Denise’s Passion



When you sit down to talk to Denise, it doesn’t take long until the conversation turns towards her kids and sports. She is passionate about supporting them and they are passionate about athletics.

From the swimming pool and gym to the baseball field, she has learned many different sports over the years.

Denise is that mom

She is the one paces the side of the pool, screams when the score cards are raised, and yells hard from the stands. The one who closes her eyes when her son is up to bat only to open them when she hears the crack of the ball or the 3rd strike.

If you were to meet Denise on the street, you could see her passion and what drives her–her love for her children and to see them grow up into who they want to be.

It isn’t just in sports that her love of her children shines. Denise has always been there for her kids. She has dedicated hours to their schooling, keeping them at home through middle school so they could balance school and sports easier.

She hauled her 3 younger sons to the gym and pool while her older 2 daughters had practice. When the 3 boys became old enough and wanted to play baseball, she spent her days in the truck driving from the gym to the field and back to the gym. Most of her day was spent revolving around her children.

As her Mermaid grew up and her Sunshine asked her mom to stop screaming at the gym Denise poured all her energy into baseball.

She is passionate about baseball, beyond her son’s games. She loves the sport. Her life is filled with all things baseball. She cheers her 3 sons on, sends them to out of town games, does everything she can to feed their passion.

But through all the sports, the core of her passion comes down to what her children want to do. When one changes dreams, she seamlessly shifts with them, supporting their next dream or drive. She is “passionate and ferocious about each one in turn.”

As a mom, I know how easy it is to invest so much in our children that we tend to get lost.

Denise had an easy childhood. She grew up in the 70’s in a typical suburban middle class home. Vacations every July, swimming, and art classes filled her summer. All that changed when she was about 15. Her dad had a stroke and died soon after. She became the responsible one, managing the budget, grocery shopping, and paying the bills.

Denise grew up fast

By the time she was a Junior in High School, her boyfriend proposed. Before she graduated High School, they had set up a home together–living in the same house she had grown up in.

Denise managed it all, taking care of others around her first, thinking of herself second because it is what needed to be done.

She went to work at a fencing company with her husband, bringing their first child with her. When her second daughter was born, she continued to work but from home. By the time her 3rd child was born she decided to pour her heart and soul into her family, becoming a stay at home mom.

After her next 2 sons were born, Denise had fallen into a pattern. Focus and take care of others, putting yourself last. Giving all your love and care, even at the expense of yourself.

She loves her children dearly. She wouldn’t go back and change a thing.

Yet it all changed a few years ago.

Denise got shingles. With the shingles came headaches and chronic debilitating pain.

Days turned into years. Denise continued to spiral downward. There were some days she couldn’t get out of bed.

Schooling at home became difficult. She managed the best she could from her bed. Attending baseball practices and games became near impossible. If she felt up to it, she was sicker the next day.

She was grasping at every last straw, bouncing from doctor to doctor. They would treat one symptom and then she would be off to the next doctor for another symptom and diagnosis.

And then the final straw came. Answers came with lots of questions. Denise was diagnosed with Fibromaligia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjorgen’s Syndrome, and Lupus.

Lost and overwhelmed Denise was left with little option. She had to focus on herself for the first time in a long time.

Slowly she reached out to others. She opened up to people whom she knew fought auto-immune diseases. She allowed a small network of friends in to help drive to baseball practices. She sent one of her sons to a traditional school to ease the education burden.

Denise was no longer able to keep up with her old life. Something had to give and her world began to crumble.

She couldn’t cook dinners, she couldn’t keep a clean house, she couldn’t even do simple daily tasks without pain.

She wanted to retreat and hide, but through it all Denise found happiness in the very small things.

She lived through others as they would update her on baseball games.

She found comfort in the small victories. The moments without pain. The accomplishments of her children.

She got a chicken, fell in love and raised it as a pet. When tragedy struck and the dog killed the chicken, she mourned it and got another.

She now protects Peaches like a mama bear protects her cub.

“There is something iconic about chickens pecking on the lawn. How can you not look at that and think peace and a weight is lifted.”


Denise and peaches

The world isn’t back to normal for Denise and never will be. As one who also deals with autoimmune diseases, I understand and sympathize with her.

The old Denise is gone and will never be back, but slowly she is learning a new normal and a new way of life. While her diseases don’t define her, they are part of who she has become.

Her story isn’t over yet. She has a long road as she and others accept reality. For the first time, her family has to adapt and move with her, instead of the other way around. She cannot ignore herself any longer.

Because she has lived so selflessly for so long, she values what she can do for others more than almost anything. In talking with Denise, she said:


…my insecurity is the need to be needed

….my strength is in those that still do because it is for them that I step up to the plate

….my peace is a chicken, a dog, and silence.

….my joy is baseball



Every Thursday I like to highlight someone who Lives in Green Grass–someone who lives in contentment and happiness. This isn’t a standard story where someone faces a stumbling block and we get a happy ending. Denise’s story is not yet done. She is still living in the pain and struggles.

Part of Living in Green Grass is acknowledging the bad and celebrating the good–it is about being real. I asked Denise if I could share her story because I think it is important to remember that nobody has that picture perfect life. To strangers, Denise still looks like ‘that mom’. They don’t know the toll it is taking on her body to simply be there. All they see is a mom pouring her heart and soul into each child’s passion.

Behind the curtain her life looks much different.

Through the chronic pain that she still deals with on a daily basis, through the major transition her family is living, through the daily stress and pressures, through the life that forced her to grow up early, through it all, Denise still finds moments of peace and joy.

She didn’t lose who she was in her children’s activities, because if she had she would have nothing left. Like she has always done in her life, she is adapting, growing, and finding new ways to live.




If you have a story to share, I would love to hear it! It might be a personal story or about someone who inspires you. Whether it be a story about overcoming something, something you learned, or a story in progress like Denise’s they all inspire us to live with joy and contentment. Please contact me using the Green Grass tab above or by clicking here. Guest bloggers welcome. 


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Maria
    Jun 05, 2014 @ 23:04:31

    I love Denise dearly. Thank you for sharing her story.




  2. maggiemaysgifts
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 07:46:14

    This reminds me of the quote about being kind to everyone for they are fighting a battle you know nothing about. (something like that). There is nothing more admirable than someone who handles so much adversity with grace and love. Denise sounds like an amazing woman. Thanks for sharing.



  3. itherapywithamy
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 08:07:41

    Thank you for sharing Denise’s story. It’s a reminder that joy is a choice, and we can find it in any circumstance.



    • Crystal
      Jun 11, 2014 @ 18:04:52

      I agree, joy is a choice. Sometimes it is hard to find something to latch on to, but when you do it is so vital you hold on strong. That is what gets you through the hard times.



  4. Candace
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 21:20:25

    Denise sounds like an incredible woman! I’m so impressed with her attitude towards life. She sounds truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing her story! Praying for her health issues and continued peace.



    • Crystal
      Jun 11, 2014 @ 18:06:35

      Denise is very humble and inspiring. I’ve been so blessed by her. I know she would appreciate the prayers so thank you.



  5. Amy
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 22:23:08

    I love the theme you relate. It resonates with the heart of my blog. People who deal with health issues with grace are my heroes. She has a lot on her plate. Wishing her many blessings and a great deal if perseverance.



    • Crystal
      Jun 11, 2014 @ 18:08:48

      Thank you Amy. It is a frequently ignored issue that is near and dear to a lot of people. I know I have learned so much through my own personal health issues. It forces you to look inside and find what you really value.



  6. kendraroehl
    Jun 07, 2014 @ 07:09:07

    Beautiful story of perseverance and finding joy while you’re still walking through it. Thanks for sharing Denise’s story.



  7. Kelly
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 13:07:18

    Thank you for sharing Denise’s story. I too have suffered through an unknown disease only to have a diagnosis that can be death with (not as serious as Denise) but changes the way you do life. The small things become a goal and a joy. You did a great job showing that!



    • Crystal
      Jun 11, 2014 @ 18:13:08

      I’m glad it resonated with you too Kelly. It was easy for me to share the feelings as I have walked in those shoes too. Unknown diseases can take a huge toll, especially while waiting for the diagnosis and not knowing how to fight back. Thank you for your kind comments.



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