Wednesday, September 27, 2017

85

He would be 85 years-old today. He's celebrating in Heaven with Mom. Hope they throw him a whopper of a Birthday party.

Who is he? He's my Daddy!  He was so many things...

A devoted husband...


A loving Daddy...


An Air Force Officer and a Gentleman...


A Navigator...


A Vietnam Veteran...


A missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...


But to me, he was just beloved...



Happy Birthday, Daddy!!!
I love you!!!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

I believe in Miracles...

I'm beginning this post with "Once Upon a Time..." because all good happily-ever-after stories should begin with "Once Upon a Time".


Once upon a time, there was a lovely woman named Debra. She was quiet, kind, and a little shy. Life went by, and sweet-Debra met and married her sweetheart, Marc. (My big brother)


They lived and loved and had many happy moments together...


Over time, Debra started having health issues. Voices in her head, depression, anxiety grew in intensity and tortured her daily. These overshadowed other symptoms of tremors in her hands and muscle weakness.

For ten long and painful years, Marc, Debra, and I searched for help. Doctor after doctor, therapist after therapist were consulted to no avail. They focused on her mental condition and gave little attention to her physical symptoms - which also grew worse over time. Treatments came and went. Some helped for a time, but all quickly proved to be ineffectual. All the while, Debra's symptoms worsened and she suffered.

Finally, with Debra's muscle weakness causing her to fall on a daily basis, we despaired that she would survive this year. The culmination of all this came this weekend when she fell on the concrete driveway and busted open her head. Off we went to Urgent Care - no concussion, so they bandaged her and sent her home. Saturday and Sunday were punctuated with more falls, until Marc and I took her to the ER at Mountain Point Medical on Sunday night.



After some tests and being examined by the ER doc, Debra was admitted to the hospital. Enter the neurologist-extraordinaire, Dr. Reiser!  She examined Debra, ran more tests and said "This looks like Parkinson's Disease to me." She prescribed medication for that condition and within 24 hours, we started seeing improvement. Little did we know that Debra's mental condition was also a common facet of Parkinson's Disease. Those ailments have also improved with her new treatment.

Four days later - Debra's speech is less slurred. Her beautiful blue-eyes are clear and sparkling. Debra is able to walk more steadily. The muscle weakness has diminished significantly, and the tremors in her hands have lessened. In four days, it feels like Debra is coming back to us.

While we recognize that this diagnosis does not mean an easy road for Debra, it gives us hope. Her previous doctors were starting to consider that she might have ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) or MS (Multiple Sclerosis), both of which would eventually cause her death. Parkinson's is progressive, and we know her symptoms could get worse over time; but people live with this disease for years and live active, happy lives.

After TEN YEARS of searching and watching Deb suffer, it feels like she's been given a new lease on life. Seeing the improvements in her condition over the last four days renews our belief that Miracles truly happen!!! 

Once Upon a Time there was a lovely woman named Debra...and she lived happily, MIRACULOUSLY, ever after!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Who'd have thought.....

...39 years ago at that Homecomimg football game...


...when I met you, that I was meeting my future husband and the love of my life? I certainly didn't. I just knew you were a nice young man who became one of my best friends for the next ten years.

I never imagined that our becoming friends would lead us here...


...on a very warm day in May... Oh, how happy you made me!!!

Our wedding day was everything I ever dreamed it would be. 


Honestly, it was the happiest day of my life - up to that point in my life. Everyday since has been better because I got to spend them with you.

Who'd have thought all those years ago, when the story of 'us' was so fresh and new, that this journey we call life would have unfolded as it did?

We've had great happiness and intense sorrow. We've had some scary moments, but most of all we've been able to find joy in our journey. Never once has the love diminished.

Who'd have thought we'd end up where we are today? Long ago, I told you "whither thou goest...I will go". That is still true today. Long ago you were told that if you married me, you'd never be bored...and you say you never have - I promise you never will. lol 

Wherever life takes us, however the rest of our story unfolds, we'll have a wonderful tale to tell because we stuck together, loved each other and made our "happily ever after" come true. Whatever happens, remember "I love you more!!!"


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Reflections...

I was doing some reflecting on the circumstances of my life the other day. To be honest, I was searching for inspiration on what to write for this blog-entry. That's when I read the following from a previous post. I truly had forgotten how awful those early days with Sarcoidosis had been. Bear with me, there is a point to these reflections.          

"Most of you know that in August of 2014, I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease which can attack several different areas of the body. In my case, it is in my lungs and joints, mostly. The cause is unknown, and there is no cure. It is, however, treatable. In more severe cases, oral steroids (usually prednisone) are used. In other cases, the symptoms resolve themselves over time. My case is somewhere in between the two. I am being treated with inhaled steroids which gets the treatment directly into the effected area.

Most days, I feel fine - although I get tired more easily than before. Sometimes it effects my ability to breathe, so I have to use a rescue inhaler. But, mostly I do ok. I'm learning to pace myself. We've discovered that if I over-do things one day, the symptoms flare up and I am down for the next couple of days. 


I can always tell when it's going to be a day to take it easy because I start to run a fever. It's never very high, just enough to make me feel like I'm starting the flu. I've been foolish enough to ignore this warning sign and try to "muscle-through" it. I've learned not to do that! lol The fever gets higher and the joint pain can be excruciating.


Now, lest you think I'm looking for a "pity-party" with this post, let me assure you that I'm not! Please, not at all!!! Last August, before they came to the diagnosis of Sarcoidosis, they thought I had lung cancer!  I am grateful to have what I have and not something worse. lol


It's just that this experience is teaching me things that I want to share. 


I have good days and bad days. I'm happy to say they're both getting better. But I believe Heavenly Father is using this as an opportunity to help me grow and progress - to refine me, if you will.


There are days, the worst ones; when it's all I can do to drag myself out of bed. Everything hurts and I have no energy. The easiest thing in the world would be to give up and crawl back under the covers. And some days I simply have to do just that. But it would be SO easy to do that EVERY time it's a bad day, and I can't live with myself if I give in to that. So when I can, I drag myself up, make the bed (so I won't be so tempted to crawl back in) and try to get some small thing done that day. On those days, I find myself seeing tender mercies from my Father in the smallest things - reading my scriptures, a break in the fever, easing of the joint pain, a deep-full breath of air, someone else making dinner lol, looking outside at the beautiful place I get to live, helping my kids, prayer, etc... On these days, when I am SO aware of the tender mercies from my Father, I look ahead to the good days with such eagerness. It helps knowing the bad days don't last forever.


On good days, I still have to be careful exerting myself or I run out of air REALLY fast, and that's REALLY scary. But, I'm learning to listen to my body and pace myself. On those days, I get to be "me" again and do normal stuff like going to the gym, doing my visiting teaching, tending my home and family, serving my friends and neighbors, and learning new things. I'm still learning to pace myself, but it's getting better


I guess why I'm sharing all this is because I know we all have to endure hard things. But those "hard things" don't need to define or defeat us. Kevin always says, "It doesn't matter in life, what happens to you. How you deal with what happens to you is what's important". What a wise man - no wonder I love him so much! lol

My point is that when difficulties happen, we can use those times to learn and grow and triumph, or we can run around screaming, waving our hands in the air, screaming about how unfair life is, give up, and be miserable. 



I have Sarcoidosis. It's making my life difficult and challenging. It's teaching me to do "hard things". It's teaching me to appreciate all the wonderful aspects of this existence - great and small. I have Sarcoidosis, but that's NOT who I am. I choose to live my life to the fullest. I choose to be good and I choose to be happy.

No matter what happens in our lives, we each have a choice. We can choose to be  good, productive, and happy in whatever circumstances occur in our lives, or we can choose to give in and be miserable. There is SUCH power in that! WE get to choose for ourselves! What a gift!!!"

As I read that post, I was overwhelmed with gratitude! I've learned so much! What a journey this has been. 

Now for the point of these reflections... This week, I saw my pulmonologist for a six month check-up. My labs all looked great! Best of all my exrays showed that the sarcoidial tumors in my lungs have shrunk completely! Essentially, I am in remission!!!!

It's not completely over yet. I've been warned that there may be occasional flare-ups, and I have to go back in a year for a follow up to make sure the tumors don't re-inflame; but the worst is behind me!

What a journey this has been. I can honestly say I'm grateful for the lessons learned. President Russell M. Nelson talked about joy in October 2016 General Conference. He said:

"My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.

When the focus of our lives is on God's pan of salvaton...and Jesus Christ and His Gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening - or not happening - in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy...For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy!" 

There were moments in this journey when I thought I couldn't handle one more thing - one more pain, one more desperate gasp for air that never seemed to be enough, one more test, one more trial...one more anything would break me. Those were the times when I reached out for my Savior - after all, He had already been through this suffering for me. He alone, knew exactly what I was expriencing in that exact moment. He alone was pefectly qualified to help me through it...and He did, every time.

We were sent to this mortal life to prove ourselves, to see if we would do "all things" that God would require of us. The Prohet, Lehi said "Men are, that they might have joy." To me, that means learning to endure well the hard things we encounter in our lives and focus on the good, positive, and joyful things around us as we do so. For me, enduring these things became doable when I literally laid my burdens at the feet of my Savior and put my faith in His ability to help me. Doing this didn't take away my illness. It simply increased my ability to deal with it in the best way I could. I learned to look for good and joyful things in each new day, and appreciate them with a heart full of gratitude to Heavenly Father for His tender mercies.

I'm grateful to be on this end of things instead of back at the beginning. I am profoundly grateful for the things this experience has taught me. It has changed me, hopefully for the better. 

"Remission"....what a beautiful, joyful, word!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Peace....

Each Easter and Christmas, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comes out with a message to help us focus on our Savior, Jesus Christ. This Easter, the message is called "Prince of Peace"


Things in our family have been a little chaotic over the last year or so. Heart-breaking would be an apt description for much of it. Still, through it all, Kevin and I have felt the love of our Heavenly Father as He has patiently and compassionately guided us through the lessons He trusts us to learn.

One of the main things we're learning, is just how much we depend on our Savior, Jesus Christ for peace. Everyday, but especially when life gets fraught with turmoil; we can turn to our Savior. He already bore our burdens, felt our pain, sicknesses, and sorrows, and atoned for our sins. Because we KNOW that He did this for us, we can rely on Him to help us through. We can, as the hymn says, "Cast our burdens at His feet..."

Through the heart-breaking, soul-searching times we've endured lately, I've done this. I have wept oceans of tears, drawn out my heart in prayer, and finally found peace in humbly petitioning my beloved Savior to help me through the hard things. 

I testify that He is the source of all peace, comfort, and joy! Through Him, Heavenly Father's great plan of happiness is made possible! I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He died for us, so that we can repent and return to live with Heavenly Father again. On the third day after His death, He rose again! He lives! Because He lives, we can too!!!

Happy Easter!!!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Come...Listen...

"Come, listen to a Prophet's voice, and hear the word of God..." So sings the hymn of the same name... 

Every six months, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather to do just that. We believe that Jesus Christ has restored His Church to the earth and established prophets and apostles in our day to teach us His words and help us return to His presence.



Tomorrow begins one of my  two favorite weekends of the year - General Conference. We tune in via TV, internet or other media to watch and listen to the leaders of our Church. We receive counsel, guidance, comfort, peace, and even correction. This gives us a spiritual path to follow for the next six months. It provides lessons and teaching material for our regular Sunday meetings, and helps us better focus on what Heavenly Father wants us to do.

If you have questions about life and your place in the universe, come join us...listen and learn. You might be surprised at the enlightenment you can find here: www.lds.org/general-conference 



"Come, listen to a Prophet's voice, and hear the word of God. And in the way of truth rejoice, and sing for joy aloud. We've found the way the prophets went, who lived in days of yore. Another prophet now is sent, this knowledge to restore" *LDS Hymnal #21*

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fitness...Faith...and Father...

Over the years, I've struggled with my weight. Part of it is genetic, part of it is medical, and part of it has been a lack of control over my appetite and food choices. Four years ago, I began a journey to become physically healthy, fit, and strong. It hasn't been an easy road to follow. For one thing, at times it seemed as if my own body was trying to sabotage my efforts.

Every time I would make progress, I got sick (sarcoidosis for one, meningitis to mention another) OR I would get injured (torn/detached rotator-cuff that required surgery, plantar-fasciitis which required weeks of physical therapy, and repeated painful bouts of gout among other things)...see what I mean? It became very discouraging.

Then there was life itself...graduations, weddings, trips, trauma, drama, and upheaval...all seemed determined to keep me at my unwanted weight and physical condition. It was at times overwhelming and I wanted to quit! I can hear my Dad's voice in my head..."I didn't raise a quitter!"  And he would be right, he didn't!

This is where Father comes into play...Heavenly Father, that is. Because I didn't embark on this journey alone. From the very beginning, three very important men were there every step of the way. Kevin, who is on his own physical fitness journey and succeeding beautifully; encourages me daily, and celebrates my smallest success.  Jerry Shannon, who is our personal trainer and nutritionist - our loudest cheerleader - and a firm believer in our ability to succeed. Finally, but certainly NOT least of all; is our Heavenly Father. I entered into this journey with prayer. I can honestly say that I've prayed every step of the way.

It may sound odd to make this physical transformation into a spiritual journey as well, but I firmly believe that Heavenly Father wants me to be my very best self - in every way possible. For one thing, how can I go out and serve Him if I'm not physically able to do so?  I believe that Father is willing to help us as much as we need, if we will let Him in enough. I don't believe there is any aspect of our lives that is too small or seemingly insignificant not to warrant His attention and help - again, if WE let Him in. That being said, I'm NOT saying that we give up and expect Him to do everything for us. I mean, He's not going to wave a heavenly-wand and make me look like a super-model. lol  I believe we need to include Him in our efforts. I believe that if we go out and do our best, we can and should be able to turn to Him and allow Him to help with the rest.

Today, would be a good example of this. I woke up with a nasty headache. You know, the kind that makes you want to crawl back into bed and not get out again? Unfortunately, I had people depending on me for transportation today, so staying in bed was out of the question. Still, having a headache of those proportions really made me NOT want to go to the gym. I managed to whine and talk my way out of it until 2:00 pm. Missing ONE day wouldn't hurt, would it????  Except that I've set a personal goal to make it everyday - and have been determined to stick to my exercise and meal-plan - and I get measured and weighed on Friday, and I'd REALLY like to see improvement....other than that, no big deal! lol

All day long, excuses and whining kept me out of the gym. Until I finally realized that my will-power wasn't going to be enough on its own and I sent up a plea to Heaven, for help. After my last transportation duty for the afternoon, I aimed the car up the hill to the gym. I dragged myself - mentally kicking and screaming (gee, wish THAT energy would have leaked into my will-power to get me there earlier...ha ha) onto the treadmill, and got started. About 10 minutes in, my back hurt, my legs hurt, and my lungs were protesting. I prayed that I'd be able to keep going...Time to increase my speed...20 minutes into my cardio, I was sure I was going to die...no drama here! Still praying, I increased the incline and kept moving... Finally, the timer rolled over to 30 minutes and I was done!!!

I can honestly say that I felt Heaven's help getting through this today! It may seem like a trivial thing, but it's vital to me that I achieve my health and fitness goals, so I believe it's important to Him. I have faith that if I do my part, He will help me when I can't do it on my own.

In a talk entitled "Fourth Floor, Last Door", in the last General Women's Conference, President Deiter F. Uchtdorf said:

"Faith means that we trust not only in God's wisdom but that we trust also in His love. It means trusting that God loves us perfectly, that everything He does - every blessing He gives and every blessing He, for a time, withholds - is for our eternal happiness. With this kind of faith though we may not understand why certain things happen or why certain prayers go unanswered, we can know that in the end everything will make sense. 'All things (will) work together for good to them that love God'.

All will be made right. All will be well.

We can be certain that answers will come, and we may be confident that we will not only be content with the answers but we will be overwhelmed by the grace, mercy, generosity, and love of our Heavenly Father for us, His children."

I don't always understand why things happen the way they do, or why some things have to be so hard. However, I do know that I have a loving Father-in-Heaven who wants me to be happy and wants me to succeed. Knowing that - absolutely, without a doubt - gives me the faith to turn to Him and trust Him to help me. When this weight-loss/fitness journey is complete, my faith will be bigger, but the rest of me will be smaller. I call that a win, whichever way you look at it. At that point, climbing to the "Fourth floor, last door" will be easy as pie!!! lol