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    One More Christmas

    Guest post: Madison Hedegard {16} You’d think by now I’d be used to lying on my bed sobbing, asking God, “Why?” It’s a rude awakening for a child, the discovery that the world is not what you thought it was. And my revelations came like a freight train in the middle of a ghost town, each revelation stronger than the last. This time, it was a phone call from my dad, one July afternoon. After talking about the physical condition of my mother, I asked the question that I had waited four days to hear. “So… how’s mom really?” A brief silence followed, then a sigh. “She has Amnesia.” The…

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    The Worst Two Years of My Life

    July 2009 Two months after being home from the hospital, the medical bills arrived in clumps. Some from Sabal; most for me. I wrote checks for the smaller statements first, leaving two large bills unpaid. We had $27.00 to survive the next couple of weeks. Scooping the piled papers together, the muscles around my neck constricted. My head bowed in defeat. From behind me his footsteps stopped, and I heard his knees crack as he crouched to a sitting position. The warmth of his hand caressed my back. “Come here.” I didn’t dare look up. Jason drew me onto his lap, cradling my body like a child. “You’re worrying again,”…

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    And The Book Cover Is…

    After all the votes were tallied, here’s what you decided: 1) E: 35 (Headshot cover) 2) B: 28 (Blue cover w/ rushing doctor) 3) C: 16 (Collage of three photos) 4) D: 13 (Clouds, When God Intervenes) 5) A: 10 (Red and yellow cover with doctor) Jason and my sister, Christine, picked the top two (rushing doctors) and tried desperately to sway me in that direction for all the reasons most of you mentioned: “Sense of urgency, action.” But which was my *original* favorite, someone asked? The one most of you picked. The cover showcasing the headshot, because this looks the most memoir-ish and I appear normal. Not sick. Coming in second was the…

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    8 Tips to Beat Depression

    When Sabal’s fingers touched my face, I knew morning had arrived. Through a thick fog and swollen eyes, my body slogged along until I sipped cups of morning coffee. That was me three years ago, in summer of 2010. Depression haunted my soul and felt much like I stood behind a plexiglass wall and couldn’t break out. Of my litany of medical struggles I’ve encountered, despair continued to be the number one topic that my friends secretly would ask about as soon as I mentioned my internal suffering. One hint of my history, and question after question followed. I wanted to snap out of it…but couldn’t. I wondered what was wrong with…

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    Prayer Or A Swift Kick In The Backside

    I want to quit today. Don’t want to write any longer. The manuscript deadline is in 10 days. Distractions surround me: evicting tenants, renovating a trashed rental, setting appointments for potential new renters, and finding time to love on my babies. It’s enough to make me want to pitch everything. Everything. To hit delete and run outside to play, because I feel I have nothing else to give. Scooped raw internally without an ounce of insight left. Today I opened an old InTouch devotional to find peace, and wouldn’t you know, the suggested verses hit me like a spirit-filled wave. Proverbs 2: My son, if you accept my words and store…

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    Silly Prayers

    Cacophony popped into my head the other day. Yeah. I didn’t know what the word meant either, and I certainly didn’t know how to spell it. Turns out it means “A harsh, discordant mixture of sounds.” I laughed. How perfect is that. I was writing a chapter where I felt something was missing, and this obscure word appeared out of nowhere and fit the description perfectly. It’s moments like that when I realize God listens to prayers. Silly prayers. The ones I throw His way, like, “Please help me find the perfect word,” or “my phone,” or “write this book because most people who know me, know my big secret.…

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    9 Tips To Helping Someone Newly Diagnosed

    Just like each of us are created with different likes and dislikes—reaching out can look differently from one patient to the next. This is tough. But from personal experience, the following actions brought the greatest joy during the ugliest times in my life. 1)      Food. There’s a reason most churches have a meal ministry. When you’re bone-tired, the last thing you want to do is shop or research recipes or stand in front of any type of oven. Bring them a meal. Call first, of course. But please avoid saying, “If there’s anything I can do, let me know.” I rarely took anyone up on this offer. Instead say, “We want…

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    Life Without Purpose Is Not Living At All

    Guest Blogger: Jason HedegardWhat a whirlwind month. I haven’t been so shaken and unbalanced emotionally since my wife’s pulmonary embolism during her stem-cell transplant over 10 years ago. Losing my father at 64 years old has changed my thought process entirely these last few weeks. I feel a strange clock hanging over me now, ticking incessantly, and reminding me of how little time I have left. I’m dying every day, a little at a time. That’s what my doctor told me last week while he examined my torn hip labrum. (In addition to the hernia, which has been repaired, and the torn adductor muscle that isn’t healing as fast as…

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    God's Trying To Kill You

    That’s what I heard while jogging. Err, rather…slogging. I can no longer claim that I jog when my thirteen-year-old walks the pace I run. We stumbled on this discovery last night. I digress. Listening to my FPEA Homeschool conference MP3, I replayed the last few seconds of Mark Hamby’s presentation just to be sure I heard this man correctly. “God’s trying to kill you.” Huh? “God wants us to die to ourselves.” Oh. And with this, the light bulb switched on. “God brings conflicts in our lives… Satan is not the one that is causing problems in your life. A lot people blame Satan. Satan doesn’t even know who you…

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    Sickness a Catalyst?

    I’ve been sick a good portion of my life. Nine life-threatening illnesses, sick. Sepsis, renal failure, ARDS…the list continues. Some of these words I never knew existed until I laid comatose in the ICU several years ago. But this tidbit of information, if I had the choice, I’d rather not talk about. Let’s be honest. Who wants to be known as the sick girl? Yeah. Didn’t think so. Happy, healthy, stick-your-tongue-out fun girl, now that’s a cooler title. Then diseases happened. For many years, I would have given my right pinky to rewind life just to be normal one more time. Only, my normal looked selfish, prideful, and pretty much…

  • Previously Published Articles

    Are You Ready For Battle?

    Recently, I hit one of those downward spirals. From unexpected kitchen renovations due to moldy cabinets, to major plumbing repairs throughout the house. Add in multiple misunderstandings with the hubby, the kids acting like kids and the pressure to keep it altogether with a smile–I finally was pushed too far. One afternoon, I walked to my neighbor’s house and crumbled into her arms. After blubbering out a few worry-filled sentences, this sage woman of God quietly repeated Jesus’ name, praying for Him to calm my soul. In less than a minute, peace traveled the course of my body and my breathing returned to normal. I was shocked. Never before had anyone…

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    Life Is Not Fair

    Life is a funny thing. Or maybe not so funny. Today is a day I never want to forget. My favorite oncologist, Dr. McGarry, started chemo this morning. This is difficult for many reasons. First, we were both diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease at a young age (he was 17, I was 25). Second, his re-occurrence of a different cancer shows no one is exempt from this disease. He ate healthy, ran, and seemed in the best shape of his life. That doesn’t seem fair. He’s a good person, loves God. Then I found out a friend miscarried—someone who struggled to get pregnant and prayed for God to bless her with a baby.…

  • Previously Published Articles

    The Great Omission

    At the age of nine, I vividly recall mom’s dependency on welfare. She sold our couches, fans and lamps to the landlord in lieu of rent when times were extra lean. Eventually, after one lamp offer too many, the landlord declined, suggesting instead Mom attend his church in exchange for one month of free rent. This sacrificial gesture changed the course of our lives forever. It didn’t take long to realize aliens had abducted Mom … at least that’s what my young mind imagined when her random curse words disappeared and the smile across her face wasn’t from something she had ingested. With this new indescribable zeal for life, I…