The Journey Continues

Pic 2 Journey Continues

At the end of July, Dad found out he was in remission from T-cell Lymphoma.  It was the answer to many prayers and God was given all the praise.

He went back to his church on Sunday, August 5th, for the first time since March.  My brother and his wife, along with my daughter and I, went with them.  The outpouring of love shown to him touched us all.

Throughout the month of August, Dad got out more and did things around the house and outside that he had not been able to do in quite a while.  He still had weakness in his legs and one foot has what is called “foot drop.”  He went to physical therapy to work on his balance and strength.  He had days when he felt good enough to get out and about and then days when he laid down most of the time.

In September and October, his weakness gradually became a little more prevalent.  He still pushed himself to get outside but many days felt too weak to do much.  He had a CT scan at the end of October.  And then a PET scan.  The news was not what anyone wanted to hear.  The lymphoma was back, but not to the extent it had been when he was first diagnosed.  The doctor had researched some new drugs that had been developed for the specific rare form of lymphoma that Dad had.  So once again, treatment began.

This time he went daily for five days, receiving the new drug.  Then he had two weeks off before starting another round of 5 days.    It was the first time that specific drug was used at the cancer center.  Although there was a list of possible side effects, no one really knew what to expect.  He did have some side effects, including the continual feeling of weakness.  He also had stinging and itching that was and still is hard to bear.

After finishing the third round, he went for a PET scan the day after Christmas.  The news from the scan was good.  The lymph nodes that had shown up on the scan in November was not seen in the new PET scan.  However, the doctor had indicated before the scan that regardless of the results, he thought Dad should still have another three rounds of treatment.

I have hesitated writing about my Dad’s medical condition again.  When I wrote the last post announcing his remission from T-cell Lymphoma, I had so hoped it was the last time I would ever write anything about it.  The doctor had told us that the type of cancer he had would most likely recur, but when it would return was unknown.  Of course we had all hoped it would not return, but if it did, that it would be many years down the road.

Back in November when I thought about the fact that Dad’s battle with cancer and that journey he was on was not yet over, I found myself thinking about that word – journey.   It means more than just a short trip from one place to another.  One definition is, “a passage or progress from one stage to another.”

I think about it this way.  A trip, to me, is like going to the grocery store.  It’s going somewhere for a specific purpose, for just a short time, before returning back home.  But a journey in my mind, is traveling at a distance, maybe with a destination in mind, but with other stops along the way.  Stops to enjoy the views, to discover unexpected delights and making memories to savor for years to come.

But wait – my own definition is radically different than the journey my Dad has been on.  Yes, he has had unexpected stops.  Like the heart attack.  Not exactly a nice view.  Unexpected delights?  Some.  Like the outpouring of love shown to him and my mom and the thousands of prayers offered up to our God.  But the unknown was often nerve wracking and far from delightful.  Memories?  Many, but not all good.

So how can I continue to call the experience my Dad has been and still is going through a journey?

I can call it a journey because I know where my Dad’s ultimate destination is.  He is still traveling along the path God has him on, and I’m praying he still has a way to go.  But his ultimate destination is heaven.

Stops to enjoy the view?  When we travel, do we not go through areas that are not so pretty to get to the breath-taking sites?  Dad has gone through some very hard things.  And still is.  Things that have been downright ugly.  But at many points when he has turned a corner, when he has had days of feeling well, when he has spent time with family and felt God’s presence beside him, it was good places to stop and enjoy the moments.

What about the unexpected delights?  Again, it’s easy to think about the bad, but there have been moments that have brought delight.  Dad’s sickness has caused many, including myself, think more about the importance of family.  To enjoy the small things.  To know the feeling of full dependence and trust in an Almighty, Loving Lord.  It’s been a matter of choosing to look at how much God has and is doing instead of what has not happened.

And memories?  More than can be counted. Some not very pleasant, but many that are priceless.  But just because they have not all been moments we want to savor, it made the good ones just that much more precious.

One recent memory caught on camera by my Dad, himself, will always bring a smile to my face.  My brother and sister-in-law, my husband and I went to Mom and Dad’s to spend time together for Christmas.  We took turns taking pictures of each other.  Then wanting to have a picture of us all together, we gathered around my parents and my Dad took a selfie.  First time ever!

As I look at that picture, I remember the journey.  We are all on a journey.  Sometimes we look outward, at things that are around us, things that are occurring that we allow to determine if the journey has been a good one or bad one.  But we also need to look within.  The journey that determines the destination of our soul is so much more important than the journey our bodies are on.  Are we taking short trips, focusing on whatever immediate gratification we can grab, or are we on that journey that leads us to an eternity with Christ?

Maybe we should all take a selfie, search our hearts and see if we are on a trip or a journey.

But for now, travel on, Dad.  The journey isn’t over yet.

Dads selfie

The Wrong Side of The Rope


My husband and I, along with three other couples from church participated in a Toy Run.  We rode motorcycles to Asheboro where the Toy Run was originating.  Everyone was asked to bring a toy or make a monetary donation to the Baptist Children’s Homes.  Once we got to Asheboro, we found ourselves in a group of over 2100 bikes.  All the toys were loaded into a tractor trailer truck.  At exactly 1:30, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus started out on their bikes and everyone fell in behind them heading to Thomasville.

It was amazing seeing the number of people involved.  After the first bike left, it took our group 15 minutes before we could pull out and there were many bikes still waiting behind us.  Along the way there were people parked at different locations watching.  It was as if we were in a parade as people waved and took pictures.

When we got to the Children’s Homes, we went to the gym.  The bleachers were filled and people stood all around.  The gifts were separated into small piles on the gym floor with the name of a child beside each pile.  When the children came in they found their name beside their pile and sat down.  I’m sure they were told ahead of time to wait until they were told to open their presents because they all sat down quietly.  I did see one little boy eagerly peeking into bags as he slowly scooted around the wrapped gifts.

Someone told the Christmas story and people involved with the Children’s Homes were introduced.  Then finally, what the kids were waiting for, finally happened.  They were told they could open their presents.

As I watched the children, I was filled with so many different emotions.  It’s always exciting seeing children opening their presents.  One little girl was thrilled to get a pink bathrobe.  She held it up as high as her little arms could reach, struggling to determine the top from the bottom.  One of the workers came over and helped her put it on.  The little girl kept it on as she then turned back to open up some more gifts.

The children ranged in ages from 15 month old twins, to teenagers.  Even though it was fun to see the kids having fun, it also broke my heart.  The area of the gym floor the kids were in was roped off.  We could watch from behind the rope line but I wanted so badly to go hug on those kids.

Of course we weren’t told the situation the kids were in.  We didn’t know how long the kids had been there.  We didn’t know if their family had any contact with them.  So many questions were running through my mind.  Having my own children and grandchildren, I can’t imagine not having them around me at Christmas.  To see my grandchildren laugh and squeal with delight as they excitedly open their presents brings such joy.  And being able to hold them in my lap means the world to me.

But as I stood there on the wrong side of the rope, I just wanted to cry.

Santa ride

The crowd was thinning out all around us as the children finished opening their gifts.  Our group went back to our bikes to prepare to leave.  We had a great day.  We had our picture made with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.  We had pictures with a lot of bikes in the background.  It was a really nice day for a motorcycle ride.  When we left the Children’s Homes we went to eat supper and then headed back home and to Sunday night service at our church.  We had a lot of laughs and had joked around.

But I couldn’t forget the kids. And I keep thinking about that rope.  It wasn’t so much the physical barrier as the emotional barrier I was feeling.  My heart went out to them, but all I had been able to do was provide a toy.  No opportunity to hold them, love them, protect and care for them.

There was once another child that received gifts from strangers who travelled a long way.  That child was around two years old by the time the caravan of wise men found their way to Jesus.  They presented their gifts and worshipped at His feet.  Then they returned to their own country.

We aren’t told if those wise men were aware of the boundary that was between the Christ Child and everyone else.  Angels had sung about Him.  Shepherds had ran to the stable to worship Him.  The wise men travelled many miles to seek Him out.  But did anyone really understand that there was so much more to the Child born that Christmas morning?

Then I think of the procession, a parade of types.  Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.  People were waving and cheering.  I imagine that in today’s time, people would have their cell phones out taking pictures.

But there was still a barrier.

There was another procession.  This time people were shouting and jeering as they watched Jesus stumbling under the weight of a cross He was trying to carry up Mt. Calvary.   Then on that cross, Jesus died.

But the best part is that He rose again!  He broke the chains of sin, death, hell and the grave!  And now He is seated at the right hand of the Heavenly Father.  And He is looking down from heaven and sees every person.  He sees everything we do.

He sees us unwrapping treasures the world offers.  He sees us struggling to decide by ourselves the right side from the wrong side of things.  He sees us roping Him off, keeping Him at an arm distance away, while He longs to love on us, hold us, care for us and protect us from an eternal separation from Him.

What side of that rope are you on?

I Want To Go Out Dancing

Hadley dancing

My granddaughter is a Princess.  She loves wearing her little dresses, especially when she can twirl around and see the skirt billowing out.  My grandson is into super heroes.  But the two of them find a way to merge their playtime.  Hadley will pretend she is the princess and will tell Hudson which super power to use to protect her and the palace from the “bad guys.”  When he is successful in saving her, she will bestow on him additional powers which thrills him.  Hudson tried to teach me how to be a good Ninja, but Hadley always said that Hudson was the best and gave him the coveted rewards.

One evening while all three of my grandchildren were staying with us, Hudson played with his Paw Paw while Hadley and Harper played with me.  Of course Hadley was on her way to the ball at the castle and Harper and I were following her lead.  Once we got to the ball, she instructed us that she needed to teach us to dance.  She would proceed to twirl around the kitchen and I would try to repeat her steps.  Although Harper is younger and doesn’t fully understand the privileges of being invited to the ball, she did her own little dance as well.

A couple days later, Ken and I were working outside when my daughter and her husband and the grandkids came driving up the driveway.  The day had been quite windy and the leaves had been falling all around us.  As Hudson got out of their car and came running toward us, he said, “It’s raining leaves!”

It’s so much fun looking at life through their view of the world and the imagination they have.  I have to admit, though, they teach me a lot, too.

I have always loved the Fall.  I love the brilliance of the vibrant colors of the leaves.  It saddens me when the leaves start falling.  But as I started thinking about Hudson saying it was raining leaves, I paid more attention.  The leaves that were falling still had color in them.  They were not just falling, but they looked as if they were dancing through the air.  They were twirling and even lifting at times before they finally reached their resting place on the ground.  The leaves that continued to hang on to the limbs of the trees, are now turning brown and are dying.  They are losing their beauty but are stubbornly hanging on.

Although I do love this time of year, it also makes me contemplate how quickly life is passing by.  With my Dad being sick this past year and with Ken’s Mom also facing challenging health issues, I realize that life is precious, but also is short.

But then again, hearing Hadley tell me that she needed me to practice more dance moves with her, makes me feel young.  I started thinking maybe it’s possible to be both.  To realize I’m getting older, but continue to dance like a princess at a ball.

There are verses in the Bible about dancing.  They are not referring to the dancing we see on TV shows.  It isn’t dancing done in seductive ways.  It’s the kind of dancing that is the result of pure joy in knowing the Lord.

I remembered a verse in the Bible about King David dancing.  He was bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to his city.

“Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod.”  2 Samuel 6:14 (NKJV)

David was thrilled that the Ark, the symbol of the Presence of God, was once again going to be close by.  The last part of the verse about the linen ephod is telling us that David threw off his royal robes.  He wore a tunic that others, besides priests, would wear in their service to the Lord.  He was laying down his claim to royalty in order to serve his God.

Psalm 149:1-5 is another passage I like.

Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song,
And His praise in the assembly of saints.

Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
Let them praise His name with the dance;
Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the humble with salvation.

Let the saints be joyful in glory;
Let them sing aloud on their beds.

We are also told this:

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:  A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;  Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (NKJV)

And one more passage:

17 O God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.
18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.   Psalm 71:17-18 (NKJV)

I don’t plan on becoming completely gray headed anytime soon, but I do pray that God will allow me to serve Him until He takes me home.  I want to dance with the innocence of a child, with abandon like the leaves letting go of their grip and with the Super Power of the Holy Spirit giving me the strength to serve until my last breath.  I want my grandchildren, the next generation, to see me worshiping with all my might.

I don’t want to grow old and die, hanging on to past moments of glory, even though at the time I was truly blessed. Instead, I want to go out dancing.

Mountain Ride

Mountain Trip 2 - 9.30.17

I did something the other weekend I never imagined I would have done.

My husband had a motorcycle when we were first married but when I became pregnant and life started changing, he sold it.  But after a period of 30 years, he bought a Harley Davidson back in April.

So one weekend, we joined five other couples from our church and took a bike trip to the mountains. Five couples rode bikes and one of the couples, who normally would have ridden their bike, drove their car due to his recently having surgery.

My first worry was how to pack.  Two people.  Two small saddle bags.  One back pack.  Right.

We met for breakfast Saturday morning.  I admit I was a little nervous.  I had never ridden for more than an hour at one time.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the other ladies helped me a lot.  One lady let me borrow some chaps.  Another thing I never imagined would be a part of my life (or on my 53-year-old body.)

We left Richfield around 9 AM and headed to Morganton to meet up with some other people.  We made some pit stops along the way.  I felt like I was doing pretty well.  The only thing I haven’t liked the whole time Ken has had the bike is the fact that I can’t see directly in front of me so I always lean slightly to the side, enough to see around the left side of his helmet.  So my neck and shoulder was really beginning to ache by noon when we stopped in Morganton.

When all of the other people showed up that we were meeting, our group of five bikes became a group of eleven.  I felt like a nervous little kid.  We rode up toward Lake Lure and Chimney Rock.  We rode the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Whenever we pulled off to stop and then start to get back on the road again, our couple in the car would pull out when nothing was coming and then sit and let us all get out on the road safely.

As the day started getting later, we stopped and got our heavier clothing, our chaps and gloves back on to handle the falling temperatures.  Some of the ones who had joined us earlier started leaving the group and we headed to our motel in Cherokee where we had reservations.  To be completely honest, the winding roads, the darkness, the falling temperature, my tired, tight, aching neck and shoulders had gotten me to the point where I was just ready to stop.  I was trying to be a big girl, but I really just wanted to cry.  Not to mention I really needed to pee and I had chaps on.  What!?!

We finally got to the hotel around 7:30, although it felt like midnight.  The couples we were with are all so much fun to be around.  There was a restaurant across the street so we all walked over to it to eat supper.  The laughter, the sharing of stories and lives, the joking, everything that makes sharing life with friends good, helped adjust my attitude immensely.

Sunday morning was much better.  I got up an hour early and was able to stretch out my body to prepare for the long day of riding.  We met at 8:00 and went across the street again and ate breakfast.  Again, it was another meal eaten surrounded with laughter and fun.

After eating and getting all packed up, we all prepared to leave.  It was a cool, crisp morning.  We all had our chaps, leather, gloves, and coats, anything warm on.  We left out around 9:30.  A couple from the previous day rode with us, so seven bikes and our personal “Pilot” car headed through Cherokee and then to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

We got out of the touristy areas and I settled back to enjoy the ride.  I had a totally different attitude that morning.  My sister-in-law, who has her own bike and rides a lot by herself, says she uses her rides alone to talk to God.  I had started doing that some on the short rides Ken and I had been on.  But on that Sunday morning on that beautiful mountain road, I couldn’t help but start pouring out my heart to God.

Mountain Trip 3 - 9.30.17

As I looked up, the sky was a gorgeous, beautiful dark blue.  Perfectly clear, not a cloud to be seen.  The road we were on was following the creek where the crystal clear water was streaming over perfectly smooth stones of all sizes.  The road was curvy, but instead of tensing up and straining to see around Ken, I relaxed against the back seat and swayed along with the bike.  And I prayed.  I thanked God for His love.  I thanked God for His Son.  I thanked God for loving me so much that He allowed His Son to die for me.  And then I thanked God that He raised Christ from the dead so that I now have that hope of everlasting life with Him.  When we see the beauty of nature, we are without excuse in believing in our God.

As we continued to ride, I continued to pray.  And just as the bike swayed from side to side going around the curves, my prayers wove in and out from petitions to praises to repentance to awe and all the issues of life flowed from my heart just as the water flowed over the stones.

It never ceases to amaze me that so much of everyday occurrences parallels spirituals matters.  Just as we were riding along those curvy mountain roads, we all are traveling along in our spiritual journeys.  We have twists and turns.  But I’m learning that instead of straining to looking ahead, instead of looking around the obstacles in my path, I need to just relax, allow the Holy Spirit to have full control of my life, to Pilot me through every circumstance.  By doing that, I can look at the wonders He is performing all around me instead of worrying about what I can’t control before me.

As the day went on, the sky that had been a beautiful dark blue, paled and became filled with thin wispy clouds that took away from the clearness of the day.

We stopped for lunch at a family style restaurant that was very good, but it took a long time.  It was becoming clear that we were not going to be able to get home before dark. So we headed to the interstate.  Suddenly, the leisurely pace we had been taking on the back roads and parkways was over.

Ken and I had been at the back of the group when we got on the interstate and when the group sped off, we fell even further behind, but our faithful Pilot car was still behind us.  I found myself hunkering down behind Ken.  I didn’t try to look around him.  I didn’t even try to look from side to side because of the wind blowing so strongly against my helmet.  After several miles of going pretty fast, we all pulled off at a rest stop.  I was shaking with fear when we stopped.  My lack of experience at riding was definitely showing again.

We had pulled off because the hour was getting late and the sun and temperatures would be descending before the next anticipated stop.  Everyone once again bundled up in preparation for the last leg of the journey.

When we got back on the road, I began reflecting again over all I had experienced.  After having spiritual highs in life, how like it is to experience a trying, mad rush, a trial, and a period of testing.  A time that may be filled with fear and confusion.  When the feeling of complete trust and peace that had just been enjoyed is forgotten.  But if I had bothered to look back, I would have seen my Pilot, my source of Comfort was still there.  He was still watching, was still ready to pick me up if I needed Him to.

All I ever need to do is just hunker down in the Word, recall God’s promises, remember how He’s always been with me and that He always will.  I just need to put on my armor and re-enter the race more fully prepared.

After we got off the interstate I did relax a little more.  I began to look around once again.  The sun was mostly below the horizon and that’s when I noticed it.  Those thin, wispy clouds that had taken away the beauty of the blue sky were now a deep, beautiful pink and crimson.  The pale blue, now a beautiful aqua.  It was breath-taking.  Isn’t that how it is in life?  We dismiss something, thinking it as less than beautiful.  But in God’s hand, it becomes more than beautiful.

When we were about 30 minutes from home, we stopped one last time at a service station.  This time it wasn’t to gas up or potty.  It wasn’t to add more layers of clothing.  It was just to say goodbye to one another.  We all hugged and told each other how much fun we had.  That we needed to do it again.  It was almost as if we were not going to see each other for a very long time, but in reality we would see each other in three days at the Wednesday night church service.

Then we gathered in a circle, held hands and prayed.  Again.  I haven’t mentioned that yet.  But our trip had been bathed in prayer.  We prayed each morning before we started our journey.  We prayed over every meal.  Our petitions had not been just the routine, ritualistic Christian thing to do.  They were the kind of prayers that were prayed with believing hearts and the fruits of those prayers were being gathered right there in the parking lot of that gas station.

As we rode on toward our home, the moon, God’s “lesser light,” was shining in the sky, lighting up the road before us.

Our spiritual paths are not always brightly lit, either.  We rely on God’s Word to guide us.  We rely on His wisdom and knowledge to help us make right choices and decisions.  And as Christians, we surround ourselves with awesome prayer warriors, they’re called friends, who can give wise counsel.

It had been a wonderful trip.  I was ready to call it a night.  But my body wasn’t.

When I laid down, it felt like my body was still vibrating, as if I was still riding on the back of the motorcycle.  And the next morning, my body was sore.

But that is a lesson, too.  When we have had a personal experience with our Lord, it should have a lasting effect.

And, yes.  I’m ready to do it again!

Just Hold On…..


If there is anything I learned when my Dad went through his battle with cancer, it was that nothing ever stays the same.  Things can change in a second.  Or less.  The Bible phrases it as, “in the twinkling of an eye.”

We take so much for granted.  Things may be going smooth, life is good and we are complacent.  We tend to think that things will remain the same, at least for our foreseeable future.  But that’s just the problem.  We cannot see the future.  We don’t know what next year, next month, tomorrow or even the next moment holds.

All during the time my Dad was sick, I kept having this feeling that things will never be the same.  I trusted and held on to my faith for Dad’s healing and God graciously answered the prayers of the hundreds of people who were praying for him.  But even as that healing came, he will never be the same.  I will never be the same for watching him go through his battle.

I keep thinking about the fact that so many of us just take for granted that our lives will remain just as they are.  It’s almost like in some part of our mind we know that things can change at any moment, yet we live as if they won’t.  We really don’t expect a change.  We have a head knowledge that nothing lasts forever but until we truly experience a change, the fact that things can change remains an aloof possibility.

And so it is spiritually.  So many people have that head knowledge that yes, there is a God.  Yes, He sent His Son to die for us.  Yes, Jesus resurrected from the grave.

Satan believes all that, too.

But it is not until we let those facts become a heart changing experience that we can really know what it’s like to truly believe.  That head knowledge changes into a life altering intimacy with a personal Savior.

I’ve always heard that as Christians, we are either in a storm, coming out of a storm or going into a storm.  If I’m really honest, I’ve never liked hearing that.  It’s no less true, but it’s always been scary to me.  No one likes the storms of life.  It would seem that the best place to be is out of the storm, free from all of the emotional turmoil that being in a storm or headed toward one can bring.

But then I got to thinking – which is sometimes dangerous for me.  When life is going good, it can be compared to the absence of storms.  Blue skies are above.  The sun is shining bright.  It’s great to be able to get outdoors and just enjoy it all.  We start taking the nice weather for granted and no longer appreciate it as much as when we just got through some rainy, stormy days.  But when our world goes for too long without the rain, drought comes.  Everything starts drying up.  The blue sky becomes hazy.  The sun bears down unrelentingly.

We start wishing for the evening storms to bring refreshing rain.

When we start becoming complacent in our lives, expecting all to continue to go well, we can start experiencing a spiritual drought.  We can take God for granted.  Reading the Bible becomes a routine instead of the soul longing for a fresh word from our Lord.

But when that storm comes, when we can experience the Word of God pouring out like rain to sooth our broken, worried, confused minds and hearts, it’s then we appreciate that storm.

I still have the sense in my spirit that things are going to change.  But I’m learning to think that all change is good.  Losing a few pounds would definitely be good!  But even the changes that in the beginning start with what we consider a storm, in the end are for our good and for the glory of God.

The biggest change I am looking forward to, the change I find my soul longing for more and more with each passing day?  It is when my UNCHANGING Lord changes me from mortal to immortal, where my soul can forever spend eternity praising the One who is charge of all the changes in life.

So dear friend, whatever situation you may find yourself in today, good or bad, just hold on.  Amazing changes are a comin’!

Dad’s Journey – Part 5

A Dad By Any Other Name Is Still My Super Hero!

On Wednesday, July 5th, Dad went to the cancer center for the sixth, and we hoped, the final chemo treatment.

For as long as I can remember, my Dad always wore button up shirts.  Whether they were dress shirts or work shirts, they were buttoned in the front and had pockets where he would keep a pad and an ink pen.

On his birthday in May, my daughter Christy gave him a Superman t-shirt.  It seemed to tickle him.  He wore it to the next chemo treatment.  The ladies at the cancer clinic got a kick out of calling him Superman.

Then my brother Nelson and sister-in-law Anna gave him a Tony the Tiger t-shirt.  He wore that to the next treatment and again got a good response from the nurses.  The names from the two shirts were combined and he became known as Superman Tony.

Dad's shirts

For his final treatment he wore a t-shirt my daughter Martha gave him.  In the center of the shirt, it says, “My favorite people call me.”  All around the shirt were the words: Dad, Papa, Husband, Brother, Father-In-law, Brother-In-Law, and Uncle.  When one nurse saw it, Dad told her she could call him anything on the shirt she wanted to call him, but to not ask him for money.  She asked him for a car, instead.

Before starting the last chemo treatment, they checked his blood levels.  Because his heart attack had been caused by his low blood, they wanted to make sure his levels were good before giving him a treatment.  When they saw that his blood levels were ok, they started the fluids and nausea IV.  They had to wait on the chemo so it was almost 1:00 before it was started.  He finished up around 2:30.  Martha came to the cancer center and greeted him with balloons when he came out, in celebration of his last treatment.

As with all the other treatments, he felt ok for a couple of days but began feeling weaker and weaker.  He began to run some fever on Monday, July 10.  He ran a little on Tuesday and had chills Tuesday night.  He had a scheduled appointment at Levine on Wednesday.  He was so weak he could hardly walk.  They decided to give him some fluids and an antibiotic by IV.  They checked his blood and the levels were low so they sent him to the hospital to get two units of blood.  He was finally able to go home around 8:00 PM.

He felt much better Thursday morning.  Superman Tony was back!  He was up at 5:30 ready to eat breakfast and start his day.

When I think of all of the various names my Dad has, I realize that all of those names describe the relationship that different people have with him.  To me, he’s the best Daddy in the world.  His grandchildren and great grandchildren endearingly call him Papa.  He is many things to many people.  Just as we all are to the different people in our lives.

When we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we have a unique relationship with our Heavenly Father.  He also has various names depending upon the need that is in our life at any particular moment.  When we need peace, He is our Jehovah Shalom (the Lord is Peace.)  When we feel alone, He is our El Roi (He Who Sees Me.)  When we need protection and guidance, He is Jehovah Rohi (The Lord is My Shepherd.)  When we are in the midst of a battle, He is our Jehovah Nissi (The Lord is My Banner.)  When we have needs, He is Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide.)  And many, many more.  God is our Everything in every circumstance.

Over the last several weeks since Dad’s last chemo treatment, he has been very weak.  The doctor has said it could be just from the chemo and the stress his body has been through and also from the heart attack he had.   It has been hard and discouraging not getting his strength back as quickly as he would like.

Dad went for the PET scan on Tuesday, July 25th.  It was a long 24 hours waiting to see the doctor for results.

On Wednesday, July 26th, Dad’s appointment at Levine was at 9:20.  Mom, my brother and I eagerly waited with Dad for the doctor to come.  When the doctor came in, he brought up the image of the first PET scan next to the image of the PET scan from the previous day.  The results showed the cancer was gone.  Dad is in full remission!

There is a bell that hangs on the wall in the hall of the cancer center.  When a patient is declared cancer free, they get to ring the bell.  As the nurses and family members gathered around, Dad rang the bell.  Everyone cheered and clapped.

Ring That Bell

We are praising and thanking God for all He has done.  It has been a long, hard four months.  And Dad still has a way to go in building up his strength.  But God has been with us all every step of the way.  May the bells in heaven ring to the glory of my Abba!

And to my Dad, God has most recently been Jehovah Rapha (The Lord Who Heals.)

Dad, you will always be my Super Hero.  And now you have a couple more names.  Cancer Survivor and a Healed Child of God! Amen!

New Names





Dad’s Journey – Part 4


As with all of the previous treatments, Dad started feeling better the weekend before the next scheduled treatment.  That was June 10th and 11th.  He felt well enough to go to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for Sunday lunch.  That was the first time he had gone anywhere other than to the doctor or the hospital since he first got sick in March.

On Tuesday June 13, he had an appointment with his doctor.  The doctor seemed pleased.  He could not feel any swollen lymph nodes during the examination.

He had his 5th chemo treatment the next day.  While having the chemo he started feeling dizzy.  When he got home he laid down and took a nap.  This treatment affected him differently.  He was very weak and barely able to walk.  He had pains that would come and go in various places of his body.

The next day he was feeling some better.  He would push himself to get out and walk.

Father’s Day was Sunday, June 18th.  It was the first time I remember that we didn’t have a big family Father’s Day meal after church together.  It’s still too much to have the whole family and all the grandkids together at one time.  Not only would it be tiring to Dad, but there is still the issue of being careful because of his low immune system.

We did visit for awhile that afternoon, and even though he was tired, he seemed to enjoy the company of each one who came by.

After everyone left that afternoon, he walked outside some.  He laid down when he came back in.  He got up to eat and then laid down again.  He asked Mom to check his heart rate and then finally told her his chest was hurting.  His blood pressure shot up as well as his heart rate.  Mom called 911 and gave Dad an aspirin.  The ambulance came and the medics did an EKG and gave him nitroglycerin.

By the time they got him in the ambulance, he was feeling some better.  Mom locked up the house and we were trying to figure out how we were all going to the hospital, who was riding with who.  Christy told us to just stop a minute and we held each other on the carport as my daughter said a prayer.

The medics said they were going to transport him to Northeast traveling at routine traffic.  We had left a few minutes ahead of the ambulance so that we could be there when he arrived.  But when the ambulance left the house, it was with sirens blaring and lights flashing.  When the ambulance passed us, we were worried that Dad had gotten worse.  We later learned that they ran lights and sirens because there were not many ambulances available in the county and they needed to hurry to get back.  Dad said he had quite the ride, having to hold on and brace himself against the bed rails.  We arrived at Northeast around 9:00 PM.  It took a little while before we could go back to see Dad.

Once in the Emergency Department they did blood work.  His cardiac enzymes were elevated some but not to the point where they thought he was having a heart attack.  They did a CT scan to check to see if he had a blood clot in his lungs.  That showed up clear.

While in the Emergency Department, Dad admitted to us that he had been hurting in his chest off and on ever since the last treatment.  When he would get up and walk much, his chest would start hurting so he would go sit down or lay down and just try to breathe deep until the pain went away.  He had not told Mom because he didn’t want to worry her.

He said his chest had been hurting as he walked around after everyone had left earlier that evening.  That’s why he would lay down and then get back up when the pain eased off.  When he had asked Mom to check his heart rate, the pain was not going away, but was getting worse.

The doctor decided to admit him to be monitored overnight.  They would draw blood every couple of hours to keep a check on his cardiac enzyme levels.  He finally got out of the Emergency Department and into a room around 1:45 AM.  Mom stayed with him.

Early that morning the doctor gave orders to give him blood.  He was very anemic and had been since starting the treatments.  The doctor had gone back and forth, trying to determine if he had a heart attack or not.  They finally said that the echocardiogram showed changes since the first one they did before he started chemo.  Based on that and his blood being low, they said his heart was having to pump too hard and that he had had a heart attack.

He was released from the hospital on Wednesday.

The rest of the week, he was pretty weak.  He would get up some to walk, but laid down a lot and napped.  He began to feel better over the weekend, other than the weakness.

On Monday, June 26, 2017, he had an appointment with the oncologist.  Everyone at the Levine Cancer Center had heard of his heart attack.  The oncologist agreed with the cardiologist, that the heart attack Dad had was probably due to his blood being low.  He checked him out and could feel no lymph nodes.  He told Dad that he wanted to change the date of the last chemo treatment, which had been scheduled for the next day.  He had it rescheduled for Wednesday, July 5th, a week away.  They wanted to give him time for his blood to build up before doing the last treatment.

Many of the nurses fussed at Dad for not letting Mom know when he had been hurting in his chest.  One of the nurses was going to clean his pic line.  Before she started, she pulled a stool up in front of Dad, crossed her arms and stared at him.  Dad crossed his arms and stared at her.  Finally Dad said, “What’s up?”  She laughed but she also fussed at Dad, telling him to let Mom know when anything was hurting him.  He needed to speak up.

Even after all Dad has been through, he still doesn’t want to worry anyone.

I have always had trouble speaking to those I do not know very well.  I get nervous and feel like everything I say sounds stupid.  Put a pen and paper in my hand and I’ll write a long letter, but face to face I can’t find the words to say.

There are a lot of times in life when we have to hold our tongue.  Times when it isn’t appropriate or right to speak what is on our mind.  But there are also many times when it is important to speak up.

I was convicted of that recently.  I felt God nudging me to speak out and praise Him for His love and goodness He so generously bestows.  But I kept quiet.  Then I finally had to repent and I publicly expressed how good my heavenly Father has been to me.

Dad has been praying that God will reveal to him what he is supposed to do once he is well.  He wants to see God turn this battle into something good.  I know that Dad will be able to minister to others, speaking up about all God has done and will continue to do.

So this lesson is for us both.

Mum’s not always the word, Dad.

I Just Want To Go Home

If you stopped by because you read my devotion June 22, 2017, over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!



Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  John 14:1-3 (KJV)

My home is ten minutes from my work.  Once I get to work, I change vehicles and drive 35 minutes to my current work location.  That doesn’t really sound like a lot.  And it is better than the hour I had to drive on my last work assignment.

The morning drive I don’t mind.  In fact, I enjoy it.  I listen to music and preaching on the radio.  I love looking at the morning sky.  Most days I like my job.  But the drive in the evening bothers me.  It seems to take longer getting back home than it took to get to work.

There are days when I get back to my main office that I have to run errands or go to appointments that prevent me from going straight home.  By 7:30 or 8:00, though, I feel like I have hit a wall.  I just want to go home.  I not only feel physically tired, but mentally tired as well.

There’s just something about being home where I can totally relax.  Even if I have household chores to do once I get home, I just want to be home.  I want to shut out the noise.  I want to shut out all of the talking and people.  And if I’m totally honest, I just want to be able to stop putting a smile on my face, pretending all is well.

I often feel the same way spiritually.  Sometimes I get so tired of living in this sinful world that I just want to go to my heavenly home.  I want to worship at the feet of my Savior.  I want to be able to feel the complete peace and freedom from the trials of life.

But it’s the getting there that’s tiring.  I know I’m headed for heaven, but the drive seems awfully long sometimes.  We have to live in this world, working and handling all of our responsibilities.  And the longer I travel through this life, things seem to be getting worse.

Do you know, though, that God has given us errands to run?  Appointments to keep?

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.   Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen”.  Matthew 28:18-20  (KJV)

As Christ ascended into heaven, He gave us the Great Commission.  We are to use our time in this world sharing the message of salvation.  We are to teach people, disciple people.  We are to love as Christ loved.  We are to be busy going about doing our Father’s business.  And we can have joy in our heart as we do those things, fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives on this earth.

But then one day, we will get to our limit.  The number of days ordained for us to live in this world will come to an end.  And then, as believers in Christ, we will have the joy of going home.  Once we get there, we can totally relax, being free from all worries.  And we won’t have to pretend we’re happy because for the first time, all will be well for all of eternity.

Are you ready to go home?  Christ came and died for us so that we can have a personal relationship with Him.  He will bless us in this life, even in the midst of problems.  He gives us peace and comfort even in the busyness of life.  He gives us joy when we are in His will.  And ultimately, some day, He will call us home.  I long for that day when I can just go home.

Heavenly Father, sometimes I get so tired of this life.  Yes, there are times of joy, and I thank You for that.  There are times when I know You are using me, and I humbly praise You for that.  Then there are times when I just want to go home.  I long for the day when I can spend eternity with You.  But in the meantime, help me to be faithful to You.  Help me carry out the tasks that You have given me to do.  And help me live a life so that others can see You, and along with me, want to come home to the place You have prepared for Your children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

It Hurts Me More

If you stopped by because you read my devotion June 6th over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

“Blessed is the one you discipline, LORD, the one you teach from your law.”Psalm 94-12 (NIV) (2)

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.  Hebrews 12: 9-10 (NIV)

“This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.”

Have you ever heard that?  I can’t really say that my parents said that to me, (I was the good kid), but I have heard others speak of their parents saying that to them.

I didn’t understand that saying until I had children of my own.  When our babies are born, they are perfect.  Every little smile, every “coo” is deeply embedded in our hearts.  But then they start growing.  Even very young toddlers have to be disciplined.  Some children learn quickly to listen to what they are told, but others seem to push the limits.  Even after being told not to do something, they will look at the one disciplining them in the eye while reaching their hand out toward the forbidden object.

When I had to discipline my children by spanking them or setting them in time out, it did hurt my heart.  I knew they needed to be corrected but the deep sadness they experienced made me want to cry along with them.

When I was very young, I would sometimes fail to be still and quiet in church.  Once home, my dad would talk to me first.  He would point his finger at me as he talked.  I remember thinking that his finger had to be 3 feet long as it was pointed right at my face.  Then I got spanked.  I always thought the “talking to” was a lot worse than the spanking.  I don’t remember that happening too often.  (Like I said, I was the good kid.)

As Christians we learn that it takes discipline to keep a regular time of Bible study and prayer.  It takes discipline to walk a consistent life of obedience.  But discipline can also be God correcting us.  He talks to us first.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

Sometimes that discipline is painful.  We can experience pain and guilt when we are disobedient and commit sin.  We can suffer consequences that may be temporary or that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.  We can feel abandoned by God.  But God doesn’t want us to stay that way.

“Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”  Proverbs 3:12 (NIV)

That discipline may include striping us of things that caused us to fall away from God.  It often involves us losing the peace and joy we can feel when we are in a right relationship with our Savior.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (NIV) 

The discipline we receive should cause us to turn back to the loving, forgiving arms of Christ.  I’ve noticed that about disciplining children.  When the time of discipline is over, they want to be held.  They want to be loved.  When I had to correct my girls or grandchildren, I couldn’t wait to hold them in my arms.  Our Heavenly Father is the same.  He corrects us because He loves us.  But He also can’t wait to have a close fellowship with us once more.  If we could ask Him how it makes Him feel to discipline us, I think He would say:

“It hurt Me a lot more than it hurts you.”

And Jesus has the scars to prove it.

Heavenly Father, Thank you for loving us so much that You will discipline us when we are disobedient to Your will.  When the time of reproof and correction is hurtful, let me remember that Your heart hurts too.  Help me to be quick to repent so that I can be in sweet fellowship with You once more.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Dad’s Journey – Part 3

From The Mountaintop To The Valley and Back Again

I will lift up my eyes Psalm 121-1-2 (NKJV)

Dad had his second chemo treatment on Wednesday, May 3rd while in the hospital.  He returned home from his 3rd stay in the hospital on Saturday, May 6th.  Sunday morning he was weak and a little nauseated.  But Monday morning he was feeling some better.  The therapist came and worked with him.  The week was full of doctor appointments.  He went every day to receive the shots that would help keep his white blood cells up.

His 76th birthday was on May 9th.  As he walked into the cancer center on that day, his age was already changed on his paperwork and the nurses wished him a happy birthday.  Everyone there has been so good to him and the nurses have made over him every time he has gone.

Dad asked for my daughter Christy to bring her three kids to come see him that week.  Visitors have been limited because of the risk of him catching something.  But he felt stronger and thought it would be a good time to see them since he was over the second treatment and was a week away from the third.  Hudson, the 5 year old, and Hadley, the 3 year old, had picked out gifts (toys) they wanted their Papa to have, including some bubbles.  Christy got him a Superman t-shirt, telling him that he was her Superman.

The kids really enjoyed their visit as much as Dad enjoyed seeing them.

Going into the week of his 3rd treatment, he had a mixture of days when he felt pretty good and others when he was weak.  He was eating well and was able to move around outside a little.  The treatment was given at the Levine Cancer Center on Wednesday, May 17th.  His appointment was at 8:30.  They began with a bag of fluids and nausea medication before administering the chemo.  The treatment was over at noon.

The day after chemo, he went to get a Neulasta shot.  This shot would take the place of the shots he had been having to go take daily.  But it also would cause more weakness and aches and pains.

Dad has always been a man that couldn’t stay inside for long.  He would go outside and piddle around all the time.  Being confined to the house, having to rely on others and feeling so bad gets him very discouraged.

One day when he was feeling especially weak and tired, his cousin Jerry Harrison came to visit. Jerry’s wife has been through cancer treatments and Jerry had an understanding of what Dad was going through.  He talked with Dad, prayed with him and was just what Dad needed that day.  A short time after Jerry’s visit, Preacher Toney Parsons came to visit.  He also encouraged Dad.  We firmly believe that little things like that which have been happening all along is God assuring Dad of His love and control over everything Dad is going through.

My sister-in-law had posted on her Facebook page several weeks back asking her friends to send him cards.  He has received cards from all over.  The posts I have written have been read by many people, who have responded that they are praying for him.  All of the cards and prayers have meant a lot to him.  We keep trying to encourage him by telling him that he is affecting a lot of people’s lives.  There’s no answer to why he is having to endure this sickness, but hopefully it will help someone to draw closer to God.

He continued to feel weak the following days.  My daughter Martha had a problem with the pump on her septic tank on Thursday night, May 18th.  She called Dad Friday morning to see if he knew who she might could call to come look at it.  Dad made several phone calls that morning, seeming to enjoy feeling needed.

One day he heard a commercial on TV and “Happy Hour” was mentioned.  He asked mom what Happy Hour was.  She told him it was a period of time when drinking was encouraged.  He said he was having Happy Hour all the time because Mom was pushing him to drink a lot of fluids.

He began to feel better the weekend before his 4th treatment.  He felt well enough to walk around outside.  Being able to get out encouraged him.  He was released from the physical therapist on May 29th.  Mom took him to the drive-thru at Wendy’s to get a frosty to celebrate.

The fourth treatment was Wednesday, May 31st.  Dad wore his superman shirt that Christy had given him.  When he put the shirt on, my Mom told him he looked cute.  He wondered that maybe he shouldn’t wear it to the cancer center since the nurses already made over him enough.

Superman 2

While he was sitting taking the treatment, in walks Preacher Joe Smith.  Joe had been at the hospital visiting and said he felt God impress on him that he needed to go to the cancer center, even though he would not normally go there.  He walked straight over to Dad and talked a few minutes.  He prayed together with Mom and Dad and then left.  One more instance of God putting people in Dad’s path to offer him encouragement had occurred.

He did really well with the treatment.  He went to get the Neulasta shot the next day.  On Friday he began to feel weak.  He has felt a little weaker each day but is hoping the cycle will continue so that he can feel stronger again before the next treatment.

He was released from the home health nurse on June 7th.  Since that was one of his weak days, instead of going to Wendy’s for a frosty, he and mom settled for a bowl of ice cream at home.

Dad has had his good days and bad days.  On the good, it’s almost like a victory has been won.  The days are enjoyed as much as possible.  But the bad days are long.  They are discouraging and hard.  It’s like going from mountaintop to the valley and back again, and again.  He’ll feel good for the week before and during a treatment and then bad for a week afterwards.

In our lives, we all have mountaintop moments.  And we all have valleys to go through.  Watching Dad going through the last couple months, it’s like seeing a condensed version of what our whole lives are like.  The ups and downs.

I have always enjoyed the stories in the Old Testament of the Bible.  One story in particular I have always liked is in Exodus 17.

“Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.  And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.”  So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.  And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.  But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.  So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”   Exodus 17:8-13 (NKJV)

There’s a couple of things that I find encouraging in this passage.  Notice in verse 9.  Moses tells Joshua to choose some men to fight.  Now these men would have been strong men, men who could fight well.  It’s in our nature, at least in mine, to question why God allows bad things to happen to good people.  But why shouldn’t He.  God sometimes chooses strong people that are capable of obeying and honoring God to fight the battles of life.  Through the humbling of themselves, through showing that their strength is not in themselves but in God alone, then God can receive all the glory when the battle has been won.

In the following verses, Moses stands on the hill with the rod of God.  When the rod is raised, they were winning.  When the rod was lowered, they were being beaten back.  As the men were fighting, they could look up to the hill and see Moses.  When they saw the rod, the same rod that had been used in all of the miracles that God had performed, the men could be reminded that the presence and power of God was with them, even in the midst of the battle.  When we are in the middle of our battle, even when we are in the valley, we can look back to the times we were on our mountaintops and know, that the same God that was blessing us so much in the good times, is still the all-powerful God that is with us in our valleys.

Now consider Aaron and Hur.  They were there to help Moses, who was the intercessor between the people and God.  When we know of people who are going through their valleys, we ought to intercede for them in prayer to our Father.  We need to be there to give them assistance.  So many people are praying for and encouraging my Dad.  People have brought food and visited.  Phone calls have been received.  All of that is so appreciated and is something we all can do for anyone who is going through hard times.

One day as I was visiting my Dad, he asked Mom to hand him his Bible that was close by.  He wanted to show me what he had come across as he had been reading.  He told us to open it to 1 Peter 5.  Verses 8 and 9 are familiar verses, speaking about the fact that the devil is seeking out those whom he can devour.  But we are to resist him and stay strong.  It says “knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”  Then verse 10 is the verse that spoke to my Dad.

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”  1 Peter 5:10

You may be in the valley now.  But keep looking up to the top of the hill.  God will soon take us out of the valley and back to the mountaintop again.

Look up to the hill top, Dad.