It would be so loverly to be asleep at 12:49 - particularly after taking an Ambien CR at 8:00 and my alarm takes off at 6:30. Oh the delights of insomnia. I bet I'm supposed to be doing something useful during this time. Hmmmmmm.....
Leaving the alarm in a position where it is disabled from buzzing, vibrating or giving off a deep-sea sonar sound that would make any submarine sailor stalk to attention is...one of my favorite things! Saturday was no different.
I flicked through the local channels in an attempt to capture a glimpse of what kind of weather might be thrashing in to our region, I then fast-forwarded my finger action to get me into the 1,000 range for HD, ATT style, to check in on the HG network. I like House Hunters and redecorating ditties, but the whole work out in the yard with boots and gloves and chiggars - appeals to me only a little less than food poisoning. The next established Saturday morning habit, snow or no snow, is to see if I can beat the McDonalds breakfast ending deadline.
Seriously, you can drive up, hear the crazy little male talking pole say, "Welcome to McDonalds. You can enjoy a nice, hot bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon raisons and berries on it...served all day long. I will take your order as soon as you are ready." The pause is sometimes uncomfortable for me...is it for you? And then comes the FEMALE voice, speaking above a1 and usually through her adnoids, "May I help you?" They're quite efficient from there and I get my standard bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit when i'm in I'LL-DO-WHAT-I-WANT mode; yogurt, oatmeal (both without the nuts and berries . . . blech) when I'm in my DO-WHAT-I-OUGHTA mode, or double order of bacon and double order of round eggs when I'm in my BETTER-LEAVE-OUT-OUT-CARBS-AND-DOWNLOAD-JUST-ON-PROTEINS-TODAY mental case zone. Well, that Saturday the decision was the latter....until that nasally little voice chirped, "We are no longer serving breakfast." ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? From the time he asks to help me to the moment I give my order, they change from breakfast to lunch menus and I have to return to...square one.
Deciding to eat my fish sandwich WITHOUT MAYO OR TARTAR SAUCE - and....fries (that was a whisper word), I backed my sweet little red 230SLK two-seater into the furthest-most parking space, right next to an already parked and vacated BMW 7 series, and pulled out my Kindle - reading the lastest download from Dr. Laura Schlessinger's most recent book: Surviving A Shark Attack On Land! I figured everyone probably needed to jetison through this self-help book! :0 So I was while I tanked up on less-than-healthy food.
And while I was...around came this appearing-to-be innocent red truck with miniscule writing in a font only a queen and her magnifying glass could read magnetted to the door - peppering large, hard, chunks of black, white and clear salt! It was spewing forth it's stuff from it's tail section all over my car! It was peppering out of it hard enough, it sounded like a hail storm and I was relatively certain I was going to lose a headlight or get some serious paint chip damage. I watched him go by - sandblasting (with salt) all the other cars in the lot - BMW included - and I'm thinking . . . I'm not too happy about this. Hopefully he has completed his aggravating chore. But no. The next time he skirted around the restaurant, he was a full car width closer to me - slingin salt that sounded like a meteor rock storm against my car! I just about got out and shook a finger or two, but figured the salt would sting much like if someone were chucking salt at me from a salt thrower on the back of a pick up truck in a McDonalds parking lot!
Instead, I backed up into a different stall as he circulated yet a third time! I watched him swing right into the place where I'd been parking, backed up, went forward, then back again - dumping his load nice and snuggly into that corner I'd just vacated. I came to the conclusion he was just pushing it closer and closer on every round to rush me out of there rather than just tap his horn, roll down his window while I did the same, and maybe just kindly say, "I'd like to cover that area where you are parked. If you wouldn't mind slipping over here to the east, then I can get in and get out right away." Yup THAT would be a considerate thing to do. I do so wish I'd written down the name being advertised on the door of the truck so I could warn readers: ANYTIME YOU SEE SO N SO'S SNOW SERVICE - SCRAM!
While dodging the salt lick shards, my friend Pauline calls to invite me to a movie latter in the afternoon. I get excited about that, but am in my new parking stall at McDonalds, still have my lunch instead of breakfast menu item in my hand, diet coke in the tray and I decide I have plenty of time to sit in the semi-sunshine and catch up on my Kindle collection. Let me cypher for a second.... I'm thinking they stop serving breakfast at 10:30 and I just barely made it there by the hair of my chinny chin chin (but that's another story) and I get absorbed in this book. Before I know it - it's nearly time to meet her at the theater! I AM dressed, but much like a bridge dweller minus a sign, my teeth aren't brushed, my hair is exactly what it looked like when I woke up, and I don't have one iota of make up on a face that needs more than one iota of attention on make up. So...what's a mother to do?
WALGREENS to the rescue!!! I head toward the theater on 7 hiway, whipping into the Walgreens there on the corner - unsure of what I would be returning to the car with - but excited that new things were going to be mine quite within the next few minutes. I love new make up.
Out I came - with $40-some dollars less in my debit account, but an excitingly full bag heavy with new products! I'm so excited by this.
I decide the first thing I need to do is brush my teeth - but that's not something I was interested in doing right there beneath the video surveilance cameras - ya know? So, in respect to the security people who must review the hours of video - the customers exiting or entering the building and the pharmacy drive throughers, I pulled in next to the Planet Aid box. You know, the yellow rectangle that takes things to others on the planet who need them more than we? It's out of the line of traffic, it's away from the building, the surveillance camera isn't filming and I'm out of the way enough to brush my teeth. I mean really, you can't get any further from the building without changing parking lots. The snow was piled high by the scrapers so I was hidden in there pretty securely - certain I wouldn't gross anyone out while I brushed my bucks. I'd kept my McDonalds cup to turn it into a spit cup, I already had a bottled water rolling around on the floor for rinse, and I'd just purchased a travel size tube of Scope induced paste and a $.99 soft bristle baby brush. Yessireee - I'm gonna gitter dun!
Just as I get my mouth all full of what I learn is FOAMING paste, the brush and giving my tongue a good once over; white foaming Crest was seeping out of the corners of my mouth like a rabid dog - NOT KIDDING! I can handle this - just quick get the bottled Ozarka, swish a little and......A single lady in a black Pontiac Sport pulls in right beside me! Let me say that to you again....A single lady in a black Pontiac Sport pulls in right beside me! There is an ENTIRE, UNUSED, SNOW-CLEARED, CLOSE-TO-THE-DOOR PARKING LOT SURROUNDING ME and she chooses this SPOT TO PARK! REALLY? Why not choose one ON EITHER THE EAST AND NORTH SIDE OF THE STORE? Oh no.... she yanks the old black Betty right beside me!! ARE YOU KIDDING? She turned off the motor, she looks over, nods and gives me a lil one-finger acknowledgement, I nod with the foamy toothpast seeping (and burning) out of my mouth, brush still in there burning like lit cinnamon oil mixed with jalapeno juice - and now - I have to dispose of this mouthful of disgust with someone watching me! And she WAS watching. I first convince myself, it's her fault she parked clear out here in the no-mans-land portion of the parking lot so if she gets grossed out watching me rinse and spit into the cup, then drain it onto the street - then too bad, so sad for her. But then, she opened up a sandwich bag from what appeared to be Backyard Burgers, takes a big lucious bite of a burger, tucking a spicy fry right in after it and I didn't have the heart to spew into my Mickey Dee's cup.
Finally, I figured if I leaned my back to the drivers-side door, faced as southerly as possible, worked up the rinse without a backwash that had the visual potential to gag a maggot, and then spit into my cup - I was home free. And...I rather needed to be home free pretty quick - the stuff was burning my mouth and this whole sneaky-but-no-longer-sneak ordeaol wasn't getting funny.
Just about the time I lifted the bottle of Ozarka to my foaming and now en fuego lips, ANOTHER CAR PULLS UP - must've been a combination four-wheel-drive and ego because THIS DUDE takes it up and over like he's doing a commercial for RAM TOUGH! Nobody should've been able to get in there between me, the planet aid box and the 8 foot pile of snow - thank you snow plow - oh but he did and then I decide - must I wait until he climbs the snow mountain, makes his trips to deliver his planet some aid or just go ahead and rinse and spit. Clearly, I'm running out of time to meet my friend at the movies - better just swish, spit and hide...so that's what I did. After shoving my head under the dash, pretending I was trying to find something under the floor mat, I got the mickey d's cup nice and full, opened my door and shared the contents with the asphault beside my little jitney, then started on the application of my new make up. I didn't really care if anyone saw me put on make up - that's what we do - but we don't usually brush our teeth in a parking lot with Ozarka water, a mcdonalds cup, scope-induced Crest, a Sponge Bob Square Pants soft bristle brush and a very observant audience.
The remaider of the day was fun. Really enjoyed the movie HOW DID YOU KNOW with Jack Nickelson, Owen Wilson and Reese Witherspoon. I would say mostly a chick flick - but cute and though R, not offensive except in one short scene when Jack loses his verbal temper. I would see it again if anyone's interested - I'll traipse along with ya!
All is good now...except for the MiMi look I get when I use the teal eye shadow I chose in my buying frenzy that Saturday. To wear it or not is the question. I think.... I....... don't know.
DOC SAYS WALK! Well, not exactly. I saw Dr. Jones yesterday with my GVSD and Pauline-loaned wheelchair (because it was waaaaaaay too far for this heiffer to walk on "only one leg...") and he was impressed with my bend and stretch (reach for the sky...stand on tippee toes oh so high!), so now I get to "SLOWLY OR IT'LL BLOW UP ON YOU" add weight to it. I have to "FIRE THOSE QUADS!" and keep icing and elevating because there's still fluid on my knee. He doesn't want me actually even trying to walk until I'm able to stand and balance on my right leg without an aide. Sounds impossible to me, right now, but it gives me a goal to work toward! "IF" in two to three weeks, I can walk without limping (he said dragging it or trying to walk while favoring it will only create more problems with my other knee, back or hip - - and don't want that!) and all the swelling is gone, THEN I'll go in, see him again, and he'll start me on physical therapy.
Many of you have written asking if I can get up and move around, yet. The answer is...you can't put me on the couch this close to the KITCHEN and not expect me to ambulate! I spend probably 95% of the time reading, writing or sleeping (although that has diminished considerably since I've had no pain meds for several days now) and the rest of the time I'm not sure what I do. LOL Brain fog, I suppose.
My sister, Pam and my mom have both brought meals over two different times - yum to the max, LeAnn, David and their boys brought Zarda's barbeque dinner one night, Mary Franco delighted us with the most amazing home made brownies with Bryers ice cream, Jeanne Peve has visited twice already(second time with little Tucker) and brought all sorts of goodies! (I read that book the next day - it was a good addition to entertainment opportunities) Kathy Weekley, who, bless her heart, is going through serious chemo therapy herself, came out and visited from Belton, brought a beautiful pink rose - our hearts - that is as big as a softball - I'm not gonna lie and other gifts with memories included; Pauline, in addition to the wheel chair find and delivery, treated us with still-warm, home made chocolate chip and pecan cookies and for some reason, seems to be up for just sitting, visiting and playing board (probably BORED) games with me...and last but not least, our speech pathologist from school, LIZ, her husband and sweet baby girl, Charlotte, provided an Italian feast for our Sunday afternoon brunch that was as memorable as can be. So you can see...I'm not suffering and great friends have helped to keep me chubsblubs and satisfied! :) THANK YOU everyone for the food, fun, cards and prayers. My heart is as touched as my knee!
Our Jess is on project in Santa Fe, NM...has been for a little over a month now (but she comes back to her place in Olathe for the weekends - sometimes.) Anyway, last week, she asked the valet who was in the big motor coaches that were in the parking lot and it was some RED HAT society so the hotel was crawling with sweet lil old ladies. Last night when she checked in, another bevy of coaches were in the lot so again, she asked the same question. Lo and behold, it was .....
So, she asks at the front desk if she could leave him a message. They, of course, denied her that opportunity, so she explained that they're good friends, blah blah blah, which made no difference to them. I'm sure they've heard everything, but, they knew Jess because she stays the same place all the time, so they said they'd tell him IF they saw him. LOL She thanked them but just said she'd call his mom and get the info. So she calls me for Beth's phone number, calls her, who in turn calls David, who then called Jess. They met at the pool, he lounged in the chair and she swam laps, then he invited her to go to see HANGOVER with him and the band. He said he hoped she had a car there because they "hate to have to take public transportation," so after the movie, they drove around, grabbed a bite to eat, then went back to the motor coach and hung out and it wasn't until 4:00 this morning that she pinged me to say that she's going to the sold-out concert tonight. LOL What a fun story, eh?
She's coming home for the 4th - didn't get to last year because she was in Mexico and too sick to travel - so she'll be fun to have at home, loaded, I'm sure, with entertaining and embellished stories! I'll probably find yellow tennis balls on my walker when she's in town, too....the booger that she is! :) I love boogers, though!
OK...TWO, TWO, TWO STORIES AND DONE!
My chubs blubs old leg was feeling significantly weird all night and all day today; so I called Dr. Jone's office late this afternoon. My knee has felt different, for lack of a more concise adjective, today than every other day since surgery last Wednesday. I've felt what I would consider typical post-surgery quirks-from-tweeks up until last night. Sometimes I felt the actual incision and it burned like a newly-skinned knee in bath water, sometimes it was muscle burn like I imagine trigiminal neuralgia feels - only on my thigh, and sometimes it was just general wish-this-would-go-away discomfort, but none of it was weird. Last night, though, it was throbbing deep inside my knee and almost felt like it was strangulating the back of my knee and the lower half of my leg. You know how it feels if you wrap a rubberband around a finger tip? Well, that's as close to the feeling I can come to describing the weirdness.
There could be a cause. Yesterday we had a short but powerfully windy storm, several called a microburst, ravage the area between 6 and 6:30 in the morning and it wiped out our electricity. While in the act of it's "wiping," not only did the lack of power eliminate our much-needed, much-desired air conditioning, it also prohibited the use of my PolarCare ice circulating system on my knee. I had some frozen ice bags that I used, but in the heat of the house, those frozen bags lasted about as long as my attention span. Mike and I decided to get out of the house close to dinner time and enjoy some dinner in air conditioning somewhere, so we cruised to Lee's Summit and Mr. Sushi's menu fit the bill. I'm a total clutz when it comes to maneuvering my massivness without being able to put any weight on my right foot, so I'm sure it was not the best of ideas, but when we got home, the electricity had returned (THANK YOU KCP&L POWER CREWS) and my PolarCare was once again, useable. I'm not gonna lie to ya, it felt great to lay down, get hooked up to ice and get that knee in the air.
Dr. Jones himself, called me back within 30 minutes, to check on me. (Impressive, eh?) It was his assumption that being up and not having it iced or elevated yesterday is probably why it's bothering today. He added, "We did an awful lot of work in there - I wouldn't be surprised if that swelling, bruising and pain didn't last at least 10 days." But he also questioned if my calf was hurting, stating that, "you've got what it takes for us to watch for blood clots." His last instruction was, "IF this feeling doesn't go away within a day or so, after continually icing and elevating and staying off of it, I need you to call for an appointment to have a Doppler test to rule out a blood clot behind your knee."
Needless to say, I'll not be doing any cruising anytime soon and I'll stop going out - even if the house is hot - I will keep the leg propped above my heart and make sure the ice water keeps flowing. I have no intentions of complicating this recovery with something complex like a blood clot! Ya know?
Lots of you have written and called asking if there's anything I need. Well, basically, the answer has been NOPE - but THANK YOU! Now, after some consideration, I'll just go ahead and throw this out there...if you have a freezer full of old ice to spare, if you just happen to be defrosting your fridge or have an ice maker that can keep up with your supply and demand...and if you're in the area, we go through about 25 pounds of ice every 24 hours. We'll take icy donations - any shape, size or amount, because every little bit saves Mike a trip to Quik Trip or Price Chopper. LOL
K...Vicodin is keeking inn und im giteng kinda sweepy sew em gonto lay down n take w litwwl mapaahanamp som ee a
mike is fetching good drugs, ice and lunch
mark is with me. sleeping, but with me. night shift pharmacists definitely need their snooze!
both guys in my life had to have made a herculean effort to get my Lardo DiVinci mass up the two stairs and into the house! Bless them and their hernias.
In spite of the report of a left axial deviation on yesterday's ekg that held up the plans for about four hours, my ticker kept tickin with no concerns - and actually mentioned that the EKG from yesterday was no different from my last abnormal ekg two years ago - so abnormal seems to be not abnormal for me - while abnormal tends to mesh well with people's impression of me.
time for more Vicodin. NO REALLY (borrowed from Melanie C.)
DEFINITELY TIME for more pain medicine. I can take the next batch at 1:00! (Can't wait - but will have to until the hubby completes his hunter-gatherer routine.)
Glad it's over! She exclaimed (while under the influence of some really fine prescriptiony stuff) ending her sentence with a preposition!
I can't put any weight on it for at least ten days - which makes ambulating a real pain in the leg! ...and arms...and wrist...and shoulders...and chest...all of which have been elaborately ignored since my other 8 surgeries in the past 20-some months and therefore are as muscle laden as spaghetti sans sauce.
I have crutches (as a matter of Jess history), a walker (Hopefully,Aetna will make it so a thank you to them is appropriate) and a wheel chair (thanks to a Grain Valley School District loan). Consequently, our livingroom resembles one JOHN KNOX village storage facility.
I have an ice chest with an electric pump that circulates freezing cold water around my recently-carved fat knee. Swelling and bruising are expected to be significant, I understand. The longer I lay here, leg propped and fighting off an intense urge to let zzzzzzzzzzzzzz's dictate my life, I become increasingly aware of the promise to swell. My ace bandage just keeps getting tighter and tighter (just like my clothes!) Keeping up with the supply and demand for ice on this lil' contraption may prove to be a step for any stepper (of which I am NOT!)
Dr Jones (orthopaedic surgeon extraordinaire) said the petella, femur, tibia bone-against-bone was "remarkable" and "no wonder you were in so much pain." Allow me to interject here, I appreciate having my complaints validated by the surgeon, so my whiney, complaining hypochondriacal (just made up that word) modality over the past couple of years wasn't for naught.
I am too sleepy, I really have no clue if what i've written makes any sense at all or if it'll be a practice in deciphering for you recipients. Either way, I'm going to sleep right now....
Thank you, family & friends, for your compassion, deep concern, prayers and thoughtfulness! My heart is blessed by so many treasures in my circle of friends! Mike, you're mt hero and my heart!
In His Grip,
debbieonthewebbie ; becoming debbieontheloveseat
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18
I have struggled a great deal with the fact that I'm going in for knee surgery first thing in the morning. I know God will guide the hands of the great doctor Lowry Jones and his medical team, but because I'm supposed to wear something loose and that particular word in combination with clothing simply isn't in my realm of reality since I've manifested myself into LARDO DIVINCI mode! Nevertheless, I'll find something to drape around me but "loose" it may not be.
I went in this morning for my pre-op assessment and I also had a bone density scan. In true Dr. Swaiki's office' style, they were back with me on the results in less than four hours! UH-mazing don't you think? My bones are weaker than they were at this time last year, but not to a point of being considered osteopenia. My vitamin D intake is going to have to be upped, they think, and that will be determined by the blood work. The cancer drug I take, Femara, alledgedly leeches calcium and though I"m supposed to be taking 1200 mg a day, the ol' tum tum can only tolerate about 650.
The real kicker came when my EKG came back "abnormal." Abnormal, I later found out, meant "left axial deviation" and something again about an inverted QRS. The RN explained that she would fax the results to the doctors involved in my case, they would discuss the risks vs. advantages and she would call me. I guess the Sir Jury juried together for quite awhile because I waited from morning until late afternoon to find out if surgery was a go as planned or if this EKG finding might postpone or cancel it. It was a long day but I just prayed, then fell asleep. Sleep is a GREAT way to avoid reality, donchaknow? As it turned out, the nurse discovered that the fax machine at the anesthesiologists office had run out of ink and automatically turned off, so they hadn't even received the information - that was the only reason for any delay. Anyway, the end of the story is that the anesthesiologist deemed it perfectly OK to proceed as planned with surgery and that a follow-up with a cardiologist post surgery would be recommended. I made it abundantly clear that I would rather forego knee surgey and live with the pain if it posed a cardiac risk, but I've been assure (LOL) that no doctor would take such a chance, so I'm good with it - the answers were all good - and I'm going in not worrying.
Well, actually I AM worrying, but only a tad. I am going to be non-weight-bearing, meaning I have to depend on my ARMS to maneuver my crutches. My arms have been grossly neglected since my cancer surgery and node excision and they are about as strong as cooked noodles! I've tried to build up strength in them, but without the help of my right leg, I can get maybe two or three steps. That's STEPS my friends, not STAIRS. Stairs have proven to be an even greater obstacle. Thank heaven there are only two to get into our house, but if I'm as weak as usual after surgery, it may be that I"ll be recovering on the front porch! Wave if ya go by and I'm plopped out there on the front stoop!
Bless my friend Pauline! She donated the use of a wheel chair that's mongo-sized enough to manage my rotundity - so that will be a lifeline to the johninsky until I'm up and can walk on the not-going-to-be-bum-knee-after-tomorrow leg! With all the help and the many prayers, I just really can be honestly thankful in all things...
Until I'm not stupid in the head from great drugs,
Keeping a song in my heart brings me to the one with the melody HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A LASSY (or Laddy) but the lyrics, a la my mommy singing to us while washing our hair when we were little, went something like: Horsey get your tail up, get your tail up, get your tail up. Horsey get your tail up, keep the sun outa my eyes! (Did you sing along at least inside your head? If not, try again before continuing.)
Dr. Swaiki, my Oncologist, is only brilliant. No other word really comes to mind that better suits the impression the girls and I have of him. His work must be so difficult, not just the medical aspect, but Oncologists more than most, must deal with very sick, often sad and very emotional patients. Dr Swaiki has the perfect personality for what I need in these circumstances. He is…BRILLIANT!
He is also Syrian, I think, and though he has a strong accent, I never have trouble understanding him; but yesterday, one of the many obstacles our language can procure for the English-as-second-language individual cracked us up!
It all started when I mentioned to him that I would be having knee surgery next Wednesday. In his very personally-interested way, he asked all about it, requesting details and assuring me that Dr. Lowry Jones is a tremendous surgeon. (And I interject, NO KIDDING to that!) As I was leaving he offered one last good luck and then said to me, “I weesh for jew to have successful soogery and jew vill soon be valkeeng like a horse.” OK…I’m not gonna lie – I guffawed! (So did his awesome nurse!) He looked at me with such innocence mixed with concern that was doused in confusion that I knew he had no idea why we were cracking up. I said, “It’s just that you were only minutes ago reminding me that food as well as my drugs play a role in my obesity and now you tell me you hope I will soon be walking like a horse. (still convulsed) I guess I just would’ve rather heard you offer that I would be able to walk like a ballerina.” He thought a moment…asked, “…a ballerina? Vood dis be somevun who deences ballet?” (Wow…my middle east accent is converging on German, isn’t it? Sorry ‘bout that. Just stick with me here…the story is worth it even if the verds are veak.) Then the proverbial light bulb came on and he seemed to realize why he said what he said, “ Dee
ISN’T THAT JUST ADORABLE!!! HE WISHES ME WELL AND WANTS ME TO BE ABLE TO WALK LIKE A HORSE BECAUSE THE GIRLS IN THE OFFICE TALK ABOUT EATING LIKE A HORSE AND HE INTERPRETED THAT AS A POSITIVE THING.
I think I’ll shop for a 2010 horsey calendar to give him at my post-Christmas appointment...in SIX MONTHS!!!! Whatchathink?
Upgrade verb: give a promotion to or assign to a higher position. And that would be me! Ta-Da! (You can go ahead with that golf clap for me if you don’t mind.) My trip to the Oncologist yesterday finally initiated an UPGRADE with my name attached! After 20-some months of going back every three months, I have been promoted to every six! That means….I don’t have to go back anymore until after CHRISTMAS!!! (K…on second thought, let’s nix the proper little golf clap and promote it to a stinging, raucous palm beater full of convulsive enthusiasm, energy and celebratory excitement!!) This is a big ol deal for big ol me!
That probably doesn’t make one lick of sense to some and others are calculating the $25 co-pay savings as a reason to be so happy, but for me, there’s a Royal-Gorge-sized appreciation and thorough understanding of the emotional clearance this upgrade delivers! I, Debbie Gray, have been deemed healthy enough to extend my visits to a half a year! I wonder if the doctors have a clue what an elevator their words are. (Elevators, we know, are all about ups and downs.)
BC (before cancer), when walking through a medical building, I always felt such sorrow for those in the waiting rooms behind the plaque that said ONCOLGY on the door! In fact, I tried not to look and just said a prayer for all of them in there. Seeing an Oncology office gave me the heeby-jeebies. It was the same inside feeling that I get when I see LIFE FLIGHT taking off or returning from a mission (particularly at Children’s Mercy) or see an ambulance coming or going…you just know someone’s day is ruined. I guess somewhere deep inside, be it selfishness or fear or some foreign menagerie of feelings, I hoped with all my being that it would never be me walking through that door, signing in on that check-in list, sitting in that waiting room and hearing my name called by a stranger standing, holding the door with her foot and a chart with my name on it, waiting to escort me back to some sterile and scary cubicle….with or without windows – it wouldn’t matter. But then….what is so routine and matter-of-fact for office staff…”that’ll be $25 for your co-pay …” and “check the information and initial at the bottom if it is all correct” and “I need to make a copy of your insurance card” was being spoken to ME! And how ‘bout they way they call you from your wait. “Debra Gray?” You know you’re seeing a doctor when your name becomes a question! Another 100% accurate indicator is DEBRA instead of Debbie.
AC (after cancer) I’d like to say that anxiety and dread dissipates after 20-some months of doing the Oncologist-visit routine, but for me, it hasn’t…yet. So THAT is why this promotion is so stinkin’ cool!!
In addition to that much-appreciated upgrade, Dr. Swaiki also spent a considerable amount of time discussing some new studies he’d been reading. Still always worrying – at least a little - what the good doctor is going to say, find or do, I had my own personal little flood warning – of the adrenalin variety - when he pulled up a chair and sat down. (He never sits down!) I’m positive that was the most benign of actions, but everything seems augmented under the circumstances and yesterday was no different. But the news was….good….I guess.
“I guess” because every three months I’m asked how I’m doing and I’ve always reported marked stiffness, joint and bone pain – and that I experience it 100% of the time. (I feel so sorry for my husband.) I never felt like he wasn’t hearing me nor did I feel ignored, but I also never felt like what I was saying was going to ever make a difference. In fact, at my last appointment, I decided not to even mention the chronic pain. He asked though, so I told him again, and still nothing was said to instill a sliver of confidence that these symptoms were from cancer meds instead of perhaps cancer itself, crawling through my bones. Part of me wondered if he maybe thought I am just a whimpy, whiney woman or maybe even a hyper hypochondriac. THAT bothered me some, but there was nothing I could do about that so no need to linger on that. So when he sat down yesterday, he began sharing about a study indicating that women who are taking the same cancer drug as I - Femara – an aromitase inhibitor – and are suffering with marked stiffness, long bone and joint pain are seemingly reaping more benefits from the drug than perhaps those who are not suffering any side effects. The assumption is that the pain is an indicator that the drugs are effectively leaching the hormones from the body and consequently, causing the chronic yuck.
This is kinda like sweet and sour pork, ya know? On the one hand, I now know that he knows I’m not just a complainer, so it validates my complaints, I guess. It also helped me know he was really thinking about it when he said something to the effect that he just didn’t know why most of his patients on this drug didn’t have side effects and only a few did. There will have to be more studies done to reveal why some are affected by it differently than others, but suffice it to say, I was, in a peculiar way, glad to know that my bad hurt is actually good hurt! So for us who are hurting…let’s connect that pain to a reminder to just thank God that we’re reaping the fullest of benefits from the treatment….and…we’re still alive to reap it!
This is from an email I received this afternoon:
An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student before but had, once, failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich - a great equalizer. The professor then said ok, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism.
All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A. After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. But, as the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too; so they studied little.. The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an F.
The scores never increased as bickering, blame, name calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great; but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.
Could not be any simpler than that....
Another Summer Of Surgery to look forward to. Thank Goodness for summers! A time when I get to take care of my rapidly deteriorating body. This time, it's not Miningua, (yeah!) it has nothing to do with X-Minerva, (woo hoo!) and it's not carpal tunnel...thought that DOES need to be addressed on lefty. Nope, I just found out tonight that instead of looking like this where there's a nice clean distance between the knee cap (petella) and femur:
My xrays today showed that my poor pathetic petella has no nice and necessary "black" space between it and my femur. In other words, they're touching. I have bone against bone (no wonder it hurts so much to walk, stand, sit, and sleep) and the bone that IS there is gnawing away at what is left of my miniscus. Additionally, I have two bone spurs that are adding to the Rice Krispie effect. Consequently, the response to that diagnosis is surgery.
I got a cortisone injection right beneath or beside my patella (didn't look after it was swabbed with betadine) and mixed in was some loverly marcaine to numb it nicely...but the marcaine has since disappeared and the ice pack feels really good! Dr. Jones said he didn't think it would help at all, but he has to try to see if can give me some relief between now and whenever I can get in to have the main surgery done and the spurs removed. (They say you should always have a song in your heart. Right now, I'm hearing..."I got spurs, that jingle, jangle, jingle...."
The projected surgery will have to happen as early as possible in June since it typically involves a two-month recovery. I've never been "typical" so who really knows what to expect, right? He also said several times, "...this is not a simple little surgery even though it's orthoscopic," and his PA said, "...most patients aren't too fond of it after surgery."
There goes Myrtle Beach, I guess...and Deb Fritts had just found us great, scratch that, UNBELIEVABLE airfare! I can't EVEN explain how thankful I am that something interrupted me yesterday right before I clicked on PURCHASE icon on the travel package or we'd be proud owners a big useless vacation for a cripp. So, thank You, God, for the interruption - whatever it was!
The neophyte translation of the purpose of the "MUSCLE-RELEASE" surgery will be to cut the medial muscle that holds my petella stationery which will encourage it to float to the anterior of my knee so "it can chew away at the bone that's still on that side and buy us some more time before having to have a total knee replacement." Sounds loverly, yes/no? I'd sure like (i think) to hear from anyone who has had this surgery so I can throw out a few questions so I know better what to expect.)
Anyway, my SOS is also now to request prayer again - for me and my "ouchie." (Can't ya tell I teach little kids?)
In His grip,
Thanks to Jane!
I know what you've been doing. Look! I have put in front of you an open door that no one can shut. You have only a little strength, but you have obeyed my word and have not denied my name.
When you're led to the edge of "can't," trust Him.
He'll either help you when you "can't,"
send someone to share your burdon so you can
or He'll alter "can't to "can!"
Friday, my boss offered me a room.
MIRACLES do HAPPEN and PRAYER does CHANGE THINGS.
I don't have to lift the box and now I will have two windows for SONshine instead of none.
“Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Let me just say that this verse caught my attention a day or so ago.
If someone told me I HAD to lift a box that weighed 100 pounds, I simply couldn't do it. I know I couldn't...it's just too heavy a load. Perhaps there was a time in my life when I may've been able to, but certainly not at 50-whatever-I-am. Even if I really wanted to lift the box and had a better-than-perfect attitude about lifting it, that doesn't change the weight so I still couldn't do it. If the box were full of something I really wanted (and it is) and I knew it would be all mine IF I could just lift it, the reward, no matter how great, still wouldn't change the fact that it is impossible for me to do.
So, not being able to lift the 100-pound box is discouraging me, aggravating and is very disappointing! I'm completely sad that it's impossible for me to accomplish. I sure think I could've done it thirty years ago, when I was in my 20's - oh wait - I DID! I totally remember lifting that heavy load back then...but now? NOW? Now, my bones hurt, I'm fat and not fit, actually everything hurts - I guess from my cancer meds, my body aches from being old and outa shape, I'm weaker and tired more often than ever in my life - not to mention that sleeping is next to a miracle in this fifth decade of my existence. In spite of all that, I'm really good at what I do, I haven't lost a bit of that enthusiasm or desire to give 100% - it's just this obstacle of having to lift the box that I can't summons my old bones to be able to do.
But wait!!! Oh man! Nimesis! God tells me in that verse up there, that I am supposed to "Rejoice always!"
Ummm...rejoice? That seems so contradictory to what I feel. I'm supposed to rejoice that I can't lift the box that I really want, but can't have unless I can lift it? Maybe I"m supposed to "Pray constantly" so I can rejoice. But then wouldn't that've appeared first chronologically? Sure it would have - God never makes mistakes. Then..."give thanks in everything..." was the next directive - and somehow that seems way too hard for lil' ol' me to do, too. Seriously? I'm supposed to say (and mean it): "Thank you God that I can't lift this box that I really want and need to lift!"
GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS! Even about boxes.
I know now, after being miserable, stewing and fretting, crying and having a total pity party for my wittle self clear since Monday evening, that I AM supposed to rejoice, pray and be thankful that I can't lift the box. I don't know why I'm instructed to be happy about this thing that makes me so sad - but I am. I don't even know why I'm expected to lift the box - it feels disrespectful to expect me to have to do that - but it is what it is and God's word is what IT is.
About 24 hours into my whining, gnawing, gnashing of porcelain crowns (used to be teeth) and self-induced - or at least self-allowed sadness, along with all-night conversations with God, the verse started to make sense and my angst started to disipate (a little). I will do as I'm told and rejoice because I know God knows better than I do about this box. I can only imagine: He has a lighter box in store for me to lift, maybe a better box for me to lift, or perhaps He's taken all the lifting out and there will be none involved at all! I am going to pray, too, just like I'm told. I've concluded that "praying constantly," first of all, sure can't hurt anything and second, is really the ONLY thing I have in my arsenal to respond to this hurt. Prayer will help me get past not being able to lift while the orders are: "Lift."
Jesus promised me and has proven to me again and again, that He can work it out so bad things can have a silver lining or some semblance thereof. Yet, when I found out about the box, I questioned all of it! I got all messed up because of some silly, too-heavy-for-me-to-lift box?! Like that would help me get it off the ground? And finally, in the last 24 hours, He has helped me to be able to approach all the circumstances surrounding this box-lifting-dilemma with a little bit of THANKS. (I have a long way to go, though.) THAT alone is a miracle - all things considered - because I was, as my daddy would've said, "Lower than a snakes belly in a wagon rut."
I dunno - maybe this box might help me meet some new people who can help me or I'll meet someone I can help do something that they can't. Maybe I'll get a new, lighter-weight box - or who knows - maybe no box at all! Could it be that God knew this box is what it would take to get me moving? Maybe the box will somehow, in the end, become less of a desire and more of a stabilizer, equalizer or motivator. I don't know how this sad feeling will or even can be turned into a not-sad feeling, but God already IS helping me not feel quite as upset about it. (I mean - I didn't throw up my dinner tonight - in stress about the box - like last night. THAT's a step in the right direction. Right?!)
God speaks to us in many ways:
I'm showing SOUND OF MUSIC to my fourth graders right now. There's a line in it that, along with the Thessalonians verse, also captured my attention. When Maria finds out she is being forced to leave the Abby, the place where she feels connected and in a position she believes God has placed her, she says, "When someone closes a door, God always opens a window." I am rejoicing, praying and going to be thankful for that open WINDOW of opportunity. God will take good care of me and help me locate that window. You know, it's not so bad to be sad...it's just not as fun as being happy...and I always get closer to God when I'm stuck with something I can't control. It seems I have to get to that point time and again, to be reminded that HE HAS IT ALL IN HIS PLANS MADE ESPECIALLY FOR ME. I know He will help me somehow...maybe leave the box alone and move on to a different box without a broken heart.... Maybe He will help me lose the attachment and need I feel for that box and help me know that whatever takes it's place will be just as good - maybe even better. He is going to help me adjust to the change I face because I am not strong enough to do what I must.
I was called to the principals office Monday after school. (That is never ever a good sign.) He informed me that my "box" will no longer be mine come the end of the eyar and that a fifth grade teacher and class will be moving into it. In other words, a music room will no longer be available to me and I am expected to travel from room to room, pushing or pulling carts and a keyboard plus any other equipment I need for six grade levels, for six hours.
This box that has been set before me is too heavy for me to lift.
Rejoice, pray and be thankful with me, will you? (I'm still working on it.)
THE SCULPTOR'S ATTITUDE
I woke up early today, excited over all I get to do
before the clock strikes midnight.
I have responsibilities to fulfill today. I am important.
My job is to choose what kind of day I am going to have.
Today I can complain because the weather is rainy or.........
I can be thankful that the grass is getting watered for free.
Today I can feel sad that I don't have more money or.......
I can be glad that my finances encourage me to plan my purchases
wisely and guide me away from waste.
Today I can grumble about my health or...........
I can rejoice that I am alive.
Today I can lament over all that my parents didn't give me
when I was growing up or..............
I can feel grateful that they allowed me to be born.
Today I can cry because roses have thorns or...............
I can celebrate that thorns have roses.
Today I can mourn my lack of friends or...................
I can excitedly embark upon a quest to discover new relationships.
Today I can whine because I have to go to work or...............
I can shout for joy because I have a job to do.
Today I can complain because I have to go to school or..........
eagerly open my mind and fill it with rich new tidbits of knowledge.
Today I can murmur dejectedly because I have to do housework or....
I can feel honored because the Lord has provided shelter for my mind, body, and soul.
Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped.
And here I am, the sculptor who gets to do the shaping.
What today will be like is up to me.
I get to choose what kind of day I have!
Have a GREAT DAY!
I have been really rather reticent regarding writing recently. No relevant reason, I reckon, I’m just a random, right-wing writer refusing to revert to reliability when regularly wrestling with what I recognize as wrong right now. Wrongs that are worthy of my wrath, I’ll resist. I’ll refrain from writing about what I believe needs to be written and instead, reel you in by reviewing our restaurant rendezvous this weekend!
Friday we followed fun friends, Frank and family, to Ameristar’s Horizon Buffet. We found their flavors were fantastic for foodies like my family! Fabulous fragrances and fine food abounds from fettuccine, fish, flaky pastry, foccaccia, fritters, filet mignon, frankfurters, French fries, and fresh fruit to frog legs, fudge, fajitas, fortune cookies, fried rice, fried chicken and French bread! Friday’s features were frab fegs, fried or froiled frimp, and finally fefferoni fizza! We five felt far from firm following our fervid feast! It’s fascinatingly fattening for fannies, I’ve found – but I figure it’s fine at $24.99 for folks who find food fabulous!
Saturday seemed a switch from swine to sophisticate! We sailed across the State Line to a superlative spread at ZEST! This swell spot serves seared tuna, salmon carpaccio, spinach salad, split romaine, soups, spaghetti, sausages, sirloin, and significant servings of super stuff not starting with “S” so I didn’t’ say them! Search: http://www.kansascitymenus.com/zest/newsite/aboutus.php and stop in!
Sunday night we tried something we hadn’t had and hit habit-forming Harley Hotrods. First impression of this bar and grill on North 7 hiway in Blue Springs
I can’t recall the cuisine of last weekend, but I do recollect we caught the Canoe Club at Lake Lotawana
In His grip and full 'o food!
What are we thinking when we struggle so much to just give it all up to God? What causes us to view surrender with such suspicion and fear? Why is it so difficult to release control of things that we really can't control anyway? What is it about how we view God that makes allowing him to dictate the direction of our lives so foreign to our normal way of thinking?
I am convinced that our failure to believe that God is actually good imay be behind our fears of surrender. I think we automatically assume that if we surrender, it will be used as license for God to take away the people and the things that we value, love and enjoy the most. For some reason, we believe that God does not have our best interests in mind - that He, in reality is a type of "cosmic killjoy" who delights in making our lives hard, miserable, difficult, and painful.
We somehow think if we can just stay in control of our lives, we will be able to create a world of our own with the right relationships, circumstances, successes, achievements and comforts that will bring that elusive thing we call happiness into our lives. The Bible tells us: "The Lord God is a sun and a shield, the Lord gives grace and glory, no good thing we withhold from those who walk up rightly." Psalm 84:11 That helps me. I don't always do the best job walking up rightly - but that is my sincere prayer, my life goal and my intention.
Unfortunately, it took cancer for me to finally surrender my life completely to Jesus! Before that, I was a Christian. I believed in Jesus. I went to church. I was a good person...but when the evils of that world of hurt called ductile carcinoma invaded my easy-going life, I realized just how far from trusting God completely I had been. Cancer created surrender for me. Though I hope never to have to go through that again, the things I learned FROM having it I treasure like no other.
Surrender isn't easy for any of us, but in retrospect, I know I sure wish I hadn't balked away from it for the majority of my life. I know I sure wish I could have realized the peace that comes with it long before having to go through cancer.
I'm not EVEN saying or implying that life in surrender is easier than before it. I still hurt, I still get sick, I still worry, I still have trouble sleeping, I still have bad days and I still have horrible days...but, I face the obstacles with comfort that it's not up to me to overcome them - but just give it to God - through prayer and an honest heart.
There's a quote I often use when teaching my courses and giving presentations on classroom management that goes something like this: IF YOU ALWAYS DO WHAT YOU'VE ALWAYS DONE, YOU'LL ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU ALWAYS GOT. It's probably not the greatest English - but the message is worth marinating in. (She said while ending her sentence with a preposition!) The point being, if it's not working for ya - try something else for heaven's sake! I'm not the only one who thinks that, either. I've noticed that Dr. Phil has a rhetorical question he asks quite often, "So...how's that working for you?" As we examine our lives that we are living right now, let's ask ourselves: "How is that working for you?"
Just something to think about...
In His grip -
me - on my way to San Jose in about three minutes!
In continuing our fun and frequent food-based adventures, Mike made reservations for us at Em Chamas! This elegantly saucy spot in the Northland of KC is more than dinner - it was an experience! We started off with somewhat of a bad first impression because while Mike was parking the car, I went inside to wait for him. The host graciously greeted me, accepted our name and immediately instructed me to follow him. I was like - let's wait for the "two" of "two of us" to get here before being seated. He waited but seemed surprised that I didn't want to venture in without my guy. But, from that point on, the evening was entertaining and enjoyable. Before I say much more though - I'll let you know that I would go back in a heartbeat if Mike initiated the meal, but I probably wouldn't make plans myself, to return.
We were in our regular out-to-dinner duds, nothing fancy, as were most of the people in the place. Though there were some with their diamonds the size of our coffee table, bags with C's on them, Armani suits and Gucci loafers, we didn't come across as pitiful.
This is probably the first time how-to-eat had to be explained to us. One look at me and you can pretty much tell I've mastered it without tutorials - but at Em Chamas - one must pay close attention to directives or one might exit with a hefty bill and an empty tum tum. Our dinner was preempted by the lesson of the medallion. One side of this cardboard medal is yellowish-green, the other side black. After visiting the unlimited fill-yourself-up-big-time-on-potatoes-salads-and-veggies-so-you-don't-eat-so-much-meat-when-we-bring-it-to-your-table bar, we were instructed to indicate to the servers we were ready for MEAT by means of the yellowish-green side up. In no time, servers
appeared at our table with their skewer, stick or sword of meat and machete to serve us our portion. We had more than enough to eat, but the wafer-thin slices granted us surprised me. I mean....after all....we're used to 10 ounce filet's that cover half a dinner plate! The sliver you see on the plate above is precisely the sliver you receive before the server asks, "Would that be enough for you, mam?" Of course - feeling like the oinker that I am, with little reluctance replied, "No sir...keep a'cuttin'." (Nah...jist a'kiddin'. Eye ain't that crass - eye kin act fancee whin eye knead two.)
I DID get tickled at one point in our formal evening though - even with just diet Coke. The server approached with his giant shish kabob and asked if I cared for his BONUS BEEF. Oh my gosh! I CCCCRRRRRacked up! I inquired, "Did you REALLY just ask that?" In a stern, articulate, and very formal voice (from a kid who I'm sure slams lockers during the week, goes parking on the hill after he gets off work, drives an old mustang, wears Nike's and has a soccer coach) without cracking so much as a smile while I'm guffawing says, "Yes, mam. It is my BONUS BEEF." I looked at Mike - he's not laughing - the kid isn't laughing and I'm convulsed; so I acknowledge that I would like to try his BONUS BEEF and after macheting it - he scurried away - I'm sure to tell his manager to keep an eye out on the crazy lady by the window.
I waited a few minutes and Mike didn't say a word - just kept sampling his rack of lamb, marinated turkey leg, roasted pheasant, top sirloin and of course, his BONUS BEEF. I couldn't wait any longer and asked him why he didn't find that a hoot. He calmly said - in his all-knowing way when I do something stupid - said, "Deb...it was BONELESS BEEF RIB." Well, you know me. Some may've shuddered at the thought of their ignorance. NOT ME! I got tickled even more and the rest of the evening was amply packed with giddiness...sans wine. It was fun - to say the least.
The bar food was fine - not exceptional - and the flow around the trough was VERY CROWDED, close and not at all easy to manage. THAT needs to be relocated so people can move around the bar without bonking butts with perfect strangers! The steak was FABULOUS but all the other roasted meats (and we sampled them all) were too salty to enjoy. The Parmesan mini-biscuits brought to our table first were quite yummy and I'm positive were calorie free and the cinnamon plantains - for clearing our palate between meats - were sweet and delicious - that is...IF you like soft bananas and cinnamon.
We weren't, but if we had been speaking of hefty bills...the website states that "Em Chamas" translates as FiRE GRILLED (I think) but Mike says that simply is not true. (He speaks no Latin languages, just so you know.) He is positive EM CHAMAS really means "THE BILL." :)
It was a quite nice evening and we have no regrets in going even though it seemed that even the silverware was al a carte! But, just know before you go...we both had soft drinks, no alcohol, we did each have a cup of Brazilian coffee after dinner and split a flourless chocolate torte for dessert (which made the whole "em chamas - as per Mike's translation) well worth it, but we remembered on our drive home, that there have been many, many times in our 35 years together that we lived in excess of a week on less than the cost of our one Em Chamas meal!
If you go - - tell them that the crazy lady by the window says HI and that you really want to try his BONUS BEEF first!
· Location: 6101 NW 63rd Terrace in the Tuileries Plaza , I-29 and 64th (
· Phone: 816.505.7100
· Price: $34.95 per person-excludes tax, gratuity, drinks and dessert.
I was talking to my mom this afternoon and she was sharing how depressed she felt after watching the news last night. She said, "I want to know, so I listen and watch, but then I really don't want to know and wish I hadn’t listened and watched." She told me she told her friend, Marilyn, "I hope we don't have nightmares about this tonight." But then, she told me she “slept like a baby…remembering that God has it all in hand.” What a mom, eh!? She’s such an encourager – and I’m sure she doesn’t even realize it!
Another amazing encourager I’ve come to know better lately than ever before is Mary Y. Mary was recently forced by tragedy to change from being a mom of a beautiful, vibrant, talented 16 year old daughter to a mom whose beautiful, vibrant, talented 16 year old daughter gone home to live with Jesus. I mention Mary when writing about encouragers, for two reasons, first, because I know she reads this blog regularly and two, because she needs to know what an inspiration she is to me – and I’m sure – others. I KNOW she’d rather NOT be an inspiration and HAVE ANNIE back, but I also know that no one can hide within a tragedy such as this and the real heart of Mary has come through with clarity. Mary has helped me more than she might ever know. The strength and peace that is totally beyond my understanding is so evident in her life. She can smile. She laughs. She goes to work. She lives. I know she is and will always be heartbroken from her loss, how could she not? But the fact that she knows she will someday be with Annie again, and the way she shared Annie’s purpose with those other teenagers at the memorial service touched my very soul! Knowing Mary, she will counter with faltering feelings, tears, remorse that’s sometimes unbearable and disbelief that others might be inspired and encouraged by her – but those of us who know her – see with amazement, God’s hand on her life! SHE is the ultimate encourager for me right now.
Then there’s Judy at church. Judy spends her weekdays taking chemo therapy, but just as sure as the sun shines, I see her in her own little spot in the congregation every Sunday – standing, worshiping, praying, listening and looking as though she’s as healthy as the next! SHE, too, encourages me simply by her presence. I thank God for women like these each and every day.
You may agree, that struggling through difficult economic times like these, facing unprecedented challenges and constantly hearing discouraging, frightening news might bring out the best in some and the worst in others. I know, from experience, that those of us who are surrounded by encouraging friends and family fair much better than those who are isolated and feel alone, so now more than ever before, is the perfect time for all of us to become encouragers!
In these challenging and confusing times many people are questioning God's sovereignty and authority in
First, in Christ, we can show courage in the face of adversity! We trust that as long as there is God, there is hope. Second, we pray for and accept peace that passes understanding! When we're truly tuned into God and His promises, though we can't explain it ("beyond understanding"), we FEEL peace in knowing that He is ultimately in control - not the people of Washington D.C., not our local government, not our forecasters, not the stock market...but God! And in living that peace, others might see Him reflected in our lives. Third, we can share our Jesus-centered love with one another, in ways we’ve maybe never done before.
In my college courses, workshops and presentations that I offer, I stress to teachers the importance of building relationships with their students. It’s far harder for a kid to be disruptive and disrespectful when s/he knows the teacher likes him or her. We build relationships by sending notes, calling them, spending time together, sharing stories and being there when they need someone the most. I also remind teachers how much WE LOVE receiving mail that isn’t junk and isn’t a bill. Just think about the times when you get to your mailbox and there’s a surprise in it from someone – right out of the blue!
Just yesterday, we routinely carted in our handful of mail and chucked it to the counter like always – knowing it will be a collection of utility, mortgage and doctor bills augmented by a bunch ‘o junk from various stores doing their best to cope with these rough economic times – nevertheless, tempting us to come in and spend our money with them. But you know what? Out from the toss, slid a picture postcard with a HANDWRITTEN NOTE on the back! It was like a TREASURE had arrived! I’m not kidding – the second I saw it, I grabbed it like it was a piece of dark chocolate or something – and started devouring it. Before I got to the first punctuation mark, Mike said, “WHO’S THAT FROM?” so he, too, had been captured by the surprise.
Our friend, Pauline, will turn 50 on the 27th, but her family surprised her with a party before the big day – in order to really catch her off guard and unsuspecting! You know how it is, it’s important to come up with something intentional and ridiculous for a gag gift, and the wilder, the better! So Mike concocted a surprise that went quite well with the 70’s theme for her party! After a visit to 7th Heaven and a purchase of some Zig Zags, he filled a snack pack baggie with mostly Oregano flakes, but various other herbs and flakey spices from our kitchen cabinet – and tucked the combination neatly inside her card. He wore blue-lensed round glasses and sandals, I wore bright blue eye shadow and used my white-ish cover stick as lipstick – so that nice 70’s pasty-lip look was evident…and off we went to the party.
My point in all this is, people LOVE surprises. People LOVE being remembered. People LOVE encouragement and kind words. People LOVE knowing they’ve come to mind. Well, I’m not positive Pauline LOVED her surprise “gift” the instant she saw it – it actually freaked her out because she quickly slipped it away into hiding under the table and looked away to hide her blush – but once she figured out what it really was, she cracked up! And…Mike and I LOVED receiving her handwritten, thank you post card in the mail yesterday!!! Ya see, ALL of us enjoy surprises and all of us LOVE to feel valued!
Seriously now, I can't pretend that everything is fine or the pain of job loss, foreclosure, and other realities many are facing aren't just as real for Christians as they are for non-Christians, but the reality of the recession presents an opportunity for us to demonstrate to others, who would perhaps never otherwise be open to receive Christ, that He IS still very much in protect-His-own mode. There is an abundance of lost souls out there who know neither the truth of Heaven nor how to be certain they'd live eternity there if they were to die today, nor the reality of Hell. Now is prime time, when people are not feeling quite as invincible as perhaps they once have and may be seeking peace, courage and hope, for us to Pray and Contact them.
So, let's be PC. Let's give PC – that “term” that so often offends, a whole new dimension!
Let's be PRAYers and CONTACTers!
The hit song title by David Cook, THE TIME OF MY LIFE, is an extraordinary title for all of us to keep close to our hearts and embrace. THIS is THE TIME OF MY LIFE when I am going to make an extra effort to pray first, then contact others, primarily non-Christian acquaintances, co-workers and even strangers, and simply be a friend.
Just pray and ask God to bring to mind the face of someone who could use a call from a friendly voice or a note from you. When you contact them, tell them that God put them on your heart. That in itself could be a huge comfort. Openly and actively decide to be an encourager to those around you -- especially those God brings to mind in prayer.
Be aware of His divine nudges, too. When they come, act on them right away. It's easy to put it off (especially if it feels uncomfortable) or postpone it and then forget - so do it as soon as someone's face or name pops into your mind. Even if you don't know the person that well – contact them anyway. Your message, out of the blue, could be a life changer.
I’ve experienced out-of-the-blue nudges! About six years ago, during a sultry summer mid-morning, I was washing my hair when my friend, LeAnn, just came to mind. There was no reason in the world why I should think about her - but I did. The instant I got my head from beneath the water and wrapped in a towel, I gave her a call. I don't remember exactly what transpired in the conversation, but upon my questioning that she was OK and assuring me she didn't need anything, she said, "No, I'm great!" So we chatted a bit and I went on about my day. LeAnn called me a short time later and told me she'd JUST, the instant I'd called, discovered she was pregnant with her second baby, Parker! She was so excited she couldn't WAIT to tell someone, but she hadn't even had a chance to tell her husband, yet, so she couldn't let ME know before he knew! I'd listened to that nudge, I prayed, I made the call - and what seemed to come up as a surplus phone call ended up being amazingly timely. It was so fun for us to compare minutes and the way things had transpired that morning - to see just how that nudge came to me when she'd found out her life was to be blessed with their Parker. Ahhh...God is so good - and He has a sense of humor, a love that is beyond all understanding and He gives us peace - when peace shouldn't be anywhere near.
The same Jesus who nudged my heart years ago, still nudges me now. I always listen and I always act in obedience. Not all the time do I receive clarity as soon as I did with Parker being on the way, but I DO know that God speaks to us when we ask Him to and when He knows we will listen to Him. I am so incredibly encouraged by that!
So let's be encouragers! Let's use this awful time in the economy, impossible circumstances and other difficult moments in our lives to encourage others who are hurting, fearful or without hope.
REMEMBER TO MAIL THOSE RED ENVELOPES! More than one would be just fine - and you might make some extras, address and stamp them and give them to others for their return addresses so they can get them in the mail! Thanks for jumping on the project with enthusiasm, persistence, prayer and determination!
I read just today:
An Oakland, California, pastor is facing possible jail time for carrying a sign in front of an abortion clinic that said 'Jesus Loves You. Can We Help?' and offering information about alternatives to abortion for anyone who wanted it."
Pastor Hoye was found guilty! A video taken of him doing this was presented that showed he was not harassing anyone. In fact, he was being harassed by escorts from the abortion clinic." Now, Pastor Hoye faces up to two years in jail and a $4,000 fine. Christians, let's spring into action on behalf of this brother in Christ. Let us pro-life believers pray this week, before his sentencing February 19th, that our America will support the rights of all men - Christians included.
I also would like to ask for special prayer, today, for my friend from Abundant Life, named Judy. She is taking yet another round of chemo. Let's just pray that Judy, like the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians, can endure the hurt, sickness and suffering, and lean on the Lord for strength and hope!
Lily Clevenger and her family is still in need of God's forever comfort and peace. You can keep track of her updates on CaringBridge.com at LilyClevenger.
Congratulations to three very significant friends in my life who were voted by their peers to be the TEACHER OF THE YEAR for their schools! Congratulations to Jeanne Peve who is at Chapel Lakes, Rachel Parker who is at my school (Daniel Young) and another Rachel and former student teacher of mine: Rachel Crosley from James Walker Elementary! Pray that these friends and master teachers keep God first and foremost in their lives at work and home. We wish them well.
Jess is flying me out to visit her in San Francisco for my birthday in a couple of weeks! I've never been - and look forward to seeing the city, going to the symphony and maybe even trekking north a bit to drive through the Redwood Forest - but mostly, I'm looking forward to the time with Jess!
I'm working on an entry about being victorious in spite of the storms that happen in our lives. I started writing on this because I notice that some people walk through awful things like divorce, cancer, illness, bankruptcy, loss and still manage to stay strong in their faith and have hope in Jesus; while others go through identical catastrophe's and say, "This is useless" or "I give up." or "This is SO not worth it." I'm working through figuring out just what it is that makes some of us MAKE IT, sometimes even grow in our faith while others BAIL ON GOD when the going gets tough. I will post once it all comes together in my head and I locate good, sound scripture to support it. Until then....
Thanks for visiting my blog that is now in THE VICTORY stage!
In His grip,
Please....get a red envelope. You can buy them at Kinko's or party supply stores. I went to the dollar store, bought Valentines and decided to GIVE the cards without envelopes, saving them for the project.
On the front, address it to:
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pensylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500-0001
On the back of the envelope, write: This envelope represents one child who died in an abortion. It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception.
Put a stamp on it, drop it in the mail, and send it. Then tell everyone you know about the website www.sendaredenvelope.org or make a letter like this to give and encourage them to do the same. Time is running out. It is our hope that 50 million red envelopes, one for every child who died before having a chance to live, will be sent to Obama.
Pray that it will change the heart of the President.
In His grip,
Mike got on this kick a couple weeks ago and suggested we kick our habits, break our routine and try some new places for kicks and giggles! I've gotten a real kick out of it and I think he's kickin' himself for not thinking of it sooner.
Weekends are always a good time to eat out, but we'd gotten in the habit of going to the same places all the time. They're GOOD places, some are GREAT places - but we always found ourselves hitting one of the following: Outback, Logans, Ophelias, Mr. Sushi in Lee's Summit, Garrozzo's or Salvatore's, On The Border and Joe's Crab Shack. On a wild night we hit Rib Crib,Cheeseburger In Paradise, Styx at Legends, or Cafe Verona on the square in Independence. Those were always our favorites - and still make delish leftovers for Monday lunch. I start looking forward to lunch on my way to work - and by the time 11:05 rolls around,I can hardly wait to zap my Saturday night fair! MMMmmmmmm!
So when Mike mentioned mid week that he wanted to try some new places and branch out a little from our regular cuisine, I was really excited and started looking forward to our weekend dates even more than I already did. Which, I must admit, borderlines on the eating disorder side of normal more than the date-night side. Anyway, our first wheels to meals took us to 89th and Metcalf, slippin and sliding all the way there in the snow and even more coming home! But OH WAS IT WORTH IT!!! J. Gilberts Woodfired Steaks</STRONG> held reservations for us at 7:00 - right near the fireplace. (Try to request one of the two tables for two beside the fire - mmmmm loverly!) The menu couldn't've been more perfect and there was something on it for every taste and calorie-counting soul. We learned they're famous for their blue cheese chips - so we tried a half order. Basically, chips with melted blue cheese on them - worth the try but not the fat grams - so we'll nix that next time. The bread was greater than great so by the time they brought our meals, I felt like a dough boy. Tell me WHEN will I find my once-strong willpower?! It has vanished with my Femara, I think. We both ordered steaks since it's a STEAK SPECIALTY place and we decided that there are none better - and we've had steaks pert-near everywhere! This place is a MUST TRY if you're a red meat lover like us. I can say, though, it's a good thing it's pricey or we'd be oinkin' there too frequently.</P>
<P>Our next adventure took us to BLUE GROTTO - a trendy little woodfired pizza place in Brookside. For those savvy to that area, it's right next door north to THE Brooksider and across the street west from the Price Chopper. (Well, I THINK it is a Price Chopper!) This joint ain't a joint and it sure is a place to go if for no other reason than to marinate in the atmosphere, decor and amazing wine bar! The pizza isn't your typical pizza - so if you're a MEAT LOVERS DOUBLE CRUST WITH CHEESE kinda pizza lover, stay far, far away. Jess drove in from Olathe, Micah came over from the dental school, Mark rode out with us from Blue Springs and we had the NICEST little family get-together over yummy goodness! Salads were weak - compared to many places, so save your $8 on whole leaves of Romain doused with vinegar and oil, but the pizzas = mmmmmmm. They are dinner plate size and range from $13- $15 each. One is too much for one, but 1/2 isn't enough for one - so we all ordered one and then had our own little pizza buffet at our booth. Everyone loved the sausage pizza, I had one called The Four Seasons that came with 1/4 of it black olive, 1/4 artichoke, 1/4 mushrooms and 1/4 green and red bell pepper. I must admit, I was expecting it to be veggies all over the pizza - not quartered out - but it was interesting, entertaining and really quite good - so I'd order it again.</P>
<P>Mike surprised me with our next date night to THE POT PIE in Westport! I'm telling you - you just HAVE to go! I had THE BEST roasted chicken I've ever had in my life! It was nestled on top of a mound of mashed potatoes and fringed with thin green beans that were outa this world! The spinach salad was top-shelf excellent, too! Mike had a chicken pot pie which he deemed amazing and he enjoyed a bowl of fresh broccoli soup instead of salad. The menu is written on a chalk board on the wall, so that gives me reason to think it might vary from visit to visit - but it was so entirely exceptional that we'll definitely return! It's one of those places you'd drive right by if you weren't looking for it - and if you DID see it, you'd probably keep on driving because it just looks like a hole in the wall...but I encourage you to give it a try! Be sure you make reservations or you will wait and wait and wait because the whole place isn't a lot larger than our living room.</P>
<P>Finally, last night we tried the new Japanese Hibachi House in Blue Springs! It's right by 54th street Bar and Grill and between the Army Recruiting station and Side Pockets. We are so excited to have another place in our little springs to enjoy, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to change that "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">are</span> so excited" to "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">WERE</span> so excited" because it was a dismal disappointment. The food was fine - but it was an hour and fifteen minutes AFTER WE WERE SEATED before the Chef appeared at our hibachi to prepare our meal. All total - we were sitting in that claustophobic little area for three hours! One couple at our table just left after it took a half hour just to get our drink orders taken. The man said he wasn't about to miss the fight (?) to eat dinner. I think we'll probably give them some time to work through their growing pains, get the kinks figured out and if they're still open by then - go back...but it'll be awhile before I'll be able to convince Mike that we want to give it another try.</P>
<P>Mike'll surprise me again next weekend - so I'll be sure to post the latest excursion for dining. Until then....</P>
<P>So SO thankful that this cancer blog can be filled with unimportant ramblings such as this instead of reporting doctor visits, biopsies, drugs, treatments and surgeries like it was last year at this time!!! I see my oncologist either this week or next - I'll have to check my calendar, so I'll be posting again then. In the interim - enjoy your life and don't sweat the stuff! </P>
<P>Please continue your prayers for Lily Clevenger and a big shout out full of birthday wishes to Tucker Peve - the big 14! </P>
<P>In His grip,</P>
Take just a little bit of time and watch the link so you are informed!
PRAY TELL....what's a HINTER?
Well, let me just say - - a HINTER is one who hints but isn't too covert about it. I just received a Jan/Feb 2009 magazine subscription! So you ask, what has THAT to do with being a HINTER? Call me paranoid - - call you a HINTER - - but whichever way it is, let me just share with you the topics listed on the headliners of the front page - - then you can decide!
LOSE 15 LBS FAST! No Hunger Ever!
A FLAT BELLY in 10 Minutes
SNACKS THAT BOOST THE METABOLISM
COMPLETE PLAN FOR LASTING WEIGHT LOSS
159 NEW FAT-BURNING SECRETS
EAT HEALTHY FOR LE$$
ANTI-AGING TRICKS FOR SKIN, HAIR, LEGS
A GORGEOUS NEW YOU!
STOP CANCER WITH THIS SUPERFOOD
INSTANT PAIN CURES
BEST WAYS TO MELT STRESS
Ok friends, family...what I thought was, this is a special issue free-gratis to maybe try and buy. You know, a marketing scheme delivered to everyone's door! However, nada nada! While under closer scrutiny - yup - there was MY NAME right on the front - in CAPITAL LETTERS even!!!
This is definitely a gift that's gonna keep on giving from someone who apparently doesn't want me to know who they are but doesn't mind letting me know what they're thinking. Hence, the HINTER! You know...HINT...HINT...HINT....
Thank you (sorta) to whoever you are. I know I need to get busy, start reading, and follow some suggestions from this little gifty gift. I'm sure I will enjoy it six times during 2009. Anyone brave enough..yet...to own up to being the HINTER who SENT'ER?
Aw....that's ok. I've always been possibly paranoid, definitely disturbed, and chubs blubs. Maybe you can help divert those problems...with these issues of HEALTH. Whoever the HINTER is - he/she - sure knows me well. That hint, however, doesn't narrow it down too well. I've never been much of a secret keeper, now - have I?
In spite of my comments, I'm gracious and appreciative that you're concerned about my blub (of which I have plenty), cancer risk (of which has diminished drastically - thank you very much), stress (of which I have little - if any) and pain (of which I have ample) - so to you HINTER, I say thank you!
In His Grip - that's broadening by virtue of blub -
It’s strange how Christmases change o’er the years
if I linger there too long, I’m sure I’ll feel tears.
There was Santa and surprises and excitement beyond measure;
Cookies and milk and moments to treasure!
The anticipation was tangible and smiles did abound
”It’s his sleigh! We heard jingles!” An unforgettable sound!
And then, in a twinkling, it happened so fast…
Christmas with our little ones was a piece of our past.
As sad as it is, the magic disappeared…
The kids all grew up, seems age interfered!
Now they’re dressed all in fur, from their head to their feet,
with plans in abundance…other places to retreat;
The little-girl giggles and toys all piled high
are traded in for hugs and an easy “good-bye.”
Our eyes -- how they twinkled! Our emotions how merry!
But as we grow older, the differences make us wary!
Our droll little mouths are now drawn like a bow,
And the beards on our chins aren’t all white as snow;
Thoughts we once had can’t make it past our teeth,
and our talk twists in circles, much like a wreath;
We now have broad faces and a giant round belly,
And we both shake when we laugh like a bowlful of jelly.
We’re both chubby and plump, right jolly old elves,
And we laugh when we see us, in spite of ourselves;
Wrinkles ‘round our eyes and pulled muscles in our back,
Soon let us know it’s an old-age attack;
We speak fewer words but still dread, “Back to work,”
I feel sad for Mike ‘cause he lives with a jerk,
And laying his body aside of our couch,
I give him a nod ‘cause he’s seldom a grouch.
As we struggle to our feet and in pain give a whistle,
we wait for our balance while I’m thinking, “This’ll….
be a good time to exclaim, ere we head to a pot,
"I was going to say something, but I guess I forgot!"
THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
Yes, by Debbie Gray
T’was the day after Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse!
The stockings were folded and put neatly away
but everything else was in total disarray.
The children had scattered in seek of new threads
while visions of sales clearly danced in their heads.
With me in my massage chair, from Mike – a fine chap,
and he having settled on the couch for a nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I did my best to get up to see what was the matter.
Away to the deck door I flew…like a slug,
tore open the screen and then slipped on the rug.
The 66 degree temp had ruined our new-fallen snow
When, what to my wondering eyes there appeared,
but the turkey we’d tossed had just disappeared!
Our twenty-pound gobbler sat out all Christmas day
So I knew in a moment we should throw it away.
More rapid than eagles the scavengers they came,
and ravenously ingested what to them was fair game;
"A ‘possum? A raccoon? A cat or pup?
Whatever it was, it sure gobbled it up!
T’was the first Christmas turkey we had not enough
guess next time I’ll fridge it…like the rest of the stuff!
My most recent "IT'S A GOD THING" happened last week in Kansas City, at the Hyatt parking garage, during the MSTA (Missouri State Teachers Association) Convention. Thursday, Deb Fritts and I served as delegates to the convention representing our school, so we were there from early morning until late afternoon. Debbie got our parking ticket stamped at the concierge's desk so we didn't have to pay for parking, we enjoyed lunch together and took advantage of many of the opportunites.
Debbie wasn't able to go with me Friday - which is another story in and of itself that I will share with you in another post - so about 6:20 am (I know...I know!) I rolled into the parking lot, found a rather close-to-the-elevator space on the fifth floor, unloaded all my stuff I use for presenting, and headed for Van Horn B to speak on Classroom Management, then later, Motivating students. That, too, is another story I'll try to post soon.
At the end of the conference Friday afternoon, everyone was busting out of there at the same time, so this huge onslaught of cars full of people anxious to head home, lined up behind the little gate that keeps you from going anywhere until you either present your stamped-at-the0cioncierge's-desk ticket OR fork over a handfull of cash.
This is really where my story began. I sat in line waiting to exit for a good three levels, creeping slow enough that even I could've walked faster! (That's saying a ton, too!) Once I finally reached the toll hut, in perfect recapitulation of the day before, I dutifully handed him my stamped parking ticket, rolled up my window and waited for the little armlet to go up so I could go out. However, as we all know too well, we don't always get what we want, nor does everything happen as we expect!
The not-nice little man who was collecting MONEY (not stamped parking tickets) was talking on his cell to someone I felt VERY sorry for - because he was giving whoever it was - an ear full. As my window was on it's way to the top, he yelled, "YOU OWE ME SIX DOLLARS!" I bumped the little window-roller-downer button and replied, "Excuse me?" fully having heard what he said, but wondering why yesterday cost me nothing and today I'm being charge six dollars. He continued his conversation on the cell. I wasn't meaning to be difficult, but I very kindly inquired, "I don't mean to be disrespectful, but yesterday I was here for nearly 12 hours and my stamped ticket allowed me to park free of charge. How is it that today I owe six dollars for a much shorter amount of time?"
Even though only 30 seconds or so had ticked past by this point, it seemed like an eternity with all the cars backed up behind me waiting to escape the confines of the multi-level parking lot that'd been holding them hostage for more than an unreasonable amount of time. He barked, "SIX BUCKS - WE CHARGE ALL THE TIME!!! YESTERDAY IS NOT MY PROBLEM!!"
I dipped into my billfold, grabbed a twenty, accepted my change, rushed under the arm thingy - figuring at this point if at all within his capability, he'd maneuver it to smash down on me and my lil' jitney, and pulled into north-bound traffic.
In the midst of checking mirrors, closing my window, adjusting my defrosters so I could see through the foggy windshield, I passed the change Mr. Grumpypants had given me from my left hand to my right so I could stash it in my wallet. He'd given me TWO TWENTIES and FOUR ONES! Ol' Mr. Grumpypants gave me $44 back when I only gave him $20 in the first place and only owed him $6 total!!
I knew I had to return it, but I couldn't just back up - too much traffic, so I took my first right thinking I'd just go around the block and take it right back to him - easy 'nuff, right? WRONG!!!
I took the first southbound road with intentions of going a block or so, turning west, then north again, and returning easily to the parking attendant area from the south. Instead, the first right turn I found, was blocked by construction. The second right turn was ONE WAY. The third right was blocked by a big 18 wheeler unloading. I went a little further south, signaled to turn right and that road was a dead end. I'm thinking to myself - HOLY COW! Everything that could happen is happening to make it difficult to return this money to that crabby ol' guy - all these road blocks and detours are complicating my effort! I drive further south still, and find yet more obstacles keeping me from just going around the block.
Finally, I think I was clear to 39th street when I found a road open to the west. One block west right, then north - and I'd be back on track. WRONG again! I couldn't go right on the first street I came to, nor could I on the next one - so three blocks west, I finally get to turn right. Now I'm way out of the original quadrant I'd hoped to remain and I've spent a lot of time just trying to get back to where I once was! I had to go back north quite a way, then find an eastbound lane that was open, then one more spurt to the north and I eventually made it back to the parking lot!
Cars were still lined up as far as the eye could see, so rather than pulling in and getting another parking ticket from the little machine that welcomes you to the "HYATT PUBLIC PARKING LOT" and spews forth a little piece of paper that apparently costs you $6 even if it's stamped at the hotel desk, I nosed my car forward into the little hut where the attendant guy was sharing his good cheer with all the other drivers - (I joke.)
I grabbed my key, hopped out of the car, headed toward the little booth and by golly - Mr Grumpypants WASN'T THERE!!!! Evidently, during my lengthy excursion trying to locate a simple return route, there'd been a shift change and Mr. Grumpypants was nowhere in sight!
Returning to my car, I knew I had another decision to make! I waffled on the idea of returning the money to the guy on shift then in the little hut, but promptly changed my somewhat-skeptical mind when I figured HIS till wouldn't be the one falling $40 short, so he might pocket the extra rather than searching down Mr. Grumpypants on my behalf. I sat there awhile longer trying to decide what next.
My first inclination was to re-park, go back inside the hotel and give the money to the manager, but it honestly didn't take long, after staring at the endless line of bumper-to-bumper traffic still trying to escape the garage that that was a horrible idea and needed to be vetoed! Plus, it'd cost me another SIX BUCKS!
After 86ing all the ideas I could come up with, I finally felt comfortable with just going on home, placing the money in an envelope and MAILING it to the Hyatt General Manager. I figured if I included the date and time, someone would be able to determine which attendant needed the change to balance his till. I have to admit, all the while I'm thinking: Here I am...trying to do the RIGHT THING and return this money to a man who was everything but nice to me...and I can't do it no matter how hard I try! I've run into every possible obstacle I can think of, aside from a wreck, that could've happened! This was Murphy's Law at it's finest! And...it would be awfully easy - especially this close to Christmas - to say 'too bad, so sad for you Mr. Grumpypants! You were rude and this must be what you deserve! It's my reward for being nice to you even if you were ugly-acting to me!'
So off to home I headed - all the way revisiting the events that had just happened, hashing it over in my mind and wondering if there could've been any way it could've been more weird the way everything transpired. All in all, I estimated that I'd messed around with my efforts of returning what wasn't rightfully mine for nearly 45 minutes and regretfully, I was still unsuccessful! As I drove along, I decided he must've thought I'd given him a fifty instead of a twenty - and that would've made his change correct, but I KNOW I gave him a $20. I'd sold five books, everyone paid cash, I'd grabbed a $20 and his crabby-stuffed cell phone conversation coupled with my questions distracted him enough to hand me the wrong change. Poor guy - he might lose his job over that much money!
The other thing is, I NEVER EVER carry that kind of cash with me and if I do happen to have it, it's in a multiple collection of smaller bills - but never a $50 bill! Twenties - yes! Fifties - no way!
I think I remember seeing the Van Brunt exit ramp when my own personal lightbulb flickered on!
Thursday first thing, just prior to the delegate meeting, the CEA Treasurer came around, signed us in and then presented each of us a stipend to cover our two-day expenses at convention!
The change I'd been trying to give away for the last hour - WAS MY MONEY! Had I been able to come up with a way to return the balance to Mr. Grumpypants, I would've been giving him MY MONEY!! It was MY FIFTY DOLLARS people! I so desperately tried to give it away, but because so many irritating, aggravating, obnoxious obstacles got in my way, I couldn't!!
Yup - IT WAS A GOD THING!
Sometimes we are lucky enough to meet someone whose very being makes a positive difference in our lives.
Anne Curry, sweet friend and daughter of Mary and Darrell Yelton, lost her life Wednesday morning on her way to Pleasant Hill High School. The SUV she was driving failed to make a curve on hiway 58, flipped several times and came to rest upside down against a tree. Anne was pronounced dead at the scene...less than a mile from home. She was wearing her seatbelt.
She was bright and wonderful. She was full of talent, always set and met lofty goals for herself.
Our little corner of earth is tormented and dreads the emptiness left from her absence, but heaven is truly a happier place today with Anne there singing and smiling - like always. This, while another corner of our earth is celebrating because of the many lives she blessed by being an organ donor. As many as 50 people may benefit from this great loss of awesome Annie...and just think...if each of those organ recipients are as unselfish and giving as sweet Anne was, think of the extraordinary exponents of life she has touched!
That is so like Anne.
Jesus, thank You for Anne, for the lives she touched while she was here and now for those left behind who will be able to see through her eyes, love with her heart, breathe better with her lungs and have improved life with her tissue and stem cell gifts. Lord - there mustn't be a more brutal time in life than to lose a child - You understand that first hand, don't You, because You, too, lost a child - Your Son. Thank You for that sacrifice, because it insures we will get to see Anne again some day! Meanwhile Father, bless Anne's family with the strength they need to be able to live with the loneliness, emptiness and loss of dreams for her future here, as they heal. Yet in our sadness God, we trust You for strength to survive this. Be with Anne's daddy who may go through this almost alone...be with Mary, Anne's mom who has just lost her best friend. Jesus, please send Your comfort and Your peace that passes all understanding to the entire family - tonight when it is so difficult, tomorrow for the funeral services and then each day ahead as the reminders hurt more deeply. God - thank You for the hope we have in You - knowing from Your promise, that if we know and accept Jesus - we will again be reunited with sweet Miss Anne. Father, I pray now for the officiate of Anne's service tomorrow. May he speak Your truth, reach into the hearts of the many teenagers who will be there in memory of their friend, and guide them toward salvation in You. Prepare their hearts until then - so they might be open to Your Word, Your hope - and their salvation. Lord we know there are many choices here on earth, but for eternity there are only two. Use Anne's life and the message at her service to help those who adored her like we did, to discover the right choice for their eternity - just as Anne did. In the name of Jesus, Amen
I go to church by myself these days. Micah and Jess always went with me when they lived at home, but since they've moved into their own church homes, I no longer appear to be a single mom raising her two daughters. Now I feel as though I'm perceived as alone.
I've been visiting a most amazing, Bible-preaching church in Lee's Summit called Abundant Life Baptist. On my half-hour drive over there, I spend my time praying for my seat. I know - sounds goofy - but it's not. I just ask God to place me somewhere in that sanctuary where I will be blessed, someone needs me, God needs me or something. I actually don't know WHAT it is I'm praying for except simply, where I will sit. Because I'm sitting solo, my seat has often shifted so a larger group of people can be together in the place I'd perched.
Sunday was no different. Enjoying the ride, the sunshine, my window open but the heater on full blast, and the anticipation of another amazing sermon - I prayed again, about my seat. I SHOULD have prayed about my parking space, too, because that was uncharted waters for me - not being a "FIRST TIME VISITOR" nor being a member...I was kinda in no-man's land. Anyway - I let the crowd guide me into the sanctuary and I headed for the first vacant spot, two rows from the back. (Mom would call that good baptist seating.) Just as I was ready to slip in behind another guy who'd clearly spotted the same section of seats, in walked a half dozen people who were following him. Within 40 seconds, I went from having a seat to searching for one. It was obvious to me - that was NOT where I was to park my chubs blubs that particular morning.
I sauntered on around behind the rows of seats and headed down the far south aisle, looking for a onesy kind of seat and there - right in front of me, two chairs in, was a foursy. I scooted past the end vacant seat, said hello as I shuffled past a lady, dutifully skipped a chair so as not to invade anyone's space, and took a seat. Within two minutes, in came a trio of seat seekers - asking if the ones around me were vacant. Of course they were, but that also meant I had to scrunch next to the lady and we'd all be sitting cozied up shoulder-to-shoulder, cheek-to-cheek. I scooted. They sat.
At "greet the people around you" time, I shook hands with eight or nine people, but the lady right next to me upon whose staked territory I'd invaded, was Judy - and for some reason, her name stuck to my brain like super glue to my fingers! We sang, we listened, we prayed, we had a great time in the service, then all too soon, it was over and time to head home.
Judy gently touched my arm, if I remember correctly, and handed me a schedule of the week's worth of services, events and studies that are available. She was so gracious and warm-spirited, thanked me for visiting, hoped I'd return again, and she said she enjoyed sitting beside me and listening to me sing. (I had to laugh, but I did thank her.)
First one thing lead to another, and before I knew it, we were talking about cancer. She had been diagnosed with a very serious type of what I think she called peritoneal cancer - a kind with a pretty low success rate for cures, but that was three years ago - and she was defying all odds by still being. She looked lovely. Bright eyes, a sparkling smile, a happy countenance - yet, she shared with me that she'd just been to her oncologist for a check up and learned her numbers were high. She shared that she was scheduled today - for a PET scan.
I'm telling you - my heart was so touched by this precious woman's faith, her husband's hope and their love for God - it was nearly tangible! We prayed together - long and passionately about cancer, God's love for us, faith, hope and healing. Our prayers were most fervent and all three of us, Judy, her husband and I - sat there in an empty church, holding hands, tears brimming, hearts swollen with emotion - and we prayed. It was an amazing morning - and I was so completely blessed - not only by the Browns, but by my seat. My seat God gave me - placed me in just the right spot to be able to pray with them and make that already special morning PRECIOUS.
This evening around ten, I received this email from my new-found friend, Judy:
We have such great PRAYers connected to this blog - let's all go to the Lord in intercession for Judy. Wednesday is a long way away with that kind of news resting on the horizon. She has had chemo three times - she knows what's ahead if that's the option suggested, and that alone can weaken a spirit and fill a soul with fear and dread - so let's pray, pray, pray - for this special one God placed beside me Sunday morning.
Jesus, Thank You for introducing Judy and her husband to me Sunday at church. Thank You for trusting me with the opportunity to pray with her and to enlist the prayers of Your saints who read this blog. God, I ask that You please absorb her worry, give her a peaceful spirit, help her to be calm enough to rest and to lean completely on You, Father. When times are the scariest, we lean on You the most. We come to You broken, asking for Your mending hand over us - God bless Judy, shield her from suffering or give her unfailing strength to bear it. I bring these requests to the very feet of Jesus, trusting in Him...amen.
Thank you friends, for visiting my blog - although the cancer journey for me has passed the crisis stage and the journey of life seems like it did before the diagnosis (minus Minerva, of course), the work OF this blog seems to continue as a ministry for other cancer victims, patients and survivors. Let us never forget the miraculous things we have witnessed through the writings of these entries - thanks be to God.
In His grip -
I remember sitting long, anxious hours in intensive care - at my daddy's bedside...for months end to end...daytime....nighttime...and all time in between.
He was so sick, bless his heart. Machines were breathing for him, food was being pumped in to keep him alive, beeps interrupted the constant silence - and tubes were everywhere, just like the bruises.
I sat...rarely leaving his side. I sat.
His then tiny shakey hand often scribbled - with eyes staring blankly at the ceiling unable to see the clipboard he was resting his hand on - words like: Don't be sad sis - I'm ready to go.
He always called me "Sis."
I feel the same way tonight - - - the same as I did the day daddy left us.
Father, It's time for me to pray for our new President - Barrack Obama and our vice president, Joseph Biden. I pray for all who are appointed by these leaders to govern our lives. Touch their hearts, Lord, become very real to them as they make decisions that will guide our children's future. I pray for all the leaders of this country - and I ask for Your mercy, Your wisdom and Your influence over all. I've always been the one to encourage with "God can turn awful into awesome" and as much as I believe that with all my heart, Lord, forgive me for my utter disappointment and to-the-core sadness tonight. God, Thank You for blessing me with the wonderfulness of my family and dear friends who truly know Your heart. And Jesus, forgive the abortionists and all who work in that industry, forgive those who support it and those who supported it with their vote tonight. Forgive them for they know not what they do! Welcome those babies who will be murdered for convenience sake into Your loving arms. Hold them close, God. I know my daddy will love to cuddle and love them. In Your Son's perfect name, amen.
In His Grip, and needing it tonight as much as ever,
To borrow a phrase from an old standard, the ol' Gray mare, she ain't what she used to be....
I am well - and so thankful for it! Not a morsel of my being takes that for granted, either! I am so close to being back to 100% of me - that it's worth celebrating! I've missed me for about a year, now. School is better than great this year! I am so excited about the two performances we have coming up in these two months before Christmas! PLEASE etch the dates onto your calendar and join us in celebrating AMERICA - November 20th at 7:00 at Daniel Young Elementary and then again, on December 11th - same time, same place!
I am presenting two 90-minute sessions at the Teachers State Convention the 14th of this month, so I have spent untold hours preparing for that, but am so thankful for the opportunity to share my ideas on motivation and classroom management that it makes the time it has taken to be all OK. Keep me in your prayers for that morning - first, I present at 7:00 and I am so not a morning person, so I'll need God's help getting perky for that! Then, also pray that my words will come to me and that I will be able to teach teachers so when they leave, they are reinspired to return to their classrooms with new ideas and some fun things to do!
Also taking a lot of my time, I collected a multitude of patriotic songs, designed a 300+ picture montage to accompany each song via PowerPoint and titled the work: SONGS OF AMERICA. Third graders will be presenting the show - and I am so proud of them I could just pop. I have spent literally dozens of hours creating a PowerPoint, recording accompaniments, ordering props, and teaching the music that it really has dominated my time at the PC - and for that reason ( I've been absent from this blog. The most important thing about this SONGS OF AMERICA program is our tribute to all VETERANS and FIRST RESPONDERS! If you know of anyone who deserves to be honored for their service to America, please bring them so that we might recognize their sacrifices and their patriotism on behalf of each of us. You know what they say, we're the LAND OF THE FREE, BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE!
I'm going to be brave right now, risk stepping on some toes, but I am so entirely passionate about this upcoming election, that I just have to plant a seed or two in your minds and hearts prior to your vote.
WIthin just a couple of days, we will know whether Senator McCain or Senator Obama will be inaugurated in January as the 44th President of the United States. Considering the powerful contrasts between these two presidential candidates and the critical issues that are hanging in the balance, it's easy to understand why this has been such a passion-filled and emotional campaign. I believe there is much at stake in this year's election, particularly for those of us who embrace a biblical world view.
I support McCain not because I am committed to the Senator from Arizona or to the Republican Party. I seek from the broadest spectrum of informational outlets and have been strongly critical of McCain and the Republican Party on many occasions on many issues. My concern is for the biblical and moral values that I cherish and believe may be compromised. I will gladly support any politician as long as he or she is willing to defend the sanctity of human life, support the institution of traditional marriage, protect our country from terrorism and advance the cause of religious liberty. While certainly far from perfect, McCain comes closer to embracing those ideals.
Without a doubt, Senator Obama is an attractive and charismatic candidate who has created a campaign of historical proportions. He is clearly more articulate and eloquent than Senator McCain, however, the majority of his policies represent the antithesis of principles I am passionate about.
According to records, when he was a state senator in Illinois, he voted four times in three years against legislation that would have saved the lives of babies that managed to survive the abortion process! This means doctors and nurses, by law, had to abandon babies writhing in pain after a botched abortion, leaving them to die alone. I understand that the U.S. Senate subsequently passed similar legislation called The Born Alive Infant Protection Act by unanimous consent. (Obama was not a U.S. Senator at the time.) Senator Obama was chairman of the committee that opposed this protection of babies, and in 2001 and 2002 was the only legislator who rose to argue against the Illinois Born Alive Act. That is an undeniable fact!
Babies are the most helpless, vulnerable people in our society and we are murdering them by the millions! Far more babies have lost their lives to abortion since Roe vs Wade than all the horrible wars combined. More babies are slaughtered per day in America than the sum total of lives lost by soldiers in the Iraq war! It is barbaric to think it's ok with our Creator to suck their life from them before they ever see the light of day! Much has been said, especially since I was walloped by cancer, that "there should be a cure by now – with all the research, money, time and studies that have been done." In regard to these assumptions, I am willing to submit that God gives each of us a purpose – before we’re ever even born – and there’s a strong possibility that the person with the cure for this wicked stuff (and many other awful diseases) was treated like a collection of cells and called a fetus instead of a baby, rather than a child of God with a purposed intent for it’s life and this baby was aborted!
To further underscore Senator Obama's radical devotion to abortion rights, he has promised that "the first thing I'd do as president" would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. The FOCA is a devastating piece of legislation that would overturn nearly every local, state, and federal anti-abortion law passed in the last 40 years. In fact, it's so broadly written that legal analysts suggest the bill may prevent institutions and physicians from refusing to provide abortion services by invoking the conscience clause. The first thing, Senator? Before taking care of finances, education, the war- you'll sign the Freedom of Choice Act?
Earlier this year, while talking about sex education and abortion, Senator Obama said, "I've got two daughters, 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby." In other words, a pre-born baby is viewed as a form of punishment, and can therefore be murdered in the name of convenience
What the Senator believes and the policies he would seek to implement are, simply but emphatically put, on a collision course with biblical principles and God's plan for us!
While in the Illinois Senate, Senator Obama voted for a bill authorizing "comprehensive" sex education beginning in kindergarten. Many of our Kindergartners can't even spell their names, yet, or identify all the letters of the alphabet! Now he wants to add sex education to an already-overcrammed curriculum forced by No Child Left Behind!? Defenders have attempted to downplay its significance, citing the fact that it called for the content to be "age appropriate" and "medically accurate"--dubious and subjective qualifiers given the sensitive nature of the topic and innocence of the audience! (When criticized for supporting this legislation, the Senator was dismissive and said proudly, I quote, "It's the right thing to do.") No, Senator, the right thing to do is allow parents to teach their children what they want them to know about sex education and when they want them to know it!
I watched a video at church and then again, here at home, about a daddy in Massachusetts who met with the school when their Kindergarten came home with a full pamphlet about same-sex marriage and were forced to read a book called, THE KING AND THE KING or something like that - about male partners. The K's parents were not insisting that the information not be sent home, but that they be notified if material like that was going to be sent home so they could intercept it prior to their five year old seeing it. The story progresses, the school refuses to grant the parents their right to teach or not teach their child what they believed to be right, the father refused to leave until they accepted their refusal of his request, the daddy was then handcuffed and arrested. That is just how far a law can go to remove a parent’s right to their child’s upbringing. This is a “right” that is wrong…and it’s headed toward all of us – your grandchildren and mine – if Senator Obama takes the vote.
The implications for a federal hate crimes law that Obama supports are clear. People speaking against homosexuality have already been prosecuted under hate crimes laws both in the United States and abroad. If a federal hate crimes law passes, there will be little to prevent the government from endeavoring to control and curtail religious speech, especially from the pulpit. It is entirely possible that a pastor could be charged with inducing a federal hate crime simply by preaching from one of the many biblical passages that address homosexuality! Earlier this year, Senator Barack Obama said, "I will place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepherd Act to outlaw hate crimes and a fully inclusive Employment Nondiscrimination Act.
IF homosexuality was, in fact, genetic and a civil rights issue as Obama believes, then why are there any homosexuals left in our world? Biologically, homosexual couples are not physically capable of propagating and passing along their homosexual genetic disposition…therefore, over the centuries… that brand of lifestyle, had it truly been genetic, would have eventually collapsed upon itself out of natural progression. Procreation – as designed by God – was designed solely for a man and a woman and the Bible says homosexuality is an abomination. God’s word is enough for me – regardless what I may think, the Bible is the final authority. Christians don’t hate the homosexual – as they are so often accused; rather, they hate homosexuality – just like we don’t hate the cheater – we hate cheating…or like we don’t hate the liar, we hate lying!
And let me take this whole discussion one step further and submit that IF homosexuality is deemed a "RIGHT" – then where does it end? What’s to say that the pedophile doesn’t deserve the same rights – after all the pedophile acts on innate feelings and choices! Where does it end? What’s to say the serial murderer or the rapist don’t have the right to pursue what they feel is OK and innate in their being Where does it end?! They can argue that they were made that way – just like the homosexual claims.
When the rights of a woman’s convenience or choice take precedence over the right to a LIFE – the “right” is wrong. When the rights of anyone infringe on the rights of others’ safety and well being, that “right” is wrong. This isn’t MY idea – these issues are clearly and plainly scripted in God’s word Who are we to turn our back on TRUTH, demote God from His omnipotence and promote our ideas because they seem best? We do not have to understand it all – but if the Bible is the inspired word of God – and I believe it is - then we’d better refrain from venturing from it.
Many people are irate about finances – and assuming that Obama will heal our wounds. No different from others, Mike and I have lost thousands of dollars in the stock market in the past 5 or 6 weeks – I hate to even mention it, because it is so disappointing – but when placed side-by-side with the issue of life, the concerns or anger about the loss of money simply can’t take precedence over the loss of human life. Under those circumstances, our nation is destined not to prosper by the hand of God as it has in it’s short history.
One last thought about the sanctity of life - - if our nation doesn’t value the life of an innocent, precious, helpless baby – it will only be time when the opposite end of the age spectrum will be equally devalued! Look, Social Security is in dire straits – baby boomers are a drain on the health care system – medicaid is weak, medicare is struggling - what better way to get America back on their financial feet than to treat the elderly with the same amount of respect as the unborn? None. It would surely solve a lot of financial woes to humanely euthanize those who are drawing from the system without contributing!
This election is about the future of the nation, but it will also go a long way toward determining the culture our children and grandchildren will come to know. I have a moral obligation to vote with our children and our children's children in mind. That puts the election in a different light, doesn't it
You know my heart and I hope you understand that I am less concerned with politicians and political parties than I am with the biblical guidelines that the parties have the power to either strengthen or damage.
May God grant each of us wisdom as November 4th approaches.
Betcha didn't know this: I used to work at WORLDS OF FUN - back when it was brand spankin' new and the GRAND OPENING drew thousands of us to interview for summer work! I was a part of all that! I think it was like 1973 - 1975 when I spent my summers in the Merchandising department. Merchandising got me because I wasn't good enough to make it into SHOW PRODUCTIONS - where I REALLY wanted to work, auditioned and dreamed of spending my summer on stage.
One of the perks of being an "ambassador," besides the cutesie little uniforms we had to wear, (argh) was the unlimited free admission! One would think one would get sick of the place after working six, often seven days a week and lots of double shifts - but I have great memories of that job and remember some of the most fun times of my life hanging out at the park before or after my shift - riding rides and hanging out with the other employees. I nearly always worked the day shift, then a bunch of us who got off work at the same time would clock out, change clothes and return to the park in our civies for the evening. After a year or so, I was promoted to Day Off Relief Manager, so I was a manager at a different store each day or evening - filling in for the manager who was getting his or her one day a week off gave me the chance to meet tons and tons of new friends! I loved that job! I remember the nights when I'd work, I'd drive in early to spend time in the park before I had to start my shift. It was just so new, so exciting, there'd never been anything like it around Kansas City, they made us feel like we were "cream of the crop" to have been hired and it was such a great place to meet guys! (Aha! The truth exposed!) This was also back in the day when I was able to ride any ride in the parkwithout the slightest twinge of feeling like tossin' my cook's, no matter how up and downy it was or how spinny around it was. (Alas, those days of having a strong constitution are long gone and now I struggle keeping my dinner in place just riding in a car - on a straight hiway.)
Wow...my how I digress...
Anyway, the FINNISH FLING in the Scandinavian section - was one of my all time least favorite rides, but ironically, it was also the one that I never missed doing - no matter what! NO ONE MISSED THE FLING! It was the place to meet! Besides the Zambizi Zinger, it was THE RIDE to ride, too! Looking back - that need to ride was probably just to prove I could tolerate it without making a splashy mess...if ya know what I mean! Things like that were important back then! All this was back in the day when tube tops were prevalent civies and flip flops were the only summer shoe we knew - - so the FLING was more than a bit daring -sometimes startling! No...really.
(LOL "No...really" makes me sound like Melanie! :)
The FINNISH FLING, for those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about, had a side door where we walked into this contraption that felt like we were standing inside a giant whiskey barrel. (Sometimes it smelled that nasty, too.) We'd lean against the carpeted wall, they'd slam the door closed and the barrel slowly began to circle, gradually accelerating, faster, faster, faster and rapidly, the riders became literally SMASHED against the walls by centrifugal force! The power plastering your body against the side was so strong that you couldn't even pull your head away from the wall much less lift an arm to retrieve an on-the-move tube top! (Hence, the crowded observation deck!) Once in awhile, the esteemed veteran riders managed to bend their knees, but most people struggled with blinking! Just as you'd think you couldn't bare another ounce of pressure against you, the bottom dropped right out from under you - it just fell out of the barrel and there you were...plastered against the wall - dangling with no support and the only thing keeping you from falling was this nauseating spinning! It was great fun. Not. And then you waited...and often it felt like forever...and then you waited some more. Finally, the spinning would stop and the floor would gradually return to support you.
Life is a lot like the FINNISH FLING. Life is a place we love to be, surrounded by friends, good things and good times, but there's just something about it - maybe the challenge, maybe the curiosity, maybe the faith - that no matter what happens to us, we just keep coming back for more.
Sometimes life presents us with a fun ride...sometimes, it becomes our least favorite ride to ride. Like the FINNISH FLING, we generally walk through the door of life's adventures voluntarily - anticipating fun and wonderful things ahead. Sometimes even though we don't really understand why or what provokes us to do such a thing, we step in knowing it's not in our best interest. Sometimes, we have no choice - we take it as it comes...no matter what...for whatever reason.
Our lives spin with busy-ness, responsibilities, stress, finances, emotions, illness and the veritable combination of life's "ride" serve to add boost to the spin. Before we know it... we find ourselves SMASHED against the wall...with little or no wiggle room. And then, just when we think we can't bare another ounce of pressure against us, the bottom drops out from under us! At that moment - life as we know it, seems suspended in time. We can't lift ourselves away from the force that's pressing in on us. Life is like that.
Life is like that when Wall St. sends our 401K hopelessly spinning. Life is like that when the doctor finds something you don't want. Life is like that when job cuts jeopardize your income. Life is like that when tragedy strikes. When the bottom drops out from under us, we HAVE to be prepared for what's next.
I've learned, more often than not - the HARD WAY, that it is a very good thing to have a strong foundation beneath us - before the pressure ever comes against us! We can't wait until the bad hits - we have to be proactive and prepare our strength and faith ahead of time. It is a very good thing to have a strong relationship with God - a relationship that is the foundation we can depend on through everything so when the bottom falls out, we can still function in Him.
Isaiah 40:31 says: But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Waiting on the Lord is kind of like waiting on that barrel to stop spinning and the floor to return. Sometimes it seems like an eternity of waiting...but it's worth the wait.
I'd LOVE to be able to tell you that I'm at a point in my spiritual walk to be able to honor this verse: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” -James 1:2-3 (NIV) but the fact is, there's not a chance I could admit that. There's no way I feel "pure joy" whenever I face trials!
Just when I was convinced I was strong and could totally trust God in everything that might happen to me, (mostly because of all He's been faithful to show me over the past year or so,) Dr. Swaiki found a lump in my armpit. There was not an inkling of "pure joy" in my heart Wednesday afternoon. Instead, I struggled. I felt weak, helpless, sad, afraid, weary of all the cancer stuff and yes, angry - the exact opposite of "pure joy." I was angry at cancer and how it has turned our world upside down. I was angry that so many people are struggling with that awful stuff and the diagnosis is increasing. I was angry that I lost my CANCER SUCKS pin! Everything about Wednesday upset me. So I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt Wednesday afternoon that my relationship with the Lord had a long, long, long way to go and grow. Once I settled down though, I knew that God was going to be able to use this to teach me more, to develop perseverance, and strengthen my faith and trust in Him.
So, ashamed that I was facing my Lord in prayer with such anxiety, crabbiness and trepidation, I TOLD Him everything I was feeling. (He already knew, but it felt good to say it.)
This afternoon - in a darker moment of my journey, I was surrounded by love and prayers. Mom was home praying for me. Jess was in Columbia praying. LeAnn was on her knees. Many of you were offering intercession. Mike took off work and drove me to my appointment and Micah left school early to sit with her daddy while he waited.
So my FINNISH FLING became a FINISH FLING by 3:50 this afternoon. My world was spinning. ...had been for two days! After a mammogram of Minigua proved everything fine and dandy, I think I felt the spin slow down a little - one down - one to go. I was then escorted to the sonogram lab where the next hour was spent with warm goo being pushed around my armpit - from the inside of my arm, to my back, to my front, and down to the lower end of my ribcage. Over and over the tech searched - stopping, pressing, moving over the same spot repeatedly, speeding up my spinning world again - but eventually she whispered that she found "nothing at all suspicious looking."
But then the doctor came in to follow-up and just "double check." He said very little. I wanted to hear him talk. He was an odd little man who was too quiet for my comfort level. I waited and the spinning returned, figuratively - not literally. He was an intense little man who didn't say anything. I asked him a question - don't even remember what it was - he said, "Why do you ask?" argh! He scooted the transponder up and down. He moved it to the right then the left - he still said nothing and so my spinning was starting not only to return, but it was getting faster fast! There was no comfort in his silence.
Finally though, he slipped the transponder back in it's warming holster, handed me a wash rag and said, "Have a great weekend, Debra! (I'm ALWAYS Debra when I'm in trouble or around a doctor!) You look fine - there's nothing even remotely suspicious looking and I couldn't even locate a lymph node - they must've removed them all! Have a good rest of your Friday." and walked out.
I felt the floor of the fling return beneath my feet - the spinning had stopped and the scary two-day ride....was FINISHED FLING.
Who knows what Dr. Swaiki felt during the exam, but it clearly concerned him. My arm was down at the time he felt the lump and my arm was up over my head during the entire ultrasound check...maybe that made a difference. ? ? ? I'd been sick last week - with fever - maybe that had produced some kind of lymph node swelling...maybe that made a difference. ? ? ? Maybe whatever was there faded because of answer to prayer. ? ? ? Today's doctor assured me that "it can take years" for an area that has been "traumatized with so many surgeries" to settle down and stop changing. He assured me that it was the right thing for Dr. Swaiki to send me for a check anytime he feels something suspicious - but this time - "there's nothing to worry about."
Thank you, God, for staying with me to the FINISH, for being the firm foundation beneath my feet, the Light on my path and the hope that is in me. Forgive me, Lord, for my doubts and fears - and help me always to trust in You completely and unconditionally. In Jesus' name - Amen
THANK EACH ONE OF YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS! I believe God hears them - and I believe Dr. Swaiki felt a lump that was no longer there today! YOU were each instrumental in that fling being finished. Nothing is impossible when God is centered in it - and nothing is coincidence when Jesus is involved!
When the bottom falls out from under you - wait patiently on the Lord - He DOES answer prayer. He DOES slow down the spin and He DOES love us enough to use it to teach us how to grow in our love, faith and strength in Him.
In His grip and thankful for praying family and friends,
P.S. YES...we celebrated after receiving the good news! Mark drove to the Plaza from Blue Springs and the four of us ate outside in the SONshine at Cheesecake Factory! It was the best Friday I remember in a long, long time!
I saw the Oncologist today - hoping so much he'd bump me from having an appointment with him every three months to maybe every six, even five would be a treat; but instead, he found a lump under my right arm - Minerva side - same side where I had the mastectomy. I am scheduled for a sonogram this Friday at 2:30 at the Breast Center at St. Luke's to make sure it's not a "lymph node we may've missed." For some reason unbeknownst to me, he also ordered a "diagnostic mammogram" on Minugua, my left side, so I wonder if something must've felt suspect there, too.
It was a pretty emotional ride home - alone, in the car, with bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-70 - but it's nearly 10 p.m. I've wrestled with it, talked to God a whole bunch, taken a nap, got a little protein in me and now I'm ready to face whatever comes. My self-talk has become a routine conversation of late - I find it's important to not only contact God, but remind myself of His promises, assure myself of what I know to be true, revisit the blessings that have come from having cancer, and realizing that every step is another step of faith. I am positively glad I know God with an intimate closeness because I KNOW He will continue to carry me.
Now for some other news...Mike was walking across the shop at work last Thursday and just as he stepped over an air hose
that was stretched across the floor, someone on the other end picked it up making a classic TRIP WIRE beneath Mike's feet. He crashed to the floor, with a full body slam. He laid there awhile to take inventory and when he finally got up, he had a bum right knee (the one he's had two surgeries on), a bad pain in his left hamstring, awful pain across his chest, neck and shoulders and his left hand was limp. After a few hours at the Workman's Comp doctor, x-rays and various other checks, he came home with a diagnosis of torn cartiledge in his wrist. There was a hairline fracture, too, but the pain wasn't where the break was - it was where the cartiledge was injured, so he's wearing a brace for awhile, visiting the doctor once a week, and still working. He seems fine, but I can tell his hand is still tender because he usually keeps his wallet in his back left pocket, now when he goes for it, it's a right handed grab. Luckily, it's been really slow at work, so he hasn't had too much trouble managing the weakness in that left hand AND he's a righty - so that helps, too. His grip was measured - 100 pounds on his uninjured right hand and 20 in his left...so that's a pretty significant weakness. He's so funny though, always adding a ray of sunshine, he came home the day after it happened and said, "It was so boring at work today, I just about decided to fall again, just for something to do."
Jess has been feeling lousy pretty much since her couple months in Saltillo, Mexico, so Dr. Mallouk put her on antibiotics last week. She is feeling "maybe a little better," but still struggling with some other stomach and intestinal issues that may or may not be connected to her work trip, so if you would please keep her in your prayers that she might be healed of her nausea, bloating and all the other accompanying yuck that she's living with, it would be awesome and very much appreciated!
Special thoughts and prayers go out to our little friends, Tyler and Lily, their mommies and daddy's, too! Also, aunt Florence and her family - - who has been in the hospital or rehab center for months on end with little improvement. Finances are becoming a huge concern. My friends Cliff and Diane's whose mom is needing 24 hour care. Also, please pray for my friend Carol M. whose daughter in law recently received a possible diagnosis of ovarian cancer, and our custodian Steve's wife who is a cancer survivor but had a mass biopsied today. Finally, let's fervently pray for our President and our Presidential candidates. Our prayers ARE heard, my friends!
God doesn't promise us a life ride without ups and downs...but He does promise to stay right there with us during those highs and lows, giving us His peace. I'm learning that a rollercoaster wouldn't be at all interesting if it were all level and straight.
There must be lows for us to appreciate the highs.
In His grip,
It was so fun! Micah and I hung around after the AMERICAN IDOL extravaganza at the Sprint Center the other night! It was a fun concert, but the icing on the cake happened afterwards - around 11:00. We knew the "idols" would be signing autographs by the loading dock (glamourous connection) so we dutifully lined up to catch our glimpse. We were about five rows back from the temporary orange-net fencing designed to protect the super stars from the rowdies, and quickly saw David rush right past us, scrawling his name on a hat, a cigarette package, a piece of paper, a program and a lil' kid's arm! We missed him this go around, so we sauntered a little further south - down the line - closer to the end of his adorers. Again, we were still WAY in the back of the crowd, Micah a short lil' 5'4" couldn't hardly see, so Micah's mom - with her rotund-but-not-voluptuous voice yelled, "Micah Gray is here!"
In the midst of all the clammour, yells, girly-squeals, and other marked noises that accompany admiration, David stopped in his tracks, looked up, quipped, "Micah Gray is here?" then started searching the crowd. The instant he saw her he very nicely instructed all the fans to "scoot apart so she can get up here!" And then he hugged her, they exchanged a couple of brief old-friend sentiments and he was on his way. But the division of fans parting so Micah could step into the hug of her old friend, was...to say the least...very David CooL!
My lil' black jitney is for sale now, so here are her stats in case you know someone with ten grand who is looking for a sweet lil' sassy machine to cruise:
1. Front and Side air bags
2. 100,000 miles, but maintenanced by Mike - an ASE certified technician! Mercedes are just getting "broken in" at 100,000.
3. Dual climate control
4. Supercharged / Kompressor
5. Automatic OR 4-speed transmission
6. New tires
7. Hard top convertible!
--------------------------------------------enough of that ------------------------------------------------------
I had one of the most blood-pressure-elevating experiences of my life Tuesday of last week. Amber at school lives in Brookside where my lil' black jitney was getting a new drivers' side mirror installed, so she dropped me off so I could bring 'er back home. Because it was mid rush hour, I elected to maneuver the back roads rather than sit and wait for people to press their accellerators, so I came home via 63rd, Woodson, Little Blue, Noland, and eventually Woods Chapel where I pulled to a stop at the east-bound intersection at Woods Chapel and 291 - right there in front of the Price Chopper on the south and Burger King on the north side of the road. There was a black Ford pick up stopped beside me. The west-bound lanes evidently got a green light because they started rolling and since we were both stopped, the first car in the turning lane, which I later learned was a left turn yield, turned left in front of us to go south on 291. Just as that car made a move to turn, out of nowhere came a little blue Honda, and literally slammed right into the passenger side door of the turning car! It all happened immediately in front of me - not more than 10 feet! Like time switched to s l o w m o t i o n , I watched the late-model silver Camry skid sideways a couple of feet and then as if it were being launched over a ramp, it rolled over on it's side.
The image in my mind's eye that haunted me all night long, was the 17 year old boy who was trapped inside the Camry laying on it's side. The passenger side was up in the air and smashed to smitherenes, so there was no escape there and the drivers side was against the ground - so he couldn't escape there, either. He was clammoring around inside that overturned car like a caged animal and the look of terror on his face seared into my brain. I flipped on my emergency flashers, left my car in the middle of the street, preventing oncoming traffic from entering the accident scene, and ran to the kid. He was bleeding and definitely disoriented, but moving and wanting more than anything to GET OUT OF THAT CAR even though the man from the black pick up and the guy who'd been behind him in the turning lane were urging him to stay calm and stay still until help arrived. Even now, I'm unsure how he got out of the car - probably through the smashed back window or something - but when he settled down on the ground beside the light pole there - the men left the kid and ran to the woman who had, in my opinion, caused the wreck - to check on her welfare. I did not go to her, so I don't know how badly she was injured but her windshield looked like a bowling ball had been thrust upon it and her head was slumped and bleeding - so she didn't look too good to me. I stayed with the kid until the ambulance crew took him to the Trauma Center at Research and about 7:00, I finally arrived back home. During the time I'd been with him and before the emergency help got there, he wanted to call his mom - so after he spoke with her a little and I heard him tell her, "Mom! I CAN'T get into the car! You don't understand!" I took his cell phone and assured her that he could not get into the car and that they would be needing to take him to a hospital. She wasn't at all in favor of that and wanted them to wait until she got there, but in light of the fact that she was still downtown KC, it didn't look like she was going to get her wish. I gave her my cell number so if we got disconnected or wanted information and couldn't reach her son, she could call me. I didn't hear from her.
All evening, I thought about the poor kid, his mom, his family and just prayed. The next day, during my lunch break, I'd just made a doctor's appointment so my cell was in my hand - and it rang! The likelihood of that happening during the day when my phone is always on silent and in my purse in my desk drawer is amazing in and of itself - but it was the boy's mom. She just called to thank me for staying with him. She said he told her he didn't remember a lot about any of it except that "there was this nice lady who kept making me think and answer questions and stuff so I didn't fall asleep." Bless his heart! She told me they kept him most of the evening and that he actually fainted in the Emergency Room, but sent him home after treating his cuts and making sure he didn't have any head injury. I was so thankful she called, so glad I was there to be with him, so encouraged by her good news, and so YEAH GOD that he was going to be alright. Friends, God does answer prayer - and He does work awful into awesome. Who knows why this kid had to suffer through such a traumatic ordeal. Who knows why his poor mom had to receive such a frightening phone call. Who knows? God does. It's so awesome to be able to trust Him with our lives. It sure takes a lot of pressure off of us!
I will try to post more often. I received an instant message from Beth asking that I write more often. Here I was thinking I needed to stop since I had no more cancer-journey information (Thank God!), but for those who enjoy reading - I will continue to blog and you continue to let me know if you're still checkin' in.
Lily's PET scan proved today that the MRI was completely correct. All of the tumors around her body ARE GONE and the one in her brain has shrunk considerably. Let us keep praying for her - as well as for this upcoming election - of which I want to write about for just a moment before I close tonight...rather, this morning.
WE all know that when we live INSIDE God's will, that we will be blessed. That doesn't mean to say we will be without awful things happening to us. It doesn't mean we will be exempt from hurt or difficulties. It doesn't mean we're without fault nor does it mean we are better than anyone else. It only means that our hearts are as in tuned with God's desires as is humanly possible. Even when we fail to be in THAT place, He knows our hearts and KNOWS it is our desire to live within His perfect will. Then, we ask, how do we KNOW, without a doubt, what God's will IS? There are some things we must move forward on and test - praying and trusting that God will guide us in His direction. But, there are the majority of things that are clear cut and non-compromising in His Word - the Bible. IF you believe in God's holy word as the inspired word of God and that all portions of it are true - without exception, then it is a MUST to elect a President who values life at the moment of conception! We must vote for a leader who understands that a woman's choice begins when she chooses whether or not to be sexually active. There is a questionable juxtaposition for those protesting the war because of the many deaths of our service men and women, yet, let us remember as we decide who we will vote for, that there are more babies aborted in one day in the United States than lives that have been lost throughout the entirety of this awful, ugly war. ALL life deserves to be valued! And if we could just keep the tune resounding in our heads - the song we learned as kids: JESUS LOVES THE LITTLE CHILDREN. ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD! RED AND YELLOW, BLACK AND WHITE, THEY ARE PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT, JESUS LOVES THE LITTLE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD!
Then there's the other controversial issue about same-sex marriages. Our Bible speaks, without question, that homosexuality is bad for us and He will not bless that choice; therefore, IF we expect God's blessings to pour down upon our families - as has been over the past several centuries when we've been a prosperous, healthy, powerful nation, we must follow His directives - for our own sakes - and vote for a president who does not promote that which God clearly disapproves.
Our Lord does not establish a bunch of rules to ruin our lives, take away the fun, make life boring, refuse us choice, to be all powerful, or just to be the "heavy." Every single thing He has given us as a directive is for our own good. Just think how wonderfully different our world would be if we just followed His Ten Commandments. Had we followed His guidance regarding homosexuality, we would not be suffering with such a roaring HIV and STD pandemic! God knows...we need to do as He says and we can be, once again, blessed as a nation.
Please, let's examine our hearts more than our finances. Let's entrust our economy to Him and take care of His people - both young and old! He will bless our economy if we follow His advice on that, too! The United States CAN get back on track IF we vote INSIDE GOD'S WILL. We can't be both, either. Either we are doing what WE think is best or we are trusting that what GOD instructs is best.
In His grip and knowing He knows better than me at my best,
Dear only everyone! The days have come where the NEWS seems so distant, the journey was steep and more than I could've handled without the friends, family and Father who kept me strong, and now the VICTORY is glorious. I have much to share since I've not posted for weeks - but first - I want to SHARE God's VICTORY that, like my 13, are simply...MIRACLES. Please read first, from the Caring Bridge Blog of Lily Clevenger who was diagnosed at age 6 with Rhabdomyosarcoma (Undifferentiated) Stage 4, Group 4 cancer:
Lily's CT and MRI results are back.
Hold on to your hats....there is NO evidence of disease in her chest, abdomen and pelvis. All of the many, many tumors (and there were too many to count) are GONE!
We are still waiting on the MRI results on her head and neck where the primary tumors are.
So to all of you who have prayed daily with our family for Lily's healing, THANK YOU! They were heard. God Bless you all and thanks to God. What a wonderful day!
Thank You, God, for the amazing medical teams at Children's Mercy who've been Your hands through this amazing miracle! Thank You, Lord, for hearing the prayers of Your people!
Next, another story comes from my friend Carol Mead. Carol forwarded this to me from her daughter, Kerry, about Carol's five year old grandson, Kerry's son, Jackson:
Only a day or so later, I received the following email from Carol:
This was the outcome of all those prayers---a miracle. A full-blown, honest-to-goodness miracle. God worked in a MIGHTY way! There are so many stories that have come out of this, it's unbelievable. Friends, we will see more and more miracles as God begins to move in these last days. We are so blessed to be a part of this. God gave us all peace about Jackson when we gave him into God's care.
Scott and I are deeply moved by the outpouring of love and prayers for Jackson. As you know, I sent out the e-mail on Thursday morning and by 11:30pm that evening, our cry for help to petition God for Jackson’s healing had reached both coasts and north and south across this great nation. We received so many e-mails, many from complete strangers that had such a burden to pray for him. We thank you and are forever grateful for your support.
On Friday, the doctor asked to speak with us prior to the procedure to update us on Jackson’s condition. She said that his case had been discussed with the entire cardiology group at the weekly roundtable. They discussed the severity of his case and that it would be best to have a couple of doctors from rhuemotology on call to speak with us after the procedure. In addition to exploring the two enlarged coronary arteries, the left with a sizable aneurysm, she had elected to explore additional arteries that the group speculated would also have aneurysms.
After the procedure, the doctor sat down to give us the news. She began by saying “ I don’t really know how to explain this, but your son’s heart is normal.” I didn’t find enlarged arteries and no aneurysms.” It was obvious she was surprised what she found. Scott and I started smiling and crying and she said “ The chief of cardiology, a man with 30 years experience did the second set of echocardiograms, and the whole group reviewed them, we’re sorry to have put you through this.” We simply told her that it was a miracle, there were thousands of people praying for Jackson and God healed him! With tears in her eyes she shook her head yes.
To Ronnie, thank you for sending this verse, I held it in my hand the entire day-
Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Hi friends! Long time, no type! We've made our rounds of Ft. Lauderdal and the Florida Keys and have returned home rested but not ready to go back to work. (Is anyone ever really ready to end vacation and start setting an alarm clock again and returning to work?!)
We stayed at the Pelican Grand Beach Resort - and it was UHmazing!
And with UHmazing comes some UHmazing surprises, as well.
We had to pay valet parking at $16 a day (plus tip, of course) whether we used it or not (though we had to use it because there was no parking within any decent-to-walk-for-me distance) so one afternoon, while lalligagging around the pool, we decided to take advantage of the burgers and dogs they were grilling poolside. It seemed so much better than going in, getting dressed, tipping the valet and basically interrupting our day at the beach. So, the M's: Micah, Mark and Mike each ordered a hot dog which came with a bag of Lays potato chips, and Jess and I ordered a burger - also with a bag 'o chips. We each ordered a soft drink - one size - small. The pool/beach side server brought us our food first, returned a second trip with the drinks, and then after primary consumption of said order, they came with the bill. Back to UHmazing. Just give it a guestimate... three hot dogs, two hamburgers, five Cokes and five individual bags of chips. Go ahead...guess what the tab was! (I'll tell ya later - if I remember.)
It was so funny how much more complex it has become to get all of us together for a few days together! Micah and I went together on Tuesday from KC - totally enjoyed the time together just the two of us. Mark was heading there from St. Louis. Micah and I were sitting on the second row of the aircraft, in Tampa, when on walks Mark! We had no idea his plane from St. Louis would be arriving and he'd be changing to our plane at the same time! What a fun surprise that was! Mike left KC that night after work and got in around midnight. The next day, Jess arrived from Mexico so we had all day Friday and Saturday together before it was time for people to start heading back. Mark left for St. Louis and Mike for KC Sunday night because they both had to be back to work Monday morning, Jess headed back to Satillo Mexico for work Monday morning and then, Micah and I stayed over a day before returning on Tuesday late afternoon. It was, at least for me, a time to forever treasure! There are always ups and downs when that many people with that many opinions share that close of space - but I have all new purpose and place all different values to things after last summer - so it was wonderful - even the $86 pool side lunch!
This was my first venture out MINUS MINERVA and yes, I was self conscious - mainly because it is so evident that I've been surgically altered. My chest is not just flat, it caves in now that the implant has been removed. My self consciousness came mostly in knowing that looking at me HAS to make others uncomfortable - pretty sure - between MISSING MINERVA and MOUNDS of MISSING MUSCLE replaced with lard - I was a sight to behold, but I just decided that most of these people would never see me again, and my family would love me in spite of the way I looked - so I had fun, wore my big ol' OMAR THE TENT MAKER SUIT, stayed covered up as much as possible and had a blast! One thing cancer has taught me, you can't worry too much about what others may think or say - - life is too short to be concerned about that!
The Keys were a disappointment - to all of us. I'm not sure what we expected, but it wasn't that. We drove a little over the halfway-to-Key West point and then turned around and headed back. The water was beautiful and we did stop to play in the surf for a bit -
but the trip in our little Kia Spectra was a bit too cozy for us to extend the already-four-hour trip two more hours and then a six-hour trip back to the Pelican Grand. We have no regrets that we changed direction and it was unanimous when brought to a vote, particularly by those sardined in the back seat! On our way back north, there was a horrendous accident in the south-bound lane and the one-lane-each-way hiway was blocked for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles. The southbounders were at a total stand still, no doubt for hours and hours and hours and hours! From the looks of the accident, it appeared that a huge boat, pulled by a pick up, came off the hitch, skidded hundreds of feet with the trailer axle and tires going one way, the boat going another and the actual birth of the trailer ended up in a tree. In doing so, one of the flying portions of their summer vacation took out car after car after car - all going different directions and in the midst of all that, a motorcycle was hit and dissected into a million pieces. It was the most horrible wreck any of us have ever seen - so our hearts were sick and the car quiet the rest of the trip back to the beach.
God blessed us - again. We waivered between heading straight back to the hotel or stopping and eating in the Keys. After oscillating in our decision, the majority decided we were hungry enough to stop and grab a bite to eat - late lunch or early dinner - not sure. We enjoyed a meal right on the water:
and during that time, the wreck had to have happened. I shudder to think what could've happened had God not intervened with hungry appetites! I don't believe in coincidences - - not anymore, at least!
We're home now, gradually getting back into the routine. Mark is working long hours at the CVS pharmacy, Micah heads back to school next week with 30 hours of medical courses, Jess has completed her 8-week stint in Mexico and is now in Atlanta, headed for New York, San Francisco, and sad to say, the Bahamas, so we won't be seeing her for about a month now. Mike's still at Honda - SO ready to retire and I returned to school yesterday to get my room all ready to go. Thanks to Micah, all the blingy decorations are hanging and moving with the door as it opens and closes! (Yeah Micah!) I hate the thought of having to set an alarm every day, but I still love my job - so I'm adjusting my thinking to make it all worth it! Our schedule will be brutal this year - - it remains to be seen if my poor ol' bones'll be able to handle so many days without a break other than lunch. I'm praying about that - so join me, if you will.
As for praying, I'd like to invite you to pray for my friend, Kathy Weekley, who is going in for a total knee replacement in September. She has asked for prayers of comfort and peace during this time of anticipation and probably high anxiety. Please continue to pray for Lily Clevenger and my second cousin, Norma - both battling stage 4 cancer. And finally, we must all be praying for our nation and leaders this pre-election time. There is much to be concerned about - so let us pray God's will be done!
Hugs to all - and thanks for visiting the blog,
One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his breaks, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean he was really friendly.
So I asked, 'Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!' This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call 'The Law of the Garbage Truck.'
He explained that many people are like garbage trucks They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you. Don't take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.
The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so..... 'Love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don't.'
Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it!
Hiya friends! The search is on for a better-than-good nursing home for my aunt. In helping to locate a safe, healthy environment for her that is also covered by her Coventry insurance, I am asking for thumbs up and thumbs down - based solely on first-hand experience or what you may've heard regarding any or all of the below listed homes. I look forward to hearing from any of you who may have input. You can write directly to my email at email@example.com if you'd rather not publicize your opinions on the blog.
1. Carmel Hills
810 E. Walnut St.
2. Cedar Valley Health
6124 Raytown Rd.
3. John Knox Village
600 NW Pryor Rd.
Lee's Summit, MO
4. Blue River Rehab
10425 Chestnut Drive
Kansas City, Mo.
5. Timber Lake Care Center
12110 Holmes Rd.
Kansas City, Mo
6. Monterey Park
4600 Little Blue Parkway
I'm doing dandy myself...thanks for asking! Well, the real truth is, I'm fat and sassy, but that's nothing too new for me. I am enjoying working on several projects this summer (TRICKS TWO, a BLOG BOOK, and two PowerPoint productions for several conventions I will be presenting for in the fall) so I've been a bit of a recluse. If I'd spend more time outside, I might be able to be a BROWN recluse, but that's not the case - at least not yet.
It won't be long before the girls will meet me in Ft. Lauderdale - right on the beach - to get some BROWN! Ahhh...rays and relaxation. I am not taking my laptop and I am not taking lesson plans for school - it's going to be pure vacation a la BRAIN DUMP! In addition to grossing people out by donning my swimming suit (by OMAR the TENT MAKER), we have/had tentative plans to do one of those Everglades air boat tours. However, last night we learned that those boats skid and slide across the top of the water - even more so when pretty ladies are on board. Well, I can safely say I wouldn't be a contributor for additional show-offy craziness by the young boat pilot, but the girls definitely are candidates - so we may have to punt. It sounds like something SURE to make Micah and me feed the gators...we get easily and dreadfully motion sick....so we really MAY have to bypass that lil' plan.
And speaking of bypass, I understand that the bridge we'd planned to take one day to visit the Florida Keys can and does easily come to a multi-hour STAND STILL if there's an accident anywhere between towns. Two different couples shared that they used up more than half of their already-short, three-day vacation, sitting on a bridge in the heat. Doesn't THAT sound simply titilating?! (That word has all new meaning to me post mastectomy!) I'd mosey around and visit perfect strangers, but should Mike get to join us, he would be as itsy as a cat on a hot tin roof and the girls? Well, who knows!?
I'm going to get back to work, but really wanted to touch base since I haven't written in awhile. Please stay in touch - and remember that God DOES answer prayers!
In His grip,
Hi there FRIENDLETS! I've been so lazy about writing...or doing anything for that matter! I LOVE staying up late and then sleeping in! That must be my normal sleep preference, because that's how it ends up being anytime I don't have to set an alarm. I read on a sleep info web site that we who have sleep disorders should set an alarm every single day - no matter what. I say..fooey on that! What's vacation with an alarm?! (Not a vacation!) Any how, I wanted to let you know that I'm doing really well after my surgeries - all the things that instigated the need for my hospital visit seem to feel much better at this point! My hand is healing fast and looks really good...for a hand...so that's all a plus, but then, so is my SIZE! (rats)
I have absolutely zero / 0 / nada / zip plans to continue as originally planned and have the carpal tunnel surgery on my left hand - that whole business of feeling numb and tingly has completely dissipated since the implant was removed...it hasn't even fallen asleep and that was a multi-time thing every day and woke me up at night. Funny how I always thought it could be related to the implant as did my Oncologist, Dr. Shwaiki - but a hand full of OTHER doctors confidently, and some sternly, said an implant in no way could cause all the flu-like symptoms, chills and tingling I was experiencing "unless the implant was leaking" - which it wasn't! (I don't remember if I mentioned that back then, but in February, '08, I had a mammogram ON MY NEWLY PLACED IMPLANTED MINERVA less than 13 weeks after surgery! You know how fond we all are of mammos anyway, then imagine having one when you can still feel the dissolvable stitches. It wasn't a picnic.) Nevertheless, something about that silicone thing just didn't work for me, besides the fact that it looked pretty yoo-gley and felt about as hard as a horseshoe in there, it ached. Since that June 16th operation, I haven't had any more of those awful, uncontrollable CHILLS I was CONSTANTLY having, either! (Mike's theory all along was that they'd inserted an ice pack instead of an implant!) He's so glad I'm not freezing all the time when I'm not having a hot flash! I was bad...it was either/or for nine months! I was so bad that by the end of May, I was still wearing my Eddie Bauer -60 rated parka out to recess when the angels were going out in cute little sleeveless tops and t's without so much as a jacket. I was still sleeping under an electric blanket, on HIGH, June 15th! I sat at the computer with a quilt wrapped around me...until, of course, the hot flash inundated me, and then I'd throw it off, wait until it passed, then started the shiver, all over again. I was a mess - but the keyword is "WAS!!" woo hooo! IMPLANT outie...chills bye bye-ie
More recently, in an attempt to figure out what to do with my lopsided figure, I figured I might borrow a boob from my 2nd cousin's wife who figured she'd buy an expensive prosthesis a few years back and now that she figures she doesn't need it for her figure, anymore, she offered to let me borrow her figure inhancer to adjust my figure. (Go figure!) I drove to Liberty for lunch and a boob pick up Thursday, then once I got home, I carefully tucked the soft, sorta triangular-shaped mpt-so-lil' boobie into my bra and made sure it was nice and secure so it didn't come blopping out at a most inopportune moment. (That would be possible - considering my luck.) I know full well it'd sound like a giant jelly fish slapping the deck if it ever worked it's way up and out and splatted to the ground! I took time and admired how accurately the size matched Minigua, how actually comfortable it felt, I checked it out from the front and also gandered at a profile view...I even pulled my top down a little tighter (which is amazing in and of itself considering how tight it is just stretching around me!) just to see how nice it looked to be a two-boober again, instead of a uniboob; and by golly, it hadn't been in place more than a couple hours and I started itching a most uncontrollable itch! It felt all crawly where it was touching me and I couldn't wait to get where I could yank it out. I'd completely forgotten about it being there (afterall, I was EATING and that is a grand distraction in my book) so I don't think it was psychosomatic, I think it was ITCHOsomatic, because the itch stopped bothering once I took it out and returned it to the handy dandy lil' bag it arrived in! I plan to give it another try before I return it, just in case something else caused the need for scratch, but whether I find it's useable or not, I still send my thanks to Tanya for letting me be a boob borrower. Mental image time: Tana works in a bank. I walk up announcing my business: "I'm here to see a loan officer. (pause) Hi Tanya, would you please consider loaning me......a boob?" I seriously doubt THAT's the kind of LOAN she's used to offering! :)
I've been writing this summer - working on a second and third book - kinda simultaneously...although neither have a thing in common...except the auther, I guess. One is kind of an extension of my first, THESE TRICKS ARE FOR KIDS, but it's a little broader than the first since it's not written with only music teachers in mind. I learned a great deal about what TO and what NOT to write after the first try, so hopefully, this one will be better. I haven't sold enough books yet, to pay off the mortgage, but I have been able to afford, from my royalties, some of that new nail polish that drys in 60 seconds! The second book is a collection of stories that are actually from this blog - with hopes that it might be an encouragement to other women going through the same ordeal. Humor, information, and stories of all the ups and downs of emotions that congregate during that time is what I hope to include in an entertaining, but respectful way. After all, cancer is not a funny matter and definitely deserves our respect - there just has to be a silver lining somewhere along the way - even if it's in our bra - and I intend to write about it!
It's nearly 3:00 am - and I suppose I ought to put my lil' head on a pillow and try some sleep, but before I sign off, thank you to LeAnn and David, Mitch and Parker for the 54th St. gift card which was used to treat ourselves to a great dinner and then, Mary Franco for bringing dinner to us after my surgeries, your lasagna and chocolate cup cakes are MMMMMazing! Thank you, too, for all of your prayers for aunt Florence. She is slowly but consistently improving! Incidentally, if anyone reading this has insight on a great care facility aunt Florence could be moved into after she gets out of the hospital, please let me know - same, too, if you have any opinions of places best to avoid. She will need nursing care. I told my cousins I'd help them find a place for her, knowing all the connections I have through friendships and this blog! Finally, thank you for your prayers for lil' Miss Lily Clevenger. If you go to her caringbridge.com website and then type in her name, you can see her pics and read just how much prayers have been answered and God has been evident in that little girls life as well as her family! If you will, continue additional prayers for Dee Dee Arps (BC survivor) who just had a hysterectomy on Wednesday, Francie S. who had DIEP surgery recently and I hear that's a booger to recover from, Debbie (Karen Robinette's sis who is really struggling with throat and neck cancer), Karen S. who is constantly hurting, Jeanette's mom Norma and most recently, Andrea J. who just learned she has breast cancer and is facing surgery next week. It seems like an epidemic where old and young alike are being inundated with this junk, so all the more reason to stay in touch with God - first hand!
In His grip - first hand!
Enjoy the picture:
It is just three birds in flight at sunset, but can't you imagine God smiling through his creation in this once-in-a-lifetime moment when a photographer captured them!
Well, I think He did just that (smiled) the other night as I was driving west bound on I-70 toward Blue Springs! There have been countless times in my life where there is absolutely no reason short of GOD'S influence and presence that something happened or an event occurred. 13 is a perfect example! If you remember, two oncologists had nearly bid me adieu after seeing my tumor type and signet rings - whatever that was...but then, the final report came back as a grade 13 - out of 100! That's enough unheard of and surprised Dr. Shwaiki enough that he called the doctors and spoke to them personally over the phone to make sure this was no error. He was spellbound with surprise. I was more than delighted because this meant no chemo for me...but the point was that for some amazingly wonderful reason, God ushered a miracle into my life - I believe so I could tell others about Him!
Then there was the time I decided to leave Blue Springs school district after Micah was born. I'd spent all summer interviewing babysitters to stay with her - and well, there just wasn't anyone I was willing to leave her with - so I notified the most amazing principal of all - Linda Johnson - and told her I was going to have to break contract and be a mommy. Within two hours, I learned that woman had gone to bat for me, secured me a half time position and even gave me the choice of morning or afternoon hours! Because of her, I was allowed to work 8:30 - 12:30 every day, PLUS keep my health insurance and benefits, PLUS have every afternoon for mommyhood! Some may say Linda was the blessing - - and I couldn't agree more (she still is, too, by the way) but even before that, I believe with all my heart that GOD PLACED LINDA IN MY LIFE to make decisions like that on my behalf! God blessed me - THROUGH LINDA!!! There was no reason, other than Devine intervention and Linda interceding for me, for the district to allow me to change from full time to half time status...but they did and THAT was a miracle.
On top of that, the year Jess started first grade was my personally projected goal of returning to work full time, but I'd been told that I would have to take whatever full time opening was available whenever it became available once I was ready to leave half time work and go back to a full day. DO YOU KNOW that in August of the very year I WANTED (and prayed about) to go back full time, the husband of the afternoon music teacher got transferred and conveniently opened my full time position!! COINCIDENCE? I think not, friend! In fact, the couple had had no inkling that he would be forced to relocate or lose his job - out of nowhere, they GOT TO MOVE closer to their daughter and grandchildren! I still see God's hand in THAT!
Anyway, the other night on I-70, I slipped into traffic right behind an 18-wheeler from New Hampshire. It was right at rush hour - around 4:00ish, but we were east of Blue Springs and headed west, so there wasn't much traffic; however, there WOULD be much traffic once the trucker got into the city. I counted, time after time after time - at least 20 times - he swerved onto the rumble strips that are on the side of the pavement. I realize many of us can find ourselves hearing that horrible noise and move back into our lane, but when this driver passed over them, his response was a wild jerk back to the left. I surmised he was falling asleep and when the noise startled him, he pulled the truck back onto the highway. Several times he overcorrected enough that he crossed clear over the center line and hit the passing lane!! I stayed behind, collecting information: trailer ID number, license plate number, company name, cab identifications, etc. and then grabbed my handy dandy
to dial *55 and automatically reach the highway patrol to report the careless, sleepy, intoxicated, under-the-influence driver of this beast. But....
it was dead. (the PHONE, that is!)
I vascillated between just getting off at my exit or following him thru the city - whever he was headed. I had no clue why I would do that, but I thought I couldn't just go home like this had never been witnessed. So...guess what I did....
yup - I said, "God - HELP! This one is ALL YOU because that guy doesn't need to keep going and I can't call and report him to someone who can stop him!" I didn't say amen, either... I think I said, "I'll talk to ya later...."
I followed the crazy guy who didn't have sense enough to park it, about three miles and then just decided to blow by him and at least try to get a look at the driver's face - to see if he appeared sick or sleepy or something. I still don't know why - there wasn't anything I could do about it...without my cell phone! Oh yes, I had my top down, too - ON THE CAR, SILLY!!! and that helped me get an even better view of the ol' guy stormin west. And just as I got beside him about 7 highway, up ahead almost to Woods Chapel, there was
ALSO cruising westbound! I FLOORED IT and thanks to my little supercharger, pulled up right beside him, and started mouthing words like a giant dork! He proceeded to roll down his window and I - - oh am I ever proud of my intelligence - yelled, "ARE YOU A COP?"
"ARE YOU A COP?" Oh my goodness - cops don't like to be called cops do they? I didn't mean it disrespectfully, but I was going 70 mph, had a psycho trucker in my rearview mirror, hyper because the phone I needed didn't work, and I was looking at an officer who was also cruising 70 mph - right smack dab beside me and that's all I could think of!!! Well, THAT and holy COW - GOD just produced a COP!
Folks, out of nowhere, within a minute of prayer - a highway patrolman was radioing ahead to deal with the runaway 18-wheeler OR WHATEVER IT WAS! It was so cool - I couldn't wait to get home and share the story...and everyone I told looked at me like, what's the big deal? It was a patrolman - that's their job - and more interest leveled on the truck driver. In spite of the general concensus - I KNOW IT WAS A GOD THING! I felt it!
K - - gonna go eat some din din right now, but I'll be back in a bit and report on how things are going with all the stitches and gunk.
IN HIS GRIP - and really thankful He hears us even without fancy, carefully-chosen words, "AMEN" or "IN JESUS' NAME" or any of the particular formalities we sometimes get caught up in.
|TUESDAY, JULY 01, 2008 01:31 AM, CDT|
"Faith," in the mind of some, is power that comes from prayer that contains certain words, thoughts or phrases that will cause certain events to happen. These prayers are sort of a demand or belief that God will respond to us according to our understanding. We sometimes pray, expecting Him to perform according to our expectations and believe that if we believe enough - He will grant our wishes. But, that sets us up for self-degradation if He doesn't grant our wishes, for it implies we didn't have enough faith, didn't ask the right things, didn't use the right words or didn't believe hard enough.
Then there’s "faith" that means surrendering to the person of God. The kind of faith that is a belief that the Lord is worthy of our trust – no matter what - regardless of our understanding. It's the "faith" where we place our confidence in His motives, His character and His ability to do what He knows is best for us, in spite of our understanding or desire.
Anyway, I say all this because a Lily's mom on Caringbridge mentioned she would be reading the story of Lazarus before going to sleep tonight. I'm sure there are many lessons, benefits and interpretations of this Bible story, but I wrote this to her because perhaps there is a lesson within it that may help all of us recognize these two thoughts on "faith" and maybe Lazarus' story will help our faith grow. Now, I'd like to share it with you.
Jesus made it obvious in John 11:4 that Lazarus’ journey of illness and death was for the glory of God. This was the Lord’s perspective; Mary and Martha, however, had very different opinions based on their perspective, because they met the Lord saying, "Lord, if You had only been here, my brother would not have died." (It looks sorta like they doubted Jesus’ timing -- because if Jesus had come earlier, Lazarus couldn't have died.) Martha said she believed that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world," but it seemed she had trouble trusting the time He chose to come to them. She also obviously had passionate belief in the abilities of her Jesus. She believed and even said all the right things: He can heal, He will raise the dead one day, and He is the Christ, the Son of God; but when Jesus told them to roll the stone away, what'd she do? She doubted His judgment. According to her understanding, it simply didn't make sense to roll away a stone that had sealed a grave for four days! (My name should've been Martha.)
Patient, understanding and teary-eyed Jesus reminded her to believe and to place her faith in Him - even if she didn't understand. Our God has infinite insight and understanding and that's where our faith can rest. He tells us to lean not on our own understanding, so "Thy will be done" is the highest prayer of faith. In those four words, we affirm our trust in Him and to hold fast to the truth that whatever God wants is ultimately best.
In His grip,
My good friend, Carol Clark sent me this email this afternoon. I'd like to share it with you:
Debbie, I know you were not too happy with your drive-through masectomy provided by the insurance. Maybe this web site can make a difference. The site is listed at the end of the e-mail. Carol
From a nurse:
I'll never forget the look in my patients' eye when I had to tell them they
had to go home with the drains, new exercises and no breast. I remember
begging the Doctors to keep these women in the hospital longer, only to hear
that they would, but their hands were tied by the insurance companies. So
there I sat with my patients, giving them the instructions they needed to
take care of themselves, knowing full well they didn't grasp half of what I
was saying, because the glazed, hopeless, frightened look spoke louder than
the quiet 'Thank You' they muttered. A mastectomy is when a woman's breast
is removed in order to remove cancerous breast cells/tissue. If you know
anyone who has had a Mastectomy, you may know that there is a lot of
discomfort and pain afterwards. Insurance companies are trying to make
mastectomies an outpatient procedure.
Let's give women the chance to recover properly in the hospital for 2 days
It takes 2 seconds to do this and is very important. Please take the time
and do it! Please send this to everyone in your address book. If there was
ever a time when our voices and choices should be heard, this is one of
If you're receiving this, it's because I think you will take the 30 seconds
to vote on this issue and send it on to others you know who will do the
same. There's a bill called the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act which
will require insurance companies to cover a minimum 48-hour
hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy. It's about eliminating
the 'drive-through' Mastectomy where women are forced to go home just a few
hours after surgery, against the wishes of their doctor, still groggy from
anesthesia and sometimes with drainage tubes still attached.
Lifetime Television has put this bill on their Web page with a petition
drive to show support. Last year over half the House signed on. PLEASE!!
Sign the petition by clicking on the web site below. You need not give more
than your name, state, and zip code.
This takes about 2 seconds. PLEASE PASS THIS ON to your friends and family,
and on behalf of all women, THANKS
Dr. Neuhan gave me a thumbs up on both of my incisions, left all the sutures in, instructed me to use peroxide, neosporin and a bandaid and take it easy. Let me just say, bandaids do NOT stick on palms for more than nine minutes and let me add that it feels really good to have the drain out and just a bandaid covering that soon-to-be-closed orifice. For some reason, this picture is outa focus, but then - it matches my vision at 3:52 in the morning, so let's just kinda go with it.
Before I hit the hay, I have an exciting update on my Aunt Florence that is truly a tribute to the power of prayer and an awesome God who is here for us...
She was on full life support on Friday, Saturday and Sunday - with consistent indications that she wasn't able to breathe on her own - but when, in her evidently-not-quite-sedated-enough state - she removed her intubation tube all by her little self...she took a deep breath and has been breathing on her own - with the help of oxygen - for two full days! She was moved out of ICU last night and will be moved to a long-term specialty treatment facility Wednesday morning for further infection treatment and hyperbaric treatment for her wound. Just when things were looking the darkest, the Light brightened the circumstances. She is still VERY ill, but she is also still VERY much improved - so thank you for your prayers and continued faithfulness.
Additional prayer requests:
In His grip - with really long term plans to stay that way,