Wednesday, November 28, 2012


       Thanksgiving has come and gone and Sam is back at school. We had a great 4 days together. Played games, watched football and a movie, got our tree picked out and decorated and saw a few of Sam's high school friends. It was relaxing and slow-paced, just how we like it!

Sam with good friends Laura, Patrick, and the sounds of laughter
coming from the basement rec room again....

Sam made the pecan pie for Thanksgiving dinner (I contributed the crust) and it was  great!

Resting our bellies after dinner

Sam's and my annual Thanksgiving cut-out cookie making (with one eye on the football game!)

My favorite son

Got our tree up and decorated

I am trying to learn life all over again with only 1 good eye. This vitreous detachment has made my vision a source of constant irritation and frustration. Grief over the loss has become just sadness over what I will not have again. Even if it improves, I will not ever have the eyesight I once had unless God heals it. But I am trying hard to cope, and I do rejoice when 10 seconds goes by without the "greasy contact" floating by. It is usually an every 3-4 second occurrence. Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement!

Friday, November 23, 2012


I thought there would be a season where all the physical problems would end. I have fantasized that at some moment, all of the adjunct issues I have faced in 2 years (on top of the cancer) would wean themselves out of my body forever. I cannot even begin to list the number of things that have happened to this tired body since my diagnosis. But the end is not in sight. I have had yet one more issue to face. A vitreous detachment in my right eye last Saturday. The optometrist told me that some people find some improvement over 6 months to a year, and that the hyper-sensitivity to the distortion of vision every few seconds will get easier to tolerate over time. All I know right now is that it is a huge loss for me. I so value my 20/20 vision with contacts and glasses, and to have that compromised, especially for an avid reader like myself, feels like a heavy load to carry right now.

I can spend time saying, "Why ME? Why one more thing? Why such a big thing?" but it gets me no where. God didn't "send this" into my life to teach me something. I am just so so weary of facing yet another problem, and one that, indeed, has no cure. Except for God's healing. And that is what I am having faith in. I have faith for my right knee and my cancer to be healed. I now have to add distorted vision to my laundry list. Jesus was an expert at healing the blind. This should be no stretch for Him. It is in that faith that I can even move forward right now. Everything I do in my life is based on vision, and it is not good right now.

I would covet your prayers for tolerance right now. Prayers that I could cope with layers of issues that always threaten to pull me down. Prayers that God's grace would provide some sort of peace over this until healing comes.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I can’t tell you how many times in my life my dad has called me to tell me that The Wizard of Oz was on TV. “Are you watching?” he asks me every time. And then he asks me how many times is it that I have seen this movie? I have no exact answer to his query, but I can safely say that between the DVD that I own and the TV showings, I have probably now seen it 30 or 35 times.

Based on the 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum, the 1939 fantasy adventure is a movie I have always loved. I love the munchkins, the black-and-white that magically turns to color in Oz, the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) who I always used to pretend was a relative because my mom is a Bolger, the horses that change color, the whispered squeak of Tin Man when he attempts to say oil, the melting witch. I love it all. I know the script by heart.

My favorite line in the whole movie is when Scarecrow says goodbye to Dorothy and tells her that he knows he has a heart because he feels it breaking. The wizard (aka a Kansas-born balloonist named Marvel) then says to Scarecrow, “Just remember, my sentimental friend, that a heart is not measured by how much you love but by how much you are loved by others.” The adage elicits tears every time I hear it.

In the past two years, I’ve realized there is another line in the movie that speaks truth into my life and faith into my heart. The quaking quartet are standing before the animated image of the great and powerful Oz, attempting to speak to him, and he continues to berate and terrorize each of them. When Lion falls to the floor in a faint, Dorothy yells at the wizard, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself, frightening him like that, when he came to you for help.”

The wizard’s voice booms out, “SILENCE, Whippersnapper! The beneficent Oz has every intention of granting your requests.”

The music changes key and floats skyward. Trembling is calmed by four timid smiles fixed in wonder.

Oohh. I am listening to this line for perhaps the 35th time; but I am hearing, really hearing these words for the first time. Through ears that have heard, “You have stage 4 lung cancer.”

The Wizard of Oz will give them courage, a heart, a brain, and a trip home.

For 27 months, I have come to God for help in the same way Dorothy and her trio of friends came to the wizard for help. I have pleaded with Him for help to cope with chemotherapy and its side effects, physical problems ranging from pleurisy to leg pain to vertigo to kidney stones that have assaulted me on a nearly daily basis. I have begged Him for help with fear and frustration and anxiety and with utter exhaustion from this entire yellow brick road trip they call metastatic cancer. More than anything else, I have asked, and asked again, for healing.

And my God has spoken to me in a voice louder than Professor Marvel’s.

He has said to me, “Be silent, daughter! Your beneficent God has every intention of granting your request.”

Oh, my.

"What's that? What'd he say?" Lion sits up and takes heart. This wizard says he can give him some courage? Some genuine chutzpah? He can DO that?

What? What did God say?

He has every intention of granting my request.

Seriously? He can do that?

I weep at the promise.

I have trembled before the throne and have heard Him answer me. He will grant my request. Healing is mine. How do I know? It’s all in the Bible.

God honors faith (not hope); healing was the hallmark of Jesus’ ministry, therefore it is God’s will, since Jesus came to do God’s will on earth; Jesus tells me that whatever I ask in the name of Jesus, if I believe it will happen, I will have whatever I ask. Matthew confirms what the prophet Isaiah foretold, that Jesus took sickness as well as sin to the cross. My cancer was redeemed on Calvary.

My Healer, my beneficent Healer, has every intention of granting my request.

No caveat?

“Bring me the broomstick of the Witch of the West and I will grant your request.”

Just as Tin Man, Lion, Scarecrow and Dorothy had a condition on their promise, so do I. I know God wants me to trust Him implicitly with my life. I know He wants me to rest in Him, feel His grace, hold fast to the truths in His Word, and stand on faith. Stand on the promise that I cannot feel, see or hear, but know is coming. Rebuke Satan in His name every time he tries to mess with my faith. Abide. Just abide in Him.

And wait for my deliverance.

He tells me neither the time nor place that my hot air balloon will land back in Auntie Em’s wheat field. But my faithful, compassionate, sovereign, amazing, beneficent Father God has every intention of granting my request.

And I don’t even need to melt a witch.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Happy birthday, buddy. Today at 11:21 a.m. you turn 21! It feels like your life has been a fast-forward movie. Wasn't it only yesterday that you were dragging around "Clownie" and "Euchie" and watching Thomas the Tank Engine videos? Ah...the lament of every parent on all goes too quickly.

November 5, 1991
The best day of our lives!

Legal significance aside, today you slide into the next season of your life, adulthood, where you will spend most of your years on earth. I would not want to shock you by being mum on the subject of you turning 21, so, here are some random thoughts (in no order of importance) from your ol' mom:

Being an adult now makes you wholly accountable for your choices and actions....can't blame the inexperience of youth anymore! So choose wisely. Think through your actions. Remember who you are. Keep your nose clean (and yes, you are obligated to pass that Hiebism down to your own kid someday)!

As a Christian man, Sam, you represent Jesus in everything you do. You and the way you live your life may be the only "gospel" some people "hear," so live with honesty, kindness and humility. Perform your job with excellence and integrity. Let people see Jesus in you. Pray with passion, stay in the Word, and draw close to the Lord every day. He is everything you need.

Being an adult means doing your part in preserving our country's natural resources. Reduce. Reuse. Refinish. Recycle. Be "green" when you can be. Don't overlook a good thrift store!

Adults take the initiative to always write their thank you notes. No matter what pop culture says, hand-written notes are still the societal standard for good manners. It will never be outdated. Make it a habit.

Responsible adults vote. Follow the issues and candidates and exercise your right to vote. It is a privilege of living in a democratic society.

Give glory to God for your successes in your adulthood. Even when doing so might go against the grain of a co-worker or boss. God honors those who honor Him. Be swift to give Him credit for favor, because all good things come from Him who gives exceedingly and abundantly more than you will ever be able to ask or imagine (Eph 3:20).

Be extra compassionate and understanding with older people and children. They won't readily forget your actions.

Mature adults are kind to the innocently ignorant. (Another Hiebism to pass down.) We are all ignorant of some things. Don't let any traces of arrogance about your gifts and strengths allow you to lose sight of that.

Being an adult means living like one. When you get your first apartment in 2 years, keep it clean and organized and full of the things you love, and it will then be a home and not simply a bed and shower.

Tithe 10% of your income. Even when doing so puts a burden on your budget. You can't out-give God. Being a responsible adult means that you never spend more money than you have. Credit card debt is crippling. Pay off your credit card in full every month. Live well below your means at all times, and you'll always have a necessary financial cushion.

Being an adult means you aren't unduly influenced by either public opinion or private bias. Make your decisions about your life based on what you feel is best for you (and what you are sensing God is telling you to do). That said, be willing to accept advice from others. If you don't want to heed it, fine. Dad and I have been around the block a few times and actually have some accumulated wisdom. It's yours for the asking.

Be bold and assertive as you seek your future jobs. I created my own first two jobs by convincing 2 institutions that they really needed my skills. I was able to write my own dream job descriptions. Don't be afraid to go to the top and market yourself. Be scrappy and confident about your expertise.

You've maybe heard the adage, Always measure your wealth not by the things you have, but by the things you have for which you would not take money. Profoundly true.

Being an adult means that you call your mother. Often.

Sam, you are probably thinking, Oh, man, Mom, I've already heard all this stuff. If so, well, great, then I know you were listening to all the mom-sermons over the years!! I'm sure I still have a few more in me too!!

From baby to college guy, I have loved every age of yours. Each has brought joy in different ways. And now I am the mom of Sam, the young man. (Whoa...just writing that word brought bittersweet tears to my eyes!)

I have so much respect and admiration and love for the man you have become, buddy. As you plunge ahead with gusto into the next season, always know that God is already there with great plans for your future. Dad and I got to shape and guide you all these years, and now we get front-row seats watching you take the stage.

You know I will always have your back, support your decisions, and be a soft place to fall. There are no words in the English language to tell you how much I love you, but it is at least "ten million miles from Pluto."

Happy Happy Birthday Sam,

Sam ordered French Silk Pie for birthday cake!!

A big smile for his big birthday to go see Keane, his favorite band,
in Kansas City in January. They are coming to the US for a short tour.

Can our kid really be 21???

Sam rehearsing for our old age!!

The three musketeers

Friday, November 2, 2012


     With just 3 days before my son’s 21st birthday, I will reprint a column I wrote in April of 1996 (Sam was 4 years old) when I was a monthly columnist for a regional magazine. As I look back at all the columns I have written about parenthood, this is one which always reminds me of how amazing motherhood has been.

            It was four in the morning when I got the last of the bedding into the washing machine. The 3:00 a.m. “eruption” from our four-year-old came from both ends and was a major mess. Even bedmates Thumper and Winnie-the-Pooh needed a Maytag bath.
            After we cleaned Sam up, Dick headed to the den and I tucked the boy in next to me. I snuggled him close to me and he quickly fell back to sleep. I spent the remainder of the night awake, dodging little arms and legs that thrashed from dreams unknown.
            Lying in the dark watching my little guy sleep, I felt very aware of the importance of this role of “mama,” of how mothering has become the very stuff of my life. It hasn’t been so much a job I acquired as a special role I continue to earn and develop.
            I did not feel anything like a mom lying in a hospital bed four years ago holding my newborn in my arms. But as I washed the pale face of my sick boy in the middle of the night, I felt like a very real mom.
            My mothering means consistency and affirmation and nurturing. It means selflessness and direction and teaching values. It means lots and lots of that very vital “being there.”
            The older I get and the longer I am a mom, the more I admire mothers who have made mothering their career. While most women struggle with the great balancing act, these women have figured out without too much angst that being a successful stay-at-home parent can be as challenging and as rewarding as a successful career. Full time motherhood holds exhaustion, but also magic. I have never talked with a woman who says she wished she had worked more and spent less time with her babies.
            Birthing a child is just the beginning of the adventure of motherhood. I am not a mama just because I pushed a 5 lb 12 oz baby from my womb. I am a mama because I have instant hugs and Big Bird Band-Aids for scraped knees, because I ignore my aching, drenched shoulder as I rock my fevered child, not wanting to move lest he wake up, and because despite a dinner to prepare and a heaping pile of laundry to do, I choose to play trains, build Lego forts, sculpt snowmen and turn myself into a tickling lion.
            Most parents would not consider vomit and diarrhea at three in the morning an honor to deal with, and I am no exception. But I have been given the privilege of mothering this one little boy throughout his life….and I only get one shot at it.
            I feel honored that God has entrusted Sam to me. I know that I am one of the two most important people in his life and there is something very sacred about that.
            Last week Sam ran up to me, hugged me tightly and said, “Mama, I’m really lucky to be your son.” I don’t get a bi-weekly paycheck anymore, but I am rich beyond measure.

     As Sam steps into age 21 on November 5th, I can only look back and say what a treasure it has been to raise this boy to manhood.  I hope, as all moms do, that I did a good job. On his birthday I may have some words of wisdom for my newly adult son....but for today, I have only gratitude to the Creator of Life for allowing me to love and shape and nurture and guide the one child I was given. I was, and still am, rich beyond measure.