Life or something like it

We interrupt this lunch break to search for a rat

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I went home for lunch today and decided to check on our rat Oreo, aka Roger.

Yes. Yes we do have a rat. A rat named Oreo, aka Roger.

Here’s the rat story before I get to the rat lunch story.

Last week I stepped outside and out of the corner of my eye I see a white and black thing scurry away from my flowers. He ran around the building but I couldn’t find him anywhere. I thought he was a hamster but I also thought maybe I was imagining things.

The next day our neighbor knocks on the door and tells Pat he found a rat. Since Pat is the maintenance man of our apartment complex, he gets all sorts of calls and knocks on the door. The rat had been on our neighbor’s patio but ran off. Me, Pat, the kids, the neighbor and his wife start looking for Mr Rat and I find him around another corner. Pat and the neighbor thus begin their quest to capture Mr Rat. After about an hour they give up – Mr Rat is a smart rat and knows not to trust Pat when he tells him to come out from under the patio, it’ll be ok.

Fast forward to Sunday, we were all outside and our neighbor comes around the corner and says the rat is back. Pat had gotten some traps from a co-worker and so the neighbor takes the trap to set it up by his patio. Ten minutes later the neighbor returns with Mr Rat.

We believe Mr Rat was purchased by another neighbor who happens to own a very large snake. Neighbor who caught Mr Rat gave him to Pat as Pat said he would give him to a co-worker. I guess snake neighbor didn’t want Mr Rat anymore. But then Caleb convinced Pat that for some reason it would be a good idea for US to keep Mr Rat. Because that’s what we need, along with rabies. And then of course since Caleb has a rat, Angel needs a hamster so it’s fair because after all life is always fair. And Pat’s wife, aka me, for some reason decided this was all ok.

This is all so confusing.

I guess I should have just said, we now have a rat.

Which sounds much more sane than, we decided to keep a rat we found outside, but it’s ok, really.

So, I go home for lunch today and decide to check on our rat Oreo, aka Roger.

Oh ya. Caleb originally name him Roger. Which I love. Roger the rat. Come on, how great is that!? But then last night he decided Roger was going to be called Oreo. And I said that I’m still going to call him Roger. Because when I was growing up we had a dog named Ed. But I called him Mickey because I collected Mickey Mouse stuff. And he knew both names. It was awesome.

His sign says Epic Oreo. How cool would it be if he was named Eric Oreo Roger!?

So, I go home for lunch today and decide to check on our rat Oreo, aka Roger. Who will now be referred to as Roger.

Unfortunately, Roger is not in his cage. Someone left the top off his cage which was on top of a table in Caleb’s room. So Roger first did a little mountain climbing and then a little sky diving. Thankfully Caleb’s door had been closed so we were pretty sure Roger was still in his bedroom.

Pat was home for lunch too so the four of us proceed to tear apart Caleb’s room looking for Roger. Caleb is crying and in between sobs asking if he can get another pet. After about 20 minutes we decide to let Jake – our black lab golden doodle – come into the room and see if he can sniff out Roger. No luck.

I then ask Pat if Roger could fit under Caleb’s door. Pat says probably. So then the four of us proceed to tear apart our entire apartment looking for Roger.

Pat decides to give Jake another try and while me and the kids are out in the living room we hear Pat cheer. Jake found Roger! He was in or under or something with the heat register behind the bed. Pat took apart the heat register and pulled Roger out and Jake got about 15 treats for having such a good nose!

The moral of the story?

If you happen to find a rat and keep it and give it two names and then lose it and then your dog finds it… you are not alone.

Hello? Anyone?


All the feelings

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The last time I actually wrote something on here, other than sharing about my devotional book, was September 2016. So I’m not sure I know how to do this anymore. But for the past few months I’ve sensed I should start writing again.

June always brings about an torrential downpour of feelings. Ug, the feelings. This year appears to be more difficult for some reason – six years since Mom and Dad left us with no warning and no goodbye. Not a magic number I don’t think, but the days match the dates this year – June 9th was a Saturday, etc. – so maybe that is why.

We’ve had five large totes filled with mom and dad’s pictures and everything they ever collected about us kids.

Every single report card. Every single sports event program. Every single newspaper article with our name. And I’m not talking, “Missy Hellman scored 25 points to lead the Pheasants to a win.” Because ya, that never happened. I’m talking “Missy Hellman, 0-3, 0 points, 4 fouls…” Highlighted in bright yellow.

A few weeks ago I decided to start sorting through the totes. It’s only been six years – it’s about time, huh!  But UG, the feelings. Some days it’s fine and I laugh and laugh and laugh. Some days it’s torture and I last about 10 minutes. My brother Jim is coming out for a visit in July so I’m determined to get through everything by then so I can gift ALL. THE. STUFF. to my siblings.

I feel we’ve come a long way as far as taking pictures are concerned. I have three garbage bags full of pictures that are just scenery. No one in the picture. A tree. A hill. A sunset. Ok, I have kept some of the sunset pictures. Mom loved her sunsets. There is a downside to the digital pictures we have now in that we don’t ever get any of them printed. But let me tell you, having doubles and triples of every single picture! WHY!? It was just what you did I guess.

The best part about sorting through the pictures is experiencing Angel experience the pictures. I handed her my brother Tracy’s senior picture portfolio. She opened and yelled, “HELLO MULLET!” Haha it was so funny. He did have an awesome mullet.

Haha. Good thing Tracy doesn’t read my blog.

I’m not gonna lie, the past six years have been hard.  I’m not the same person I was before Mom and Dad died. I’m also not the same person I was right after they died or a year after or three years after. Grief is a crazy thing – it ebbs and flows and changes you and changes you some more. I’m so thankful for the relationship I have with my brothers and sisters. It’s been difficult for all of us – all in different ways – but through it all I think Mom and Dad would be proud of how we have supported and loved each other.

It was fun coming across these pictures:

The original – 1980ish

Every time I come across a picture of Jim as a baby/little kid, I have to do a double take – he looks so much like Caleb.

And the retake in the exact same spot – no idea what year this was, mid 90’s I think.

UG, the feelings. Love my family so much – those with us still and those in heaven.

This week and next I’ll be sharing more feelings and memories and sorry in advance for that but maybe after that I’ll get back to normal stuff on my blog.

Normal stuff like this treasure:

Let go of the steering wheel

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On the way to bring kids to school this morning I started thinking about, aka freaking out about, our financial situation. What could I sell, what could we do, to get by another week?

I’ve been off work that past six weeks and we’ve fallen deeper and deeper into holy crap how are we going to pay rent/utilities/car payment, etc. mode. Thankfully I started a new job yesterday, so that is good, but for today and the next and the next, things are still really tough.

As I was freaking out, God spoke to me. Just one word: trust.

I looked down at my hands on the steering wheel and they were tightly clenched. God told me to just let go. Figuratively, of course. But I did let go for a few seconds, just to feel the release.

Questions and doubt and fear ran through my mind. But God spoke just one word: trust.

He wants to drive me through this crazy thing called life. Just let go of the steering wheel. I envisioned myself completing letting go and stretching my arms out. Releasing my questions and doubt and fear.

I can do this. I can trust. By His strength. Even when nothing makes sense. Even when I just want to run and hide. Even when life is hard and questions go unanswered. Even when you think you’ve done everything right but everything still turns out wrong.


I continued to loosen my hands on the steering wheel. Let go. God is in control. He walks with me. He will provide.

I turned on the radio and a song by Lauren Daigle came on.

Of course it did. Thank you Jesus.



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I’ve never walked in the shoes of a police officer. I’ve never walked in the shoes of a black man.

Twitter and Facebook and the morning news tell me how to react, how to think, how to feel. But I’ve never walked in their shoes. So how is it possible, how is it right for me to judge the actions of a police officer or a black man?

There are so many shoes that I walk in. There are also so many shoes I don’t walk in. I’m often quick to judge, especially those whose shoes I’ve never walked in.

I’ve never walked in the shoes of a homeless person. I’ve never walked in the shoes of an addict. I’ve never walked in the shoes of a young pregnant girl facing the most difficult decision of her life. I’ve never walked in the shoes of a mama losing her baby too early. I’ve never walked in the shoes of a gay man or woman. I’ve never walked in the shoes of a police officer. I’ve never walked in the shoes of a black man.

I have walked in the shoes of indescribable grief. I’ve walked in the shoes of despair and depression. I’ve walked in the shoes of defiant sin and rebellion.

I’ve also walked in the shoes of someone loved, despite my grief, despair, depression or sin. I’ve walked in the shoes of a child of a faithful God. I’ve walked in the shoes of someone pulled up from the darkest pit into the arms of Jesus.

What do I do with all the shoes that are around me? Shoes I’ve walked in? Shoes I haven’t? Twitter and Facebook and the morning news tell me how to react, how to think, how to feel about all these shoes.

But God tells me something different. He tells me, “See the love you have received as you have walked in your shoes? See this love? Give it away. Even if the shoes are different. Even if you’ve never walked in them. Give away my love. Let me take care of the rest.”