Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Spoiled Surprise

So Tonya spoiled my big secret.

Yes, for the first time in my life I've become a blonde! It was so funny when the lightener was on my hair - the girls all kept asking if I could feel my IQ slipping with each minute. But now that its been a couple of weeks, I already have dark roots coming back.

Onto Christmas - Even though round two hit me, I started fighting back. There's this great stuff called "Oreganol" that is liquid oregano that burns like a dog going down. Someone told me about it last year and when I felt the junk coming on just dribbled a few drops under my tongue a couple of times a day. It was the first year in so long that I didn't end up with a horrible bout of bronchitis.

Well forget it for this year. The moment I felt the stuff coming back, I bit the bullet and ran to Whole Foods to pick up a vial. The stuff is terribly expensive but I couldn't waste anymore time. Christmas Eve services were a week and ahalf away. Singing with swamp lungs would never work.

Made it through both services and Sunday's church services. Once again, not great but at least I made it through it without scratching everyone's ears too badly. Pastor is looking forward to my getting the old voice back a bit more and checking how high I get in both my chest voice and head voice. Haven't had vocal lessons since college so I have no idea what my range is at this point, though it is not as good as it once was. Still, I'm just freaking, flipping, and whatever other "f" word I can come up with (no, not THAT one Gary!) that I'm just able to sing at all again. Cannot tell you how wonderful it has been getting to sing in praise team regularly and being asked to sing for services.

It just frustrates me that I couldn't be at full capacity - but then there's always next Christmas. Just gonna have to make sure I have a ready supply of Oreganol before winter hits.

Now before Tonya figures it out, I'll let you in on my next non-secret.

I'm gonna go vibrant red - but that will still be a couple more weeks. Don't want to go bald now.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Feeling A Little Devious

I've got a secret! I've got a secret!

And I can hardly wait to let my family in on it this coming weekend. Well and some of my friends this Tuesday evening. It will be interesting to see the reactions I get.

You see I've done something I never thought I'd do. Not going to share it with you all, my dear readers, until after my family has had a chance to get in on the secret first.

Then the cat will be out of the bag, so to speak.

So that's all I'm going to say about it right now. Look for my post next Saturday or Sunday after I return home from the family Christmas in Oklahoma. It will be then that I'll share my secret with you - and let you know of the priceless reactions from said family members. I'll treasure them for a lifetime, I'm sure.

Just a little devious that way. :-)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Holy Terror Holidays

A busy weekend is fast approaching.

Today I've taken advantage of the first free weekend we've had in quite a while to get some things accomplished around the house and to relax and rest without being sick or running around sick.

I've also had alot of rehearsing to do.

For the last three plus weeks I've been fighting an extreme cold and laryngitis. During Thanksgiving, for four days I couldn't even talk - at all! Of course, my family was probably most grateful to Heaven above for a relatively quiet and unperturbed holiday. But I digress.

So just at the time I begin to get sick, my choir director asks me to sing a song with the choir for Christmas Eve services. I was also asked to sing praise team for last Sunday, of which I had to switch with someone since my voice was barely functional even then. I was also asked to do a reading again for Sunday the 19th.

Then Wednesday night at rehearsal (where I still could not sing but went anyway to listen and get down more music in my head at least), I discover that the Christmas Eve song I'm supposed to sing has been scheduled for Sunday the 19th. I've been listening to it since receiving the music but have not been able to actually sing it until today, though it is still only somewhat. What's more is that the Sunday I switched out last weekend with the fellow soprano was for the 19th.

So that means on Sunday the 19th for services I am doing a reading, praise team, and singing with the choir a song I have yet to be able to practice with them and the other soloist live and in person. We'll get to do that hopefully for the first time this coming Wednesday night at choir rehearsal.

Then Thursday morning my son informs me that his Christmas choir concert at school is scheduled for next Wednesday night. He's also doing something special for said concert so that means I have to be in two places at once.

Oh Happy Holy Terror Holidays indeed! I wish at the moment human cloning was legal.

So if next weekend isn't packed enough already, we're heading down to Oklahoma that Friday evening for a Christmas Open House for my parents' church and then our all family Christmas gathering on Saturday before heading back up here Saturday night for Sunday services. I pray my voice is fully recovered before then.

It may be a busy weekend, but as I said before I'm not turning aside any opportunities the Lord puts in my path.

There's got to be a reason for it somewhere...I hope. :-)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Strangeness of Strangers

Things are feeling very strange tonight.

Previously I've blogged briefly about a friendship that was betrayed eleven years ago and the pain that brought, but also what I've learned from that time period. God never lets a hurt go unused if it is given to Him for His glory.

Twice in all of these years, this person made contact with me to try and open correspondence - once by letter about six years ago and once via Facebook about a year and ahalf ago. I never responded to either because I wasn't sure how to feel about it all and if I was strong enough to open those old wounds - not only for myself but for my son as well. Most importantly, I neither sensed genuine remorse nor received any apology.

But perhaps the timing is right now.

Lately I've sensed the Lord directing my mind more and more toward her. This past weekend there was a distinct sense from the Lord that I needed to make contact - that now the time was ripe.

Still not sure how to feel about it, but in obedience I searched for and found her through the Linked In website - it appears she's no longer on Facebook. So I sent a contact notice and my personal email so as not to muddy a public site with highly sensitive and extremely personal correspondence.

She responded back right away.

Then I wasn't sure how to proceed. I'd stepped out in obedience but wasn't sure what I expected to happen. Have no clue whatsoever what will happen or even what I want to happen from this. Perhaps it is just a time to speak the truth and offer forgiveness. Maybe eventually there might even be a chance to establish an acquaintence or (dare I say it) a friendship of sorts again - but that is spending time in fantasyland, whereas I'm too realistic of a girl to allow myself to wallow in such dangerous territory. Reality may bite much of the time but the long-term price of fantasyland no one can afford.

So for now I'm just opening up communication and telling it like it is. I'm pretty good at that anymore. She's at least willing to communicate and talk in reality too, unlike how things were going when the friendship ended. And I've finally received something for which I've waited eleven years.

A remorseful and heartfelt apology.

Reality may have the deepest hurts, but it also contains moments of true and actual joy. That's something fantasyland will never provide. So I'll take reality any day.

Even if it makes me feel strange.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ramping Up The Season

Busy weekend as we welcome the season!

Saturday morning my son had to be up and at-'em early for all day rehearsals and an early evening concert for District Choir. While he attended to his business, I had a list a mile long of things I needed to get done.

Decided to finish my book first though. Needed to return it to a friend and I'd been nursing it all week. Only had a couple of chapters left to complete the thing anyway.

So after my son's MOST excellent performance (state choir is next!) we skeedaddled home to finish up my pot of chicken and noodles and made it just in time for my Sunday School class Christmas party. Had an absolute ball, listened to some awesome singing by a good friend of mine in choir, and finished off the night with some Christmas carols and pass the mike moments of Christmas memories. Such an absolute time of fellowship and enjoyment!

So this morning I was supposed to sing in praise team - NOT happening until this crazy junk gets completely gone (which better the heck be real soon). So one of the other sopranos told me she'd sing in my place and swap Sundays with me for the 19th. I'm already doing a Christmas reading that Sunday, so adding praise team to the line-up won't be too difficult to carry off.

As long as my voice returns in full force very soon, that is.

The season is ramping up and running already. Do you realize it is only twenty days until Christmas? Thanksgiving feels like is was eons ago already. This morning it was wonderful to hear the strains of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", "The First Noel", and "What Child Is This" to mark the first Sunday of Advent.

May the rest of our weekends overflow with comfort and joy until we get back to that most holiest of nights.

That's my other favorite Christmas carol, by the way. Perhaps we'll be singing that one come the 19th. God always has a way of working things out for the best.

And making the season bright.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Life Worth Living

Had some really interesting happenings at school this week.

Now understand - I'm the old lady at school and as such have become like a mother figure to pretty much everyone there. Countless times I've had some of the girls come up to me and lay their wounds bare before me. It's become quite clear that school as well as this industry is fertile ground.

One of the girls recently came out on the floor from two months in the classroom. She is a young and quiet soul and has a tendency to keep to herself. Some of the more sanguine and extroverted girls have had a tendency to label her as a bit snooty or standoff'ish. For some reason, I've suspected that label to be misapplied in her case.

This week confirmed it.

Because of my "mom" status, I have a tendency to go around school to all of the stations and just touch base, comment, and encourage each student, especially as each new class enters the big, bad, scary world of live rehearsal on the floor. Working with mannequins is one thing - real, live human beings quite another. Tuesday this particular student talked with me for a few minutes. We made a connection.

Wednesday was my turn to run the desk (we take turns, though I seem to be on the desk ALOT - I wonder why). When it isn't busy, the desk person must stay at their assigned position but can sit on one of the sofas in the waiting area and study (and since we were on Anatomy and Physiology, I felt the study time would be most prudent - made a 100% by the way). This student came by on a break, sat down, and proceeded to open up to me about all of the hurtful things that were going on in her life at present - the death of her grandmother, her mom finding out about her dad's affair, and facing the return of a cheating boyfriend who wanted to try and get back together.

Needless to say, this young lady has an awful lot of trials going on in her life!

I'd hoped by just listening and sharing with her some of my own trials and how my faith in God has walked me through it all, it might give her hope and make some sort of difference.

Thursday morning she came to school beaming. She'd decided Wednesday night to stop in at a church she once attended and immediately reconnected with several old friends. She couldn't wait to tell me what had transpired.

She'll never know how uplifting it was for me to hear.

Sometimes we go about our Christian life never knowing if anything we do makes a difference. Where's the evidence that God is moving and working through our lives to touch others and bless them?

Perhaps on occasion, God gives us a small peek. That's what happened to me this week. In blessing someone else with just being there and being willing to be vulnerable, the Lord blessed me with the knowledge that He was still using this old instrument for His glory.

It makes life worth living - even on those days when you want to box the ears of those crazy youngsters.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

First Prize Pics

Couple of pictures tonight from my first place win at the Salon Fair and hair show a couple of weeks ago at school. One is of my model as we were waiting for line-up and the other is last minute touch-ups before the big strut.

I'm still waiting for the professional pictures of us actually walking the runway, but that will have to come from the school. That may take awhile.

In the meantime, enjoy checking out my fringing technique and the lovely little shot of the violet tail (don't think you can see it very good in the waiting pic though).

That day was still so wonderful. It even snowed for several hours before the show began, almost like a little smile from God. He knows how much I love snow. :-)

Short and sweet tonight, as I'm still working on getting back to full health. Supposed to sing Sunday, but may have to cancel if my voice doesn't return soon. Hopefully it will be raring to go though for Christmas Eve.

I hope it snows - later that night anyway.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Life

The Christmas season has officially begun!

At least around our house anyway. :-)

Mom and Dad brought my son home and spent the rest of the weekend with us as tradition dictates. We've got our tree up and in the water, presents purchased, and I'm getting ready to start doing some decorating around the house.

Now if only I could keep up with the dishes and dusting.

Christmas is typically my favorite time of year (Independence Day a close second), but this year it feels a little more mellowed for some reason. A year ago brought alot of heartache and upset right around this time with my mother's cancer diagnosis followed swiftly by my grandma's passing (mom's mom). Eleven years ago this Christmas Eve was also the time my dear grandpa passed away. There seems to be alot of hurt attached to this time of year anymore.

Back when I was married (sooo many moons ago) I was just starting out in the banking industry and didn't have enough seniority to get time off at Christmas. My husband's family lived in Nebraska and he would take off a week or two and go up to see them. I'd go a couple of hours south and drive back Christmas night.

I remember vividly that first Christmas night driving back home all alone. As I entered the city, it was eerie in its silence and disturbing in its darkness. Nary a car was in sight as I roamed the streets and pulled into the garage. Walking into the empty house brought such pangs of loneliness of which I've rarely experienced since.

My ex and I never spent a single Christmas together.

Which is why after the divorce, Christmas became my favorite holiday once again. I had no good Christmas memories from my marriage to cloud my future happy holidays.

But 1999 muddied the waters for awhile after the loss of my very best friend forever and ever between Thanksgiving and Christmas that year and then the passing of my grandpa that Christmas Eve. It was several hard years after that before Christmas again became a festive time for us.

So even though there's rather a mellowed sense of the season this year, there's also so much life to celebrate in that Mom is doing great and my family continues to draw close to one another through these tough times.

And isn't new life what we're really celebrating at Christmas anyway?

That's what I thought.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving Remembered

Thanksgiving day is dwindling - it's hard to believe it is almost over, it came so fast.

Drove back from my sister's in Oklahoma tonight all by myself. It's been somewhat of a tradition for the past eighteen years.

Since I've been in banking, I've almost always worked the Friday after Thanksgiving and taken off time at Christmas - a trade-off, if you will. During those early years, I never had a babysitter to watch my son that day, so my mother started coming back with me either Thursday night or would bring my son back and drive up Friday sometime after Thanksgiving. Then we'd spend time that weekend getting our tree, decorating our house, and doing a little shopping if we felt brave enough to tackle the crowds.

So even though my son is grown, my mom still comes back with us for the weekend to help us get ready for our Christmas - this year because I have school. It's become one of our many family traditions now.

Today we had a wonderful time at my sister's, ate a ton, took a nap, watched a movie (An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving) while the guys watched football. One of my nephews was home from Minnesota and a niece and great-niece were there from Arkansas, so I knew my son would want to hang out with them for awhile. So I said goodbye, will see my son and parents tomorrow, and chucked myself home for the night.

Sometimes I love the drive all by myself. The night sky was beautiful tonight and traffic wasn't all that bad amazingly enough. Tonight was a time for thinking. Just another month and it will be a year since our lives fell apart with my mother's cancer. But looking at her today, her hair is thick and getting longer all the time. She's regaining more and more of her health each and every day. Maybe someday soon I'll be able to look at her without worrying anymore or feeling the need to see if she's doing alright. It's really hard to believe it's been almost a year. So much has changed, and yet there is an element of peace in the family once again.

And THAT is something well worth giving thanks for this Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Riding the Roller Coaster

This past week has been quite a roller coaster - mostly up but a bit down too.

Last Sunday I had an urgent agenda after church. When my music pastor asked me to sing a solo part in the Christmas Eve services, I was pleased and excited. Then reality hit me.

I don't have a dress.

Our Christmas Eve services are huge affairs, with all the bling a girl can ask for. Rarely do I sing Christmas Eve and the few times I have it has been in the loft, where it is mainly important to have bling on the upper half. Black pants or a black skirt usually work fine otherwise.

However, as a soloist, it is imperitive that I have a dress that meets certain criteria.

1. The dress must be long
2. The dress must have plenty of sparkle
3. The dress must be modest (it is in church after all)
4. The dress must have a jacket or sleeves - no bare shoulders or arms

It was a bit daunting to realize that I was going to have to go shopping for a long dress in the midst of the season - meaning it would be highly unlikely that there'd be anything on sale and anything less than $200.


Checked out several stores over the weekend and then shuffled my way to Dillard's Sunday and figured I'd have to bite the bullet eventually.

Came out with a great dress.

#1 - check
#2 - check
#3 - check
#4 - check
Budget - priceless

No seriously, I came out of there spending less than $50 on a beautiful turquoise blue dress on sale in my size. How about them apples?

Then onto the remainder of the week. Previously I mentioned the Salon Fair and taking first place in the hair show. What an incredible surprise! I still can't get over that one.

Wednesday night I came home to an email from the music pastor asking me to do another reading in services this morning. Great scripture reading from Romans 8 - loved it!

Then Thursday I felt it coming on. All day I was just absolutely exhausted. Tried to chalk it up to the let down after all of the stress from the hair show and such, but deep down I knew it was about to catch up to me. Thursday night was critique and it was great seeing everyone there for the first time in awhile (and just before the season gets crazy).

Friday morning brought the worst sore throat I can remember in some time. Made it at school until about 1:30 then I had to pack it in. Spent the majority of the weekend in bed and snoozing away the time. Never do I like getting sick. Typically I always get on my own nerves after laying around the house for a day or two, watching the laundry grow and the dishes pile up on the counter.

Hey, it's hard keeping a good woman down!

Needless to say, I've tried to somewhat enjoy this down time. Read a few books and watched a movie that I haven't seen in years. Made it through services and the reading this morning but hurried home and back to bed.

Feeling a bit better this evening. Fever is down again and I'm hoping to be back in the saddle for school tomorrow. My son has an early morning for tomorrow so he's busy getting ready for it all. I can also be thankful that I'm getting the junk out of the way before Thanksgiving and Christmas this year instead of being down during one of the holidays. That's never fun.

So I'm just about to get off the roller coaster I think. Funny - I always did like the downhill rush better than the uphill clickety-clack ride.

Guess I'll appreciate whatever comes for the remainder of 2010.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Keep It Coming, Lord!

Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my GOSH!!!!!!!

Do you think I might have something exciting to share tonight?

It's been a long and tiring day. Choir rehearsal was great this evening even though I was thoroughly exhausted because of a very busy and emotional day.

Today was our school's Salon Fair and hair show. All of the floor students (classroom attendees not included) participated with models and/or mannequins to present to the audience. Several students had two and three models and several had a slew of mannequins for the judging. Area salon owners and managers came to the school to view the hair and make-up stylings of the participating students and interview those who will be graduating soon.

It's quite an exhausting process just preparing for it, much less spending time that day preparing ourselves and our models to strut the runway.

Little old me had just one model. I don't really have alot of people in this area I know who are available during the daytime hours. Needless to say, I was thankful for the one.

The last several weeks I've been cutting (yes, the fringe technique previously mentioned), coloring, and playing with make-up and styling ideas with my model. She's been a real trooper and brought in some great examples for costuming and such from her own wardrobe, on which I added my personal "twist". The show was centered around entrants in the categories of the seven deadly sins or seven heavenly virtues.

I chose "Wrath" as my model's image. Had so much fun with it too.

So today as everyone was working, I looked around at the pretty up-do's, hair extensions, and costumes. Then I looked at my exhibit and wondered how I was going to do. See, there was a contest at stake but I wasn't so much worried about that as making a good impression on the salon owners and managers who might consider hiring me after graduation. In thinking about that, I put myself in their shoes and decided that if I was a salon owner going to a hair show that I'd prefer to see what students capabilites were in regard to cutting and coloring and not so much with the fluffy stuff.

So I left the flat iron and curling iron in my locker and pulled only my blow dryer. That way I could really highlight the texture effects of the beyond the fringe technique of the cut I'd accomplished. Plus there was the highlighting and color effects sprinkled throughout the style as well. Figured I'd let the hair speak for itself.

Well I got my wish, in that after the show I had alot of interest from salon owners and managers and have several additional very viable options open to me. One salon with multiple locations even had all of their managers there and two of these managers were "fighting" over me. It was so fun!

Then call me absolutely shocked when the contest winners were announced. My entry won flipping FIRST PLACE in the model category. I was so stunned I yelled - "you're kidding me!" in front of everyone.

I laughed and cried and happily took home my first place certificate and the $25 gift certificate (too bad it wasn't $250 :-) but beggars can't be choosers). I'm still a bit in shock tonight.

Thank you once again, Lord, for the continued confirmation that I'm on the right path You've opened before me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Standing Amazed

The blessings just keep coming and coming.

Can't remember if I told you about the schooling exactly that I'm currently participating in. I'm attending a cosmetology school with the plan to work for someone else for a couple of years and then open my own salon and day spa. Those plans seem to be getting a big push of late, but I'm not quite ready to share what's happening in that arena yet.

Needless to say, with my anal tendencies (yes, I am able to admit it) I have been working really hard on some European fringe techniques after watching a special video over and over again. One of my fellow students let me practice the technique on her about a month ago and I've been perfecting it ever since, picking up little nuances and incorporating some of my own little specialties with it.

The last two weeks, I've had three clients come in (one a repeat - made me feel so honored) who were game on letting me try the technique on them. They all loved the final result. Yesterday I had a lady from my church come in for an appointment after seeing my hair at church on Sunday. This lady had severely damaged hair and it looked like the last person to touch it had taken a very dull razor to it.

What a mess!

So first of all I proceeded with a special conditioning treatment to rebond the keratin protein in her hair strands. Then I started in on the cut and style. After all was said and done, she absolutely loved it and wore it with pride and glory to the ladies Holiday Pizzazz last night at the church. When she was up on the stage I couldn't help but sit there in the audience just beaming with amazement - she looked so fresh and funky in her new do, and I'd accomplished it. Several people kept commenting throughout the evening and she gave me alot of credit for "saving" her hair.

This morning at school I received a call from a lady who is friends with this particular client. She was so impressed with the cut I'd given that she wanted something similar and also decided it was time to put some fresh color on her hair.

I could hardly contain my excitement - I have just made a name for myself and have clients now who are walking advertisements for my technique.

Lord, your blessings are on a roll. I stand humbled and amazed!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hope Comes Once Again

This year may just end on a good note after all.

My son announced to me that he made District Choir and is a high alternate for State Choir. I just about came unglued and pee'd my pants.

Just making sure you're paying attention.

It's going to be alot of work for him in the next few months, but he's so excited. Last year he tried out and unfortunately had a bad cold the weekend of auditions and didn't do very well. He wasn't sure he wanted to try out again but went for it anyway. So glad he did.

District Choir is such an honor but to even make alternate for State is huge. And if he actually ends up getting to participate in State Choir, that's pretty much a guaranteed scholarship for college costs.

I feel giddy!

Then this evening, after arriving home from our church ladies "Holiday Pizzazz" evening of food, fun, and frivolity, I had an email waiting for me from our worship pastor at our church. He's asked me to do a solo part for Christmas Eve services. Typically I don't do Christmas Eve services (it's a rare occasion because I like to enjoy it driving around looking at Christmas lights with my son) but I'm not going to pass it up if this is the direction the Lord is leading.

What with being asked to do readings and participate in praise team for Sunday services the past month, I was thrilled with that. Now to have a chance to do something I haven't done in my church in ten years?????

Is this You, Lord? If it is, I'm not turning it down.

With all that's been lost during 2010, perhaps it has prepared me to be pliable enough for God to use me again.

I just think it is interesting how just in the last few weeks we've felt the hand of God's blessing on our little household. None too soon.

It's a good way to draw an end to a difficult year - hope comes once again.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Verdict Is In

Scary morning.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how my pastor has been asking me to participate more actively in Sunday services. Well this morning was my turn at praise team, and I was really nervous about if my voice would cooperate or not.

It was a wonderful experience!

My voice was actually pretty clear and strong the last few days and this morning was no exception. Afterward our worship pastor thanked me for singing and told me he was so pleased to hear me sing again. Then several orchestra members came up to me and asked me if I used to sing alot in services (yes) and that it was so good to hear me sing again.

That was nearly ten years ago when my voice last took a turn in worship services.

So I guess once again God was at work. Makes me wonder what's going to happen next.

Now there's a REALLY scary thought.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tidbits and Timing

So much going on of late I can hardly keep up - but here's a snippet of where we are at present.

Can you believe we've already ordered graduation announcements, cap and gown, etc., etc.????? And right as I'm trying to purchase a few very minimal Christmas gifts.

But that's another story.

Yes, scholarship application deadlines, graduation stuff and a whole slew of other tidbits are being thrown at us at such a rapid pace I'm hardly able to enjoy the fact that my son is a senior. But he's at least enjoying it, which is all that really matters anyway.

This past weekend was really weird too - I left him home while I went back to visit the family for Neewollah (which, if you didn't figure it out yet, is Halloween spelled backward). He had a Halloween party to go to Saturday night and made the decision to hang out with friends instead of go to Neewollah - after all, he's been to it nearly every year of his life. Therefore, I couldn't deny him that option. He'll be making alot more choices throughout this year and into the next, so I figured it was a good time to start making more of those difficult decisions.

With my guidance, none-the-less. :-)

Even so, it was odd and yet kinda nice to have time to myself, though his younger cousin missed him. Have a feeling that time to myself is going to increase substantially very soon.

So if those changes weren't enough to deal with lately, I've had another realization this past week or so. Can't really put my finger on exactly when it really began to solidify in my mind, but it has to do with my schooling and future plans. My brain has been chewing on this and then some things were said this past weekend while with the family that has me thinking even more about it this week. One of my instructors even brought up the subject today and we discussed it at length.

But that's going to have to wait for another entry.

After all, I've got enough going on at present to fill my time. This one is going to be a biggie.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Remembering the Loaves and Fishes

This week I did something I haven't done in years.

I bought a new music accompaniment track.

Years ago, I was very involved in the music ministry of my church, singing solos, acting in our huge Christmas and Easter productions, etc., etc., etc. But then came the difficult years and my voice was striken from me.

Not to mention my heart and soul.

As many of you know, in the last few years I've been on a quest to find my voice again. My doctor put me on some thyroid medication. Then we changed it after it seemed I might have an allergy to the binding agent in that particular brand.

Since then, I've gotten alot of my voice back but not to the capacity, clarity, and dependability that it once was, which has been very difficult for me to accept. Used to I never had to think twice about my voice cracking or just disappearing on me suddenly, but it is something I've had to work on and try to adapt to in order to sing these days (and some days are better than others).

A few years ago I wrote about having participated in a musical Christmas play at my church. Still not the best singing job but better, and it felt so great to be acting again and reaching others. Recently my music pastor has had me do some poems and scripture readings in services - can't tell you how wonderful that has felt. This week he also asked me to participate in the praise team in a couple of weeks.

That's gotten me to thinking.

When you've been used to having a clear and lovely voice, it's hard to accept anything less from yourself. But what if - just what if - God could still use whatever voice I have to reach others? No it isn't perfect, no it isn't what I've grown up being used to, but maybe just my willingness to put myself in the hands of my Lord, He might touch someone through the words of a song. I long to once again be an instrument played beautifully by the hands of God again, have His light shine through me and touch others. It's truly the most incredible feeling in the world.

So even though I expect perfection from myself, perhaps the little I have to give is all He needs to touch a life or two. I'll never know until I make myself available to Him in that way again.

Just can't help but remember what He did with a few loaves and fishes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Comfort In The Midst of Uncomfortable

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

How true this verse is being played out this week.

This evening I went over to the hospital in a nearby town to comfort a young friend. After getting my mother on the road toward health and healing from her mastectomy this past January, we received news this week that a friend was going to have to have a mastectomy.

She's in her early thirties.

Never dreamed I'd see someone else I know go through such a traumatic procedure so soon. Never in my life did I ever expect someone so young to have to endure it.

I mean, I know it happens - and to those even younger. But those are the stories you read about in the news or books. It's hit so close to home tonight.

Certainly hope I can be a comfort to her in the midst of this trying time. I was able to share some helpful hints before she went to the hospital this morning. It sure was good to see her tonight and know that she came through it okay.

But the road to recovery will be long and rough. The cancer is in her lymph nodes. I didn't have to endure that with my mother. Even so, I know I can still be a source of solid information and pray that I can be of comfort to her too. Somehow what we endured with my mom is coming back around to help someone else. Maybe - somehow - someway - what Mom went through is taking on even greater significance and meaning.

For there truly is comfort in the midst of the uncomfortable when we've walked that path of pain and lived through it.

Thanks, Mom, for allowing me this learning opportunity and enduring the pain you went through so that I could learn how to help someone else. Only God knew how soon I'd need to use His comfort once again.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Homecoming Happenings

Well tonight is the night of homecoming and all goes well thus far.

My son still is on tap with his date (they confirmed pick-up this afternoon) and has plans to meet with a group of friends and their dates for dinner before the dance. They're all looking forward to a fun, splendid time together.

Once again, we're having positive moments that continue to build on each other throughout his milestones of life. Senior year grades are holding up very well, he's connected deeply with guys in his youth group and made tons of new friends, his connection to the Lord is growing stronger every day, college is heavily in focus, and now an opportunity to take a lovely young lady to his high school dance.

This week we spent some time re-watching some of his Mark Gungor DVD's concerning Sex, Dating, and Relating. Then there's the Manly Man conference bonus DVD, but you don't want me to go there.

I've tried very hard to raise my son with a positive awareness of what it means to be a man of courage and character, to understand the differences in how men and women think, to be aware of pitfalls in dating and relationships, and to see realistically how physical intimacy in a relationship too often replaces true intimacy. These DVD's don't necessarily try to give a moral argument against sex and its equivalents before marriage (though they are from a Christian perspective) but a real-world argument about how physical intimacy before marriage too often destroys the foundation and trust needed for a marriage to succeed long-term.

I think we can see how that is daily played out in our culture.

I've made my own mistakes in this regard and wish very much to protect my son from the hurt, heartache, and disappointment that destruction leaves in its wake. I know in the end it will be his choice how to conduct himself in his relationships as he leaves the nest. But I never want him to come back and ask why no one ever told him. For me, I want to know that my son has a chance to live life and live it abundantly.

Maybe then he can be part of the solution instead of continuing to be a part of the problem. But for tonight, we'll just get past homecoming and his first real date.

Lord help me be able to sleep tonight. :-)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bursting My Buttons

I am proud of my son.

As I wrote this past spring, my son asked a young lady to go to his junior prom with him. However, said young lady ended up accepting then canceling on him at the last minute, which fried my butt to no end.

But tonight I'm proud to write that that little fiasco, as painful as it was at that time, hasn't stopped him from getting up and trying again. This weekend is homecoming and he's invited a girl from school to go with him. They've been hanging out talking after their government class and choir, so he decided this past Monday to take a chance.

She accepted.

They've been planning where to eat beforehand, clothing coordination, etc. My son even asked when his next haircut was rescheduled for after having to move it from last weekend. He was relieved when I told him we were able to get him in for this Saturday morning.

Just in time.

He's also planned his wardrobe, coordinated directions with his date, and is going to clean his car - and all of this without my having to direct the efforts.

Wow! It sure is nice having a responsible young man in the house. :-)

So I'm looking forward to sitting back and watching him take care of it all. Of course, I hope I get a picture or two of them together before the night is through.

Knowing him, I'm sure he'll swing by after they go eat dinner. Kinda goes back to that responsible thing, you know? My buttons on my blouse are about to burst - with pride!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Fast and Furious

October is here - the air has turned cool (thankfully) - the leaves are beginning to drop.

The college applications are coming in fast and furious.

For weeks now, my son has been bombarded with letters, postcards, and applications for various colleges throughout the country. My head is spinning, much less his. But he thinks he now knows where he'd like to attend next year, so we're at least getting a few items checked off the long list.

Now if we can stop adding five for each item we check off.

However, yesterday the mailbox contained something a little new. The college he's decided upon sent an unsolicited scholarship for the Dean's Scholarship, based upon his ACT scores. It's small but it is something and hopefully only one of many to come his way. He's planning to apply for a music scholarship as well so it would be wonderful to see that pan out for him too.

In the meantime, my hands are busy tapping away at admissions and scholarship application forms to guide my son through the process. Good thing I'm a writer, otherwise my fingers would be numb by now.

Makes me wonder what winter will bring.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Beginning of the End

Well tonight started the beginning of the end.

My son had his first choir performance of his last year of high school.

It's not a huge ordeal, just kinda a precursor to their opening choir concert at the school. This is an outside concert at our town's annual festival. Tonight was the kickoff of the opening weekend and all of the area schools participate in the live music throughout the evening. Plus there's carnival rides, games, food, festivities - what more could a young man and his mother ask for?

Sitting there at the park, it felt a bit surreal to realize that this is the last time he will be performing for the festival (unless he becomes a famous musician and is invited back to perform at one of the Friday or Saturday concerts - hey, it could happen). It still hasn't fully hit me that my baby boy is now a legal adult.

Oh help me, Lord!

But tonight it struck me for the first time that this is the beginning of a year that will disappear so rapidly, run off and leave if I don't pay attention. I don't plan to miss any of it.

Which made this evening all the more poignant, especially when he got up to sing his solo piece. It truly is the beginning of the end for this stage of his life.

And he can't wait to see what happens next.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Surprise Is Out Of The Bag

The evening winds down - but not really.

Yes, it is the night of my son's big 18th birthday party and it has been a huge hit. Since things are sort of winding down, I can finally let the surprise out of the bag.

I rented a limo for the evening to take the guys around all by themselves and just have a jolly good time for a few hours. When it pulled up, the guys started spilling out of the house and just going crazy. You should have seen the look on my son's face. Priceless!

In fifth grade, my son won a limousine ride as part of the school sales raffle. That began his love of limos. When my dear friend got married, we got to ride once again in a limo. When I took my son and my mother to Alaska with me on a business trip, I rented a limo to take them on a tour of Anchorage one afternoon. Of course, I had to work. :-)

After the events of fifth grade, I've carried this idea around for his 18th if he still seemed fond of limos. They had an absolute blast and now all of the guys are pining for limo rides for their upcoming 18th's as well. I'm so sorry to all of the parents for planting the seed.

The evening has been so wonderful, full of frivolitry, laughter, and cameraderie...things we could use a little more often around here sometimes. Our bellies have all gotten quite the workout.

So now begins the sleepover - and this time it has to be a sleepover because my son and several of the guys will be leaving in the morning for an overnight backpacking trip with the youth group from church. Thank God my son will be out of school Monday for in-service.

So I actually think we might get a little bit of sleep tonight also. It will be a very satisfying sleep for me.

Now I can't say the same for my son and his friends. I don't think they'll mind too much though, do you?

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Big 1-8 Approaches

The big week is finally here - yes, my baby boy turns 18. He's almost an official adult.

But he still lives in my house, so my house my rules still applies. And yes, I've already had that talk with him. I'm still the control-freak that way. :-)

There's a big surprise awaiting him and his friends come Friday night, and I sure hope my son relishes the moment. I've had this planned since fifth grade.

Yes, I'm also an advance planner by nature, as well as the control-freak.

Even with being in school and living off of my savings at the moment, there was no way I could put aside what I've wanted to do for him for so long. I'll get another job in about six or seven months when school is done and replenish that savings account quickly (God willing). So I think a little extra tap-in is in due order for such a momentous event.

After all, it isn't every day that your one and only child turns 18. One must take advantage of those milestones and celebrate.

I'll let you know how it turns out this weekend.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Worship service was so amazing this morning!

Our church choir sang a variety of powerful songs this morning, all humming along the same theme - majesty and glory. Then to top it off, we sang the incredible octavo "Majesty of Glory of Your Name".

This was a piece I first was introduced to in my college choir. The incredible flowing beauty of the song quickly found its place in my heart, mind, and soul and has never left since.

Our church choir has brought it out from time-to-time in my adult years - not often enough for me, I must admit. Years pass between the opportunities to sing it. But each time we pull it out of the hallowed music library halls, I never need to look at the music score. It is so deeply ingrained in my heart and soul that it will never leave.

That's why I was so honored and blessed to be asked to recite a piece, written so long ago, as an introduction to today's lyrical offering - The Creation, by James Weldon Johnson. It is a brief descriptive of that moment so long ago when God's creative mind was on display as the universe came into being.

Tonight I went for an evening walk down the darkened pathways and just stared up into the clear blackened sky, spangled with the moon and stars. Even in the midst of a trying year, I felt the majesty of His presence in the deepening night, the words of the song this morning drifting over my mind once again.

And I worshiped.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Be Over Already!

At this point, I just want 2010 to be over.

This is the year that has been such a mess for my family, particularly my mother. First the cancer diagnosis and the seemingly unending turmoil that brings, and then her mother's death (my grandma) all tied up into one. This morning, my mom received additional devastating news to add to the already torturous year.

Her best friend in the entire world passed away unexpectedly late last night.

They'd started out as co-workers, then lunch buddies, then somewhere along the way became dear friends. Even after Betty's retirement they continued to meet at least once a week for lunch. I finally had the pleasure of meeting Betty in person during my mother's cancer surgery and convalescence. I'm so sad it took so long and such tragic circumstances to finally have the opportunity to meet someone who meant so much to my mother.

And now she's gone.

Mom's concerned about the family and how they will manage with Betty gone. Rightfully so. She was the stalwart matriarch of the family - much like my mother is of ours. When I spoke to Mom this morning on the phone, she sounded a little shell-shocked. I kinda feel the same way for her.

Which is one reason I'm so ready to say a bitter farewell to 2010. May it rot in infamy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rumblings and Ramblings

My dear readers - it has been entirely too long!

Yes, I'm trying to get back into the writing saddle after a very tumultuous year. This post will be a brief update on where things stand in the rumblings and ramblings of 2010.

We just returned from spending a relaxing Labor Day weekend with Mom and Dad. Mom is enjoying retirement, getting her strength back, and also getting her hair back. The hair is coming in thick and is about a half-inch long. There also seems to be alot more pepper mixed in with the salt. :-)

Before leaving to come back home this afternoon, Mom and I also tried a jaunt around their town's walking paths. Shortly after getting some strength back after her last chemo treatment in June, Mom and I attempted a short walk around the block from their house. She barely made it back to the house before her legs gave out. Today we walked a mile or two with a few brief pauses along the way. It's really good to see her getting back to her old self. It reminded me of the walks she and I used to take together around town as I got older and before moving away.

My schooling is going well and I'm looking forward to finishing up in the spring and getting my feet back in the working saddle. Can hardly wait to open my own business someday after getting a couple of years under the belt.

Speaking of school, my son started his senior year of high school - oh my gosh! So far, it seems to be going very well. He had a physics test and only missed one, and his last chemistry test he scored a 100%. Even with his heavy schedule this year, he seems to be taking it in stride and getting his academic "feet" underneath him. None too soon!

So we're looking forward to the joys of senior year'itis. Thus far it is looking good.

Now if only I can get my life in order after getting everyone else's taken care of. :-)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summertime in Season

The summertime season is officially in full swing.

This past weekend we had alot of fun with the family down in Oklahoma. Sunday evening we weren't even halfway home and my son was busy on his phone, texting his friends to see who wanted to come and hang out overnight. Ben was the luck of the draw.

So Monday afternoon Ben's brother, Will, comes over to pick him up and they decide to have another sleepover. I'm still not sure if it is supposed to be my son, Will AND Ben or just my son and Will. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

This evening my son invited his long-time buddy, Andrew, to come over. Suffice it to say, he's going to be sleeping over tonight too.

Though not to be outdone, Marcus showed up a bit ago and the three of them are in the family room tearing through some video game with "The Prestige" to watch later.

I went for a walk.

There's something absolutely wonderful about a late night walk in the summer, with the stars twinkling in the blackened sky, the wind whispering in the trees like the secrets of a best friend, and the hush after a busy day. I feel closer to God in those moments.

But then I get back home to the chaos of three teenaged guys playing shoot 'em-up on the Wii.

Yes, summertime has begun.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Dreaded "D" Word


Such a terrible word. Such terrible wounds fanning out like a spider's web, touching more than the two parties involved.

Just this week I learned of two separate couples who find themselves in the throes of divorce proceedings. One divorce involves no children, while the other has two very young souls enmeshed in the chaos. Even though the first couple have no children there are still parents, other relatives, and friends that are affected forever by the division.

I remember when a sister went through a divorce and we struggled as a family to divide ourselves from him and his family out of loyalty to my sister. Friendships that involved both my sister and her former husband were stretched thin between the two. Eventually a side won the friendship battle. Even so, everyone still lost in the end.

When I suffered through my own divorce, even in the freedom there was extended pain. My mother-in-law was very dear to me, but now I've neither seen nor spoken to her in eighteen years. My mother and my ex's older sister were friends and taught Sunday School together in their church. Now they only speak to each other when necessary. There's that family loyalty to consider.

Having been through it all, I understand first-hand why God hates divorce. It tears into the very heart and soul of humanity - after all, God is about relationship. It's why He created us in the first place. Even in that perfect garden, God saw that humans needed other humans even though we eventually screwed up His perfection.

I know the legalists preach no divorce and no divorce/remarriage. I understand where they are coming from - I used to be one of them. But now that I see scripture from the side of having lived through the painful web of divorce and it's aftermath, I think I understand the deeper heart of what Christ was trying to get across to humanity two-thousand years ago.

There are never any winners, only losers when it comes to divorce. Relationships are shattered and most times irreparable, and God sees hurt upon hurt heaped upon humanity.

Which is why He hates that dreaded "D" word so much.

Because in many ways divorce equals death.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Peace and Quiet - Rumbles to Follow

Rain is falling softly outside under an overcast sky. The wind whispers through the trees, the morning quiet and undisturbed.

But my son and his friends will soon wake and the morning quiet will be followed by eruptions of rambunctious teenaged boys.

And I thought they were pretty crazy when they were kids!

Since my son didn't have to work last night, he invited friends over to the house once again. There have been few weekends where we've been home without a schedule for many long months now, so he's taking full advantage of it. Later today they're going to go out and see the new Robin Hood movie starring Russell Crowe.

Haven't they remade that tale enough by now????

I'm glad though that he's having a chance to reconnect with friends outside of school. We've been on the move so much that he's had little opportunity of late. It's something I need to take advantage of too and learn from his example.

Last night I received a call from a dear friend of mine that I haven't talked to much in a long time. She and I have missed running into each other most of the few Sundays I've been at my own church since January. Last weekend we were actually in town because of my son's prom, but then she was away to spend the day with her parents for Mother's Day.

Go figure.

It was so nice to reconnect with her. I haven't realized how much I've missed my close friendships until that call. We updated each other on our lives. She asked about Mom, and I asked about her Marine son, his wife and granddaughter. Sometimes it is so hard for me to believe that she's a grandma.

Grandmotherhood will be fun someday myself, though I'd like to put it off until my son has at least finished college. :-) I only hope I've taught him well enough from the error of my own ways.

In the meantime, it sounds like the boys are stirring from slumber now that it is almost 12:45. And now the quietness of the morning gives way to the rumbles of the afternoon.

Or was that thunder?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Now or Never

Life can be so interesting sometimes. With everything that has transpired in the past several months, I'm getting ready to do something I never thought I'd do at this stage in my life.

I'm going back to school.

When I was younger, my parents owned a little fast-food joint in the small town where we grew up. That entrepreneurial bug bit me back then (even though I never wanted to work in the food industry again) and has always been there in the back of my mind since - nagging away like a bitter old woman.

So I'm going back to school to garner some additional skills and open my own business.

With my many years in the banking and finance industry, I've gained a wealth of knowledge and skills that will translate to any industry - leadership, management, financing, tangible equity, spreadsheets, P&L's, and (my favorite) employee development. Many people go into business very knowledgeable in their field but without these basic elements of finance and management to help them succeed. This is a death knell for any small business owner.

So many new business owners only look at the income without focusing needed attention on the bottom line. They pull the equity out of their business for their personal needs without leaving that necessary element in the business to build it for the future. They think once they start their business that they'll become wealthy and can relax and live a life of leisure while the peons take care of running the business. Wrong-o!

Being a small business owner means you are the first one in and the last to leave - plus you take it home and work on it every single night. You're constantly researching to stay ahead of the curve and keep up with the latest industry trends. People have short attention spans and you must keep finding inventive ways to make them come back for more. Ownership is not an 8-5, 40 hours a week event. It is a marriage, 24-7.

I remember how my mom would open the restaurant and my dad would close it (after he got in from his teaching job). My mom was a teacher at one time too but they quickly learned that they had to have someone onsite at all times, so Mom gave up her position to focus on the business. Even after closing, they'd count up the money and do the books during the late-night newscast. Anytime we tried taking a vacation, ultimately we'd end up cutting it short and rushing home because of some emergency or mechanical failure.

One time we were in Florida for a long-term family vacation, the first we'd taken in many years so far from home. My dad ended up having to fly back home to take care of a massive mechanical failure and then fly back to Florida for the drive home. The potential income lost was greater than the expense of a last minute ticket.

So here I find myself, on the threshold of headaches, heartburn, and pocketbook failure potential. But if I don't do this now I may never have said opportunity again. Reward never comes without a measure of risk.

Mom's taught me that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Cancer Journey

I've been giving more thought of late to the idea of moving forward with writing a book about my mom's cancer journey.

It's been quite interesting seeing the emotional roller coaster my mom has ridden on (along with a few of us standing by her side). In the beginning was fear of the unknown, the questionable mammogram, the emergency sonogram, the rushed biopsy.

The results.

Then came the inconsolable terror of the diagnosis, the sense of unreality, how this could be happening. Those days were such a blur, no sleep, constant worry, fear of the known and how to comprehend it all. Mom and Dad could hardly function and it took an army of us to band together to make sure we got to all of the appointments and scans, pre-op blood work and heart monitoring accomplished.

Before acceptance had much of a chance to take hold, Grandma passed away, further complicating an already emotional situation and weaving loss upon loss through all our hearts. It almost seemed like too much at the time.

Eventually a tentative acceptance hovered over her as Mom placed herself firmly in God's hands, so confused, so scared, but secure in the loving hands of the Father. Surgery came and she experienced loss of the breast, still intermingled with the loss of her mother, and we all grieved.

But grieving can be healing too.

She experienced the high of being free of detectable cancer cells in any lymph nodes but faced the reality of coming chemo treatments. Fear permeated again, but acceptance of the path laid before her came shortly upon its heels.

The first chemo treatment was a fright-filled event again, but each successive treatment has revealed a resiliency she probably didn't know she had. Once again, loss was experienced - this time her hair - but grieving and acceptance quickly moved her through those stages.

With the fourth chemo treatment, I was able to be present with her and saw a miraculous change in Mom's attitude. She walked into the facility like it was any other day, had all of her papers in tow, greeted everyone with a smile and got down to business without any assistance from anyone else. Then she picked out her chair and the day began.

What a change from the beginning stages of this journey!

Even though I know Mom doesn't like the chemo treatments and after effects, she knows their purpose, accepts what comes - but she also knows that this too shall pass and she'll be back on the road to better health and living life again very soon. Her attitude has become infectious and is an inspiration to everyone who comes in contact with her.

After all, she's only got two more chemo treatments left and then she'll be done. We're all wondering what her hair will look like once it starts to come back in.

And then where the next part of her journey will lead.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Prom 2010

My baby boy is growing up so fast.

Last night was his junior prom. Fortunately he had a really good time, but it almost was an absolute disaster.

During his choir trip to Chicago, he and another girl became friends - only friends but such that he asked her a few weeks later to go to prom with him. He had this really elaborate plan with which to ask her - so it was a good thing she said "yes".

At least I thought so at the time.

This past week, right before prom, his date backed out on him. She claimed to have gone with a friend the year before - only as friends - and that it had turned out rather disastrous. Her excuse was that she didn't want to repeat the same mistake. Personally, I think someone else asked her and she really wanted to go with him.

Only problem - she'd already said yes. Plus we're talking my son, who is not some whack-job waiting to get a girl alone on prom night. At least that isn't the way he was raised. My son and I were up Friday night until almost midnight talking about it all. But he was going to go ahead and go and walk the red carpet alone.

I went to bed Friday night completely broken hearted. You can mess with me all day long, but you mess with my son and I will NOT be held responsible for the ire your stupidity raises. I learned a long time ago that there is a raging momma bear inside me and would probably be capable of murder if you mess with my cub.

Or at least a severe roughing up and dressing down. Hopefully neither you nor I will ever have to find out.

Saturday morning he seemed better, but I stewed all day. Talked to a dear friend of mine later in the day about the situation. Her daughter graduated from the same high school a couple of years before and attends a local college. She piped up that she'd go with him if he wanted. That was the needed lift to my son's ego. What high school junior wouldn't love to escort an "older" woman to his high school prom?

I think I was even more excited for him than he was. Needless to say, he created a bit of a fuss with a hot (but so sweet) woman on his arm last night. Several people remembered her from a few years before and couldn't believe that she was with my son.

Right now I'm so proud of both of them - she for giving up an evening for a wounded young man, and he for accepting the offered olive leaf of friendship that was the salve he needed at just the right time.

Needless to say he had a crowd of guys talking to him at church today. Imagine there may be a few more come Monday morning.

How he handles the accolades will go a long way in teaching him what it means to be a true gentleman.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Descriptive Titles and Odd Writings

It's so odd.

This afternoon I spent some time looking at a few of my old blog posts, trying to remember what life was like before Mom's cancer and imagining what life will be once she's through this. What will the new "normal" be? It was a shock to realize that as of yesterday's posting, I've only had six total posts for all of 2010.

I used to post six times in one week!

Feeling terribly nostalgic about my writing tonight.

Part of it probably is because we had an old friend come to town this weekend, and our critique group members met with him for an early dinner Saturday evening. What fun! He asked if I'd been writing and got onto me when I told him no. But with having to prove myself all over again in a new position with a new firm, then my mom's diagnosis, my grandmother's death, and having no time much to even spend with my son, where was I going to dig up a few hours a night to do some writing?

But he's right. Digging into characters and bringing them to life on the pages of a good story idea gives my life such spark and energy - something I've been sorely lacking for about eight months now.

For the last three months, I've even given thought to writing a book about my mother's cancer journey. However, it's all been so fresh and raw of late and my mind has been engaged with just helping somehow to get her through each week that I don't know if I have it in me to wrap my mind around it enough to craft something interesting of it all right now.

Perhaps sometime down the road. Maybe a title like "When It Rains It Pours" or "Riding the Raging River Over the Torrential Waterfall Without a Paddle" (okay, maybe that one is a little too long, but VERY descriptive and rather appropriate too)...or maybe "Cancer - a Daughter's Journey Alongside Her Mother".

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Life's Joys and Sorrows

My fellow readers - it has been too long. Glad to be getting back into the writing saddle, though I must admit I'm still not sure how regular I'll be.

Mom had her surgery the 27th of January. I was blessed to be able to spend the entire week with her to assist with recovery efforts. She's now in the full throes of chemo, has lost her hair, and after this third treatment recently is experiencing the fatigue we've only read about in other venues. Never thought I'd be so well versed in breast cancer and its various treatment regimens. Not sure I like being so, but I know it helps Mom with facing the unfaceable.

But life goes on and in a matter of months we'll have this phase behind her.

My son is nearing the end of his junior year in high school and decided that he was going to go to prom. I was thrilled to hear of it - he even asked a friend to go as his date and she accepted. For the last two weeks I've been bugging him to check with her on the color of her dress. Guys just don't understand that concept but I'm trying to give him little insights into the female psyche if he'll just pay attention.

So glory be, he asked her the color on Friday, just in time for his tux measurements and ordering today. He's going to be wearing this really neat style of tux with a black shirt and turquoise vest and tie. Pretty studly if you ask me - but then again, I'm only mom and he doesn't really ask me for that kind of input.

But as mom I offer it anyway. It's my prerogative (hey, isn't that a song?).

I also asked him if he thought they might enjoy my chauffeuring them to the red carpet in the RX.

What's that, you ask? Oh yes, that's right. With everything that's been going on of late I've never shared with you my Christmas present to myself.

Christmas Eve 2009, during the biggest snowstorm of the year, I bought myself a big bad new car.

Well it's not big but it sure is bad - velocity red, six-speed, suicide doors 2009 Mazda RX-8! That twin-rotor motor purrs more the harder you push the revs. We're talking it doesn't redline until 9,000 rpm's. Such a blast to drive! Just wish I had somewhere I could go and open her up full throttle without worrying about getting picked up by a policeman.

Hey, the insurance on the thing is bad enough already - certainly don't need to increase it with a ticket on my record. But I just can't help myself sometimes by pushing the envelope a little bit. Sure makes the drive to and from work alot of fun these days. With the driving back and forth to Oklahoma I've already racked up over nine thousand miles. I'd say she's just about broke-in.

So now my son has the old Protege to drive to and from school and pick up his date for prom. Feels a little weird at times, knowing my son is old enough to drive, not to mention date. Ugh!

But growing up is a part of life. I'm so glad he's participating in it and all the joys it can bring.

And sorrows - but joy comes once again in the morning. It'll come again for you too, Momma, and we can celebrate that time with you.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Shrinking View

My worldview has shrunk greatly in the past month. At this moment in my life everything revolves around my mom.

After the initial shock of the cancer diagnosis and then my grandmother's death wore off, my mind immediately shifted into Mom focus. I doubt if that will let up for some time yet.

My gracious boss once again showed her true colors. Once the mastectomy was scheduled, I was allowed to buy ahead on my vacation time (even though I've not been there quite six months) and was able to spend an entire week with my mother, helping her recuperate. After arriving back home on a Wednesday night, we turned around and headed back Friday evening for Super Bowl weekend.

That initial Wednesday parting was enormously difficult after spending a whole week caring for my mother. I held it all together until driving down the block and turning the corner. Before I even hit the next stoplight, the tears were falling uncontrollably.

It's times like these I wish I lived closer to my parents.

Hard as it felt, this weekend we stayed home. My son had a school dance Friday night and then ended up having friends around pretty much all weekend. But Mom hasn't been far from my mind.

Tomorrow night after work, I'll once again hit the road to head to Oklahoma. Mom has her first oncology visit Wednesday and I want to be there for that too. Chemo is looming on the horizon and none of us are looking forward to seeing her have to go through that. But eventually this too shall pass.

There are no guarantees in life, but I love my mother dearly and hope to keep her around for as long as possible. Eventually life will resume and get back to normal. I'm sure my son will keep me just as busy for the next year, as he's approaching senior-hood.

But for now little else matters. It's Mom who deserves my focus. And that's as it should be.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Good News From Oklahoma

Well more good news to report today down here near red, clay soil territory.

Mom got the first of two drains removed today. She's much more comfortable now, and the way the other drain is looking, she should have it out before the end of the week if all goes well.

Plus (and this is the really good news) - while we were at the doctor's office, pathology faxed in the final report of the lymph nodes. After all the blood tests, scans, biopsies, and lab work we finally have the absolute, 100% all-clear on the lymph nodes.

Mom is cancer free.

I'm almost too tired at this point to jump up and down, but we did a high-five when we received the news. It's the news we've been waiting to hear now for so many weeks. The first scan came back clear and we tentatively celebrated. The sentinel node biopsy came back clear, and we tentatively celebrated.

Now the final pathology lab report is in and we can really celebrate now that there is no microscopic presence of that foul "C" word.

I think I'm going to go to bed and sleep soundly tonight.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Blogging From Oklahoma

I'm here at Mom and Dad's in Oklahoma this Sunday night.

Mom had her mastectomy on Wednesday afternoon. The waiting room was really full with many families represented and her surgery was pushed back several hours. But once she was taken back for surgery, I think our family group was the only one who received regular updates directly from the operating room. What a blessing to be kept in the loop during those long hours!

Her doctor has been so conscientious all along and surgical day was no exception.

He even made a point of having the nurse call us the moment they had the results of the sentinel node biopsy - all clear. I was so excited by that call that everyone was telling me I was almost yelling into the phone when I started calling other family members. Sorry - couldn't help being thrilled by such wonderful news in the midst of difficult circumstances.

After surgery, Mom went into post-op recovery which was supposed to last from 45 minutes to an hour.

We waited.

And waited.

Time seemed to slow as the hours dragged on. That was the only time throughout the entire day that I lost that sense of peace momentarily. Just wanted to see Mom and know that she'd come through it all okay.

Because of nausea and a blood sugar spike we were kept apart for three more hours. Finally around 8:00 that evening we were notified that she was assigned a room and being prepped to come down the hallway. I waited by the doors at the end of the hall until I heard the wheels of the bed hit the linoleum.

Her face was a glorious sight to behold.

Even though her eyes were still closed, I told her hi and that the nodes had come back clear. She responded with a groggy but thankful "good", as I knew that would be the first thing she'd want to know.

Tomorrow we should hear back on the post-surgical pathology report from microscopic testing of the node. It's just the final follow-up to ensure there is absolutely no possibility of any cancer still present in the body.

We are all praying it comes back clean too.

Then we'll decide where we go from here. So far so good, I have to say.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Bitter New Year

Can I be honest here?

Thus far, the New Year has been a real bite for my family. I'd love to use more colorful language here, but I've never used such language and wonder, why bother starting now?

Besides my dear mother's recent diagnosis of breast cancer, my grandmother (mom's mom) passed away last Friday morning. We had her services Tuesday.

For one thing I am thankful. When I went down last week to accompany my mother to her follow-up doctor's appointment and scans, we spent a few hours at the nursing home visiting Grandma. Even though she was virtually unresponsive most of our visit, I do believe she was able to hear us and tried to talk once. Two of my aunts were there to see to her care while my mother was occupied with her own health needs those days. I'm so glad they were there to be together during such difficult circumstances.

They even were able to stop by Mom and Dad's to celebrate with my mother her good news Wednesday evening. Just before five, the doctor's office received the scan results and immediately called my mother. The scans appeared clear - no cancer anywhere else in the body, not in the lymph nodes and not in the chest wall muscle. It's all appears to be contained in the breast tissue.

So I guess that's two things I'm thankful for.

Now it is a race to reach the 27th, when my mother's mastectomy surgery is scheduled. Everyday counts at this point - Mom really wants to get that cancer out of her body before there is any chance of it spreading further.

We're praying for a miracle - that can come directly from the Lord's hand or through the hands of a doctor. I want to keep my mother around for many years to come. Call me selfish if you want.

Then we'll see at the end of the year - maybe it won't end up so bad after all.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Unfamiliar Territory

This week our family finds itself in unfamiliar territory.

My mother has aggressive breast cancer.

The entire idea has just been a huge shock to our family. There's not a hint of cancer anywhere in our family. My mother has been healthy and taken care of herself all of her life.

I guess there are times when you just can't explain the unexplainable.

Yesterday when I found out, I broke down and spent the evening crying my eyes out and worried sick about my dear mother. Today I have been in planning and preparation mode.

We already know she will have a mastectomy, but now the question is how invasive will it be and how extensive is the cancer. My gracious boss told me to do what I need to do and take care of my mother, so after we return home from our consolation visit this weekend I will be returning Tuesday to sit with her through the next doctor visit and then Wednesday the PET-CT and MRI scans. I will be meeting with their fairly new pastor to explain a few things and then set up post-operative care and meals arrangement with several ladies in their church.

I cannot bear the thought of my mother being alone during this time. Thanks to my boss and the wonderful company I'm blessed to be working for, I know she won't be.

And even in the midst of tragedy there's a breath of peace.