Friday, October 2, 2015


My Facebook friends have seen pics of Sam's wedding, but my non-FB friends who read this blog have not, So out of a staggering number of pictures, I picked out a handful to post here. It was such a magnificent day. And I have an amazing new daughter!

Sam seeing Gretchen for the first time

What a sweet addition to our family!
My awesome son with his mom and dad (below).

The best man's speech stole the show!!

Sam with his beautiful bride and Hieb cousins

Dordt College was well-represented by the 4 tallest guys in the wedding party, including Sam!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2015


This is just a quick update for my family and close friends who have been wondering about my biopsy results in Denver. Finally heard from my doctor. Here he is, this world-reknown researcher, making his own phone calls and talking with me as if he hadn't another task to accomplish all day. He even laughed about my new email address. He explains everything so clearly. Love this guy.

The biopsy of the fluid around my lung is cancerous. But the growing tumor has NO cancer! Amazing. 

God is healing me in small steps. While I have asked Him many times for the more immediate supernatural healing, He has chosen to mete out my healing slowly: the leg tumor, the tumors squeezing my bronchus, and now this new one. 

I am asking God, in the name of Jesus, to suck that fluid right out of there by the next scan!! Dr. C gave me a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. We are starting with Plan nothing.

I had my brain scan yesterday and made it thru without coughing....had many praying people covering that base. Results on Monday.

Five years and one month with Stage 4 cancer. Am very thankful today and every day to my Savior Healer.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


I spent the last 2 hours today on the 5-6 hour project that was sorting through all of my mother’s papers and files. My brothers “gifted” me with this task as a way to get out of it and it is patently unfair that they left me with the task of throwing/sorting out our mom’s precious memorabilia. I will get revenge, trust me.

There were 5 boxes of stuff, put in a larger box, too heavy for even Dick to lift (does that tell you the quantity of stuff?). So smaller box by smaller box, I have had to sift through everything my mom kept that meant something to her. I had files on: pictures (hundreds), bits of wisdom, new cards, stationery, her Norwegian sweater patterns, how to care for the quilts (she made many—an expert quilter), Christmas cards, devotionals, obit programs, newspaper write-ups, including her own wedding, Gretch/Bets Project (don’t ask ME), letters and cards received (I would not have needed to write a new eulogy for mom in May…..all I would have had to do was choose one of the dozen Mother’s Day cards or letters I wrote to her). All here in a file. And all for me to decide what to do with.

It was emotionally tough. You pick up your mom’s engagement calendar from 1998 with sweet words on the square days……”Kids coming!!!!!!” or “Going to visit Mary, Dick and Sam….so excited.” You read letters from my brother writing home from college needing more money and telling the folks how much they meant to him. You find your mom’s high school diploma and her wedding registry book. I could make this paragraph a foot long and not even touch on most of the tidbits.

On several of the files was my heavy magic marker: MOM, please go thru these files and throw out stuff. That was in 2013. The answer to your burning question is clearly no.

The first toss-out was the hardest. I had steel my emotions and realize that these were the things that SHE prized, not me, and that for me to hold onto things that had no history for me did not make sense. All that does is push the same problem down to Sam one day; Nanny’s treasures along with his mom’s and dad’s. That was my criteria. If I knew that Sam would have no connection or interest in the item, I could throw it. I kept a handful of special things that were dear to me because they were dear to Mom.

There is a weaving of guilt and freedom in this process, and every adult child who has done it understands that. It is impossible to part with it all, because part of it is our history, (our numerous, yearly, family skits, for instance, written in longhand) and part of that history is OK to pass onto your own children. The guilt comes with every throw-out where you hear your mom’s voice, “Oh, no, you’re not gonna throw THAT away, are you?”

The one conviction I am taking from this task is that I will do all I can to go thru my own memorabilia now and toss what I know is not important in my life anymore (i.e. cheerleading scrapbooks???). Things Sam does not need to drag through his life in MY boxes after I am gone. I want to be mindful of the things only that would touch his heart (all the Mother’s Day cards he has ever made me…..think he only missed a couple years) or that he would feel is important history (copies of the two genealogy books I’ve written and the 4 books I have written for him). 

I promised him already that when I am done sifting through my own stuff that he will have minimal miscellaneous paper to go through someday. I think it is time that I can throw the file full of child-raising advice, philosophies of aging, and  picture albums with pics that Sam wouldn’t have a clue who anybody was. Meaningless to him.

And so my sweet mama’s life has come full circle in a way. With every move the last 9 years, she had to leave behind “things.” In the last 18 months, from condo to apartment, to a smaller apartment, to the nursing home room, we watched as her world was diminished down to a bed and a couple easy chairs, with none of this precious memorabilia for her to enjoy…..she couldn’t see anymore. It is hard to see a life once rich and full in people, conversation, travel, hobbies, giving, entertaining….. diminish in front of your eyes. Pat loved life more than anyone I’ve ever known. The end was hard on her and all of us.

I kept a handful of items that meant a lot to her. I will treasure them. But I realize that in the end, I wouldn’t have needed to. I had her unconditional love, support, encouragement and wisdom every day of 60 years as she spoke into my life. That is the only memory I truly need to hold onto.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


If anything is growing inside of me, it is going to get big. More delays. I woke up with a sore throat on Monday which rapidly mushroomed into a full-blown head cold, cough, and sinus infection. I have not been sick for 5 years (I had to become a germaphobe to some degree to accomplish that), and had forgotten how miserable "the crud" is. I obviously could not have have my brain MRI with all my coughing so that has been rescheduled for next Wednesday and I will have results on the 21st. I hope and pray the cough will be gone by next week. I am so ready to have this done. I am yet waiting on my doctor in Denver. I wonder if the long wait means I have something so rare that they need to research it before calling me.

I know how I got sick. I worked on Friday, and one little boy I was sitting with at a table kept sneezing and coughing at me. I turned my head around each time, but I don't think I escaped it all. 48 hours later, boom. The way I feel today, I could quit my job!!

Friday, September 4, 2015


Heard nothing from Denver today. Looks like the waiting will go into next week. On Thursday, I will be having a brain MRI and those results WILL be on Monday the 14th. I am very anxious to have the answers in hand.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


I love seeing God splashing his blessings over my life, his favor, his love. I am amazed that as I try to live my life in the supernatural as I am supposed to, He is right there with that favor.

By a miraculous turn, Dick and I got an appt with Dr. C in Denver last week. We were told it would be 3 weeks out, and I was making a short list of people who were willing to go with me. But I wanted my rock, my husband. He simply cannot NOT teach for 4 days in the middle of a week. I did not want to go with anyone else. I said to the scheduler,"Can you make a miracle for me?" (I found out she is a devout believer when I met her). And a day later, she called me and said, "Bonjour, Miss Mary, you have your miracle. We can get you in next week."

We would be on our last week of vacation. Dick could go. Praise God. I called around the UCCC campus for motels that might have a shuttle service both to the airport and to the medical campus. Few did. I reluctantly tried Crown Plaza as I know they are very pricey, but they had shuttles to both. The gal then said, "And because you are a UCCC patient, we will give you your room for $89 per night." WHAT? Are you serious, God?

There was a blessing on the way to the airport. We stopped at Tobies in Hinckley (South Dakotans have no clue what I am talking about, and that is ok.) and when we asked for our check, the server said that an anonymous person in the restaurant paid our bill. WHAT? WHY? (We were not even dressed as northwoods ragamuffins that day) Thank you, God!

In Denver we were about to order Taco Bell when the power went out. They shut down and we walked to Qdoba across the street. They had no power either, but the owner quickly came to us and gave us 2 tickets for free dinners that night! WHAT? God was just blessing our sox off.

In bed that first night before the biopsy, I was reading my Scripture verses and John 16:23 just jumped off the page at me. It is such a powerful promise. I TELL YOU THE TRUTH. MY FATHER WILL GIVE YOU ANYTHING YOU ASK IN MY NAME. Could it be that simple to take away this anxiety? Jesus says nothing He cannot do. He cannot lie. I stuck my faith right there and believed Him.

I claimed that verse 3 times, asking in Jesus' name that the big risk of the biopsy, which was a collapsed lung, would not happen. By the third time (I know. I only needed to say it once) I decided that the truth of that promise was mine and that everything would go without a hitch.

In the biopsy room, a large black nurse anesthetist was there as an angel sent by God I am certain. When she asked me, as I was laying down on the CT scanner, how I was, I told her I was just praying. She said, "Well, Miss Mary, I pray for all my patients and I am praying for you too. I'll be checkin' on you often." And true to her word (I was under conscious sedation so I heard everything), she came close to my face every few minutes and said, "You doin' OK, Miss Mary?" I grunted a "yuh" and she'd return to her monitors. Thank you, Jesus, for giving me abundantly more than I could ask or imagine.

11 hours after we arrived at the medical center, we were back in the motel and wiped out. Our plane left at 6 and we had to take a 4 am shuttle to the airport. It was a tiring trip. But as Dr. C told me, perhaps this biopsy of the growing tumors can tell us what kind they are finally, and tell us if he has something in his repertoire of targeted drugs to combat it.
We should have news by the end of next week.


Friday, August 14, 2015


My Avera team is now feeling like the growing tumors are a good opportunity to get the biopsy that my Denver doctor suggested in November. They sent him all the scans and reports last week, but there has been no word yet. SO. We may be on a plane to Denver next week instead of enjoying the woods. In Denver they would do genetic sequencing to determine what kind of cancer I have. Lung cancers have many labels, and he doubted whether my diagnosis about the ALK mutation was correct. So we wait.

The fishing is getting better, the blueberries are still nonexistent, and my husband made me a beautiful headboard for our bed out of a vintage oak door. He did an amazing job and now I want him make another one for Sam and Gretchen’s bedroom back home.

Sam had a couple days off this week and came up north. It was so special having him home. I think every parent wonders how their relationship will change with their child once they are married. The past few days proved that our relationship hasn’t changed one bit. Some of my friends report that their sons rarely communicate with them anymore. No worries there. We have a wonderful daughter-in-law who is very generous in sharing him with us!!!

Today was our first hot day all summer. It got up to 88. We have had a glorious summer of mid 70’s most days. Today we got a taste of what home will be like when we get back!! It is heading into the 90’s tomorrow. We may live in the lake.

My thin, white hair continues to grow back very slowly and continues to come in pointing UP. I have a serious Mohawk that is not changing. God has a sense of humor. I hope that as it gets longer, it might fall down!! Right now it is barely ½ inch.

Thank you for prayers that we have discernment about Denver. Part of us want to forego any medical treatment and just tell God to handle it; part of us know that God aids the medical profession. We will listen to all the pros and cons and make a decision about the biopsy.