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Have you ever gone through a situation or been sick so long that you hate life? You’re just sick and tired of being sick and tired. Or maybe something else has sucked the joy from your soul.

We’ve been going through a crap storm since the spring of 2013, long before I got cancer. I won’t rehearse all the lovely details of our very interesting life. But I will say that just in the last few months the transmission in our only vehicle gave up the ghost. By the time we finished, the replacement/repair cost almost as much as the Bluebook value. Yep. That’s how we roll. And David has had reoccurring kidney stone attacks that are so painful he thinks he might die and wishes he’d hurry up. Hopefully this is not too graphic but he passes dozens at a time. The pain is so bad he actually breaks out in a cold sweat and heaves like there’s no tomorrow.

Meanwhile, it seems my innards love cancer and want to invite it back. So in an effort to thwart that evil plan, my doctors are trying different medications and hormone therapies. I’ve been so sick and so dizzy that I can barely function. Along with the numerous drugs also comes depression. I’m talking full blown, straight from the pit of Hell, hopelessness that grabs my soul and pulls me into a dark hole so deep I hardly care if I ever see the light of day again.

One day I got a text.

Our granddaughter needed a place to stay during spring break. Since she lives in Illinois, but attends college in S.C, she thought it would be great to hang out with her N.C. grandparents for about a week. She planned to explore Salisbury and assumed I’d be a great tour guide. That’s when I realized we are opposites. She loves being in the mix while I love being by myself. However, she burst through the door like Tigger, bouncing from room to room exploding all over the house with laughter and energy I am no longer accustomed to. She jumped from behind a door scaring the pee out of me and I squealed like a little girl. As she held her side laughing I pointed a finger in her face and warned that if I keeled over with heart failure she’d better put a hat on my head before the paramedics came.

She found a gift basket that I had not unpacked to suit her. From it she pulled a book about thriving during cancer. With a hand over her heart she read with the voice of a sappy narrator, one cheesy saying after another, similar to this:

“When God closes a door He will open a window.”

She had me laughing hard enough to do the potty dance. Eventually she gathered her things from every room, crammed them in a bag, hugged me too hard, and headed back to S.C.  As we waved goodbye, she happily munched on Chex Mix made by her Poppy, set her GPS, cranked up Spotify and put the nose of her Jeep in the wind. As I walked through the house checking for fall-out, miraculously I only found one sock cowering under the bed. I prayed she’d be back for it soon.

Mykaela aka Tigger

A week later her mom Stephanie, our oldest daughter, came to stay with us at the end of a women’s conference she had spoken at. Her local sisters also came for the day. Though I can think of nothing more encouraging than having all three of our daughters here with me, surprisingly depression hit again that night. As Stephanie gently tried to help me through it, I rehearsed all the things I was currently thankful for and wondered why despair had consumed me. She wisely commented.

“Like a headache that comes and you have no idea why, depression is similar. Stop beating yourself up and feeling guilty for something you have no control over.”

I pondered her words and prayed for help as I cried myself to sleep still wondering why.

The next day her daughter skipped class and came up to visit her mom whom she hadn’t seen since Christmas. Once again she had me laughing as she read the little book full of cheesy words to her mama. I gave her the dusty sock, hugged them both goodbye a little harder than I normally would’ve, waved til they were out of sight and prayed.

“Lord, with all the sick and discouraged people in this world, help me to do three things. No, make that four. Help me make somebody laugh, for laughter really is great medicine. Help me to have a listening ear and a gentle word to relieve someone’s burden. But most of all, keep my lips from a multitude of verbiage and cheesy platitudes which don’t help.

And PLEASE give me wisdom enough to refrain from stuffing my ample rear end through a window just because You happen to close a door.

I just discovered that we have a new neighbor. He’s rather shy, but curious enough to venture from his home into my yard. I heard a rustling in the brush at the back of the lot so I opened the door to look. Apparently I surprised him because he quickly returned to his own home without pausing for an introduction. In fact, he moved a lot faster than I expected for a fat guy with short legs. I’m just sayin’. He could’ve said the same about me had I been the one on the run.

He stopped and pulled himself up to his full height and looked my way. When he noticed that I still had him in view he dove under a storage shed. I didn’t mean to scare him. Maybe I should’ve left my ball cap on.

When David got home I told him about our new neighbor and we looked out back. Sure enough, there he was, waddling around in the yard next door, glancing up occasionally for busy bodies who might want to mingle. He must’ve noticed us because once again he dove under the shed.

I understand. I’m not real social either.

I couldn’t help but wonder though. We live in the city on a busy road, so where did he come from? Was he really a she and did she have a family under that shed? Was she just venturing out to check the weather? Typically groundhogs have one job to do and that’s just one day a year. So was she having second thoughts about her earlier prediction?

According to the News & Observer report from Raleigh, NC and their groundhog Sir Walter Wally, we are all set for an early spring. So far that prediction has been correct. And according to the folks at the Weather Channel, Wally is ranked seventh most accurate rodent in the whole nation! He is correct 58% of the time which outranks his more famous counterpart Punxsutawney Phil who is only 37% accurate.

I wonder what my new neighbor thinks about all that. Is she as happy as I am to be waddling around the yard seeing daffodils, yellowbells and crocus blooming? [Is it croci when there are more than one?] Or is she like me, content just to hole up without interaction?

I sure hope so.

I’d hate to have to dive under a shed.

New Every Day

Reflections from a few years back still hold true today. Everyday is different, but praise God He remains the same!

Lynna's Wonderful Life

My daddy has such a love for sunrises and sunsets that he’s taken approximately a bojillion pictures of each. Every single one is different. I thought I’d share a few of his great shots with you. He makes it a point most every day to enjoy the magnificent explosion of color during his morning walk and again in the evening.sunset 1197

I love that about my daddy.

There is something glorious about a sunrise. It’s as though God paints a beautiful reminder in the sky for all mankind to know that He is with us on this fresh new day. Then as the day closes, another masterpiece emerges across the heavens in case we’ve forgotten that He’s still near.

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known.” –Psalm19:1,2

Devotional writer David Roper says…

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Home Sweet Home

Bluebirds are scoping out their new digs this morning. My friend Randy brought me a house on a pole last year with a plastic pipe around it so snakes can’t slither up. For days now the bluebird couple has patrolled the area by sitting in the crepe myrtle looking in every direction before entering their new place. Last year I had the pleasure of watching two families emerge from that house as they taught their babies how to fly. I was hoping some of them would remember their cute little starter home and return this year. It looks like they have. Thankfully they are not nearly as picky as us humans.

Is it just me or do you get sick of watching folks on television hunt for a house and turn up their noses because there’s not enough room for “entertaining?” Who are these people who entertain so often that they need a ton of space? God forbid that one would have to pull up a chair from the kitchen or sit on an ottoman. Put the kids on the floor for crying out loud or do like my mom-in-law always threatened. Bang another nail in the wall and hang the extra bodies there.

And what’s the deal with stainless steel appliances? I remember the day when my sister, God love her, had an avocado stove with a harvest gold hood, and a white refrigerator. I vaguely remember an almond colored dishwasher. Her countertops were bright sunshine yellow. Every kitchen drawer was skewed sideways and there was no rhyme or reason to finding anything. But her house was the place everyone loved to gather! Every Thanksgiving, Christmas, summertime cookout or birthday party she’d pipe up and invite, “Let’s have it at my house. No trouble!” She’d pull out the plastic tablecloths, set up little eating areas all over the house, and tell everyone to grab a plate. We’d start at one end of her galley kitchen and serve ourselves buffet style. The threat of being trampled was real, but no one ever went hungry.

For years and years my sweet mom-in-law has hosted in a similar fashion. I think there were around forty or so people at her house Christmas Eve. Everybody knows where she keeps the TV trays. The littlest kids eat at the coffee table or the fireplace hearth. Sure stuff gets spilled. That’s why she has the carpet cleaned AFTER Christmas instead of before. Maybe the difference between these dear ladies and the house hunters on television is that while some seek to entertain, others just open their doors and say, “Come on in and have a seat if you can find a place for at least half a butt cheek.” I’ve got a feeling that one of these entertaining styles is a lot more fun than the other.

I just checked the status of my bluebirds. They have moved on, probably checking out other options. Sure wish I had a way to tell them how valuable that plastic pipe will be when their babies hatch. But I’m sure they’ll figure it out. Any birdbrain knows that keeping the family together is way more important than showing off a perfect home.

 

Wedding Bells

I’m so happy to announce that the last book in the Blue Meadow Farm series is available on Amazon! Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Wedding Bells on Blue Meadow Farm ties up all the loose ends. For those of you who like to wait until a series is finished before getting involved, I completely understand. I feel the same way. I’m so weird that I seldom watch a television show which is continued until the next week.

So here you go dear readers: The ending you’ve been waiting for with several surprises along the way. I sure hope you enjoy it! As a side note, writing the series began early August of 2015. It took a full year and a half to write, change, edit, and birth this baby. I really believe the Lord blessed me with this wonderful distraction as I battled cancer. Suddenly it became very important not to die with all the words left in a laptop unread. Because of you I had a goal in front of me and a reason to keep working through the sickness. Thank you for taking this journey with me and for all your kind comments and encouragement. I truly love you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart!

To find the series, search Amazon for either Lynna Clark or Blue Meadow Farm. Or even easier, check out my Facebook Author page where with one click you can go straight to the series and see the books before you buy. For best enjoyment, read the books in order as I didn’t spend a lot of time covering old ground at the beginning of each book. You’ll get a better feel for the characters that way.

Last of all, my goal was to present the love of the Lord without preaching. I hope you can see Him especially as each character struggles with their faith. But I promise there shall be no preaching. I left that up to the people who know stuff. I just hope you can see yourself or maybe a neighbor and I hope I will lighten your load by making you laugh.

Thank you again my friends! Much love from Clarkville!

Odds are you know someone going through cancer. I thought it might be helpful to give a little insight from one who is currently in the midst of the adventure.

Part of the joyous journey was losing my hair. Emotionally that was the hardest. Finally, after seven months, it’s starting to grow back. So far it is black and silver and straight. It looks a lot like Bill Belichick’s only not as good. His bangs are longer than mine so I must confess to having bang envy. And my eyebrows are coming in all willy-nilly so I use an eyebrow pencil to give a little definition. It’s harder than you’d think. Sometimes I end up with angry eyes and have to start over, unless of course I’m having a bad day. If I get them too high I come off looking terribly confused. It’s a great look and often accurate.

When I was first diagnosed back in May, my biggest fear was losing flopsy and mopsy. Many women have bravely endured that ordeal plus gone through painful reconstructive surgery. Thankfully that was not part of my journey. The surgeon did however have to go under my armpit and into the breast to remove a good many lymph nodes as well as the cancerous tumor. Surgery was followed up with radiation. I took thirty treatments where the sun has never shined. My underarm, back and other delicate parts were scorched either brick red or deep chocolate brown; but only on one side. That’s a great look too for a former curly red-headed white chick.

One of the young ladies who administered the radiation commented on my burns. “Poor thing! And you didn’t even get to go anywhere fun to get that ‘sunburn.’” I laughed as I considered it. “If I ever come home from a trip with a sunburn like this I’m gonna have some explaining to do!”

Eating is still very tricky even though my last big chemo cocktail was in September. Frankly when they said cocktail I was expecting a better party. But it turned out to be not that much fun. Four months later I still can’t quite shake the nausea. Stuff I used to love like coffee and chocolate, tastes really funky. That’s when my confused eyebrows come in handy.

The upside of all this has been the wonderful care and kindness of so many people. By their example I’m learning to be more compassionate. I tend to be a little hard-hearted. One of my daughters explained to me that I have a very strong “Baloney Meter,” as in I don’t put up with a lot of whining. Apparently God is trying to change that about me; because now when someone says they’re going through something hard I actually stop to listen and at least pretend to care.

Something else my journey has taught is that the best gift is a one word email, card, or Facebook message which simply says “Praying.” There were times I was so low that I begged God for a mercy killing. So when you don’t know what to do for your suffering friend, just pray. It may seem small but really it’s the most thoughtful gift you can give.

The cancer journey is not for the faint of heart. But with the prayers of friends, the love of God and a little humor, maybe I’ll live to tell about it.

I may need a very special set of eyebrows for that glorious day.bell-1

My New Word

A savvy person whose blog I read recommended choosing one word to focus on for the coming year. That was January 2016. She said it would be better than a New Year’s resolution since it would be a daily reminder of that which is important. Her word was something practical like “Simplify” and worked well for her since she’s a homemaking guru. I liked her word and even have a metal sign hanging in my kitchen with it written in big red letters. But I couldn’t very well use her word. I thought on it a while and was just about to give up when the word “Flourish” came to mind. What a great word! Instead of just getting things marked off my to-do list, I would focus on flourishing. Why do things half-hearted when one can flourish?
Happily I found colored pens and wrote my word, then placed the notecards in strategic places around the house. When I looked at the fridge, my word would remind me to do things better than average. When I checked the bathroom mirror, the notecard there would encourage me for the day. Another card would mark my Bible to remind me to do all for the glory of God. As I continued to edit my book I decided to add the word to a scene since it’s not a term I use very often.
This is part of a phone conversation between a mother and her grown adopted son:

“‘Honey, talk to me. What’s going on?’
Shawn had a hard time speaking and it took a bit til he could reply. ‘I’m in a hard place Liddy. Please pray for me.’
She waited and felt her own tears rising. ‘I will honey. Where are you right now?’
A shiver went through his body so he started his truck and turned on the heater. ‘I’m up at your prayer garden but I’m sittin’ in my truck. It’s turned cold all of a sudden.’
She tried to brighten his mood. ‘Did you get to see the sunset?’
He relaxed a little remembering all the times they’d watched it together. ‘Yep. It was GLORIOUS!’ He used her word with a flourish and she laughed.
‘Glorious huh? That sounds about right. So I reckon God’s still splashing His love all over the North Carolina sky. I don’t think He much cares for Alabama. He makes them wait an hour on their sunset.’
Shawn was quiet and knew she was trying to cheer him up. He breathed another prayer about how much to tell her. Somehow it didn’t seem right to break the confidence he and Tessa shared.”

When I typed my new word, it was then I realized the problem. A red squiggly line marked it. I had spelled flourish wrong on all my notecards. I was completely disgusted with myself. How can I flourish when I can’t even spell it? Florish is not a word!

I collected my pretty cards, ripped them to shreds and tossed them in the trash.
A short five months later I learned that I have cancer. As the news got out I was suddenly overwhelmed with care packages and cards and Facebook messages and prayers. Love and kindness was showered on me and my husband. Ladies at the school where he works painted the giant rock out front and put my name on it in pink. People mailed us gift cards for groceries and meals. Flowers cheered me with happy faces and promises of better days to come.

Fast forward to New Year’s Day 2017. Our beloved pastor encouraged us with a beautiful message about becoming intentional in our walk with the Lord by prayerfully choosing one word to focus on. I bowed my weary head and prayed. I knew which word it would NOT be. Then it came, like a firm but loving reprimand.
“Lynna! Will you ever realize that you are truly loved? You’re not stupid. You are loved.”

I took a pen and wrote on the notecard “Love(d).”

Because the Lord and many others have loved me so well, I too can learn to show love. Too bad it took cancer to help me see it. But praise God for the revelation! With this new focus, who knows?

I might even flourish!