This is My "Real" Blog: November 2009

Angie's Blog!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm No Lionel Richie. . . . .

"I had a dream. . . I had an awesome dream. . . "

Last night, I had an amazing dream. A dream that I am praying comes true. Wanna hear about it?

Last night, in the midst of my slumber, I dreamed that I was babysitting. That's not so miraculous, or spectacular. But here's the part that's kinda cool.

It was Beth's granddaughter. (And said granddaughter hasn't been (conceived) born. . . yet) But, nonetheless, I was walking around my living room with this precious little girl -- dressed in a striped pajama/sleeper. She couldn't have been more than 4 months old. And yet, she spoke to me. She said, "Sing." So I sang to her. (When an infant tells you to sing, you sing!)

"You are my sunshine. . . my only sunshine. . .you make me happy when skies are gray. . . ."

And, as the words came pouring out, my front door opened. In walked Beth

Melinda (the baby's mother)






Now, there are more family members in their "clan," including Tony (Beth's husband), Earl (Melinda's husband), Sarah, Joel, and a host of other kiddos and family members that have become so dear to my heart. But last night, the girls -- even one that hasn't yet drawn a breath -- walked into my dreams, and into my living room.

As soon as I realized what was going on, I woke up. In fact, I think I had actually kicked off the covers at that point. Maybe I was trying to go out to the living room--to see if it was real? Regardless, I woke up -- and almost burst into tears because I wanted to go back to sleep and finish out the dream.

But, alas, it was not to be. I went back to sleep--no more dreams.

When I awoke I thought about my blessings. I am thankful for my friends and family. Grateful for food on our table, blankets on our beds, and a roof over our heads. I'm grateful for two kids that continually make me laugh (or grimace--depending on the day), and a husband that loves me in spite of myself.

I'm grateful for a Savior who loves me and forgives me on a continual basis. I'm grateful for a church family that encourages me. I'm grateful for my neighbors who, although we haven't all met, smile and wave at me during my countless trips in and out of the subdivision. I'm grateful for reconnecting with old friends via social networking (Facebook) and for the little community of bloggers that have become friends and family to me.

My heart, my head, my dreams -- they're all full. Full to overflowing with blessings. And that, my friends, is my prayer for you. I pray that today (and every day) you will be blown away by the blessings that God has lavished on each one of us. He is so good.

Happy Thanksgiving!

And yes, Beth -- I woke up believing that God was telling me that you'll be here to see your grandbabies. I remember you prayed that prayer for me -- fully believing God was going to be faithful. I also think God was showing me how precious it will be to finally hug you in person -- and all those amazing daughters of yours!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

I've got a few more questions for God. . . .

I have been quoted (many times) saying that I had all sorts of questions for God when I got to heaven. (Yes, we are making that assumption) Those questions range from:

"Lord, why did you create mosquitoes, really?"


"Seriously God, why cancer?"

Tonight, being mid-November, I'm not asking about mosquitoes. Those questions usually surface in mid-July.

Tonight, I'm asking God (yet again) about cancer.
I'm asking Him why it strikes so often.
I'm asking Him why it's striking someone I love. . . again.

I'm not going to assume anything about His answers. All I'm going to assume is that His will is perfect, and that His ways are higher than my ways.

If you've read the blog at all recently, you know that we were awaiting news on the pathology for my friend, Beth. Although I believed, and firmly held to the belief that the mass in her throat would be just that. . .a mass. I just found out that it is cancer -- two types of cancer, actually. And, the two words I dreaded the most: advanced stage were part of the diagnosis.

It's nearly 1 a.m., so I haven't called up to Canada to talk to Beth. I know, at some point, she'll be reading this. (And you know I love you more than my words can express) But, had I called -- I would've had no words. I'm amazed that words are coming out right now -- except for the fact that I don't actually have to talk. Typing is easier, because the words aren't getting caught in my throat.

I don't know when they learned the news--I just read the email within the last 15 minutes. I was at a worship team rehearsal tonight. It is comforting to reflect on the songs we rehearsed tonight. But it's funny....I remember having a thought, during rehearsal:

"If Beth gets news that isn't good news, these songs are going to be hard to sing on Sunday."

And, I was right -- they will be hard to sing. But, not because they're not true. It's because they suddenly mean so much more to me than they've ever meant:

Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering, Blessed be Your Name
You give and take away, my heart will choose to say:
"Lord, blessed be Your name!"


No guilt in life; no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Til He returns, or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

not to mention

On Christ the Solid Rock, I stand
All other ground is sinking sand

and then there's

You took my sin and my shame
You took my sickness and healed all my pain
Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord

If pressed, I would said that I really do have questions for God. But, it would be offensive, wrong, and weak of me to ask them. What do I do instead?

I bow at His feet. . . accepting that His will is perfect. I acknowledge that He knows and sees more than I will ever know or see. I worship Him for being holy, righteous, perfect, and GOOD. I praise Him for loving us more than we can describe. I thank Him for Jesus. . . and I marvel in the joy of my (and Beth's) salvation.

Beyond that. . .I (we) have got His word. And, while here on earth, that's gonna have to be enough.

Isaiah 55:9
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Habakkuk 3:17-19

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights."

Isaiah 41:10

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Isaiah 40:28-30

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Ephesians 3:20-21

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

Not that I'm questioning God's will or anything . . . but I am asking Him to amaze the heck out of a few doctors. I believe (with Paul) that God has the ability to do anything--even the stuff we can't imagine Him doing. I am asking Him to heal Beth without the need for radiation, chemotherapy, or more invasive surgeries. Because my God can do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine.

And. . .I'd be honored if you'd join me in that prayer.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pictures for Beth!

One of the things Beth has told me is that pictures are good for her healing process. And she's right, on many levels. So, for your health's sake, here are some random scenes from our life over the past three (or so) days. I had hopes for more pictures, but they really didn't turn out. Oh well. Enjoy these few pictures.

Today is "transportation day" at Caroline's school. . . that's right, we got to make her a car. Of course, with her missing nearly a week of school over the past two weeks, we were cramming to get her car done last night. It turned out fine. . . .for a first timer! And yes, she wanted to be Number 51 - her brother's football number.

Speaking of that brother. . .

Edison helped Caroline with her homework yesterday afternoon, while I worked on supper - and took pictures, of course. She had to distinguish between upper- and lower-case "N" and color the picture accordingly. She did great. Here - Edison is helping her write her name. She's getting quite good at writing her name. And yes, I am kicking myself for not giving her a simpler first name. . . Ida, Ada, Ann, Bea. . . .whatever.

The finished homework -- and one proud little girl! *and yes, it IS warm enough in mid-November, for her to be wearing a sleeveless shirt. Yikes.

The thrill of a 15-year old's birthday is hard to capture on film. *sigh*

On Sunday, Caroline wore a new dress that was came from Arizona. It was mixed in with a bag of baby clothes for her baby dolls. I nearly missed it. Thankfully I found it -- and it was warm enough on Sunday for her to wear this short-sleeved dress (with a white cardigan, of course). The foot turn? She gets that from her Daddy. I have a picture, somewhere. When I find it, I'll put the two together. It's kinda uncanny.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It starts. . . .

One of my favorite scenes in the "Lion King" is where Simba starts to figure out who he is as (the future) King. As he's talking with Timon and Pumbaa, there's an exchange between the characters, and at the end of the exchange, Timon (voice of Nathan Lane) looks down, shaking his head in anguished disgust, and says, with this beautiful New York/Long Island accent: "It starts."

I would do anything to find that clip -- but it's late, I'm tired, and to be honest, it's not that crucial to the post. But, it has begun. Edison's 16th year on the planet. Like many other things, it began with a whimper, not a bang.

He's tired. He's had a busy weekend.

Friday afternoon, two of his friends came home from school with him, in anticipation of our youth group's lock-in on Friday night. Just after Mark got home from work, another friend (church friend) joined the three teenagers here at the house, and the enthusiasm increased even more.

After feeding them two full-size (homemade) pizzas, and a gallon of lemonade, they were off. My word, can four teenage boys eat, or what?!?!? (Julaine, you have my lifelong admiration!)

We dropped them off at the church at 7 p.m., and promised that we'd pick them (or an assortment of them) up at 7 a.m., when the lock-in ended. And, we did. Only this time, we brought a different friend home -- and off-loaded the other three boys to their parents.

This time, I made biscuits, sausage gravy, and scrambled eggs for Edison, Kyle, and the rest of our family. They were definitely NOT the best biscuits I've ever made -- but I was pretty sleepy. And, the gravy was good -- a little spicy -- and it needed to be thinned out a bit. Oh well. The boys ate.

Then, a sensible mom would make her kid sleep, after being up all night, right? Yeah. But, who has EVER accused me of being sensible? (awkward silence)

So, a mere hour after they finished eating, they were back down to the church to help a local missionary film a training video. I have no idea what the actual quality of these videos are -- but I keep reminding myself that once they've been translated into three or four other languages, the bleary-eyed condition of Kyle and Edison won't matter. (Here's hoping)

Finally, around noon, Edison was home, and headed for bed. We let him sleep until about 4:30, and then it was time to head out to my parent's house for a campfire birthday celebration. With his birthday in November, and the weather in TN usually cooperating, we've had campfires for his birthday for a number of years.

Now, mind you -- Caroline and Mark are still recuperating from their various illnesses. So, we kind of went about this birthday party thing on a low-key setting. And Luke, one of Edison's friends from the lock-in, was our invited guest. And, as you might imagine, he fell asleep during the opening of the presents. (Turns out, he hadn't yet gone to bed since coming home)

After the birthday hoo-lolly was done, we headed to the house -- it was just 8 p.m. With the time change, it felt like midnight, but we still had lots of time. Edison and I ran down to the church to make some last-minute arrangements for our Thank Offering Celebration (details to follow) and run to the grocery store for apple juice for Caroline.

We finally got him home, and into bed around 10 p.m. He slept. And slept. And slept.

Around 8 this morning (when I am typically arriving at church) I was able to leisurely get out of bed, take my shower, and head down to church at 8:45. Our church services normally occur at 9 and 10:30 a.m., but today, we just had one BIG service. It was a lot of fun -- it ran a bit long -- but it was amazing. My worship team outdid themselves -- twelve songs! That's right, TWELVE. But, it was good.

And, for the record, I only fell apart and started crying twice -- once was for Beth, as we sang "Mighty to Save" and the other was during the song, "When I Think About the Lord," and again, I think I had Beth on my heart. The rest of the morning, I was good.

The focus of the morning was our "Thank Offering Sunday" and we took a special offering -- just to thank God for his blessings. Last year was the first time we did one of these -- and we gave over $160,000 for last year's offering. This year, as a church we gave a thank offering of just over $90,000. Both of these offerings are going to be used to help pay down the debt on our building. We want to be free to do ministry -- and don't want to be tied down to a mortgage. It's really awesome -- and very exciting to see God moving in such a new and exciting way!

After church, we handed Caroline off to Grandma -- and headed downtown for the TKA Football Banquet at Calhoun's on the River. Now, if you're not from these parts, the name "Calhouns" doesn't mean anything. This, my friends, is the home of some of the best barbecue in these here parts. And, they served pulled pork, chicken fingers, two salads, baked beans (with the pork in it), corn muffins, biscuits. . .yeah, it was amazing.

We missed a Thanksgiving dinner at church -- but, it was worth it. And, it was worth it to celebrate a great football season with the team.

On our way home, you would think we were about at our "melting point," and you would be right. But, of course, what non-stop day would be complete without a trip to WalMart!?! So, we stopped, bought our birthday boy two new pairs of shoes, some new t-shirts, a dress shirt (he's outgrown everything he has!) and a 12-pack of Sierra Mist (free) with Cranberry. It's only available during the holidays--and I love this stuff.

After picking up Caroline at Grandma's -- and discovering that we'd forgotten to pack her tennis shoes. How did we know? She and Grandma were coming back from a hike in the forest -- in her good church shoes. Oh well. . .they're just shoes, right? We were finally headed home.

Mark spent a couple hours outside - blowing fallen leaves over the back fence. Edison worked on homework. And Caroline and me? We watched Dora the Explorer and ate popcorn and apples for supper. After that, Caroline and I called Beth to say "Hi" and "I love you" before going to bed.

After we got Caroline in bed, it was time to catch up on kids' notebooks for school, field trip permission slips, fund-raising order forms (due tomorrow, of course) and re-packing backpacks and tote bags.

A quick perusal of Facebook, that wonderful (brief) talk with Beth in Canada, and three loads of laundry later, I'm ready to call it a day. An exhausting, thrilling, emotional, wonderful day.

I promised an update on Beth. She's home from the hospital. Please continue to pray -- we are awaiting news from the biopsy. It was so much fun to hear her voice -- even though it sounds a little different from the surgery on her throat. It was thrilling to hear updates on all her kids -- and to know that Hannah, her youngest, was prancing around her until she told me "hi" over the phone. (Hannah, I know you'll eventually read or hear about this -- and that just made my heart feel so good!!! I love you, sweetie!)

God did amazing things here this weekend -- and he's doing amazing things in Canada. He's doing amazing things wherever you look. Seriously -- look around, even in the small, seemingly insignificant things-- HE'S THERE, and HE'S DOING A NEW THING!!

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."
Isaiah 43:19

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday, the 13th. . . Sunday, the 15th

I never really get that superstitious about stuff.

I don't walk under ladders -- um, because that's just not safe.
I don't throw salt over my shoulders -- um, that's messy.
I don't spit into the wind -- um, because that's just dumb.

So, today doesn't freak me out at all. In fact, it's a good day. It's a day where I'm not going to work. (Some would call it my "day off") I'm going to clean my house.

. . .so maybe it's an unlucky day for dust bunnies and germs. I'm just saying. . . .

But on Sunday, the fifteenth, my baby turns fifteen. That's right...we're now starting to talk about drivers permits. And yes, I would recommend you start buying stock in Miss Clairol right now -- because vanity is about to get the best of me, and I'll start washing this gray right outta my hair after the first of the year.

Edison is turning 15.
15 years ago today, I was in church -- answering all sorts of questions about whether or not I thought I would *ever* have this baby. I was preparing for a natural delivery (no drugs or surgery). I had no clue. Seriously, I had no clue.

Edison was actually due on November 14 - and was only one day late. I had no idea how or when to take my maternity leave -- so my first day of maternity leave was Monday, November 14. Talk about a leap of faith. That would take me through the first week of January -- and then I headed back to work.

After that first day of leave passed with no baby, I started to get emotional. I know. . . it's a stretch for me. I started to think that I should have worked even longer -- to get every possible minute with Edison that I would need/want.

And yes, the next morning, I woke up -- in labor. Seventeen hours later, I was nearly 35 pounds lighter -- and over ten of those pounds were HIM.

But, since that day -- yes, I'm gonna say it -- my life has changed forever. I wasn't just a wife, an employee, daughter, or accompanist. I was a MOM.

And this year. . . for some reason. . . the monumental thought of having been a MOM for 15 years is hitting me in a new way. I'm grateful. . .and humble. And suddenly, I'm even more cautious about decisions and reactions that have effects that I may never see in my lifetime.

So, please join me in wishing Edison a very happy 15th birthday -- on Sunday. He's a great kid. He's becoming a phenomenal young man. I see amazing talents and leadership qualities developing in him, and I just pray that with the time Mark and I have left with him at home, we'll be able to help hone some of those abilities & skills -- while taming down his sarcasm. (I swear, I have NO idea where that comes from. . . .)

I'm also asking you to continue to pray for Beth. They are awaiting pathology reports. They are doing some pre-emptive research and consultation -- in case the answers continue to be answers that need follow-up treatment. But, we continue to believe that God can do "immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. . . " (Ephesians 3:20)

I told some friends yesterday that when I went through my testing two years ago, Beth and I talked about "Plan B" when the first answer was inconclusive. Eventually, we wound up at "Plan C" as I had to undergo yet another surgery. One of my favorite posts she wrote was "Z for Zealous" in which she pledged to walk with me -- even if the plans lasted until we finished the alphabet.

That is a friend. That is a warrior.

That, my friends, is faith.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Simply Believing

My signature line isn't just something I came up with on a whim. Nope. Not even close.

Nearly two years ago, I faced a fear many women face. I had a breast cancer scare.

My mom is a breast cancer survivor -- 15 years this past April. She battled courageously and victoriously, and for that, and many other reasons, she obtained "hero status" in my book.

There are other heroes I've come to know throughout my lifetime -- and a number of them have battled, or are currently battling cancer of some form or another. And although their faith, courage, and triumph is an encouragement to me -- just saying the word "cancer" is enough to send that eerie chill up my spine.

This particular faith expansion project occurred two years ago, in the midst of this Bible study:

I underwent multiple mammograms, ultrasounds, core biopsies, and eventually a surgical procedure -- to determine whether or not I had breast cancer. I didn't. But, those four or five weeks were some of the longest (and most painful) weeks of my life.

It was during this time (and during this Bible study) that I came to a deeper realization that I not only had to know why I believed, I had to know the God in whom I believed. And not only that, I had to understand some basic truths about the God in whom I had put all my hope and trust. I learned that, and claimed boldly that:

  • God is who He says He is.
  • God can do what He says He can do.
  • I am who God says I am.
  • I can do all things through Christ.
  • God's word is active and alive in me.

And as I clung to these precious words of faith, I was reminded that my God is a mighty, healing, all-powerful, good, Holy, and most importantly BIG God. Nothing is too difficult for my God.

Throughout this entire process, I had friends and family who were praying me through this ordeal. But one, in particular was doing this from far, far away. Her name is Beth. And she is one of my faith heroes.

I have referenced her many times here on the blog. I've talked about her and her "forty five" kids (it's really just ten -- counting her hubby's kids). I've talked about Jenni and Caroline and how these two girls - separated by 25 years and two countries have indelibly bound our families together. I've recounted stories about shared scrapbook layouts, and recipes.

Two years ago, Beth "held my hand" from Thunder Bay, Ontario to Seymour -- and when my spiritual (and physical) arms got tired, she held them up. You see, she was doing the Bible Study with her girls and a few precious folks from Canada at the same time we were doing it here in Tennessee. She developed a message board on her website for us to talk and pray for each other. She even added a signature line to her blog reflecting the blue bracelets we wore. You can see it on her blog.

Well, today? I've got my blue bracelet on again, for Beth. And today , I'm claiming all those things about God that I believe with all my heart -- on her behalf. And, I'm asking you to do the same.

Beth had a biopsy done today for a lump in her throat. You can read the full story here - her beautiful daughter, Melinda, is doing such a great job keeping information flowing.

But today, would you please pray for her? Would you pray for Tony? Would you ask God, believing that He is BIG, and mighty, and powerful -- to sustain and heal her? It would mean so much to me. . . and to Tony, Jenni, Melinda, Mary, Katherine, Emily, and Hannah.


I just spoke with Katherine, who is at the hospital with Beth. They completed the biopsy, and the lump that they had hoped would be just an infection is not just an infection. So, we are now praying that the results of the biopsy (1-2 weeks) would be benign. And yes, the waiting is probably one of the hardest parts (if I'm allowed to quote Tom Petty here)

I'm praying for a miracle.
I'm believing in a BIG God.

. . .and I'm asking you to pray with me.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Aforepromised? Word? Not a word?

I may have made up a word--I'm not sure. Regardless -- as opposed to "irregardless" which is NOT a word -- here are some pictures that I've promised over the past couple of weeks. Sorry for the delay.

Caroline trick-or-treating at (coincidentally) our old house!

Caroline trick-or-treating at Miss Carole's house. (Coincidentally, we currently live in Carole's mother's former house)

Caroline trick-or-treating at Grandma's house. (No more "coincidences" coincidentally)

Caroline and Mommy at the DSAG Fall Festival - October 24. We got lots of mileage out of that ballerina outfit.

This precious little girl just warms my heart. Wanna know why? It's because SHE is the baby that Mark and I prayed for over a year ago. Her mommy and daddy were getting all sorts of confusing information and advice from the medical community before she was born -- they knew she'd have Down syndrome at birth. And sadly, as many doctors and professionals are prone to do -- these parents were being encouraged to consider abortion. Mark and I had the privilege of telling her parents about Caroline, in an effort to encourage them to follow through with the pregnancy, and welcome this precious little girl into the world.

Please know this very true fact: We take NO credit for their decision. But, I was never happier to see a little girl than when I saw her for the first time at Buddy Walk. Getting a chance to actually talk to her face-to face on this day? Well, that was just a joy I cannot express. Welcome to the World, Miss C!!

My little Martha Stewart in training!

Grandma & Caroline at a recent family wedding.

Mommy & Caroline at that same wedding.

Okay - here's where the blog post gets fun. A couple months ago, I was privileged to reconnect with a friend from college. We hadn't seen each other in nearly 20 years -- but through the magic of Facebook, we have been reunited.

His 25th reunion at Milligan was a couple weekends ago. On his way home to Illinois, he stopped here at our house, and spent the afternoon with 3/4 of our family. (Edison went to Dollywood with his grandparents) Caroline and Doug became immediate friends. In fact, she woke up the next morning -- wondering where he had gone.

It was a great time - reconnecting with Doug. And, I have to thank Mark for being so gracious -- and letting us reminisce (gossip) about old times and old friends.

Well, whether or not I may have made up a word, who cares? I did follow through on my promise to post pictures. That's really the most important part of this post.....unless you count the fact that I've blogged twice in one day. That, my friends, is fairly monumental!

"No, Mommy. The Sun is up!"

That's Caroline's new reasoning for why she won't take a nap -- even when she's falling asleep sitting up. She can't sleep. The sun is up.

Some days, for me, that's all the reason I need.

I know I've been away for far too long, and I apologize. It's been a normal (insane) couple of weeks for our family -- including my dad undergoing surgery yesterday morning. He's doing fine -- should be coming home on Tuesday -- but, still.

I will try to post some Halloween pictures tonight. That's right -- I said I'd blog twice in one day. Kinda scary for me, but I'll see what I can do.

In the meantime, enjoy the sunlight--and remember that it's the reason that you're awake!