Tag Archives: suffering

Preparing Your Heart and Home for Thanksgiving

Do the holidays sneak up on you?  My daughter said, “Mom! Only six weeks until Christmas!”

Six weeks?  Last time I checked, I had six months and was feeling the hopeful thrill of actually accomplishing  Martha Stewart type holidays.

But, I don’t like to let rush into Christmas and let Thanksgiving go by unnoticed, since it’s a holiday of spirit and remembrance.  It’s a time to relax and be together as a family.  We lived in farmland and hubby worked as a farmhand for many summers,  so fall is also a time to think of harvest and abundance.

In September, the kids and I begin decorating with leaves, moss, pinecones, seed pods and any gift of nature we find on our nature walks.  When we have the energy, we climb into the attic and dig out a few of our favorite Thanksgiving decorations.

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I blogged through using these wonderful vintage postcards Thanksgiving in My Heart and Home. These  are a free printable download from Hub Pages.

 

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One year I had a bug to decorate My Chairs Are Ready For Thanksgiving. I know, way over the top, who decorates their chairs,  but I’ve used them for several years now so the effort was worth it.

 

Thanksgiving crafts 034You either think I’m ridiculous, or you thought of a way to improve them.

 

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On the way to my house for Thanksgiving,  my in-laws experienced a horrible blizzard.  Their train got stuck on the tracks in Spokane, WA, and I had one extra day on my hands.  So, I Just Had to Make One More Thing, this Thankful Garland that’s tacked to my fireplace.  I have left it up and changed the season décor for several years now.

2010 Thanksgiving Buffet

Even though I enjoy decorating for the holiday season, I know what is The True Measure of Thanksgiving.

 

Thanksgiving 090I love decorating with what I have, especially old books.


Give Thanks

Boggle cubes spell out a heart  reminder. Some years I spell out messages with Scrabble tiles.

Because I need the reminder.  I feel grief and sorrow so deeply, I have to remind myself there is always joy somewhere amidst the sufferings in my life.  The joy comes from the fact that there is always something to be thankful for.

Joy isn’t the rah-rah kinda’ false cheerfulness people wrongly expect out of Christians who are sick, lost their jobs, lost a loved one to death, or have been crippled by unfaithfulness of others.  People expect that reaction, until it’s their turn to be tested. Then they understand. We aren’t to be running around yelling, “Yea, I have cancer!  Praise the Lord!”  It is more of a calm delight, trusting  in His presence and His plans for our life.

In James 1:2-3 we’re told, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

Count it joy.  That seems a tough expectation until you understand  the definitions according to the Strong’s definition of the Greek words.

COUNT -  to go before, to be a leader

JOY – rejoice exceedingly, in salutations, hail!

FALL – descend from higher position to lower, fall prostrate

TRIALS – trials of a man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy, temptations, as the devil used to keep the Lord Jesus from His divine mission.

Loosely paraphrased with these ideas in mind, “Go into your trials as a leader, hail them with joy and fall prostrate in worship, because these trials prove you have a divine mission and the devil doesn’t want you to succeed.

This is how we can count it joy and “give thanks always for all things,” because this was the same attitude the Lord Jesus had when He went to the cross for our sins.  He was willing to suffer for us, so we always have a reason to wrap joy and thanksgiving around our weak bodies when we’re besieged by life.

We also have a divine mission, gifts and ministries the Lord has given us to accomplish.  Thankfulness keeps your heart on your mission when you are suffering.

Being joyful and thankful is a choice, not a circumstance. A choice I remind myself to take.

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A free Thanksgiving printable from Naomi at Delight Creative Home.

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Another beautiful creation from Naomi.  Check out her blog, she generously provides many free printables.

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Laurie and Emily at the Glo Girl Blog provided this download created with words from the Psalms.

Now you have beautiful reasons and ways to remind yourself to choose joy and thankfulness during the entire year, not just the holiday.

Making your home sing Mondays WHWButton#2

I Don’t Have Cancer?!?!

Every six months I have a blood draw to check the status of my  cancer.  Once or twice a year I have a  sonogram to measure the tiny papillary thyroid tumors.

My second surgery to remove thyroid tumors was April 2009.  Doc took out two, three grew back in their place. My doctors ruled out another surgery or radioactive iodine treatment and instead increased my thyroid hormone to suppress Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) in my body.  Any thyroid cell I have would be cancerous.  If the cells are stimulated by hormone, they grow.   I’ve been hyperthyroid for four years, hoping to starve the tumors to death.

My 6 month blood draws and sonograms  have shown progress.  I blogged about Teeny Weeny Tumors in December 2012.  The tumors were smaller and not giving off thyroid antibodies.

The reality is, there are no side effects from the cancer.  The tumors live quietly, minding their own business. The side effects from the hyperthyroidism are the challenge, and  greatly increased after recently being forced to switch thyroid hormone.

I’d been on Levoxyl  for 9 years, until it was  recently recalled and won’t be available again until late 2014. Doctors and pharmacists strongly warn anybody on artificial thyroid hormone to never, ever, ever, ever switch brands.

Now I know why.

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I switched to Synthroid.blog moments 017 (3)

This is the paperwork that came with the new med, listing all side effects, molecular structure and warnings. Look like something you wanna’ take? Me neither. Only I have this missing thyroid gland, so need artificial thyroid hormone in my body.

My symptoms increased greatly. Night sweats, sleeplessness. I can be tired all day, but wide awake during the night. I sleep about 5 hours, on a good night up to 7. Agitation.  Jumpy.  My kids have learned over the years to make a lot of noise when they walk up behind me.

At my recent endocrinologist’s visit to discuss the results of the recent blood work I described my adjustment issues with the new hormone. In conversation I used the phrase “my cancer.”

“You don’t have cancer.”

I looked at my doc in surprise.  After all, it’s been a ten year battle. She looked at me in surprise, as if I should have known.  I tried to remember what she said at our past visit.  Pretty sure I would have remembered being told I was cancer free.

“There are no thyroid antibodies and no thyroglobulin in the blood.  I’d say your cancer is gone.”

I should have been jumping.  I should have been overcome with joy. I was stunned. I was surprised she brought it up almost as if correcting me. To be cancer-free after ten years could have been announced with cake, ice-cream balloons and banners, not an afterthought conversation.

I almost doubted the news. Besides, my past two “cancer-free” times have only lasted a few months, so I was hesitant to get too excited.

 

It took me a few days to grasp in my medicated brain this is  GOOD NEWS! It took me even longer to fully grasp that the symptoms I’d been complaining about resulted in keeping the tumors from producing antibodies. It worked.

I look at those nasty pills a little differently. Would you rather have trouble sleeping or have cancer?  Yea, me too.

But, still, I argue with myself, it could come back.  It could come back in another form of cancer.  The artificial thyroid hormone could cause  bone problems as it depletes calcium from my body or cause heart issues.  If I look forward, I can cause myself undue worry and prove I don’t trust the Lord for His future plans.

If I look backwards at the ten year journey, I can remind myself of the hardships on my body and my family and prove I don’t trust the Lord for His past plans.

So, as many of us have learned through times of trials, we neither look ahead or back, we walk in the moment and look up. We may not understand His plans, but we are always in His presence.

Isaiah 4110

 

And today, as I walk with the One who is with me, strengthens me, helps me and upholds me, I don’t have cancer!!!

 

If you would like to read about the time I found the word CANCER in the Bible, read  Do YOU Have Cancer?

The Gifts of Cancer was written after being cared for by an encouraging, caring nurse named Judy.

Are You Down in the Dumps?

The mess was driving me crazy.

Activity after activity had piled up in my life, and I hadn’t put away stuff in-between each event. I was preparing for Vacation Bible School, Bible camp, summer travels, along with putting
away holiday items.  Yea, I was really behind.
Boxes had lined my halls and were stacked behind my couch for months.

Boxes to go to the thrift store.

Boxes to go into the attic.

Boxes to go back to the church.

Boxes to go in the garage.

My house was a dump and it was driving me crazy.

 
Each box needed to be sorted, organized, and the supplies restocked in preparation for next year’s event,  so I couldn’t just shove them away. Until I had time to properly deal with the boxes, I had to leave them.

As I explained my exasperation to my friend Ruth, and she smiled and said, “Just look up!"

I’m a little slow on the uptake, and was confused.

She clarified.  “When you’re walking down the hallway, just look up. Don’t look at the mess.”

It seemed too simple to be useful, but it worked. When I didn’t look at the boxes and dwell on them, they didn’t bother me. Eventually, all the boxes were sorted and put away. I walked down the empty hallway with relief and thankfulness.

Now my life is the cluttered hallway.   I have boxes of burdens that drive me crazy.  There is an Innocent Man in jail who calls me weekly, grieves over his situation, but tries to stand firm in the Lord.  I’ve learned how to buy him toothpaste, sox, shoes and stamps and anything else he needs to survive inside concrete walls and iron bars. He has diabetes and has almost died  in prison because a guard was sleeping while he was in a diabetic coma.

The artificial thyroid hormone I’d been on for 9 years was recalled, and I am going through the changes to adjust to my new medication.  When you say “woman”  and “hormone” in the same sentence everybody wants to run. I have friends with broken hearts and friends with broken bodies l and I can’t do anything to change or relieve the situations. The boxes will be sorted through and put away in the Lord’s timing, not my own.

Ruth’s advice has been murmuring through my soul.

“Look up, Mindy, look up!”

Many clichés about depression or discouragement have a downward motion. 

“Down in the dumps.”

“Head hanging low.”

“Down in the mouth.”

“On a downer.”

“In the pits.”

“In the dumps.”

“I’m feeling low.”

The words continue  – crestfallen, down and out, downcast, downhearted, low-down, low-spirited, shot down – did I miss any? The burdens and trial of this life drag down our bodies physically, mentally and spiritually. Life is hard.

Looking up at the Lord doesn’t make your problems go away, it just makes it more tolerable to look down again. Look up and hand Him those boxes, and trust Him with the contents. The Lord Jesus is called “the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”  He understands and is able to handle our boxes of burdens. He will unpack them and put the contents away in His way and in His timing.

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“Just look up!”

When Gramma Lost her Marbles

When Gramma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, humor had to become a part of our lives. It’s a daily agony to become a stranger to someone you love deeply.  My mother grieved that her own mother didn’t remember her. Mom was gracious and kind, but missed having a relationship with her. You lose them, before you really lose them.

You can’t ask them advice, share memories or catch up on family happenings. We learned to accept Gramma as she was and live in whatever world she was in that day. There’s no longer give and take in the relationship, only give and give some more. You even weep for them, because they don’t even know what they’re missing.

To Gramma, I was only “The Lady with all The Kids.”  I visited her almost weekly in the nursing home, to her continual confusion.  She sat with us politely, sometimes on her bed, sometimes in the main living room where residents sat and folded washcloths.

The staff would take a basket of folded washcloths to another room, mess it up, and bring it back.   They’d say, “I’m sorry, but there’s so much laundry today.  Do you mind folding another basket? Thank you so much!” Usefulness gave the residents vigorous purpose. It was a staff member, whose name and face draw a blank, but her love and devotion still warm my heart, that told me my Gramma referred to me as “The Lady with All the Kids.”

It didn’t matter that Gramma didn’t remember who I was, I was thankful she remembered me at all.

I would ramble on about things Gramma knew nothing about, to avoid upsetting her.  I could monologue an hour or two away talking about the weather, funny things the kids did, and sewing projects.  I didn’t ask questions because she wouldn’t know the answers.

Gramma and the other residents liked our visits.  We became the center stage act, and residents would shuffle in to see my kids play with the sorry basket of toys and books on the wing. My kids nervously noticed their blanks stares and drool, but I saw deeds achieved and lives influenced in their accumulated pasts.  It  brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion.

As with a child at the playground, I learned to warn Gramma when I was preparing to leave.  I’d give an update on the errands I had to run since I was in town.  At the time, we rented a farmstead in the country and going to town alone with all five kids could only be braved once a week.  I saved all the shopping for one day – Town Day. Then, I’d tell her I was leaving. As I prepared the kids to leave I promised her I’d be back, even though she wouldn’t remember that promise.

A few times she followed us to the elevator and tried to get on.  I used to think she wanted to come home with us, but now I know better.  She wanted to escape, but she didn’t know where she was from, so didn’t know where to go.

A staff member would gently hold her and talk in those reassuring tones they have perfected, while I pushed the button of guilt and watched the doors close in front of her face.

Only rarely did Gramma remember people.  A few times she said, “I haven’t seen Arne for weeks.  I bet he’s off fishing and won’t come see me.”  Then she’d turn to me.  “I suppose he’s off fishing with your husband.”

Instead of telling Gramma her dear husband Arne had been dead for over ten years, I lived in her world. “Yea, Gramma, you’re probably right. You know men.” I’d laugh, and we’d talk about husbands and fishing until that memory dissipated.

If Gramma ever brought up a topic of conversation, it was about our husbands.  I was amused  she didn’t remember  I was her granddaughter bringing in five of the cutest great-grandchildren in the world to visit her, but she remembered my handsome husband.  Once she even called him by name, although she hadn’t used mine in years.

 

Mindy and Gramma Geneva 1993

Gramma and me in 1993.
Yep, I’m wearing a stonewashed denim jumper
with a drop waist and believe it or not, I was totally in style.
In my mind, anyway
. I’m also totally pregnant with #3.

One day when we arrived, Gramma was still in her bathrobe.  I’d never seen her in anything but her large, flowered print shifts, with shorts sleeves and rounded necks, stockings and garter belt with sensible shoes.  As a child, we loved when Gramma lifted up her skirt and showed us the rows of little shiny clips that held her stockings up.  She would giggle with the mischievous smirk we loved, then lower her hem modestly.

This day, she had a similar look at her face.  She half grinned, then grabbed the edges of her bathrobe and opened it up. Smiling so all of her dentures showed, she said,  “Look, I haven’t anything on under here.” She giggled, and closed her bathrobe while I wondered if my children would be scarred for life. She was experiencing the same thrill as when one of my children would escape my clutches after a bath, and run naked through the house.

When Gramma had a bit of lucidity, she wanted to make me a sandwich.  She knew the kids and I had traveled to see her, and she knew she must feed us.  At first I tried to make excuses – I wasn’t hungry or we had just eaten – but it never calmed her down.  I learned to let her grab my  arm and march me around the floor looking for the kitchen.  I knew after a few laps she’d forget what she was looking for.  Then we could sit together and I would chatter again to fill up the empty space in her heart and mind.

Because it was Town Day, the five kids were always dressed up. The girls would be wearing a dress or a skirt, their hair done, usually with a special hair bow I’d made by hot gluing a large satin bow  to a clip.  The boys would be in nice jeans and shirts. After all, it was Town Day. 

One day, Gramma gave me a special gift to give to my mom. When we arrived, she was standing by the window on her roommate’s side of the room, staring, staring, staring. Her body was still, as she never was in the days when she had her mind, but her eyes darted like a robin seeking for worms. My kids stood with her, joining in her vigilant  watch without knowing what they were looking for.  I knew.  She was watching for Grandpa.  I didn’t despair, because I knew at least for a few minutes, she was remembering something.  Something is always better than nothing. 

She reached over to my daughter’s hair and began playing idly with the silky blonde strands beneath the hair bow.

“My daughter, Mary, had hair just like this.”  She continued to stroke the hair and I could vividly see the memory forming in her mind. “And I used to make bows just like this for her.”  Wishing with all my heart for a complete breakthrough, I dared to say, “Mary is my mom.  These are your great-grandkids.” 

She turned, looked through me as she always did, and didn’t respond.   I was still just “The Lady with all The Kids.”

It was only after my initial disappointment did I see the gift that had just been given.

That day, lost in Alzheimer’s sea of forgetfulness, she remembered that she had a daughter named Mary.

 

Making your home sing Mondays

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

We all know this feeling. 

We’re wedged in by trials and tribulations
and cannot escape.

We twist and squirm, but get scraped and wounded.

We can’t walk away, because this is our life, our family, or our job.

We can’t wiggle free, we’re bound to these circumstances.

We can’t make it go away.

We must stay in our circumstances between
a rock and a hard place.

Is this where you are?

You might wonder where the Lord is if
the boulders of tribulation have blocked your faith.

He’s much nearer than you believe.

Exodus 33:22
I will put you in the cleft of the rock
and cover you with My hand
until I have passed by.

 

Moses asked to see the Lord’s glory.
The Lord agreed to pass by,
but had to shield him from the full power
of His presence.

Moses had to be in the cleft of the rock
for the glory to be revealed.

What have you asked of the Lord?

To be like Him?
To know Him more completely?
To be conformed to His image?
To be used?

He’s answering your prayers
and will display His glory. 
But, suffering and glory always walk hand-in-hand
through the Scriptures;
we can’t see His glory without suffering like Him.

We need those hard places in our lives.

And the rock scraping your elbows?
It isn’t any ol’ rock.

Psalms 95:1
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the
Rock of our salvation.

Stop squirming, stop trying to escape.
You’re in between
The Rock and a hard place,
covered by His Hand.

Wait patiently, my friend.
His glory will be revealed.

Making your home sing Mondays

Jesus With Skin On

 
Just like they say “Don’t Feed the Bears” in national parks, and people do anyway, my family has this habit of feeding my cancer and whining to feed their own. Scott bought a few snacks on the way to the hospital tonight for my MRI. The doctors are trying to better locate the 5mm tumor they will remove April 13th….if they find it.
 
He ate most of them. In hindsight, maybe I should have eaten more. If sugar feeds cancer and causes tumors to grow, and my tumor is too small to be 100% sure they’ll find it, shouldn’t I have eaten them all?
 

Many people have heard the story of the little boy who was scared at night and called his mommy in. She prayed with him and tried to comfort him with reminders that the Lord was with him, he was never really alone.

His precious answer?
“But, Mommy, I want Jesus with skin on.”
 
I knew the Lord was with me, but tonight Scott was my
Jesus with skin on.
 
When I get into a tall building, I always have to see the view. Scott got stuck with filling out yet another set of forms, while I tried to capture the old Seattle homes with the backdrop of the snow covered Cascade Mountains.

Notice the warnings on the doors? Because of the strong magnetic field, there are warnings for many people – I notice they didn’t warn against braces. If my daughters, Beth and Grace, had been there would they have been swept into the tube with me and stuck to the inside by their tinsel teeth?

I was able to stand behind the door away from the magnetism and get a picture of the latest machine that was supposed to help find this bb sized tumor.

The tube was really small.

I mean really, really, really small.

The technician, Ben, joked that the tube wasn’t really that small for me, because he had people three times my size try to fit into it.

Ben even offered to take a picture of me. He made me smile. It was the last smile I had for about an hour. I looked into the tube, noticed it was about 1/2 the size of the PET scan tube, and noticed this horrible mask they were going to fasten on my face. The clausterphobia was causing me a lot of anxiety.

I told him through tears, “They don’t tell you all this stuff when they sign you up for an MRI.” He gave me a quick hug, then went out into the waiting room and said, “Mr. Peltier, you need to come. Your wife is crying.”

Scott began calming me down with Scripture and strict instructions not to open my eyes, even while I was just sitting there. He helped me wipe my nose, push up my sleeves for the IV, lay down and get comfortable. They had to pad around my head with foam cushions and put in ear plugs. I was feeling squished, and they hadn’t even put on the mask yet. When he did fasten it on, I accidentlly opened my eyes and panicked a little. I asked for another moment. The kind technician took off the mast, allowed me to breathe a few more times, close my eyes and try again.

He inserted the IV with strict instructions not to move my arm. With a few final adjustments, the bed was raised and moved into the tunnel.
 
It was SO dark.
 
But, instead of panic, I felt peace.
I kept thinking of the verse,
“I am with thee and will keep thee, in all places, saith the Lord.”
 
 
 
I knew the Lord was with me, but Jesus with skin on was lovingly rubbing my feet, assuring me with his presence. Once he stopped for some reason, and not feeling his touch, I shook my foot until he began holding it again.
 
The machine made a noise somewhere between a woodpecker pecking on a quonset and a jackhammer. The noise traveled up and down the machine and I could even feel the vibrations on my hip bones. If I hadn’t been under strict instructions to NOT MOVE and NOT TALK I might have been able to come up with a few comedic one-liners.
 
The technician knew it would be hard for me to get into that tunnel, and he wonderfully praised me on the microphone after each test. But, I don’t think he realized the other serious challenge I was facing. He began each new scan with strict instructions not to talk.
 
For the final test I couldn’t swallow or breathe for 30 seconds.
It seemed like 30 minutes.
 
And then, after all the anxiety,
it was over,
and I had survived
with the help of the Lord
and my husband, Jesus with skin on.
 
 
If you remember from previous blogs, simple things entertain me.
Mud puddles, window cleaners, the sound of snowflakes.
Tonight, I loved the sqare glass blocks set into a slightly concave pattern.
 
How DO they do that?