Thursday, November 29, 2018

Christmas 1968

As I was listening to Christmas music today, I remembered our first Christmas together as a married couple.  It was 1968, Joel was a lowly airman in the Air Force, stationed at Rantoul Illinois for 9 months of tech training to work on air testing in airplanes.  We lived in a small Airstream trailer that was not wide enough for me to lay across......and I am under 5' 3" tall.  The bathroom was small enough that we could sit on the stool and wash our hands in the sink at the same time!

It was our first Christmas away from our families, we were living on $200 a month, and had little to spend on gifts.  But we bought each other 1 gift.....I bought Joel a pair of western boots and he bought me a bathrobe.  Joel has worn boots for as long as I can remember.  I love wearing robes, and still do enjoy having a robe to change into in the evenings.  We had a tiny tree with presents from my family under the tree, adding to our own gifts for each other. I had made cookies like we did at home........ending up with so many different kinds, we actually took most of them out to the barracks to share with other airmen who could not go home.  I don't recall, but I am thinking we had the traditional turkey dinner.

We were lonely for family, but we were so thankful to be together to celebrate.  We attended a local Lutheran church not far from our trailer house for Christmas Eve services.  I don't recall if we phoned home.  We could not afford a phone so if we did it would have been a collect call!

We have spent many Christmases far from our extended families and eventually as our kids grew into adults we have spent them far from our own family.  But we have always had each other.  For 50 years now we have never missed a Christmas together.  So grateful.  Our holidays have been celebrated in Illinois, New Mexico, Utah, Minnesota, Montana, Iowa, and The Philippine Islands

This year we will spend a quiet Christmas together, and our focus will be the same...........the waiting and anticipation with four weeks of Advent, leading up to the worship on Christmas Eve, and the focus on Jesus our Savior.

As we prepare to enter the Advent season, this year I am especially grateful for the love that sustains us as husband and wife.  The years behind, the present season, and the years to come.  I am thankful for the Presence of our Savior in the midst of our celebration.  We no longer live in a small Airstream, poor as "church mice" and newly separated from our families.  We have fifty years behind us, a foundation of faith and family to sustain us.  We are blessed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

All Out of Fight? God Isn't!

"He is with you.  He is for you.  
He fights for you when you are all out of fight. 
It is okay to rest. He is  your strength." 

Last Friday I felt pretty crappy.  Some days are like that.  I found myself under three blankets, and just could not get warm. Waves of nausea kept me swallowing and weakness kept me sitting.  Some of our family was still here and it saddened me that I could not function well for the few hours we had left together.  Then Saturday I felt pretty good.  We even went on a small adventure to one of our favorite stores here in town.  We did not stay long, it was small business Saturday and busy, but I got out.  There is no rhythm or reason to when I will feel like hiding under the covers and when I will be up and about.   It just is what it is.

The words I quoted above are from a Facebook page that I enjoy.  Definitely Friday was one of those days when I felt out of fight.  What I need to learn is to be okay with that and rest, because GOD is my strength.  Today I briefly saw a visual encounter of the Lion of Judah.  He looked at me fully and I saw His eyes were a beautiful blue..........then they turned green.........and then brown.  They were filled with a deep compassion and love that I felt deep inside.  Not too long ago I felt the Lion of Judah and saw Him in a visual encounter lean against my side.  He was warm to the touch and I could feel each breath He took.  Jesus was on one side of me and the Lion on the other.  Suddenly the Lion took off running at high speed like you see on TV with the lions in Africa.  I heard Jesus say, "He is taking down the enemy."

He does fight for us..........and if He is for us who can be against us?  We know someone who is struggling with the death of their long time spouse........we know someone who is dealing with the heartbreak of a child in pain..........we know someone who is saddened about a loved one who is terminally ill.  I am sure you know someone who is weary of the battle. We all do, we all have been there at some time or another.  Let us remember that when we are weary God is not.  He will fight for us.  Always.  Forever.  That is how much He loves us, our fierce Lion of Judah.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday afternoon to you from our corner of Iowa where fog and rain has been hanging around.  Parts of Iowa are going to get a major snowstorm tonight and tomorrow, but so far, it is tracking to the south of us and we are not expecting any snow at all. 

Our Thanksgiving was a great celebration of family and good food.  And quite a few games of cribbage!  From the youngest to the oldest the table fills with kids, adults, and 4 cribbage boards.  In fact they usually take cards and a board back to the hotel at night.  We were able to celebrate with all but our Des Moines family.  The annual football game did not happen, but the family enjoyed a brisk walk after a meal of turkey, all the side dishes and pie, ice cream and bars.  Grandma Na spent more time on the sofa than she wanted, but it was fun to watch all the festivities.  We opened Christmas gifts Thursday evening as some people had to head back to other priorities.  Friday morning some of the grands decorated our Christmas tree, so we have been enjoying that already!  Everyone headed home Friday after Joel and I headed to the cancer center for labs, a Dr. appt. and more injections.  It was a good celebration with many memories to tuck away.


Mark and Noah

Sarah and Jonas

Our youngest daughter created a beautiful jar with lights and flowers for me.  Inside she had the family write notes of encouragement, Bible verses, etc. for me to take out and read when times are tough or I'm feeling sad.  It is a beautiful reminder of Who is with me, fighting for me, and who lovcs and prays for me. I am richly blessed.

Jar filled with love and encouragement

Saturday Joel and I went on a short adventure to a local store called Mason City Real Deals.  So festive!  We did not purchase anything, but it felt good to get out and do something that did not involve doctors.  Joel was going to put up outdoor lights, but a few were not working...... again....... so we decided to just trash the old lights and buy new ones in an easier style.

Our oldest daughter and her family gave me a plaque that sits on our coffee table within view.  A reminder for me that because God has me, I've got this.  Another family gave us a framed photo of their kids......a good reminder of why we fight for living.  Just being with family was such a blessing.  

I hope and pray your Thanksgiving weekend was filled with an abundance of blessings!  We have much to rejoice about.  So grateful!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Thankful Living

It is Thanksgiving week here in America.  A time for good food, fellowship, friends, family, and football.  Mostly in that order I expect.  It is my favorite gathering Holiday because it is the only Holiday when our family actually celebrates on the day.  We will be minus one family this year, which makes us sad, but we will still take a few photos, give a few hugs, play a few games of cribbage, and eat too much food.

Our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, we were separated due to Joel being in the Air Force, and having just finished basic training.  They "lost" his paperwork for a while and he ended up staying in Texas.  I spent the day with my family and he spent the day in the barracks.  One Thanksgiving in the Philippines, a typhoon came through and we ended up eating jello, chips, a bit of under cooked turkey and dessert.  Joel had to work, and as a meteorologist, he sat before a dark screen with a candle for light, waiting for the typhoon to pass.  Quite the image, really.

There is always something to be thankful for.  We have much to give thanks for this year.  Certainly, the cancer battle wants to steal our joy, but we cannot help but be grateful for family, who continue to pray and encourage us.  Friends who do the same.  Thankful for the cancer center just 12 minutes away from our home.  Thankful for Joel's Interim position.  Thankful for the treatments being tolerated, the kidney surgery going well.  Thankful for a warm home with a gas fireplace that turns on with a remote, a Bose player that has us already listening to our favorite Christmas music. Thankful for a store where we can order dinner for the family when energy is low.  Thankful for the money to order the meal, buy Christmas gift cards, and just plain have what we need and more.  We are thankful for a God who promises to fight for us.  We are blessed.

I look forward to gathering around our table, making memories and receiving a bounty of blessings.  I pray for you the same.  It is a time for thankful living.  There is always something to be thankful for!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from our corner of Iowa where the winter season has arrived well before Thanksgiving!  I do remember one Thanksgiving in Minnesota where we had a mighty snowstorm that caused us to cancel our trip to grandparents.  The snow was high, the roads were slick, and staying home was the only option!  Joel was out this morning snow blowing, as the white stuff began falling last night. They are promising it will be 41 at Thanksgiving, but we will see.............I'm hoping!

Speaking of Thanksgiving, most of our family will be here Wednesday night and Thursday to celebrate.  They are heading home Thursday night and Friday afternoon, as some have other things going on.  There is an understanding that Mom will need more rest too. We ordered the meal this year!  It makes sense. 

This past week as I sat in the cancer center, I noticed the people around me.  There was a young woman with her newborn baby.  The mom had a port in and was getting ready for chemo.  On Thursday I noticed a young child, around age 4, with a mask on, waiting to see an oncologist I believe.  There are many elderly there, and a few that are ages 40-60 I expect.  The staff that work the front desk are amazing.  I have dealt with them for three years, and now is not any different.  In fact, when one woman saw I was back, she asked me what was going on.  As I told her, I remember saying, "I just had surgery on my kidneys, so I am not in fighting mode, but I will be again."  She stood up, grabbed my hands, looked me in the eyes and replied, "Oh, and we will fight with you!"  That is how they are.  Caring, sincere, and personable.

Thursday we had a 1 1/2 hour appointment to discuss the SERD drug treatment.  Because of what it does to the body, it is considered a chemotherapy.  So many rules and precautions to take.  Joel has to wear gloves to even touch the pills, do my laundry, etc.  Bathroom etiquette has rules now, and even bodily contact. Good grief.  I started the pills Friday and can tell.  NO reactions though, just side effects starting.  Expected.

We did go out this past week and take care of Christmas.  This year it is all "cash or cards".  Much easier to deal with.  I love taking the time to pick out a special gift for someone, but not this season.  I am also loving the Hallmark Christmas movies.......and the Dr. Blake series on Netflix.

I was watching Dirty Jobs on TV, where Mike Rowe was taking care of the pins at a bowling alley.  It took me way back to 1980 when I bowled on a league in Medicine Lake Montana.  One woman on the team was probably 80 and could hardly lift her ball, but she could get to the line, drop that ball, and score high!  I would take our 4 year old son Mark along, and he loved it because he was able to have treats!  Pop and candy!  It was the only team I was ever on, but I enjoyed it.  Now days the only bowling I do is on the Wii.  I still do pretty darn good though!  Ha.....

Enjoy your weekend, treasure the moments in time, hug your family and friends...........and yourself!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Warring Angel

"You've got this!"  I have had both friends and family speak these words to me in the past month.  There have been many days when I did not feel like I do.  Nada........One day as I thought about what was and still is ahead, I heard Jesus say, "I'VE got this.  He is fighting for me........for you, too.  Then a book title caught my attention.........."You've Got This Because God's Got You"!  And there it is.  The power behind the words.  The reason I have any handle on this at all is because I believe God has me in the palm of His hands.  He is fighting for me, and Holy lives in me giving me the strength to win this battle.

Yesterday I closed my eyes and Jesus took me into Heaven.  We walked down a familiar hallway, passing all the doors, so I asked Him, "Where are we going"?  He said, "The Throne Room.".  I had never been there so when we went in and I saw God sitting in all His glory on the throne, I went down on my knees, thinking this is where I should be when in God's presence.  But God stood me up and I leaned against Him.  He then gestured with His hand and asked me, "What do you see?"  I looking around and to my left I saw a huge group of people and angels singing praises and thanksgiving to God.  In the middle of my view there was a massive angel in a sword fight with a dark presence that was wearing armor and riding a slate colored horse.  Jesus said to me, "That is the spirit of death."  My heart was pounding as I watched my warring angel fight with this prince of darkness.  Before long the angel beheaded the spirit of death with his mighty sword.  Again, I was reassured that I was not fighting this battle alone.  I then looked to the right and saw a white mist.  In the mist I saw was the word T R U S T moving gracefully to a dance I did not hear or understand.  God's hand then came down out of the sky and handed me a big open Bible.  I thought and spoke aloud to God, "Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."  That is where my visual encounter ended.  As I shared with Joel what I had seen he told me he had just asked God for a word for me during his own quiet time, and God had said, "She can trust Me'.

The Bible is full of scriptures that speak to trusting God, no matter our circumstances.  Isaiah 30:15 is a favorite of mine, along with Proverbs 3.

"This is what our Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says, 
 In repentance and rest is your salvation, 
in quietness and trust is your strength."
Isaiah 30:15

"Trust in the Lord your God and lean not on
your own understanding.  In all your ways
acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3:4,5

There is so much going on right now that I am needing to take things just one step at a time.  I look for God in the midst of it all and find many blessings and ways He is showing up.  I see not only God but the doctors "fighting for me".  They are using their knowledge to do what they can to help me get well.  I am grateful.  Yet I know that my help comes from the Lord.  Through His warring angels, His Word, His power.  And so we praise Him, we worship our God who saves!  So grateful.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Moments In Time

I realized Sunday morning that there are moments in time where this journey with cancer, kidneys, etc. does not fill my vision, my thoughts, my prayers, my very breath.  There are moments now where I can find joy.  Laughing at The Golden Girls, viewing a sunset, make plans for Thanksgiving, buying Christmas gift cards.  There are moments, and I am so grateful for them.

I especially am enjoying the weekends, when the caller id on the phone does not tell me the cancer center is calling, or the urology department, the eye clinic, the imaging department or others are not wanting to schedule the next thing.  Yeah.  Yesterday I woke after nine hours of sleep.  I have not slept that long for the past month and it felt so good.  All snuggled in under my Woolie.  Nice.

Even though the phone does not ring, the doorbell does.  Saturday UPS delivered an overnight "urgent" letter to me from our insurance company.  They have overturned the denial so I am able to add the daily medication to the injections.  An answer to prayer as we continue in this valley season.  We are going on through to the promised land and we are giving thanks for all moments big and small that sustain us along the way.

Moments in time. Recently our daughter Beth sent us the YouTube link to our granddaughter Abbi's chorale concert.  It was so amazing to click on the link and hear her singing.  A moment in time when we could be a part of her Senior year from afar.

Moments in time:  A phone call from our oldest son laced with words of encouragement, a few chuckles, and a few words of wisdom.  A text from our middle girl asking how I am doing?  The knowledge that our kids are all praying for me, for us.  Believing in the power of prayer, believing in our Lord.  Giving thanks for the moments.

Moments in time: Turning out the light at night and snuggling up against Joel's back.  A wonderful way to close my eyes and drift off to sleep. 

The journey ahead is difficult and long, but God provides moments in time to encourage and strengthen us.  Moments in time to enjoy the small blessings that come our way. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from our cold part of north Iowa.  The low last night was 11 degrees.....and with winds adding to the mix?  Ugh!  The sun is shining, but the fireplace is what is warming my toes today.  Joel had to drive up to the Twin Cities Friday afternoon to attend our friend Barb's funeral.  We have known Barb and Dan since Joel and Dan were at seminary together in the 70's.  Barb fought a hard battle, but cancer took her earthly body in the end.  But not her soul.  She was a fine, caring Christian who loved her family and the Lord.  I am sure when Jesus opened His arms to her He said, "Well done good and faithful servant".

Joel arrived home late Friday night and after a good night's sleep he headed south to one of the churches he is serving to help officiate at a funeral for a church member.  I think he will be ready for a good nap after Sunday's services.  It has been a busy week.

I was unable to go with him to our friend's funeral.  I am doing well after the surgery, but have been fighting a cold.  Thursday I had to have a bone density test and then an echo cardiogram.  Friday morning was spent at the cancer center.  Lab work, a visit with the doctor, and two injections of SERD hormonal drugs to start my treatment. A 5 hour round trip was not advisable under the circumstances.  The good news is my heart and bones are fine and my blood work looked good.  The challenge is in getting our Express Script to okay the expensive pills that go along with the injections.    The doctor is working on that, but most importantly we are praying on that! 

I am thankful that the elections are over and we can go back to prescription drug ads instead of political ads.  Although they both stink!  I am enjoying Hallmark Christmas movies, although it makes me want to get our tree decorated~  Ha!  I also have been enjoying a couple of shows on Netflix.  Two British shows, Dr. Blake Mysteries and Land Girls, have filled my time when the sofa calls me or I need a distraction from life in general.  We still watch NCIS faithfully.  Do you have a few favorites?

Thursday night we dug out the "Woolie"!  It was time.  My organic wool comforter keeps me so warm in the winter months.  All I need is a top sheet and the Woolie and I'm good to go.  As I have said before, I believe wool has healing properties.  Joel wears wool gloves to sleep at night and believes they keep his hands from hurting.  I sleep with a Cuddle Ewe under the fitted sheet which is stuffed with wool.  Then I have the Woolie as a cover and oh my, it is Heaven!  I am probably boring you.....time to move on!

Off and on we think about getting another dog.  We usually talk ourselves out of it, remembering the costs, the upkeep, and the risk of ticks coming into the house.  And then there will be a story like our daughter shared on Facebook this week........Beth woke up to a "rancid coffee smell" which soon turned into a nightmare when they discovered their 95 lb puppy, Koda had pooped liquid poop all over the carpeted floor of their bedroom closet.  They woke up to the smell!  Reason #whatever on why we need to live without a puppy companion right now.

When I went for the echo the woman performing the test began visiting with me.  Her Christmasy name seemed appropriate for this season to begin.  She shared she had been diagnosed as a kid with bone cancer, survived that to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer two years ago.  She was cancer free once again.  Such a young woman to have dealt with so much.  Life is full of challenges, and the grace with which she was handling hers was not lost on me.  Bless her Lord with health and full healing as she journeys through life.  Bless us all.

God has continued to send different versions of Exodus 14:14, each one a comfort and strength.  I leave you today with the latest....

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Surrounded By You

When I began this journey with lobular breast cancer, a friend sent me a song she had heard at church on Sunday morning.  It is written by Michael Smith and titled, "Surrounded".  Today as I was listening to this song on my playlist, I immediately remembered when Joel and I had been to Destiny Church in Rochester MN and three women had spoken over us the prophetic words God had shown them.  One woman said, "I see Holy Spirit surrounding you completely.  Everything you need is right there, just reach out."

The words of the song are simple..........."It may look like I'm surrounded, but I'm surrounded by You."  A song of praise to replace a blanket of heaviness.  It does feel like I am surrounded.  The advanced cancer, the kidneys, surgeries, the treatments in my physically challenged body.  Yeah......surrounded by the enemy.   But God.

As I thought about what we had been told at Destiny Church, I saw Jesus standing beside me, reaching out to me.  I took my hand and placed it in His warm, firm, steady hand.  Like the woman said to us, we need only reach out and what we need will be right there.   The love and prayers of family and friends, the medical help needed, our great God!

We may be surrounded by the enemy, but our inner circle is all about Jesus.  Holy is right there encompassing us, holding us. We all have battles we fight at one time or another.  We may feel overwhelmed, but it is God who surrounds us with His love, His goodness, His healing.  For that we give You thanks, Lord. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday evening to you from our corner of Iowa where the rainy weather seems to have set the mood here in our home.  Joel has just returned from a walk in the rain, hoping the fresh air will help him overcome the cold that is trying to take up residence.  I would love to be outside and will step out on the porch later to take in a few breaths, but I am mostly resting on the sofa dealing with the aftermath of the kidney stints and adjusting to my bladder's complaints that foreign objects are invading.  The surgery went well, and yesterday I felt pretty good.  Has anyone else noticed that it is the second day when it hits you?  Yeah.  I'm glad all went well in this first procedure so the kidneys can heal.

In the past 17 days I have gone through 14 procedures, tests, biopsies, doctor appointments and blood draws.  I am loving the weekend because there are no phone calls from various clinics, just Hallmark Christmas Movies and. Netflix.  Waffles for supper ~a comfort food for me.

Fall is quickly leaving, although there are still a few trees sharing their beautiful colors, but the ground is covered with those leaves that have let go and created a blanket for us to walk on.  Don't you just love the sound of leaves crunching under our feet.  Joel has been preparing the yard for winter.  Seasons come and seasons go, in nature and in life.

Speaking of that, while I was in surgery this past Thursday Joel received a call from a long time close friend, Dan, who shared that his wife had died peacefully surrounded by family just that morning.  She fought valiantly to stay on this earth, but death came.  Jesus welcomed her home and knowing her, His first words were "Well done good and faithful servant."  We mourn her loss while rejoicing in the freedom she is now experiencing.

Scribbling back to the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Mystery Channel, don't you just love the light hearted happy endings that come with their movies?  Sometimes it is just what a person needs, especially when life keeps you off balance.  I am thinking we may have to put up our tree and get out the Christmas music early this year!

I hope your week has been uneventful.  Just a run of the mill, every day is normal type of week.  If not, be sure to take time to stop, breath deeply, and treasure every moment of joy.  And remember how much God loves you.  Recently I read a quote that said, "It is one thing to know God is love, but it is another to know God loves YOU!  He does, you know.  He truly does.