My Legal Valentine

scribblingToday I came across an old piece of paper in my briefcase and almost threw it out until I realized what it was. A piece of paper can look so innocuous. It was a note from last May, and there is this disgusting lawyer scribble all over it … why wouldn’t I toss it?

“Pltiff’s general obj = bogus. Despite the fact that such docs may be in the possession of def’s it is imposs to determine what docs P has that form the basis of various claims without id of each doc relied upon.”

Blah blah BLAH. I love it when I draft in surfer-ease like I’m Spiccoli. Who really says “bogus” anymore, anyway? I laughed.

But then, as I read it, I started to realize what this paper was.

I remembered the argument. I knew exactly what this comment meant, because I knew the case inside and out at the time it was written. I suddenly remembered what I was thinking when I wrote it. My thoughts were fluid and fast, then. I was angry and I was righteous and I believed that combination made for righteous indignation. I was right, I knew I was. I lauged again.

I could remember where I was when I wrote it, too. I was sitting in an incredibly uncomfortable chair in the outpatient surgery waiting room at the hospital. I had been there for hours and hours, waiting for my mom to get out of a routine surgery. I was hand-writing my responses to some interrogatories because the laptop was down. And when I say I was writing “responses” what I really mean is that I was writing objections. I’m always contrarian on the first draft. It feels better that way and I can get it out of my system. Sometimes I even sign first drafts with the salutation “hugs and kisses.” But my secretary isn’t as entertained as I am by that one.

I read on:

“Pltiff’s so-called right to supplement is a duty to supplement. Does NOT permit the P to utilize excuse or suprise in the nonproduction of something, is absolutely limited to discovery deadline …”

And then it trails off, and then there are hesitations. Whatever thought fragments I attempted had been marked out. And I remembered why.

Because as the day lingered on and Mom didn’t come out as expected, things went sour. I remember that by the time the surgeon came out I had read and reread and reread Interrogatory Number 54 about six times and no matter how hard I concentrated, I couldn’t keep my mind on the question. I knew things were not right, and it was confirmed for me as the doctor approached slowly.

What kind of surgeon walks slowly?

He sat down, and I didn’t like it. No other doctors came out and sat down with anyone else waiting for family that day. I had been around long enough to figure out how things were run around the joint. Doctors around here were in a hurry, telling families things were done, and happily skipping away to perform the next procedure.

But not this doctor.

He sat down. He looked at me. He talked softly, and slowly. As he spoke, the room kind-of swelled. Cancer. Cancer. They found all kinds of it when they opened my mother up. That much I understood. That much was sinking in. I remember it happening, but not the specifics. I remember staring at the paper. I remember being astonished that I spoke and argued for a living and suddenly, I had nothing to say. Not even when he asked if I had questions.

The bottom of the page is scribbled with distinctively non lawyerish words … “Aden- Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma.”

When I hold this thing up and look at it, it really captures a tangible image of the way that day felt. The top is scratched with egotistical arguments and messy mark-outs that appear to have been made with a flourish. Even the paper it’s written on wafts an unpleasant odor. It’s on leftover judicial letterhead our office used as scratch paper for a while. It’s like I purposely picked that scrap paper in order to magically make my arguments carry the weight of the court. It encapsulates the assurance, the confidence, and the arrogance I had during those first few hours when, unbeknownst to me, the cancer was being cut out of my mother’s neck on the other side of the wall. It encapsulates the arrogance that had grown inside of me, the arrogance that swelled during all of those years. It grew like the cancer grew, without any of us knowing it was there, but it was there all along.

I think it’s interesting that my legal arguments are in pen, scratched up and lined out with arrows and notes interspersed, but the cancer diagnosis is written at the bottom, in pencil. As if I were going to erase it later, after the doctor left. As if I could.

So, I’m keeping this scribbled up piece of scratch paper for a while longer. It reminds me how to be, and how not to be. It reminds me to write in pencil, sometimes. And it reminds me what is really important.

So knock off the arguing if you can, and hug your Valentines this week. Tell them you love them, and then really do it. Love them and love them and love them. And never ever write that part in pencil. Make sure that part can never be erased, no matter what.


The Preschooler Earns a New Callsign

Why yes, it has been another one of those weeks. And yes, that’s precisely why I haven’t blogged. I guarantee it’s not for lack of having something to blog about, let me assure you of that. In fact there was concrete evidence midweek that my moral compass has officially lost its own true north when, on my way to the emergency room I thought, “this is going to make a killer blog post!”

I really wish I were lying.

The ER trip came after three full days of mediation preparation at work. This might as well be called trial preparation in my book. In addition, my innards were doing flips and making quadruple slip-knots over my mother’s nonchalant comments about her new vision changes. Oh, okay, no biggie. Just one of the things her oncologist told us to look out for, since brain tumors are hard to detect until they start manifesting themselves in speech or vision changes. Don’t worry. Probably nothing. More tests … more tests.

So the ER really was a welcome distraction. And I’ll give you one guess which child this involves.

Any day now The Preschooler is going to be whisked away to circus school. He burps the alphabet, and can turn his stomach into a series of muscular waves that resemble that of a belly dancer. He contorts his tiny nimble body into a perfect loop and does “inside out” somersaults, the kind where his belly button, followed by his face, roll along the carpet. It’s really not human. He bends where he should not. He does sans-hands head spins where he twirls in a way break-dancers would envy, on the very tip of his head like a boy-shaped spinning top. He nimbly leaps across the great couch expanse, braving a glass table crevace, and consistently survives. These things all make him the ideal Cirque du Soleil candidate, and a perfect target for Gypsies.

Now in Naval Aviation the acronym they have assigned to this series of attributes is NAFOD: No Apparent Fear of Death. And even though it sounds kinda cool, it’s not a good thing. Not at all. It’s the thing that keeps you from being able to qualify at the boat, and it ends aviation careers. But it does make you a legend with the Second Grade girls. Gay-run-teed. And probably with the older girls, too.

So this week the boy-child, aka “NAFOD,” decided to leap from the top slide-side of the play equipment onto the platform “where all the girls were standing” and in the process collided INTO a large metal bar. The striking distance was short, but had to be powerful because it split the skin on top of his head clean open. I got a call from daycare and they didn’t sound too alarmed, so I reluctantly headed over to check it out.

When I arrived there was no crying. No crying at all. His hair was pink instead of sandy blonde from the blood, but otherwise there was no evidence of the event. He was coloring. “Look! I made a cheesy crocodile. It’s made of cheese. Get it?”

As he stood there, I parted the hair to confirm there was anything other than a scratch or a bump. I recoiled. It flapped in the breeze. It was the kind of wound that made you shiver a little and look away.

I had no idea how to care for a head wound in all of that hair, so off we went to the doctor. I figured we’d come home with a band-aid and the doctor would mock me for spending all that wasted time in the waiting room. But I reasoned that at least showing up would eliminate me from the running for Worst Mom of the Year for the third year running, and give me some confirmation that he wasn’t going to be (any more) brain-damaged.

head staples

Owie. Mommy.

Hm. Two staples later, Mother of the Year was not in sight. But Dude of the Year for this little guy was a distinct possibility. And NAFOD’s new callsign had been earned and confirmed. There was not a single tear shed as the doc scrubbed the wound and informed my five year-old he was going to need staples. That little man held his breath (but did not cry one bit) as the doctor clamped the top of his head together with two metal strips.

He was stupidly brave throughout the entire four hour adventure. NAFOD, indeed.

Afterwards, I took the poor kid where all ER visits should end: Cold Stone Creamery. He got his choice of cones and sat eating his gooey peanut butter double chocolate super wonderful delight waffle cone with a big fat smile on his face. And I’m pretty sure I saw him give a NAFOD wink to the cone-girl.

“Was it worth it?” I asked. “Was it worth two staples for a Creamery cone of your choice?” NAFOD took a momentary break from his cone just long enough to squeeze in a quick “totally” between licks. “Would you do it again for another cone?” I pressed. He looked at his cone with lust and replied with a long, slow “oh yeah, baby.”

I’m apparently raising a kid who’s too sexy for his ice cream cone.

best ice cream

"So totally worth it." Really?

But I guess the artist formerly known as The Preschooler has his priorities straight. I mean, what if we could all end the day with an ice cream cone that made all the chaos, pain, and worry go away? What if bringing ice cream sandwiches to a mediation obliterated the problems between litigants and made everyone smile and forget what they were fighting about? What if a Peanut Buster Parfait were the prescription for blind spots in eyes, or the treatment recommended to cure mysterious shadows on CT scans and MRI’s?

What if? I’ll tell you what if. I’d be out of a job.

And I’d be really, really, really fat.

I can do this.

Sometimes I’m not sure I can do this Lens of Hope thing.

As some of you know, I’ve been rediscovering my passion for writing ever since my husband left for a one year + deployment with the military. What started as a diary for my children has exploded into a blog that gets visitors in the hundreds each day, even when I don’t write anything new. I am humbled and amazed by that. “Professional” bloggers would scoff at those numbers, but I don’t. Because I don’t have a publicist or a paid google advert or any fancy blog-driving software. I don’t use SEO or newsworthy links or have paid clickable advertisements. I’m just here, writing sometimes. And you come, and you read. In fact, today we passed 14,000 hits to the blog in just four short months. Thank you.

And many of you also know that I was asked to help out with the formation of Lens of Hope, a nonprofit that provides free photography to cancer patients and their families. So here I am, and I am not a photographer. Niccole is the photographer. Niccole came up with the idea. It’s my job to be the paper-pusher, the talker, the organizer, and the writer. It’s my job to make it real, to bring Pinocchio to life. And I’ve realized something. I really am going to write these stories for these families.

Writing someone else’s story requires you to get inside their head. Being true to someone else’s emotions requires you to spend a moment living it with them. And that scares me a little. So before I started interviewing families that have been photographed for Lens of Hope, I started reading other stories to see how these people were being honored and remembered and celebrated.

Sadly, there is no shortage of cancer on the internet. It can be found in blogs, in books, in magazines, and in newspaper articles. And these stories make me weep. Even the good ones, the ones that end with the word “remission” or, better yet, “cured.”  These stories have me sitting at my screen covering my face with my hands, sobbing.

And I haven’t even met with my first family, yet.

Am I really cut out for this? Will I be able to keep up with the pace? Will I be able to tolerate it, emotionally? I’ve become hardened to lots of things working in the prosecutor’s office – things that horrified me once have become dull, commonplace, or at least an observed reality. Will this happen to me again, now?

But then, I think of them. I think of my own mother and her radiation treatment this summer. I think of the hotel room where we stayed during treatment, where she shuffled from bed to chair to medicine table to bed for weeks and weeks. I think of her scar and her crooked smile where a nerve was nicked.  I think of how she couldn’t eat, not at all. I think of the looks on people’s faces when they greeted her and purposely didn’t ask how she was doing. I think of how she couldn’t stand the sunshine. I think of how, when it was over, she could barely tolerate the drive home. And I think of how many others were there waiting for treatment. In just one hospital, in one city, in one month. And I think of how many others there are. And how many others there have been.

If they can do all of that, and be so brave, surely I can do this much.

As I write this post I am preparing to speak at a weekend retreat for moms of children with cancer. I have no business being there. I am intruding. I don’t understand what they are going through. I feel I can barely empathize. How can I? It seems all I have to offer is someone else’s camera lens.

But I have Hope. Please God, let me be brave enough to share it, and brave enough to tell their stories. And let me keep enough of my heart intact to be able to keep doing it. Over and over.

Alright. I can do this. I want to do this.

Universal Truce

"Bullhorn" by Duchamp, Creative Commons/Flikr

The Universe has been speaking to me this weekend, and I don’t think I like what it’s telling me. Not only that, it appears to be coming at me through a cosmic bullhorn, loud and clear. I guess nobody ever likes what The Universe has to say, huh? I mean, if you can’t figure something out for yourself and The Universe actually has to intervene, it must be pretty stinking bad.

By now you know that I’m afflicted with a sickness that involves constant movement and mental activity, even to the point of complete exhaustion and self-inflicted immune system shutdown. I tend to procrastinate just long enough that I am required to work straight through to madness, until I experience the emotional blue screen of death. And yet I continue to be suprised. To the average onlooker this appears to be insanity – repeating my actions and expecting a different result. But to those who don’t see my procrastination, it just appears as if I’m trying to do everything and be everything to everyone. That’s really not it, guys. I swear.

I’m really much more self-absorbed than that.

All I’m trying to do is figure out what it is that I want. That’s all. And this weekend several different people, none of whom know each other, told me (in varying degrees of directness) that I need to figure out what it is that I WANT. Well, okay – alrighty then. So why is that so damn hard?

I’m sure it’s because I don’t want to pick. I’m sure it’s because I’m so very talented. I’m sure it’s because I want ALL of the things that I want, and I want to be the one to do them all myself. All of them.

It couldn’t be because I’m afraid.

See, there are lots of things that are changing. My daily life and my mind are morphing at breakneck speed. My kids are maturing, and relate to me differently than they did just a few months ago. My job is evolving, in a good way. My body is freaking out on me, in a bad way (let’s not even go there). I care about things I never cared about before. My friendships are changing. My interests are not what they once were. My confidence is waning in some areas, expanding in others. My perspectives on pretty heavy subjects are being enriched. I’m growing.

Without Husband.

And I just can’t do that. He’s been here every other time. I remember the day I wanted out of my financial job and contemplated law school, and he was there. He said, “You can do this. You can be a lawyer if you want to. Is that what you want?” And I did. I wanted it. I remember being half way through law school, and realizing that it was hard – harder than I thought. I was not one of those people who was naturally smart. I didn’t always “get it.” I had to work quite hard. I remember the day I sat on the floor and cried, and told him that I had made a huge mistake. He was there, and he didn’t mince words. I thought he was coming in to scoop me off the floor, but he didn’t. He looked at me and he said, “If it was easy, everyone would do it. You can do it – if you really want to.” And suddently, I did. And then I remember the day we sat parked in our car on a rainy weekend, looking out at the water. I remember when he said he wanted to start a family.

I cried, because I didn’t know what I wanted. I was so gripped by fear, that it came out as anger. I remember being so very afraid. And I remember how he yelled, “I will be there, if you want to! I want to!” And I remember the silence that fell over us, as I cried, and he stared. And I remember hearing the rain, and thinking about how he always knew what he wanted. And then I remember not being scared any more.

So here I am, trying to figure out what I want, but he’s not here. I’m stretching and growing without him. I’m getting over fears without him, and this time, he’s not here. What will happen if he comes back and I’ve changed? What will happen if HE has changed? What if he comes back and I don’t need him to say it anymore? What if I don’t need him to say, “You can do it, if you want to?”


Well, you can forget it. I’m going to stagnate, that much I’ve already decided. I’m going to un-grow.  I’m going to just sit here in the mosquito-infested mud and pretend to be completely oblivious to the blood-sucking stings of change.

I will just refuse to learn something new, that’s all.  I’ll just start caring about idiotic things again like the best waterproof mascara money can buy, and I will focus on that. I’ll be filled with righteous indignation at the condition of my unmanicured toes. I’ll worry about the number of tacos I can order without having to go incognito at the drive through. I will have angry outbursts at Elmo DVD’s and people who suggest that I need to change.

And I’ll just stay right here. Exactly the same. And I’ll wait.

Afterall, that’s what I want. Isn’t it?

End, Meet Other End

I’ve been burning and burning that candle. It’s the one I’ve got lit on both ends. I looked over at it today and it was just a charred wick laying there. It’s not even smoldering anymore. I’m not even sure which end I’ve come to, but I’ve come to the end of it nonetheless.

For her birthday this week, Mom and I made our way on down the freeway for several hours to get to the University of Washington Medical Center for some follow-up visits with docs in Seattle concerning her completed radiation treatments. Imagine. She was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer and the world expert is right in our back yard. Let me tell you, it was driving rain, horrible visibility and hideous traffic, but several hours drive is a helluva lot better than it could be. Imagine the luck. Well, you know, imagine the – I suppose “luck” isn’t the right word.

By the way, there were no results of any kind. We are going with “we killed it” because we like the sound of that.

On the way up there was a lot of chatter as we solved the world’s problems. But at the end of the day, when we were tired of being reminded so many times of cancer, there was a lot of silence in the dark car. Between kids and full-time work and volunteering and starting businesses and being both a mom and a dad, and playing (or missing) soccer I don’t get a lot of quiet in my life. If I do, it is usually the sound I hear right before I fall fast asleep.

That silence left me challenged this week, and I’m not ready to share what I found there. I’m not sure I understand it myself just yet.

But here I am at the end of my day trying to close the door on it for the night, and I just can’t. I’m missing a vital piece. I’m missing The Closer: Husband. He’s always a good respite at the end of my day. He can take my idiocy and make sense of it. He can take me by the shoulders and shake my head back into place. He can take me at my word. He can take me away.

Because there’s something about arms wrapped around you that make you smarter and more lovley and stronger and more coherent. There’s something about whispering in the bedroom that makes you able to share a secret because you know that it will be kept there. There’s something about unconditional love that allows you to be fragile and stupid and righteously indignant without risking your reputation.

But it’s not the pain of missing his arms and wisdom and ears that feels lonely tonight. It’s the months and months and months still to go. I’m not afraid to say that today was a hard day to do without him. All day it was hard. And tonight, it was hard again.

Tomorrow is a new day. And it’s one day closer to the end of mobilization.

It’s Time To Introduce You.

Lens of HopeTime for the big news! Our new nonprofit business is officially up and running! Readers, meet Lens of Hope.

I haven’t discussed it here because I’m just not one for deadlines. Mentioning it to a real live person might put me under some kind of undue pressure. I have enough going on in my life and I don’t work well under pressure. Actually, that’s a lie. I only work under pressure. Remember when I waited until the week before Husband left to finalize the new estate planning documents? How about waiting until the month before a half marathon to “train?” Then there was last week, when I waited until there was no underwear left in the house before doing any laundry. I bet all of that paints a pretty good picture.

But sometimes, things happen anyway despite my worst efforts. You can call it fate or cosmic intervention or Kismet or the collective conscious if you’d like. But I call it God.

It all started this summer when a friend asked to meet me for coffee to discuss a “project.” We had met the year before planning our daughters’ school auction project, but had become even closer when a nine-year old boy whose family was close to Niccole’s went through a long and cyclical bout with leukemia. It was a heartbreaking reason to become friends.

I started wondering what the meeting could possibly be about.

Niccole is a gifted photographer with a sincere heart for family, and it shows in her art. You’ll find people taking off their shoes, messing up their perfectly styled hair, or romping with the family dog on her shoots. So it’s no suprise that she was able to capture the bursting spirit of this amazing little boy, Luke, once his leukemia was in remission in 2009. Can’t you just see it in their faces? The family is breathing, healing. And Hoping. The photo shoot was a celebration.

But January brought new symptoms, and relapse. The final relapse. Luke, the boy who defeated cancer, would become the boy who defeated fear. By May, Luke was gone from the earth. He left a scar behind for so many who loved him, and a deep impression for many more who he barely knew.

After the focus had turned into making Luke comfortable, Niccole was “lucky” enough to snap a poignant family portrait one day. Luke wasn’t very tolerant of having his picture taken. This time, it was different. The boy who was pictured hanging on his mom, barely able to look into the lens, was now smirking, center stage. Luke was standing firm. He looked wiser than a 9 year-old should. But he was looking directly into the camera – probably because he knew he was being captured for a reason.

By the time that picture was taken, everyone knew. You can’t really tell in the picture how sick he is. But everyone knew. Including Luke.

Luke Jensen

Luke’s attitude, even as he talked with his Dad about going to Heaven, was an inspiration to lots of folks. Thousands.

Enter Lens of Hope, stage right.

Luke had inspired Niccole to find a way to help others. She wanted to do more. She couldn’t take the cancer away, but she saw lots of families at the hospital, and very few of them had family photos beyond a Polaroid or an impromptu snapshot. She knew she could do something, but she wasn’t sure how. She didn’t feel brave, but she knew if Luke could face leukemia, she could have the courage she needed to approach families in need. She came up with the idea to start a nonprofit that would provide free professional photography to cancer families, and then she asked me to come along for the ride.

And I said yes because of my own experience with photography.

See, when I think about Luke, I reflect on The Preschooler’s birth. I blogged about this correlation in October. There were some irregularities with Preschooler’s breathing when he was born, and he was whisked away to the NICU. But hey – lots of kids are born with some kind of respiratory problem, and most get over it. I would not let this rob me of my joy. I was ignoring it. (Sound familiar?) Afterall, I was just realizing that I would not have to divide my love as I had feared. On the contrary, I was experiencing for the first time that my capacity for love had actually multiplied with the birth of my second kid.

I was in the NICU having this wonderful thought, thinking about how big God’s love must be, when in walked a white-haired lady with powdery gloves and a contraption on wheels that looked like something out of my high school dark room. “I’m here for your newborn pictures” she chirped. I almost forgot about the obligatory swollen-face Mr. Magoo baby pictures! These folks are by no means savvy photographers. But they have tricks that make your newborn open their eyes and look pink and cute. All my photos made my kids look shrivelly and crusty and beaten up, and drunk. In about 30 seconds she masterfully raised the camera platform over my little babe, slipped a hat on him, stuck her gloved finger in his mouth, blew a little gust of air on his face, and then yanked her hand away. He open his eyes and his mouth was in a perfect little heart! What a mean and awesome trick! I signed a form, and she was on to the next sucker.

The pediatrician came in and asked us to sit down. A few of the nurses stopped and stared. The quality of the air in that little room changed drastically as the doc started talking about the results of some blah blah scans that were looked at by some blah blah experts at blah blah University overnight. He used the word “condition.” There were lots of medical terms flying around making the air even thicker. I kept looking at Husband for a read on the situation, but his face wasn’t telling me anything. Damned warrior training. I had my hand inside the little plastic incubator, and my baby was involuntarily clasping my finger. The fingers of babies always amaze me. Perfect miniature replicas of adult hands. “Blah blah bone scan blah blah.” With my thumb I rubbed the soft part of his tiny hand, the only spot where there were no tubes or monitors. “Wah wah Doernbecker blah blah.” I focused on that spot instead of his bandages. “Blah blah mumbo jumbo.” His very, very small hand.

I finally looked up when the doc paused and said, most people know it as “dwarfism.”

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer because let me tell you, the six weeks I had to wait took years from my life. The Preschooler has a mild case of thoracic dysplasia, which is basically fancy latin speak for an unusually formed rib cage. The only real side effect is that his lungs beat against his mini-ribcage a little more vigorously than ours, which means his metabolism is through the roof. His most grave symptom will be avoiding the wrath of the rest of the family, who will be forever perturbed by his genetic triumph over his inherited German obesity, which will allow him to always eat a second piece of pie with extra whipped cream. If it were not for a bone scan, he might have lived his entire life without knowing it was even called something. And if I have anything to say about it (I do), he won’t know about it for a very long time.

Still, there was a six week period where we waited in agony for a diagnosis. There are over 200 varieties of dwarfism, and some of them debilitate and asphyxiate as organs and flesh grow. There were bone scans and tests and visits to the Children’s Hospital to see specialists in fields I had never heard of. There was genetic testing and extensive interviews about family medical history. There was a lot of poking and pricking and holding down and crying. But mostly, there was emotional numbness. My love felt stronger than ever, my faith was stronger than ever, but I was no longer joyful. I carried a bittersweet burden that overcame the joy.

I held my baby boy, but when I looked at him, I cried. I laid in the bed next to him, pinching him to keep him awake long enough to eat. I broke down when I realized that he was so used to being pricked that he didn’t even cry any more. I laid awake all day near him, even though I was exhausted, memorizing everything about him. I have amazing memories of him as a baby that I don’t have for my daughter, and I know this event is the reason. My chest actually physically hurt thinking about what the future had in store for him. I was ready for what God had planned for us. But he – he was so very small.

 And in the middle of all that, I got the pictures back. I had forgotten all about the pictures …

From the instant I opened the envelope, I was flooded with the memory of the joy I felt that morning, before the doctor gave us the bad news. When I saw the picture, I felt that joy. I remembered it. I thought about the funny lady with the gloves. I thought about my chatter, and Husband’s proud smile. I recalled the excitement of taking the baby home that day, even though I’d later learn it wouldn’t be for a week.

baby hatWhen I saw that picture, I felt a piece of  joy. I felt Hope. This picture captured my beautiful perfect seemingly healthy baby. I pressed the picture up to my chest and held it there, as if some of it would soak in. I held it there for a very long time, with my eyes closed. Just having it meant everything.

That’s why, when Niccole came to me and said, “I want to form a nonprofit that provides free photography to cancer patients and their families” I immediately said yes. I said yes and I had no idea what that that meant.  We both have jobs and families and crazy lives. Our formation meetings were often late night Skype sessions in our jammies. We converted ideas into action, but then, we stalled out. We would forget meetings or cancel appointments, or work piecemeal. We had targeted an incorporation date, but we didn’t really have any concrete plans beyond that for launching the whole thing. Nicci was homeschooling and her photography business was taking off. I was traveling to Seattle for Mom’s radiation, and we were getting ready for Husband’s departure. There was stuff, lots of stuff.

Then God called.

That is, the editor of a family magazine called on us. The Preschooler had won a funniest quotes contest and she emailed to let me know. We struck up an informal conversation and I picked her brain a little about how nonprofits do magazine advertising. And that was it – until she called back in November and asked to feature us in her nonprofit spotlight for December. “December? Of 2010?” I thought. No way. We can’t do it. It’s impossible. But I heard a voice yelling, “Get off your butt! There are people out there who need me!” The magazine’s original plans for the December edition had fallen through, and because my kid won a funniest quotes contest for asking the barber for a bald spot, the editor now wanted to feature Lens of Hope. NOW. And I was questioning it? I answered the only way I knew how.

“We’re launching in … December! Uh, yeah. December … 2010.”

And that’s how Lens of Hope was born. It’s been a long pregnancy, folks. About nine months in fact, and not without complications.

So there’s my big news, friends. If you made it this far, congratulations. I tried editing, but this was one I could not manage to trim. I never thought I’d be involved in something like this.

You know, all these photos are going to need stories to go with them in pretty short order. And I think I know just the unpaid blogger/lawyer/writer/incorporator/co-founder for the job.

VOTY Reader