaknesses and struggles–that is truly a humbling reality. It was at the point when I found out about trauma touch therapy that all the pieces started to come together and I felt like I finally had a little direction on what the next part of my journey would be. As I received my own session of trauma touch therapy and practiced on others, more healing continued to happen.

That’s the thing about numbing–we can’t selectively numb. If we push down and suppress the negative, we also cut off the positive. Sadness and joy can (and should) co-exist, because that is the nature of being human.

All in all, it’s been a wonderfully terrible awakening–but everything that is worthwhile is bittersweet. The light cannot exist without the darkness. Both hold equal importance and until we can accept the “Good” and “Bad” aspects that co-exist inside these amazing bodies we’ve been given–we won’t be free.

Trauma Touch Therapy

Shea is a licensed massage and trauma touch therapist at Abundance Wellness Center. She is also working toward certification in craniosacral therapy. Here are her contact details:

Trauma Touch Therapy

Five Minute Friday: EXPECT

This is my first week to join “Five Minute Friday.” This is the deal, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: EXPECT.

Five Minute Friday

I read this “expect” prompt last night, and several different thoughts on it ran through my mind as I drifted off to sleep. First and foremost, I think, are my expectations around this close-to-the end phase of caregiving. As yesterday would attest, I can’t expect to string together a full sentence (written or spoken) without being interrupted. My father-in-law, who sleeps for hours-long stretches now as his cancer continues its assault on him, has his most restless times at exactly the moments I need to concentrate. I gave up yesterday and called the home health agency to hire someone to come attend to him after Wayne has to leave for work, so I can finish the part of my day that is deadline-driven. It’s unfair to Dad for me to be frustrated and stressed about dealing with his bathroom needs (which take FOREVER and result in massive cleanups afterwards) as well as his pain management.

Also on the topic of expectations, he is meeting exactly what the book we were given by the hospice workers predicted about this stage: confusion, talking about loved ones who have passed, etc. Yesterday, he asked for my mother in law, who has been dead almost four years. “She’s not here,” I said. “Is she still alive?” he asked. I responded she was not. “We’re dropping like flies,” he said. It was a rare and crystal-clear accurate moment of lucidity from a man who tried to smoke a slim jim the other day, thinking it was a cigar.

This is all new to us. We don’t know what to expect. It is frightening and there is the sense that we only have this one time to help him navigate his death experience – it isn’t about “not messing it up” but about focusing on it with grace. 

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

A Late Cleanup

Personal Organization

Three years ago, I came home from my last day of work at Healthy Kids and placed a box of assorted “office stuff” in our dining room (which we don’t use for dining). There it sat. For three yearsEvery time I walked by it, I used a few brain (and heart) cells thinking “I really should deal with that box.”

As this picture shows, the box fell apart. It accumulated items that had never graced my office (like the “triathlon” license plate holder). I don’t know what was keeping me from dealing with it. Maybe some deep-seated processing I still needed to do about leaving Healthy Kids after almost 20 years. Maybe something less complicated, like laziness.

Time for a Small Win

I am currently reading the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do by Charles Duhigg. This book is full of many incredible takeaways but I’ll save most of those for a different time. For now, I will point out the author’s emphasis on the power of a “small win” to make a “big difference.”

The power of “small wins” lies in the fact that they create momentum for behavioral changes that evolve into bigger wins over time.

Walking past that falling-apart box was a downer every time. A non-productive downer that did nothing to contribute to the fact that I need to physically clean my environment in order to have more emotional breathing space.

Walking past my sock drawer is the opposite feeling from the “old office memorabilia box.” Ever since my friend Fred Davenport challenged me to blog about my sock drawer (really, he did!) and I cleaned it out as a result, it has been pristine. I take care of it because I feel accountable to my friend (not that I expect him to drop by and inspect my sock drawer).

I guess the difference with the “office box” is the fact that now my accountability is just to myself.

What Was Getting In The Way?

The box and its sad neglected state signify at least three things to me.

No Place to Work

I think one factor keeping me from dealing with the “office box” is that I don’t have anywhere to go (as far as a workspace) despite the fact that I am working around 30 hours a week on my two awesome freelance jobs. The family pictures, the treasured glass “bluebird of happiness” Tenley gave me in kindergarten, the crystal clock that had been a wedding gift and became my office time piece — there is no place for them right now.

When I first started working from home while caregiving, I would move my laptop and other work-related materials into Tenley’s room in order to have a facsimile of a “workspace.” Over time, though, it just became easier to work from the dining room table.

I know our virtual world is making it possible to work from almost anywhere, but I miss the structure of sentimental “things” around me. 

Unresolved Relationships

What do unresolved relationships have to do with cleaning out a box? You would think absolutely nothing, but certain items in the “office box” remind me that loops did not get closed. The framed print of our corporate values like “family focus” and “transparency” reminds me that I never got feedback from the people I had supervised once I received a lateral transfer and was no longer their supervisor.

On the flip side, time has done its work in some ways. One bridge I really felt I had burned turned out to be not so much burned as in need of reinforcement.

I am first and foremost a people person and somehow leaving the items in that box undisturbed kept me from having to accept, again, that there are parts of my Healthy Kids experience that simply have to go in the “it is what it is” category. 

Clutter is Overwhelming and Paralyzing

You know, I don’t know the solution to the fact that I allow clutter to accumulate yet would feel so much freer if I would just deal with it. I recently went to a new place for personal services (think: nails, hair, massages – don’t really want to single anyone out). While I wasn’t unhappy with the individual’s work, I was turned off by the general disorganization at their workspace.

My entire house (except for my sock drawer and the space where the office box used to sit) is a generally disorganized workspace. If I don’t like it when I’m a customer, how does the disorder around me impact my spirit and ability to achieve my goals?

Back to Those Small Wins

I’m not sure what exactly prompted me to clean up the “office box.” Okay, I’ll admit I was running low on blog topics and needed something to talk about.

But I thought about how I feel every time I use that utterly orderly sock drawer.

And how outer order will (may?) bring inner calm.

And I found myself one small win.

Three years late, and admittedly small, but still a win.

Personal Organization

Personal Organization

This post was inspired by the Mama’s Losin’ It writing prompt: Write a blog post inspired by the word: late.

Personal Organization

A Photo Finish for a Helicopter Mom

My husband and I have been surprised throughout my son’s school years when pictures of him have shown up in our newspaper, The Tallahassee Democrat.

There was the “Home Alone”-ish shot of him watching his teachers do a presentation designed to get him excited for standardized testing.

Mom Fail

And the shot from Summer Track in 2008, noting his “shirtless and shoeless” status:
Mom Fail

Photo Credit: Phil Sears, Tallahassee Democrat

You Never Know When Your Shoes Will Matter

As high school graduation day approached for Wayne, I shared this phrase with friends in real life, in Facebook groups, and wherever else I could:

“After this one last detail, I am officially retiring my helicopter rotors.”

What was the big graduation-related detail that I just had to have go my way in order to avoid a “mom fail”? I needed him to have nice shoes. At his convocation ten days prior, I was mortified to see the state of his shoes. (My daughter, who graduated three years ago, was very particular about clothing and shoes, so I had not had a reason to helicopter in for anything related to her graduation ceremonies.)

Immediately after convocation, I told him he needed to get better shoes and that I would pay for them. In the ten days between convocation and graduation, he put some shoes in our Amazon cart that I rejected (they were too expensive and I was pretty sure the only thing he would be wearing these shoes for would be graduation and his any funerals in the near future (we have a relative on hospice care)). I was pro-Amazon because I have a gift card balance but didn’t want to use that much of it on shoes that wouldn’t get worn often.

Once I rejected the Amazon idea, we fell into a pretty typical communication pattern between us. It went something like this, with variations over the ten days:

ME: “You need to get shoes.” Related emotional state: Frustration that it wasn’t getting done, worry about spending more money, annoyance that for the umpteenth time in our parent-child relationship I was carrying the worry-weight of something that didn’t matter to him.

HIM: “Yeah. Okay.” With some variation of “It would be easier on Amazon” or “I’ll get to it” thrown in but no action. His related emotional state: My guess may be wrong, because I’m not him. BUT I’m pretty sure it was heavier on the “will she just stop with the shoes thing?” than on determination to take care of a graduation-related detail and erase one worry off my list.

Graduation Day Dawns

I woke up graduation morning, fretting (still). The shoes had not been bought. He was going to graduate no matter what was on his feet, so as long as the shoes were the “dark” shoes required by the dress code, what did it really matter? Did his ratty shoes really equate to a “mom fail”?

We also had limited time. I needed him home (as he had agreed to be) from noon to 3 because I had plans and we can’t leave my father-in-law alone. After three, it would be almost time to leave for the ceremony. He had a brief period the morning of graduation to do this.

What Happened?

He bought shoes. They are actually shoes he likes, so maybe they will get worn beyond graduation and funerals.

I asked myself multiple times why it really mattered, because out of almost 500 graduates, who would be inspecting his shoes? His diploma would be just as valid no matter what was on his feet.

But, as the Kiger family has learned over the years, you just never know when the local newspaper may take your picture and an entire community (plus all your mom’s friends on Facebook) will see that your shoes did, indeed, look great.

Mom Fail

Photo Credit: Joe Rondone/Tallahassee Democrat

Are the Helicopter Rotors Gone?

Do me a favor and ask me that once his thank you notes are done!

Mom Fail

This post was inspired by the Mama Kat writing prompt, “share a mom fail.”

Mom Fail

Tell Me About Yourself, Mom

In his post, 10 Questions to Ask Your Mom or Grandma on Mother’s Day, Bob Tiede shared ten questions to help us get to know our moms better. I love the questions but feel shy to ask them of my mom, so I decided to answer them from my perspective; maybe my kids will be interested someday.

1. What are your favorite memories of times you spent with your Grandparents?

I don’t think I would have called them my favorite times when I was a kid, but in retrospect, all the times we spent on my Granny and Pa’s porch (my mom’s parents) shelling peas and just “visiting.”

2. What was your grade school like?  What do you remember about your favorite teacher?

I went to two. Roosevelt Roads Elementary (we were stationed in Puerto Rico in the Navy) for kindergarten through part of second grade, then W.E. Cherry Elementary School once we moved back to Orange Park.

Interviewing Mothers

Thank you to pinner Maria Norman for this picture.

I don’t remember disliking any teachers in elementary school. She wasn’t a teacher but (surprise!) I really loved the library, Mrs. Derbonne.

Interviewing Mothers

My friend and I shared a day visiting my childhood home and elementary school in January.

3. Who was your best friend? And what did the two of you like to do?

Easy peasy. Paula Young (now Jordan). We became friends because we both have the same first name. We ended up in different places for high school, but every visit we pick up precisely where we left off before.

What did we like to do? We were in band, we both enjoyed academics. Otherwise I would say “hanging out.”

She is deeply loyal, terrifically bright, and determined to serve her family and her business well (she does!). I love her.

Interviewing Mothers

Paula and me in August 2016 in New Orleans

4. What kind of things did you do as a kid that got you into trouble at home or school?

For the most part, I was ridiculously compliant. RIDICULOUSLY. My most memorable transgressions:

  1. I didn’t clean my room enough (some things never change)
  2. I got pulled out of English class in the 10th grade and scolded for being too chatty with my cousin, Deneen. I was mortified; she was amused that I was mortified.
  3. There was the time I stole baby Jesus, though.

5. Growing up what did you want to be?

I think my rotation was similar to lots of kids (waitress, teacher, that type of thing). I was on a “missionary” kick for a while (and spent the summer after high school knocking on doors all over St. Lucie County hoping to save souls). But the one that comes closest to being a “regret” is not pursuing something medical.

6. Outside of the family, what was the very first job you had that you got paid for?

Babysitting was first, but the first one that made a huge impression, the one I still think about every day, was being a cashier at Spires IGA.

7. How did you meet Dad? How did he ask you to marry him?

Blind date! We went to the Huey Lewis and the News Concert, a setup arranged by our mutual friend Cherie who has declared herself out of the matchmaker business now that she had one success.

I broke up with him in 1989 and moved to NYC to “take my bite out of the big apple.” Over the almost-three years I was there, we progressively took the steps that led to us deciding to get married. I kept telling him I wasn’t ready. One time, when I had just gotten back to New York, I called him and said yes. He officially gave me my ring on the pier at Lake Butler.

8. What is the hardest thing that you ever had to do in your life?

Along with Dad and Aunt Mary, tell Grandma and Grandpa that Uncle Chuck had committed suicide.

9. What is the greatest compliment that you have ever received?

Someone who had been a little kid when I was a teenager working with the children’s choir at First Baptist friended me on Facebook YEARS LATER. It took me a bit to remember her (new last name, no longer four years old) but once my brain was engaged, she said “you made a difference.” I never knew.

10. What is one thing you still want to do that you have never done?  (What is still on your “Bucket List?”)

I still want to be fluent in Spanish. I am so disappointed in myself that I haven’t made more progress toward that. I want to get out of debt. Go to Europe.

Bonus Question:  If your Mom (Grandma) is a Follower of Jesus, ask:  Is there a story you can share about how you came to be a Follower of Jesus?

For me, my spiritual life has been an evolution from doing what I thought I should do spiritually, to doing what most brings me in Communion with the holy trinity. I am *thrilled* Tenley has a church relationship she loves and have enjoyed going to church with Wayne Kevin. No matter what denominations they choose, first and foremost I hope they make time every week to turn to something bigger about themselves.