Family

“Get out of bed Robyn! For heaven’s sake, why are you still in that bed? This is the third time I’ve called you, and it’s the last time. If you don’t get up, I’m coming in there to get you up myself!”  I was exhausted, and the last thing I wanted to do was get up early and go, so in my whiny voice I answered, “Mom, why won’t you just leave me alone? I don’t want to go!”  As the sleep fell away from my consciousness, I struggled to sit up and pull myself out of bed. This time, I shouted down the hall so she could hear me, “Hey Mom here’s a question. Why do I have to go church again?” Before I could get to my feet, my little, five-foot Norwegian mom bounded into my room, laughing, and roared at me, “Because you’re the pastor! That’s why! Now get ready!” Mom was visiting us in Miami, and I was late for church.   Moms never stop being moms. You can be 50 years old and your mother will still ask if you are eating right, are you getting enough sleep, and she will still tell you what to do when you are in the same place together. God bless Mom! We need...

Last year, around Thanksgiving, my husband got an invitation to the White House Christmas party in the mail. It may be a bit of an understatement to say I was a little excited! Rich had been to the White House and had met other presidents, but this was my first time. I immediately started planning. Plane tickets, hotel, a new outfit, I was going to meet the President and the First Lady! Not long before we were supposed to leave for Washington, Rich started to suffer from back pain. He ended up in the hospital and couldn’t make the trip. Let the DRAMA begin! The invitation was in Rich’s name. I was the unnamed “And Guest.” On the bottom of the invitation, written very clearly, it stated “Non-Transferable.” I WANTED TO GO!!! I really wanted to go, but my name was not on the invitation. My sister, Kathie, came to the rescue. She emailed and explained my situation to the President’s team. She told them I wanted to come anyway … in fact, could I bring along my son, Rich, Jr.? He has the same name, after all! They sent back an email saying there was no problem, but we didn't get a new invitation with the...

In 1987, my life changed forever. My husband Rich and I were the blessed and proud parents of three healthy sons. That summer, our six-month-old, Graham, almost died from spinal meningitis. He was diagnosed shortly before for a simple ear infection, but his condition got worse and worse, so I rushed him to the hospital. He stopped breathing on the way there. “This is not happening,” was all I could think as I watched the medical professionals fight to resuscitate him. They were able to re-start his heart, but Graham had suffered permanent brain damage. This was the beginning of our journey as parents of a special needs child. Everything shifted in our lives. In an instant, we went from what was normal to a challenge every day for the rest of our parenting lives. Graham’s behavior as he developed was violent and erratic. At four years old, he would run down the street screaming and tearing his clothes off. In church he would attack other children. At home, he would bring big knives into our bedroom while we were sleeping. For everyone’s safety, we had to install special locks all over the house. Our lives were upside down. It was impossible to take Graham to a restaurant...