Monday, April 30, 2012


Nobody much cares about anyone else's kitchen renovation except a mom. And these are for her. She often cannot bring up pictures I send her thru email...for some reason her Apple is obstinate (I hate Apple) when receiving pics from a PC. Anywhoo, mama, I will delete this whole post after you see these, but you have heard all my cranky complaining about the chaos of renovation and you deserve to see the end result. I am so happy with all of it. A kitchen that is finally of the 21st century!! BUT.....if I ever bring up the subject of another home remodeling, Mom, please shoot me.

Mom, the new sink is fathoms deep!!

This is the quartz countertop

My sweet hubbie putting together a microwave cart for me.

He did a great job!

Friday, April 27, 2012


My body and mind are tired of dealing with more "issues." The orthopedist is referring me to a colleague who is an oncological orthopedist and deals with radiation side effects. My right leg has lost 1", which is not a good sign. Something is degenerating or collapsing and we need the truth. I keep wondering if the chemo or the new bone drug I am taking is contributing to this. (Ask me how ticked I will be if that is true). So on May 9th, I will do that. I have to admit being pretty down yesterday, but I had to keep reminding myself that this is man's view, not God's view. He can heal my leg as surely as I believe He is healing my cancer. In the wake of all that news, I forgot to take my chemo last night until 4 hours later and when I did, it was on an empty stomach with not enough water. The pill got stuck in my esophagus, causing great pain and heartburn. I spent the night mostly awake, vomiting and fainting and trying to bear the pain in my upper stomach. I've spent the day today on the sofa with workmen in the kitchen in and out....I didn't even care. Am just too mentally and physically spent. Some days, like today, I just want to wake up and have cancer be a bad dream.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


My right leg, the one that was radiated on the hip tumor and surrounding area, has been increasingly stiff and painful, so much so that walking is harder and sometimes I limp. I was told that a possible side effect of radiation could be avascular necrosis at the femur head. (To my non-medical friends....from Wikipedia: Avascular necrosis is a disease where there is cellular death of bone components due to interruption of the blood supply.Without blood, the bone tissue dies and the bone collapses. If avascular necrosis involves the bones of a joint, it often leads to destruction of the joint articular surfaces.) I am concerned that this could be happening. The pain just doesn't let up, no matter what I take, and it radiates all down my leg. So it is time to find out what is happening. Dick and I will see an orthopedist tomorrow afternoon and ask him if he thinks an MRI will yield some information. I pray that this is not the case, as it could mean a hip replacement, which may be tricky with the tumor where it is. I will know more tomorrow.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


During a recent tornado watch, I said to Dick that if a tornado hit, there are some things I would not have time to take downstairs with me.....that maybe we should take them downstairs before the skies turned dark. In thinking through that, I realized that the only things that were irreplaceable treasures to me were 5 fire-proof safes containing all my scrapbooks from 20 years of pictures, 2 flash drives with all documents on my computer, family videotapes, and copies of the 7 books I have written. While I have some heirlooms that I love, they would not be the first things I would try to "rescue" if I had to. It was satisfying to realize that there were truly so few things I was passionate about. It pointed me straight back to Matthew 6:19-20 for confirmation. 

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Like most people, I hunger for purpose in my life, but I know that I cannot find it or keep it without laying up my treasures in heaven rather than on earth. One hundred and fifty years from now, when I am just a tiny leaf on a descendant's family tree, everything that I own will be decomposing in some landfill. With the exception of some man-made synthetics, every possession I have is just some mutated formation of rock, iron ore, animal hide or wood. It is just "stuff."

If I lay up treasures on earth, I am filling my heart with love of things. I so want my heart to be a home for my Savior.....a place empty enough that He would want to dwell there. While my possessions have monetary value, heaven's economy is very specific, and Jesus mandates that we learn it. Jesus knows our hearts will follow what we value most. And He warns us about what pleases God.

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17

I love what Sam's girlfriend Gretchen wrote to me in an email: My car was hit three times in three weeks this fall, so it's got some dents. The worldly vain version of myself looks and sees an ugly beat-up car, but God's teaching me to look at those and be reminded that moth, rust, and hit-and-run drivers destroy things on this temporal earth.

Jesus' words are ones I want to strive for every day of my life. I want to live intentionally, evaluating where my desires lead, and heading off temporal satisfaction wherever it is causing my heart to want more here on earth. I want Jesus to reach down to the epicenter of my soul and ream out any cravings if they creep in.

What does that life of treasures-in-heaven look like for me?  It means giving of my time, money and resources to further God's purposes and ministries here on earth. It means letting God break my heart for what breaks His, and then doing something about it. I want to help meet the needs of the marginalized or disenfranchised that I have the means to help. I want to keep opening my eyes to all I have been blessed with and let God use any of it for His glory. I need to be liberal in words of encouragement and words of kindness. It means, for me,  keeping my life simple without accumulation. Open hands, emptied heart, daily asking my Lord to fill both with what He would have me be and do.

Do I now, and will I continue, to fall short? Oh, my, yes. But I believe God honors intention, and I know He will use imperfect me if I am yielded to His voice.

When I stand in Glory, I want to see my pile of treasures in heaven right there at the wrought iron gates, and know that all of them had value beyond any bank account or possession or longing here on earth.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." 
Slain missionary Jim Elliot

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I feel the weight today of my sweet cousin Kim's heart. Kim buried her brother (my cousin Joe) in February. Her father-in-law died just a few weeks later, and her mother-in-law died this weekend. How much loss can Kim and her family take? Her husband Don losing both parents within a few weeks.....

I read in my devotional this morning that as stinging blows fall on your life, you bleed, you feel the pain, and your soul cries out in agony. You think that these blows are certainly one huge cosmic mistake. And then it talked about how God takes the ruins of our souls and creates blessings from the pain. Some day, some way, we will see God's hand making all things work together for some good. (Romans 8:28)

It is always so hard for us humans to see how His hand can wield anything to treasure from pain so deep that we cannot feel the end of it. What I know to be true is that these assaults do not originate from God. NEVER. The Living God does not smite his children with pain, grief or disease. But when it lands in our lives, I know-----because He promises it in His Word----- that He will redeem the pain. He NEVER wastes it. He can and will mold it and shape it and give us something in return that we would never have had without walking through the bitter, dark valley.

Kim and Don and Benjamin and Austin, I am praying hard that as you journey through yet another dark tunnel of loss, you will feel God's arms around you, and His voice whispering, "I will create good from this. I promise." Hang on. Breathe. Trust the only One who will never fail you. Love you guys......

Thursday, April 12, 2012


While my kitchen is torn up with no counters or sink, I am spending more time in the den going through files and storage containers and drawers that do not get an evaluation-as-to-whether-to-keep-or-throw very often. It is a pain, but I am a toss-it-out minimalist by nature, so as the garbage bag fills, so does my level of delight and satisfaction. The fun thing is finding items you have no memory this pic of Sam......I know he was about 11 months old and starting to run.... he must have stopped for a minute for the picture. THIS, I keep!!

Saw my oncologist this week. Whined about my side effects from the chemo drug, and told him that when I am PET-scanned in 7 weeks, if there are no discernible changes in the cancer activity, I am OFF this drug the next day. He agreed. SO, it seems, I must "suck it up" for another 7 weeks and I can do that. I am so fortunate to have such a compassionate and understanding doc and his equally empathetic and helpful lung cancer program nurse advocate (Carole) hike with me through the muck of cancer. 

Not eating sugar is getting easier as my sweet husband is sort of forced into the same boat by default. I refuse to bake any more, and he doesn't ask any more, so we are adjusting to dessert-less meals. He may head to the bakery once a week and satisfy his sweet tooth, but he doesn't tell me about it. But let me tell you, watching Sam eat a chocolate marshmallow bunny on Easter afternoon created one longing moan from this mouth!!

Monday, April 9, 2012


Faith, when it speaks, causes science to become silent.
Brazilian author Chris Linnares

Friday, April 6, 2012


Today and Sunday are the two most important days of my life. Every year. Without Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday, I am a sinner bound for hell just like every other human being. Those two days are gifts that are beyond my ability to comprehend. God loves us so much that He allowed Jesus to give His life for us so that we wouldn’t have to pay the high price for our sins…..hell and eternal separation from God. The blood He shed paid the price, and if we believe in Jesus, acknowledge His sacrifice, and choose to follow Him, we have the free gift of salvation.

God desperately wants His children to know Him, love Him, serve Him, and accept the salvation He offers. Any moment of any day, we can make Jesus our Lord. He longs for us to do that. I hope that if you do not know Jesus today, you will find Him. He is as close as your next breath and is waiting for you to tell Him that yes, you are a sinner and that you can’t journey through this life without His love and guidance.

I cannot imagine my life without Christ. It is unthinkable to me. Any meaning to my existence pales in comparison to knowing and trusting Him. I relate to the apostle Paul’s feeling expressed in the fourth chapter of Philippians: Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.


And so on this Easter holiday, this great time of rejoicing that Jesus grabbed the keys to hell and death out of Satan’s hands forever, I wish you all a wonderful weekend with family and friends. If He is not already there, I pray that Christ will find a home in your heart. Easter blessings to you all, and one more time, I thank all of you readers who have not allowed my name to be erased from your prayer list all these months. I am so humbled by your devotion to praying for my healing. By the power of the resurrection, I believe it shall be so!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


I have reached another milestone. The survival rate for non-small cell lung cancer patients with metastases is, after 18 months post-diagnosis, only 29%. I am humbled and grateful to God that I am among those 29% of people. 

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!  2 Corinthians 9:14

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


My niece Rachel mentioned to me that a couple of her friends were really struggling with “just” having one child in a “multiple children” world. Neither is able to have another child. Rach asked me if I would write an “open letter to fellow mothers of only children.” It is a subject I have never spent too much time thinking about. But I took her up on the challenge. It follows:

To only-child moms:

At the end of our spring break in Florida, I told our 20-year-old “only child” I was glad he still liked to hang out with us in Florida for a week every spring. He said, “Yep, I do. We’re a pretty tight trio.”

His remark highlights the prime result of “only childhood.” They are kids who are usually incredibly close to their parents. We have a unique and special bond with our son that others seem to notice. We know each other so well, we can finish each other’s sentences, read body language, and discern feelings behind words.

My best friend has 3 sons, all in their early 20’s. She adores her boys, and has a deep connection with each of them. Yet if you asked her, she would tell you that as close as she is to her sons, she has always known that the bond we have with Sam is somehow deeper. She has said this for years.

It is a no-brainer. That connection is developed because you simply do not share that parent-child love with any other children. All the eggs are in one basket.

Let me clarify here that we wanted more children. Sam was a miracle baby after 2 miscarriages and almost 7 years of infertility treatment, and we were never able to conceive again after him. He was not intentionally an only child.

Our biggest concerns bought into the old stereotypes that only children are self-indulgent, spoiled, socially inept, bright nerds. Our second concern was that he would never have siblings to journey through life with and would somehow miss the opportunity to learn to share/argue/makeup. Our concerns were needless worry. We realized early on that we had the power to mold this life and avoid those issues.

Our child was never spoiled. We made sure of that. He will attest to feeling he was the last teen in town to have a cell phone, and never did, unlike all his classmates, have a car until he left for college (and he paid for half of it). His Christmas and birthday gifts were few and far from indulgent.

We also made sure that our only child was connected to playmates, early children education gatherings and cousins (to whom he is very close). He never lacked for social skills. If anything, he was more mature than his peers because he was around two adults most of the time and had an elaborate vocabulary at a young age. He has always made friends easily and his life today is richly filled with friends and family.

Only children almost always are intellectually advanced and it is no secret why. Parents of only children have more time to focus on the general aspects of child development and learning and can give their child so much more one-on-one time and attention, which makes such a difference.

Sam was read to, sung to and talked to extensively as a baby and toddler, all important factors in brain development. If I had a nickel for every book I read to my child in his early lifetime, I would be a rich woman. We could easily spend an hour at a time reading, at least twice or three times each day. Again, with younger siblings, Sam would not have received that much word stimulation.

Case in point: Sam was interested in numbers from an early age, so I taught him addition and subtraction around age 4. He continued to want to learn, and I had that one-on-one opportunity to teach him. By age 6, he was doing double-digit multiplication and by the end of kindergarten, he had learned basic algebraic equations. In his scrapbook is a page of “doodling” I found one day that he had left on the table. He was writing and solving math problems that looked like this:
                                       X - 35000= 16,000   =51,000  
                                       X + 500 = 1400   = 900.

Being an only child did not give our son his math talent. I suspect he was born with some of that. I only highlight this as saying that I had no other kiddos needing me so I had the luxury, again, of spending long chunks of uninterrupted time feeding him the math information he was very ready and hungry for.

With one child, it is probably the gift of undivided time that creates kids who are brighter than average. This is absolutely not to say that multi-child parents do not spend time stimulating/teaching all of their children. Only-child parents just have more time to spend at it. Sam started kindergarten at a high level, and I predict that only children do that often.

Based on all the research on only children, they are generally more resilient, independent, opinionated, confident, and intellectual than multi-sibling children. All of those qualities are positive!

When you live with adults, you emulate adults. You hear adult-speak. You listen to adult wisdom and advice. It “sinks in” for only children in ways is doesn’t for kids who hang out with siblings all day. We made an effort to insure that our only child was well-adjusted and “normal” in a culture where there are not a lot of single-child families.

I know there can be downsides for some only children. They may be over-protected because parents have not had the chance to let down their guard, as they seem to do with second children. Some parents may be too involved in their kid’s life. Only children never have the opportunity to be mentored by an older sibling, or mentor a younger one. I suppose some only children may say they are lonely.

I asked our son yesterday what he felt the advantages have been of being an only child. This was the list he emailed me:

          Incredibly deep relationship with parents

          Better ability for communicating with adults at a young age

          More mature

          More intelligent because of more attention given during development

          Parents can invest themselves more easily in child's activities; means a lot to child

          Knowing you are deeply loved because you are truly THE most important thing to the parents    

Yes, we wanted more children very much. But I would not trade what we have had with our son for anything, even another child. I consider it a privilege and blessing to have invested my life in one child. I could have had 2 or 3 and been an adequate mom to all, but I may not have been the mom I was able to be with just Sam. Being a mom of one was the only life I knew, and I hope I did right by my child. I know it has been all positive for my husband and me. 

To Rachel's friends, do not think that having just one child is "second best." It isn't. There are pros and cons to having one, and having more than one. If you embrace the gift of only childhood that it is, I predict you will someday look back, as we can, and say that it was "first best!!"

I believe we raised one child well. He is bright and talented, generous and grounded, sensitive and loving. What greater gift can one leave the world?    


Monday, April 2, 2012


* Spent three days in Fargo with my folks. So enjoyed that.

* Came home to a weekend of 89 and 93 degree weather. I actually turned on my A/C for 3 hours on just got pretty stifling. APRIL FIRST?? A/C????

* Dick is painting our house. Going from beige (which never matched the dark cream colored brick) to cream, and changing out the color of all the shutters for a whole new look. Should be a nice change.

* My side effects are no better, but I am handling them better emotionally. That helps. I have been fighting them instead of accepting them and that technique wasn't workin' for me! I see the doc tomorrow and we'll see what he has to say. My niece and nephew's good friend had a stroke while running yesterday and his brain swelling is very serious. When I think about that, I quickly shut my mouth and thoughts about bowel obstructions and arthralgia in my legs. I have nothing to complain about.

* Really interested in the 60 Minutes story last night on the toxicity of sugar. AND its relationship to cancer. Too many oncologists are not telling patients about how sugar feeds cancer cells. I will admit how much I miss sugar/desserts, but I am doing pretty well on starving those cancer cells (I did succumb to one and a half ice cream cones on vacation). This afternoon I made a blueberry pie (yes, we still have berries left from the summer) with my substitute xylitol and I don't think one could tell the difference in a taste test!

Thank you for continued prayers for healing!!