A Special Woman 2017

     Six years ago, I wrote the first post celebrating an important woman in my life, my very special Auntie Arlene. I updated the post in 2012, in honor of of her 94th birthday. Today, Auntie Arlene would be 99 years old, but she went home to Jesus in January. It feels strange, this first birthday without her in my world. I spoke to one of her daughters today, my cousin, Jane Buelow Luepke, one of the twins mentioned in the very first post. We reminisced and Jane shared a few details I had not known before. 

     My Auntie Arlene was unique in that she was the daughter of a twin, she married a twin, my dad’s brother, Elmer, and she became the mother of twins, my cousins, Jane and Janice. Additionally, she became the great grandmother of twins, which I always thought was fairly awesome! Why was this woman so special to me? It was through her that I was able to purchase the original Buelow homestead in rural Shawano county, which became my home for thirteen years. Living near her allowed our relationship to blossom and we spent a fair amount of time together, many lunches shared at the table in her apartment in town, many heartfelt conversations. We talked about everything- especially family history, much of which was recorded in her Bible. We discussed religion and politics, all those things one isn’t supposed to talk about in polite company. We didn’t always agree, but we could say anything and share a chuckle over our differences. She kept me informed about local events, and we discussed world events as well. For me, the most treasured piece of our relationship was that she was always in my corner, my biggest encourager. When I was debating grad school and ministry, she advised my to go for it, an affirmation I received gladly and gratefully. When I got my first Master’s degree in Christian ministry:pastoral counseling, I took that diploma to her and we opened it together. It was huge, much larger than the bachelor’s diplomas and we had all kinds of fun with that big diploma; it was like a scroll and I said I felt like the mayor of Oz, which caused a fair amount of laughter. She held on to one corner and I unrolled that diploma while my cousin, Jane, took pictures and joined in the fun! When I received my Master of Divinity (Mdiv) diploma this past May, I spoke with Jane and we agreed that her mom/my aunt was indeed smiling at, and cheering for, me. And while I knew she was in a better place, I missed being able to take a diploma to her one more time.

     Auntie Arlene was my faithful encourager. When I was looking for confirmation of the path I had chosen, she reminded me why I was there. And that is the reason she was so special to me. I knew without a doubt that she was praying for me during my cancer battle and throughout my grad school journey; she told me so, regularly. She was a prayer warrior for her entire family, and I was blessed to be counted among them. 

     My Auntie Arlene was an influence from my youngest years. The Buelows were a large crew and on any given Sunday, any number of aunts and uncles with all the cousins would show up to share a meal and an afternoon of socializing. She had a ready smile and always welcomed everyone to her table. 

     Enjoy the photos; I have so many it’s hard to choose. We took a selfie every week when I visited. We had a system where I’d focus my phone camera and hold it, while she reached up and pushed the button. Below  is one of my all-time favorite photos, Auntie Arlene and me, approximately 1959, on the front steps of the Buelow homestead.

Arlene and LeeAnn 1959

We re-staged that photo in August of 2011. Of course, I didn’t sit on her lap, but we had lots of fun and shared laughter, as you see. 

     Please share in my bittersweet joy as I reminisce. She lived long and she lived well. I hope that each of you has someone who supports and encourages you as unconditionally as she did for me! And as I say often in these pages, hold those you love close and tell them, regularly and often, how very much they mean to you. Be blessed †                    

                                My very special  Auntie Arlene would be 99 today.  





     Yes, indeed, I am one fortunate woman, sharing my story and my joy with y’all. Eleven years ago, Easter Sunday was April 16. Visiting daughters tricked me (they lied, actually) into my truck and drove to the small local hospital. After a CT scan, the emergency room doctor delivered the findings, prefaced by the words “I cannot believe you can walk with the size of that thing growing in your head.”  I was shipped off to Green Bay, interrupting everybody’s Easter dinners. Two days later, Tuesday, April 18, a neurosurgeon and his team took a buzz saw to my skull and a scalpel to my brain. Later he delivered the news that the tumor they had removed was malignant and I had a fairly virulent form of brain cancer. 

     Waiting daughters, family, and friends had already been given the information and the stats were not great; conventional medical prognosis for that cancer is 12-18 months to live. In my worldview, the clinical folks leave out a huge piece and that piece is a fairly major game-changer. My Father had plans and as He says in His book, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

     Those plans included handling that tumor and eleven years later, despite enormous odds and severe statistics, I surely do have hope and a future and I am on a mission to share the blessings and the joy!  This is also a bittersweet day because I  have lost two friends to the same disease, one in the last two years and the other five years ago, the day after my  survival anniversary. Yet here I am alive and well, and most content.

     I wondered, sometimes aloud, during my friends’ ordeals, asking the perennial questions about the mind of God when He wrote the story so long ago. Why are some folks here for longer or shorter durations than others? What is the plan? Those are unanswerable questions in this temporal world, but in my heart of hearts, I believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator God, that did, indeed, write the story before the world began, as we first talked about eleven years ago when I was diagnosed.  

     My friends are gone, their families grieved, each in their own way and time. Yet I know on this warm April morning in South Carolina, that my Heavenly Father has the plan firmly in hand and that despite my friends’ families’ losses, they would not begrudge me the celebration of this anniversary in my life. I will celebrate that I am here, that for whatever reason, God has still got me on my feet. I am most grateful to be here, to have family and friends with whom to share this post, and I will continue to move forward and play my part in the story, hopefully with grace and dignity.  

     As I say repeatedly in these pages, hold your loved ones close; tell them regularly and often how very valuable they are to you. Share with me, please, my joy that eleven years later I am alive and well!  Thank you for joining me in in giving thanks and celebration; be blessed 




     Today we celebrate Erin Lee, my elder daughter born 31 years ago tonight, just shy of midnight, changing my world forever. I knew she was going to be Erin Lee, no ultrasound needed. When I told my obstetrician that I was embroidering her Christmas stocking and already had her name across the top, he reminded me that the odds were 50/50. When I told him that I was working on her Christmas dress – red velveteen and white satin – he just shook his head. Then she was born, four days overdue, making a dramatic entrance in her own time – Erin Lee – I just knew. 

     She was tiny, five pounds, thirteen ounces, and I was smitten. I asked that her bassinet be left with me, couldn’t imagine letting them whisk her off to a nursery. I wanted to get to know this little miracle and the journey began. What I couldn’t possibly have known was the depth of motherly love that would overtake me instantly and continue to grow. Though she lives far away in a city she loves, I believe we are close at heart, more alike than not, though she might not always claim that :).  I’ve had occasion to tell her over the years that there is absolutely nothing on the face of this earth that could possibly change the fact of my unconditional love for her; she will always be my Erin Lee.


    With her permission, I describe her as 105 pounds of pure spitfire. She’s an artist  in personality and temperament, unlike myself; I’ve always been amazed at how she sees the world, from little on, with totally different eyes than mine. I’ve saved samples of her art over the years; a fascinating journey through the developing eye and mind of an artist’s view of her world, always a unique perspective.  It will provide the back-story when she’s famous, having her first gallery show.  In the meantime, three of her paintings hang in my home, I wear several pieces of her jewelry and I keep a file of her work, updated often, on my phone and my PC.      

     An early reader, having completed the Laura Ingalls Wilder series at age six (a gift from her first-grade teacher during one of her many hospitalizations), she’s intelligent and articulate. I used to joke that all the time spent in an oxygen tent paid off beautifully, the silver lining to difficult days of chronic illness first manifested when she was just five months old. Erin has a gift for languages hearkening back to her early days of imitating Pépé Le Pew, as well as a first-rate imitation of Lady from the movie Lady and the Tramp.This was a little girl who let you know with a toss of her hair, that she knew without doubt that she was special. When Erin Lee laughs, everybody laughs, it’s positively contagious.  She’s fiercely loyal with a wicked wit. If you’re close to her, she may challenge you in ways that test your soul, but the result is always worthwhile.

      Erin Lee loves to travel. In January of 2014, she took her first solo trip – to Iceland – looking for artistic inspiration. This year began with a trip to Hawaii and included the traditional Hawaiian pineapple tattoo. HAWAIIAN_TATTOO_CROPPED

       There is a new addition in the lives of Erin Lee and Brandon.  Several weeks ago she texted a photo of what she called my “new grandogter“.  In addition to the cats, they have opened their home to Andy, short for Andromeda, fulfilling one of Erin’s dreams – a dog of her own.

     My firstborn child is 31 today, three decades under her belt. I am so very proud of the woman she is and I am a better person for being her Mumma Lee. Blessings, Erin Lee†  Thank you for the joy you’ve brought me over these 31 years. I’d do it all over in a heartbeat. Joyeux Anniversaire; je t’aime en pièces (translation: “I love you to pieces.”)   (1)  The parenthetical one is our long-distance hug.

         Enjoy the photos, one of Erin Lee in her historic Hawaiian hotel and the other in Seattle with Brandon.











Having begun what is becoming the annual birthday post in 2011, it is time for the new round of my daughters’ birthday posts. I have fun with them and hope you and the honoree do, as well.

     Thirty years ago this evening, I met my younger daughter, Meghan Lee, for the first time. Weighing in at just six pounds, she showed early signs of being her own person, struggling to be released from the hospital swaddling that her sister, a year earlier, had found so comforting.  An early reader determined to keep up with her sister, she began calling me Mother, likely based on something she read; not mom and not just to my face, but in reference to me as well.  It was very noticeable coming from this little person, so formal – Mother.  She still does, today, but I’m used to it and no longer feel like Joan Crawford. That’s Meghan Lee, no nicknames, please. Being her mother, one might accuse me of bias, but I am so very proud of the woman she has become. I am blessed to be close to her, not in proximity, but in mind and heart, the places that matter. I have watched her grow over the years, overcoming challenges and learning to soar like an eagle!!

Since I began the birthday post, each year has been one of continued growth in grace and beauty for Meghan Lee. who, in 2011, began a tradition of wearing a tiara on her birthday, even on the bike. The 2012 birthday post addressed a major life event, marriage to R. Brian Smith, known to me as FSIL. 

Three years later, they continue to grow closer and are, as I describe it, incredibly well matched.WELL-MATCHED

They have embarked on and completed  fitness challenges like the Tough  Mudder twice! They enjoy DIY home renovations. Together they are into weight training, running, and travel. A newer venture is gardening, with which I’m thrilled. I always told her it’s in the Buelow genes; we love to “play in the dirt.” For years she denied it because of spiders – my fault for making my daughters pick too many beans as children, or so they said. In typical fashion, Meghan did the research and came up with a plan for raised beds, which she and Brian built together.  More research led to plans for squirrel-proofing those beds, which she designed, they built, and now their gardens are safe from critters and they’re well into their second year of gardening

This past year brought new challenges and changes.  Making a career shift after soul-searching, and with Brian’s full support, Meghan resigned from her former position, enrolled in and successfully completed a new course of study in the IT field. Having excelled in school and enjoying the change in direction, Meghan launched her own business Meghan Smith Solutions; her work has already attracted clients in the South and in WI; she enjoys the freedom of working at home and/or wherever she happens to be.

My younger daughter turns 30 today and I couldn’t be more pleased to claim her, though I’ve learned to share her with Brian. She is intelligent, kind, loving, and generally an exceptional human being, grown now, with a family of her own –  Meghan Lee, Brian, and three cats – the Smith family.

I’m thanking the Lord for putting her in my arms and into my care – a gift to me beyond compare.   Joyeux anniversaire, Meghan Lee, je t’aime en bric, broc, our French slang for “I love you to pieces.”  Literal translation is “I love you to bits and chunks,” which makes us giggle.  Enjoy the photos – faces of Meghan Lee – and join me, please, in wishing a most wonderful new year and new decade of life to Meghan Lee Smith!


     MEGHAN LEE              M__BD POST_2015      MBCOURTYARD_CROPPED        

Happy 30th Birthday, Meghan Lee!! Be blessed†, my precious daughter!!         


Christmas Countdown 2014 – Seven Days

     I began countdowns back in 2008, with the launching of this site; I kept them up for a couple years, mostly counting down to upcoming trips, holidays spent with daughters in fun places, things like that.  Then came college completion – two undergrad degrees and now grad school, one semester shy of  an MA. I still took the celebratory trips to the South and the Northeast, but the prep was usually hectic, coming at the end of a semester during which household maintenance (dusting/washing floors) was not a priority.

It became a quick blast through the house, not as thorough as it was at one time when I followed my mom’s example for leaving on vacation. That is something I’ve not outgrown, though Mom remembers it differently. Just the other day in talking about my upcoming travels, a friend said, “Oh yeah, you’re one of those women…” and we both smiled.

This week the tasks loom large.  My living room has become a repository of textbooks and reference books, sorted into stacks; some of the books will simply be re-shelved here today. Others will be boxed according to owner, mostly divided between my dad, whose vast personal library is a treasure trove and my friend/study partner, whose educational path I am following and from whom I’m able to borrow textbooks. 

 What used to be the dining table is now an expanded desk, full of papers, folders, receipts, etc., that will be addressed tonight and tomorrow. Then, to quote Rosanne Rosannadanna, from back in the day, “it’s always something.” Yep, an unexpected power outage around 11:15 this morning.  I did, however, handle all the stacks in the living room during the outage.  

     I’m back at my computer – dining table, cleaning, laundry, packing – still ahead, but all is well and I will just keep moving, counting down the days until planes have taken off and landed, hugs have been exchanged, and we  begin celebrating – seven days.  Be blessed, make it a memorable Christmas with family and friends; I sure will.  

     We will be celebrating the reason for this holiday season – Christ’s birth. Enjoy the music, dance around your kitchen; be merry and blessed †

                                                        Joyeux Noël !!


Happy Birthday, Mom – 2014 Edition!!


Regular readers know I favor Special Days. Often they are birthdays of people important to me.  And that is the subject of this  day – the third version of a birthday blog about my mom, a woman about whom I have rarely posted, other than teasing about the habits I believe I inherited from herToday, my mom, Carola Esther Buelow, is 83.  As you can see from the picture below, taken at Meghan Lee’s wedding wedding in 2012, she doesn’t look her age.  She’s active, vibrant and works virtually full-time teaching piano, which she loves.  She also works side-by-side and hand-in-hand with my dad in the church they planted since her last birthday.

 I called Mom to get some background for the original 2012 post; I rediscovered and learned some interesting facts. I’ve always known her to be an intelligent woman, graduating summa cum laude ( “with highest honors”) from University of Rhode Island as a member of Phi Kappa Phi, an academic fraternity, on June 8, 1953, the day on which she also became engaged to my dad.

I have a harder time picturing her as a sorority gal, which she was – Alpha Delta Pi.  Between my daughters, Mom and me, there’s a joke that “Grandma smoked cigarettes and dated sailors,” back in the day. That’s a fact that I post here with her permission.  It makes us all giggle, probably shared for the first time on one of our ten annual four-day weekends in Chicago, trips that holds many special memories. Just look at her photo below, see the twinkle in her eyes.

This is a woman who has taught dozens of people, young and old, to make music; I know many of her students and those families cherish their relationship with her, many of them multigenerational.  She’s a teacher at heart, even taught French at the Lutheran elementary school my brothers and I attended. 

This is a woman ahead of her time.  After marrying my dad, she moved with him halfway across the country and spent the summer on the farm, yes, right here at Her Father’s Homestead, where as a “wedding gift” Grandma Buelow had installed indoor plumbing.  The city girl, an only child, lived at The Homestead, filled with family, for three months before traveling by steamer across the ocean to Germany in a day when cross-country and transoceanic travel were not common, leaving her parents on the East Coast.  And in Germany, far from family and friends, she gave birth to me, when fathers weren’t allowed in the delivery room and she was in a foreign country with limited knowledge of the language. 

I’ve told my daughters often, usually referring to the Buelow side of our family, that we come from hardy stock.  Writing these words has given new meaning to that picture.  My mom, known as Grandma or Gma to my daughters and CEB in my own writing, is as hardy as the best of them.  I am most happy to share her with you.  Joyeux Anniversaire, ma mére.  I love YOU!                                               

CEB, 3.24.12


A Much-Anticipated Event 2013


Today I’m updating what is becoming an annual post.  It’s time for the gathering of cherished friends, a group that I believe may be fairly unique. We have a name and each year we migrate to the North Woods of Wisconsin from as far away as Florida. We’re old friends, some among us go back literally 58 years, the rest anywhere from roughly 30 to 50 years. We graduated from high school together 40 years ago last week. This is the year we are 58 and our annual gathering begins in just two days. Our host is Lana, the youngest of the group; for eight years we’ve invaded the North Woods to stay at Lana’s fabulous property north of Eagle River on a chain of 22 lakes. Our name, The Gazebo Girls, comes from the fact that we spend a fair amount of time in the awesome gazebo on the property and have a group photo taken there each year by a neighbor as seen below. 

Ten G's in a G

Ten G’s in a G

This is our fifth year with a theme.  Themes began with the year of Gazebo Gangstas, due to the fact that the Dillinger movie starring Johnny Depp had recently been filmed nearby.  We dressed in 1920‘s costumes and had dinner at a restaurant famous for being the site of an actual Dillinger shootout.  That was followed by the year of the Gazebo Pirates, in which we hired a pirate ship that cruises around the chain of lakes and is great for special occasions.  Picture eleven women dressed as pirates on a big ship flying the skull and crossbones, with blaring pirate music as we cruised the chain of lakes for three hours.  That was followed by Gazebo Cowgirls – more costumes and a trail ride. Last year we staged a Gazebo Wedding and that is enough said.  There will be the traditional Saturday on the pontoon boat with sun and food and lots of laughs.  Saturday night is our big dinner, prepared by our very own chef extraordinaire, Mary B; she always amazes us.  Coffee with, you know, that fabulous whipped creme in a can, is another tradition, as is Patti’s creation of a signature drink to complement our theme.  We’ll sing old favorites, loudly perhaps, laugh a lot, share a year’s worth of photos and bring each other up-to-date.  In just two days, we’ll gather for West High Story, the theme for this year, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of our graduation from Green Bay West High School.

   Two years ago at the beginning of our weekend, two of our group members lost their moms. A third old friend’s 29 year-old daughter passed away.  When the rest of us left the North Woods, we headed home to attend funerals.  We’ve shared family rites of passage, marriages and grandbabies; supported one another through death, divorce, cancer and remission thereof and the safe return of a son serving our country. We know each other well and while this is about shared history for sure, it’s also about making new memories together.   I’m getting excited to get there; we’ll have a blast – celebrating life and friendship.  As the childhood song says, “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”   

12 Gazebos in 2012

12 Gazebos in 2012



This group of old friends is as precious to me as gold and I’m looking forward to another great gathering!


Here We Go Again…

That may well be what some of you think about this post and frankly, my response is, it’s my blog, the subjects about which I write are important to me and I believe some of them are important in the larger scheme of life.  That said, there are three reasons leading up to my choice of topic today.  First of all, another woman in another nearby county is dead and her “boyfriend” is in jail awaiting charges.  Interestingly, a law enforcement officer commented on the “irony” of the situation because the murdered woman was recently publicly lauded for “her tireless advocacy on behalf of victims of domestic violence.”  Ironic?  Really?  That’s reason one.  The second reason is a conversation with a young woman I know, mother of two children under age three, whose significant other was arrested on a DV charge after punching holes in the walls and grabbing the woman by the throat.  Is this true?  I looked it up in the state court records just to be able to answer the doubters; yes the arrest occurred based on evidence.  Third, this issue has become personal.  In discussions this week I received comments like “Get over it,”  (from a woman, no less) and “Well, I didn’t see it,” from a male relative.  Really?  Not seeing an abuser in action means abuse didn’t take place and one should sit down and share a meal with said abuser, basically demeaning the experience of three victimized women, two of them children or at least under age during their experience?    

Do I need more reasons?  Are three enough?  I know this isn’t a pretty post; there’s no humor, nothing funny like chocolate bunnies without heads, but there’s very little humor in me as I write this.  I’m discouraged and disgusted and it’s once again time to stand up and speak out with all its ugliness.  Disregard, disrespect, dismissal, those darned D words that women experience all the time.  It’s even worse when life-altering occurrences have the D words applied.  

If you care enough to help, what can you do?  First of all, do NOT dismiss the experiences or minimize the effects even years later. It’s now known that women who’ve been mistreated – intimidated, called ugly names, had their possessions broken, walls and doors kicked in, pets abused – all these events leave their mark and many women experience symptoms of PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, triggered by something as simple as a spring breeze causing a door to slam shut, or observing a young couple in a grocery store and he calls her a vile name.  These incidents can bring back the ugliness in a heartbeat and are not easily gotten over; flashbacks are not something over which a person has control.  

Educate yourself so you don’t make hurtful comments or display a dismissive attitude.  And be willing to stand up and be counted; it’s not okay to condone abusive behavior through silence.  And pretending something ugly didn’t occur does not make it disappear.   It’s not a matter of lack of forgiveness or dwelling on past events.  Do you think people who’ve experienced this kind of ugliness really want to relive it?  Not on your life.  There are those of us who’ve chosen to turn ugliness into benefit for others.  Help me do that, please – support your local women’s shelters, donate your old cell phones and printer cartridges, volunteer at shelter events, advocate for victims whenever the opportunity presents itself, open your mouth, take a stand.  Thanks for listening with an open mind and heart…






A Long Strange Trip…

Today’s post takes its title from an old Grateful Dead tune; many of you will recognize the phrase.  This past week has been an emotional roller coaster.  From the terror event at the Boston Marathon through its conclusion late yesterday and a horrific explosion in West, Texas, the national scene has been intense.  On a personal level, one of my dogs passed away, a favorite aunt is hospitalized and I’m struggling to get my head around the subject of my current research paper, due in two days.  Thanks to my dad I have the introduction handled, but just cannot get to the heart of my subject’s theology.  Additionally, the footnote function on both my computers doesn’t function.  Must be lost in cyberspace or something, but how strange? to have it fail on two computers…  Another thanks here to my niece, Marissa Rae, who’s saved my technical behind more than once; in a late-night phone session she came up with a backdoor way to create footnotes.  I get the whole idea of protecting “intellectual property” and I agree.  What I don’t get is the need to have to numerous styles of formatting, one for the sciences,  another for humanities and it all seems like so much process for the sake of process or rules for the sake of rules, of which we all know I am not a fan.  

More to the strange trip of this past week – my Shadow died, Soleil is lonely and confused, there’s mud absolutely everywhere and huge tracks through the yard from a semi trying to back in.  It’s still snowing randomly and not very warm.  Most of the yard is like quicksand and shows very little signs of Spring life.  I sound whiny, don’t I?  Having read theTough Mudder pledge earlier today, one of the pledge points is about not whining – little kids whine.  

You might ask why I’d be reading the Tough Mudder Pledge – at this very moment one of my daughters is participating in the event.  I was fine until I actually read some of the obstacles. Now I’m not a worrier, don’t believe in it as a rule, but sliding on her belly beneath live electrical wires?  pulling herself through narrow pipes filled with mud?  Still not worrying; I prefer to think of the enormous challenge and am filled with admiration at the magnitude of the undertaking. Besides, as was said in a conversation with my cousin, Jane, this morning worrying doesn’t do a thing, changes nothing.  So I put her and her husband in God’s hands – I’m thinking He’s proud of His children’s use of their physical prowess, a gift.  

Yet another strange feeling for this mother is to have her daughters flying in separate directions this weekend.  One already noted, the other off to a fun weekend with friends – confident and capable to grab life and participate.  All the same, another piece of the long, strange trip – we are so very far apart (physically)  and I’m not convinced that I like it…

That said, world events – tragedies in Boston and West, Texas, an earthquake in China, personal setbacks small in comparison, and I’m still feeling like this has been a strange trip of a week, one not over till that research paper is submitted and two tests are taken.  By then daughters will back in their respective cities, texts will have been exchanged letting this mother know that all is well in our sphere of the world and life goes on…

The words of the Grateful Dead resonate with me right now, but I’ve gotta believe that there’s a plan and all things will be used to fulfill it, one way or another and it does not have to make sense to us now.  For those of you who may not share my worldview, think if we knew the future, knew how our lives would unfold.  Would that be helpful?  I’m not certain any of us would be happy with that foreknowledge.   I’m content to leave it in my Father’s hands and trust that the grand design has been written by a greater Mind than mine. 

In the end, the weeks ahead will return to normal, everything in its time, and the world will keep turning.  Strange may become a tool for personal growth and we may develop a new normal.  Either way, we’re here for the duration and I’m thankful for all of you in my life!  Be blessed…



Happy Anniversary to ME!! 2013 Edition

Yes, indeed, I’m one fortunate woman, sharing my story and my joy with y’all. Seven years ago today, Easter Sunday that year, my visiting daughters stuffed me into my truck and headed to the small, local hospital, where doctors were stunned by what they found.  A fairly large mass in my head, so big that the doc, in explaining it, said, “I cannot believe you can walk with the size of that thing growing in your head.”  I was shipped off to Green Bay, interrupted everybody’s Easter dinners and two days later, a neurosurgeon and his team took a buzz saw to my skull and  a scalpel to my brain.  Later he visited me in the night and delivered the news that the tumor they removed was malignant and I had a fairly aggressive form of brain cancer.  Waiting daughters, family and friends had already been given information and the stats were not great; but the clinical world leaves out a huge piece and that piece is a fairly major game-changer. My Father had plans and as He says in His Book, (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)  “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Those plans included handling that tumor and seven years  later, despite enormous odds and severe statistics, I surely do have hope and a future and I’m on a mission to share the blessings and the joy!  This is most bittersweet today because in in a couple hours I will head to the funeral of a friend who lost his five and-a-half-year battle with the same cancer I had, just a week ago. Yet here I am well and  most content

I’ve wondered, sometimes aloud, during my friend’s ordeal, asked the perennial questions about the mind of God when He wrote the story so long ago. Why are some folks here for longer or shorter durations than others? What’s the plan?  Those are unanswerable questions in this temporal world, but I still believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator God, that did, indeed, write the story before the world began, as we first talked about seven years ago when I was diagnosed.  

So my friend is gone and his family mourns. Yet I know on this cold, gloomy, April morning that my Heavenly Father has the plan firmly in hand and that despite another family’s loss, they would not begrudge me the celebration of this anniversary in my life.  In a few hours I’ll attend the funeral, but in this pre-dawn moment and later in conversations with friends and family, I will celebrate that I am here, that for whatever reason, God’s still got me on my feet. I am most grateful to be here with loved ones and to play my part in the story, hopefully with grace and dignity.  

As I say often in these pages, hold your loved ones close; tell them regularly and often how very valuable they are to you and share with me, please, my joy that seven years later I am alive and well!  Be blessed….