Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Today I Love Tenacity...Slice of Life Tuesday Challenge

Today I am joining the folks at Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Tuesday Challenge...come on over and check it out! Thanks, Ruth and Stacey!


                                   Today I Love tenacity.
This is my cousin, Blaine.  

      I know he looks like a grown man, but scientifically he is an infant.  He now considers May 14 his new birthday.  He has been fighting Multiple Myeloma for several months now, and is just heading back to work this coming Monday.  I am so proud of him and his entire family for how hard they have all fought this battle.  I will allow him to tell his own story, and fill you in on why he is an "infant".  Friends...even if you don't read the whole thing...please know that tenacity counts.  It is what keeps your head above water when it seems you are ready to drown in whatever it is life has tossed your way.  No matter the situation you are in right now, dig deep and keep fighting!  You can do it!  Here are his words, which are much better than mine today:

Overcame Multiple myeloma            
May 14 with Alice Keener-Williams in Hollings Cancer Center at the               Medical University of South Carolina
Received Stem Cell Transplant. May 14 marks my new birthday. It was the day of my stem cell transplant. They call it this because so many things in your body are killed off by the chemo and must start over, they much like a newborn baby.

I came very close to dying after this procedure. I had an infection that the doctors could not locate. My temperature exceeded 104 degrees. They had me packed in ice and it still would not come down.

A new doctor took over my case and it made all the difference in the World. He is the head of the cancer floor at MUSC. His name is Dr. Stuart and he too is a cancer survivor.

The first thing he did was remove my central line. That is where the infection was. Three days later I was almost fully recovered.

Living through an event like this gives you a totally new perspective on life. You realize that life is precious and should not be taken for granted.

The intense chemo treatment they give you caused me to lose all my hair. When it started coming out, it came out in big clumps. I pulled most of it out and then my mother shaved the rest off. (See Picture)

I want to thank my mother for the loving care she provided me while I was going through this process. I couldn't have made it without her.

I ant to thank my family for their perseverance and tenacity through this. Especially my wife. She had the arduous task of maintaining the farm and taking care of our daughter. This was complicated more by the fact that she also had to work.

When she worked on the weekends, my daughter stayed with friends. It was especially tough on her to be stuck at home while I was going through my most challenging times. She stayed in contact with the doctors and nurses during this time and prayed.

My son stayed with my Sister in WV. He enjoyed his stay so much he didn't want to come home.

Now that we are back together as a family, I thank God that we are together again.

When you go through an experience like this, you cannot do it alone. You learn that it is not you alone who is the cancer survivor... We are all survivors.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Today I Love A Full House!

     It's been a long busy week, preparing for Darling Daughter's graduation party.  This morning I woke up to the very nice surprise of this very nice t-shirt waiting for me on the kitchen counter with a very nice note of appreciation from that Darling Daughter.  
(She knows I would buy stock in the Life is Good company if I could!) 

This turned out to be a very prophetic t-shirt.

As we prepared for our traditional family graduation photo, taken before the Boy Man had to leave for work, we were kept inside by the wind and the rain.  Welcome to Madison County!

 And so...the t-shirt spoke, and we indeed had a VERY full house!  

There are MUCH worse problems to have than a house full of folks who love you and want to wish you well.

There are much worse problems to have than a house full of food and good friends to help you keep dishes attended to and full. 

A few people tried to brave the elements and ventured outside, but had to stay under the eaves. 

But, by and by, as will happen on a rainy day, the wind pushed the clouds away and allowed the sun to shine through after all.

More traditional photos were taken...  

with the grandparents...

 And now we are relaxing around the house, enjoying the messages that teachers, coaches, family, and friends wrote in her Oh! The Places You'll Go! book.  From Kindergarten all the way through High School, she got nuggets of wisdom from so many caring individuals.  She asked me not to repeat the "Read Aloud and Cry Like a Baby" debacle of the Boy Man's graduation, and I honored that wish, but made her promise me that she would take the time to read the words in this book on a regular basis.  There are so many wise bits in it that I hope she will remember as she travels to all those wonderful places. 

Yes, today I love a full house, 
and a full heart.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Today I Love Earworms...Slice of Life Tuesday Challenge

Today I Love Earworms!
Over a rare family (all four of us together at one time!) dinner tonight, I just happened to ask, "Is today Tuesday?" 
to which my son answered "Today is Tuesday."
The rest is history...and now I gladly pass our misery and remembrance of his first grade tradition on to all of you.  
You are very welcome.  
Go ahead, son of mine...go ahead, friends...click this link.  I dare you!  

Today is Monday
Monday -- string beans
All you hungry children, come and eat it up!
Today is Tuesday
Tuesday -- spaghetti
All you hungry children, come and eat it up!
Today is Wednesday
Wednesday -- soup
All you hungry children, come and eat it up!
Today is Thursday
Thursday -- roast beef
All you hungry children, come and eat it up!
Today is Friday
Friday -- fresh fish
All you hungry children, come and eat it up!
Today is Saturday
Saturday -- chicken
All you hungry children, come and eat it up!
Today is Sunday
Sunday -- ice cream
All you hungry children, come and eat it up!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Today I Love Hope...

Today I love hope. 

A few weeks ago I posted a bit of verse written by Emily Dickinson...
"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul,
And sings the tune - - without the words,
And never stops at all."

Today my baby girl graduated from high school. 

As the tears came and went through the day I was reminded again and again how much hope I have for these young ladies and gentlemen…not only my daughter, but also these classmates of hers, many of whom I have grown quite close to over the years through either Girl Scouts, school events, sports, or teaching. 

I listened to the choir sing about "rolling down this unfamiliar road" and listened to my father-in-law hum the tune in front of me and was reminded of that bit of verse above.  I was reminded of a lot today.

I was reminded of the love, blessings, and acceptance this class showed for a member now lost, as the mother who accompanied her wheel chair bound son to school every single day through all 13 years that this class was together, and was in essence a member of their class, delivered the commencement address…through tears of her own.

I was reminded of the times they struggled, then set goals, worked hard, and succeeded. 

I was reminded of the tears they shed in grief, and the laughter they shared in celebration.

I was reminded of the hard work, the late hours, and the day to day grind that 13 years of school can be.

I was reminded of their little boy and girl smiles, tucked away and peeking out from under their eighteen year old graduation caps.

I was reminded of hope.

I not only have hopes FOR them, I have hope because of them. 

I know that our world will be a much better and brighter place because of the difference they will make. 

As they venture forward to be physical therapists, members of the military, dental hygienists, computer technicians, marine biologists, psychologists, engineers, or (be still my heart) teachers…I have hope.   They will make a difference in this world.  They will create hope.

This evening, as the day winds down, I hope that as the verse says, they will never stop singing their tune…for this dear Class of 2013 will be forever perched in my soul.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Today I Love Frugal...Slice of Life Tuesday Challenge

Well, it's happened.  Finally, I am getting my pay back for all of the jabbing and teasing I have given My Ol' Man over the years.  Do you see that wrinkly sheet of waxed paper under those pieces of cookie dough I was getting ready to freeze the other day?  Yup...gasp!  It's...it's...it's...RE-USED!

Now, my Ol' Man is a child of The Great Depression.  Like many of those born in the early 1930s, he was raised to be conservative in his usage of materials and money.  He shops around for and delays major purchases for as long as humanly possible.  He appreciates a good bargain.  He does not buy something because he "wants" it.  He buys things when he "needs" them...and sometimes doesn't buy things when he needs them.  He is not in debt.  

Now, when I say "it's happened", I am not (alas) declaring that we are debt free...oh, the joy of that thought.  No, I am declaring something much more significant.  I am declaring that I have finally begun the transformation into something of a cross between My Ol' Man and his sister, my dear Aunt Freda, who many would have described, quite lovingly, as...well...frugal.  

Yes, one of the things that I have been jabbing at My Ol' Man about for a while now is his tendency to use the same piece of waxed paper when he reheats leftovers in the microwave.  The waxed paper reduces splatters, and thus clean up.  Most of us would use that piece of paper once and toss it.  Not My Ol' Man...he gets a good long series of uses out of one sheet of waxed paper.  I know Aunt Freda, may she rest in peace, had similar cost cutting strategies...rinsing zip lock bags, washing aluminum foil, and the like.  At her funeral two summers ago, there were many loving and humorous stories shared about her love for a good buy and her pursuit of a new way to save money.

So...yes, I'll admit it and I'll admit it proudly.  I am a waxed paper re-user.  It may not make me debt free, but it will put me in the company of some wise and loving folks, My Ol' Man and Aunt Freda for starters, and I'm guessing some loved ones of yours as well.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some baggies to wash out.  Today I love being frugal!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Today I Love Trustworthy

Today I Love Trustworthy

A few weeks ago I told my sweet seventh graders a couple of stories.  They bear repeating today.   We had just begun talking about our next memory verse, Revelation 21:4-5:  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.   He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.
I actually have a couple of stories to go with that particular verse, but on that particular day I had just had to be pretty stern with a student prior this discussion.  I opened with this question, “What does this word in our verse, trustworthy, really mean to you?”  They answered basically that it meant that if you said you were going to do something, you could be counted on to do that very thing…that your actions matched your words.  I followed with this question, “Do you guys want trustworthy?”  Many of them said, yes, they wanted trustworthy.  They wanted to BE trustworthy and they wanted the people in their lives to be trustworthy.  I asked them if they were sure.  They again said yes.  I asked them if they remembered me telling them the rules in the beginning of the year and the certain things that would earn them some negative consequences.  Were they absolutely sure that they wanted me to be trustworthy when it came to them getting in “trouble”?  One sweet girl put it all in perspective.  (I can’t quote her exact words, but this is her basic message.)  “When someone is trustworthy, you have to be able to count on them for good and for bad…even when it hurts.”  And thus came the stories…
Once upon a time there was a young foolish high school girl who shall remain nameless (cough!me!cough!), who was all full of herself and eager to impress her friends.  One bright sunny morning as she and her friend were standing waiting for the school bus and chatting as young foolish high school girls will do, neither of them happened to notice that the school bus had indeed pulled up, stopped, and was just getting ready to pull away again.  Upon noticing this near tragedy, the young foolish high school girl who shall remain nameless was shocked and surprised to such a degree that a particular four letter word…a foul four letter word…came slipping right out of her mouth.  Now, it just so happened on this bright and sunny morning that the young foolish high school girl’s good hardworking father just happened to not have left for work yet…and he heard that particular foul four letter word slip right out of her young foolish mouth.  He protested mightily, as good hardworking fathers will do, but the young foolish high school girl and her friend were running to catch the bus.  That would have been the end of that story had the young foolish high school girl not been oh so very full of herself that she felt it necessary to mouth off to the good hardworking father later that night.  At that point the good hardworking father rewarded the young foolish high school girl with a quick smack right across the mouth…as good hardworking and TRUSTWORTHY fathers will do!  Needless to say, the young foolish high school girl quickly broke the habit of letting foul four letter words slip out of her young foolish mouth!
Fast forward about a year and the young foolish high school girl was now home with a most vile and despicable bout of the stomach flu.  Who was right by her side, but the good hardworking father?  It just so happened that this particular day was the day that the young foolish high school girl’s class ring was to be delivered at school.  The good hardworking father left her side just long enough to go to the store for 7-Up, but of course returned with the class ring as well, as good hardworking and TRUSTWORTHY fathers will do!
Fast forward many many years later and the married and a little bit wiser but still quite young girl and her Man had just suffered a miscarriage.  Her Man called the good hardworking father to inform him of the sad news.  The good hardworking father asked if he should come to be with the married and a little bit wiser but still quite young girl.  She was a grown up now and though she could not bear to talk to the good hardworking father on the phone, she told her Man to say, no, she would be fine.  Approximately one hour later, whose shoulder should she be crying into, but her good and hardworking father’s, who though he was told no, came anyway…as good hardworking and TRUSTWORTHY fathers will do!
Yes, my friends…we do want TRUSTWORTHY in our lives...for good times and for times when we need corrected.  In early 1977, My Ol’ Man became both good hardworking and TRUSTWORTHY father and mother to all four of us…whether he wanted the job or not.  He met the challenge head on, correcting us when we needed it, loving us through it all, trusting us when we proved trustworthy, suspicious of us when we proved sneaky, suffering a bit of high blood pressure in the process, and, I think, surviving the whole process quite well.  My Ol’ Man is to this day, the best good hardworking and TRUSTWORTHY father a girl could ever desire. 
Happy Mother’s Day, Ol’ Man…I love you!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Today I Love Making a Difference

     How do know you're making a difference?  I've been thinking a lot about this these past few days...ever since I saw these lovely sidewalk chalk drawings the other day.  We all strive to make our mark on the world in our own way, don't we?  The young sidewalk artists at school made their mark in a beautifully multicolored, yet very temporary fashion.  I doubt after tomorrow's rain, their art will still exist. 
     My middle schoolers were striving to do their best on their standardized tests this week, to the point that one young man told me on Friday, "My brain hurts."  (Poor guy; so did mine, and I only had to administer the tests.)  Will those scores make a difference?  That one depends on who you ask!  Darling daughter and her high school team mates excelled at their latest track meet, proving to themselves that hard work and positive thinking do pay off...yes, a good difference and solid life lessons learned!  And just today I enjoyed the best of the best produced by the fine artists around our league at their championship art show. I know of one young lady who got up at 2:00 this morning to finish her piece...it took best of show.  Hmmm…  I spent the remainder of the day with a bunch of other ladies making memories last at a day long scrap booking crop.  Will any of THAT make a difference?  After the last crop I attended, my boy man thanked me for chronicling his childhood.  He thanked me!  (I'm still picking my jaw up off the ground!) 
     Our 8th graders head off on their 8th grade trip first thing Monday morning.  When we prayed them out on Friday we reminded them that the minute their eyes open on Monday, they are on God's clock.  We prayed that God would open their eyes to every possible opportunity to serve in His name, from opening doors for folks, to picking up litter, to serving at a soup kitchen, to simply being good people. We reminded them that they will be representing our Christian school and that they may possibly be the only Bible some people ever get the chance to "read".  I certainly hope they make their mark next week. 
     Many of you tell me that my little obsession here makes a bit of a difference in your day.  There's not really a "Today I Love Police", but I do believe it's been just about a year that I've been striving to make a difference in this small way.  I've been very intentional about trying each day to put a little bit of positive out into the world.  I don't know if it's made a difference for you or not, but it has for me.  My whole way of thinking has changed. Circumstances that a year ago would have disabled me both spiritually and emotionally, can now in some small way, if not truly be appreciated, can at least be withstood with a bit more grace than before.  My prayer for you, dear friends, is the same that it is for my 8th graders...that God will open your eyes to the opportunities that surround you to simply make a difference.  Today, I love making a difference.