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!