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Life Celebrations

22 Aug
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6

 

Going to the shore in early August has become one of our favorite family traditions.  It doesn’t matter which beach or state we choose.  What does matter is that we are all together.  Together to celebrate life.  Like birthdays.  My husband and daughter have a lot of things in common, the most important being their mutual birthday on August 5th.  We have done many things to celebrate theses two through the years, but they have come to an agreement that the sand and surf is where it’s at.

 

This year was no exception. Fenwick Island, Delaware was the beach of choice and our hotel was only one block from the sandy shore.  This so conveniently allowed us to load up the beach cart with sand chairs, umbrella, digger, dump truck and the necessary construction materials to make the best sand castle on the east coast, along with the usual towels, mats, and lotions, and we walked the short distance without having to fight traffic and/or find a parking spot several blocks away.

 

August 9, 20145 year-old Cole spent much of his time along the water’s edge, being close enough that the incoming waves kept him as wet as he wanted to be, but not far enough out to scare him or us.  He helped the construction foreman build the castle community, he flew his Spiderman kite, and threw the whistling football back and forth with Papaw.  Lillianne was not as adventurous – no doubt due to the fact that she did not feel well.  She wanted to like the ocean, but the crashing waves kept her from desiring to be a part of it all.  Somehow, though, those same crashing waves melodically lulled her to sleep, where she spent much of her time both days.  All of us bigger kids enjoyed the sand, surf, and sun  … taking turns to be with the little ones and literally soaking it all in.

 

In the midst of the fun and frolic of the weekend, my heart was stretched the many, many miles to Louisiana where my best bud and her family were having their own life celebration.  In the closing of my last blog post, I updated you on my friend, Joe Talhelm.  Later that evening on August 1st,  I received a text from he and Becky’s daughter, Anne.  “Please call me”.  My heart sank as I read those words, knowing.  Anne cried as she told me that she’s so happy for him … no more melanoma, no more suffering, no more pain.  Just 2 ½ weeks earlier, the doctors told Joe that he had 3 months to live.  Joe knew different.  So as I sat on the beach in Delaware, in Louisiana, Becky gathered with her family, Joe’s family, their church family and friends and celebrated a life that lived, laughed, and loved.  Joe was only 57 years old.

 

Tim’s step-father was just diagnosed last week with his own enormous battle with cancer.  Hospital stay with tests upon tests took place, then a return home to get everything in order while he begins radiation treatments.  I make it a priority to talk to my precious mother-in-law often, for although she is facing difficult days ahead and she is already exhausted from the drama of it all, I can tell she and Bill are determined to celebrate life together as long as possible.  Just like Joe and Becky, they are able to do so because of Jesus.  They are celebrating the everyday.

The Lord gives strength to His people;
the Lord blesses His people with peace.

Psalm 29:11
August 16, 2014Another recent life celebration was just last Saturday when Tim and I attended the wedding of a very special young man in our lives.   Two 5 year-old little boys met playing t-ball back in 1992 and were truly inseparable until our family moved to Albuquerque in 1997.  Chuck & Mikey were married a few days ago, and we were there to help them celebrate with friends and family.

 

What are you doing to celebrate life?  It’s always fun to throw a birthday party, attend a wedding or go away for an anniversary … and it’s satisfying to the soul to celebrate a life well-lived that has passed away.   But it’s the everyday that really counts.  I came across this saying the other day … “Enjoy this moment, for this moment is your life.”   Won’t you join me in doing this?   Let’s make the most of every opportunity and celebrate life with each moment, for this moment is your life.

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

 Peace I leave with you;
My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27
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 P.S.   “Please excuse the mess … site under construction.”  In the midst of the move, our domain name expired causing us to unexpectedly and immediately change email addresses … causing a crash to my morselsofmercy site and its format of family pictures.  There is a fix to all things, but I simply have not felt like I could justify the time needed to put everything in its proper place again.  So, please excuse the mess.  At least there is new verbage and an update to my crazy but blessed life. The pictures on the sidebar will be a pleasant surprise for another day.
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** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from our excursion to the shore
that I posted on Facebook,
feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not … enjoy!!
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10203139143494232.1073741862.1076414018&type=1&l=b9d0add112
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How Long Has It Been?

1 Aug

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

 

OH.  MY. How long has it been?  Over two months, you say?  I deeply apologize for not writing sooner, but it certainly was not done so out of neglect.  My heart’s desire and priority is to write and to do so often … but life and its priorities often trump my heart.  Such is the case of late.

 

Life has been full…full of excitement, busyness, travel, heartache and change.  As brief as possible, I will back up and attempt at highlighting the past couple of months.  Where do I begin?

 

Our new home

Our new home

Let’s start with one rainy Sunday afternoon in April.  We had our realtor show us a house that had just been listed the day before.  As we walked through the front door, we sensed immediately that this home was different than any of the others we had looked at. It was bright inside with big beautiful windows and high ceilings, large and nicely painted rooms, and the price was right. Three days later we made an offer.  Within 24 hours, we knew we were going to be buying a house!

 

De-clutter became my new motto.  I started with closets and drawers, and I was serious.  It was time to look at each and every article of clothing and make a decision.  Items that didn’t make the cut began gathering in large bags in the front hall, later to be donated, while drawers and closets were neatly organized and ready to be packed for the move.  I spent hours and hours and more hours in the basement sorting and going through boxes of stuff that we hadn’t had room to do anything with for years!  As the stack of donated items grew, a true sense of accomplishment began to settle on me, helping to make my tired and sore feet feel better!  I also sorted through keepsakes.  Years and years of them.  I’m not a hoarder by any means, but I am a keeper.  There is a difference.  I love to keep things that bring back memories of special people, times, and places.  Well, my life has been full of all of these, and I’m talking literally full!  I decided it was time to continue the de-clutter process and down-size my treasures by taking a lot of pictures and scanning letters and documents.  As the trash bags filled with countless items, my heart and home began to feel liberated.   I am a blessed woman, and this whole process greatly reminded me of this fact!

 

The sellers were relocating out-of-state and their timeline was flexible, so we agreed on a closing date of June 12.  This gave us plenty of time to continue to methodically de-clutter, organize, pack, and be ready without a huge rush.  Moving is certainly not a foreign word to us, but moving just on the other side of town is definitely a different concept…and even nicer reality!  And then God gives us the best house-warming gift of all when Verizon flew Ryan into Baltimore for a business trip just 2 days after we closed on our new home.  Our entire family (minus Brittany) was together for Father’s Day, and then the following weekend for the big move.  What a hand-picked blessing from God Himself to my heart, allowing me to share this special time with both of my children.

 

More on the house later …

 

May 2014

NIBC friends

Just 2 weeks before we closed, for Memorial Day weekend, we drove to Wadsworth, Ohio for a weekend with friends.  This event was put on the calendar last fall – a reunion of sorts for friends who had worked / volunteered at the Nazarene Indian Bible College in Albuquerque while we were there a few years ago.  There were 12 of us who gathered there that day … to reminisce, to catch up, to laugh and cry, and to thank God for bringing us all together then and now.  Since that day in May, one of our dear friends, Carol Hileman, has gone on home to be with Jesus.  She and her hubby, Leonard, were the cooks at NIBC for many years.

 

Nearly every waking moment in the month of June was consumed with either packing or unpacking.  An occasional motorcycle ride, yard sale, or trip to Lowes was thrown in the mix, but it was a blur of busyness.

 

Cole Michael Lillianne Hope

Cole Michael
Lillianne Hope

July has been more of the same, with a few more opportunities to sit down and appreciate what has actually taken place.  Then a couple weeks ago, the house was filled with the awesome sounds of little people and their love for Mimi, Papaw and life!  What a great weekend of getting them settled into their new big bedroom that they now share, exploring the small stream that runs through our back yard, and soaking up every morsel of love they give to their grandparents!

 

July 2014

Me, my brothers, and our Mom

Then this past weekend, my heart was filled with more love of family as Kim, Cole and Lillie drove out to Indy with me to attend the Wells family reunion, hosted by my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Russell in Brown County.  There were over 70 of us there … I know my Daddy would’ve loved every minute of the time together!  In his honor, I edited my parents’ home movies and put together a “Wells Family Version” … nearly 80 minutes of clips from 1961 to 1987 ~ Christmas parties, birthday parties, family picnics, weddings, vacations, etc.  Several family members took a copy home, anxious to see themselves back in another time and in another place.

 

Kim and I added an extra few days to our trip to visit with some friends and other family, making our trip complete with lots of fun, great memories, and tons of pictures!  And considering that our time on the road was longer than expected, Cole and Lillie travelled very well and made Mimi and Momma very happy!

 

So, here I am today.  I’m finally making the time to do what my heart has wanted to do for weeks!!  I also feel like I need to post a sign that says “Please excuse the mess … site under construction.”  In the midst of the move, our domain name expired causing us to unexpectedly and immediately change email addresses … causing a crash to my morselsofmercy site and its format of family pictures.  There is a fix to all things, but I simply have not felt like I could justify the time needed to put everything in its proper place again.  So, please excuse the mess.  At least there is new verbage and an update to my crazy but blessed life. The pictures on the sidebar will be a pleasant surprise for another day.

 

As I put closure to my thoughts today, my heart desires to express yet another dimension to my life.  As I sit here in my little town in south central PA, my precious friends in Crowley, Louisiana are literally watching the sands of time quickly empty the hour glass on Joe’s life.  My recent visit to Cajun country in April will always be one of the most cherished trips of my life, as I spent several days with Becky and Joe and their family.  Those were the days when Joe, even after just having his 7th surgery to remove melanoma, would get a burst of renewed energy and go into the kitchen and cook an entire meal for us, excited to be of help, although he couldn’t eat any of it himself.  In his raspy yet cheerful voice, Joe and I reminisced about days gone by … and about what God was doing in his heart and life even then as he continued to face this dreaded and vicious disease.  That was April.  A couple weeks ago after receiving the devastating results from his latest scans, Joe was given 3 months to live and was put on hospice care.   The miles between me and Becky are so, so many, but yet our hearts are very connected, as I was so frequently reminded in these past few months as I sorted through my treasures, finding multitudes of letters, cards, pictures, and keepsakes from a lifetime of friendship.  After returning from my trip to Louisiana, I picked up my own copy of Jesus Calling, which is the devotional book that my best Bud reads every day.  Somehow I wanted us both to know that although we cannot talk every day, our hearts were on the same page … literally.  This morning’s words comforted me …  since I cannot be there with my precious friend during these long exhausting days of caring for her dying husband, Jesus reminded me that she is never alone … “My Presence watches over you continually.  I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.”

 

Won’t you join me just now in whatever situation you find yourself in … of knowing and embracing the truth that you are never alone – His Presence watches over you continually.  He has engraved you on the palms of His hands.

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

 

See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands;
your walls are ever before Me.
Isaiah 49:16

 

Crowley, Louisiana

18 Apr

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace
to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

 

My flight into Baton Rouge landed earlier than scheduled, which allowed some quiet time to sit on a park bench in front of the airport as I waited for my gracious chauffeurs to arrive.  I appreciated the extra time to catch my breath in prayer and anticipation of the next few day’s visit with my dear friends.  Life and its unpredictable way of turning circumstances up-side down and throwing them in your face has done just that to them.

 

Becky's wedding

Becky’s wedding – November 1978

 

As Joe told one of his nurses the other day, Becky and I have been bosom buddies before we had bosoms.   She and I were inseparable as little girls and then into our teen years, growing up in the Southport Church of the Nazarene where our families attended for many many years.  Our love for one another was strengthened by our mutual love for Jesus, piano and singing, Bible quizzing, fun weekends and nearly every Sunday afternoon either at her house or mine.  Memories are piled on top of memories – People called me Becky and they often called her Debbie.  If you saw one of us, you were sure to find the other.  I was by her side on that evening in November 1978 when she said I do to Joe, as she was by mine less than two years later. She shared her maternity clothes and we gave each other baby showers.  But as God sometimes does, He calls pastors and missionaries, so the many miles then between began to separate.  That separation seemed to stretch the very cord of friendship while the busyness of ministries, families, life and other relationships weaved their way into hearts.  But there we were, just a few days ago,  reaching back into time, trying to fill in the gaps with stories full of details and facts of how God has guided and directed our paths through the years…our paths that crossed only on rare occasions … the last being in 2001.  This visit was long-over due, but nonetheless was God-ordained from the start.

 

Becky and Joe's grandson, Layne Joseph ... he picked a flower for 'Aunt Debbie' ... Sha!

Becky and Joe’s grandson, Layne Joseph … he picked a flower for ‘Aunt Debbie’ … Sha!

Frequent flyer points and a burdened heart for my friends encouraged my trip to Crowley, Louisiana, where Joe and Becky have been pastoring for the past 22 years.   It was beyond wonderful to hug my friends, to visit with their children, and to love on their grandson … “Sha!”  Becky’s mom, Pauline, was also there, her sweet smile, big hugs, and stories about Bob warmed my heart with memories.  I ate tasty food, unique to the Cajun culture – fresh shrimp, boudin, crawfish étouffée, and fig jelly, among many other delicious meals.  Within a short walking distance from their house is the Quere de Torte Bayou, which surprisingly looks like an extremely muddy creek.  We drove through a nearby town that stakes the claim to be the frog capital of the world.   While out and about, I noticed that the landscape in every direction was littered with houses on stilts, crawfish ponds and rice fields, while the sky was buzzing with cropduster planes dropping seeds to plant those rice fields.  We visited the ‘Alligator House’ where we held baby gators and gratefully saw bigger ones behind tall fences.  We looked through old photos and smiled at younger faces and slimmer bodies ~ all from a different time and a different place.  However, given the circumstances of cancer and its evil and relentless grip, a special highlight to my visit was to walk into a hospital room Thursday morning and be cheerfully greeted by the patient as he fondly said “Skeeter!”  This is a name Joe gave me back when we were teenagers … as I stood in the outfield swatting mosquitoes instead of catching softballs, on any given Tuesday night at Back Door.   My dear friend’s husband, bearing fresh wounds and battle scars of melanoma cancer on his head, face, and neck, looked like a million bucks to me as we came to take him home after his 7th surgery.  Joe’s charm, his huge heart of fun and tease, his kind and compassionate spirit, and the love and joy of Jesus that fills him to the brim … all of this together and more cushioned anything disturbing that I saw.  It was my extreme pleasure to spend those few days in Joe and Becky’s world – to get a feel for the daily routine that keeps everything and everybody in its proper place at the right time.  I was constantly in awe of the abundance of Strength and Peace that Becky has, that only Jesus Himself can supply to my friend.  I pray that my short visit was a God-given distraction for all in the midst of these uncertain days.

 

Me with Becky and her momma, Pauline

Me with Becky and her momma, Pauline

Sunday came … what a true blessing to be surrounded by such loving and kind church people who warmly welcomed me!  I sat among them in the choir and worshipped with them in song, and for old time’s sake, Becky and I sung one of our all-time favorites from long ago, Fill My Cup, Lord.  Next time she and I are together, I’m requesting that we on-purpose spend some quality time at the piano and we sing until our hearts are content.

As that southern Louisiana congregation sang the final verse of And Can It Be last Sunday morning, the words jumped out at me as an anthem … “Bold I approach the eternal Throne!”  These words have marched across my mind all week as I have not only prayed BOLDLY for Joe, but I have bombarded Heaven for my precious friend, Sandie, and for our friend and former SWO District Superintendent Dr. Carlton Hansen. My own Aunt June just recently had surgery and will soon be starting treatments.  My Uncle Johnse has been fighting the fight of cancer for many years.  I just found a colleague of mine from my days of Work & Witness USA/CANADA, Laura Sylvester … her husband is battling this horrible disease.  Cancer.  I don’t understand, but thank God I’m not suppose to.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Won’t you please join me in praying BOLDLY?  Without a doubt, Joe, Sandie, and Dr. Hansen need a miracle!  Doctors and medicine have nearly exhausted their resources.  I’m sure you also know people in your life who need a miracle.  Let’s unite in our efforts and go BOLDLY to the Throne of Grace.  If we do so, we will obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  I’ll meet you there.

 

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth
concerning anything that they ask,
it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
For where two or three are gathered
 together in My name,
I am there in the midst of them.”
Matthew 18:19-20

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace
to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from my recent trip to Louisiana that I posted on Facebook,
feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not … enjoy!!

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202372872097926.1073741851.1076414018&type=1&l=7b94ce523e

Good-bye October

1 Nov

For You have been my Hope, O Sovereign LORD,
my Confidence since my youth.
Psalm 71:5

It truly seems like just yesterday when Tim and I hopped on the motorcycle and headed east to spend the weekend with our New Jersey friends in Toms River. But it wasn’t just yesterday … in fact, it was the end of September.

Since then, October arrived in its usual fashion of anticipation of family visits and birthday fun, but it didn’t take long before the visit did not include any family and the birthday lost its fun. Thankfully I had two days of enjoyment … Munchy Monday girls on Thursday evening and lunch with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law on Friday. Then the stomach flu and fever hit. My departure from Indy and arrival back in PA on Monday took me straight to bed. Less than two weeks later, a nasty head cold and another fever blindsided me and I’m out of commission for several days again. Now, nearly two weeks more, I’m still coughing and blowing my nose. Where does all of this stuff come from?

Besides being physically off, it has seemed that much of my world has been off kilter. Cancer is wreacking havoc in the lives of many I know. Death has unexpectedly stolen a dear friend and taken others who have been suffering. Addictions, diseases, storms, the inevitable struggles of aging, the concerns of Obamacare, loss of employment, an Albuquerque shoot-out, the destruction of relationships and families … these things and more seem to weigh heavy on my own heart. I have family and friends who are dealing with real life issues that often seem unfair and without much hope.

IMG_1314

Papaw with his 2 loves in the apple orchard!

IMG_1361a

Mimi having fun with lots of pumpkin heads!!

Even on this wind-driven rainy first day of November, we all must find our hope! Taking a different perspective on the month of October, there were some bright spots … I DID have a birthday. You would not be reading this otherwise! Although not together, I mutually celebrated October birthdays with some very special people, two of which are my brother and his oldest son. My youngest brother got married on the 19th of this month. He and his bride had a beautiful wedding, blending two families, while creating their own. My precious friend, Louise, is celebrating these gorgeous days of autumn with Jesus and my Daddy – she is no doubt telling him all about my Mother’s two dogs, Walker and Ginger. After many days in the hospital, my Uncle Johnse has returned home with Barbara. Friends have had successful surgeries, treatments, and care for serious health issues. Ryan and Brittany enjoyed several days of vacation in Albuquerque during the balloon fiesta, while just a few weeks later God mercifully protected friends in the same area as they were ministering to the homeless and a gunman repeatedly shot into their crowd. Tim and I had a wonderfully fun time last weekend with our grand kiddos – our annual trek to the apple orchard, pumpkin patch, and we even threw in a parade full of candy!! We are truly blessed by these two little loves! For these and more, we give thanks and praise to God … which brings us to this first day of November.

Yes, people are sick. People die. People get hurt. Lives are destroyed by sin and wrecklessness. Dreams are shattered. Politicians lie to us. Fears are realized. Life seems to be turned upside down at times. But, Jesus is our Peace. Jesus is our Hope. Jesus is our Fortress. Jesus is our Rock. Jesus is our Strength. Jesus is our Glue. Jesus is our Protector. Jesus is our Song. Jesus is our Complete. Jesus is our Everything.

Won’t you join me today in saying good-bye to October and welcoming the final two months of this year with open hearts? May we be full of praise and thanksgiving as our hearts worship Jesus, the Christ Child, our Redeemer and our Hope!

Until next time,
Debbie

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness seems to veil His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath His covenant and blood
Support me in the ‘whelming flood:
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When the last trumpet’s voice shall sound,
O may I then in him be found.
Clothed in his righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before his throne.

On Christ the solid rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.`

Where Were You?

31 May

You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Psalm 139:2-3

It was unusual for me to turn on the small television in the kitchen first thing in the morning, but that day I did. I was shocked and shaken as I watched a plane crash into the second twin tower in New York City. Tuesday, September 11, 2001 ~ just moments after 7 am local time in Albuquerque, NM.

Seven months pregnant and needing a diversion to the normal routine of our day, I sat down in front of the TV with our 2 ½ year old Kimberly to watch the Space Shuttle Challenger lift off from the east coast of Florida. Along with the rest of the world, I was aghast at the sight before my eyes as the smoke plumes streaked across the sky, indicating that something had just gone horribly wrong. January 28, 1986 ~  right before lunch that day … Indianapolis, IN.

It was a Friday morning. Having been back in Indy several times since Daddy had taken a turn for the worse, areas of our house had progressively gotten out of control … like the front hall closet. I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by the contents of that small area, sorting and trying to bring some organization back to my life when the phone rang. Thankfully the phone was right there beside me, since I had just talked to my mom about a half hour before. She had called from the hospital, giving me an update on my dad. This time, at first I wasn’t sure who it was, for she was crying, but I quickly recognized the voice of my Aunt June. My mind immediately couldn’t make sense of what she was telling me, for my mother had just told me that the doctor said that even in his extremely critical condition, Daddy seemed to be improving. But Aunt June was telling me that we just lost him. Middletown, PA … June 24, 1994 ~ around 9:30 am.

I had been out mowing the yard and pulling weeds – with a new grand baby just an hour away, I would’ve much rather been in Baltimore that day, but the chores at home still needed my attention. It was Friday – my day off from work, and I had just walked into the garage to get something when my cell phone rang. I remember smiling inside as the name of my friend popped up on the front screen of my iPhone. I answered with excitement, but quickly realized from the tone on the other end that this was not an ordinary social call. Her voice sounded very serious and matter of fact as she shared with me that she just found out that she has breast cancer. My heart immediately began to hurt and my brain began to reel with questions as I listened to the details she had to offer concerning symptoms, tests, diagnosis, and treatment … June 1, 2012 ~ in my garage in Red Lion, PA.

Sandie and I became the best of friends somewhat by default as we shared the very same small office space in the back of magnolia Music in Hershey, PA in the early to mid 1990’s.  Having initially met Sandie and Kevin at church, they offered me part-time work in their music store where I did a variety of duties and tasks, including collection calls on past-due accounts. I worked along side of many different people during those 6 years of employment, but none as close as Sandie and I. Not only did we share the work load of the office, but we shared the joys and the sorrows of life. We cried and prayed together. We laughed a lot. We kept each other sane as we also shared that very small office space with her husband, Kevin, who, for some reason, gave me a nickname … and still calls me ‘Trouble’. Not only did we work together, we used to vacation together, along with another family. We would camp at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, where we almost got evicted from the campground due to Scottie, our barking miniature schnauzer. Oh the memories! Our three families used to ride bikes on the weekends together. Those more adventurous ones would mountain bike on Saturdays and then the kids and I would join in on the fun after church on Sundays as a bunch of us would ride along the streets in Hershey and outlying areas around our church. We would often go to one another’s homes after church on Sunday nights, play miniature golf, or go swimming in the Walters’ pool. What fun we had!

Girls breakfast out during a visit to PA in March 2003

Girls breakfast out during a visit to PA
in March 2003

Through the years and as life separates by time and distance, our friendship stayed intact. We would both have to admit, though, that it was only attached by threads at times, due to the many miles between Albuquerque and Hershey. But when our family would return to the area for our annual Christmas visit, we would almost always re-connect and catch up. Even when just a few years ago we moved to the Cincinnati area, we made a point to see one another when possible. Now that we have moved back to central Pennsylvania, we have no excuses. Especially now. Since her first diagnosis, Sandie and I have made the time to have lunch together, and then along with our husbands, we have begun to meet for Sunday lunch on a regular basis. Just a few weeks ago, we all went on a nice Sunday afternoon motorcycle ride together, stopping mid-way for an ice cream cone and a ‘butt break’. We laughed about how we used to spend our Sunday afternoons riding together 20 years ago … and how we have gone from pedals in our 30’s to motors in our 50’s!

A year has gone by since that day in the garage. From those initial tests, Sandie found out that the breast cancer was also in her liver and her lymph glands. They immediately began a cocktail of treatments by IV, which she received on regimented intervals, leaving her without hair and energy. Over the course of time, PET scans showed great improvement, allowing a slight change in the medication given. Due to the nature of this particular cancer, however, she and the IV treatments will be life-long companions. A recent test result confirmed new growth again in the breast, so a double mastectomy was elected as the best form of total eradication. Surgery was a week ago this past Tuesday. A few days later, with lunch and Starbucks in hand, I spent a delightful afternoon with my friend and her puppies, Mocha and Weezly. We reminisced about years gone by, laughed a lot, filled in some of the details that had fallen through the cracks of time, and laughed some more. As our hearts were soaking up every morsel of life, conversation flowed, tender moments of expected concern were shared, and a time of prayer sealed our time together as we said ‘till next time’. With a prognosis that doesn’t promise her gray hair and a rocking chair on the front porch, I can promise her my undying friendship and support, my continual prayers, and my love.

Sandie and Kevin

Sandie and Kevin

Where were you? Where were you when you received that call, or when you heard the news? What were you doing when the crisis of your life took you to your knees and caused you to cry out to God? As I think back to those moments in my own life … I was just me … being me, doing what I do, being in the moment. Just as I am … makes me think of the old hymn of the church as sung by Travis Cottrell, with an added chorus … click here http://youtu.be/TGXDfxWM2r0 to listen

I come broken to be mended
I come wounded to be healed
I come desperate to be rescued
I come empty to be filled
I come guilty to be pardoned
By the blood of Christ the Lamb
And I’m welcomed with open arms
Praise God, just as I am

Wherever you find yourself to be, in that moment, won’t you join me in going to Jesus, Just as I am?

Until next time,
Debbie

The Same Air

15 Jun

You will guard him and keep him in
perfect and constant peace whose mind
[both its inclination and its character]
is stayed on You, because he commits
himself to You, leans on You,
and hopes confidently in You.
Isaiah 26:3
The Message

Oh my!!  My heart ~ such inexpressible longing …With fingers poised on the keyboard, I will try to sort out my feelings and aches.  Oh how much good it would do my heart to pull up next to a kindred spirit, to take a few deep breaths in, and to pour out what is inside.  Not just to share, but to lay down a very burdened heart.  Since writing has always been my therapeutic refuge, here I am.  Please remember that the venting is more for my good and you are simply along for the read.

The past several days have been consumed with news ~ the bad nearly smothering and snuffing out the very life of the good.  It all started with a desperate attempt at getting all the yard work done before spending the remainder of the week in Baltimore to visit with my mom and Kim’s little family.  In a rush, I neglected to tend to the proper maintenance of the riding mower.  It ran out of oil.  It died.  It’s bad enough that we now have to buy a different mower, the deceased one wasn’t even ours!  It belonged to our landlord.  Sigh …

In one week’s time, there were 3 people who I knew that passed away.  Frances Zeilinga was the mother of one of my oldest brother’s childhood best friends.  Even though I hadn’t seen Frances for many years, there is a sense of finality when parents of our friends are beginning to pass away.  Just a few days later, my own childhood best friend’s father passed away.   Becky’s daddy had been miraculously healed of cancer many years ago and God blessed him with nearly 30 additional years to enjoy life and family.  Just a few weeks ago, he was diagnosed with cancer once again, endured a battery of treatments and was finally beginning to feel better.  Then simply in his sleep last week, he bade farewell to his earthly body and was welcomed into the arms of his Savior, leaving behind his wife of 6 plus decades, children, grandchildren and greats.   Another couple days later, Pam Carnder’s ‘fairy tale’ finally ended when her beloved husband, Steve, passed away after his long 5 ½ year battle with cancer.  Pam and I worked together at Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center … a faithful participant of Munchy Monday, my 2009 summer prayer partner, and a dear friend.

Cancer is rearing its ugly head in the life of another dear friend.  Back in the ‘90s when our family lived out here in PA, but in the Harrisburg/Hershey area, Sandie and I were pretty much inseparable ~  we worked together, went to church together, and our families often vacationed together.  Recent visits for evaluations, tests, and results have proven to be alarming and quite sobering as she is facing extensive treatments and procedures in attempt to defeat this disease at its own evil game.

Just yesterday, another precious friend with whom I’ve shared life and also death … in the hills of West Virginia, Cindy suffered a heart attack and was life-lined to a larger hospital where she had a stint inserted in her severely blocked artery.  Having just spoken to her on the phone and hearing her weak voice just added to the ache that is mounting inside.

The trees on the grounds of Bonita Park

If the morning reports or the evening news has caught your eye in the past week concerning the wild fires that have devastated south New Mexico, this has also heaped sadness and sorrow to my already bleeding heart.  Bonita Park, the New Mexico District (Church of the Nazarene) Camp and Conference Center, was in the direct path of the Little Bear wildfire, which incinerated much of the 200 acre camp.  While living in Albuquerque for nearly 10 years, Bonita Park became very dear to me … several retreats, family camps, and many precious friends had homes there.  Gratefully, the main buildings which support the functionality of the campground, were spared ~ Offices, dining hall, the tabernacle, the local Nazarene church, and some dorms.  But nearly all of the residences, belonging to camp staff, camp volunteers, retirees, and leaseholders who have had camp property since the early beginning years of Bonita Park, perished in the flames.  Original buildings whose walls breathed the holiness tradition and heritage on those sacred grounds are now reduced to ashes.  Scheduled summer retreats, reunions, and camps, including the anticipated annual family camp are all now written in pencil on the camp calendar, waiting on God’s intervention in all areas.

Precious memories have flooded my heart and my mind these past several days as I have thought about each circumstance and each person.  And here I sit in York, Pennsylvania.  The memorial service for Becky’s dad is in Florida.  Steve’s funeral was yesterday in Cincinnati.  West Virginia is several hours away, and even Sandie, who lives the closest, is an hour away.  I won’t even think about how far away New Mexico is.  And then when I get all mushy inside like this, I can’t help but cry alittle more for my son who lives in Seattle … so far away.  Have I mentioned that my heart hurts?

Not everything has been bad … two new healthy babies have been born to nephews and nieces in the past 2 weeks, and my mother-in-law received a good and treatable report from the doctor concerning a health issue.  Also, my precious mother came out last week to meet her little great-granddaughter for the first time.  We had a very special time enjoying the wide span of ages included in the 4 generations.  For these good things, I am grateful!

In the mix of the good and the bad, playing in the background is the extreme static of my own life, reminding me that the dial is not placed just right on the station, and it’s consuming my world with a lot of noise.  Even though the air around me is filled with smoke, illness, death, and static, in order to survive, I am allowing Jesus to carry me close to Himself.  Jesus and I are breathing the same air.

Until next time,
Debbie

19-21I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
   the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
   the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
   and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

 22-24God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
   his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
   How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
   He’s all I’ve got left.

 25-27God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
   to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
   quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
   to stick it out through the hard times.

Lamentations 3:19-26
The Message

The header picture are deer out in the woods of Bonita Park
March 2006