5 years ago today I lost my best friend. I’ve written about her quite a bit.

The Jim Mug

Four Leaf Clovers

The Shit Shovel

Her blog is still there and I read it over and over.

I miss her.



I broke the Starbucks mug she gave me 🙁



I still have her words, I can still hear her voice. I still find little things from her around my house and they always make me smile.  I took her friendship for granted.

lots of things are happening that remind me of her. when i spent her last New Year’s Eve with her, I had to take the elevator up to her room in the hospital. Stepping off the elevator if you made a left turn you’d go to the maternity ward, a right turn took you to the oncology unit.  She slept a morphine sleep and I sat with my journal, listening to a baby cry and breathe his first days of breath while she was breathing her last breaths.  this new year has brought daily news of cancer and death and daily news of new pregnancy.

it takes me back to her hospital room. and i miss her even more.

I’m pretty sure I won’t find another friend like her. And there are days that I just can’t get her out of my mind.

like today

and as I face something kinda scary today I wish she was here like she was when Zane was born. She just knew what to do. what to say. and i hate that she’s gone. i hate it.

LoveYouMissYouBye <3



I have to add this:  I cried the whole way through this post. Still haven’t stopped. I pushed publish and within seconds she messaged me saying God woke her up from a sound sleep and prayed for me as the Spirit led.  God is so good to me. Her obedience astounds me.  I feel like this is related to my word {restore}

The Jim Mug

Sometimes, when you meet a girlfriend, you just know.

That was Jill. We met in 1998. She was my labor coach because Phil was on the road. She was the only one with me when Zane was born. We spent New Year’s Eve 1999 together, my son’s first and New Year’s Eve 2007 together, her last.

So I sit here with my tradition, on this third anniversary of her death,


and I drink my coffee from one of many mugs she gave me and I read the friendship book she gave me


And the pain is not as searing and the memories are sweeter.

If you visit and want to have coffee, I may not allow you to drink from this cup. I hide it away in the back of my cupboard. Selfishly. And I realized it for what it was. And I said that in 2010 I wanted to make more time for the people that were still here. To pay attention to the details. To bless someone by thinking of them. It wouldn’t be Jill, but I could try to emulate the way she loved. I could pay attention to my friends, my family and give them my time and my heart and things with secret meanings.


I think I did ok. But I want to do better.

Last year I told you about The Shit Shovel. This year, The Jim Mug.  This is how I want to live.

Jim Mug

2006. Not a stellar year, but one with lots of memories–good and bad.  This one is good. One of my favorites, actually.

I was visiting Jill for a not-so-good reason, but we made the best of it. To take her mind off of her collapsed lung, we talked about the writing conference I was to attend after I visited. My first ever writing conference. A friend had told me that I should have at least one chapter written so I could give it to interested editors and agents (as if!) So I had these characters in mind and maybe an inkling of an idea for a story.  (I didn’t know ANYthing about writing then. I know less now.)

Naming characters is a problem for me.

Jill and I had went round and round with names and I needed an old man name. Nothing seemed right. My friend Kim called to see how things were and conversation turned to the old man name and someone (can’t remember who now) said: Orville.  That was it. Orville was my old man.

Phil called later asking how things in South Carolina were.  I was trying to explain to him how excited I was that Orville found his name. I said, “So Jim and I finally figured out that his name is Orville!!!”


“No. Not Jim, Orville.”

“You said ‘Jim and I figured out Orville…’ WHO is Jim?”

Oh Lord. I’m hundreds of miles away from my husband talking about another man. Jim. How do I explain this??

If your brain works like mine and gets over excited like mine, then when you’re talking about your story and your characters you start combining names. Like Jill and Kim and you get Jim.

Thank God my husband KNOWS there is no man on this earth for me other than him. We laughed it off and I told Jill about it after and we laughed (for years!) about it.  Then she said, “If you mix it up the other way, Kim and Jill you get Kill. Kill Jim.”

And I vowed that my horror stories would always have scenarios that led to a Kill Jim moment.


Out of nowhere, Jill, with collapsed lung and all, springs off her couch and enters her “closet” of gifts.  She comes out with the Jim mug.

Jim Mug

She’d bought it at Goodwill because it just called to her and she knew she’d need it someday.

Feeble Prayers

Scattered words and empty thoughts

Seem to pour from my heart

Even when people I love commit suicide

I Still Believe.

I’ve never felt so torn before
Seems i dont know where to start

Even when best friends die of breast cancer
I Still Believe.

But its now I feel your grace fall like rain
From every fingertip washing away my pain

When grandmas find their youngest sons, dead by their own hand…when those grandmas slip into dementia and mini-strokes overtake them, even when special grandmas die
I Still Believe.

Though the questions still fog up my mind

With promises I still seem to bear

When moms have brain tumors and lymphoma and when prognosis looks good and things are hopeful hopeful. Even then, when she dies anyway
I Still Believe.

Even when answers slowly unwind

It’s my heart I see you prepare

When friends…people who call themselves friends, kick me while I’m down and knowingly inflict unbearable pain
I Still Believe.

But its now that I feel your grace fall like rain

From every fingertip washing away my pain

When I run away from home because I’m too pissed off to be around “friends”
I Still Believe.

The only place I can go is into your arms

Where I throw to you my feeble prayers

When You say in no uncertain terms, “Go back to your friend. Put up with her abuse.” I understand you are Jehovah Roi, the God Who Sees Me
I Still Believe.

In brokenness I can see that this is your will for me

Help me to know you are near

When I submit to Your authority and go back–and I hit a fawn still new with spots and it flies in the air and smashes down on the top of my car and I see it hit the road in the rearview mirror. Even when I see it’s mama right behind it. Even when the pain is too great to bear and I can’t see through my tears
I Still Believe.

I still believe in your faithfulness

I still believe in your truth

I still believe in Your Holy Word

Even when I don’t see

I Still Believe.

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I went to a writing conference and my mom needed medical treatment.
Once home, I found out my mom has a brain tumor.
My mom has lymphoma.
I’ve been with her nearly every day.
My mom seems to like to sleep when I’m with her. And that’s ok. She needs to rest and heal.
(I’ve been writing.)
The hospital has been my office. My husband has become the homeschool mom and housewife. And I take my lunch and my laptop to the not-so-comfortable chair next to my mom and I turn on Pandora and she sleeps (and I write.)
Good days. Bad days. But the worst days have not been caused by tumors or lymphomas, but by careless humans.
(on those days, I cannot write.)
But on the days, which are most days, that mom wants a cool washcloth on her eyes and wants to nap while I’m with her (those days, I write.)
And in the (parentheses) of one planned writing conference to a surprise second one, I have finished one proposal of my own and one with a very good friend. This surprise second conference includes a meeting with a publisher who is interested in both proposals.
And today is June 1. Jill’s birthday. Last year, we moved into our new home and new life on this day. This year I’m praying for my mom to recover. I’m also praying for what’s been happening in the (parentheses) of my life.

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Now What?

It was very hard for me to hit “publish” on this one.

* * *

In October of 1999, Zane was born. Phil was driving our semi over the road and he was home one day out of every thirty. That year, Jill and I spent New Year’s Eve together afraid for Y2K. We survived.

In 2000, we filed bankruptcy on that semi and moved back to Indiana and lived with my parents for a short time. Phil found a driving in job in Chicago and he was home two days out of every seven.

In 2001, 9/11 happened and I was scared for our lives. I’d never, ever heard it so quiet outside as when all planes were grounded. That month, we found a duplex to rent, Zane turned 2, potty-trained and I was still trying to decide if I was a good mom or not.

In 2002…Phil got a local job hauling fuel and was home EVERY night.

In 2003, Phil and I bought the Knox house. I started attending a church for the first time since I was let down by a different church back in 1992.

In 2004, doctors thought Phil had cancer. He didn’t. He did, however, punch a wall and break his hand and have to have pins put in.

In 2005, I was reading my Bible daily, active in Women’s ministry (and Phil in men’s ministry) and I was really getting to know God. Jill told me she had breast cancer and had already been battling it for a year. She’d already had a mastectomy and chemo and radiation. She made me get a breast exam. And I think they thought I had cancer. I then had an ultra sound. Then a mammogram (and platypus poop.) Then I had to see a surgeon. He told me I didn’t have breast cancer.

In 2006, I was called to write. “Write.” (I noticed I posted that on 12/02/06. Wonder if that has anything to do with 12:26?) That year, I also lost my Uncle Ed. I’m not sure there’s ever been a time when I felt as close to God. And that’s also the year my church gave me a wake up call–lying about me, accusing me of ridiculous things, and leaving me alone during a time of huge, monumental need. Phil thought he was having a heart attack. Our fridge broke. Phil lost his job. Phil had double hernia surgery. We almost lost our house. 2006 was probably the hardest year of my life. I felt so alone that year. And God taught me more about His love than I could’ve ever expected.

In 2007, my thyroid completely shut down and I’ve been trying to get my brain (and my body and my life) back ever since. It’s also the year I was asked to be on the editing team at The Midnight Diner.

In 2008, I lost my best friend, Jill in January. She might have survived Y2K, but she did not survive breast cancer. And then my grandma passed away in September. I was asked to be Editor-in-chief of The Midnight Diner.

In 2009, We were taken on a trip of a lifetime to Key West and Marco Island, Florida in March. Phil quit truck driving altogether! He started working as property manager for a local retreat center. We were blessed with a grandson in April. Around May, I finally started feeling like myself again with the help of some replacement thyroid hormone. We moved in June and I’ve been trying to figure out what life is now that Phil’s home all day, every day and now that everything has changed.

* * *

I started this post with the intention of talking about how I feel separated from God right now. I mean, I know He’s there, He just feels distant to me and I remember hearing people talk about feeling this way and I distinctly remember thinking, “I will NEVER feel that way. I will always feel as close to God as I do at this very moment.”

I was going to talk about this new Bible I got, The Books of the Bible–with no verse references–and how I was going to start reading that for the New Year.

But I got caught up in looking at the way things got so ugly during the time I was closest to God. I remember what I went through and the lessons I learned after I did Beth Moore’s Believing God study. Things I haven’t found the courage to write about.

And though God says, “Do not be afraid.”

I am afraid.

I’m afraid that if I get close to Him again, something worse will happen. And I don’t know how to let go of that fear.

I know I’m the one keeping the distance from God.

I said it.

Now what?

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