August 12, 2017

Of flowers and plants and other things

I'd planned on doing a post mid-week, but haven't been feeling well. There's a odd bug going around making people feel sick, but they're not full-out sick as if it was the flu. Not sure if it's that... or one of my health issues that has become concerning the past few months. I was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (moderate 3A) several years ago, but since last December my lab work has shown that I have reductions in kidney and liver function... which in turn leads to greater exhaustion and other problems. I've had chronic fatigue most of my life, but what I've been feeling the past several months is different. Not having health insurance and an extremely limited income means all I can do is tough it out for now. I have to drive 45 minutes to a health ministry clinic where I pay $25 for a 15 minute visit with my ARPN and get minimal lab work. Plus, I get four of my medications through their medication assistance program, otherwise I couldn't afford them because it would be nearly $3,000 every three months! (I don't have that much in the first place!) She orders the absolute basic blood work so I don't get charged more than that, but what will show her the specific results so she can keep track of these issues. For now we try to figure things out as we go along. And pray a lot.

Enough of that. On to other things....

A week ago we were having some severe weather... torrential rains, lots of dangerous lightning, tornadoes in the area. I watched the storms from my ninth floor windows as the 60mph wind-driven rain came straight from the west. The east-west streets below looked like literal rivers for a time. The house I grew up in, which is the house where daughter-in-law A and the grandkids live (my Dad was going to leave it to me when he died, but I didn't want it, so told him give it to my boys) always flooded during storms like that... it still does. In all these years, the city has never figured out how to remedy the situation. But! We finally got enough rain to make a little bit of difference for our lawns and gardens. Woohoo!

Daughter-in-law A has pretty much given me free rein on what to grow and where, so I've kind of taken over. Ha! But she's happy, and she buys the plants she wants (or what I think will work) and all that, and I get my garden therapy. Mama and Dad started me (and my brother) gardening when I was 9-years-old... and I haven't stopped since! I've taken classes along the way, worked in a garden center/nursery for several years, and done loads of research with a ton of trial and error. I've always said it's not the green thumb, but the brown thumb that proves you're a gardener.

I used to look at other women's perfectly manicured, polished and laquered fingernails and compare them to my raggedy, permanent dirt-under-the-tips nails and would be embarrassed... until a friend told me I'm more down-to-earth (pun? haha). I grow plants, not nails!

This year, the veggie and herb garden consists of: tomatoes (Roma, Early Girl, Sweet 100 and Grape), jalapeño peppers, sweet bell peppers, zucchini, cucumber, onions (just yellow this year), parsley, chives, basil, dill, and asparagus (which is in it's first year, so no cutting yet). The lettuce and beans didn't do well because our Spring was so wet. There's also lemon balm, spearmint, and sweet mint, but those are small bits of the plants I thought were dead but that came back mid-summer after things dried out some. I don't know that I would be able to list all of the flowers and schrubs that have been planted over the years, plus the annuals that change from year to year. There are descendant daylilies of the the originals my Mama planted when we moved to that house (I was 4 years old) still going strong. Any time I moved, I would dig up a bunch to take with me for my own gardens. So, there may still be some of those daylilies growing in Dodge City, Wichita, and Newton. Not to mention how often I gave some away to friends and neighbors over the years.

Most of the Spring and summer flowers and other plants are starting their yearly die-off, while others are just beginning their show. I love to watch the gardens change with the seasons. It's never the same... and yet it's comfortable familiarity. August and into September are definitely not my favorite months because in Kansas it's always so hot then. We've had an unusual summer, though. Right now we're experiencing low- to mid-80s, which rarely happens at this time. I saw some folks on Instagram posting photos of the foliage in Colorado because it's already showing signs of Autumn color-changes.

I'm ready for Autumn anyway!

Well, until my next post (which I hope is sooner than a week!), I'll leave you with something funny. Yup, actually happened to me during those thunderstorms last week.

From my Instagram: "That moment when, during your wandering from window to window watching the thunderstorm because the electricity went out, you pass by your table and look down at the rubberbands you left there the night before, and the table be all like... "

August 5, 2017

And suddenly there was awe and joy

{ Joining in Barbie's #glimpsesofhisbeauty linkup. }

It's been a tough week, what with one of Jerry's medical issues becoming somewhat worse. We're a bit quite disappointed by a lack of any treatment for it (because of the nature of the problem and because it's Jerry we're talking about), but for now it's on the backburner. I want to move on and share a couple happy things from the past couple or so months that I've been waiting to tell you about.

It's no secret that our family's lives were turned upside-down when my oldest son Jeff died in 2013. It's coming nigh on to four years in November. I cannot even begin to tell you how many days and nights I've spent on my knees in prayer for daughter-in-law A and the grandkids, and my youngest son J (Jeff's brother who saw it happen at work).

I watched daughter-in-law A struggle to even breathe each minute of the day after that, retreating to the bedroom, unable to handle even the smallest of daily tasks. The grandkids clung to their mom, afraid to let her out of their sight, for fear something would happen to her, too. I spent nearly every day at their house for... what was it? Almost the entire first year? I divided my time between caring for them and caring for Jerry (who was going into his fifth month in the hospital due to the failed spinal surgery). And youngest son J... already living with anxieties, now had PTSD added on top and the gut-wrentching grief over the loss of his brother.

Only by the Grace of a God bigger than this tragedy have we all made it to this point.

And then... suddenly there was awe and joy!

* heavenly choir sings ahhhhhhhh! *

Youngest son J had been living with a young lady for nearly four years. He had even given her an engagement ring, and her daughter (now 11 years old) was calling us grandma and grandpa. Unbeknownst to any of the family, their relationship had gone sour around Christmas 2016; he was even taking all the blame. He finally confided in us about her part in the breakup after she moved out and to another state. That's neither here nor there anymore, but it was certainly a shock to all of us.

Then, around the first of May, son J and new gal E met... where they work (he works for a separate company in a tiny supply building on the same property where she works for a much larger business). She knew son Jeff from working with him at a previous employer and saw son J one day, asking if they were brothers. They started visiting during break times... and a bond grew. Quickly.

I repeat... QUICKLY!

Let me tell you how quickly... they were married at the courthouse on July 7th!

Now I have daughter-in-law E – AND! – she has an adorable daughter (from a previous marriage) who will be 2 years old in September... so we can add granddaughter N to this story!

And my son J? He is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSON, all because of this beautiful, loving, simply amazing woman in his life. We haven't seen him this happy and smiling so much in years. YEARS, I tell you!

* heavenly choir sings hallelujah! hallelujah! *

A lot more I could say about them, but we'll save that for later. I want to tell you about the other awe and joy!

Daughter-in-law A has always been a strong young woman, but Jeff's death nearly did her in. Six months before it happened, she gave her life to Jesus and was baptised. Our family took up two whole rows in the church, and we were quite noisy in our praises afterward. But, I'm telling you, if she had not been saved by Christ at that precise moment in time, I'm positive we would have lost her, too. In spite of her being saved, God allowed for many, many mistakes and mishaps over these past few years. It hasn't been easy to stand back and let her learn – and fail sometimes – on her own. Being suddenly thrown into the dual roles of widow and single-parent all at once can test even the strongest of souls. Yet, slowly, things are leveling out for her and the grandkids. There is still plenty of lateral damage we're dealing with, but we continue to lean on the Lord.

Once again, only by the Grace of God is there still life. And one more time... suddenly there was awe and joy!

* heavenly choir obliges by singing ahhhhhhhh! again *

A few months ago, I think it was sometime in March, daughter-in-law A met new fellow J. (Oh my, all these letter J's!) And a love has blossomed between them. They're now even planning to marry!

* heavenly choir belts out hallelujah! hallelujah! again *

This new fellow J is a quiet young man, a Christian who rededicated his life to God recently; he attends two men's groups and a mentoring one-to-one at his church. He's also had two bouts with Hodgkin lymphoma in the past year (is currently in remission) and must get fluids at the hospital 2-3 times each week. He is unable to work full-time but is a carpenter at local construction business.

I've seen HUGE POSITIVE CHANGES in daughter-in-law A and the grandkids! There is a long road to go yet, but it's truly nothing short of amazing what I've seen happening with them over the course of a very few months.

* sigh *

That, my friends, is a sigh of happiness, thankfulness, and yes, even relief. My kids and grandkids finally finding a semblance of peace in their lives and a new focus for love in their families... that is nothing short of a God Thing! This makes my heart sing with joy! My unending prayers are being answered by a God Who never leaves us. Once again, I'm in awe of His Greatness and Love. I never doubted. I just didn't expect such sudden turn-arounds all at the same time!

But then... God is pretty good at doing things like that. 😉