Why Are There Tears In Our Chili?

We admit, it’s an odd name for a blog, but there’s a story behind it.

On Friday, February 24th, 2012, my wife Stephanie (or as I call her, Steph) was told by doctors she should be “very concerned” about a mass discovered in her breast. Needless to say, this news was devastating not only to her, but our entire family.

Earlier in the week we had planned to make hotdogs for dinner. Now, in North Carolina, there’s only one true way to make a hotdog: mustard, cole slaw, onions and chili (no beans). If you use chili from a can, it’s not a genuine NC hotdog. Real chili is made from scratch and Steph learned to make chili from one of the best chili makers in the state – my mother. It’s a simple recipe, and perhaps she’ll share it with you in one of her posts (if you’re lucky).

Steph has made chili hundreds of times. But this time she had an overwhelming sense of the possibility that all the things she does for our family would go un-done. Tears began to flow down her cheeks and past the chili bowl. When I asked her what was wrong, she replied through her tears, “Who’s going to make the chili?” It wasn’t the big, life events like proms, graduations, weddings and grandkids that she cried about. It was the little everyday things like kisses when they come home, cleaning their clothes, checking their homework, tucking them into bed, holding them when they cry and cooking their meals. There was nothing special about that bowl of chili. But, to her, it represented all the ways she enjoys caring for our family. And, if she couldn’t do it, who was going to fill the void of their mother? “Who is going to make the chili?”

It was in this moment when the severity of the situation our family is facing became all to real, and we realized it’s the small things in life that matter most.

So, we created this blog for our family to share our journey and our feelings along the way. We’re not sure who may read our blog, or find it interesting or encouraging. Heck, the only readers may be the four members of our family, but that’s OK with us.


  1. Lisa says:

    Knowing your family just a short time, still having grief as if you are part of our family. Be confident in knowing we stand with your family in support however we can.
    Since we make chili quiet often, you can just know there will be a prayer, mixed with lots of love for your family, added to our pot.
    Love and prayers,
    John and Lisa

  2. Mom says:

    Yes I had some of your chili. It was very good but a little salty from your tears. But it was from the hands of my first born Daughter and it was made from love for her family. I always look forward to the chili when we grill at the lake. As you are the “Chili Mom” and always will be. I love you and there were tears in my pound cake last night but we will eat it as it was made with love for you and your family. I love you always and I am here for whatever I am needed or wanted for. Mom

  3. Michelle ollis says:

    Where have been when the all this chili making has been going on?? (don’t answer that). Well may not know how great the chili is but I do know how you are my bible verse on demand girl. You always have one when I need it. Still have the post it note from California when you wrote only the words James 4:8 on it and left it for me. I’ve lived that verse day in and day out for 12 years. Hence the name for my email address. So I may not have tears in MY chili or pound cake, but I have them for the most amazing person I know.

  4. Karen says:

    I hope not to make a bad situation worse and hope you will understand the following: (1) I am sorry that you have breast cancer. (2) I do love you and your family, albeit from a uncomfortable distance, the love is the same. (2) I do know how to pray and I do. I believe every prayer sent is a step closer to God.
    My mind hesitated by heart won the debate that lead me to comment on your blog. I wish you and yours the patience, love and strength to stand and conquer whatever battles are in your path! I only wish you the best! YOU CAN DO THIS!! Sincerely….

  5. Jamie Naylor says:

    What a sweet way to start your blog! I’m not to proud to admit that I have tears on my laptop now. Your family is very special and loved by so many. Please know that WE ARE A BAND FAMILY, also. You know the saying, a family that prays together, stays together…well we will be staying by your side during your full recovery. Love to all!

  6. Chris says:

    Sometimes we’re asked to take on things that it seems only God could bear…
    But God is with you, showing His love through your family, friends and co-workers.

    Know you are surrounded by God’s love…and ours.

    With thoughts and prayers to you and your family,
    Chris and Tara Small

    • Rick Adams says:

      Thanks Chris for the encouraging words. It means a lot to have people I can lean on for support and prayer.

  7. Deb says:

    Chili hotdogs with slaw…
    The first “southernish” meal you introduced to us, I believe. I think we even had them on Alishas 2nd birthday when Gladel was visiting. We still use wolfs chili no beans when not making it homemade. We introduced it to some news friends two weekends ago here and shared our silly little story of us wild west city kids being showed how its done in the summer chill of NDakota.
    There were gasps for breathe and tears on my laptop when getting the news and bittersweet thoughts of Chili and slaw dogs knowing you “knew” and shed those tears over your dinner. I never would have thought 18 yrs ago that some silly little southern thing like slaw chili dogs would mean so much to me.
    I love you both dearly.

  8. Terry Fisher says:

    Hang in there, God has a plan for you. I’m sending you a big hug. Know you have been in my thoughts and prayer daily. Stephanie, you were always one of my favorite. Hold on and know you’re loved and I wish you peace of mind!

  9. Diane Fisher says:

    Hang in there girl. You are in my heart and prayers daily. May God be with you and your family and give all of you strength in this hard time. Sometimes we don’t understand things that happen in our lives, but through all my trying times, I grew stronger and stronger in the Lord. May you be Blessed with every good blessing God has to give.

    This is a verse that God showed to me during a very bad time in my life and now I want to show it to you.

    Isaiah 41:13 For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

    And he will. He helped me and he will help you also. Prayers and blessing sent to all of you…
    Love ya’ll, Diane Fisher

  10. Ruth Trexler says:

    Rick, Stephanie, josh and Camy,
    Just want you to know that I am saying prayers for you. I am following your blog and hearing news from Gail, Marshall and Virginia Harper. You have always been wonderful friends to me and Stephanie you were there for me when I need someone after my dad passed. Keep looking to God and always know that we all love you. If you need me I am easy to get in touch with. Love & Prayers Ruth

  11. Sherri Armes says:


    Praying for you and your famiy during this time. You are courageous and strong and I have faith that God will lead you to a speedy recovery. You are a survivor!! Love you girl!!

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