An exciting new direction…

The View from the Mountaintop


Extreme Response exists “to meet the needs of men, women and children living in extreme, often life-threatening situations.”  When I think of a life-threatening situation, I think of things like children not being vaccinated against diseases that could take their lives, or consuming food and drink that is filled with bacteria.  There is, however, another reality to “life-threatening.”  It is living in a situation where abuse is a daily occurrence, having to provide for children with little or no resources, and having no support of any kind from anywhere.


Women bear the brunt of poverty.  When there are no skills…no money…no food…they are ultimately held responsible by society.  And they hold themselves responsible.  We as mothers want what’s best for our children, and when we can’t provide for even their most elemental needs, it tears at our very souls.


For some time, we at Extreme Response have…

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There will be peace in the valley…

One of my very favorite songs of all time is “Peace in the Valley.”  I am partial to Dolly Parton, but I’ll listen to anyone sing it.  I especially love the line that says “And I’ll be changed…changed from this creature I am…”

I am, on any given day, a hot mess.  I’m a walking bundle of nerves, with an anxiety level that makes my doctor wonder why I’m still walking around.  I take medication for my anxiety (Please don’t judge.  Just. Please.) and although it helps, it doesn’t completely shake the feeling of dread that lives in me almost all of the time.  I read my Bible.  I pray.  I read books by women who have conquered anxiety.  And yet…I fret. 

My poor husband.  Second only to “I Love You” in our house are the words “What’s wrong?”  “How can I help?”  “What can I do?”  And I have no answers.  I don’t talk when it gets really intense–I just shut down and walk around inside my own head.

We were apart from June 26th-July 26th.  My heart missed him so much that it physically hurt.  We talked every night, via Facetime, and every night I cried when I hung up, just wanting him here.  He arrived last Friday night, and I’ve spent the last four days worrying because he’s disappointed in me.  Our room at my sisters was a mess.  A MESS.  There were four of us, including my two teenage girls, living in that room, and it was a disaster.  Dan and I, we don’t like messes.  I had finally just given up on trying to keep it together, since I was running all over the place for the girls and trying to get things under control with them, but when he arrived all I could think was “He’s disappointed.”  Neither of the girls has their license yet.  They had an appointment a few weeks ago, but I forgot about it, and so we had to reschedule.  I’ve apologized 100 times for this.  I don’t think he really cares–he doesn’t seem concerned–but I still apologize.  My sister says I apologize too much.  I told her I was sorry. 

I cannot wait to be changed from this worrying creature that I am.  I want it to happen now–this freeing me from my anxieties–but at this point I’ll take the promise that it will happen in heaven.  Just as long as I don’t have to spend eternity this way.  Because really?

It’s getting old.

There will be peace in the valley
For me some day
There will be peace in the valley
For me, Oh Lord. I pray
There’ll be no sadness
No sorrow, no trouble I see
There will be peace
In the valley for me.



I have been on my own for almost three weeks now.  We will all take a moment and applaud because the children are still alive.  And most of them are still speaking to me, although not usually at the same time.

I am not good at this single parenting thing.  For starters I have anxiety issues.  As we speak Patrick is downstairs with my SISTER, for goodness sake, and I am wondering if he’s OK.  Is he bothering anyone?  Did he eat breakfast yet?  Did he remember to put his underwear on?  I know–none of this sounds like it should be anxiety inducing, but I promise you–it’s worth at least 10 minutes of pure panic.  And don’t suggest that I get up and go downstairs and see if he’s OK, because I refuse to be one of those helicopter parents.  Plus, I’m lazy and it’s quiet up here.

I have had to get both girls driving.  This was NEVER, in the history of EVER, in my plans.  I am 99% sure that they are both traumatized beyond repair and all I can say is WHATEVER.  I did it.  They’re driving.  Hand me my medication please.

I am (was?) fanatic about keeping my children clean.  The older three are beyond me needing to tell them to take a shower, but they apparently listened to me because they all three usually shower twice a day.  Patrick now wants two showers a day.  Or he did, until we came to Ohio.  I don’t know when Patrick last had a good bath, but I’m pretty sure it was last week sometime.  He spends his days running around the backyard with his cousin playing Star Wars, hiding in the bushes and jumping on the trampoline.  All perfectly normal little boy activities that leave him grubby beyond belief.  And then he goes to bed like that.  Parenting FAIL.  Whatever.

I have spent months wrestling with the financial aid process for my older three kids.  I am convinced that financial aid, or at least the process by which you obtain it so that your children can go to college and become productive members of society, is sent straight from Hell.  It is run by frustrated people who don’t get enough sleep at night and were forced to eat brussel sprouts for breakfast lunch and dinner when they were children.  They are second only to the IRS in terms of ineptitude and lack of enthusiasm for their job.  I’ve met nicer people going through immigration in Miami.

I have had the opportunity to drive all the way across Ohio with my two girls and my Patrick, to meet up with my Daniel and register Heather and Kristina for college.  I walked around in a daze, wondering how we got to this point, where those two beautiful amazing human beings are ready to leave home and be grown-ups.  I don’t know how I will handle this.  Actually I am very sure how I will handle this.  I intend to break down and sob.  Hourly.

I have the most hilarious, compassionate, beautiful wonderful kids on the planet.  Or at least that’s what I think.  Maybe, at the end of the day, it won’t matter that Patrick went to bed smelling like a farmer.  Or that Heather and Kristina learned to drive with their crazy mother hyperventilating in the passenger seat.  Or that Daniel was driving a 1991 Buick when all of his friends were driving a Mustang.  (And the Buick was maroon.  My GRANDFATHER wouldn’t have driven that car.)  Maybe, just maybe, Dan and I did OK with these offspring of ours.

“We’re [parents]) always bluffing, pretending we know best, when most of the time we’re just praying we won’t screw up too badly.”
Jodi Picoult, House Rules