Encouragement · Family

The Spiral

SpiralThe image of damage!  Poor Texas. They were hit hard by storms and rain.  Lots of rain.

Catastrophe hit with little warning, unless you consider two hours enough time to evacuate from a flood.  Stories of rising flood levels were staggering.  So is the extensive damage.  But even more staggering, by today’s standards, are the stories of those who reached out to their neighbors to rescue, save, protect, feed, clothe and house those who needed help.

.bw spiral

Take another look at that spiral image, and put yourself inside.  If you placed yourself in any of the outside corners going in, you may get stuck inside the center of your own vortex of problems, and never be of any good to anyone.  Least of all,  yourself!  But, if you begin in the center of confusion starting at the place where you are weakest, and begin your trip outward to help others, the spiral becomes huge.  All encompassing.  There is no limit to what you can do, once you take the focus off your own problems.

God blessed Texas with some wonderful people, who reached out from their own trauma to help save and protect others who were stranded.  Many left their own flooded homes in boats and on rafts to rescue others.

Others have taken strangers into their homes and though they are sharing what food they have in total darkness.  Dry and safe.

Little Texas, performed a song that is so perfect for this trial.  Goes like this:

“God Blessed Texas, With His own hand

Brought down angels from the promised land

Gave ’em a place where they could dance

If you want to see heaven, brother, here’s you chance

I’ve been sent to spread the message

God blessed Texas.”

Each catastrophe is different but the pain can always be lightened when you reach out to help others carry their loads.    We will never forget those, also Texans, who reached out to us when we lost Ryan.  And we look back extremely grateful for the time we spent visiting with the burn survivors and their families at  various children’s burn hospitals on foreign soil.  It’s a privilege to reach out of our own situation to help support and encourage other parents of burn survivors, through our foundation Ryanshines.com.

Remember The Spiral     TUS copy when you are faced with a dilemma greater than you can handle.  Place yourself within the spiral.  Is your focus on the quagmire of the inner circle – or do you start with your own chaos and head out to the edges to help others?

Pisa boysWhen you see a need, lend a hand.  Upward and Outward!

Hirn fam looks outAnd God, Bless Texas!


Family · Parenting

Mothers vs. Motherboards

Motherboards, made up of silicon components, are the main circuit control boards within a computer.

Mothers are made of flesh and blood, patience and love for the purpose of control within her family.   (Silicone components are optional.)   

Simply said, a computer’s motherboard connects all its other parts together.

A mother connects all of the family parts together.

Everything that makes a computer work:  CPU, RAM, hard disk etc.,  are processed through the motherboard.

Everything that makes a family work:  schedules, dirty clothes and diarrhea, homework and healthcare,  food and fun, social directing and safety,  taxi service and transport,  are processed through the mother.  

A motherboard turns a pile of components into a computer.  It cannot adapt to change without reprogramming.

A mother turns a pile of components into a family.  She adapts to changes, no reprogramming necessary.

You can’t hug a motherboard.  A motherboard doesn’t laugh, cry, cheer you on, correct you when you mess up.   But on the plus side,  a motherboard doesn’t get eye-rolls and ‘lip’ when she routes one of her components in an undesirable direction.

road school 2

road schoolStrict road school schedules.

A mother is usually softer and more attractive than a motherboard.  She can change her appearance but her heart keeps the link between her and her components strong.

Dawn & Colton -London

A motherboard is built for absolute control.  A mother knows she will never be completely in control of another human being; but, she leads  by example and gives it her best as only she knows how.  She has been given an internal power beyond technology:  Love.

And love is more powerful than any computer that has ever been or will be built.

Takes the byte out!


Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family


Reeling from a week of company is like coming down from a mountaintop.

So many people squished together in one house, so many personalities, so many agendas.    When we stand back, things look like a mess.  But we know the ‘mess’ is held together by love and that changes the whole atmosphere.

Hirns 4thDo we all get along constantly?  I’m tempted to fill the rest of the blog with hahahahahahah.  But we respect each other and that covers a whole lot of ground.   God put me in the middle of five men, and I’ve got to say I’ve loved being there.

And this week, He has shared with me nieces and cousins, who have come to spend the week of July 4th, bringing with them splashes of drama and color!   I’m reaching way out from what I am used to dealing with men.

I’ve always said I wouldn’t know how to raise a little girl, and I still say “hats off to their mom’s and dads.”  And they probably say the same thing about me with boys!


But I’ve thoroughly enjoyed their magical approaches to life, the red, white and blue decor they added to our boats and our lives.  I’ve enjoyed watching the drama and the comedy, the rehearsed poses which have given me some outstanding photos of these little girls!   (Tell a boy to smile at the camera and you never know what you’re gonna get!)


Step out of your comfort zone and make memories!  One of the most magnificent things about world travel is ‘youneverknowwhatyoutgonnaget.’  We left the ordinary ‘sameness’ in our lives to embrace people of different cultures, beliefs and lifestyles, in the name of brotherhood, respect and love.   And you cannot get the experience of building relationships from a book or a movie!

Dr. Seuss said it best:  “Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”



The Wetting. I mean Wedding.

The Wetting.  That’s what you get when you take two imperfect people, put them in the hottest, muggiest place in Georgia on a rainy day, pronounce them man and wife and send them outside into the rain.

Every young girl dreams of the day she will say I do.  Skies and birds —  both blue —  sunshine and light streaming over the couple.   Our wedding, which was to be a black/white-themed wedding, ended up being a bit more colorful.

Rehearsal dinner 2 pads

My dad’s business had just folded, and he only had $5000 left for his daughter’s big day. We began to improvise, doing the decorating and begging favors from friends who opened up their home to us for an outdoor reception.  Just before the ceremony, we blew up enough black and white balloons to flatten our lungs, and floated them on the pool.  It was impressive; but by the time we got to the reception from the church, all the balloons had popped or blown away.

June 22, 1990 was a hot and very humid day on St. Simons, Georgia, and rain wasn’t the only thing falling; my big hair was breaking the #1 rule of the 1990s by going flat, and my make-up was running in streaks down my face.    I understand what the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz meant when she said: “Oh, I’m melting . . . what a world, what a world!”   

No shoulder pads

Just before the ceremony began, I realized I had left my shoulder pads for my dress at home, breaking 1990 rule #2:  Never wear a 1990’s-style dress without shoulder pads!  The Raymond sisters panicked when they realized their sister,  the bride, was lopsided, and Darby ran home to retrieve the pads to hoist my dress to the proper level.

When we started twenty minutes late, the lightning and thunder had reached peak decibels. “Ron, do you take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife?” was followed by a huge crack of thunder which shook the church and everyone it it. But nobody ran.   And for that I am thankful.

Our life together has been far from perfect.   We’ve gained; we’ve lost.  And in keeping with our theme, there have been black times and white times; but for the most part the areas we have tromped through together have been gray.   But we stuck together during the times when others would have called it quits.    We consider ourselves lucky,  but it takes more than luck to hold a marriage together.   It takes hard work, patience and gentleness, kindness, laughter and love.

Ron and I have been blessed with a lifetime of imperfection, held together by love.

Tree planting bestWe commemorated that day by planting a sapling at the church,  which has grown into a lovely tree.  And that tree,  I’m sure, was grateful for The Wetting!


PS- Just a tip to all the newlyweds:  If you each give 100% to the marriage, it works out to be 50/50.    Just saying . . . .

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family · Travel

Face your fears! You first.

Acrophobia” is not what I have.  “Acrophobia” is the irrational fear of heights.  Mine is rational.  (My diagnosis).

As a family, we always set goals, have contests, challenges and payoffs.  The ‘payoff’ part of this is usually holding the right to flaunt each accomplishment in the other’s face.  But regardless, it’s stimulus to achievement.

My family is aware of my fear of heights.  At the beginning of our trip while we were still in our planning phase, we all agreed to face our fears.  It was apparent by this time, Colton and I shared our fear of height.  And we were going to delay facing up to our shortcomings (so to speak) as long as possible.

Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest free-standing building in the world at 2716 feet, was a no-brainer for Trenton, Tyler and Ron.  We (and by we I mean they) had already made it up to the top of  Kuala Lumpur’s 1483 ft. Petronas Twin towers. (This of course, allowed me to stand on the ground and photograph!)

piece of cake

By the time we hit Paris, I knew my turn to face my fear was coming.  The Eiffel Tower,  a mere 984 ft. off the ground,  seemed safer in the abstract.  Then,  I stood beneath it.  Colton braved up and said he would do it if I would, pointing out that in Lego building terms, the model is a mere 3428 Leggo blocks.  How scary can it be?

eiffle family




Colton fully conquered his fear of heights, once he got to the ground.  “Piece of cake!”

fam on eiffle



Mom is not there yet, but at least I don’t have to endure anymore chicken jokes.


Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family · Travel

Are you kidding?

“When I grow up I am going to be a model in Europe,” is something I never said.  EVER!

But life has a funny way of playing tricks on you.  This is especially true when you do the “As long as I live I will never”-thing.   But when I *Moved My Cheese to Europe, I needed to find work quickly.  I was traveling alone with no back-up plan, and needed to survive.  And thanks to my height and constitution, neither of which were a credit to me, I found work modeling-runway and print.

Now if you’re thinking ‘big bucks’ you are way off.  The tax base for expats working in Europe is 55%, leaving you little room to splurge.  Fashion models hit Japan for the ‘big bucks,’ while models come to Europe for ‘tear sheets’ for their portfolio to catapult their careers,  which was never my intention. I came here to travel, to explore, to meet new people and affording the adventure was an essential part of the journey.  The freelance nature of modeling gave me the time I needed to hit the road to new places again.

Living in Paris, like living in any large city, offers  you a large variety of delicacies most of which I could not afford. Once and awhile when someone paid for my meal, my tastebuds were cheering, because, yes, French food is as good as they say.  But the majority of the time, with my salary grade, I ate canned tuna and baguettes. Over and over again.

When we came back to France as a family, I was faced with options I could finally afford.  Croissants, baked perfections, escargot, Brie! And bi-jingo, I was going to share the experience with my family.   You could usually track the Hirn Fam somewhere along the Champs de Elysee by their audio track at the table: “Mmmmmmm,”  “Woah!”  “Yum.”

colt croissant

Did I treasure my memories of being a single female on her own in Paris all those months?  Of course.  But would I trade it all for no family, no money and 7 cans of canned tuna fish?  ARE YOU KIDDING?

colt yum

Have a great weekend!


*Who Moved My Cheese, Spencer Johnson

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family · Perfecting Dysfunction

Seek the Treasure

Here we go — only a couple more months and they’re back in school.  WHAT??

No one would be calloused enough to say that out loud the first week of summer vacation,  but I know at least one mom that secretly wonders ‘how long’ this 24/7 Social Director/Cook/Supplier-of-All-Needs/and Boredom-Conqueror-Job will last.

But I beg you, don’t let this summer get away without a plan.  Your family needs some time together spent more creatively than at home or at the pool.

It’s summer vacation.  Don’t fill it up with busyness, but make some plans.    I’m not talking about jumping off big – just a little dip into the strange and wonderful world of family adventure.  We call it AWE – Adventure With Engagement, because after all, everything goes off pretty smoothly in life until you add the people.  And then, it’s the wild west and you are slinging around your sassy lip and six-gun trying to control things.

New friend in S. Africa

You don’t have to jump right into a world trip like we did, but unless you take a step toward AWE, you will look back at the summer of ’17 when you stayed stuck.  There are so many close-to-home things to do with your family to drum up AWE:

At the beach, (or near a stream, lake or river) rent a salt-water metal detector and at low tide push your way onto the shoreline. There is nothing quite as exciting as hearing the sound the detector makes when you find a treasured ‘thing-a-ma-bob.’  Better yet, seed the earth with weird little hardware to be found by young kids.  I know a lady whose favorite beach vacation activity is to plant hidden treasures for early morning seashell hunters.   She gets up at dark-thirty and “seeds the beach” with store-bought oversized conch shells.  From her front row beach chair, she sits with her morning coffee and shares the adventure with complete strangers as they find treasures.

IMG_0803Bamboo Raft Thai?

Make a family plan before the summer is over.  Hike a different path, get mud and gook under your fingernails, climb a hill or a tree because it is there, offer your family’s help to a Camp for underprivileged kids, feed the hungry, seed the beach.   Love to hear your quirky ideas.

Seek the Treasure.