Day 21: A look back

*Thanks to my friend Brandon Davidson for serving as the guest writer for Day 21  of the Dear Gratitude project. His post is guaranteed to make you laugh. It will probably cause you to pause and give thanks for all the people and circumstances that brought you where you are in your own life, too.*

Dear Bethany,

When you asked me to write a blog post, I agreed without really thinking about what in the world I would share with your readers.

I typically fly by the seat of my pants.

This is the story of my life.

One week after watching Batman Forever, I packed a trash bag full of clothes and hopped in a buddy’s truck. We were moving to Hollywood. We didn’t have the bankroll to get to Hollywood, CA, so we went for the next best thing–Hollywood, FL. (Newsflash, this is NOT the next best thing.) I spent a few months there and then tucked my tail between my legs and decided to move back to Arkansas and go to college.

I lasted one semester.

It was the classic story. Boy goes to college. Boy doesn’t go to class. Boy drinks way too much. Boy wakes up completely nude in a field, only to realize that he is just outside the outfield fence of a softball field while two high school teams battle it out.

Nothing to see here, just a dude cupping himself waddling back to campus.

Don’t worry, I’ll get thankful soon.

A few weeks later, I was asked to leave the school after mooning the Dean of the school’s wife and daughter.

The next year was a blur of playing semi-pro rugby, naked Trivial Pursuit, and trying to get back on track.

1. KathyI went back to school only to leave again when my Mom became disabled. I moved back home to be with my mom and brother. It was while in Batesville that I met Kathy and knew that she was the one. I asked her to marry me a little over a month after I met her. People thought we were crazy. We were, but we were also in love. Almost 15 years later, I can tell you without a doubt that I am who I am because of her.

I am thankful for Kathy.

After we got married, I spent the next few years in full time ministry in the Church.

I felt like I had a purpose, and it was intoxicating.


2. EmilyKathy and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world in 2003.  From the moment I met Emily Grace, she has brought light into the world and filled my heart with love.

I am thankful for Emily.

When Kathy and I were first engaged, I was diagnosed with a pretty severe liver disease. The doctor told me that my prognosis was 10 years max and that I probably shouldn’t get married or have kids. I laid all this out for Kathy and told her that I loved her and that I had no plan other than to be with her. I asked her if she wanted to keep flying by the seat of our pants.


Not long after Emily was born, I got very sick. As a last resort the doctors tried a new treatment option. To my surprise, almost 20 weeks later I was cured. That was 10 years ago. Kathy had a newborn baby and a weakened husband, but we made it. She was unbelievably strong.

I am thankful for my family.

3. ChurchWorking for the church was demanding and I was horrible at balancing work/home. I was rewarded for being a bad dad and a shitty husband. Something had to give.

I walked away from my career in the church, and I haven’t looked back. I can always find another church if I want, but I can’t find another family.

A couple of weeks later, with no insurance and no jobs (Kathy was fired from her job at the church after I resigned. It’s a cool story; I’ll share it sometime), Kathy found out she was pregnant.


We had been trying for years. That miracle cure that healed my liver also supposedly made me sterile.


I had a wife and a daughter and a baby the size of a strawberry on the way. (Side note: why do we use fruit when we are giving reference to babies’ sizes?)

4. buttJosh is 3 years old now and painted the most amazing Butt watercolor last night.

Pretty great, huh?

Josh is sweet, funny and a little bit of a dumpster fire. I wouldn’t have it any other way. 5. Josh

I sure didn’t plan it this way, but somehow I ended up with an amazing life.

I am thankful.


Plotting Hope,



Brandon Davidson is stand-up comic and social media strategist based out of Tyler, Texas. He is a husband, a dad, and a disappointment to many. He used to have to drink to have a good time; now he doesn’t need to have a good time. Follow @brandondavidson on Twitter if you love carbs.


Day 13: Dear Donit

*Today’s post for Day 13 of the Dear Gratitude project is by another child, my best friend’s son, Dailen. Dailen reminds me that it’s right and good to be excited about and grateful for the small blessings that often get overlooked. I think I’ll get a doughnut for myself today :).*

Dailen and his "turkey in disguise"

Dailen and his “turkey in disguise”

Der Amandu,

Thank you for the ovr-stufted morshmellow crème filld donit!  I love it!  Its my favorit!

Thanks, Dailen James Horseman

DailenThankUletter scanned

Day 6: Dear wonderful life

*I’m excited to post the second entry by a child this month written by Alexander Tenace. It warms my heart to read words of gratitude written by someone so young. Thanks to his mom and dad, Isabelle and Edward, for allowing him to participate in the Dear Gratitude project!*

TenaceI’m thankful for everything like my dad and my mom. Because without a mom or dad I would be poor and sad. I am thankful because my parents love me.

I am thankful for my camera because I can take photos. I am thankful for my spy phone because it can record people’s voices and I’m also thankful for my leap pad because I can play games on it.

I’m also thankful for a team! The team is the Baltimore Ravens. I like them because they have Joe Flacco. I am thankful for school because I can learn stuff like math and reading.

I am thankful for friends because they are nice to me.

Day 4: Dear friends

*I’m especially excited about today’s post in the “Dear Gratitude” series; it’s written by an awesome person who happens to be my first guest writer under the age of 18! There’s something sweet and real about asking a young person what she’s thankful for. Thanks for sharing, Arden!*

Arden with her friends at a ninja-themed birthday party

Arden with her friends at a ninja-themed birthday party

If I had to say what I was thankful for, it would probably be that I have my friends to also watch my back!

I have so many friends that are make-up crazy, loyal and creative, and animal/nature loving friends!

I think that I’m lucky and thankful to have friends in Conway, and in different places too!  I’m also always open to making new friends too!  I can’t imagine a world without my friends.

Arden Booy from Conway, AR


Mission & commission

*Thanks to Debra Dickey-Liang for sharing her thoughts on motherhood, and happy early Mother’s Day, Debra!*

Photo courtesy of Say Cheese Photography

Photo courtesy of Say Cheese Photography

My commission in this life is to be an advocate and a caretaker, e.g., a peacemaker.  I know this with every fiber of my being.  It is an inherent part of me.  It is the way I perceive things; it’s the way I feel about things, and it is the way in which I am compelled to construct the days of my life.  This task involves many dimensions, and can sometimes be exhausting, but when presented with a situation, I have never backed away from the opportunity to replace chaos and confusion with peace and harmony, if it is at all within my sphere of influence.

My mission on this earth is to be the mom of Adam and Rachel.  This I know.  I am humbled and honored.  I have not taken either entrustment lightly. The greatest honor in my life was to be given the incredible opportunity to be the mom of Adam and Rachel – precious gifts, perfectly given. 

My two children are the best things that ever happened in my life.  They are both amazing and outstanding human beings, with extraordinary strength of character, possessing kind and loving natures and caring, giving spirits.  Being incredibly gifted and accomplished people, my children leave a positive and lasting impression in whatever they do.

As a young person readying my life to go out into the world, although I had lofty dreams of being a missionary and serving the masses in a foreign land, I’m sure that I would have ultimately chosen to be a nurse, or if not that, a teacher – one, because those were the typical options open to girls, and two, because that’s who I am.  But things conspired in such a way that instead of pursuing more education, I found myself working in a public school setting, and I absolutely loved it!  Yet I still knew that there was more to be done, but how, where, when, and was I the one to accomplish it?  I wrestled with those questions for a long time, while filling my life with people whom I could serve on a smaller scale, and simultaneously creating friendships and memories that have lasted throughout my life.

Then, I had children.  All those lofty dreams of foreign lands (I did get to travel!), those choices of being a nurse or a teacher (I spent lots of time doing both!), that holy commission of creating peace and harmony as advocate/caretaker/peacemaker (worked at that every day!), questions about what more needed to done (no doubt about how much needed to done!), and was I the one to do it (who else?!?! absolutely and positively!), it didn’t take me long to realize that I was accomplishing all the things on my list, just in a different way, with a different audience, and with the very best of educations. My children have taught me so much and have shared so many insights, and their own wisdom, knowledge, joy, and courage with me, that I cannot begin to imagine a life without the richness and boundless depths of essence and purpose which only they could have made possible. 

In the words of a friend and mentor, “No matter what else happens, I have already done my best work.”


Mother’s Day every day

*Thank you, Stacie deKlerk, for serving as today’s guest contributor and for sharing your gratitude for your mother with us!*

Mom in 2007

Mom in 2007

I am grateful for all the things my Mom does day in, day out, year after year to make my life easier, better, and more sane.

I’m sorry that I don’t always fully appreciate her efforts until I’ve viewed them with hindsight. I hope the joys of motherhood vastly outweigh the pains. Putting aside self for child seems like a sacrifice to me, yet I’m certain that any mother would say it is not so.

Although Mom’s style of mothering has changed over time with what she felt my sister and I needed, she is consistent in love. Patient, loving and kind are how Mom describes her grandmother. I am glad that my great-grandma was able to instill all these qualities in Mom. Since Mom has started having trouble doing her normal activities, I am more aware and grateful for each day with her.

Don’t just celebrate Mother’s Day, but instead make each day one to celebrate your Mother in many small ways.


*Special thanks to Debra Dickey-Liang for stepping in as today’s guest writer.*

Speaking in Pair-ables  

(aka, the Perpetual state of “we”)

Photo courtesy of Phoopla Photography

I do! I speak in ‘pair-ables’!  I have become aware that when writing, thinking or speaking about my life experiences and my life journeys, I most often use the pronoun “we.” It just comes out automatically!  From childhood, I do not remember a time when I have not been a part of a “we,” and in that one respect, I am very lucky!  But also since childhood, I cannot remember a time that I was not expected to be, or when I chose to be, responsible for or in charge of, another human or creature other than myself — a “we” situation!  I have no recollection of ever feeling as if I were an “I.”

Being the oldest child, and growing up on a farm, responsibility was as natural as breathing! In my life, I realize with unadulterated gratitude, what fortunate circumstances I grew up in.  We were not well off by any stretch of the imagination, but I had a Mom and a Dad who made it their business to see that we were a family.  We ate at the table together, we worked in the field together, we did chores together – we cared about each other.  Our family was always all about “we” — an inherent and remarkable part of my being, solidifying and defining who I am.

Would I have chosen a different direction if given the opportunity?  Would I have struck out to catapult myself into the life of an “I?”  I’ll never know, because becoming a Mom established me forever as a “we.”  More “we” (sometimes ‘wheee!’) than you could ever imagine, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!  I have realized that I have no comprehension of a different kind of life, or a cognizance of a life that does not include a sidekick or two, whether they be human or creature.  “We!”  And forever on my journeys and in my life, I think in terms of my roots, and I realize that my actions and reactions continue to be invariably colored by the knowledge that I instinctively consider and take into account a responsibility for the safety and well-being of those lives that are given me by God to care for and watch over, and my stories expand proportionately with telling to involve all participants in order to embrace the invaluable contributions that they make in my life.

So for better or worse, I am in the habit of talking in plurals. I am a “pair” with whoever is tagging along at the moment, even if it is just walking the dog!  I think that is comical.  We!  In Matthew 28:20, even the Word of the Lord assures us . . . ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’  We!  Isn’t it grand?