Thursday, February 8, 2018

95 Happy Birthday Meme

Today she would have been 95. 

As I work through the manuscript of my book, my editor asked, "Who was she? What was your relationship with her?". I still haven't finished that chapter because how do you turn "she was everything" into 1,500 words? 

that cuteness in white is my grandmother

I don't have words today and not because I am experiencing some kind of terrible grief, though I am crying at this moment. This year I really miss her.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Four Questions

As I have said before I do not set resolutions in the New Year and there is a 90% that any personal goals set for me will not be met. I was given a pre-release copy of Jon Acuff’s new book, Finish and had big hopes to improve my percentage, but, well, I never finished Finish. This is my life! 

This year questions came to mind instead of goals. This year I have four questions that I want to answer. Pretty doable, right?

One: Where do I come from? 
Ah, the continuation of my family research that has been sparked again by watching Coco in the beginning of December. I want to know who my ancestors were. What are their stories? What do future generations need to know? How can preserve the legacies from past generations?

Two: What is wrong with me?

Probably not a “mom approved” question to ask myself, but I am not seeing it as a search for the many imperfections of my life. I have, somewhat silently, struggled with some health issues this past year. And,  honestly, transparently, I am avoiding finding the answer for one ailment because I really, really, don’t want to change some habits or some coping in my life. I honestly don’t want the searching for answers to prevent or stop the treatment of my ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). That subject brings so much fear, seriously, more fear than not determining what is wrong with a part of my body. Yes, I am aware of the stupidity in that statement and I hear your mother voices as you tell me that I really, really need to see someone about this, but I am also painfully aware of my life when my condition is untreated. 

Which leads me to the thought that I REALLY REALLY (I am aware that “really, really” is my go-to phrase for this post) want to be an expert on my condition. ADD effects so much of life. I want to know why and how I can do more to not be dependent on medication to get through what should be simple tasks. 

While we are on the topic of expert knowledge, I want to also be at an expert knowledge level about Alzheimer’s. You know the disease that runs so rampant in my family that it should be called, “He who should not be named”. Sorry, Harry Potter has been a big topic in our house since Matt has been re-reading and I have been reading the series since Thanksgiving. 

I can state the statistics of Alzheimer’s up one side and down the other, but I need to know the facts, I need to know the studies, I need to know what “they” believe I should do. Should I eat kale? Should I run? Should I meditate?  I don’t know what God has planned for my life and I don’t know if Alzheimer’s is part of his plan.  

And that statement leads me straight to question number three. 

Three: Why do I believe in Jesus?

And honestly, what do I believe about God? Do I believe God gives people Alzheimer’s? I want to live with a faith that is really truly faith and not just hope. 

I don’t feel as distant as I did before my healing process started over two years ago, but I am much more disconnected as I have been since. That disconnect has a ripple effect, you can see it in my husband, you can see it in my children and you can see it in my ability to write and create. 

Which brings me to asks, 

Four: How am I using my talents?

One thing I know for sure is my ability to share through the written word is  God-given. It’s a talent that has been here since I was very little. Besides English 101 at the community college in the Fall of ’96, I have not been trained in this skill. Honestly, I probably could use a good course in grammar. 

But where are my talents being used (or wasted)? 

If I had to pick one of those life focusing words for 2018 it would be “purpose”. How is this fulfilling my purpose? How is this helping my purpose? How is this keeping me from my purpose?

Shelby just walked in while I was writing this (in my journal), talked a bit and then said, “Okay, get back to your Jesus work.”

Yep, that’s what I need to do, get back to MY Jesus work. Remember to not neglect the purpose He has given my life, then plans He has for my talents. 

I love questions. I love digging deeper, hypothesizing what could be. Again, grammar. I am not sure if I am even using that word correctly, but, eh, it works for me. 

I am not sure what form this will take, I have no plans for question focused weekly blog entries because seriously my crazy mind would see that as a goal and you wouldn’t hear from me again until 2019. 

As always, I welcome your prayers as I walk through through these questions. And, I guess, I even welcome your motherly (or fatherly) lecturing about my health - bring it! (nicely, of course). 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Today I Cry

I woke this morning with a blinding painful headache and my husband was there to help make sure it wasn’t my blood pressure.  He brought me more medicine to help elevate the pain. It’s Wednesday, but I’ve already been difficult to love this week. I had a pretty manic meltdown Monday night and the devil was attacking my royally yesterday morning, but my husband has been amazing.  So when I woke up at 3 am this morning in horrible pain I thought, “not today, today I need to be strong, today is the day we (or at least I) cry.” 

When I met Matt and we began dating I had no clue how much I would personally morn over the loss of his first wife.  My therapist has said countless times that I should not use “crazy” to describe my actions, but I think that it’s seriously crazy that I cry more eight years after Nicole’s passing then my husband does - not that he does not still morn - he just doesn’t cry. And, well, I am good at crying. 

I am telling you never in a millions years did I think I would morn Nicole like she was my dearest friend, but my goodness I mourn her.  I fight the guilt that I am here because someone is not.  In some ways I morn as I do for James in that I am saddened by the “what could have been”.  There have been many events over this last year that have made the “what could have been” sadness stronger. 

Our the first year of being married after Nicole’s passing I was blindsided by what grief looked like from my husband. Honestly, I was angry and jealous, being newlyweds I was frustrated that he was not more present with our family.  I was shocked at how badly he disconnected.  Since that first year, I always prepare myself for what is to come the week after Thanksgiving.  I have been known to ask for prayer for my husband stating, “because I lose him from now until after Christmas.”  Matt’s grief has ebbed and flowed as the years have passed - some years seem harder than others, but it’s not his sadness that makes me cry. Well, it’s not always his sadness.  

If you know me and we have discussed Nicole, at all, you know that I seriously cannot talk about her without crying.  This past year I spent hours in conversation - good raw conversation - with another woman. I shared my story and talked through fears I faced without shedding a tear. And it was until we ended our conversation that my mother-in-law said, “You know Deb’s husband is the pastor of Nicole’s parent’s church.”  I ugly cried all over that poor woman because I knew that she had a glimpse into Nicole and her family.  She actually knew about me before we had met, she knew all about my littles and about Matt.  I never imagined feeling the love that we receive from Nicole’s parents.  My sadness is for them as well. 

As I am writing this I feel like I need to gain the attitude that I have with thoughts of James’ passing: celebrate the time I had with him, the memories of his life in a positive way.  Live in thanksgiving for the blessing of his life on mine. 

Nicole gave Matt specific directions when knowing of her passing. I am telling you the woman was organized - I woman after my own heart with lists of things he needed to do, gifts he needed to pass to her friends and family and letters she wrote to her dear husband (y’all know I am balling right now).  She told Matt that he was to take care of the schnauzers (Gus & Moby) which he did until their passing, lose weight (he was a little fluffier then) and get remarried.  

From those directions I feel like I can honor her by loving my husband well especially during this time of year, not taking for granted an ounce of time together and living our life fully.  At this moment in my headache induced loopiness that seems a bit of a big ask, but it’s the least I can do to honor Nicole. 

So today I cry (I might cry tomorrow, or next Tuesday, too), my therapist would approve.  She would probably say, “crying is normal, you are normal”. Today I cry because sometimes life just sucks.  It just does and we really have no real explanation why we are to walk through these hard things in life, we just have to trust God’s plan…even when it sucks. 

You must forgive me I just love this card by Emily McDowell and it’s so perfect for this.  

and this one too. 


Last year I wrote this post for Matt:

Have to say, though, a good cry has made my headache go away! Yes, a positive spot on the day!!!!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

My Veterans

A few weeks ago a form came home asking for pictures of Veterans to display at Bekah’s school. My first thought was, “should I send all of them?”. All my daughters have the honor of having many, many brave men who have served and sacrificed for our country in their family tree. 

Three years ago I went on a little rant about the true meaning of Memorial Day versus Veterans Day. You can read it here:

So, I feel it appropriate, today, that I share with you a few facts on what Veteran’s day is

“While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime,” the Department of Veterans Affairs says. 

It explains the holiday “is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served - not only those who died - have sacrificed and done their duty.”  {source}

Yesterday morning as I dressed Bekah in her red shirt and placed a bow in her hair that resembled an American flag, I said, “You, my dear, have a long line of veterans in your family, you actually have a person who has served in just about every war our country has faced.” Of course, she answered, “Wow, who is he?” 

Here are a few of my family’s Veterans. (at least from my side…Matt has Veterans generations back on his side as well - I just don’t have pictures…officially on my todo list)

William Madison Moulder
(my great uncle)
Army Sargent
Served in World War I

James Lewis Phillips
(my grandfather)
Army Corporal
Served in World War II - Army Air Forces

William David Moulder
(my father)
Army E5 Petty Officer 2nd Class
Served in Vietnam

And the current generation of men in my family who have served and are currently serving our country: 

(my husband)

And because he kind of huffs at being seen as a Veteran let me just remind him of the statement above from the Department of Veteran Affairs, “ALL those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime"




And yes, I had a great, great grandfather who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the Civil War and an uncle who also gave the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam that I am very proud to have in my family tree, those brave men I honor on Memorial Day. 

I am so grateful for the men in my family who have given their blood, sweat, and tears for my freedom.  I am also grateful for the women, like my Meme and my sister-in-law, who have raised children and kept the family together while their husbands have fought for our country. 

My daughters are blessed to have this strong legacy to look back on for years to come. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Facing 40

I am going to 40 on Monday. 

Leading up to this birthday I feel like I have repeated, “Do not lose your mind this time” more than I have needed. I strived to walk into my forties mentally and physically healthy - um yeah, strived is a much stronger word than what I have actually felt or done. 

This year, my birthday will mark an anniversary of sorts.  You see ten years ago the facade of my marriage began to chip away.  Ten years ago I stood at the edge of what an outsider would see as a pure nervous breakdown.  How could I be so insane to walk away from my life, to leave my husband, to allow all my friendships to crumble around me?  How could I break apart my daughter’s stable life? 

Ten years ago I would say I was breaking free - breaking out of the hell that was my daily life. My cries for help fell on deaf ears. I was surrounded by people who were blinded by the storybook perfectness of my life. There was no reason besides, “She’s lost her ever-loving mind” to describe why I would leave my little red brick corner house. Ten years ago I masked my pain with perfection.  Not the perfection I struggle with today, but the perfection that said, “You need to just wipe out every moment of your life before this marriage be accepted today.” 

I hear Dr. Phil ask, “Well, how did that work for you?”

It led me to weekly visits with a gastroenterologist. It also led to medical intervention for my depression. It wasn’t all my ex-husband, ten years ago I slowly started to lose Meme, my strong faith guider, my safe place to Alzheimer's.  We had moved her from her apartment to a nursing home.  I had sat with her multiple times during the previous year as she recovered from accidental overdoses.  My parents were selling they home close to me and moving back to South Texas.  I was dealing with a pretty heavy load of things that could make someone a bit blue. 

And at the same time, I was attempting to erase 17 years of hurt and shame with a trip to the gym, with a perfectly made bed, with a kitchen floor you could eat off of and with an envy-worthy family picture on my yearly Christmas card. 

I cannot describe the fall season prior to my divorce in early 2008 as “the beginning of the end”. No, looking back it was the band closest to the eye of the storm. It was volatile, it was harsh, there was damage taking place, but you stood at the shoreline thinking, “This is not going to end, this storm is about to get so much worse.” 

I am thankful that I chose to journal - though very sporadic - ten years ago. 

November 5, 2007

It is the eve of my 30th birthday. The BIG 30. Tonight in bible study we discussed disappointment. You can be disappointed in God, in others and in yourself. I feel like I have spent the last 29 years disappointing others. I have disappointed my family, my friends, but mostly myself. I struggle with internal battles the most. I struggle with self-destruction by doing things that I know I shouldn’t be doing but doing them out of rebellion. I am at an end.  Lord, I hate myself. How have I gotten to this point where I don’t know myself at all?  

I need help. 

That is shame speaking, that is shame screaming. 

From that point I started to grasp at pieces of myself I could still recognize one being creating, sewing, which led me into a community of other creative people. Their world was so colorful compared to vanilla of the safeness I had put my life into. Their ability to be comfortable in their own skin, in their talents was so attractive - so what I wanted - such an escape.  And when I saw that uniqueness was a threat to my husband it became the perfect tool to fight back against the control I was feeling from him. 

This past year as we went through pictures for Shelby’s birthday party, this one popped up. I said, “that’s the last family picture.” She stopped and examined it closely. Luckily, she does not remember that Christmas.  She doesn’t remember the words that were exchanged. Two weeks later I was moving her out of her home and into an apartment. 

To have what I feel is a successful marriage you have to deal with your “stuff”. You cannot shove the suitcase of hurt and shame into a closet under the stairs. Well, you can, but it won’t stay there forever. All that closed up shame will manifest itself into other things and wind up exploding. 

I did not know the truth of grace ten years ago. I did not know how to receive the love given to me through Jesus. I appeared so together but was so lost. Lost in the perfection I created for the world to see. 

Lord, help me to walk into my forties fully embracing the hot mess that I am today, knowing that I am far from perfect, but knowing that in your eyes grace as made me perfect to you. 

I want my 40th not be an anniversary of the actions I took 10 years ago, but a celebration of the last 40 years of my life. 

The 20-year-old me is in complete shock that we have made it this far and thoroughly impressed by the beauty on the other side of the storm. The 40-year-old me is thinking, just wait till you see the 60-year-old me - she is going to knock your socks off. 

I feel, after all of my rambling, that I just want to make one thing perfectly clear 

Hold true to this fact, my friends, Grace Changes Everything. 

On it, my Savior, both bruised and crushed
Showed that God is love and God is just

At the cross, You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees
And I am lost for words, so lost in love

I'm sweetly broken, wholly surrendered

This year on the eve of my birthday, 10 years after screaming I hate myself, I am will be on the radio share what life is like after healing. 


NOVEMBER 5, 2017 at 7 pm
To stream broadcasts from outside the Houston area
go to and click the "listen live" button. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Boo Y'all it's Halloween!

It's 5:30 pm on Halloween and I am seriously debating if my children will be going trick or treating tonight. They are being little monsters and it's raining cats & dogs outside. So why not motivate myself to chase them down dark streets in the rain collecting more sugar we don't need by looking through Halloweens past.

















Monday, October 30, 2017

Seven Years

Today, the rings that rest on the third finger of my left hand have such a different meaning than they did five years ago. You see, I never really felt the permanence of marriage before joining in union with Matt that perfect fall night on the green grass of a country club. Looking back, I know without a shadow of a doubt that that night God said, “My dear child I am going to prove to you how much I love you and this man is part of that proof.” I’ve never been loved like my husband loves me. I’ve never seen Jesus’ love shine so distinctly through another man. I never in all my life thought I could spill my brokenness, every single piece of it, out on another human and not get one single, “you did what? how could you have?”. I am telling you, everything single time Matt has matched with my broken parts with an “I still love you” and sometimes an “I love you even more.” 

This is part of a post I wrote two years ago and felt it needed repeating. There is so much truth in the paragraph, truth that has seriously been the absolute hardest to accept because, well, I feel so undeserving. Matt has been right by me these last few years holding my hand, comforting me and being my biggest cheerleader. He has never skipped a beat, never been taken back or at a loss for words when it comes to our journey, the path that God has us on. Even when I am not the easiest to love he loves me. 

We have fit a lot of life into seven years!