Monday, November 30, 2009

November Happenings.....

I cannot believe that tomorrow is December 1st already! Wow time goes by so fast. It is all a blur but God is good and I am so grateful for His constant guidance and presence.

What has happened in the past few weeks?..........

Rixxi got a job. Yeah! We are happy for her. Her employer is working her continually too so we hope that it can turn into a full time position for her after the holidays.

Pippin is still job searching so I am trying to be an encouragement there for her. The rules are.....conservatively at least 10 job applications per week and up and dressed for the day with a plan of action by 9am every day. I am sure some would say that is way too easy but I think she is doing good.

Puddin' is adjusting to her sophomore year completely now and God has been working on her to feel a sense of purpose in school instead of wanting to hide from it all.


The middle of November we had opportunity to volunteer at Father's Heart for their Thanksgiving Dinner. Can I even begin to explain the explosion of emotion that went through my heart that evening?

I think I am not alone in being honest about viewing homeless people with a mixture of emotions. When I see them on the street corners with signs in hand I want to at least smile an encouragement their way but then I worry that they would think I have something for them or that I am making fun of them in some way. So instead I stare at the light and will in to turn green and release me.

I know full well that each person has their own individual story and yet society stereo typing is the first thing that comes to my mind and that shames me.

And yet, fueled by my own ignorance I was shocked and so blessed to be around the 90 people that we cared for that night. Why in the world would I not expect them to have manners, to offer polite gratitude, and wait patiently for their turn? Why did it make me stop in my tracks to see so many with so little offer what they had to one another?......"This is the last milk but I think you should have it instead."......."Here you can have this seat and we will make room.".

The thing that most left a mark on my heart was towards the end of the evening when a young couple came in for help. She was 18 and disowned by her family. He was 25 and lost an eye while serving in Afghanistan. though he receives full disability, the money doesn't matter because is is plagued by panic and fear that makes him more non functional that a blind eye ever could.

We fed them, listened to them, and then prayed with them. Have you ever seen peace wash over someone? That night it became more than a phrase to me as I watched this man go from raw adrenaline panic to slow breathing calm simply by speaking God's truth over him. We spoke thankfulness for his service and destiny and purpose of his life. We spoke worth and value over his being and restoration healing over his body. They both hugged us and cried, grateful for receiving the love and compassion that had been so craved but absent anywhere else.

I think of them often now and wonder how they are doing.
I plan to volunteer for the Christmas dinner too so maybe I will see them again.


I used to sew all the time. I had taken a basic class in high school and then fumbled around from there on learning from mistakes and going forward. I learned to create patterns from thin air and became the drama department seamstress for all of the low budget plays. That was fun!

Later, when my girls were little, I was constantly on my machine making clothes or baby blankets for all the new babies being born in my husband's unit. But then cost, time, and desire all welled up against me and I didn't feel like it anymore. Why take all that time and cost when I could get it cheaper and more quick at the local department store? Last year I even thought of posting my 17 year old machine for sale but then figured I should keep it around for hemming pants and mending holes.

That has all changed for me now and I have been completely bitten by the sewing bug.

It all started with a simple desire to make our new grand baby a towel. I have always had a disliking for those little store bought baby towels that are about as thin as paper. So usually when a baby is born I will sew a couple of regular towels and washcloths together to make something much more comfortable. As the babies grow into toddler-hood they still love their towels and are frequently seen streaking around the house after a baby with their "hooded cape" on and squealing in glee.

So I figured Abbigail needed just such an item and I made her this....

Then, since Rixxi just happened to be hired on at a craft store....I thought it couldn't harm anything to walk around the store for a bit. How I ended up in materials I don't know but I came home with an old tried and true pattern in mind and ended up making this for Abbigail too.....

Over the weekend, Hubby and I went back to the fabric store and came home with material to make each of our son's step-children a quillow (a personal throw quilt that has a pocket to fold the blanket in and become a decorative pillow) and also a baby blanket for my dear Angel-girl.

Shame on me for I even started looking at new machines!

See, as I was sewing, my 17 year old machine went out. I thought about servicing it but Hubby suggested that maybe I could buy a used one for the same price. It was a quick find but I should have done more research. The machine I bought used is missing the back stitch button. I figured I could get it replaced easy but it is proving to be a hard part to acquire. So for now I am using a friend's machine and I am so grateful.

Oh but golly I have my eye on a computer model at the sewing center down the road.


I'd like to update you about my daddy.

I talked with him on Thursday and he was sounding a bit discouraged.
Though originally the pathology report from his kidney biopsy said the results were indeterminate on whether he has one form of cancer or two, the pathologist has since conferred with a few other doctors and decided that the mass on my dad's kidney is most likely the same cancer as what is in his esophagus.
Because of this, they are going to choose to be a bit more aggressive in treatment and remove his whole left kidney instead of just what is left of the 2 masses after therapy.

As for his treatment, the oncologists are telling him that he isn't going to be able to start treatment until the middle of December. That is frustrating him too since we have known about his cancer for well over a month now and he is getting pretty uncomfortable. The mass in his esophagus is too tight for him to swallow anything but thin liquids. He went in early last week and had a feeding tube put in his abdomen to help out with nourishment. And he plans to sit at the hospital today and wait for his doctor to have an opening in his schedule to try and dilate his esophagus a bit and relieve the pressure.

I have step-siblings and a cousin in the town where he lives, but he chose to stay home alone with the tv and 8 dogs (yes 8) on Thanksgiving. I know he was discouraged with not being able to eat and I know he was in pain and tired from the feeding tube placement but I don't want being alone to become routine for him.

I know he worries about me being gone from home for a long time and so he has asked that I not go to be with him until his surgery. He feels he can handle treatment on his own. That is so hard for me to accept. I want so badly to be there for as long as possible. My hubby says I should leave and go be with him in January regardless of what Daddy has asked for.

At this moment, I don't know when I am going........but I will definitely go.
At this moment, I am trusting.......trusting that God is with him and is orchestrating each moment.


So that is my November.
I pray that yours has been well.
I thank you for your well wishes, prayers, smiles, and faithfulness even when I have been so out of touch. Knowing you are there blesses me.

Blessings to you!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Next Generation.....

Way back when....
when Hubby and I were first dating, there were children already.
She was 9 years old and he was 5.
He was such a cute little blond boy with a never ending supply of energy and questions.
His excitement at daily living and pure innocence were always infectious for me.
His tender heart; even with the ups and downs of growing up,
it has never lost it's softness.
Now a little over 20 years later....he is the brand new daddy.
He is going to be really good at it too.

Welcome to the world Little Abbigail!
You are such a miracle blessing.
So many doctors said you would have problems but we knew the truth.
We knew that you were resting in God's protective hands the whole time.
Oh how I wish we didn't live 6 hours apart.
I am so looking forward to holding you and whispering God's precious truths in your ear
that you are a princess, a treasure and delight with a purpose and destiny
made special just for you and you alone.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The MP3 Player....

The past week here has been rain and shades of grey constantly. I was most acutely aware of it one morning while driving Puddin' to school. Though it was only 8:30 in the morning the grey canopy of sky was deep. It was the kind of dark that makes one want to hide under blankets and ignore the world. Despite the heaviness that those clouds warned of, the light of the sun seemed to burn right through and find victory in creating patches here and there of liquid gold.

As I was driving, I smiled. I smiled because the sky around me very much reflected what has been going on in my heart. In the midst of groceries, laundry, youth events, and social dad is always on my mind. I feel that heavy burden of what if trying to creep in and grip me. And yet, I also feel that liquid gold coursing through the fibers of my being. God whispering the truths that I must pay attention to.

It is your job to is My job to perform My will.
It is your job to is My job to work all things together for My good.
Don't listen to the world child........listen to Me and rest in My abiding protection.

It is a good feeling.
Thank you God for your guidance and grace.

The doctors have found a second mass on my dad's left kidney. While they are 99% certain that it is of a different cellular structure than what is in his esophagus, they will be performing a biopsy on Friday to determine for certain and plan from there.

My plans are to go and be with him for a bit of time when he begins the chemo and radiation treatments. While I don't have travel dates just yet, I have been thinking here and there in my mind of what to pack, what to buy, and what to arrange.

God and I have been talking back and forth about what kinds of things I will be experiencing on the trip. While Dad is sounding positive, I know there will be times of needing encouragement. He will be having treatments 5 days a week and that is taxing to the hardiest of statures. My step-mom had died a couple of years ago from cancer and so I know in some way that must be looming over Dad and my step-siblings. Most importantly I feel that this will be a time of showing Dad more and more of God's grace, mercy and love.

With all of the preparations, I told God that I would really love to have my own source of reminders around me. How wonderful it would be to take my encouraging music and audios to help me keep my eyes on truth. The only problem was that I cannot afford to go buy an mp3 player.

As soon as I woke up Friday morning, God placed a thought in my head.
"You need to place and ad on Craig's List for an mp3 player."
Hmmm...that was interesting. I fiddle footed around a bit and then did what I was told. I placed an ad in the Wanted section stating the facts as basic as I could. This is me, this is what I need and why I need it. I held back nothing and expressed very definitely that I wanted it so that I could keep Godly encouragement flowing through my mind in the midst of taking care of my dad. Then I asked simply for favor in being thought of, that if someone had an extra player laying around and not in use could they consider my situation.

That same day I heard from a young man who had acquired a player from his friend and had logged online to see if it was worth selling. In the midst of looking at prices he found my ad and wanted to bless me. His one request was if there was a way I could possibly prove my story. I wrote back that it was a reasonable request but I wasn't sure how to prove anything. I don't have tickets yet.........
I decided to send him here to by blog and assured him that he was free to look around anywhere and learn my character.

Goodness if you could have seen me jump up and down when he wrote back that he was pleased and thrilled to be able to help me in this way. He apologized for the size and condition of the player he was offering. 'It is only a 4 gig and has a couple of scratches on it' he wrote. Again I jumped......that was the size I had hoped for.

It turns out we have some common ground. He works in the next town over in his church as a children's teacher. Amazing!
I drove over there this afternoon and met with him. He was so sweet as he explained to me how to use the device and what each of there features are for.
And it is beautiful! I mean, it truly isn't important what it looks like. But it is so sleek and stylish. I feel like it is just another God kiss, a perk.

God is so amazing. He could have made a player materialise in my hands. He could have had me win some sort of drawing. He could have done a million different things. But He chose to orchestrate things in a way that blessings could multiply.

I am blessed to have what I desired.
I get to share what God did over and over again.
That young man must surely feel blessed to be a part of helping someone in need.
I can only imagine that here and there my dad and I may come to his mind and he will pray.
I wonder about the joy he must share with his friends in telling why he stepped out of class to meet with me.
It is an amazing cascade affect.

Thank you God for caring even about the seemingly trivial things on my heart.
Thank you for delighting in making me smile.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Baby Girl.....

Dear Daughter,

As I write this, you will be turning 16 years old in just a matter of days. Your dad and I are so excited for you. We know you have been looking forward to this milestone and we celebrate the joy of you.

And yet, we find ourselves wondering how the time could have gone by so quickly. It seems it was only yesterday that we cuddled you in our arms and danced in awe at the idea of being entrusted to the care and nurturing of you.

The “job” of being your parents was one that we readily embraced. We soon learned that it was so much more than what a regular type of title can hold. The “job” of parenting comes without a black and white rule book. The “job” requirements have nothing to do with previous experience and expertise. The rules are only that you love, nurture, and guide with a listening ear and generously share a heart brimming with love and acceptance.

Your gentle nature and precious spirit make this the best and most amazing “job” in the world. Seeing the world through your eyes causes us to challenge our own thinking and desires. The way you so freely embrace the things that God calls for you is inspiring and is an example that encourages us to dare to do the same.

As you step into this new year of being you, we wanted to give you a special symbol of just how greatly you are cherished and loved. It is a combination of beauty and representation. The gold and rose colored leaves remind us of how your dad and I are on either side of you, cherishing you, cheering you on, and always loving you in all ways. The two hearts together make us think of the relationship between you and Daddy God. They are intertwined because God is always with you and they shine of beauty because God’s light in you is always apparent. It is a promise ring. It symbolizes the promise that God has written destiny and purpose for you that belongs to no one else but you.

Sweet and wonderful Darling, you are an amazing creation, a princess to be celebrated and honored. In the days and years to come as you experience life’s changes and you shape more and more into God’s promise, know this; you are a blessing to us and so many countless others. People that you have touched in the past, present, and in the times yet to come are all blessed by you, your character, and your heart. The things that have yet to be revealed to your heart are going to be so amazing because they will fit the perfect creation that God made you to be.
We thank God for you every day.
We love you so very much.
Puddin' is 16 now. Wow I can't believe how quickly time goes by.

She asked to have an open house party this year. So with our house open from 4-10pm the kids all had fun eating, hiking, eating, costume competition, eating, twister marathon, movie watching and making a ton of memories. I think when it was all said and done there were 25 youth running in and out of the house. They are such a good bunch and they made it so special for her.

Everyone had great costumes and super creativity but I have to admit
that the comedy of this particular outfit still leaves me in stitches.

Here is a group shot of some of the gang.

Puddin' we love you so much!

Monday, October 26, 2009

October Days....

(Reader Warning: I let myself write and write until all the words left me. Grab some coffee and a snack before you settle in.)

It is a wonderfully rainy day today.
I love the rain and the beautiful grey skies of fall.
That must sound ridiculous to some, but it is the truth.

I love the smells and sights of autumn; the crackle of leaves, the smells of wood stoves warming, and the wind and rain dancing through the trees. I feel excitement at bringing out the sweaters from storage and throwing the mink blanket on the bed.

It has definitely been a month. Though the month is not up yet, I wanted to sit today and play some catchup with the thoughts rolling around in my head. The girls are all busy right now doing school or running errands for me so it is the perfect time for me to have the computer to myself.

Come take a stroll with me through October.

College Bound

Our church has just begun offering a college study program and I enrolled. Actually everyone in this house enrolled. We are so excited. It is a two year program that will take us on a journey of seeing more and more of what God calls us to be and do. We are plowing through the ideas of religion and how it relates to the Bible. In all actuality, it is shaped to look less like the typical bible college type of programs and more like a self growing and character building lifestyle change. Right now it is so hard for me to describe but let me just give a mind blowing example that I recently experienced here in hopes of relating what this program is like........

I have always read about the miracles in the Bible that Jesus did and thought general things about them. I mean, they were great and amazing. I have never walked on water, calmed a storm, or even raised someone from the dead. Jesus did them and it deserves the "Wow!" from the entire world.....but after all it was Jesus that did them. Of course they were miracles. It was Jesus, you know, the Son of God. Of course He could do them.
(I hope you can hear me in this. I don't mean anything bad in saying that.)

One of our study books is titled When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson. When I got into that book I realized that my understanding and thinking had been off in so many ways.
Here is what I am wrapping my brain around now......

  • When Jesus came to walk the earth and became man, He gave up His power and became completely human. Okay I have heard that for some 20 years now.

  • If Jesus gave up His power and became just like me then how did He do all of those miracles? Jesus did those amazing things because of His faith and belief in His Heavenly Father.

So when Jesus said "and greater than these you can do too......and with the faith of a mustard seed......." And when I know that He wrestled with all things human just like me......well this just puts it all into such a mind shift for me.

  • That means that Jesus had to cast away fear, summon up his courage, and dare to believe that God declares good for His children, hears our prayers, and will act on our behalf.

  • That means that it is so much more attainable for me to believe that little ole' me can make a difference, that my prayers are spiritual weapons when coupled with belief and faith.

20 Years and Counting

October 14th was our 20 year anniversary.

It feels nothing like what I envisioned it would feel like to get to this point.
Why do I say that? Of course we have had our ups and downs like everyone else but we are happy. I think that when we look ahead and imagine a place we haven't stepped into yet, we simply don't picture the other things around it. I guess that is why I had a surreal moment when looking at the calendar.

The reality is that life happens every day and we are living in the middle of it and loving each step.

Our night on the town.......
Years ago, we had been blessed with a sizable gift certificate for a fancy steak house here in town. I had placed them in a safe place and .....yeah....couldn't find them until now. That is okay. It was the perfect way to celebrate. This restaurant is actually one of the top 10 in the nation and has so many awards that I gave up counting them.

The atmosphere was heavenly. the fireplace crackled as it's warm fingered images danced on wine glasses. It was quite a cozy setting. All of the staff wore tux attire and when we were seated, the waiter unfolded our linens and placed them in our laps for us. I know a statement like that must greatly show how much I don't hob-nob but I have only seen a gesture like that in the movies.

We both ordered Cesar salads which came out in a decorative presentation.........

Hubby ordered a steak....his favorite. I ordered the Herb Crusted Chicken with a baked potato.

It was all so amazingly tasty.

For dessert, I had the peach and blueberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream and Hubby had a chocolate silk pie. Both were heavenly and we gorged ourselves with all the goodness.

Angel's Wings

Angel-girl and my sister-in-law came to visit me a few days ago. It was such a treat!

That little niece of mine is now already 2 1/2 months old. she is holding her head up and trying so hard to coo. Her smiles make me warm all over and I simply cannot bear to put her down when she is in my arms.

The Corn Maze Craze

Amongst all of the fall festivities, one that brings me tons of smiles is to take our youth group on our annual maze craze. There is a huge farm here in town that makes a challenging maze. They change it every year with new themes, twists, and surprises. Here is this year's maze......

The corn stands higher than the tallest man and is the perfect place to have races and man hunts. Our group went through once to get a feel for the huge maze and then they came over to the table I had set up for snacks and cocoa.

Already covered in mud from a week of rain, they began to plan strategies on how to best one another as the sun went down. If you asked them, they would be quick to tell you that the best way to enjoy a maze is to try and find your way through it after dark.

They played well into the evening and were so filled with mud (and fun memories) that they weren't allowed in our vehicles until they covered themselves in plastic bags.

What I Believe

A few night's ago, I received a call from my daddy. He asked how we were doing and I began a run down on all of our happenings. Shortly into the conversation though, I could tell that was not his purpose for calling and I asked him what was wrong.

He spun a story of not feeling right the past few months and various doctor visits that ended with a diagnosis....esophageal cancer. I asked my questions, put my best foot forward in saying positive things and getting information on what steps will happen over the next few months, and we said we would be talking soon. Then I crumpled after hanging up the phone.

Half of me wanted to stand firm and yell in the devil's face and shake my fist at him to let him know he would not play here. I actually envisioned myself standing over my dad, straddling my territory and declaring war. But then the other half of me was a little girl curled up under the table and holding an imaginary pillow. I fought back the panic of knowing we have only just begun to build our relationship and there is so much more for us to enjoy with each other.

Then I would scold myself for thinking dark thoughts and stand to fight again.

The seesaw went back and forth as I called my mom, my brother, and then our prayer circle.

My brother and I numbly shared our thoughts with one another about the mortality of our parents. It is such a hard concept that the most well intentioned shoulders of comfort can only imagine until actually wearing those very shoes. I know. I've been there. As with just about every one else on the planet, I have had friends and family who have had some sort of experience with death and with cancer, and good grief how we have been taught to shrink back at that very word....the dreaded C word.

Friends who have battled and won over cancer talk about our society's quirks with cancer. You can mention any other sickness in the world and people are fine but if you say you have cancer.....they shrink back as if you are already dead and they might contract it if they accidentally touch you. I know one girl that tells people her cancer scar was a shark bite simply because she feels bad for people in the torture they put themselves through.

It is a disease that can be fought and won just like anything else. And millions of people are victorious over that battle. And yet there I sat already thinking of my dad with one foot in the grave.

I told myself that I had seen miracles, been part of miracles, and experienced miracles. As I had been learning in my class studies, I thought about God's goodness and about my right to pray, to declare victory. But then the thought would creep in....what if I haven't learned enough? What if I don't pray right? If he dies then I failed.

Oh how our thoughts can lie to us.

It has taken me a few days to get my head on straight, but here is what I now know........

  • I am a fixer.

  • I can't fix this.

  • It is my right to pray.

  • It is my duty to pray.

  • It is God's job to heal.

I keep thinking about something I experienced years ago when my youngest step son was in the hospital. He had been born with many physical challenges and had the first of many surgeries when he was only 4 days old. Not expected to live to the age of 2 years....there we sat nearing his 15th birthday and it seemed his body was finally giving up the fight. We had all been through years of ups and downs, battles with the ex-wife, the drama of this little boy's body being strong and then back tracking 5 steps.

Our pastor was with us and I dared to ask.....When is it okay to not contend? How can we even know what to pray anymore? Is it fair to pray healing? What is God's will?
For years since then PJ's answer has encouraged me through so many different types of situations.

He sighed that painful sigh that I thought was reminiscent of the hard burdens of counsel and pastor must bear. Then he said, "I know it is hard and we can't even pretend to know God's will. But here is what we do know. Since God is in control of all things and since for the moment God is choosing for this boy to breathe....then that is our signal that we are to contend. If things change and he passes on then that is our signal to change our prayers to that of thanksgiving. But as long as God shows opportunity of hope then we contend and press forward no matter what."

So here I am standing and pressing forward. I have a renewed hope. I am assured that my Heavenly Father sees and knows and hears and has a plan for victory.

Blessings to you and your day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Coughing and Hacking......

Don't get too close to your computer screen. I wouldn't want to breathe my cold germs on you. It has been a week and a half now and I am so ready for it to be gone. Last week Sunday I felt that faint familiar tickle in my throat. It is that torturous warning that comes right before I lose my voice. I do this twice a year and you'd think 'd be a pro at it by now. I always say, or whisper actually, that it must just be allergies from the seasons changing because my sinuses are fine, nose is fine, head is fine, no fever. I just lose my voice and everyone finds great sport in asking complicated questions so that they can hear my Chip and Dale answer.

I ended up seeing the doctor yesterday when the blisters became too much to bear. I didn't even know I had a fever but the clinic thermometer read 101 degrees. A strep test came back negative and the doctor proclaimed that is it just a strong virus to ride out. She gave me a huge bottle of cough syrup with codeine in it which brings me great relief. I just wish it tasted more like something decent instead of the lingering old rotten plastic taste that waifs around my mouth long after I swallow.

Funny how tastes can bring up pictures. It really does taste like that. Though why in the world my brain would associate it with decomposing I even know what that tastes like?

I am so grateful for my girls. They all have been pitching in around the house with chores and giving walks to lil' Kekoa boy. Last night they made a great batch of chicken noodle soup with occasional directions from me. Pippin and Rixxi have been driving Puddin' to and from school so that I don't have to be out in the weather. I am spoiled.

In the midst of all that, there are two events that I want to share here that happened recently to leave an indelible mark on my memory.

Event #1
Some dear friends of ours are expecting their second baby in a few months. Everything seemed to be going quite smooth and normal until a recent ultrasound brought up red flags for the doctors. During a routine ultrasound, it is always very easy to see a baby swallowing, filling his stomach with fluid and then emptying it. It is an important 24 hour cycle that happens during the pregnancy. The problem for our friends was that after several ultrasounds and specialists......their baby's tummy was not filling and barely functioning. The doctors said it was due to possibly a twist in the baby's throat or a blockage, both of which could be fixed with post delivery surgery. The other option was that of chromosomal default and that meant the possibility of their baby being born with severe handicaps.

As a church we began to pray hard for the healing of this little baby. He had already been given the name Micah which means "Who is like our God". We prayed for his tiny little cells and every ounce of his body to line up in perfect function and design. We prayed for him to be a proclamation of God's hand and purpose, to be a living testimony before he even breathes air.

A few days ago, the parents went in for another scheduled ultrasound and subsequent appointment with yet another specialist. But that appointment got canceled. It got canceled because the ultrasound showed little Micah swallowing happily and FILLING up his belly just like any other normal baby!
They have now been told that they can see regular doctors for the rest of the pregnancy and no more special appointments are needed.

God is so amazing!

Event #2
My second story is about lil' Kekoa, or as I sometimes refer to him....Mr. Fuzzy Butt.

He is now 9 months old. He brings us all so much joy on a daily basis. He lavishes everyone with kisses and makes sure that everyone has the same amount of ball throwing time. The goofball always has to have a chew toy close by to torment and interrogate. that is where this story begins.

Amongst his many toys that fill his personal basket, he has some knotted yarn ropes. One is large and measures about 12" while the other one was a left over from his baby puppy days and measured about 4". On Saturday he was having fun with the small one. He had it laying in the middle of the floor in perfect position so that he could do a GI Joe Commando recon on it and throw it up in the air in complete ambush over and over again. He was having so much fun and I smiled at his banter from my recliner. But then all of a sudden he stopped his play and looked at me with panic and fear on his little face. I didn't see the yarn toy anywhere. He had thrown the toy into the air and caught it perfectly to lodge down his throat.

Kekoa started pacing and moving his neck to and fro in odd gestures. He repeatedly climbed into my lap for comfort and then would get back down when it didn't help. I kept trying to pry open his jaws to see if I could pull out the toy but his muscles were locked. (Even though he is quite strong, I never knew that I couldn't over power him when necessary.)

All the things that I know to do intellectually went out the window. I couldn't think. My hubby had him outside hoping that walking around would stimulate his gag reflex while I started looking online for 24 hour vet services (like that would really help with his choking). We were both so scared.

Hubby was right though. The walking around was what he needed. It wasn't too long until they came in the house with that evil toy expelled from Kekoa's throat. Kekoa jumped into my arms and did his signature hug around my neck that first drew us together when he was 9 weeks old. He held onto me for well over an hour before I was able to put him down.

That same day I went thru all of his toys throwing out everything from his puppy days. It never occurred to me that they could cause trouble and be dangerous. Boy did I learn a lesson.
Praying you have a blessed and wonderful day.

Monday, September 28, 2009

She Held It In Her Heart.....

Last Friday, Puddin' and I were on the drive to school when we witnessed a hit-n-run. It was a small accident but shocking all the same. I was so shocked in fact that it didn't even occur to me to get the license number until it was too far away to see.

We pulled over to make sure the one who got hit was okay. Poor thing was wiping back silent tears and shaking her head in disbelief. She said she had been home sick all week and had decided that morning she should get back to work. I apologised for not being able to get information on the car that hit her but shared my name and phone number as a witness in hopes of helping to file a police report.

I really wanted to pray with her but the timing just didn't seem right. So after once again observing that her neck seemed fine, I walked back to my car. Puddin' greeted me with concern, then a sigh. we prayed together for the woman as we drove on towards school. Then Puddin' said, "Mom how could that girl just drive off like that? That was so!"

As I searched for a correct answer while feeling within myself the irritation of wanting to give that girl a few thoughts of my own, I heard God say, "Think about it for a minute. What would make someone run away like that?"

(Actually if I could digress for a minute, we are avid movie fans and I often think of movie clips that cause me to relate. So it was like in the movie I-Robot when Detective Spooner was asking questions of Dr. Lanning's hologram in effort to solve the crime and the final answer was, "Now THAT is the correct question.")

I mulled that over as minute-marts and grocery stores blurred through my side vision and then posed the thought to my daughter.

Yes the accident was a bummer and shame on that girl for leaving. But it was a simple accident. How many of us have seen the turning lane go out of the corner of our eye and caught ourselves starting to go as well? It would have been so easy to jump out and say, "Oh my gosh are you ok? I am so sorry." So what happened in her life that taught her it was okay to not answer for her actions? How must she bee feeling inside after leaving and what is she compromising in her heart to pretend that all is okay?

We ended up recanting our previous condemnations and praying for that girl as well.

The day went on and as school usually is, it was emotionally draining for Puddin'. She got in the car after school and talked about a fight that broke out in the commons area. In most high schools here there are police that serve as security. She said that the police had to get quite physical to pull the youth off of one another and it shook her up. "Mom I didn't see the fight because there were so many people around. But friends told me that the police grabbed the kids by their hair and hit them. Aren't they supposed to protect?"

I explained that 2 things happened. The first was that she was told the story through the eyes of excited teens and that can honestly make events be a little more elaborate than what really happened. The second thing that happened was that police officers must contain the situation before others get hurt or a riot breaks out. If the youth were not responsive to verbal calls then something had to be done. Dare I say it is the lesser of two evils. Even a life guard is taught to hang back until a drowning victim passes out if that is what it takes to keep overall safety a priority. And besides, we see all kinds of things happen in movies. Officer Joe Shmoe takes his attitude out on someone and gets away with it while everyone cheers. In real life if that happened, a police officer would be in jail before school even let out and it would be national coverage.

Later that evening we went to a church service and focused a couple of hours solely to worship. Puddin' collapsed and cried for a majority of the time. She released frustrations of things she had seen, frustrations of school, frustrations of being around so many youth that hold onto attitude and selfishness. She questioned the point of being there and entertained the idea of home schooling again.

Then I watched as a young man, you know the one that is so special, went to her and shared a vision he had just had about her. Without knowing anything that she had been struggling with moments earlier, he shared her purpose. He said that he saw God dancing with her. They were spinning in joy. Then God picked her up and tossed her skyward in a climax of delight. When she reached the pinnacle of height she burst into a display of light and gold dust fell everywhere.
The young man then asked God what such a vision could mean and God told him it meant that she will cover her school with God's light and dust everyone with the treasure of His truth.

She giggled, her eyes sparkled and tears ran silently down her cheeks as renewed hope and purpose coursed through her. Then a girlfriend grabbed her hand and they ran to the front of the room and began dancing in praise.

My mother's heart felt so full of emotion. I volleyed from my original crippling pain and frustration of not being able to fix all hurts for my children. Then I was hit with a smattering of wonder at once again watching the purity of their relationship unfold an inch more while completely keeping God in between them. My final emotion was sheer gratefulness to God for always knowing and always orchestrating our lives. How well He knows what we need to hear and when we need to be lifted up.

Jeremiah 29:11 says....
11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Long before it was our church foundation verse, it drove me through life and situations. I can never say enough how grateful I am that the author of the heavens and the earth, the creator of the universe who breathed life into all things and fashioned every molecule with purpose.....loves, watches, and guides over me and my family.

Know today that you are loved.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Prayer Works....Even In a Cave......

So much to write about, so many topics and I don't want them to disappear in the back of my mind. Do I write many smaller posts or one big one? Yeah.....why not one big one.

The Bed

Before Pippin and Rixxi moved back here from the beach a couple of weeks ago, Hubby and I set to the task of converting the bedroom into something fit for two young ladies to share. One major renovation was to acquire a bunk bed. For the last year as these plans were in the making, Pippin had her eyes set on a specific model of bunk bed that Ikea sells. The frame alone runs $300 and we didn't have that.
But we thank God quite often that someone had the foresight to create a web site such as Craig's List for there the bed frame was waiting for us. It also happened that the seller sold me the lower mattress for the bed for a mere $85 when she had purchased it new at Ikea for $230. Now please let me throw in a disclaimer here for I am not one to normally go around quoting prices on things. But for this story, the prices are very relevant.

Hubby and I drove over to the seller's home after work to pick up the bed. While Hubby was doing the loading, I visited with the seller and completed our transaction. She told me that she had purchased the bed set for her girls 5 months prior but was getting rid of it because they never used it even a single night. (Oh my goodness I thought. I am getting a bed that has never been used for such a lesser price!)
"Here is the $185 that you asked for", I said as I handed her the cash.
She responded with a smile as she stuffed the money into her pants pocket, "Cool! Now I can go and buy that pair of sunglasses I've been wanting."
It still makes me shake my head in wonder. I was able to purchase $530 worth of bed for only $185 because someone wanted a pair of sunglasses. Now, I am certainly not knocking the blessing of having the kind of money that can afford $185 sunglasses. It is just that it is a completely different world from where I live. I look at that $185 as an electric bill or 2 weeks worth of food.

The Prayer

My mother-in-law has been having stomach problems the past few months and the doctors are working to figure out how best to solve her issues and relieve her pain.
I was on the phone with her the other day while she was asking me computer questions and I could tell it was a rough day for her with her stomach. I interrupted her talking to ask what was wrong and she blew me off saying that she was fine and then redirected me back to her computer. I let her talk for a few minutes and then interrupted again with another concerned question. Again, because she is one to not like being the center of attention, she side stepped and changed the subject. My 3rd attempt met with success though.

Poor thing, she said that she had made a superbly wrong choice with what she chose to eat for lunch and had never experienced her stomach hurting as much as it did then. Plus she was in their motor home at that time in a hot part of the country side and their air conditioner was broken. The combination of extreme pain and heat was quickly zapping away all her will power and energy.
I asked her if I could pray with her for a minute. With her permission I prayed for her comfort, relief from pain, and that she could feel the cool relief of God's presence around her. Then I thanked God for hearing and answering our prayer and I said that we were looking forward to to hearing His praise in the issue.

She said amen and thanked me and we got back to the subject of computers. Within about 30 seconds though......she interrupted herself with this statement, "Hey my stomach feels better. It isn't hurting anymore." I praised God for the work He did and then we got back to the subject of computers again. In a matter of another 30 seconds, she interrupted herself again and said, "Oh my word! It's not hot in the motor home anymore! It feels so much cooler! How did you do that?"

I was smiling and thrilled. I of course didn't do anything. It was God that did it. When we speak in positive expectation it gives God more room to do what He like to do best. God's presence lives in our faith and our faith is made stronger and bigger by what we believe. Our words are powerful and the more we speak things then the more we believe it. So by speaking of expectation, we increase our belief which then increases our faith........that all equates out to less of me and more of Him. To me that is a great balance.

The Cave

Last Saturday we had plans to take the youth group on one last hike before the fall cooler weather set in. My plan was that we hike to Mirror Lake up on Mt. Hood and relax/swim the afternoon away. It was a great plan too except for the weather. Every day leading up to Saturday and for a few days afterwards were all really hot days. But Saturday woke us up to rain with the forecast of 60% chance of rain all day and 50 odd degrees for most the day. I had already made lunches for the 25 people that had planned to meet at our house for a day of fun so we switched gears real quick and changed the event to spelunking Ape Caves in Washington.

I had completed the lower cave a few years back which was nothing more than a 3/4 mile stroll in the dark so I figured the upper cave couldn't be that much different. Wow was I wrong! If I would have realized what I was getting myself into then I never would have entered the mouth of that cave. But then I never would have had such an amazing day and felt so accomplished when it was all said and done.

Here is a graphic map of the upper cave which is what is left of an old lava tube. We hiked up to the upper entrance and entered there so that we could work our way down to the stairwell. The length of the upper cave is 1.5 miles long and though you can't imagine that distance taking a huge amount of time; we spent a good 3.5 - 4 hours in there.

These pictures were both taken at the entrance of the upper cave.

And this one is inside the cave when we were just getting started.

There were so many rock formations to climb over. Up down and around we went trying to pick our way through the rubble that the harsh and amazing forces of nature left behind. At one point we used the rope that my hubby had brought to drop down a distance where the footing could not be felt. Every one's "guess-timates" were different but that drop was somewhere between 7 and 8 feet.

In the beginning of the walk, there were times when I felt panic rise, you know that small voice that tells you you're stupid to try such a thing. But then I could hear God on my other shoulder whispering memories to me of other successes. "You are right God. You are my big God and creator of the universe. If you can help me navigate a high rise obstacle course through the trees then you can surely help me find my footing on a few loose rocks."

If you go here and click on TDE Ape Cave Hike you can see all the pictures.

Pippin and Rixxi seem to be settling into their home environment. They love the bed and room set up. They are working hard at filling out job applications and I am giving advice and cheering them on. Puddin' is presing forward in school and loving being the youth band drummer. It is a strange new time for us all but we are having fun with it.

Blessings to you today,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Time Goes Zipping By....

I am so sorry. You have been so kind and wonderful to be praying for me. You have been concerned for me, and I have been non-existent. May I please explain my warped sense of thinking during all of this time?

Surgery really did wipe me out for a few weeks. But by week 3, my schedule was beckoning to me and I was itching to stop being a zombie. From that point on, there has been so much happening that I have barely sat at the computer to check emails much less be able to do any writing. The thing is this....even when I have had a few minutes to write and even think on the possibility of blogging, I felt too guilty to write with not having the time to visit others' blogs. How one sided of me to write and share but not enjoy visiting with you. So my solution was to not write at all. I am sorry. Can you forgive me?

If you would like to know the highlights of events during the 2 months that I "purposed" to recover just keep on reading. I have to laugh because with all the joys, memories, and things to is a good thing I "purposed" to take time off or I would have really been busy.


First on the list was family camp. All I can say is "wow" when I look at this picture. There I was almost 3 weeks after surgery and still filled with Oxicodone when my hubby took this picture. We had pulled into camp and I moved from the passenger seat of the borrowed camper to the camp chair and there I stayed...half asleep and enjoying the outdoors while others ran around me playing volleyball and singing campfire songs. (Notice Kekoa being my ever present protector)


The following week was our annual youth adventure to the YWAM ropes course. I think you can look at the pictures I posted by following this link. (If that doesn't work then go to this link and click "TDE at YWAM Ropes Course".) I didn't participate this year. It was hard to not gear up and jump in. But making the food and supervising was enough for my energy level. The later half of the day found me sleeping in a shaded grass area and shrinking away from the 95 degree weather.

Next on the calendar was to immediately put the finishing touches on planning and putting youth camp into motion. It was a blast. Was I tired?....yes. But God put wonderful people around me to help with all the cooking and implementing of meals. Shopping for, preparing, and feeding 25 people for 4 days went off with great ease.

At the same time camp was happening, I received joyous news that my brother and sister-in-law had their baby girl. I am now an auntie! We were hoping that I could be there in the delivery room but Little Angel-girl had different ideas and came early.
When I became a mom, I thought my little girls were so perfect when they were born.....but something sure pulls in my heart every time I hold this precious one in my arms.

My brother and sister-in-law formally asked Hubby and me to be Angel's god-parents and said that if anything ever were to happen to them that we are the only people they would want to raise her. Oh how I cried.

Did things slow down then? Nope not a chance. It was time to celebrate Pippin's 18th birthday. She had been planning all summer long to take a few days off from her beach job and spend time with us. My plan was to surprise her with a big party.

Surprised her we definitely did. Here is what happened when she returned home from a few hours of distractions and found a house full of people and decorations.........

Yes, she was so surprised that she completely ran out of the house in shock. I caught her in the driveway and dragged her back in to enjoy the fun. She warmed up quickly and enjoyed all the joys.

She would give me such an embarrassed death glare for sharing this picture.......

This is a picture of a picture that my mom had been saving for "Pippin". It was taken when she was 9 months old. (Yes the red head is me. I know I look nothing like that these days.) So the true story goes......
We were in a photo shoot taking tons of pictures and she was getting bored. Innocently, she looked up at me and grabbed at those dangle earrings that sparkled ever so greatly. I had just told her a firm "no-no" and pushed her hand away when that look went across her face and the photographer snapped the picture. That giant picture was posted in the studio in an Oklahoma City mall for 3 years because of the funny candor on her face.


The following week I hosted a party celebration for my new little niece. I love this picture of her and me together. She had so much expression already in her face and only being barely 2 weeks old.

The dress that she has on is the same outfit that both myself and my brother were christened in. Then my girls were dedicated in it as well. I washed and ironed it all up so that Angel could do the same thing. Our youth pastor came to the party and performed such an amazing dedication. He held Angel and rocked her as he told her first bible story and prayed over her. He spoke destiny and purpose over her life and taught that just as little boy Samuel heard from God, Angel too can be sure of never being "too young" to be used in great things. There was not a dry eye in the house.


The next day my mother-in-law came into town for a couple of weeks. It was fun to spend lots of time with her and her girlfriend. We shopped, giggled, ate out a lot, and spent a few days at the beach visiting Pippin.

While we were at the beach, my step-daughter and her beau came for a visit as well. So there we were all at the beach and a wonderful thing happened.....they got engaged!

(I think it is really interesting how this picture came out. It was simply a quick snap with my cell phone. I love the highlights and shadows.)

While we were shopping and beach combing, Puddin' was spending the week in California doing something of a missions trip. She and 91 others gathered just outside of Fresno at a YWAM gleanings farm and processed something like a "bazillion" peaches. All week they worked the conveyor belts that sorted peaches and then set them on pallets in the sun to dry. Those were then packaged and shipping to countries in need. she had an amazing time and is already talking about doing it again next year.
This is one of the many sunrises that she was privileged to be able to see as she woke up and got ready for a full day of working the conveyor belts and turning peaches.

The peaches couldn't just be thrown into the machines. They had to be sorted from good and bad. They had to be on the belt system a certain way so that when they went through the corer there wouldn't be wasted fruit.

This will give you a small idea of just how big the project was.
All of those pallets are filled with peaches drying out in the sun.

So that just about brings you up to date with my summer spin.

What is on tap now? Well Pippin and her friend Rixxi are in the process of moving back here this week and getting set up for all things normal now that their summer jobs are finished. From here they will be focusing on college and jobs while Hubby and I will cheer them on in the best way we know how.

Puddin' is back in school and working on her sophomore year of studies. She is much more comfortable and easy going about it all this year. Well, as comfortable as high school can possibly be anyway. She enjoys her classes but the highlights of the week are youth events and worship practice where she is the regular drummer now.

Soon, my sister-in-law will be finished with her maternity leave and I will have the joy of being Angel's daily caregiver. They emailed me this photo 2 nights ago. Look at how much she has grown already in just a month.......

At the moment, I need to go pick up Kekoa from the groomers and then pick up Puddin' from school. I will be back SOON to share more events and thoughts.
I pray my blogger friends are doing well and I intend very soon to be able to visit each site and do some catch up....if you will still have me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I Can't Think of a Title ;-) ........

(I took this picture of Kekoa a few weeks ago after one of our walks. He loves to find treasures on our walks and carry them home. This particular pine cone he carried for a half mile just so he could interrogate it in our front yard.)

Good morning! Thank you so much for your well wishes and prayers. You make me smile.
It has now been a week and I am doing well. I have started a bit of walking to get this body moving again. The doctor says that is good to do so I will obey. Monday morning I shuffled my way around our block (2/10 of a mile) and felt so good that I did it again in the evening. Okay so now is when you shake your head from side to side and say "tisk tisk". Yes, I did feel good doing it but soon realized I pushed myself too hard and regretted it. So yesterday I laid around all day and didn't walk around the block until Hubby came home. That seemed to be the right amount because I slept better and feel pretty good this morning.

Having surgery on one's stomach area is a strange thing. It is an interesting numb feeling on the outside while at the same time also feeling like I have done something like a bazillion stomach crunches on the inside. I can bend down now and lay on my side. My walk is getting more natural and not so much of a shuffle. I have learned that if I crouch by the bedside I can let Kekoa go from the bed to my legs to the floor without picking him up. (Small potatoes to one person is great progress to another.)

Puddin' is doing a great job of taking care of me and doing all the things around the house that I normally do. It is an adjustment for her. I tend to be of the mindset that I don't have the girls do much around the house on a regular basis simply because they are busy with growing up and having something always on their calendars. I know that is really not the right way to think and they need to learn more....but that is where I am at right now. All the same, she is doing it all right now since I can't lift anything for the next month that weighs more than 10 lbs. That means our laundry as well as hers, all the dishes, and all the cleaning that never ends. She is doing it all with a smile and that blesses me.

Right now our friends are rotating through with meals for us and that is a delight. I had put a bunch of freezer things together for us before surgery but nothing beats having a warm meal brought to the doorstep around 5pm. I am getting quite spoiled.

I have tried to visit you, my blogger friends, but have found my comments to be a bit loopy with the oxicodone I am taking. Thank goodness for the spell checker on Firefox. Boy I really thought my comments were more coherent than what the browser has proved to me.

Pippin is doing great at the beach. She is full on busy with work now and isn't able to call as much as she used to. When she can, she sends us cellular pictures of things around town. Her favorite thing to do is to grab a picture of the daily sunset for us to see. I love the beach!

Ok, I think it is time to go lay back down now.
Thank you again for your support! I treasure you.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Showers of Love and Healing....

I was able to come home from the hospital yesterday afternoon. It is so nice to be home. I never thought I would say this but....I enjoyed my stay. Every nurse I had was so nice, caring, and patient with me. Even when I was slow, even when I made a mess, even when I lost my dignity, even when I asked for pain meds at 2am........they were right there for me like I was the only person that mattered.

I didn't think I would actually share this because I find that some are embarrassed by the procedure. But the more people I talk with, the more I think it is important for you to know....sorry men......I had a complete hysterectomy on Wednesday. After listening to all the stories of women who have done the procedure, I thought for sure it would be painful to even breathe and I would be in so much pain. The truth is that while I am slow and uncomfortable, I am doing well. There are even times when I forget I am uncomfortable. Instead of feeling like I have had my insides taken out, I feel more like I have done sit ups for a solid day.

I am grateful it is done, grateful it was an option, and grateful for the results. It turns out that there were other things going on that didn't show on the pre-surgery ultrasounds. All is well now and I am on the road to recovery. I will be slow for a while and won't be much more than a spectator in many summer events but that is okay. I already feel better in some ways than I have for a long time.

I was blessed with so many visitors, flowers are everywhere,
phone calls are plenty, and meals are being set up.

For now though, it is back to bed for me.
The pain pills are singing me a song.
I will visit when I can.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Back At The Beach.....

Last weekend we took the youth group to visit Pippin at the coast. We had such a great time. The weather was perfect with a bit of clouds and breeze. There were only a few sprinkles throughout the day so everyone enjoyed the sand, beach combing, and shop browsing.

As soon as we got there and set up camp, everyone ran to the shoreline to get full of sand. A couple of people in the group are avid sand sculptors so they showed off their talents with these creations......

What day at the beach would be complete without burying your friends in the sand? These two guys were in a hole deep enough that they were standing in it! Then they had a race to see who could get out first....unassisted!

It was a group effort to dig this hole. These 6 people are sitting down in a hole that was shaped like the seating of a hot tub. See the cutie second in from the left? That is my Puddin'.

We were able to spend a full day with Pippin because she had the fortune of being off work that day. How perfect! When it was time to leave, it was so hard to say goodbye. Up until that point her stay there had felt not real because she knew we would be visiting with the youth group. But now, I don't have a projected return visit on the calendar.

Praise God we live in the 21st century with cell phone technology. I talk to her at least twice a day (usually she initiates the call) and we text back and forth throughout the day with comments and pictures of stuff in general.


What else has been keeping me busy?

Well, it is that time of year where I am preparing all of the lesson plans for children's ministry. I just went to the copy store day before yesterday and ran off some 704 copies of things needed for my faithful teachers. That covers all the lesson between now and the end of December. Now everything is organized and filed, schedule assignments are ready for the next two months and I will pass out all of the new lesson plans this weekend.

I am desperately trying to really think things through and make sure all is in place because this time next week I will be returning home from a surgery and I am told it will take me a while to recuperate. It is not that no one else can do what I do. It is just that I tend to multi-task quite a bit and I wouldn't dare ask any one person to take over all of those things single handed. (I know...not very fair the way I threw the surgery thing in there. Sorry about that.)

Is it major surgery....yes. Is it life Will I be better off once I have re-couped....definitely.

I am told that I will be in the hospital overnight and then I will want to sleep a lot the first couple of weeks. Re-coup time is projected to be 4-6 weeks. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around that because I am not one for sitting still or letting others do things that I am capable of doing myself.

So I wanted you to know that because....
a) your prayers are always coveted
b) if I am not in the writing world for a bit you know why


There has been tons of boy stuff going on here lately and I am getting quite skilled at sitting these young men down and firmly saying, "What are your intentions for my daughter?"
But after sharing that little tidbit, I will have to save the details for another time. Again not fair I know.


I just had to share these with you.
Usually when I return from the grocery store, I come bearing some sort of toy for little Kekoa.....because he obviously doesn't have enough toys.
The quality of the videos are not great because it is just my cell phone but I think you will get the idea of how this goofy little fuzz ball keeps me smiling.