Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sometimes it Rains Rice

Sometimes it Rains Rice

Today, I taught about onomatopoeia.  Say it three times ... my students like to!  It's a big word, but fun to say, and a fun literary technique to use in writing.  Splish, splash, ow, squiggle, sigh, ...

Well, I had planned all sorts of fun ways to explore onomatopoeia ... kinesthetic, partner work, mini white boards, and I even incorporated a popular app game.  I also used sound jugs.  They are old plastic coffee cans, with various objects in them.  Each group came up to shake a sound jug for the rest of the class.  The seated students would then write an onomatopoeia for the sound they heard on their white boards.  So, for example, there was a jug with coins in it, and students wrote "chchchch", "clink", "clank", and so on.  When the group for sound jug #3 came up, they all each took a big shake on this one.  When, all of a sudden, the lid comes off and it is raining rice!

Oh, did I mention that an administrator was in the room too?

Well, instead of "shshshsh" or "swish", we wrote "WHOA"!  And I jokingly said, "Hey, that was my lunch!"  

I had spent days on this lesson, preparing it, and the materials associated with it.  The best laid plans, with much preparation and focus on detail, sometimes just do not happen.  Sometimes it rains rice.  And, that is okay.   I did not care that the rice was everywhere, and I did not care that it was not part of my "perfectly" laid out plan.  I like to think that it was supposed to happen.  It gave us a laugh and it was a teachable moment.  It certainly won't be anything that I will ever forget.  And, I hope my students won't either ... I hope the word "onomatopoeia", and what it means, sticks in their heads.  Even, if they are still picking rice out of their hair.

It is so true of our lives ... we lay down the best plans.  Try to prepare.  Try to be in control all of the time (at least this is what I have tried to do).  

My husband's cancer diagnosis was not part of our plan.  But, we can use this unexpected situation - this raining rice that seems to be everywhere - as a way to seek joy, have teachable moments (I still am learning), and to know that I am not in control.  God is with us when the rice rains, when the plans seems unclear to us, guiding and loving us to where we need to be to fulfill our purposes.

Reflection Verses:

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Tuesday, January 28, 2014



Are you a complainer?  I certainly do it myself at times, but lately I find myself trying not to complain, trying to focus on positives and blessings.

Perhaps, ironically, here I am complaining about complaining.

Sure, I could complain about a lot right now.  I could make a very long list, but I am not going to.  I am not going to give those complaints any value by naming them.  Complaining would put my mind in the wrong state.  It would affect my husband and my child too.  I am choosing not to grumble.   

I am not talking about grief, reaching out for help, distress, or injustice.  I am talking about the complaints that I hear about feeling old (and you are only in your 30s), if someone gave you a funny look, if someone did not say or do what you wanted, if you are bored, or if you do not like your job/spouse/the weather.  Perhaps it is a complaint that is just a misguided put down, or a spilled cup of coffee, and you comment on how these things have ruined your whole day.  

I think it is a privilege that you can complain about those things, which are perhaps really gifts.  When I hear these type of complaints, I want say, ... "Well, my husband has cancer".  

And, oohhh... that is not nice of me.  

That is when a little anger, self-centeredness, or jealously pours out of me.  I don't actually say it, but sometimes I think it.  Please forgive me.  I want to sympathize with your frustrations, but it is hard for me right now.  I am sure it is hard for you to sympathize with my situation too.  

Please know that when you share with me that I do pray for you.  For those of you that know me, please do not turn away or keep things from me.  I do not want you to feel like your words are a burden to me.  I do not want to be alone or separated from people.  I need you too.  I really do want to know what you are struggling with or frustrated about.  Thank you for loving me back.

I am just thankful that I have another DAY; a day of life; a day with my husband and child; a day to love.  And, I know you know that too.  No, I am not perfect, but this current season of life reminds me that every person is special, every day is special, and that maintaining a positive attitude is crucial.  It is not all about me, and I do not know what others are really going through when I interact with them, so that is where my proper attitude and love need to shine through. 

It must be noisy to God hearing all of our complaints.   Complaints about the things in our lives that have been given to us as gifts, blessings, and growth opportunities.  That is really what all of this is, opportunity for me to grow in my love of Christ, to be God-centered, to share Him with others, and to spread light instead of complaint.  My choice, when I feel a complaint coming on, is that I will try to swallow it and extend grace, servitude, and love instead.  Thank you for your patience with and prayers for me.

Reflection Verses:

 Do everything without grumbling or arguing,... Philippians 2:14 NIV
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  Ezekiel 36:26 NIV

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 15:5-6 NIV

My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.  Psalm 49:3 NIV

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cancer is Sneaky

Cancer is Sneaky

"Cancer is sneaky", our child says.  "Daddy wasn't sick before, but now he is ... with that 'battle medicine' in him".

We have explained that God is using the medicine, and His Power, to battle the cancer inside Daddy.  And, Daddy is fighting too, doing what he can to get better.  Battles can be hard, and exhausting, and can make you sick.  My husband did not do anything to cause this cancer to grow in him, but he knows it is there and he can fight it.  And, God will too.

Children's insights and perspectives on situations can be quite eye opening.  It reminds me of how we all have a battle inside.  Battles against worldly things.  Little things sneak up on us, slowly growing, and because it happens slowly in little bits, it might seem normal - like jealously, or untruths, or procrastination ... things I certainly have been guilty of ... and they just sit there, sometimes growing unaware.   Or sometimes, there is no build up, but a sudden and immediate attack, knocking you off of your feet instantly.  A battle may begin.  A battle may be necessary.  However, protection in a battle is also necessary.  Not just for physical health, but spiritual health as well.

Your heart and your mind need to be guarded.  We must put on the armor of God.  You can defend yourself with the Living Word inside your heart, mind, and soul, so that you are prepared and protected against the sneaky things and for the battle ahead.

God is not sneaky and does not catch us off guard.  He is there always, looking ahead and knowing what we need, before we even do.  

Reflection Verses:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8,-9 NIV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37 NIV)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. ... Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:10, 11, 14-18 NIV)

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Peter 1:23 NIV)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bad Dreams

Bad Dreams

Did you ever have that dream where all of your teeth fell out and you woke up frantically checking your mouth?  Or, maybe you dreamt that something is chasing you, and you wake up just as you are about to get caught?  Maybe it is a dream where you are endlessly searching for something and you wake up still feeling sad and lost?

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and forget that my husband is in a battle with cancer.  I feel like I have woken up from a very long and bad dream.  I get out of bed, we walk around the house getting ready for the day, make breakfast, pack bags, cook dinner, do laundry, laugh, ... daily every day stuff. Things seem normal.

But, then the appointments occur - chemotherapy, scans, blood work, blood transfusions ...  the pain and the nausea comes.  I realize that these things occur so that my husband can get better, but as mentioned previously, it is hard to watch.  Worldly reality ... not a bad dream.

I must admit that sometimes I am very angry about this situation.  I would not wish it on anyone ever.  I am not angry at God.  He did not cause it.  I do cry out to Him for help.  I am frustrated, scared, emotionally hurt, angry.  Sometimes, I want to stomp my foot and shout at something, yet there is nothing for me to direct my anger at.  No one did anything wrong, but this emotion comes out of me, in the privacy of my own home ... in the shower or the bedroom where no one sees me... sometimes just in my own head, swirling around.  The reality of worldly things scares me.  Pain, fear, anxiety, doubt, and helplessness.  Sometimes, I walk around with a clouded mind, hurting stomach, and tears.  This thing is part of a sinful, imperfect world and I h.a.t.e. it. 

 I am thankful for God's mercy, love, and grace in these moments.  I also know that I am not alone with the way I am feeling.   God also sends people to me... usually it is in the form of a text or an email, or perhaps a hug, or a gift that fills a need, and that person also brightens my day in some way.  

I need to turn away from anger and turn to God.  And, then I remember that God is in control.  Not me.  Not the world.

So, I pray, refocus, and have hope.  Hope for healing and recovery.  Thank you God.

Reflection Verses:

Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid.  Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident. Psalm 27:3 NLT

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.  Psalm 37:8 NIV

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mission in Difficulty

Mission in Difficulty

My husband has chosen to continue to work as much as possible, even while undergoing chemotherapy treatments.  He says that there is a purpose in his work, and that he will be there for his students.  I am not sure I would feel like doing the same, if our roles were reversed.  It is hard for me as "just" the caretaker.  He inspires me with his perseverance, especially when he feels the most sick.  

There is a purpose, a mission, there ...  God gave us these jobs, these opportunities.  Even though the particular work we do is challenging, there is purpose in it.  Is it difficult? Yes.  Is it difficult to have the energy, patience, and mental alertness to do a good job when you have been up all night being sick, or helping one that is sick?  Yes.  But, after rest we persevere, because in this time, we are still able.  We also have faith to persevere in prayer ... God will answer.

Jesus suffered greatly in order to fulfill a mission.  The pain that He endured, the difficulties that he encountered, all of that... He persevered through it.  It was not impossible - it was difficult, yes, but it was possible.  That is inspiring, and we need and want to persevere like Jesus.

This IS the hardest thing we have ever gone through.   Mission impossible?  No ... just a mission in difficulty.   God and your prayers are working and lifting us up so that we have the strength, mentally and physically, to keep on working.

Reflection Verses:

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  Matthew 26:39 NIV

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26 NIV

Sunday, January 19, 2014

My Life is Like a Circus

My Life is Like a Circus

The local school hosted a small circus event.  Something fun and distracting for us to do in this season of life.

There were performers twirling, juggling, and balancing on precarious mounts...kind of like how my life feels at the moment.  Twirling around trying to get to place - to appointments - to treatments - to work - to place.  Juggling all of the roles and tasks that need to be completed each day.  Balancing on precarious moments, watching my husband for changes in his health, checking to see that he is okay.

Another performer at the circus twisted himself sideways, backwards, up and over himself, and then folded himself into a clear box.  We could see him clearly fitting in there.  I too feel like I am trying to cram everything into a box, with all being able to still see what is in there.  They can see the contents of my life but that is okay.  I am not trying to hide anything, but simply trying to carry it.  God makes it possible for me to handle and carry this box.

The circus performers put on an act.  They entertained and made us laugh.  It can be hard to be on display because your actions and reactions are watched, perhaps a little more closely.  I know people may not say it, but they might be thinking "cancer" when they look at us, pass by us, or hear our voices.  Maybe they say a prayer when they see us.  I hope they also see we are living a life of God's Grace and Hope.

The ringmaster introduces the acts, gets the audience set in anticipation, keeps the show moving along, and then gets the audience to give their appreciation for the act performed.  It reminds me that God guides us and keeps our focus on the right things.  God will be there as we twirl, juggle, and struggle with imbalances.  He can truly see through the boxes we try to stuff, into the core of our souls, knowing what we need in order to be a light, a star.  We praise, appreciate, and love that He is in control.

Reflection Verses:

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;he gently leads those that have young.  (Isaiah 40:1 NIV)

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.  (Proverbs 16:9 NIV)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Accepting Help

Accepting Help

Part of me, the quiet stubborn part, wants to say "I can do it all"!

When my husband was first diagnosed with cancer, I made the rule that we had to accept help, although that is against our nature.  

I didn't realize how difficult it is at times for me to accept the generosity, sometimes overwhelmingly so, of others.  I don't want to burden anyone else.  And, a small part of me thinks "how could I ever pay them back?"   I know that is not their intention, but sometimes it emotionally hurts to have help.  This help is a reminder to me that that something is wrong. 

I know these helping people do not expect anything in return.  I know that love is the reason they help.  I hope they know we love them back.  I hope that I too can "pay it forward" in some way by serving and helping others. 

We have been blessed by others' help in so many ways already:  meals, united prayers, hugs, gift cards for gas and stuff, company in our home and waiting rooms, and texts, cards, phone calls, emails, conversations, and messages that are encouraging and comforting.  We have received massage therapy, anonymous gifts that fill a need, snow removal, guy movie and prayer night, Church Support, and people who drop everything to help us in the current moment.   Friendships, new and old, are deeper... and I value that as well.

God is using complete strangers to help too.  They may seem like little things, but to me they are not.  An offer of a tissue for my tears, conversation, a pat on the back, a hospital meal, a seat in a waiting room, a drink, a smile in an elevator, or a friendly greeting. 

There is more, as these are only a few examples, but I am so completely humbled, and I still sometimes shake my head in disbelief about the generosity of others.  Thank you so much for your love.  I hope you will pardon my tears, accept my gratitude and hugs, and know that I thank God that He is using you to help us.

Reflection Verses:

If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.  If it is giving, give generously.  If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.  And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. (Romans 12:8 NLT)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 NIV)

Thursday, January 9, 2014



The smell of my food nauseates him, and so I eat separated.  Noise is too loud.  Touch hurts.  Nausea prevents eating.  The lights are too bright.  I walk and move gently, and whisper, keeping the lights and TV low.  I pray.  Pray that the chemo works, pray for pain management, pray for comfort, pray that I can be of service.  

I feel helpless watching my husband suffer through the side effects of treatments.  It is hard to see his strong, peaceful, calm, demeanor interrupted.  I desire to see that light that he shares with others, but instead he is in pain and tired.  I understand that this suffering is so that things can get better, but it is not easy to watch.

I am sure you have experience with suffering... whether it is your own, or about someone or a situation, that you love and care deeply about.

Jesus suffered for a greater purpose, but I think of how Mary and others that loved Jesus, witnessed His suffering on the cross, forced to be bystanders, unable to help.  How it must have broken their hearts to see such pain inflicted on a Loved One.

While I too feel like a bystander during these treatments to eradicate the cancer, I know that God is NOT a bystander.  He already knows the plan, and will guide us to it.

Good will come.  Purposes will be fulfilled.

Reflection Verses:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18 NIV)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Shed His Blood

Shed His Blood

Disclaimer-If you don't want to read about blood transfusions, skip the middle and go to the last paragraph!

~ ~ ~

One of my husband's first red blood cell calculations put him at less than half of the normal range, which is an indicator of anemia.  One doctor was surprised that he was so well compensated, despite the anemia.  Wayne received his first blood transfusion back then, and has received even more since.

Transfusions are an interesting, slightly nauseating thing for me to watch.  I do find it an intriguing process.  They match your blood for that day down to the minuscule parts.  So, for example, you are not just A+, there are an additional set of matches to the blood.  Your blood slightly changes after about 2-3 days, so they have to match you to the best donor through a blood sample each time, before giving a transfusion.

The blood is given via an IV, or mediport, and you can see it drip down from the bag into the tubing.  I am told that it feels a little cold upon entry, because it has been refrigerated.  The whole process for 1 unit of blood takes about 1 1/2 hours.

I can literally see the change in my husband's complexion as the transfusion is complete.  He is more alert, has more energy, has less pain, and seems to sleep better at night.

Have you ever thought about donating blood?  Maybe your veins are thin, you don't like needles, or you are simply afraid of it.  I know I have thought all of these.  However, this is a simple, life supporting procedure that people NEED.  If you are healthy, able, and willing, I encourage you to call your local hospital(s) to see if you can donate...

~ ~ ~

Jesus gave His blood for us, a life-giving gift.  One that we also need.  His blood changes us, it gives eternal life.  He is the BEST donor; the ultimate match.  

Reflection Verses:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-29 NIV)

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46 NIV)

Friday, January 3, 2014



And so begins the winter chill of a cold neck and cold toes.  One of the chemotherapy regimens my husband is on has the side effect of cold intolerance.  An intolerance, where supposedly you cannot even stick your hand into the refrigerator.    So far, he has NOT experienced that side effect, in fact ... he has been warm or just comfortable.  Although, he does use a heating pad on his back to help with back pain, but often his socks are off!

We keep the heat low in the house (62 degrees during the day) and despite my efforts to bundle up, my neck and feet continue to be cold.  My neck sends shivers down my back, and my toes are like ice as I try to tuck them in a blanket, and then into the crack of the couch cushions.  Blankets are piled on the bed, and I wear multiple layers of tops, a scarf, 2 pairs of socks, and slippers.  Hot tea or coffee is carried with me throughout the house.

I have been going outside to shovel the sidewalk, take out garbage and recyclables, and to get the mail, sometimes in below zero temperatures.  It just might take me longer to bundle up for the cold than it does to get these chores done.   What is interesting to me though, is that when I re-enter the house after being outside, the house feels very warm.  The outside temperatures cooled me down even more, so that when I come back into the house (where the temperature did not change), it was warm.  Nothing changed except for me, internally.

These harsher elements made a constant (the inside temperature) seem different ... actually better.  Life is like that... Sometimes we deal with something harsh or difficult, which causes an internal change, a perspective shift, making things better.  Perhaps such an internal change is what is needed, in order to appreciate what I do have.  

My husband's journey with cancer is changing all of us... internally and perspectively.   It is reminding us that God is good, life is precious, and that there is much to be thankful for and to appreciate.

So, when I bundle up and shuffle around in my layers, I can appreciate the warmth and protection of the house.  It is always there, providing me with protection from the harsher elements.

God is also constant in our lives.  God is there to protect, guide, heal, and carry us through harsher elements.   With God, it IS better.

Reflection Verses:

In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.  Psalm 33:21 NIV

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.  Psalm 62:8 NIV