Thursday, August 31, 2017


Lily was just on the phone doing a phone interview with a magazine about the reading to dogs program at the library. She begins new therapy dog testing (for dogs and owners in September). I was sitting on the couch with her and smelled a strong burning smell. I ran into the kitchen and found that Zach had started a towel on fire by accident. I am cooking green beans and boiling potatoes. Zach washed his hands and threw the towel on the stove rather than hanging it back up. He then, from what I can figure out, grabbed the edge of the towel and threw it on top of my keurig. I run in, spy both burners are fine and see the green towel on fire and black and smoldering with embers. I grabbed it threw it in the sink and turned on the water to put it out. I then calmly returned to Lily as she finished up the interview. Believe me, all is fine. And my keurig is no worse for wear. So yeah. Just another day at the Gavin's.

When Sealants at the Dentist Bring Joy

My 14 year old son Zach went to the Dentist today. He had his teeth cleaned two weeks ago by Dr. Holder and we returned today for 4 sealants. Zach has Autism and finds all things involving dentists and doctors challenging.  He did an amazing job when he got his cleaned and I have been praying about sealants. I have been praying that he would be calm, that he would keep his mouth open and at just the right angle for easy access and that they would actually be able to complete the job at hand.

Zach had the pleasure of meeting Melissa at Carver Dental. She will forever be known as Dental Hygienist Extraordinaire in the Gavin home. She had heard that Zach likes sports and made sure that she already had ESPN on before he entered the room. She took time to review the Vikings schedule that Zach showed her and talked about what games she is looking forward to.  She told Zach that the Gophers play tonight too. And that her favorite sports team was the Twins.

When it came time to start, she adjusted the tone of her voice, explained what each utensil was and reminded him, nothing would hurt. He said, nope, no pain and smiled back. She also reminded him that he needed to keep his mouth open as much as possible and that she promised to wash his mouth out after each step.

Who would have ever thought that sealants at the Dentist would bring JOY?! Zach was so proud of himself as Melissa continued to to praise him . He said-   I am so proud! - at the top of his voice and declared his happiness to the entire dental office. Melissa told him how impressed she was with Zach and that he had done better than all the other kids. As in ever! My mom heart soaring, she then turned to me and said she was able to seal 6 teeth total instead of the 4 we planned on. He did amazing. Melissa smiled ear to ear as she escorted us out to the lobby to claim Zach's two promised prices.

Zach couldn't stop proclaiming what a good job he did, I had a goofy permagrin on my face and even the front desk attendant and woman in the lobby got to witness the close of a fantastic dental experience.

I learned a valuable lesson today. Never again will I fear or worry about a dentist appointment for Zach.  I will continue to uplift the entire situation in prayer and remember that JOY can be experienced in something as simple as sealants.

Select All. DELETE.

This morning didn't start out the way I had hoped. My daughter Lily (10), woke up on the wrong side of the bed. She didn't t have her school uniform ready, she wanted to pack her own lunch, but I had already done it, she couldn't find her choir sheet music and her sass and attitude were at an all time high.

I gave her a few minutes to gather herself as told her to meet me downstairs when she had a better attitude. I had her breakfast cereal in a bowl. And had laid out her hairbrush and inhaler next to where she likes to sit. I said, "Lily, I love you, but whatever that was upstairs, that isn't going to happen again."

Lily was quiet for a few more minutes and as my back was turned making coffee, she says, "Mom, I am sorry. Mornings are hard for me. I sometimes get overwhelmed thinking of everything I need to do today and I panic."  The rude mom in me thought, you are 10! What do you have to worry about?!

The calm mom in me responded, "I get it. These first few days for school are hard and a time of adjustment. I understand feeling overwhelmed, but even when you feel that way, you need to speak kind words to me. I am your mom. We are a team. I am here to help you and you are here to help me. When you yell, disobey and disregard what I have to say, that says that you don't care and that you think doing it your way is more important than working together as a team. When you get home from school today, I need a better attitude from you and your helpful servant heart to be showing. "

Lily smiled, leaned in for hug when I approached her and said, "I can do that. Sorry mom."

What?! That was so easy! Normally, if Lily and I butt heads, she fights and argues and defends and justifies until we are both blue in the face. I was astounded. Could it possibly be true that when I respond with kind words during her time of panic,  that she will eventually calm down, hear what I have to say, and realize that her sass and attitude will not help either of us?

So this morning, I select all and delete. I declare a do over.  I will be praying for my spirited little lady while she is at school today and will tackle this parenting thing all over again when that 430 bus arrives home.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


My 14 year old son Zach has autism. He is able to speak and have his needs met. However, spontaneous conversation is a challenge, he has no fear and is considered a vulnerable youth. He will never drive a car or live on his own but we hope that he will find a fantastic modified job that brings him joy when he gets older.

This afternoon, Zach and I will be heading to Chanhassen High School to meet with his new special education teacher and bring in his school supplies. Zach will start 9th grade next Tuesday in the AIM Program. (Autism In Motion) This is a center based program rather than a mainstream classroom.

He was asked to complete an All About Me form. I printed it off the computer this morning and sat down with him. Many of the answers came to him quickly. Some he asked for spelling help, others he just wrote what he was thinking about. Yes, dogs and cows are his favorite animals and blue is his favorite color. He loves pizza, but only if it is  frozen Bellatorria Pepperoni. And yes indeed,  Praise and Worship Music is his absolute favorite. And of course Adele.

My favorite answer from this worksheet? When I grow up I want to be.... Zach's answer? AMAZING. Zach doesn't want to be a doctor or a farmer or a pharmacist. He wants to be amazing.  I teared up as I saw what he was writing. I think this man sized child of mine who towers over me at 6'2'' is already on the right path to being amazing.

Monday, August 28, 2017


When you said it was over, rather than consoling you, I said it was about time. These past 4 years. I have watched you. You loved and and gave of yourself. Yet you received nothing in return. Your smile often faded when you witnessed what a real relationship was all about. Adoration, words of encouragement, a hand hold, a stolen kiss. As I watched you, that glimmer in your eye had disappeared long ago. You had prioritized a relationship that couldn't ever really be saved. It was a coupling of convenience. A pairing so that you didn't have to be alone. A person to call your own. A hope of what could be, but never really became.

Your phone calls went unanswered, your texts left unread. Sometimes, when they disappeared for a few days at a time, I knew the lies would follow. Work, family commitment, vacation with friends. There were no work issues, family that needed tending to or times with friends. Your excuses came too easily and I think you said them to try to reassure yourself that everything is fine.

You should be the first person they think about when the sun shines in the shades in the morning. Your lips should be painful from love bestowed on them. When something amazing happens at work  the first call of excitement should be to you. Your times together should be so fulfilling that all either of you would ever want would be to fall back into each other's arms.

You, my friend. You are worth so much more than second thoughts and maybes. And I will be the one to remind you of that each time you forget.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


A friend told me yesterday that she sometimes is afraid to be friend. I felt like she slapped me in the face. Afraid to be my friend? Why? She went on to explain that she had read a lot of what I have written in newspapers, magazines and on my blog and she has found that I mostly write about what I know and experience. That I write about real people. Real challenges, real struggles, real joy and my real family and friends.

She is right. I do. I explained what I write is never going to violate someone's privacy. And even if it did, the person whom the story is about, would probably be so far removed from my life already, and never fully identified in the text. Plus, the stories I write are often from my perspective, not someone else's story to tell.

This seemed to put her heart at ease. She went on to say that if I ever wrote about her, she would be concerned about how I portrayed her. She has shared some pretty devastating and heart wrenching family details that she would would never want to share with just anyone.

I replied, " You of all people would never need to be worried about how I or anyone else would ever portray you. You are an amazing friend, mom, wife, and ministry leader. You are kind and gentle and encouraging. You are helpful, faithful and innovative. You are a natural leader, an advocate teammate and inspirational to those who have yet to begin their journey. You my friend, are a woman to look up to, a woman most would aspire to be. If I wrote about you, all of the amazing things I see in you would pour onto the page. So much so, that every reader would desire to know someone just like you."

She sat in a pool of untouched tears listening to truth." I have never seen myself as you describe. On a good day, I am...a mess! I am lonely, struggle with jealously, envy other people, desire true community and can't seem to speak a kind word to my husband. I don't think I was meant to be a mom and I just want to quit my job. How is it that what you see and how I feel are so vastly different? "

"They aren't. I see your amazing strengths. You are focused on how you feel. I see how many times you have tried and tried again. You only see the how many times you have been knocked down. I see determination where you see continued failure. Hasn't anyone ever told you these amazing truths? Do you not know this is who you are? Stop judging yourself, stop thinking that you are not able to overcome your past. Start listening to others. Those I love you's from your husband, he means it. Those hugs from your children, they adore you. The words from a friend? I mean them. Let my words become your truth. "

My friend will still have dark days. She may still worry about conversations such as the one we had and if I will write about it. I will. And I will always write truth. Because without it, I am lost.


I love people. I love talking and listening and laughing. I love to ask questions and learn more about people's lives. I love long, unexpected, amazing conversations about mountain highs in life and the dessert periods when someone has felt stuck in a dry an weary land. But most of all, I love the hugs. The hugs that come after greetings at the grocery, a chance meeting on a sidewalk or time well spent at a coffee shop or kitchen table. The physical connection between two people often occurs with the simple act of a hug. Embracing another person, I am saying I care about you, thank you for sharing your life me, I love you and support you.

Hugging isn't something everyone loves. I have been greeted by a firm extension of a hand as I approach for a hug. As if a hand shake creates the distance. I am now a little more respectful of those that don't appreciate hugs. I realized I was placing my need for physical affection and connection over their need to establish personal space. I usually find that if real, authentic relationships are formed, hugging often happens over time. People that declare themselves as non huggers or not a hug person eventually relax, find joy in the connection and hug. Actually hug and like it.

So to put it all out there, I hug often, I hug for long periods of time, I hug when hugs may not be deemed necessary. Hugging is a weakness that has become a strength. Because the hug life has chosen me.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Feeble and Awkward

Woke this morning fully aware that it is Friday. I am so glad it is the weekend. But then I remembered Monday is coming. My daughter will start school. My anxious heart peaked. I am thrilled she is going back to school, believe she will have a great year and am glad to return to my fall work schedule. But also returning to school means homework, frustration and often tears. My sweet girl struggles. She struggles with homework. And feeling overwhelmed. She can't just focus on one homework question at a time. She sees page after page and she starts fighting tears.

God, I don't feel equipped on the best of days to parent a high energy, full of life little girl. I know that if I stay calm, she will stay calm. And we can get the work done together. Lord, help me stay calm, help me use kind words and help me help my sweet girl have a great year. I can't do this without You. In times of strife, help me find my Joy in You. Help me know that the Joy of the Lord is my strength.  Remind me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Lord, thank you for being A God who hears my feeble and awkward prayers. Help me honor You, bring glory to You and point my kid to the Cross daily. In Your Mighty Name, Amen.

Monday, August 21, 2017

What Am I Looking At?

It really didn't matter what I said. I explained the eclipse, the total eclipse that was happening today. That it would be dark and then get light again. It would be best around 1:06 pm here in Carver, MN, that the temperature might drop. Simple short statements. Zach couldn't even pronounce eclipse.  His amazing,  Autistic, 14 year old brain feigned interest.

I was in awe as the thunderstorm rolled in and the big swirling clouds threatened to block any and all possible views.  And then, there it was. I kept my sunglasses on, looked to ground and held up my phone and shot two pictures. Just two. And then it was gone. That was it. But oh my. I thought it was breathtaking. Absolutely astounding. Thrilled I got to see it.

Lily then burst back outside, told me she had her watch on and was ready to play... What time did I want her home? So, I told her 1:45 and let her go play. I tried to show Zach the picture of the eclipse on my phone. He looked at me and said, "Wow, I like your hair cut." So, there I sat. With my new haircut, my sunglasses pushed up on my head staring at my phone. And I asked myself, "What am I looking at?"

Restore Not Replace

Your whiskers have been cut, damaged, torn from the root. Your surroundings have been unsettled, tossed even destroyed with no hope of restoration. Struggling to firmly plant feet that used to know the way. Feet that once lead you on adventure,  to places unknown, locations you didn't know you needed to dwell. You retreat as the fear surrounds you, overtakes you, drowns you. Your once fierce presence has been diminished into a person that hides, cowers and often flees. I will lead you until you to return to that once strong, sometimes overwhelming pillar of strength. -

Sunday, August 20, 2017

What The Couch Left Behind

We have had a bit of an incident here at the Gavin's on this hot Sunday afternoon. Zach was asked to clean the basement up in preparation for bible study guys coming over on Monday night. He went in search of Aldi bags. He believes garbage can only be put in Aldi bags. This is what I found on my bathroom floor. He found Aldi bags all right. He brought 17 (may be a slight exaggeration) downstairs and filled two with garbage. He moved the couch and found a ton of garbage.  The two bags he filled,  were brought back to the main floor and placed them in the back hallway to be brought out through the garage door to the garbage can.

Something told me to look in the bags. For real. I found a coaster, three toy figures, a Christmas Stocking, an Easter bag belonging to cousin Joey, one of my 314 missing kitchen scissors, 4 VHS tapes, 5 dvds including Narnia in the case, two blues clues books and the entire set of foam letters that I just bought him at the thrift store. Plus Apple peals, dried cheese and salami, rock hard raisins, 497 popcorn kernels and so many items of questionable origin.

So needless to say, Zach cleaned the basement, two bags of trash are ready to be brought out, my bathroom floor looks like a bag lady would be happy and I need to go downstairs at some point and search for the missing 15 Aldi bags. Because I can totally see this happening all over again next week.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This Is Why I Nap

This afternoon I was overwhelmed by conversations with Lily. We covered the meaning of the honor system, the idea of no judicial recourse, the fact that that even though my teeth are whiter I am never going to convince her to brush her teeth twice a day with coconut oil and turmeric, and that someone with a "superb knowledge of candies from other countries must have created the new dome addition at the world's largest candy store." Oh. But for sure we had already covered that organic red butter lettuce is better than arugula that "tastes like dirt" but not as good as the outer pieces of a head of lettuce, that she can't read my 1966 HW Hanson History of Art book because it is old and "smells old", the fact that I eat more gross vegetables than anyone else in our family, and that she hopes dad doesn't forget the pump for the inner tubes because she totally plans on using all of them at the cabin. Once again #thisiswhyinap

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Painted Faces

Oh Lily. How much I love you. You challenge me daily. Yesterday we had a deep, long, detailed conversation about growing up. Today you asked me to put makeup on you for the first time. I didn't say no because you are only ten, I was glad you asked. Rather than a full face, we talked about why and what items you wanted. We talked about inner beauty and how external beauty is fleeting. You asked amazing questions about why there are so many beauty videos on line and tutorials. You asked why women spent so much time applying makeup and spent so much money on makeup. It is like you are the parent. You ask these questions that you know I will answer and you lead each conversation so well. I told you that less is more and yes, sometimes it is fun to play, but that it isn't necessary to wear makeup all the time if ever. You loved when I told you that most days it is moisturizer and a little lip gloss and nothing more. Lily, I enjoyed this time with you. I enjoy the beautiful young lady you are becoming. I treasure that when I asked you where true beauty lies, you pointed your heart and said, "It matters who lives in my heart. " Yes ma'am it does. Today, we painted our faces together for the first time. And I look forward to the amazing conversations that we will have tomorrow and the day after that.

Saturday, August 5, 2017


I asked you to follow
You wanted to lead
I couldn't remember where we were going
It didn't matter
You knew the way
The path seems to have changed
The road seems to stray
I don't need direction
I need the desire to go
To lead
To walk
To move
One foot in front of the other
Stay where you are
I am ready to do this on my own

Friday, August 4, 2017

"Rotary Cuff" Update 8/4/17

I was discouraged when I continued to struggle all night with pain in my shoulder and arm. And when I woke this morning, still so much pain. Not that I thought it would go away overnight, I just wanted it to improve. I kid you not, Amy McGowan now has an amazing service she can offer. Not only is she a wonderful friend and mother and wife and disability ministry leader, she now offers the service of helping you heal. She smacked me on my bad shoulder in a joking manner forgetting about the sling on my arm. It hurt when it happened, no big deal, accident. And then I rested this afternoon, and got up and my shoulder actually feels a bit better and I have a slight improvement in range of motion. I can't make this stuff up. So Amy... Now random strangers will show up at your door and say, please pop this dangling finger back in for me, or can you stomp on my broken foot and fix it? I can't make this stuff up. #nopainnogain #herehitmehere

"Rotary Cuff" - 8/3/17

I got home from the 212 medical center at 6 am this morning. I have a very painful rotator cuff. I didn't fall and I didn't injure myself, I feel safe in my home, no one is beating me. The woman at the check in desk, the nurse, the doctor... All asked the same million questions. I finally gave up when the registration nurse came in. I told her I fell from a very tall cheerleading pyramid. (Jason, the nurse is smirking) Let's just say she and I can not be friends. Not only did she not think I was funny, she felt the need to point out that it is usually the little sprites at the top of pyramids. #humorlostonthisone #reallyiamfunny #askmyfriends #dontquestionmycheerleadingknowledge #atleastjasonsmirked #thedoctorwasimpressed

Ode To 72

Today would have been my mom's 72nd birthday. She would have asked to go out to lunch at some really "high falutin" place like Applebee's. She would have ooo'd and ahh'd over hand made Birthday cards from her grandkids. She would have asked for ice a cold water for her water bottle and then asked again. She would have used hand lotions, attempted to light candles and put on new jewelry she received as  gifts. She would of held my hand and  my sisters hand and smiled the entire day.

Our mom loved birthday's. She loved holiday's. She loved every day and found a way to always celebrate the mundane. They are serving meatloaf! 2pm on a Thursday? Woo-hoo! I saw 4 blue Jay's this morning! So beautiful! She adored every day occurrences  and her infectious joy was always shared with others. Today I celebrate my mom.  Jo G Cook. I loved my mother so much. And today I honor her memory. I will share a story or twelve with my kids, shed a tear or two and embrace this day like it was my last. Just the way my mom would.

I Was There To Hold His Hand

     Our dad is dying. He is in his final days. My sister Angela is doing an amazing job caring for him in her home. She is overseeing care,...