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My mom – always my Happy Day Moment

I had not intended such a long silence in posting to my website. Life. Sometimes it gets. In. the. Way.

But today I must post this celebration of my Mom’s 85th birthday. Mom always seemed to be what I needed. Probably what you needed, too. Thank God. My mom – always my Happy Day Moment.

Her gifts. Her talents. Her abundance. Her love faith hope — what she has, she always gives.

Her heart has what we need

Do you need a hug, a card, a ride somewhere? She’s there – with love and friendship, wisdom, and words of hope/encouragement. Always hugs and fun, laughter and joy. Always peace and kindness and goodness, faithfulness. Always gentleness and graciousness, abundant generosity and courage.

“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.” ~ John 13:34-35

Her spirit has what we need

Do you need healing? Are you hurting, sad, lonely, grieving? She will share her Jesus, her faith, her prayers – always, everywhere, over the phone, her laying on of hands (even in supermarkets), her scriptures, her “sermonettes,” her fasting, her interceding, her anointing, her service to build up the body of Christ.

“So encourage each other and help each other grow stronger in faith, just as you are already doing.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

She also has things we need … and she shares!

Her kitchen has what we need

Are you hungry? She’ll bless you and the furnace repairman and the lawn care helper and just about anyone with her baked goods. Cookies/muffins/pies/banana bread/soup in the freezer. And she’ll deliver! Maybe there is chicken and noodles, or maybe lasagna. But always crackers and snacks in the cupboard. Everything. In. The. Fridge.

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” ~ Hebrews 13:16

Her closets have what we need

Are you going somewhere special, not time to shop? She’ll offer jackets jackets and festive apparel (all the holidays), shoes .. oh, the shoes (even sparkly ones), scarves, and every top you could think of, coats, and bangles and bling.

“Whoever has two shirts should share with the person who has none, and whoever has food should do the same.” ~ Luke 3:11

Her purse has what we need

Are you sitting beside her at a meeting/church/ballgame? Find yourself lacking some essential? Just ask Mom! She’ll pull out her handbag! She’s hand you a Kleenex. Always tissues. (sometimes tucked in her sleeve), comb, Wintergreen Life Savers, nail file, sewing kit, measuring tape, chapstick, pens, paper, coupons, toothpicks, aspirin/Advil, lotion, band-aids, safety pins, and perhaps a granola bar. Perhaps even cash.

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” ~ Proverbs 11:15

Mom’s got your back. With an embrace, a cheerful remark, a Word from the Lord, a Tupperware of cookies, a Christmas sweater, a packet of tissues. She’s got you. (And I didn’t even mention the decorations/baskets/candles/etc. in her two garages…)

Mom pretty much has it all. And she has always given her all. Her purpose to bring glory to Jesus.

The gift of Barbara Kehoe.

“Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above.” ~ James 1:17

Happy birthday, beloved Momma! I am living with gratitude that you are my mother.

“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 9:11













I Have a Hero

“Hero: Describe someone who is a hero to you, and explain why.”

I few days ago, that was the email with my daily writing prompt.

The first answer that came to mind was “my parents.” I know that’s two people and not one “hero,” but my MomAndDad are like one person to me. However, in the spirit of celebrating my Dad’s birthday on February 13th, let me explain a bit about why he is my hero.

My hero, like heroes do, represents the best of ourselves, and reveals those noble qualities of loyalty, determination, courage, patience, perseverance, focus, and fearlessness.

He is admired and respected and he made our family brave and strong. He saw what was possible, and taught us that with God “all things are possible.”

When the accident happened that broke my neck, that left me a quadriplegic, that changed my life and my family’s lives forever – it was often my father’s faith that strengthened me. Here’s an example of his heroic comfort and care:

To help with my finger mobility, Carol [the physical therapist] told Mom and Dad to massage each finger as often as possible, which they did. While we watched TV, Dad would dab hand lotion on the backs of my hands and rub it in gradually, between my fingers and on my palms. Often he would massage my feet next, with special lotion to soften the calluses on my toes and heels. Massaging became Dad’s own ministry, and I could hear him quietly praying while he rubbed. [excerpt from Then Came A Miracle]

That’s what a hero does – encourages, is selfless and generous in spirit, who gives and helps others, who cares so deeply.

My Dad, my hero, carried me in his arms

Carried my on his shoulders

Carried me on his back

Always, always he carried me in his heart.

He comforted me strengthened me taught me teased me humored anointed me… and loved me and loves me still. Every single moment.

If I am loving and confident and funny and strong and faithful. If I am positive and plucky and courageous and hopeful. If I speak Jesus and scripture and family and football. If I am all these things, then thank my father, my hero.

He is my patriarch leader advisor prayer-warrior coach teacher medic playmate trainer motivator preacher guide captain champion intercessor…. Hero.

But mostly, my Daddy.

He’s frailer now, as most octogenarians are, and his mind struggles with the beastly symptoms of dementia, but his heart, the true essence of my Dad, is as strong as ever. He is loving, he is kind, he is tenderhearted.

His age, his vulnerability, doesn’t define him, his strength and courage does…

I have a


I call him


Jama & Dad Christmas 1961Jama & Dad wedding day

For his daughters, Dad is most often the hero…

For his sons, Dad is most often the coach…

Here’s my brother Steve’s tribute to Dad as his Coach Superman.

So, today, February 13, 2016, all your children — Steve, Jama, Doug, Julee — wish you bountiful birthday blessings, and pronounce you our HERO and COACH SUPERMAN.

Happy Birthday, Dad!


35 happy thanks

Happy 35th Anniversary, my love

August 30, 1980  ~ August 30, 2015


35 Happy Thanks to you, John, for 35 Happy Years

1 Thank you for your love. This statement really sums up everything.  Your love has carried me, nourished me, shaped me, encouraged me, comforted me for 35 years. And every day you say it: “I love you.”

2 Thank you for your faith. You have a quiet, unshakable faith in our Lord. You love God and you follow Jesus.

3 Thank you for our sons. What joys, what blessings. And thank you for living by example. Whew, my heart. Infinity emojis.

4 Thank you for your affection. Those kisses! Those hugs! Swoon! And not just for me. For your children. Your grandchildren. Family!

Jama & John kissing 35 anniv

5 Thank you for your belief in me. You never said, “You can’t be a mother. You can’t have a baby. You can’t have another baby” because of my limitations.

6 Thank you for your support.  Because when I wanted to stay at home with the children, you said “yes, you can do it.” Because when I started my business, you were my advocate and encourager.

7 Thank you for your forgiveness. Boy, I sure screw up a lot and it’s a relief that you forgive and we move on.

8 Thank you for lifting me up. Literally, when I’ve stumbled and face-planted. Spiritually, when I’ve doubted what’s next. Emotionally, when I’ve felt flattened. Always, you’re there to pick me up.

9 Thank you for your warmth. And not just for the roaring fires, for microwaving the “cozy” to comfort my shoulders, for the snuggling against your chest, but for the warmth of your heart.

10 Thank you for being fun. Your humor. Your imagination. You are my man-kid. My king of the Legos.

11 Thank you for your brilliance. You are scary smart and I’m in awe that you know so much stuff.

12 Thank you for your wit. Like when, just concerning the temperature of the house, I ask, “Are you hot?” Short pause. “Uh, that would be your call, wouldn’t it?” Short pause. Hot. Dot. Yeah.

13 Thank you for your compliments. You are quick to tell me I’m beautiful and sexy. That amazes me. I’ll put on lip gloss for you.

14 Thank you for compromising. I’m the extrovert; you’re the introvert. And yet, you’ll go with me to parties. It’s a gift to me.

15 Thank you for respecting my individuality. See above. You let me be who God created me to be.

16 Thank you for listening. Because, mercy, I’m a talker. But never once did you say talk to the hand. And never did you say I told you so.

17 Thank you for caring. Oh my, especially during my awful morning sickness. And then there was that whole menopause thing.

18 Thank you for (getting better at) communicating. Well, we have to have something to work on. Ha.

19 Thank you for your generosity. You are such a giver. Of big and small gifts you know others will enjoy. Your heart is large with goodness and charity.

20 Thank you for your patience. Slowly, I turn. Step by step. Inch by inch. (Embarrassing homage!)

21 Thank you for your compassion. Your thoughtfulness. Your kindness. It’s there. For so many.

22 Thank you for making ordinary moments into happy moments. Strolling the aisles of Target. Watching Fred Astaire films. Sharing a grilled cheese sandwich. Daily being.

23 Thank you for working things out. When we are mad and frustrated and annoyed with each other. Over big stuff. Over petty stuff. We work it out. Together.

24 Thank you for protecting me.  And I don’t just mean from spideys and all things crawly, but for protecting my heart.

25 Thank you for providing for your family. You’ve always worked hard, and in jobs that were often challenging. But you went to work every day and rarely complained. I admire that.

26 Thank you for hot beverages. Coffee with mocha creamer. Apricot vanilla tea. Sometimes served with brownies. Ghirardelli brownies.

27 Thank you for facing problems with me. When there are events and circumstances and days that drive me to chocolate and Peeps and gluten and bacon and Haagen-Dazs, you hold my hand and don’t let go.

28 Thank you for wiping away my tears. I am one leaky, emotional, sentimental, easily bruised, tender, mess of hormones. And you hand me tissues.

29 Thank you for accepting me just the way I am. No lie, I have issues. And you love the tattered package that is me.

30 Thank you for enjoying my company. We are all weird in some way.

31 Thank you for enjoying sports. I love that we’re a pair of non-athletes who are cheering (me loudly, you stoically) spectators for so many sports. Football and the Indianapolis Colts! And all U.S. Olympic teams. Curling! (And I’ve come to terms with our mixed-marriage: me, the Chicago Cubs fan, you, the St. Louis Cardinals fan.)

32 Thank you for smiling. And. Those. Blue. Eyes.

33 Thank you for going with the flow. Your mother’s advice.

34 Thank you for doing housework. It makes me the envy of my friends. High five.

35 Thank you for your true love/twoo wuve. Because it’s not about how many days, months or years we’ve been together, it’s about how much we actually love each other every day.


You make the world richer, kinder, wiser, wittier, lovelier, better.

Jama & John looking 35 anniv2


Jama & John wedding2


I am a cheerleader

I wanted to be a cheerleader.

I love cheerleaders.  As a young girl, I remember hearing my mom’s stories of cheering for Plymouth High School. And while my football-coaching dad roamed the sidelines during games, I sat in the stands, mesmerized by the Ball State cheerleaders as they clapped and flipped and jumped, sparkling with enthusiasm and encouragement.

So I practiced my rah rah rahs, my cartwheels, my jumps, my rhythmic clapping during the summer of my twelfth year. I learned a cheer routine from my friend’s older sister. I tried out in front of a gymnasium of fellow students.

I became a junior high school cheerleader.

With Ronna, Robin, Ellen, Janie, Katy, Ann, and Kim, decked out in our home-sewn shorts, we cheered for our Storer Spartans. I yelled. I encouraged. I supported my team. Win or loss. And I dreamed of being a high school cheerleader.

Cheerleaders Storer 1968

Front: Katy Peterson, Janie Peckingpaugh, Ann Liston; Middle: Jama Kehoe, Robin Chico, Kim Nixon; Back: Ellen Naumcheff, Ronna McClements

Then, when a diving accident in the summer of my thirteenth year ended my cartwheel days, I discovered something.

I can still be a cheerleader.

I can say Yes to being a different kind of cheerleader. I can still encourage. I can still support. Just minus the gymnastics.

These days, I am the Official Cheerleader for Midwest Writers Workshop.


Praising, clapping, rooting for, and seeking to empower others in their writing journey.

Personality testing has classified me as an extrovert with traits well suited for cheering: enthusiastic, spontaneous, energetic, and understanding. Those tests indicated that I readily give affirmation and encouragement, that I focus on possibilities and have a contagious enthusiasm for ideas and people and activities. That I’m passionate and love to help other people explore their creative potential, what motivates them, what inspires them, and what they envision achieving in life.

I’ve got SPIRIT! So do you!

In other words, I’m a cheerleader.

Sometimes I feel like Jenny in Forrest Gump, cheering and yelling, “Run, Forrest, run!”

Sometimes I feel like those in the final scene of the sports classic, cheering and chanting, “Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!”

Sometimes I feel like the crowd cheering and shouting, “Rocky, Rocky!”

Always raising the spirits of others, always urging them on.


Sometimes it’s with the message: no matter what life throws at them, they should get back up and carry on and that they are responsible for the direction their lives take. If they want something in life, go and get it.

Sometimes it’s a reminder that even an underdog can have his day, and that they can do anything they put their minds to.

Sometimes it’s an understanding for the struggles that hardship bring and the unbridled joy of seeing all their hard work and perseverance pay off.

I take great pleasure in watching writers see their dreams come true. It’s as if their dreams become mine, and my investment in them and cheering for them is real and significant. Their dreams take up residence in my heart. I cheer and do (mental) cartwheels when they succeed, and I feel disappointment for them when roadblocks stand in their way.

This is what I know. Every(one) writers needs encouragement. Every(one) writers needs cheering.

As The Official Cheerleader for the Midwest Writers Workshop, I’m telling you that’s exactly I do.

I’m cheering for you, and encouraging others to cheer for you. And I’m believing in you when you don’t know if you can do it. Plain and simple. I believe you are a winner.

I’m reminding you: I’m proud of you. I’m cheering for you. I’m thankful for you. You can do this thing.

Through all these many years, through all these Midwest Writers Workshops, it has been my great honor to serve a cheerleader for so many on their journey as writers to published authors.

There is nothing quite like savoring a dream come true on behalf of a friend. Nothing like cheering them and watching them cross the finish line—battle weary and out of breath. But doing the thing they love.


There is nothing quite like being a cheerleader.

Mother-son tradition | happy movie time

You wouldn’t think a mother-son tradition would begin with a snake.

A. Very. Big. Snake.

But that’s what happened.

“Mom, I want to take you to a movie for Mother’s Day,” Thomas said. When a 13-year old son wants to do anything with his mother, his mother’s heart goes thumpity-thump and she agrees.

Even when it’s to see the film Anaconda. Yeah, a movie about a very big snake.

I know, the movie looks cheesy and campy now, but seriously – it was a very large snake. A snake that attacked.

Sitting in that theater, I was tense with the suspense of what that snake would do. Suddenly! That big big scary snake sprang from the river. Traumatized, I shrieked so loudly the entire audience heard me. Proof that I’m forever a girly-girl. Oh, sure, go ahead and laugh at my expense. Thomas did. Stupid fake snake.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when Thomas asked me on a movie date. That’s been our thing – watching movies.

Perhaps it all started with watching The Brave Little Toaster when he was three. He’d curl up with his blankie next to me on the couch and we’d watch it over and over. That’s what moms do. Spend time doing what their kids like to do.

But the movie he really loved and we watched for years and years was Back to the Future. He quickly learned how to insert and play “the Marty tape” into the VCR. A skill he was most happy with; a skill I had to monitor. Perhaps he was fascinated by the combination of action + music, or the DeLorean and the guitar, because at five years old, I’m sure the time-travel plot went right over his head. But he’d giggle and shout “Great Scott!” and “1.21 gigawatts! 1.21 gigawatts!” (not that any of us knew what that was) or he’d quote, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads,” or he’d play his “Marty” guitar.

Thomas with guitar 89

Several years ago when we were laughing about how many times he watched the film, he admitted, “I don’t think I understood the story line about the space-time continuum until I was a teenager.”

As he got a little older, we began our regular trips to Blockbuster. He’d browse through the action adventure section or the comedies, steering clear of the romantic comedies or dramas. I think I rented every Jackie Chan movie, including those with sub-titles. No matter the movie, that time spent with Thomas, watching him watch films he enjoyed, was magical. The day could have been bad, or stressful, or a sick day, but within seconds of plopping on the couch with Thomas to watch any movie at all, we were both having a happy time.

One summer before he had his driver’s license, he asked me if I’d take him and a few friends to the drive-in. Yes, there was still a drive-in theater in town. So three teenagers piled into my Crown Victoria off we went to the Ski-Hi Drive-in on State Road 3 for a double showing of The Rock and Face-off. Of course, we had to stop at CVS and the boys bought enough candy for a sugar coma. Movie time with teenagers. Happy. Unforgettable.

Now every spring I anticipate my movie-date with Thomas as we continue our mother-son tradition. In the years after watching Anaconda, we saw The Mummy, Spider-Man, Batman Begins, Transformers, and Star Trek.

And for the last five years it’s been all about superheroes: Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Iron Man 2, Thor, The Avengers, and Iron Man 3.

Last Christmas when a commercial for Captain America: The Winter Soldier came on, Thomas and simultaneously looked at each other and said, “Mother’s Day!”

This year it’s a given that we’ll be in line to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron. You betcha. Happy mother-son tradition. Five stars. [And no big snake.]

{Happy birthday, Thomas! I love you.}