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Who is Your First Responder?


I’ve always admired my parents’ relationship with their friends, Don and Cyndy. They’re the kind of friends who will drive you to the airport at 3:30 in the morning, bring a sloppy joe meal when you just got home from the hospital, and touch base when everyone else seems to have forgotten. Last night, I was reminded yet again, that Don and Cyndy are my parents’ first responders.

“The person who arrives first at the scene of an accident or other emergency situation, for example a police officer or firefighter.” – Macmillan Dictionary definition of FIRST RESPONDER

As you may or may not know, my dad had a lung transplant three months ago. Since my dad just finished pulmonary rehab and it’s been three months since the transplant, my parents thought there was a good chance they’d be able to move back home this weekend or early next week. Unfortunately, this week, my dad’s lung function tests went down, and they found multiple antibodies in his blood that aren’t supposed to be there. He had a bronchoscopy yesterday morning, which is a procedure where they go in and collect fluid and tissue from inside the lung to examine, more closely, the health of the lung. The doctors told my dad that he would need to be admitted to the hospital after the bronchoscopy in order to do a “plasma exchange” to treat the antibodies they discovered this week. They didn’t disclose or promise a timeframe for the hospitalization. We thought it could be a couple hours, an overnight stay, or perhaps worst case, a couple days. But yesterday afternoon when my dad got admitted to the hospital, the doctor came in to let my parents know that he would need to stay for a minimum of 10 days and that they would be treating him for rejection through a “very difficult” pharmaceutical and plasma exchange treatment. If the 10-day treatment works and the results of the bronchoscopy are good, my dad will be able to go home after that. If the 10-day treatment does NOT work and the results of the bronchoscopy are NOT good, then my dad will need to go through ANOTHER 10-day plasma exchange treatment. This was disheartening and completely unexpected news, especially since my dad has been feeling well.



Last night, I stayed up late to get as much work done as possible before my dad begins treatment today. I worked on laundry and photo editing for my photography business. I also spent time writing a Caring Bridge post to update friends and family with my parents’ unfortunate news.

Around 10:00 p.m., I received a text from my mom’s best friend, Cyndy. Brief, but heartfelt, Cyndy wanted to let me know that she and Don are planning to visit my parents at the hospital around 4:00 p.m. today after she gets off work. She was bummed that they had to go through more when they’ve already gone through so much. Two sentences. That’s it. Simple. Thoughtful. Out-of-her way kindness. Who does that? A first responder. Don and Cyndy are my parents’ first responders.


In the past 12 years, I’ve been through a lot of unusually traumatic and stressful situations with my sister’s battle with addiction, mental illness, and two pregnancies as a single mom; my husband’s eye cancer; my dad’s lung transplant. I’ve had more than ample time and experience to recognize and think about the need for us to have first responders in life.

Who is your first responder? 

Who’s the first to send a text, email or Facebook message when you’re in need? Who will bring you a meal when everything’s going to pot? Who will offer you child care or a ride when you can’t drive yourself? Who will ask “How are you doing today?” and really mean it? Who will sense that you need encouragement when everyone else waits for you to say you need it? Who’s the first to forgive you when you haven’t updated them in longer than you should because you’re SO stressed and preoccupied? Who will show up to the hospital, the special event in your honor? Who’s the person who sends you gas gift cards when you’ve traveled back and forth to the clinic three hundred times? Who’s the person who actually cares what’s happening in your life? Who’s the person who consistently cares about what’s going on in your life? Who’s the person who responds in your time of greatest need?

That’s your first responder.

Today I’m asking us to think about one very important question.

Who is your first responder?

Perhaps you know the answer without thinking at all. Perhaps you need to do a little more thinking.

Who is your first responder?

Who’s there for you at the drop of a hat? Who’s there for you in the worst case scenario? Who shows up on your behalf?

I do believe there’s always someone. Perhaps it’s your spouse. Perhaps it’s a family member or someone from your church. Perhaps it’s an old friend, a new friend or a neighbor. I don’t know who it is for you, but there’s always someone who shows up in an emergency. Thank God.

But perhaps this question begs for some soul searching, or at least some stand up and noticing. What kind of relationships are we fostering with others to the extent that we actually SHOW UP for one another in times of great need? This is a question worth pondering. I promise you it’s a question worth pondering TODAY, whether you’re in need or not.

Who is your first responder?


I Am Woman


I am woman.

Born from my mother’s womb. Bloody. Bruised. Breathing, bright and beautiful.

Still in pain, her belly barren, Mama bowed low and bestowed upon me all names I’d ever need.






Beloved Daughter.

Born to bring light and life, dignity and strength, elegance and grace.

I am woman.


I am woman.


Do it all. Have it all. BE. ALL. The world tells me how and who I should be.

Daughter. Granddaughter. Sister. Niece. Cousin. Wife. Mother. Stepmother. Godmother. Aunt. Grandmother. Great Grandmother. Friend. Friendly. Best Friend. Bestie. Mentee. Mentor. Single. Stay-at-Home Mom. Work-from-Home Mom. Working Mom. Part-Time Working Mom. PTA Mom. Volunteer. Cook. Chef. Chocolate-Chip Cookie Maker. Taxi-Cab Driver. Counselor. Psychologist. Fair. Balanced. Business Woman. Writer. Actor. Artist. Elegant. Engineer. Model. Sexy. Sexy Mama. One Hot Mama. Rocker. Beautiful. Beast. Built. Big Breasted. Athletic. Trim. Thin. Funny. Smart. Witty. Kind. Savvy. Independent. Submissive. Generous. Giving. Philanthropist. Missionary. Designer. Graphic Designer. Pinterest Pretty. Stylish. Sassy. Hip. Cool. Calm. Collected. Casual. Considerate. Revolutionary. Chic. Prim. Proper. Perfect. Primped to the Nines. Fashion Forward. Poised. Politically Informed. Politically Correct. Quiet. Polite. Thoughtful. Thorough. Thick-Skinned. Vulnerable. Flexible. Decisive. Fierce.

I do it all.

Or maybe not.

I try to DO, HAVE and BE.

I am woman.



My voice, it will not be silenced. My heart, it’s torn. My life, let it be.

Most days I’m filled with insecurity.

God formed me, fashioned me, made me and named me.

I’m here for a reason.

I’m not a possession or a productivity robot.

I long to be seen for who I am, for who I really am.

There is nobody, nobody like me.

I am claimed. Named.

Beautiful. Holy. Chosen. Precious one.

I am woman.



Breathing Eden: A Book Review & Giveaway!


Jennifer Camp and I have been virtual traveling partners for years now. Honestly, I don’t remember when we first crossed paths, but it feels like I’ve known her a lifetime. Jennifer is one of several soul sisters I’ve met online. I know it sounds cliche, but when we finally meet in real life, we’re going to pick back up like childhood friends who never missed a beat. That’s how much I adore this woman, this dear, kind, sweet soul.

Perhaps you’re wondering why I’m telling you about Jennifer on this most random of Tuesdays? Wonder no more! Jennifer’s new book, Breathing Eden, releases today! Happy Birthday, Breathing Eden! I’m honored to be on the launch team, and incredibly excited to share Jennifer’s book with you all.

Breathing Eden: Conversations with God on Light, Fresh Air, and New Things is beautiful. The fonts are aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. The spacing is thoughtful. There’s even a note from the publisher, which I thought was a unique personal touch. There’s white space, which is hard to come by in books for adults. And at the end of every story, there’s a place for women to sit and listen to God’s still small voice. Breathing Eden reflects Jennifer’s beautiful, richly nuanced heart.


“This book consists of our prayers to God and his answers. Forty women. Forty prayers. Forty women’s conversations with God.” – Breathing Eden 

Jennifer has a huge heart for women who are wounded and in need of encouragement. She also has an incredible gift of listening and discerning God’s voice amongst all the noise out there. Breathing Eden invites readers into 40 women’s raw stories inspired by real life. Then, like a desperately needed breath of fresh air, we read God’s perspective, God’s response to the women’s stories. After each story, there’s an opportunity to listen, think, trust and pray. Honestly, I don’t usually like books that try to engage me with reflections, prayers or exercises at the end of each section. But this book’s “Trust” and “Pray” sections were practical, helpful and encouraging.

Wondering what these 40 stories are all about? Think there’s no reason to read a whole book of women’s stories when there will probably only be one or two that resonate with you? Not so fast. Breathing Eden is brilliant in that SO MANY of the women’s stories resonated with me, not just one or two. I found myself in Lucy’s story, Kelsie’s story, Kate’s story, Lea’s story, Catherine’s story and Holly’s story. God’s whispers spoke to my heart through Cara’s story, Hannah’s story, Jacqueline’s story, Ruby’s story, Diane’s story and Shelby’s story. Add all of those up, and that’s a grand total of 12 stories that resonated deeply with my soul out of 40. Honestly? We’re all in this together, ladies. You’re never as alone as you think you are.


What are you facing today? What hurts? What’s broken? What healing and hope do you need in order to break through and break free as a beloved child of God? You’ll find yourself among the 40 women’s stories in Breathing Eden.

These are the stories I needed and found in Breathing Eden. Hope for a mom who’s uncertain. Promises for God’s perfect timing. A reminder of the girl I used to be. Stories untold. I’m never alone. Faith for when I cannot see. Trust in God’s plan. Love without strings. Forgiveness aplenty. Chains broken. Light and restoration. Freedom from darkness. Confidence to run. Yes, those are the stories that resonated with me. Those are the stories that spoke to my heart.

Thank you, Jennifer, for the beautiful gift this book is and will be to so many women around the world. May you be blessed in the giving, blessed in the sharing, blessed as you breathe a bit of Eden.

breathingedenIn honor of the release of Breathing Eden, I’m giving away TWO COPIES of Jennifer’s book today! All you need to do is complete the Rafflecopter below, and you’re entered to win! Winners will be selected randomly and will be notified via email.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rachelle Craig - What a beautiful review! I too had the honor of being on this amazing launch team! What a joy it has been reading Breathing Eden and connecting to so many of the women in the book. I am looking forward to gifting this book to women I love, and know they too will find peace and healing through this book.October 6, 2016 – 6:12 am

How I’ve Been Doing the Past Three Months

This is a guest post written by my younger sister, Tiffany, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Tiffany has shared regular guest posts on my blog since February 2015. The purpose of her posts is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness. I’m also hoping the posts will help readers recognize that we all have hopes, dreams, challenges and mountains to climb regardless of our mental health status. If you’d like to read the posts I’ve written about Tiffany’s journey and all the guest posts she’s shared on this blog, check out the mental health page. Without further ado, here’s Tiffany.


It has been more than two months since my dad had his lung transplant. My parents have been staying in Minneapolis since the surgery. They usually live a few doors away from us. How has that time away from them been for me and my kids?

As you may know from previous posts, my parents are a major part of our support system. I have struggled, but I have also become the independent woman I know I am and can be. I’ve utilized my support system, accomplished tasks and handled situations I never thought possible. I have weeded people out of my life and have become closer to some. I continue to tell myself that I am a good mom, and continue to live my life in an honest and open way. I can’t honestly say that every day I am completely happy, but I am living with hope in my mind, body and soul. I have heard great feedback from the professionals I work with and family and friends about how I am doing while my parents are gone.

Everyone has stories to tell about the best days of their life. I really have not had typical experiences. The best days of my life have not been normal. Yes, my kids’ births were pretty spectacular, but there were complications that made those days a bit horrifying. I was a single mom both times. My daughter had a CCAM, which was a large growth in one of her lungs she had removed a couple days after she was born. My son was born via c-section.



The day after my dad’s lung transplant turned out to be one of the best days of my life. My dad was sick for about 16 years before his transplant. For years, I was full of both worry and hope that his life could turn around. Hope for more time and years to spend with me and the kids. Nobody knew what was going to happen with his health. He was at the end of his life if something wasn’t done. When my dad got the call that a lung was ready for him, I was full of hope and excitement. This is going to work out, I told myself. The same type of feeling I had when my daughter was just days old and had a large lobe of one of her lungs removed.

I was SO happy that my kids and I could be at the hospital in Minneapolis for the procedure and be there when he woke up. I was the first person in my dad’s hospital room when he woke up from the surgery. I sat there with him as he nodded his head with big eyes open and a breathing tube in his mouth. I held back the tears as we experienced an emotional moment. That day was one of the best days of my life. We were feeling together that the hope was still alive. Seeing the excitement in my dad’s eyes, knowing the lung transplant finally happened and at that moment, my dad was going to be okay.




My family prepared for the lung transplant for months, even years. My dad was staying optimistic, as he is, yet preparing for both the best and worst that could happen. My family wanted to prepare me and the kids for the time that my parents would be away. I’m not a cook, or at least I thought I wasn’t before my dad’s transplant. I have felt pride letting my parents know that I have been cooking for myself, the kids and sometimes friends, while they have been away. One of my favorite meals I’ve made while they have been gone was Hawaiian marinated pork chops, white rice and vegetables. I am experimenting with the food that we have available to us. I hope to experiment more during the remainder of the time they are away. I am going to cook for my parents when they get back home. The plan is for them to come back in about a month if my dad’s health is stable.


Since my parents have been away, I have occasionally been attending church and a group called Celebrate Recovery. We sing, learn and are able to talk in a group setting. We go when we can and if the kids are not too tired. I listen and isolate myself at times, and focus on the voices in my head. My psychiatrist said that isolation is a way to end up back in the hospital. I enjoy talking in the group setting with people who are also experiencing life. It’s nice to actually express my feeling and thoughts to real people. We are often told to talk less and listen more. One of my friends recently told me that she feels like she is in an interview session with me. I guess I just like to learn about peoples’ lives. It’s pretty awesome when I get to express myself too, and when questions are asked of me.

Overall, some consistency is coming into my family’s life. Kids seem to thrive on consistency.



Since my parents have been away, I have really felt the social stigma about mental illness. I can pretty much guarantee that a few people reading this are scared of the mentally ill, or they just don’t know what to think about them. We are not all scary, no more than the normal population. Like it or not, I am an individual with the label of mentally ill. I admit, I used to feel the same about people with the label of mentally ill. My grandfather used to work at a state hospital in Jamestown, North Dakota. When I was young, I recall thinking of the mentally ill as being locked away, shut out from society, walking around with nowhere to go. Weird, strange, do not talk to them because they are dangerous, living a different life. Yet, I found them interesting and found some connection with their lives. Little did I know that I’d be one of them someday. These days, the mentally ill are usually given respect and people are talking out about their illness. We are able to thrive and live normal lives. I spent a lot of time in a state hospital years ago, and know how frustrating it can be to be shunned from society. I have met many people in different institutions that I have found much in common with. Many people who are just scared of being themselves. Some people who are just reaching out for someone to be there for them. I do not feel that I am scary, I just have a gigantic label placed on me. We are all unique and different.

I cherish friends, family and strangers who have accepted and allowed me to be the person I am meant to be. I am grateful that God blessed me with two kids who make my life worth living. I am more than just a face. I am single and talk often in my posts about finding love in any kind of relationship. Sometimes I have found a false love that I wanted to be there, to be real.

Recently, I met with my psychiatrist and let him know what was going on. I also told him that my dad was doing great! I told him that often I don’t know what to say while having a conversation. The rules we have as a society are tough. I’ve learned that people can either accept me or reject me. I have a strong support system either way!

My dad and my daughter have had major health issues with their lungs. Dealing with these life-threatening illnesses has made me a stronger individual. I have become much more realistic about what is important in life and what really doesn’t matter. In dealing with real-life trauma both in my life and others’ lives, I have become stronger and more focused on moving forward and not looking back.


Hello, Readers! We Will Do Better Together.


Two months ago, I celebrated my four-year blogging anniversary! Today, I’m getting real about blogging and writing. Would you join me for this conversation? I’d love to have you.

Six months ago as I was reflecting on my writing journey, distinct words came to mind.

This isn’t about you anymore.

Those words were so distinct that I wrote them down in my journal with the date. March 22, 2016. I knew EXACTLY what they meant. My writing isn’t ultimately about ME. It’s about YOU, my readers. There’s absolutely NO point in sharing my writing publicly if it’s NOT making a difference in your life as a reader. I’m not putting my writing and my life on display for the fun of it. I’m not putting my writing on display so you can be fully informed of every nook and cranny of my inner life. My intention is to make a difference, to inspire you, and impact you. I want to celebrate joys with you. I want to encourage you as you pursue your dreams and a bold vision for your life. I want you to know you’re not alone in whatever trials and pain you’re facing. I want to journey with you as you navigate the ups and downs of life. I want to sit with you, wherever you are. I want to encourage us to look at life differently. I want us to discover the divine in the daily…together.


When I started blogging more than four years ago, I thought I’d arrived. Finally, I made this dream come true! Finally, I have a blog! Finally, I get to write on a regular basis! Finally, I get to help people, inspire people, and make a difference! Finally, I get to be creative and artistic! Finally, I have an outlet for sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings that might actually help someone else through life! Finally, I’m writing for others and have a place to call my own!

Yes, I had a vision for my writing, and was well on my way to achieving that vision!

The only problem was that it took nearly FOUR YEARS of writing on this blog for me to get to a good sense of where I’d come from and where I wanted to go.

This isn’t about ME anymore.

In fact, it NEVER was.

If writing is one of my God-given gifts, then that gift is to be used to help others. I know my writing has helped you because of the “likes,” “loves,” comments, emails and messages you’ve sent these past 4 years 2 months. I know my writing has helped you because many of you have shared my posts with others, and many of you have shared your own guest posts on my blog. But I can do better. So much better. It’s time to take this writing to the next level.


The first weekend of November, I’m going to a writing conference. Actually, it’s a writing WORKSHOP, which means we’re not just going to be LISTENING to words of wisdom about writing, we’re actually going to be WORKING on our writing. We’re actually going to be DEVELOPING a bold vision for our writing, and CREATING a specific plan for helping that vision happen in very real and tangible ways.

So this fall, I’m going to be cracking back open my children’s book series and beginning the proposal, but I’m ALSO going to be making some changes to this blog and my writing as a whole.

This blog, Divine in the Daily, is in need of some major updates. I’m planning on making those updates late fall after the writing conference. If I’m completely honest, those updates might run into the new year. For that reason alone, I want to have a clarified vision for my writing moving forward.

But there’s no need to wait until November to move towards the changes I’m envisioning.

Effective immediately, there will be changes on this blog. Specifically, in the next six weeks, I am going to begin making changes to my writing. From your perspective as a reader, the change might seem slight. I’m not sure yet. But from my perspective as writer, there will be a massive shift in the way I’m thinking about my writing.

Please bear with me as I work through this period. 

Please bear with me as I attempt to grasp more thoroughly and accurately my vision for writing moving forward. If I could show you a picture of where I’m at in my mind, I would. I’m nearly grasping the vision, but I’m also not quite there yet.

I need a little help. 

The writing workshop is going to help quite a bit. I need someone to guide me through a bold vision for my writing. I need someone to help me see my areas of gifting when it comes to writing. I need to process these things through with writers and writing mentors, as we’re seated, pen and paper in hand, trying to determine HOW it is we help others with our words. I need to revisit where we’ve been with this blog, and where we’ve yet to go. I need to piece together my unique areas of gifting, and how I can use those gifts to help you, my readers.

There is something more for us to see.

There is something more for us to discover.

There is more waiting for this blog.

There is more of life to be revealed and lived through the words on this page.


Charlotte Kennedy





But the fact remains…

If I leave YOU, my READERS, out of the equation, I will have done us ALL a disservice.

It’s time to invite you into this process as well!

I’ve done two niche reader surveys this past year (one on friendship, the other related to my children’s books), but I haven’t done a general reader survey for almost two years.

It’s time to get to know you again.

It’s time to see where you stand.

It’s time to get your input.

And honestly? Rather than shrinking back from your input, I might be seeking it more often from here on out.


Because this isn’t about me anymore. 

I always wanted my writing to touch others’ lives, to make a difference. Therefore from my perspective, writing publicly is completely pointless if it doesn’t help others.

Once again, I know my writing has positively impacted your lives. But I also know I can do better.

When one of your comments made me cry in a not-so-good-and-healthy way this summer? Well, that was it for me. Clearly, I’d come at this from the wrong angle. I hadn’t written in a way that helped my readers process the bigger point of pain beyond my own story. I knew exactly what I was trying to say, and I thought it came through loud and clear in my writing, but the truth is, I didn’t go far enough as far as generalizing my learnings. Not okay.

This blog is titled “Divine in the Daily.” As many times as I try to reframe and revision this blog and my writing, I MUST keep coming back to the title. What does Divine in the Daily mean? How can I help us ALL reframe life so we can find the divine in the daily, WHATEVER our daily looks like? So if I decide there’s a lesson to be learned from the PAIN I experienced in real life, I MUST be able to help my readers process the BIGGER POINT of PAIN within the context of the story I’m sharing. I MUST. It’s not an option.

I can do better.

I will do better.

We will do better together.


With that in mind, dear readers, I would LOVE you to take a SHORT survey for me.

I need your help.

I need your input as we move forward together.

I want to help you. Will you please take a few minutes to help me?

There are four questions in the SURVEY LINKED IN BOLD BELOW…

  1. What hopes and dreams do you have for your life at this moment in time?
  2. What is your biggest struggle?
  3. How has this blog – Divine in the Daily – impacted, influenced or inspired you to date?
  4.  What would you like me to write MORE about?

The end. That’s all I want to know!

Your responses are completely anonymous. To put it simply, when I receive these surveys, I have absolutely NO IDEA who left each response. But please note that I will be using your responses to guide my writing moving forward.

Thank you, friends! I appreciate your help so much. I can’t wait to see what you have to say, and can’t wait for this next chapter in our journey together.


Have a blessed weekend!