Tuesday, December 17, 2013

for Lily

As we anticipate the arrival of our precious grand daughter, I can't help but think back 2000 years ago & ponder what must have taken place. Baby Jesus had so many prophesies which foretold his coming. Our baby has sonograms to foretell her sweet arrival. Our Savior had a bright star which wise men followed. Our lil girl has non stress tests.

Our hearts are waiting & watching. At least we've been distracted from the ruins of our home. A tornado ravaged our community one month ago today. Christmas is around the corner, & our plans are tentative. After all, we are about to be blessed with a most treasured gift, a new baby grand daughter.

We have done all we can to prepare for her birth day. A few little sleepers have been bought & laundered. She has a nursery complete with a crib & a rocker I used to rock her beautiful mama. She has a carseat & a blanket or two. Most of all, she has our hearts. We cannot wait to meet her!

When Jesus was  born on that first Christmas, it seemed despite all the prophesies, people were caught off guard. Their minds were not prepared. Their hearts did not welcome the greatest gift of all time. Even today, people haven't figured this out.

So... as we anticipate our little miracle, I can't help but imagine what went on 2000 years ago. I can't help but wonder why people still refuse to trust in Him. I can't help but thank my Heavenly Father for the greatest gift of all time, & for the Little Blessing He is about to bestow on us.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

ashes to beauty

Today we had a unique experience. We were invited to my daughter's college as guests of honor. Being tornado victims seemed to qualify us for this honor. The experience was beautiful. I felt as though I had temporarily stepped into a different culture (a culture I've always wanted to visit). This event represented Heaven. First of all we were all gathered together feasting. Different cultures came together to feast, much like The Great Banquet described in the Bible. Secondly, our ruins from the tornado became works of art. This symbolized the restoration of the fallen Jerusalem. Brilliant.

Our wreckage became artwork. What a lovely way to acknowledge the tornado, but at the same time, allow God to turn our ashes into beauty (just as He does with our broken lives). I think when we take our heart aches & turn to God with an expectation of healing, small miracles begin to happen. Things don't always follow our timeline or turn out according to our desire, but the end result will probably be better than anything we ever imagined.

This feast was filled with spontaneity. Refugees from war torn Africa were invited. A refugee woman prepared beans that she had grown on one of the professor's land. They had a flavor we here in America are not accustomed to tasting.  Brussel sprouts still attached to the root were broiled with bacon. We had rice, peanut dressing, bon bons, & so much more.

The feast began with song. Soon clapping & dancing began, & before we knew it, we were all parading around the artwork. Instruments accompanied this joyful event. There was a professor playing a clarinet, an accordion, a tambourine, & a djembe. People of all ages were participating. Cultures were interacting. It was my dream come true. I do believe it resembled Heaven. Words are not enough.

I had but one regret. I did not feel we were worthy of being the guests of honor. As I said in my last blog, we can drive out of our wreckage. We are safe. We are warm. Our problems are temporary. For a few hours, I forgot about my tornado wreckage even though I was surrounded by my own damaged goods. I was in awe of the artwork, but even more at the whole event. Singing, parading, feasting, joy, beautiful smiles... Heaven cam down to earth this afternoon.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Tonight I feel the need to write an addendum to yesterday's blog. It accurately describes my feelings, but I failed to mention a few key points. Even though things are so unsettled, time is marching on (for the victims & for those who rescued us). Ready or not, Christmas is coming. Somethings are standing still, like our home, our neighborhood, & our insurance, but life keeps moving forward.

In the midst of our sorrow, loved ones are still suffering with heartbreaking issues. I have one friend whose body is rejecting her chemo. I have another friend undergoing chemo who lost her home. Lastly, I have a dear friend waiting for test results. She suffers daily with pain. I don't know how she lives. I love her dearly. I love each of these women.

Loved ones are having babies. A high school friend lost his life to a massive heart attack. My grandson is learning new things every day. Children are suffering from Post Traumatic Shock caused by the frightful tornado. Mission trips are still in the works. People are still homeless that were homeless long before the tornado.

Sex trafficking is still a problem. People are starving. Their water is unclean. HIV runs rampant in their countries leaving children as orphans every day. Adoption is difficult. It takes time & tenacity. Violence exists. Women are oppressed in many countries & even in our own. People are still prejudice. Bullying is a part of growing up. People are lonely, outcast, sick, impoverished. The list is unending...

Our problem is overwhelming, but it has an end, even if we cannot see it right now. It is temporary, but it will take much patience & perseverance. It requires teamwork. We live in a community where this sort of thing rarely happens. We are not used to seeing such devastation. However, we can drive out of it. Our cars have already been replaced. We have become situated in temporary homes.

What about the people who live in war torn countries that cannot drive out of their problems? What about the people who have only one hope, that is Jesus Christ? What about the people who have only known poverty & chaos their whole life? What about the children that have never had a pillow on which to lie their heads or a bed to call their own? What about those who live in homes made of cardboard?

Yes... our problems are much more than we are accustomed to. But there is a reprieve. There is an end. There is safety around the corner. We are fed & clothed & residing in temporary homes. We have lost our possessions but not our lives. We do not have bombs zooming through the sky. We are not living under bridges & in cardboard boxes. We are okay.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It feels like forever...

It's strange how our feelings come & go. News and lack of news ignite different feelings. Hanging in limbo never feels good. Sometimes we are numb, sometimes crabby, & sometimes we laugh. We know nothing more than we knew 2 weeks ago. In the blink of an eye, our home was destroyed. We know that. Neighborhoods were devastated, & they don't look much better 2 weeks later. The look of death & destruction are all we see when we drive through our neighborhood. Going back is no less painful.

The surrounding communities are kind. We run into people who couldn't be more caring. Many of my friends are in a very similar predicament. Their feelings seem identical to mine. Shock still reigns. Numbness isn't too uncommon. Depression is seeping in. When little things go wrong, it crumbles what little reserves we have. Rebuilding will be painstaking. It will take time, waiting, & more waiting.

But then there are the things that arouse a smile, a giggle, & even a hearty laugh. Yes... it feels so good to laugh. A hug is always welcome. It's strange how we find ourselves intermittently spacing out. Sometimes we are unable to answer a simple question, or we miss a turn & wonder why. Despite the beautiful music & the twinkly lights, it doesn't really feel like Christmas (at least not to me). We sleep less soundly than we once slept. I find myself waking throughout the night & lying awake for hours.

We count our blessings. I know my prayers are answered even before I voice them. I do not feel alone. I do not feel forsaken. My every need is met, yet I feel brokenhearted. I worry about my husband. I worry about all of the stress on him. As I go about my Christmas shopping, I wonder if I am kidding myself. Is it really Christmas (the most magical time of year)? Should I be buying presents when my house is in shambles? But then I remember, there is nothing to do right now. Just wait.

We think about our future. We have to let the dust settle before we make our big decisions. But wait, will the dust settle? Will we ever be able to think clearly, to make wise decisions? For us, the jury is still out. We are healing, but we are still so tender. We are settled, but we are still unsettled. We laugh, but inside we are crying. We are numb, yet we feel pain. We remind ourselves that our situation is temporary, but right now, it feels like forever.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Bare Facts...

Today is Thanksgiving, & I have never felt so thankful in my life. Yes... a tornado recently caused devastation to my home & wreaked havoc on my life, but all is well with my soul. It's not rocket science to realize the bare facts. It's just the truth. If we learn little else from this catastrophic event, we immediately begin to understand the significance of life.

Our home is temporary. We cannot take the treasures we have stored up on this earth with us when we die. This is NOT Hell. It may resemble Hell, but it is not. Despite the rubble, love triumphs. In fact, I have never felt so loved in my life. I feel as though I have been wrapped in a blanket & carried through this tender time. As I look back over the past week, I recognize love far more than devastation.

I wish I could share all of the kindnesses that have befallen me through this tragedy... I cannot even begin to list them as they are far too numerous! We are getting settled into our temporary abode. We don't really know how long we will live here, but I think forever would be okay with me. I feel cozy here. It is home to me. I have a place to lie my head. I am surrounded by the ones I love. I could hope for nothing more.

As for my old home, I still cannot bear to visit. It isn't so much the memories. It's the level of discomfort. The temperatures are frigid. The scenery is so sad. Rubble & wreckage are everywhere (inside & out). What was once beautiful is gone. Only the memories remain. Dinginess & darkness abide in the place I once called home. It is not safe.

Materially, my losses cannot really be tallied. #1, I had too much stuff. #2, The sentimental value is priceless. #3, I am fine without every bit of it. #4, Interesting artifacts were salvaged. If I met a man on the street, & he asked me if  certain things found in my basement were mine, I would say, "NO... I have never before seen them".  A sad commentary on having too much stuff.

Lastly, I must point out the obvious... I have my husband carrying me through this, & we have our beloved pets. My family & friends & I now have even deeper relationships than the day before the tornado struck. Bonds have been formed which once did not exist. My heart is filled with warmth. I can only be thankful.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

out of the woodwork

Sunday morning marks the 1 week anniversary of the destruction of my neighborhood. I cannot help but recall the events that took place that day. I play the scene over & over in my head. I picture the faces, the anguish, the heart wrenching sobs. I am still numb, still brain dead, & sometimes overcome with anxiety. I rejoice over much. I count every blessing I can find. I know my God has not forsaken me. I value my sweet husband more than ever. I am shaken.

It isn't so much the loss of every stitch of clothing I owned or my pretty jewelry I collected. It isn't my car. It will be replaced. It isn't the amount of work the restoration requires. No... it's none of the above. It's the devastation. My home/neighborhood reminds me of how I pictured Hell. Right now being in my home is unbearable. The temperature is so cold, it's not tolerable (even with boots, scarf, gloves, hood,  winter coat, & sweat shirt). Debris, broken glass, fluff, & filth are everywhere.  The tarp on our roof flaps constantly in the wind creating a miserable frightening sound. It is dark. It is Hell.

I look out my front window, & all I see is devastation. My neighbor's home actually crumbled into her basement. The trees resemble death. I am uncomfortable. My heart aches. Nothing is the same. I cannot find refuge in what was once my safe place. Only heartache, loss, & destruction now reside. The unknowns are great, but nothing we cannot bear. Our future is hopeful. We will persevere. No choice.

Only one thing is keeping me from self-destructing, & that is the kindness of the human heart. Without the love that has wrapped around me, I don't believe I could function. I think the devastation would kill me. Not my own, but my surroundings. I have never walked amongst such destruction, let alone lived in it. However, the one thing that keeps me from knowing I am not in Hell is this: people have come out of the woodwork to love me. They are carrying my burdens & filling my every need. The word "friend" has taken on a new meaning. The depth of my feelings I have for these kind souls is something I have never known.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Home Sweet Home

As I sit down to blog tonight, it's earlier than usual, & I am so tired I cannot stop yawning. Being out in the cold all day is wearing. As the sleet/rain began this afternoon, I began to chill. I really didn't warm up until I arrived hours later at my daughter's house for a hot cup of cocoa. At one point,  I shook the fluffy bits of insulation out of my favorite blanket, wrapped myself up, sat amongst the shattered glass, & just absorbed my surroundings (kind of in a daze). I find myself in a daze quite frequently these days.

Today our insurance adjuster came (all the way from Texas). He spent several hours inspecting our damage. The verdict is in... our home can be rebuilt. Parts of it can be salvaged. He credits this to the large beam in the ceiling of our garage. He says that's what held a few of our walls in place. Wow! Again, I found myself in a catatonic state. I don't know what I expected, but it apparently wasn't that. This one little fact quickly changed my outlook. I don't really know why, but suddenly, I began to have a sense of hope, a hope of possibly residing again in my Home Sweet Home.

Today was a day of reconnecting with neighbors. Tears were shed. A new bond has formed. Here we are in a state of shock & distress. We all feel brain dead. I guess it's like waking up from a bad dream only to find out it is not a dream. It is our reality. We have been thrust into making decisions we are unprepared to make. We are overwhelmed with what this clean up process requires. We are surrounded by devastation.

However, as always, a few treasures cannot be ignored. They remind me of flowers that somehow ease their way up through cracks in the sidewalk. I would be remiss if I didn't share them. After all, it's these sweet surprises that are getting us through each relentless day. So, here goes...

#1 Dear friends have offered us beautiful living quarters. They even blessed me with a care package.  #2  My youngest arrived today with a crew of helping hands from her college. #3  Four Bradley students showed up & spent hours cleaning our debris. #4  A friend offered to help store our belongings. #5  Samaritan's Purse lent us a hand & raked our yard (front, back, & sides).  #6  Men arrived early this morning & finished packing & removing our valuables. #7  A dear friend came with 3 others, & they oversaw all of the yard work. #8 My daughter fixed us lunch. #9  A church brought us dinner. # 10  I got to feed my grandson his bedtime bottle. # 11  My lil Godson sent us a precious video message. #12 My friend ended her vacation early to come home & help.

Tangible kindness is expressed throughout each day. This kindness keeps us human. It gets us through the rough moments. It softens our hearts. It gives us hope. It is sunshine in the storm. It actually gives our minds a break from focusing on our losses & the overwhelming job we have ahead of us. It magically takes an unbearable situation & makes it bearable. A loving hand along this journey called Life makes all the difference in the world.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Today HELP came. As we traveled to the  wreckage of our home, we were both in tears. My husband wept. We felt hopeless & overwhelmed. So many decisions need to be made,  but we are unable to think. We still could not get to our home. It took 3 attempts. Our hearts were heavy. We were weary. We had no game plan. We couldn't agree on anything. We couldn't understand each other. Life was bleak.

As we approached our rubble, a dear friend informed me that HELP was on the way. Her husband was on his way with his employees, trucks, & trailers. Our unvoiced prayers were answered. We did nothing to deserve such help; yet there we were, being helped. Suddenly in the midst of our storm, we saw a ray of hope.

As the sun began to seep through the dark cloud that rested above our heads & in our hearts, I noticed that our voices began to strengthen. We began to treat each other better, to understand each other. A game plan soon developed, & before we knew it, our daughter & her husband met us on the premises. My daughter's eyes welled up with tears as childhood memories flooded her whole being.

We didn't know where to begin... My daughter called her best friend for help. Her husband lovingly packed up the basement. I knew nothing was too much to ask this kind young man. As the day passed, dear friends dropped in to help. Each person that came brought another ray of hope. We packed & we packed & we packed.

Highlights: My son-in-law unexpectedly found my wedding rings. Caring people stopped by to help. My friend's husband brought his employees, trucks, & trailers. Our attitudes improved. Our hearts began to heal. With HELP came HOPE. We worked hard. Lighting was bad. Water damage was gross. It was chilly. But even in the midst of the wreckage, HOPE reigned. As the sun went down, despite the falling temperature, I felt warm inside.

Monday, November 18, 2013

the day after

The day after has been a slow day. Reality has begun to seep in a bit.  We are a little less shocked. We have had too much time to contemplate our losses because we have not been able to get to our house. Gas lines are being purged. The area, clearly, is unsafe. The unknowns are no different than yesterday, We are in waiting...

We wait to be able to get to our home. We wait to meet with the adjuster. We wait. We wait. We wait. As we try to occupy ourselves, we begin to think of odd things from our home that we will never see again. Most things don't matter, but occasionally, my brain pauses when something of sentimental value comes to mind.

As newly weds, we were given an antique spindle bed from my husband's parents. It was a family heirloom. It was beautiful. It was called a three quarters bed, not even a full bed. It sat higher off the ground than today's modern bed. I loved it. We slept in it until we adopted our first Lab. Dolly cramped our style a bit, & we had to upsize. The bed was consequently passed down to each of our girls. I will never see it again.

My wedding rings are missing. The diamond was a gift. My husband inherited it because his Uncle thought he was his namesake. Once his uncle passed away, we realized it was too late to tell him otherwise. So... my husband gave me the diamond for Christmas. Together we chose a beautiful setting. Short of a miracle, I will never see it again.

Yes, there are other treasures ... American Girl Dolls that once came to life when my daughters were young. All of my jewelry (my precious jewelry) is dispersed across the corn fields & to who knows where! My clothes are gone. My shoes, my beloved Bobs, are scattered across the land. My dog is traumatized. My cat is fine.

We are like lost puppies. We make a decision, & then we change it. We enter our neighborhood only to be told we must turn around. People want to help us, but honestly, we don't know how to help ourselves. We have purchased a few clothes. We've made an itemized list of our specifics. We've speculated about what we will do once we know where we stand.

We think. We rethink. We spin our wheels & feel as though we have accomplished very little. We don't always agree on what is a priority. It's a tender time. Our nerves are frazzled. No... it's not like being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. The day that happened, my heart was cut in two. The day my house disappeared, well, it's hard to say...

I spend much of my time focusing on things of eternal value. I love to think about Heaven.  I love to ponder my faith.  I love people. So,  I have to say... these things of sentimental value: the spindle bed, the American Girl Doll,  the wedding ring, & even my wedding dress. I have to let them go. I will miss them. I am human. But... they are things. Their value is not eternal. They are not really replaceable, but I will live without them.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Tonight I cannot sleep. I cannot shut my brain off. This morning my home was demolished by a tornado. I lost my home today & almost everything in it. The basement is still intact. Our neighborhood was ravaged. It isn't recognizable. Many of the homes are only rubble. We were grateful when we found our dog. He greeted us at our front door as we made our way up the front step. We had to park & walk about a mile to get to our home. As we approached, I knew we would find destruction...

A few hours after our arrival, we found our cat. She was hiding in the basement. Funny how things landed. Mary, Joseph, & Baby Jesus survived. However, the rest of the Nativity was destroyed. Everything was strewn about. We found things in the oddest places.We are both numb. It's hard to know where to begin.

As I face this tragedy, I don't really feel devastated, just numb. Maybe it's shock. Maybe it's perspective. My daughter asked us which was worse, this or cancer? Simultaneously, we both answered "cancer." However, I saw the same anguish in my husband's eyes today, that anguish I saw the day I was diagnosed with cancer. It did't go away for a long time, & now it is back.

I am grateful we are unharmed. We were at church in a storm shelter when the tornado struck. As we drove into our town, we could see the devastation from the highway. We were in shock. It looked like what we had seen in the past only on TV. Well... now we have an opportunity to face another nightmare. Something we only could imagine before today.

The best thing that happened today was finding our animals alive & unharmed. Other highlights included our beautiful neighbors caring for us. Our daughters weeping on our behalf. I haven't shed a tear yet. Messages, prayers, & help from friends & family. If anything brings tears to my eyes it's that. I am so touched by all of the kind offers from loved ones.

So where do we go from here? Time will tell. So many unknowns. But... we have each other. We have Otis & Bella. Our daughters love us. They have taken us in. Our son-in-laws are here for us. As we walked through the devastation, my husband asked... What will we do? My answer was simple, "We will walk hand in hand, face our troubles together, & love each other." We have all that we need.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

It doesn't take much...

It's early morning, & I am unable to sleep. Since my daughter is home sick, I've been at home & consequently, doing a lot of cooking & thinking. I have been on a health craze lately & am trying once again to discover recipes that are both delicious & healthy. Strangely enough, I am enjoying it. Sometimes, I think it's good to spend more time at home, give the brain & body a rest, & remove oneself from the distractions of needless running around.

I am sure many of the people who read this blog have heard of the 5 Love Languages. Gary Chapman wrote a few books about them. Let's see if I can remember them: Touch, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, & Gifts. According to Gary Chapman, we all have a love language or a combination of them. There is value in understanding them when it comes to relating to yourself & others (especially your spouse & children).

If you can identify the love language of your family members, then you can be more intentional about meeting their needs, speaking their language, loving them. It also holds true that if you try to reach their needs through your own love language, it is less effective. Kind of like giving a gift that you would like but not something the recipient would enjoy.

I have always viewed myself as a combination of 3 or 4 of the 5 Love Languages. A few days ago, it occurred to me that my love language really isn't on the list. It's plain & simple: kindness. I love to be treated kindly, to observe kindness, & to treat others kindly. When I am not treated kindly, I am like a deflated balloon.

Nothing makes my heart tick like seeing a mother treating her child tenderly. I love to catch a married couple looking lovingly into each other's eyes. It even rocks my world to see someone loving on their pet. Whether it's reaching out to a homeless person, being kind to a child, simply a gentle answer to a question, a small favor, an understanding tone of voice, or an expression of compassion in a loved ones eyes, all of these things make my heart beat. It doesn't take much. It's just a way of life...

Friday, November 1, 2013

My plans came to a screeching halt.

Yesterday in the blink of a phone call, my plans for the week changed. I was planning on having my oldest & her lil family for chili on Halloween. The baby was dressed as a monkey, & I couldn't wait to love on him! The chili was already in the crock pot. Yes... I got up early. I had plans to spend the weekend with my stepdad whom I've had very little time with since my mother passed into Heaven. My Aunt was celebrating her 80th birthday. So special, I couldn't wait to see her. Lastly, I would be lighting a candle for my mom at her church. Sunday, All Saints Day is celebrated in her church, & a candle is lit in memory of the Saints who passed away within the last year.

Yes... it was a lot packed into one weekend, but all things I felt were important. Then the phone rang. My youngest was calling to say she had mono. "Oh," I said. "Let me come & get you." I informed my husband of our sudden change in plans, readied myself, & headed North to pick up my sick daughter. It was raining hard. Construction added an hour both ways, but I was going to get my baby. None of that really mattered.

I picked her up, & we headed home. We chatted as we traveled down the highway, & I knew I had done the right thing (not that I would have done anything else). I counted my losses as I was on my way, but somehow, everything was right with my world. Unexpected time to spend nurturing my daughter. Kind of like old times... movies, Sprite, TLC, & whatever else would be needed.

So... my plans came to a screeching halt. I regret what I cannot do, but I am so thankful to be alive to do what I can do. I am here to nurture my young adult child back to health. I am here to keep her company, to fix her hot soup & smoothies. I am here to catch up on her life. I am here to love her, & I am able.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time... long ago in the town of Waukegan, IL lived a little girl who loved to Trick-or-Treat. Every year she dressed up as a Bum & went door to door to as many houses as time would permit. She & her cousin did this well into their teen years. She just couldn't get enough!

The mayor always gave out Taffy Apples. That, of course, was her favorite stop. There were parties at school. One year she even won the contest because her teacher didn't recognize her. She treasured her candy, not necessarily to eat it, but loved to count it, sort it, look at it, & think about the joy she had collecting it.

She loved to build spook houses complete with eyeballs, spaghetti, & gooey pumpkin guts. Her house had an unfinished basement, & the sky was the limit. Such creativity & fun! She lived for these moments...

As time went by, she became a mother, determined to enjoy this fun with her own children. Together they Trick-or-Treated for miles. Sometimes she made their costumes which was a real feat since sewing really wasn't her thing. A few fifties skirts along the way, a chocolate kiss, & a little black doggie costume. Such fun!

Each year pumpkins were carved. Pumpkin seeds were baked, & Jack-O-Lanterns displayed. Her Daddy taught her well, & doing it for her own children was a treat (even though her pumpkin seeds were never as good as her Dad's).

So... the decorations went up, & fun times were to be had. Now... things have settled. She still makes her pot of chili. She buys costumes for a few children she adores. Trick-or Treaters come & go, & she passes out her candy, happy to see each child. Each Halloween she remembers her childhood & smiles a little smile & feels just a little of that same excitement she felt way back when...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Loss is loss, or is it?

A loss is a loss, or is it? Could it be both a loss & a gain? I say yes. Sometimes we lose relationships, people, things, jobs, homes, health... Usually our losses are not within our control. Sometimes we choose our losses. We may trade them in for better health, peace of mind, or whatever we hope to gain. My theory is this: If we trust in God, He will take our losess & turn them into our gain.

Our gain may not be what we imagined it to be. It might not be the miracle for which we hoped. It might not be better health or a relationship mended. It might not be the answer for which we pray, but rest assured, our prayers will be answered. "All things work for good for those who love the Lord & are called according to His purpose." That's a promise.

The problem is, our view of good doesn't necessarily line up with God's view. After all, it's not just about us. Every life has a ripple effect, & an answer to my prayer might also be an answer to another person's prayer. We don't have the whole picture, not for ourselves or for anyone else. Only God does, & yesterday is as close as tomorrow for Him.

So... I would have to say, whatever our loss, whether we brought it on ourself or not, whether we can effect the outcome or not, it all boils down to trust. When we place our trust in God, I believe we say, "Not my will, but yours." When we cannot see how anything good could possibly come out of our loss, we place our trust in God.

It is necessary to grieve. If we don't allow ourselves time to grieve, I don't believe we allow healing to take place. It's okay to be human. It's okay to miss what we once had. Being honest about our loss is also necessary to healing. When we turn to God in utter despair, when we beg Him, "How will I get through this loss?" I believe that is when our faith begins to grows. We gain more depth as a person. We find that some voids, can only be filled by God.

When we learn this lesson, we learn to trust in Him, to say, "Not my will, but yours," we begin to realize our gain. It's no longer about the miracle we wanted or the answer for which we prayed. It's about knowing that God knows best & placing our trust in Him alone. It becomes an addiction to His presence. It becomes knowing without Him, we cannot breathe. It becomes a grateful heart in a world of uncertainties. It becomes clinging to His steadfast love.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I just can't explain it...

Last night I went to a gathering for Breast Cancer Survivors. It was a night of pampering & fun. It was a night of learning, & a night of sharing. Mostly, it was a night of love. I can't explain the bond I have with other breast cancer survivors. I can't explain the joy. I can't explain the love. It just is...

I went with a newly diagnosed friend. She is a friend I would probably never have met if it weren't for this terrible disease. She is so sweet. I love her! God has given me a new friend! I met up with an old friend I didn't know was on this journey. I am so sorry for the reason we ended up at this gathering, but I couldn't help but admire her strength, her joy, & her faith! Wow!

About 1/2 way through the evening, I reconnected with a friend I met at my first Pray for the Cure. She walked with me through the opening ceremonies of my first Race. She is such a beautiful person. I think of her often & was so happy to see her. Her presence in my life came at just the right time. What a comfort!

I made a new friend. She has a business called The Stylish Survivor. Her presentation addressed all of the feelings I have struggled with over the last few years with dressing my ever changing body. She discussed things that really hit home with me. I was dazzled by her insights. I was comforted by her words. It made me feel like what I am going through is normal for what I have been through. I am shocked I am saying normal because there is nothing normal about breast cancer & the after effects of its treatments & surgeries.

A man who founded an organization, Men against Breast Cancer, spoke. I was so touched by his compassion for his mother, a 22 year survivor. He was 29 when she was diagnosed, & he said he felt just like a little boy. Suddenly, life stopped, & it was his turn (along with his brother & his father) to give back, to nurture this woman, to walk this frightful journey by her side. Just to be with her.

To be honest, 2 years down the road... breast cancer still scares me. It has ripped my security out from beneath me. It causes me anxiety. I worry for my beautiful daughters. That is the unthinkable for me. It causes me daily to place myself back in the palm of God's mighty hand. It hasn't robbed me of my joy or my relationships. It has increased my joy in unexplainable ways. It has deepened my faith. It has introduced me to people & thoughts I would never know. Yes... I live with this constant fear, but the joys are unfathomable!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Her secret...

Sometimes I have trouble sleeping... Lately, when this happens, my mind seems to fixate on my mom. I usually end up reminiscing in my head about the last week of her life. There are so many ironies. Realities were different from expectations (at least mine). Occasionally, life throws us a curve, the unexpected turns out to be better than we ever imagined...

I realize it's strange to say this, but I think my mom was joyful in her dying. I know that sounds crazy, but I cannot explain the love we shared in her last days. WE have always been close, but I never felt as close to her as I did next to her hospital bed. I feel as though she kept giving to me to the very end. I don't think this is normal, & I feel incredibly blessed.

As I witnessed her dear friends & family come & go, I sat in amazement, totally mesmerized by her love. I felt like she had a secret, something truly treasured, that she was sharing with me. So... when I lay awake at night, my mind pauses on this secret, trying to embrace it in its fullness. I feel as though, I got bits & pieces of it. I got enough to understand, & that's really all I need.

Her secret was about love. It was about a life well lived. It was about eternity. Somehow this all came together in that last week & even at her funeral. Her capacity to love others was amazing. The love she gave me cannot even be put into words. And even in her dying, she gave & gave & gave. I have never seen anything like it. As I sat by her bedside, peace radiated from her to me.

I felt as though eternity was at her fingertips. I fully believe God's grace allowed her to take her time in dying. I think she was enjoying her family. I think she lingered longer on this earth than she had to, but I think it was because of her love for her family. In her dying, she was showing us a peace that surpassed our understanding.

I have this strong sense that the healing of her mind began early on in that week. Given to anxiety her whole life, the peace, love, & even joy she displayed in her last days gave me strength to last a lifetime. I believe this earth is only our temporary home. She affirmed that. She smile & smiled & smiled. She couldn't open her eyes, but she could smile. I just can't make any common sense out of this.

So... as I lay awake at night, & I ponder her secret, I can only be grateful. I miss her, but I feel as though she gave so much to me. My cup overflows. I think she loved me enough to last a life time, that is my life time. I hope I can share her secret with the people God places in my path. I have a treasure more precious than gold.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Pink Survivors: The Book

Tomorrow is an exciting day for me. Hopefully it will be on the local news! Pink Surviors: The Book will be released. The 20 authors will be present, ready to sign books. You see, it all began a year ago. Well... at least the beginning of our book. A few women were invited to be Pink Promise models. We modeled clothing while our stories were shared. Loved ones cheered us on. Proceeds went to Susan G. Komen. After all, we all owe our lives to this organization's research.

The treatments I received for my aggressive cancer were based directly on her research. My tumor was estrogen positive & fast growing. Immediately I was barraged with terms that sounded like a foreign language to me. I was overwhelmed. I was stunned. I was beside myself. I remained that way for a year, I think. I was denied a PET scan so I never really got a complete prognosis. In the blink of an eye... my life was turned upside down.

My story (along with the stories of 20 other Survivors) are shared in this book. It is written to be HOPE for other Survivors. I think it could stand for HOPE for anyone. These women are fighters. In the short time that I have been a Survivor (2 years now), I have seen others suffer. I read through the first blog I ever wrote. In it, I talked about how hard it was for me to see my family suffer with my news. That was the worst.

Sometimes I think it is unfair to other Cancer Survivors that breast cancer gets so much attention. But then... I think of the many new stories of Survivors that have occurred just since my diagnosis, & I know we are not getting too much attention. No... breast cancer is running rampant! That is the problem.

We need continued research. We need to stomp out this terrible disease which robs women of their lives, not to mention their dignity, their security, their body parts, their joy, & so. much. more! I am grateful for my story, my journey, but let me make it clear, I wish it on no other soul. If I ever have to see my daughters go through this, a part of me will die. That is my greatest fear.

If you buy this book, it will help our cause, which one day may be your cause. More than that, it stands for HOPE. It is 20 expressions of HOPE. 20 beautiful fighters sharing their stories, how they survived & continue to survive. I opened the book & read the first entry. It is a poem written by the Survivor who had the vision for this book. I read it, & I cried inside. Why? Because it expressed feelings I've had for the last year that I haven't been able to articulate. It ministered to me. Suddenly, I felt whole again.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

a daughter with a baby

There's nothing quite like seeing your daughter become a mama. Sometimes the surprises in life are more than we can fathom. This is not an easy blog to write because it's hard to find the right words to describe my feelings. My lil grandson is more precious than gold. Why he is cuter than anything I've ever seen. His personality, his smile & his giggle, light up my day like nothing else. His cute little body. I just can't get enough...

But, the greatest treasure of all is seeing my daughter care for her baby son. His connection to her is precious. When she carries him, he looks around with such contentment. So alert. When he cries, she picks him up & immediately the sound of his cry changes. He is comforted by his mama. When he coos, she smiles from ear to ear & talks right back to him.

She has learned to discern the meaning of his cry. When he is tired, she instinctively knows what to do. She swaddles him up, & he relaxes & rests in her arms. If he is hungry, of course she knows just what to do. She puts his needs first. Her own things can wait. What she does with her time depends on what is best for him. I am so proud of her.

I feel so alive, so thankful, to be able to see this daughter of mine evolve into such a giving mama. I wish I had the words to write my thoughts & my feelings. To say I am blessed doesn't do me justice, doesn't do God justice. This is something magical. It's not to be taken for granted. I am here, & I get to be a part of this picture. To say I am grateful doesn't describe the joy in my heart. It's joy beyond words, a blessing beyond imagination, an honor to behold.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

save us from ourselves

Yesterday was quite a day! I had my 6 month check up with my Oncologist. All my labs were normal (even my tumor marker). So much for which to be thankful! Upon receiving this good news, I proceeded to make a decision. I made the phone call. Done. Or so I thought...

About 10 minutes later, my phone rang. It was someone looking out for my best interest. She called to say she wanted me to rethink my decision. Her point was well taken (something I never considered). I explained why I made my decision. She listened. She comforted. Again, she strongly encouraged me to undo my decision. So I did.

I believe God places people strategically in our paths to save us from ourselves. This woman did not have to take time from her busy day to redirect my thinking. No... she didn't, but she did. As I listened to the concern in her voice, I knew I needed to heed her words. It really wasn't what I wanted to hear, but I knew I'd be a fool to disregard her wisdom.

Of course, my Nurse daughter was on her side from the beginning. Perhaps I should have listened to her from the get-go. Would have saved me a bit of turmoil. Sometimes in life, we want to play by our own rules. We want to call the shots & make the rules. Reality check! That doesn't usually work. This morning, as the sun comes up, I have to shake my head at myself.

I am old enough to know better. Why am I so foolish at my age after all I've been through? I guess it's cause I'm human. I am not above making a bad decision or letting "the tail wag the dog." I feel a bit ashamed, but I'm also thankful. I am thankful that God puts people in our lives who are passionate about what they do.  He has given me a daughter that loves me enough to speak the truth (even when she knows it will ruffle my feathers).

He puts people in our lives to protect us from ourselves. Sometimes, I think we are our own worst enemy. I have come too far to be so foolish. I'm a little embarrassed, but I have to chuckle at myself. I needed a gentle reminder. I don't get to call the shots. I have to play by the rules for the best outcome.
Sometimes, we just need to grow up...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Glass 1/2 Full

Today as I sat in church, I decided that I want to see myself as a glass half full. I have a few limitations, but who doesn't? Instead of dwelling on my losses, I think I need to dwell on all the things I can do. I was wondering what a person is supposed to do about the things in their life that are unfixable or the things they are no longer able to do. It hit me today... kind of like a ton of bricks.

I believe it's a grieving process. We grieve our losses & try to focus on the positives. I began thinking about all of the unfixable things going on in the lives of my loved ones & friends. Some have family moving away. Others have health issues. Some have heartaches with family members or sadness with friendships. The list of agony is endless.

I think we are wired to fix what's broken. However, sometimes what is broken isn't fixable (at least not by our hands). Sometimes our losses are not regained. A void replaces what we once had. It is kind of like accepting the things I cannot change. It might be smiling because it happened but knowing it's okay to cry because it's over. The memories are sweet; the void is empty. The heartache is real.

How do we let go & let God? I think we first admit our heartbreak. Then, I think we allow ourselves time to grieve. I believe that grieving is a necessary part of healing. If we fail to grieve, I think turmoil will find a home in our hearts (or maybe anger or bitterness). As we grieve, I believe we must look to God for comfort. If we never reach our lowest of lows, I don't believe we begin to realize the magnitude of God's grace.

When we reach the bottom of our barrel, when we realize the unfixable cannot be fixed, when we know our losses cannot be regained... that is when we turn to God. That is when He covers us with grace that allows us to bare our sorrows. That is when we learn the beautiful lesson that His grace is sufficient. Our glass becomes 1/2 full. It may even bubble over...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Today I hate cancer.

Today I hate cancer. It has invaded my friend's body for the second time. She is a beautiful person. In fact, they don't come any sweeter or more pure in heart than she. The unknowns exist; it's one step at a time. It's a surrender/fight for sure. Cancer is an intruder. It is not welcome. It disrupts life. It stops life. It numbs its victim. It causes post traumatic shock. It has lasting effects. It impacts every aspect of a person's life. It causes sleeplessness. It causes pain. It has a rippling effect. It causes depression. It changes ones body.

Its treatments are more frightening than the disease itself. They cause hair loss, nausea, &  foggy brain. Restlessness, agitation, & rotted fingernails are a possibility. Neuropathy, sick stomach, fatigue, loss of body parts: all of these can happen.  Burned/blistered skin, low blood counts, fevers, infections, pain, and other unimaginable symptoms. The treatments can be fatal, yet it's important to have a positive attitude. A double edged sword. They are a crapshoot. Yet... they save lives.

I've seen the look before. It was in my own eyes. It's that look of surrender. It's a loss of ones dignity. It's submitting to awful things. It's fear. It's knowing you have NO control. It's trusting doctors you don't really know. It's living in limbo. The unknowns for sure outnumber the knowns. Deflated. Beaten. Surreal. Stunned. Sad. Scared.

We ask the unanswerables. The doctors don't really know. Statistics exist, but we might beat the odds. Each case is different. How one's body responds to the treatment is unique. There are meds to counteract the symptoms, but they too have side effects. Is there Hope? ALWAYS.

The unwanted fight begins... Yes, it's a journey. Treasures will be found. As one pours out their heart to God, as their deflated soul begins to fill, courage builds. "His grace is sufficient." These words take on new meaning. The spiritual realm becomes close. Eternity becomes a fixation. Hearing God becomes a necessity. Faith deepens. Hope ALWAYS.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

so much worse.

This year, on August 14, I didn't take a moment to remember that it was the 2 year anniversary of the discovery of my cancer. No... I had other things weighing heavily on my mind. I sat by my beloved mother's bedside as she gently faded into the Heavenly realm, into the arms of her precious Savior. I feel so incredibly blessed that God allowed me to have those last few treasured days with her.

A few months ago, I had a dream which I believe God gave me. I dreamed that my mom, her husband (Everett), & I were standing in a parking lot. My dad (who has now been in Heaven for 19 years) was walking toward us. He grabbed my mom's hand & started to run. I shouted, "Dad! She can't run!" My mom & my dad were smiling big smiles. They were running hand in hand, & waving at Everett & me. We just stood watching in amazement.

When I awoke from this precious dream, I immediately realized its significance. I knew my mom would soon be joining my dad in Heaven. I knew I would miss her, but I loved seeing her reunited with my dad & seeing her healed & so happy. I felt as if God had blessed me by allowing me to see such a reunion in my sleep. Words do not do it justice.

On the 15th, my mom went to Heaven. My brothers & I felt as though she had been in & out of the Heavenly realm for a few days. Kind of taking a sneak peek if you will. A few days later, I realized I hadn't recognized the 2 year anniversary of the beginning of my incredible journey with cancer. So... with all due respect, I've taken some time to evaluate my journey.

I have much for which I am thankful. I recently experienced the happiest day of my life when one of my loved ones came back to Christ. I am in love with my grandson & overjoyed to think that my middle daughter will become a mama in January. She is having a girl. I am tickled pink! As I realize the legacy my mom left her grandchildren, I have deep hope, that God will allow me to do the same.

I have lymphedema in my left arm. It is a result of a lymph node dissection & radiation. It causes my left arm & mostly my hand to swell. I have to wear a daytime & a nighttime compression sleeve. My arm & hand ache at times. It's bearable but not what I wanted. My radiologist made it seem inevitable. I think he knew what he was saying.

I have other issues which are bothersome & will remain that way. I feel as though my body is physically broken, yet spiritually whole. Honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. I wouldn't trade my life for anyone else's life. Physically, I have limitations, but spiritually, I feel limitless. Not to mention the fact that things could always be so much worse.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Her beautiful spirit...

So this is grief... frequent flashbacks. Memories. Sweet memories. Thinking back over the last few years, the last few weeks, her precious last few days. Sensing an emptiness left void, one that only her presence can fill. Worrying about those who miss her most, wondering if they will be okay. I always knew she was special; I just had no idea how much other people treasured her. I didn't realize the impact she made in their lives.

Loved ones came to visit her as she lay in her hospital bed. She was too weak to open her eyes. She was too weak to speak. Yet somehow, she mustered up the strength to smile. People whispered sweet things in her ear. A few even told her they came to know Christ because of her. Oh how precious that they came to see her, to tell her these treasures in her last few days. Oh how precious that we (her children) could witness such beauty.

I believe God began healing her of each of her afflictions as she lay in her bed. She was wearing a hospital gown, & she slept more peacefully than we had ever known. At times, I felt as though she was enjoying our company & holding on for just one more moment. I don't think she wanted to leave us, but then again... she had such peace. Maybe she just knew she had an eternity to live in Heaven, & a  few more days on earth, a few more hours, or even moments were worth her tarry.

As each day passed, we realized that God is God, & we are not. The Lord gives, & the Lord takes. Yet, strangely enough, it seems (in some cases), He allows people to hang on for the arrival of one last precious family member. We were told that some like to give up their spirit privately. They might be a little shy. Others go peacefully when their family members are present. We were grateful she wasn't suffering. Her peace surpassed our understanding.

So... we kept her company. We sang her hymns. We played her favorite music. We prayed. We shared scripture. We told her favorite jokes. We held her hand. We kissed her. Lots of memories were recounted. It was a cherished time, a time more precious than words can describe. She amazed us right up to her very last breath. Now she is fully healed. No more suffering. No more tears. As she abides in Heaven, we carry on... knowing how blessed we are to have been touched by her beautiful spirit.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Life Well Lived...

"It's better to wear out than rust out." This old adage was something my mama passed down to me. Her Aunt Hallie passed it down to her. Without a doubt, each of them lived out this truth. Today, we gather to celebrate the life of someone especially dear to my heart, my mother. I don't think I will ever understand why God chose her for me or me for her. I can only be thankful.

Sadly, many children in today's culture are jipped of their childhood. My mom gave me a childhood. I got to be a little girl with dresses, dolls, hula hoops, & a jumprope. I got to have friends over to play. If my classmates hurt my feelings, I always knew my mama would care. She would comfort me.

In my childhood years, my mom was known for her hospitality. She would welcome guests with a cookie or 2 when they stopped by to visit. It didn't matter if they called ahead or just came by. She had a passion for music & a love for painting. She was an outdoor kind of girl. She wasn't into fine dining but thought an ice-cream cone was a special treat.

She loved the Lake. Oh how she loved the Lake! Christmas lights never failed to bring delight. A funnel cake at the carnival wasn't bad either. I could always count on her to be nice to my friends. She never embarrassed me (even when I deserved it). A few months ago, I asked her what was the best thing she ever did with her life. She responded with ease... playing the piano for her church. She even played the piano at the early morning chapel service at First United Methodist and was a dedicated member of the bell choir. She and Everett were married in that little chapel. Their grandchildren were their wedding party.

My mom leaves a legacy I can only aspire to emulate. Each of her grandchildren held a special place in her heart, & now, she... in their's. A few weeks ago, with tears in her eyes (wrought with emotion), she met her great grand baby. Yes, she even held him. The playful spirit of my mom will live on for generations to come. First with her children, & secondly, with her beloved grandchildren. Many of her genes are showing up in them as they walk through this journey called life. Her spontaneity, her kindness, her unconditional love, her passion for music, her artistic talents, her funny sense of humor, & her love for the outdoors will long be remembered with great fondness. Her legacy will carry on through her adoring grandchildren.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


How do you teach purity to someone who has never known purity? How do you explain "True love waits" to someone who thinks love does just the opposite. I never really thought about this until recently. I have some dear friends who have not had role models in their lives to teach them about their worth. They are all grown up now, but I dare say, they have no concept from whence their value comes...

Lacking nurture & affection in their childhood, they have gaps that will likely never be filled. They have the capacity to love & to be loved; they just sometimes look for love in the wrong place. They tend to fill their holes with unsatisfying relationships & patterns that will only leave their hearts bankrupt.

Emptiness is their constant companion. Filling that emptiness is their constant desire. Seeking fulfillment in the wrong place seems to be their curse. Somehow their caregivers failed them in their early years, & the best they can do as young adults is acknowledge their "holes" & understand their missing pieces.

When I look into a person's past & begin to understand why they do the things they do, I can only be grieved. I grieve for them, for what they never knew, for the love they never experienced in their early years. I am so sorry for their hurt, their longing, their inability to understand their worth. I am sorry for their tears. I am sorry they sometimes feel so unloveable.

I want to hug them. I want to lift their load, fill their emptiness, & explode with their worth. I want to cry their tears. I want to wrap my arms around them & tell them they will be okay. I want to help them make healthy decisions. I want to give them hope. I want them to know their worth. I want them to feel loved.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


So... here's my truth. I am a former Glee fan. I watched the show for its first 3 years. I looked forward to each episode. I bought the seasons on tape. I let the characters get under my skin. I thought about them throughout the week. My heart was changed because of some of them...

My favorite character was Finn (always). In the very first episode, he caught my attention. It was because of him I got addicted to the show. Because of him, I watched the show a year longer than I would have. I like what he stood for on Glee. I liked how he treated people. I like the way he worked through his troubles.

I saw the tape of his audition. If I remember correctly, he was a postman in Canada. He auditioned on drums playing on a bunch of pots & pans. He obviously caught the writer's eye too. Much of the show was written around his character.

The media tells us that he & Leah Michelle were madly in love. Now... her life goes on without him,  the love of her life. I cannot imagine the aftershock. Yes... he was an addict. She tried to help him. It seems his coworkers adored him. Perhaps his real life personality was as nice as his character (Finn).

So now people feel a need to put their 2 cents in about his life. Some (like myself) are sad. Others are disgusted. Some say he is a terrible role model and are sick & tired of this pattern in celebrity life, while others point out that this problem is world wide, not just in Hollywood.

I almost think some people think his death is less tragic because of his drug use. I have to say his death is no less tragic because drugs & alcohol were involved. His death is tragic because he was a hurting person. Period. He tried to get it right, but somewhere something failed.

His friends & family may never know what failed. It seemed he was doing well the evening of his death. His loved ones were caught off guard. They are left to pick up the pieces. Try as they might to make sense of his sad death, they likely never will.

His journey with drugs began at age 13. My hunch is that he had no idea where drugs would lead him. He hated his drug use and never wanted his fans to think it was okay to drop out of high school & do drugs. He didn't want them to think you could throw your life away & end up a movie star. Truth is... his death proves his desire to be true.  His drugs took his life. No glory in that.

His drug use didn't make him an awful person or a terrible role model. It simply made him broken like every soul on earth. For families that are concerned about their children, it provides a sad opportunity to walk down that path of destruction with them verbally. It's a learning lesson. It's consequences cannot be undone. A beautiful life was lost. That is the tragedy.

Monday, July 15, 2013

put em in a box

Today I was thinking about some of the friends I have made over the years. Being a people loving person, I realize that people are the spice of life. The older I get, the more open I seem to be to people who are unlike myself. I've always had a thing for helping those in need, but I think I have put people in a box. What a realization! Nope, I'm not proud of that.

Clicks seem to begin in grade school, especially with girls. I remember thinking early on that "so & so" was different than me. I think in my own way I boxed people up,  & my expectations for that friendship  probably helped shape the actual relationship that followed. I don't want to get into the specifics of how I boxed them up. Let's just say I wish I hadn't.

When I was a youth leader, I once showed the kids a video. The video came from Dare2Share, & it challenged the youth NOT to walk into school seeing other students with labels over their heads. It literally showed a multitude of students, each with a different label above his/her head. The labels covered a variety of categories from smart to pothead to whore. You get the picture. I think popular was in there too.

Labels are harmful because they separate people. Once you see a person as a label, you limit yourself from seeing the rest of that person. Once you see a person as a label, you automatically assume they will own certain traits. You build a safety net around yourself with limited access. Maybe you will nod your head & say hello, but that might be the extent of how that relationship evolves.

Perhaps you fear being impacted by people who are different, so you don't allow them to get beneath the surface. Sometimes people are so insecure that they have to put people who are different down. They may even sneer at them or make fun of them. Perhaps they puff themselves up to justify ignoring those who don't fit cookie cutter molds.

I'm here to say, that the more we embrace our differences, the more we grow as people. Yes, we are all different. Those who live on the outside, never really feeling accepted, never really feeling as if they belong, have so much to offer. As I age, I am making a conscious effort to embrace people who I see as different. My higher hope is that one day I won't even see them as different. My life is so enriched by these people. Our pastor recently asked us who we'd like to have seated at our banquet table in Heaven. I hope my table (if there is one) will be filled with these people.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"Follow Me."

Every now & then, I have a thought which just won't go away. It seems as though it's begging me to formulate  into a blog. I really don't feel qualified to make this statement, but I feel as though God has laid this recurrent thought on my heart for two reasons: #1 to apply to my own life... #2  to share with others.  The best way to share Jesus is by being Christlike. It's SO simple, yet we make it so difficult. Books have been written on how to share Christ. People have attended conferences. Talk radio has covered this topic. I have been trained myself. My attempts are feeble; however God blesses them.

So as I write this blog, please do not misunderstand my intent. I believe in sharing Christ verbally. If God lays it on my heart to share His Son with others, I muster up the courage & do the best I can. Thankfully, He does the rest. No regrets ever for sharing my Lord & Savior. Yes... now & then, it's a bit awkward, but there is peace in obedience. There is peace in responding to being prompted by the Holy Spirit. It never comes back void. Period.

So this recurrent thought keeps dogging me. The best way to share Christ is by being Christlike. I know this to be true because I see the attention (the thought) people give to Christlike actions. Whether it be generosity, an apology, forgiveness, caring for another a soul, lifting someone's burden, being a listening ear, selflessness, dirty work, turning the other cheek, peace in a terrible situation, supporting someone who feels misunderstood, boldness, patience, taking a stand, transparency, putting yourself out there... Whatever it is, when we reflect Christ, others notice.

When living our life for Christ becomes an issue of the heart, when the legalism is set aside, great things begin to happen. When we focus on Jesus, when we respond to others as He would, hearts are touched. When we shed our judgements of others, when we forget about our denomination, when we just try to be like Christ, people respect our faith & want it. Period.

Jesus met people at the well. He met them where they were. He didn't promise them an epiphany. He didn't say one day when you feel ready. No... He challenged them in the heat of the moment. Now is the time. Don't go home & get your ducks in a row. Don't wait until you have complete understanding. Today is the day. Now is the time. Follow Me & you will live life in a way you have never experienced. If you want adventure, Follow Me. If you want lasting peace which surpasses all understanding, Come, Follow Me.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lake House

There's a place I love. It's a quiet place where I feel just a little bit closer to Heaven. It sits on the edge of the water in a little cove. The neighbors are kind. There's a dock with boats. Sunsets are beautiful. Sunrises are pretty. The fishing is fun. We share a little beach. The dogs love to swim. It's a simple place, a quiet place, a place I love.

It's a place where you can leave your worries behind. A sort of timelessness exists. As I sit on the bow of the boat, I experience a carefree feeling that's as close to Heaven as I know. The breeze is gentle. Riding into the sunset is an experience like no other. Being on the lake in the dark, seeing the lights on the shore, accompanied by a warm breeze... if you didn't know better, you'd think you were on a tropical island.

I caught a big catfish here. It broke my line. As it flopped around on the dock, I texted my daughter & her husband for help: Big Fish. Need help! We all laughed in amazement. We are still in disbelief. Today we drug a big bunch of branches in (only to find out they had a purpose, a fish habitat).  My son-in-law dutifully put them back. I asked my neighbor if he was mad. He teasingly replied he'd tie a brick around my neck & throw me out with the fish. Yes, I think a well deserved plan. Nothing like destroying your neighbor's handiwork (the shame I feel)...

This is a place where family & friends can come & go. Memories are being made. New friendships are forming. I watch my precious grandson as his parents enjoy a few outings. Here I stay, perfectly content, looking after the sweetest thing I know, my newborn baby grandson. I examine his little hands & feet over & over. I kiss his little head a million times. I swaddle him up like a burrito. I sing to him with my out of tune voice. He doesn't seem to mind. Letting him sleep on me is calming & precious.

Tomorrow we leave. I say good-by to this heavenly place. I look forward to my return. S'mores, late night boat rides, deer on the side of the road, a big turtle slowly making it's way to the road, tangled up fishing line, sunrises & sunsets, bright stars, tropical breeze, dogs swimming, friendly people who don't seem to judge others... simple, fun, & oh so beautiful.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Just as you are...

This morning, I was having a rare moment of relaxation on my couch. Not that relaxing is rare for me, but usually I am a "get up & go" kind of person. Every now & then, however, I like to plan a still morning on my couch. The winds began blowing; the lightening began to strike. Like many others, my poor husband had to run to his truck in pouring rain. Yes... a good morning to ponder life on my couch.

Something caught my eye on the Today Show: a photographer who photographs blemishes of women (I think especially women who have had children). By blemishes, I'm not talking about acne & such. No... I'm talking about saggy skin, stretch marks, & the like. She has taken the "things in life that are so disturbing" to many women & made them a beautiful part of life.

I sat on my couch stunned! I am very disturbed right now by my own body. It's taken a beating over the last year & 1/2.  Just being honest & real here. If you've followed my blog, you know I've had chemo, a double mastectomy, radiation, ... Now I'm on a medication which is causing me to gain weight. I'm also a mid lifer. Let's face it, my body is not the body I would like to have. I don't have the will power I once had. Add my vanity to this equation, & it's downright depressing.

My sweet family is quick to remind me when I lament... "At least you're not dead." That's not exactly comforting, but in a strange sort of way it is. It brings me back to knowing the truth. I am alive & well. I have so much joy. I have 3 young adult daughters & a husband who love me. I have a grand baby! I have friends overflowing, & of course, Otis & Bella. My life is fulfilled, sometimes over fulfilled.

Yet if I dwell on my body, I am depressed. However, this artistic photographer has taken these blemishes and given them meaning. She has photographed with such skill & beauty, that she has turned them into stunning badges of honor. The women wearing these badges are grateful women. They have much to show for their bulges, stretch marks, & saggy skin. They have weathered the unthinkable changes in their youthful bodies & come out on the bright side.

No... they don't have the bodies they once had. Instead, they have aging bodies. They have blemishes they once wished they could change, cover, hide, forget... When the segment was over, Matt Lower commented that this photographer had just relieved a lot of women. If he only knew. Perhaps some of their emotional turmoil will heal. It was like saying..."It's okay. You are beautiful just as you are."

Monday, June 24, 2013

We are misled.

Today was spent with a friend. We went to lunch & then walked down to The River Front. We haven't spent time together in ages. This friend always has a smile on her face. There's nothing we can't share. We always pick up where we've left off. Being with her is like a mini vacation. I almost took a raincheck this morning because I had a few things bothering me. Funny how the minute she got in my car, I forgot my troubles. By the end of our time, I felt like a new woman.

As I entered my home, I put my little worries back in the right perspective. They will surely pass & don't deserve to rob me of my joy. I got myself busy making Puppy Chow & of course, sneaking a taste now & then. It's put away safely in my freezer, ready for our vacation. Laundry is done. Supper cleaned up.  Time to rest. It's been a beautiful day. I feel refreshed.

One person cannot change the world, but one person can change another person's world. I believe that ministry has a domino effect. Our God is a God of multiplication, & His handiwork never ceases to amaze me. I love to hear a God story where God uses one person, who touches the life of another, who reaches out to someone else... You get the picture. Trusting God never returns void. I hope that I am a part of this chain. I want to be used in an eternal way, a way in which builds the kingdom of God.

I recently came across a post on FB which I cannot get out of my head. "We do not go to church. We are the church, & we are here for the world." I believe this statement with my whole heart. Clearly, believers are to care for one another (as my friend did for me today). However, what we do outside the walls of the church is at least equally important.  If our churches are not outward focused, I believe we are misled. Reaching others for Christ is messy. It takes courage, but I believe it's the greatest use of the believer's earthly life.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Little did I know...

Today was a simple day. I spent it with my best friend. We awoke to a dog who wanted to be fed and a kitty who just wanted affection. After we got the dog fed & out for a few minutes, we decided to have breakfast in bed. Yes... we spent our Saturday morning in bed drinking a Coke (me) & a Mountain Dew (him) with our breakfast bars. Probably not the healthiest start to a day, but I'm quite sure the fun made up for our bad choices.

Next on our agenda... taking in a movie. His choice. Just what we needed. After that, we stopped for a quick dinner & came home to relax & watch the Hawks. Today was a perfect day for me. I got to spend it with my favorite person, all day. It was a lazy day, but I think it was just what the doctor ordered. Just the 2 of us, enjoying each other's company. We haven't had a day like this in a long time.

Little did we know back in 1976 when we met, the ups & downs we would face. I remember my first defining moment... I was asked to a dance by another boy. I looked him in the eye & said, "I'm sorry. I'm waiting for someone else to ask me." How could I know that one small step would be one of the best decisions of my life? How could I know at 14 or 15 what I was choosing?

Fact is... no one can know. We cannot know how our own character will develop, let alone our mate's. I am grateful my husband fell in love with my heart. If someone or something is important to me, it becomes important to him. If I have a need, he meets it if he can. If I have a want, he fulfills it even if it isn't a need. He always has a listening ear. His advice is always sound.

I am thankful that we enjoy the simple things in life. Being together is enough. Anything added to that is frosting on the cake. We've had difficult days throughout our journey. We've had heart breaking days. We've faced the unknown. We've been hurt. But when I look back, I see how we've grown together through thick & thin. My respect for him is beyond the respect I have for any other person on this earth. Little did I know...

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Yesterday was quite a day! Waiting until 4:30 for surgery is not easy for me. I awoke jittery from the get-go. I didn't expect this, because I wasn't even dreading my surgery. Funny how the body can react physically even when the mind is unaware of the toll our circumstances are taking on us. My husband & I went out for breakfast since my pre op instructions said no food/drink 8 hours prior to surgery. Looking back, I am sure this was a good decision. I would have been more hypoglycemic than I was had I not eaten breakfast & had my ice tea. Being hypoglycemic on top of nervous is a sickly combination for me.

Of course... waiting for surgery is inevitable. The staff asks you the same set of questions 3 times that they already asked you twice on the phone. It's quite a list when you have my health history. After you get your blood pressure & other stats recorded, you are ready to go. However, you wait. I am thankful I like my doctor. He is worth the wait, & I credit him for my not dreading my surgery. He is not only skilled; he is always kind. That combination takes away my fear.

I don't think I'd be human if I didn't admit that going through days like yesterday reopen some of my past fears. I feel as though I have put so much behind me & moved on... Then... surgery day arrives, & somehow those old feelings creep right back into my brain & gnaw at me. I think perhaps this contributed to my jitteriness. I begin asking my husband questions like... Well... I don't really want to put them in writing. He doesn't give me "feel good" answers like he used to. We are both too in touch with reality to find any comfort in false security.

So here's what I enjoyed yesterday: a wonderful doctor whom I trust, a kind nurse when I awoke from surgery, & my sweet husband. The Snack Pack pudding was pretty good too. My husband took the whole day off because we thought my surgery would be earlier in the day. So... we got up early & went out for breakfast. I had one of my favorite items & some ice tea to jump start my day. We came home, & I went on a cooking spree so I'd have a few healthy things to eat over the next few days. The most taxing part of recovery for me is not being able to use my arms. I miss them.

Finally, the time for my surgery arrived. We waited, & we waited. That's expected. That's just how it goes. However, my husband randomly decided to serenade me by singing my favorite "Oldies." As I sat there in my gown all hooked up to my IV, he sang to me & tapped his foot to get the rhythm going. I was in my glory. His voice is such a comfort to me. I'd do it again today just to have him sing to me.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


In my last blog, I mentioned the hardships of others, but I did not elaborate. I believe it is only fair to tell my own stories, yet sometimes, I am so tempted to share the difficulties others face. My heart bleeds for them, & I wish I could do more. Of course, caring for others takes the focus off of your own troubles, & at the very least, puts them in perspective.

Tomorrow I head off for surgery for more reconstruction. I'm not really dreading it. I'm just sad it will keep me from my new grandson for a few days. It will hinder my lifting him for a few weeks. I'm beginning to wonder why on earth I scheduled this surgery so close to my grand baby's birth. I guess there is never a good time for surgery.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I got to spend my mom's 83rd birthday with her. We truly enjoyed our time together. We laughed on & off throughout the whole visit. When it came time for me to leave, she was more than teary eyed. Good-byes have always been hard for her. It seems the older she gets, the more pitiful our good-byes become.

About 10 minutes before our departure, my mother gave me her "Shirley Temple" doll.  Yes, on her birthday, she gave me a treasure! Needless to say, I was touched. It was hard for me to take her beloved doll, but I knew it was the right thing to do. After all, I can always take "Shirley" back if she is missed. It's hard for my mom to part with her treasures. Not only did she catch me off guard, she gave me something very meaningful.

My mother's trials are hard. As she moves into her current phase of life, so many things are out of control. Her uncertainties are too numerous to mention. Oh how I wish I could make her better. I wish I could dote on her every day. Our times together are too short & far between. Daily, I pray for her; I thank God for her.

It's time for me to go to bead, so I can face my surgery tomorrow. Recovery will take some time, but other than that, I should be fine. I must get up early so I can eat a lil something as my surgery isn't until much later in the day. Hopefully, all will go well. Someone dear to my heart is having an MRI tomorrow. My mind will be on her...

Friday, May 31, 2013

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

I've missed blogging over the past week, but my life has suddenly become very busy. It reminds me of the old days. I am having surgery next week so maybe that will slow my pace for a few days. Nothing major, just a little needed reconstruction. It took almost a year, but I now have the very early stages of lymphedema. It is not much of a concern at this point. It is in my left arm, of course (the arm that had lymph nodes removed & was radiated). Really... this is no surprise.

Life is beautiful, but at the same time, it is full of hardship. I'm not talking about my own hardships, rather the hardships of others. A few nights ago, I attended a Baccalaureate service for the graduates in my community. It was a very meaningful time for me. I got to see some of my former youth from my youth leader years. Testimonies were shared; beautiful worship took place. Tears came to my eyes. It made me miss those precious youth leader years, truly one of the most fulfilling times of my life.

I always remember Dr Seuss when I think of the fun I had as a youth leader. "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." So true & yet sometimes so difficult. One of the graduates unexpectedly shared a few thoughts concerning the impact his youth leaders had on him. I did not expect a mention, & that is what moved me to tears. I will never cease to be amazed to find out that God used me when I was unaware. Nothing is more meaningful to me than that. Being used by God is my greatest joy. Finding out years later reminds me that it was real. It was precious.

Today I held my adorable grandson for an hour while he slept. Truly, the best part of my day. I can't explain the contentment I feel when I hold this precious little being. He likes to snuggle up right by my neck, & I just love to kiss his little head & feel his cheek against mine. I can't seem to get enough of this. He is 3 weeks old now. He is filling out a little, not quite so frail. He can lift his head. I look at him, & I can only be thankful. He is more than I deserve.

Tomorrow I will spend with my mom. She is having a birthday, & I am thankful I can make a quick trip to be with her on her birthday. I thank God for her every day of my life. Without her, I would not be me. I'm a lot like her. I even look like her. However, she is gifted musically, & I am gifted in other ways. I did not get the music gene. We do have a similar sense of humor. She always made me laugh. She taught me how to be a mama & now the cycle has gone full circle. I remember the day she left after being with me for a week. My firstborn was depending on me, & all I knew was what my mother just taught me. It was enough.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

False Security...

This morning I finally got up after a long somewhat sleepless night. What's bothering me? I don't really know, & such is a life with anxiety. At least I am able to recognize the tide that rolls in without an invitation. Some of my old fears have creeped under my skin, just deep enough to eat at me. At first glance, it panics me. Then... after a little processing, I realize I've once again allowed a false security to lure me into its trap. I don't want to live like this. No... I don't.

I want to place myself in the ONLY security that's real, my Father in Heaven. Sometimes, I think we think we can beat death. We can eat the right foods, give up all our vices, live a clean life, exercise... or at least we can avoid bringing disease on ourselves if we do our best to care for our bodies in a healthy manner. I'd like to believe in these theories, & I do. However, doing the right thing (whatever it is) does not guarantee anything but a false security & a peace of mind that we have done our best.

Disease can still take hold of our bodies when we least expect it. It did me on more than one occasion in more than one way. I don't begrudge the diseases I have because they make me a better person. They give me the ability to see life from a deeper perspective. But... I'm not gonna lie. They do heap anxiety on top of the anxiety I already own. They cause me to evaluate my life, my motivation, my trust, my joy, my fear, my reality...

Actually, I have escaped this routine for a few months. Unusual for me. However, for some odd reason, last night I felt the winds begin to change. I felt the tide rolling in. So, I go back to the ONLY REAL thing I know, my faith. I remind myself that my days are numbered (as are everybody's). This brings me great peace because I know nothing will come my way that God hasn't at the very least, allowed.

I know He will not allow me to be taken until it is my time. Why? Because "the Lord gives, & the Lord takes." He has the whole picture, & I must "walk by faith not by sight." After all, my sight is not 20/20. His is. I only see a poor reflection (as if looking in a mirror). He has the whole picture. He designed my life, & He owns it, not me. So, on this Thursday morning, I place myself back in the palm of God's hand, my ONLY REAL security. There, I will rest.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I am mesmerized by him. I love to watch his every little movement. His little facial expressions send me to the moon. His little piggies are so cute. I love to bathe him, to wrap him up in his little hooded towel & cuddle him. I love to watch him sleep. I love to snuggle him to my neck. I love to feel his baby skin against my cheek. I just can't seem to get enough of him.

This little guy has completely stolen my heart. It was love at first sight. The more I am with him, the more I love him. Thinking of him warms my heart. He is so fragile. His skin is so soft. He is so dependent. Amazingly, he is comforted by touch. He likes music, yes... he seems to have a favorite.

He makes the cutest little noises. Sometimes I hear a tiny sigh or a slight squeak. Other times, I think he must be stretching. And... then there are those moments when he needs to burp. Maybe his diaper needs changing, or perhaps he's hungry. Sometimes it's hard to tell.

Just looking at him brings me closer to knowing God. His tiny body looks as though he is still in his mommy's womb. His movements seem to mimic those which took place just a few days earlier before he made his entrance into the world. Thinking about him warms my heart. Looking at him mesmerizes me. Holding him soothes me. His little hands are precious.

He is a precious little miracle. He has a Creator. He has a purpose. He defines cuteness. He is a gift. He is intricately made. He has 10 little fingers & 10 little toes. He has a little head with a smooth covering of hair. He has traits from each parent. Yet... he is his own little person. He has his own little personality. Already, he can be comforted. He is precious...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I can't take my eyes off of him.

Today was The Race for The Cure 2013. A year ago I walked as a Survivor, but I felt like a fighter. I was still undergoing radiation, & I didn't know if I would have the stamina to get through The Race. I made it! I was truly blessed by the whole event. I had much apprehension last year because I didn't know how I would handle the day emotionally. To my surprise, I felt empowered. I expected to feel the opposite.

This year, I walked The Race with a whole new appreciation for my life. As the year has passed, one day at a time, I can look back and see growth. I have regained my strength. I never even considered not being able to finish today's race. As I remembered my sweet friend in a wheel chair last year, I met up with her along the way today. She was sporting a tutu & all smiles. No wheel chair for her this year!

I have become passionate about my cause because I see the horrible effects of this journey called cancer. It blows my mind that I can see such a terrible disease as a blessing & even thank God for allowing me or even causing me to walk this journey. I am a changed woman not only physically but emotionally & spiritually too. I wouldn't trade 2 out of 3. I bet you can guess which one I would trade.

This year I walked The Race for my dear Survivor friends & fighters. I walked for future patients. Lastly, I walked for myself.  I don't feel guilty that my cause gets so much hype,  no... not anymore. Since my diagnosis, I have met so many women on this journey. I have been aware of beautiful women who have finished their fight to pass into Heaven, & a few friends have been recently diagnosed. Even though I thank God for my journey, I wouldn't wish it on anyone,

One thing that saddens me the most is the fact that more & more younger women are being diagnosed. This statistic makes me shudder.   I am so grateful that I got to be 49 before I was diagnosed. I am grateful my 3 daughters were not young girls or babies. I had the joy of raising them without what I once considered a heavy cloud.

I have spent the year trying to evaluate what I might have done to cause cancer. Truth is... I will never know. There are too many factors. Perhaps in my case, it's best that I can only speculate. Also, I never received a complete diagnosis. I was denied a PET scan. Over time, I have come to realize that the unknown is a necessary element of my journey. It gives my faith a whole new meaning.

Today, I walked as a first time Grandma! Wow... a year ago, my lil grandson was not part of the picture. I have been a recipient from current research & am even a part of a clinical trial. My life exists now because of this research. Without it, I would not be here to walk The Race or see my precious lil grandson. I can't take my eyes off of him.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Yesterday was a day I'll never forget... we became Grandma & Papa! Amazing how the minute we laid eyes on our new little grandson, our hearts melted. There he was in his small glass bassinet, lying on his back, content as could be, with his tiny hands & feet moving about, just as they did a few hours earlier inside his Mama's womb. Oh... the miracle of childbirth. Takes your breath away!

A few feet away in a hospital bed lie one very exhausted new Mama. It had been a long, hard labor, but with the loving company of her sweet husband, she did it! She gave birth to a most precious lil baby boy. For 9 months, we've been anticipating this moment. It finally came! Yes... most definitely worth the wait!

He seems to be a combination of Mommy & Daddy with his own little twist, of course. He has a smooth brown covering of hair. His little face defines cuteness. He has 10 little toes & 10 little fingers. His tiny body is adorable. Falling in love with him is not only natural but unavoidable. The moment you see him, something unmistakeable happens. Your heart is stolen. You not only feel it, but you can see it. A look of astonishment & love fell upon each of us as we had our moment with him. An effortless bond seemed to already exist. I can't explain it.

When my moment came, I held this pure little bundle of love. It doesn't get much better than this. I held his cheek to my cheek. Oh... his soft baby skin. I couldn't wait to feel his face against mine. A touch of Heaven was mine to behold. I savored my moment.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The countdown is on!

Yes... the countdown is on! One of the most precious days of my life is only 3 days away, Race for The Cure, and it's trumped by an even more breathtaking event, the birth of my first grandchild. Oh me, I can hardly stand the excitement! I don't know how this is possible, but I think I am even more excited than when it was me about to give birth.

According to my calculations, Little Jaxon should be here by Friday but hopefully tomorrow. I just can't wait to meet him! I have a picture in my mind of what he will look like, just like a little miniature version of his Daddy. I think he will be the cutest thing I have ever seen. I can't wait to hold him, snuggle him, & comfort him.

I can't wait to see my son-in-law & daughter be parents. They have amazed me as they have prepared for their little boy. It's been precious watching their story unfold. Since the day my daughter became pregnant, her mothering instincts took hold. She has so carefully walked this 9 month journey. It hasn't been easy, but she has risen to every detail of this occasion.

The baby's Daddy on the other hand has lovingly prepared the nursery. It is delightful. The colors are beautiful. He has used the space wisely. He even designed the baby's name above the crib. He hung the curtains & adorned them with monkeys to match the theme. All the while, he cared for his wife, & met her every need. He has attended every appointment by hers side. I know she is in good hands.

So as I walk through the next 24 hours, I will be in constant prayer. I am praying for my daughter's health, an uncomplicated delivery, for Daddy's nerves, and of course, for my sweet lil Grandson. A year ago, I was undergoing the most difficult part of my journey, radiation. I was down, so down. I was sick with a horrible cold. I was in such pain from the radiation. However, I always knew there were brighter days ahead.

So... these are the brighter days, I'm gonna be Grandma! Wow from cancer to a new lil life! And... I'm here to witness this miracle. I'm well. I'm happy. I'm alive. I've never  been more alive! The past 12 month have overflowed with joy... new friends, my middle daughter's precious new home, my youngest daughter's exciting major change, & now I'm gonna be Grandma! Thank you, God!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

one by one

Today something unexpected happened. I love that I have a life that allows for spontaneity. Okay... so I wasn't able to cook the dinner I had planned. I cheated & bought pre made salads. My trade-off? Time spent with a beautiful person. Worth the trade off? Most definitely!

I have known this friend for quite some time, probably 10 years. I've always admired her. I never had to try to like her. I just did. The more I know her, the more I love her. The more she shares her life with me, the more amazed I become. She lives a life I will likely never know (only through her).

When I was sick, she offered to come & stay with me. Recently, she took a trip with me. She was my angel. I invited her to share her story (which she did), but she also tended to me. She quietly checked in with me now & then just to see how I was fairing.

When problems arose, she solved them. She is selfless. She is bright. She is a handy man. She lives a servant life with a heart for the hurting. She is fearless. She is a beautiful rose. As her petals are peeled away one by one, her inner beauty is revealed. Her heart for Jesus is radiant. It's what makes her so beautiful.

As she looks back on her life, she also is amazed. Her life has not been easy, but God has provided for each need just as it arose. He has guided her decisions. He has protected her. He gave her hope & definitely a sense of humor. The things that have happened in her life could only happen to her.

I don't think anyone could be prepared for some of the cards she's been dealt. However, a relationship with Christ covered the details. No... it hasn't been an easy journey, but it's certainly not been boring. Life isn't about her, it's about the people God puts in her path. Thank you, Friend, for sharing today with me.

written for me dear friend & soul mate: Sheree

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Today as I passed a church on the highway, I scrambled to write down the words on the marquis. Failure is a detour, not a dead end. I began to ponder these words, & suddenly my mind was flooded with thoughts. Sometimes I find it hard to keep up with my thoughts...

I visualized a mission trip my youth group took about 5 years ago. We had much rain (seems familiar). Our trip which normally took 5 hours, took about 9 hours. We had detour upon detour. Instead of staying on the main route, we ventured through many small towns.

As we passed through these little towns, we drove very slowly. People were out everywhere helping each other. One man was draining water from his yard across the street to his neighbor's yard. I didn't completely understand, but I could see they were in this "mess" together, helping one another out.

I remember even chatting with a few people along the way. They were putting their belongings out to dry & trying to salvage whatever they could. Yes... our detour almost doubled our travel time. However, I felt like what I saw along the way was history in the making. It told a story I could never have seen without the detour.

I've had a few detours in my life, & I've known others to take a few detours too. Some say cancer is a detour. Perhaps it's a broken relationship, a job loss, or a terrible mistake. Whatever the detour, there are sights to see along the way. Without the detour, these experiences would be lost.

Monday, April 29, 2013

"Puff the Magic Dragon"

When I was in grade school, I had a favorite teacher who would bring her guitar to school & sing songs. One of her favorites (& mine) was "Puff the Magic Dragon." As a child, I didn't really understand the meaning of this song, I just liked it. Yesterday, I had an experience which brought "Puff" to mind with almost more meaning than I could handle.

After living in our home for 17 years, I decided it was time to clean our basement. This was a monumental job for me. I have been procrastinating for months.  For some reason, last Friday, I decided to get started. As with most projects, getting started is the hardest part. Once I started, I couldn't seem to stop.

Last night, it was time to tackle underneath the stair well. This space was the American Girl Club House for my 2 youngest daughters. It was plenty big for 2 little girls, their Bitty Babies, their American Girl Dolls, horses, & paraphernalia. They spent hours in their clubhouse playing life. They fed their dolls, dressed them, taught them, fixed their hair, & cared for them with all their might.

Every Birthday & Christmas involved an American Girl doll, outfit, or other necessity. Last night as I crawled beneath the stairwell, precious memories flooded my soul. Just as the song said, "Little Jackie Paper came no more." The clubhouse was left just how they played that last day, probably 13 or so years ago. Babies were in their beds. Food was on the highchair. The horse was in his stall. The American Girls were dressed in their pretty outfits. Of course, their hair was even fixed. A little birthday cake still plays "Happy Birthday" when wound. I just sat in amazement.

I wanted to pause & relive a few memories. I saw my 2 pretty little girls playing life. I pictured them doing their dolls' hair, feeding them, tucking them in, & taking it all very seriously. Life is strange. That was my life watching them play at life. Now... I'm watching them live life. My oldest is about to have a baby (any day now). My middle daughter just moved into a home with her sweet husband. The youngest is away at school, but I've no doubt her day will come.

Watching them play life was fun. Yes... we had our moments, but the precious times were plenty. I savored those moments then, & last night I relived them, still savoring them. As my little grandson is about to arrive, there is excitement in the air. As my middle daughter settles into her home, there is delight in their new life. Beautiful flowers are springing up everywhere. Their dog now has a yard to run & explore. They even have a little fish pond. I feel so blessed to witness such joy.

As I reminisced on the floor of the clubhouse, I was overwhelmed by the passage of time. It was as if time was frozen in that clubhouse. It took me back (almost as if I could actually see them caring for their dollies). The memories are oh so sweet. The reality is just as sweet. Yes... time has passed. Little Jackie Paper is all grown up. I remember the lump that used to form in my throat as a young child. When Puff sadly slipped into his cave, I could hardly take it. Last night, as I washed up the Bitty Babies & tended to the American Girls, I marveled at real life. No... oddly enough I didn't have a lump in my throat. I just felt thankful.