Sunday, February 28, 2010


This morning we continued the adventure of trying to sell that truck bed cover. I had put on the sale post that the purchaser needed to be responsible for transporting, but it had not occurred to me to specify that they bring extra hands to do the lifting. Oh well. I had helped a few people pick it up to try the size and it wasn't a big deal. Today turned into something of a circus act though.

Two guys showed up that were in their mid fifties at least. The passenger walked very unsteady with a cane to aid his lanky tall frame. I thought to myself, "Well it's a good thing he won't be doing the lifting. I can just help the driver put this big thing on." Then the driver looks at my dad and says, "I hate to impose on you like this but I have several broken ribs at the moment. Would you mind helping my friend here?" I jumped up before my dad could even think of answering and said I would do it.

So there we were....Daddy weak and in chemo, one guy with broken ribs,the other guy that had an amazingly hard time staying on two feet and me. I had been sick to my stomach for a majority of the night and was still shaking it off but called on strength and patience from beyond to handle these men.

The cover didn't fit and we had to walk it back towards the garage. Finally I told them to lay it on the ground and I would call my cousin to help me put it away. The men seemed to have differing degrees of embarrassment at needing a "girl" to help them while I was trying to suppress the laughter of what we must have looked like to passersby.
Good times and fun adventure memories right?

Later in the day my cousin and her husband took me back to Mi Tierra for lunch. There were things there that I did not get to see last time and I completely enjoyed it. It is a building that has so much character and history.

The lounge area is intricate with dark woods and carvings. There are ornate costumes on the walls of classic mariachi style attire and old black and white photos. One thing that really caught my eye though was this sky light with stallions erupting from the ceiling.

We ate in the back room that had this mural running along one wall. The picture above only shows a portion of it. To use the word "huge" would be an understatement. The mural is made up of the many faces and celebrities of local San Antonio heritage. If you look long enough you can see everything from actors and chefs to blue collar underdogs and political heroes.

After enjoying a wonderful meal, we walked around El Mercado (the market square) so that I could do some more shopping for loved ones back home.

Now familiar with the area, I set out on my own in hopes of clearing my head. I had been struggling all day with wanting to break down and cry at the slightest of things. I felt very short fuzzed and desperately wanted to hide...from what I didn't know but it was a hard feeling to carry.

I conquered my mental list of purchases and somehow ended up in a store playing an old Chris Tomlin worship cd. I struck up a polite conversation with the store owner about the music and we ended up talking for quite a while. He opened up and shared with me what was on his God had helped him to care for his father through a season until he died. He was so grateful for the time and amazed at how much they had grown together. He gave testimony to a couple of situations where he saw without a doubt that God had moved in their relationship with each other and how he got to see his dad grow from a hard man to the soft carrying father he had always wanted. The whole time he talked I fought back tears. He didn't know my story. He was just sharing.

When he finished he gave me his shop card and told me to come back anytime because he had enjoyed our conversation and was blessed that I had listened. I said, "but wait. You don't understand. You have to know what God just did. I am not from around here. I have been in town for the last 2 months away from my family and everything familiar so that I can take care of my father who the doctors have labeled with terminal cancer." I shared a couple of my own testimonies and we both cried.

By that point he had been ignoring quite a few customers and I told him he needed to get back to work. He asked if he could hug me and promised he would be praying. He smiled and said, "You are my sister in Christ and I am here for you." I left and huddled in a small corner by the public drinking fountain trying unsuccessfully to clear my tears for a fair amount of time before finding my cousin again.

I am so grateful for how God does those things. I had no idea I would receive comfort and understanding from a complete stranger today. Physically I am tired and my neck is so sore. But somehow I feel lighter and able to focus better on what really matters. God is in control and He promises to not give more than I can handle.
Blessings to you!
post note....while I was gone, my other cousin was able to assist Daddy is selling his truck bed cover. :-)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Miracle Cobbler....

Miracle Cobbler

1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 quart fruit

Melt butter and blend all ingredients together
minus the fruit. Pour batter and drop fruit by spoonfuls. Bake 350 degrees until top is nicely brown. 30-40 minutes if in square or rectangle pan. Muffin tins take about 25 minutes. I used skim milk, no salt, and half a can of blackberry pie filling. Makes approximately 16 muffins.

I have seen this exact recipe and variations of it in many cookbooks. Miracle Cake, Cobbler Fun, Dump Cake; I prefer Miracle Cobbler for a good name but no matter what its called the end result is a yummy treat made from simple basics in any kitchen.

Not long after we were married and stationed in Oklahoma, a friend shared this recipe with me. Since I had no cooking skills of any sort aside from browning ground beef and mixing it with a box of mac-n-cheese, I loved this recipe for its tastiness and ease. Over the years I have played with it and learned that it is a very forgiving treat. I have used applesauce and/or pureed peaches instead of butter and it seems to accept any sort of fruit (fresh, canned or frozen) besides pineapple or kiwi. I've doubled the batter to make a 9x13 size or like the above picture made individual muffin shaped servings.

Last night I was looking through Daddy's pantry and found 3 cans of Blackberry pie filling. With 3 cans laying around, I figured it is a taste he must like and decided that a "Miracle" would be the perfect temptation. Praise God! Daddy has sampled grilled cheese, a couple pieces of chicken and a mini shredded taco over the last week with a degree of disappointment in his taste buds. But the individual cobbler I put in a bowl for him was totally devoured with sighs and smiles. As he finished, he commented that my step-mom had been planning on making him a blackberry cobbler but never had the opportunity to once her cancer set in.

Wow! Had he really been thinking about that taste for 2 years?
I am so grateful that he enjoyed it.
So grateful it blessed him.
So very grateful God gave me the idea.
God You are so AWESOME!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pedometer Steps.....

My cousin showed up this morning with a mocha and a chai...both for me. I am so spoiled. (I have both in the refrigerator and have been sipping on them throughout the day. Of course I am making sure to drink tall glasses of water as well. Hopefully I will make these yummy drinks last through the weekend.) Out of her pocket also came a pedometer for me. Though drink gift had nothing to do with the techie gift in her mind, I had to laugh. A pedometer is one of those little foot step counting gadgets that I have always wanted but never gotten. There is a catch to keeping it however. I must accompany her next Saturday for the hospital charity walk. Actually I forgot to ask the distance we will be walking but I can't figure it to be too long. It will be fun just to be out and doing something productive.

I put the pedometer on about 1.5 hours ago and it says I have gone 296 steps. Somewhere in my mind I have the notion that a person should shoot for 10,000 steps a day. Somehow I get the feeling that even though I am up and down with Daddy and doggies....I have a long way to go to hitting that mark.

I wonder what it would have measured yesterday.
When I last wrote I commented on my back being a bit sore from our carpet removal shenanigans. You would think that would make me be a good girl and keep still but ......nope. Yesterday Daddy was sleepy after all of our doctor visitings and I seemed to have ample time to myself. I felt antsy and just knew that if I didn't find a project to occupy myself I would do something drastically unproductive like sit and emotionally eat.

I must be a glutton for punishment because I armed myself with a spray bottle of cleaner and scrubbers to settle into the sun room where everyone goes to smoke. I started with the ceiling and worked my way down one wall and a portion of floor. Yuck! I did maybe a 1/4 of the room before my shoulders cried out and I had to give up. The clean difference is drastic but I don't think I have it in me to do the rest of the room.

But other things only require brain and heart so that will have to work for me now.

Just a couple of nights ago my brother had called and was asking me if had any idea before I came here of all the things that God had in store for this trip. I confessed very quickly that I knew not and liked it better that way. Without my plans to get in the way, I can simply do my best to listen and hope that I hear right.

For example there are a couple of family members that I have been loving on. They are both young adult women who come from a broken home. Both were emotionally and intimately abused by a step parent. One has chosen to hold the world at bay with denial and hostility while the other seeks solace in same gender relationships. Neither have confidence in themselves to take positive steps into being successful and both have a serious confusion about who God really is. But for whatever I am able to do with them by attitude and grace, they are both coming around more and more for hugs, encouragement, and advice.

Recently I held the younger one in my arms as she cried while the older (standing a safe distance away) watched on with something that was mixed in wonder, fear and longing. She even made comment in saying, "Wow Aunt Julie. You are just like Mary Poppins coming in here and making everything better for everyone." I just keep feeling that by the things God is having me do with them in relationship, it will fill in the gap for them so that they can see Him clearly.

Then there is also a different family member who seems to take great thrill in picking my brains on my beliefs. He does it partly for the thrill of debate but mostly as a desire to know more. Our discussions have become quite a regular thing, sometimes planned and sometimes out of the blue. Just a couple of days ago one of those spur of the moment times happened. He didn't set out to pick my brain at the time but quickly became engrossed in wanting my thoughts on a particular subject.

He had seen one of those bumper stickers that refer to God as being a woman and he commented that God can't be a woman because women are smarter and never would have made man. He laughed at his own joke and then kept spinning off comments about men being dumb, worthless, and having no good qualities. I felt it all rather odd considering he is a man. At the same time, I could also feel my spiritual foot rising up to enter my mouth in what I felt to be a conversation too big to ignore.

"Actually," I said without being sassy, "God is referred to in the Bible as He but I think He is so much more than what we can comprehend. If you want to examine characteristics then He is the true reflection of both man and woman."
Yes that got a perplexed look but I continued. "Man has primal instincts of being a protector and provider. I think that we both agree that those are characteristics that belong to God. No matter what part of the world you look to, woman is portrayed as being nurturing and tender. Those are also mirror images of God's heart to us. God says that in joining man and woman that the two shall become one. It take both man and woman to unify and make a complete representation of godly characteristics. Both have strengths that fill in for the other's weaknesses."
The conversation went into more detail than what I wrote here but it was a good and thought provoking time for us both.

Woops, I should stop writing for now. There is a guy on the way over to take a look at Daddy's truck bed cover that I have for sale online. Hopefully it is what he is looking for.

Take care and God bless!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Few Days Together...

Progress is such an amazing and encouraging thing. I love it!

Sunday: I went to church in the morning with my step-sister. It is nice to go and be with others but golly I miss my church family and atmosphere. I keep reminding myself that it is what I make of it and all about spending time with God no matter what goes on around me. Still, churches are different because people are different and all places fit differently to each one of us.

My step-brother and his family came over in the afternoon. It was his last visit as he will be leaving for Baghdad on Thursday. It was a good visit and Daddy really enjoyed being able to sit with him while my step-sister and niece and myself kept the children happy outside.

Monday: Daddy felt well enough to venture out and have me take him to vote for his county primaries. There was no one else in line so it was perfect him to walk right in and perform his civic duty. Afterwards we stopped at Sonic on the way home for food to bring home. Amazing! Daddy was able to eat 3/4 of a child size grilled cheese sandwich without resistance! He felt so very full for the rest of the day but was encouraged at his progress. He hasn't been able to swallow like that it 5 months.

I think that the outing took us about 45 minutes to complete and it zapped all of his energy. Now he is very slow, sleepy, and cold. But progress is progress. He had talked for almost 2 weeks about rearing up to go and cast his vote.

I sold his refrigerator that has been sitting in the garage empty for the past 2 years. Yahoo! Now I have a truck bed hard cover for sale that doesn't fit his current vehicle. I hope it will interest some one soon. It is bothering Daddy to have his garage out of order.

Tuesday: It has been a cold day that actually had snow in the air.....go figure.....snow in Texas just hours from the gulf. Everyone was completely panicked and the city just about shut down because they aren't prepared for that sort of weather like we are up north. The snow melted as soon as it hit the ground but it sure was fun for me to watch. Daddy was cold and cuddly sleepy today. I even snuggled up on the couch with a blanket and lost a few hours.

Wednesday: It has been a big day to say the least. 9am found us across town for Daddy's monthly oncology check up. His appointment went well and we got the go ahead for him to begin his next round of chemotherapy on Monday. We found out today that his current oncologist is retiring in a couple of weeks and Daddy will be assigned a new doctor. Daddy doesn't really know what to think about that. His current doctor keeps a pretty laid back attitude concerning his prognosis by constantly saying that while this type of cancer is considered "incurable" that doesn't mean no one ever gets healed. Daddy is really hoping this new doctor is of optimistic thinking. We scheduled an appointment to meet the new doctor but the closest time available is after I fly back home.

Right now the game plan is for Daddy to receive his next round of chemo and then do a PET scan to see the progress. After that scan, the doctor wants him to wait 2-3 months and then do another scan to see if there has been anymore lesions creep in. If there is nothing new then they will talk surgery. Dr. says that there is no sense in putting Daddy through the hassle of surgery to remove his kidney if the cancer is just going to pop up somewhere else a month later. He says that if the cells are there then they are there and it is just a matter of time.

I don't really agree with that line of thought but Daddy is fine with it. I think it would be better to be aggressive and remove all possible as soon as possible. But the doctor says that they have already been more aggressive than normal for a case such as this. I feel that I am walking such a thin line with it all. Getting care at the military hospital is so much different than civilian living. I don't mean that to sound like it is less than. I have a huge amount of respect for anything military. It is just different.

This afternoon I was able to get rid of the last old carpet from the house. It was in the back bedroom where my step-mom had stayed during her last days of cancer a couple of years ago and it had not been cleaned out since then. The dogs had all wanted to be around her for hours at a time. While Daddy had the care of his wife to think about, that gave the dogs lots of opportunities for puppy potty accidents on the carpet. Whew! I have never experienced a smell that burned my eyes like that. Now the floor is clean, the bed is freshly made, my grandmother's old bedroom set shines from a good dusting, and the sun is pouring through the windows with free invitation. I think my back has definitely had enough for a couple of days but I am very pleased to know that room is fresh.

How am I doing?: I think I am feeling a bit of mental panic in knowing I leave in 3 short weeks. I am trying to get the house in tip top shape for him and I know he is really liking all that I am doing....but I know that he will not be able to keep it up after I leave. I miss my family and home so much....but I worry about what Daddy will do without me here............Resolve: I can't think about that though. I have to reel myself in and keep focus. I am so very blessed to have this time with Daddy and I know that God is here even when I am not. That is where my thoughts must stay.

Our newest postcard:
Julie and Joe,
If you think God is finished with you...think again. God began a good work in you that He will continue until it is finished, when Jesus comes again. Philippians 1:6
Do you see what He is doing? A good work in you.

Do you see when it will be finished? When Jesus comes again.
God isn't finished with you yet!

God bless you!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Girls Day Out.....

Today was "Girls Day Out".
Of all the things to do around here in big cowboy country San Antonio, Texas never occured to me that I would be attending the 2010 Year of the Dragon Asian Festival. Yes really.
I really had a good time. We watched Samoan fire dancing, indian story telling, Korean fan dance, and multiple martial arts demonstrations.

And the food brought back so many memories! I sampled favorites of lumpia, yakisoba, kahlua pork, and admittedly multiple sesame balls. Never having heard of something called a Bubble Drink I gave this mango combination a try. I think the tapiocca expaned in my stomach because I am STILL full.

I brought home some samples of chicken kabob and also fried banana for Daddy to try. Praise God! He nibbled on a small piece of chicken with success!

Thank you for your prayers and support.
God bless your week.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Own Treasure Hunt....

I was talking with Pippin today over the phone. She shared with me of the weekend treasure hunts and healings. I knew as she was talking that I HAD to relate everything to Daddy. So, later in the sun room I did just that.

I began by explaining that a treasure hunt is when a group of people get together and ask God for clues leading to people He wants them to talk with. The clues can be anything shirt, red car, ice cream cone, broken ankle, the name Tom. Individually the clues don't mean much but when 2-4 people pull their clues together, they seem to always find a perfect match. Before too much time has passed, they soon see a guy who's name happens to be Tom. They recognise him because he has a blue shirt on and is eating an ice cream while sitting on the hood of his red car and after asking if he would happen to like prayer for anything they find that he is really bothered by an old broken ankle injury and is amazed that God told someone to seek him out. While completely skeptical when I first heard of these events, I have come to find from personal experience that they are quite valid and amazing.

Daddy too was amazed and awestruck that things of the sort actually happen.
Then I shared with him that a girl was just healed of a major hearing problem she had dealt with for her 18 years of life. His eyes grew big as I described her jumping up and down with excitement and hearing everyone so well that she thought they were yelling.

Then he grew quiet and looked away. I could tell he was forming a thought that was hard to share so I waited. What he said made my heart jump and break all at the same time.

Barely audible his words began, "I don't want to be selfish and ask to be healed." His lips quivered and eyes wouldn't even dare to make contact with mine as if a fear was holding him back. "I only ask that I be given the strength to get through it all."

I answered, "Daddy, is it really selfish to want to be healed?"
He didn't even speak. He simply moved his head from side to side as his shoulders trembled.

I got down on my knees next to him and searched his face. "Daddy, would you move mountains for me and bend over backwards to make anything humanly possible that I would ask of you?"

He said yes with the true sacrificial conviction of a parent.
"Why Daddy could you do that Daddy?"

"Because I love you," broke from his mouth in a rush of conviction and tears.

"Then Daddy, as much as you would do anything and everything in your power to make things possible for me in your love because I am your much more would God in His perfect love listen to your heart and desires because you are His son?"

His tears flowed free as gut wrenching sobs became audible.
I held him for a bit and then asked if I could pray with him and he answered yes almost before I could finish my whole sentence.

I am not an eloquent pray-er. I don't use big words or fancy double talk. That is okay though because God doesn't need those things. He simply wants to meet us where we are at and hold our hearts. I prayed thankfulness for God's presence and peace. I asked for God's touch and healing to be on every cell of Daddy's body. I thanked God that Daddy knows Him and is soft to His comfort and asked for his relationship to grow more and more.

We cried together and held one another.
He looked lighter in stature afterwards and I could see the pain was gone from his eyes.

There is too much on my heart. I don't even know what to say from here......

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Happenings.....

Some days I can feel absolutely fine and truly content, joyful and chipper all through the day. Then all of a sudden tears threaten to spill everywhere as my chest tightens with emotion. I try to take each day and moment as it comes. When it seems too much, I take the advice given to me recently from a dear friend of mine and I say, "Please Lord I need more of you right now." as I hold my hands out in the air.

A couple of nights ago I hugged Daddy good night and after I closed my bedroom door the emotions gripped me so hard I felt as though I could not breathe. I grabbed my Bible and opened to Psalm 30

I WILL extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to You and You have healed me. O Lord, You have brought my life up from Sheol (the place of the dead); You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit (the grave). Sing to the Lord, O you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime or in His favor is life. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. As for me, in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. By Your favor, O Lord, You have established me as a strong mountain; You hid Your face, and I was troubled. I cried to You, O Lord, and to the Lord I made supplication. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit (the grave)? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth and faithfulness to men? Hear, O Lord, have mercy and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper! You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, To the end that my tongue and my heart and everything glorious within me may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Daddy has been up and down so much this week that I can't even chart it in my mind anymore. I recognise the frustration in him now. He is quiet and doesn't complain. But I can see that he has had a small taste of feeling better and is feeling so constricted with being weak and lacking physically again. I admire him. He says there is no point in complaining. He is simply grateful to be alive and experiencing another day.

I can see that he tries to be strong for me too. He is after all "the daddy". This afternoon I broached the subject with him when I could tell he was hiding a lot. "Daddy I could be reading you wrong but I get the feeling that it is a really hard day for you today and I don't mean just physically but emotionally too."
He chin trembled and silent tears ran into his beard as he closed his eyes and said, "It really is and I don't know why."
I pointed out that even in the best of circumstances it is only natural to have times when it seems too hard. Today is Valentines Day and a reminder that his wife is no longer here on earth. The sun shone brilliantly today and could have very easily toyed with him and made him a list of all the things he could be doing if only he wasn't laying around. Even under the best will and attitude there are times when we must cry out, "please God I need a bigger hug today." Mostly though I held him and cried with him. I held his head in my hands until his quivers stopped and his breathing relaxed and sleep overtook him.

The happenings this week: We received another postcard in the mail from Jesus. Daddy said, "Really? You have no idea who is doing this?" "No Daddy I really don't." "Well this is pretty neat and kind." he replied. The postcard said this....

Dear Julie and Joe- If I had a refrigerator your picture would be on it. If I had a wallet your photo would be in it. I send you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. When you want to talk I'll listen. You have to face it...I'm just crazy about you! Love, Jesus

For weeks I have been talking to her about her identity in God, encouraging her to not look at the World's viewpoint of self because it is a broken and distorted pair of glasses to see anything from. Look through God's eyes at the love that He has. It has been a hard concept to swallow. That happens so easily when a person has been beaten down for so long. I know. I wore those very same shoes for many years.

A couple of days ago she had to take her car in to fix a major oil leak. With no job, no spouse and her nest egg whittling away, it was a step of faith to do what needed to be done. But then came the phone call. She was crying so hard on the other end of the phone that I could barely make out her words. "Julie.....I went to go get my car and pay the bill and someone had already paid it. They wanted to be anonymous. I just know it was someone I was visiting with when I first took my car in. Oh my gosh. Nothing has every happened to me like this in my whole life!"

In between her waves of tears I rejoiced with her. "Now surely you see it. God is so in love with you. He delights in you, flips head over heels for you, moves mountains for you. And now with Valentine's Day here, He is romancing you and dancing with you. He says 'I love you my darling and I want you to know it.'"

Over the weekend, Daddy was adamant that my cousin and I go out for a while. I didn't want to leave him but he insisted that all he would do is sleep and it's no fun to watch a grown man sleep. So after making a few dose syringes of medicine cocktails for him I jumped in her car and we headed downtown to the Riverwalk.

We strolled through the weekend craft vendors, ate way too much food, and people watched the whole time. I loved the mixture of southern architectural flavor mixing with the history of the area.

I even got to hug onto a westie dog that was walking by with his owner. How funny it is for that to make me feel good. You would think that with 5 dogs here I would have my furry fill of hugs and slobber kisses. But it isn't the same. I miss Kekoa!

Hubby and I have talked about it and I have told Daddy that if he is ever at a point where he feels he can't handle his dogs anymore then we would take the little boy Conguito. I also threw in the conversation that I would take the girls too but they are older and I don't know that they could make the trip. Daddy smiled his acknowledgement and then mumbled something about them being more resilient than I give them credit for. Oh boy.....what is down the road for me then?

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

Have a blessed and wonderful week.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The World Still Spins.....

Wow! It is Thursday already.

It ended up being several hard days in a row for Daddy. But he seems to be through it now. He had gotten into a cycle of being in severe pain and nausea. It kept him from being able to take his meds...which made the pain and nausea worse....and the cycle went on for a few days before I really felt we were getting on top of it. Today I have been able to back off of his morphine by half and it is good to see him perky and talkative again.

On the worst day I had my cousin come over a couple of times to administer IV fluids. Gosh, I just can't imagine what things would be like if we didn't have her. Time and time again the nurses at the hospital "wash their hands of being held liable" as they give me the bags to bring home. I am told my cousin could lose her job and license if something went wrong. But she is an ICU nurse and the oncologist has complete confidence in her ability. Chemo patients that are not able to have this opportunity at home.....I don't know how they make it through treatment. There has only been 2 days since I have been here where Daddy has not needed the "pick-me-up" of 1000cc of saline.

Yesterday morning I went downtown to the Social Security office to do the next step in filing for his full disability benefits. Due to the nature of esophageal cancer, he automatically qualifies. But still we have to walk the paperwork through and take all of the necessary steps.
I was very impressed with my appointment. I must admit that I had some predisposed opinions in my head of what it would be like. I thought....hours of time lost, government red tape, hassle and attitude with everyone passing the responsibility buck. In actuality though things went very quickly and pleasant. My representative even gave me advice on other things without me soliciting for information.

Yesterday we received news that our new grand baby is going to be a big sister. I bit my tongue to keep back the obvious sarcasm that wanted to say, "Honey what are you doing? Abbigail is only 3 months old! Don't you know how this works?" But being sarcastic doesn't solve anything and only makes more hurts. So instead, "Yes Honey. I know you are scared. I wish I could hug you right now. We will be praying for the health of mama and baby and peace in your home."
And I do pray for them indeed. There are 4 children now in their blended marriage (ages 9 yrs, 4 yrs, 2 yrs, and 3 mos.) and his wife has had medically severe and dangerous pregnancies all four times.

I decided with the rain and cold, I needed something comforting and yummy to have baking through the house when people visit. Looking through a widower's pantry is an interesting job but for whatever reason I found 6 cans of pureed pumpkin. Armed with that and a recipe I found online I came out with 2 dozen Pumpkin & Carrot Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins.

I ate a few today (oh my gosh it is all I've eaten today. I better make a salad for dinner!) and sent a plateful home with my step-sister. Maybe the yummy smells will entice Daddy to try a few crumbs tonight.

Father God, I thank You for Your presence and Your joy. Thank You for your guidance and peace. Thank You that You orchestrate all things together and I don't have to think about it all because You have it under control.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ups and Downs......

Lord please help me to be open and honest today without being mouthy.

When I last wrote, Daddy was doing great and didn't even hardly seem that he was in the middle of a treatment. He even took a small bite of muffin that I had made that day along with a swallow of juice and was actually able to keep it down and enjoy it. That is such great progress considering that when I first got here he could not even swallow a sip of water because the tumor was so large.

But that night he started feeling not so great with a bloated tummy. That caused him to get behind on the feeding pump and his medications..................

Ok I need to jump tracks for just a minute. I have a few close friends and family members that have the same cellular service as I do. I love that because then I can text out a message and not have to worry about how long it is. I sent one out 30 minutes ago asking for prayer today and now I have been sitting here crying and feeling so much healing from the responses. Oh the power of words. How much it ministers to me the prayers that people send to me in texts and emails.
Deep cleansing breath.......NOW the day doesn't seem formidable.

Where was I?.........
Yes, the past couple of days have been hard for Daddy. He is nauseated a lot and drastically tired. He has lowered his feeding pump from 92 ml per hour to 75 ml. But all of that is to be expected. I will keep on encouraging him with his medications and nourishment and he will bounce back and make more progress.

Yesterday I replaced two of his area carpets. The carpets were very old and the dogs had created too much damage to try and save them. My cousin very willingly helped me pull everything out and get the two rooms all set back up in proper order. I was grateful for the help and teased him about the work saying that by the time we were finished he might wish we went bead shopping instead. That made him laugh since he was my driver during my 4 hour shopping trip a while back.

Last night one of the older dogs started to get sick. I don't know if she had just gotten into something but as I was getting ready for bed I found runny stool in several places around the house including the couch and her whole backside. Sigh.......I got everything cleaned up and we all settled in for the night. This morning when my cousin came over to do Daddy's IV bag, she found a fresh area that she cleaned up. Then she commented to me that it looked like when her patients get a GI bleed. Other than the visible signs that we have found, the dog is quite perky and is currently enjoying her breakfast. I will keep a close eye on her today and probably take her to the vet tomorrow. My cousin laughs and thinks the vet is sweet on me. "How silly," is my constant reply. Dr. Vet just likes that I keep bringing in these 5 dogs and adding to his bank account.

My younger step-brother is coming over this afternoon with his new wife and 3 children. It will be good to visit and I think it will be his last visit for quite a while considering he is shipping out for the desert in a couple of weeks. I do hope that my nieces come over to visit as well and help with the children. There is no denying that I love children.......but oh my I have not the energy for these guys.

Father God I pray your presence over this day and for Your purposes to be known. Lord may your breath be felt throughout this whole home and Your peace reign.

Blessings to you today!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Walking With Jesus...

I have felt so snugly lazy the past couple of days. It has been softly raining here for the past 72 hours or so and I am loving the sounds and the freshness that the drizzle brings. It reminds me of home and solidifies in me even more that the green mountains and fresh air make me a NW girl at heart.
The rain here is not good for the land though. There is a neighborhood somewhere in town here that has absolutely fallen to pieces from water erosion and faulty contractor irresponsibility. There are approximately 25 families that are now displaced from all of the damage.

Tomorrow is Friday and Daddy will be able to go to the hospital and disconnect from his pump pack for 3 weeks. He really is doing so much better than last time and it affirms for me even more the importance that a positive atmosphere makes.

Even as recent as 3 weeks ago, Daddy could not even swallow a trickling sip of water. But now the past couple of days he has been able to swallow a couple of small medicine tablets. He sipped on a super small bit of coffee this morning and now 3 hours later it still hasn't come back to haunt him. I am so grateful for his progress.

I find that there are many times when he is quietly in pain or nauseated but doesn't ask for more medication. I don't know if it is because he is trying to push through it or because his mind is clouded enough that he doesn't think of it. But I am learning to recognize his tell-tale signs and offer. Relief washes over his face and he readily agrees for the help in most cases.

Last night was a good night for him so I prepared a surprise by hooking up his web camera and set up Skype. He was then able to see our little Angel-girl for the first time in "real-time". He was incredibly thrilled. Because he wears out fast when talking, he wasn't able to talk for too long. But it was still a highlight for him.

Yesterday morning we sat out in the sun room just talking and crying the morning away. I ventured to ask him what touched him the most about reading The Shack and what brought on his comment about hoping it to be a true story. Without skipping a beat he looked me in the eye and said, "Walking along side Jesus and talking with Him. And it was really neat to read about Mack walking on the water with Jesus."

Then I really entered into waters that I wanted to be sure of. "Daddy I know that you have deep memories of revival tent meetings when you were growing up and I know that you know God is very real. But we can know God and not ever take that next important step. Has there been a pivotal time in your life when you have asked Jesus to live in your heart and be a part of your every minute?"

He told me about being 14 or 15 years of age and right in the middle of service it hit him square in the face the awesomeness and reality of Jesus and he went up to the altar and cried for all he was worth. He went on to tell me about falling away for a time when he joined the military. Then looking into my face as a baby and realizing that he wanted to be a better daddy for me. Over time he fell back again and then didn't start to really think about God until the past few years.
The whole time he was talking, silent tears ran down his face unashamed.
He said, "I know God is in charge of everything and His will rules. And if He sees fit to get me through this then it will be part of His will and a glorious miracle. And if I don't make it then that is all right too. I just have to know that there is still purpose for me in being here."

"Daddy in every day that God has us wake and with every breath we breathe there is purpose and destiny. Do you know Daddy that God loves you with an every lasting love and He did not put this cancer on you? There are bad things in this world because the world is broken. But God takes those bad things and promises that He will carry us through them and shape them for His glory and good."

He agreed without hesitation. He knows.

For now I must go. With home health visits (oh and I re-booked my ticket today and am staying through mid March) and such it has taken me something like 6 hours to write this.

Thank you for your encouragement and your prayers.
Have a blessed and wonderful day!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I Didn't See It Coming....

Yesterday I was in an interesting position. Through a series of events, I found myself in the company of a family member (definitely not my Daddy) who felt comfortable enough to smoke a joint (marijuana) while talking with me. Truly I didn't think much of it as it was happening because my mind was in other places. I actually wanted to er on the side of caution and thought maybe I was misunderstanding the situation.

As is typical for me, when I got home in the evening the events of the day started to build in me. I called my brother and sister in law for needed advice. As I talked with them about it all, waves of reality and the gravity of the situation flooded through me. I felt silly, duped, didn't want to be labeled a goody good, slightly offended that this person didn't even ask me if I was OK with it, I worried about the safety of Daddy and me, I didn't want to be offensive or judgemental...and the list of thoughts goes on and on.
I many times have I been accused of thinking too much. My pastor calls it analysis paralysis.

I went to the Internet and researched the time frame effects of this drug and what it all means. I even looked to make sure that Texas is not a marijuana legal state. Then I went to Daddy with my experience. He was very receptive to all I had to share and completely agreed that safety is a concern.

I slept pretty restless last night. Daddy had his chemo treatment yesterday and was wiped out. I wasn't sure if his deep sleep was treatment related or medication related so I stayed on the couch where I could hear him if he needed help with anything. The dogs made all kinds of sleepy doggy noises through the night and all wanted to sleep around and on me. Despite all of that, I had this needed conversation formulating in my head that volleyed for my attention as well.

This morning I called this person and had what I felt to be a gracious conversation. First I made sure that I didn't assume anything incorrectly. Then I said I had a request.....
"Being 30 years old, you are an adult and are free to make your own choices. I am not here to argue or debate with you nor will I judge you. What you do and how often you do it is your business. Involving me or Daddy makes it my business. My request is that on the days that you have volunteered to drive us around, it is important that you save your independent smoking choices for after you are finished with us."
He was very open and agreeable.....kind of like a V-8 juice commercial slap like wow you are right I should have thought of that.
Then I wrapped it up with gratitude and a thin layer of guilt.
"I so appreciate all that you have done in being available for Daddy. You have been here for Daddy since his diagnosis. It is a huge responsibility to think about his condition and his safety and I know you will be around here every day with your support and care even after I have gone back to my family."

I know some would say I was way to light but that is the way I felt guided to handle things for now.

Daddy is doing really good with this chemo session I think.
He had a 6 hour treatment yesterday and is now wearing a pump that is administering a low dose of chemo around the clock until Friday morning. The way I understand it, chemo blocks the cells from being able to reproduce. The treatment doesn't know the difference between a good cell and a bad cell though. Consequently because his cells can't reproduce right now, the energy he has at this moment has to last him all week. That is why I am so grateful for the 2 weeks that he had with no treatment so that he could build up a bit of storage. As long as I stay ahead with his medications he doesn't get very queasy and a low dose of morphine actually makes him perky and talkative for a fair window of time.

He is doing well enough in fact that the doctor has decided to have him do one more treatment in March. I talked with my family a couple of days ago about it all. As much as I miss my family, we have decided that it would be best for me to stay here until Daddy is finished with his therapy. There is too much of a change in him for me to leave him alone right now. (Gosh that reminds me: I have got to re-book my return ticket.)

My step-sister has been opening up more and more. She says that before I got here Daddy would barely take one whole can of nutrition formula in a day and didn't keep to a medicine schedule at all. He was always tired and nauseated and kept putting things off in hopes of feeling better "in a few minutes". She says he is a totally different man now. Most days he can now do 5 cans of nutrition and has bumped up his pump from 60 ml per hour to 90 ml per hour. I make his medications for him and write everything down to keep him on schedule. I haven't been pushy in anything. I think I can just pull the "Daddy card" and he won't deny me anything. Whatever works. I just know that he looks better to me than when I first got here and everyone that comes over remarks at the changes in him.
Thank you Father God!

I bought The Shack for Daddy the other day. He just finished reading today and absolutely loved it. He said "I know it is a work of fiction but I sure hope it is really real."
I need to question him further on what he meant by that.

So much more has been going on. A cousin stayed with Daddy while another cousin took me shopping downtown at El Mercado, lunch at Mi Tierra and then an authentic dinner with her Hispanic in-laws. It was a wonderful day. But as I say all of is so very late and I am quite sleepy. I will have to remember to write it all down later.

Thank you Daddy God for being here, for constantly having your love and encouragement around. Thank you for your guidance and your grace and your strength. You are so amazing!

Thank you for your encouragement and for keeping us in your prayers.
Have a blessed and wonderful week!