Top Secret



We all have them, those hidden places in the heart, or in the mind.  Our own secret fantasies of being the most popular kid in school, the homecoming queen, the Valentine Princess. For the guys, who doesn’t want to be the star quarterback, the hottest guy in school, the one who always has the prettiest girl on his arm?

These are relatively harmless dreams, mostly unfulfilled but it’s nice to dream, right?

I had a fantasy about being able to sit down at the piano and be a famous concert pianist.  Or maybe a #1 bestseller novelist. And of course, I wanted to be married and have  the ideal Father-Knows-Best kind of family 🙂

I still have some hidden secrets, things that even Terry doesn’t know.  And I’m not telling anyone what they are–no, not even you!

Are you as surprised as I have been at how easy it is to spill private things into blog posts?  I mean, I’ve never told you anything that would embarrass my family or make you–or me–blush; I have, however, shared some  things over the four years I’ve been doing this that I don’t usually discuss. Is it the anonymity we find behind our computer screens?  I don’t know.

Did you ever have a crush that you kept hidden?  Like, for an entire school year?  And every time your crush said “Hi!”  you thought, “Oh, maybe this is it! Maybe now he/she will notice me.”  And every day, you make up scenes  of accidentally bumping into your crush, spilling your books all over, just like they do in the romance movies.  Your crush may always be friendly, but the day you see that person walking off with someone else and you know all hope is gone, you just want to go somewhere and cry and eat chocolate.

These secrets are normal and harmless, most of the time. Sometimes, though, the hidden things reveal themselves in horror and tragedy. I’m thinking of Columbine, and many other situations in which the shooters have felt they were bullied, ignored, disliked.  I don’t believe there is ever an excuse to terrorize a school full of children, or to take lives because you’re hurt and angry.  There have been plenty of times in the course of my life when I’ve been bullied, teased beyond endurance, misunderstood, misquoted, misrepresented.  I had terrible acne starting when I was only 10, and I believed for a long time that the only thing other people saw was my collection of zits.  Good grief, I even had a big old volcano erupt on my chin on my wedding day!  But notice–it was my wedding day 🙂  I have certainly lived happily ever after, for the most part. And still, there are secrets, hidden thoughts, desires, dreams.

I recently turned 70, and I’m here to tell you that age may change the direction of your hidden secrets, but you’ll still have them. Wisdom is knowing when not to share them. Lots of people tell me things in my counseling office that they say they’ve never told anyone else, ever.  I’m glad they feel safe with me, and I promise you I’ve never revealed any of those secrets, ever.

So relax, if you’re worried about your hidden dreams.  You’re normal. No, really! Everyone has them. Not everyone achieves all of their dreams, but most of us get to realize one or two over the course of our lives. It’s enough.



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Leah knew her grieving would never be over.  It didn’t matter what people said, and some of what they said was just stupid.

“Don’t worry, you’ll have another baby,”

“Well, there must have been something wrong with it.  It’s better off in heaven.”

“It’s not as if you knew the child. Think how hard it is when a real baby that you held and loved suddenly dies.”

It’s been six months, Leah. You need to put it behind you now and move on.”

Image result for grieving a miscarriage quotes

Leah wanted to shout at all of them, with their cold and useless “comfort.”  They insisted on her acceptance of the miscarriage. They wanted her to be normal again, because her grief made them uncomfortable.

Finally she went to see a counselor. The counselor listened quietly as Leah told the whole story. There were tears in the counselor’s eyes when Leah finished, sobbing into a tissue she’d grabbed from the box beside her.

“Leah, I am so sorry.  What you’re experiencing is normal, and it takes time to adjust and accept such a loss.”  She went on to talk about stages of grief. She acknowledged that “the miscarriage” was not a thing, but a child. Her words brought some comfort and healing to Leah’s battered heart. Finally, someone seemed to understand.

Two years later, Leah brought her newborn baby to the office to show off to the staff. She glowed with happiness, but the counselor could see the shadows lingering in her eyes.

It was normal.

A Normal Day


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Hayley was moving like a mindless robot at she assembled the five sandwiches that would be lunch for her and the kids. Bread, mayo, lunchmeat, cheese, mustard on two, butter on the others. Slap, plop, spread,slap, bag, done.  Into the brown paper bags, along with some cheese sticks, fruit, and a coupe of cookies.

She moved to the oatmeal that was bubbling on the stove, giving it a stir to keep it from burning. She turned the burner down to low, poured juice, sliced bread for toast. Butter, honey, jelly on the table. Brown sugar for the oatmeal.  Bowls, knives, spoons.

Then on to the evening meal, which would be a hearty soup in the crockpot.  Slice, chop, open cans, dump, add water, throw in meat from the leftover Thanksgiving turkey. It would develop a wonderful aroma as it simmered all day, a thick and hearty meal to ward off the encroaching cold that blessed central Minnesota. She would add barley when she got home and let it cook for a while. It would be thick, like stew. Already the tongue-teasing smell of onions and garlic filled the kitchen.

All four of her kids were showered, dressed, and tending to their household chores when she called  out that breakfast was ready.  It was good to start the day with everyone eating breakfast together. They would share their schedules for the day. the ones who had jobs figuring out the carpool, all of them hoping Dad would be home before they went to bed that night.


It was all the stuff of a normal school day. Hayley had her lesson plans well under control, and looked forward to starting a literature unit in her high school classes. She loved teaching, and it was great to be able to teach in the school her kids attended. She had each of them in a class at some point during the day. Some of their friends had started calling her “Mom,” and that was okay with her. Small Christian school, where she had the freedom to talk about God and to open the Bible with kids who needed some counseling time.

Some days, she grew weary in the routine. Some days, she swore she’d never eat another sandwich as long as she lived. Some days, she was just too tired to be eager for the day to start.

Most days, though, especially as she sat talking with her kids like this in the morning, she was just thankful  that they had the food, the clothing, the roof over their heads, jobs that met their needs, and heat for the coming deep cold of winter.

Most days, she was even thankful for sandwiches.

Say What ??

Decisions, Decisions

How are you more likely to make an important decision — by reasoning through it, or by going with your gut?


When it comes to decisions, I’m the right brain and Terry is the left.  It works out very well for us.  He spends a lot of time thinking things through, while I’m drumming my fingers on the table waiting for him to make up his mind. I’d say about 85% of the time, his left brain finally agrees with my right brain.  That 15% is when he manages to talk me around to his way of thinking.  Either way, we’re both usually satisfied with the outcome.

Take today, for example.  He saw an ad in the paper the other day for a special event with a well-known hearing aid company. Free ear exam and half-price hearing aids. He’s been thinking for a long time that my hearing is getting worse by the minute.

I, on the other hand, only have trouble hearing HIM.  Everywhere else I’m pretty good, unless there’s background noise or the person is turned away from me.  There is a definite change from when I was young, but mostly I hear everything.

Terry has a pretty big hearing loss.  He does have hearing aids, and figured I needed them too.  So I agreed to go have the test, even though my gut was telling me my loss isn’t too bad; that I could hear him better if he wouldn’t swallow the ends of his sentences, look away when he’s talking, or try to carry on a conversation when I’m in the basement and he’s in the back 40 🙂

So he came with me, as requested by the audiologist, and I got my ears tested this morning. I thought I did pretty well. 

The audiologist took us back to the room where he would make his pitch for the hearing aids.  He looked at me, and he said, “You are what we call Bad For the Business.  I can’t sell you a hearing aid.  Your hearing is in the normal range except for a little blip in your right hear when the background noise part of the test came up.”

He went on to explain, with a little graph dealy, that it’s likely I had superb hearing when I was younger, and the differences I’m experiencing now are aggravating to me because it’s just not as good as it used to be–but still in the normal range.

So.  My instincts were right.  Terry swallows his sentences, mumbles, speaks in so soft a tone that I just can’t hear him. His problem, not mine.

He’s having a hard time digesting all this. He really thought the outcome would prove that it’s my hearing, not his speaking.

Don’t you love it when you’re right about something?

The only thing he’s really pleased about is that we don’t have to spend a lot of money for hearing aids that are not covered by any insurance.

I’m glad that makes him happy 🙂

No Fear!

Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?


I either lead a very dull life, or I just don’t remember much. Or my nerves are so settled that nothing puts me into that kind of fear or dread any more.

Okay, I guess  I can think of something, although it was a very positive nervousness.  As each of my four pregnancies drew to an end, I truly did become very nervous and apprehensive about the delivery. Not that I ever had any problems; each of my pregnancies was relatively trouble-free, and the deliveries were normal.

I’m not one of those silly women who love to talk about how they nearly died with all fifteen babies 🙂

I was actually less apprehensive with the first one.  You don’t really know what you’re in for until you’ve been through it, and I found I was much more nervous about the second baby than I had been about the first.  My nerves were somewhat justified. The second delivery was more difficult. And the third, because he was a big guy.  The fourth, our daughter, was the fastest and the least difficult. 

Looking back, though, I have to be thankful for how normal it all was for me.  No emergencies, no C-sections, no troubles with the health or well-being of any of our babies.  No lasting ill effects from the pregnancies or deliveries.  I’ve never had a miscarriage.  After all, God made our bodies to accommodate pregnancy, and most of the time everything goes just as it should. My heart is always heavy for those who don’t find it as normal as I did, and especially for those who lose a baby at some point in the pregnancy.  I have a young friend who has three babies in heaven.  It’s hard to lose a baby, heartbreaking and painful.

So that’s it, really.  There are probably other stories, but they’re just not coming to the surface for me.