Tuesday, November 22, 2011

All Is Good!

It was 11:00 p.m. when we returned home last night, sorry the update has taken awhile! Thanks to those who were concerned and called or texted!!!! Friends sure can make your days better!!!! Dr. Netterville said that they do not know why, but some flaps (reconstruction sight) get irritated. They have no idea why this happens to some patients, but that is what has happened to me. It is not cancer, or my concern, pre-cancer!!! If it has not gotten better in a few months I am suppose to make another appointment, but for now ALL IS GOOD!!! He did a very thorough exam which was nice and reassuring that nothing is going on that I might be unaware of.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Heading Back To Nashville.

Well, there is still no change on the inside of my mouth. I still have the junk going on. I went back to the ENT in Knoxville this past week. He is not sure what it is, he does not think it is the cancer returning, but he does not want to do a biopsy on the reconstructed sight himself and said he would feel more comfortable if I went back to Nashville. Wendell made me an appointment for Monday evening at Vanderbilt with Dr. Netterville. I REALLY dread making the trip, but want to know what this is, so I guess we will go. My appointment is not until 4:30 Central time which is 5:30 our time. It will be late when we get back but I will try to update here as soon as I can.

Wendell's cousins, 21 year old daughter, had a very bad wreck two weeks ago today. She has been in a coma at UT Hospital since that time. Some people in our community put together a chili supper and auction benefit for her last night. It was an AMAZING sight to see all the people who turned out to support her!!!!! They raised over $6,000.00 on the chili supper and over $4,000.00 on the auction!!!! The people in our little rural community are some of the most amazing people on earth!!!! Wendell was asked to speak on behalf of the family and one of the things he said was the cream rises to the top!!!! Boy, is that the truth when speaking of the people here in Oakdale and the surrounding areas!!! I am so proud to be a member of this community, the people here are just small town, hard working, farming people. To see how they come together to raise up and support those in need around them is truly inspiring!!!! Please help us to pray for Rachel and her family. Her life verse is Romans 8:28 KJV "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bacteria Infection????

Well it has been a week, today, since I went to the ENT's office in Knoxville. There is no change in the appearance on the inside of my mouth. The left half of my mouth is still covered in red and white patches. I called yesterday to get the results of the swab test and the nurse called back to say I have thrush and also a bacteria infection. She called in more medicine to treat the bacteria infection, which I started taking tonight. I am still sceptical of the diagnosis...I guess we will see in a few days if there is any improvement.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

There Is A Mess In There!!!!

For a week or more now, I had thought from time to time that I needed to "check my mouth", you know, look in it to see if anything weird is going on. I would always have these thoughts when it wasn't convenient. To look in my mouth I have to find my glasses, put on my glasses, search for a flashlight, and then look in my mouth!!!! I finally went through all the troublesome steps Wednesday, after thinking about it again and knowing it had been several weeks since I have looked. I really wasn't expecting to see what I saw!!! There is a mess in there!!!! I don't know what it is, but it scared me silly seeing it!!!! The complete left half of my mouth, from the roof on down, is covered in a red and white mess!!! It appears to be just under the lining. Needless to say, I checked my mouth repeatedly the rest of the day, hoping it would all go back to normal....but it didn't. Thursday, I called the ENT in Knoxville that I have seen a few times and luckily, or rather prayerfully, they had just had a cancellation and could work me in at 2:30. Wendell and I had planned to go to Knoxville anyway, so this worked out perfectly for us. They took me back almost immediately, which was a big relief when I was feeling so stressed, however, once back in the exam room we waited almost an hour for the doctor to come in. He asked why I was there and I explained the situation and how the sight of anything unusual can send me into a semi-panicked uncertainty!!! He was very understanding and immediately took a look. His response was..."Well, I'm not sure what it is but I don't think it is cancer. I've seen a lot of cancer. It's not cancer." It's amazing how a few words can make or break your feelings!!! He asked if it hurts, which it does not. He said he thought it might be thrush, (Which I have had plenty of times before, and hasn't looked exactly like this, and has always hurt). He took a swab, and wrote me a prescription to begin treating me for thrush. He said it would take a week to get the results from the swab. Nothing actually mattered after..."It's not cancer!!!" The medicine he prescribed is swish and swallow and a pill, I am suppose to take one a week for four weeks. I haven't seen any improvement yet but taking only one a week for four weeks, I am not sure how quickly I will see improvement. This, I know, is just one of the perks to having had cancer!!! Anything out of the ordinary, in my mouth, can send me into a panicked uncertainty. This is the second time, since finishing treatment two years ago, that I have faced this uncertainty. The last time we drove back to Nashville to be told the bone was showing through the gum!!! So far, nothing life threatening!!!LOL!!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Our Hearts Are Broken, We Love You Gordon!!!

I want to begin today's post by sharing a little information about our family with those who may not know us personally. Wendell and I own the only business, a convenient store, gas station and deli, in our small rural town. It is not just a business to us, a way to earn a living and support our family, it is a huge part of our lives. From the time we opened the doors in 2003 our family started growing, not in the usual ways of marriages and births and such, but by getting to know the people in our community in a much more intimate way, like family. Wendell was raised here so he knew pretty much everyone for miles around already, but not in ways that having the store has evoked. Those, who under normal circumstances, were friendly acquaintances, have become like part of our family. There are many, many people, that we see every day as they stop by the store to pump their gas or get their tenderloin biscuit on their way to work. There are those that come in every day and sit at the counter as we prepare their food and talk. We share our thoughts and feelings with them and they share theirs with us. We have become like family to them and they to us. We worry when they don't show up as usually expected and call to make sure their ok. They bring their newborn babies in to meet us for the first time and we get the privilege of watching them grow. We giggle, laugh and rejoice together. We cry together. We pray for each other. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of so many peoples lives and to have them be a part of ours. We actually see and speak with people more often than their "real" families do in a lot of instances. We are blessed with an abundance of friends!!!!
We received a phone call Sunday evening that just sent us into shock. One of our precious friends left this life suddenly and so unexpectedly. Gordon Powers was found dead in his home by concerned friends, Sunday evening. He had not been feeling well and apparently was the victim of a heart attack. Wendell has known Gordon his whole life, the rest of our family got to know and love Gordon through the store. Gordon was sooo special to each member of our family. Stephanie, Jessica, Punky, Kiah, Wendell and I are all in shock and heartbroken at the loss of someone so loved by each one of us. Gordon loved our family and was such an inspiration to each one of us individually. He always had loving kind words of encouragement for us. We have each spent so much time talking to and sharing the joys or burdens of our hearts with him. He always found a way to lift our spirits and to make each one of us feel special. He was such an encouragement to my kids and I. He worried, and more importantly, Prayed for me constantly when I was sick. He made sure I knew he had his church praying for me. Gordon loved his church, the families, and especially the children. He loved his son and granddaughter. Gordon always came to every important event my kids would invite him to. He would always brag on Stephanie and her love for, and willingness to follow the direction, of the Lord. He loved to tease Punky and talk about how she was just like her daddy. He was like a surrogate father to Jess, giving her advice on love and men and supporting her in the things she is doing with her life. He always bragged on Kiah, and would lift her self confidence, telling her how beautiful she was. Walking in and seeing Gordon sitting at the counter was always a mood lifting experience for me!!! No matter what kind of day I would be having he would always make me laugh and just feel good. He would walk in the door at the store and holler "Well hello good looking!!!", addressing which ever one of us women he would see, to which Wendell would always holler back "Well hello Gordon!!!" Then Gordon would have to tell Wendell "I wasn't talking to you Stupid!!!" It was their routine, one that always made us laugh even though we had heard it a million times before!!! It is a routine that will be difficult to no longer get to hear.
There is no question in my heart of where Gordon has begun spending eternity. Gordon Loved the Lord. The fruits of the spirit were evident in the life Gordon lived. We feel so privileged to have had him for a friend. We will never forget his genuine love and kindness to our family and I. We will miss him so much. He has positively effected our lives. We will one day see him again, so until then ....We love you Gordon!!! Our hearts are broken by your sudden passing. There is definitely an un-fillable void left in our hearts and lives!!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Looking Deeper

I originally wrote the following post a couple of months ago but never published it, it had been saved as a draft. It contains things that I am still thinking about. I have been thinking a lot about how we make judgements of others based on what we see or hear or are told. If we were to look deeper than the initial appearance or sound, we might very well discover we had reached a hasty, false judgement. I am publishing this post now, because, as I have said, it contains thoughts that I am still thinking on and want to blog about more in the near future. So..........
Several conversations that I have been involved in lately have started me to think on some different things. I was telling my sister Teresa how her daughter Rachel had commented on one of my blog posts and had said she loved hearing about our childhood and I should include more of these stories in my blogging. Well, Rachel, your comment was both sweet and disturbing, all at the same time. Sweet for all the obvious reasons… Disturbing because I use to love hearing my grand mother talk about her childhood!!!!


As Teresa and I began to talk, though, I also began to think on how two people may experience the same thing, but both may walk away telling two totally different stories, based on their perspective and how they viewed it. We all develop our opinions and thoughts on others based on what we see or hear. By going on what we see and hear we may be totally misreading someone. If we knew why they really reacted certain ways or appeared certain ways, what really was behind “who” they are, we might be surprised.

I began to think about how very few things are just "cut and dry", there is usually more to the story of peoples lives...who they really are... why they react certain ways or appear certain ways...All the things we can't see or are not aware of may be the key elements in why a person is the way they are.
The following is one such incidence, in my own life, that I feel as if others may have came to a different conclusion about me than the one I intended or thought I was giving. I have overheard comments, not meant for my ears, of others remarking on my appearance and how I felt as if I had to have every hair in place.
I have always tried to look “decent” when leaving my house and going out in public. Even if I was just "running" to the store to pick up that one ingredient needed to finish dinner. I know people have thought my need to have my make up on, and hair fixed, before leaving the house, was due to my being vain. I guess in a way that is true, but if you knew my heart and if you knew the experiences in my life that have brought me to the place of needing my appearance to be a certain way, you might view me a little differently. I am saying all of this out of a great desire to not be judgmental of others. I want to view and love others with a pure heart. I truly believe that we are a total package of the circumstances and experiences that we have experienced in this life.
I have the desire to be a better person, especially in the way I see and view others. God made us all. He does not love me one ounce more or less than He loves someone else. I may dissappoint Him more, but He loves us all the same. "For God So Loved The World...." Wow, it's mind blowing!!! And then to think that I may look at someone and have a not so nice thought enter my head like "who do they think they are?" If I truly knew "who they are" I might never had had that ugly thought to begin with.
I remember the exact moment as a child that I became aware of my looks. The moment I realized that the way the world treats you is directly related to the way you visually appear to them.
I had developed Rheumatic Fever as an eight year old child. I remember my Mom taking me to one doctor after another trying to convince them that was what was wrong with me. Mom had had Rheumatic Fever, herself, twice. Finally, she found a pediatrician who listened and ran the tests. I remember the night they called and said I needed to be admitted into the hospital. I was admitted that night. It was before Thanksgiving of my second grade school year. I spent close to three months in the hospital and then was bed fast at home for an extended period of time after that. The medicine I was on, it may have been steroids, I don't know, just a thought. Anyway, the medicine caused me to gain a lot of weight. I went from 60 something pounds to over 130 in just a few months. The medication caused my appetite to go through the roof!!! Most of my childhood memories begin during this time. I have very few memories before the Rheumatic Fever. As an eight year old little girl, I spent hour after hour, day after day, lying in a bed, alone, in a private hospital room. This is where my memories of being so lonely began. To this day, I believe loneliness is one of the worst feelings in the world. It breaks my heart to think of someone being lonely.
My family had moved to California when I was six years old. My Mom & Dad had worked in the hosiery mills in Harriman and had both been laid off. My Uncle owned a fire sprinkler business in CA. We moved there for my Dad to begin the apprenticeship program, and eventually become a certified sprinkler fitter. My Uncle, Aunt, and there three kids, were our only family there in California. So there were not a lot of options as far as visitors went!!!!
I remember being so excited to get a day pass to leave the hospital on Christmas Day. I still remember the presents that awaited me when I got home that morning, a brand new bike and a pair of roller skates where two of the main ones. I remember pushing my bike around the dining room table at the urging of those around. That’s so funny to me now!!! The thought of this bushy headed, chubby girl, in pajamas, grinning to please those who were watching and waiting, pushing her brand new bike around the dining room table while everyone watched, as if this brought some sense of joy to my little girl heart!!! It would have been as much fun to have laid down and let Teresa ride her brand new bike over me!!!! Too funny!!! I was also denied the opportunity to try out my new roller skates latter that day with the sisters and cousins. I did however decline the opportunity to try them on. I could imagine it now…this bushy headed, chubby girl, in pajamas, sitting in a chair, sweating from the process of lacing up those never ending shoe laces that accompany roller skates, grinning for those watching and waiting, as my legs dangle off the chair, feet adorned in brand spanking new roller skates that are forbidden to touch the floor with my feet in them!!! Too Funny!!!
Anyway…. I was eventually discharged from the hospital, sent home and eventually was able to return to school….
I remember being so excited to finally get to go back to school. My Mom had bought me a new dress to wear. I think I thought wearing a dress made you pretty. I went back to school only to be a little disappointed that no one seemed to remember me or care that I was back. I left school that evening and started the walk home only to realize B. H. , the boy who I had spent every recess with, from the time I started school there until I went in the hospital, was walking behind me. The boy next door was walking his bike talking to B. H. I remember being so happy thinking he would see me!!! I remember feeling those butterflies in the pit of my stomach just knowing he was behind me!!! When the neighbor boy and I had to turn down a street and B.H. continued on.... the boy next door caught up with me and was laughing as he told me B.H. had asked him who the new ugly fat girl was. I was heartbroken. That was the day I knew it took more than wearing a dress to be pretty. From that day forward until finishing middle school, I was the "fat girl". I was teased and tormented at recess. From that moment on I just wanted to do everything I could to blend in, to be invisible, to fit in. As long as no one noticed me I wouldn't be teased or judged. I guess that just carried over into my adult years too. As long as I had my hair fixed and my makeup on I just kind of blended in and wouldn't be noticed. If no one noticed I was there, I wouldn’t be teased or humiliated. So, you see, even though I may have been viewed as vain with my appearance, in my mind I just want to blend in!!! This is just one personal example that comes to my mind when I began to think of how we could possibly have a very wrong opinion of someone based solely on what we see or hear. I want to use this realization in my life to try desperately to be less judgmental of others. I can’t say that cancer has really changed the way I see or view things or has changed the way I want to live and view my life but it has made me want to get on with it…not waste anymore time in striving to be a better person…a better friend…a better family member…a better child of God. I want to not make hasty rude judgments, but I want to always take the time to look deep enough to see who is really there. It’s kind of mind numbing when I think of all the people and opportunities I have surely missed in this life by seeing only what I saw, not looking deep enough to see who is really there.

Monday, September 12, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!

Happy Birthday to my Mom today!!!! She would have been 69 today but instead the Lord called her home 2 years ago when she was just 67. I miss you Mom. I miss being able to call and get your advice and instruction on just the simple things in life. We had a huge family get together at my house a week ago, the Saturday before Labor Day, I really missed you being here. I thought so much about your macaroni salad, I could almost taste it, yours was absolutely the best ever!!! I wish I would have came up and had you give me hands on instruction for making it. I wish I had done so many things differently and better where our relationship was concerned, but it is to late for that now, I know. I Love you Mom and miss you terribly, but at least I have the promise of being reunited with you again one day. Until then ....HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mom, I Love you!!!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Just Lazy...


No, I haven't died or experienced anything too physically dramatic in the last month or so....just lazy, I guess, when it comes to updating this blog!!!! I have however had many thoughts that I wanted to "air out" here, but just haven't took the time to begin typing.


Physically, I am about the same...I wake up with my bones and joints stiff and hurting. I get up some mornings at 4 or 5 a.m. to take a hot shower to relieve the discomfort until my medication takes effect. I have days where I spend the whole day freezing but sweating profusely, those days I am pretty miserable. I still run a low grade fever from time to time, for no explained reason. My swallowing has seemed to have slightly improved over the last few months. I am able to swallow some breads now where I wasn't previously able to. Yeah!!! I love and had missed eating bread!!!! My face and ears still hurt some days more than others, I have begun to think that may be related to how much I talk on any given day!!! The chronic fatigue is my biggest complaint. I just have no energy most days, where as pre-cancer, I could have worked circles around a much younger person, now I feel like a thirtyish, (heehee), woman trapped in an 85 year olds body, that becomes disheartening on some days when my mind is working harder than my body can even think about!!!


I would like to be able to blog that my life feels like all sun and roses since my cancer is in remission right now, but if I am to be honest, that is just not the case. Several things have transpired over the last year or so that have been less than joy evoking. A lot of circumstances have changed that have left me feeling a little lost some days. I plan on blogging about them, it's just hard to find the time to start and when I do the fatigue sets in and I find it hard to keep my eyes open long enough to write much. But anyway... for now....lifes' happening that is forefront on my mind...


My aunt, Sue Coffey, my dad's younger sister, lost her ten year battle with cancer last week. She travelled home to be with the Lord on August 25, 2011. She had courageously battled cancer for ten years. Having cancer is an awful, awful, experience, but Sue didn't just battle one cancer she had went to war with three different kinds and then on top of all those she developed Pulmonary Fibrosis. My Grandmother, Sue's Mother, had Pulmonary Fibrosis which is a lung disease that causes hardening of the lungs. One would think since Sue and her mother both had it, it would be hereditary, but that was not so in their case. Sue developed Pulmonary Fibrosis after having undergone so many different, large doses of chemo therapy. We had celebrated Sue's 67th birthday in May. I had traveled to South Carolina twice in the last month or so to visit with her. She ended up in the hospital both times. Her attitude, even on her death bed, astounded me. She wanted desperately to get better and live to see her precious grand sons graduate from high school. But she knew at the end that that was not going to be the Lord's plan for her. She laid in her hospital bed struggling to breath enough to speak with all of us gathered around her bed side. I watched and listened as God provided the Grace she needed to endure until her walk here was complete. A young preacher boy named Austin came to visit her one day while I was standing by her bed feeding her ice chips. It was all I could do to keep myself together as she told him I was the one he and their church had prayed for for so long. She struggled to breath as she told him how very sick I had been and how it was a miracle I was still here and how God had been so good to me. Then she started bragging on the goodness of God in her life!!! It was such a tremendous blessing to listen to her, as she laid there struggling and pausing frequently to catch her breath, praising and worshipping her God!!!! She told Austin how she had never been sick one time from any of the many chemos she had had to take. She bragged repeatedly on the goodness of God in her life. What a testimony she had!!! After all she had gone through, she had kept the faith through it all. What an inspiration she was to me!!! Through it all she had never became bitter at God, or life, or the circumstances she was living in...instead she kept her focus and continually praised God for His grace and goodness to her!!! Everyone, I had the pleasure of meeting while there, talked about what a Christian my Aunt Sue was, how she lived by the principles of the Bible for as long as they had known her. How, through the good and the bad, she praised and honored God. I wasn't there when she told those in the room to tell my dad she loved him and she would tell Pat, (my Mom), hello for him when she got there. I can only imagine that reunion. Sue's husband Jack, passed away in 2001 as the result of cancer, a brain tumor. Her sister Barbara's husband, Liege Roberts, passed away in 1998 as a result of colon and then brain cancer, Sue's Mother, and my grand mother, Roxie Hurst, passed away 4 or 5 days after Liege in 1998 as a result of pulmonary fibrosis and then colon cancer, Sue's father and my grandfather, Luster "Buckeye" Hurst, passed away in 2000 as the result of a stroke, and then my Mother, Sue's sister in law, Patricia Hurst, passed away in 2009 as a result of a brain aneurysm. What a reunion it must have been on August 25th as Sue entered the gates of heaven. I believe they were all there anticipating her arrival. Although she will be greatly missed here, she was reunited with so many of our loved ones who have already made the journey!!! What a day of rejoicing that must have been for them!!! How could we possibly overcome the grief that accompanies the death of our loved ones without the sweet, precious, promise that those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and saviour will eventually be reunited to spend eternity together in the presence of an almighty, loving, gracious God!!!
How good He is!!!!


Please help me pray for Sue's children and grand children they loved her dearly and will miss her greatly. They spent many, many days and hours caring for and taking care of her every need. I know it will be hard for them to suddenly not have those things filling their days and nights. It was a precious thing to witness the love she poured out on them and the great love and afffection they returned to her.



My Dad: Tommy Hurst, My Aunt: Bonnie Lowery,

My Aunt: Sue Coffey, & My Aunt: Barbara Roberts.

Friday, July 8, 2011

PET Scan Results.

Clean Scan AGAIN!!! I'm almost beginning to think we may have beat this thing!!!!!
Realistically I know I can never really know I have beat this thing, because the kind I had you can never really know you are cured. Even after the familiar five year mark that we have come to think of when dealing with cancer. The kind of cancer I had is famous for coming back as many as fifteen years later. But for now I am clean. For now I am extremely grateful. I really wasn't scared this time. But after finding out the results the tears once again began to flow. I am sooooo thankful God has chosen to let me be cancer free for now!!!! Every time I get a clean scan, I feel even more like living life!!!! I'm ready for a vacation!!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

PET Scan Today.

I am going for a PET Scan this morning. Please pray that it will turn out good!!! It has became so routine that I almost didn't ask for prayer, but then this morning all I could think about is how Wendell and I both talk all the time about how your prayers are how we have made it this far in our journey. I know it is because of the prayers that have gone up for me, is why I have made it through this cancer, when so many others don't. So, once again I ask for your prayers!!! I will not get the results until Thursday, but will let you know as soon as I can!!! Thanks sooooo much!!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Punky's Results

It's been a long day, we were at the hospital for over four and a half hours. Punky was the last patient of the day in the surgery center. She has some irritation and a small hemorrhoid, but other than that, her colon checked out great!!! Thank you for praying!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Please Pray For Punky

If you have a free moment today or tomorrow please say a little prayer for Punky. She has had irritable bowel syndrome her whole life. About two weeks ago she started hurting and cramping pretty bad when she would go to the bathroom and has been having quite a bit of blood in her stool. We took her to our GP and then to a specialist last week. She is scheduled to have a colonoscopy tomorrow at 3:00 pm. She is only allowed liquids today and tomorrow and has to start the dreaded medicine to clean out her system starting at 5:00 pm today. If you have had a colonoscopy you know the medicine is the worst part of the whole thing!!! The clear liquid diet will be no fun for her either!!! I know the symptoms she is having can be a sign of something as simple as hemorrhoids or it can be a sign of something much more serious. Please pray that God's will will be done and His grace will be sufficient for our family. I Thank-You ahead of time!!!! I will let you know the results as soon as I can tomorrow evening.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cancer Walking With Me

Once again I am up at 2:20 a.m. My bones are soooo achy, my ear and jaw are aching, and I have insomnia. This has been my "norm" for the last two weeks. This "phase" began on our vacation and hasn't ended yet. I wake up and have to get up immediately. It's hard making it through the day on two hours sleep at night. So as I sat here, in my recliner, in the weee hours of the morning, I began to think about how even though this September it will have been two years since I had finished my treatments, Cancer is still a several times a day thought for me. Cancer is still occupying a big part of my life. Cancer will never go away. Cancer will be a companion of mine throughout the rest of my life, and it is very probable that Cancer will be the culprit allowed to end my life. When you are a realist like me and you know the statistics, and you know the power of God, but you don't know the mind of God, or what His will in this will ultimately be, you think on all the outcomes more than you would like!!!! When your body is almost a completely different body than it had been for the last few decades of your life, you feel 88 instead of 48. Life takes on a new view. It's as if Cancer is walking along right beside me, never missing a step. It's as if I know him so well, as almost, in a weird way, as if Cancer is a friend. A friend in the since that Cancer knows me inside and out. I know Cancer. We know more about each other than we do anyone else. We have been intimately acquainted. Cancer knew how to bring me to the lowest point thus far in my life. Cancer walked me to the very door of death but then backed away for some unknown and unexpected reason. The will of God. God chose to back Cancer back out of my life for now but he will always walk beside me. Waiting I guess, like me, to see if it will be God's will for me to be left in Cancers grip ever again. I know God holds the ultimate keys to this situation, I know what ever happens He will supply my needs and the grace needed to endure. But that doesn't mean I don't spend some time a little scared, not desiring the experience of being left in Cancers grip again. Cancer is someone, even though he was very nasty to me, at the same time and in the same space, Cancer was a friend who forced me to a place of total reliance on a God I had trusted many times before. Cancer brought me to the place of knowing there is definately nothing good within myself. Cancer brought me to a place of rest in the Peace and Grace of an almighty God. I have never known such extreme peace as the peace I found in the bowels of Cancer. I am endepted to Cancer for life, for the major lessons he brought into my life.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Airport Security And My Need To Accessorize!!!!

Well, we're back home and back to the real world :( Getting up and feeling the dusty, hard wood floors is not near as fun as getting up and walking out the door to feel sand between your toes!!!! I could spend all summer on the beach!!!
Before leaving home for the airport, Wendell had scolded me for wearing so much jewelry. Anyone that knows me, knows, I love my jewelry!!! I told him, politely, that I never have a problem at the court house and I wouldn't have a problem at the airport!!!! Well, for the first time ever, LOL, I was wrong!!! I had to go through the scanner several times, each time stopping to strip off a few more pieces of jewelry and then finally the studded belt, not a good accessory for airport security!!! Yesterday morning, when dressing for the return flight, I once again clipped on my 5 bracelets, two pair of earrings, 5 rings, and my watch (that I can't even see to read the time, but hey accessorizing doesn't have to be practical!!!) I did of course make sure to wear cloths that fit...thus no need for the beautifully studded belt. My plan was to take it all off before arriving at the airport and to re-accessorize before boarding the plane. After all, going anywhere without my jewelry would be like leaving my eyebrows at home!!!! I was just proud as punch to know I was going to be able to do this without holding up the long disgruntled line behind me!!!! As I approached the scanner they asked the usual questions about what you have in your purse and carry on, to which I remembered, at the last moment, thankfully, that I have a teeny bottle of hand sanitizer in my purse. Happily I removed it and with a satisfied smug grin on my face I proceeded to walk through the scanner. I made it! no beeping!!! Then I heard one man say to the other man that highly dreaded, illegal word "Aerosol" immediately my mind went to the small bottle of "just in case" hair spray, you know the one you carry for years and use maybe twice but you carry it "just in case"!!! One man picked up my purse and instructed me to get the rest of my stuff and follow him. I scammered around grabbing up my shoes, my carry on bag, my laptop, & my laptop case and hurriedly tried to follow him to a table at the end of the long line of belts and scanners. He firmly instructed me not to reach for, or into, my purse, he had to retrieve the "Item". I obediently clasped my hinds behind my back as my mind visualized me inadvertently reaching for my bag and being tackled from all sides and slammed to the floor, like a terrorist. After a long search he finally found "IT". He placed "it" and the illegal hand sanitizer in a baggie, handed it all back to me, and with my head hung low I grabbed my shoes, my laptop, my laptop case, my carry on, my purse and the rightly stored illegal products and went in search of the rest of my humiliated family. After arriving at the gate I was able to redress, get organized and finally accessorize (eyebrows in place), and boarded the plane without further incidence.
Lesson learned...It's a lot easier to go to court than the beach!!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sun, Sand, Surf, & Seditary

After our trip to South Carolina, Two Parties, Bachalarque and Graduation, we drove to Knoxville on Sunday, May 22, 2011 and caught a plane to our favorite vacation spot...Destin Florida!!!! YEAH!!! THE BEACH!!!! WHITE SAND, SUN, RELAXATION!!!!!










The View from our balcony. Breathtaking!!!








After Dinner at the Crab Trap.










Dylan eating crab legs!!!











Punky, Wendell, Kiah and Dylan posing with our rent-a-car!!! We definitely never lost it!!!














I couldn't wait to get here and start our week of total relaxation!!!! We decided to fly this year because they had $44.00 fares!!!! It would have cost more for us to drive the 8 hours and 45 minutes. We were here in 1 hour. It has been absolutely beautiful every day, so pretty I haven't been able to come up with an excuse to go shopping!!!! We fly home Sunday. Only two days left, then back to the real world!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bachelarque & Graduation

After our trip to South Carolina, the store graduation party, Jean's 70th Birthday party, we then had Bachelarque on Friday and graduation ceremonies on Saturday, May 20th and 21st, 2011. As I have said in my previous posts, I am having problems downloading pictures to my blog, so these are in no certain order!!!!




Two Special Graduates, Aaron Kilby, Me, and Dylan!!!




Punky, Me, Kiah, Wendell, Stephanie and Michael.





Punky, Me, Kiah, And Stephanie.



Kiah Receiving Her Diploma From Terry Armes. Mrs. Diane Smith, Oakdale School Principal and Fred Snow, Oakdale School's Assistant Principal.


More Special Grads!!! Dylan, Kiah and Blake Redmon.





Aaron Kilby, Mikiah And Dylan Cox.





Punky and another one of my favorite Grads, Tee Stienmetz.





My Favorite Grad and her sister!!! Punky and Mikiah!!!


I have no babies left!!! They have all graduated!!! I NEED A GRAND BABY!!!!!


People keep asking me if I am sad to see my last child graduate and the answer is no, not at all. I can honestly say I have enjoyed every stage of my kids lives. I just see this as moving on to another new stage, that I know will be just as enjoyable as all the past "stages". I love being a Mom and all the joy that comes with that blessed position!!! I was telling someone the other day that I played with baby dolls until I was about 12 years old!!! My big dream for my life was to be a wife and Mother. God has truly blessed me!!! I've made a lot of mistakes along the way that if I could go back I would change and do them differently, but I wouldn't change being a Mom to my four + one, for any career in this world!!!! I did, however, think Wendell and I were going to "loose it" when the graduates started marching in. All I could do was quietly praise God for letting me live to see my last child graduate from High School. Two years ago it was a little "iffy"!!!! I praise God for His marvelous Grace and Mercy in my undeserving life!!!!! One of the boys, in Kiah's class, Mother was diagnosed with cancer right after I was, and she passed away a few months later. He was valedictorian of the class. It breaks my heart to know how he would have gave anything to have had her there. I know if at all possible she was looking down proud as punch!!!! I don't know why God has allowed me to continue my walk down here but I sure am glad He has!!!!

















Happy 70th Birthday Jean!!!!!

After giving the Seniors a party on Tuesday, I immediately began preparing to give my Mother-In-Law a party, in celebration of her 70th birthday, on Thursday.





Jean



I made the cakes and decorated them in fondant!!! These are the skills I learnt while taking the cake decorating class with Teresa a few weeks ago!!!








I would love to post more pictures, but with my new computer, I am having some difficulty downloading them properly. Maybe more later :(













Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oakdale Class Of 2011

After arriving back home from Sue's party on Sunday afternoon, I spent all day Monday preparing for a party, for the thirty nine graduating Seniors from Oakdale, to be given at the store, on Tuesday.



My daughter Mikiah is in this class. This was the first year she had ever been to public school. She has always been home schooled or attended private Christian school. She loved having the opportunity to go to Oakdale this past year. She is the fifth from the right in the picture above. We celebrate the students of Oakdale graduating every year with a party at the store. I take lots of pictures and then make a big collage to hang on the wall. We have done this for about the last six years. It is always fun for them to come back and look at their pictures several years down the road!!!

























Wendell purchasing Peaches from a roadside stand.


Breakfast at IHOP together on Sunday, before returning home. Wendell, Papaw Tom, Sue, Maurice, Bonnie, Camden, Heather, Jake, Bobbie, Ron, Me, and Teresa.





Brother, sister's and Wendell!!! Tom, Wendell, Bonnie, Sue and Bob.







Sue's grandkids: Jake, Camden, Blake, Cameron, Emily & Logan.





The Cousins + Bob.

Bob, Ron, Teresa, Me, Richmond, Heather, Bonnie, and Justin.





Wow, It has been sooo long since I have had a chance to stop and write something here!!! Needless to say it has been a very busy time in the Ruppe home. There are a lot of "things" I have been thinking on to write about here.


Last weekend some of us traveled to South Carolina for a birthday party for my Aunt Sue. We had a wonderful time. It was nice to get away for the weekend not to mention the fact that we were able to see cousins that we haven't had the opportunity to visit with in years. Teresa traveled with Wendell and I, and Dad drove along with us. Bob, Bonnie, Maurice, Talisha, Marcus, Wilson and Ron also made the trip over for the party.

We had to stop at Sam's on our way home, for me to purchase a new computer, mine had began to crash. I spent all last week trying to get my flies saved to disk off of my old computer and things set up on my new one. I could not get these pictures moved in line on this post like I wanted so I have ended up leaving them where they downloaded, sorry. Thus, the wierd layout of this particular post.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Loss Of Vanity And God

Have you ever Known the Lord had definitely sent someone into your life? There are so many things I want to say here about an experience I had this weekend. There are things I want to say leading up to this amazing experience in my life but I am somehow feeling as if it will take too long to say it all. But there is a part of me that feels as if I have to try.


First of all I want to ask you to pray for a situation that has effected our lives over the last few weeks, that I know is best left unspoken at this time. It is a situation that has brought many tears the last couple of weeks and that leaves me so sad every time I think about it. Please help Wendell and I pray that the Lord will intervene and His will will be done in this situation.



Now back to my original thought.... A while back I began to think on one of the aspects of my cancer journey...loosing my hair. I began to think a little deeper on this subject. I know the Lord is in control of everything that happens in our lives. He may not order everything that happens to us, but He certainly allows it. Just as I believe He has allowed cancer to come into my life. I was taking a shower one morning after my hair had began to grow back and I started to think about how as woman our hair is very important to us. I began to think about how God has gave man the ability to come up with the treatments to fight cancer and give us a chance at achieving remission from this sinister disease. I thought about how an all knowing God, gave man the mind and ability to come up with the drugs to fight cancer. God knew, before man, what the side effects of these drugs would be. One of the main, well known, side effects of Chemo is hair loss. Our hair, especially as woman, is our vanity. Cancer strips you of your vanity. I began to wonder that day why of all the side effects that could come from the drugs developed to fight cancer, was the main one hair loss. Why is the most noticeable effect of anyone battling cancer the loss of their hair...thus the loss of vanity? Does God have a specific purpose in this? I don't know, I'm just asking.



Wendell and I went to our favorite candle lite restaurant this past Saturday night. After we were seated, teenagers dressed for prom began to come in and sit in the tables in front of us. We were in a booth against the wall so we had a first hand view at what could have easily been a fashion show just for us. We began to, between ourselves, judge the girls dress and the guys tuxedos. Believe it or not the guys had on a wide variety of tuxedos. There were over 38 kids there that night. Wendell and I ate our dinner and got up to make our way out. As we were leaving I was stopped by one of two elderly ladies sitting together in a booth down from where we had been. They were very fashionable older ladies who appeared to be fairly wealthy. One of them began to speak, she said she just wanted to let me know I was more beautiful than any of those young girls in their prom dresses!!! Now my telling you this is not out of vanity. I am telling you this because I honestly felt, as soon as she began to speak that the Lord had put them there. I can't explain why and still don't fully understand it. I have NEVER felt this way with anyone before in my entire life. I just knew God had put them there and felt like I just couldn't let the conversation end with thank you and Wendell and I walking on, for some unknown reason I felt as if I needed to say something to keep the conversation going. So I said thank you, you have made my night. Then I began to tell them about my battle with cancer and loosing my hair and just now getting it back enough to get it cut and styled. They wanted to know about my cancer. After telling them a little bit about having oral cancer the other lady began to tell me how she is a widow but she has a gentleman Friend who had salivary gland cancer twenty years ago. I then told her that was what mine was ...salivary gland cancer. She said she just wanted me to know I was going to be alright. Her gentlemen friend was 80 something years old now and does just great. I don't know why I had the feeling these ladies were placed there and spoke to me out of some purpose of God. But I do. What are the chances two little old ladies would start up a conversation with me over such a rare cancer as salivary gland cancer? I have been reading the few blogs I can find of other oral cancer survivors every since I started my fight. So many of them have already passed on. One as early as last week and another one has done all he can do to fight it and now is blogging about how he is making it, knowing the cancer is taking over his body. Maybe I shouldn't read these blogs, but I can't help myself. Somehow it feels as if these people are my relatives in a way. Of course there are also those cancer survivors who have been in remission for several years now. Those are the ones I want to feel as if I have more in common with!!!


Anyway I just wanted to share those things with you....... My thinking on cancer and hair loss and side effects and God and vanity and little ladies and God speaking to us through others and what are the chances and salivary gland cancer and remission and living and dying and maybe just maybe angels unaware ...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Me And Martha!!!

My doctor has put me on new medicines to try and help me feel better. My quality of life has been different. Between the bowel issues, the bone pain, the fatigue and the generally ill feelings, life has been different than it was pre-cancer. With these new medicines and advice from friends, my bowel issues have been resolved...so far...knock on wood...yeah!!!!....best news ever!!!! My fatigue is even getting a little bit better, the bone pain is still a big issue. Mornings are difficult for me because of this pain, it is hard to get my day started. But these new medicines really do seem to help me feel better and function better once they are in my system and I am able to start my day!!!!





About a year or so before the ugly "c" word entered my life, I wanted to take a cake decorating class. Even though there are definitely two gifts I was not given...creativity and rhythm. No chance there is any black in my blood!!!! I couldn't boogie if I tried!!! I also have absolutely no creative ability!!! I have always been the "tom-boy" in the family. I remember playing as kids with my cousins, and while Teresa and Bonnie fought over the coveted spot of playing Jane for the day, I would give Cousin Ron a run for his money over who got to be Tarzan!!!! I was not about to be stuck in the "kitchen" stringing leaves or making mud pies!!! I had much rather have been found swinging from the tree limbs, making my way through the "jungle" in search of an unexpecting animal to kill for dinner!!! Of course the second place option wasn't too bad either, I mean after all, there were plenty of benefits to getting to be Cheetah!!!! (for those readers too young to remember, what was one of the greatest TV shows ever, Tarzan ...Cheetah was the family pet.... monkey!!!) Oh, those were the days!!!! The days when, as kids, our imaginations were over used, are bodies were tanned from playing outside, not laying in a bed made of light bulbs, our hands were used for such things as carving knives out of sticks or grabbing limbs as we made our way up the tree, not pushing buttons on a controller. We never spent our days in front of the TV, after all what would have been the use...the only day time programming back then was soap operas, cartoons could only be found on Saturday mornings. Boy, those were the days!!!! I remember the same scenario playing out early every Saturday morning in the summer when I would be blessed with the wonderful gift of getting to spend the night with my Granny. Her neighbor, whom we called Granny Freels, (she was not our real Granny but she was a wonderful addition to our young lives!!) would cross the street and head up the driveway on her way to have breakfast and coffee with my Granny. She would always stop, shade the sun from her eyes as she looked up to the top of my favorite huge oak tree that lined the drive, and every Saturday morning would say the same thing..."I think I see a squirrel in the top of that tree!!!" Then she would let out a little giggle and continue on her way. Corney, I know, but somehow she always made me giggle too!!!


Anyway...I guess I have gotten carried away...my point was I have no creative ability...back to the original thought...I wanted to take a cake decorating class...


I don't have the confidence to try anything new on my own. I have to have an accomplice. I have been blessed with two people in my life, that if I get a desire to do, or try, something new, they are always game!!!! These two people are my wonderful husband, who if I get a whim to go somewhere or do something, he is always ready and willing to go along and even help plan the experience!!!! The same goes for my wonderful, OLDER sister, Teresa!!! I told Teresa of my desire to take a cake decorating class and even though she could decorate cakes pretty well already, she was willing to go and even did the research to find such a class and signed us up. We ended up taking the Beginners and the Advanced cake decorating classes that year. Now anytime, after taking the classes, that Teresa or I take a cake to a family function where we are both present, I always feel the need to explain, in a whisper, of course, how... if Teresa brings the cake "she does fairly well , even though she failed the class."... if I make the cake, I have to explain to everyone how "I had to make the cake, it's such a shame, after all those lessons, Teresa failed to receive her diploma"!!! Of course everyone is always shocked to hear this, knowing when it comes to most "domestic " activities Teresa could go head to head with Martha Stewart!!! I guess I just can't help myself, you see everyone "expects " that perfectly decorated cake from Teresa, but after all my years in the "jungle", it seems they don't expect much from me. I just can't help it, you don't know the pressure and anxiety that exists when growing up side by side with Martha Stewart!!! Now, not to sell myself short, I could build the table that Teresa or Martha sit their beautifully decorated cakes on, or, I could wire up the mixer they use to mix the batter for their beautifully decorated cakes!!!! All those years of playing Tarzan had it's benefits!!!


Anyway, once again I have gotten carried away. Back to my original story....


I decided I wanted to take a fondant class. The act of covering and decorating a cake with fondant, (for those who may not know, fondant is like play dough for big girls!!!) was not covered in the beginners or the advanced cake class. So... I called Teresa, and true to form, she researched it and found a class and signed us up!!! Yeah!!! Play dough, once I got past the smell, was something I was fairly good at playing with as a child. We have now had two of our four scheduled classes. They are every Tuesday night from 6:00-8:00 pm. We have had a great time, once again playing together!!!!




Teresa and I, last night, all set up and waiting for class to begin.


The main reason I wanted to take this class was to learn the art of bow making. Guess what we accomplished in our very first class? Yeah!!!! I made this one!!!!



After coming home I wanted to practice, so I made this one last week when I had some free time.

Last nights class, (we made the center for the rose in last weeks class, but we were not told that was what we were making...it would have been prettier if the center had matched the rose.) We were taught to make the Rose, the Cali Lily, and the Carnation. We also learnt how to make the leaves and the stamens, the green leafy parts of the flowers.

Even the backs of the flowers are made to look realistic.

The difference between Play Dough and Fondant are these flowers are completely edible!!!

For our last class, we still have two more classes left, we will be required to decorate a cake, utilizing our newly acquired skills. I hate this part. I hate being judged!!!! And like I said, I have absolutely no creative ability, thus I have no idea what to do. Any ideas? This will, in a way, be our "test", where we will receive our diploma. (I'll let you know the day before so you will be able to say a little prayer for Teresa, you know she struggles with the passing part!!!) heeheeehee!!!!!




Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Finale: Part 5 of Post # 200 To Our Annonymous Gift Giver

This is the last post I want to write dealing with the subjects I have been talking about in all of my "Post #200's". I am writing this post mainly because I have things I want to say to whom ever our Anonymous gift giver is. We still have no idea who you are, and I don't even know if you are someone who reads my blog. But I want to be able to try and let you know what you and your gift has meant to me and my family. I do fear, however, our gratitude is going to be something hard to put into words. The cancer journey and all it became was not an easy road to walk. My family reached the lowest point we had ever been during this time. We were, so many times, physically and emotionally drained. There were several times when I didn't even have or know the words to speak when praying, all I could do was kneel, cry and trust. But through it all God's precious grace was ever present and so real in our lives. At the time I was going through all the surgeries, treatments and side effects I was able to make it one day at a time, and at the time it was hard, but God's grace made it all "do-able". It is harder, looking back now, than it ever was when I was going through it, to understand how in the world I made it through some of those days. Coming out of this journey with my life and with my family still together was all I wanted and was way more than I deserved!!!! To have the indescribable blessing of coming out of all of this, left with only a small portion of the financial obligations we would have been facing, is UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! After our insurance had finally paid their portion, we were going to be left, (at that time, not counting the continual visits and bills), we were going to be left facing over twenty five thousand dollars in medical bills. I had felt a lot of guilt over being the one to generate and place these bills and this burden on my family. Paying monthly payments, in amounts that we would have been able to pay, would have left us paying on these bills, realistically, for probably over twenty years to come!!!!! The creditors had began calling and asking us if they lowered the amounts we owed, substantially, if we would be able to pay the new amount in full, thus allowing them to close their books on our account before the end of the year. Having the gift you gave us allowed us to be able to say yes and to pay the new and much lower amounts. Had we not have received your gift we would have not had the financial means to pay these lowered amounts in full and would have been left owing the total amounts originally charged. That's how the ten thousand actually "paid" twenty five thousand in bills. It is hard to come to terms with what you have done for us. I have no idea how or why you decided to give us this gift other than the fact that I will always believe it was God. God working on your heart and in your willingness to be used of Him to help us in a great way. I do wonder, just because the "workings" of God are so fascinating, what all transpired in you making the decision to give us this gift. Anyway, I just want to tell you how your gift is, by far, the BIGGEST blessing we have and will probably ever receive. It was sooo unexpected. I will, for the rest of my life, have the memory of sitting at my kitchen table, sick, fatigued, bald headed, skinny as a rail, with a nauseated stomach but wanting to shout the PRAISES of an almighty God for the whole world to hear, armed with my check book and a huge stack of bills, and being able to write check after check to pay these bills "in full" as the tears fell uncontrollably. I have done nothing to ever deserve, and can in no way ever repay, this incredible kindness. I am still in awe of the goodness God has placed in your heart!!! Why you would think so much of me and my family to give us such an amazing gift is more than I can begin to understand. Even with the kind of heart God has placed in you to be so giving, it's unbelievable that I would be the one on the receiving end of that kindness, when there are so many other worthy places you could have chosen to give. "Thank-You" is extremely inadequate but all I have at this point to give in return. You have no idea what you have done for me and my family. You have no idea the burden you have lifted from our shoulders. You have no idea how you have made our lives so much easier as a result of not having the financial burden of those medical bills, hanging, like an ever present dark cloud, over our heads. It is incomprehensible how we are able to "operate" financially as well post cancer as we did pre-cancer. An unexpected medical burden can easily wipe families out financially and put them in a place of deep distress. Because of your wonderful, amazing gift to my family this is a burden we do not bear. Because of you, and what you chose to do for me and my family, our lives have been made so incredibly easier!!!! Because of you, we are still able to provide the things we have in the past to our family. Because of you, our lives have been enriched in many, many ways. Because of you, Wendell and I have been able to relate to our children how God, through His infinite Wisdom and Mercy, is always there for us through the storms of this life. How, He may allow bad things to happen, but He uses these things to work for our good. We are able to relate to our kids how incredible blessings can be received in the middle of some of the biggest and most difficult phases of our lives. I have felt from the beginning of this journey that the saddest thing that could happen would be for my family and I to go through this with our eyes and ears closed, not hearing or seeing what it is God is wanting us to see and hear and learn and know. Being able for our girls to not only see the tragic and bad side of things that happen but to also show them that God shows up in unimaginable, unexpected ways, sometimes in the midst of storms, through His people, is a lesson we are so grateful you have helped them to see and hear and learn. I don't know who you are, but I do believe that God has given you the heart you have. I believe God used, a willing you, to be a huge blessing to me and Wendell and our children. I believe and pray that God will repay you a hundredfold for being this blessing to us. I have no way of ever personally repaying you, even if I knew who you are, I don't have the means. In the past, Wendell and I have tried to be a blessing to others who we would know were in need. We have never been rich of course, LOL!!! But the Lord has always allowed us to have jobs and health to work and make ends meet and we have always tried to consider those who would be going through rough times. I want you to know we hope to be on our feet and once again be able to be there for others as God directs our path in the future. I just want you to know that your gift to us was not received without thinking of what it means. I want you to know that we did not receive it with an ungrateful or unthoughtful heart. We have a great desire to be able to be the kind of blessing you have been to us, to others as God directs and allows us to be. I hope that even though thank you is all I have to give to you in return at this point, knowing all this, lets you know we hope to not ever let your gift to us, be in vain. As I have said, I don't have any idea who you are and I don't know if you read my blog so I am going to print this post and put it in a stamped envelope and give it to Bro. Jones and ask him if at all possible that he find your address and mail this to you. If you don't read my blog, http://www.therewillbegrace.blogspot.com/ , you do not know the other posts I have written leading up to this one and telling of how God has worked in our hearts and lives in the past regarding a monetary amount of $10,000.00. I hope if you haven't already, you will in the future, read these posts so as to understand how God has chose to work in incredible ways in my and Wendell's life regarding $10,000.00 and how we feel as if your gift is, in a way, a continued version of this work. Once again as inadequate as it may sound, we Thank-You from the bottom of our hearts for your gift to us. I hope this post has let you know somewhat of what it has meant to Wendell, our kids and myself. We pray that God has and will continue to bless you over and over again!!! Well this post finaly ends "post #200" or does it?.................LOL!!!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Part 4 of Post #200: One Of Our Biggest Blessings On This Journey.

Part four of post #200. I was nearing the end of my treatments when Bro. Jones called one day and asked Wendell if he could meet him at the bank latter that day. He didn't give Wendell a reason so we began to speculate that maybe the church was giving us another love gift or maybe Wendell was needed as a witness for some legal papers or something. Anyway, Wendell left to meet Bro. Jones at the stated time. A little while latter he called me to tell me what had transpired. He had met Bro. Jones at the bank because someone wanted to give us a gift, anonymously. They went through the Church and Bro. Jones so as to stay anonymous to us. We still to this day do not know who this person is. They told Bro. Jones that they felt like it was what they were suppose to do...give us this gift. Wendell called me that day to tell me someone had gave us a gift and said they wanted us to use it to pay Doctor bills, or use it for our business, or use it to take me on the best vacation I had ever been on, they didn't care how we used it, they just felt like they needed to give it to us. Wendell said guess how much it is? I said I had no idea, how much? He replied it was $10,000.00 dollars. $10,000.00 dollars! There was that number again. My thoughts went immediately back to the original donation to the Fellowship Tract League. There is no doubt in my mind that God was once again rewarding Wendell for his obedience. I will always feel God placed that gift on the heart of the person who gave it to us. I will always feel God had a specific reason for the amount being $10,000.00, To show us He is Faithful and Just!!!! I cried for days after that and am still crying today as I think about it. My medical bills had piled up quickly. It was looking like, after the insurance had paid their share, we were going to be left with about twenty five thousand dollars of bills to pay. I tried not to worry about them and would think we would start paying when we could and would pay what we could probably for many, many, years until it was paid off. I felt so guilty for adding this financial burden to the list of burdens my family was already enduring because of me. I knew these bills would be a part of our lives for the rest of our lives. It was getting close to the end of the year and the hospitals and different places started calling saying if we would pay a certain reduced price on our bills with them they would count it as payment in full!!! They wanted to get some kind of payment and be able to clear our and other accounts off their books before the end of the year. Wendell made agreements with several of them. Because we had recieved this money, we were able to pay the lump sum they were requesting, which lowered the total amounts we owed all together. Without this money we would have had to pay small monthly payments and would not have gotten the reduced price. I sat at the kitchen table soon after that with my check book and the huge stack of bills. As I wrote each check I cried like a baby!!! I felt like shouting over the goodness of God!!!! Since we had received that money, we were able to meet the request of some of the Hospitals and other places that just wanted our account closed before the end of the year, and sent them a one time reduced payment. There were others that I had to pay in full. When all was said and done, the twenty five thousand that we were originally going to be left owing was now about twenty five hundred.!!!! Because of this gift we no longer have huge medical bills hanging over our heads. Don't get me wrong, I still frequent the Doctors office fairly regularly and I also have the PET scans every six months which have left us owing some, but it is nothing like it would have been without the anonymous blessing of the gift. We are now able to stay somewhat caught up on my medical payments and typically have an outstanding balance of somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,500.00. As I said when starting this #200 blog entry....I had been a little uncertain about sharing this openly here for fear the devil would use it to spawn some since of hurt or jealousy in someone who has gone through a similar trial in their lives and God did not "show up" with this blessing for them. I don't understand why God has chosen to be sooo good to me, I just know I praise His Holy name for His unending Grace and Mercy to my little family. The journey we have faced with this ugly word "cancer", has been a very long and difficult one. It has altered our family in ways we never knew. We, every day, face the effects of it. We have faced the very real physical pain and agony of this disease. I am left physically changed for the rest of my life. I have scars that are very visible, I have a speech defect that leaves strangers and even friends wondering if this journey has left me a little "not right". I have physical aches and pains daily that I never had before and have been told will be with me and will possibly get worse over time. I have difficulty swallowing and opening my mouth that makes eating difficult and even impossible with certain foods. I feel as if I almost looked death in the face at times on this journey. But somehow, God, through His marvelous, ever Sufficient Grace, has brought me and my little family through this battle and to a place where we can look back and see clearly His working in our lives!!!! I have no explanation as to why God lead us through this in the manner He did, with the added and very unexpected and undeserved blessings along the way. Just as I don't understand why He called my Mother home the day before I was to start this walk. Life is soooo full of valleys, so full of ups and downs. None of us can see into our future here in this life. We face unexpected hurts, loneliness, and pains, it almost seems continually on this walk. But walking with Him makes the valleys "do-able". He can give unimaginable grace and peace to us as we go through the difficult stages in our lives. During the bad times we learn Who is in control. We learn to lean solely on Him. We learn that He is our Hope no matter the outcome of the situation. We learn that through prayer and yielding to Him we can gain an unimaginable Peace in the middle of a raging storm. I don't want this story to end here. I have one more post that I want to write to bring an end to this never ending post #200!!!! So I hope to be back in a day or two to post the last one in this "series".....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Part 3 of Post #200 Then Came Cancer

Part three of Post #200.

It had been several years since we had experienced the blessing of God that I have written about in the first two posts of post #200. I had not, and will not, ever forget those blessings of God, but we had long since spent that money and only thought of that time in our lives from time to time.


Then the dreadful "c" word entered our world and we were in for the fight of our lives... The fight for our life.


I'll never forget the night we told the girls and Aaron I had cancer. We had waited until we had no choice but to tell them. I couldn't stand the thought of them worrying over me one second longer than they would have to. It was a difficult time. We told Josh and Stephanie and the rest of our family the next day, which was Sunday. It was hard watching them hurt, not knowing what the outcome would be. I wanted them to understand that God was in control and He had a reason for everything that happens and as long as we had His Grace we would be able to deal with whatever was to come. I wanted them to understand that the cancer was not in control...God was...if He wanted me to live 10 more minutes, 10 more seconds, or 10 more years, that was how long I would live. We had to trust Him.

I remember being so sick while going through the surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy. During this time we were receiving medical bills that our insurance was not paying anything on. I would spend countless hours on the phone and on hold with a representative from our insurance. Every time I would talk to them they would tell me some requirement that I had failed to meet. I would only learn of these new requirements each time I would call. I would get off the phone and start the process of meeting each new requirement. I remember thinking how something needed to be done with our health care system. It was a terrible feeling to be so sick, actually feeling as if you may be on deaths doorstep, and having to argue with your insurance company who you had paid a large premium to, on time, every month, to get them to live up to their end of the deal and pay the bills!!!! I would be so sick and so fatigued and would still have to deal with this. By this time I was getting threats to be turned over to collection agencies. There was no way we could pay the mounting bills. It took about eight months and me finally getting ugly with a supervisors supervisor to finally get them to start paying their portion of my medical bills that had piled up and where over one hundred and sixty thousand dollars. During this time so many people were helping us in so many ways, including financially. People would hand Wendell money and tell him they wanted to pay for our gas to get to Nashville. People would give him money wanting to buy his food and what ever he would need while staying in the hospital with me. People would hand us cards that when we opened them contained money to help with our struggles. Churches that we have attended and some we have never attended wanted to help and would send us love gifts, time and again. I can't control the tears now as I think of the goodness of the people God has created!!! I don't think anything we could do or say could ever convey how blessed we were during this time!!! God is soooo good!!!! People with their own struggles would want to help us and would give us what I know they could have used for their own needs. Oh how I pray God has paid them back tenfold!!!! Once again ....The story could end here, where the blessings were more than I could ever deserve. But it didn't.....God was not through....

Monday, March 28, 2011

Post # 200 Part 2 ... The Middle Men

Part two of post #200......
It was almost Christmas...almost time for Wendell's annual Christmas bonus....almost time for our annual "crack of dawn" shopping trip.....



Wendell had received a bonus at Christmas every year, since he had been working for the company he was working for. It was always somewhere between $2,500.00 - $3,000.00. We always looked forward to getting this check and considered it a huge blessing. We would spend some of it on Christmas shopping, some on paying off bills, and we would always try to use some of it to be a blessing to someone else who was having a more difficult time. Well, this year when he received his check we couldn't believe the amount!!! Yeah, I know what your thinking....the Lord had provided...and your right.... only ......the Lord had provided over and above what He had asked for!!! Wendell had done some additional work that they wanted to reward him for. His check was for $15,000.00!!!! The Lord had not only provided the amount He had asked of Wendell, but he had also blessed us with $5,000.00 to do with as we wanted!!!!! We had never had that much money in our lives. At the time we received this money there was a lot of things we could have done if we had viewed it differently. The $15,000.00 would have paid off a HUGE portion of the bills we owed at the time and could have made a big difference in our living pay check to pay check. But we never viewed it that way. We know the Lord gave us that money to give to the Fellowship Tract League. We were just the middle men that God blessed with the opportunity to receive the tremendous blessing that comes from being willing to be used of God, and from being willing to give. Wow, you can only imagine the joy that filled our hearts when Wendell was able to write that check and put it in the offering plate!!!! You can only imagine the joy, and I must admit, pride, I felt in knowing Wendell was open to listening when the Lord speaks to him and obedient in heeding the Will of God. Wow, it's so amazing to see the way God works!!! He had asked for something that within Wendell and my own means would have been impossible to accomplish. But God had not ever intended on Wendell or I accomplishing this on our own. He was just letting Wendell know He was going to use him to get this needed money to the tract league. When you begin to think even farther back...I wonder how God must have spoke to, or placed it on the heart, of the one who was making the decisions about bonus amounts!!!!

We didn't tell everyone about this, then, because it was not something we wanted to brag within ourselves of, but we did share it with our kids as a lesson to how if your willing God can use you, and what He asks for, He can and will provide!!!

Well, this part of the story could end here, but it didn't. There is more to tell of this awesome, amazing God we serve!!!

That next year life continued on as usual. At the end of that next year I gathered all our tax records together and took them to our accountant to prepare our income tax return. We had NEVER got back more than $3000.00, even when everyone we knew was getting back 6 & 8 thousand, even when all our kids were "countable." That next year when we got our return back from the accountant we were astonished to see we were going to receive a return in the amount of $10,400.00!!!! The first thing I thought of was Wendell being obedient to giving what the Lord had asked and provided, I knew in my heart that this was the Lord's way of rewarding Wendell for his faithfulness and willingness to serve God. I don't know if this seems like much to others but to us it was Wonderful!!!! We have both worked hard for what we have. The Lord has always provided, and we have always been able to find jobs and have had the health and strength to work hard. We both started working at young ages, I was 15 when I got my first job and up until the cancer had always worked. We don't have college educations, so up until Wendell got the job he was working at this time, we had both always worked, first in the fast food industry when we were young, and then in factories. So to receive that amount of money to us was like winning the lottery!!!! We were able to put a down payment on a camper we had been dreaming of, pay off some additional bills, and, as we had always tried to do, give a portion to someone having a rough time. Boy!!! God was sooo good to us!!!!! I know in my heart that God told Wendell to do something, give the money He was providing, to the Tract League, Wendell heeded the voice of God, and God has rewarded our family again and again for Wendell's obedience. Wendell could have second guessed everything, deciding that maybe he just "thought" God was speaking to him. That huge amout of money could have really advanced our family financialy. But he didn't. Everyone has always said "You can't out give God". We have had our financial struggles over the years just like most normal people. We have never had a large savings account but God has always provided our needs. I am in awe of the goodness of God, each time I think about these events...God speaking, Wendell obeying, God being Faithful. This Holy and Faithful God owes us nothing but through His goodness has time and again rewarded our family for Wendell's obedience.

This story could end here....but it doesn't......I got cancer...our lives began to change...Part 3 of Post #200 to continue telling of one of the biggest blessings God provided on our journey....coming soon....

Saturday, March 26, 2011

BLOG ENTRY # 200

I noticed the other day, when posting my last blog entry, that the next one, this one, would be post number 200. I thought about how, when I started this, I would have never dreamed how important it would become to me (and to Wendell when I was sick.) It brought me comfort, when I was ill, to know I could reach out and share what was going on with me physically, to all of you, and you would immediately be there to pray for each situation. Wendell, I know, had a lot of lonely days and nights sitting by my side while I was going through treatments or in the hospital, that being able to communicate through this blog with you and to receive a response helped to keep him going. In all honesty, being able to communicate back and forth with so many of you was what gave Him the strength to keep facing each day.
When thinking of Post #200 one thinks "Wow!!! that's kind of a milestone." One that should possibly be celebrated with an awesome, heartfelt, deep thinking, entry!!! LOL!!! I mentioned in the last post how God had blessed Wendell and I and our family in ways that I have not spoke of here but would when I felt the Lord was leading me to. In this post I am going to share one of the biggest blessings the Lord allowed us to experience on this journey. I have quite frankly not shared it openly for fear the devil would use it to spawn some since of hurt or jealousy in someone who has gone through a similar trial in their lives and God did not "show up" with this blessing for them. I don't understand why God has chosen to be sooo good to me, I just know I praise His name for His Goodness, Grace and Mercy to me and my little family.
Well, before we continue you may want to fix your coffee and grab a sandwich because to relate how awesome God is, I can't bring myself to leave out one minor detail, so this may be a long one!!! You see to relate this story we have to go back several years....long before the ugly "C" word became a member of our little family....we have to go back to a time when we were just ordinary people... living un-extraordinary lives...working hard to make ends meet.....OK maybe that's a little too dramatic!!!LOL!!! But here we go...............................

Several years back, Bro. Jones, our pastor, started announcing in Church, that in a few weeks he would be taking up a special offering to help with the purchase of a new printing press for the Fellowship Tract League, (a mission work that our church faithfully supports.) For those who may not know, us saved, independent baptist, use little pamphlets called "tracts" to help spread the wonderful gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ. These tracts are printed and given to us at no cost, the Fellowship Tract League and others like them are non profit and operate on donations and by great Faith!!! We are able to either hand these tracts directly to others or leave them places where they will be read, such as on the tables in our dining room at the store. They are also shipped to missionaries all over the world to be used as an additional aid in telling others, who may have never even heard of Jesus Christ, about the wonderful gift of God's son. We feel as if by contributing to this wonderful work, we, in a round about way, have a part in the extraordinary blessing of spreading the gospel around the world and of hopefully contributing to leading others to Christ!!!! I am not sure how much this printing press was going to cost, but I do remember that Bro. Jones' goal was for our church to contribute $100,000.00.
Wendell never does anything in a small way...he goes about everything he does with a huge heart and GREAT ambition. So, after Bro. Jones' announcement one day, Wendell asked me if I had been thinking about it. I replied that I had and he then asked me what I thought we should contribute. I said I didn't know, but secretly I was thinking $1000.00 would be wonderful, but we would really, really, have to cut back and save every penny we could get, and even then I wasn't sure it was a goal we could obtain. I then asked him, somewhat hesitantly, what he was thinking. I say hesitantly, because his over ambitious nature can be financially frightening at times!!!! Well, he was not going to disappoint me this time!!!LOL!!! He started out by saying, "Don't freak out. But the Lord has laid an amount on my heart that I know we are suppose to give." I said ok, just tell me. His reply was .....$10,000.00. Well needless to say I didn't freak out, after all you can't give what you don't have. I just kind of smiled at what I thought to be the ludicrousy of that amount. We didn't even have a tenth of that in our savings and there was just no way!!!! He might as well have said a million dollars, it would have made just as much sense!!! I did, however, feel the need to ask, so I asked him how in the world he thought we were suppose to do that? I mean, I love to give too, but we had to be realistic here!!! To this he replied he didn't know, he just knew that was the amount the Lord had laid on his heart and he KNEW that was what we were suppose to give. Needless to say, I didn't loose any sleep over this, I just thought he had to be somehow mistaken in the direction the Lord was leading and if by some weird chance he was right, then the Lord would provide.

Well, I see now that this story is way to long for one blog entry or to even write or read in one sitting, so I will pause here. Kind of like where I am leaving off.... we just continued to live our uneventful lives and I tried to, as hard as it was, to start putting back a few dollars here and there on my own, (notice the key words, on my Own, I was definately not trusting in the fact that the Lord could actualy provide what Wendell said He had placed on his heart.) Anyway...Part 2 to blog #200 coming soon...after a shower, some laundry, house cleaning........

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Two Years Later. He Is Still All. I Am Nothing.

Two Years ago today!!! My first cancer surgery.
My Mom had suddenly and unexpectedly passed, on Monday night at about 7:00 p.m. We spent that entire day at St. Mary's Hospital in Knoxville, hoping for a miracle, but it was not the Lord's will. He was ready for her and called her home that evening.
Wendell and I left the hospital in Knoxville, drove home to Oakdale, packed our bags and headed out to Nashville. I'll never forget that drive. So many emotions, yet feeling so numb.
We spent the night in a hotel, rose early, and arrived at Vanderbilt at about 6:00 am. We had checked, under the circumstances, on postponing my surgery. The cancer had already grown quite a lot and if I postponed, it would be another month before they would be able to reschedule me. The family insisted I go ahead with the surgery and we had Mom's funeral that weekend when I got out of the hospital.
That was the beginning of our journey and what I think of as "our cancer year". Pretty much everything in our lives, that year, 2009, revolved around fighting my cancer. It was a hard year and one I hope to never repeat, but God was faithful and merciful to my little family and we came through it all with a stronger love and bond. He taught me many lessons that year. When I was going through the radiation and chemo I was so fatigued and sick quite often, that I had plenty of time to "Be Still And Know That He Is God!!!" He brought me quickly to the point of relying solely on Him and knowing He is in control. I realized more than ever before how He is ALL and I am nothing. I know to some it may sound crazy, but if I could have changed the year of cancer, I would not. The closeness and communion that came from relying every minute on His Grace, brought unimaginable Peace to my heart and soul. That experience was heart changing and one I would NEVER change if I could. The guidance He provided was, I know, a direct result of all the prayers that were going up on my behalf from all of you. Some, I still to this day, do not know personally, but took the time to think and pray for me. I am forever humbled and grateful for that. There were so many times when God made the direction I was to take crystal clear. There was one time, I will forever regret, that He made His will clear to me, yet I did not heed His will and went the way my Doctors were suggesting. I know, for that, I suffered things I would not if I had had the courage to stand my ground. Anyway, there are some things that the Lord has done for me and my family through this experience that I have yet to tell here, but plan on sharing when I feel it is His will that I do so.

2010 I feel was my "year of recovery". I spent most of 2010 recovering from all the treatments and gaining some energy back. 2010 was filled with many Doctor visits and several scares. I began, once again, to live my life.

Now, here I am, two years later!!! Still living my life and loving my little family. God has been sooo good to me. So many others with my diagnosis, have not had the same outcome. I am definitely not the same person I was prior to two years ago and hearing those words "You have cancer." I have definitely changed mentally and physically. I deal daily with health issues I didn't have before. I have to admit, it is not always easy to deal with these symptoms and I am still trying to investigate and get to the bottom of what my body is trying to tell me. But I am soo grateful to be here, and know that it is a direct response to those prayers that went up for me.
I thank-you for helping me to have life and to live.

Mom

Mom was there, of course, the day I was born.
After having babies of my own, I can imagine her joy.
I can see her changing diapers and feeding me daily, and caring to my every tiny little need.
Mom dressed me in the cutest little outfits, and took many pictures of the special occasions, like Easter Dresses and Christmas outfits.
Mom kept me home until starting first grade, she always said kids spend enough time in school, there is no reason to send them earlier...kindergarten was optional back then.
Mom came to every school function I can remember being involved in.
Mom walked most places with us, since Dad drove the car to work. This of course, at the time and place, the 70's, in Southern California, was not trashy or unusual, it was very much the norm for everyone.
Mom would walk, with us in tow, to the store, and as a child I always looked forward to the privilege of eating lunch at one of the stores' lunch counters. Mom always let us choose what we wanted to eat.
Mom would get the groceries or what ever supplies we had come for and we would start the walk back home. I remember one time we were on the sidewalk that ran in front of the grocery store. There were two people, walking in front of us, doing funny looking things with their hands. I asked my Mom what they were doing and she said they were deaf and were talking with their hands!!!! That sounded so exciting to me and I tried as hard as I could, to get close enough to them, to hear their hands talking!!!! They finally went in a store and I never got to "hear" a word!!!!!
Mom was always there sitting in the audience at every school function, talent show, play or whatever, that I was involved in. Like I already mentioned, she usually would walk to these affairs in the hot southern California sun.
I can't remember a birthday that did not involve a home made cake and a party or sleepover.
I very rarely received a toy or a present when visiting any store throughout the year. But for my birthday or on Christmas I always KNEW, what I asked for I WOULD receive. I never remember one occasion that I did not receive the item I had asked for.
In the summer, Mom would walk with us, or, as we got older, give us the money and allow us to walk to the county swimming pool to spend the day playing in the water and sunning ourselves for hours before walking or riding our bikes back home.
Mom gave us the money for admittance and of course some for snacks and let us ride our bikes to the daily summer movie matinee.
We learnt how to bowl and would be allowed to go to the local bowling alley to play a couple Saturday night games.
Mom and Dad took us to Disney Land, Knotts Berry Farm, Magic Mountain, Sea World and all the other amusement parks located in the vicinity of where we lived in Southern California. We would go at least once a year to at least a couple of these places.
I don't remember a lot of hugging and kissing or voiced "I Love Yous". There were very, very, few times I can think of where these things were said and done. There was not a lot of hugging or compliments handed out, I believe Mom thought more on the things we needed to hear that would make us into better people. Mom wasn't a lovey- dovey, huggy- kissy, person to me.
However, on the other hand, Mom was a very strong woman who took care of her family the way she knew how. Our house was always spotless, nothing ever out of place. Breakfast, even if it was just cereal was made, dinner was always on the table, ready and waiting when my dad came home from work. Our clothes were always washed and clean and ready to be worn. We never lacked anything we needed physically. We were taught to clean our rooms and make our beds and mow the yard, but we actually assisted very little with all the things Mom did and that it took to run a five member household.
After Moving back to Tennessee, when I was fourteen years old, Mom not only continued, as a Mother, doing the things at the house, she also began working outside the home. As with everything Mom did, she took her jobs seriously and was a dedicated, professional employee.
My Mom was a good woman, who did the best she knew how, with everything she did.
Mom was often embarrassed by the fact she did not have a high school diploma. Mom had had to quit school in the eighth grade to help at home, while her Mother was ill and she had 10 other siblings. I have to admit, I always felt sad for her when she would mention not having a high school education as if it made her feel less intelligent. To me, that thought was ridiculous!!! Mom may not have had all the "book" intelligence that one can acquire, but Mom was a very intelligent lady, who through her life time was able to learn to do and accomplish anything and everything she set her mind to.
Mom was not real happy when I first became involved with Wendell, but over the years they became each others biggest fans!!!LOL!!! Boy, would she be proud of him now if she had been here for the last two years!!! I can almost hear her singing his praises!!!!
Until you have been there, the loss of a Mother is a feeling that is hard to understand. Loosing the one person who had been involved in pretty much every aspect of your entire life is difficult to come to terms with at times. I miss Mom more today than that dreadful day she left us two years ago.
My joy becomes somewhat restored in the knowledge that we will someday see, speak, and continue on, together!!! I Love You Mom!!! Sept. 12, 1942 - March 23, 2009


P.S. I was always so proud of her beauty!!! She was 66 years old but did not look or act old. She use to ask my advice on her wardrobe and what she was wearing. She was always a very stylish lady. She would always ask me "Do you think I look like I am trying to dress too young?" My reply to her was always the same.."NO Mom, you look great!" (I don't understand these women, who, when they reach a certain age, think they have to start wearing elastic waist, polyester, with large designs,). So my answer was always the same to her ..."Mom you look beautiful!! When you get to that age where you feel the need to start wearing what looks like your kitchen curtains or table cloth we will need to talk!!!" LOL!!!!