Friday, December 23, 2011

December 23

I already shared about my husband’s heart attack here.  That was September.  Now, fast forward to December.  Last week he got his blood test results back.They were AMAZING. LDL of 43! (Is there such a thing as TOO low an LDL?)  He’s been in cardio-rehab for months, and he’s been working very hard at diet and exercise…lifestyle changes in the most extreme way. 

Now that he is graduating from cardio-rehab…yesterday we joined a gym. GASP!  I never did do the 10K that I was training for last year in September because the day of the race was the day Shawn was recovering in the ICU from heart surgery.  So, now I can train on the treadmills at the gym, and try again next year. Who knows….maybe cardio-boy will join us for the 10K next year.

In November, Shawn’s grandmother Beulah was not doing well.  She turned 92 in May and was still living on her own with the assistance of family members.  But, in November, she had some health problems develop and her health started to turn quickly from “healthy” to “not-so-much”.  She had gone to a nursing home for a while as she needed more care than she could get at home. 

On November 16, she went to be with the Lord.  She was a very sweet lady.  I had a lot of love and respect for her.  she loved to tell stories of growing up on a farm in rural Iowa.  Of course, now I wish I had written down some of the things she told me over the past 25 years.  But, she was somewhat of a record-keeper…so I imagine that somewhere in her home…we will find lots of amazing stories to share and pass on with our kids and grandkids throughout the next several generations.

We cherish the beautiful pictures we have of her…and the memories of sharing family dinners and holidays at her home.  She left her mark on this world with a wonderful family.  They are all creative and festive and family-centered.  They love, they laugh, they enjoy life.  Just as she did…just as she taught them...

We miss her.

Another page turns…. another year leaves…. more change for 2012. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 22

For years, I have been begging my husband to let us get a dog.  Years.  He finally agreed in June to let us get one.  So, I began searching for the perfect family dog.  Of course, I have since come to realize that no dog is perfect.  Those were my lofty dreams.  I wanted a dog that wouldn’t poop where it wasn’t supposed to,  would sleep when I wanted it to, would bark only when barked at, would not scratch my floors, and was loyal and devoted.  Basically, I wanted a giga-pet, but I didn’t know that at the time.

We found Gibbs at an animal shelter about 2 hours away.  They had plenty of dogs.  He was the only one that didn’t jump on us when we approached him. He didn’t bark like the others. And when we took him out to the yard, he was calm and quiet.  Deceptive little thing.

We took him home and learned quickly what having a 6 month old puppy in the house was like.  Definitely not like my trusty dependable Tamogatchi. He was barky and loud and whiney at all the wrong times. He didn’t like being alone and would lay at my feet under my desk all day long. 

It didn’t take long though, to get a routine.  I began walking and training for a 10K and started walking at least 3 miles a day all summer long.  My trusty companion joined me every day.  At first he tugged and pulled and wanted to run ahead.  But, after a while, we figured out the walk.  He was my motivator to keep walking every day.  Mostly because without his walk, he was unbearable. 

He was an energetic dog.  Very energetic.  We would go to the park and when we got to the clearing, I would let him off his leash, and he would run as fast as he could for as long as I let him. 

One day in October,  I walked out to the car and he followed me. He always wanted to jump in the car and go with me every time I went somewhere.  But, this time he must’ve seen something to chase.  He ran straight into the street and into the path of an oncoming car.  I heard the tire screech and didn’t even know what had happened it was that fast.  He died an hour later at the vet clinic.  His internal injuries were too severe. 

I miss him.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December: #2

It’s still December.  December 14.  I was thinking today about one year ago.  One year ago, we were preparing for Christmas.  Marge, my mother in law, was at the nursing home. She had a tough year.  For the entire year, she had been in and out of the hospital and nursing home. She had MS.  Had been diagnosed with it in the early 80s.  She lived basically symptom free for years.  Then, in 1996, she had an attack and the disease began to progress.

She started going to the Mayo Clinic and started a series of different treatments.  One thing led to another, she switched neurologists, and saw different doctors…. and for whatever reason, she opted to stop treatment of her MS.  Sometimes she would say that she wanted to believe that God would heal her.  Other times, she tried alternative treatments, homeopathy.  And as many times as I tried to convince her to pursue aggressive treatment for the disease, I have to respect the fact that she made the decisions that she wanted to make regarding her health.

Several years passed.  A few years ago, she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease.  And she felt that she had been misdiagnosed of MS in the early 80’s and again at Mayo Clinic in the late 90’s.  She aggressively pursued the Lyme treatment.  I think that she had found hope.  She never really wanted to have a debilitating disease.  She never wanted to hear the news that MS is progressive and doesn’t ever go away.  Lyme Disease was treatable, and would be gone forever.  So, she found a Lyme specialist and pursued it with great fervor.

In December of last year…about this time… her family doctor was very concerned for her health.  He was working on convincing her to pursue a visit to a neurologist friend of his in Des Moines.  This was someone he felt would benefit her greatly with her MS treatment.  Her Lyme doctor had prescribed so many antibiotics and she had been repeatedly been admitted and readmitted to the hospital for UTI’s and bladder infections.  Because of the overuse of antibiotics, her body was developing immunities to antibiotics.  Very quickly, the doctors were running out of antibiotics to fight infection of any kind.

Christmas was her favorite time of year.  I met Marge when I was 16 years old.  In the 27 years I had known her, she had always loved Christmas.  She loved giving… she loved baking… she loved decorating.  So, we planned a Christmas family gathering at the nursing home.  We reserved a room and made arrangements. 

Then, on Christmas Eve, the day before our big party…. Shawn’s dad (Marge’s husband), fell off a roof and broke his ankle. We spent Christmas Eve night and the wee hours of Christmas morning in the Emergency Room at the local hospital.  He stayed there that night.  So, thank God, we decided not to cancel our Christmas plans at the nursing home.  We brought in our food, our presents, and we hung out there all day long.  One of our girls was living in Trinidad last Christmas, so she Skyped the entire event with us.  It was definitely a different Christmas than all the other years together.

We didn’t know one year ago that it Christmas would be our last with Marge.  On June 1 of 2011, she went to be with the Lord. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


This morning, I tried to write my Christmas letter.  Tried, and failed.  How do you write a year’s worth of life-changing events in one page and not lose the readers? I don’t want to be “one of those”… who write a four page sad Christmas letter and end with Merry Christmas!…. you know who you are.

So, I decided this.  I will take the next couple of weeks and actually blog.  And instead of writing a Christmas letter, I’ll just add a link to my blog… and anyone who actually WANTS to read…can come here and get their fill. Brilliant, I know.

This morning, as I was thinking about what to write..and how to begin… I thought about December.  Advent. A synonym to advent is actually “beginning”. The first Advent was when Christ came to the earth.  And as Christians, we celebrate each year.  We celebrate his coming to the earth…and we anxiously wait for his second coming.  So, in a sense, it becomes to us a celebration of the beginning…and the waiting … for the beginning.  We tend to focus on the first coming…and the celebration part more.  And we neglect the waiting part.

This year, as I reflect on the past year, I realize that God has taken me to a place of looking forward to His second coming.  A place of waiting for His return.  A place of seeing that life … this life… is but a blink of the eye.  This life is but a brief moment between what was…and what will be.  This life. This brief life…although it seems like it’s all “that”… is the waiting.

    But, as it is written,
    “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
        nor the heart of man imagined,
    what God has prepared for those who love him”—
1 Corinthians 2:9

Monday, September 26, 2011

Second Chances….

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago.  What a whirlwhind these couple of weeks have been…..

They say you don’t get second chances in life. But, as I lay in my bed, with my husband by my side, my eyes are fixated on the rise and fall of his chest.  I lay my head on his chest and listen to hear the steady beat of his heart… I’ve done that a million times over the last 23 years… and this time, I weep. 

As I recount the episodes of the last several days in my mind…. the doctors, the nurses, the EKGs, the flurry of arrangements…and then the waiting waiting waiting…what seemed an endless amount of time in the hospital waiting room.

When the words were spoken…heart attack, stents, blood clots… lucky.  We didn’t feel so lucky. 

My mind is fixated on a couple of things in the last few days that I don’t know if I can describe in words.  The way the hallway looked as we rolled him to the cardiac surgery area… clean, blue, blank,bright. Just like the movies.  It felt like a dream.

The smell of oxygen as I kissed his lips.

Faces in the waiting room, watching as I sat silently for what seemed like ages…. a woman with her child, a smooth faced man who looked to be about 50, a group of women…sisters perhaps…waiting for their loved ones in the cardiac cath lab.

The nurse explaining…”we found a significant blockage in the main artery… and two blood clots.  The doctor is working hard to get them out so it is taking a little longer than expected…”  …a little longer than expected….. we weren’t expecting this….

The tears. Tears I don’t recall noticing at first, flowing from my eyes uncontrollably.  She was kind as she said “Turn those tears into happy tears.  We got it. We’re fixing it.  It’s going to be better.” 

After the long wait for the remainder of the surgery, the nurse came to retrieve me to talk to the doctor.  I waited anxiously to hear the report in the consultation room.

“First of all, he’s very lucky.  In the left artery, there was a blockage.  It was 99% blocked with two blood clots, one of them very significant.  It was not what I expected to find. There are other blockages that we will also have to fix…but not now.  We will give his body time to heal, and then go back and do the others in a week or two.”

Monday, August 08, 2011

hello there

Dear Ariane,

I just wanted to tell you that I am blogging tonight just because I saw you and you said something about my blog!  I am in a hotel room in your home town tonight (well, your almost-home town) and thinking of you! Smile

Good luck with the new venture and Garen’s new job! I’m truly very excited for you! 

Now go make a comment so I know you read this.


Love you!


PS My dream is to be like your parents and jump in a truck with Shawn and travel the road.  They are so lucky.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2 peas in a pod

Eily and Bella

I had a fun day on monday babysitting my sweet little granddaughter (left) and her friend Bella.  They played in the garden with the flowers.  Lulu pulled all the petals off a flower and had a great time. It was so cute.

I snapped this photo just as Bella was staring right at the camera.  They are four months apart.  Bella is four months older.  And they are so much fun!

Its so fun to see how their personalities are similar in some ways, and so different in other ways.  Lulu loves food. Bella has to be begged to eat anything.  They both love books and are starting to make up cute words that only they know.  They both don’t know what to do with each other. So, they hit each other and laugh.

Just adorable.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dad’s haircut–before and after

I cut my dad’s hair today. I think he was leery of letting me do it.  But, the alternative was for him to PAY someone to do it. He wasn’t ABOUT to do that.

I didn’t do too bad.  What do you think?


Dad's haircut before


Dad's haircut after

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


31. I’m thankful it’s summer when the dog threw up in his crate twice.  That way I could just drag it out to the hose and hose it off.  That doesn’t happen real easily in the winter time.

32. I’m thankful I have the Dr.’s email address so I can email him in the middle of the night when my brother in law is throwing up and ask what his thoughts are this time.

33. I’m thankful all the throwing up is in one night so I can maybe sleep tomorrow.

34. I’m thankful for disinfectant spray that just makes lots of things smell so much better.

35. I’m thankful I don’t have a 9-5 job, or a boss.  I would get fired for all the family emergencies lately.

36. I’m thankful my cleaning lady and her family was able to find a home to buy. Even if it is in another state, far far away from my dirty stinky house.

37. I’m thankful for the Febreze home collection wooden wick candle cherry blossom whimsy scent I got on sale and is burning now.

38. I’m thankful for one pre-teen and one teenage daughter that are sleeping nicely right now and can wake up to be rested and helpful tomorrow (well, today).

39. I’m thankful for clean floors that got mopped in the middle of the night.

40. I’m thankful for coffee, strong and aromatic.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


22. Weight Watchers Bonus Points.

23. 81 degree breezy summer days, warm, and cool, all at the same time.

24. diet coke.

25. The book of Ecclesiastes and the realization of what is of value in life. “A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than one day of birth” Ecc. 7:1 

26. Beauty that is deeper than the surface of one’s outward appearance.

27. yellow flowers on sedum in the summertime.

28. a balanced checkbook

29. sincerity.

30. An honest answer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

less poetic, more practical.

14. sunflower seeds, salty and nutty.

15. half lemonade/half tea

16. weight watchers bonus points

17. white cheddar popcorn seasoning.

18. fresh veggies

19. vacuum cleaners

20. appliance repairman

21.  technology

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

one thousand

I have been reading Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts”.  In her book, Mrs. Voskamp recites things she is thankful for.  Not a bucket list, rather a list that encourages us to find joy in our insane lives.  She speaks of finding joy in the midst of our sometimes dark lives.  This book has helped me tremendously as I have walked through the loss of my mother-in-law, whom I dearly loved.  Challenged me to breathe deeply the cup of sorrow.  If we did not know sorrow, how could we ever understand pure joy?

Some friends challenged each other to begin our lists as well… things we are thankful for….things that encourage us as we walk through our lives on this earth.  I started. 

1. Quiet time to think, pray, reflect, remember.

2. Tiny toes from beautiful babies.

3. The bold aroma of coffee brewing in the morning.

4. Memories of beautiful people, of days gone by.

5. Ice water, crisp and clean.

6. Crisp, fresh sheets.

7. Little girl hair in the summer that smells like a wet dog from playing outside on a cool summer night.

8. Friendships deep and meaningful, long-lasting, understanding, forgiving, and constant.

9. Pictures that tell stories, invoke emotions.

10. Strong, hard-working hands that change with time, and soften when darkness falls.

11. the pungent scent of herbs and greens mixed with dirt in the newly planted garden.

12. forgiveness.

13. family.

Monday, June 06, 2011

breaking the silence

I haven’t blogged in so long, I’m not sure I know how to do this.

But, this week, I have some things I want to say.  Things I want to record in some way…. even if it is just in this blog.  Things that just need to be said.

My mother in law passed away this week.  On my 43rd birthday to be exact.  Tonight, as I lay there trying to sleep, I had to remind myself that this wasn’t a dream.  Although it doesn’t seem real.  I keep expecting it to just be a bad dream. 

As I lay there, I calculated where our lives were when she was 43.  The year she turned 43 was 1987.  That was the year Shawn and I had our first child.  I had never really been around children much.  It was so scary for me to have children.  But, Marge was there for me.  She taught me so much about babies… how to change diapers, how to burp them with just the right amount of strength….how to test the bottle temperature on my wrist…. I still sing the lullabies she hummed to my girls as I rock my granddaughter.

She taught me how to love cream cheese on bagels, and how to make instant mashed potatoes.  She made the best cheese soup and broccoli and cheese egg casserole.  I never tasted potato soup until she served it.  She taught me how to be a wife, a mother, a good person.  When Haleigh was a baby, she stayed up night after night with me and this crying newborn, taking turns trying to soothe her crying.  When Lindsey was born, she came to my house and slept on the couch as I struggled with getting any sleep at all.  When Abbie was born, she had a 7 month old of her own, but she still cooked and cleaned for me as I recovered from my hospital stay.  When Emily was born, she made meals and shopped and sewed bibs and blankets.  She made aprons and blankets and sundresses and shorts for my children every year.  I remember how many times she tried to teach me to sew.  But, it never really clicked at all.  I remembered tonight that she worked with me two years ago to make re-useable shopping bags for my girls.  I never finished them… and now won’t know where to even start.

She was a giver.  She loved to out-give everyone.  One year at Christmas, I remember we went over to her house for Christmas Eve, and I was surprised because it was a very simple Christmas.  The kids each had a couple gifts, and Shawn and I left feeling blessed and enjoyed the simplicity.  The next morning, there were big black garbage bags on our back porch filled with gifts…. tons and tons of gifts for our family… “from Santa”.

Marge taught me to love gardening.  She encouraged me to just try to plant things and see if they grow.  She had a green thumb in everything and I was always amazed by how excited she would get when the flowers were getting close to blooming.  She would watch them and watch them and show them off on the day they bloomed. 

She loved music.  All kinds of music.  There are so many songs I learned from her.  Not your average songs… but songs like “Would you like to swing on a star?” and “Tom Thumb” and “Lavender Blue Dilly Dilly”. 

And she laughed.  I miss her laugh.  The last few years and months have been filled with her struggles and health battles.  I don’t remember when she last laughed.

I met this lovely lady when I was 16 years old. 27 years ago.  I’ve known her more of my life than I haven’t known her. She gave me my first Bible.  I treasured that Bible for years and years.  I can’t imagine how many prayers she prayed for me.  And I for her.  Even up to the day she died, I prayed for her.  Just hours before she went to be with the Lord, I laid my head on her hospital bed, and held her hand tightly and prayed that God would heal her.  I prayed that she would walk again.  I prayed that she would run.  And then, still holding her hand, I moved to her ear so she could hear.  And I prayed in her ear – I thanked the Lord for her.  I thanked God for her entire life – her example as a strong woman of God.  Her example of how to love deeply.  Her example of how to be Jesus with skin on to those that surround her.

On June 1, 2011 at 9:05am she breathed her last breath in this world and walked into eternity.  She left this world… after leaving her mark in an unforgettable way.  She didn’t write a book, she won’t be written in the history books, she wasn’t known by the whole world.  But, her name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  And the life she led that touched her family and friends, has changed us. 

Gramma Marge Christmas Day 2010

Monday, January 31, 2011

Stuff Christians Like

I just got Jonathan Acuff’s book “Stuff Christians Like” this week, and I’ve been thumbing through it.  So much in there that cracks. me. up.

We are weird Christians, for sure.  The book is hysterical.  And at the same time, very thought provoking.  I found myself thinking…yeah…why the HECK DO WE do these crazy things???

This one is one of my personal favorites: “THROWING THE DEVIL UNDER THE BUS FOR EVERYTHING”.  This is hilarious. 

Acuff says in his book “For instance, if your band at church sucks one Sunday morning, it might be really easy to say ‘The enemy sure was attacking service today. None of the songs worked well, and our timing was completely off. What a mess. Satan was sure pressing in on all sides.”

He says he agrees.  That is one way to look at it.  Then Acuff says “Another way to look at it is that you guys didn’t practice.”

Recently, I read an email from someone who had some pretty disappointing things going on in their life.  They were “under attack”.  I didn’t know how to tactfully reply that maybe…just maybe… it wasn’t the devil.  Maybe…just maybe… it was a demise by someone even more detrimental to their well being sometimes than the devil…. them.

Personal responsibility is a big deal to me.  We Christians blame the devil for every bad thing in our lives…and seem to ignore the responsibilities that we have neglected to care for, or follow through with, or complete.  Life is hard work.  We sometimes have to work really really hard at it.  And when we don’t, it shows.  It shows in our work, our home, our personal disciplines, our children, our health, our relationships, and our spirituality. 

I’m guilty.  I admit it. I raise my hand for that one.  I own it.  What about you?