A Last Mommy Moment

Sometimes you don’t know it was a “last.” You hear it over and over but feeling it is cringy. You forgot to savor. 

Years ago I read a book of BETH Moore’s where she said she woke her kids up every morning. She knew it was controversial. Some would think it was spoiling but when she explained herself I knew I would be doing the same thing for as long as I possibly could. The real world will be so harsh. They will have the rest of their life to wake up to that harsh alarm. While they are with me I can make their mornings a joyful experience. I took it on as my mission. 

While I have them set their alarm, I come in right before to make sure their wake up time is pleasant. I have this desire for mornings to be a vision of their purpose for all God can give them for a day; To only see one day at a time and not worry about the future or past. 

This morning was my senior’s last day of high school. She jumped out of bed before her alarm. So when I came to wake her, I was excited to see that she was already up and going. 

It wasn’t until she left for her final exam that I realized that I had woken her up for school for the last time yesterday. I didn’t know yesterday that it would be the last time. 

My baby girl will leave for college in 2 1/12 months. All these mornings of prep will be for her to decide how to wake up, how she will take on the day. I didn’t know to savor it or basque in the moment. I thought it would be this morning. 

Mostly I didn’t know that my stoic self would burst into tears as my independent daughter rushed out the door saying, “last day of school, ever”. 

Of course I rebutted, “ we never stop going to school in real life,”because I’m THAT mom; but in all actuality, it’s her last.  

My heart gleamed with pride, but for some reason, my eyes won’t stop leaking tears down my face. 

Motherhood is such a contradiction. It is not for the weak. Sending love to all my fellow proud mommas! Cheer them on with leaky eyes and swollen hearts. I see you! E9AD3C95-CC6A-468D-B252-1B35AA9DD7EB

Call me, maybe?

Call me, maybe?

Hey Teen Mom.

Can we work together, next time?

My daughter had a memory pop up on social media this week from a year ago.

It’s so cringy. Is that a word? Our kids will forever have cameras in their faces and around them for every event, good and bad.

My kiddo was puking at your house from drinking a drink I’ve never heard of that she’s not old enough to buy.

Your policy is you would rather know where they are so they aren’t drinking and driving.

Maybe you could find out why I don’t let my kid drink before you inflict your policy on mine?

Her “best” friends didn’t call me. She missed two days of school after that. She is embarrassed and the pictures are forever on Instagram.

I want to blame someone else, but I have to own that I let her come to you and with them. I didn’t ask if you were going to let them get drunk. Sigh.

She takes a couple of prescription meds. It didn’t mix well. I’m sure she didn’t tell you. She was so young. She still is. She was so very sick. Instead of help, she got teased and photographed.

We try to protect them, but they venture out and assure us they are ready for whatever they face.

I am so sad I let this happen to her. I slept through her being so sick. I trusted her. I trusted her friends.

When my kids were little the days seemed so long.

Now it seems I can’t keep them around long enough to pound in education and wisdom into their little brains.

I pray so hard.

I know you do, too, Mommas!

Just a phone call next time? A text?

P.S. I would do it for your baby.


More to the Story March 2016; still chasing the light at the end of that tunnel

Here we are 2 years since the last time I blogged about my health.    I’ll tell you why it’s been so long because for the last 2 years we have had to change medicines, change doctors, add some new diagnosis’s? is that even a word? and definitely add some depression to the list.  The light at the end of the tunnel began to look like a train headed straight for me.

I still see that great rheumatologist and love her, but I have been through several family doctors for various reasons and finally have one that is very in depth and listens to little things to match them up with the major things.

In short, since the mono in Nov. 2012, I have been diagnosed with (supposedly) psoriatic arthritis, chronic mono that comes and goes with stress (no biggie here, right?), chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and on occasion she says my numbers jump around like lupus.   All these things cause other things. I have a small ulcer developing from the meds and a hernia at the end of my esophagus. All add some pain factors.

The medicine side effects are all a beautiful combination of constipation, sleeping too much or not sleeping at all at times.

Add ankylosing spondylitis, which is ironic because it even says losing in the spelling of it…lol. This is just pain and inflammation in the hip, back, and feet mostly. Dude, it’s no joke I might add, if you forget you have it in the mornings, your feet will remind you when you hit the floor in morning. You can face plant because they didn’t feel like holding you up just yet.  🙂

SO, that has been the past few years, therefore the mental side effects come into play. The wrestle with depression, has gradually become a problem. Over this time, my people have stopped asking how I feel. I assume they already know or don’t want to hear it.  Some don’t come around any more at all.  Most are simply busy with their own life and I understand completely. A few are just sick to death of my whining, which I have also come to forgive, as I may have been the same way if I didn’t know any better and met someone like myself in this pile of pity.

BUT, I’m so thankful that God doesn’t leave us. He gave me just the right people in my direct circle and family that I needed to get through this. Sometimes when we take some time off, it makes room for more.
Some days are better than others, some days are in the robe, some are in the suit.

Light at the end of the tunnel…

The last time I posted something about my health, I kind of put it all out there, as I usually do when I open my mouth.

I got tons of kind responses.  I have read them and they have been my sunshine on cloudy days.

I also got one very unkind response that rocked my little world more than I want to admit.  Sticks and stones…right?

So I took a little break from posting anything about myself on Facebook or the internet until I could clear some “friends” (loosely used term on Facebook) from my page.

Despite the pain it inflicted to have someone think I would create all of this health drama for attention, I have focused on the positive and the fact that when (not if) I get better, I will make sure to be a light to people who feel like they are in darkness or a storm.  I believe God can use my journey through this as a testimony for others.

Anyway, several have asked and this is a simple way to get the word out about what is going on. 

In January I finally got to see the rheumatologist that I was referred to in November.  She sat with Richey and I for an hour and 20 minutes; steady typing out every word I said and every word and suggestion she said.  It was the most intense conversation any doctor has ever had with me face to face.  Even after all those years with my mother being sick, there has never been a doctor stay in a room with us for that amount of time.   


She ordered labs to be done and gave me a couple of ideas of what she thought could be happening in my pathetically fatigued and hurting body. We scheduled x-rays of almost every joint in my body.
12 tubes of blood and 24 x-rays over the next two days, I waited patiently for the office to call and tell me what they found. Much to my dismay, it took a couple of weeks to get a response from the labs and even then it was brief. But what was in my bloodwork actually matched what she discussed with me in the office.
Most everything is normal which is great, but I was positive with some antigen that shows I have an auto immune disorder with an over active immune system.
In essence, my body thinks I’m sick all the time and produces too many of the protein cells that are made to “fight” for you when you are sick, which causes the fatigue and eventually over time, the arthritis in the joints from the excess cells. Because I have psoriasis and have since I was a kid, she has diagnosed it as psoriatic arthritis, which is very similar and treated the same as rheumatoid arthritis. It does not ever go away, but can be treated (quiet aggressively) with medications that stop the progress or at least vastly slow it down.

So here is the current plan. I have been on a steroid since I saw her in January. Those are only temporary relief since they are too dangerous to take on a long term basis. Because they GREATLY reduce the inflammation which causes the constant aches and pains, I was able to wean myself off the daily narcotics (woohoo). In the meantime, she has put me on methotrexate on a low dose. It’s a mean mean side effect drug, but after a year and half of not being functional, the willingness to accept the side effects are expanding. I take it once a week and a daily dose of vitamin D and folic acid to off set the things its killing off in my body that I actually still need. It’s job is to kill off the over production of the cells that are making me sick. In that process, similar to chemo when used in higher doses, it makes my body physically ill for a couple of days after taking it.
She swears that over time, (12 weeks) my body will adjust to this new life long drug and even out a little.
Therefore, we had to pick a day of the week for me to be sick, which you wouldn’t think is hard after all this time, but planning a sick day isn’t fun at all. We chose to take the weekly dose on Saturday nights and Sundays are usually totally in bed or over the toilet with lingering side effects on Monday and a little Tuesday. We are finding that Wednesday through Saturday are showing great improvements, so all my plans are starting to form around later in the week. The doctor says it will take months for me to feel really good again and the I have to have my wimpy liver checked every two weeks since it started out sluggish to begin with and this medicine is super harsh on it. ALL that to say, WE are super excited to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

I said “we” chose to take the medicine because WE are going through this as a family. When someone is chronically ill in the family, it effects everyone. My husband is truly my hero and he takes care of EVERY thing on those days I lay in bed or the bathroom floor. He takes care of his kids, my kids, our cats, and the house and laundry on the weekends. He has done the most romantic things like buying me a portable air conditioner, turning the mattress pad heater on when I am getting ready to lay down, making coffee when I am ready to get up (and he doesn’t even drink coffee), making (or picking up) meals for the kids, and cleaning and doing homework with kids.
My rock. My God given, perfectly timed ROCK. He doesn’t even admit he is tired as he lays his head back on the couch early in the evenings to “rest” his eyes.
My kids have shown their exhaustion at times, but are always grateful for things I do for them and seem to be a little more appreciate of the “good” days that are beginning to show. They have all been troopers.
My friends have done and said the most overwhelmingly kind things over the last months, I don’t even know how or when I could ever repay them.
I am often reminded through my Bible readings that God still has his hand on me and my family and that his plan includes strength and joy. I am grateful to have learned through this that our measure of strength is not always in a physical measure in his eyes. I am made strong through him and he can use me, no matter how weak I may feel.
He can and will restore my health even if I don’t have the timeline or exact plan for it.

I have read through Job since Mom died. I cannot imagine his grief and suffering but can tell you as he told his friends…I will not turn from him.
I have never been more weak and vulnerable physically in my life and never felt as close to with such a passion for my Savior. Amazing how He can work through our trials.

I remind you all again and again, as I do my children every morning before school…
SMILE at people. Everyone has their struggles and you never know what one caring face in a crowd may do to help them. Kind words and smiles. God given grins.

Thank you for caring…
I will do my best to help others the way God has sent people to us this last year.

Learning to Live with a Label- Chronic Illness

In November of 2010 after 16 years of marriage I became a divorced mother.  Regardless of the relief I encountered, divorce is a grieving process rarely handled correctly, especially when three kids need your focus.  Just like many others, I don’t think I acknowledged the stress it caused but kept “pulling up my boot straps” and smiling.

I lost my home, my credit, my church, and many “friends” over that year.  I even battled with my closest family members at times.  The emotions were excruciating.

I worked my Mary Kay business feverishly, picked head lice for a company called Lice Doctors on the evenings that the kids were with their dad, and during the early morning hours, I worked a part time job merchandising for a grocery retailer.  I was determined to remain the one who picked up kids up from school and got them ready for school.  I made it work.

In the summer of 2011, I registered myself for nursing school with the excitement of making more money doing what I love and was always too scared to go for.  Over the next few months, my role as a mother turned into a full time caregiver when my son experienced the worst 8 months of his life.

My 14 year old, beginning in June of 2011, turned into a full time mental case nearly overnight.  He couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, and literally could not bear to leave my side.  He literally had a nervous breakdown that was unexplainable and very difficult to find help for months.

During his battle with his mental status, he took a fall and broke his leg and needed surgery.  This was the week he should have started his freshman year.  After his surgery, his liver failed and while learning to get around on crutches, he lost 40 pounds in two months, violently ill, to say the least.

Needless to say, I lost my two side jobs and desperately tried to keep my selling of cosmetics to a point that would feed us.  At that point, I also lost my health insurance.  Of course, I didn’t make it to nursing classes that fall, either.

The stress was mind numbing.  My prayers were sincerely intense as a begged for his wholeness again.

In January of 2012, we found a doctor that helped regulate some psychiatric drugs and we began to see our son again in some sort of normalcy. Life began to get back on track and we began to get him caught up with high school students again.  By the last 6 weeks of that school year, he was able to attend school and get all of his credits for 9th grade.  It was a massive undertaking and I don’t regret one penny lost or material thing sold that had to be done to be by his side that year.

Right before his illness kicked in, I had met Richey.  Through that time, he stood by my side and I was often uncertain if I should drag this new love into our situations and adversity.  We turned our dating into marriage in Oct. of 2012.  He moved us all to a large rent house on Nov. 10, 2012.  In sheer bliss, anticipation of better days, and some healthy degree of caution, we began our blending of two torn up families.  We prayed and still pray God’s forgiveness, grace, and blessing on our new Jallston (Johnston and Gall kid) family.

The weekend we moved into that house in Garland, I experienced a wave of illness and exhaustion that I thought must surely be what happens to people who move often and experience such stress and excitement in such a short period of time.  I went to the doctor that week thinking he would find a mere infection or virus and he simply wanted to hand me a large dose of an anti-anxiety pill.  I denied his offer and continued to run fever for nearly a month before finding a new doctor.  With having no insurance, every visit was a hit to our new large family budget along with the built in “mommy guilt” of spending money on myself.

 In December 2012, that new doctor called and said I had mono and should feel better soon (seeing as though it appeared I had already had it a month).  “Soon” rings in my head to this day as I type this with all sorts of body aches and pains a year later.

Little did I know at the time, that this “virus” would be my life for the coming year and beyond.

I began to cancel activities, Mary Kay parties and meetings, not attend school and friend events, in effort to “rest” and recover.

Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2012 were mind numbingly stressful as my fatigue turned into a mental battle of trying to enjoy my new life and make new traditions for our new family.

As I look back over 2013, I literally am learning to mourn the loss of my health.  I ran fever, around 100, every single day until April.  In April and the first part of May, I had two “good weeks”.  I thought it was over.

 Then the body aches started and fatigue continued.

These good days and bad days are now daily terms in our lives.

I cannot even count the nights that my dear husband has literally held me until I fell asleep, both of us in tears and feeling hopeless or helpless or both.

We spend countless days thinking, “next week should be better”, “I will feel better tomorrow and get those things done that have been pushed aside”.

I have seen anywhere from 8-18 doctors, specialist and ER doctors over the last year with the only answer being that I “had” mono at some point.

We are finding that after such inflammation, fever, and my body being so virus ridden for an extended period of time, the long term effects are less than fun and permanently damaging to the body.

My liver has become angry, my digestive track runs my days, and my body is riddled with pain in different places on different days.  My anxiety levels are annoyingly high and my memory and brain power suffer greatly.  My digestive tract simply put, doesn’t work correctly.  My kidneys and bladder stay irritated.

The focus of two of my main doctors now is somewhere between chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, which are both so similar and both with no real test for diagnosis, frankly it doesn’t matter to me which they call it.  I call it exhausting and a thief that has stolen my life.

I truly feel like someone has stolen my identity while I muffle around trying to rediscover who I can be with little to no energy to survive on.

I owe the first doctor so much money, she won’t see me any longer.  She was my favorite and my heart wishes I could talk to her every day.   My current doctor (since insurance kicked in with Richey’s new school calendar year) seems speechless every time I go in and sends me to another specialist.

This month I have an appointment with his latest suggestion, rheumatology.  Every time he makes a new suggestion and I count down the days to my “new” doctor appointment, I can’t help but get excited that maybe this one will know more or at least spend more time trying to help. 


As I wrap up another year and watch people on FB and TV reflect on their years, it is very difficult to find the positive in 2013.

As always, I thank my heavenly father for my 3 and Richey’s 2, beautiful, healthy, energetic children.

But my heart aches knowing I will spend another year or all of my years ahead, trying to find enough energy to let our kids be kids and not have to “care take” their mother at such young ages.

My body has sincerely hurt in sadness as I reflect the things I missed this year.

I missed Mark’s funeral and getting to hold his precious wife, Laney and their kids while they said goodbye to their daddy and husband.

I missed Terry’s father’s funeral and helping their family work through their loss.

This is the first year since I had children in school that I haven’t been on a field trip, room parent, no parties, and hardly even their choir or PTA performances.

I’ve missed meetings for Tyler about college info and SAT info.

My mother was in and out of the hospital several times that I missed with internal bleeding.

My dad had a heart attack at the end of 2012 and all I could do is try to comfort Mom on the phone.

My mother was in ICU, bleeding internally (for about the 4th time) on Oct. 1 while I was in the hospital having test run on my tummy.

We had to make a quick decision to leave a the Garland rent house in August and I “helped” pack, but had to watch my husband and kids nearly kill themselves moving into our treasured new rent house in Rowlett, with (NOW fleeting) hopes that maybe something in the house in Garland was making me ill.

In the midst of moving us in two days, virtually alone, I truly think Richey hurt himself, which manifested in massive pain in his neck, literally on Oct. 1.  He was in the ER while I was in the colon test at the hospital.  All the while, know Mom had gone to the ER in Beaumont and that bleeding internally THAT many times meant she didn’t have much time left with us.

Mom died on the 16th of Oct.  Someone flew me down to Beaumont the week before to spend time with her and my sister who was already there.  Those days were so long and emotional; there is only a blur in my head of how it all went down.

What I do know is that my body hurt so bad I could hardly see straight to drive or walk.

I was late to my mother’s funeral after falling asleep on her bed dressed for it completely just hours before.  My body was in full rejection mode.

When we returned to Dallas, we scheduled Richey’s neck surgery and once again the next few weeks of being a caretaker would become a blur.

Some of the “blurs” that I refer to are from what they call, “fibro fog” where the cognitive responses literally are just slowing down with the pain increases and some of the blur is a direct result of the amount of pain medicines, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, all used for pain management; not to mention the sleeping aids that help to ad comic relief to our days.

Since we rang in last year, to now 2014, I have gained 54 pounds.  My stomach bloats so much in the course of the day that I have to undress and put on stretch shorts or pajamas by about 5 or 6.  The stomach pain and bloating is beyond miserable if we have an evening activity and I stay “dressed” which leads to no sleep that night.

Basically, any time we have an activity later in the day, I can’t get to sleep because the body aches and pains keep me awake and anxious.

The amount of pain killers that I rotate through have caused my liver enzymes to go through the roof, but so far, no liver failure.

I have had a difficult time adjusting to carrying the extra weight, beside the obvious not having any money outside of doctors and losing income to have clothes that even fit.  It makes the pain worse and obviously adds diabetic and other risks.   I get winded from simple bathing and dressing.  When I fix my hair and make-up after a shower, my heart rate can easily hit 200.  The cardiologist assures us that my heart is still beating and handling the extra beats, but cannot tell me why it’s happening.  They made me get off the treadmill before I had even done 3 minutes …yes three… during the echo stress test. 

Physical activity of any kind brings on pain to tears and a heart rate that gets me special invites to the first open room in any ER every time.  I have never had to wait in an ER.  The minute they take my pulse, even resting is over 100, I get immediate attention.

Sometimes I look back and laugh at how similar this whole experience is to when my mother was seeking medical attention and finding no results.  It was literally years before any doctor started correctly diagnosing some of her issues.  It’s very surreal to hear doctors say the same things to me now that she heard, like maybe it’s just stress. We both knew better.  Her quality of life steadily decreased and now she is in heaven already at the young age of 67.  I would be lying if I told you I am not happy for her.  When life feels so “missed” out on, heaven feels like a sufficient and wonderful answer to pray.  I miss her.  I want her, but it wouldn’t even have been fair to ask her to stay one more day in that miserable body she was given.

There are people who have said to me, innocently, “At least you don’t have cancer” and “You should just be happy to be alive”, or “You are probably allergic to gluten”.   My favorite comment by far was, “I couldn’t lay around all day like that.  I would have to do something”.  OUCH.  To think that someone thinks I’m taking this without any fight in me, is so ridiculous.  Oh one more fav, someone blurted that she doesn’t have the “luxury” of being at home that I do.

This is not a luxury.  This is not because I’m a stay at home mom (which I would proudly do at any time).  This is me surviving and trying not to “off” myself from the pain and mental battle that comes with losing the life I had built to this point the last 40 years.

This includes my teaching career which would be impossible at this level of pain or medication, and my MK career barely holding on my washcloth thread.

I want to assure you that I have looked into, tried and completely gone bankrupt this year trying to figure out and resolve this health issue.

So as I review this last year, I plee for your prayers.  I commit to doing everything in my power to survive this with a smile and the best attitude possible for my children and husband.

I beg for your forgiveness if I have not returned your calls, texts or emails in a timely manner or at all this past year.

I beg your forgiveness if I have messed up or gotten your MK order wrong! J

I beg your face to use our skin care which helps pay our bills.

I beg you to have mercy and grace on my children if they act out or seem “unparented” at times 😉

I beg, not for your sympathy, but for your awareness that other people may be going through an unknown affliction that needs a smile or a hug, not advice or criticism.

I pray blessings on my sweet family as they continue to be so wonderful and understanding to me.

I pray for a very merry 40th birthday celebration in January that does not focus on my new labeled disability.

I pray that God can use me through this new testimony and disability to bless others who may be finding life difficult at times.

I can remember my mom apologizing repeatedly that I had to take care of her and I hushed her up every time.  Now I seem to do the same apology to my babies and thankfully, they seem blissfully unaware of my guilt.

Jesus, kiss my mom on the forehead for me.  She likes that.

Bless my friends in 2014 and thank you for holding my family together for me.  I am blessed even when I don’t show it or feel it.  I do know it.

As Dad says, “One foot in front of the other”.  Let’s do this, 2014.





My subtitle….

As I try to vent all the emotions that have shaken me around like a battle rattle the last 8 months with my son’s new onset of illness…

Having a sick, maybe disabled, potentially mentally troubled child, I find myself in one of my nights of sadness, questioning how so many can think I’m so strong when I want to quit so bad.

Turns out there is no 2 week notice or resignation from illness.  Even mental illness, or as I selfishly want to say, ESPecially mental illness.

So in this rough night, I go to my library of self help books to try to encourage myself yet again, that, of course I can do this.

I find a book that I bought at a garage sale one day for decoration…I just liked the look and title (judging  a book by it’s cover is just what we do).

It’s called MOM! You’re Incredible! by Linda Weber.

I simply browse the chapters to see where I want to skim and one says, “Did you say JUST a mother?”

I blow my nose and decide I need to vent on my blog…if not for any other mom out there, for my self right this moment and for myself when I need to come back to an encouraging read.

I am not just a mother…neither are you!  We have the highest calling, most demanding job, most up and down world ever!

Many many financial people have tried to put a dollar figure on the job of a mother and none ever come out exactly alike, but are all much more than any pay check that has ever been delivered to my account.

Interesting; how we can hear things over and over in life, but God can lead us right back to that when we need to feel Him and know He is still holding our hand, or like tonight, just holding me.

When I opened up my blog that I have not used consistantly in years, I find a subtitle that I don’t even remember writing…

“Just a PTA mom’s ….blah blah…”

I wrote that!!!! I’m ashamed…I was so lucky to be just a PTA MOM!

This chic tries hard and often not to take things forgranted or forget how incredibly blessed I am.  I hate that I ever called it that, yet I will not change it.  I’m not sure I’m over feeling that way.

To be honest, I dream of being a successful woman, thin, healthy, fun, and someone who my children want to be like…sometimes I am torn about whether that is “just a PTA mom” or someone who can actually give them a nicer place to live one day.

Oddly enough, what brings this full circle as to why I picked up this computer tonight, is still that chapter 3…about  JUST a mom…

At my Mary Kay meeting tonight, we had group of women that are at New Director Training this week at corporate, which is here in Dallas.  So our directors had them visit and have a Q and A session for us JUST consultants 🙂

There were 7 women up there.  All of which have moved up in the career path of Mary Kay to just where I would love to be sitting soon, so I listened intently.

All of them were mothers…all different ages.  When they were asked what they did before their blood ran so PINK, they had awesome answers and I was impressed that such professional woman would need the business that I need to be successful and make their time and money work for them…

There was a pharmacist, two CPAs, a teacher, and one even was some kind of scientist that did research for cloning and DNA…crazy cool…We all ooed  and awed.  As the night went by and  they talked more, all but one of those 7 woman basically talked about finding MK after being a stay at home mom.  There was a greater need and desire for it.  Makes perfect sense and happens all the time…ultimately why Mary Kay Ash, the woman, created the company.

I say all this to remind you that when asked what their profession was, not one of them said that before they sold MK they were  a stay at home mom.  But they were.

I am JUST a mom, that sells some skin care to some awesome customers.

Maybe one day, I’ll be a teacher again.

But even if I do, I still just want to be mom.  I’ll teach or sell make up or whatever when I can.

I will not take the job that God has given me lightly.  And I have to tell Him, that I’m sorry if I have.

He has entrusted me with three.  I don’t know how many you have or want to have.

He has obviously considered me capable and strong enough to handle them, their challenges and their illnesses.

Even on the toughest days, I am a mother.  Not just a mom.

It is what defines me.