2 Weeks–2 Grandchildren

2 Grandchildren

This week’s post Beautiful wanted devoted to two people that bring her incredible joy:  Our grandchildren.  Even on her down days, her spirits and energy can rally to visit with these two little people.  Please allow me to introduce them.

Mini Gogo is the young man on the right.  He is very much like his father was at that age, but he is still very much his own person.  Like his father, he is very bright, curious and loves tech.  He seems to be more active (hence the Mini Gogo name, rather Mini Coco), but it could also be that I have slowed down.  He has his own preferences and he is a beautiful blend of Sweetness and Coco.  It has been a joy to share time with him for his almost 2 years of life.

Cheeky is the young lady on the left and as you can see, there is no question why she is named accordingly.  She is very generous with her smiles and her cheeks get even larger when she does.  It is one of the most heartwarming sights you can experience to see her happy.  As she gets more mobile (rolling over now), her personality is beginning to immerge more.  We are looking forward to many more years together getting to know her better.

While we have always loved Psalm 128, it has even more special meaning now.

4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. 

5 The Lord bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life!

6 May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!  Psalm 128:4-5

A Week of Thanksgiving

This week was challenging.  Beautiful’s Neuropathy continued, but it did not worsen.  She will likely experience it for the rest of her Chemotherapy and then during the period where her body recovers.  It is hard to say how long that will be.  Buttons and zippers are tricky but manageable.  Cooking is out.  And opening Soda cans is PAINFUL.  She did well getting the children through the last days of school before Thanksgiving break, but has crashed much of the time since.   “Chemo Brain” seemed to be in full swing and led to some very funny situations.  She had fun with it, which is always a good sign.   Those of the particulars of her days.

Her spirit is an entirely different matter.  It was a great week of Thanksgiving here.  We have so much to be grateful for that I am writing this post with bleary eyes as I hold back the tears.  Our Lord has been so generous that I find it hard to comprehend.  He has enlarged our family again this year with a great godly young man that is everything I prayed for for my Princess.  He added to our numbers with another beautiful grandchild that brings the world so much joy.  He has been healing, encouraging and transforming us through Beautiful’s trial.  And, He continues to show us, each and every day, that His love is real, and efficacious. 

Why Lord?  Why are we so blessed?  How can we possibly repay your kindness?

The simple and somewhat unsettling answer is we do not deserve it and we cannot repay it.  But that is also the beauty in it.  We give Him the glory for what He has done, and respond as He requires:  To live His way, and that includes paying it all forward to those that are hurting and those in need.  Not to earn or repay His kindness, but to honor what He has already done.  We are not saved by our good works.  We are saved for  His good works.

I am excited to see what great things He will bring this new week!

3 Weeks–3 Horses

Yes, you read the correctly, I wrote “horses.”  This post Beautiful wanted dedicated to her hairy boys.  It was not that long ago we had none.  In fact, my bride did not care much for animals at all.  They are messy, smelly, and germy (I realize that is not a word, but you get to read it anyway).  She is, or was, all about neat, tidy and clean.  She is now the embodiment of a 180.  Yes, she still likes her neat, tidy and clean, but she also appreciates the meaning of Proverbs 14:4

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox”.

While we are not talking about crops or oxen, were are talking about animals and benefits.  Yes, animals are messy and a lot of work. You can avoid all of that work without them, but what benefit they bring!  Without them, we miss sooooo much in life.  Give me a dirty trough any day!  We will take the work and the joy and you can have your clean, sterile spaces.  So without further ado, here are the boys, in order of appearance:

Oreo.JPGOreo

He is the first hairy boy added to the family.  Oreo is a rescue that was severely underfed when he was rescued.  Princess found him and they bonded pretty quickly.  He loves to please, but he is also a lazy boy and don’t even think about getting between him and his food.  That is serious business!  He has some  training, but he will benefit from more regular work, once we get things started (more on that later).

SundropSundrop

He was a gift, and a princely one at that.  We cannot ever repay the kindness we were shown when he was gifted to our family.  He brings Beautiful so much joy it is a blessing to see.  Sundrop is a Tennessee walker and he loves to do anything but walk.  He will make sure you really are serious about wanting to ride, when you try to mount, but once you are up, he is a big show off.  He loves to run but he loves to please as well.  The whole barn knows when Beautiful has arrived and is NOT at his stall, because he will let EVERYONE know.  The boy has serious lungs!

FerdinandFerdinand

A mini, and the latest addition to the family.  He is co-owned with two other families and it has truly been a great experience.  Co-owning anything can be a “challenge”, but everyone has been fantastic and I honestly think it as brought the ladies even closer together.  More importantly owning a mini is a bit of a gamble.  Like dogs, horses can have attitude in inverse proportion to their size.  Not Ferdinand.  He is very much like his namesake Ferdinand the bull. A sweet, quiet boy that will put up with just about anything.  His first month at the barn seemed like it was the opportunity for grown women to play “dress up the doll,” but with a horse.  He was, and is a great sport and puts up with it all.    This boy is something special.

Beautiful’s Week

One of the things I love about my bride is that, just like her mother, she always makes life about others.  Despite what she is going through, and it is a lot, she continues to remain steadfast in her desire to make like life about others.  She constantly helps me reorient on what is truly important in life: people.  It is truly amazing to press on with our efforts to build a therapy farm, despite this trial.  I don’t know many that would continue to take on this ministry when their own needs are so great. The world needs more people like her.

This was a different week for my Bride.  One of the issues with Chemotherapy is a condition known as Peripheral Neuropathy.  Essentially, that is the drugs doing damage to the nerves in fingers and toes.  It can be a subtle as tingling or as severe as the inability to use the fingers for simple things like, buttoning buttons, etc.  Cooking is completely out for obvious reasons, which are not so obvious until someone mentions that cooking is out.  Fortunately, hers has not been too bad.  The pain was manageable and the numbness not severe enough that she cannot function.  Because it is not debilitating, and we are getting close to the end, the doctor recommended we press on, and so we did.

This week was also special because my Beautiful had another birthday.  I know at our age, they seem almost silly, but we don’t take anything for granted.  It was a joy to celebrate her birth again. We look forward to as many the Lord will give us!  She was able to enjoy her favorite cake and had a visit from Sweetness and the grandkids, and Princess.  It was a great day for all! 

Celebrating another week with you all, while we celebrated another birthday of life is a tremendous honor.  We look forward to sharing about next week.

4 Weeks–4 Girls

IMG_0550

Eight weeks of Chemo have passed so that means the number of the day is 4.  Four weeks of chemo and 4 girls is the theme for this post!  The picture to the left is the four girls a couple of years ago.  We haven’t taken pictures yet this year, and last year we just did one group shot.  So…a couple of years ago will have to do.

Beautiful was blessed to have all four at our home today, albeit not at the same time.  We woke up to the the normal routine of getting the kids off to school so Curly Girly and Bright Eyes (middle left and right respectively) were part of the primary focus to get things rolling.  Curly Girly can turn anything into a task 10 times longer than you thought humanly possible, but she is also the first to volunteer to help.  It is a unique combination.  If the task is for her, she will take all day (e.g. 20 minutes to eat a child’s yogurt – what are you chewing?  there is nothing to chew in plain yogurt!?).  If it is helping someone else, she will shift gears and move faster than I am usually ready for.  Bright Eyes must share an exciting story with you that will include copious amounts of detail that might cover such important aspects as what type of braid was in the ponies mane, but it is not a normal braid it is a braid that wraps around other braids and it makes a braid out of braids and it shakes when the pony canters and each braid had a different color bow …(well you get the idea).  But the story will also be delivered in rapid fire (and a little bit monotone) so you better be on your toes because she KNOWS when you are not listening and feedback is always required.

Sweetness (far right) is Coco’s bride and brought over the grandchildren for Beautiful to enjoy (I of course benefited as well – it was great to be able to see them without competition).  What a treat to be able to share the day with all of them.  We get to enjoy hearing about what is happening in her, equally large family, and visit with the little people all at the same time.  Princess (far left) came and joined us for a bit and it rapidly became a little impromptu party.  They all love Aunty Guh and of course we all always happy to have a visit from any of the kids, but Princess always bring the sunshine with her.

Back to my bride.  Beautiful is definitely feeling the affects of her Chemo.  Her hair is almost completely gone now and that has created some funny scenarios.  I don’t want to say she worries about things, but she sure puts a lot of thought into situations that never even register with me.  For instance, she actually put thought into what she would do if she were pulled over.  To her, the wig doesn’t look like her license (although most people can’t tell it isn’t her hair) so she was concerned that a police officer might think she were disguising herself.  She was trying to decide if she should remove her wig to show she was going through Chemo.  I had to gauge my response very carefully.  I wasn’t sure if I was being punk’d or if I was dealing with “Chemo brain” (yes that is a real thing).  I took the safe course and just asked what she decided.  She hadn’t so I guess we will cross that particular bridge if we find it in our way.

We had a little extra help this week.  Thanks to the 5th grade Moms at Wake Christian Academy.  They made a bunch of freezer meals so we are well prepared for impromptu dinners when Beautiful is not up to it.  My meal repertoire is limited to about 4 and is very heavy in the meat and bread departments.  That would get old in a hurry.

We are looking forward to wrapping up another week.  While we do have some fun things planned (pictures, a birthday party, etc.) the real special sauce is knowing that we are one more week closer to getting Beautiful through her chemo.  We will continue to press on knowing that not only are we getting closer, but each day and each aspect of this challenge is shaping us.  We are being refined for a purpose.  It may be that purpose is to reach one other person (Beautiful meets someone new at chemo each week it seems), or it may be something bigger.  We don’t need to know, we just need to continue on and let our God and Father take care of those details.  He knows and He never stops caring.

Please continue to remember us in your prayers.  It is a source of great strength and it is a blessing to all.  Until we meet at the blog again.  Go Fourth!

A Lesson in Unity From the Playground

hands-together

The election we have been waiting for (most likely because we just wanted the political ads to stop) has finally come to a close.  The results have thrilled some folks, scared others, and probably just confused the rest.  Regardless of which category you woke up in to today, you most likely noticed how ugly the whole process was.  There are people all over espousing wildly conflicting perspectives.  The vote is divided neatly with Red being Rural and Blue being Metro America.  Just like 2 children in a disagreement.  Based on the noise flying around the last year, I think that is a pretty good analogy.

Experiment time!

Let’s kick things off with a little experiment.

  1. Go to Facebook and look up a political post (right or left – it doesn’t matter)… Go ahead.  Right now.  I will wait.
  2. Count how many times there was a negative, derogatory or demeaning comment or implication about the opposing view in the post / article / comments.
  3. If it was less than 5, you hit Internet gold!

You see, even though we “communicate” more than ever we are more divided than ever.  We talk, talk, talk, but do we listen?  What is the purpose of our talking?  More often that not, we talk for self-affirmation.  That is, we say things that our like minded friends will agree with so we feel better about ourselves.  “Yay we won, we sure showed those idiots.”  or “Four years of pain and suffering, because people are idiots.”  Self-affirmation in communication is not communicating.  Believe it or not, it is bullying.  Yes, you read the right.  You are being a bully when you post or say derogatory comments about people that do not agree with you.  You are building your self-esteem at the expense of others.  That is the definition of bullying.  It is disrespectful, demeaning and destructive.  You will not persuade others with that kind of dialog.  But, then again, if it is self-affirmation you are after, that was never your intent was it?  If you are seeking to persuade, you will find that Aristotle did not include insults in his rules of Apologetics for a reason.

Teaching our Children to do Better or Learning from our Children.

Both major parties made a hash of their rhetoric, insulting and demeaning their opponents and their opponents followers, apparently forgetting all along, that they would be the leader of those  Americans too.  They were good examples of what not to do.  I have said it before, and I will say it again:  You must do what you want your children to learn.   So, if we want our children to obey the playground rules, we need to as well.  In case you forgot what they are, here is a refresher. 

  1. Respect those in Authority.  Whether it is YOUR candidate or THEIR candidate that wins, after the election they are OUR President-elect.  Every President, especially ones I disagree with, will always be referred to with their honorarium: President Soandsuch. Don’t resort to the lazy, familiarization of the media that likes to refer them only by their last name like they are part of some sports team.  You don’t call your teacher by their first name like they are one of the gang and you certainly shouldn’t treat those officials in the civic sphere that way either.
  2. Listen to others. If they have a different perspective, have you listened?  I mean truly listened to why their perspective is different.  Do you seek to understand what experiences caused them to think that way?  They may not even be able to articulate why they feel the way they do, but they are people and chances are they have reasons to believe like they do.  Have you put yourself in their shoes?  Have you walked a mile in them?  Johnny might have a valid reason why he needs that ball now and not later.  You have 2 ears and 1 mouth.  Listen twice as much as you talk.
  3. Don’t insult people. Yes, you may actually be right, and they may really have a lower IQ than you, but that does not give you the right to demean them because you were blessed with more intelligence.  Apparently, you haven’t figured out that greater gifts mean more responsibility to help others, not belittle them.  What kid would ever get away with insulting or demeaning kids who are less intelligent?  But, here is a newsflash – chances are that kid you thought was so dull, is really gifted, and you missed it completely.  BONUS:  A corollary to #2.  For every defect in others you identify, find 2 in yourself (trust me, they are there for all of us).
  4. Don’t Exclude. If your little circle looks just like you, talks just like you and thinks like you, then you are probably a little insecure. Expand your world.  Go ahead.  You might find that you didn’t know as much you thought you did AND you might discover some REALLY GREAT people that you would have otherwise missed out on.  So, don’t horde the slide to your little clique of friends.  Those other kids would certainly enjoy it, and you will benefit from your time with them.
  5. Apologize.  When you mess up, fess up.  Then do your best to make it like it never happened.  Own your mistakes.  Learn from them.  Become a better person.  Help those you hurt. If you knocked Billy off of the swing, apologize and make sure he is okay.  Get him the help he needs, if he is not.  Learn not to run past the swing when kids are getting on.
  6. Accept Differences.  We seem to tolerate anything these days but someone that disagrees with us.  We are all different and that is part of what makes life together great.  That doesn’t mean we have to agree.  It also doesn’t mean that if you disagree with me that you are somehow phobic or a bigot.  Yes, it is possible to disagree with someone different than you and the disagreement has nothing to do with fear or prejudice.  It just means you think differently.  At the same time, some ideas are genuinely bad ideas.  If you want to jump off the top of the slide, that is a bad idea.  If I feel compelled to tell you, as a friend that I think your choice is dangerous, that doesn’t mean I don’t like you, respect you or that I am afraid of different ideas.  It just means I care and wish better for you.  In the end, it is your choice, I respect that, but you should also respect that my disagreement and warning is out of compassion, and not fear.  Likewise, I hope that when it is my turn to have a dumb idea (because we all do) you will feel like you can tell me so.  I might not agree, but I won’t be offended.  That is what sharing the playground is all about.
  7. Learn to Laugh.  Seriously, we all need to lighten up and stop taking ourselves so seriously.  We need to learn to laugh at ourselves.  When we trip on the sidewalk and nothing is there, that is kind of funny.  Enjoy it.  Let others enjoy it too.  We cannot be so self-absorbed to believe that every thought and action that we participate in is a blessing to human history.  We need to get over ourselves and enjoy life.  If what we have is so good, it ought to show by the joy and peace on our face.  If you look like you just downed a bottle of prune juice, then you might want to reconsider whether you are cut out for the playground police.  Perhaps you should spend more time on the slide, the swing, or my favorite (which is really hard to find these days) the merry-go-round, and less time telling others how to enjoy them.   

  Pass the Baton…

Another generation is watching us.  They are looking to see how we handle these differences between us.  We have a choice to make.  We can be hypocrites and break all of the playground rules or we can do what we tell them to do.  They look like they are having a lot of fun so the rules are clearly working.  For my part,  I will enjoy my time while it is my time, and I will play by the playground rules.  I look forward to sharing the playground with you all and when my time is done, I look forward to watching the youngsters enjoy it (of course they will have all of the cool, new stuff that is “safe” to play with).  That is entirely different blog post…

5 Weeks–5 Boys

Before

Beautiful decided that the updates I was providing were not nearly complicated enough and we need to make them more challenging.  Well, okay, that is not what she said, but it makes a better story.  She wanted to have some fun with the numbers as we hit the home stretch.  So, here goes.

We are down to 5 weeks of Chemotherapy.  That also coincides with the 5 Boys (4 of them our children and one recently married to one of our children – who by the way does not yet have a nickname for this space).  So this installment will be sort of like a superhero story arc without the superheros.  To be specific, a story about one of our boys and Chemotherapy fun.

What you see in the picture is what we call “Before.”  Yes, that is Beautiful’s  hair before she puts it on.  Occasionally, she decides not to wear it and goes with a hat or such.  And so begins our tale.

Yesterday, while we were at her Chemotherapy session, we received a text from Thunder with that picture.  Apparently, he was walking through our bathroom to get to the overstock pantry (that is another story for another time), and freaked because he thought there was an animal on our counter.  I have seem him spook once in a while and it is pretty dramatic.  I wish I could have seen that one, but I have a pretty good idea what it looked like.  Imagine this massive young man sauntering along and then yelping out a “WOAH!” as he makes an unplanned evasive maneuver (e.g. jumps out his shorts).  Yeah.  It is pretty funny to see.  Mind you he is not the shrieking type, like his younger brother, but he does startle pretty well.  Needless to say, we all got a kick out of that one.

Beautiful is doing great.  They take blood before each session to make sure everything is functioning properly and based on where we are at, the Oncologist believes we shouldn’t have any complications through to the end.  We are hopeful, but we are also mindful that God knows what is best for us.

After

Until next week where we discuss the number 4.  By the way, here is the “After.”