Ravioli Lasagna with Leftover Tomato Bisque

Ravioli Lasagna with Leftover Tomato Bisque

Ravioli Lasagna with Leftover Tomato Bisque

Ravioli Lasagna with Leftover Tomato Bisque is something that I made this past week that was super easy and utilized leftovers. I am not one to waste food. Typically, my family doesn’t mind eating leftovers, so I’m pretty lucky in that department. We are doing some shelf-cooking and so I used (mainly) what I had on hand. I did have to go out and buy some fresh cheese filled ravioli. This is what I made but I am going to add in here what I will do the next time because it sounds good.

What I Actually Cooked

First, I utilized the bacon and fire roasted tomato bisque that I had leftover from a couple of nights ago. I could have just eaten it up, as soup again, but I wanted something a bit different. In my 13×9 greased dish, I put a layer of the fresh cheese filled ravioli, then the sauce, mozzarella, and repeated those layers. I cooked that, covered, at 350 for about 30 minutes. Then, I took the cover off and baked for another 10 minutes. I let it set for about 5 minutes before serving. It was delicious.

What I Will Do Next Time

This is where I get excited! Taking something I threw together to see if it would work and then expounding on it to make it even better. That way, I have 3 recipes in my arsenal of goodness. I have the tomato bisque, the easy ravioli bake, and then the adult version of that ravioli bake. Makes my heart happy.

I would like brown up some ground beef with garlic, onion, Italian seasoning, and my seasoning. Drain that off. In that same skillet, I would cook up some fresh portobello mushrooms, chopped up spinach, and some peppers (red, orange, and yellow). Add the meat back to that skillet and incorporate all of that together and then add your leftover soup to heat it all through.

In that greased 13×9 dish (oven set to 350 to preheat), layer a bit of the sauce on the bottom, then your ravioli (get 2 bags), then more of the sauce. Next add some mozzarella, fresh parmesan to the top and repeat the layers ending with the cheese. Cover and bake for the same time frame as before.

Does that not sound sublime??!!

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Dare to Step Out of Your Box and Live

Dare to Step Out of Your Box and Live by Luke Mind Power. I don’t know if he has a blog or anything online other than Tiktok, so you can just google his name and see what comes up. There are several things of his that resonates with me on some level. It is a lot about self-love, empowerment, believing in yourself, and positive thinking. Frankly, I need that in spades right now.

This has been a very difficult season for me, personally. I am at the point where I am exhausted. As I have posted about, recently, I have withdrawn into myself to try and preserve what little sanity I have left. Everyone’s breaking point is different. I several people I work with that have stories that break my heart and I wonder how they are still smiling. What I have been through is traumatic for me but for other’s might be a walk in the park and vice versa. People handle situations differently.


I don’t share much about what is going on because then I get a lot of advice and “I would” statements. That is great for you. In my mind, I’m thinking well, let’s hope you aren’t in this situation but if you are, then I’m sure you “would” do this and this. For me, this is what we are choosing to do and that seems right, at this moment. We are literally living moment to moment. If the choices we make as a family doesn’t set well with someone else, then that is a you problem, not a me problem. We very well may have made the wrong choices but we are doing our best.

It is exhausting trying to live life, make decisions, confide in others, get advice, try to follow the advice, and it still be a sucky situation. Honestly, it causes me to doubt every decision I have made because I think well “what if” I had listened to this person or that person…would it be different? Should I have? Would I ever? Can I go back and? That cycle has to stop.

In my heart, I know we are loved and prayed over. I know that everyone means well and wants to help or fix the situation. No one likes to see another person or family in pain. They just don’t. I get that and I respect that but give advice when you are asked. As a therapist, that statement is an oxymoron (is that the right word?).


This is the overall theme of this tiktok I was talking about and what I want to try and do, to the best of my ability.

“Dedicate the next 6 months exclusively to my goals. No announcements, just fall back, and do the work. It’s me versus me this time. Stay in my lane. There is no traffic and no competition. I can do this. Right your goals down, create a vision of where I want to be and take actions. Shut my mouth, don’t say sht, just let my success be my noise. My mind is a powerful thing. start using it to my advantage. When you fill it with positivity, my life will start to change. My time is now, no more bullsht. I can’t keep getting mad at people for sucking the life out of me if I keep giving them the straw. It’s time for me to grow.”

Drop the Mic

Don’t you LOVE that?! That statement of “I can’t keep getting mad at people for sucking the life out of me if I keep giving them the straw” is what needs to be tattooed on my forearm so I can see it! Seriously, I might have one of my daughter’s write that on a canvas and hang it up in both of my offices.

I hope my girls are reading this! If so, I need one of those for the house and one for each of my offices. My clients need to hear that as well! Now, I need to process and think. Maybe a blog series, eventually? I dunno. If I do that, it will be after I shut my mouth for 6 months 🙂

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Breathing in Hope as I Navigate Rough Waters

Breathing in Hope as I Navigate Rough Waters

Breathing in Hope as I Navigate Rough Waters. There has been so much that has gone on in the last few (several) years that it is hard to even begin to encapsulate. I was talking with my therapist and she, frequently, says “what would you tell your client?” For me, that is easy.

Beauty is always in the ashes.

You are worthy.

This too shall pass (like a kidney stone).

You are enough.

The trauma that you have stored in your TNT box needs to be talked about/processed in order for you to heal. Then, it will just be a crappy memory that doesn’t evoke strong emotions (depression/anxiety).

She then will ask why I don’t listen to myself.


Trauma is a word that I do not use lightly. In the therapeutic world there is little ‘t’ trauma and big “T” trauma. However, it all sucks. If you don’t have the tools to process that information, you are left dealing with depression (can’t control what happened in the past) or anxiety (can’t control the future) and you can’t live in the present.

My supervisor today told me to think about a triangle. You THOUGHTS dictate your EMOTIONS which affects your BEHAVIOR.

Breathing in Hope as I Navigate Rough Waters

What I view, that I have been through, is not trauma. I hear trauma all day long and it breaks my heart. There are so many days, I just want to rock a client and bake them cookies. I want them to know that they are heard, seen, validated, and loved. My therapist laughed in my face when I told her I didn’t feel like that was part of my story. These are just things that have happened. Do I deal with them well? No.

This Last Round of Gross

Man, it has tipped me to the edge of my sanity. I have had many seasons of severe depression, moderate depression, anxiety, or a combo of them both. This season, however, it has been mainly depression. It has been one hit after another. Some have been significant, some minor, and some that are the tiniest but are the straw that broke the camel’s back.

In this season, I have been quiet. I have deleted all my social media, taken numbers out of my phone, screened calls, and withdrew into myself. When I think back, it is not my intention to isolate but I am so depressed that I don’t want to infect anyone else.

Life Keeps Moving

I still do all the things. Work life, cooking, cleaning, grandparenthood, home, etc. it all gets done. My sister called and left a message on my phone. She expressed that she has been asking my mom about me and giving me space but enough is enough. In her love, she told me that I was to call/text/answer the phone at least twice a week and I’m not to talk about the hurt at all with her (unless I want to) but we are just to touch base.

In my sadness, I didn’t even realize people noticed. My Oak had made some statements about me staying silent but I honestly didn’t understand what she was saying because I rarely go a day without talking to her. In church, a friend came up and apologized to me for not reaching out. I told her that I was fine (lie) and she said “I know how you get when you get quiet.”

Those Statements Made Me Realize

That though I feel alone, there are people that love me and would listen if I called to cry/whine. I just don’t want to impose or make people think they can fix what is going on in my world. They can’t fix it. What is screwed up, no one can fix. However, they gave me hope. Hope that, one day, it will be okay. There is hope that I am loved and not alone. Hope that there is a tomorrow. The hope that I have people willing to hold my arms up and carry me when I can’t walk.

Hope is powerful. Today, I am hopeful. Yesterday I was not and tomorrow is a mystery that will unfold in time. Mentally and emotionally, I am still not okay. There is a lot on my heart and mind. Decisions have to be made, conversations have to be had, and those things that are troubling me are still there.

Here I am, still breathing and holding onto hope. Understanding that trauma is different for everyone but it does not dictate my life. It is a crimson thread that is woven throughout my tapestry. We all have trauma in our lives but if it is processed correctly, then it can just be a blip on the radar and not a Tsunami of epic proportions.


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My Mama’s Goulash

My Mama's Goulash

My Mama’s Goulash

My Mama’s Goulash recipe is one that evokes such sweet memories in my whole body. When I looked up how to make goulash, this weird thing popped up. It had noodles and a red sauce. In my mind I was thinking that that is not goulash, that is a pasta dish. I made it, super excited because I thought my memories might have been off and this would be similar to hers.

News flash.

It wasn’t. I mean it was good but it wasn’t what I remembered it to be. What I remembered was ground beef and thinly sliced potatoes. After that, I had no idea. I just remember I loved it and it fed all of us. We weren’t rolling in the money growing up, so my Oak could stretch any and everything to make sure her family was fed.

Calling the Calvary

After much looking, searching, and several attempts later, I finally called my Oak. I told her I had been craving goulash and for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the magic that she concocted. There was a distinct silence followed by laughter. She gently explained that it was ground beef, thin sliced potatoes, and brown gravy. That was it. There was nothing more and nothing less. Again, silence. I tried to explain there was something there that was just magical. Maybe it was cooking with love that made it taste so good. I made it like she told me, my family ate it all up with no leftovers. Of course, it didn’t taste exactly like hers but it was pretty close. I have “adultified” this meal and it is just as good.

Without further ado…


2 pounds ground beef

1 onion

Potatoes, peeled and washed

Fresh mushrooms

Minced Garlic


2 packets gluten free brown gravy mix

1 c. water

Bacon grease (if you have it) or a dash of oil

3 T butter

Spinach, chopped**

Green, red, or yellow peppers, chopped **

Zucchini, chopped**


Cook your ground beef, seasoning, onion, mushrooms (and other veggies), and minced garlic. Drain and put in a bowl. I use an electric skillet, so I reuse this. In that same skillet, throw in your bacon grease (or oil) and butter. Thinly slice your potatoes and place them, in one layer, in the skillet (I had to do 2 batches). Cook until soft. Remove onto a paper towel lined plate.

Put the ground beef back in the pan and add the gf brown gravy mix and water. Mix well. Add back in potatoes and veggies. Use a spatula to make sure the potatoes are covered in the meat/gravy mixture. The spatula will help your potatoes keep their shape and not break.

Serve while hot.

**These things are optional and what I would like to try at some point.

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Let’s Talk About Adult Bullies and Peer Pressure

Let’s Talk About Adult Bullies and Peer Pressure

Let's Talk About Adult Bullies and Peer Pressure

Let’s Talk About Adult Bullies and Peer Pressure and the fact that it does not end in your schooling years. Bullying is horrible, not matter what stage of life you are in at the time. It starts at a young age and then gets worse when puberty hits. Then, your high school years they aren’t called bullies, they are called cliques.

Frankly, it is all stupid. I never fit in at school with any clique, ever. My one friend found a new set of friends that liked to drink and do other things. My other friend quit school at 16 because he got his girlfriend pregnant and decided to be a drug dealer.

True story.

I stayed to myself, kept my head down, tried to fit in, and it didn’t work. I was made fun of from everything from my clothes, hair, makeup, car I drove, and the classes I took. One time, someone told me that I breathed too loudly, my freckles were distracting, and I walked with my feet out like a duck.

The Stupidity is Real

I think that is why I am drawn to those that are looking a little disheveled, down on their luck, and struggling with life. Their ducks are not in a row…they have a bunch of rabid squirrels running everywhere. Those are my people. One of the best things I ever did was go to AA. I went with a friend (this was for my master’s class) and we went for 12 weeks.

“Hi, I’m Brandi and I’m not an addict.” Cheers and applause would erupt and I would hear “Hi, Brandi, welcome and we are so glad you are here and not an addict.” It was the same with Weight Watchers. They literally clapped and said “Hi Brandi, we are so glad you are here and fat. Welcome!” Honestly, it feels good to be accepted for who you are in situations like that.

Those were my people. Sadly, my husband said I couldn’t go to AA anymore because most of the attendees were his clients and he didn’t want them to know. I get that. For WW, I lost the weight I was supposed to and just quit going because of the cost.

I Digress

Here I am, almost 51 years old and struggling with this issue. How pathetic is that to even utter those words? I often stop and think “hurt people hurt people.” Seriously, think about it. When someone is hurting, they will hurt others to deflect from their pain. It is sad. I do that but I have had to be really mindful to capture myself and not let something get the better of me.

The issue I am facing will fade away, in time. I stay to myself and try not to ask questions or make waves. In short, I make myself small instead of being myself. Granted, I am loud and I love to help, when I can but some people don’t want help and loudness is a trigger. I am trying to respect that aspect.

Lately, I have decided to just be me and be damned with the words that come at me. I am tired of dulling my shine. Now, will I be rude or disrespectful? Absolutely not. If there is a time when I need to apologize, I will do so even if I might not agree. I will do it to make things easier. At the end of the day, that other person has to figure out what it is about me that triggers them. If it is something I can work on, I will but if it is just who I am (as a human) then you need to figure it out and let me be.

In the End

Be kind. It really is that simple. If you don’t have something nice to say, just shut your mouth. Do not guilt someone into doing something they do not want to do (peer pressure). Please do not make someone feel bad because you think they are handling a situation in a way that doesn’t suit you. You can give advice but only when it is asked for. Be an ear, love each other, do not say ‘I told you so.’

Love each other. Meet them where the are at in life. Life is hard enough without adults bullying others and making another person feel less than. You are better than that. I am better than that. Honestly, I am trying to capture my thoughts, be mindful of my speech (with the exception of today when I lost my cool). God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth. That means you are to listen twice as much as you open your trap. When you do open it, make sure it is laced with the love of God.

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Trudging Through the Muck

Trudging Through the Muck

Trudging Through the Muck. It is so challenging to parent a special needs child. Parenting, alone, is challenging. My child has a very rare condition called Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome. Typically, a child with OMS, they will have neuroblastoma in their chest cavity. However, some cases are idiopathic, like ours. Idiopathic means there is no real reason for something to happen. In short, we have no clue what brought OMS along in our child’s life and body.

One day, my child was completely developmentally on target and perfectly “normal” and then the next day, he isn’t. He went from fine to newborn status with a side of extreme shaking, much like Parkinson’s. My child had to relearn all the things. He had to learn how to sit up, hold his head up, walk, talk, feed himself, etc. It has been one of the most challenging journeys of my life.

Support System

I do have a great support system (with the exception of 98% of any doctors). He has grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings, therapists, church, etc. However, no one really knows how it has all played out except those of us who have lived it, daily, with him.

My husband, 6 of my children, my son, and me. We are the ones who have walked it day in and day out. There have been many times I have had people at church pray over us, come to our home to pray, family, friends, who have all loved us well. Truly, they have filled in the gaps in so many ways from encouragement to prayers to food to just listening to me cry.

Yet, there is so much they do not know. There is so much I hold close to my heart because it is hard…sacred…forever changing. I have had to share more of these sacred moments to his therapist because my child is remembering some of the darker moments of his illness. Moments I thought he wouldn’t remember, that I prayed he wouldn’t remember, but he does and we have to deal with it.


When I talk to people about things that are just a part of our life, I realize it isn’t normal. The looks on their faces are shocked, saddened, horrified, and I am just chatting away. Oblivious. This is our normal but when I mention something or someone notices an odd behavior, they are dumbfounded because I speak of this so matter-of-factly.

In the beginning, for several years, our goal was to keep him alive. He lost 3 years of his life doing a massive reboot of relearning everything. Time stood still and we had start over. He had so many hurdles, doctors appointments, therapists, etc. that that is all we did. It is the physicality of the disease that we had to address. Now that the physicality is not so much an issue (barring when he gets sick), now it is the backend of OMS that is kicking our ass. The backend is behaviors, learning disabilities, developmental delays, sleep issues (for some OMS kids), etc.

All the Things and Then Some

This past week, my son has struggled with impulsivity, anger, sadness, sitting still, and listening. The bus monitor had to come to our door to address and issue. We all met Jesus on my front porch. I am going to have to call her and share with her about our kid because she doesn’t know him. To her, he looks normal and should act normal. That simply isn’t the case. Without sharing too much, I intend on shining some light on our rare gem of a child.

He struggles with sitting, on the bus and not listening to simple instructions. The bus monitor was at her wit’s end and I get that but does she ‘get’ him? She doesn’t. That isn’t her fault. My son “looks” like a typical 9 yr old but what she doesn’t see is that he is developmentally about 6 yrs old.

Our son will argue with a tree stump, so he is game on and ready when it comes to anyone in authority. I think he takes after our third and possibly sixth child. Good grief they would argue with anything whether they are right or wrong. The arguing, alone, would make a grown man yield just to make them stop speaking. Our son is the exact same way. He may have a future as a lawyer.

On A Typical Day

I don’t even notice the difference. The age difference between my 6th and 7th child is 8 years. That is a huge gap. In my mind, he is on target until he is with other kids who are his age or even younger. That is when I mourn the loss of what is “normal” and have to readjust to what is in front of me.

It is hard. I am not going to lie. His challenges are steep but everyday we are trying new things but this past week, I was just tired. I get so tired of trying to explain it all away. He is like this because “blah blah blah.” All I get in return is the look of pity or a blank stare of confusion.

We are addressing all of this in therapy. That isn’t going well but we still do it every single week. He has a teacher that loves him and sees him even in the midst of chaos. We have a family that is supportive and a church that is faithful to pray. He is constantly seeing doctors, we have gone gluten free, and so it is an ever revolving door of learning.


Last night, we tackled some hard things that have happened and attached them to emotions. He and I spent about 45 minutes working on identifying emotions and understanding them. My son has a lot of medical trauma, birth trauma, acute trauma, and more. We sat and talked about specific things (lying, stealing, and fit throwing). Each scenario, he chose an emotion card and made a statement “I feel sad because kids at school won’t play with me.” We work on how he can approach these kids and did a little role-playing.

In situations like one of our children not seeing him or his birth mom, we pick the scenario and he makes the “I feel” statement with the emotion with it. I come alongside him and I make an “I feel” statement and we talk about it until he doesn’t have anything left to say. When he is done with the topic, he simply says “let’s move on” and we move on.

I am hoping this helps. The emotion cards are in his room, on the fridge, and I am going to laminate some and put them on his backpack. We have also started giving him some primrose and some all natural calming things to help with the impulsivity and rage.

In The End

I am not giving up on him but I am really tired. The thought of being on easy street sounds so good right now. Yet, everyday is a new challenge. I try to tell myself that he really is on target, even though he is behind developmentally. Honestly, I would chose him over and over even knowing what I know now. I love him and I know that he is meant to be my son, even on the hard days.

However, I would love for a concept to sink in with him. I would love for him ‘get’ it. My fear is that he will be labeled without people understanding who he is and what is behind the behavior. It’s hard to explain. If you are out and about and see a tired mama with a raging kid, show her and her kid grace. You have no idea what is going on behind the scenes. Honestly, you are seeing a fraction of what life is like in an isolated moment. Offer a smile without advice. Prayers are always welcome and you can definitely say a breath prayer as you walk by them.

Love. Be kind. Don’t scream at a kid who might be screaming at you. Even if they look “normal” most diseases are invisible. Grace upon grace.

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Who Knew Lamentations Could Speak to Me

Who Knew Lamentations Could Speak to Me

Who Knew Lamentations Could Speak to Me. Since September 2022, my friend and I have been reading scripture together. She has never read the Bible through and I had not been reading in a while due to just not wanting to, to be honest. T challenged me and we embarked on this beautiful journey together.

We landed in Lamentations. Jeremiah (the wailing prophet) had just been finished and during that time of reading, we were both filled with anxiety. I sent her a message that basically said “chin up, we are heading into Lamentations where EVERYONE laments about something.” It’s just one of those books that you just trudge through.

Until Chapter 3 hit and my goodness, this is everything that has been in my head written out. My pain in a chapter, the power of hope and faithfulness, not hearing the Lord speak but knowing He is there. All of it. This sums up the last several months (read years) of my journey.


This is not new to me. I was told, when I was 19, that I had “clinical depression.” They put me on meds and I stayed on them on and off for years. I am a big believer in taking something to help even out your brain chemistry, get through a season, or when a person is just flat out anxious about all the things. Eventually, I had to change meds, get on bigger dosages, etc.

In time, I have been in therapy, tried holistic measures, worked on my health, and done other things to help. For the last several years, depression has always been there but not the shining star. It has been anxiety. Severe, almost debilitating anxiety on so many levels.

Over the last several months, my anxiety is still there, but it is not longer at the forefront, depression has squeaked by and is taking the top spot. This season has made me question everything from my sanity, to faithfulness of others, to lack of hope, to where is God in all the chaos.

Enter Lamentations 3

Hope in the Lord’s Faithfulness

I am the one who has seen the afflictions
    that come from the rod of the Lord’s anger.
He has led me into darkness,
    shutting out all light.
He has turned his hand against me
    again and again, all day long.

He has made my skin and flesh grow old.
    He has broken my bones.
He has besieged and surrounded me
    with anguish and distress.
He has buried me in a dark place,
    like those long dead.

He has walled me in, and I cannot escape.
    He has bound me in heavy chains.
And though I cry and shout,
    he has shut out my prayers.
He has blocked my way with a high stone wall;
    he has made my road crooked.

10 He has hidden like a bear or a lion,
    waiting to attack me.
11 He has dragged me off the path and torn me in pieces,
    leaving me helpless and devastated.
12 He has drawn his bow
    and made me the target for his arrows.

13 He shot his arrows
    deep into my heart.
14 My own people laugh at me.
    All day long they sing their mocking songs.
15 He has filled me with bitterness
    and given me a bitter cup of sorrow to drink.

16 He has made me chew on gravel.
    He has rolled me in the dust.
17 Peace has been stripped away,
    and I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 I cry out, “My splendor is gone!
    Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!”

19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness
    is bitter beyond words.
20 I will never forget this awful time,
    as I grieve over my loss.
21 Yet I still dare to hope
    when I remember this:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
    to those who search for him.
26 So it is good to wait quietly
    for salvation from the Lord.
27 And it is good for people to submit at an early age
    to the yoke of his discipline:

28 Let them sit alone in silence
    beneath the Lord’s demands.
29 Let them lie face down in the dust,
    for there may be hope at last.
30 Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them
    and accept the insults of their enemies.

31 For no one is abandoned
    by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion
    because of the greatness of his unfailing love.
33 For he does not enjoy hurting people
    or causing them sorrow.

34 If people crush underfoot
    all the prisoners of the land,
35 if they deprive others of their rights
    in defiance of the Most High,
36 if they twist justice in the courts—
    doesn’t the Lord see all these things?

37 Who can command things to happen
    without the Lord’s permission?
38 Does not the Most High
    send both calamity and good?
39 Then why should we, mere humans, complain
    when we are punished for our sins?

40 Instead, let us test and examine our ways.
    Let us turn back to the Lord.
41 Let us lift our hearts and hands
    to God in heaven and say,
42 “We have sinned and rebelled,
    and you have not forgiven us.

43 “You have engulfed us with your anger, chased us down,
    and slaughtered us without mercy.
44 You have hidden yourself in a cloud
    so our prayers cannot reach you.
45 You have discarded us as refuse and garbage
    among the nations.

46 “All our enemies
    have spoken out against us.
47 We are filled with fear,
    for we are trapped, devastated, and ruined.”
48 Tears stream from my eyes
    because of the destruction of my people!

49 My tears flow endlessly;
    they will not stop
50 until the Lord looks down
    from heaven and sees.
51 My heart is breaking
    over the fate of all the women of Jerusalem.

52 My enemies, whom I have never harmed,
    hunted me down like a bird.
53 They threw me into a pit
    and dropped stones on me.
54 The water rose over my head,
    and I cried out, “This is the end!”

55 But I called on your name, Lord,
    from deep within the pit.
56 You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading!
    Hear my cry for help!”
57 Yes, you came when I called;
    you told me, “Do not fear.”

58 Lord, you have come to my defense;
    you have redeemed my life.
59 You have seen the wrong they have done to me, Lord.
    Be my judge, and prove me right.
60 You have seen the vengeful plots
    my enemies have laid against me.

61 Lord, you have heard the vile names they call me.
    You know all about the plans they have made.
62 My enemies whisper and mutter
    as they plot against me all day long.
63 Look at them! Whether they sit or stand,
    I am the object of their mocking songs.

64 Pay them back, Lord,
    for all the evil they have done.
65 Give them hard and stubborn hearts,
    and then let your curse fall on them!
66 Chase them down in your anger,
    destroying them beneath the Lord’s heavens.

There Is Hope

I am going to have to start chanting that, even when I don’t feel it or believe it right now. Right now, things seem insurmountable and I feel very alone. Logically, I know that I am not alone but sometimes you can be in a room full of people that love you and still feel lonely. That is me.

Here I am, still keeping my eyes above the waves and taking it one day at a time. Please know that there is always hope. If you don’t feel like you have anyone, please call 988 which is the national hotline for suicide prevention. They always answer the phone 24/7. You are NOT alone.

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A Letter Written for My Younger Self: School-Aged Edition

Life or Something Like It

Going Back to School at 40 & 50 Years Old

Going Back to School at 40 & 50 Years Old

Going Back to School at 40 & 50 Years Old

Going Back to School at 40 & 50 Years Old was not an ideal thing to do. Let’s move back a bit, in time. I graduated high school and then went straight to our junior college here in town. At that school, I earned my associate’s of science. From there, I moved onto a 4 year college. At school, I was getting a degree in Pre-Veterinarian Medicine.

Incidentally, I fell in love and got married. In my junior year, I found out I was pregnant. That threw a bit of a wrench into my plans. My last semester of college was an internship was a hands on type of work. Typically, a student will come back with, at least, ear mites. It is what it is, so we made the hard decision for me to not finish up while I was pregnant.

Moving Forward

I had 3 kids and decided at the ripe old age of 32, I would finish my bachelor’s degree. My professor was still there and he was a rockstar for me. I did my thesis on the microbial habits of cattle and I nailed it. Honestly, I had been out of school from 23-32, so that was a pretty good thing to accomplish. My kids were able to watch me walk the aisle and get my degree.

Core memory.

It was hard. I cried a lot because I had all the responsibilities of home, homeschooling my kids, a busy 3 yr old, and trying to get my degree. Yet, I did it. We all did it. Now, I knew that I would not be going back to work because my job was in the home. I wanted to continue to homeschool my kids.

Over Time, I Wasn’t Finished

Fast forward 8 more years and I was 40 years old with 6 children. I was still homeschooling the kids and we had just adopted our 6th child. That was a huge adjustment. It wasn’t the amount of kids, it was just acclimating him to America, which was not easy.

I decided that homemaking, homeschooling, adopting, and raising 6 kids wasn’t enough. In my opinion, it was a good time to follow my dream of being a therapist. This is what I had always wanted to do, but chose to go down a path that was encouraged by my dad. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the pre-vet field and I was good at it. It just was not my passion.

So, I decided to go back to school. In true fashion, my goal was to get my master’s in a year. I knew that if I gave myself breathing room, I wouldn’t finish it up. It was awful. I had forgotten all the things and everything was now online, which was new to me.

Writing Papers, Taking Tests, Crying

Overuse of commas was a common issue for me during my excessive paper writing. The tests were timed and watching that clock tick down caused me such anxiety. I remember my kids, all standing outside with their noses pressed to the door, watching me sweat over a test. They were the best little cheerleaders but that year was traumatic on so many levels. I did it with a GPA of a 3.97, I believe.


I did it and I did it well. From that point, I decided to take another year off because at the time, I still couldn’t work. My kids were still homeschooled and we were struggling with some things that needed my undivided attention. I would “counsel” people but not for money. I began looking into being a Life Coach. On and off I would look into that but honestly, I just didn’t have time. I was spread too thin and couldn’t add one more thing to my plate.

Fast Forward Again

At the ripe old age of 42, I accidentally adopted our 7th child. He was 21 mths old when he came to live with us. That was in November and in the following January, I got a job. It was for my practicum for my licensure. I loved it because I was able to still do all that I was doing and work my hours around my kids and their education.

In June of that year (2017), my baby child got sick. My life stopped and everything was put on hold. I had to quit my job because my sole focus was on keeping him alive, maintaining my home, educating my children, and I was taking care of my best friend after her stroke. There just wasn’t enough time in the day. I assumed my time spent working would count towards my practicum, but alas, she was WAY unethical and none of that time counted.

Hitting 50 and Starting Over

In August of 2022, I applied for a job as a therapist and got hired. I was able to get a supervisor and all was ready for me to work. Upon filling out my paperwork for my associate’s license, it was discovered that my master’s was not enough and I had to go back to school and take another 15 hrs above my master’s. I was devastated. We didn’t have the money, I didn’t want to do it, and there is just no way I could remember anything from 10 years ago. Throwing in the towel was the only option for me.

My supervisor stayed on me and would text/call almost weekly to see what my status was and when I would start school. I explained that that wasn’t what I was going to do. However, he explained that was what I was going to do and to just do it. So. I did it.

His words of wisdom were “you are a perfectionist so do not strive for perfection, strive for passing.” He explained I better not show up with my transcript and have a 4.0. Lots of serious tears, anger, fear, and many phone calls to my sweet supervisor later and I did it…again. I remember calling him and telling him I was done. He sweetly asked what my GPA was and I said “well, I didn’t mean to but…I did get a 4.0.” He laughed.

Getting a Job

I had the degree and a supervisor next up was getting a job. However, that is a post for another day. Oh, and I wouldn’t be opposed to getting my doctorate. Maybe I will consider that when I am 60.


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A Letter Written for My Younger Self: School-Aged Edition

The Ghost from Juneteenth Past

Life or Something Like It

Let Them by Cassie Phillips

Let Them by Cassie Phillips



Let Them by Cassie Phillips was a poem I heard on social media. Now, I do not have social media, but this is when I did. When I heard it, it was during a time in my life that was very chaotic. Let’s be real, most days are chaotic. I had discovered some ‘friends’ were not really friends and that people cannot always be trusted. Trust is an issue I have already but this was the last straw for me. People are so quick to judge when they don’t know all the details.

However, reality is that unless you are sleeping with that person or they have their feet under your table for every meal, they don’t need to know the details of anything. Frankly, it is none of their business. We (I) choose to make it their business and by doing that, things get misunderstood.

Just Let Them

If they want to choose something over you, LET THEM.

If they want to go weeks without talking to you, LET THEM.

If they are okay with never seeing you, LET THEM.

If they are okay with always putting themselves first, LET THEM.

If they are showing you who they are and not what you perceived them to be, LET THEM.

If they want to follow the crowd, LET THEM.

If they want to judge or misunderstand you, LET THEM.

If they act like they can live without you, LET THEM.

If they want to walk out of  your life and leave, hold the door open, AND LET THEM.

Let them lose you. You were never theirs, because you were always your own.

So let them.

Let them show you who they truly are, not tell you.

Let them prove how worthy they are of your time.

Let them earn your forgiveness.

Let them call you to talk about ordinary things.

Let them take you out on a Thursday.

Let them talk about anything and everything just because it’s you they are talking to.

Let them have a safe place in you.

Let them see the heart in you that didn’t harden.

Let them love you.

Author: Cassie Phillips


Geez, this is so powerful on so many levels for me. It may not strike everyone the way it strikes me and that is okay. It is the same as the Welcome To Holland poem by Emily Perl Kingsley. There has been so much that has gone on in the last several years. True colors have been shown by some while others have shown up and shown out in support and love. I have retreated back and am reflecting inward to see where changes need to be made, as well. Slowly, I’m trying to make my way back to the surface so Light can be shown on my face.

Remember you cannot control the actions or thoughts of others. The only thing you can do is control your reactions. Anxiety is fear of the future and not being able to control it. Depression is sadness that is focused on what you can’t change or couldn’t control from your past. Live in the present…moment by moment…breathe in and breathe out. Your goal is to change the life of 1 person. What if that 1 person is you?

Let Them.

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Life or Something Like It

A Letter Written for My Younger Self: School-Aged Edition

A Letter Written for My Younger Self: School-Aged Edition

A Letter Written for My Younger Self: School-Aged Edition

A Letter Written for My Younger Self: School-Aged Edition series will be written to heal the broken parts of my inner child. I am a therapist and this is something that I do with my clients, regularly. As I was working through this topic, it dawned on me, that I needed to do this as well.

Let me preface this by saying that I have amazing parents and family. My parents have been married for 61 years. Their love story is one that I hope to get written, on behalf of them, one day. It has not always been sunshine and rainbows. There have been a lot of storms and uncertainty. In the end, however, their love for each other has grown stronger.

What I dealt with, as a child and teenager, has no reflection on their love for me or how I was raised. I am blessed to have a provider and protector in my father. Equally as blessed to have my Oak who has roots that run deep and a can reach even the deepest holes to pull me out when I need it.

Dear School-Aged Brandi,

I want you to know that you are NOT stupid. In fact, the way your brain works is quite fascinating. I will agree that telling time is hard and knowing your right from your left is challenging. You were able to master tying your shoes, eventually and math can sometimes still be a struggle, but you learn some tips and tricks that help things move a bit more quickly. Newsflash of hope: In your mid-thirties, you will “accidentally” learn what the deal is and why you struggle with the issues that you do. A sweet therapist, of one of your children, will notice some things about you. In the kindest of ways, she will mention that there is a name to what you thought was just stupidity. It is called Dyscalculia and a lot of people have it and you will conquer it.

Don’t get me wrong, eventually there will be smartphones and your job will have a lot of numbers you have to get right. On occasion, you will call the wrong person but it is all good. It is not a big deal and people are nicer than you think they will be. They don’t think you are stupid, they just think you dialed the wrong number. It is okay and there is no need to be embarrassed or make excuses.

Heading to Kindergarten

You wanted to stay home with your mama. She wanted you to stay home with her but she had to put you in Kindergarten. Going to school was hard on you both, but you both made it! It was not your teacher’s fault you had never seen a 4 legged dog. How was she supposed to know that? How were you supposed to know that dogs had four legs when you had never seen one? It was an honest mistake. Granted, she should have never told you were stupid but do you remember your Oak came in like a lion. She fought for you, defended you, and taught that teacher a thing or two. Your Oak set the stage for your graduating that year and moving on.

Second Grade

That day, in Ms. Dallas’ class where you couldn’t tell your times table was really hard. Here’s the thing. If Ms. Dallas knew better, she would have done better. She didn’t know that you got your numbers mixed up. She didn’t know that there was a reason for that, however, she shouldn’t have made fun of you. Her making fun of you made the other kids laugh at you and call you names. She certainly should not have kept you in from recess so many times until you got it. I am sure she sees how her calling you names and laughing made the other kids do that as well.

Eventually, you learned and for that, you should be proud of yourself. I am not sure why you chose not to tell your Oak. If you had told her, she would have come to the school and fought for you again. She was never too busy to fight for you. I’m sorry you felt like you had to stay silent and hold that pain inside you. You are safe now. Those times tables are a bitch but girl, you have them down, mostly LOL. Regardless of what they say, you don’t scream out that 8×7=56 in your everyday life. It’s all good and you did it!

Fifth Grade

In 5th grade, it isn’t your fault that you didn’t understand what an adverb was and it wasn’t your fault your teacher got so mad at you. She might have been having a bad day but that is not your fault. You should not have been thrown out of the classroom. You were not trying to cause trouble, you just didn’t understand. Your brain works differently than most peoples brains and that is okay. It is okay to be different. You know, now, the big ones. A noun, verb, adjective, conjunction, and even a gerund and dangling participle. Girl, you can spell, read fast, comprehend what you are reading, and all that fun stuff. To add to the accomplishments, you have graduated 5 of your 7 children through homeschooling. You are a beast. Your teacher just didn’t see that then but that moment in time does not dictate your future.

In Sixth Grade

In 6th grade, the bullying started because you were placed in the “stupid class.” That was so hard for you. Honestly, I am so sorry that you felt singled out, was made fun of, and hurt so deeply. I know when you lined up and were paraded in front of the other kids, your ‘friends’ laughed and pointed at you. There were chants of us going to the “stupid class.” It was embarrassing and hard but you covered up that pain with acting silly and being the class clown. You had almost mastered covering up that pain with laughter but I know on the inside, you were breaking.

I believe that is why you fight so hard for your kids, who are in public school. Those classes are called “special Ed” classes and they are not for stupid people. They are for kids who might need a little extra help in some areas of learning. They are there to help kids, not to hurt them. Again, when you know better, you do better. Guess what? You told your Oak and she went to that school and fought for you, again! She got you out of that class and put you back where you belong. However, what mom did not know is that the “social damage” had already been done. She is a beast of a mama!

Special Ed, Now

Now, several years later, they integrate the kids who need some extra help into the mainstream class. What they do is place collaborative teachers in the mainstream class to just quietly lead, guide, and help where needed. If you were in school, now, you wouldn’t have had to be paraded like that, you can just go to the regular classroom. Isn’t that awesome. The school knew they needed to do better and over the years, then they did better. Is the program perfect? Nope, but it is better!

Middle and High School

After elementary school, middle and high school was nothing but an isolating bully-fest. I am so sorry that you were made fun of for what you wore, your hair, your smile, and basically just breathing. Your peers were not nice to you because they realized that your dad was a police officer and he had busted a lot of those people you went to school with at the time. Your dad did his job and did it well. You were just a byproduct of the bad choices that those “friends” made. None of that is your fault.

In the future, there are still cliques, bullying, and peer pressure. Honestly, it is a little bit slicker and more polished, but it is still the same as if you were still in school. I am really sorry that you didn’t have any friends and that you were made fun of for not wanting to have sex or do drugs. You had values and you stuck to them. I know that it was “assumed” that you would probably get pregnant in high school but the joke is on those people. That was the last thing on my mind. Also, I am sorry that you were made fun of by the clothes you wore because they were not name brand. Your clothes were just fine and you always were clean and looked nice. The fact that those ‘friends’ could not see that is not your fault.


I am sorry you didn’t go to your senior prom. You were so humiliated that no one asked you. Honestly, you could have gone alone but I understand that money was an issue plus you would have been made even more fun of if you went by yourself. It is okay to be sad about that and when your teacher says “go anyway, it will be the greatest regret of your life.” That isn’t true. Girl, there are plenty more things that you will regret but it was sad. Once again, you masked your pain with indifference and humor. You still do that…one day, we need to sit down with each other and have a chat about that little issue.


You did graduate high school, but in true fashion, you were left out again. The local newspaper always does a huge article and lists off all the graduates. Your name was not on the list. I know it was shocking when you start getting phone calls from people asking why you aren’t graduating. I’m not really sure how you got left off, but they did send you a “special” article with your name in it and an apology. Now, did that go out in the mainstream paper? No, but still, they tried to make amends.

You left that school with no friends but you had a diploma. There are pictures of you smiling with your classmates but it was a “let’s get this over with” type of smile. That’s okay, your school years were not easy. Your life began after school. You did not just graduate from high school but you graduated from college as well. Girl, you graduated with an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s. That master’s degree you have, you graduated with a 3.97 the first time and a 4.0 the second time.

A Billion Years Later

When Facebook came around, it is amazing how people from your past find you and want to “friend” you because we had the “best” time in school and were the “best” of friends. You did receive a ton of requests and you accepted them all because you finally fit in! They wanted to know what you have been up to and fill you in on their wonderful lives. Your “friends list” grows and grows. Finally, you are accepted and they want a relationship with you. Then, you realize that that is not the truth. Good job in learning to distinguish between a classmate, a true friend, an acquaintance, and so on.

Lasting Friendships

Just so you know, you will make an amazing friend you call Lady. You will also meet someone in the same parenting stage as you, you will reconnect with a college friend who will become your accountability partner, and someone you will meet online that friendship will continue in your real life and not just through a screen. One day, you will have a job and meet a like-minded person. There will be a friend that will pop back up from many churches ago who will be a prayer warrior for you. A friend of your sister’s who will become a sounding board and then become a friend of yours. Then, there will be a friend you meet in the adoption world who gets you on every level. There are so many more people from church that will change your life.

You Did It

The hard stuff, you did it.

Graduating, you did it.

Persevered, you did it.

Survived bullying, you did it.

You became stronger and you are the person that fights for those who are considered “less than.” The lessons you watched from your Oak, you have taken and instituted into everything that you do. Incidentally, your Oak became an AMAZING teacher of kids from hard places. Your dad still fought the good fight and a lot of those people from school attribute their lives to him saving them.

I know, today, you have not learned to love yourself or your differences. There are days when you continue to mask those differences and by the time you can take the masks off, you are exhausted. Please give yourself grace and know that, in the end, you are gonna be okay. Be proud of who you are.



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