Friday, March 27, 2009

When someone is truly unhappy, and truly not at all content, it usually shows up in ways that others can read. You can try and hide it by making it appear that you are happy by talking of things you love. You can decorate your home with a theme of that love. You can buy jewelry that also shows others what it is that you admire or love. You can even go so far as to adorn your body with "body art" that shows the world where your heart is. I also believe that as a Godly woman, we have the responsibility to dress and act "in a manner worthy of the gospel"(Philippians 1:27) I am constantly fighting that battle with my daughters, asking them to pay more attention to modesty, and the message they are sending out by their choices in dress. Immodest clothing may cause a brother or sister in Christ to stumble with impure thoughts. I am not comfortable by the trend that is considered fashionable now to wear very thin (see through) layer over something that appears to be a "cami" or a colored bra. I am old school, and think that as a Christian woman, a Godly woman, I am to set the example. Therefore, I try and limit the amount of skin I show between my neck and knees. I tell my girls to ask the question, what is my goal here? Why am I dressing this way? Am I trying to draw attention to myself by my apparel? Am I trying to draw attention to a certain area of my body? Whose attention am I trying to get? Not that I have cleavage, but I have never felt comfortable in allowing it to show. I have always felt uncomfortable around women who do. Someone said to me that we cannot control what others think. I disagree. The battle for purity starts in the mind. Two great men in the Bible, Samson and David, were brought down because they first had lustful thoughts and then they acted upon them. An action is first conceived in the mind. Therefore, I believe, we must not only guard our own thought life, but help others with theirs. I myself love to dance. I do! It is fun! But, the places you have to go to enjoy that fun, is not acceptable to me as a Godly woman. I know the power that a woman's body has over a man. I also know that men who frequent those places, when they are there alone, they are not there because they love to dance. They are there with a woman, or in hopes to get a woman. So, for a married Godly Christian woman to be there without the proper protection of her God-given husband is just wrong in my eyes. And since my husband is a man, I would not want to put him in the situation of watching other women dance, and possibly arousing him. So, for those reasons, I chose to lay down that particular activity and walk away. I always try and make my decisions based upon "benefit". Will this benefit my witness? Will this hamper my witness. Because, above all, I want others to know I am a Christian woman, I am a Godly woman, I am a married woman, I am a mother.

As far as the drinking goes, everyone who knows me knows my reasons for how I feel about that. Just because something is not a "sin", does not mean it is good and again, it goes back to the question, "will this help my witness or hurt my witness?" No matter how much one enjoys doing something, if it causes someone to question their relationship with the Lord, based on their actions when they are "having fun", then I feel it best to lay that activity down at the Lord's feet. Again, a decision based upon what others think of me, yes. That is called "reputation" and "character". So, when I hear someone say, a Christian say, "I can't help what others think", it saddens me. Because, honestly, yes you can, you just don't care enough to try. Your reputation and your character is exactly that....what others think of you. When you say you can't help it, what it really means is you don't want to give up the fun in your life. That fun is more important to you than what others think of you. I dealt with that battle in the first years of my marriage. My husband truly was controlled by that evil. He was the "life of every party". He looked forward to it, found ways to do it. He had "friends" that did all these things, and they were not in the habit of caring whether or not he had a good marriage. Their marriages were sad and miserable, and they commiserated with each other, fueled each other's discontent. So they were only interested in trying to have a good time. Today? Everyone in my wedding album that stood on the side of Keith is divorced, at least once, some twice. Once the Lord revealed to me that what was coming out of my mouth was worse than what was going into his, I backed off, and began to truly turn it over to the Lord. I began to try my best to make my husband happy, and let God make him Holy. I truly allowed God to change my heart towards my husband. I did not respect him at first either. But once I began to respect him, honor him and love him, God truly did a miracle in our marriage. When we turn our lives and fears over to God, we are free to accept our husbands for who they are and the role they play in our lives. I truly worked at making Keith my best friend. I tried to love what he loved. I made the effort. I worked on the one side of the equation in my marriage I could work I quit praying God would change him, and prayed, "Lord, change me". Once I truly began to love Keith, the way Keith needed to be loved, what we had between us blossomed. My marriage went from living hell to heaven on earth. I know that physical love, physical touch is so very very important to a man. It truly is their way of measuring how much we love them. So, more often than not, it is my gift to him, as my husband. Whether I feel like it or not, I make the effort to go the extra mile, for his sake. I know what a difference it makes in his well being, his "man-hood" so to speak. It makes him feel respected as a man, if his wife shows him physical love willingly. So, bottom line, I quit praying for grace to do this, and I quit praying that God would change Keith. I simply began to do whatever is necessary to make my husband happy. Whatever it was. The change in Keith as he began to see that I "loved and respected" him, was nothing short of a miracle worked by God.

I feel it is very important to spend good quality time with happy contented wives. This is a support system that can't be denied. When you spend time with those that are not happy with their husbands, and they share that fact with you often, it tends to breed discontent in your own marriage. Seek out those that will help you be a better wife to your husband. Those Godly women that will encourage you in your disappointments and frustrations. Steer clear of those that would offer you advice such as ...your right, that's wrong, he shouldn't do that, you deserve better than that, blah blah blah. Seek out and find a good solid support group of godly women who earnestly try and make their husbands happy. If their husband is not happy, they diligently try harder to figure out what they can do to make him happy. Not seek out like-minded, unhappy, frustrated women who resent the fact that their husbands are not what they had dreamed of.

So, I guess in short, I would say you need:
1)to be more CONTENT with the location God has you in. Bloom and blossom where He has planted you.
2)and the husband God has you with. Love that man! Make him happy!

Contentment is not getting what you want, it is wanting what you have.
Marriage is not supposed to make you happy, it's supposed to make you married.
It's your job, your calling, to make your (husband) marriage happy, and satisfying.
And, give up whatever activity that doesn't say to the world that Jesus is your First Love.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

We left the house yesterday morning, Wednesday, March 25th, at 7:30am. We got to the hospital for labs and signed in at 9:00. We were done and going in to sign in at my Oncologist's office by 9:45. That took a bit longer, since today was the first chemo with the new drugs. Today was the first of the "new" schedule of 12 weekly visits with these new drugs. So there was much to discuss. I did ask them all my questions regarding side effects, neutropenia fears and length, crowd "control", time schedule with healing, how far after finish is surgery, how long it takes to recoup from surgery, travel plans in September, and what I had read on the net regarding other issues. They answered them to my satisfaction. We then walked across the street to grab some lunch at St. Louis Bread Company before going to the chemo labs. The chemo labs took sooo long! We were in and sitting in the recliner by about 12:05. There were several new "pre-meds" this time because of the new drugs. Every time they brought in a new bag or syringe, I was saying, "what is that, and what is it for?" They gave all these new pre-meds through my port, so yea, straight to the veins, baby. Pepsid!! I said, "like heartburn meds Pepcid?" "yes mam". Ok, so a huge side effect is going to be heartburn or stomach issues. Then the steroid, Dexamethasone (Decodron). Then an anti-nausea drug, with a name I didn't recognize, so it was different. And then the Benedryl. Since I have taken Benedryl before, it was the one I was the least worried about. LOL! Boy was I wrong! They had already told me about giving me that because of the worry about allergic reactions to the new drugs. But, folks, when they give you Benedryl through your veins, the response from your body is way different than the tsp you take when you get a bee sting, or have poison ivy, or even itchy watery eyes. They put that stuff in my body somewhere around 1:30 or so. I don't remember anything else until say 4:30!! And when I woke up, I was wiping drool off of my chin! I asked Keith if I was snoring!! He laughed and said, if you had been laying down, I think you would have, babe, you were solid gone. I had my laptop, I was trying to get online and do things, but I could feel myself getting sleepy, so I handed Keith my laptop, and said, man, I can hardly keep my eyes open. Each of these drugs were given over a time period of say, 15-30 minutes each. Then finally, the Paclitaxol (90 minutes) and the Herceptin (60 minutes). So, it was a long day. I had told my mom that I would stop sometime in the afternoon. Well, the afternoon was gone! We were in rush hour traffic on the way up and on the way home. And, I was still very groggy from the Benedryl. I was thinking, give me my bed and my pillow, and I'll see you tomorrow! I texted my sis, and ask her to call mom and see if she even remembered I was supposed to stop by, because if she didn't, I was south-bound and down. The good news is, mom didn't remember I had even said that. I did call her later, like 9 or so, and she didn't ask me what happened to me today, why I didn't come by!! Praise the Lord! We just talked of normal things, and she sounded fine. Today is my mom's birthday!! I feel great!! Thank you Lord!! She had mentioned going to the Grief Support Group meeting at the Associational office today. She asked if I wanted to go with her. I reluctantly agreed. Of course, that was Monday or Tuesday. I am not sure about going to something like that on her birthday. So, I am getting my ducks in a row here on the farm, then I am headed up there to take her to lunch today. The Grief Support meeting is at 1 o'clock. We'll play it by ear. Maybe, next week, we'll start going to the Grief Support meetings?? I do want her to go. That would give her another "outing" weekly. But, when she gets out, she mainly just goes where she is going, and comes home. So, I thought at the very least today, we would go for a drive around, looking at all the Bradford Pear trees blooming, and flowers blooming. Everything is so pretty and green, and the sun is shining today, so it will be a pretty day to be out and about, getting her out of the house today! And, Kell and Jen are planning on going to the grocery store, getting some really good food, and coming to mom's tonight and cooking dinner for her! We offered to take her out, but mom's suggestion was, "why don't we have our chef come and cook dinner for us!" So, there's our plan for mom's birthday! And, again, PRAISE THE LORD!! I FEEL GOOD ENOUGH TO BE A PART OF ALL THIS!!!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Yes, I am still alive!! Teehee, it's just that once I crawl up out of the hole that the chemo puts me in, I hit the floor running. Time, anymore, is a precious thing to me, and I feel it has such limits on it anymore. When I feel good enough to do things, I try and get them done. I am aware that things could change any minute, so I don't take my day, well, I don't take any minute I get for granted anymore. I am also aware that there are so many side effects out there that are affecting girls on the very same drugs I am on, and yet, my side effects have been mild so far. For that, I am so very grateful. I do still have a couple sores in my mouth, and for that reason, I am limited to what I can eat. Because they are mild, and not a source of constant pain, I forget sometimes. I pulled into Taco Bell last week, I had the older girls with me, and I order my usual, two hard taco supremes. I took one bite, and was not so gently reminded that I could no longer eat hard crunchy tacos. Owwwwwyyyy!! Kate offered me her soft, but nah. I have always felt like that was like wrapping a piece of bread around taco fillings. Not for me, thank you. Give me good old fashioned crunchy corn taco shells. But, at this season of my life, mostly, I eat pasta alot (Thanks Robin!! It was nummmmy!) I also eat lots of baked potatoes. And because of numerous reasons, (time and energy being at the top of the list) I don't exercise as much as I used to. So, it stands to reason that I am going to gain weight. Ugh!!! At first it didn't bother me, because I kept rationalizing it in my mind. I am going to get sores, and can't eat, so I will lose weight. Or, this is where they will take the excess skin and fat to rebuild me when this is all over. But, the truth is, it is annoying. My jeans are getting tight!! So, I am making it a priority to start walking matter what. I will take the 45 minutes it takes me to walk to the second slab and back. That's the low water bridge a little over a mile down my road, past my house. I have clocked it with my car, and if I walk to the second slab and back, I will have walked a little over 2 miles. It does contain slight elevations, so it is not a flat walk, therefore, it gets my heart pumping!! And, plus, it is a beautiful walk, and once you walk down there, you kinda have to walk back, LOL! When on a treadmill, you can decide, that's enough, I'm done. Not so outside. That's the main reason I prefer outside. I am weak, don't mind admitting that!! I do love the walk down my road. There is very little traffic, and it is quiet, peaceful, and oh so beautiful. Often times, I make the 2 mile walk without any traffic. And no, I don't use an IPOD or any other technology to block out the natural sounds. I usually use that time to talk to the Lord about what is going on in my life. On a good day, I can make that walk in 45 minutes. My goal is to make it in 30. That's about as fast as I want to do it, otherwise, I would be running!! My sister, Becky, is a runner. Not a jogger, a runner. My daughter, Kelly runs every night as well. I am not a runner. I just don't have that desire. I want to get some exercise to keep me healthy, without the danger of me falling, LOL! I do have a praise report here. My mom is again taking the Aricept medicine! It was prescribed to her right after daddy left us, but she only took it for about 3 months, and then decided it wasn't helping, and she wasn't "going to take a pill the rest of her life". So she quit. The prescription expired. When she returned from her visit with her girlfriends in Little Rock, they apparently had helped to convince her that she should be taking it. She even sat there on the swing beside me while I called the pharmacy to see the status of the prescription. They told me it was expired, but that they could call the doctor and get it renewed! I was shocked! "You can do that? And she won't have to go get an examination??" They did it, and it was re-filled, and now mom has a bottle and is taking it. At least, she says she is. I won't know for sure until I go back up there and count them. But hey, that is a huge improvement, and I will take all the positive I can get. For mom to even talk about taking it is huge, much less, saying "Yes, I took it this morning with my toast!" Pray that she will continue to do so! I go next week for my new round of drugs and chemo. Wednesday, the 25th of March, I start my weekly treatments. The following day, March 26th is mom's birthday. As of right now, I am planning to take her out to lunch, probably to Cracker Barrel at the bottom of her hill. Last year, I wanted to take her somewhere else, and she "commented" how everything on the menu was sooo expensive. So, maybe this year, I will just go where I know she "approves" of the menu as well as the prices, teehee. It's her day.

I was supposed to get company this weekend! My sister from Chicago, Lois and her family, was due to come in last nite. Her kids are on Spring Break, and our kids are desperate to spend some time with each other. My kids were all marking x's on the calendar to mark "how many more days until Sullivan's get here?" And my Emma was asking daily, "Is Rachel out of school yet?" But, it was not meant to be, apparently. Lois called on Wednesday night to share that a couple of her kiddos had the sniffles, and not being sure if it was allergies or an infection/virus something something, she was not wanting to bring them here because of the obvious threat to me. But she did say that she had not shared her thoughts with Bryan yet, and he may still come to Missouri. She didn't know if he would come alone, or bring some of the children or what. She would let me know. Thursday, I spent most of the day at Barnes, getting my Muga Scan (heart scan test) in preparation for the next round of chemo drugs. When I got home Thursday night, my kids were all like, "have you talked to Lois? Are they still coming to Missouri? Which kids are sick? Are they leaving the sick ones home and bringing the well ones?" Of course, I didn't know the answers to any of those questions, and they were still putting supper on the table, so I sat down and opened my computer. I noticed Bryan was on-line, so I thought I would just ask him what the plans were, if they had come up with a plan yet. He said..."walking out the door to a school meeting, I'll call you from the car." In the mean time, Keith walked in and sat down on the couch beside me to watch the news. My phone rang, and it was Bryan. It was a short conversation, but the bottom line was....don't know yet. His mom has already taken the days off work Wednesday -Friday, so he felt like they would still come, and as of now, it would be him and all of them. So, us getting any of the kiddos together was not going to be an option. The kids were thinking, if it was the older kids sick, ones old enough to stay home alone, while Lois worked, then maybe getting the girls together, (Rachel, Manna & Becky) would still be an option, but after the short conversation with Bryan, I told the kids it just wasn't going to happen this time. That is the hardest part of this walk I am on, how it also affects my kids and what they are allowed to do. After I hung up the phone, I sat them all down, since they were all hanging around me anyway, waiting on the "verdict", and explained to them how I knew how they were all excited about getting together with their cousins, but at this point in my life, we as adults had to make the hard decisions. Bryan and Lois should not have to leave any of their kiddos home, especially since it sounded like they just had the sniffles, and therefore, that was not a big deal to anyone but me. It was wishful thinking that we would still be able to allow any of you to spend time with any of them. But the truth is, we could not take the chance of bringing any foreign "germs" into my home, because of the time it took for them to germinate into something that may or may not make any of my kids sick next week, being I would be starting new drugs, experimental drugs, and at this point didn't know how it would affect me or my immune system. So, hard choices had to be made, and I am sorry but we had to make smart choices, regardless of how upset it will make you. At this point, there were more important things to consider than "happy children". This too shall pass, and there will be plenty of other opportunities to get together, later down the road. Needless to say, there were lots of sad faces. Oh well. Just another bump in the road........

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ok, let's start a discussion on relationships and friendships. I have been giving this some thought lately. How we tend to throw this terminology around pretty loosely. We are quick to call someone friend without having any real guidelines to go by. I mean, what constitutes a friend? Is it someone you talk to regularly? Someone you see regularly? Someone you spend time with regularly? How exactly do you decide who is a friend, and who is an acquaintance? And what is the difference between a friend, and someone you have a "relationship" with. The dictionary says that Relationship is:
1. The condition or fact of being related; connection or association.
2. Connection by blood or marriage; kinship.
3. A particular type of connection existing between people related to or having dealings with each other:

Ok, so there you have it. In plain black and white print. Obviously relationship is attained simply by kinship, by being related. Friendship on the other hand is different by definition.
Friendship is a term used to denote co-operative and supportive behavior between two or more people. In this sense, the term connotes a relationship which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, and affection and respect along with a degree of rendering service to friends in times of need or crisis. Let's think about that definition for a while. I feel very blessed to have friends such as this definition implies. Dear friends, that are now, and have always been... there for me. Friends that are there, when the rest of the world walks out. I am extremely thankful for them. It is those friends that are always there to lift me up, spiritually if that is my need. Physically if that is my need. They always seem to know when I need a phone call. They always seem to know when I need more than a phone call. They are God given blessings. They have been there to pray with me, as well as for me. They know me, inside and out. These are the people that I can count on to hold me accountable. I welcome their accountability. I love them, and thankfully, they love me. I do not seek the praises of mankind, but I appreciate the love and friendships I have. Yet, being as blessed as I am, I still from time to time, let my guard down, and mistakenly think that someone is my friend, when in reality, they are just relationships. And it is usually in those relationships that I sustain the most hurt. My daddy used to say, the greatest weakness is an un-guarded strength. I got comfortable, let my guard down, and bam, I am blindsided. I thought the relationship was strong, so I was not guarding it. I now realize it was not a friendship to begin with. I wanted it to be a friendship. I wanted it to be a friendship bad enough to believe that it was. Now I know you can't "force" a friendship. It is what it is, or it ain't. That's the cold hard truth of the matter. Like the old saying says, "you don't get to choose your relatives, but you can choose your friends". But the truth is, for it to work, the friends have to choose you back! Otherwise it is a one-sided relationship, with one of you doing all the work. That's not fair to either of you. And for it to really be a blessed friendship, there has to be trust. Without TRUST, there is no friendship, much less relationship. So, if you have friends, friends you can are blessed. Thank God for them!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

So, how was your day today? I am tired. I had a good day, got a whole lot of stuff checked off of my list. That is always a good feeling at the end of the day. Lately I have been pondering the whole sad sad outlook on life that everybody seems to be pushing these days. It is down right aggravating when Christians get sucked into that mentality. Seriously, we represent Christ!! If we of all people don't have a different outlook, a different "hope", then something is wrong. People should be drawn to Christ and want what we have based on the difference they see in our attitude!! I don't understand how people who don't know Christ can get through this life without falling into depression. It is truly relaxing to me to know that God is in control. I don't need to worry about next weeks weather, or next weeks bills. I am not in "management", teehee, I am just in sales!! As I put one foot in front of the other, and walk this path, one day at a time, I have to constantly be on guard to ward off the devil who is constantly, walking to and fro, looking and seeking whom he might devour. What that really means, is that I will not let myself get sucked into the woe is me mentality! Life is not fair. Life is hard. So? I get really tired of hearing good Godly people, let themselves get sucked into "life", and get down on their circumstances. The Bible is full of people who had truly hard circumstances. Way worse than anything any of us have to deal with on a daily basis, yet they stayed focused on the One that could bring them through it with a better attitude than the next guy. Anytime you feel like your life sucks big time, stop by and visit a nursing home, or a hospital. I hate to keep harping on this, but you can truly make a difference in your mindset if you would accept the challenge of getting involved in a Bible Study! I mean a real Bible Study, with homework! I mean, think about it. How do you know if your kids are actually learning their school work? How do you know if they are actually able to apply what they are learning? They actually take pencil and paper and write something down?? Daily? That's called accountability. Look back in your life, and see if there is a time when you felt like you were actually making progress in your Christian walk, if what you were doing in your life made a difference for Christ. I mean, you should be able to ask yourself every morning, or every night, what did I do today that made a difference, because I was a Christian. Do I do anything different? Am I like everybody else in my daily activities? Am I making a difference for Christ? Do my kids see me living for Christ? Am I building up my husband? Do I actually make an effort to make him feel important in my life? Because, as Godly women, that is our calling. To build up our husbands, and make them feel loved and special is mandated by God. But in today's society, you won't find many people, many women who are willing to step out of the box, out of their comfort zone, and actually do hard things. If it makes them uncomfortable, forget it. They just are not going to commit to it. It's funny how so many will say they don't have time for this, or they don't have time for that, yet will make time for those things that don't matter at all in the grand scheme of things. Of course, this brings me back to re-evaluating the things in your life. When you are in the middle of a crisis, it seems that decisions can be made, maybe emotional ones, but still, people are quick to say "If I only knew, I would do this", or I would do that. Well, folks, we should be making those decisions anyway, right? I mean, if they are important enough at that moment, they are important! But, let the emotions fade, the crisis work out, fade into life, and the next thing you know, we are doing the same old same old. In the meantime, life is clicking away. We are wasting the precious moments in our life. What we are giving all our attention to, all our energies to, in the end, will be what validates our life. Let's all be challenged to make better choices, and make sure that what we are giving our energies to, is what really matters in the end. It's not about money. It's not about things. It's about relationships. Let's all, as Christians, challenge ourselves to make some body's life better, because we can. In the name of Christ! They are making a commercial now, that shows people helping each other, warning each other when something is about to happen. It ends with them saying when people do it, it is called character. When companies do it, it's called......(name of company). Make an effort to actually spend time with someone, have coffee, have pie! Build a relationship! Face to face relationships! We are people, and we need physical relationships, emotional relationships, and yes, spiritual relationships. Let's all make a conscious effort to listen to Christian music, Christian radio, get involved in a Bible Study that offers accountability to other Christians, one on one. Let's refuse to fall through the cracks at our churches, where no one is going to notice if we are not there, or worse, care if we are not there! God has created each of us with unique spiritual gifts. And I believe he places us in a particular church, because that church needs our spiritual gift. Are we using our gifts? Are we offering our gifts? Or, are we attending, anonymously, so we can fulfil our "duty". Are we involved in our congregation? Are we getting the support we need so that we can face this ungodly world feeling stronger because we have the support system of our fellow Christians at our local church? The Bible speaks of the ember that burns out when it is removed from the fire. There are way too many luke warm Christians out there. People are not willing to make a difference. People are just existing. Remember, choose JOY!!!! Make a definite, intentional choice to make a difference for Christ. Let the world know there is something different about you. You have hope! You have joy! You have Christ! And then be willing to share what it is that gives you that "edge". But, folks, lets give them something they would want!! Because, seriously, if we are not living it, showing it, we are failing Christ. Do they want what we have?? Then change that. If God can't make us happy, how can we tell others He can make them happy? How can we tell others how God can change their lives, if they are not seeing it happen in ours?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This path the Lord has me on these days has caused me to re-evaluate my priorities. After what I have shared with others as the "phone call that changed my life", my choices have been more definite, more thought through, and definitely, less emotional. Because my dad was so involved with people all the time, he often would share that he was very selective about who he spent his "free" time with. I find myself becoming more and more like that. Something cancer does, like nothing else, is make you really look at everything you do in life. Really look at what you are doing, and why you are doing it. Is it worth your time? Is it worth your effort? As my family and I walk this path, the world seems to keep going on with their very busy lives. I remember feeling that same way when we were dealing with daddy and leukemia. I would end up at Wal-Mart at 10 o'clock at night, because it was the only time I had to go! And as I would be standing there in line, waiting at the check-out, I would find myself thinking, "all these people, going and doing, they don't have a clue what is going on in my life, or what crisis I am dealing with!" That has not changed today. In this fast paced society we live in, we go, we do, we are so busy, that we barely have time for relationships. A crisis always seems to make people slow down, ask questions, get involved, possibly form relationships. I have gotten lots of letters and cards, and phone calls from people who use to be part of my life. We use to talk often. We even got together once a month, at least, for coffee, or dinner! But then life took over, we got busy, and when you don't make time for relationships, you don't have relationships. As my one friend said, we have a "low maintenance relationship". It doesn't take much work for our relationship to remain strong and steady. We may not see each other for months, or even share a conversation for more than a month, but when we do find the time to talk, it is as if we talk daily. We have that kind of close relationship. I have noticed that in this society of technology, chats and emails have taken the place of real, REAL, conversation. In chats, there is no emotion, just the sharing of facts. Often, easily, things can be misinterpreted, because of the lack of emotion, or voice inflection. And, truthfully, one can actually be involved, sort of, in one's life, meaning, know what is going on in their life, the day to day things, without ever talking to them! Like Facebook, for instance. All I have to do is sign on every day, and know how the weather is in Colorado Springs, where my sister lives, even know what she is having for dinner, or that her garage door is broken! Or that my other sister's basement is flooded due to all the recent rain and storms they are having in the Chicago area. I can know when my niece has had a "misunderstanding" with her boyfriend. All of this can be accomplished without so much as a phone call. Without reaching out and "touching", as the commecials use to say. I do have one friend, you know who you are, who refuses to even get a FACEBOOK account for this reason. She says, she prefers conversation, old fashioned, using the phone, hearing a voice conversation. I agree with her for the most part. I prefer that myself! But, in order to even try and be involved in family that is scattered all across the country, I put up But, I freely admit, it leaves me wanting more. I want close personal relationships. My mom has been with her friends in Little Rock since March 2nd, when I took her down there. I am use to talking to my mom every day, twice a day. And I admit....I have missed her!! I miss the conversation with my mom. I was not able to call her for the first few days after my chemo, because my voice always gets very weak and barely audible. But once I got my voice back, I called her. She actually sounded glad to talk to me!! She laughed, and said she was having a great time! I then went a couple days and didn't call her. Thelma called me!! "Your mom says you haven't called and she was just wondering what your up to!" I laughed out loud! Routine is a good thing! I am supposed to drive down there and get mom on Saturday, and I can't wait! This was supposed to be a "break" for me, as some said, "take advantage of this time for yourself!", "get some rest". I miss my mom!!! I am glad she is having a good time, but I am equally glad that she will be home again, soon. I have not been able to go up there and clean her house, like I wanted to do for her before she got back home. I have not been able to go in her office and do the filing for her, like I wanted to do. But, those things are not as important as I once thought they were! It has become more important to me to just spend time with my mom. I enjoy sitting in the chair, watching Murder She Wrote with her, chatting about life in the small town we live in. Someone asked me this week, why I deleted such and such from my friend list on Facebook. I said, well, actually, I only got on there to keep up with my kiddos and their lives. And then, slowly, it grew into this person wants to be your friend, and this person wants to be your friend. Now I have like 170 "friends" that are not really friends! Meaning, young teens, pre-teens, daughters of friends, sons of friends, friends of friends! So, on one particular day that I signed on, and got umpteen status updates on what they all were doing, what group they were joining, I thought, this is so stupid. We have nothing in common, and I truly don't have time for this. I deleted them!! Several of them!! Don't take it personal if you were one that got deleted. Just ask yourself, when was the last time I actually talked to her anyway?? If you have not talked to me, or had coffee with me, or spent an evening at Steak N Shake with me, I am sure it is not going to be a great huge hole in your social life!! I just decided, there is a difference between "friends", and someone I know, vaguely. But, in the event it does bother you, and offends you in some me, on the phone, and I will add you again!! LOL!! So there!! I have just decided that I want to surround myself with actual caring Christian people. People who know Christ, and will keep me accountable for what I do and what I say, and how I say it! I have never been one that holds to "fluff". Give me substance. Character matters to me. I want to see character. I want to see honesty. I don't care for "fake" friendships, or people who use people. I want to see respect return to our society. I still believe in the old ideals of women are to be treated with respect, and people should guard their language when in the presence of women and children. If they use "barn language" around me, it infers that they either don't respect me, or don't think I am a lady! Either one will get my dander up!! I am just an old fashioned kind of gal, I guess. I know that the company I keep, says something about who I am. So I am careful about who I spend time with, and the activities I spend my time involved in. I have been known to tell my kids, my teens, in the past, that if you listen to that angry music, it tends to make you angry! I don't have so much of a problem with that anymore, since they don't listen to angry music anymore, teehee. But, I do notice that when I get onto one of them, one of the teens, you can almost clock it, how quickly the radio gets turned on, and onto a certain station. Funny how that works. We use to say, in the computer world, "garbage in, garbage out". If you are angry, are discontent, you can always find a station that will feed that mindset. But, if you are a strong enough Christian to actually fight that, then you can find good solid music that will put you back in the right frame of mind. Be a thermostat!! Not a thermometer! You can set the mood of your day, just by the choices you make in the music you listen to. The radio station you listen to can make all the difference. Like I say, "happiness comes from outside circumstances, but joy....comes from the Lord!" Choose Joy!! Don't let Satan steal it away, in these days when so many are so quick to say over and over, "it's gonna get worse before it gets better!!" We belong to the Lord! If we truly put our faith and trust in God, then we have no right to go around down in the dumps, depressed, upset, anxious. I don't know what God has in store for me, but I do know that I trust HIM! So, I am not going to try and second guess what is up, or what is around the corner. I trust Him. So, whatever He has for me, I can put one foot in front of the other, and walk the path. The outcome doesn't matter.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I know what to expect. I am already familiar with the "routine", but I still don't like how He is "making me lie down beside green pastures". I am grateful to look outside my window and actually see my pastures turning green! That is a welcome sight, no doubt. My husband is getting to work, and money is beginning to come in, slowly but surely. We were able to get the satellite turned back on, much to the delight of my husband. I don't really care for the television and all the "distraction" that it offers to my family, but it does seem to comfort my husband. When he is trying to plan out his jobs, it does help him to be able to call up the weather on all the different weather channels, from local to national, to help him make the difficult decisions on which job would be the best one to try and tackle in between the "chance of rain and showers" here and the radar that gives them a window opportunity wide enough to actually get something done over here. Hard decisions, no one else wants to make. The contractor wants it done, needs it done, yet is unwilling to "make the call", knowing that he doesn't want the responsibilities that go with "eating the mess" if they get rained on, once the concrete is poured out and on the ground. That would be the pressure of my husband's decisions these days. But, God has been good, and has been letting the phone ring, with jobs that can be done, in the small window of opportunities that God is providing. We will go from having nothing on the schedule, to a phone call, and suddenly, we have somewhere to go in the morning! Thank God!! We are not getting rich, but God is providing for our needs, as He has for so many years. That is the exercise of the faith muscle we have come to love. I truly love those God moments, where He does step in, step up, and remind us in the darkest moments that He is still watching over us, and yes, taking care of us. In this struggling economy, as the TV/radio/newspapers all like to constantly remind us, that we are all going to hell in a hand basket, and that it is going to "get worse before it gets better", gloom and doom, it is relaxing to have God gently remind us that He is still there, still on the throne, and yes, still in control of this world. I have called down to check on my mom, while she is in Little Rock, visiting with her friends. Mostly, I talk to Thelma or Martha, since this is the week after my chemo, and my voice is extremely weak. Mom picks up on that pretty quickly, and starts asking questions. Within an hour or so, I will get a phone call from Martha or Thelma to reassure me that mom is fine, and they have reassured her that I am fine. I am so grateful for those dear dear friends. Of course, this trip may be more of an eyeopener to them all, to allow them all to see how they are all a little "further down the road" than they thought they were. That they do need a little help from their family. I know that my mom went down there on a mission, "to talk Martha and Tom into moving back closer to her and Thelma, back to Missouri". But, now, I am thinking she has come to realize that they are not healthy enough to move again. Of course, she said she was also gonna work on Thelma, and work out a plan where they could take turns staying "a month at my house, then a month at her house". Of course, these are just mom's ideas and plans. I wonder how that plan is going over with Thelma? They are all pretty set in their ideas of "my house is paid for, and I want to stay in my home as long as I can by myself." That feeling of independence that they are clinging to. Funny how they all have that same mentality, yet want each other to change to come with them, so they won't be so lonely. I am sure God has a plan here, we will just have to wait and see how His plan plays out. That is the hardest part of all this. The waiting. Yesterday's sermon was on "Be still and wait". How hard, in this society of cell phones, ipods, tv's, radios, etc., how it was even possible to be still long enough, be quiet enough to even hear, much less recognize God's voice, when He was trying to get our attention. How we have a tendency to think God is not answering our prayers, or worse, ignoring our prayers, when in reality He is just waiting for us to be still enough to wait and listen for his answer or response. I have to admit, for me, these days, that is easier to do. This is a busy season for me, normally. Tax season. But, the Lord has a different plan for me these days. I find myself, waiting, for the strength, for the brain cells to talk to each other, waiting on the Lord. In the meantime, I am resting in the peace that God has a plan, and eventually, maybe, He will share it with me? I am trying to be patient.......Lord, truly I am.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hey there folks. I am back from Little Rock. I got to my house around 6:30 pm,Tuesday night. I was tired and had a fairly decent headache! Of course, I did not get away from Little Rock as early as I had previously anticipated. I knew we were not supposed to leave mom's early, because Ms. Thelma had a doctor's appointment in Cape at 1 pm. So, I made the appointment to get my suburban in for an oil change at 7am. While they had it in there, they found that it had a loose tie rod end, it needed to be fixed. Well, as long as it can be done and me out of here by 10am, ok. He assured me that it could be done, and made arrangements for the shuttle to run me over to mom's to help her pack for her 2 week trip. When I walked into mom's, she had her bag sitting in the chair, and said, she was done packing. The "bag" she had packed was her overnight bag, the one she uses for her bathroom items on her usual trips. I gently reminded her, "mom, you are going to be gone for 2 weeks, your going to need more than that." With surprise on her face, she said, "Two weeks!!?" So, I went down the hall, retrieved her suitcase and we began to pack her a bag with clothes. I got my pencil and pad of paper, and sat on the edge of her bed. I let mom pack her own bag, while I write down everything she actually puts in the bag. That way, when she gets distracted, and says, did I put any socks in there? I can answer her, and tell her exactly how many pairs, and the colors! LOL! Not to mention, I can remind her that she now has 13 shirts packed, but only 2 pair of jeans, or pants. We finally got the suitcase packed. But still had time to spare. Mom was anxious, and kept asking about my car, and when they were gonna have it done. I kept reassuring her that they told me it was no problem, and they would have it done in plenty of time. I kept reassuring her that we didn't need to leave here before noon, because of Thelma's doctor appointment. They finally called with my car, and sent the shuttle to pick me up. I got my car, and went back to mom's to load her bags in and we sat down to drink some coffee and kill some time. But, mom was too anxious. So, I ask her if she needed to go by the bank and get some money for the trip, or have any deposits to be made. She looked in her purse, and found the rent check from February, that she had not deposited, so we decided to go ahead and leave and head to the bank. We locked all the doors, turned off the coffee pot, turned down the furnace, and out the door we went. We went to the bank, and once that was done, we headed south, at 11 am. Needless to say, we were in Cape at noon. I asked mom, if because we still were way ahead of schedule, would you like to go eat lunch, sit in a restaurant somewhere in Cape while we wait on Thelma, or walk around Sam's? She chose Sam's, so in we went. We were just meandering around Sam's, when once she had gotten some bananas, she said, we need to get back towards the front, and get on the road (it was 11:25). Nevertheless, we headed to the check out and paid for the stuff, and got back in the car. We were about to Sikeston, when we got a call from Thelma, asking where we were. I told her we were about 20 minutes from Portageville. She said, well I am just now leaving Cape! I reassured her, that we would go to McDonald's there in Portageville, and eat some lunch, and wait there until she called us. She said, she still had to drop off her friend, Sue Neal that went with her, and they ate lunch before her appointment, so that was a good plan. Mom and I sat at McD's until 2 or so. Again, mom was anxious, kept saying, well, Thelma, where are you?? So, I cleaned up the mess, and said, let's go drive around P'ville, mom, see what's changed. So, we drove down main street, past the old house, and then before we could make a turn, Thelma called and said she was at home. So, we turned at the next corner, and made our way back to Thelma's house. By the time, we got her bags loaded, and all of us back in the car, it was 2:45. So, we were south bound and down!! We stopped for fuel once, and Thelma flipped out her credit card, and said, she was paying for the fuel! We fueled up, and got back on the road. We pulled into Martha's driveway at 6 pm. Martha had a big pot of soup on the stove, and we put together some tuna salad and before you know it, we were all sitting around the table. Pam, Martha's daughter and her husband came in, but didn't stay for supper. She just basically said, she was just getting off work, and wanted to go take a shower, and she would see me later, and come on over as soon as I got them settled in. After we were done with supper, Tom asked me to look at his computer for him, he was unable to get into his email room. So, as I was back in the computer room working with Mr. Tom on his computer, I heard the ladies scream, "MARTHA!!". I went running back into the kitchen to see what was going on! Martha had the door to the dishwasher open, and went to step back and fell over it! Smacked her head hard on the tile floor. She said she just wanted to lay there until the pain stopped. I got something to stick under her head, and felt blood, thank God! But, yea, a goose egg on her head. But she seemed to be okay, so I let her lay there for a few minutes. Once she seemed to be laughing and re-telling the story, I got a chair from the kitchen table, for her to lean on, and use as leverage to get up on, and sit down on. She then did that, and sat in the chair for another 10 minutes or so. Eventually she was up and walking around, and we were all laughing about the whole ordeal. She said, "Debi, how did you know I had fallen?" I told her I felt the earthquake! We all laughed, and then I told her I heard everyone scream! Of course, Tom being hard of hearing had not even heard any of that, nor had he heard me say why I had run out of the room! LOL! He was still sitting back in the computer room, unaware of what was going on in the kitchen! Pam is going to have her hands full these next two weeks with this crew to watch over! Mom is convinced she is going to convince Tom and Martha to move closer to her and Thelma. Tom says the next move he makes will be to the cemetery. I told mom they all have the same feelings you have! "This is my home, it is paid for, and I want to stay here!" Mom says, well, I am going to talk to Thelma about taking turns, a month at my house, a month at your house. I said, give it your best shot, mom! Sounds like a plan! I am sure by the end of this 2 week watching how far they have come down this road of life, they will definitely have a different perspective on how much help they all need. I had made contact with my Aunt Roxene while down there, and was able to meet up with her at a gas station of her choice, that was within 2 blocks from Martha's, so I met her there at 8:30am and picked her up and took her back to Martha's and she got to have muffins and coffee with us! After about an hour, I told them I needed to get back on the road, I had miles to go before I slept. I dropped off Roxene at her car, and got on the road about 9:45 or so. I arrived in Memphis right about noon. I was supposed to have lunch with Janice and Johnna Bell. I pulled into Janice's drive way about 12:30 or so. We had a wonderful visit, some yum vegetable soup and ice tea! I got back on the road around 2 or so. I took one wrong turn getting out of Memphis, which cost me about 30 minutes. I got on east instead of west, and when I passed Bellevue Baptist Church, I knew I was going the wrong way! I turned around in their parking lot, and headed back west. Before you know it, I was headed toward West Memphis, and saw the familiar exits I knew I needed. I stopped in Blytheville for more fuel, and picked up some sandwiches from the Dixie Pig. "You can't stop in Blytheville without stopping at the Dixie Pig!!" By the time I got home, I was one tired chick. Pam and I had stayed up until midnight talking!! And I was up in time to leave when she left for work at 7:30am. We were talking about kids, and our upbringing, how our parents were when we were dating, how we had turned out, how our kids were today, how our parents were today, etc. Good stuff..... Lots of talk about our paths we were walking, and how we don't get to choose our path. God does that. All he asks from us is that we keep our eyes focused on Him, and keep walking, one foot in front of the other. Most of the Bible talks about the saints that were in prisoned and tortured. None of them would have chosen that path in serving and following the Lord. Yet, they did not lose their faith!! Their trials made them stronger and better......not bitter! So, as long as we keep that in our mind, in the front of our mind, we can stay focused on the One in charge of what comes across our path, we can keep our joy. Happiness is different than joy. Happiness is effected by outside circumstances, joy is not. Joy comes from within.....or above. People keep telling me to focus on myself, I need to not be stressed. Well, yea, whatever. I have a self employed husband, that these days, is not employed at all!! That is stress. I have teenagers.....that is stress, daily. I have mom. I have breast cancer. I can't eliminate stress, but I can re-focus. My stress relief comes from God. He is still in charge.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I have an appointment to get my oil changed in the morning at 7am. I plan on being there by 6:30 am, which is the time the service department opens. I want to be the first car in! You see, I am leaving in the morning for another road trip with my mom. Her friends, Thelma that lives in Portageville, and Martha that used to live in Portageville, (back when mom also lived in Portageville), but now lives in Little Rock, have planned this trip. Martha will be coming to Portageville on March 14th. So she decided that now would be a good time for me to bring mom and Thelma to visit her. That way, I would only have to make one trip to Little Rock. When she first called, she was asking if I could bring Thelma and mom on March 8th. That way, they could have a week before her trip to Missouri. Of course, I go for my next chemo on March 4th, so I told her, that won't work for me. I told her, I may could do it before March 4th, but that would mean she has company for 2 weeks. She agreed that would work for her! I said, you call and run it by Thelma and mom, and if they agree, then I'm game. When Martha called me back, she said she had talked to them both and they were both excited! The next time I was up at mom's, she told me Martha had called her, and she proceeded to tell me all about the conversation. She never mentioned a trip! I asked her, mom did Martha mention you coming for a visit? "No, she never mentioned it." Great..... Well, she called me and asked me to drive you down, pick up Thelma, and bring you both to visit her. She told me she had discussed it with you, and you and Thelma had agreed. "Well, I don't remember that." Wonderful. I sat there, and mom began to ask when we were supposed to go, how long we were supposed to stay, etc. I told her what I knew. And, she agreed to all the plans. The only difference is, now, in mom's mind, it's a trip I planned. The other day, when I was up there to work on mom's taxes, mom and I were back in her office, looking for the "important tax documents". Mom kept saying how I didn't need to be working on this now, it is only February, and I just need to put hers to the side, until she could get back there and find everything, get it all together on a day when she has a clear mind. I am working on it, because I know my good days are limited. But I can't tell mom that. While we were back there, the phone rings, and it is my sister, Beck. Thank God!! A distraction for mom. Mom goes in the living room to answer the phone, and sits down to talk to Beck. I keep working, sorting through all the mail, looking for documents I need. While I am in there, I hear my mom telling my sister, "Deb just makes these plans, plans this trip, doesn't even ask me if I want to go, just tells me where I am going, and when. Now don't you go and repeat me." Hello!! I am in the office! I can hear you!! But I kept working, grateful for the distraction, and didn't say a word. While I was in there, I found some bills that should have been paid, but weren't. I gathered them up, and once mom was off the phone, carried them in there for her to write out the checks, and we put them in the mail. Mom gets rattled when she is pushed in any way, and folks, I was pushing. She didn't want me messing in her office, and she certainly didn't want me to tell her these bills were late, and needed to be So, yea, on that day, I was not one of her favorite people. And of course, my sister picked up on the fact that mom was having an "off day". I did call her later and explain that I was there, and I was rattling her, and that I was the reason she was having an off day. Give her a day or two, call her again, and she will be fine. But, in planning this trip to Little Rock, she said to me, "we are taking your car, right?" I said, mom, why, this is your trip. Your car gets better gas mileage. And besides, whenever I take my car, as I have for more than one of our trips, she never even offered to pay for the gas. But, if we take her car, she will offer. With things being so tight around here, I can't afford this trip! I am doing this for mom and Thelma. I don't mind to drive them down there, but I don't think my husband should pay for it. But after several arguments with mom, I have given up. I am taking my vehicle. Once she has her mind made up, there ain't no changing it!! As soon as they are done changing the oil in my burb, we will head down to Portageville, pick up Thelma, and head to Little Rock, Arkansas. We hope to be there in time for supper. I will then drop Thelma and mom off at Martha's, and I will go over to Martha's daughter's house to spend the night. I will get up early next morning, since Pam works, and head back north. I will arrive back home on Tuesday afternoon, just in time for my chemo on Wednesday!! This will be my last round of FEC. I will start my second ARM of chemo on March 25th. That is when I start my weekly treatments of Paxol and Herceptin. This is the clinical trial portion of the treatments. They have used both of these drugs to treat breast cancer, just not together. That is the trial. So, the weekly schedule will be so they can monitor me closer?? I do have to have another heart scan to make sure that all the previous chemo has not damaged my heart in any way, and to reassure the docs that I am still healthy enough to withstand this next round of treatments. There is no way to tell how I am going to respond to these different drugs. No way to predict how the side effects will be. So far, this thing has been doable. The every 21 days has been ok. The first week is hard. The second week is easier. Then the third week is great! Then we go back and start over again. How will I be with weekly treatments?? I don't have a clue. But that is part of the reason why I am pushing to get the tax returns done. I may only have until March 25th. Who knows how I will feel after that? My weekly treatments will continue for 12 weeks, finishing up around June 10th. They have told me that is when we will do surgery, the mastectomy, regardless of what my tests show. Even if all my tests and biopsies come back clear, we will still do surgery. When I go this Wednesday, I will ask them to be more specific about the surgery date. I do have a life outside of this cancer. That life does include other responsibilities, and part of that is my mom. If I am to have major surgery, I am going to need some help with mom. June is not gonna work out for me. I am going to ask if we can move it into July. But, of course, I will listen to the advice of my doctors. But I am going to share with them my other responsibilities. I am so grateful for all of you prayer warriors that are praying for me. I am so grateful for all the cards and letters I am receiving on a daily basis. My church family from Calvary Temple has been so supportive of us down here. My friends have been so supportive and helpful with my mom. Again, thanks guys, I couldn't do all this without all your help and support. Thanks for the food that has been provided for my family. You guys have all been so wonderful. Pray for me as I leave in the morning to drive my mom to Little Rock. It started out that my husband was going with me, but with work being so sporadic now days, I have finally convinced him that I can do this without him. He is going to stay here and work. We need him to work! We need the money!! I will be driving back by myself. A nice long, quiet drive. I think I will enjoy the peace and quiet.