2018 is here. Another year down and I reflect on the last year hoping someone was blessed by my actions. I have been awake since 0230 today, but I am not concerned because I have no commitments today. Today is about me. So is tomorrow. I have taken a mental health rest. One can only go so long when stressed out continuously before reaching a breaking point. I have reached mine. Recovery from addiction and recovery from leukemia just don't mix well. My health is compromised more than I ever thought possible. Recovery from addiction isn't just about not using drugs. It's about rebuilding relationships and becoming a new person. It's about acknowledging weaknesses and asking for assistance in helping make good decisions. It's about growing in maturity and leaving childish habits and expectations behind. It's about treating people around you with kindness and respect. It's about helping others who have helped you. It's about swallowing your pride accepting responsibility for your actions. It's about appreciating the sacrifices others have made, to aid you in recovery. It is understanding that things aren't going to be just handed to you. It's about realizing you alone are responsible for creating this mess and blaming others is only making it worse. It's about realizing you are still loved and many want to help you, but you make it difficult with your entitled attitude.
On January 10th, I will be attending a candlelight vigil in honor of Kellsie Green. Kellsie died from a heroin overdose in jail. The night will be a time to remember her and all the others who have lost their lives to drug overdoses. This won't be a happy night. Parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends have been left behind to grieve the loss of their loved ones. It's unfair and sad that someone let drugs overtake their lives. We must are the epidemic before it takes more loved ones. We must stop our children from trying the drug.
On February 13th, I will be co-leading a Genesis Process group on preventimg relapse. Assisting people in recovery is important to me. But having a recovering addict take responsibility, is just as important. I can't make someone change, but I guarantee if you DO change, it will be worth it. Check your attitude, open up your heart, take responsibility, and share your fears with someone you trust.
Frustration over insurance matters has wreaked havoc on my plan to simply relax. I have been dealing with the same issues for months. My PT office delayed sending an update to the insurance company so insurance refused to pay. My physical therapist sent them an update. The last time I called UMR I was told they received it. I called today to see if the claim has been paid. I was told they were waiting for the therapist notes. I told them they were sent and someone from there told me they had them. The lady today said they didn't. I insisted they did. She looked again and said "oh yes. We do have them, but they are still in the review process." Two weeks ago I was told that the medication my doctors ordered for my diabetic neuropathy would cost me $83. I asked them why since I had met my out of pocket maximum and all my prescriptions were covered at 100%. I was told I had to call the insurance company. (I was taking to the mail order pharmacy) so today I called the insurance company to ask. I was told to call the mail order pharmacy. Yes the one who told me to call the insurance company. I was on hold for 25 minutes the first time I called and no one picked up. The second time I called I got right through. I was told they don't know why it wasn't paid at 100% and they would research it and call me back. I have heard that a few times and NO one ever calls back.
I have placed about six phone calls to another company who was supposed to do a wire transfer to our account. Each time I was told it was sent. Then I was told there was a problem with the wire transfer and they would send a check. Then they said they couldn't send a check and would do the wire transfer. Then there was still no deposit even though they insisted it was sent on the 28th. Today, despite me telling them to call ME, they called Patrick and said they are going to send a check. This is from another insurance company.
When I was admitted to the hospital just before Thanksgiving, the insurance stated they won't pay $1,000 of it because we didn't get permission to be admitted. I'm afraid to see what happens with the latest ER bill when I got sick in CA.
The key lesson is to never ever go to the doctor because claims will not be processed correctly and it will cause more health problems from the stress of dealing with them.
I woke up with the horrible red rash on both cheeks again. I am off the medication I thought caused it. I have no answer on why my face looks horrible, but I sure as heck don't want to be seen in public.
This morning I read a short story about a disabled girl with a stuffed animal named Kindness. Kindness. What a name for a stuffed animal! Her mom would say, “do you still have Kindness? Hold on to Kindness.” It really made me think about things. I think we all need to carry a stuffed animal around and name it Kindness,Love, Hope, Respect, Graciousness, or Compassion. If we have a tangible item to hold, perhaps we would be able to remember how to be the character our animal is named after. It may sound juvenile or silly, but in a world such as this, we evidently need to be reminded on how to be kind, respectful, gracious, compassionate, and hopeful.
Its the fifth of January and we have heard of two domestic violence incidents in Alaska. One woman is dead and the other injured. Kindness and respect were no where to be found. There is no excuse for harming another person. Physical abuse can result in death. Mental abuse can result in a broken spirit. Words can be so cruel. Name calling can devastate another person. Have you seen the videos about children committing suicide after being bullied? It’s horrendous. These children are often bullied by their peers. But adults get bullied too. Sometimes it’s the people they love the most who bully them. The bullies call their victim names, they threaten them, they demand things from them, and they tell them no one likes them. They say they are a burden to others. Their words shoot sharp daggers into their victims hearts. The victim starts to believe the words. “I must be a lousy person because he tells me that all the time. I can never measure up. I will never be the person he wants me to be. I am a failure and worthless. Why am I still alive? No one wants me.” The bully demands more and more without recognizing the love their victim has for them. They simply don’t care. To all the victims out there, remember you are valued. Reach out to a trusted person who will listen to you. Don’t believe the ugly words that came out of the bully’s mouth. The bully is toxic to your health. Live your life the best you can, and help others going through similar situations. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are worthless. You are priceless in God’s eyes.
My granny just lost her second brother in about a month. She is now the remaining (and oldest) of five siblings out of twelve. In the last couple years she has lost two brothers, a sister, an aunt, and a grandchild. She worries about every single family member she has. She has sleepless nights worrying about her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She loves us all so much and she wants us all to be healthy, safe, and happy. I haven't seen her in for a couple weeks. I talk to her just about every day, but I need to take her some flowers and give her a big hug.
Tonight is the retirement party for my parents. Here is a sneak preview of my speech. I am not gifted in public speaking like both of my parents. I have to rely on notes:
Tonight, we honor both my parents on a job well done. Beside every great man, is a great woman, but beside every amazing pastor, is an amazing pastor’s wife. My parents have loved the unlovable and have reached the unreachable for as long as I can remember. My earliest memory of my parents’ ministry was when I was about five. I remember hearing Dad talk about finishing Bible College. Soon we were driving an hour each way to a small church in Salem, Indiana. I remember Dad frequently going to visit people in the nursing homes and hospitals, and at their homes. No offense to any other pastor here, but I have never heard a preacher preach as good as my dad. His sermons were always from the heart and filled with passion, compassion, and a desire to share God’s love with others.
My mother may be quiet, but she’s a very wise woman and has stood faithfully beside my father and supported his ministry. She has been a role model and a confidant to many women. She is a leader and a kind and gentle person. My dad could not have succeeded in his ministry if it weren’t for this incredible woman by his side.
My brother and I have been more than blessed to be the children of Gary and Carole Oathout. I know there are many who wish they had parents like mine. It’s an incredible feeling to be loved by them. Their grandchildren have been more than blessed to have them in their lives. They have always been very involved grandparents. Dad can’t do anything small. Many winters he made an enormous ice rink in his backyard. My children and their hockey playing friends would spend hours skating on that rink that my dad so lovingly maintained by using his bobcat as a Zamboni and his dog, Echo as the puck catcher. My mother would fix everyone hot chocolate and multitudes of snacks. She cleaned up after a gazillion teenagers each weekend and never complained. One summer Dad put up a big swimming pool in his garage and rigged up a heater, so his grandchildren would have a heated pool in Alaska. There was no end to what they would do for their grandchildren.
When my son Logan was sick with leukemia, my parents did everything they could to help him and us. They simply took over when Patrick and I were too numb to think. When I was diagnosed with leukemia a few years ago, they were there for us again, and continue to support me in my recovery. I couldn’t have gone through such hardships in my life without my parents.
If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting my parents’ home, you know how hospitable they are. They never turn anyone away. In fact, I can’t tell you how many times my father has brought home a hitchhiker or a wayward stranger. Sometimes he has no boundaries, but he does it all in the name of love. They don’t feel anyone is unworthy of love. My mother can’t cook a simple meal. Everyone who has benefited by her participation in the meal ministry knows what I am talking about.
I could speak for hours on how wonderful my parents are, but I know many of you want to share your love for them too. Mom & Dad, I am happy you have decided to rest a bit. If there is anyone in the world who needs to take some time off, it would be you two. Please put yourselves first for the first time in your lives. Enjoy each day. Rest & relax. Explore the big state of Texas and the world. We will be right here waiting for your return. Thank you for being the best parents in the world. I love you.
The room was filled with people who were highly emotional and readily expressed gratitude for two people who shared the love of Christ with them. One man said, "I was asked if I had ever seen Jesus. I can say I have, because I know you two." What an incredible statement! Story after story was told about the love and gratitude people had for my parents. Over the years I have seen them pour out love and compassion on so many. Sometimes I have been selfishly resentful, because their ministry has taken time away from me. I knew they were good people and highly respected, but until last night, I did not realize the full impact they made on the lives of others.
Because of my parents, the hearts of so many wounded people were healed. People who had been wronged in the church, felt loved and supported by these two people who offered no judgment. Several people shared how Dad would show up at the hospital to see them and pray for their healing. One couple shared that Dad was there everyday their son was dying in the hospital. Another couple shared that while Dad lovingly entertained the sick child, Mom was praying in the waiting room with the mother. Children came up and shared how they think of my dad as their grandpa. Eyes were filled with tears as many shared how they will miss having my dad give them high fives and lifesavers. Many shared about the hospitality my parents offered and how their marriages were saved because of the counseling my parents provided them. Everyone agreed these are two people who are truly filled with wisdom. There was true mourning in the room at the thought of my parents leaving this state. I was blinded by own selfish desire to spend more time with my parents and didn't see the true impact they had on others. I was worried about their health because they were so over committed. I was afraid the stress would cause them to have health problems and I wanted them to rest and do more things for themselves. I understand now why the ministry has consumed them. They wanted people to see Jesus in them. No one can deny that is true. Jesus walks amongst us in people we know as Gary and Carole Oathout. Oh my goal is to be like them.
We played a silly game that caused me to laugh harder than I have laughed in a long time. Each table had to answer two questions, and then those answers were put into a document called, "Ministry Obituary". It was hysterically funny and it made me realize that this night of honoring my parents, while they are living, was the best gift they could receive. How many times do we wait until a person is deceased before we stand up and tell the audience what a great guy or gal they were? We wait until the funeral to describe how they impacted our lives. I have news for you- the dead can't hear you. Let's do more epitapths for the living. Let's express to our loved ones how valuable they are to us. Let's honor the living more than we honor the dead. I suppose I can make this my "dreaded New Year's Resolution." I will make an effort to honor the living. I will express appreciation and love to my friends and family. I will not let a conversation end without sharing how much I care about them. I want my friends and family to know how much I care about them. I want my parents to know how much I love and appreciate them for being the example of how to be Christ-like. " Never let the sun go down while you are still angry." "Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long; they exult in your righteousness." Psalm 89:15-16
Well done, thy good and faithful servants of God.
Patience.... we need patience to be kind. We live in a world that is chaotic. We are chasing the dreams of being rich, of having lots and lots of toys, traveling to exotic places, and having the most beautiful house around. We lack patience when we are stressed. Stress causes irritability and with irritability, comes a lack of patience with others. We are quick to snap at one another. We misinterpret what the other party is trying to say, and we get easily offended. One person might just be trying to have a conversation, says something the other person doesn’t like, they both get offended by the attitude of the other person, and mean words spew forth. I have found when one makes a deliberate decision to respond with patience and humor, situations get diffused easily. The key to it all is to have patience, be kind to one other, and stop being so uptight.
Colossians 3:12-14 sums this up eloquently.
“ Therefore, as God’s chosen people, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over ALL these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
I want to live in a state of peacefulness and contentment. I don’t want to cause stress and discontent in anyone’s life. I want to be known as a kind, compassionate, peaceful, and happy person. If you do too, then let’s practice exhibiting these characteristics together. We can change the world with our renewed attitudes. It starts with one person.
I will tell you one fact about me: I have crazy & ridiculous dreams. Most of the time I can't remember all the details, but I will remember the long night of dreaming weird things. Last night's dream has to be one of the strangest ones I have ever had. I came into contact with a talking termite infected tennis ball. The termite ball was going to destroy all the houses. It sadly told me that water destroys the termites. So I threw the ball into the water. Later, I found out that the termite ball would multiply in water! So instead of saving all the houses, I helped destroy them. Go ahead, interpret this dream for me.
Yesterday I was told I got a volunteer scholarship to go speak with legislators at the Capital in Juneau about funding for cancer. I am more than excited to share my personal experiences with cancer, and discuss how important it is to provide funding for cancer research and patient support. This is exactly what I have wanted to do for years. This will happen the middle of February. It will be a quick trip down and back, but I think it will defnitely prove to be exciting. I have always been interested in seeing first hand how our government officials work. I wish I could get a tour of the Governor's Mansion while I am there.
I have a friend who is newly divorced and a single mother of three. She is an amazing woman of God who is generous, loving, and kind. Things have not been easy for her, yet she stands in belief that God has everything under control. Her kids are on fire for God and readily share their faith with others. I asked them to pray specifically for someone, and their mother reported to me they immediately did and are continuing to do so. My friend shared how God opened doors for their private schooling, a new home, and an abundance of other blessings. I love it when people give God the credit he deserves. I don't like to hear people say, "Well I worked hard for it, so I deserve the credit!" You may have worked hard, but God put things in place for your success. God protected your health and your safety so you COULD work hard! He gave you talents and energy so say a prayer of Thanksgiving please. And don't forget to give back to help others.
Mom insisted I take the day off from packing today. For once, I did not argue. I agree I need the rest. I didn’t even wake up until 0800 today. My body and mind are exhausted. Yesterday I did too much. All the volunteer opportunities ended up being stacked in one day. Most were meetings. The only physical thing I did yesterday was help Mom pack, but my body is tired.
Last night, there was a beautiful candlelight vigil held for Kellsie Green. Kellsie lost her life in a jail cell while detoxing from heroin. Horrific, unnecessary, and heartbreaking. Her parents have been advocates for change and willing to share Kellsie’s story with others. Last night so many shared the importance of treating each person with respect, with dignity, with love, and with compassion. We heard stories from former addicts who said they broke free from addiction because people simply showered them with love and refused to give up on them. They didn’t feel judged, they felt loved and eventually felt worthy of being loved. There is the key right there. When one doesn’t feel worthy of being loved, it’s hard to change. We must show our addicted loved ones that we do love them and we do believe they are worthy to be loved. We must show them we believe they are capable of change.
I heard so many names read last night- names of people who lost their lives due to drugs. My heart ached for their mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, relatives, and friends. My heart hurt for them, but I was so thankful that my son’s name wasn’t one of the ones being read. I still have him, therefore, I still have hope for his recovery. A friend got a call from her former daughter-in-law who is an addict and has been missing. She told my friend she is safe and seeking help. This phone call took place during the vigil. God’s timing is incredible. My friend encouraged this lady to continue seeking help and support.
Another friend has been posting happy pictures and stories on Facebook of her happy newly married life over the past few years. Last night she posted her husband is a drug addict and almost died. My prayers are with them both. Because of stigma, we are afraid to share our stories, our hurts, and our pain. We must stop caring what others think, because I can guarantee you that more people will show compassion than judgment. We are not alone on our journey.
Today I had a conversation with an elderly lady about all the sexual assault allegations flooding the news. She said, “If girls wouldn’t go around half-dressed, these attacks wouldn’t happen.” While I agree there needs to be a LOT more modesty, NO one deserves to be assaulted in any way, no matter how they are dressed. No one asks to be hurt. We live in a sick world.
I will end with a funny story. I was talking to Meghan today and she stopped to tell Ollie, “Don’t eat that, I just swept it into the dirt pile!” Ollie replies, “ but it still looks clean!” Children..
We Face Timed the girls last night. When they saw Papa, both of the older girls burst into tears. I had shown them their room- I had added the beautiful antique furniture from my parents' house and put all their stuffed animals on the bed, dresser, and vanity. They were excited. I handed the phone to Patrick, and the tears started. They miss us. What seemed like a fun vacation at first has become a realization that Grammie and Papa aren't there to spoil them rotten. They want it all; their parents and their 5th wheel which is "home" to them, but the opportunity to see ALL their many grandparents in Alaska. The girls are blessed with many grandmothers and grandfathers. Patrick and I feel like crying a lot too because we miss them.
I want to talk about a special friend of mine, Carol Fritz. Carol is a simply AMAZING woman who has an abundance of energy and a very giving spirit. Carol did a fundraising dinner for Logan when he was sick. It was her and her husband, MIke, who cooked the prime rib, set it all up, organized the silent and live auction, and took care of all the details. Her husband MIke is equally as dynamic as Carol. Mike is the "behind the scenes guy." He does all all the cooking and ordering of the meats which is no small task. Carol is the spokesperson for this incredible couple. Besides Logan's fundraising dinner, she has done several others, including one for me three years ago. To say I am grateful to Carol and MIke is strongly an understatement. They have finessed their dinners until they are simply flawless. If it weren't for Carol & MIke, and their fabulous team (mostly my friends and family) Patrick and I would have lost everything. My insurance didn't pay for the airfare, the housing, or any of the out of state expenses. I am so very grateful for their generosity and their willingness to help our family in our time of need.
Carol and MIke have done it again! They are organizing another prime rib dinner. This one is for a little boy named Sebastian. Sebastian is two years old. He is the son of a local DJ here in Wasilla. He has seizures, he is autistic, and he has many developmental delays. Sebastian needs a service dog. Service dogs costs $20,000! The event will take place at the Palmer Moose Lodge on February 3rd. Tickets are $20 each and you will get a delicious dinner! There will also be an auction. Unfortunately, the timing does not work with my schedule as I will be out of town that night. I wanted to finally give back to MIke and Carol by helping with an event. I do have tickets to sell though and would love to collect items for the auction. This cause is important to Carol for a number of reasons. Carol has known Sebastian's mother, Brenna, for a long time. She and MIke love dogs and understand how a service dog would help Brenna be aware of when Sebastian is having a seizure. They are compassionate and caring people and do not want to see anyone struggle if they know they can play a part in easing the burden.
I strive to have the same generous spirit as Mike and Carol. They are a dynamic couple who bless everyone around them. I am thankful for their friendship and the interesting way we met so many years ago. God had a hand in that first meeting, and I have been blessed ever since. When I count my blessings, Mike and Carol are right there at the top.
Listening to two sermons yesterday filled my spirit up. I listened online to Pastor Daulton's message (Church on the Rock) about temptation. Temptation- so many thoughts come to mind when I think about temptation. The first thought is "bad". If you use the word tempting, then you probably shouldn't participate in the activity. He used an example of people handing out chocolate and power bars outside a gym. Most who went in chose the powerbar. They had their eye on the prize. They were going to the gym to work out, to get into shape, to lose weight, or tone their bodies. They had the power to say no to chocolate. They were in the right frame of mind because they were envisioning their new body at the gym. It made me think about things we encounter in our everyday lives. Sure we have to choose whether or not we are going to have a second helping, that piece of cake, that slice of pie, or eat healthier to protect our bodies against health issues. Of course that is important as we have to eat healthily to maintain longetivity. Most of us want to continue living on this planet for a bit longer. We have people to visit, places to see, things to do.... But what about other things that will either feed or steal our souls? We may be tempted to lie to someone, or steal something, have an affair, or use drugs. Some of that we can justify by a variety of ways. Here are some examples: "I wasn't really sick, but I was tired. I have sick leave, so I called work and said I was too sick to come in." "They have so many items and make good money, they can afford to lose a few things. I need the money so I am going to take that gun and sell it" "He doesn't pay enough attention to me and I am lonely. My friend from work tells me I am pretty. He makes me feel good." "The drugs make me feel better than I have ever felt. I feel normal when I use them. I can't help it, I must have them."
Whether you realize it or not, those decisions, to lie, steal, cheat, and use mind altering substances are stealing your soul. Each lie you tell opens the door to more lies and eventually, your entire life is a lie. There is hope. Thankfully, we serve a very loving God. It's such a simple process to change. We confess our sins, we ask for forgiveness, and we find someone who can hold us accountable in our everyday lives. Having an accountability partner is the key to this all. YOU can change. YOU haven't done anything so horrible that God couldn't forgive you for. GOD loves you! It's time to love yourself.
The second sermon I heard yesterday was about Lazarus dying and the feelings and the turmoil surrounding his death. Lazarus was greatly loved by his sisters Mary & Martha, and by Jesus himself. Jesus heard that Lazarus was dying, but he waited a couple days before he started his journey to go see him. When he arrived, he was told Lazarus had died. There was great despair as they cried out to Jesus, "Lord, if you were here, my brother would not have died." But, Jesus WAS there. He may not have been physically present, but because he lives in each of us, he is always with us. As most of you know, Jesus called out to Lazarus to rise from the tomb and walk out. Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus. How many times have we cried out to Jesus and asked for a miracle to take place? How many times has that miracle not taken place? We struggle with understanding why Jesus wouldn't just take all our pain and sickness away. We wonder why children die. We wonder why there are so many natural disasters in our land. I don't have the answers for you, except to say that earth is not Heaven. When sin was first introduced in the Garden of Eden, things were changed. This is not a perfect world and things just happen. It does not mean that Jesus isn't there. It does not mean that Jesus caused any of the bad to happen. It's just life. People have free will to choose their path. We are just fortunate to have Jesus with us at all times.
This morning Joyce Meyer was preaching about Jesus being with us in the car and reminded us he is present if we break the speed limit. How true is that! He is present at every moment of our lives, including the times we cheat on our spouses, steal from our neighbors or family, buy drugs from a dealer, or lie to our bosses. WWJD is not a joke. Remember to ask him to help you make the best decisions you can make.
I recently learned disturbing news about two ladies I used to supervise while they were on house arrest. Both ladies relapsed. One is dead, and the other is facing federal charges. My heart hurt greatly because I had such hope for both of these ladies who are mothers. I learned about a son of a friend who is serving life in prison for murdering a baby- all because of drugs. My heart feels heavy at times, but then I remember Jesus and his compassion for others. I will not rest until I share the love of Christ with everyone I come in contact with. Today I think of all the things I am grateful for.
It's hard to walk today, but I am grateful because I have legs.
I wish I didn't have to fix my hair today, but I am grateful because I have hair.
I don't like spending time paying bills, but I am grateful that I have money in the bank to do so.
I don't want to cook tonight, but I am so happy we have food that I can cook.
I'm tired of packing boxes, but I am blessed to be able to help my parents and spend time with them.
I get irritated picking up after my husband sometimes, but I am grateful to have a husband.
I am sad because I miss my grandchildren & daughter, but I am thankful for Face Time.
I could think of a hundred other things to write, but you get the idea. Instead of doing a list about what you want, but can't have- you know the list. "I want to ..... BUT......." try doing the opposite. Write your negative statements down and finish with a positive. Focus on what you CAN do and not what you CAN'T. Focuse on your achievements and not your failures. Focus on your future, not your past. Each one of us is valuable to God. If it takes you writing that statement down and taping it to a mirror so you can repeat it each time you see your reflection, then do it!!!! Believe it. Repeat after me: I am valuable.
I believe in Heaven and I believe in Hell. But I am convinced here is a special place in Hell for people who abuse children. My heart hurts so badly today. Thirteen children found starved and chained to beds in California. Four of them are adults! This seemingly happy family has a dark and evil side to them and the human part of me wants them to be tortured in prison, How can this happen? I love my children and grandchildren so much and I would never hurt them. Oh Jesus, help these poor children. Remove the agony from their minds. Send good people to love them, to care for them, to help them. Heal their minds and spirits, Lord.
Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. While some simply rejoiced that they had the day off, I spent some time reflecting on the meaning of the day. I don’t see white, black, oriental, or any race when I talk to someone. Color doesn’t matter to me. I believe we need to get rid of certain race clubs, universities, and schools. Having these specia clubs, or men or women only clubs, must cause further racial tension. We are all created equal. Why should one race get more funding than another? It just widens the chasms we have created. Not to sound too ridiculous, but can’t we all just get along?
We all bleed the same
So tell me why, tell me why
Another innocent life is taken
In the name of hatred
So hard to take (hey!)
And if we think that it's all good
Then we're mistaken
'Cause my heart is breaking (tell it, 'Dis)
Are you right?
Pointing fingers, taking sides
When are we gonna realize?
We're more beautiful when we come together
We all bleed the same
So tell me why, tell me why
If we're gonna fight
Let's fight for each other
If we're gonna shout
Let love be the cry
We all bleed the same
So tell me why, tell me why
To judge someone
By the kind of clothes they're wearing
Or the color of their skin?
Are you white? (white)
Aren't we all the same inside? (the same inside)
Father, open our eyes to see!
We're more beautiful when we come together
We all bleed the same (we all bleed the same)
So tell me why, tell me why
If we're gonna fight
Let's fight for each other (fight for each other!)
If we're gonna shout
Let love be the cry (be the cry!)
We all bleed the same (we all bleed the same)
So tell me why, tell me why
What are we fighting for?
We were made to carry one another
We were made for more, said
Only love can drive out all the darkness
What are we fighting for? yeah
We were made to carry one another
We were made for more!
We're more beautiful when we come together (let's stand united!)
We all bleed the same (we all bleed the same)
So tell me why, tell me why
If we're gonna fight
Let's fight for each other (fight for each other!)
If we're gonna shout
Let love be the cry (be the cry!)
We all bleed the same(we all bleed the same) (bleed the same)
Let's stand united (let's stand united)
Let's stand united!
That our families will come together right now
And seek Your face
You will forgive our sins
And You will heal our incredible land
In the name of the only Savior, Jesus Christ
"The moment I knew there were new cells in my body, I felt grateful that the biggest part of the process was complete. I reminisced about the moment eighteen years prior, when my son, Logan, received his stem cells. I longed to go back in time and help him through his experience. I wondered again how it could have happened to both of us, and why he didn’t survive. I felt unworthy to have been given a second chance at life when his life ended so young. I wondered if I would also contract a fungal infection like he did. I felt determined to beat this thing I called “Leuk.”
A few nights ago, I had a strange dream. I know, my dreams are always strange. But this one was disturbing. I dreamed that Logan had finished the main part of his treatment. I assume maybe the stem cell transplant since I had recently written my thoughts about his and mine both. I just left him. Where? I have no idea. But I left him so I could focus on Casey and Meghan. I felt they had been slighted and I felt guilty. After several months went by, I realized he was not dead. He was alive. I didn't know how to find him. I knew he would be angry with me for abandoning him and I was worrried about what kind of person he had turned into. I was afraid he was so angry with me that he turned into a criminal and would hate me and possibly want to harm me. I wanted to see him and touch him, hug him, and tell him how much I loved him. But I was afraid he despised me. I woke up before I got to see him to explain to him that I had to take care of his brother and sister. The dream haunts me and how I wish I could have seen him and talked to the sweet boy who would never hate anyone. After thinking about this, I believe I dreamed this because I have stuffed my feelings about Logan's death down deep inside me so I can focus on saving his brother, Casey. Logan doesn't need me right now ; he is safe in Heaven. Casey needs me more right now. So I have some guilt because the child I focus on the most is Casey. Logan and Meghan have been pushed aside. It doesn't mean that I love THEM ANY less, it means my strength must be on helping Casey Succeed.
Last night our friend Roy gave us a beautiful gift. He made an urn to hold Logan's ashes in. For years we just had the container from the funeral home sitting in our bedroom. The urn is beautiful and we are grateful to Roy for sharing his gift of woodworking with us. He never had the opportunity to meet Logan, but he feels like he knows him from our stories. Logan finally has a beautiful wood creation to host his earthly remains. Now I must find a place that will make a plaque for it. No, time does not heal all wounds. Our hearts remain damaged from the blow his death placed upon us. As I told Meghan all those years ago, one chamber is missing. We have a lot to live for, but I can't wait to see him again.
Since my parents are downsizing and moving to a much smaller house, they have been selling many of their household items. Because I am an assertive person, I took it upon myself to set the prices and advertise. I always asked Dad what price he had in mind. 99% of the time he and I had the same price in mind. Mom was consistently 50% under what Dad and I thought so I didn't exactly count her opinion in that. My mom just wanted it all to be done with. She loves her house to be organized, clean, and welcoming. Things piled up upon things was just not doing it for her. One item I had advertised both on FaceBook and Craig's LIst was their beautiful dining room table. The table is solid oak and has twelve chairs! This table has served our huge family for several years. That table has also served their friends well for many years. I couldn't believe no one was looking at it when I had it at $650. That is a super cheap price for a solid oak table in excellent condition with chairs that are in excellent condition. I lowered the price to $500. (with my parents' blessing of course) I got a text from a lady yesterday who wanted to come look at it. She asked me a few questions, "Is the home a non-smoking home? Is the table sturdy or does it wobble? What color are the chair seats?" Reasonable questions that I could give a positive response to. I gave her Mom's number and asked her to set up a time to look at it. She called Mom and Mom said, "She sounds really nice! She and her husband have a date night and she told him she wanted to look at furniture." I was hopeful because, as silly as it sounds, I wanted all their belongings to go to people who would take care of them like my parents did. I want my parents belongings to live on (so to speak) because it's comforting to me to know that the earthly things my parents had would bless others. Last night the lady's husband called me for directions. I happily gave him directions both times he called. (he didn't write them down) I chose to be friendly and helpful. When they showed up, my parents (and the buyers) were shocked to realize they know each other from church! The couple was as nice as Mom thought and they purchased the table for their family of eight. Mom and I were talking and I joked that it was a good thing I was nice on the phone since we all go to the same church.
That made me think about choices we make every day. We have choices here in the USA. We can choose to be rude or polite, friendly or unfriendly, patient or impatient, kind or mean, sarcastic or genuine, and helpful or unhelpful. Every single thing we do is a choice.
We can choose to go to work or not.
We can choose to eat healthy foods or unhealthy foods.
We can choose to take illicit drugs or not.
We can choose to drink alcohol or not.
We can choose to go to church or not.
We can choose to read the Bible or not.
We can choose to cheat on our spouses or not.
We can choose to be honest or not.
We have choices. Our choices often affect our outcomes. If I had chosen to be rude to the lady and her husband because they were "bothering me" (which they absolutely were not) by answering snottily about the furniture, they probably wouldn't have even come to look at it.. This woman asked reasonable questions that I would want to know if I were buying used furniture. If I had been rude and then they came out and we realized we had all seen each other at church, then I would have been extremely embarrassed and would know that I am not showing the love of Christ to my community. It just reminded me that I must be polite and respectful to everyone. It's not just because "you never know who you know in common", but because it's the right thing to do.
This week I have continued to be frustrated with insurance, pharmacy, and health related offices. The hold times have been ridiculous and customer service has been greatly lacking. But instead of berating the folks who finally answer the phone, I am making an intentional effort- an intentional choice, to be polite and respectful to each and every person.
As I said, most of us have choices. Some people do not. We cannot choose our parents or children. We can't choose if we will be born into wealthy families or poor families. We can't choose our earthly heritage, but we can choose to change many of our circumstances. Sometimes we have to ask for help..Today I am helping with the annual "Homeless Connect." We expect about 1,000 people to be there today for free food, clothing, dental care, and resources. Some of the people we will serve will be there because they made bad choices. Perhaps they chose not to go to work so they got fired. Perhaps they chose to use drugs so they lost everything. Perhaps they chose to commit a crime so they just got out of prison. Regardless of what choice brought them to the event, I choose to be respectful, kind, genuine, and helpful. We all have choices. What choice will you make today?
- control one's anger
- A single company controls the industry.
- control an insect population
- control a disease
Obviously there are many things we cannot control. We often can’t control our health diagnosis or our the outcome, but again, sometimes we get sick because of choices we make. Sometimes... Sometimes things happen beyond our control and we are left feeling dazed, stunned, shocked, and helpless. These feelings can cause us to become depressed, reclusive, sad, and lost. I was talking with a friend yesterday and she asked me, “ How do you remain so upbeat after all you have been through? Is it your faith?” I laughed as I responded with, “ My faith absolutely does give me hope and strength, but I have to consciously fight off the bad thoughts, the discouragement, the stressful things, and the disappointments.” She wondered how I was coping after having to leave my job. She shared with me that she just doesn’t know where her place in life is right now. She was an active community volunteer for many years, but recently transitioned to a new location. She is not as involved as she has been used to, and said she feels like things are out of control now. I laughed as I told her I knew exactly what she was talking about. People who are used to being assertive, in control, and active really have a hard time when things change. We begin to feel powerless and that feeling of powerless leads to a feeling of panic, because we are no longer at the wheel steering the ship. My friend has more things going on besides the move and community dynamics changing. She has some serious family matters that are discouraging her and she feels she can not control what is happening which leads to a feeling of depression. I get it. But we both admitted we have a choice of how to handle our adversities and by choosing to be hopeful, we can control the outcome to some extent.
While volunteering at Homeless Connect yesterday, I saw many who felt they had no control over their current living situation. Many presented as despondent, embarrassed, hopeless, and discouraged. My eyes filled with tears more than once yesterday. I saw single moms with children in tow with eyes filled with shame because they were there. One lady in particular really got to me. She and her children were well groomed and polite. She was cautious and guarded as she briefly explained she was there because she was fleeing a domestic violence situation. She had no transportation and was having trouble finding a job. I wanted to hug her and bring her family home. Another lady was older and living in her car. That had been her lifestyle for years. My heart was broken. Here were people who felt out of control. Some made choices that caused things to spiral out of control. Others were faced with circumstances beyond their control because of choices someone else had made. There were some that had been there every single year this event has been offered. They just haven’t made different choices to change their lives. I tried to thank every person for coming and tell them I was glad they were there. I wanted no one to feel embarrassed or ashamed. I made a choice to show love and respect to each person. I may not be able to control my recovery time, but I can control my daily responses.
The sick germs have attacked me. I feel pretty bad, but am determined not to get worse. My chest rattles constantly and now I am starting to run a fever. My muscles hurt so bad. I went to Yoga yesterday. I am trying to stretch my damaged muscles into being healed, but I'm not sure that's best for my hips with all their problems. It was a long painful night for me. I have a meeting this afternoon about Genesis Process so I need to get better. I watched church online today and am thankful for that option.
Yesterday we started the process of putting furniture in my parent's new house. So far it's just the bed and a couple cabinets, but hopefully the couch will be today. It's a ways from being done, but if we can get it organized somewhat, it will definitely feel like a home. I really like it. I'm glad Mom won't choose to clean for hours each day. My dad has taken two really bad falls recently and I am worried about him. He is so stressed out and isn't being as careful as he should.
I feel like dog doo doo. I'm going to the local doctor. Wednesday is my oncologist appointment, but I have been told to go today by my Mayo doctor and my dear husband. I am being compliant.
I spent almost 2.5 hours at the doctor’s office. I am thankful I do not have influenza. What a relief! I am thankful she said I can probably wait until Wednesday when I see my oncologist to get the chest X-ray. She said my lungs sound bad, but she’s willing to hold off on that. She gave me a liter of fluids and IV antibiotics. My heart was racing. I am grateful I received this care in a doctor’s office and not in the hospital. I am grateful that I have a couch to lie on while I recover. I don’t feel like making dinner tonight, but I am thankful I have food to cook and I will make myself do it. I am thankful that I am in this warm house while the winds are howling. I pray for those without shelter and I hope and pray they find some place warm to huddle up. God is so good. I am thankful and grateful.
The winds are roaring and I wish Jesus would command them to he still like he did when he was on the boat and Peter was afraid. They are terrifying. My nephew Kyle said he felt like Dorothy must have felt in the Wizard of Oz. Sooner or later the house will blow down if it keeps keeps up. I am in Anchorage for my monthly Oncologist appointment. As usual, I wonder what my blood tests will show. I heard Overcomer by Mandisa on the way in and it gave me the boost I needed to remember I AM an Overcomer and all will be okay. I thought about my friend Terri who passed away last year from AML. She was such a fighter. I like to think of he really as an Overcomer because she DID overcome this illness. She's in heaven completely healed without pain. She was such a sweet spirited woman of faith.
At the stoplight in Anchorage, there was a homeless man at 0730. I was glad I had my snack bags with me.
My labs looked great. My lungs did not sound great. Chest x-ray was ordered. I have pneumonia again. This time I begged to just be treated with oral antibiotics. The Infectious Disease doctor thinks that’s okay. My oncologist is uneasy. She wants me to cancel my flight to South Carolina tomorrow. I promised her I will if I am worse. I’m going to see my ANP out here tomorrow. If she thinks I sound better than I did Monday, I am going. Dr. Spencer told me if I am exposed to anything else, I will end up in a SC ICU. I am praying. I wasn’t going to tell my mom because I wanted to help clean. She asked and I had to tell her and she sent me home. They need the help and I am no good to them which saddens me. Patrick is helping tonight and I appreciate him doing so after working a full day and driving to and from Anchorage. He’s a hard worker who selflessly loves his family and is willing to help anyone who needs him. It’s a good quality that we should all have.
The mother winced at the harsh words coming out of her daughter's mouth. Once again, the mother is the target. The pure hatred spews out as the child expresses such disdain for the woman who gave her birth. It seems the child despises the very core of her mother. This time it was over concern about the daughter's health. The mother carefully chose her words so her child would not take offense, but work with her. She needn't have bothered as her child will always find fault with her. Her child is an adult, yet still her child. She loves her and has sacrificed so much for her, including her health. The mother has no joy in her life. Just like with her belongings, the child has also stolen her joy. The mother is physically and emotionally fragile. The stress of her child has caused her health to fail. Her friends tell her it is time to let go. They say she is a good mother, and she shouldn't believe the words of her addicted daughter. They say it's time to let go and let God. The choice belongs to the daughter. The mother has sought counsel from professionals and friends. All say the same thing; find your joy and be free. The financial strain is real- she has sacrificed so much. Thousands upon thousands of dollars spent on her child in hopes she will change her ways. The mother has sacrificed her freedom and would sacrifice her own life if only it would save her child. Her child doesn't care. She takes and takes. The apologies don't mean anything anymore. The mother has heard them all before. Words come out of her child's mouth with the intent of being used to manipulate the mother. She sees it now and her heart has become hardened. She has no joy. Jesus reminds her that HE is enough and HE can fill her with the joy she longs to have again. I pray for this woman and the many like her. Lord God, we cry upon your name and ask for complete and total healing of our children's minds, bodies, and souls. We ask for forgiveness, strength, courage, and faithfulness. We ask for freedom from all bondage. We trust you for healing. We ask for your joy. Thank you. Amen.
He's an amazing man who loves God. He is kind and generous. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer about seventeen months ago. He experienced a great multitude of problems and complications from the treatment. He sighed a sigh of relief when the last chemo was finished. Then he got his scans. The cancer had come back and it had spread. He found a new treatment center and flies there at least twice a month for a week at a time. More problems, more complications. He is weak and weary, yet still grateful for another day of life. He starts each conversation with, “ Well, I am still here!” He’s optimistic, grateful, and considerate of others. He has a newly married adult son who survived cancer as a child. He recently learned his son’s cancer is back. Another reason to be angry and resentful. But not this man, his faith remains strong and he remains hopeful. When you have a personal relationship with God, it’s easier to let go and let God take control. Lord, I pray for this faithful man of God. I pray his cancer will flee- completely and for all eternity. Help this man feel better and continue to be hopeful. I pray for a complete healing for his son as well. Bless this family spiritually and financially too, Lord. Send people their way who can help. Thank you, God. Amen.
Our trip to South Carolina was long and uneventful. I usually don’t experience jet lag, but I had one hour of sleep in twenty-four hours, and I have pneumonia. I am tired. I made myself go for a walk yesterday, but forced myself to turn around when my mind was trying to convince me to go further. Push harder the little voice said. I then heard the voice of my husband in my mind. He said, “ You have nothing to prove. Be smart and turn around.” I listened to his voice as I took notice of the weariness of my body. Rather than feeling disappointed the walk wasn’t far, I felt good that I got a little bit of exercise in. I am learning. I AM a warrior. Wonder Woman will regain her strength soon. Patience, Grasshopper.
Seventy-five year’s ago, the world was given a wonderful gift. My father was born. The world would not be as loving and beautiful without my father in it. He is the epitome of godliness. He’s generous, kind, patient, and giving. He is the hardest working man I know, and I am so proud and happy to be his daughter. He is a good, good man.
It was a beautiful sunny day in South Carolina. We went to see Robin, Patrick’s cousin, who runs Grace Farm Animal Rescue. Robin has an amazing heart filled with love for all animals. She has horses, goats, pigs, dogs, donkeys, and cats. She takes them all in. Literally all in. The horses and goats don’t come in the house, but the rest of the animals, including the pigs, go inside for snuggles. She’s truly amazing. Patrick and I have been supporting this non-profit with a small monthly donation for the past year or so. I wish we could do more to help her with her exorbitant costs. She truly sacrifices so much for the animals. All of God’s creatures deserve love and affection. Her pigs roll over in in ecstasy when their bellies are rubbed! The horses and donkeys compete for petting. It’s hilarious and can boost the spirits of anyone who steps onto to Grace Farm. Robin has quite the story. She is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who has a criminal record. She went down a terrible path for many years. She experienced great loss with the death of her beautiful infant daughter, and has lost relationships because of her actions. If anyone has completely changed, I would say it would be Robin. She credits Jesus Christ for giving her a renewed sense of belonging, healing, and a reason to live. She is quick to share her story and is quick to give God all the glory for her complete transformation. Am telling you, to meet Robin, is to meet one of Jesus’s disciples. She is loving, kind, faithful, and honest. I just love her compassionate heart.
Isn‘t it amazing to find amazing people here on earth? We have my parents who help every person imaginable, and we have Robin, who helps every animal imaginable. I have given you just two examples of people who are worthy to be recognized. Patrick’s cousin shared with us that she and her husband “adopted”a single mom and child for many years. They provided financial and emotional support for this little family. My heart was warmed when I heard all they did for the little boy. It wasn’t just the money, it was the love and the friendship they offered. It was the educational assistance, the discipline, and the teaching of morals and ethics. I truly wish our media would focus primarily on the good deeds of people and less on the evil deeds. The state of the nation would be so different.
I am not a TV sports fan, but I watched the Super Bowl and I rooted for the Eagles. Why? Because I had read several stories of the players personal relationships with God and how they credited him for all the good in their lives. They openly shared the love of Christ with the nation, and for that, I am now a HUGE fan of the Philadelphia Eagles. The only time THEY took a knee, was when they bowed their hands in prayer. Praise God for bold people.
It doesn’t take much to change the heart of another. A good attitude and lots of prayer can do the trick. Be kind, be selfless, be generous, and put the needs of others before your own. What WOULD Jesus do?
Today was one of those days we women dream about. My husband spent the whole day doing what I want to do without complaining. For the first time, we ventured into downtown Charleston. We started out at Ft. Sumter Museum, then walked a mile to the carriage rides. Yes, Patrick went on a historical carriage ride in Charleston with me. It’s our third historical carriage ride in the thirty-one years we have been married. I love learning about history, and he sometimes loves doing these activities with me. Today was a good day. We walked almost four miles! I was exhausted and my hips constantly hurt when I walk, but I try and ignore the pain. I keep thinking one day, maybe the pain will be gone.
I had a guy pull me into his shop in Charleston and ask me which eye I thought was my worst. I was thinking, “well I don’t really think either is bad...” He put this “filler” on one of my eyes and tell me I am going to FAINT when I see the difference! He handed me the mirror and I said, “huh.” I’m really not seeing a difference. Then he tried a microdermabrasion machine on me and told me he would sell it to me for only $1500! He also offered moisturizer and exfoliating cream. I didn’t realize I looked so awful to others!💔😰😝
Another good point of the day was when I read a FB post Casey wrote about being drug free for seven months and how he sees how drugs took so much away from him. It’s is good he is willing to publicize his experiences. Hiding behind the shame and guilt does nothing to improve the outcome. Admitting our weaknesses is step one. Step two is surrendering all to God and working on ourselves. We cannot grow if we cannot admit our mistakes. It’s vital to ask for help from others, and it’s vital for the person asking for help to be just as patient with their helpers, as the helpers are with them. Respect goes two ways. Sometimes a lot of damage has been done, and the one in recovery must remember it will take time to earn trust and respect again. The one in recovery and the ones supporting them must focus on the common goal; life without the need to use any mind altering substance. Life CAN be good again for all. The family unit can become whole again. Have faith.
This is what Casey wrote:
7 months on the no drugs diet. I was 145 pounds in july of 2017... today, i float between 195-200 pounds. Now, I never post selfies with my shirt off, but i decided I should share some hope that transformation, even in the midst of the darkest period of your life; through hard work, is possible. After forfitting all I loved for a high, I was forced to make a choice to either allow my horrific situation to continue as an almost understandable excuse to stop fighting the drugs hold on me and just release my final finger hold I had on the hope i could turn my life around and stop hurting... or, I could commit to a complete about face on my lifestyle and decide I would no longer accept a substance control over my life. Accepting the emotional hurt I will encounter daily as I reflect on my part during the years I’ve given up to Drugs and the hard to process experiences I am now left with. However, by remembering this is all self enflicted drama, instead of complete surrender, and an innability to own these most often intense depressed thoughts, I refuse my pattern of weak character, and daily deny myself the permission to seek an escape through dope; instead, I turn to anything I can to improve myself mentally or physically; with the goal of being at my absolute best. I am trying to focus my energy now on preparation so when the next opportunity comes along, I will be able to do my best to ensure i maximize each and every moment and will only lean on my past shame and guilt to give me that drive to ensure I never again walk through times like these👊
I am proud of him.
Yesterday was the day Patrick’s Aunt Maxine was laid to rest at Beaufort National Cemetery. She was born on December 20, 1924, and died November 26, 2017. She served as a Marine during the Korean Conflict. Maxine was honored with a full military service. I was asked by her only remaining sibling, my mother-in-law, Michele, to read Psalm 23. I was both nervous and honored to be tasked with this part of the ceremony. TAPS was played and the rifles shot off in remembrance of a loyal Staff Sergeant of the United States Marine Corp. Maxine was known for her sense of humor. She never married, but loved her nieces and nephews. She was a prankster, known to short-sheet beds, and had a wide smile along with merry eyes. She loved all of God’s creatures. She always had animals of her own, and pet set for others when she was well. She was a strong and mighty woman and my life has been enriched for knowing her. These past several years have been difficult for her and Michele. Maxine suffered from Alzheimer’s a terrible disease. Her body was strong, but she was trapped in her body with a mind that no longer could communicate with the outside world. It’s a disease we often say we would never wish upon our worst enemy. I am glad we are here for Michele and Bob. Michele is the last remaining child of eight. How difficult it would be to see everyone else go before you. She is a very strong woman.
We went to Hunting Island today and Patrick and I climbed 167 steps to the top. I was proud of myself for succeeding at climbing. Before that, I went on a walk and listened to my praise music. I was filled with hope, love, and thankfulness for God. I spend more time praising him than I do asking for things. I have to remind myself to pray for the specific needs of those I love. It’s easy to just try and block it all out because to remember, is to hurt. I have new children to pray for. I was told about a couple in Indiana whose daughter just completed treatment for cancer. Their young boy was diagnosed with leukemia just a couple days ago. Two small children, both with cancer. Please join me in praying for complete healing for them.
I seem to have missed a few days blogging. I got wrapped up in just enjoying my in-laws and Patrick. We had a wonderful trip and it was so good to spend time with them and attend the funeral for Aunt Maxine. The flight from Charleston to Seattle was fantastic. We got upgraded to first class for free. I truly could get used to the service up there. The flight to Anchorage from Seattle was not so great. We were back in coach. I got really sick to my stomach and had to wake up the guy in the middle seat to get out. When I stood up, it was too fast and my blood pressure dropped. I was dizzy and swaying. The lavatories were full. The flight attendent took one look at me and took over. I sat on the floor until they got me to a jump seat in the back of the plane. A nurse practioner examined me. It was truly embarrassing and I hope no one on that flight knew me. Patrick gave them my medical history. When I got off the plane, a pilot was standing there and asked me how my flight was. I just replied, "okay." He then stepped beside me and shared with me that he has a stem cell for Lymphoma eight years prior. My first thought was, "of all the people on this plane, how did he know I was the one who collapsed outside the lavatory?" My second thought was "How kind of him to reach out to me and share with me that things do get better. He's an accomplished pilot, a professional employee of Alaska Airlines, and a cancer survivor." I appreciated him taking the time to share his story with me. It took the sting of the embarrassment off me.
Today I am trying to figure out how to pay all our bills. With me not working, it's been really challenging to cover all expenses. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, we are financially responsible for some additonal expenses that we didn't anticipate. It's simply draining us and I am nervous, frustrated, sick to my stomach, and overwhelmed. It is to the point where I want to throw up my hands and say I will go get a job even if the germs and stress kills me. I don't know what to do.
Tonight is the first Genesis Relapse Prevention group. I am both nervous and excited. So far we just have four people that signed up. I hope they will be blessed by the course. May God put the words of wisdom into my mouth and may he shine through me as I, and the other volunteers, work with those in recovery. May we all be a blessing.
There was this great video on Face Book today by a little girl depicting the irony and ridiculousness of Valentine's Day. It sums up my feelings well! Ingenious video! The ending truly made the video: “I only do Valentine’s Day because Hallmark said to.” One day is set aside each year to prove you love your other half. Heaven forbid you don’t get the right flowers or card. Restaurants will be packed with people and the wine will flow. We must prove we love our husband, wife, girlfriend, or boyfriend. Or must we really? Do we need one “special day” to show them we love them, or is this something we should do every day? What about the people who don’t have someone to love them? I can imagine the pain of this day is real. The commercialization of this “holiday” drills in the point they don’t have a significant other to celebrate with. Are they feeling unloved? Unattractive? Lonely? Do we care? Do we reach out to the seniors, the divorced, the widows and tell them we value them and love them for who they are? Or do we compare gifts just like many do on Christmas. Whoever got the best gift, has the best significant other. Let every day be Valentine’s Day. Be in love every day. Shower your loved ones with spontaneous gifts, poetry, and cards on days when they are lonely, depressed, sick, distraught, or just because you want to. Live life to the fullest every day and appreciate your partner each and every day, no just because you are expected to. This is dedicated to my husband who happens to agree with me and I be,over is thankful he’s off the hook for “proving he loves me” by buying me gifts today.
I am not a fan of holidays. I think the one day set aside for a "special day" is ludicrous. Hardly anyone truly understands the meaning behind the holiday. Let's take Christmas- the birth of Jesus. Each year it becomes less about Jesus and more about how many presents we have to buy. Then there's Memorial Day- a day set aside to remember those who in the United States Military who have lost their lives serving our country. Many think of it as a "free day off from work and we can have a picnic." What about the loved ones of the lost soldier? Do you think they care about the picnic? How about the Fourth of July? Yep, another day off work and a picinic. Heavn forbid there's not a good firework show! What about celebrating the great nation of America? Celebrating our freedom and being thankful for it, instead of complaining about what we don't have. There are people in other countries who don't have freedom and I bet they would celebrate if they did. They would appreciate the holdiay. I could point out a fault with the attitude about every holiday. But because I don't want to depress you or make you feel bad, I'm going to talk about one holiday I truly love. Now technically it's not a "holiday" but it's a day set aside each year to celebrate me. My birthday. To follow along, just take me out of the equation and think about YOU. Replace me with you and you will understand where I am going with this. My birthday is special because it's all about me. Face Book makes it easy for people to remember my special day. People I have never met, and people I haven't seen in thirty years, write me to wish me Happy Birthday. I'm usually woken up to a kiss and hear the words, "Happy birthday, honey." My parents, grandma, children, friends, and family members call me. Some, like my mom, even sing to me! I feel like a princess one day a year and I love it. I strut around like a peacock fanning my feathers singing happy birthday to myself all day long. I am not expected to do a darn thing. I don't have to cook, clean, or do housework. I am just supposed to pamper myself and enjoy my day. And boy howdy to I do that well. It's the one day a year I give myself permission to relax and have fun without guilt. I love my birthday. I never want presents, that's not what the day is about for me. I just revel in the realization that I am honored on this day. It's about ME and I am special. I don't have to prove my love to anyone else. I just simply bask in the glory that God gave me one more year on this earth and I enjoy it immensely. Did I mention my birthday is next month? I am so excited!
In all seriousness, if you love Valentine's Day then enjoy this day. Truly I am not trying to shame anyone or make anyone feel guilty. The important thing to remember is you are loved by God every single day. You don't have to have a significant other to feel better about yourself.
The shooting in Florida is on everyone's mind. Of course people are bashing each other's political beliefs on social media. The Democrats are crying for gun control, the Republicans are protesting and saying people need to be screened for mental illness. It is a horrible situation and I don't think there is any answer to the problem. Except for the need for a Godly nation of course. But violence has been part of our history clear back to biblical times. Wars, shootings, stabbings, murder. Even Cain killed his own brother. Abel's blood cried out from the ground and God heard. God heard it all.
I pondered about the situation that has held our nation captive to the TV for a glimpse as to "why and how" this could have happened. I started to think about the situation from an investment standpoint. That sounds a little strange, doesn't it? It started with me thinking about my own son and how much money we have poured out in hopes of changing his circumstances, his mindset, and his future. A future funded monetarily by us in hopes the investment pays off. It made me think about how we have invested into his life since the day he was born, almost twenty-eight years ago. We invested our love, our time, our money, our hopes, and our dreams into this sweet little baby boy. We invested into his life by providing him with a safe home and good food to eat. We invested into him by teaching him right from wrong. We taught him how to be a good person by modeling by example. When he showed an interest in hockey, we invested by funding the tournaments and gear, we paid the exorbitant monthly fees. We invested our time by driving him to and from practice and games. We invested all. We invested all his PFD income into a nice college fund that would pay for four years of college. We invested in him by educating him at home from the first through eighth grade. We thought we were protecting him from the evil world all while giving him a really excellent education. We invested in him by paying for counseling when he was having behavioral problems. We invested in him and we hoped the dividends would pay off. We hoped that the return on our initial investment (from his birth to young adult hood) would make such a leap that no other investment could possibly earn so much. When he turned to drugs, we felt like the stock market crashed. Our "stock" had such potential, and it took a nose dive and we almost lost it all. We didn't sell the stock though. We have held onto it and continue to deposit short-term additions in hopes of achieving long-term results. There have been times when the stock has crashed so badly we have felt it would never recover. Yet we offer nourishment and we pray and we hope that our investment will indeed soar off the charts as God intended.
The parents of the young man who killed all of the people in Florida probably invested in their son too. They probably love him just as much as we love our son. I bet they sought help for him in hopes their investment would not crash and be depleted. Yet their investment truly hit the bottom and it's not worth anything at this point. They will never again recover any of that initial investment. It is gone forever. If they choose to go visit him in prison, they will feel like a carrot is dangling in front of them. They paid for that investment, but they can't ever reap the benefits of it.
We must invest in our future. We must show compassion and hope to every individual. We must invest our time, our resources, our knowledge, and our friendships to all. We must do away with the gory video games and TV shows that are all about killing. We need to replace the media with stories about compassion, helping, love, and hope. Let's invest in what is the most important of all- our children. Never stop depositing. Your investment CAN pay off. If you need the assistance of a professional "stock broker" (counselor) DO IT!!!!! If something doesn't seem to be going right, listen to your gut. Don't let your investment become worthless. Fight for it. I am fighting for my son and I am praying for your loved one who also needs "regular deposits of encouragement."
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the one who has made the biggest investment the WORLD has ever seen. I am talking about Jesus, of course. He paid the highest price possible and gave his life because he feels we are worthy of his investment. You can’t get any better than that. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light. Put the most of your investments in him and you can’t lose. The stock will never crash. The market will be volatile at times, but don’t sell the stock. The end price (eternity) will be worth it.
Twenty-one years ago today, my son, Logan Joseph Marre, was diagnosed with leukemia. The words no parent ever wanted or expected to hear, burned my ears and seared into my brain. I was numb, I was terrified. Flight, fight or freeze? I froze, then I chose to flee a little bit. I wanted to run for hours, but the mother in me had to be in control of the situaton. It wasn't long before I began the fight to save my son's life. I supervised every medication, took note of every reaction from the medicine , and tore apart every word that came out of his medical team's mouth. It wasn't enough. I couldn't save him. I froze, I took flight, then I began to fight again. This time for other cancer patients. I educated, I begged people to listen to Logan's story and help someone else. I felt like I was an outsider looking in. I became the cheerleader, the teacher, the encourger. But then I got back in the ring myself and fought my own personal battle with leukemia. This time I didn't freeze or take flight. I simply fought. This horrendous adversary wasn't going to win again. Today I fight again by educating people about the need for bone marrow donors. Today we have a bone marrow drive at the college. I will continue to fight leukemia by sharing Logan's story with others in hopes they will choose to be a hero and save a life like his.
There were six people who registered yesterday at the Bone Marrow Drive at the Lipgloss & Business event. There were many more who wanted to, but they were over the maximum age of 44. There were several people from the Harley store that came in. They have a member who was just diagnosed with leukemia and they wanted to help. I was in awe of their giving spirit. I told them people over the age of forty-four can sign up online, but there is a $100 fee for that age group. They didn't care; they were determined to help. I was so impressed with their attitudes.
This morning Patrick, Casey, and I went to church together. I suppose I should say "afternoon" since it was the 1:00 service. The sermon was excellent. Pastor Jonathon talked about how we should always be a light for Jesus. Never hide our light under anything; simply shine for him. The song, "This Little Light of Mine" came playing in my head. It's so true though, we must always do good works in the name of Jesus so others may see him through us. If we all followed this philosphy, the world would be a kinder and gentler place.
Juneau was amazing! I loved my lobbying to Senators and Legislators. Protecting people from second hand smoke and protecting children from the dangers of E-cigarettes was the cause of the day. Most were receptive and agreed the danger was real. I met some dynamic people that were part of our group. I want to talk about a few of them, but tonight I will talk about one in particular. She is a successful and friendly lady. She graduated from a couple of impressive and prestigious colleges. She has her Master’s degree and has a great job. She looks like success has been easy for her and free from complications. She comes from a good family and they were pretty well off. She openly shared with me that she’s a recovering addict. She had it all, and then she didn’t. The pills were tempting, and her child wasn’t enough. She used, she drank, and she struggled. Finally, she reached out for help and she broke free from the horrible net of addiction. She is free from drugs and free from alcohol. She is successful. She does have hope, and she is an overcomer. It was an honor to meet her and hear her story.
He's from Kenya and highly intelligent. He holds a Master's degree and had completed all of his nursing courses except for his clinicals. An accident happened and he lost his legs. I had heard about him several years ago, but like most of us, I felt sorry it happened and promptly forgot about him. I met him this week and I am honored to know him. He tells an amazing story- he left out about the loss of his limbs and I didn't know he had prosthetics until someone told me. I made a faux pas before I knew. I said, "You are from Kenya so you must be fast. How about you running upstairs to get the folder we need?" He willingly obliged and when he walked away, Heather said, "You do know he has prosthetics, right?" My heart sank when I realized my joke was really not funny. He was fast. He came to this country to run, but his feet froze and he had to have them amputated. The story he shared to the group was hiliarious and intriguing at the same time. Back in 1919, his grandfather shot a neighbor's cow. A "curse" was put upon his family. His father got throat cancer. The family was sure it was because of this old curse for killing that cow. He was told that if he paid for that original cow, which was now worth nine cows because of inflation, the curse would be lifted. So he willingly obliged his superstitious family and paid $1,000 for the dead cow of 1919.
We all laughed and marveled at this story. Things like this don't typically happen in America. Learnng about other cultures is a way to open our minds to how other's perceive their circumstances. His father was a smoker. He knows his father got throat cancer because he smoked. But yet, the respect for his family made him settle a century old debt. Bravo to my new friend.
Sometimes I get my stories from the support groups I am part of online and sometimes from friends. . I will never use names because of confidentiality. Sometmes the information is changed just a bit to protest the privacy of those who share. This story is about "Sheena". Her name has been changed for this forum. Sheen has had a drug problem for the past 15 years. She was given everything a young person could possibly want. She was a volleyball star and a popular student. She was pretty and she's knew it. She was self-involved and wanted what she wanted, when she' wanted it. She could be cruel with her words and her actions. She rebelled more than a typical teenager could rebel. Her mother insisted on meeting her friends and wouldn't allow her to spend the night with anyone unless she's confirmed there was another adult there. That rule doesn't sound too harsh to me. Sheena hurt her back and her mother took her to the emergency room. She was given narcotics for the pain. When they got home, Sheena through her pills across the room screaming about half-life's and milligrams. Her mother was shocked as she had no idea what her daughter was talking about. Her daughter went crazy,-screaming that she had the worst mother in the world because she's wouldn't take her back for a stronger prescription. Her mother was bewildered and confused. She wondered how her child knew all this about medication; she certainly didn't. She wanted to please her daughter, so she's took her back to the emergency room and explained what was going on. The doctor asked her if her daughter hadn't a problem with drugs. Her mother said, "I have no idea. She is acting like she's does, but I don't know." Unbelievably, the doctor didn't take the time to ask any questions of the daughter. He gave them a stronger prescription and sent them on their way.
To be continued.
Years later when she thought back at that encounter with the ER doctor, she wondered why he wasn’t trained to ask the right questions. Why didn’t he examine Sheena in more detail and ask for a consultation from a trained addiction specialist? If he had, Sheena may not have continued the long journey with drugs and alcohol. If a professional cared enough to step in, perhaps Sheena’s parents wouldn’t still be dealing with the drug use. Trust me, they blame themselves more than they do the doctor, but wouldn’t it be good to have trained professionals in our hospitals? Or trained professional people in our doctors office, counselors offices, and schools? We have to keep our eyes open and our ears tuned into what is going on around us. I wish I could say Sheena’s battle has been successful and she is in recovery, but I can’t. Her parents thought she was drug free for months. Then they found the drugs. They heard the same excuses. Their credit card went missing. She used it to buy cigarettes in exchange for drugs. Then she prostituted herself as well. She says “she can’t help it, she’s addicted to sex.” She says this shamelessly in front of her parents and grandparents. She has no idea how to respect boundaries.
They have once again opened up their home to Sheena and once again she has lied, used, took advantage of them, and betrayed their trust. Please pray for this family and for all the families who are in a similar situation,
ALASKA AIRLINES ROCKS!!!!!! Patrick and I are very loyal to AK Air, but now, I can't get anymore loyal! Sit tight, this is a little bit long, but I must share. I have to go back to Mayo Clinic in April for my check-up. On May 15th, it will be THREE years since my transplant. I am going a bit earlier this year because Meghan and family plan to come home for the month of May. Mayo had me there for almost a week trying to fit in all my appointments. I truly didn't want to spend a week in Rochester. I asked them to tighten up the schedule, but they didn't respond. Last night I gave up and bought my ticket and booked a non-refundable hotel room because it was a good deal. This morning they called me to tell me they fixed my schedule. I needed to change my flight and my non-refundable hotel.....I first called AK Air and got "Morgan" in Boise. I liked her right away. She was personable and helpful. She helped me change my flight. She asked me if I was going for business or pleasure. I answered, "Actually, I am going to get a check-up because in May, it will be three years since I had a bone marrow transplant!" She responded, "Oh doesn't that hurt?" I told her that was a great question and shared the process with her. By the end of our conversation, she was determined to sign up to be a bone marrow donor. I offered to fly to Boise and meet with her and help her coordinate a drive. She is going to talk to the officials at Alaska Airlines and see what she can do. I shared the stories of the three ladies I know who have donated bone marrow to strangers and saved their lives. She was in awe. She has a very giving heart. She asked about costs to the donor. When I told her Be the Match pays for EVERYTHING, she responded with, "Can I donate to them? I'm sure they are a non-profit and need all the help they can get." Yes, Morgan, they are! I must meet this girl! If you would bear with me for one more AK Air story......When Patrick and I came back from South Carolina, I had a bit of a problem on the flight from Seattle to Anchorage. My blood pressure drops when I stand up quickly. I needed to go to the lavatory because I was feeling nauseous. I stood up, crawled over the person in the middle, and walked from row 18 to the lavatory. They were full. The room was spinning. The flight attendant looked at me and said, "sit down right here." Patrick came out of the lavatory and gave them my medical history. A nurse on the plane checked me out. I was embarrassed and a little humiliated, but the flight attendants were amazing. When I got off the plane I thought "no one up here by the cockpit is going to know." Wrong....The pilot asked, "How was your flight?" I responded with, "It was okay." He said, "just okay? You know I had a bone marrow transplant several years ago. It gets better!" We talked a bit until he had to check into another flight. I was amazed at his willingness to share his story with me and help me not feel so embarrassed. Alaska Airlines ROCKS!
COPIED FROM MICHAEL CARSON'S EMAIL
THE STIGMA OF OPIOID ADDICTION IS HANDICAPPING HEALING
“ We are in this for the long haul!” Sam Quinones, the author of ‘Dreamland,’ made this statement at a Congressional hearing last month. First, Dreamland is a book Mr. Quinones authored giving the backdrop story of how we ended where we are now, regarding the opioid epidemic. The subtitle of the book is, ‘The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.’ Second, Sam uses the phrase ‘in this,’ referring to this epidemic, unfortunately, continuing. And, he adds that there is not a silver bullet ( single solution ) or bullet train. The last term, bullet train, meaning we are not going to reach the destination of resolving this epidemic in the very near future. Again, we are in this for the long haul.
As you read this first paragraph, you noticed the terms opiate and opioid both being used. Mr. Quinones describes in his book the intersection or collision of prescription (opioid) drugs and black tar heroin. (opiate) Some times those two terms are used interchangeably. Opioids are synthetic drugs ( prescription) and opiates are drugs produced directly from the poppy plant. ( heroin) Now, the term opioids is being used to describe both prescription drugs and heroin.
Next, the difficulty in resolving this opioid epidemic is due to all the facets and multi-layered aspects of pain management, prescribing, diversion, tolerance, addiction, detox, treatment and recovery from opioids. And, I will personally, add the ‘stigma’ surrounding opioid addiction. Specifically, the stigma that suffering addicts are ‘choosing’ that behavior, rather than understanding and accepting the concept of addiction being a brain disease.
The most recent brain imaging studies have revealed an underlying disruption to brain regions that are important to normal processes of motivation, reward and especially in the area of inhibitory control. ( Dr. Nora Volkow, MD ) The addiction has resulted in actually changing brain tissue. Addiction assigns supreme continued drug use over family, career, health and in short, everything else. And this association of abnormal behavior is the result of dysfunction of brain tissue. Just like heart disease creates cardiac insufficiencies or diabetes, which impairs the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin levels.
If one can step back a moment and reflect on an addict’s behavior, one would have to conclude they are suffering and sick individuals. Let’s consider those addicts that have been revived from an overdose of heroin with Narcan, but go back to using. And, let’s say they have been revived a number of times, how could a person do that? They are truly in the grips of a disease that is ‘cunning, baffling, powerful and deadly!’
The stigma of opioid addiction is real and most unfortunately, handicapping our ability to allow understanding, compassion, and most importantly, healing. We would never shame a person that is still smoking, overweight or even taking medication for whatever reason. And, yes, a smoker, someone overweight or taking medication does not engage in such a degree of self-destructive behavior as an addict would. But, again, the suffering addict is a slave to the beast of opioids. Yet, they keeping slamming dope, which could very well end with separation from family, loved ones, jail time, or most unfortunately, their death.
Some cannot understand why we would want to continually revive suffering addicts with Narcan. The last time I checked, “ A dead addict can not get into recovery!” But, we have to remember Narcan is not detox or treatment. As Dr. Jay Butler has stated, “ Narcan is like a tourniquet. It will save a life, then medical and substance abuse counseling attention is required.” As it takes the average smoker 30 times to stop, it could take a suffering addict a number of times being revived to realize, ‘Enough is enough!’ And, most importantly, that suffering addict is someone’s child, brother, sister, or even parent.
Besides providing the public with the most current and evidence based research regarding brain images, the Mat-Su Opioid Task Force believes to break down the stigma, community members have to have a safe place to share their stories. Some members are more outspoken, others softly spoken and still others have not crossed over the threshold into a venue to speak freely. We completely understand all positions, as we understand there are many pathways to break down stigma and there is a time and place for those stories. Just know, we will be there for you when you’ve decided the the time is right. And, we are that right place for you without judgement, but understanding and support.
We meet the first Tuesday of the month ( 3/6,4/3, 5/1…) from 4 to 6 pm at Wasilla High School in the Theater. All are welcome. In fact, we welcome all different opinions and perspectives regarding opioid addiction. We know that every community member has strong feelings about this epidemic and we respect each and every one of those feelings. Our goal is to find common ground, put forth actions, and continue reaching out to those with different ideas. We must come together as a community to ultimately find solutions to end opioid use and abuse. Please consider joining the good fight to seek solutions for the suffering addict and their families. And let’s work to prevent youth from opioid addiction. If you have any questions or concerns you can call MyHouse at 373-HELP. ( 373-4357) Thank you.
# Absolute Pursuit ( to knock down the opioid epidemic)
Michael Carson V.P. & Recovery @ MyHouse and Chair of Mat-Su Opioid Task Force
Today I had the pleasure of sharing Be the Match information with an Alaska Airline representative, I got a call from a friend asking if it was okay to give my name and number out to her co-worker- they recently lost their daughter to an overdose. Heroin laced with Fentanyl. I was asked to be part of a fundraiser for a local single mom who has cancer, and also given information about a man recently diagnosed with leukemia who needs help, and purchased a couple stuffed moose to send to an Indiana family that has TWO children with cancer! Tonight I teach Genesis Relapse Prevention to some recovering addicts and then I take my mom to the airport. Oh, and I prepared a meal for a family from church. I will bake it tomorrow, but the main part is done. I finally feel productive!