Godwinks, Debbie Gibson, and Seizing the Day: My Quick Trip to LA

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Oh friends.

Let me tell you about last week…

I woke up on a rainy Monday. And it was the Monday-est of all Mondays. My 6th grader was crying tears of middle school adjustment, my 4th grader was coming off the heels of the best school year ever in third grade and going through an adjustment to this new year as well. They were breaking my hearts. The weather was crappy. We rushed all morning to get off to school, dealing with all sorts of drama, and then I walk in from the bus stop to breathe. I hop in the shower, and notice swelling in my knee. I get swelling in my left knee a lot, ever since my CVID diagnosis. It comes and goes, but I had never gotten it in my other knee. This time the back of my knee was puffy. I talked with my nurse friend who thought the same thing I did – I’m prone to inflammation because of my disease, and it was probably just that, but keep an eye on it.

It wasn’t a big deal, but it felt like one that day. When those flare-ups happen, it just reminds me that I have this thing. And that I don’t know what’s around the corner. I think that’s why these little things affect me so. Because yes, it’s very likely just a little thing that’ll go away, but maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s the start of one of the other many things I’m at a high risk of getting. CVID is not a one size fits all disease – I could live my life long and healthy with minimal health problems, or I could get a big long laundry list of them. Or somewhere in between. I had an epiphany today when I realized the irony of being the world’s biggest control freak and worrywart, and getting a disease where literally everything is completely out of my control and the future is a big ol’ question mark. Hmm…think God’s got a plan here? ‘Cuz I sure do.

There were more little things that piled up along the way that rainy Monday, contributing to just YUCK. Those days where you shake your fists at God and say, Come on. Why? I was chugging along just fine, what gives? 

And I should REALLY know by now, He’d show me why later. We’ll get to that.

So that Monday night, the season premiere of Dancing With The Stars was on. My friend, Jen, and I were texting right before to remind each other to watch because our childhood idol, Debbie Gibson is on this season. We were obsessed with her in the 80s. Like, my dream was to be her. I dressed like her, sang in the mirror with my hairbrush microphone to all her songs on my little pink boombox. She was everything. I mean, I watch DWTS anyway, but the fact that Debbie was on, was pretty awesome. And Jen was an even bigger Debbie fan if that’s possible.

When she came on, I felt like a giddy 10 year old again. And then…she talked about living with Lyme Disease. I sat there, listening to her struggles living with this disease. How some days are worse than others, and that we’re all struggling with something. How she wanted to do this show to stop hiding with this disease, and take life by the horns. I sat on my couch, tears rolling down my cheeks.

Fast forward to Friday.

I’m at the grocery store and get a text from Jen. She won DWTS tickets and wanted to know if I could go. Oh, by the way – the show was for MONDAY.


I immediately said no way – I mean, I would love nothing more and it would be such a cool experience, but there’s no way I can make that all work. I thought of a million excuses – who’d get the kids off to school and be home in the afternoon? My son has soccer practice on Mondays and my husband can’t rush home from work and get him there on time. I have my 6 month dental checkup on Monday and would have to reschedule – YES, I ACTUALLY THOUGHT THAT.

But then something shifted in the middle of the grocery store.

I thought about my swollen leg. I thought about the swollen lymph node in my neck that’s getting biopsied this week. I thought about this crazy disease and all the unknowns. And I started seriously considering it.

I talked to my husband when I got home. I called my mom to see if she’d be able to help. And I texted my friend: “It looks like we’re going to LA!”

I got to thinking – so much of my decision was based on my health. I’m practical to a fault and tend to allow excuses to prevent me from doing crazy things – like flying across the country for 48 hours to see a live show with my childhood idol. Sure, I’ve got swelling in my legs, but THEY WORK. And while they do, I’m going to say yes to more things. I’m going to say yes to life. Because how much would I beat myself up one day if it’s taken and I let it pass me by?

I rescheduled my dentist appointment. I arranged care for the kids. I called on my amazing same-size stylish friend for an outfit, because who has time to shop for Dancing with the Stars in 24 hours?!! My friend booked the flight and we were on our way at 4:30 on Sunday morning!!

Crazy. We laughed all the way there, at the absurdity of it all. She’s very similar to me, in that she’s a stay-at-home mom of three, who is also very practical. The idea of actually doing this was completely out of character for both of us. The reality was even more insane! Yet here we were, flying into Los Angeles from Baltimore. Only to come back in 48 hours. Nuts. Just nuts.

So we get there, walk around, have lunch at The Grove and then walked to the studio so we knew how long it would take the next day to get there. We were ready to walk back when whose car drives out of the lot other than DEBBIE GIBSON’S?!! I kid you not. 

We cracked up the whole walk home (we did a lot of laughing during this trip;)  – of all the people to drive by at that very moment?

So the next day…

We go see the show – and it was AMAZING. What an experience! We even got to start with a dance party on the stage – and we danced with Sharna and Derek Fisher!! It was absolutely incredible.

It’s then time to exit down the dark stairwell and Jen stops and goes back, thinking she left something under her chair. She didn’t, so we head back down. As I step onto the bottom landing, I see a blue satin arm pull back a curtain and start walking out – the same electric blue satin Alan and Debbie were wearing. WHAT???

I grab it and squeal and Alan gives me this huge smile and screams too! Total doll.  I look behind me and Jen is freaking out as well – and THEN DEBBIE IS RIGHT BEHIND HIM???


We don’t even know what happened after that, but I’m pretty sure there was a lot of screaming and laughing and disbelief that we were there at the EXACT right time. I’m not kidding when I say Debbie Gibson is the sweetest person out there. She asked if we wanted a picture, but we hadn’t retrieved our phones yet (they don’t let you take them inside), so her assistant (who was also ridiculously sweet) said, oh I’ll take it and we’ll tweet it so you’ll have it. YES, DEBBIE GIBSON TWEETED A PIC OF US – IS THIS REAL LIFE?  Another crazy story – she actually knew Jen from all her Debbie tweets – I’m not even kidding – she said her last name?!! It was all so surreal.

debbie gibson

(Photo cred goes to Debbie’s assistant – LOVE YOU!!)

We thanked Debbie and Alan profusely (I think!?), and I didn’t go to hug her because you never know if celebrities like that – I thought maybe it’d be overstepping my boundaries – but SHE extended her arms for a big hug! My ten year old self would never EVER have believed all this. I’m calling divine intervention – I mean, for Jen to go back to her seat for something that wasn’t even there – buying us a few extra seconds. If we hadn’t gone back for that, we would’ve exited the stairwell already, missing them both. We never thought we’d meet any of the stars, we were just happy to go watch the show, and for us to meet HER of all people – right as we were leaving. Just bananas.

We hopped on a plane the next morning at 6:40, to head back home, laughing at the absurdity at it all. For us to have taken this chance, when our practical selves were saying no, and then to have met Debbie – who was the main reason my friend went online for tickets in the first place – and whose message about living with disease and embracing life was ultimately the main reason I said yes to my friend when she asked me to come with her to LA?

Oh God, you are sooooo good.

In between the laughter on the plane, we also cried big tears (hellooooo exhaustion!), as we noticed the way God was working all along. Had I not had that craptastic Monday, watched Debbie’s inspiring story that same night, been living with a disease of my own that reared its head in the form of a swollen leg that week and a current battle with a lymph node in my neck – I can almost say with certainty I would never have said yes to flying to LA, watching a show, and basically coming right back home.

And had my friend not been feeling very overwhelmed with mommyhood and life the way she’s been lately, and looking for a little getaway, she wouldn’t have either.

It’s funny, isn’t it? How God uses trials in our lives? This was the trip of a lifetime and we had an absolute ball – and it all stemmed from moments of crying and shaking our fists at God.

He knew I’d need a nudge to take this trip. That my friend would need a nudge. And that we’d appreciate these 48 hours and they’d be all the more sweet, by dealing with those troubling nudges first. We felt him all 48 hours long.

In between the crying and laughing on the flight back home, I finished one of the best books right before we landed: Grace Not Perfection, by Emily Ley.

Oh if you haven’t read it, you really really should. 

When I read this sentence, the tears just flowed…

“But through my journey, God has shown me that even though the path is riddled with rocks and mud and muck, the flowers blooming along the path are too beautiful to miss.” 

The flowers are there, sometimes harder to find at times than others. But they’re always there.

Sometimes in the form of a trip to beautiful California, where you get the experience of a lifetime and land right in front of your childhood idol, with her open arms and a huge smile.  For these two moms who are learning to break out of their shells, seize the day more, and let go…Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it any better.

LA trip




  1. Love, love, love this sweet story…!

  2. HAHAHA! That is so histerical! I can’t believe you went back in and she just happened to be in the stairwell! That is crazy and the chances! What a spontaneous venture! Tell Jen I am glad she talked you into it! HA. Thanks for sharing! Loved it!

  3. Amazing adventure!! 😊

  4. What a great God!!!! Thanks for sharing!

  5. That is just crazy! I love how you tell your life stories! I’ve followed you for a few years and am consistently inspired by you and your faith in God, no matter the trials! I hope and pray for good things for you and your family ❤

  6. What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing with us. 🙂

  7. The whole story is just so surreal! It makes you realize just how much God really is in control. In the midst of our daily grind, we forget that God is SO much bigger than our situation. AND that He knows where we are and what we need and the exact, precise time that we need it most. LOVE THIS!!!

  8. Unbelievable! What a blessing!!

  9. Laura Hendrickson says:

    Love! Love! Love! Thanks for sharing. I adore your house posts and have found them so inspiring, yet these posts remain my favorite! God is so good!

  10. Stephanie Legenstein says:

    This story gives me life!!! How amazing! I also just want to say that getting your blog updates/posts just truly make my day! You have such great ideas and I really do get inspired by your decor and what you share with everyone! Thanks for sharing all that you do! Ps. I can’t believe Debbie Gibson was eliminated from DWTS?!?! 😕

    • This makes my heart so happy, Stephanie, thank you so much!! And I know, right?!!! Darn votes!! She was awesome!

  11. Cute story! What were the chances? It was meant to be.. glad you had such fun! Memories Made!

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