Search This Blog

Friday, July 29, 2016

Thank heavens my wood floors never owned me!

So, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed this bump in my laundry room floor.  Funny, I’d never noticed a bump before so I just checked it off as one of those things about my house that was quirky, like how one day my silverware drawer didn’t slide right or the day my ice maker broke.  Things happen from one instance to the next and we don’t know why or how, right.

Life carried on.  These two somehow found a way to get along.  

Chandler had his casts removed.

I moved another gorgeous refinished dresser to Antique Plaza.  I love how this one turned out.

And our little dancer Canyon started spinning.

A few days later, I practically tripped into the laundry room.  

The barely noticeable bump had grown like a small cough to full blown phenomena.  

What was going on?  Not just a bump, but a mound 1 foot deep by 4 feet long.  I called a friend who is a contractor and he came over and did some investigative work. 

He speculated on what this could possibly be - a slab crack, termites, a cracked pipe – all worst case scenarios?  I held on and didn’t let the unknown drive me down that deep dark pit of despair.  Whatever it was, we could handle it.  Within a couple of days, we discovered a leak in the drip system of a front yard flower bed, sealed it off and now, are in the process of replacing the wood floor.   

In the meantime, the contractor pulled up a sample of flooring to find out how much it would cost to replace it.  Turns out, I have real wood floors; expensive wood floors.  I didn’t know that.

The counselor and purchased our home 8 years ago.  It was a foreclosure, so we purchased the home as-is.  It was in great shape.  Other than a good bug service (it had been vacant for two years), it only needed a fresh coat of paint and a fence around the pool.  The floors in the home consist of marble in the living room and hallways, wood in the kitchen, laundry room and great room and carpet in the bedrooms.  All the flooring in my home has been easy to maintain and I haven’t sweated the small stuff, but when I found out I have real wood floors “One of the most expensive wood floors to replace,” my contractor said, I just had to laugh under my breath.  Thank goodness, I never knew.

Real wood floors could have made me crazy, like in-sane!  I’ve known “real wood floor” mom’s, you mom’s who cry out when the smallest bit of water is spilled on your floors.  You’ve yelled at a two-year old's holding sippy cups, I’ve seen it.  I’ve witnessed “real wood” home owner's hiss and moan over moving a piece of furniture.  “Don’t scratch the floors,” and it’s more a death threat than a polite suggestion.  Because I never knew my floors were real wood, I avoided dramatic aging and worry lines.  This has probably saved family relationships and granted me the freedom to have countless parties.  I’ve never asked people to remove their shoes before entering my home or forbidden the small towel-less dripping wet child who just exited the pool entry into my home.  When my new refrigerator was moved into my home, I didn’t monitor the movers like a drill sergeant.  I didn’t bite my nails or hem and haw.  I just let them do their thing.  To my floors defense, I did do my best.  I knew wood floors or fake wood floors needed a bit of baby-ing, like using wood cleaner and polish when mopping, but I because I wasn’t invested in the floors, the wood floor didn’t “own” me.

Now that I know how expensive they are, how special they are, I have a bit more pride in them, but it’s a bit too late.  Unfortunately, they are coming up and being replaced.  I will miss them, mainly because they have been great floors - never a worry, easy clean-up and super stylish.  Bye-bye, wood floors, thanks for being my friend and not my enemy.    

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How I Learned About Ramadan

A few weeks ago, the counselor asked me out on a date.
I love when my husband asks me out on a date! 
He said, “Hey, do you want to go on a date with me?” 
I hesitated, just to flirt. 
This is really good for marriages, to still play a little hard to get.
“Ok,” I said, batting my eyelashes.  “Were do you want to go?”

Let me flashback for a moment.
When we were in Anaheim, California last December, we found the most amazing Middle Eastern restaurant and we ate there every day four days in a row.  The food, with the falafel, hummus, purple onion, olives, tabouli . . . Oh My Gosh!!!! We were in Anaheim to take the kids to Disneyland, but we walked out of the park every day to go to this amazing restaurant.  Let’s just say we’ve both been craving this delicious food every since. 

So, for our date, the counselor suggested we find the best Middle Eastern food in Phoenix.  And, he’d done his research.  When this man sets his mind to something, he follows through. 

Tempe, AZ has a restaurant called Princess Market and we were on our way.  We arrived around 6:45pm for dinner and found the restaurant quiet.  We walked up to the counter and the hostess suggested the buffet.  She escorted us to a wall of the most exquisite food; salad with feta and tomatoes, beautiful rice, meats, hummus, kabobs, roasted peppers and onions, tahini, and more.  The only caveat?  Dinner would not be served until sundown, around 7:30pm.  “Find a seat while you can,” she said. “It’s sure to be packed tonight.” 

The counselor and I looked around and besides the hostess and a few waiters, there was not another soul in sight.  Still, we found our seats, grabbed Canyon a high chair and sat back and waited. I’d been fasting for the day and although I was hungry, I felt a bit out of my element.  I wasn’t about to tell the hostess I’d been fasting and wanted to eat at this very moment. I’ve developed some self-control around food and have learned hunger does not mean starving.  I assumed the buffet was not ready because the chef had not brought out all the prepared food, but I was mistaken.  Something else was going on.  The counselor and I watched over the next 30 minutes as the restaurant filled up with families, couples and friend, all of Middle Eastern descent.  Many were wearing traditional Muslim apparel and I realized the counselor and I were the only couple not dressed as such.  All sat quietly until, not even the children spoke when at one defining moment, everyone got up, grabbed a plate and hustled to the buffet. 

The line was long and somebody bumped into me, spilling a warm orange soup down my leg, but whatever.  It reached in-between the toes of my sandals and I was walking in a squishy mess, but I wanted to eat. I have a baby so I'm used to eating in a somewhat turbulent environment, so it wasn’t something I don’t experience on a daily basis and let me tell you, the food was so worth the wait.  I sat down with a plate of food and that first bite was full of flavor and goodness.  The food was so good, we just made sounds like “eemmmm” and “yummmmm.”  We didn’t even speak.  I went back for seconds.  Canyon’s little hand continued to scoop up food I placed in front of him.  It was the most silent atmosphere I’ve ever eaten in, but just like the other customers, the counselor and I barely came up for air.  This primal environment was unusual, so when the waiter walked by, I had to ask “What’s going on here?” 

“It’s the month of Ramadan,” he said.  “Everybody has been fasting all day.”
Wait, what?  Fasting!!

“As part of our religions, we fast for 30 days from sun up to sun down,” he said and I could barely believe what I was hearing.  Fasting, religious fasting, a practice God told me to do for 30-days (although I’ve continued to do it now for over 6 months), an experience that has completely changed my life, that has made me more aware of the poor and those who go without, practice more self-control, be more grateful for what I have – all these beautiful people were experiencing the same thing.  Everybody was fasting!  I wanted to hug every single one of them.  I’ve never felt more validated.  Wow!  Fasting is awesome and these people get it. 

To learn more about Ramadan, click here.

When my belly was nice and full, I did a lot of people watching.  I watched as a mother helped her child, a couple sit in silence sipping tea, young men eating plate after plate of warm chicken and hummus and I was grateful and still quite shocked that I had the opportunity to observe and understand the beauty of this month-long religious holiday. 

My brother Sam recently went with Lifting Hands International to Greece and took food and supplies to the Syrian refugees.  

He too, had dinner with wonderful Muslim people and came home with more appreciation for who they are and what they are going through.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Opportunity to Pray

Last week I was in Flagstaff and we had a wonderful time.

While at the hotel, I saw the front page of the USA TODAY newspaper.  It read 20 Veterans a Day Commit Suicide.  

I looked at that headline and just gasped. I put my hand to my mouth and felt the tears form in my eyes.  I know many military families and couldn’t image the hardship they go through, but suicide?  Contemplating a veteran’s life experiences, I considered the loneliness, the violence, the inability to see family for long periods of time, the fear, the unexpected, the tough decisions, etc.  My heart swelled with sorrow and wished there was a way I could help.  In the same breath, I thought of the courage and had immense gratitude for those who keep this country safe, for America’s freedom is not free.  I immediately considered my daily 16-hour intermittent fast, and as soon as I had a moment to myself, dropped to my knees and asked God to bless those who currently serve and those who have served in the past.

Fasting has changed me.  Before, I would have felt sad and maybe, if I remembered I would have said a pray for the veterans before falling to sleep, but most likely I would have moved on with taking care of my children; to kissing stubbed toes or combing hair after bath time.  Going without food is such a gentle reminder that I have a specific purpose that day to find someone or something to pray for.  

I spent the day, remembering and praying for our veterans when within 24 hours the story of our five fallen police officers hit the news.  
I couldn’t believe the side-to-side tragedies.  I wasn’t even finished with the veterans.  I wanted another day to ponder my love and appreciation for them when I had another cause to pray and fast for.  Heartbroken, I dropped to my knees again, so deeply saddened with the violence and fear of the society in which we live, almost overcome with a feeling of hopelessness, I mean really, what can a prayer do, when I opened my mouth and spoke out loud to God.  As I asked God to protect the lives of police officers and those of Black Lives Matter, to help those who have lost loved ones, to change the hearts of those looking to inflict violence, to bless those hoping to help, to bring peace to those hurting I felt my heart swell with grace.  I knew God was aware of all those involved and His hand would mend and heal, encourage and teach, comfort and provide, and somehow God would make something good out of this.  That my beautiful black brothers and sisters and those who put their lives on the line every day will grow and heal and find answers that only God can provide. 

My first thirty days of fasting, I would pick one person a day to fast for.  First, my six children, my husband, my 8 siblings and their families, my parents, my neighbors, church leaders and those in my church in need.  Finally, I reached out to fasting for Barack Obama and others in leadership positions in our country.  I fasted for my home (literally for the walls, plumbing, electrical, structure, etc.), for those on facebook who popped on my feed, sometimes for strangers, sometimes for the husband of a friend of a friend, my neighbor’s mom battling cancer, my old college roommate who’s son has a brain tumor, the recent ex-husband of my friend and my friend who did not expect to wear the badge of widow so early in life.  I pray for unwed mothers, unplanned pregnancies and abortion doctors.  I pray for starving children, heartbroken parents and directors of orphanages.  I pray for those who are living and those who have died.  There’s no shortage of people to fast and pray for and I find it absolutely breathtaking.  I don’t know if it’s blessing them, if it’s changing them, but it’s changing me.  Some days I cry.  I just cry because I love that God grants me the privilege to speak with Him.  

Friday, July 1, 2016

Making History at the first ever Prolife Women's Conference

Why did I attend the first ever prolife women’s conference in Dallas, TX this last weekend? 

(Abby Johson flashes a selfie!  We love her.)

My love for my baby(ies) and for all babies carried me there. My love for those who have suffered sexual abuse brought me there. For anyone who’s been broken, fallen, felt worthless or without hope, I went for you.  At times, these feelings have governed my world, so in that respect, I went for me.

I met so many amazing people, people from all over the country who support a better world.  
(Serrin M. Foster, President of Feminists for Life, shared so many things about abortion I'd never even considered.)

I met my hero’s, not celebrities or singers from today’s pop culture, but those who whole-heartedly believe women deserve better than abortion.  I met women who regret their abortions and are looking not only to heal, but to heal others, adoption advocates, birth mothers, those who have been adopted, abortion survivors, rape survivors, those born out of rape, single moms, secular women who support humanity, gay women, politicians on both sides of the aisle, volunteers, mothers, grandmothers, daughters, abortion workers who have seen terrible injustices on women and children and who are standing up and speaking out, doctors, lawyers, civil right leaders, clergy, atheists all in support of nonviolence, choices and the very best for women. 

A woman with gray hair in a modest dress had a pin secured onto her sweater.  She passed by me and when I read the words she boldly wore on her lapel, I had to speak to her.  I regret my abortion, it said and I thought I might cry.  In my eyes, she was a woman whose conviction was born out of pain and I immediately loved her.  She was there representing her unborn child and my respect for her felt like a trophy.  21% of pregnancies end in abortion. 

I talked with a woman about her adoption that had happened 16 years earlier.  Her baby, a son, was placed with a loving family and had recently connected with her.  As she spoke, I could see her core was made up of pain, courage, love and understanding.  What a mighty force a birth mother is and I could think of no more selfless act.  Small wrinkle lines had made their way around her eyes.  To me, they represented the time she’d spent in deep thought, moments of heartache, wonder and than redemption.  Half her heart was her son and she would spend her life praying he was happy and loved.  On the contrary, abortion had never been an option for her.  Thru adoption, she could give her son life and pure unconditional love.  Although this woman felt small, I saw her as a woman of great bravery; a hero with light shining from her eyes and words.  Adoption made this fragile woman unbreakable.

A beautiful woman from New Mexico opened up to me about her older brother, a boy her mom had aborted almost 40 years earlier.  Thru tears, she spoke of her love for him, how she feels him near and knows his name.  There is a movement of others just like her; family members looking to heal from the loss of a sibling.  Abortion is a secret that can only heal through truth.  The reality this boy existed, that he had a purpose on earth and loved his family still holds true.  Thru gentle whispers and tender relationships, he still has a voice.  Because of God, his mother and sister can have peace and know someday, they will see him again.

I met a woman who’d volunteered for over thirty years at a pregnancy center.  Before, I may not have noticed such a quiet, unassuming force of nature.  It’s not easy to put yourself out there, especially in this sort of controversial arena.  I wondered how many lives she’d impacted, how many woman and children she saved.  Why would a person take so much time from his or her life to reach out to pregnant woman?  “Love,” she said.  “Because of love.” 

I met Abby Johnson, a former director from Planned Parenthood who for 8 years, thought she was doing the best thing for woman, but after seeing an ultrasound guided abortion learned the horrors of abortion.  She left the industry and has been sharing her story ever since – that abortion is a product Planned Parenthood sells and they make millions upon millions of dollars from, that abortion clinics are strategically placed in the poorest minority communities, that more black babies are aborted every year then born, that abortion patients are most often coerced by abusive boyfriends and even Planned Parenthood staff into having abortions, that the abortion industry is built on lies, violence and corruption.  Abortion is population control and eugenics.  If you can convince an entire population of women to destroy their offspring, you don't have to start a war.  You don't need to build up an army because the women will silently and many on their own dime, pay for their unborn to be destroyed.  If politicians can convince women abortion is an empowering choice, then money wins, a sick social agenda wins and women lose.  

A met a bad-a*#, tattoo-covered, pink-haired, bi-sexual woman who rocks.  She is an in your face, out-spoken New Yorker who doesn’t care what you think of her.  She stands for all injustice on woman and breaking away from prolife stereotypes, will say through secular words, historical studies and philosophical argument that abortion hurts woman.  She won’t say God and faith.  She’s not a mother.  She doesn’t read the Bible, but instead quotes deep thinkers, artists and scholars who have something to say about woman’s liberation.  It’s fascinating and the name of her organization is Feminists For Life.  You have been warned!!
A pregnant wonder woman.  I love it.

A brave woman opened up to me about her two abortions and how through dreams, she sees her little children playing on a swing underneath a giant tree.  They are safe and in the care of Jesus Christ.  When she cried, her tears sprang out like droplets of hope and I cried with her.  For those who have had an abortion or multiple abortions, do not for a minute think you are not loved.  You are so loved.  I love you.  Pray.  Talk with God.  God’s got this.  There is nothing we can do that He doesn’t already know about and have covered.  If you haven’t prayed in a while, take a moment alone and open your mind to a conversation about what you’ve been through.  In every abortion, there are two victims.  You deserve healing too.  You are beautiful.   

I was impacted by woman after woman and wished I could ask everyone in attendance their story and why they made the journey.  Most, like me, had traveled across the country at their own expense to show their support to a cause bursting at the seams.  We are done with the abortion narrative, that a woman’s choice is the end of the discussion.  Woman deserve better than abortion.  A pregnant woman should be loved and protected.  Our societal norms regarding unplanned pregnancy are not prowoman.  Violence has never been embraced by the feminist movement until abortion.  Men have a huge part in this change.  Respect for womanhood, her body and the unborn child must become a man’s issue or we will never change. 

It’s been 42 years since abortion became legal.  56 million babies later, what does the research show?  The truth is not easy to find, but these are the questions we need to ask.  Is abortion a woman's right, or a wrong inflicted on women? Is it a mark of liberation, or a sign that women are not yet free?  Women are speaking out on abortion, not for political reasons but out of concern for women’s emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health.  Abortion is not political, but at the heartstrings of every woman who has experienced it and every child who has lost his or her life.  My thesis is I believe more abortions than we realize are born out of the injustice of sexual abuse, how it makes a girl feel like trash and how 1 out of 3 girls will suffer sexual abuse.  It will take years, even a lifetime to heal.  One of the greatest tools for manipulative unjust men is abortion.  If he can convince a woman she is worthless, so will she view her baby.    

So, why was I at the prolife women's conference?  If we could sit down, I’d tell you through tear-stained eyes, but most importantly I was there because I have a one-year old son named Canyon Samuel Lofgreen who came at a difficult time in my life.  This unplanned life event was born out of debilitating morning sickness, doubt, uncertainty, emotional turmoil, physical exhaustion and . . . faith.  Faith was what I held onto when my world felt out of control and in return for my small 9-month sacrifice I received a baby.  
A baby!!  

When everything else fell away and I could see through the eyes of love, I knew my baby was worth it.  His presence alone is enough, but the physical warmth of his body next to mine makes every cell of my body sing.  In finding him, I lost myself and away went all the rationality that having a baby would be too difficult.  I’m stronger than I knew and my complaining only made me weak.  When in frustration I voiced out I wasn’t strong enough to care for another baby, something said back to me “Become stronger,” and I knew it was the voice of God.  I had that choice, to be stronger than the negativity, the societal pressure and uncertainty.  I want my son to know I stand for him and I want woman to know people like my son deserve a chance, that we don’t want to just wipe out such charisma and beauty before they even have a chance.  How many babies just like Canyon are aborted before their mother gets to know how amazing they are.   

In the words of Abby Johnson, “We believe that abortion strips women of their dignity. We believe that motherhood is empowering. We believe that not conforming and giving into societal pressures when it comes to femininity is empowering. We believe that this justice applies to every single human being on this earth. We believe in redefining the pro-life movement to include everyone, every age, race, gender, religion and every job.”

Because of the people I met, I know I’m not alone.  

People who support life have the winning ticket.  
(A supporter for Democrats for Life.)

WE chose life over death.  

We chose a baby over shame.  

We chose woman over corruption.  We chose to give our time, money and prayers to pregnancy centers and adoption agencies instead of Planned Parenthood.  

I’m so thankful for Abby Johnson had the tenacity and vision (and can survive off of so little sleep) that should could put the first ever Prolife Women’s conference on the map.  I believe we made history and what an honor it was to be there.  For my son, for my children, out of my love for others I will do my part, even for the one—especially for the one. 

If you do not agree with me, that's alright.  I appreciate your willlingness to read about my experience.  I love all women and feel the political divide projected on us by the media and politicians is harmful.  I love you.

I’m working on a book called WHAT HAS YOUR SISTER DONE? and have extended the deadline for you to submit your story.

WHAT HAS YOUR SISTER DONE? is a collection of stories about girls who faced an unplanned pregnancy and what they decided to do about it. Some may have kept the baby while others may have placed their baby up for adoption or terminated their pregnancy through abortion. Because many aspects of unplanned pregnancy aren’t talked about, I’m hoping these stories will open the door and help someone in the same situation.
If you want to help, here’s what you can do:
Write your story. This can be done the same way you would write a journal or diary entry. Write about how you felt and how your story progressed. Share what ever you feel. There is no judgment here. Remember, your story may be just what someone else needs to read.
Stories can be submitted anonymously or you can request names be changed. You can email stories to Please submit your story as soon as possible. By submitting your story, I reserve the right to have your story in WHAT HAS YOUR SISTER DONE?

Also, if you know someone who has had an unplanned pregnancy, please pass this information on to them. Feel free to contact me is you have any questions. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.