Friday, January 9, 2015

How to Live with Cystic Fibrosis

Our sister, Amy’s obituary gives the nuts and bolts of her life, but it doesn't begin to describe the real Amy- the daughter, sister, wife, aunt, or friend that she was to us.

Amy’s life started in a special way with her birth on Christmas Day, 1964. She was a beautiful healthy baby with parents and 2 sisters who were totally delighted with her. Unfortunately, early on it was evident that she was not the healthy child we all assumed her to be. After being ill many times, Amy was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at 6 months, and our world was turned upside down. Doctors and nurses became not someone only seen for a yearly checkup, but a constant presence in her life. Often times, they became close friends that she stayed in touch with through email and Facebook.

In many ways, Amy was the perfect patient. Even as a very young child, she didn’t fuss about taking the nasty medicine she had to eat mixed in with applesauce or mashed potatoes before every meal or sleeping in her mist tent every night.  Her sweet personality served her very well as she followed the advice of her health care providers and did whatever they asked her to do.

CF was a very real part of her life, but it didn't define her. Mom and dad could have put her in a “bubble” but they ddidn't They allowed and encouraged her to live a normal life. She played summer ball, was in 4-H, took piano lessons, rode her bike, swam in the pond, had play dates with her friends, rode the 3 wheeler, and was active at church.  She even played the flute and marched with the band. Most people probably had no idea what a miracle and blessing it was for her to do all this because she never complained when she didn't feel well or used her illness as a way to avoid things she didn't want to do.

A sweet, nature- loving boy entered her life when his dad became the preacher at our church. Sparks flew early on between Robert and Amy and by the time they graduated from high school, it was evident they were a match. They were married June 14, 1986, and Amy could not have had a better husband. Robert loved her so well! He encouraged and supported her in whatever she wanted to do and we never heard him complain once as he became, not just a husband, but also joined Karen as her primary caregivers when her medical condition worsened.

He helped her live a fun and exciting life as they traveled all across the United States, including tent camping across the west with Karen and Kim and, most recently, gator riding with Brian, Melissa, and Cameron in the mountains of West Virginia this past summer. She even went parasailing once, something her scaredy- cat older sisters have never done! They spent many happy weekends camping at camp “Could-a-Guy” with the Griffeths and Kellers. Robert also shared her willingly with her closest friend, Amanda, as they antiqued and shopped till they dropped.

Even though Amy and Robert were unable to have children of their own, Amy was a baby magnet. She was crazy about her nephews, nieces, and the children of her friends, and the feeling was mutual. Most recently, she showered love and attention on her 4 great nieces and the Carr grandchildren.  I’m guessing she is rocking babies in heaven now.

A book could be written about her medical history, and we’re  sure her doctors learned much through her struggles that they will use to help others.  God brought her back from the brink of death many times and we are so grateful for the extra time with her that He granted us. She was eternally grateful to the donor whose lungs she received almost 19 years ago.

Amy was a walking miracle and such an encouragement to others suffering with medical conditions. We saw her smiling face and kind words uplift others many times. We are comforted and delighted that she was able to donate her eyes and someone else is seeing the world through them today. We hope God uses them to make a difference in the world.

Amy’s life is an example to all of us of how to wring the best out of the good days and face the difficult ones with dignity and strength.  She was dearly loved and will be sorely missed until we join her in heaven.
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

What to Do When you are Sick of Opinions

Warning: We interrupt this Advent season to present a post that is totally unrelated to anything festive or spendy. But I need to get this off my chest.

I've been worn out lately with my need to have opinions about things. Big things. Little things.

  • The Kardashian mom's hairstyle-even though it's cute, I don't want to look like HER. 
  • Mrs. Obama's lunch program.
  • The way Chris was "sexualized" during this season of The Voice. 
  • Immigration. I have a question. Why does everyone in the world want to be an American and those of us who were born in the country and are 3rd 4th or 5th generation Americans constantly complain about everything that is wrong with our country and government.?????? I am guilty myself.
  • Knit or Crochet?

I'm sick of wasting my brain cells and "thinking" time on crises that are none of my bizwax.

Yesterday, this was brought to my attention in a new way.

I spent the morning with my parents in a little waiting room in a hospital surgery center, waiting for my mom to have a procedure. (Thankfully, everything was fine. But we have to wonder if the hospital had an opening to fill, found a senior citizen who might need a test, and called and told them it was scheduled. Hmmm. Surely not, cynical self.)

A short wait turned into a long one and dad turned on the TV. (My parents just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and my dad's 85th birthday. You can read about it here..) These two are the original hard workers and watching the boob tube in the morning is just not in their regular routine- or mine.

Imagine our Shock and Awe when we discovered there was not one TV judge, but MANY.

Dad and I  watched with horror and, I must admit, a certain level of curiosity as these weirdos presented their cases before real-life judges in a courtroom. These cases involved friendship, condoms, hot sauce, bottle rockets, car payments, guitar classes, LA Lakers, hairless men, best friends, and a marriage proposal.

Who needs soap operas?

We laughed at them. We argued their points. We laid down the verdicts.

We agreed that we could never be real life judges because we have an aversion to stupidity.

I just about fell off my chair when I googled this morning and discovered all of these judges with their own TV shows:

Judge Alex
Judge Wapner's Animal Court
Judge David Young
Judge Hatchett
Judge Joe Brown
Judge Judy 
Judge Karen
Judge Maria Lopez
Judge Mathis
Judge Mills Lane
Moral Court
The People's Court
Power of Attorney

"Say What?"  she giggles in amazement.

I guess I am not the only one who is interested in judging and opinion-ing.

What is the deeper meaning of all of this? 

I'm beginning to wonder if all of this nosiness and concern and judgment of others  is really just an avoidance mechanism to keep from digging deep into our own messes. 

To avoid dealing with hard issues in our own hearts and minds.

Hmmm. What do you think?

The next time I spend a lot of words expressing opinions and listening to opinions and forming opinions, I'm going to pray and ask how all this relates to the condition of my heart. And then deal with it. 

Court dismissed.

Linking up to....
  • Photobucket

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

What to Buy for Christmas

Hello, Friends!

Hope you are having a wonderful advent season. I grew up in an evangelical church that didn't follow the "church" calendar, but it seems like this year all Christians are focusing on Advent. I'm glad, aren't you?

There are so many distractions that take our focus off the Christ child but keeping up with O Come Let Us Adore Him with She Reads Truth has really helped me.  (You could easily double up and catch up!)

I'm also focusing on the birth of our Savior in my Prairie Blessings Holy Yoga classes. (I'd love you to follow me on Facebook.) I'm loving my favorite Spotify playlists here, and here.

Gosh, I am sounding kind of bossy. Go here. Go here. Go there. Forgive me!

Many bloggers have posted gift giving guides and I know you don't really need help from little ole me, but just in case you have a few people left to buy for, here are 3 of my FAVORITE things right now.

Item One:  Before Amen by Max Lucado

I LOVE this book and it is changing and deepening my prayer life. Well, God is doing the work, but He is using the words of Max to facilitate. Prayer is becoming less "something I do because I feel like I should" and more "how could I not speak to my Heavenly Father". This is something I have struggled with well, forever.

There I said it.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

Prayer is conversation with God while driving to work or awaiting an appointment or before interacting with a client.

We speak. He listens. He speaks. We listen. This is prayer in its purest form. God changes his people through such moments.

Gratitude is a dialysis of sorts. It flushes the self-pity out of our systems.

You must get a copy and read it. Please.

Item Two: Holy Yoga TV

For a minimum donation of $10 per month, subscribers can have monthly access to 4 brand new Holy Yoga instructional videos as well as several from previous months. If you have always wanted to try it, here is your chance.  I love it! It is giving me a chance to take Christ-centered yoga classes from first rate instructors in my own home.

Did you know that Holy Yoga is considered the fastest growing "brand" of yoga? Woohoo! God is blessing!

Try it for a month and see for yourself. Of course, you will want to do it "live" if there is a teacher in your area!

Item 3: Uggs 

I can hardly believe I am suggesting this. I am a TJ Maxxinista and Target and outlet mall shopper. I rarely pay full price for anything, but I do enjoy clothes.

And I have cold feet.

Late last winter, I started reading reviews for Ugg boots-the exact boots that I had turned my nose up at because they are just so darn ugly.

And I have seen so many people wearing ugly knock-offs that were filthy and worn with pajama pants.

In public.

But, I went to the store and tried some on and they were so warm and toasty and the salesclerks assured me I would love them. I left the store without them because I just couldn't write that check for only 1 pair of shoes.

And then went back and bought them.

I love them. I wear them in the house almost all the time and now my feet are not freezing 24/7. I haven't gotten out my ugly rice sock and heated it in the microwave until it almost burns and the smoke detector goes off-not once.

My Uggs were pricey but my cold feet think they are worth every penny.

Over to you, girls! What are your top 3 gift suggestions?
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Monday, November 10, 2014

How To Plan An Anniversary Party

Earlier this fall we had a very special event here in the country. It involved many of my favorite things:

Good food.
Live music.
Fresh garden flowers.
And burlap.

We were blessed to honor and celebrate our parents, Ted and Alice, on their 60th wedding anniversary and my dad’s 85th birthday.

Sixty years with the same person. What an example and privilege!

When 50 years married rolled around, neither of them wanted the traditional-around-here- cake and punch reception. Instead, we all took a beach vacation together and had a great time.

Fast forward 10 years and their feelings changed. Realizing how rare and fortunate it is to be able to celebrate 60 years together and both still be in relatively good health, they happily agreed to a big blow-out this time.

We decided early in the year that we wanted to have a late summer hoedown in the beautiful park- like setting of my sister and brother –in-law’s backyard. And promptly put it on the back burner. That’s the way we roll.

As the summer breezed by, we finally “came-to” near the end of July and began to seriously plan and delegate responsibilities among we three sisters and my two ready and willing daughters-in-law. We decided who would be in charge of food, decorations, invitations, entertainment, and photography.

Coordinating an evening when the essential people were all available as well as the musicians and Rick, the BBQ Guy, was one of the more stressful parts of the whole thing! After much texting back and forth, we finally selected a date and kicked into high gear.

“A” started us off with the vibe we were looking for with some adorable invitations. They were just perfect. Originally, mom and dad thought the party would be just for family-around 100 people. The guest list kept growing and we ended up inviting over 200 people, and the majority of them came!

Sidebar: I wouldn't suggest doing the guest list and invites the way we did. We planned to only send paper  invitations to out-of-towners and those who were not on Facebook. We did the rest by private message since most of us planners ignore event invitations received on social media.

Disaster! It was hard for us to keep track of who we had actually invited, who had replied, who had read the message, etc.

For their 75th, we will send paper invitations to everyone.

We were so happy to have so many people who personally cared for our parents to provide the services we needed. The food was prepared with love and care and delicious BBQ sauce by the same community members who catered the high school graduation parties for our boys. They wheeled their smoker in the yard in the early morning hours and the food was SCRUMPTIOUS!

A family member prepared the delicious and beautiful cakes. We gave her free reign to decorate them however she wanted and we were so happy with the results. The cakes looked perfect and were so yummy that even skinny I-rarely-eat-dessert people had more than one piece. Good thing we ordered plenty!

We were able to borrow a tent and extra tables and chairs from church friends and family. Aren't we lucky to have friends who just happen to have their own tent? They like to have parties, obviously!

One of our cousins is in a blue-grass band, The Flat Mountain Boys, and their happy music provided the perfect background noise for all the visiting and reminiscing. Even though they were stuck on the “stage” most of the night, they played their hearts out and had a great time, too.

My mom is a "picture" person who has her walls covered with family photos, so we knew we needed to have some professional ones taken. Kristen, from Rake Photography, who is also my parents' neighbor, stayed from start to finish capturing so many things that we never would have been able to see while running around as hostesses. Her pictures were taken with love and it shows!

Our decorations really helped set the stage for a relaxed evening. Twinkling lights, mason jars, and burlap aided to the ambiance.

We used lots of garden flowers and "old stuff" from the family. whenever possible. My folks have really enjoyed all the cards they received.

We wanted to display some of my parents' wedding photos and my baby sister came up with these ideas. Aren't they adorable? She scanned the old photos, printed them, and stuffed some in jars that came from our mom or grandma's stash. 

Others were hung on this pallet "clothesline" with old pins. Amy made the burlap pennants and her husband drew the letters freehand-style. I would still be trying to get them all the same size and shape if I were doing it! You can get custom prints like these done on Shutterfly.

My parents are so cute, don't you think? They were married outside at her parents home in front of that cute little picket fence. And I love my mom's wedding suit and her going away dress.

Good food. Good music. Wonderful company. Laughing children. Cousins getting reacquainted and our children and grandchildren happily becoming friends, too. A hay ride. A photobooth.

Our goal was to have a FUN evening of food and fellowship with old friends, family, and neighbors. And to do it at a reasonable price.  I’m happy to report that we accomplished exactly that.

This turned out to be a perfect way to honor and celebrate our parents-our dad a Korean war veteran who still works hard on the farm everyday and is the rock of our family, and my mom, a retired elementary school secretary who delivers meals to shut-ins, is a hospice volunteer, gardens and quilts like a fool, and taught us all the gift of hospitality.

My parents have loved many, many people over the years and it was so fun to see that love returned to them on this happy night.

I'm working on the perfect ending to all this, a memory book that I will make on Shutterfly. I have used them several other times and I know that mom and dad will enjoy these pictures for years to come!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Now They're Cool

I was one of the lucky ones in fifth grade.

I flunked the vision test given at school by the county nurse. This was back in the day when the nurses in their white uniforms would show up- not to do lice checks, like they do now- but for vision and hearing checks. And the occasional school bus trip to the "big" school where we lined up in long rows and tried not to cry in front of our classmates when those same nurses gave us our vaccinations. Ouch.

I must admit I was a little excited about the possibility of wearing glasses then. That good feeling lasted about 24 hours. From then on, my eyes are instantly drawn to my glasses (she says in a sarcastic tone)  in every school picture -not the adorable little outfit my mom sewed up for me or my new perm with the short little bangs.

Winnie is actually wearing glasses that look more like the ones my grandma wore than mine at this age, but you get the idea.

Since then, I've suffered through lots of trials wearing contact lenses with no luck and many pairs of glasses. Ugly glasses. Cute glasses. Slightly-crooked-on-my-face glasses. Digging-into-my-nose-glasses. And sore-ear-glasses.

Now however, I am embracing my inner geek and claiming my nearsightedness.

And my bifocalness.

I am cheering that thanks to fashionistas like these in their cute specs, wearing glasses is now fashionable. Eyeglasses make a STATEMENT. And  add that certain "something" to a person's overall look.


I'm in the market for a new pair of glasses, and I've promised myself that I am NOT going to drive an hour and 15 minutes one way to find the perfect pair. I did that last time, and even though it has worked out fine and I do LOVE my old pair, it is just silly.

I don't have time to do that.

What if I need an adjustment or have problems? Too inconvenient.

The main reason though is that I WAY OVERPAID for my last pair. I don't keep financial secrets from my farmer husband, but he would CROAK if he knew how much I paid for the pair on my nose right now. 

Thankfully, he never asked. And I didn't offer the info. And snatched the credit card bill and paid it before he saw it.

This time, I 'm going to give Warby Parker glasses a try! This is an online company, with a few brick and mortar locations, that is doing the glasses thing a new way.

Here are some reasons the company appeals to me:

1. adorable frames
2. free shipping and returns
3. adorable frames
4. can test drive 5 pairs at a time to see which ones I like
5. adorable frames
6. reasonable prices
7. adorable frames
8. one pair given to someone in need for every pair purchased-so far a million pair
9. adorable frames
10. can still support my local optometrist with my eye exam

Their new Winter 2014 line is going to be revealed today and I will have NO PROBLEM finding 5 pairs that I can't wait to try.

So, how about you? What is your glasses story? Have you ordered from Warby Parker? Would you? Go check them out and let me know which pair is your favorite!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Just Breathe

How are your insides today?

Are you peaceful and calm or are your "innards" roiling and churning and anything but calm? With everything that is going on in our world today, it is easy to be discouraged or flat-out scared.



Drug cartels.

Holy cow. What's coming next?

It is enough to send stress levels and insecurities through the roof. This stress is very hard on us and results in our bodies not working efficiently- all the way down to the cellular level.  This eventually leads to lots of different illnesses. Research is proving that stress is literally killing us.

Thankfully, God never intended us to live that way. We can come to him even in our very scary times, when nothing seems stable, when things around us are falling apart. Prayer is always available to God's children and peace can come from sharing our cares and concerns with God the Father.He will restore our soul.

I don't know about you, but sometimes, I just can't calm down enough to even prayer. Anyone else?

I'm so thankful that God created our bodies with a built in stress reducer. It requires no extra equipment, can be done anytime, and it is FREE.

I’m talking about the breath. 

By adulthood, on average, we are taking 15 to 20 breaths per minute-three to four times faster than optimal. We hurry through our days, weeks, years, -OUR LIVES, for Pete's sake- operating from our sympathetic nervous system, taking shallow breaths from our upper lungs. Stress hormones are being continually released and we essentially are living in a state of FEAR.

Not the abundant life God has planned for us. 

I love how God created the parts of our bodies to be interconnected. They are ALL affected by the breath. Our very breath is a direct GIFT from HIM. Learning to take slow complete inhales  and slow complete exhales through the nose majorly affects the pituitary, the master gland that controls the rest of the glands in our bodies. Medical research is proving that deep breathing is not only relaxing, but it also affects the heart, the brain, the immune system. It is sooooo good for us. 

Deep breathing helps us function from our parasympathetic nervous system-the rest and digest system. We can relax, think clearly, and respond to others from a calm space. We would feel better, and wouldn't that make all our relationships better, too? 

The breath is a "common grace"- available to believers and unbelievers alike. I'm so thankful for that.
However, as a Christ follower, the breath also provides a way to commune with my Heavenly Father, as the very breath becomes a prayer for me in Holy Yoga. 

I don't know about you, but I am more than ready to trade in my spirit of fear for NEW LIFE  and NEW BREATH.

I hope you take some time today to sit quietly and just breath. 

I love this prayer from Light for the Journey.

I breathe in the wonder of your love,
And say thank you.
I breathe in the fragrance of your life,
And say thank you.
I breath in the joy of your presence,
And say thank you.
Thank you for love and life and presence.
Thank you for abundance and generosity and faithfulness.
Thank you for blessings that overflow.
I breath in and am filled with the glory 
that is you.

Even if you don't do the physical practice of yoga, give the breathing a try. I'd love to hear how it works for you!

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