The Trifecta Of Terribleness

Terribleness might not be a word. It works here, though.




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I’m feeling the tension between posting happy shiny things and hard dark things. I think there must be a happy medium. Sometimes I write encouraging things when I’m sad because I need to preach to myself. Sometimes I come with no resolution, only a mess of questions.  You find both here because that’s the honest reflection of real life: lots of joy interspersed with fear and doubt that I’m cut out for the task.

If you read my post about anxiety last week, you might be wondering how we’re doing. Or you might not, but I’m going to tell you anyway 🙂

We’re okay. We’re just in the middle of what I am not referring to as the Trifecta of Terribleness. Oh, you’ve never heard of it? Well, I’ll be happy to explain it to you. The Trifecta of Terribleness happens when these three things are happening all at once: OCD + beginning of puberty + mom starting perimenopause.

Any one of those things can be a load that is hard to handle. Mix them all together and you’ve got something truly amazing.

These days, our brains are in fight or flight mode about 70% of the time.

OCD doesn’t look the same in every home, but in ours, it manifests in my child needing reassurance about thoughts that are disturbing. Now, I know there are parents everywhere who say, “I wish I knew what was going on inside the mind of my child,” and I get that, but I’m on the other side and I just want to tell you in the most gentle way, “NO YOU DON’T!” There is a reason why God made our thoughts to go silently through our heads with no one seeing or hearing them. Sometimes they are irrational, bizarre, not based in reality, not something you truly believe, or not completely fleshed out.

For much of last week, anytime my child had time to sit quietly and think, they would come and tell me thoughts they had. Some things were easily dismissed as not a big deal. Other things scared me. Things that made me question if my child had been hurt. Terrifying things.

On Sunday afternoon, I was so tired and desperately needed a nap, but I knew Nathan was about to take one of our kids somewhere leaving the other one with a quiet house and too much time to think. That meant there was about a 95% chance my drowsy, exhausted self was going to have to deal with reassuring someone about thoughts that were making me equally alarmed. Nathan saved the day by taking both big kids with him. I would have laid in bed, bracing myself for the next incident if he hadn’t.

One evening last week, as I was getting ready to fall asleep, I whispered to Nathan that I didn’t think I was going to survive this stage. I told him that if my brain was going to have to listen to every fear or intrusive thought brought on by the hormones of a child with OCD going through puberty, I was going to need some strong medicine. And then I started sobbing. Not sweet quiet tears, but an ugly-cry that wouldn’t stop once the flood-gates opened.

I know I will likely figure out a way to deal with this. I know this is the combination of misfiring brains, my child starting puberty and my own 40-year-old hormonal changes (yep, I’m going through peri-menopause earlier than many folks do). We’re just not there yet. In the meantime, it’s difficult. Our Trifecta of Terribleness.

Actually, as I think about it, it’s not a trifecta, because there is a fourth factor at play. It’s easy to discount the spiritual aspect, but it’s definitely a part of the mix. Satan likes to capitalize on situations like this.

Thankfully, we’ve had people praying for us. Yesterday, I was able to have some conversations that brought some peace and every day brings us a little closer to our therapist appointment. I am so grateful for wise mental health professionals.

Thanks for reading and for caring about our family.

Summer Of Fun: Part II

Our Sumer Of Fun is in full force.

Honestly, it would be easy to summarize last week as “not fun”. We are dealing with some really heavy things and trying to figure out how to navigate it all, but that hasn’t sucked out all our fun.

First of all, if you need an easy way to infuse FUN into your summer, that doesn’t require much from you, the parent, you can’t do much better than getting your kids to VBS! That’s what we did last week! 5 days in a row of singing fun songs with hand motions, stories, games & crafts! And I didn’t have to do it! They hung out with 650 kids and had a blast!

Here are my wrist-band/claim tickets to collect my kids at the end of the day:


Speaking of free things to keep your kids occupied, may I suggest a trip to the library?


Audrey picked out some books about puppies and American Girls. Isaac got a book about deadly spiders. This is a pretty good picture of what my life is like 🙂


We wrapped out our week with a shopping trip to prepare for Father’s Day.



I was happy to have the kids with me. It turns out, Ethan knew exactly what his dad wanted to Father’s Day and where to find it! They are the best shopping buddies! I am not a lover of shopping and we had just spent the morning the sun. I was so exhausted. If Ethan hadn’t been there, I would have bought a box of red hots and called it good 🙂


**Edited to Add This: I am fully submerged in watching LOST. I’m only supposed to watch 3 episodes a week and then discuss it with my Show Club, but that has turned out to be too much to ask. I’m 16 (or so) episodes in and I have so many questions. It’s been a fun diversion!

Tell me about your Summer Of Fun!

Here’s What You Really Need In A Man

Did you ever make a list of qualities you were looking for in the man you would marry someday? I had a list. The problem with the list is that sometimes we focus too much on looking for the perfect date and not so much on the perfect mate.

A flashy date is impressive over the short-term, but the shiny wears off and doesn’t last.



Do you know what women need more than flashy? They need dependable, hard-working and self-less.

That’s the person we want to sit next to at our kids’ graduations. The man who will text prayers for his daughter to see when he can’t be there to tuck her in sometimes.




Don’t look for slick and cool. Those are extras.

Look for someone who makes you laugh, brings out the best in you and loves Jesus.

Because a man who loves Jesus first will love his wife and his family. That’s a man you can trust. A man you can live with.


You don’t need a man who is trying to impress others, but one who serves them.

Do you know what’s really impressive? A man who cleans out puke buckets and doesn’t call parenting “women’s work”.



In the end, what we need ends up being what we want. Because, who wants a smooth-talking, flashy immature boy when you need someone to help you fold a fitted sheet, take out the recycling, figure out if the kids are okay, and you want someone to watch a season of Castle in 3 days?

Happy Father’s Day to the best man I know. You set the bar high for our daughter’s future husband and that’s just the way I like it!

This entry was posted in family.

Summer Of Fun: Part I

I’ve officially declared this summer, the Summer Of Fun. One reason is that I plan to make my writing super easy, for the most part, this summer. And I want to be intentional, as a family, in having fun together. We only get so many summers (7 more before our oldest is in college) before the kids flying out of the nest. Sunrise, Sunset and so on. . . Hee hee.

So, in answer to the question, “How can I set up a system for writing this summer that isn’t too hard and also encourages me to enjoy this season?”, the answer is to make 2016 the Fritz Family Summer Of Fun.

So, what exactly does this Summer of Fun look like in our house? I’m so glad you asked!


Let me introduce Peanut & Henry. This is a photo of them enjoying the drive from MN to TN. They were great little travelers sitting in their cozy dog bed. They belong to Isaac. Isaac loves this little dogs so much. He’s often updating me on what they are doing. Yesterday, he was sad because one of his siblings moved on to playing something else before Isaac wanted to be done playing with the puppies. I told him that in the afternoon, I would help him with his dog training (that’s what he was playing).

And then I actually did it. I followed through and made Isaac’s day. We sat upstairs in the little area overlooking the entryway and trained our dogs. We learned to not reinforce their bad behavior (being wild and jumping up on us) and to give them lots of positive attention when they were being good. We even taught them how to jump through a little hoop.

The second genius move of last week was this one. Sometimes we invent things out of necessity. This was one of those times. I really wanted to sit and read a book. I also didn’t want to have the kids spend that time sitting in front a computer or television. That’s when I invented the idea of playing “Old-fashioned Cabin”. I told the kids we were playing “Cabin” and that the downstairs family room was the cabin. They could play with their toys and board games or read a book because that is what I picture people doing in their cabins on vacations when they are inside. I added the “old-fashioned” part because I wanted this to be a cabin without TV or internet. Genius move, right? Audrey played with her Barbies, Ethan played against himself in checkers (and won) and I don’t remember what Isaac did. Feel free to steel this idea.


Another way I’m enjoying this Summer Of Fun is by watching the show Lost. It’s on Netflix and I’m several years late to the party, but a blogger I read is hosting a “Show Club” (instead of a book club) and we’re watching three episodes a week and discussing them online. This is not deep and it’s not anything that is going to contribute to my spiritual development, but it’s going to be fun! I’ve watched the first three episodes. If you haven’t watched, or you loved it and want to watch it again, you should do this with me by watching it on Netflix. If I follow the schedule, I’ll finish the first season this summer. Check it out here.


Who is with me? Let’s do this Summer Of Fun together!

When Anxiety Is Taking Your Motherhood Hostage

I feel tongue-tied or finger-tied or whatever you call it when you want to write, but you don’t know how to start. So, I’m going to start with where I am right now. OCD is kicking my tail.

I’m scared. Anxiety has a vice-grip on my parenting life right now.


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I dropped the kids off at VBS today (praise the Lord for morning drop-off VBS that I don’t have to staff) and I came home and prayed and cried. I moved on to folding laundry. Then I prayed and cried some more. Next, I multi-tasked and folded laundry and prayed at the same time.

This would be a particularly good time to have a mom to call. I was able to speak with my dad for a while and I’m so grateful for that.

Over the last year, we’ve had a long stretch of time where OCD wasn’t causing us much grief. This summer, on the other hand, is a different story. One of our kids is struggling with intrusive thoughts. This is a particularly nasty trick OCD plays. Combine a world full of horrible crap that an innocent child can stumble upon at any moment (an innocent internet search for Barbies that can bring up things you wouldn’t want to see that come up even with filters in place, foul language at the park, a scary movie,  . . . .) with OCD and your sweet child suddenly can’t stop a random loop of thoughts that make them feel horrible.

Lord, come quickly. How do I raise kids in this world? It’s so different than the one I grew up in. If you would have told me, before I had kids, that my own children would be raised in an age where they could carry in their pockets access to the worst the world has to offer, I wouldn’t have believed you.

So, I hold the child who is struggling and do my best to hide my own anxiety while assuring them that they are loved and that their brain is conspiring against them. I try to think of what tools we could use to fight back. It’s not the sort of thing I have given a lot of thought. Now, I have to think about it a lot.

Mental illness doesn’t play fair. OCD isn’t simply alphabetizing your DVD’s. Oh, how I wish it was.

I made a call the therapist’s office and asked for the earliest appointment. I need it as much as my child. Have I mentioned that I’m scared? The ironic thing is that OCD is anxiety-based and mixing that together with my own tendency toward being anxious, we’re a great big mess.

I’m praying that God will fill our minds with truth. Will you pray with us?





My 2016 Summer Reading List: Part I


I should do this more often, but summer is when I really set aside time to read. Reading makes me think and dream. It fills me up and gives me something to draw from when I want to write. So, I’m considering this part of my job. I’m good with that 🙂 I’m also curious about other people’s reading lists. Summer is a great time to find new lists to inspire your own. This is what is in my stack right now:

Defiance by C.J. Redwine. This is the first book I finished this summer. It’s the first in a trilogy and I loved it! If you are looking for a good YA read that is reminiscent of Hunger Games, you’ll like this.

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay. I’ve heard lot of recommendations for this book and I can’t wait to dig in for myself.

Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl by Dannah Gresh.  Here’s a description from Amazon: “Studies show that the foundation for an emotionally healthy teen girl is built between the ages of 8-12 and that a good relationship with mom is one of the most important factors. So when the world wants girls to grow up too fast, how does a mother help her young daughter navigate the stormy waters of boy-craziness, modesty and body image, media, Internet safety, and more?”

Found Art by Leeana Tankersley. This is a memoir of the year the author spent in the Middle East with her husband who is a Navy Seal. I love memoirs!

Prayer Warrior Mom by Marla Alupoaicei. Honestly, I know nothing about this book. It was on the bargain shelf at Lifeway and I decided I needed it. Having a resource to encourage me to intercede for my family is something I know I can use.

Simplify by Bill Hybels. I’ll be helping lead a Bible Study this summer that is using this as a resource. It has sections on streamlining your schedule, spending wisely, relationships and God’s Word.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity. This book has been on several book lists I’ve seen.Here’s a paragraph description from Amazon:

“Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time.”


You might not be able to tell from this list, but I’m making space for more fiction this summer. You’ll see more of that in Part II that I’ll post later. What’s on your list right now?



This entry was posted in Books.

Saturday Sundries: It’s Summer!

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We are summering like pro’s over here. After a quick road trip to MN, we are back home and settling into our summer groove.

While I was gone, I turned 40! I have a post rattling around in my head to write about that later.

Here are some links to check out today:

4 Small Changes That Bring Rest

How To Use The Wheel Of Life For Personal Growth

Raise Your Hand If You Desperately Need A Summer Of Fun


Speaking of “summer of fun”, I’m considering writing a weekly post this summer dedicated simply to documenting how we’re enjoying our summer.



Summer Rhythms: How I’m Trying to Approach This Summer

I’ve read about 5 million Summer Bucket Lists. They are so pretty. Their check boxes are a siren song pulling me toward them. I’ve started and scrapped many schedules that have our days planned out. I love a plan and I love lists, but real life always gets in the way.

I’ve figured out that what I need is a summer plan that serves our family- not a summer plan that I serve.

I think you can probably relate. Here’s a little “behind the curtain” look at how I’m approaching this summer with intention.

Ask Yourself, “What Are The Most Important Things I Want to Accomplish This Summer?”

Pull out a piece of paper and make some notes. What are some things you would be super disappointed about if you didn’t accomplish them this summer? What do you really need? What do your kids need? This is also a great time to revisit your goals for the year. You probably need to ditch some of them or change them a little. But concentrate on the next 86 days. Make your list.


Schedule The Stuff That Is Most Important First.

This is a big rocks sort of thing. If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never find space for them later. The things that need extra planning or saved up pennies are going to need a plan early on to make them happen. This isn’t for everything on your list. It’s just for the things you would be devastated if they didn’t happen or require work to accomplish them.

Designate A Block of Time as Uninterruptible.

There are some fun summer schedules you can find on pinterest. Some of them designate certain days for certain activities. That works for some people, but for us, I would rather leave some flexibility in our schedule to meet up with friends who call at the last minute or to take advantage of beautiful weather for pool time.

For our family, I’m claiming the first 3 hours of the day as a time for coaching my kids in certain things I really want to teach them this summer: helping them establish daily time in the Bible & prayer, teaching them how to do the all the chores around the house (preparing them to be productive members of society!), and keeping them away from screens and promoting reading fabulous books.

These are things that, if I don’t specifically work on them, they won’t happen. Kids will come to the door and ask to play, we’ll go to the park or the pool or we’ll get caught up in something that is more interesting.


Only Schedule A Couple Of Days At A Time.

This is for the smaller rocks. Go low tech or high tech. This is what I do:

1)Check the weather. If it’s nice plan to do some things outside as much as possible. (this may be due to the fact that I grew up on MN and still fear that winter will return at any moment).

2)Choose something that meets the needs of you and your kids right now. Are your kids tired? Choose something low-key on your list. A trip to the park. A redbox movie rental. If we’re up for something bigger, I choose something that fits the weather and our time constraints.

Keep It Simple.

The more complicated your summer plan, the more likely it will crash and burn. We need sustainable routines that work with the stage of life we’re in right now.

What do you think? Tell me about your summer plans!


Summer Is For Crazy Family Reunions

For the last 30 years, give or take a year or two, my dad’s side of the family has gathered for an annual family reunion. We called it “Christmas In July” when we started. We celebrated Christmas because MN weather made Christmas celebrations unpredictable in December.

We have gathered in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Our first gathering was in Webster, South Dakota. There were less than 20 of us. This year, over 30 of us converged on New London, MN. My grandparents have passed and my dad’s generation are now the patriarchs. They are the grandmas & grandpas and great-aunts and great-uncles. My cousins and I are no longer at the kid’s table. Our 9 kids have taken our place.


We play cribbage. Half of us only play once a year and have to be coached through every move. Some of us have been “coached” all the way through the championship game!

We eat way too much.

Now that our numbers have grown and there are more generations of cousins, each year we try to figure out what relationship we actually are to each other. What am I to my cousin’s children? Cousin-aunt? First cousin, once-removed? What are my cousin’s kids to my kids?



And, no matter what else happens, we always tell stories of the Henning family history. Who shot the turkey roaster? Which aunt climbed the windmill when she was a toddler? Discerning fact from fiction is nearly impossible.


We’re making new memories. Some year, we’ll be telling stories of the 2016 family reunion. How we crammed 30 people into a house meant for 26, Missy’s amazing oatmeal butterscotch cookies, and how we sat at the table and played on this old-fashioned contraption called a laptop computer and played a game where we diffused a bomb- and lost because Morse code is tricky.



This entry was posted in family.

Grace For Real World Women

To Do List-

I think women are tired.

  • Tired of feeling not enough.
  • Tired of being pulled too many ways.
  • Tired of getting to the finish line only to discover it was moved.

I think women need someone to offer encouragement that there is something more.

  • More than treading water.
  • More than the same failures over and over again.
  • More than dishes, laundry and driving our children to their activities.

I think women are hungry to know that progress is attainable and okay and perfection is exhausting and impossible.

  • Desperate to hear that good enough for today isn’t a cop-out or a resignation to mediocre, less-than life.
  • Desperate for someone to figure out a way to gently say, “You’re doing great and I know you can do even better,” without making us feel like a failure.

We want to know where the checklist is for women who are like us.

  • Women with little margin.
  • Women with limited resources.
  • Women who want to make their lives and homes beautiful and meaningful, but aren’t sure how with all the other things that are crowding in.

For the woman who needs a real world to-do list:

  • Do make time to listen to God’s Word.
  • Do ask God to order your day in a way that is life-giving to you, your family and others.
  • Do something  that makes you come alive
  • Do offer grace to yourself and others.