Tuesday, April 12


It is only Tuesday, my friends, and it has been the longest week of my life. 

I mean, the longest week of my life when it comes to MY life was the week of Laila's birth when I almost died blah blah but I was so in and out of consciousness during that time that, really, it wasn't that scary for me. For my parents and Trev, the worst. 
For me, a weird, hazy, confusing, emotional series of naps.

For the past four days, I have been entirely conscious. 
Flourescent light, muscles taut, nerves frayed conscious. 

But, actually, it has been the last five days. How could I have almost forgotten? On Thursday, the day before my Dad's first radiation treatment, I was so keyed up about it that I had a little anxiety issue which I misdiagnosed as an allergy attack but, apparently, appropriately treated with a couple of Benadryl. Weird, huh? It turns out that antihistimine is used to treat anxiety attacks. I have friends in high places (the medical community) so I learn this cool stuff all the time. 

Do we believe in premonition, friends? Because I've wondered in the last couple days if my little anxiety issue was a premonition that the radiation wouldn't go well for my dad. 

Premonition or not, it did not go well. 
He threw up all the way home from the appointment, had dangerously high blood pressure and was in the most excruciating pain of his life. Kidney stones are now a walk in the park for Papa. His new litmus test for pain is enduring stereotactic body radiation therapy and then the feeling of having a tumor screaming in agony and fighting for it's life inside your body. 

When my mom got home from the grocery store Saturday afternoon, she found him with the left side of his face saggy and unable to make sense with his words. When he went to get up, he fell and she called 911. Talk about friends in high places, ya'll. Half the Denton PD has been to see him and a couple of his best buds actually responded to the call at my parent's house. 

Thank God the stroke was mild. Thank God she got home when she did. Thank God he is almost fully recovered from it; his face muscles, speech and walking all back to normal and fully functional. 

We've breathed a sigh of relief, a gigantic exhale, if you will. 

And now its time for radiation treatment number two. 
This afternoon. 

I may go to two yoga classes today, ya'll. 

All of the doctors, and especially my parents, want to continue radiation. We have to obliterate these large tumors on L2 and L3 of his spine or else it won't be long before my dad cannot walk. HAVE I MENTIONED THE MAN IS 55 YEARS OLD??? I digress.

Can we just take a moment here and marvel at the strength and resolve of Jeryl and Donna Golden? That they will willingly put one foot in front of the other and walk into that radiation clinic knowing what pain and agony await them there? Of course, this time we have a strategy for dealing with high blood pressure and some (ok, a lot of) pain medicine that we he will take beforehand and I honestly pity the fool who tries to tell my mom to take him home before she isn't fully confident that he is stable and comfortable. Hell hath no fury like a woman who is trying to keep the man she loves alive and well. Shakespeare said that, you know. 

So, we are taking deep breaths and we are praying for mercy when it comes to the treatment today and, oh, did I mention he has another treatment Thursday afternoon?? 

That is the problem with cancer, you know. 
A series of painful and difficult decisions that you have no choice but to make. 
A series of places that you must go but that you dread going. So many of you have walked this ugly road. 

We know you have been praying, dear friends, and we know God has been with us. It truly is miraculous that my dad had a stroke on Saturday afternoon and walked me (briskly, I might add) to the elevator Monday afternoon. 

I will end this post abruptly because my beautiful children will be shuffling in to the living room any minute now with their warm, sleepy bodies and their gorgeous bedheads and my lap will need to be cleared of this computer so that they can crawl up onto it and be snuggled and held and reassured that today is going to be a great day. 

Dear ones, today is going to be a great day. 


Sunday, March 27

Jaws 2

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water... 

What else can we do? If we don't laugh, we'll just cry... 

This post is to update you, our dear friends and family, on the latest challenge in the cancer saga that was supposed to be over for my darling father. 

As most of you know, my dad was first diagnosed with a GIST (that is, a gastro-intestinal stromal tumor) way back in 2002. After 13 years that included a recurrence, trying different drugs and a lot of pain, the tumor grew a 3rd time in the same location last summer and my dad made the decision to finally succumb to a full colostomy. We all hoped and believed that his choice to have all of that kind of tissue removed would end this excruciatingly long battle with cancer. After all, in all that time, the tumor had never metastasized to any other part of his body. Our hope was not unrealistic. 

It was his 6 month post-op MRI that revealed something we couldn't have imagined. 

All up and down his spine. 
Six of them, to be exact. 

For me, the shock and devastation were physical. Even now that I've found some courage, some hope, some positivity, remembering that Thursday afternoon 5 weeks ago makes my stomach turn. He had been having back pain, yes, but it was supposed to be a bulging disc. 
He was seeing a physical therapist to treat a bulging disc. 
It was never supposed to be cancer. 
Not again, you see. Not to my hero and my dear, dear friend. 

Even Papa who, as you know, has been unrelentingly positive throughout his journey, faltered. Through my tears, I asked "Daddy, are you scared?" 
He replied "I was scared when I thought it was a bulging disc. Yes, Chels, I'm scared." 

A biopsy revealed that these tumors are GIST. What's crazy is that Dr. Trent, the guru of GIST, said he had never once heard of GIST metastasized to the spine. 

We've always known my dad was exceptional, haven't we?

After five weeks, we finally have a treatment plan. First week in April, a radiological oncologist is going to radiate the biggest tumors in the lumbar spine(the ones causing all the pain and muscle weakness in his right leg) in an effort to kill them. This radiation isn't like typical radiation, though, because it is very concentrated, very powerful and very specific. It is called Stereotactic body radiation therapy. He will have treatments in 3 fractions over the L2, L3, L4 and L5, then we'll see how they've reacted. Our hope, of course, is that they "fry and die"... (See how technical my medical vocabulary is?) He will also start on a chemotherapy drug, similar to the ones he has been on in the past, that will hopefully stop the growth of the other, smaller tumors and keep another metastasis from happening.

Why are we just now telling you about this, you ask? 
Well, for awhile, we didn't know what they were... and then once we did know, we didn't know what we were going to do about them so what was there to tell, really? 

But I'll let you in on the primary reason we didn't make a big announcement: 
Papa was really enjoying not being sick. 
He really enjoyed that, for awhile, people didn't look at him and think of cancer, that friends asked other questions besides "How are you feeling?", that he was treated normally and jovially and that, for awhile, he wasn't quite so delicate. 

So, for his sake, raise your right hand. 
Repeat after me: "I, (state your name), do solemnly swear to treat Jeryl Golden like the strong, positive, powerful man that he is. I swear to not tiptoe around him. I swear to ask him questions like "What do you think of this weather we're having?", "Gone to any Rangers games lately?" or "How are the grandkids"? I swear to give him bear hugs and slap him on the back and just be normal. This is my solemn vow."


We are hopeful that the upcoming treatment will ease his pain and that the medicine will do it's job to stifle these cancer cells and keep them from popping up anywhere else. 

Ultimately, my friends, we are putting our trust in God. 
Like Peter, I find myself saying "Where else would I go?" 

There have been times in the past that my disappointment in my circumstances caused me to run away from God. In these last 5 weeks, however, dear ones, I'll be honest: I've run headlong into His arms. The bottom line is that our life here is but a breath, a vapor, an instant, and I resolve not to spend my time on earth angry with a God who, in His unending love, made the way for my rescue. Even if my father isn't healed, he is rescued. 
We all are, dear ones, if only we believe that He is God and that He loves us. 
As we've sung today, on this beautiful Easter Sunday... 

"Now death, where is your sting?
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated!
Forever He is glorified, Forever He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen, He is alive!"  

The scripture that I'm clinging to is Psalm 66:12:
"We walked through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment." 

One way or another, my friends, rich fulfillment, ultimate satisfaction, perfect healing... 
That is our destination. 

Thank you for praying with us. You've been an encouragement in powerful ways and we couldn't have walked this journey without you. 


Wednesday, January 27

Cosby, Clinton and one really beautiful Chair

I'm here today because writing soothes me.

I need some soothing because I'm BUMMED about this chair that I tried to buy on craig's list, ya'll! Such a #firstworldproblem, I know... and I should be ashamed of myself for caring so much but it was such a great deal, dude. For a really beautiful chair.

Since I know you want to hear the story, even though I'm taking the risk of sounding like a spoiled child, I'll just tell you: I inquired about it FIRST. They said I could have it FIRST. I said I could come by anytime to buy it if they would just let me know a good time. The peeps were all "Sure, anytime this afternoon or evening", I said "I'll be there at 5:30!" and then, about 3:15, they emailed to say "Someone emailed after you (AFTER me, I tell you!) saying they want to buy all the furniture we had for sale so we're selling it to them, hope you understand, blah blah blah, bye."

DEVASTATION. Then I ate some coffee cake. For obvious reasons.

You want to know what else is a bummer?

(So, I know this is old news but #momlife, you know?)

I'm bummed that Bill Cosby turned out to be a womanizing scumbag.
Like... really, Bill? The children of the 90's are collectively heartbroken... not to mention all of the victims of your malicious and heartless crimes.

The Cosby Show makes me think of TGIF. Same generation, right?

I have such fond memories of TGIF, don't you?? It was Full House, Boy Meets World, Family Matters, what else? I remember eating Pizza Hut pizza and drinking a tall glass of ice cold milk while I watched TGIF.

(You can almost hear the dance-y theme songs and the emotional music that started in the last couple minutes of the show when Danny Tanner would kneel down with a soft expression on his face and  explain the moral of the story to his attentive daughters...)

I have this strange interruptive memory of finding out that Bill Clinton had beaten George H.W. Bush in the 1992 Presidential election while TGIF was supposed to be on. Does that even make sense? Aren't elections normally on Tuesdays? But I do remember that I was sitting on my parent's bed eating Pizza Hut pizza and drinking cold milk and knowing that my parents were going to be super bummed about Clinton winning. We had had a mock election at school and I had voted for Bush because I was a highly intelligent, politically involved nine year old. Let me try that again... I had voted for Bush because my parents were voting for Bush. When I found out that Clinton had won, I distinctly remember feeling like I had lost. I could almost hear the whoosh as the wind was taken right out of my sails.

Not to mention that the whole shenanigan interrupted my TGIF.
As Michelle Tanner would say, "How RUDE!"

And then it happened again today... wooooosh... the wind, gone right from my sails, and all I have to blame is Bill Cosby, Bill Clinton and the owners of one beautiful IKEA Ektorp white slipcover chair and ottoman.


Monday, January 18

Cough Drops and Risk.

So, Lydia may end up being our negotiator. 

Laila has a cough. AGAIN. Both girls had such a terrible cough over the Christmas holiday that I think I have PTSD. Every time anyone so much as clears their little throats, I twitch a little. Now that another cough has reared it's ugly head, I've brought out all of the cough medicines, the essential oils, the Vick's vapor rub, the Benadryl (don't judge), the honey syrup and, Laila's favorite, the cough drops. I let her keep the cough drops by her bed because, over Christmas, I was basically dousing them in everything and pouring all the medicines down their throats and letting Laila have all the cough drops she wanted because sleep. WE ALL NEED TO SLEEP. 
You know of what I speak. 
We've all been there. Solidarity. 

Well, Laila eats these cough drops voraciously and, since I'm begging sweet baby Jesus in the manger for SOMETHING to work, I let her. Poor Liddy knows she must be missing out on something good. 

Tonight, the following conversation happened:

Lydia: I want a cough drop!!
Me: No, sister. You can't have a cough drop.
Lydia: I won't spit it out!!
Me: My love, you're two. Two year olds can't have cough drops because you might choke. 

Lydia: (thinking... big smile...) I'M FIVE!!

Ha ha, nice try, little one. You can't pull that one on me. I was there the day you were born!


And now, dear reader, I'll let you in on something: 
I started the first draft of my children's book. 
Because, as a wise friend told me last week, "If you want it, do it." 
I want it, ya'll, so I'm doing it. 

I'm forging ahead into the scary and uncertain world of true authorship. 
It is a new year after all! 

There is probably something that you are terrified of doing. 
What would be so bad about taking a risk? Even a tiny one. 
We can do it together. We'll hold each other's hand. 

In this, as in parenthood and adventure and the daily work that you painstakingly put your hands to, listen my friend, I'm on your side. 


Thursday, January 7

Being Heard

Something marvelous has happened. 

Something so marvelous, I don't even want to scream it from the rooftops. I want to talk about it in hushed, sacred, solemn tones. 

Come a little closer, dear reader. Let me tell you about this beautiful, wonderful thing... 

First, do you remember that I became a kidmom (#kidmom, if you will)? That I woke up one day and my chubby faced and chubby hand-ed little snugbug had sprouted overnight into a beautiful, tender, compassionate slender necked little girl? The next day, she asked me to tell her the whole truth about sex. The next day, the whole truth about death. And the day after THAT, she went to Kindergarten. Or at least thats how it felt to me. Like, it all came really fast. A slow rolling little snowball (think those LONG days that made up your child's first year of life) that just kept moving and kept growing and now it feels like it is barreling down the hill and is way too big to stop. 

Which, of course, it is... too big to stop, I mean. 

Okay, but listen to me. REALLY listen to me. I used to hear people talk about their precious, delightful, beautiful children and I thought that I mostly understood that. 
I mean, parents love their kids. I get it. 

Then, we had a baby. Our little snugbug who captivated us with her first tiny smile and made us giggle and we were totally in love and I thought "Oh, I didn't understand before but now I really understand because I am just so in awe of this precious baby." She became a toddler and, in spite of her refusal to speak when spoken to and, in spite of her really powerful stink eye and, in spite of the moments when she literally seemed more hormonal than a 13 year old girl, we still believed she was delightful and I thought "Oh, THIS. I thought I knew what unconditional love was before but, no. No, I really didn't know. NOW I know. In spite of all the shenanigans, she really is the most lovely child and I'd do anything for her."

But now. Now, my friends, listen to me. She actually IS delightful. Like, you would agree with me! Like, not just Trevor and I and Nonna and Papa think she's delightful, but, like, strangers and stuff! All you sweet mamas of babies (who are physically incapable of thanking you) and toddlers (who wouldn't thank you even though they could), and 4 year olds (who don't know if they are here or there or what the heck is going on), hear me say this: just hold on. To quote Wilson Phillips, "HOLD ON FOR ONE MORE DAY!" (Or for however long it will take for your child to turn five.)

Five is truly heavenly. 

Which brings me to my original point. 

Remember when I said that one day Laila forced us to tell her the whole truth about death? Well, she didn't actually force us. We've decided we'll never lie to our children and that, in age appropriate language, etc, we'll answer their questions honestly so we, I guess, forced ourselves. Well, the original conversation about death happened about a year ago but Monday night just before bedtime and out of nowhere, Laila asked me "So, Mommy, do our bodies disappear when we die?" 

Instantly, I broke one of my own rules. I gasped. It sounds dramatic, I know, but the question was so surprising and also, honestly, unwelcome (just go to sleep, for heaven's sake) that I made an audible sound in response. 

In the very next second, I imagined her imagining that one day one of us might just disappear into thin air and how scary that thought would be so I turned off my instinct to run and, instead, I chose to engage.

"No, my love. When a person dies, their body stays here but their spirit goes to heaven to live with Jesus." 

"And will we all die at the same time?" (She has asked this question so many times, ya'll. She is so dang smart, so dang intuitive, the idea of being in Heaven with Jesus but without Mommy and Daddy isn't comforting, it's terrifying!) 

"Sister, we don't know when we'll die. Eventually, though, yes, you and Lydia and Daddy and I will all be in Heaven together."

For the moment, she was satisfied. We hugged, kissed, preformed our secret handshake and I walked out, thankful to be a step closer to a glass of wine and snuggle time on the couch with Trev. 

The next morning, she confided in me. "Mommy, I didn't like it last night when I asked you a question and you gasped." 


I bent over, put my face close to hers and said, "My love, I am so sorry that I gasped. I was surprised by your question and wondered why you asked it but I shouldn't have gasped. I  am so sorry. Please remember that you can always ask me anything. Anything, anytime, anywhere, ok, love?" 

"Okay, Mommy." 

Then, off to school she went. That was it. She expressed her disappointment in my reaction, I apologized and then affirmed something I've said over and over. "You can ask me anything." All in the space of 90 seconds. 


That night, the marvelous thing happened. 

Before bedtime, as she was applying toothpaste to her toothbrush, Laila looked up at me and said "Mommy, I learned something today."

"Oooh, tell me!" I said 

"I learned that I can ask you anything. Anything, anytime, anywhere." 

Ya'll, my heart swelled. The angels sang. I did a Happy Mommy Happy Dance in my head. I mean, all of a sudden, it just all became worth it, you know?

She heard me. She hears me. She listens. 


So, to you, dear friend, allow me to say to you: 
Your children hear you. They are listening. 
What you say matters and (thank you, Donna Golden, for this next part) HOW you say what you say matters. 

Just a touch of advice: Don't give up on the little moments. Don't tune out during those final moments of the day. Stay engaged. Cling to patience and grace and keep preaching your message to your kiddos. 

They are listening. 
They are impacted. 
You are heard. 



Just as I was about to start typing, I chuckled at myself. When have I ever started a blog quoting an article from a magazine like "Business Insider"? Even still, I'm doing it! So, here ya go...

I've recently been impacted by a Business Insider article that I found via facebook. The article was written by Emily Esfahani Smith and is entitled "Science Says Lasting Marriages Come Down to 2 Basic Traits". 

Like the title, the article is super long but she basically summarizes the findings of a series of experiments preformed by psychologists John Gottman and Robert Levenson at the University of Washington. 

I'll summarize her summary for you here in one sentence: Kindness and generosity differentiate the "Masters" from the "Disasters" and are imperative to a healthy and long-lasting marriage. 

So, choose to be kind and generous with your spouse, willing to turn toward him at every opportunity. Partner together, pursue each other and believe the best about each other.  

A few sentences from the article that I thought were especially good: 

“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”

and this:

Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. “My bounty is as boundless as the sea,” says Shakespeare’s Juliet. “My love as deep; the more I give to thee, / The more I have, for both are infinite.” That’s how kindness works too: there’s a great deal of evidence showing the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship.

If there is one thing that I want my children to remember about me, it is that I valued, practiced and modeled kindness.

Towards their father, as a loving, nourishing and generous helpmate.
Towards each of my daughters, as a nurturing, gracious shepherdess of their souls. 
Towards my friends, as a faithful and trustworthy companion. 
Towards strangers, as a fellow journeyman and citizen of the world. 

In every arena, I know that kindness matters. And isn't it interesting when "science" catches up to what God has already made clear in His Word?

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." - Psalm 15:1
"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." - Proverbs 16:24
"She opens her mouth with wisdom and on her tongue is the law of kindness." - Proverbs 13:26
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." - Colossians 3:12

Ephesians 2:7 goes so far as to say that the very manifestation of God's grace towards us IS His KINDNESS! And that His plan for ages and ages to come is to show us His grace through His kindness as we dwell together in heavenly places! And, to that, I say YES! Amen! Count me in!!

Even as I cheer and champion the kindness of God towards us, I simultaneously FEEL how deeply undeserving I am of that kindness. He has done everything to rescue me and I have scorned Him so many times. Even so... "the loving kindness of the Lord never fails". 

I am undeserving and yet He is abundantly kind toward me. 

Therefore... I am never more like Jesus than when I pour out kindness on those whom I may determine not to "deserve" it. When Trevor hurts my feelings. When my children are selfish and fussy toward each other. When I don't agree with my friends. When I see a stranger who seems to have brought misfortune on himself. 

Kindness, generosity, compassion. Every part of our lives will be richer if we'll practice these things, especially when it's difficult to do so. The great news is that the Bible tells us we have ALL we need for life and godliness. Friends, let us lean into the goodness and kindness of Jesus in order to pour OUT His goodness and kindness on others. In doing so, we'll become more like Jesus, we'll glorify Him and the grace He so richly pours out and we'll leave the kind of legacy that will impact generations to come. 

And, as Gottman and Levenson confirmed, we're far more likely to have fun, fulfilling, life-giving marriages. 
And that is something worth cheering about. 

Wednesday, August 26

Solid Food

If you'll allow, I think I'll just start right here in the middle of my thought.


Recently, I marveled at a facebook post written by a man who's child had been diagnosed with cancer.  

It was incredible. 
It was inspiring. 
It was compelling. 

Maybe that is what the Bible writers meant when they talked about "solid food", that I might grow to a place of maturity in which I am able to pray "In every circumstance; truly, even in the midst of my worst nightmare, I trust in your goodness. I rely on you for comfort and I hold fast to the promise of eternity in your presence, where there is no longer sorrow, where the thirst of my soul will be ultimately and unendingly quenched by Living Water." 

I'm not here to make an announcement. We're not in the middle of any great trial. 
In fact, I've never really experienced personal grief. Heck, I haven't even had to grieve a grandparent yet. Wonder of wonders, I'm 32 years old and all 4 of my grandparents are alive and well, thank God. MAY THEY LIVE FOREVER AND EVER. 

My dad has struggled with cancer for so many years that I'm tired of typing the number but he is alive and he is fighting. We've grieved for moments lost, for sure, but he is breathing and we are able to hear his voice and kiss his lovely face. 

I have heard of that deep grief of loss, though, for sure. 
I've walked closely with friends as they've travelled that dark valley. 

I absolutely cannot imagine the immense grief of watching my child suffer with cancer... and, yet, this acquaintance of mine and his wife are doing that very thing, walking through my worst nightmare and somehow finding a way to worship God in the midst of it. Solid food. 


I do not understand why my life is so good. I have such abundance and such an overflow of reasons to be thankful, I almost feel guilty sometimes. And I struggle with even saying that God has blessed me. Because why should He? Why should I be "blessed" with healthy children when others have to watch their precious ones suffer? 

I'll tell the truth. I feel lucky. 
And grateful. So very very grateful. 

Jesus, you said that we'd have trouble in this world. 
And I believe you. 

When trouble comes to me, I pray that I will have the courage and strength to reach for the solid food of trusting you, allowing you to be my comfort and my sustenance, just as I've witnessed others do. They are an inspiration and their faith spurs me onward.

"Whatever it looks like, whatever may come, I am yours."
~Bethel worship