December 31, 2016

All Glory be to Christ

I'm sorry I've been somewhat AWOL the past couple weeks. I thought I was going to get through December for the first time without my depression completely taking over. In fact, I made it to within a few days of Christmas, thinking I was actually going to finally succeed. But then it all came to a screeching halt.

As an adult, I've just not been all that interested in Christmas, let alone the month of December. Decorating for "the season" has never been a big thing for me. I have, but more times than not we've opted to not put up a Christmas tree or decorations... unless it was during the couple years when we talked the kids and grandkids into spending the day with us, then I went as all-out as we could afford for them.

Sorry to be a "downer" for those who thrive during the month. Most people just don't understand what this time of year can do to us who deal with especially difficult depression during the holidays. The only reasons I have for my own case are things that have happened and losing several family members over the years in these months. People also deal with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). In all the years I've blogged, I've not posted during the month of December – until this year. After Thanksgiving each year, I would simply say "I don't do December or Christmas" and leave it at that. I really tried this year, but, well...

I do, however, exult in Christ's birth! He is the reason for the season, as they say. I thank God every day for sending His Son to save me from myself, to wash my sins away, and provide everlasting life for me through Jesus Christ!

Many will be celebrating this last day of 2016, looking forward to a fresh new start and making "resolutions." I've never done "New Year's resolutions," instead believing that if I'm going to commit to doing something – and accomplish it – then by golly, I'll do it whatever time of year it is! And my focus will always be on the One Who has The Plan for my life, always asking that His Will be done.

So, as we begin 2017, please allow me to leave you with this song that encourages us to remember Christ's glory in everything past, present, and future. Its melody uses that of "Auld Lang Syne."

Original words: Dustin Kensrue, © Dead Bird Theology (ASCAP), It’s All About Jesus Music (ASCAP)

I hope 2017 is filled with blessings for you. All Glory be to Christ!

December 18, 2016

The wonder of His power

Yesterday, we had a snowstorm in our area. Blizzard conditions. The temperatures got down into the minus single- and double-digits, with wind chills going even lower.

When I woke up this morning, the weather app on my phone said the temperature was -13° and a wind chill of -30°.


But the day after is always different. Have you ever noticed the calm, the quiet, when there is snow? It seems to dampen sounds. And the skies are so blue and clean.

As if God has said, "See? I told you I would get you through the storm."

This is what I woke up to this morning... beautiful frost on my windows!

"There is beauty after the storm... look for it, God has placed it there just for you to see the wonder of His power." {Diana Carmichael}
Happy Sunday, friends!

December 16, 2016

What my mama and daddy made

I don't go shopping but maybe a couple times a month, and even then it's usually just groceries. But sometimes I need to run to Walmart for something, and when I have extra time I'll spend a few minutes in "the Barbie aisle."

When I was little, I had a 1963 Fashion Queen Barbie... the one with the molded head and blue headband that came with the three wigs. I also had Ken and Skipper dolls later on, but I loved that Barbie doll more than anything else.

Nowadays, there are so many different types and styles of Barbie dolls. Oohh, like this Spaghetti Chef Barbie ... hey, I love spaghetti!

My parents could have gotten a store-bought plastic "closet" for my Barbie and all her stuff... but my daddy made a special wooden carrying case, complete with closet area, pull-out draws, a spot for the Barbie, and extra room for future items and painted it himself! Bigger than anything available at that time to hold Barbie and all her goodies! It still brings tears to my eyes when I think how much time he must have put into that... just for his daughter.

This Deluxe Bathroom Barbie and Farm Vet Barbie can't even compete with what my dad lovingly made with his hands.

I received the Barbie doll and the homemade carrying case from my parents for Christmas in 1963, along with a bunch of clothes sewn by my mama for my Barbie. She bought the little Barbie clothes hangers and placed each outfit carefully on the clothes rack in the case. I can specifically remember a beautiful blue coat and matching hat, a yellow summer dress, a spring dress of white eyelet with embroidered cherries (exactly like the one she'd made for me that previous summer!), and a shimmery white satin evening gown with {fake} fur stole and matching purse. I know there were other clothing pieces, but can't recall everything. And I know she sewed them all herself... for her daughter. (My mama taught me to sew a couple years later when I was eight-years-old... making Barbie clothes!)

Hmm ... I do like the Ballet Barbie (below, on the left), but my mama's handmade clothes for my Barbie meant a so much more.

Unfortunately, I have no idea what happened to my Barbie or the clothes or the carrying case my parents put so much time into making just for me. Sure would have loved to have been able to show you a photo of it all. But I can still see it in my mind all these years later. And I can still remember all the hours of fun I had playing with that Barbie.

Here's to memories from years past!

December 12, 2016

The testing of faith and marriage

{ Joining in Barbie's #glimpsesofhisbeauty linkup. }

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." {James 1:2-4}

Jerry and I have been married for Jerry in 200121½ years, but we've been together for 23 years. Each of us had a previous marriage that ended in divorce. It was several years before Jerry could get me to even go out for a Dr. Pepper with him. I had to be sure the man was a Christian; I'd had enough of being unequally yoked the first time. (Photo: Jerry in May 2001 with the huge catfish he caught.)

I knew that Jerry had a couple health issues before we were married. What neither of us knew was how many more medical problems would continue to be added on top of those throughout the years.

We were homeless – twice – in the first years of our marriage as a direct result of his sky-rocketing medical bills (no health/medical insurance and no money). Due to the nature of those medical problems, he was only able to hold the most mediocre of jobs, and then only when there were no flare-ups in his condition.

By the time we were into the fourth year of our marriage, we knew we were going to have to figure something out financially to keep us going during Jerry's "down" times. I taught myself web development, eventually including graphics design, running my business from home so I could care for Jerry. I made enough to get us by, but that early market quickly became over-saturated with big companies who employed better-educated and degreed people... something that was unattainable for me. I even designed for a online digital scrapbooking company for a few years, although the earnings from that were paltry.

Jerry now has 27 separate medical diagnoses and has been permanently disabled since 2006. He's unable to walk more than a few feet, otherwise he must use a wheelchair. A couple years ago, we had to come to terms with the fact I could no longer continue as his full-time caregiver (due to his and my own health issues becoming progressively worse), and in April of 2015 we settled him into a nursing facility. I must tell you it's extremely lonely in this apartment without my husband and best-friend.

It has been a constant struggle throughout our years together, and we deal with the persistent problems of one or another of Jerry's medical issues always arising. Always. Yet we continue to rely on God. He is bigger than us and our problems. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've sat by a hospital bed, praying and reading God's Word. Oh, how many times I questioned what reasons there might be for this stuff to consume Jerry's body and mind as it has. I never came up with any answer except the testimony of a great God and our faith in Him.

And possibly the testimony of our marriage.

I've known people who left their spouses because of the other spouse's terminal illness or disability. I'm not that person. I'm not that wife. I made a promise to God and Jerry that I would be by my husband's side... "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part." These are the things I can do for my husband, to make his life easier, to show him love... and to show him God's love. To hold to my faith in God and count it all joy for all the years, and know that I'm doing what I can for Jerry.

Til next time, my friends!

December 3, 2016

The middle of the story

I once heard that when a blogger stops blogging it’s like an author abruptly stopping in the middle of a story. There will always be the question of "how did it end?" And although I've not come to the end of my own story by a long shot, after being absent for a while I want to give you a shortened version of where my family has been in recent months and years, and where we are currently.

2012: We found out a few days before Christmas of 2011 that my stepmom's ("mom") breast cancer (2009) had metastasized... it had returned to affect Mom & Dad c. 2002 every bone in her body and was quickly progressing to her eyes, brain, and other parts of her system. She was given 2-4 months, but she barely lasted two, dying on February 20, 2012. She was the "mom" I didn't have growing up as my mama had died (obituary) when I was 14 years old in 1971, also of metastasized breast cancer. So my dad put two wives in the ground from metastatic (stage IV) breast cancer. Daddy pretty much pined away for mom after that (they'd been married for 26 years), dying a few months later on August 17, 2012 after his third stroke (obituary - they made several typos). Even 4 years later, I find myself wanting to pick up the phone and call my dad, to go over to their house and work in the yard and garden for them, or do genealogy and attend symphonies with mom. There are some days that the loneliness of being without parents is an ache in my heart that seems will never go away. (Photo: Mom and Dad about 2002.)

2013: On November 5, my oldest son, Jeff (obituary), was killed on the job. His brother - my other son - worked at the same company and saw it happen. I cannot even begin to describe how traumatic and devastating this has been for our family. Jeff left behind a wife, a son, and two daughters.

2014: I just don't remember much of anything for this year. Neither does anyone else. The grief and shock we were dealing with was an overwhelming entity.

2015: In April, we made the decision to move my sweet husband, Jerry, into a nursing home permanently. Most of our marriage (since 1995) has been spent with me as his caregiver. He has numerous medical issues (many of which continue to worsen as time goes by), and with my being 5 years older than him (I will be 60 in January 2017), my own health issues were being directly affected and becoming worse from the increasing stress of caring for him.

2016: The nursing home where Jerry resided - the one we had planned would be his home the rest of his life - announced in July it was closing. We had a terrible time trying to find another facility for him, made doubly stressful because another nursing home in our city also closed its doors. In August I finally found a spot for him, but ended up having to move him out-of-town in the next county. For three months I traveled back and forth, taking him to and fro to doctors appointments, a surgery, barely scraping by on what little I had so I could have enough gas for the car to get over there and back. Finally, just last month on November 1, I was able to get him back to our city into a local facility. Also in July, daughter-in-law (Jeff's widow) had brain surgery; she was diagnosed a few months prior with Chiari Malformation; it's been a long road, but she's doing much better and her recent MRI shows everything to be great!

There is a lot more detail to the past several years, but that can be saved for another time. It's been hard, yes, but if not for my faith in God, if not for my diligence in seeking Him first in all things, I would not have been able to handle all of this. I've always had a very close relationship with the Lord, but in these past few years I've learned so much more about myself and the Saviour. He has really filled my heart with new understanding.

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him." {Psalm 28:7}
Until next time!

December 1, 2016

Starting over

So… here I am. I previously owned two domains, one for personal blogging (which I've been doing in one form or another since 1998) and the other for family genealogy. I was wasting money on domains and web hosting during the times I didn’t blog… which ended up being several months of non-posting a couple times.

And now I’m… starting over on blogspot, which is good enough for me. The extra money can go to grandkids’ Christmas gifts. Or something for my hubby in the nursing home. Or for me maybe?

Anyway, we’ll see how many of my previous reader friends follow me over here. Or possibly new friends. That would be great.

More in a couple days!