Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Lights

It’s that time of year.  It’s hard to tell by the light of day, but once the sun sets, you can’t miss it.  Hundreds, Thousands and in some places , millions of tiny little lights twinkle and dance and generally take your breath away. 

These radiant little bulbs remind me quite a bit of this past year.

Life used to be easy.  I usually got what I wanted, and even if I didn't know it at the time, as I look back I realize I never really wanted for anything.  I don’t think my dad or my brothers would argue the fact that I may have been a tad bit spoiled.   As I grew up, life didn't really change in that respect.  I married an amazing guy that was all too willing to continue spoiling me and make my life as perfect as possible. 
But things happen.  Economies fail.  Jobs are in short supply.  Times get tough.  For the past several years our feast has slowly turned to famine.  And all the things I thought were important fell by the wayside.   I learned the obvious lesson that things are just things.  And I honestly never missed “things”.  I had my family and that was all I needed.

But I've now lost so much more than things.  Still reeling from the loss of my lovely mother in law, and devastated from the untimely passing of my brother in law, this past year I lost my role model, my best friend, my sounding board, my advice columnist… I lost my mom. 

And my world turned dark.  I cried until there were no more tears, and then I cried tearless sobs.  And then my beautiful little grandmother went to be with my mom.   And no amount of begging and pleading could right what was so wrong.  Begging and pleading had always been so effective in my younger years, but not so much in this case. 

Next, my husband’s new job fell victim to the economy and we fell off the fiscal cliff long before many knew it even existed.    And it was even darker at the bottom of that cliff than I could have imagined.
It was then that I started to notice things, things that I took for granted before.   Much like Christmas lights in the daylight.  You are aware they are there, but it is impossible to appreciate how truly beautiful they are, without the darkness surrounding them.

I noticed how desperately my husband adores me and the kids.  I noticed how my boys make me laugh every day, and not just a giggle here, a giggle there, but sidesplitting, fall to the floor bouts of laughter.   I noticed how amazing my brothers are and I noticed how strong my Daddy is, even when he doesn’t see it himself, which I think is part of his strength.   I noticed how blessed I am to have the friends I have and I realized with a new understanding of just how faithful God is to me in every little thing. 

And in the darkness that my world had become, tiny little beams of light began to shine bright.  Don’t get me wrong.  Those lights were always there, but they were lost in the brightness of everything else.  Things that would barely catch my attention before, now catch me off guard and make my heart swell with joy.    And I now know that I would rather have great joy over little things, than have little joy over great things.

I used to think I was God’s favorite… everything went my way.  Then my world fell apart.  And now I know that I’m a favorite child because He allowed me to see things in a new light.  He made a way for me to feel His love and experience His faithfulness in a way I never have before.  And if life is measured by happiness instead of things, I’m terrifically rich, just like good ol’ George Bailey.   

Even while we wait patiently for my husband to find a job, we are blessed with miracle after miracle that keeps the bills paid.  Beautiful white lights shine.

Even though we miss Mom more than words can say, we find comfort in each other and continue to grow closer than we have ever been.  Crimson lights beam.

And this Christmas might be light on gifts but it will be heavy on memories.. like dancing in the kitchen while we make cookies; like singing a Christmas carol for a group of people who are experiencing their own darkness…  and getting stuck in an elevator while doing it; like putting up a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree this year because that just seemed so appropriate.  Indigo blue radiates through the dark.
All the colors..  green and purple and yellow and pink…  a rainbow of dancing hues that seem to shine brighter the darker it gets.

And so I focus on the light, and never the darkness.  And one day, when one of my loved ones find themselves in the dark, I pray that I can be a light to them as so many are to me right now.

It only takes a tiny light to pierce the darkness but there can never be enough darkness to snuff out the light.

Merry Christmas!  And may your New Year be filled with a glow of a million little lights you never noticed before!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Boys

It's so very close to Thanksgiving and there is so much work that needs to be happening in my kitchen right now, but I have to take a second and write about how much I am thankful for these two guys!  They are my world!

If life had gone according to my plans, I would be writing and producing films..  maybe even  have a couple of Oscars by now....  but I am so thankful that I wasn't calling the shots on this one.

These two you see pictured above are by far the best things I could ever have "produced"!  They are my masterpiece productions!

Cody, my oldest, is amazing.  He is my Shooter Jennings look-alike, but even with all his rebel long hair and bushy beard.. (remember, this is No Shave November)  he has the most gentle and compassionate spirit of anyone I have ever met.

Cody and I serve at Chat Hosts at LifeChurch.TV Church Online.  I love when someone comes to the chat room with really heavy questions and he answers them with wisdom that defies his 19 years.  Others will come to chat to stir up trouble and he is able to deal with them in a kind way that let's them know that while their antics aren't appreciated they are more than welcome!  He has changed lives by allowing himself to be used by God!

Cody has taught me that life isn't about what you can't do, but what you can do!  He is a program director at a wonderfully innovative new school called Element.  He is passionate about not allowing kids to be limited by their "labels" but rather celebrating what they do best.  He knows from experience.  His own autism spectrum diagnosis never limited him.  He is a gifted writer and a budding musician and has an inner joy that can't be contained.  I want to be like him when I grow up!

Dillon is my baby but sometimes he just seems older and wiser than me.  He certainly bosses me around in the kitchen...  (Maybe I should just set him loose with all the baking that must be done before tomorrow and I will take it easy!)

I always speak about Dillon being a present day King David.  He is a deep thinker and has the emotional range you see when you read the Psalms.  He is a man after God's own heart and has a heart for worship.  True worship.  He doesn't want to perform for man, he wants to worship God and when he does, the Spirit falls and it's palpable.

Dillon's only weakness, well, besides being allergic to dogs, which he loves, is he is a perfectionist.  He gets frustrated easily when he is not the best at what he sets out to do..  Fortunately, he has channeled this into a positive, and as a result plays several musical instruments and, even as we speak, he is working on perfecting his sketching techniques.

My boys can make the worst days better, and the best days brilliant.  They make me collapse in laughter and beam with pride.

I will be forever thankful and amazed that God trusted Jim and I with these two!  

This is what I was meant to do!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I have posted many things I am thankful for this month,although not as many as I had planned to due to the fact that trying to survive what must have been the Spanish Flu strain of the Bubonic Plague tends to give one writer's block.

I have waited until today to write of he whom I am most especially thankful for, not because he wasn't the first one I thought of, but because today is his birthday, so it seemed appropriate!

Today my groom turns 52, and he has been my groom for over 20 years now.

We have been through so much together...  from the highest highs and victorious victories to the lowest of lows facing unimaginable loss.  He has been by my side through thick and thin, and I will stay by his side for whatever is coming next.

He is my very best friend.

He is an amazing father.

He is quite possibly the hardest worker I have ever known.

He refuses to ever do anything the easy way.

He thinks so far outside the box, I am not sure he is aware that the box exists.

He makes music.  And he makes songs.  And he makes the things that make music.  And when he sings one of his songs to me, playing a guitar that he has built, I admit that I swoon a little.

And although I swoon when he sings to me, I get positively weepy when he sings to God.  He has a heart for worship and there is nothing he wants to do more than praise God with every breathe of his day.  And he has passed that on to our boys.

I can't imagine that God could ever have created a better man for me to spend the rest of my life with.

I am thankful that he was born 52 years ago today, and that he found his way to me.  And I'm thankful that I get to spend the rest of my days looking into his blue eyes, hearing him sing,and  laughing at his quirky sense of humor.

It may be his birthday, but I'm the one who got the gift!

I love you Sweetie!  Happy Birthday! I love you!  Always!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


First of all, I am thankful to be back in the blogging seat after being entirely to sick to even lift my fingertips to type! I am thankful for NyQuil and Antibiotics and cough syrup with a touch of codeine!  And I am most thankful for having a nearly cough free day today!

But that's not the subject of this Thankful post.  Today I am thankful for the amazing marriage my parents had that I have been able to use as a model for what I want my marriage to be.

Yesterday, November 14th, was their anniversary.  And it was the first anniversary they have spent apart, but Mom did make an appearance!

We ordered a pizza and spent the evening with Daddy watching old home movies.   My beautiful Mom was smiling and young and healthy, probably very much like she looks right now in Heaven.  Daddy did very well, although his eyes tend to leak when he sees his bride.  He has always adored her!  

It got closer to bedtime and we were saying our goodbyes on the front lawn.  The air was chilly, the skies were clear and stars were amazingly bright.  

Daddy, Jim, the boys and I were all staring at the Big Dipper, discussing the how north the North Star really was when all of the sudden a huge, unmistakable, brilliant shooting star soared across the sky.. right where we were all looking.  

And so that was how Mom wished Daddy a Happy Anniversary!

I wrote the following after Mom's first cancer battle.   It is a wonderful picture of the marriage I witnessed growing up and for that, I will be forever thankful!

The Dance

They were teenagers in the 50’s, the decade of sock hops and dance marathons. They married and started their family in the 60’s, the decade of dancing to the beat of your own drum. They have probably danced hundreds of thousands of dances together, but it was one dance that caught my heart. It was one dance that showed me what love was.

I don’t remember mom and dad being terribly demonstrative when I was growing up. I take that back, Daddy was. I remember vividly the whoosh of his recliner as it returned to its upright position. I remember him displaying his most exaggerated pucker lips as he left his chair and crawled on his hands and knees to where my mom was napping on the couch. He would smooch the air, until she woke up, took one look at him, and playfully demanded that he leave her alone. He was comically flirty, she fittingly coy. And this was their dance.

` They knew each other so well, they could anticipate each other’s steps. Mom instinctively knew just how Daddy would lead, and she would follow. They danced through life, having children, watching them grow and giving them up to new dance partners. Grandchildren came and with them came even more dancing - Goofy grandparent dancing. Their music was the joys of life. Sometimes the beat was slow and steady… sometimes a bit frantic and overwhelming but they always danced with grace no matter what life’s soundtrack brought.

To tell the truth I never really caught on that their life, their love was a dance. It wasn’t until a new more sinister beat began to echo. My dad heard it first. The doctor told him it was prostate cancer that had spread to the bone. The pain was unimaginable, and it stilled him for a bit. Mom put all her energy into taking care of him and it worked. He was soon crawling across the floor to the couch where she lay resting; blowing exaggerated kisses until she woke up and the dancing began again.

But just like a bad song on the radio, the sinister music hadn’t played out. And this time my mom was caught up in the beat. Multiple Myeloma brought more unimaginable pain. And it was then that I began to understand the dance.

Mom was truly in so much pain that she could hardly breathe, let alone move, but she had to move. As she stood up, pain hit her body so hard she couldn’t go anymore. She stood there weeping, unable to take another step and unable to sit back down. Daddy wrapped his arms around her. I thought he was simply going to help her get moving again, but he just stood there holding her. And after a few minutes, I realized he wasn’t just holding her… he was swaying with her. She relaxed and followed his lead. For several minutes they danced to some sweet melody that only they could hear. He had danced this dance before.. He knew the pain. And he was taking the lead now, holding her tight and not allowing death to cut in. He knew there was more dancing to be done and he was not willing to give up his dance partner.

I cherish the memory of this moment, and I thank God that I got to witness it. It was true love and true romance and true fight, this love that dances no matter the music.

Monday, November 5, 2012


"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything"  ~ James 1:2-4

James pretty much lays it on the line here!  We are to be thankful when we encounter troubles and so I'm being obedient to scripture today and announcing to all how thankful I am for Mondays!

I am particularly thankful that this is Monday evening and it is almost over!  Whew!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


It's been a  long week.  Cody is teaching, and Dillon is doing school outside the home for the first time ever.  I am constantly on the move, between teaching at Element, and working for our landlord.  Friday afternoons is the time to relax and say...  oh, wait.. yeah, there is no relaxing..  Turns out the weekends are just as busy as the weekdays.

Saturday is filled with all those chores that didn't get done through the week, followed by an evening of great music at Harmonic Souls...   Then Sunday morning is spent at Driven where Jim and Dillon are on the worship team.  Sunday afternoon is spent at LifeChurch Broken Arrow Campus where Cody and I serve on the Host team.    It's a busy, busy weekend but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

On this first weekend of Thankful November, I am thankful for weekends.  Because it's when I get to see my guys do this..... .

Saturday, November 3, 2012


The first sign was on the day of her funeral.

The weather forecast called for rain, and in the middle of December that meant cold rain.  Maybe even snow.  But there was nothing to be done about it.  It was raining in our hearts anyway.  Tears were ever present in our eyes.. might as well be falling out of the sky too.

Her funeral was beautiful and despite the weather, so so many people came to pay their respects.  It was sprinkling  as we left the church for the cemetery, and we took small comfort in the fact that the time there would be spend mostly under a tent.

But an amazing thing happened.  As soon as we got to the cemetery, the skies cleared.  And I don't mean they cleared as the storm passed, the way any storm would.  No, the skies cleared just above us.  You could look up and literally see a punch of blue sky over our little section of Floral Haven, while all around us in every direction was still dark, ominous looking clouds.

My brother commented that it was her first week in Heaven and they were already letting her control the weather.  It was a sign to us.  The clouds were surrounding us.  There were going to be storms.  But Mom was no longer suffereing and she was probably even dancing in heaven.. and that pretty much punched a hole through the clouds where we could see the blue sky.  And we could for an instant feel her joy.

More signs would come.  Megan would be both scolded and comforted by a shooting star late New Year's Eve when she was stranded, broken down on the highway.  A sign that Mom was sending help.. and she did.  A couple stopped to help saying only that God had sent them that way.

I think we have all had little signs and sometimes I wonder if signs could be so subtle we may even miss them.  Mom was so soft spoken when she walked on this earth.  I never heard her raise her voice.  And when she was mad, she was more apt to stick her tongue out and blow a little raspberry at the offender than actually voice her irritation.

But it seems that when it comes to Daddy and his health, she has found her Heavenly Voice.

As I mentioned in my last post, Daddy was undergoing a new treatment called Provenge.  The side effects of this treatment were pretty much the same as the side effects for any transfusion.  Basically Daddy experienced weakness and flu like symptoms.  And with each progressive infusion, the symptoms seemed to intensify.  Finally he had his third and final treatment and was taking some time to recover.

I was at work while Mark was hanging out with Daddy who was still so weak, he was having trouble steadying himself when he stood up.  It was about 2 in the afternoon and my boss and I were straightening up the lunch room after a late lunch.  Suddenly I heard a huge clap of thunder.  There were no clouds in the sky to speak of, so I looked at Joyce and asked if that was thunder.  She remarked that she hadn't heard a thing.  As I headed to my office, I heard it again.  I didn't think much more about it.... UNTIL....

I talked to Daddy later that day and he said I needed to call Mark and ask him something.  At this point, Daddy went all mute, like he always does when he gets a bit emotional.  I teased him a bit telling him that I couldn't ask Mark until I knew what I was asking him about.  Daddy finally got out that Mom had talked to them today.

I immediately called Mark and got, as Paul Harvey said, the rest of the story.

About 2, while I was having lunch at work, Mark and Daddy were sitting in the living room.  Mark announced that he had to go because he had some laundry to do.  Daddy, who was weak and not feeling well, said that he too needed to get up and do laundry. Mark told him he better not until he was feeling stronger and Daddy argued that he would be ok.   At this point, a huge clap of thunder came out of a sunny sky!  Mom was telling Daddy in no uncertain terms to stand down.  There would be no laundry done that day.  Daddy said "Yes, Dear." and just for good measure, the thunder boomed again.

When I heard that story I knew without a doubt that it was Mom because I heard it too, even though others in my office standing right next to me did not.  She was speaking to her family, and she was making sure we were taking care of beloved, since she couldn't be there to do it in person.

So on this third thankful day of November, I am so very thankful for those little signs, the not so little signs, and the very loud signs, that let us know that Mom has not gone far and we will see her again very soon.

Sometimes it just doesn't feel soon enough though.

Friday, November 2, 2012

No Shave November

This month my boys are participating in No Shave November or Noshember, or Movember...  all different names, but the intent is the same.  Just as October was festooned in pink for breast cancer awareness, so November will be hirsute and fuzzy..  for prostate cancer awareness.   You can read all about it and how you can be involved here.

Although I have written much about Mom's battles with cancer, I haven't really written about Daddy's battle. He was diagnosed first.   November 18, 2003, my husband's birthday. That morning there had been a freak hail storm with hail stones the size of baseballs.  Our cars were dented and dinged but that paled in comparison with the call we got from the hospital.  Daddy had been having severe back pain, and we were expecting to here that he had a ruptured vertebrae or something along those lines.  However, the diagnosis was much different.  He had prostate cancer that had already metastasized to his bones.  

The fact that is had already spread to his bones was not a good thing.  I don't know how much Mom and Dad knew at the time, but just recently Daddy's doctor let him know that most men who present like Daddy presented, don't do nearly as well as Daddy.  

And Daddy did well.  Very well.  I'm going to have to go ahead and use the word "miraculous".  His PSA levels when he was diagnosed were unbelievably high..  1047.  (0 is normal, and anything over 4 is cause for investigation.)  The doctors began a treatment regimen but I'm not sure how optimistic they were, considering how the cancer had already spread.  Their goal was to get the PSA down to around 50.  Still incredibly high, but a little more respectable.  I still remember the call from mom when she announced that his PSA levels were a big, fat zero!  The other evidence of our miracle is that the intense, debilitating, bone pain had resolved as well.  

There were a couple of times over the years that his PSA levels "ooched" up as Mom put it.  The doctors would tweak his medicine and he would, like a good patient, respond perfectly.  

I am so thankful that Daddy was well and able to take amazing care of Mom when she got her own diagnosis.   We were very concerned about what the stress was doing to him, and I was certainly praying for him as hard as I was praying for Mom.  

Recently, Daddy started to feel some pain in his tailbone and although we tried to explain it away by blaming his chair, but his PSA levels rose to confirm our suspicions.  A bone scan cinched it.  The cancer was back in his tailbone.   The theory is that any treatment eventually loses it's effectiveness so treatment has to be adjusted.

A course of radiation killed what was growing in the tailbone, and he began a fascinating new treatment called Provenge.  Provenge acutally empowers his own immune system to do what God created it to do.  His own white blood cells were removed, shipped to Atlanta where they were "activated" and shipped back here where they were transfused back into his body to fight, fight, fight.  The new, more powerful cells, designed to seek out and destroy the cancer were dubbed Cell Team 6.  And they are busy doing their job!

So it's fitting that November, the month of Daddy's original diagnosis, is the month now dedicated to prostate cancer awareness (as well as other men's health issues).  And Daddy's grandson's are all prepared to get hairy for the cause.

November is also the month of Thanksgiving, so I plan to post daily, writing about all the things I'm thankful for!  Today I am so thankful for the Daddy.  I am so thankful for the care he gave Momma and  I am so thankful that he is still here with us, and still taking care of us - he had adapted to wearing Mom's hats very well! 

He has a little bit of a secret though...  Mom is taking care of him!  That's what tomorrow's post is all about! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

One Year

One year ago today, life was pretty good.

One year ago today, I took for granted that things would always be the same.

One year ago today, I still believed that God answered prayers when and how I wanted Him to.

One year ago today, I was looking forward to a birthday shopping trip with my mom.

One year ago tomorrow, my dad called  to cancel that trip.

One year ago tomorrow, mom went to the Emergency Room because she didn't feel well.

One year ago tomorrow, my world cracked.

In one year I have hoped, prayed, and even demanded.

In one year I have cried till there were no more tears.

In one year I have pleaded with Him, submitted to Him and finally rested in Him.

In one year I have learned that all things work together for good for them that love God.  And I have learned that "good" doesn't always look good, or feel good...  not for everyone involved, at least.

In one year my mom went from the sweetest woman in earth to the sweetest woman in heaven.  And her journey, though painful for those she had to leave, was a joyous celebration and reunion for her.

In one year I have learned that I can praise Him through the worst pain.  He is still worthy.  He has never,  ever left our side.  She is with Him now, and He is with us.  And knowing that is how I will get through another year.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Today begins a new year.

Today I am 45.  

My birthday was fairly typical.  Most of the usual traditions were firmly in place... 

Every birthday, for as long as I can remember, tends to come with a bit of allergy or virus.  The result is that I sound like Demi Moore or Kim Carnes on my birthday. This year, I have suffered a little from the allergies, but my sweet sons have decided to carry on that tradition and save me the trouble of the real hard stuff.  As I type this they are on either side of me, one running a temp of 102, the other 101.  They are both coughing and moaning and sound much more like Johnny Cash than Demi Moore.   But this is better than Dillon's usual birthday "gift"

Dillon tends to have some kind of unusual medical mishap on the day of my birthday.  The initiation of this tradition began many years ago when he suffered a concussion by falling (or by being tripped by his brother who shall remain nameless) and hitting his head on the hubcap of my car.  That was the first birthday spent in the Emergency Room.  Emergency Room Birthday Celebration memories soon included a fall which knocked out his two front teeth and many and various migraines.  We began to joke that we should wrap Dillon in Bubble Wrap for the entire month of September.  And I know that I probably pray a little harder for him during the fall months.  It worked..  and with the exception of what he insists is the plague, he made it through my birthday unscathed.  Cody decided to stand in the gap for him though.

Cody woke up early yesterday morning, because he finds it hard to sleep while he's coughing his lungs out of his body.  He decided to try to eat something healthy and chose a granola bar.  I woke up to Cody telling me he had a problem.

I have to interrupt the story here to explain something about Cody.  He has Sensory Issues.  The tiniest sound can make him crazy and  the faintest smell can cause gagging.  He needs enough pepper to choke and elephant and if that elephant were to stomp on his knees, he might notice anything but a tickle. He has grown up with undiagnosed ear infections, sore throats, tooth aches etc.. simply because he doesn't seem to notice.  So when he says he has a problem, he usually reveals something close to blood poisoning.  

Anyway, Cody told me he was eating granola and thought he had chipped a crown. His crown is stainless steel and probably quite difficult to destroy, even with the dryest of granola, but I have to admit, I looked and it certainly appeared to a be a sliver of metallic silver that was not where it was supposed to be and where it was not supposed to be was sticking out of his gum.  And he was miserable.  If he was saying it hurt, that meant that is would have  already knocked anyone else out.  So I called the dentist, got an immediate emergency appointment, suffered through a variety of x-rays and x-ray technicians (all to beat that gag reflex during the x-rays) and waited patiently for the doctor to come in and tell us how much a new crown was going to cost.

Imagine our relief and absolute embarrassment as the doctor simply removed a very sharp toothpick like piece of granola from his gum.  The crown was perfect, and we paid for our very expensive emergency flossing and left feeling foolish and vowing to never eat granola again.

Oh, and just for good measure, to make sure odd medical mayhem was covered for my birthday, Jim decided to go ahead and try and pass a kidney stone last night. 

My family loves me enough to make sure that all the traditions are covered, and I'm so thankful because there was one they couldn't cover this year.  

This was the first year that my birthday did not commence with a call from the one who had been there with me since the very first one.  My mom is celebrating in a more heavenly place right now.. far away from sickness, and dental emergencies, and kidney stones.  She is with the One who authored all our birthdays and planned all our days.  And as much as I am both jealous of and thrilled for her, I miss her!  Some days more than I can bear.  And on those days, on this day, my love for her turns to tears.

I didn't hear her voice today, but I did hear her.  She is still inspiring me, still encouraging me.  She was my biggest cheerleader and although I have been lax.. not doing things I know she would want me to be doing...I've decided it's time to get back in the game.  

I want her to be proud of me!  I still need that, even if I am 45 today.

On that note..  Today was the 75th Anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit.   I LOVE that I share a birthday with Bilbo Baggins!  I learned something new today as well..   Tolkien was 45 when The Hobbit was published, the same age I am now.  It's not too late!  I've only just begun!  And with the best cheerleader ever cheering me on from Heaven, how can I fail?!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Seeing Clearly

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
I Corinthians 13:12

I can't think of a time when this particular verse has been more real to me.  There are so many unanswered questions and there isn't any definitive answers this side of heaven.  Why did things happen the way they did?  Why is there so much sickness and disease? Why is there even such a thing as cancer?

Sure, I know the pat answers..  and it pretty much all boils down to Adam and Eve and a sly snake with some fresh fruit...  but there are times when that is simply not a good enough answer.  

Why?  It's the unanswerable question.  Anyone who has ever spent any time around a 3 year old can attest that there is no running out of the WHY.  For every answer to every WHY there is yet another WHY.   Sometimes even punctuated with a BUT WHY? 

Cheryl Pruitt Salem experienced the unthinkable.  She lost her daughter to a brain tumor.  I heard her speak after that and she said something that stuck with me.  I think of it often these days.  She said she went through her season of WHY?  And realized that every answer God could give her could be followed up with another WHY.  And soon she realized that even if God spelled it out for her, explained all that His plan was doing in her, in her family, in people she had never met...  even in her little girl who was enjoying Heaven... even if God gave her every detail and she saw clearly...  That answer would still not be good enough.  "But God, why??  Surely you could have found another way to accomplish all of that?"

I'm like Cheryl.  I cannot think of a good enough reason for Mom to not be with me, with us right now.  So I am left with the choice to trust Him.  Because I can't see.  As that scripture says, I can only see a part.  

Speaking of seeing, Daddy is seeing a little more clearly tonight.  Even if he is sporting quite the new age pirate eye patch.  We joke that he had a Cadillac removed from his eye today.. and as dense as his cataract was, that might not be too far from the truth.  

Even this afternoon, just a few hours after the surgery, and only able to peak out of the little holes in his eye patch, he was already amazed at how much bluer the sky was.  He was seeing a little more clearly.  As the days go on, I think he will be even more surprised at how much better he will see.  And more to the point, how little he WAS seeing... thinking he was seeing it all.

I read a quote by Johnny Depp tonight..  and although he probably isn't my go to philosopher, I did like this one:  

You can close your eye's to the things you don't want to see, but you can't close your heart to the things you don't want to feel.

And this afternoon, I could tell that even as Daddy was seeing things more clearly, his heart was feeling things a little more clearly too.

He was missing mom.  He had just had surgery and her absence was all the more noticeable.  

She would have been rushing around taking such good care of him.  She would have been filling out all the paperwork and asking all the right questions of the doctors and nurses.  She would have made him the perfect comfort food.  

But then again, she was sick.  She was the one that needed to be taken care of.  

Two or three times this afternoon..  Daddy would miss her.  Then he would realize that cancer had stolen so much from her, that she couldn't do what she would have wanted to do for him.  And then he would come to the painful realization that she was in a much better place, complete and whole and coaching us kids on what to do to make everything almost as good as she would have done it.    

He was seeing a little clearer.. but hurting a little more.  What ended up being best for her.. what delivered her from the pain of cancer, delivered all of us into a mess of pain that we are still working through.  

BUT, there is more to that scripture...  it says that we shall see face to face.  (Mom is now seeing face to face now.  She knows all the WHY's and she gets it....  To tell the truth, I think God had already shown her while she was still with us.. which is why she was so peaceful.)  It also says that we only know in part right now.  We only see a small piece of the puzzle.  We are basically looking through the holes in  daddy's snazzy white and silver eye patch.  We can't see the whole picture but we try to fill in the blanks as best we can.  Sometimes, most times, we are wrong..  But we keep trying.

And here's the good part...

Even though we only know a part right now...  when we are face to face we will know fully...  We will know everything there is to know.  We won't have to ask God all those questions we keep saying we are going to ask when we get to Heaven because We. Will. Just. Know.   And how will we know?  

We will know fully...  just like He fully knows us now.  He knows everything about us.  He knows how many hairs on our heads.  He knows what we can handle.   He knows us more completely than our parents, than our spouse..  He. Knows. Us.  is what I'm saying.  

I find that so comforting. Even as God had a plan for Mom, He also has a plan for me.. for Daddy, for my brothers, for her sisters, for her grandkids..  And he knows each of us better than we even know ourselves..  And He will work good in all situations..  Even in this most terrible and unbearable of situations.

We just can't see it yet...   maybe because we all have Cadillacs in our eyes. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rooster Days and Funnel Cake Tenacity

Mother's Day was certainly different this year.  But everything is different.  That's the new normal.

But this Mother's Day was exceptionally different.   This Mother's Day, we took my dad to Rooster Days.

For those that don't know, Rooster Days is festival that began in our little small town in the early 30's.  The idea at that time was to have a place for all the poultry farmers to come and sell their roosters.  This ensured that they had more unfertilized eggs, which kept longer and were more valuable.  On the first Rooster Day, two tons of Roosters were sold!  (Now, the only question I have is if all the poultry farmers were wanting to get rid of their excess roosters, WHO was actually buying the roosters!?)

Anyway, over time, Rooster Day turned into a fair of sorts, with rides, games, arts and crafts, live music.. even a beauty pageant... Miss Chick.  And of course, food!  Rooster Days is a veritable cornucopia of fried foods planted firmly on sticks.  This year I saw CheeseCake on a stick!  However, the main draw for my family is the funnel cake!  More on the funnel cake later....

Another interesting tidbit of information, which makes our Mother's Day activities seem so ironic, is that I've always firmly held the belief that my dad hates the fair, and all other fair-like events.  Rooster Day certainly qualifies as fair-like. 

Many years ago when I was just a little girl in elementary school, my dad had made plans to come and pick me up one warm fall afternoon and take me to the County Fair.  But as I stood on the sidewalk outside of the school, it was my mom who arrived to pick me up.. not my dad.  My mom explained that Daddy had been injured playing football and had to have knee surgery.  And even as I saw the worry in her eyes (my mom had turned worrying into an art form.. but that is another post altogether) I was positive that he had injured himself on purpose so that he would not have to take me to the fair.  Yes, I truly thought the world revolved around me and I wasn't afraid to be irrational about it.

And yet, all these years later, my dad actually WANTED to go to Rooster Days.  To be fair, it is THE EVENT in this small town and he has never been.  He is a relatively recent transplant from the big city next door, so I guess before he can call himself a true citizen, he must go through this right of passage.

So we set off to Rooster Days with visions of corn dogs and lemonade dancing in our heads.  We consumed the food on a stick and then ordered the funnel cake.   We were told it would be a few minutes because they make it fresh to order.  Daddy went and found a table near the bandstand and I waited on the funnel cake.

It was a lovely day!  It wasn't too crowded, lines weren't terribly long and the music was pretty good!  And the funnel cake..  Oh, my!  It was delightful!

And it was at this point that I made a realization...

Eating a hot, fresh out of the oil. funnel cake requires quite a bit of tenacity.  There is no waiting until the cake cools off..  that would be silly.  There is searing pain as you  burn off your fingerprints grabbing the powder dusted confection!  There is the awkward face as you simultaneously chew while opening your mouth attempting to let the heat escape.  And it's not just pain..  there is mess too!  Powdered sugar is everywhere.  Shirt, pants, chin, hair, the lady at the next table.  Between wincing in pain as you pinch a piece of cake, to chewing, mouth all agape attempting to blow on your food in reverse, to being covered with a fine white powder..  all appearances are thrown out the window.  You don't care what you look like.. you are singularly focused on enjoying your funnel cake and you will never give up.. you will never surrender.

If only I had that same tenacity about, oh I don't know... cleaning, or dieting, or even on some days.. just getting out of bed.  The past few months have shown me how painful life can be.. and how messy it can be.  And all too often, it just gets too hard.  But if I could only approach it as I did that funnel cake.  Pain - No Matter!  Mess - Who cares!  There is something greater than the pain and the mess, something better on the other side of the pain and mess.

Admittedly, the funnel cake has an immediate payoff, so there's that.  Sometimes, the reason for enduring pain and mess isn't so obvious, but I know it's there.

This is the kind of thing I used to talk to mom about.  I would find life lessons in random objects and she would listen to me, saying "I never thought of it that way before."    But she certainly lived this one.  Pain and Mess.  She endured with such grace, and her payoff is that now she is with her Healer.

And I can't help but wonder if there is funnel cake in Heaven.

Of this I am certain.. there are no lines.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

My world changed on December 16, 2011. Permanently. It began changing earlier - in October - as my boys and I were taking a stroll down Main Street. I paused right outside the Main Street Tavern to answer a call from Daddy. He wanted to let me know that he had taken Mom to the Emergency Room because she wasn't feeling well. Mom wanted to assure me it probably wasn't any big deal and the only reason he had called was because Mom and I had plans to go shopping that afternoon. 

 As it turned out, it was a big deal and Mom and I never did get to take that shopping trip. 

Diagnosed with a second cancer diagnosis, (She had fought Multiple Myeloma a few years earlier) she fought for a bit, but was ultimately at peace that her victory was to come a different way this time. 

 She was completely and totally healed and resting in the arms of her Savior on the evening of December 16th. And there are no words to adequately state how much she is missed. 

I spent the last 40-mumble years of my life telling my mom everything. If anything happened that was any degree of interesting I would call her. And let's be honest, sometimes I would call to talk about things that had no interest value at all. I just loved to talk to her. Now, it seems that desire to call her is pure instinct. My hand reaches for the phone, before my brain can even reason that she is not there to answer. This happens daily. 

After experiencing this "instinct" a few hundred times, I got an idea... an inspiration from her.

You see, she loved my writing. She was always encouraging me to write more, and I always told her I would.. so I am. 

When something happens that I feel like I need to tell my mom about, this blog will be my outlet. 

When something happens that my mom would have been proud of, this blog will be my brag.  

When I remember something about my mom that I do not want to forget again, this blog will be the rock that keeps the memory mist from flying away. 

But fear not.. this blog is not going to be a sad, outpouring of daily grief. No way. This blog will be a joyful look back and a hopeful look forward. 

It's a Mommy blog with a twist. 

I invite you to join me on this journey and comment and share your own memories, or leave messages for your mom, or other loved one you can't reach my phone anymore. 

I have a feeling Mom will see and she will relay all messages. 

I  am counting on it because this is the only way I have to tell her Happy Mother's Day! 

Happy Mother's Day, Momma! I love you!