Renee Weatherbee

Renee's Ramblings


Above:  My daughter, Amber, and her family.  She's the smiley one in the middle.  Her husband, Jeff, is holding their son, Joseph.  Next to Amber, standing tall, is my grandson, Baine.  Michael has his eyes closed as usual, and Nancy and Emilee are standing in front. 

My daughter, Angel, and her husband, Tyler, Tukker and Chip are in front.  Below is a picture of their newborn daughter, Emry. 

My youngest daughter, Arin, and her hubby, Brent.   In this picture, the little guy below is just about to come into the world.  Their son, Gunner, is pictured below.

Posted:  February 27, 2012


We’re Going Home

Before we came out here to Virginia, I prayed daily for God to intervene and help us find a way out of coming back here, but this prayer was not answered the way I thought it should have been.  The first week of September of 2011, we made our way back here, knowing it would be temporary. 

We weren’t sure how temporary, but did know there was a possibility that Al’s position would be eliminated.  If it wasn’t, we had a plan.  He would work out here until July of 2014, when he would be eligible to take retirement, then we would move back home to South Dakota. 

Personally, I didn’t want to leave South Dakota where my daughters and grandchildren lived.  I had already been to Virginia once before for six months and never felt comfortable here, although there were some good things about having been here. 

I felt like I was running away from my family, but I also knew it was important to my marriage to Al, to be together, even if that meant relocating again.  We had been married for three years and had only lived together six months of that time. 

Shortly after arriving, it was confirmed that Al’s position would be eliminated.  Al and I just stood in faith and believed in our hearts that God brought us back to Virginia for a reason.  We didn’t worry.  We didn’t get upset about our circumstances.  We both had moments of doubt and stress, but for the most part, we just stayed calm and believed that God had a plan for us.  At times, we had to cheer each other on, lift each other up and remind each other about who was really in charge. 

I personally had to learn to live in the moment.  I couldn’t let myself think about the past and what I had left behind, because it would make me very sad thinking about my beautiful daughters and their families.  I couldn’t think too far into the future, because it would make me long more for home, as I knew eventually we would be there.  I had to learn to bloom where I was planted, as Joel Osteen said in one of his sermons. 

I had to learn to embrace my surroundings.  I had to learn to see this area of Virginia as beautiful, knowing that God created this area, just as He had my home state.  I had to accept that there is always going to be lots of traffic out here and not grumble about it.  I had to learn to accept things as they are right now in the moment. 

I soon learned the people here were just as friendly as people back home, thanks to our neighbor, Alice, and the people we met through going to Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church.   It was our relationships with these people that made our time in Virginia special. 

God brought us out here for a reason.  I don’t presume to know what God is thinking, but maybe it was so that we would finally find a church family that knew how to do it the right way – to love one another and to extend that hospitality outward to others.  It was because of this church family and Pastor Garry Livermon and his wife, Becky, that we felt moved to become members. 

In any case, through all this learning to live in the moment and embracing where we were at the time, I never stopped praying and believing that God would bring us home when the time was right for Him.  Seven months after arriving here, now is the time.  God has answered our prayers.  We are going home!

We feel extremely blessed that we are being given this opportunity to go home, but also feel we will be missing out on getting to know some very good people even better and from becoming more involved in the church.  But these people have forever made me an ambassador of Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church in Ordinary, VA and I will always be recommending people to give it a try. 

As we get ready to head home, we are extending out an open invitation to all those we have come to know out here, to come visit us in South Dakota.  We want to host you and show you why we love it back home so much.  You just have to see it for yourselves to understand. 

Thank you, Lord, for bringing us back home and thank you for the new friends we made while we waited for the right time to go back – Your time.


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Posted:  February 23, 2012


It’s A Small World


While working at our church yesterday, a friend from church, Homer Bolton, blessed us with his presence for a few minutes.  Homer is what I call a “real character.”  By that I mean he’s always got an interesting story or something interesting to show you.  Homer has been around since the beginning of the church, so he has used his own talents for building things to make items for the church and has volunteered much of his time for the mission of the church and other local organizations.  He knows all the church and local history. 

As we stood there, he brought up the elusive jackalope to me, letting me know that he had one in his possession.  I was puzzled.  “You have jackalopes in Virginia, too?” I questioned.  What, you might ask, is a jackalope?  Well, it is a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope.  I didn’t know that this rare species could be found in Virginia, too! 

But Homer cleared things up for me.  No, the jackalope doesn’t make its home in Virginia along with the snipes.  He got his from South Dakota (Wall Drug, in fact) when he was passing through many years ago.  He confirmed that the only place the jackalope could be found would be the Great Plains region.  I was relieved.  I didn’t think a jackalope could survive out here in all these trees.  They need lots of open prairie to run away from their enemy, the wolfcoy.  For those who don’t know, the wolfcoy is a cross between a wolf and coyote. 

Homer told me how the subject of the jackalope came up on WXGM 99.1, Gloucester’s local radio station the day before, and how he took his jackalope into the station and showed it to the DJ, Reese Williams.  She took a photo of it and posted it on her website.

Homer left the church and we returned to our work at the church.  Five minutes later, he was back carrying his treasure, his very own jackalope.  I must say it’s quite a handsome animal.  It was kind of Homer to go all the way home and fetch him up for me, so I could see it. 

What a small world.  Talk of the jackalope only made me more homesick.  Oh well, in the meantime while I’m waiting to go home, maybe Homer will take me hunting for snipes, or is it “snipe?” 


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Posted:  February 20, 2012

Unexpected Treasures

Due to the beginning infestation of spiders in our bedroom (I found one tiny spider - but anyone who knows me knows this is cause for action), we bug bombed our home and had to vacate the premises for at least two hours. We juFmped in our car and headed north out of the area. We had no idea where we'd end up - the beauty being just another excuse to explore the unknown.

After discovering a second entrance to Beaverdam Park outside of Gloucester Courthouse, we sat there wishing we had some grandkids along to play on the massive jungle gyms and playground equipment or that we had a horse to ride on the horse path, but with neither, we moved on.

We took a turn left down a road that according to the GPS system was leading us toward water, not that unusual, since we live on a pennisula and just about everywhere you turn, you're going to run into water.

We ended up in the charming little town of Urbanna, Virginia, located on a creek that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. This tiny town, located on land less than one half a square mile, is home to around 560 lucky residents.

It was lunch time, so we stopped at a corner street restaurant called Virginia Street Cafe. We sat at a window seat and enjoyed watching people walk by (it had been some time since we had seen sidewalks). Al devoured and practically made love to the cream of crab soup and crab cake sandwich. I ate my usual fare - a turkey sub, but it was worthy of praise, too. Our server was very friendly and answered our questions about the town, instructing us on how to get to the Town Marina. After lunch, we took a stroll down a little incline and ended up at the pier and marina. We walked the planks and noted that there were several boats hooked up to the electric and water outlets on the pier. We pondered what it would be like to live on one of these vessels of the sea. I tried taking photos, but discovered I had not reloaded the memory card.

Upon turning and walking away from the pier, we greeted an older gentleman who was standing there. He began to talk to us about the area, about his life of having lived on a boat for fifteen years traveling up and down the east coast from Canada to Florida and finally settling down in Urbanna. He told us stuff you don't find in the history books. We learned about local politics and issues. We learned about town development and about some of the personalities that live there. We learned about the annual Oyster Festival held every November, which brings in 60,000 visitors and stood in awe wondering how the towns people can host such a group. We wished we hadn't missed it last fall. We visited with this man for over an hour and it seemed he still didn't want to stop and that he had endless stories to tell. Regretfully we needed to move on, but we are thankful that we ran into this kind stranger who taught us much. We didn't even exchange names, but it was a wonderful exchange.

Orginially this town was established in 1680 as a port for loading tobacco onto cargo ships. In fact, one of the original tobacco warehouses remains in tact, not far from the town marina. We walked past the tobacco warehouse and then decided to take a turn and walk down another part of the business district.

We spotted a drug store. The front of the building was a bit worn and in need of updating, but I needed antacid, so we went inside. The medicine section was in the back of the store. Al took our item up to the counter for purchase. There was a line, so I wondered over to the other side of the building to look at some of the crowded and a bit cluttered merchandise. Over to the very left side of the building I looked toward the back and blinked. I stood and blinked again, hardly believing my eyes. There was an old fashioned soda fountain and counters (three, in fact), complete with chrome covered stools with the tops covered in orange vinyl. It was like stepping back in time at least 30 or 40 years. I felt excited - elated and couldn't wait for Al to see it. I realized I was staring at the people sitting around at the counter, so I turned and only occasionally glanced over out of the corner of my eye. I watched Al's face as he walked torward me, then turn and saw the sight. His eyes light up. His mouth fell open. "Cool" is what came out of his mouth. We had already eaten, so we reluctantly turned to leave after staring a few more minutes. We should have sat down and ordered a malt or sundae (this will be one of those momements in time where you make a wrong decision, I think).

We walked back to the car and I noted that almost every business had a bench outside their building. I said to Al, "What a great little town - they are doing a good thing by putting out these benches inticing you to sit down and stay awhile and enjoy the place." That is good marketing! We are going back soon. Al wants to go back to the drug store, sit at the counter and order a cherry coke. I wonder if they'll be offended if I take pictures?

Urbanna, Virginia, was our unexpected treasure for the weekend.

We are taking a trip back home to South Dakota soon. On our trip home, we will try to experience the little towns along the way and continue to look for unexpected treasures, by getting off the major highways and exploring Main Street USA.

For more information, please click on the following link:


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Posted:  February 16, 2012

Tough Noogies!

In 2009, I submitted two personal essays to different calls for submissions.  One was for a publisher that was going to be doing an anthology type book about online dating and another was an entry for a contest – you were to submit an essay about a personal experience with mentoring.   If you were chosen in the top 100 entries, you’re story would be used in inspirational type book at a later date.  These were two different publishers requesting submissions.

I wrote about my experience with online dating (my husband, Al, and I, met via e-Harmony) and he added his side of the story to the end.  The publisher loved our story and stated that they would be holding it for publishing, but that they were waiting for funding for the project.  They held the essay for over three years.  During that time period, I checked with them three times and each time they assured me that they were still holding it for inclusion in their book.  So I excitedly would report to family and friends that one day our love story would end up in a book and that I would be paid for the effort.  The other day, I received an email that the publishers decided not to use it in their anthology.  Disappointing for me, to say the least, as I had hoped to receive some payment for it. 

The other company did choose my story about being mentored as one of their top 100 picks, which was flattering, because they said that they received over 2,000 entries.  The title and my name appeared in a listing on their website.  The story did not.  I received an email that my story was going to be included in one of their inspirational books (similar to Chicken Soup for the Soul).  A year later, I received an email that they had decided the story didn’t exactly fit the mentoring publication, but they wanted to hold the essay for a future book.  I said that was fine.  It still has not been included in any publication after three years.  Whenever I ask about it, they say it’s still be considered, but that I may withdraw it if I wish.   I never came up with another market for it, so I left it sit there with them.  I had told everyone I know that this essay was going to be published.

Since first submitting these two essays (and before), I have received nearly a hundred rejections for different projects.  I have become pretty good at not taking it personally.  I have received some very encouraging rejection letters.  Having those two essays being held for future publication made me feel validated as a writer.  It took the sting off the the rejections, but now, with the realization that even after holding them for so long, these won’t be published either, I guess I’ll have to find other ways to validate myself as a writer. 

I remember well the word’s my mom spoke often when I was growing up.  “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”  I should have listened to her and not said a word, because now I feel not only disappointed that these two essays never got published, but I also feel like a fool for telling everyone that they would be.

But from reading about other writers’ experiences, it seems to be that this type of thing isn’t that unusual, where a potential publisher holds items for long periods of times without guarantee of publishing.  It is part of the reason it is so hard to break into the writing business and even harder to make a living.  Does that mean I’m giving up?  Heck no!  But I sure won’t be putting the cart before the horse anymore!  (LOL!)

So my apologies to my friends and family – so far, none of my personal essays are in print – other than here on my own website that I pay for and for one travel article (see Home page for link).  However, I hear from others that they seem to enjoy reading some of my stuff and you know what, that helps validate me and keep me believing I am a writer and I thank everyone for their support. 

As for that essay about how I met Al – I just reread it.  I was contemplating sharing it with you all here, but it includes some info about my “trashy psycho days” (a term my friend, Michele, created about my crazy days).  I think I’m going to have to let that one lay in the drawer, at least until I die! 


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Posted:  February 13, 2012


What a Weekend!

Saturday, Day 1

Our neighbor and good friend, Alice Council, invited Al and I to her church’s African American Black History Month program on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the First United Baptist Church in Gloucester, Virginia.

Little did she know when she extended this invitation to us that she would be helping to fulfill a long time desire of mine to attend a gospel service in an African American church.  I must have gotten this desire from TV, as I lived most of my life in South Dakota where there is, unfortunately, little racial diversity.  We have our Native American friends and neighbors who historically have suffered at the hand of the “white man” in devastating ways, as have the African American population maybe not with identical circumstances, but with the same purpose or intent of keeping or trying to keep them “inferior” and “ineffective” as a people.

It’s pretty strong language written here, but history cannot dispute it.  Personally, sitting in that church, as one of four white people, in a group of at least two hundred black people, I was uncomfortable.  I won’t even try denying it.  I wasn’t uncomfortable for myself so much as more worried about what the congregation thought of me sitting there during one of their important celebrations about their African American history.  I wondered if I was welcome there.    

My discomfort didn’t last long, as the gospel band, “The New Singing Disciples” began singing some of the most powerful songs I’ve ever heard in voices that felt like they were going to raise the roof right off the building, songs about overcoming adversity through faith in Jesus, songs of faith so strong that caused several of the band members to break down in tears, and songs of hope in Jesus’ return.  There seemed nothing in these songs that both blacks and whites couldn’t relate to.  This group uses song as their personal testimony to their belief in what Jesus has done for them in each of their lives.  It is touching and extremely inspirational.

If you would like to take a listen to a few of their songs, I have provided a link here.  I will say that the power and strength of their voices doesn’t shine through in these videos (I assume due to the equipment used to record them).  You must see this group in person to feel the Spirit of their message and to allow their voices to resonate through your souls as they sing of their love for our Savior.  But with this link, you can get an idea and hopefully, it stirs enough interest that you will seek them out one day:

The service continued with a wonderful young man, Kenny Pryor, standing up and giving a presentation about Edward Bouchet, the first African American to receive a doctorate.  Kenny was the great grandson of this prominent historical figure and he proudly told about his great grandfather’s accomplishments.  Kenny did an exceptional job of presenting the story, talking completely from memory and doing so with ease and confidence.  He received a standing ovation when he finished his presentation.  This young man, Kenny, is going places, there is no doubt in my mind.  He appears to be about 13 years old, but is way ahead of his years in his ability to give a speech.

Another young man, Darryl Butler, gave a presentation about his grandmother, Irene Morgan.  In 1944, Irene Morgan was on a bus coming out of Baltimore, MD, heading back home to Gloucester.  The bus was filled to over capacity and the bus driver told her to give up her seat to a white couple.  She refused because she had paid full price for her ticket and didn’t think she should have to stand all the way.  This was years before Rosa Parks did the same.  Irene Morgan was soon arrested and thrown in jail.  Her case eventually made it all the way to the Supreme Court.  Through the NAACP, Thurgood Marshall was assigned her attorney.  Mr. Marshall later became the first African American US Supreme Court Justice.  The case was eventually settled that the bus company was in the wrong, because they did not have the right to discriminate in this way due to interstate travel laws.  Irene Morgan received very little publicity (which is the way she preferred it) as compared to Rosa Parks, but her case helped pave the way for others after her.  Irene did receive the Presidential Citizen’s Medal Award from President Clinton for civil rights action in August of 2000.  Darryl did an excellent job of representing his grandmother proudly. 

Other notable local historical figures mentioned in the program included Thomas Calhoun Walker, Jr., who attended the first charted college for African Americans, Hampton Institute, and later become the first African American lawyer in Gloucester.  He worked for civil rights and for youth in the community. 

Annie Belle Daniels was a business owner (opened a school of cosmetology), political activist and community leader.  There is a historical marker in her honor at the location of her school in Newport News, which cites her “untiring humanitarian service and her contribution to the general welfare of the city.”    

Pvt. James Daniel Gardner, of the U.S. Army, received Virginia’s only Medal of Honor, during the Civil War.  His home town was Gloucester, where a memorial in his name was erected in 2005.  Both Union and Confederate re-enactors, black and white, attended the unveiling in 2006. 

One point was made by one of the presenters of the service.  African American history is still not studied in our public schools today.  So it is left to African American citizens to ensure that their history is passed from generation to generation, so it is not forgotten.  I don’t believe that an education could be considered complete if you don’t learn about all races and cultures including heroes from all walks of life and races.  Without this, the true picture remains distorted or one-sided. 

This world will be much better off if we as individuals are willing to put ourselves into areas and groups where we don’t normally spend time, but where we are willing to listen and show support and brotherly love.  There should be no superiority among races and once we all learn to embrace racial diversity and different cultures, we can truly be blessed and at peace.  It’s a simple matter of empathy – placing ourselves in another’s shoes and trying to see what it was like, so that we may do our best to understand and offer healing to each other. 

That said, I can now cross this off my bucket list.  I attended and very much enjoyed my first African American gospel service and it was uplifting and inspirational. 


Sunday, Day 2

It has always been my intention to join a church and here I am finally getting that done at the age of 54.  What took me so long?  I have many excuses, but mostly, I didn’t feel worthy and I didn’t understand that Jesus’ blood cleansed me and made me pure and righteous and worthy of his love and presence.  Until I got that, I shied away from attending church as much as possible.  But deep down, there was always something missing.  I’d had just enough church and Sunday school growing up, that I knew I was missing something by not going as an adult.  I knew that I short-changed my daughters by not providing this as a requirement in their upbringing.  It was mostly stubborn pride and not being able to agree with their dad on the religion of choice.  Now, my biggest regret in life is this, that I didn’t have my children baptized and raised in a church family.  I can’t go back and change it, but I do know for sure that I am forgiven and that I am blessed in spite of my stupidity. 

On Sunday, February 12, I fulfilled a lifelong dream to become of an official member of one of God’s churches and feel that God directed me to a very loving congregation, the folks at Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church in Ordinary, Virginia.  Pastor Garry Livermon was kept busy as he swore in and blessed eleven of us into the church, including my husband, Al.  Pastor Garry, and his wife, Becky, have got to be the most passionate believers I’ve ever met and it is a pleasure to be in their presence and learn about God from them. 

I would like to publically thank Cindy and Butch Atkins for coming up and standing with Al and I as our friends and support system while we were going through the membership ceremony.  Your presence beside us meant the world to us!  Thank you!

Yes, it was a great weekend – one to remember and celebrate! 




Top Photo:  Al Weatherbee in 2008

Bottom Photo:  Al Weatherbee in 2012 (90 lbs lighter)


Posted:  February 9, 2012

Below is my husband, Al's, story about his recent weight loss success written in his own words.  What a great success it is, as you can see from the pictures posted above.  Personally, I fell in love with a heavier set man, but I'm glad he did this for his own health.  I want him around a long time, so I can pester him.  I would say nag, but I don't nag, do I, Honey?


Weight Loss Sucess Story - by Al Weatherbee 

I knew I was fat.  I tried to deny it, but my belly hang over constantly reminded me.  I hated myself.  Nothing fit.  When I had to dress up in a suit for an important meeting, I never felt professional.  I always had the impression nobody took me seriously, because of my size.  Some days, while getting dressed, depending on how fat I was feeling, I would change pants half a dozen times until a pair felt okay.  Sometimes, I would break out in an anxiety sweat, swearing at myself for being a slug.  I used to think, “Oh God, why did You let me get this way?”
On the other side of that feeling was the eating end of it.  I would eat without any regard to the feeling I had getting dressed that morning.  All you can eat lunches, burgers from Mikey D's, then kicking back on the sofa at night. 
I was destined to live out my life that way, if not for a life changing scare. My work requires me to go overseas to support a combat flying organization.  In order to go, I have to get a physical.   I was tasked to go for April 2011.  When I went in for the physical the doctor found my blood sugar out of whack.  It was way too high, he said. He told me I was too heavy, and if I didn't do something about it I was heading for diabetes, and most likely heart disease.  At my age it is only a matter of when.
Inside I knew it was true.  I wasn't feeling all that well.  I was sluggish and couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded.  I was smoking.  I was doing all the things that were going to kill me.
I couldn't do a diet.  I wasn't strong enough for that.  I had to have help.  I asked God. This is what God did.  From the start I could only make the change with God's powerful grace.  So we went to work.
I prayed every time I wanted to eat.  If it wasn't time to eat, I would pray for God to remove the urge.  When it was time to eat, I would pray for God to make my hands pick only the right thing.  From there He kept telling me and directing my mind to learn about nutrition.  Every ounce of the 90 pounds I lost has been with God by my side. I didn't do it, God did.
I know God has a plan for me. He is anointing me for something grand.  As a recovering fat person, I will never let God out of my sight.  It is so easy for us to forget how much God does for us.  It is God’s will in willpower.  

Since losing the weight and keeping it off for almost a year, I have quit smoking.  Health is a motivator for that, but truth is the bigger factor is the money. I never stopped long enough to think about how much I was burning up. The same process helped me quit.  I recommend asking God to help you through any lifestyle changes you need to make. 


NOTE FROM RENEE:   I can attest that Al eats tons of fresh vegetables and fresh fruits and he eats them as if they are a giant, greasy cheeseburgers – he loves them.  But a couple times a week, he eats a big meal without worrying about the fat content or calories and indulges.  One day, I’ll work on this for myself.  One thing at a time for me…least I become perfect.  (LOL!)


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Above:  My grandson, Tukker, shaking hands with his opponent and getting ready to wrestle.  You can see the determination to win in his face.  (This was his first state wrestling tournament, a year ago - he didn't win then, but this year, he has already gotten 2nd place in a tournment (see story below).


Below:  My grandson, Tukker, standing in the crowd at a state wrestling tournament anxiously awaiting his turn on the mat.  His mother, Angel Nemec, is waiting by his side.  You can see the hearing piece connected to his head via a magnet, which attaches to a magnetized device (cochlear implant) that was surgically implanted in his head, just under the skin.  He can't wear the hearing device while wrestling. 

Posted:  February 6, 2012


Winning Spirit

If you have ever attended a children’s wrestling tournament, you know how deafening the crowd gets when caught up in the excitement of watching these little people struggle to pin each other to the mat.  The tournaments bring teams from all over the state to come together to compete.  Supporting those teams are auditoriums full of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of screaming family members, their children’s biggest fans.

I’ve had the honor to be one of the cheering family members for my grandson, Tukker Boe, who started wrestling last year, as a five year old.  At a tournament with a packed auditorium, this little guy had to be directed down row upon row of bleachers toward the section his team was to meet to wrestle.  This was his first experience at a state sanctioned tournament.  I was scared for him, wondering what he thought of all the noise and confusion in the huge arena.  I was worried for him also, because he was going to be wrestling without his hearing piece, the amplification part of his cochlear implant.  This meant he would not be able to hear his coach shouting directions and he would not be able to hear the whistle from the referee.  He was so inexperienced as to the process and how score keeping worked and what exactly was expected of him. 

I sat up in the bleachers, a proud grandma, calming my fears.  I felt a little sad knowing he couldn’t hear his grandmas and the rest of his fan club shouting out cheers and directions to him from the stands.  He couldn’t hear any of it, except perhaps a very faint roar or hum of sound.  I knew that his parents were right near him close to the mat.  I knew that they would be explaining to the referee about Tukker’s special circumstances and telling them they would have stop Tukker from continuing wrestling by tapping him on the shoulder, as he wouldn’t be able to hear the signal from the whistle.  I worried that Tukker might suffer a blow to the head and break open the area where the magnetic device had been implanted, worried that he and the expensive device might be damaged beyond repair.  I had tons of concerns as his grandmother.  I know his parents had these concerns, also, with Tukker’s cochlear implant, but they had no desire to hold him back from doing the sports activities he wanted to do.  Tukker may have come to his love for wrestling naturally, as his dad was a state high school wrestling champion.  If Tukker was born with a winning spirit, he was going to have to learn to compete with his limitation. 

That day, Tukker didn’t win any of his matches.  In fact, the poor little guy was so upset, he cried his little heart out, breaking his family’s hearts.  We all were tempted to protect him and coddle him and I think I suggested they never put him in wrestling again.  It’s not that he was the only little boy crying and upset – many of them were.  This was a part of their learning process – learning how to compete, how to lose, how to shake your opponents hand, etc.   

A year later, just a few weeks ago, Tukker just competed in two other  tournaments and got 2nd place in both of them.  This year, as a six year old, he is representing the Philip Scotties and proudly wearing his orange and black uniform.  His coach worked very hard with the team on sportsmanship, and this time, Tukker kept his emotions in check.  He’s a year older, has a little more wrestling experience under his belt and understands the rules better.  Congratulations, Tukker, I am very proud of you!  I’m still biting my nails, praying, he doesn’t get bumped in the head, but I might as well get used to it, as Tukker’s other love is football and he already talks about it non-stop. 

I will be forever grateful to God for the person who invented the cochlear implant so that my grandson can hear – it allows him to live a life all children want to live, full of play, sports and activities.  I’m just going to trust God that he won’t be seriously injured and hope that one day soon, I’ll be back in South Dakota where I can cheer him on in person again, while holding my breath. 

My oldest grandson, Baine Towers, Brookings, SD, a freshman in high school, just won 2nd place in a school sanctioned wrestling tournament, also.  Congraulations, Baine, I am very proud of you!  Hold on to that winning spirit!


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Melinda Olson, my baby sister, 15 years younger than me.  See her insightful posting below about an issue many of us struggle with.   

Posted:  February 2, 2012


The following post was written by my sister, Melinda Olson, and shared with me.  She came up with the idea of sharing her goals with me, in order to help keep herself accountable to them.  One of her goals is to lose weight and eat healthier in 2012.  She wrote this “Diary of a Chubby Christian” for herself, shared it with me, and is now willing to share it with the public in a hope that it might offer some inspiration to others.  She writes insightfully with a sense of humor and you get a sense of the essence of her – that she’s real, open, honest and talented.  That’s my baby sister!  I love her writing style.

I would love to share other readers' posting as well.  If you have anything you'd like to share in the future, please click on the Contact Me tab.  Thanks!


Diary of a Chubby Christian – by Melinda Olson



Day 1 – How did I get here and what is my plan?

What is wrong with me? Am I trying to get diabetes? Am I proud that I can’t sit in stadium seats comfortably anymore?  Do I always want to wear the same 3 pairs of pants for the rest of my life?  It’s like I actually ENJOY having fat fingers and extra chins.

I admit I have a problem, and, no, it’s not psychological.  Don’t even think it’s like the “counseling” episodes of the Biggest Loser where someone suddenly remembers he or she is fat because they had a bad childhood.  Please don’t get me wrong, I think that can actually be the reason for some people, but I definitely don’t have some deep rooted miserable past that I cannot get over. I do not endlessly seek the comfort only food can give me because nobody would be my friend in school. I just love crappy food.  The only unhealthy relationship I have with food is that vegetables make me want to curl up in a ball and cry.   The very thought of enjoying  raw broccoli and celery every day makes me feel abused and hopeless.  Carbs are my best friend and they are killing me.

  • Lypolean – this was the predecessor to Lypozene. I tried this experimental fat blocker back in 2005.  What a waste of money! Wow, I thought I was Superchick – able to eat taller burgers in a single bite, graduating on to bigger meals with no repercussions.  Yeah, not so much. 
  • The Atkins Diet – by far my favorite! In 2006, I lost about 30 pounds in about 3 weeks. Fantastic…however salt, fat and grease are also hard to stick to as a life choice.  I still wasn’t hitting up those greens for fun and chewing excitement! It only took about 4 months to fully gain that back.
  • The Ally Diet – Talk about scary. Nothing could be more frightening than carrying around an extra pair of panties just in case of an accidental pants pooping. I wouldn’t even call it poop; more like a gooey spray of rusty oil.  I did lose a few pounds on this one, but mostly because of the little fat points guide book and eating lower fat foods.  I did enjoy it, but felt it was too slow and got tired of the extra panties in my purse. That was my fad of 2007.
  • Slimquick – nope, nothing quick. Just another pill and some great flavor packets to add to water. Fruit flavor with an energizing kick was not enough to motivate my pounds off.  This was the futile attempt at weight loss of 2009. It at least made me aware that I was working on something, since you take the pills more than once a day.  I stopped taking them and found that I was finally losing a little bit by eating less and walking on my lunch break. I gained most back as winter came and there was no walking. I continued to gain until the 4th of July of 2010. When I saw myself in the pictures from the family picnic, I was abhorred. Revoltingly, it was time to get help.  That August I begged my doctor for phentermine – the magic pill that makes you forget about food.  He said no. Dr. C. is very caring and wants people to lose the safe way. He set me up with my dietician, a.k.a. The Nancy. 
  • Nancy’s Carb Choice Diet – Also good for pre-diabetics and diabetics to get control! Oh boy did I ever get control! From August to October 2010, I had lost over 30 pounds by sticking to this healthy diet and walking constantly.  I walked with friends, I walked without friends, I walked in spite of friends! It was amazing! When I am focused, I can even eat out at fast food places and make delicious healthy choices.
  • Nancy’s Carb Choice Diet 2011 – Ok, this is where I fell off the wagon, hard.  We moved to a house in town in January and I was so excited to be in my new house, I forgot to stay focused.  I gained back all the weight plus 15 pounds.  It was a slow build in spring and by summer I was on an uphill scale to fat-pants.  Now it’s 2012, and I’ve still got the why- can’t- i- fit- in- my-clothes blues.

What’s going to be different in 2012?  God.  I need His help. I cannot do this alone and I cannot do this alone with Nancy.  I need Him.  In 2005, I quit smoking with God’s help.  I prayed “God, please help me stop smoking. God, make them disgusting to me.“  He listened.  Not only am I still a non-smoker, but now I can’t even stand the smell. My eyes water and itch and I feel trapped in the presence of cigarette smoke.  What a great testimony.

Why haven’t I asked for His help with my weight loss before? I have. I just don’t think I asked in earnest. I didn’t ask the right way or for the right reasons. I was only asking for my looks and for selfish reasons, like showing people that I can or looking good in jeans.  I’ve been molded enough now as a growing Christian to know that this was not His plan for me to change for those reasons.  I get it now.  I’ve also been embarrassed.  Yes, embarrassed to ask Jesus to bless my food because I know full well that I’m eating junk He wouldn’t want me to ingest.

Here is my plan for my goal of losing 58 pounds in 2012:

Pray daily.

Journal for The Nancy.

Don’t cancel appointments with The Nancy just because I screwed up.

Meet my friend at the gym at 5 am, every morning that I can.

Give veggies a chance. (Maybe a lot of ranch this year)

No more fad diets.

I have exchanged 2012 goals with my sister Renee to help pray and hold me accountable.


Today’s verses:

Proverbs 23: 1-2 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you and put a knife to your throat if you have a big appetite. 

Proverbs 23: 20 Do not be among winebibbers, or among gluttonous eaters of meat


Today’s Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I admit I have been gluttonous and weak.  I have been eating constantly for pleasure and not for nourishment.  I have not been taking care of the body you so lovingly created for me.  Lord, I confess I cannot get healthier without your help.  I need you and your loving spirit to guide me to better choices and the wisdom to catch myself in the act of hurting myself with food.  I know it will be a long slow process, so I will be leaning on you for patience and humility.  Help me to enjoy the foods you bless, Lord, and whatever comes of this I will give you the praise and the glory and it will be my testimony.  Amen.


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