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Currently I’m in week two of my second round of chemo. In case you’ve never walked with someone on the cancer treatment journey, this particular regimen means a day of infusion every three weeks. Right about the time the patient begins to recover from the chemo it’s time to take another. And Lord have mercy, I’ve been sick. We’ve learned a couple interesting things along the way that are helping us maintain a small measure of sanity. One of those is to have Cheerios on hand at all times. Emergency consumption may be needed to ward off nausea which hits all willy-nilly for no apparent reason. Wiser folks warned me to keep lemon drops and ginger candy and other citrusy yumminess available for such occasions. So far they have not been the ‘godsend’ that I was promised. Ginger ale has helped a little, though it like everything else tastes like metallic dishwater. Thanks to several Father’s Day gifts I can now consume the bubbly treat from a Yeti cup so at least it’s cold any hour day or night. God bless the father of our home who graciously shares his bounty.

Back to the Cheerios:  I’ve found that as long as I eat a bowlful the second I wake up in the morning they help stave off impending barfage. Throw in a half a banana and the yumminess is enhanced twofold.photo (1)

Another simple thing which helps is Townhouse Crackers. A couple of those placed strategically by the bed not only settle the tummy but also invoke happy memories of a country song of yesteryear.

“You can eat crackers in my bed any time… you can kick off all the covers in the middle of the niiiight…”

I’m sure the cute little blonde singing the song on the Lawrence Welk Show never had a clue. Maybe she did. Perhaps verse two included the trashcan and the icepack and the two fans blowing at gale force speeds. But I doubt it.

Another simple thing I’ve learned to keep handy is a handkerchief. My daddy always carries one and now I do too. I remember learning to iron on his and was proud of how nice I made them. One day he informed me with all the love a man with a house full of girls could muster.

“DO NOT KEEP STARCHING MY HANDERCHIEFS! THE SNOT WON’T EVEN STICK ANY MORE!”

He gave me a hanky the other day at my request. Though I had some at home, now I know that at least one of them was his. It brings comfort having him near even if it is for wiping my nose. In case you didn’t know, after chemo the nose hair is scorched right off and clear snot just runs free without warning. Now I carry a hanky like daddy and tuck it stealthily like mama up my sleeve or in my waistband for quick and simple extraction.

Another simple thing came from Scripture this morning. I declare I’ve read all around this verse but had never marked it. Basically it says,

“You don’t know everything.”

I’ll take that.

Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The Lord our God has secrets known to no one.”

I also love that it is followed by verses I’ve heard and clung to for years. They are just as true. While I don’t know everything, this I know.

Deuteronomy 31:6- “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you!”

So take that CANCER!

You can have my nose hair, my taste buds and my sleep and my strength. You might even steal a lot of my courage. But you cannot take the things God has planned for me. Because like me, YOU DON’T KNOW IT ALL!

But the Lord does.

Not Real Brave

About a month ago I announced to the world that I have breast cancer. Just like that I put the news out there before God and everybody. I get accused often of being a ‘private person’ which is kind of hilarious considering the stuff I share with complete strangers. However the accusation of being private is fitting. I really hate having people all up in my business. David and I tend to keep to ourselves and just play the cards we’re dealt. Our way of coping is less about sharing and more about making light of things in order to deflect the attention. But lately it seems that he and I both have been impressed that the Lord would rather we allow others into this place we lovingly call Clarkville.

Our family creed has always been the same as the state motto for North Carolina. “To be rather than to seem.” Well… that and “If a little cheese is good, a lot of cheese is better.” Sometimes I wonder if our family mantra is more akin to Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong WILL go wrong.”

Poor Murphy. We feel your pain. Though we truly want to honor the Lord our lives are not always real pretty. I hope you are surrounded with as many good people as we are. For it seems the Lord does not expect us to bear our burdens alone. We’re learning that it’s important to allow people in. It’s not up to us to manage our image or to come off looking like we have it all together. Lord knows we need help.

But how do you say that and not come across like a whiny butt? Or needy? Or even ungodly? Aren’t we trusting God to get us through this? Do we not have the precious truth of Scripture emblazoned upon our very souls?

David said something very valuable to me one day. I love him even more for it. He said that Christian women have it hard. Because we know the Lord, it’s almost as if we’re expected to lose our hair and Flopsy and Mopsy and still go hopping down the bunny trail as if we can happily do all things through Christ Who strengthens us.

Those were not his exact words. My version is a very loose paraphrase. The man has loved me for forty some years and would never say Flopsy or Mopsy. But you get the point.

Sometimes it seems that if we call ourselves Christians it’s supposed to be okay to lose our hair then go out in public feeling hideous.

I’ve got news for you.

It’s not.

It hurts like Gehenna and I’m not good with it at all. I’m sad and crying like a fool even as I type the words. Apparently I am not real brave.

But you know what?

I’m pretty sure God knew that about me already. Step by step, day by day He’s turning my weakness into strength. This morning He took my hand and led me to a crazy verse about Moses of all people. It says that he “Kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the One who is invisible.” –Heb.11:27

Isn’t that odd? God commended Moses because he continued to put one foot in front of the other by trusting the God he could not see. What a picture of faith.

By His grace I will do the same.

At some point I’m going to have to leave the house without hair. It’s one thing to shave your head and look like Kelly Pickler. It’s a whole nother crapstorm to be sick as a dog and sixty-stinkin’-one with your head in a ball cap.

No, I didn’t find a wig. All the ones I tried on made me feel like a Muppet. That was a different cry-fest. So while I still have eyelashes and eyebrows I took the first selfie of my life so I could change my profile picture.

So here I am, in front of God and everybody trying to “be rather than to seem.” The smile is fake but it’s all I’ve got. And right on cue sweet David brought me homemade cheese grits to settle my tummy.

Because if a little cheese is good…

You know the rest.photo cap

PS:

Special thanks to my beautiful friend Jennifer Naves who made a house call when my hair began falling out. With the skill of a gentle surgeon she cut away the curls and exposed the fact that life is still a wonderful joy to be held tightly.

Sweet Jennifer, you make me want to be brave. Much love from Clarkville!

The Best!

I saw the quote somewhere, maybe in the back of a magazine. It was under a picture of an older couple walking down a sandy shore. It said, “Hold my hand, grow old with me. The best is yet to be.”

Or something similar. My memory cannot be trusted.

I love the saying, but I love the truth of it even more. My sweetheart has held my hand since we first met as juniors in high school. We were certain that the best was yet to be.

And it was.

Together we brought three funky chicks into the world. Each one is quite unique and opposite of the other. Yet each has a part of our personalities.

They crack me up. Their humor is much like their dad’s: subtle, dry, off-kilter, with notes of sarcasm and mischief… kind of like a fine wine. However, it is always tempered with kindness. The balance is delicate.

Through forty-two years our home has never lacked laughter. I was reminded by a dear friend that it is indeed the best medicine.

Praise God.

Hopefully it works even better than chemo.

Did I tell you that I have cancer?

Yep. Just diagnosed.

That got my attention too.

It seems there’s breast cancer with a little side of suspicious lymph node activity.

The laughter at our house came to a screeching halt. It was replaced by something akin to gut wrenching fear. Information overload drop kicked us into the reality of upcoming decisions which seem almost trivial in the midst of The Big C.

Shall I try to find a wig that looks like my hair? Or sport a bald head that may or may not be lumpy? So far I haven’t been able to find a wig even similar to my lovely mane.

Imagine that.

It seems no one wants curly hair that used to be red.

David says it’s the opposite. Everyone wants to have hair like me so all the wigs that look like mine have been snatched up.

And just like that the humor returns… with gentle notes of kindness.

He takes my hand and leads me to yet another appointment. I have no idea where we are because I am so directionally challenged. Across the parking lot he guides me like a little child into the unknown. I comment on the pretty fountain as it splashes water around the happy flowers planted there. He smiles and hurries me inside to meet another kind technician. She explains yet another procedure. I try to make a joke when someone says “Have a nice day!”

“It’s been a great day! Well… except for the possibility of killing off Flopsy and Mopsy. But other than that it’s been awesome.”

He shakes his head and laughs. Again he takes my hand and leads me back through the maze of cars to an unfamiliar place. That’s our truck so apparently I have been there before. Yep the truck is definitely ours because it has all the stickers of places we’ve been.

He opens my door and I can’t help but notice.

There’s room for more stickers on the back. Apparently we still have places to go. Maybe the best IS yet to be.

Gown in the front, gown in the back, paper pants and MRI loveliness because apparently one gown couldn't quite cover it.

Gown in the front, gown in the back, paper pants and MRI loveliness because apparently one gown couldn’t quite cover it.

Or maybe… the BEST is just having someone to hold my hand and laugh when I laugh…

And cry when I cry.

And love me so much that it matters not if I have hair.

Happy Anniversary beloved David!

Thank you for holding my hand through thick and thin, sickness and health, riches and… no wait: through everything EXCEPT for the riches. Apparently there was a strike at the dock when our ship came in. So instead let’s go get another biopsy plus a port for the chemo and determine to live as long as God sees fit!

Hold my hand. Grow old with me my love. The best really is yet to be!

I’m certain of it!

About two years after we were married David and I discovered that a young lady we knew was homeless. At the time she was sleeping on the porch of a relative who lived a pretty rough lifestyle. We worried about her safety and prayed about inviting her to live with us. The conditions would not be perfect by any means. We had just moved back to N.C. after college, had a new baby girl and were living in a trailer which was not delightful. However, it seemed like the right thing to do. She accepted our invitation and was so dear. Bless her heart. Apparently she had never had anyone to care for her growing up. But somehow she managed to be one of those rare souls that made the world a better place.

That was about forty years ago. Last summer we stepped out on a limb and invited another young lady into our home. She was NOT as easy to live with.

Night after night she’d wake me around three in the morning. She’d wear my ears slap out with one situation after another. She made me laugh, she made me cry, she doubted God, and she shared things that hit too close to my heart. Eventually she began bringing her friends into our home. My own daddy suggested I start killing some of them off. There were times I seriously considered it and I’m sure David reached that point as well. For when she wasn’t waking me up worrying me half to death, I was continually talking to him about her.

Finally I realized it was time.

Our guest had to go.

So we kicked her to the land of Amazon. Now she resides in a lovely place called Blue Meadow Farm. She is a bumpkin and her life is upside down. But she is learning to rely on the Lord as she lives in what she calls an eternal crapstorm. Her life is much like my own except for the young and beautiful part. That’s why we call it fiction.

Now that we’ve sent her packing, I’m sleeping better at night. Often I pray for her and those who will read her story. Maybe they too will find rest in the care of the Lord.

In fact, I hope she’ll be like the non-fictional character that lived with us so long ago. Perhaps she will turn into one of those rare souls that makes this world a better place.

Oh how I hope so!IMG_9726.JPG

PS:

David warned me not to be too vague in my story about our pesky guest. So this explanation is for those of you who do NOT appreciate all the creativity that is me. Lydia Miller is the main character of my very first book and she really did keep me up at night. Blue Meadow Farm is now available on Amazon Kindle for pre-order. It will be released on May 30th and hopefully will be a fun summer read. Special thanks to all of you who kept saying, “You should write a book!” Now hop on over there and buy a copy.

I hope it makes you smile.

blue david2

Homemade Snake Away

A little pot of pansies waits by my back door greeting all who enter. I love their happy faces. With the recent warm weather they’ve gotten a little leggy so I stopped to remove a few of the spent blossoms. As I stood to go in I noticed on the other side of the doorway another greeter. He was not delightful.pansies

At first glance it appeared that someone had tossed a plastic snake there probably in hopes that my husband would find it. The poor man really hates snakes and everyone who knows him well knows that bit of trivia. I had already chalked it up to a prank by one of our Groupies, aka Bible study peeps since we are close like that. They’re an encouraging bunch.

As I mentally accused one particularly mischievous friend whose dirty Santa gift we all try to avoid, I reached through the railing to retrieve the snake.

It raised its ugly head.

At that point I may or may not have dribbled a little.

Backing slowly away I wondered what to do. Upon further examination I realized it stretched at least seven feet… give or take a yard or two. A sizable lump in its midsection suggested it had recently dined sumptuously. Thinking of the numerous nests and the baby birds I’ve been anticipating caused the contempt in my soul to grow even stronger for the nasty critter. Something must be done.

For all those asking what kind of snake it was so that you can advise me to let it live because certain snakes are ‘good’, I must apologize. There shall be no mercy. We made that mistake two years ago and let a big ol’ black snake live. That stupid thing tormented us all summer. It would retreat under the ramp to the main door or sun its sorry self on the steep back steps. No exit or entrance could be made without stopping to check for Mr. Slithers.

Poor David went to walk out the back door one morning and nearly stepped on him. Just as he went to put his flip flop clad foot down he saw him and ended up rolling into the backyard head first. When I noticed the grass stains on his t-shirt he explained.

“I had all that momentum going out and down and couldn’t get it stopped when I saw the snake.”

It’s hard to stop a train.

A different happy day we watched as that same snake made its way under the truck and up into it never to be seen again. It did not come out the other side though we did all manner of craziness to try to get rid of it.

As I reflected upon those good times and wondered what to do about our current Mr. Slithers, I recalled buying Snake Away at the Tractor Supply. Though we used the rest of it last year I remembered that the main ingredient is cinnamon…  like in a honeybun.

Carefully I stepped outside again armed and dangerous. Frantically I sprinkled cinnamon and watched it float away on a little breeze. Mr. Slithers chuckled.

C’mon woman! Get a grip. You’re not making toast. Try taking the lid off.

With ninja-like skills I dumped cinnamon onto the head of Mr. Slithers. He no longer chuckled. Instead he reared his brown powdered self and stood on his non-hind leg and glared at me with beady eyes.

I may or may not have dribbled a bit more.

Back inside with two empty cinnamon bottles and a change of underwear I decided to call it a day. An hour or so later David came home.

“Mmmm… smells like apple pie in here!” he exclaimed hopefully.

Cinnamon laden footprints gave away my position. He tipped his head sideways and looked at me wondering.

In my cheeriest voice I informed the unsuspecting man.

“I’ve got a surprise for you…”

Bless his heart.

As we walked toward the house I called David over to see what was poking through the leaves. “Look! Here’s more!” Like a kid finding Easter eggs I get so excited to see hosta coming up each year. As we rounded the house a few bright tulips nodded approval as we moved pine needles out of the way in search of more hosta. My favorite chartreuse variety springs forth a little later. It’s barely starting to show. Azaleas are full and brightly blooming along with the dogwoods. I thought to myself, “Too bad everything doesn’t look its prettiest all at the same time. What a show that would be!”tulips

David however, being the positive one of us commented. “I’m glad they don’t all bloom at once. Now we have stuff to look forward too, just like life.”

Soft white dogwood petals drifted to the ground like snowflakes. Easter has passed so they have permission to let go. Orange breasted robins play in their midst in anticipation of babies to come. Bright green grass fills in the muddy spots where snow once lingered. All of nature joins together in a song of worship as even the rocks cry out, “He lives, people, He lives! Why sit hopeless with your curtains drawn when a soft spring rain falls, sweetly watering all He’s created? For if He dresses us so beautifully and feeds us so well, will He not also take care of you?”Hosta3

As we moved indoors I sat by the window watching the rain fall as the birdbath filled to the brim. Dogwood petals continued to float softly downward. Soon my favorite tree will be clothed in the bright green leaves of summer. Daffodils which were the first to announce the coming spring have too quickly wilted. Though they’ll be back next year bringing hope at the end of winter, they too confirm that not even this season will last forever.

Someday we’ll meet the Lord face to face. As beautiful as this earth is, heaven is bound to be breathtaking. That’s probably when everything will finally bloom at once, for the Lord is surely saving the best for last!

We’ve really got a lot to look forward too!dogwood

 

 

 

There is HOPE!

A couple of friends talked over the events of the last few days as they walked along. Sadness was written across their faces as they admitted, “We had hoped…”

Hoped, past tense… as in, we used to hope, but not anymore. Now we know better than to think things will ever change.

Have you been there? Have you gone through something so hard that your soul is crushed beyond repair? Someone you love has suddenly been taken… and way too soon. The spouse you trusted tossed you aside like an old shoe. Something you planned and even dared to dream about died, leaving you…

Hopeless.

That’s the feeling of the friends who traveled down the road together. Having witnessed the horrible death of the Person they had closely followed, their hopes were just as dead.

Where do we go from here? How will we ever recover? Is all we’ve believed in been wrong?

A few miles later, they realized they were in the very presence of the risen Lord!

That first Easter morning changed everything.

The powerful Son of God stepped from the grave to prove the hopeless wrong. Since death cannot defeat Him, how could anything else? What could separate us from the love of God?

Our fears?

Our loss?

Our worries?

Things changed in an instant! The moment He was raised from the dead, hope was forever restored! Do we dare to trust Him?

“O death where is thy victory?! O grave where is thy sting?”

Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ!

All creation shouts with joy on Easter Sunday morning! Our Creator lives, and reigns with power over any circumstance that brings suffering to His beloved ones. With the strong arms of a Shepherd, He reaches out to pull us close to His heart as He gently leads us home. Not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love as we walk in the presence of the risen Lord!

Praise His sweet holy Name! Our conquering King lives!

And there is hope!

New Year

More hope found here:

  • You can read about the friends traveling to Emmaus when Jesus suddenly appeared and walked with them in Luke 24:13-34.
  • Romans 8:1 helps us understand that we are no longer condemned by God when we trust His Son as our sacrifice for sin.
  • There’s more about His great love for you personally in Romans 8:23-39.

Easter means nothing at all if you’ve never trusted Him. Call out to Him. He’s waiting for the time when you and He can walk the broken road of life together. This wonderful God of all creation longs to adopt you as His very own.

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