Saturday, September 13, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Head Over Hills In Love

When I was a kid, my family lived close to a park with lots of grassy hills. My sister and I would lie down at the top of the hill and roll and roll and roll! The momentum of rolling was exhilarating until I got to the bottom and I was ready to roll again. The problem was that I was and still am highly allergic to grass so the thrill was a risk unto itself – with a very itchy, uncomfortable aftermath.

For those of you that have read my blog from the beginning, you know that I have been married previously. So for me, this is a falling-in-love-again-for-good kind of story. Ours is a story – a forever-always – amen kind of love story.

I can spend countless minutes talking about the horrific emotions of infidelity and distrust in my previous marriage but it serves no purpose other than to distract from the beautiful, chaotic love that my love and best friend, Jeff and I share.

When asked what makes our marriage work, honestly the only” What” is a “Who” – God is the very core of our relationship. Without him, I can’t even imagine what our marriage and family life would be like.

We were knit together, each of us, in our mothers wombs. That’s where the similarities of our childhood begin and end. We are chocolate and vanilla, smooth and crunchy, spicy and mild. If you know me, then  you can already guess which one of us is spicy.

We came together not knowing where our friendship would lead. We had the yours and mine kiddos which we knew could be one of the most difficult task of all –  to bring us together and to call us a family. The true test came when we said I do. With our oldest kiddos standing by our sides, we made the no matter what commitment.

Six kids, two son in laws and three furbabies later…we’ve got chocolate and vanilla – in love.
It hasn’t been easy. Blending together families means blending different ideals, visions and goals. I won’t lie – there are times that are tough when we both think to ourselves, “Did I really expect our lives would be this way?” Yet, we focus on what we have and where we are going and we both come to the conclusion that we were meant to be.

I never imagined love could be so sweet. I have found that love doesn’t focus on color but on the friendship and courage to be “real”. Jeff has given me that and more. I don’t have to apologize for being “me”. I know without any doubts, he loves me just the way I am.

Where will this love lead? Only God knows but there’s so much exploring and excitement and challenges headed our way. I will give you a hint…with yours and mine, comes ours….There’s a new Dankenbring that will be a part of our family through adoption. We’re jumping head 
into this adventure of ours called love and life. Are you?
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dare to Be...Vulnerable!

Am I the only one that seems to have no words for the unrest happening in Ferguson? I’ve tried but the ugliness throws me back into the doorway, looking at what’s going on in my community and inside my home instead of being emotionally wrapped up with all that is going on in pandemic proportions elsewhere.

I’m not shutting my eyes to racism because I’ve experienced it more than I really care to think about. But what I do want to talk about is being vulnerable enough to let others into your life and those things that you are most passionate about. People hate what they don’t know or maybe want to know. People assume because assuming is easier than going up to another person and talking and REALLY finding out who you are standing beside, living next to or worshipping with.

We guard our hearts from evil but we also keep others from seeing deeper into who we are for fear that we won’t be accepted. Courage is letting go of the “what ifs” and opening our arms to “why nots”.

I’m terrible about hiding feelings, blemishes, truths, emotions. I grew up in a family where it was better to not “show your stuff”. Even now, Facebook and Twitter can be obtrusive to me. I have to force myself to stop watching and reading and instead, engage.

After I had the flat line/dying thing happen, I developed a new attitude. What I saw when I died was that I had shed my “shell” of who I was. It was like taking off footie pjs and letting them drop to the floor. When I came back, I decided that if that’s what death is like, letting go of what is on the outside and embracing eternity, I no longer want to hold back showing the “real” me. I’m not wanting to do a naked bike ride, I just want to stop hiding behind facades of what some people think I am or I’m not. I’m all for vulnerability – as painful and difficult as it may be.

I’ve decided to challenge myself as well as you, to go outside of what is normal. Instead, divulge, bear, seek and let go. I’m sharing my vulnerability with you. My challenge to you be courageous and share something, anything that will be a giant leap to you being vulnerable. Be yourself! Here’s my leap!

1)    I have been battered and bruised by pastors and members of some churches. I was made to feel like the bad person. I felt as if I had no voice.

2)    I hate, hate, hate when I am asked, “What are you?” I don’t mind when I’m asked, “What is your nationality?”

3)    I have food allergies and the list of food that I am allergic to is growing daily. I’m in denial that I can’t have nuts.

4)    I’m married to a wonderful man that is white. I dislike having to justify mostly to Black people, why I married outside of my race.

5)    I have scars (keloids) on my face, chest and back and the doctors are baffled by them. I have to wear some shirts backwards to cover the largest ones up.

6)    I don’t mind answering questions pertaining to my heritage and race but I don’t like having someone touch my hair out of curiosity. (Yes, this has happened more than once.)

7)    When I was younger, I didn’t fit in with my Black peers because they often picked on me for talking and acting “white”. I also didn’t fit in with my White peers because most of them didn’t understand why I was different from them. It’s taken me years to finally find my “place” and embrace who I am, how I talk, look and believe. I’m a child of the King. That’s more than enough.

8)    I have OCD tendencies from my first marriage and it’s very difficult to overlook things out of place or in a messy room. Even at work, I won’t leave for home until I’ve cleaned up my workspace.

9)    I’m easily amused, curious, in awe of how things work. To this day, I regret not becoming a doctor.

10)  I hate when someone tells me, “You can’t.”

Are you ready for the challenge? Showing your stuff may mean uncovering just a big toe – that’s a start! Go ahead and share your stuff.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This Thing for Books

As far as I can remember, I had a love for books. My mom would read my sisters and I books that seemed to come alive right before our very eyes. I loved the sound of her voice as she read but I couldn’t wait until I was big enough to read all by myself.
Summers were spent reading underneath the air conditioner or by the stereo where we would trade books with one another. The librarian knew to save books for us because they were quickly devoured and we were ready for more.
I imagined life on the Banks of Plum Creek, being Margaret in Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret or one that I often wished, The Mummy Market, a place to trade in your mom. I laughed with Ramona Quimby and became an entrepreneur with Eddie Hits Paydirt. I saw myself in each book that I read.
The love of books still remains. In fact, to de-stress, one of my favorite things to do is to go to a second hand store and browse through the books. Going to the library is similar to having that first morning cup of coffee on a Saturday…pure delight!
What’s been even more of a wonderful gift is having friends that are authors who I have cheered on from the very beginning. When Kathy Lipp came out with The Husband Project, I was doing the chicken dance on the sidelines. Each and every book after that has been a hit. I definitely can’t forget  Michelle DeRusha who’s book, Spiritual Misfit has become one of my favorites of this year.
2014-08-02 16.33.33
Then there’s Jen Hatmaker, Debbie Macomber, Lysa Teurkeurst, Lisa Harper, Emily Freeman, Annie Downs, Karen Zacharias, Sara DeBarge, Jennifer Duke, Angela Thomas, Lisa Samson, Tsh Oxenreider, Ann Voskamp, Kimberly Cash Tate, Sheila Walsh….the list goes on and on and on.
There’s many that I’ve forgotten and much more that are already on my pre-order list.
2014-08-02 16.33.47Thank you for blessing me with the gift of words to unwind, dream, become brave, admit that I’m a Spiritual Misfit, cry, nod my head, highlight and take to the deepest part of my heart the very words that you speak to me with your gifts. I thank God that you all have the courage to share with us your gift of words.
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Because I Need to Remember

2014-07-02 18.57.39The most important things are easy to remember but those vital to survival, are easy to forget.I sometimes struggle with remembering to breathe, often holding my breath without realizing it. Just like breathing, life happens and as it does, I get caught up, distracted, and stuck on things that really aren’t important.
Today has been one of those days...the kind of day that started out with me feeling sorry for myself. I was thinking, “Why me? Why do I have to be the one to go through the pain that I’m in? When will I finally feel “normal” again?” Just as quickly as I thought those words, God whispered this:
“Your pain doesn’t define you; it refines you. You have “this” so you won’t forget.”
Almost two years ago, was when I first began to experience the heart issues and other health issues. Out of the blue it arrived. No warning or way to brace myself for the journey. I’ve been from one specialist to another to seek answers. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been in the ER and admitted into the hospital. As for the tears, God’s bottled enough of those to create another river…cool…the Simone River. I kind of like the sound of that!
The frustration, the endless tests, humiliation, tons of medication – I’m so over it!!
Yet, the magnitude hit me today and I remembered - I died. Flat lined. I was brought back for a reason. I vividly remember what I saw and as much as I can put it into words, I can only say “WOW!” before tears fill my eyes.
I remember – and it makes the pain so much more worth it. I’m not the same person I used to be. I’ve become more resilient, maybe more stubborn, definitely more determined to live each moment and breath as if it were my last. I’m not strong enough sometimes – but He is.
It’s a relief to know that I’m not alone in my pain. In 2 Corinthians 12:8, 9, Paul, who had a thorn in his side asked God three times, to remove the thorn but God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” That’s what it’s all about. It’s about me leaning on Him when I can’t walk one step further or when I feel like I’m going to hit the ground.
Even if in this life I never find my “normal” again, I know I’ll be okay.
I won’t forget.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I'm still here but there's a new neighborhood I'm hanging at

Hello everyone!

I hope you haven't forgotten about me. There's been some wonderful changes going on. One of them is that I finally have a domain name so I'm switching over from blogger to wordpress. The latest blog post can be found here:

It has been a journey..exhilarating, scary and exciting. I'm humbled by all that God is doing in my life. I hope that you will join me and visit me on my new blog: See you all there!


Thursday, February 27, 2014

I'm here!

I was looking in the mirror the other day and I asked, "Where did all this gray hair come from and why does it seem like it grew in overnight?" Then, I stared at my reflection and thought, "Who are you? Where are you?" Instantly, a few things popped in my thoughts.


All of those are true emotions based on how crazy life has been. With life, there has been changes and with changes, I'm no longer the same person I was a year ago, a month ago, heck, even a day ago.

When I first moved out to Oregon, I missed "home".  I hated that I had to say goodbye to my best friend, my twin sister as well as others who were such a huge part of my life. At times, I think my dogs got tired of me telling them all of my troubles or having dance parties with them. They would sometimes roll their eyes and I'm almost certain I could hear them say, "I sure hope she doesn't want to have a dance party again!!!"

Then, life changed. I walked in to a new job, a new neighborhood, a new church...most of all, a brand new LOVE in my life, my J. Did it get easier? No. With being new came the challenges of settling in.

I remember the first time I took my two puppies out of the car and set them on Oregon soil, they sniffed the air as if to say, "This sure ain't California anymore!" and they couldn't be more right about that! But, I felt like Julie Andrews, wanting to spin around and around singing, "The hills are allllivvve...."

Where I'm at now is indescribable. God has brought me to the very place where I know without a doubt, I need to be. This is home. In this place called home, I've experienced the joy of seeing my daughter get married to her very best friend. I've held hands and kissed the love of my life in places beautiful beyond words. I've been able to speak for women's ministries and youth groups and summer camps. I've been able to go to football games and become a platypus (a person that not only likes the Oregon Ducks but also the Oregon State Beavers). I've held my cousin as a newborn and I've had the joy of seeing him grow into a big boy of 4. I've had the chance to be a daughter in law to a man who was funny, grouchy and loved all at the same time. In that same breath, I had to say goodbye to that same man as the Air Force honor guards folded up the flag and handed it to my J for the last time. I've adopted two kiddos from Compassion International, loving that they are so very precious to me yet, so far away. I've tasted Voodoo donuts, seen waterfalls up close while feeling the mist on my face. I've touched moss with my bare feet and fed the homeless. I've flatlined and experienced a glimpse of heaven. I've laughed hysterically with tears running down my face. I've sung on my church worship team, caring not how I sounded but feeling just how in awe I am to have the privilege to worship my Creator, my Father. I've earned the title of Bonus Mom and sometimes, I feel like I'm a pretty cool one too. (other times, not so much). I've added another furbaby into my life from death row in California, Bohdi who is absolutely the cutest, greatest dog ever! I've seen nutria up close and they are quite creepy. (Think beaver, rats and hamsters rolled up in package - giant sized!)


I found creativity, peace, beauty, restoration, inspiration, joy and most of all...friends.

There's no other place I'd rather be but HERE.