Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day 1: I Almost Didn't Make the Appointment That Saved My Life

     In January 2008, I left my yearly mammogram feeling very squished and bruised.  Way more than the usual squash. Next time, I decided, I would go some place else.  But with five of my children at home,  my job teaching disabled children, and life in general, I had put that unpleasant experience completely out of my mind.  The time to make my appointment rolled around.  I had gotten in the practice of yearly mammograms when my friend Lori shared that she took a day in January each year to take care of the womanly exams.  So much of what we do as wives and mothers we do for others, this she did for her.  I considered postponing the exam.  But with Lori's words ringing in my ears,  I reluctantly made the appointment for January 29, one year and a day since that last bruising mammogram.
     I almost did not make the appointment that saved my life.  Putting it off to find a different location would have been completely understandable.  I do not have any lifestyle related breast cancer risk factors.  There isn't a history of breast cancer in my family.  I gave birth to three children, and adopted three more.  I  breastfed my babies.  A doctor told me that I don't drink enough alcohol.  My three to six drinks a year, did not impress him.  I never smoked.   I was fifty years old.  While no one is immune to breast cancer, I thought these things offered me some protection from it.  I never thought it would happen to me.
     There are varying guidelines out there about when to have a mammogram.  The Mayo Clinic offers these guidelines:
  • Breast health awareness, which includes a woman becoming familiar with her breasts in order to identify breast abnormalities or changes, and to inform her doctor of any changes that may need further evaluation
  • Clinical breast exam performed by a health care provider and recommended annually beginning at age 40
  • Screening mammography beginning at age 40
     Most women who get breast cancer do not have a family history or other known risk factors for the disease.  In the United States, one out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
     If you are younger than 40, I suggest that you have a yearly breast exam by a doctor.  I met women in their twenties and thirties with breast cancer.  If you are in your forties follow the guidelines above.
     I am a wife and mother.  I am a special education teacher.  I am not a doctor.  Still I will tell you this, early detection saves lives.  It saved mine.
There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.  ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I Wear Pink: 31 Days of a Journey With Breast Cancer

     I am excited to link up with the Nester for her 31 Day Challenge to write about a topic for, yup, you guessed it, 31 days.  I considered many different topics, but decided to write about my journey with breast cancer.   God reminded me, that I had 30 days of radiation, that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and that He may use something that I write to comfort someone else.   I have to admit, I am a little nervous.  Breast cancer is private, personal and messy.  And....I'm a little intimidated excited about writing for 31 days, too.
     In January 2009 my New Year’s resolution was fairly simple.  It was “Make room.”  Make room for Jesus in my heart, my marriage, with my family and friends, in my home and in my job.  I had vague thoughts about cleaning up the house and organizing myself better.  Instead God answered my prayers with a diagnosis of breast cancer on February 18.  I discovered as I sat in doctor’s offices, went for treatments, and even took naps that some things weren’t as important as I had previously thought they were.  I was also reminded that the really important things, aren’t things - they are the people God has given us to love.

Because I Love You

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.  ~Genesis 2:24 
Exchanging vows
      A few weeks ago, Pat and I attended the marriage of our nephew, Michael, and his bride, Tina.   It was wonderful to celebrate their day with them.  It was a day filled with touching moments, special memories, and joyful hearts.
      A marriage is a beginning of a new life.  More than a few of us present reflected on our own wedding days and the days and years that have followed.
Hands clasped in love

      Michael and Tina exchanged vows they had written.  Whispers of love and declarations of togetherness.  Do not fear.  In sickness and in health.  I will be with you.  For richer and for poorer.  I am yours.  I love you.
    As we listened to the vows being exchanged I thought about how the church is called to be the bride of Christ; about Christ being the perfect Bridegroom.  We are His church.  Love has built a bridge between us and God so that we might share a special relationship with Him.
     When Paul wrote this in Ephesians, he was quoting Genesis 2:24
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”  ~ Ephesians 5:31

Exchanging rings.
     From the very creation of this earth, it was intended that the church should become the Bride.  When you've been married a while, you understand a bit about the marriage covenant and being one flesh.  You are always aware of your spouse.  You consider them as you make decisions.  You want to please them.  You cherish them.  You complete each other.  Still,  Paul was saying in the same way that a man and a wife become one, Christ is one with the church.  We are bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh.  As Adam complimented Eve, so are we the counterpart, the Bride of Jesus.
First kiss as husband and wife.
But now, this is what the Lord says-
He who created you, Jacob,
He who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When You pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God, 
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;...
You are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you.
Isaiah 43:1-4

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bloglovin' Blog Hop for September

     Today I am joining the Bloglovin' Blog Hop for September.  Bloglovin' automatically lets me know when my favorite blogs share a new post.  Each morning, I receive an email with new posts from my favorite bloggers.  The whole post is not sent - just enough information that I want to go visit the blogs.

Follow The NY Melrose Family
          Jenny of NY Melrose Family has a great tutorial to show you how to join Bloglovin'.
     Come join in on the fun!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Washing Windows

     Our family has begun to decorate for Fall.  Okay, let me be truthful, Patty and I have begun to decorate for Fall.  The men in our house wouldn’t notice if the Christmas Tree was up year round with a fuzzy rabbit underneath.
     The porch was swept, the summer things put away, my favorite ceramic pumpkins retrieved from the basement, and a few seasonal tablecloths and runners were brought out.
     Last May, I had taken the curtains down off of the eight foot slider in the family room so that we could all enjoy the view of the backyard.  I love the sun slanting down onto the floors.  Now though, it is time to hang them back up to insulate us as the temperatures begin to drop at night.
     I looked at that wall of glass.  There were finger marks at various heights, top and bottom.  There were nose prints from our dog, Riley, and, I suspect, the kids.  Smudges, some paint spots, a few spider webs, and plain old dirt marred my view.  Cleaning the windows was obviously necessary.
     I would rather vacuum.  When you vacuum the dirt, dog hair, and cereal morsels are sucked up and gone forever.  Washing windows seems so futile.  Within five minutes someone will have smeared something on them.  When the glass is clean the dog can see the squirrels better.  She whimpers at them, running back and forth, nose pressed against the glass for effect.  Sigh.  Well the windows will sure look good for five minutes.
     Sometimes, I think, our lives are like windows.   Things are so cloudy we can’t see clearly.  We weave frantic webs as we race about our daily to do list.  We let material gains and everyday life cloud our soul.  We put curtains up - so that we don’t reveal too much of our inner attitudes to others.
          Some of us have a real knack for getting dirty.  I know I do.  But God knows how to polish me right up and clothe me in robes of white.
     In order to wash my windows, I use Windex, rags and elbow grease.  I thank God that He doesn’t use that concoction on me.  Instead He uses a simple solution called Grace.  Because of His grace we can attain the impossible riches of heaven.
     God wants others to see Him when they look through our windows.
 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  ~Matthew 5:14-16

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I Believe


I believe in hugs.
I believe in keeping your wedding vows.
I believe in paying compliments to complete strangers.
I believe in my GPS, which my husband programmed to speak like Pepe Le Pew, ma cherie.
I believe in the reckless redeeming love of Jesus.
I believe in growing old with my husband.
I believe in saying "I love you," everyday.
I believe in coffee - truly, madly, deeply.
I believe in  Super Hero's.
I believe I love reading books on my Kindle.
I believe in date night with your husband.
I believe in chickens.
I believe that children live up to our expectations.
I believe in the magic of Christmas.
I believe in family.

I believe in kayaking across quiet lakes in the summer.
I believe that my actions can be a ripple in a pond.
I believe in smore's made with graham crackers, marshmallow, and peanutbutter cups.  Yum!
I believe in rescuing children from poverty through Compassion International.
I believe in miracles.
I believe God loves my children even more than I do, and I love them lots.
I believe that you really can hear the ocean in a sea shell.
I believe in coffee.  I may have mentioned this already.
I believe in buying shoes and great bags.
I believe in planning to be spontaneous.
I believe in saying "Merry Christmas," instead of "Happy Holidays."
I believe in helping others with no expectation of anything in return.
The eternal God is your refuge,  and underneath are the everlasting arms.                     ~Deuteronomy 33:27
What do your believe in?

Linking up with Erin at Living in Yellow.  Fabulous idea for a linky post!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Birthday Celebration - Out takes

    We went to a local restaurant to celebrate my birthday.  I wanted to take some pictures to commemorate the occasion.  Unfortunately, my photo shoot went like this.
     "Oops. Anthony, you weren't looking at me."
      "Smile, there will be birthday cake."
    "Nice.  Really nice.  One more."
Love Patty's expression.
      "Please, it's my birthday.  Let's try the three of you."
      "I'm aging fast here folks!"    One last photo, taken by Patty, of Pat and I.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Buying Cookies in Grand Central Station

      One of the items on my "Wishing & Hoping" list is was to "Buy cookies at Grand Central Station."   Connor and I had an appointment in the city this morning and had just enough time to stop at Zaro's Bakery.  Oh, yum.
     I thought the yellow taxi cookies were adorable.   I suggested chocolate chip, chinese chocolate drop, linzer tart, almond, and short bread.   Connor, the chief cookie connoisseur  of our house, had other ideas.
      Connor rapidly honed in on the black and white cookies.  We left Zaro's with a box of delicious cookies to bring home to the family.
     Hmmmmm.  After looking closely at this picture, maybe I'll add buy a cake at Grand Central Station to the list.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Letters to God

blog month praying
     Compassion International has asked bloggers to join together for the month of September to help find sponsors for 3,108 children.  Each week bloggers are given an “assignment” or topic to blog about.  Happily, so far 837 sponsorships have been gained.  Only 2,271 more sponsors to go to meet September’s goal.  Imagine the joy of those newly sponsored children who are no longer  waiting.  You can read my other Compassion posts on my Compassion page.  If you have not already done so, please consider sponsoring a child today.

     This week the Compassion assignment was to write a letter to God about child sponsorship.  I must admit that I feel self conscious writing a prayer for all to see.  I am not eloquent.  I am not one to pray out loud in groups.  I prefer my hands to be busy behind the scenes.  Yet, if one child is helped through my obedience, it is so worth it.

My precious heavenly Father,
     Thank You for the opportunity to share with others about what You are doing through Compassion.  Thank You for giving me such a wonderful blessing by allowing our family to sponsor Jimi.  He has made a difference in our lives.  His letters allow us a glimpse into his life.  Over the years, we have rejoiced to see him grow.  We are richer for knowing Jimi and his family.  I pray that You continue to guard his heart and mind, that he be healthy and happy, that he grow secure in the knowledge that You love him and care for him.
     Break my heart for what breaks Yours.  Allow me to be Your hand in this small corner of the world.  Use me for Your glory.  Make my life a living prayer to You.  Breathe life into Compassion's efforts to make a difference in the lives of children throughout the world.
With much love,

     Karri at My Life's a Treasure featured this post at her Favorite Things Party # 16.  Thanks for the honor.

My Life's a Treasure

Saturday, September 15, 2012


     This has been an exciting and flattering week for me.
     Richella at Imparting Grace featured my post on Grace at her  Grace at Home Link-up.  Richella has a warm and wonderful blog.  She shares delightful glimpses into her faith filled home.  I would love to sit on her front porch for a bit and visit.  Richella always has a kind word.  I admire the way she lives out Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good. . . that it may impart grace to the hearers."  I have been blessed by her friendship.
Imparting Grace
     Brit at Encouragement for Everyday Struggles also blessed me with an award.  Brit is 19 years old.  She is a college student majoring in graphic design.  Brit shares from her heart about the things God has done, and continues to do, in her life.  She is a remarkable young lady.

     Thank you both so very much.

Gone With the Wind

     We went camping in Pennsylvania last month alongside beautiful Otter Lake.  Mist curls gracefully up from its surface each morning.  (You can read about Water Walking on Otter Lake here.)
      I enjoy camping, as long as I can bring the comforts of home with me.  We are the proud owners of a small travel trailer.  Our trailer has a kitchen, a table and couch, the tiniest bathroom known to man, and a bedroom for my husband and I.  Our three children, and my niece, sleep in tents.  
     Below is a picture of our campsite.  I took this photo standing by the lake looking up at the kids enjoying their breakfast.  Please note the canopy stretching out from the trailer to provide us with shade and a little shelter in the event of rain.
      On the second day of our trip, we enjoyed swimming, kayaking, riding bikes, and power lounging.  Around five o’clock in the evening, the sky darkened, the clouds began to roll in, and rain looked certain.  We tucked the camp chairs under the canopy, gathered the towels, and put the bikes under a tarp.  We quickly had dinner, then collapsed the tents to bring the kids inside to sleep for the night. It's one thing to sleep in a tent in a gentle rain shower, still another in a thunder storm.  Inside the trailer, the couch and table were opened up into two beds.  Although it was still early, everyone put on their jammies, snuggled in blankets, and settled in to watch a movie.  We should have watched The Wizard of Oz.
     Meanwhile, the wind picked up, thunder and lightening flashed, and rain pelted down.  The electricity began to flicker.  When the power went out for the third time we could no longer ignore what was clearly not a simple thunder storm.  The wind howled around our little trailer.  Branches and leaves flew past the windows.  The trees around us creaked and groaned.  Hail began pounding on the roof.
     I went to Pat and yelled as quietly as I could over the roaring of the wind, “Honey, I think that we would be safer in the truck."   I reasoned, trucks are designed for impact.  Trailers are not.
     Pat who had been nervously watching out the window shouted back, “ We can’t go outside now.  It’s too dangerous.  I think we are going to lose the canopy.”  He had scarcely finished speaking when  a huge metallic bang sounded on the roof.
     We sat together in the dark flinging up half thought out prayers to God for safety and trying to look unconcerned for the sake of the kids, all of whom were too smart to buy it.  Ten minutes later, the wind and rain lessened.  Soon the sun came out.  The storm was over.
      The canopy support post next to the door had been ripped completely away, the metal bent beyond repair.  The canvas was torn.
      Fellow campers began to tumble out of their trailers.  Fortunately, no one had been injured.  Four other trailers along the lake had also lost their canopies.  A fifth canopy had been saved because its owner had stood outside in the storm desperately hanging onto it.
      This shot is looking up the road from our site.  Leaves and branches littered the ground.  The green popup that you can glimpse was totally bent but still standing.  It had been tied to nearby trees.    Just out of sight, a tree had been ripped out by its roots and lay on the ground.  We later found out that a tornado had touched down less then a mile away.
      Rain can come as gentle showers or thunderous storms.  But make no mistake, we all at times experience storms.  Howling winds of heartbreak, the pounding hail of illness, and the brokenness of loss.  Rain pouring down from the heavens.
      But God uses the rain in our life to bring us beauty, healing, comfort, and hope.  Look at the beauty of the world He has given to us.   Every singing bird,  every fish that swims, in fact, every living thing, is dependent on the rain that waters the earth.  Every flower and every tree was born through the rain.
Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone.  ~Zechariah 10:1
      Our God is the Redeemer in the rain.   He is the One who calms the storms.
     Have you ever been caught in a storm?
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