Category Archives: Love

God has responded…

Prayer.

There was a time, a handful of years ago, that I sat in my car with my little brother discussing our frustrating and failing romantic relationships.  I purposed in my heart to begin to regularly ask God to bring my brother a life mate and to bless him with the children he so very much wanted to bring into this world with that life mate.  At that time, it seemed like his “getting” these things was so terribly far in the future.  He had invested much time and energy and love into a relationship he thought would be the one.  But it wasn’t.  He would have to end that relationship, grieve the loss of that relationship, evaluate the changes he need to make in his life, meet and date and woo a new woman, and THEN finally get married.  This is not a process that generally happens overnight!

Heck, I’d been praying for a life mate for myself since I was 16 and hadn’t gotten a “yes” answer from God yet, and I am ten years older than my little brother!  But God answers prayers in many different ways.  Sometimes the answer is “no”, but it is wrapped in a million gifts we never thought to ask for.

God answered my prayer for Low (my “baby” brother) with a resounding “YES!”.  God has answered my own prayer for me with “<silence> “, and with those million gifts I never even thought to ask for, as I wouldn’t have had any idea that they were things I’d even want.

Two years ago, after being introduced by a mutual friend on facebook, my brother married Kristine.  Two weeks ago, they were blessed with a beautiful baby girl.  Her name, Elianna, means “God has responded”.  He most certainly has.

I can’t even look at Elianna’s picture without tears coming to my eyes.  She is amazingly tangible and living proof of God’s love for my brother.  But she is also the same thing for me.  I. LOVE. my. nieces. and. nephews.  They are each God’s special gift to me, not just to their parents.  It has been ten years since one of my siblings had a child and I’d forgotten, just a little bit, how wonderful it is to have a new baby in the family.  I have another niece to love.  🙂

Over the past six years I have slowly come to the place where I realize that the best thing for me, the most generous thing that God could do for me, is to give me other people’s children to love.

And I am looking forward to loving this new niece of mine with all of my heart.  My baby brother has a baby.  God has responded…

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Time Does Not Heal All Wounds

Eighteen years ago today I was at work.  I called to check on my best friend/sister-in-law who was ready to give birth to her first child any day.  She was doing great but was experiencing an uncontrollable urge to, well, to put it as delicately as possible, have a bowel movement.  “DON’T PUSH, and get to the hospital!!” I told her.  Not long after that Richard arrived.  WHAT a cutie.  He was named in honor of his two grandfathers, Richard and Daniel.  A first grandchild and grandson for the both of them.  I was a very excited and proud first-time auntie.

Four years ago today I was working my last, and for the most part, rather uneventful shift in the ER.  I had turned in my resignation and was planning my move from Los Angeles to Colorado which was to take place in just a month.  I was excited about the new life which awaited me and all the adventures I was to have.  And I was thinking of my oldest nephew, Richard, who was on vacation with friends but was turning 14.

Just a couple of hours before my last shift was to end I got the phone call that didn’t change any of that, but changed absolutely everything.

Instead of long and tearful good-byes with my co-workers, I started the longest and most tearful good-bye of my life.  One that, as of today, has lasted four years.

I no longer count the time Connie has been gone in minutes, or hours, or days, or weeks, or even in months, but in years.  It’s still surreal to me.  I miss her every minute.

Congratulations on your 18th birthday Dicky Dan.  Your mother would have loved to see you and the man you have become.

I love you both, to the ends of the earth and to the highest heaven.


Congratulations Are In Order…

This is my little brother Low and his brand new fiancee, Kristine! 

Low and Kristine

It’s been a banner year for Low and the bannerness of it just continues.  And now, with the soon-to-be addition of Kristine to our family, it’s a banner year for us, too.  Kristine is a charming, sweet, intelligent, God-fearing and serving/missions minded young woman and we are blessed that she is choosing my brother as her partner in life.  You can tell how much they love each other in the first minute you spend with them.  He’s a lucky boy, that Low, a lucky boy.

Looking forward to having Kristine as my new sister-in-law!

(credit my Pops on the photo)


Dear Joanne,

Today is your anniversary, and I am thinking of you and praying for you on this day.  I am glad you are with your Mother and not alone at such a time.

I know you miss him horribly, and I know that it’s hard to imagine it has already been months since he went home to be with Jesus.  I know how fresh your sorrow will be today, but I also know that

your strength continues to come from the Lord.  The year of firsts is so hard, but you will make it through.  You know I love you, my friend…

Much love…

(Posted in absentia)


The Prom – Something I’ve Learned From Teenagers About Love

“If he really wanted to be with you, he’d be with you” — Phil

This was pretty much the only thing my brother had to say about the struggles I was having in my last serious relationship.  The guy lived a thousand miles away, and had only come to visit me a single time.  I had visited him a couple of times and we had made plans for him to come and visit me again on Valentine’s Day last year.  Things were getting very serious between us.  At least I thought they were.

It didn’t take long after my getting back home after my last visit for him to back away from his plan to come on Valentine’s Day.  He was going to come some other time in February, after all “It doesn’t need to actually be ON Valentine’s Day”.  And shortly after determining that a Valentine’s Day visit wasn’t in fact necessary, he backed off from the visit entirely.  At the same time professing his love!  I didn’t get it.  I believed he wanted to be with me, but his actions certainly didn’t back that up.  I kept making excuses for him.  I soooo wanted to believe he wanted to be with me, but that there was something about him and his unknown struggle that seemed to make it difficult for him.  So I excused his behavior and lamented what seemed to be an insurmountable chasm between us.  And, my brother quietly and matter-of-factly said “if he wanted to be with you, he’d be with you”.  When the guy decided to bail from the relationship pretty much without any warning, and with a set of very odd explanations as to why, and after having done this to me already a number of times in the past, I finally decided I’d had enough and said, fine, you want to walk away, walk away.  To myself I finally admitted that I was tired of the games he seemed to be playing with me and that I couldn’t take his inconsistency and the incongruities of his words and his actions any more. 

As the days turned into weeks and months, I kept making excuses for him.  And Phil’s words kept coming back to me….If he had wanted to have been with me, he would have been with me.  If he loved me enough and there truly WAS some unknown struggle that was keeping him from me, he would have addressed that issue…

Then “Colin and Stephanie” and “Clare and John” happened, and I realized that not only were Phil’s words true, but that I NEEDED to have a guy show his intent by pursuing me…by wanting to be with me.

At sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen years old, these four teenagers have shown me that love does what it takes.  Colin, who lives in Northern California, has worked and saved and has traveled to Colorado to visit Stephanie three times since November!  Clare’s John also lives in Northern California.  Both John and Colin have flown in this weekend to take Stephanie and Clare to their prom.  What fun!  And what message does their coming here send to these girls?  That they are valued.  That the boys recognize the importance of things like the prom and that if the girls think its important, so do they.  It tells these girls that they want to be with them.  That they want to spend time with them.  And that they will do what it takes to make that happen, even though they have no idea what the future holds for them.

Don’t they look amazing??  Thanks for the love lesson, kiddos.  I needed that.  Have a GREAT time at the prom!  🙂


Unto us…

…a child is given.

May your Christmas be filled with love and joy.

And with the remembrance of our Savior’s birth.


My Dad

My Dad is an avid reader of Blah Blah Blog.  He doesn’t leave comments, though.  Seems WordPress always does something that deletes his comments when he tries to leave one.  But he sends me e-mails about my blog.  I think he might love BBB almomst as much as I do!

In a recent e-mail he asked me if I was going to do something special when my visit counter hits 100,000.  I honestly hadn’t thought much about that.  But it is a significant milestone! 

So, to answer my Dad’s question, yes.  I’m going to do something special.  Write about my Dad.  Today is my Dad’s birthday.

My Dad needed to have his knees replaced some years ago.  One of his nurses asked him about his other hospitalizations.  My dad informed her that he’d never been in a hospital before.  The nurse smiled and winked at him and said, “What about when you were born?”.  But the wink was on  her!!  🙂

My dad was born on December 12th in Wisconsin.  The weather was too bad for his mom to get to the hospital.  So, my dad was born at home.  He’s the baby of his family.  He was the fifth child born to his parents.  He has two brothers, and two sisters.  One of his sisters died before my dad was born, but he remembers her!  🙂 

My dad’s parents moved to California for a year when my dad was in the 6th grade.  Many years later he discovered that he was in the 6th grade when my mom was in kindergarten, at the very same school, though they wouldn’t meet until he was grown and had moved back to Cali!

My dad would never move back to Wisconsin because he hates the cold weather.  I guess I’ll never get him to move to Colorado because of that.  Even though our winters are actually pretty mild in comparison!

My dad has the most beautiful sparkly blue eyes that actually twinkle when he is being mischievous, which is often.

My dad had poor dental care when he was young, and so he instilled in all of his children the need to take good care of our teeth.  (I of course have turned that into a pathology in and of itself – the only doctor I currently have -and have had for years – is a dentist). 

My dad faked that he could type so that he could be the company clerk of his Army outfit during the Korean Conflict.  He looked dang sharp in his uniform.

We gave my dad a surprise 70th birthday party five years ago.  I found out last year that he KNEW about the party because a caterer, against specific orders, called his house looking for my sister Whitney (who was living with him at the time).  They inadvertently spilled the beans.  He never let on that he knew.  My dad should have won an Oscar for his acting surprised, when he wasn’t!

Wait!  Does that mean my dad is 75?  He doesn’t look it!

My dad went to every single event that he possibly could that I and my five siblings were ever involved in when we were in school and playing organized sports.  Which was no mean feat as my brothers and sisters  and I were involved in multiple sports and other activities through school and church.  Even after high school, my dad continued to try to attend as many events as possible.  Now that my nieces and nephews are involved in sports and other activities, my dad is ever-present at their games/events as well.  Sometimes he’ll drive back and forth from one county to the next to catch kids’ games all day long.  My little brother Low’s fellow ball players dubbed the ubiquitous dad “Papa Low”, which he is to this day.

My dad spent the entire summer at my house in 2006 so that he could watch my cat for me when I was out with Teen Missions.  Although he couldn’t spend the whole summer here this past summer, he did come and stay here with her for two weeks.  Like I think I’ve asked before “Who does that???”!!!  A Dad who knows how precious that cat is to his daughter.

I have five brothers and sisters.  They all have brown eyes.  When I was younger I had blue eyes.  They’ve turned green since I was young.  He used to call me “Five foot two, eyes of blue”.  But then my eyes changed, and I grew taller.  So now I’m his favorite “non-brown-eyed” child.

My dad hates having his picture taken.  I am my father’s daughter!  He freezes up when it comes time to smile for the camera.  We have lots of pictures of him looking very, well, very much like this!  🙂

That’s my daddy!

Although he dislikes having his picture taken, he is always taking pictures. 

My dad is a tenor.  He loves to sing in choirs.

My dad believes that if he finds a pair of tennis shoes he likes, that he should buy multiple pairs.

When I was in college, my dad let two of my friends come and live with us.  He let them pay rent, but not very much.  When he went off to White Sands for some months with his job, he let me bring in yet another friend in need of a place to live.  And he let me keep the rent from all of them so that I wouldn’t have to work so much.

My dad is very popular amongst all of his childrens’ friends.

My dad is very intimidating, until you get to know him.

My dad put together as much of his family’s history as he could find and gave binders to family members.  He regularly supplies us with updated pages so that the history continues to be documented.

When we were young, my dad used to takes us out on “date night”.  He not only had the six of us in the rotation, but my cousin Julie whose own father died when she was an infant, AND the young daughter of a family friend who did not have a father in her life either.

When my dad came home from work he didn’t read the paper or go off and do his own thing, he played with us.  I don’t ever remember him saying no, that he was tired.  But he probably was.

When I was in my anatomy class in college, he let me store the gigantic cat I was dissecting IN THE FRIDGE AT HOME!

My Dad has an original drawing of mine hanging up in his kitchen.  And he actually LOVES it, not just because I did it, but because he thinks it’s great.

My dad has been taking his children on dream vacations.  Diane cruised the Atlantic on the QE II and spent time touring England with him.  Phil and his son Richard were taken to Italy.  I went on an amazing trip to Ireland.  Liz and her daughter Jesse will be going to China next year.  One can only imagine what is in store for Whitney and Low.

When my sister-in-law Connie passed away, my father grieved as though she was his flesh and blood.  He still deeply grieves the loss of her.

My Dad actually gets along with his in-laws and his childrens’ in-laws.  In fact, they are his family nearly as much as we are.

My Dad instilled in his children a strong work ethic.  It took a couple of false starts before my dad actually retired.  He now regularly volunteers at his church a few days a week.

My Dad let me go off to very scary places when I was a teenager.  It has to be very difficult to let your 16 year old daughter follow the Lord’s leading when that leading takes her to places like Haiti.  It is probably still difficult to let her go off to the African bush. 

And my Dad brought all of his children up to love and serve the Lord.  This is his greatest gift and best legacy.

My blog turned over to 100,000 some time in the past day or two.  He sent me an e-mail congratulating me on that!

So, my “100,000 blog visitor post” is dedicated to my biggest fan, my pops!

Happy Birthday, Daddy.


The Chicos and the chicas…and another friend…

Ian (from Chico), Clare (a chica), Colin (from Chico), and Stephanie (a chica)

-selves portrait by Ian-

It was a fun week, even for me.  I can’t imagine what it was like for them!  What fun to be a teenager and making lifelong friends who happen to live far away from you.  I made lifelong friends who lived far away from me when I was their age, too.  I got to see one of those friends last night.  I sooooo remember what it feels like to “be them” even though it’s been 25 years since we met…

Lucy and Ricky

-selves portrait by me-

Friends.  New ones.  Old ones.  How’d I ever get so lucky? 

I hope that they are all still friends, or maybe even more than that, in 25 years! 

In the meantime, I know that the chicas and the Chicos will be missing each other.  Same for Lucy and Ricky.


High School Musical

I met this totally amazing woman this past summer.  She was the head leader of the Teen Missions’ Trinidad team.  Her name is Elissa.  I liked her right away because she was always laughing about something.  We were instant friends. 

(This is me and Elissa five minutes after we met…) 

Then, when I discovered that we shared a fanaticism, I knew we were friends for life.  That fanaticism?  The TV show “Arrested Development“.  (BTW, my brother Phil ALSO shares this fanaticism).  So, when Elissa told me about Disney’s “High School Musical“, I figured I should rent it.  Netflix delivered it to my mailbox yesterday.  I watched it at 2:00 this morning.

Five stars!  What a great production!  Kitschy?  Indeed.  Cheesy?  Most assuredly.  And 100% worthy of being added to your personal DVD library.  This movie is fun to listen to, fun to look at, and squeaky clean in a way I’ve not seen in a long time.  The main character, Troy, is absolutely precious.  I’m truly not sure how many young actors could have pulled this off without seeming, well, geeky and miscast!

 

This movie is not only fun, it actually has some really good messages that come across in a way that is actually effective.  So many times movies or T.V. shows that try to get a message through make me groan with their awkwardness.  Not this movie!  It’s allllllll good.

So go rent (or buy) it!  I give HSM my highest rating of No Blahs!  🙂  Thanks Elissa!!!!

Off to find HSM II! 


One Reason Why I Love My Brother So Much!

But I’ll get to that in a minute.  I got my scanner working again today.  My scannner has a ghost in the machine.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  Seems like it decides when it’s going to cooperate, or not.  I wanted to scan some tax documents in, so I gave it a try today, to see if it would work.  And it did!  So I’ve been spending much of my day scanning “stuff” into my computer.  I even scanned an entire scrapbook in.  The story on that?  Well, 26 years ago when I first when on Teen Missions to Haiti, there was a girl on my team from Mechanicsburg, PA named Rhonda.  This past May when I got the list of the names of the kids that would be on my team there was a girl named Ciara with the same last name as Rhonda, from a town pretty close to Mechanicsburg.  I wondered if they were in some way related.  AND THEY WERE!  Seems that Rhonda and Ciara are aunt and niece.  I decided to scan in some pictures from Rhonda’s and my summer together to send to Ciara.  But then I decided to just scan the whole scrapbook.

For the amusement of those who have only known me as an adult, especially for the amusement of the kids from my teams both last summer and this, here is a picture of me from that summer.  I was 16.  This was taken the day we mixed concrete and poured the floor to this house for 12 hours straight…

This one was taken the day we went to a chicken hatchery to pick up some chicks for our missionary.  I thought I was fat when these pictures were taken!  Crazy.

I think maybe some day I’ll do some posts on Haiti, my experiences there, and the way my life was fundamentally changed by spending a summer there.  Especially now that I have some visual aids at my disposal!

So what does this have to do with my brother?  Well, as I am naming and saving a bunch of credit card statements to my hard drive after scanning them, my cell phone rings, and it’s my big brother, Phil.  He called to tell me that he had prepared a comment to my “Cool Hand Luke” posting, and was sending it right then, and he wanted me to read it!  So, he hits submit and two seconds later I am reading it back to him over the phone.  And it’s AWESOME.  (I know, God is awesome, maybe this is just super fantastic).  Here is what Phil had to say:

the whole christ thing in this movie has always bothered me. you sit there watching this really great movie and suddenly it warps into this christ thing at the end of the movie. it almost ruins the movie. in fact it does ruin the movie. the whole movie except for the last half hour or so of that christ thing is about luke’s way of confronting life. if i remember correctly, it opens with him cutting off the meters from parking meter poles while in a drunken stupor. his only way of “raging against the machine” is to preform this act of futility. he is immediately on the outs with the prison “tough guy” when he gets to prison which precipitates the fight scene in which he wins the fight by getting the s–t kicked out of him over and over and over because he refuses to stop the futile act of continually getting up. in the poker scene he wins the big pot with no cards in his hand by the futile act of continually “kicking a buck”. luke throughout the movie never gives up while committing his acts of futility. the futile act of paving the road at a breakneck pace(they’d just be out there again the next day paving away so why the rush) leads to a half of a day of doing nothing but relaxing. so what do we learn from luke in this movie until the christ thing muddies the clarity of this movie. the lesson of this movie is luke’s approach to his futile life. “rage against the machine”, never ever give up. and when you’re beaten down, with no hope, and there is no escaping your certain and inevitable demise, when you are spent and all that is left to you is nothing, you throw that at the world too!!! after all “sometimes nothing can be a pretty cool hand”. cool hand luke is one of my all time favorite movies-i don’t even watch that last half hour christ thing anymore.

And now, after reading Phil’s comment and discussing the movie with him, I now have a good understanding of what the movie is about, until it gets muddled by what my brother calls “the Christ thing”.  It’s about futility.  As Luke himself says “sometimes nothing can be a pretty cool hand.”  And THAT, ladies and gentleman, is what the movie is all about!  My brother is brilliant!! 

And THAT is one reason why I love my brother so much!

(We had a good laugh, too.  My brother is a very funny guy, but that would be two reasons why I love my brother so much, now wouldn’t it?!)


Cool Hand Luke

I was in the mood for a movie on this dark and cloudy and thundery afternoon.  My latest Netflix movie choice (“High School Musical”) has not arrived.  Netflix DOES have a “watch it now” feature.  So I scrolled through the movies that were available, and came across “Cool Hand Luke”.  It’s the character Johnathan Trager’s favorite movie in one of MY favorite movies “Serendipity”, so I thought I’d watch it.

I’m not sure what the message of this movie was!  And it surely seemed to be a story that was trying to get a message across.  There’s definite Christ imagery surrounding the character “Luke”.  The character at one point is laid out on a table in a crucifix position, feet crossed and everything.  The character escapes jail and is a hero.  He is recaptured and his spirit is broken and the other prisoners turn their backs on him.  He escapes again and seeks solace in a church where he refers to God as “my old man” and has a “why have you forsaken me” sort of conversation with the ceiling.  He ends up being shot and is driven away, to his death, smiling.  And he is once again a hero with the other inmates.  His final escape with his dying the way he lived – smiling – gives them some sort of salvation.  I’m not sure if that was the message.

In addition to all the Christ imagery are a parallel themes of how some just need to be free regardless of the cost.  Of how some need boundaries that enclose them tightly to feel safe and powerful.  Etc.

Regardless, there were two things that I loved about the movie.  Paul Newman was really good looking in it.  And the color palette that the director used was spectacular…all silvery blues and grays and  golds and browns.  Gorgeous.  See what I mean?

So, have you seen “Cool Hand Luke”?  What did you think of it?  What did you walk away from it with as far as “meaning” is concerned?  And did you appreciate the colors as much as I did?  🙂


Locks of Love

On one particularly beautiful Saturday morning in Sicily this past summer, we took a train from Ispica to Siracusa (Syracuse) to see the sights (more on some of those sights in future posts!).  On the bridge from Siracusa proper to the island of Ortigia was this collection of locks.  Written on each of the locks were what could only be the names of lovers.

Locks of Love 1

 

 Locks of Love 2

I’d love to know the history of this collection of locks hanging from this light standard.  I’m curious to know who started it and when.  I don’t think it could have been there very long or there would have been many more locks.  “How incredibly romantic,” I thought to myself.

A short time later we walked past a very tiny and most lovely beach on Ortigia.  From the minute I stepped off the train I loved Siracusa.  As we explored and saw more and more of the town, I fell head over heels.  Ortigia sealed it for me.

“THIS”, I said to myself “is where I want to come on my honeymoon, and I want to buy an apartment here”.  My goodness, if it was that romantic while I was there in the daytime with 14 teenagers and five, well, aging German men, I can’t imagine how over-the-top romantic it would be with a brand spanking new husband under a starlit Mediterranean night!  🙂

Hong KongChicagoGuanajuatoKinsale.  And Siracusa.  Another amazing city about which to dream of returning.


Do It Anyway

It’s lyrics time again at Blah Blah Blog.  My latest is by Martina McBride.  Here are the words:

ANYWAY

You can spend your whole life building something from nothing
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway
You can chase a dream that seems so out of reach and you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway

Chorus:
God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
And when I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway, I do it anyway

This world’s gone crazy and it’s hard to believe that tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart, for all the right reasons, and in a moment they can choose to walk away
Love ’em anyway

Repeat Chorus

You can pour your soul out singing a song you believe in that tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway, sing it anyway

I sing, I dream, I love, anyway

 

Wanna see the video and hear the song?  Click HERE.

 

And do it anyway… 


Where Is Iz?

I was adopted this summer.  “She” showed up the day that we did at the Camp in Ispica.  She was sitting behind a fence that separated the camp from the property next door.  She attached herself to our team almost immediately.  She was fearless and always underfoot.  Initially I attempted to keep her out of the kitchen, but it was a losing battle.  And she would sit on the floor and look up at me with the most soulful eyes begging me for a taste of that beef, that chicken, that turkey, that tuna, or whatever else it was that caught her nose’s attention.  (She particularly loved melon rinds.  How bizarre is that?)

I missed my cat, Mew Ling.  So sue me.  I started to feed the skinny gray kitty.  She needed a name.  The girls first came up with Etna, which I thought was really a cute name.  But it didn’t stick.  Isabella, and then eventually Izzy, and Iz, did stick.  And Izzy somehow became my cat.  She had been abandoned by her mother along with a couple of siblings.  The next door neighbor sort of took them in and occasionally fed them.  But only Izzy came over the fence and made friends with us.

Last summer I missed my cat tremendously.  But I had Abner to keep me company, to make me laugh, and to have deep grown up conversation with.  It was a pretty lonely summer for me this past summer.  I was the only head leader.  My assistant leaders were both very young.  All the adults that were at the camp spoke either Italian or German.  Some spoke a little English, but not enough to easily have more than the most simple of conversation.  I think God sent Izzy to me to keep me company and to alleviate my aloneness.  She did a great job of it, too.  It seemed to me like it was her personal mission to be my companion.  And I know that God loves me enough to take the time to arrange something like that for me, too.

At first Izzy never made any sounds except purring.  It was a couple of weeks before I heard the most faint little mews coming from her.  I don’t know if she was abandoned so young that she didn’t know how to meow or what.  When she finally did “learn” to talk, it was so pitiful sounding I couldn’t help but want to make sure I did whatever necessary to make sure she was safe and healthy.  I got sucked in by her situation and her phenomenal cuteness.  I was a goner and it didn’t take long til I was crazy for this kitty.

Good Grief, is that a cute face, or WHAT?

I think Izzy thought I was her mother.  She would snuggle up to me or snuggle down in my clothes and find a little wrinkle of fabric and suck on it.  For hours she could do that.  I once woke up with a huge wet spot on my shoulder.  She had been sucking on the back of my shirt for who knows how long.  She’d play all day with the kids, following them out to the work site and playing with them into the evening hours.  But when it was time for bed, most nights found Izzy in my room and on my bed.  Since no one was allowed into my room without my being in there, Izzy would retreat there when she needed alone time.  I would often find her stretched out (or curled up) on my bed in the afternoon taking a long leisurely uninterrupted nap.

Izzy Stretches Out

Izzy’d come when I’d call her, too.  I’d make a very loud long kissing sound, and if she was within hearing distance, she come running like a gray flash.  Sometimes I’d do the sound when she was being held by one of my kids just to see all the acrobats of her twisting and twirling and trying to get down.  It was fun to watch whoever was holding her to try to hang onto her as long as possible.  It was like watching someone trying to hang onto loose Jell-O! 

Izzy liked to hang out in the kitchen.  Probably because she knew she’d be able to get food out of pretty much anyone, especially me.  She got stepped on a lot.  Eventually she found a place she could hang out without getting crunched.  She’d curl up with the pots and pans in the kitchen island.

Izzy Hangs Out In The Kitchen With Me 

When I’d go to my room to do paperwork, or whatever, Izzy liked to jump up on my shoulder.  Why do you suppose she would do this?  I have no theories.  But it seemed like she was very interested in whatever I was doing and liked a good view.

Izzy On My Shoulder Where She Can See Better 

And we all absolutely loved her.  Me especially.  And I had to leave her behind.  Sad day.  I had been hoping to bring her to Colorado to live with me.  The missionary’s son said he’d help me get her if it was possible.  It doesn’t look like it is.  Even if I could arrange to get her to a vet there in Sicily and get a certificate of health (a requirement of British Airways), British Airways makes all animals travel as cargo.  They don’t offer cargo services from Catania, Sicily.  The only way I could get her to the U.S. IF I had a certificate of health, would be to have her fly out of Rome.  I guess Iz is staying in Sicily. 

I’m worried that Izzy has no one to feed her.  I wonder if she is trying to get into my room at night.  Do you think she wonders what the heck happened to all of her people?  I feel terrible that we had to leave her behind.

Stupid.  I know.

Junkyard Cat

She’s just a cat, afterall.  Right?


A Simple Truth

I’m reading a really great book by Rob Bell called “Velvet Elvis“.  In it he discusses truth and how it can be found all over the place, even in places where we may not expect to find it.  Because Jesus is truth, and Jesus is fully God, and because God is EVERYWHERE, then truth, by extension can ALSO be found everywhere.

I was watching a TV show the other day and on it there was a card reading psychic.  She was talking about decision making.  While I’ve known what she said to be true, she put it sooooo succinctly.  When it comes to making a difficult decision you have two things to evaluate:

“What would fear choose?”

“What would love choose?”

The Bible tells us that God is not a god of fear, but is a God of love.  It tells us that perfect love casts out all fear

I’m not telling you this to give credence to psychics.  In fact I believe that because psychics get enough things right, and speak enough truth, people are drawn to them.  They are, however, not the good choice when it comes to getting guidance and hearing the TRUTH.  God IS truth and love, so why seek a psychic who only gets it partly right, and leaves the one true God out of the picture, or only gives Him lip service?  Why not go straight to the ultimate source?  No, I’m telling you this story to share with you from where our decision making should come.  It should not be born out of a spirit of fear.  It should be born out of a spirit of love.

When I look back on my life and tease out the really bad decisions I have made, I can directly link those decisions to fear.  The fear of one thing, instead of the love of another, was the basis on which every one of those decisions were made.

Now, go, and make good choices. 

And read “Velvet Elvis”, too.  It’s a super good book.

… 


I’ve Been To Cuba..

and Michael Moore, it AIN’T the place to go for top notch medical care.  You and those 9/11 rescue workers aren’t going to Cuba to try to get treatment that can’t be obtained in America.  You don’t really think I believe that you are going down there to make this little shockumentary to bring to light the problems of the American healthcare system.  You’ll fool a lot of people though.  But I bet if you ever come down with some sort of esoteric and obscure illness that you won’t be on the first boat to Cuba to get treatment.  No sir. 

I went on a medical mission and worked with a group of American surgeons and allied health care workers in the best hospital in Cuba.  They sterilised and reused urinary catheters until they fell apart.  They reused absolutely everything, even washed and reused surgical sponges.  Our team had to fix their sterilisation units as they were not working well and DID not adequately sterilise anything.  Their OR suites were not negative pressure ventilated.  Nurses were not pro-active.  They simply followed WHATEVER the doctors told them without question.  Physicians had weekend jobs as waiters as the pay as a physician is so poor that they need to augment their income.  The formulary of the pharmacy was so limited that we had to bring down our own antibiotics and pain medications and even ASPIRIN.  And there’s no such thing as a malpractice suit down there (and Michael, there aren’t malpractice suits NOT because there isn’t malpractice…it’s just not an avenue that’s available to Cubans who have been injured at the hands of physicians…)

Michael Moore is a shameless seeker of self-aggrandisement.  And he is a disengenuine misrepresenter and twister of facts.  Sure, he’s mildly amusing, but basically he is a talentless schlub who probably got teased beyond what he was able to handle when he was young.  And now he’s trying to get back at the kind of people he was, and still is, envious of.  And for some reason, he hates America and most Americans.

Cubans die trying to get TO America for things LIKE our healthcare system (despite its problems).  You don’t see Americans dying in capsized tin boats trying to get to Cuba for medical treatment.

Our healthcare system is not perfect, but to take a group of people and sneak into Cuba, FOR HEALTH CARE, is just a blatant attempt to further his personal agenda.  Period.  Going to Cuba to get the best healthcare available is like going to North Korea for religious freedom.  As a person who has experienced the best of the Cuban healthcare system first hand, I almost can’t wait for MM’s new movie “Sicko” to come out just so I can appreciate just how fully MM has lost his mind.

Michael Moore….Give me a break. 


The REAL Wedding Crashers

What a tragic display THIS television show is.  I admit it, I was tired and had little energy to do more than veg on my couch last night and watch TV.  And there was nothing at all worth watching all night.  Especially not this show, “The Real Wedding Crashers“.

The premise?  A bride and groom sabotage their own wedding.  Other than the accomplices that are the crashers, only the bride and groom know that all the craziness and disruption that is happening before and during the wedding and reception is a set-up.  The wedding is real.  And everyone involved is a mark in this rather sick con game. 

I guess I’m hopelessly old-fashioned, but I think that weddings, however modest or extravagant, should be, well, sort of sacred.  A man and a woman pledging themselves to each other forever, and promising to love and honor each other until death?  It doesn’t get deeper than that.  I think I have cried (or at least gotten misty-eyed) at nearly every wedding I’ve ever been to.  Weddings shouldn’t be the forum for a couple to pull off a big gag on all their family and friends.  Have fun, but don’t make a joke of it.

I don’t even like it when brides and grooms smash cake in each others’ faces.  Feeding each other cake is sort of like a symbol that this new husband and wife will nurture each other, feed each other.  Sort of solemn, no?  And to take that serious act and turn it into  a ‘who can mess up the other person more’ totally cheapens and devalues that.

Like I said, maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I’m too serious when it comes to love and promises of love. 

… 


Mitchell Writes To Auntie Lou

A week and a half or so ago I went to my mailbox, and pulled out an envelope that made me bust out smiling!  In my hands I held a letter addressed by the very own hand of my 5-year old nephew, Mitchell!  My Mom tells me that writing to me was completely his idea, and that she just sent the letter when he asked her!  I guess he probably doesn’t even know that handwritten letters are just about my most favorite thing!

Inside that envelope was this letter! 

 

Mitchell can now write his own name, from memory.  He doesn’t need to copy from somewhere else!  Mitchell has loved to draw and write from the time he could first manage a pencil, which was pretty darn young.  I remember when he mastered five pointed stars.  There were stars on EVERYTHING!  So cute.  Anyhow, this is Mitchell, in his baseball uniform.  I talked to him Saturday (two days ago) morning.  He told me he really likes baseball practice and that they are learning “crocodiles way up in the sky”.  He also told me they have already learned “crocodiles down on the ground”.  I figure that means they are learning to catch and then trap the ball in the mitt with the other hand!  Two things that I found very interesting, and on-beyond-cute, in the letter…

1.  Although he is in his baseball uniform, he is not number 18!

2.  The little orange thing down by his feet is a drawing of my cat, Mew Ling!

Looks JUST like her!  I just love this picture, and I just love my nephew!  🙂


Post Op Day 4

It is widely rumored that laughter is the best medicine.  Perhaps it is the second best medicine.  Second best to love.  Scott was feeling pretty lousy today.  Until Joanne showed up.  That seemed to make alot of his lousy much better.  Just being in the same room made him, and Joanne, feel much less awful.

And his intestines are rumbling!  That means they’ve awakened from their slumber.  Excellent news.

Scott’s bilirubin has continued to rise for the past few days.  They are looking for a cause for that.  The lab test was repeated today to see if it has risen further or not.  I haven’t heard the result of that, or of the latest nuclear medicine scan which was ordered to see if they could find any blockage which might be causing the rise.  More on that when I hear more myself.


Thank God For Hamburger

While I was in California two weeks ago, a friend of mine here in Colorado was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Pancreatic cancer is particularly virulent, AND, (I didn’t know this three weeks ago) refractory when it comes to chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  The only real treatment and hope for a cure is surgery.  Huge surgery.

Over the years, Scott has adopted a dietary lifestyle which nearly eliminated all fats.  He is very active and very healthy.  His wife (and my friend) Joanne had gotten the bug to do some cooking with hamburger.  She’d made meatloaf, meatloaf sandwiches, spaghetti and meatballs, etc.  And, being the dutiful and loving husband that he is, Scott ate and ate of the burger based delicacies (even though he doesn’t like hamburger…now that’s love!).  And he started to not feel so good.

After a few days of increasing abdominal pain/pressure and other gut related issues, he went to the doctor.  And there you have it.  Pancreatic cancer.  The tumor was blocking the bile and pancreatic ducts.  The digestive juices and liver enzymes were unable to pass into the digestive tract and all the fat in the digestive system was just swimming around and that doesn’t feel so great.  Within a few more days he had become jaundiced as well and was on the fast track for definitive treatment.

Today was the definitive treatment.  It’s called a Whipple procedure.  Read about it.  I won’t go into the specifics, but they take lots of stuff out in order to get all the places that cancer could possibly get to.  It’s the only hope for a cure.  And the surgeon said that Scott’s scenario was just about as good as it could get.  It was caught pretty early and Scott is extremely healthy.  Like all of us would do in the same situation, Joanne and Scott did their internet homework on pancreatic cancer and the Whipple.  I didn’t realize until after I saw relief pour over them that they didn’t realize that pancreatic cancer IS curable.  Cancer survivability statistics usually give a percentage of people who survive to five years without recurrance.  Five years without recurrance is considered cured.  They didn’t realize that.  And they didn’t realize that when the percentages of people who don’t survive up to five years is presented, that they include “all comers” with pancreatic cancer.  They don’t reflect just people whose cancer was caught early and who enjoy excellent health.  They thought pancreatic cancer was pretty much a death sentence.  You wouldn’t have known it by how they were remained filled with joy and hope.  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this kind of raw courage.  On many occasions Joanne talked of how excited she was to be able to be on this journey with Scott, and what a privilege it is to be able to see God do what He will do.  They embraced this diagnosis with complete surrender to God’s will.  (Nope, not denial…surrender.)

From the moment that Scott got sick to the time he came out of surgery we saw God weaving the fabric of His control in the situation.  Because Scott had some time ago adopted a nearly fat free diet, had he not eaten all that hamburger, it might have been much longer until the diagnosis was made.  All that fat which made Scott so sick brought his cancer to light (thank God for hamburger).  The doctor he went in to see first thought it was just a simple stomach upset and ordered medicine for it, but also ordered a battery of blood tests.  Based on those blood tests Scott was almost immediately in to see a gastroenterologist who immediately arranged for him to see a buddy of his.  A buddy who just happened to be a pre-eminent cancer surgeon up in Denver.  He was in to see this doctor within days.  This doctor, amazingly, had performed the Whipple procedure over a hundred times!  During the course of that appointment the doctor informed him that he could do the surgery the next Monday, as they had just had a cancellation.  Wow.  They ran some pre-op blood tests and a couple of days later it was determined that Scott needed to have stents placed in order to unblock those ducts to bring down his bilirubin level.  This past Thursday Scott urgently underwent that procedure, which ended up being very complicated, but ultimately successful.  One of the nurses just happened to be a friend of theirs and was able to keep them well informed of what was happening.  Calls for prayer went out for the struggling doctors, and it seemed like within moments, the struggling stopped and the stents were in.  Lots and lots more prayer later and repeat labs on Sunday showed that he could have the surgery as his bilirubin level had come down into a safer level for surgery.  It seemed as though God was in the business of giving them little miracle after little miracle. 

I think that every Christian that everyone in the family knows and every Christian that everyone connected to the family knows, has been praying. 

We congregated in the surgery waiting room this morning and hunkered down for the long wait.  Well, Joanne didn’t hunker down.  Joanne was off meeting everyone else in the waiting room, encouraging them, hugging them, praying with them, and raising spirits.  She was calm and she was peaceful.  I don’t know how I would have been if it was my husband in there, but I don’t think I would have been working the room like that.  I wouldn’t have had that sort of reachoutiveness.  There was an incredible peace in our little corner of the room.  And even smiles and laughter.

Late in the afternoon the doctor came into the waiting room and gave the news.  The surgery went great.  They got all the tumor, and they did so completely sparing Scott’s stomach.  The final pathology reports won’t be in for five days, but the doctor believed that all the margins were clear of tumor when he was done.  Scott was in recovery and was extubated and didn’t need a nasogastric tube to his stomach, and wouldn’t even need to spend the night in the ICU, but instead would be going to a step down unit.  Couldn’t have gone better.  Another miracle, this one a big one.

The Whipple is a horribly invasive and very aggresive surgery.  But it has to be since it’s the only hope for a cure.  Because of the nature of the surgery, the risk for complications (from very mild to very severe) is very high.

Your prayers for Scott’s continued good recovery are deeply coveted.  And your prayers for continuing miracles in this family’s life are deeply coveted.  Joanne and Scott, married for decades, are crazy in love with each other.  They’d like to grow old together.  Love like theirs is hard to find.

I’ve found myself at nearly a complete loss at how to pray.  I’ve just been begging God to let them grow old together.


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