HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME: 2017 UPDATE!!

 

     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 

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The Ugly Coat Came Out Today!!

That’s right, this coat has a name and few people have ever seen it; I can think of five including myself, Erin Lee, Meghan Lee, the original owner and her daughter, who is no longer with us.  It is ugly, which is one of the reasons it ended up with me 🙂  An old friend who dislikes brutal cold even more than I do had purchased it years ago, then was forbidden by her daughter  to wear it in public.  When I moved out here to the Homestead, my friend gifted it to me figuring that living in Shawano Country, it probably didn’t matter how ugly the coat is, it may well come in handy.  My daughters rolled their eyes, and the coat became an annual joke.  I comment every year when the coat comes out; it’s my temperature gauge and for it to come out means it’s fairly cold.  I should keep track of the date each year.like an almanac of cold; haven’t done it so far, but today it’s going in the planner, to be transferred on New Year’s Day to the 2014 planner for future reference 🙂  

How ugly is it, you might ask?  I’ll try to explain in words and a visual just what it’s all about.

Faded purple, puffy everything, hood, even an emblem of something on the sleeve

Faded purple, puffy everything, hood, even an emblem of something on the sleeve

 

 It is big, HUGE, puffy, doesn’t all fit in a single photo and full-length   That’s right, no short little thing that leaves your behind exposed.  This comes right down to the top of my boots, even has a hood and large sleeves that allow for several layers.  It’s so heavy that it has to go in a closet on a double hanger.  I tried hanging it with the  others on the back porch coat tree, but it tips the whole thing over. I”m one who collects jackets and coats, the fact that this one item outweighs all the others combined should give you some idea 🙂  

Thinking about that, I could wear it around the house for exercise, maybe it would act as a full body weight instead of the girlie wrist and ankle weights I use; perhaps it could be like a personal sweat coat.  Who knew that it could be multipurpose, all the while in the house where no one but Soleil can observe and he promised never to tell:)  As far as I know there are no photos of this coat being worn because even here in the country, I’d be hard pressed to wear this into town.  It has not yet been that cold, even in Wisconsin and I do have a fur that is much more attractive.  Either way, the outfit is completed with my ancient white Sorels – big, insulated, waterproof, you know the kind that last forever, you just update the liner occasionally and yes, they are very white.  I bought new gloves a few weeks ago, supposed to be guaranteed to keep hands warm and dry to  -30º, we’ll see :).  Now that The Ugly Coat has been taken out of storage, I’m ready for for whatever.  

And there’s one more thing – the ice cleats that go on your boots.  Used to have a pair, lost one and found out the hard way last winter that one is generally insufficient to keep a person upright.  In the interest of staying on my feet and avoiding another concussion, when the back steps were slippery yesterday morning, I went on the hunt for a PAIR of cleats, which I found and now own.  That said, now I may be ready for whatever.  

As good ol’ King Solomon said back in the day, every season has its time.  I’m not so sure I’ll ever agree that there’s a time for brutal cold, or even just regular cold, but I am as ready as I can be now that The Ugly Coat has shown up again.  Stay warm, be blessed!!

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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….

 

 

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Reflections on a summer Sunday morning

It’s been quite a week, filled with the usual ups and downs common to women everywhere – highlights and low-lights and life does go on.  Because I’m me, let’s start with a big highlight.  My favorite Auntie Arlene, mentioned often in this blog, had a birthday, 92, to be specific.  Below you see two photos of us, one taken 53 or so years ago here at the Homestead and one taken three days ago on her birthday.

Auntie Arlene and me circa 1957

92nd birthday lunch 7.22.10

We go way back and as I told her yesterday, I treasure our time together. That would be a definite highlight of the last week!

There are more –  a fun cousin’s lunch – hours spent together looking at photos, sharing stories. memories and laughs.  That would be a highlight.

Then there are low-lights: a dear friend receives a cancer diagnosis, another loses her mother, disappointing behavior from someone close to me, rain with what feels like no end.  Altogether a typical week, I guess. We give thanks for the good and take the concerns to the One in control.

On this summer morning of reflection, I’m thanking the Lord for family and friends and casting all care onto Him.   Have a beautiful day!!

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Happy Anniversary to Me !!!

Yes, indeed, I’m one fortunate woman, sharing my story and my joy with y’all today.  Four years ago right about now, a neurosurgeon and his team took a buzz saw to my skull and then 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 serious 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 this tumor and four years later, I surely do have hope and a future and I’m on a mission to share the blessings and the joy!  I am well, most content and because I can, I’m heading out into the sunshine on this beautiful Sunday in April, 2010.

Bénédictions 🙂

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This, too, shall pass…

A quick google of today’s title finds it defined as a proverb; not a quote from the Bible – you gotta love a phrase that has its own wiki 🙂  It may be based on the oft-repeated phrase,  “And it came to pass,” first used in Genesis chapter four and depending on your source and version, anywhere from 120 to 630 times in the Old and/or New Testament.  One of my favorite authors,  Barbara Johnson, no longer with us, used to say that it’s important to note that the Bible never said, “And it came to stay.”  And like many of us, Barbara knew of what she spoke!

Does it help?  Well, those who know me know that I believe words matter;  when it comes to unpleasantness, discomfort, pain – physical or emotional – you have a choice – dwell or pass through it.  Personally, unless it comes covered in milk chocolate, I believe in letting it pass or passing through it. And while we’re at it, let’s look quickly at the word dwell, a favorite.  It sounds so much nicer to suggest that someone not dwell in or “stay focused” on their perceived misery, than to suggest that they’re wallowing 🙂  I’ve come a long way from the days of being famous for saying something like, “Oh for Pete’s sake, buck up, buddy!”  Now I strive to be nicer, so I use gentler words like dwell.

But when it came down to it, when the walk met the talk, it really was a matter of speaking the result.  I spoke healing and more healing, to myself, my daughters, my extended family.  Fear was not an option, not ever, not allowed and it truly comes down to that.  Cancer, two brain surgeries, chemo, radiation, all came to pass.  Did not come to stay, but came to pass!!

As we move toward Easter 2010,  four years from that fateful day of brain tumor discovery, it came to pass and pass it did, an event in my history that has been handled by my Father in heaven.  And I encourage you, no matter what the situation or challenge you face, it, too, shall pass.  And that can be a most comforting place to dwell as you go through the passing of your challenge.  Be encouraged and be blessed!!

Bénédictions!


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LAND OF THE FREE ….

Coming up on the Fourth of July.  While it’s not a holiday I’m sentimental about like Easter and Christmas, I’ve been thinking about freedom and bravery. Are you free? Are you brave?  The song says we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  I know brave women who’ve fought for their freedom, not in a foreign country wearing a helmet and carrying an assault weapon, but they’ve fought nonetheless.   They’ve fought for themselves, for their children, and some, for their very lives.

This morning I ‘m thinking of these women.  I’m praying for their safety, emotionally and physically, and for any children involved.  I’m praying for continued courage when things get ugly and bravery in the face of danger.  I’m praying that they have someone in their lives to whom they can reach out and if they don’t, that such a person will be placed in their path.

So on this third of July, my brother’s birthday, by the way, I’m thanking God for freedom – from abuse and tyranny in my own home, for the safety of my daughters then and now, freedom from cancer,  freedom from guilt and shame through my faith in Jesus, and for the freedom of new beginnings, with which I’ve been  blessed several times!!

Enjoy the holiday and remember that freedom comes at a price.  Honor the blood that was shed to set you free physically and to me most importantly, spiritually.

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There Was a Time …..

There was a time when the night before Ash Wednesday would have my attention more for what was happening at Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Rio than for any spiritual meaning.  Tonight is different.

I’ve had an interesting week and am feeling very blessed!  I was given insight into a situation that had been on my heart and the message was very positive and hopeful.  I’ve once again had the opportunity to participate in a big way in making a difference in some one’s life and there is nothing that compares to the feeling!!!  I’ve also had a situation that could have been fairly upsetting, but instead I’ve seen the miracle in it and am giving thanks.  And I mean miracle, plain as day.

I believe I’ve mentioned my current Bible study and it gets into the whole concept of miracles, what’s real, what’s not, what can we ask for and what can we claim.  It is so timely in my life.

I’m coming up on the three-year mark of what  I believe to be being healed of brain cancer.  Three years ago at this time I was enduring unbelievable headaches, pain beyond description, even for someone who had suffered intense migraines for decades.

I’ll not recount it here, as it’s a life event that occurred and is in the past.  Lent and Easter of 2006, though, were intense times and many lessons have been learned and many memories made since then.  I said then and have lived it since – no health challenge is going to define me.  Shape perhaps, maybe even refine or hone some of my beliefs, but defined by a physical challenge?  No thanks!!

So embarking on this Lenten 2009 journey of leaving behind SHOULD and its ensuing guilt,  I’m a very grateful, very thankful, very fulfilled woman, living daily in wonder at the blessings I have and see all around me.  Everything peachy?  Not quite, but compared to where I’ve been, things look pretty good.  The French refer to la vie en rose; I’d say it’s all in how you choose 🙂  Adieu……

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Countdown 57 hours – First Day of Winter

Okay not even the low number of hours till I’m hugging my Meghan can begin this post.  The feature here is, get this, minus 6° (6 below zero) air temp with a WIND CHILL of  minus 28 degrees.    That’s a wind chill factor of 28 DEGREES BELOW ZERO right now, as I’m writing.  Didn’t I use the words brutal cold yesterday?  We are there and it is indeed brutal. It even looks harsh out there and winter officially began just hours ago.

Am I heading out to church?  No, and I’m reasonably certain the Lord understands.  I will visit one of my favorite preachers online, Pastor Greg Laurie at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside California, and listen live because they stream the video during each of their services.  I can  watch/listen three times today.  In between their services I can pop over (virtually)  to Appleton Alliance Church, a wonderful place, but  difficult to travel there from here especially with blowing, drifting snow.  Pastor Dennis there was a powerful pray-er for me prior to my second brain surgery and is a gifted preacher.  I download and listen to his sermons regularly.

My own father, the most gifted preacher I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard many,  doesn’t yet have his sermons on their Web site.    I chuckled when I first moved out here and ran into some of his former parishioners.  The wife was telling me how they were out for a Sunday drive, flipping through radio stations and they heard “The Voice”  and knew immediately who it was. At 83, he’s still got it.  Having grown up with the best, I do admit to having fairly high standards for preachers.  While I certainly know that it’s supposed to be the message, not the messenger;  the messenger makes a difference.  And my father is a very powerful messenger.  Maybe he’ll get his sermons on the Web and you, too, can hear him preach.  Are you reading this, Dad?  🙂

So that’s my Sunday – I have my last transcription job of 2008 due tomorrow morning in addition to hauling out the snow-blower AGAIN and bundling up against the wind AGAIN, then more cleaning, laundry, packing, the usual pre-holiday (as in vacation) routine previously referred to .  Don’t think I’ll get to “wiping up the floor” at all  and to use one of my father’s famous lines once again – There you have it.

In 50 hours I’ll be at the airport in Green Bay, waiting to take off for Columbia, South Carolina, where my Meghan will be waiting to pick me up.  I will surely be dancing through the cleaning and packing today, amen 🙂

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Countdown 8 Days

One week and one day – I can hardly wait.  What does that mean anyway?  Of course I can wait.  How would I NOT wait?   I will do what countless women have done through the ages – clean something! In fact, I have closets, cupboards, drawers, all of which will be at least touched up before I leave on holiday.

What is it – something passed down from my own mother?  Absolutely! As a child, prior to every vacation the house was made spotless, including “wiping up the floor” on hands and knees as we made our way out the door. I haven’t done that lately, but in August of  ’07 prior to going in for a second brain surgery, I pretty much hit every closet, drawer, cupboard, you name it.  I even called in reserves to help.  My friend, Karen, gets it and answered my call for help.  Her job was to take the steamer to all the clothes in the laundry room, to make sure everything was steamed and properly put away before I went to the hospital.  Can I get an Amen here?  Surely someone can relate :).

This is a fairly literal interpretation of the Biblical putting one’s house in order,  II Samuel 17:23, which, by the way, preceded a suicide.  Short of working myself to death cleaning all these closets, drawers and cupboards pre-holiday, along with daily living, teaching, conducting business as usual plus several meetings, and participating in some Christmas socializing, I’m not intending to do myself in.  My girls would be grinning – they’ve lived through their mom’s pre-holiday/vacation ritual many times.

But action cures lots of emotional ailments and it certainly beats the heck out of sitting here nibbling on my nails.  Oh, note to self, add MANICURE to the to-do list, may as well make it mani-pedi as I’m not packing the five pairs of boots I wear out here from September through March.  These feet will be slipping into sandals or flips in just over a week now, late December, no less.

So how do I wait?  I’ll clean and organize, make a few lists, pack,  sing and dance my way through the chores, praising the Lord that in just eight days I’ll be hugging my younger daughter and maybe even tucking her in and saying prayers once or twice as we did so every often in times past.  Does it get any better?

P.S.  Check out the links for  “mani-pedi” and  “five pairs”  above – an online grammar guide and an URBAN dictionary, you gotta love it :)!              à plus tard …………..,  LeeAnn

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