Wednesday, June 30, 2010

These Shoes....

I love shoes.
It is not an unusual thing to hear a phrase like, "Oh your shoes are so cute!", come out of my mouth. But at any given time you will find me in possession of only 4 pair at maximum. There is a pair of every day type sneakers that grudgingly tend to do double duty as hiking shoes, a pair of winter clogs, a set of flip-flops that serve time seeing everything from lazy errands to pool side and then a pair of basic pumps that sit by waiting for the off chance that I might want to wear a dress.

I don't own many shoes because of the cost. While name brands don't impress me at all, I tend to have tastes that conflict with my budget. Anything over $25 and my wallet seems to send a wireless signal from my closed purse to my brain which in turn signals my chest to gasp frantically for precious and practical air. I also find it frustrating to find a sole that fits my size foot. My feet are, as my parents lovingly refer to them, genetically predisposed to be Louisiana flat feet.
I call them Sasquatch Paddles.

Sigh....but everything has a reason and purpose right?
Maybe gifting me with wide feet was a way for God to help me balance out the lack of my visual perception. Wide feet give me a wider base to fight against gravity. giggle giggle

Why do I mention all of this? I bring it up so that you can appreciate all the more what happened to me today. God moved mountains big and small in the area of shoe shopping.

As time permits itself, I have been shopping for just the right things to wear at our eldest daughter's wedding in August. While she will be the most beautiful bride of any wedding and will no doubt hold every one's attention from beginning to end of ceremony and celebration, a teary-eyed mama gets a glance here and there also so I want to look 'just so' in honor of our daughter.

I have the dress and my brain has cataloged a few other items to purchase as accents. But the shoes.....oh I was not looking forward to shoe shopping. It is never an easy task. But when my daughter said, "Remember to find something comfortable for the dancing at the reception.", I figured I would need a modest heeled silver sling-back sandal to compliment my dress.

I looked at a couple of the 'get everything while you shop here' stores while getting groceries and found nothing. I ran an Internet search on specialty sized dressy paddles (oops I mean shoes) and found super scary prices with no solutions.

Today I decided to swing through one of those national shoes stores that specialize in the current fad for the 'in crowd'.
"They never ever carry what I need," I thought.
"But at least I will be able to say I dutifully tried."

They had a decent assortment of flats and sneakers in size 7.5 but nothing that would match my criteria (especially the actually fitting part). Then out of the corner of my eye I saw that illusive orange tab with a capital "W" hanging off the edge of the shoe box.
"Oh my goodness! That is my size."
As far as my eyes scanned it was the only orange tabbed box on the whole isle. "Okay let's see what kind of shoes is actually in the box just for kicks."

It was a modest heeled silver sling-back sandal.
The only modest silver sling-back sandal in the whole store.
In my size.
For only $21.57 with tax.

God is so very cool! He knew my frustrations and made it so my time can be spent with Daddy instead of going all over town trying on shoes. I love it!

Speaking of Daddy, he is doing well. He has enjoyed listening to those bible audios on my mp3 player so much that he asked me to go and buy him his own set up. I did some Internet comparisons a couple of days ago and then went to the store and played around with the different ones I had picked out for him. I brought home a little 8 gig that had controls easy for his sore shaky fingers and a docking station so he can enjoy without his ears getting sore from ear buds. Now he spends hours at a time in the sun room listening to the encouragement of the history of God's love.

Appointments are lining up on the calendar. One doctor gave me some great tips today on caring for his feeding tube site. It never ceases to amaze me how the attention to detail varies so much from doctor to doctor.
Tomorrow is pic-line dressing change day.
Next Tuesday is labs and then the beginning of chemo on Wednesday.

Actually it is the dogs that are keeping me busy right now. Conguito, the one that will be going home with me, was neutered last week. Poor little guy....but it was for his own good.
Aside from the extra attention that surgery recovery requires he has been doing well until today. Unrelated to his procedure he has been sick to his tummy all day. I have him quarantined in the kitchen and he wants nothing more than to stay curled up around my feet. Poor thing. His sad little chocolate eyes break my heart.

One of the sisters, Tia, made quite the mess today as well which prompted the need for me to bathe 4 of the 5 "fuzzy children" (as my dad calls them). Actually with the residual throwback weather from Hurricane Alex, all 5 dogs are crowded around my feet. The thunder and rain seem to be their weakness and they believe I can make it all better.

Well look at that. I sat down to share the blessing of my shoes and ended up rambling a bit. Thank you for listening/reading and smiling with me.

Have a blessed and destiny filled week.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Toys, Games & Time....

I just got off the phone from a visit with my cousin from the back woods of Louisiana. What a wonderful surprise to be able to talk with him. We haven't visited since I was something like 13 years old. Oh my goodness.....the swirl of memories associated with that thought.

And he said the most precious thing to me in his deep southern drawl. (typed in italics because somehow that makes the southern accent more prominent in my mind.) "Do ya know who ya sound like? Ya sound like how she would'a sounded if she had ever owned a northerly accent. And she had an elderly flare to her voice but don'cha talk just with that same soft grace that she always had. Yep ya sound just like Grandmother."
Instantly tears came to my eyes. Sigh....

I dreamed of Grandmother yesterday. Daddy and I were in the sun room doing crosswords and Sudoku puzzles and I fell asleep in my chair. All of a sudden Grandmother was there talking with Daddy. I couldn't hear all they were saying but Daddy asked her how it was that she was able to be sitting there when she had been gone from this world for so long. Her reply was, "I am here because I love you and just because I can."

Then I woke up and Daddy was staring at me and smiling with that parental expression that says, "that's my little girl". It never occurred to me until just now but I wonder if I was smiling or talking or something to warrant his attention. I shared my dream with him and he was touched. Sitting there a few more minutes and the emotion of my dream came so strong that I had to go find a corner and cry.

I am not going to debate the scriptural ramifications of anything here with my dream. I only want to say that I was utterly overwhelmed with how real it all felt.


Daddy is doing well. We went to see his doctor for a check up a couple of days ago. His symptoms are once again disappearing from the chemo treatments and now we are trying to decide if he will begin again this coming Monday or wait one more week. Once he does begin treatment again, we will only do the Xeloda strength at 75%. If he reacts again then we will cut it to a full 50%. It doesn't really mean anything bad to cut the strength of the medication back. It just means that his metabolism doesn't need as much of it as some people.

Daddy's scan came back great and we were really encouraged. Nothing was smaller in size but nothing had grown in size either and there were no new masses. That is really good news and Daddy was relieved. He has been off the chemo for so long now and I know he was silently worrying that it would give the cancer opportunity to advance.


Our quality of time together is changing and growing. Each morning I read to him from a devotional that my brother and sister-in-law sent to us. In the evenings we either fill in more pages of the Father's Legacy journal I bought for him or we listen to Bible audios. Someone had purchased The Word of Promise for Daddy a while back. He has been anxious to listen to it but his little stereo didn't want to accept the mp3 format on the Cd's. Remember the mp3 player I was blessed with last fall in preparation for coming to Texas? I loaded the whole New Testament onto it and we have it plugged into a small docking station that my cousin gave me. He falls asleep to it every time but that is okay. I figure that his spirit hears it all the same and helps to bring him peacefulness.


I have got to be the most spoiled wife in the entire world. Father's Day weekend my husband called me and suggested that I needed to go purchase that coveted e-reader I had been drooling over. He certainly didn't have to tell me twice.

It has taken me a few days to learn the ins and outs of things but I am really enjoying it. I have loaded 18 books onto it so far. Why 18 already? Well because I can. Most of them are free classics that I have always enjoyed and have used them as a learning tool in figuring out my new toy. I have even named it Sir Leonard. Why? Because I can. There is a slot for naming and personalizing the device in the personal profile summary. And the girls and I always name our tech things because we think it is funny.

Well I better get back to my chores. Thank you for sitting with me and having a visit. I pray that you have a blessed and wonderfully loaded destiny filled day of purpose and presence.

post script: It has now been decided that we will wait another 10 days before starting chemo again. So that gives Daddy until July 7th to build up more strength. I will have to see what kinds of things I can cook and tempt him with.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

God Bless You Too....

She was very bubbly and joyous as she greeted the regular faces around the oncology ward. I saw her fluttering around the halls numerous times while we were there. At one point we were headed for the same elevator and exchanged smiles. "Excuse me honey", I said as I patted her on the shoulder. "Let me help you out here. Your sweater is on inside out."

She laughed at herself and fixed the garment. Then she gasped at the realization of how many people she had conversed with over a large period of time who had not said anything to her about fast clothing choices. I had to get going so I said a couple of small pleasantries and waved goodbye. "You have an absolutely wonderful day and God bless you", I called out.
Again she gasped. "Oh my gosh! How did you know that I am religious? That's amazing! Really, how did you know?"

I didn't know what to say to answer her question and kept walking away with a smile and wave. Her reaction had really thrown me. When I speak a 'blessing' to someone it is not because I've decided that they are like minded in thinking the way I do. It is because I simply want to encourage them and credit God to always being around. For some reason I have assumed that everyone else used blessings in the same way. If I saved my proclamations for only certain ones then I wouldn't really be treating all people equal.

I keep thinking about her......


I was standing at the checkout line and he was in front of me. After exchanging smiles he introduced himself as Sterling Hudson. He wasn't from around here and assumed I was a local. He asked if I could give him directions to the certain stores he was looking for. I laughed and professed my own lack of knowledge and limitations because this is not home for me either.

Our conversation progressed.....
"What brings me to hot San Antonio where the heat index is above 100 degrees every day? Well I am visiting my dad for the summer.
Yes it is a good visit indeed. Actually my dad has cancer and I am here to encourage and help him. It has been such a blessing for us to be together."

As he loaded his intended purchases onto the conveyor belt for checkout he asked for my dad's name. He said he was sorry for the hardship we are going through and that he would be praying for us. Then he stopped what he was doing and said, "Actually would you mind if I pray with you right here and now?"

I don't know which was more fun....standing there in WalMart getting a hug from God or telling Daddy about it all when I got home. It blessed him that a stranger would take the time to stop and reach out like that.


Daddy's symptoms have come back so we have stopped the chemo doses again. His feet are tender, hands are peeling, and the inside of his mouth is sore. He puts on a smile but I can see he is feeling down. When I carefully point out that I see something hurts he panics and asks how I can if he wants to learn how to hide it better.

There are things now that I do for him just because he doesn't have the energy to do them on his own and I can see he is wrestling with the reality of losing independence. No matter how careful and gracious I am, I know he must be dealing with the idea that he is physically not my strong daddy anymore and I am caring for him instead of him caring for me.
There are times when he breaks. Then he lets me hold him and we cry together. Crying is a tender thing to share and it is healing medicine.

Wednesday we will get the results of the latest scan and then develop a new game plan with his doctor in hopes of fighting off the side effect symptoms of the chemotherapy.


I have an obsession now. I have decided that I desperately want an e-reader and have been doing research for which model would best suit my needs. Of course I don't have the funds to purchase such a toy but I am enjoying fine tuning my pros and cons list. I laugh at myself for wanting one and Rixxi must be laughing too as she reads this because it was not so very long ago that we made great sport together in making fun of such technology. Who would want such a thing that would discard the romance and ambiance in the smell and feel of a book?

But then again, as I have learned more about are they convenient and versatile. All of these long hospital trips and couch sitting would be so much nicer if I had a fun tech toy instead of heavy books to lug around. I am smiling just to picture it. I do so love electronic toys.

Sigh....wipe the drooling daze off your face Julie and stop being silly.

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

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Splendid Wild Flowers....

As I was running errands a couple of days ago
I decided to stop and take pictures of the flowers
that have been inspiring and encouraging me.
The fragrance that wrapped around me when I was
standing in this field was like a hug from heaven.

They grow rampant along the sides of the roads
and in the fields standing in defiant victory against weeds and harsh sun.

When I was a girl, we lived in Texas for a good handful of years.
Despite the familiarity, I have never cared for Texas scenery or the weather.
Amazingly, this year there has been so much rain that it is not brown outside
and they are calling off water rationing for the first time in over 5 years.

These beauties are so tall that I had
to look up to take their picture.
Because the ground has been so dry, it doesn't readily receive the rain
and there has been some flash flooding.
Thankfully I have heard only of heroic rescues and no fatalities.
On Monday Daddy had his follow up appointment with his oncologist. His symptoms had dissipated enough that the doctor was all for starting up therapy again and scheduled him for an immediate transfusion.

The Doxitaxil.....Daxitoxcil....grrrrrr I can't remember the name of is the chemotherapy drip that begins a 14 day treatment cycle and it is proving to be the cause of at least half of Daddy's symptoms. It is what makes his eyes tear constantly like he is crying. It is essentially burning and killing his tear ducts. The doctor said we could do a tear duct blockage surgery but that seems too much of a hassle and I have read that it is not always successful. It also causes his nails to have harsh spots at the nail bed like he has been smashing his hands with a hammer. It doesn't hurt him though so we are grateful.

The newest symptom happened right after his transfusion and basically it was an allergic reaction that triggered a MILD flash pulmonary edema. While it definitely could have been a lot worse, his breathing became shallow and rapid and his right lower lung lobe started crackling as sweat poured off of him. I was sitting in the waiting room and by the time the nurse assessed the situation and told me they were taking him down for x-rays, his body had already stabilized. We did the x-ray anyway and his doctor felt confident that Daddy was good so we went home. I kept a close eye on him the rest of the night just in case he flashed again but he was great.

Now we are on day 3 of crushing up his Xeloda chemo pills so that Daddy can take them via G/J tube instead of trying to swallow them. We've developed a system that works well with putting the pills in several layers of heavy duty tin foil so that I can crush them without getting dust in the air and affecting myself.

The Xeloda has ruined his taste buds as a side effect and is the culprit of the Hand/Foot Syndrome blisters but hopefully that won't come back this time. The doctor says that if his symptoms increase again then we will have to cut back on treatment.

Despite all of that, Daddy has been so uplifting. He is joking around and staying awake more than I have seen in a while. He is ever so generous with his "thank yous" and "I love yous" as I do the many things for him that he can't do anymore.

On my errands day, I found myself unsuccessfully holding back my tears in the card section at the store. I had wanted to pick out Father's Day cards for the men in my life but found the task quite daunting. Without going back into all the details of our relationship, as little as 5 years ago I found buying a card for Daddy to be more of a formality. Our relationship had been strained for so many years and I found all of those 'little girl loving her daddy' type cards to be irritating to me. That has all changed now and I wanted so badly to find the most perfect card. Cards have never been a huge deal for me. It matters more to me what a person writes on the inside. But oh how I stood there in the store struggling over just the right picture with just the right words. I kept thinking that this may be the last Fathers Day card I get to ever get for him and I wanted time to stand still.

After I finally picked something out and blew my nose, I turned around and found the gift book section in the same isle. My eyes wandered aimlessly through the titles and I hoped the distraction would bring relief. One of the books jumped out at me and now I am so grateful for it. It is a father's journal filled with all kinds of life questions. Daddy and I have been doing a few pages in the evenings and really enjoying our time together. The questions are making him remember things about his childhood that he hasn't thought about in years and the memories are blessing him. As I write down what he says, I am learning so many things about my dad that I never knew before.

Father God I am so grateful that You are here with us. I am so grateful for Your grace and love, Your hugs and Your presence.

Thank you for your support and your encouragement.
Have a blessed and amazing destiny filled day!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ground Zero...

From the moment I arrived here 2 weeks ago things have felt different from before and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I know I was tired when I arrived from all of the events we had just walked through back home and I worried about not being mentally focused here as I got back into a routine of medicine cocktails and puppy clean-ups while watching Hubby and girls to make sure things weren't overwhelming for them. I could also see that the people here are tired and trying to make the most out of every moment while hiding their grief.

We have all been working well together as a team in caring for Daddy. But even under the best of circumstances people still need time to care for themselves and their hearts. With the climax of packing up the things that Daddy had been insistent for my brother and I to take (and he is the one who has been adamant that we do it now), it has brought out feelings that the others haven't wanted to address and the collateral damage seems to be circling around me as the center impact zone.

I have had two individuals come to me insistent that I take whatever I desire because it is all just stuff. Well anything that is except this thing....and not this item.....and actually not this one either....and then they decided to take a box and pack out their own stuff too. The next day they came back with remorse and begged me not to make them pack up while my daddy is still here. Never mind the facts that

1) I am not the keeper of this home or Daddy's things.
2) I never told, asked, or even suggested that others pack out their wanted items.
3) I am only doing what Daddy has insisted and pushed for.

Then I found another loved one a couple of days later in a corner volleying between crying and anger while pleading with me not to put my Daddy's things in storage.

It's frustrating.
It hurts.
It's hard.
It's tiring.
It's not fair.
It's human.

Once I walked through each of those emotions, God reminded me of the truth. The truth is that I am not really their target. They are only using me as the focal point because I am tangible and accessible. My packing and being here is a significant reminder that things are going to change.

My mom reassured me to keep on doing what I know is right, true and just and God will take care of the rest. She was right. Things are already leveling out. Apologies have been made and hugs have been given.


The above was written late last night while I was laying in bed shaking off the day.
Today is a new and promising day.
As I drove to the vet this morning to pick up doggy medicines, their were wild sunflowers lined along the road and swaying all around with upturned faces to the sky. They were a tangible reminder for me that indeed each day is fresh and new. Each day I too can choose to look up.

I pray you have a wonderfully blessed and destiny filled day.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Two Weeks Are Up....

Hubby is on his way home now driving a 14' truck filled with items that Daddy wanted my brother and I to have. I have never been good at "guess-timating" the size of things so I am so grateful we were given the 14' trailer instead of the original 10' that we were thinking would do the job. It was a long day to say the least, because not only was I packing things in bubble wrap but I needed to make sure that the house was still left in functioning and comfortable order. Daddy is still here and that would be so depressing to walk around viewing large empty spaces where items used to be.

How am I doing? I get asked that a lot and my answer is that I am fine. My answer always brings on a barrage of pep talks encouraging me to take care of myself and the slight whispering hinted idea that I can be truthful with whomever is doing the asking. But really I am fine......until I am not. It hits me suddenly even when when I have recently accessed myself in knowing I am fine. Yesterday was one of those days for me. I worked hard at joking around with the others helping out and stayed diligent in focusing on goals. But every now and again a wave would flood up from my heart without warning and I would find a secret corner to breathe.

I truly don't mean to do it but I have found that my mind is clicking away each hour like something of an abacus. I watch Daddy each day and without realizing what I am doing I begin to mentally calculate how well I think he is in comparison to how long I know I can be here. From the very first doctor report a few months ago, the cry of my heart has been that I want to be here....I need to be here. Now the urgency that I feel in picturing myself next to Daddy as he walks away with Jesus is such a consuming emotion. I don't know if it is driven by the fact that he is my daddy or if it is a given spiritual knowledge from God. I am too close to know the difference right now. I want Daddy to be here as long as possible but at the same time I have such a pleading cry that rises up within me saying please don't make me go home and leave Daddy in a hospital bed.


But enough about that for now. Other things have been going on as well. Daddy has been insistent that we have some fun while here, "because you can only stare at a sleeping old man for so long."

Saturday was my niece's 27th birthday and we all gathered at Magnolia Pancake Haus for a celebration brunch. I took great joy in making a love bag for her. I bought her a bracelet with a remembrance card that talked about the importance of love and family in our hearts and then I filled her gift bags with Hershey's Hugs and Kisses for her to grab whenever she needs a reminder of how much she is loved and York Mint patties because she is "worth a mint".

It was very hard for Daddy to make the trip but he was determined to be there and love on his grand daughter. He ate a healthy sized plate of french toast and bacon and was able to taste a bit of the bacon so that was good.

Here is a picture of my girls with the birthday girl.

We all gathered for Hubby to take a picture of everyone.
The back row is my cousin (the ICU nurse) and her husband,
my step-sister, then myself and Puddin'.
The bottom row is Daddy, my two nieces and Pippin.

After church on Sunday, we took our girls to El Mercado for shopping adventures and souvenir thrills. For their friends they bought the most perfect ......... awe I can't say here because they read it. :-)

But we did get hats.
I fell in love with a classic Austin style cowboy hat
that will be great for my hikes back home.
Puddin' and Pippin picked out hats that suited their styles perfectly
as well and I think they look adorable.

On Monday we spent the day at Sea World. We had fun fun fun....until we were tired of having fun. The best fun of the day for me was a new show they have just started with the beluga whales. It is something of a Sea World meets Cirque de Soleil . There were acrobats jumping off spring boards into the water, belugas and porpoises flipping and parrots and macaws flying back and forth on cue. It was amazing!

Puddin' found a cuddly penguin that quickly became
her forever friend because of his huggability.

Here is Pippin doing a self portrait while she and I
waited for Hubby and Puddin' to get off a roller coaster ride.

I had so much fun taking this picture of Hubby and Puddin'.

At the end of the day we found ourselves at the local bbq specialty to fill up our hungry tummies after all that walking. The place is called Rudy's. To eat there, you simply go up to the ordering bar and choose how what kind and how much meat you want and they carve it for you on the spot and wrap it in butcher paper. Along with your meat you pick out complimentary sides like coleslaw, beans, or peach cobbler. It all gets loaded into a crate for you to carry and you go find a spot to sit on one of the many picnic tables available. Be sure to grab more butcher paper and napkins because they are your plates. huge bottles of Rudy's famous bbq sauce are found at every table so that you can smother your food as much as you want. It was really good and totally hit the spot for satisfying our hunger.

Well, I had better get back to laundry and such. Tomorrow the girls get on a plane to head home and I better make sure they are ready.
Thank you so much for your support and your prayers.
I pray that you have a blessed and purpose filled week full of destiny and love.