Thursday, February 28, 2008

At exactly 1:11 p.m. on Thursday, February 28, Elisa turned over from her back to her tummy. Once there, she wasn't sure what to do with the arm she was crushing underneath her. We were both watching and cheered as if it were some major accomplishment. It was! She is our granddaughter and we saw it first--just one of those bonuses that comes with being a grandparent!

I don't remember exactly when either of our two children turned over for the first time. I was too busy with life, with taking care of them, trying to run a household and supplement our income by teaching piano. I was too busy to celebrate the important things--or so I thought. Keeping Elisa and talking to Marty about Christopher reminds me of the early months of our children's lives. The memories are both sweet and bittersweet. The love I felt then for our children has grown and grown and grown. But I remember being so busy that I didn't savor every moment with them. With Elisa, it's different. Everything else in our lives takes second place to her. We are present for one another. That's what I hear when I talk to Marty. Everything takes second place to her care of Christopher at this time in his life. She gets it!

Tom and I love being grandparents. It's another of God's gifts to us and we know it. We love our children and the spouses God has given them. They, too, are gifts! We are fortunate, indeed.

Pastor Margaret

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No matter their ages, our children are full of surprises! I just happened to pull up my blog spot last night and saw the pictures of Christopher with two of his grandparents and his dad. Imagine my surprise! What Marty didn't tell you is that in the two of Tom and me holding Christopher he is just 12 hours old. We had recently arrived at the hospital after our day and a half trip to Raleigh and were so excited to see and hold him for the first time.

One of Marty's dogs loves to snoop in my stuff and chew what she finds. The first day we were there she discovered the cable that attached from my camera to the computer and chewed it into two or three pieces. Marty and Kevin replaced it with a card reader--far better than the cable that got destroyed. She assures me that I can insert pictures into my e-mails and blogs, but I haven't been brave enough to try yet. I'm glad she intervened so you could see Christopher for yourselves. Stay tuned and maybe I'll learn to post pictures too.

Yesterday I told someone that one of our TV weather forecasters has gotten to be like the little boy who cried "wolf." He has predicted frozen precipitation at least a half dozen times this winter and any comes it's a flake or two. Yesterday, later in the day, his prediction came true. We had a little sleet, followed by pretty snow flurries until about noon today--none of which stuck. There are lots of disappointed children.

Last night Tom and I attended a Parkinson's support group and learned some things about exercise for the PD patient. That part of the program was good. The leader of the group is a woman who drones on and on, apparently thinking she must comment on everything anyone says. She makes the meetings a bit tedious. I sat by a lady in a wheelchair whose speech has been greatly affected by her Parkinson's. When I told her my name, she asked if I was Presbyterian. I wondered if it showed! Then she said that she and her husband belonged to First Presbyterian and I said you must know our son. She did. Being Presbyterian didn't show after all. I had to really concentrate and get up close to her to try to distinguish what she was saying and I couldn't help but think how good it is that Tom is getting help at this stage with his speech. Maybe this will nip his speech problems in the bud. Finally, the lady told me that she and her husband moved here to teach at Union University and that she taught piano there for 25 years. We had something else in common and she seemed glad we had another connection. I will look forward to seeing her again.

Last week ABC News, both in the morning and in the evening, featured a story about a 13 year old autistic girl who has never spoken. Consequently, even her parents had doubts about her mental capacity. One day they discovered that she could communicate using a computer. Until then they had no idea the young girl could even spell. When asked the question, "What advice would you give to those dealing with autism?" She said that she would tell them not to be mad (at actions of an autistic person), but to be understanding. No one doubts her mental capacity anymore. She possesses wisdom beyond her hears.

DON'T BE MAD. BE UNDERSTANDING. Those words are stuck in my mind. They work for more than autism. Probably all carepartners get frustrated and impatient with the various symptoms exhibited by those for whom they care. I do. Frustration and impatience, without understanding, leads quickly to anger. Anger is nonproductive. The words of a young, autistic girl remind me to start every day with a prayer on my lips and in my heart that asks God to prevent my anger and give me understanding instead. It's a more loving way to live.

Pastor Margaret

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hi, Mom!

I'm totally hijacking my mom's blog because we never got around to our lesson in putting pictures on the blog. And who doesn't want to see pictures when there's a new baby around?

And a more recent one. On his one month birthday this past Saturday, with his daddy:

Now back to your regular blogging . . .

Thursday, February 21, 2008

One should always check one's sources! I tried the link I put in my last post and it took me to the You Tube page, but not to the specific story I suggested. If you are interested, click on the link, type in "union university" in the "search" box and you will find more than one video on the subject. The one I referenced is "Union tribute." It's worth the effort.

Pastor Margaregt

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's been two weeks since the tornadoes came through Jackson and today the Union students returned. Classes begin for them tomorrow. Saturday Tom and I drove into the the part of town that took the brunt of the storm and shook our heads in disbelief. When I saw the remains of the Union campus a chill ran up and down my spine as I wondered how there could have been no deaths in the midst of all that destruction. God's protective hand was certainly present. Liz's mom sent me this link you might be interested in watching: It tells the story.

I learned Friday of last week that the CA125 that indicates cancer activity has gone down another five points. God's protective hand remains with me as well!

We had a great anniversary! We received cards and calls from friends and family members. It was a holiday for many, including the schools, so we didn't have Elisa for the day. We spent our day running a few errands, having lunch at my favorite Jackson restaurant, Tom had speech therapy and we ate seafood gumbo with Tommy and his family in the evening. We really enjoyed ourselves, but were tired at the end of the day.

Wierd weather patterns continue. The local TV weathermen are frustrating the school children to no end with their predictions of ice and/or snow. Several times this winter they have gotten everyone's hopes up and then nothing of any consequence happens. Once again we have been alerted to ice/snow possibilites beginning tomorrow late and continuing through Friday. Who knows? Thankfully, we don't have to go out for anything.

Tom and I went to church together on Sunday for the first time in weeks. Even the Sundays I've substituted in Sunday School or preached in a neighboring town, he has not felt like going with me. It was good to be in worship and to have two of our grandchildren sitting with us. The lectionary gospel reading in John 3 was the text for the sermon and the approach was one I haven't heard before. The minister spoke of Nicodemus and how much we resemble him. He said and did all the "right" things, but could not understand that it's really about believing. The sermon made me think: is my spiritual life focused on "right" words, "right" traditions, "right" actions? Or is it focused on Jesus, the Son of God and my relationship with him? He did for me what I could never do for myself. He gave his life so that I could also have life. Anything "right" should come from my grateful heart. It's too bad that doing church often gets in the way of being the Church!

Til next time . . .
Pastor Margaret

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Today, February 13, begins the anniversaries of an eventful ten or so days in our lives. Many of you know of our "long" engagement that started on the 13th of February and culminated with our wedding on the 18th. If you know our story, fast forward and skip the next few lines or stay with me as I have fun remembering.

Tom came home from an almost three year tour of duty in Munich, Germany on Christmas Eve, 1966. His tour was curtailed and he was on the "fast track" to Vietnam. He was a captain in the Army artillery and he was needed in the war--or so they said. Mom and I didn't think so. We communicated all the time he was in Germany and by the time he came home we had been having an on again, off again courtship for six years. Never, in a million years, did I think I would marry him! Seeing him again after his years away, I knew he was the one God had chosen for me and we began talking about getting married either at the end of his preparation for Vietnam or when he came home from Vietnam. He thought we should wait. He didn't want to marry me one week and leave me the next, but his mother told him, in so many words, that he was crazy. So, on Monday, February 13, he told the superintendent of the school where I was teaching that I would be quitting that week. We went to the courthouse to apply for a marriage license, got a blood test and he put a ring on my finger. Saturday, the 18th, we were married, complete with a dress my mother made that week and we left the church headed for Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Five months later he was on a plane to Southeast Asia. I'll always be thankful for Mom's insistence that love shouldn't be postponed by a war. Every year this time we reminence about that week, how hectic it was and how much fun it was. Six years later our second child was born on February 24.

Valentine's Day has always taken a back seat to our anniversary and Marty's birthday. They are such big, important days of celebration. They are days that remind us of some of God's greatest gifts to us--our marriage and our children. I remember like it was yesterday, standing in the front of the church, holding Tom's hand and hearing Dr. Sims pronounce us man and wife. Now, here we are forty one years, two children and six grandchildren later still counting our blessings and being astounded that life continues to get better! You should be so blessed!

Today has also been special because it was Elisa's first day back with us since we went to North Carolina to greet Christopher. It's been almost three weeks since we've kept her and we've missed her. She entertained us throughout the day with her smiles and "talking." Tom is smitten with her deep blue eyes and long dark lashes! So am I!

We could not have designed a better life if we had tried. I wouldn't have known where to begin to create the lives of our children and I would know even less about putting together the personalities of our grandchildren. They are all truly God's creations. It is our privilege to know and love them and to pray for them.

We are celebrating God's goodness!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Wednesday of this past week--the day after--dawned sunny and clear, but several degrees cooler. The only debris in our yard was left over from the ice the previous week. But, as daylight dawned more and more damage was visible on the north side of the interstate. We learned that the home of one church member was completely destroyed.

Thursday I drove to Memphis for a Committee on Ministry meeting and about five miles west of town I began encountering clean up crews. Trees were snapped in two or completely uprooted, highway signs were twisted, billboards were down and on the sides of the road and in the median you could see places where eighteen wheelers had overtuned. After three or four more miles trees were upright and things looked normal. I saw no signs of damage in the part of Memphis where we met, but I know there is destruction there compounded by looting.

Yesterday, Friday, we drove to Corinth for my treatment. It was a beautiful day. There were patches of green in the fields and some trees had that pinkish tint that appears right before they bud. The drive took us through another area in West Tennessee where the storms hit. I had heard that a mattress factory had been demolished and knew its exact location because I had thought it strange that there would be such a factory in such a rural area. Well, it's not there anymore. The front of what had been the building is crumpled and the contents are all over the land behind, in the trees, draped over the fences. I have heard that mattresses were found miles away.

Schools in our county, as well as in some others, remain closed until Monday. It has taken some time to get power restored and some faculty and staff have had damage at their homes that needed attention. Students at Union University won't report back until February 18. Authorities are still trying to determine what buildings are usable. They know 80% of the residence halls are gone, so finding a place for students to live is part of the challenge. Hopefully, they will be able to complete the semester.

Being brought face to face with both tornadoes and my cancer in the same week prompted comparisons. I learned early in life the difference in a tornado "watch" and a tornado "warning." A "watch" means that conditions exist for the possibility of a tornado and you should be alert--watching. A "warning" needs to be taken much more seriously. This means a tornado has been sighted and those in the vicinity and/or path should move to a place of safety. A person who has a family history of cancer or who has certain risk factors in themselves (i.e. previous cancers) is under a cancer "watch." A "warning" means cancer has been sighted/detected and a person should do everything possible to be safe. Sometimes in either the case of the tornado or the cancer, you heed all the advice, take all the precautions and you still fall prey. Sometimes the tornado devastates one side of the street and not the other. Some survive cancer; some do not. Because we never know when or where the storms in our lives may occur, we need someone in our lives who is bigger than any storm, someone who brings peace in the midst of the storms and someone who will ultimately deliver. Praise God, He is that One!

Scans on Tuesday showed good improvement over the ones in November and though they are not clear we are encouraged that the treatments are working. Two more treatments will be given in this series, then the doctor evaluates and we go from there. Be assured that we are on "watch," knowing that conditions exist that could cause more problems. And, being "warned" I am heeding all the advice and praying that the treatments send this storm on its way again.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Both the phone and my e-mail have been busy this morning with friends checking on us after last night's devastating storms. I am happy to report that we are fine, with no signs of wind damage, no limbs down and no loss of electrical power. We stayed glued to the TV from about 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. and listened for the tornado sirens which sounded off and on for long periods of time throughout the evening. You cannot live in this part of the country and not have done some advance planning for storms. We always keep bottled water, candles, matches, flashlights (and batteries) handy and we have a designated "safe" spot. As soon as we knew the estimated time the storm would be here, we took our supplies to the spot and got ready for the worst.

Interstate 40 intersects the city from east to west and US 45 and a 45 by-pass intersect it from north to south. We live just south of I-40 and between 45 and the by-pass. Most of the damage, certainly the worst, was north of I-40 and across 45 and the by-pass. Union University where students were trapped in destroyed dorms, some for several hours, is about a mile and a half to two miles from us, north of I-40. Most everything north of I-40 lost power and schools all around the area in West Tennessee are closed as crews assess damage and repair power lines. The amazing thing is that there were only two fatalities in our county. We are thankful to be safe, dry and warm. Tommy's family around the corner from us is safe as well.

Thank you for your prayers and concern. Please continue to pray for those across the South who have sustained damage and lost loved ones.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Where did the time go? This has been a short week and tomorrow we head west toward home. We have loved every minute of being here with Christopher, Marty and Kevin, but now we have to get back to our exciting schedule of visits with doctors, tests and a treatment at the end of next week. I have tried to memorize Christopher's features, the little faces he makes and the precious baby noises. He will have changed a lot by the next time we see him. He already looks a bit different from the first peek we had of him in the hospital last Saturday.

Babies are a wonder, a wonder that only God could have designed. The whole process is a wonder! Each time a baby is conceived and carried by a mother, each time a baby comes into the world another miracle takes place. The splendor and grandeur of God's creation, all creatures great and small, the changing of the seasons--all this and more make me absolutely dumbfounded with what God has done. Nothing, however, matches the miracle of babies. We now have six little miracles we know and love as grandchildren and we know how blessed we are.

The experience of this week with our daughter and her son has been pretty special.