Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Do I Go East.....Or Do I Go West

August 5, 2018


"God does not promise to take us out of the 'valley of the shadow of death"; 
He promises to be there with us."
David Littell



We had church in Room 915 of the ICU this past week.   

We clasped hands, just as we do every week in our little church in Mt Vernon, and we each said a prayer of Thanksgiving.....a prayer of Peace......a prayer of Healing....and yes, a prayer of 'Even if He doesn't'.  


When you're at a crossroads......and you must turn left or you must turn right .....go east or go west....and you don't know which direction to go, the only direction to go is to your knees.  And we did just that a week ago today.  

Chuck hadn't been feeling well.....thought it was a cold....maybe allergies...maybe an MS attack.  But when he passed out and his color wasn't right and his skin was ice-cold and his already weak body was weaker, we found ourselves at that crossroad.  Do we go east to the closest hospital 30 minutes away.....or do we go west to his doctors in Dallas two hours away.  And that's when my knees hit the floor of the closet.  "Which direction Lord", I remember praying.  

The phone rang almost immediately.  It was a nurse at UTSW in Dallas.  "Go west", she said.  


And so we did.  We drove two hours to the Emergency Room at UTSW in Dallas where, after many tests, it was discovered this man I married 21 years ago had a very large blood clot in his heart.  IN his heart.  Our cardiology team said they had never witnessed the exact moment caught on a scan of a blood clot "in transit" through the heart..... and time was critical.  They needed to dissolve it immediately or it could mean sudden death.  They rushed him to ICU where they started a procedure called TPA - Tissue Plasminogen Activator - to dissolve this large clot before it could leave the heart and leave my husband dead. 


A team of 20 cardiologists and pulmonologists, as well as his MS neurologists, quickly conferred together.  They watched as the blood clot dissolved through the TPA procedure.  They saw his color return.....and they admitted; they witnessed a miracle.


The miracles were flying faster than we could keep up with them.....what if we had gone East to Mt. Pleasant instead of West to Dallas?  We would be planning his funeral today.  What if the doctors hadn't realized he had existing aortic valve stenosis and not done that echo cardiogram which discovered the unexpected blood clot?  We would be planning his funeral today.  That's the reality of it. The cardiologist said we had maybe hours at the most before this would have taken his life.  Most likely our East Texas hospital would not have done an echo cardiogram on Chuck and never known about the blood clot.

But yesterday, a week later, we came Home.  He's not out of danger just yet.....still has a large 8" blood clot in his leg and several small ones in his lungs....but today, as I type this to you, I'm listening to my husband breathe as he naps in front of me...his tired body grateful for more time.  His wife grateful for more time.....however long that might be.

And all the while......God proved Himself present with us through the valley of the shadow of death.  



"If God wants to perform a small miracle, He places us in difficult situations.
If He wants to perform a MIGHTY miracle, 
He places us in impossible circumstances."
Unknown


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Why We Need You, Dad.......


Growing up, our family of five always sat on the 3rd pew from the front on the piano side of the church.  Always.  Well....except that time when a visitor mistakenly sat in our pew.  I recall all five of us just stood there looking at the occupied pew wondering what in the world to do now.

During the sermon, Dad would put me on his lap, place my hand inside his suit jacket next to his clip-on tie, straight onto his heart where my hand could feel it beating and that beating heart would always lull me to sleep.  Dad figured out early this was the best way to keep his youngest daughter quiet during church.   It worked.  Always.

I thought about that memory as I drove the 100 miles to Dallas this weekend for Dad's 90th birthday.

My brother, sister and I were all coming together to meet at the same church to sit in the same pews next to our Dad and his clip-on tie.  First time in more than 40 years we've all been back sitting on those same wood pews.

My parents sacrificed much for us........to know God.

We were not a perfect family......far from it.  Probably more like All In The Family than Leaver It To Beaver if truth be told.  But without us kids even knowing it....Mom and Dad were building a concrete foundation right underneath this dysfunctional family of theirs.  I'm sure there were times when they wondered if this foundation would hold for the long haul.

But it did.

The years of sacrifice they made so we could be in church school......the piano lessons even when we couldn't afford a piano....the Lord's Prayer said on our knees each night before going to bed.....and the life lessons we learned from these two imperfect parents walked us straight into the arms of God....eventually.  

And that foundation stood the test of time.

Today.....we're still dysfunctional.  But I thank my Dad for being the best parent he knew how to be.  For sacrificing.....for loving us even when we were unlovable.  For teaching us we can do any thing we put our mind to....and for the hours at Restland Cemetary teaching us how to drive a stick-shift while repeatedly saying, "You can't kill anyone here."

Happy 90th Birthday, Pappo.  Thank You for loving me.

https://youtu.be/DZg7WBtWuNo








Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy "Thinks-Giving"...

November 23, 2017


Happy "Thinks-Giving"

Did you know that the words "Think" and "Thank" are derived from the same meaning?  Ya, me either.  Someone mentioned this fun-fact to a group of us this past weekend.....which got me "think"ing:


A few years ago, a good friend named Pam introduced a book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann VosKamp to a bunch of us women.  It was the year Mom had passed away, my husband had fallen and broken his hip two weeks later and a dear friend passed away the day after the hip break.  It had been a long and difficult year.


This little book, One Thousand Gifts, came along and taught me how to count my blessings.  Write them down.  Number them.  Strive to find 1000 things you were thankful for.  It caused me to "think" about all the little things I was thankful for and had never acknowledged.   So I started counting.....

1) Music....because it calms me, energizes me, creates me.

12) The bruises on my legs and hips from roller skating...as they serve to remind me 
of the fun time I had with the granddaughters.

Every evening, I would pull that journal out and "think" about the day behind me.....seeing how many things I could find to be "thank"ful for.

138) The promise of Heaven.

258). For difficult women in my life that make me roll my eyes and go "Huh?".  
I'm not really feeling thankful for this right now, Lord, 
but hoping if I write it down, I will be.

It turned into a challenge to find more things than the day before.  It changed my way of thinking from one of concentrating on the problems of the day to one of counting the blessings of that day.  And I began to change.  And I kept counting......


260) My friend Sandee Casey who said to me, 
"My mom used to tell me that watching a sunset will make you cry 
because in the perfection that God displays, you long for home with God. 
Perfection is the evidence that God exists and your soul yearns for that."

This beautiful friend, Sandee, passed away suddenly two months ago.  She no longer yearns for home with God.  She has arrived home.  


So, as we sit around the table with family or friends or maybe even alone this Thanksgiving Day, close your eyes...."Think" and then "Thank" God for being God.  How often do we thank Him for just being Him?  He didn't have to make the sunrise go from black to orange to yellow.  He didn't have to make the leaves go from green to red to brown.....He chose to...as a gift to you because He's counting His blessings as well....and you're at the top of His list.  


Happy Thanksgiving, my Friend, I'm so thankful for you.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Long Lines, A Little Volleyball and A Slice of Heaven


October 10, 2017

I skipped a blogging day somewhere this week.......it's probably cause I ran out of time standing in line at HomeGoods for 45 minutes just checking out.  Yep, after shopping for an hour, I find myself in the checkout line with 49 people ahead of me.  Not exaggerating....I had plenty of time to count each and every one of them.  Abandoning my cart and walking out wasn't an option...I needed these three items and the hour I just spent shopping would have been a waste.  So I hung in there...making new friends of the ladies around me.....seeing who could take the best picture of the long line to send when we complained to HomeGoods Corporate.  For goodness sake, it was Tuesday...middle of the day...not even near Christmas...what gives??


And made it out of there just in time to watch our oldest granddaughter, Bella, play her mid-week volleyball game.  We don't get to make many of the games, so this was a big treat for me! Oh ya....SHE WON!


October 11, 2017

 And yesterday.......we went to the beautiful Dallas Arboretum.  In all the years Chuck lived in Dallas (most all of his life), he doesn't remember ever going to this little slice of heaven called the Arboretum.  He practically could have spit to it from where he grew up....

It was the most beautiful of days.....75 degrees.....old-people-and-baby-stroller-day.......it was just awesome.


And Chuck only went off the path once with his wheelchair.  He was looking to the left when he went off the path to the right.  Stuck.  In gravel.  Along came three older ladies who immediately came up with a plan.  Two hung on to Chuck as he stood up so the other one and I could lift his chair up out of the gravel.  I overheard one lady say, "I haven't held a man since my husband died" while the one helping me whispered in my ear, "I know what you're going through....my husband was in a wheelchair too."  Precious-Precious-Precious-Precious Women....all of them.  And they showed me their muscles just before parting ways.....


We have enjoyed our stay here in our old home town.......but we're ready to move on.  Today, we are packing up the minivan and heading north......north to where?  We'll see.....but we want to see less concrete and more trees and mountains......

Hello Oklahoma and Arkansas!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Couple Hicks In The Big City

 October 10, 2017


One thing hasn't changed since we moved from Dallas 12 years ago to the country (lake).  Chuck's love affair with Macy's.  The biggest smile....the brightest eyes....the happiest man came rolling out of Macy's yesterday as we took a relaxing day at the Mall....a place we don't have many of in East Texas (who am I fooling...we don't have ANY malls).

I feel like I'm in some type of Sci-Fi futuristic movie being back in Dallas for an extended stay.  "Brow-Bars" for those who want better eyebrows at Macys???  Really??



Leather reclining seats with a tray table at the movie theater (we were halfway through the movie before I realized they reclined)??!!  I'm such a hick.


And I'm starting to sound like my mother.  We excitedly went up to the box office to purchase our movie tickets and suddenly my $20 bill vanished.  I heard these words leaving my mouth as I spoke through the little hole in the window to the 16 year-old cashier, "$20?  Are you sure?  It's only $5 for matinee in our neck-of-the-woods".   Yes....I actually said this. 


But I discovered something in our adventures yesterday.  I realized this no longer felt like home to me.  I used to LOVE the mall....now I couldn't wait to get out of the mall.  A "Brow-Bar" would have excited me back in the day.....now I think its just bizarre that someone would be that attached to their eyebrows.   And $20 for a matinee?  I don't care if they do have leather-reclining-chairs-with-a-swivel-table.  These things are wayyyyy on down the list of essential components of my life.  I've changed......


I'd much prefer to see a beautiful sunrise that didn't include a high speed freeway in front of it.  I much prefer seeing a quiet lake instead.




Monday, October 9, 2017

STATE FAIR DAY




October 9, 2017

STATE FAIR DAY

It's been just under 40 years since this chick's been to the State Fair of Texas.  I was in college dating a hot guy with a hot black Trans Am at the time....

This time, I was with my hot husband with a hot burgundy Minivan and our awesome family.  And I've discovered.....eating Fletchers Corny Dogs and Fried Banana Pudding then riding some ride called "Don't Throw Up", is something left for the "younger" crowd to do.  Yep, we stopped at Walmart on the way home and grabbed some Rolaids and Advil. 


We now have a student-driver as a grandchild, so the Car Show was a must.  It's almost impossible for me to think of Bella driving as I mostly only remember her and cars having a love-hate relationship as she was growing up.  Motion-sickness was not her friend as a child.......TRUST ME.



And it was discovered that, although they lived in Dallas their whole lives, Chuck and his son Troy never went to the Fair together.  So it only took (no comment) years for Father and Son to head to the fair and share a plate of kurd cheese together.

What an awesome vacation we are having so far.  We may not be at the Ark in the middle of a hurricane, but we are somewhere better; with family.  And isn't that what the Ark was all about anyway?  
Family.

Granddaughters
Bella hitching a ride on Grandpa's wheelchair

Granddaughters and their Lele

FAMILY (& Big Tex, of course)


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Funny Thing Happened on the Way To the Ark

October 7, 2017

So......a funny thing happened on our way to the Ark....the Ark Encounter, that is.


It rained. (Don't think for a second I don't see the irony here.....)

We've been planning a trip to Williamsburg, Kentucky for...ohhh.....about 6 months to see the actual replica of the Ark and check out the Fall colors along the way.  This was an anniversary present from my beloved, was suppose to start today and included the promise to "not-give-you-grief-or-whine-every-time-you-stop-the-car-to-take-a-picture, Liz".  SD cards were cleaned and in position....batteries charged and every photo-op between East Texas and Northern Kentucky had been researched and written down.

We are not in Kentucky. 

Twenty-four hours prior to take-off in the minivan, we aborted Kentucky.  We simply couldn't see driving 24 hours round-trip in hopes the doors to the Ark weren't already closed and floating when we got there.  Quick change of plans.....


We considered Grand Canyon.....never been there...always wanted to....36-hour-round-trip drive.  My butt is already wide enough.....

No.

We considered Colorado Springs.....our beautiful niece and her family live there and we haven't yet seen her place.  We love Colorado....and we love Tiffany even more.  But it showed SNOW on Tuesday (plus, we hadn't exactly run this thought past Tiff yet)......so we decided to delay the trip to Colorado for another time.....


Sooooo.....here's the deal.  We decided with an odd tilt-of-the-head....to head home.  Home to Dallas.  We are going to be tourists for the first time ever in our home town.  We are going to do touristy things....taste touristy food....look like tourists.

So we loaded up the minivan yesterday, headed 1-1/2 hours west and landed north of Dallas.  Checked into a hotel, headed over to our son and daughter-in-laws house for a visit and dinner, and for the first time in a gazillion years, we aren't racing in and out of Dallas to have a colonoscopy, cystoscopy, endoscopy, MRI or mammogram.  Nope.  We are going to have some FUN time.  And an added perk is....we won't get lost.

Granddaughter Bella
So, this week will be filled with State Fairs, Arboretum, Granddaughters, Family, Museums, Shopping, maybe a Haunted House or two and.....Resting.  We are downright giddy about this upcoming week!

Want to travel with us??




Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Pinch Me, Ant Ellie.....Pinch Me



My sweet Ant Ellie died in her sleep a week ago.  She hadn't been sick a day in her life, had just moved from Florida to the one place on this earth she loved and always longed to return to; the piney woods and red-clay of Alabama.  She loved this place with every inch of her robust body.   


And this was the place she wanted to die....someday......but not last Friday.

Ellie never had children of her own, so she borrowed her siblings' kids.  She was the kind of aunt every niece dreams of...the FUN aunt....the one that will squeeze-her-3x-sized-rear-into-the-roller-coaster-seat-next-to-you kind of aunt.  Who at 79 was about to purchase her first 4-wheeler to cruise around her 60 acres of land she lived on...alone.  

And she and God met up in these Alabama woods.  As she sat drinking coffee on her front porch last year in this place she loved so, God sat with her.  Quietly and expectantly.....He waited.  He would soon be calling her Home, but she didn't know that.

And then she heard Him.  Like a wind whispering to her, she heard His Spirit speaking to her heart. And she picked up that old dusty Bible sitting in her bookshelf and opened it for the first time in years.  His love leaped off the pages and straight into her heart.  And she made the decision to be baptized this year at the mighty-but-not-too-late age of 79.

"And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! 
We go through exactly what Christ goes through. 
If we go through the hard times with Him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with Him!" Romans 8:25 (MSG)

And so we blow her a kiss and say "Goodbye for now, sweet Ant Ellie.  And warm up the 4-wheeler....we expect a tour of Heaven soon." 

 

https://youtu.be/mmG9lftvHOg
(click on link above)





Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dear Graduate.....

 Yesterday, as we were re-siding the boathouse, I noticed what looked like an old birds nest up in the eaves.  I reached up and pulled it down and found this....

What a surprise!!  I put it gently back up in the eaves and we continued on with our work.

The next day, I just had to see what was going on in that nest and found this....

It reminded me of the kids graduating and getting ready to "leave the nest" to start a new chapter in their lives.  It reminded me of my own journey of leaving the nest 1000 years ago.....the mistakes made and the lessons learned.  And much like these baby birds who are blindly starting this life, so are those graduating from the comfort of depending on others (parents, teachers, etc.). 

Please appease me with one last piece of advice.....



Dear Graduate,

As you prepare to cross that long stage in front of your family and friends and eagerly close one chapter and open the next, there are a couple of things this old lady whose tassel was moved from the right to the left many years ago would like for you to know:

Be An Individual.  There is a reason you are alive.  This culture we live in makes it far too easy to look alike, act alike and believe alike.  Discover who YOU are.....and don't be afraid to be different.  That goofy graduation cap on your head is a ticket to life.  You can stand out and you can be the change you wish to see in the world.  Learn to fly solo......

Help Others.  We all have a calling in life.  And if there's one lesson I've learned over all others, it's that we are placed on this earth to help other people.  In the book The Original Human Dilemma (2004), supposedly in hell, they sit around a great pot, all hungry, because the spoons they hold are too long to bring the food to their mouths.  In heaven, people are sitting around the same pot with the same long spoons, but everyone is full. Why?  Because in heaven, everyone uses their long spoons to feed one another.

Don't Let Technology Be Your God.  As someone who is writing this to you from her laptop with her cell phone charging as she types with buds in her ears, I know a bit about this subject.  Techno-gadgets are merely distractions.....just look around you....even us old people have made our phones our god.  If you are going to make a difference.....put down the cell, take the buds out and spend less time in front of the screen.  Put Real Life First.

Place God as the Driver of Your Life.  Really hear this....NOTHING else matters if you don't have God as your Driver.  You are traveling down the Highway Of This World at a rapid speed.  GET OFF....NOW.  There are exit ramps along the way and they lead to a narrow, difficult and rarely traveled path.  But this path is unlike the highway that leads to certain death and an eternity in hell....the narrow path leads you HOME.  Yes....you will most likely arrive home sore, scratched and tired from the bumps along the way, but you will LIVE to see Home. 

And be happy......as God intended you to be!