Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The year was a blur . . .

We spent Christmas 2009 with Tom in the hospital and began 2010 with him in the nursing home. He had taken a definite turn for the worst and wondered if he would ever come home again. God, in His mercy, answered our prayers for improvement and he came home the first week in February. His condition is definitely deteriorating, with bad days outnumbering good days. Still, we have had some great times together and with our family.

Marty, Kevin and their three came for a visit around Easter and we were able to spend a long weekend with them in November when we went to Raleigh so I could baptize Colin. Marty has introduced me to Skype so we can visit "face to face" to see how the boys are growing. Mallory is in her first year of high school--hard to believe. Being around the corner from Tommy and Liz means sharing ordinary days, holidays and birthdays. I have loved watching Jacob develop his musical abilities and the two younger girls learn how to play together. Drew is very consciencious with his school work, but not so much in keeping up with things. I wonder if we have an "absent minded professor" in the making. Sarah helps both her mom and her dad around the house and is really good with her little sisters. I haven't cooked with her so much this year, but hope to resume that soon. They are all growing up too fast to suit me.

Our holidays have been relaxing--for the most part. I've enjoyed baking and having food to share. We had friends for dinner a couple of weeks ago and they brought beautiful pictures of a three month trip they took to Alaska in the summer and another about ten day one to South Africa in the fall. The travelogue was especially meanigful to Tom and me since we don't travel so well any more. Christmas Eve we had Tommy's family, plus Liz's mom and dad for dinner; I took stollen and ham biscuits to add to Christmas breakfast at Tommy's and went back that night with a plate full of goodies. I have made enough biscuits in the last two weeks to feed a small army! It was the right decision to start ordering 25 pound bags of flour from King Arthur.

One of my favorite things about Christmas is mail time. I love seeing pictures of children and grandchildren; I love hearing what everyone has been doing; I love knowing of others' lives. I am reminded of how grateful I am for friends and how I need to pray for each one. We were saddened one day to see the names of two who had special places in our life in a list of memorials. One was the name of the lady who was my mentor/friend when I did my Christian Education fieldwork and the same lady who arranged the first date Tom and I had with each other. The second was a friend with whom we shared lots of memories.

We learned in early December, 1981 that I probably had breast cancer. We kept the news to ourselves except for family and very close friends until the Sunday after Christmas--I was scheduled for a biopsy on Monday. I remember sitting in the living room while usual, traditional things happened all around us. Tommy was twelve; Marty was eight. I was aware that I might be spending my last Christmas with them and I was both sad and afraid. Here we are almost 30 years later and I am more aware than ever that each Christmas could be the last one that our family is together--in spirit, if not in body. The difference today is that I don't observe; I don't just let it happen. I am determined to participate and love every minute. This year I am especially grateful of the rest from treatment; I am grateful for energy to go to the grocery; I am grateful that I have learned to sit while doing many kitchen tasks. I am grateful for friends and family who don't listen to me when I tell them "I can do it myself." I am grateful for a husband who keeps on trying and keeps on loving and keeps on remembering the vows we took.

There have been some rough days when Tom's illness has taken over, when he has been too confused to know the difference between day and night. He gets a new scrape or bruise almost every day. We get impatient with one another, but have learned to talk about things as best we can, say "I'm sorry" and move ahead. All the time I know that he probably won't remember what we said.

None of us knows what tomorrow will bring. This may be the last Christmas many of us spend with our families. We just don't know! It's as the gospel song says, "We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future." That is our hope; it is our assurance!

Pastor Margaret

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

All Things Bright and Beautiful

The Lord did indeed make them all! Ours has been a wonderful Advent season, highlighted by Tuesday noon services at the church we attend. Guest musicians have provided special music and guest ministers have led in Advent devotionals. After each service we have gathered to share simple lunches in the fellowship hall and the visiting around the tables has added to the day. Sunday, a week ago, the choir presented their annual cantata during the worship hour. Frankly, I have never liked for the music to take the place of the spoken word, but I'll have to say that the music that morning was absolutely glorious. Scripture readings began with the Creation in Genesis and continued through God's plan for our salvation and the birth of Jesus. This past Sunday found us headed to Humboldt to worship with our friends there. One delightful lady was celebrating her 96th birthday and the church had planned a little surprise party for her after the service. The minister's text was the Matthew 1 story of Joseph's learning of Mary's pregnancy and his response. The delightful part was that she assumed the character of Joseph and dramatically shared in first person. It has been a season of anticipation and thanksgiving for the gift of Jesus.

Together Tom and I have baked, shopped, decorated and enjoyed friends and family. The one thing that hasn't been done is no Christmas cards have been sent. My address list got stuck somewhere between the old and new laptops so I have been carefully recording addresses as card come to us. Yesterday we went to Memphis to shop in two specific stores: a men's store for Tom and Penzey's spice store. My cousin met us at Penzey's and the three of us went to lunch. It was nice to enjoy excellent service, cloth tablecloths and napkins and great food. We had a wonderful visit as well. Tom, of course, listens more than he talks--we don't give him much opportunity, if you want to know the truth.

Last night as we approached our house I noticed the porch light was on and remarked that someone had been here. Then when as I prepared to make the wide swing to get into our garage we saw both Tommy and Elizabeth's vans. Tommy had bought us a tree and the two of them were busily setting it up when we arrived. (There was a tell tale trail of evergreen needles from the back door into the living room.) Liz, who I have desiganted as the "light queen," put the lights on and we began putting on the ornaments after they went home. I don't know who gets the most joy out of this experience that they duplicate each year.

Tonight we celebrated Meredith's fifth birthday. She was not quite a year old when we moved here and today she is a delightful little girl, full of imagination and affection for her family. Big sister Sarah had the stomach bug and had to miss the party, but Mimi, Liz's mom, was able to join us by Skype. Modern technology is something else!

More cooking follows--and of course, more eating. We are so blessed to have family and friends and we have loved hearing from many and seeing pictures. We wish you the most wonderful of Christmases full of hope, peace, joy and love made possible by the gift of Jesus.

Pastor Margaret

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Cancer and its effects have been on my mind this week. It started as I thought about Marty visiting her friend Susan in DC. (I actually have two Susan friends who have cancer and from time to time I have asked you to pray for them.) Well, the DC Susan is Marty's oldest and dearest friend who was diagnossed with inflammatory breast cancer three years ago when her younger son was about three months old. More often than not, this particular breast cancer is a killer. Susan underwent agressive chemo and radiation, went into remission and then had a bilateral mastectomy and hysterectomy. She resumed work from home doing special projects for NASA (she's an astro-physicist), started a blog for moms with cancer and became quite vocal as an advocate for breast cancer awareness, particularly the kind she had. Then this past spring she heard the dreaded words from her doctor that cancer cells were discovered in lymph nodes under her arm. Back she went for more radiation and was put on an oral chemo drug which has wreaked havoc on her body. Still, she mustered the energy for Marty to visit along with her two boys for three or four days last week. Monday the oncologist recommended they stop the chemo because of the toll it was taking repeat scans in January to see if the drug has wiped out the cancer. Susan, naturally, has had some questions about the doctor's recommendation.

Then came the announcement on that very Monday that treatment had been stopped for Elizabeth Edwards. Most of us who heard that understood that her death would be emminent, but were somewhat surprised to learn that she died Tuesday morning. She was a brave woman who chose to live with her disease rather than to await her death. She was also a high profile person who endured the public humility of her husband's infidelity. Her grace and dignity in the midst of her suffering most certainly will be the legacy she leaves. I can only wonder if she had questions about her decision to stop treatment when she did.

Mrs. Edwards's influence will be felt across the country. Susan influences many daily as she blogs, as she shares in the scientific community and as she continues her life as wife and mother. She, too, has a large audience. Many more of us have much smaller circles of influence, but no matter how known or unknown we are, we have family and friends who love and support us and who pray for our healing. Cancer is no respector of persons!

My other friend, Susan who has ovarian cancer, faced new decisions regarding her treatment recently. There were questions as to the best course to take. Was she making the right decision? How would it affect her life? Would the new treatment be more effective than the previous one?

The events of the week raised questions for me as well. My last treatment was November 19 and have not actually been told when they will be resumed. They were stopped so that my body could have a much needed rest, but I can't help but wonder if there is something I don't know. Are we about to face the decision between quantity and quality? How much will be have to play "catch up" when I begin again? How much ground will have been lost, if any? Will we enjoy aa period of remission? There are always questions. We all have them.

I hate cancer. I hate what it does to its victims. I hate, especially, what it does to family and friends of those who have it. My heart aches when I remember Tom hearing, not once, but several times about the cancer in my body; it aches when I remember having to tell our children and it aches when I remember the look on Tommy's face when the doctor told us that the disease is incurable and predicted how long I'd live--even though he was wrong with his calculations. These are the things that make me sad.

I am sustained by the knowledge that God is bigger than any cancer and as one Susan reminds me, He is on duty 24/7. The heartache shrinks when I remember how blessed I am to have such a loving, caring husband, children and other family who express their love and concern in too many ways to count and friends far and wide who stay close. There will always be questions, but we need not fear when we trust such a faithful God as we have. During this Advent, as we prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus, I am especially reminded of the hope, peace, joy and love He brought.

Pastor Margaret

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


It's really cold outside--hasn't gotten out of the thirties yesterday or today and Johnny Mathis is entertaining us with "It's Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas." Anticipation is mounting.

I am missing posting Advent devotionals this year, but I simply didn't start writing early enough to meet the deadline to have them printed. I have been using a booklet my one of my favorite writers, the late Henri Nouwen and today we went to the noon Advent service at our church. Each Tuesday during the season there is a service featuring special music and a guest minister. Today our organist presented the music playing an original composition and two hymns he and the guest minister had written. After we had sung the hymns, he improvised on the tunes. He closed with an arrangement of "Joy to the World." It was a special worship service followed by a soup luncheon in the fellowship hall.

Little by little I've been getting out our Christmas things and am surprised almost every time I open a box. Last year I didn't feel like getting out much, then Tom went to the hospital and I was glad I hadn't. I had forgotten where I had stored some things and in some cases, even forgotten I had something I found. We love our old decorations and the memories they hold, but it's fun to add new touches too. The hard part is remembering where things are! If I put something out everyday, I should be through decorating by the time it's time to put it away again.

Yesterday I made a family favorite, cherry refrigerator cookies. They aren't necessarily just for Christmas but are full of red and green candied cherries so they fit the color scheme. Traditionally, I make stollen and lemon muffins for Christmas breakfast so will probably do those next and put them in the freezer. If I cook something everyday, we should have lots to eat and lots to share. That works for me.

Our front bedroom looks like the North Pole with piles of both wrapped and unwrapped gifts. Liz does the Black Friday thing, making periodic stops throughout the morning to drop off her "finds." This year Marty had some of her gifts sent here for me to wrap and they add to the piles. Somewhere in all of that are the things I have to get in the mail. If I wrap a few everyday, we should be organized and ready.

Had the oncologist not given me a month free of treatment, not much of the above would be taking place. What a gift! It adds to our anticipation of the celebration of the birth of our Saviour. We are full of hope, peace, joy and love: hope because of God's grace; peace as we trust Him for our every need; joy that comes from knowing that we are God's children; and love for all our family and friends. We wish for you those things as well.

Pastor Margaret

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Just Lazy . . .

Blogging has not been a priority lately. Maybe my lack of computer in October pushed me out of the habit. Or it could have been that my brain was on overload. Whatever. When I looked at the date of my last post I was surprised that it had been two weeks and I've missed you.

During my weeks away, we have celebrated my 70th birthday, had Thanksgiving and partially celebrated Liz's birthday which fell on Thanksgiving day. She braved the crowds for Black Friday shopping and though I didn't leave the house, I had a credit card number stolen--and used. One of the reasons for brain overload was my trying to get Advent devotionals ready in time. I didn't make it, but at least I'm a step ahead for next year.

Another day I participated in a program for an older adult luncheon at the church. It didn't require major preparation because I've done this one many times, but I did have to get organized. We called it "Gifts You Give Your Children" and focused on end of life decisions, funeral/memorial service plans and documenting your life, especially your spiritual life. I enjoyed doing it and came away with ideas for future activities.

The highlight of the day was when the church playschool children walked quietly through the fellowship hall where we were having lunch. Elisa saw us and immediately said, "Maw Maw, Paw Paw" loud enough for everyone to hear. You know that tickles us! Next whe looked the other direction into the kitchen and saw her daddy and in an even more excited voice called his name. A friend said she had never seen such a grin on Tommy's face. Her reaction made me think about a book I gave Tommy on his 21st birthday. I think the name of it is I'll Love You Forever and it tells of a little boy's birth, his life in his family and how the mother was always there to care for him, saying, "I'll love you forever." The illustrations show the mother holding him in her arms, lifting him when he couldn't lift himself. Toward the end, the roles reverse when the boy becomes a man and cares for the mother, holding her and lifting her when necessary. I am experiencing that role reversal. As I saw the looks on Elisa's and Tommy's faces there was nothing but love, acceptance and trust in their eyes. I had this thought: our children really cannot comprehend the love we have for them until they have children of their own. It's a special thing to see your children with theirs, to see the love you have for them reflected on their faces as they care for their children. We give thanks everyday for our children and their families!

Advent begins tomorrow. I trust it will be for you a time of anticipation, of hope, of peace, of joy and of love as you look forward to celebrating the first coming of Christ.

Pastor Margaret

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lots to Share . . .

Tom, Tommy and I were in Raleigh this time last week for Colin's baptism. We left on Thursday, spent the night in Ashville, North Carolina and were greeted at breakfast that there had been snow at 6 a.m. Fortunately, it was gone by the time we were ready to resume our travels. We arrived in Raleigh in time to meet with one of the associates at White Memorial Presbyterian Church where Marty and Kevin are members. Saturday we awakened to a slow, steady rain, but it didn't prevent our going downtown to eat a BIG country breakfast at Big Ed's, a Raleigh favorite. The baptism was at the 9:30 a.m. service on Sunday and was followed by lunch at Marty's for family and friends who were present. Sunday night Marty and Tommy went to the store where Tommy planned dinner and bought what was needed. He prepared a real feast! Monday we headed home, spent that night in Knoxville and were home by 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The trip was wonderful, but really tiring. Tommy did all the loading and unloading and all the driving, plus numerous other things to help. I don't know how we could have made it without him! I may be as hard headed as ever, but not as tough as I think I am.

Colin is just over nine months old and weighs a solid twenty four pounds. Both he and Christopher had colds, but nothing could keep him from smiling. During the service I made a few remarks about baptism, asked the usual questions, then took Colin in my arms to administer the sacrament. He smiled and watched every movement I made as I touched his head with the water three times and welcomed him into the Covenant Family of God. He kept that precious smile all the while the associate walked down the aisle to present him to the congregation. Once again, I am reminded of the privilege it is to baptize a child, but especially your own grandchild, and the responsibility we all have to teach them about our amazing God!

Trees along the way were dressed in their fall finery--a bonus for us. Since we've been back to Jackson I've noticed how much trees in town have changed just in a week. The crepe myrtles are a brilliant red and yellow orange; the dogwoods are a softer shade of red; the Bradford pears are multi-colored; and the maples and a tree I don't recognize are splendid in various shades of yellow. This morning I spotted a big ghinko that is bright yellow, but know it will have dropped many of its leaves by morning because of much needed rain we're getting today. I do love fall and all its colors!

Thursday we went to Memphis for scans, bloodwork and a visit with the oncologist. We both were a little apprehensive, mainly because my CA125 has been slowly rising and the extreme fatigue. Dr. Reed told me: "The disease is stable--it has not decreased, but neither has it increased. In your situation and as your doctor I want you to know that this is a good report." I could hardly concentrate on his words for offering my silent thanks to God. Dr. Reed also asked if I'd like to take a brief treatment break to let my body mend some. So, right now I'm enjoying an eight day rest from treatment and will resume next Friday. Yesterday I called to get the CA125 number and learned that it has gone down three points since last month. Getting back on the Avastin has definitely helped. God constantly amazes me with His grace and goodness!

It was a BIG week--spending time with family, baptizing Colin, getting good news. We are so blessed!

Pastor Margaret

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Finally Back

Last Saturday I picked up my new laptop at Office Depot and I've been struggling learning the differences in it and the former laptop. I was so used to the one I had!

Let's see if I can give you a brief update on our October activities.
  • Did I tell you that Tom joined a fitness center and is working with a personal trainer two days a week? He is doing well and I know it is helping him.
  • On the negative side, he gets more disoriented and less functioning as the afternoon turns to evening. Parkinson's is so unpredictable!!
  • The cataract surgeries have done well and we look forward to seeing the opthamologist this week for a final time--we hope.
  • I was able to resume the Avastin, but thus far have not noticed any good it's done. My blood pressure has risen, but it's being controlled by medication. My red blood count is creeping down necessitating shots in an attempt to prompt cell production. The CA125 is creeping up. I will go to the Memphis office in another couple of weeks for scans and for my monthly visit with the doctor. Please pray for a positive visit.
  • The past two Sundays I filled the pulpit in Humboldt, taught Sunday School the week before that and began this year's PW Bible Study in Revelation. (Next, I begin work on the Advent devotions for our church here--have to get busy fast or won't be ready.)

Not only has the blog drought been broken, but the rains finally returned this past week. With the rain came cooler temperatures and it's beginning to feel and look more like fall. Tom and I have begun our periodic runs downtown to check out the ghinko trees lining the streets--not much yellow showing yet. A friend took us by the West Tennessee Experiment Station yesterday afternoon to see a huge one there and it had one yellow branch. The interesting thing about it, however, is that its trunk is a series of interwoven trunks, the like of which I have never seen. They also erect a big pumpkin display yearly and we enjoyed that as well. I love fall.

This coming week we are making our long awaited trip to Raleigh to baptize Colin next Sunday. We covet your prayers as we travel and as we welcome another covenant child into the Covenant Family.

Very shortly we anticipate the arrival of five costumed Suttles so they can trick or treat at our house before going to visit with friends in a neighborhood that has more children. They had Trunk or Treat at the church Wednesday night and with tonight's outing I decided they had enough candy so I'm packaging grapes and wrapping some pieces of cake I made especially for them today. At least the grapes are healthy. I'd best go busy myself getting things ready.

I've missed visiting with you and hope you are all well.


Pastor Margaret

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Status Report

In case you wonder where I am and what's up, my computer is about to die on me and it's rather awkward to type with one hand while holding the cord in place with the other. Hopefully, I'll be back in business in a few days. Til then.

Pastor Margaret

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ups and Downs

We all have them. Some have more ups than downs; some more downs than ups. And, with some you can't tell the difference. It could be a matter of perspective. It could be one's circumstances; it could be one's age; it could be how long the circumstances have been endured. I don't know much, but I do know that we have good days and we have bad days. Shoot, we have good hours, followed by bad ones. One minute Tom can be up and going, alert, anxious to get on with things. The next minute he may be disoriented, weak and shaking inside. I guess that's the nature of Parkinson's. This week we've been more up than down, though I am still plagued by aenemia that manifests itself in fatigue and shortness of breath--more than anything, that makes me mad.

Let me tell you what Tom did this week. He had called a fitness center last week for information and Monday he announced he wanted me to take him so he could see firsthand what they had to offer. We went, signed him up for four months and made an appointment for Wednesday to talk about personal trainers. He wants to regain some strength and weight and is determined to do everything he can to improve his condition. Neither of us is in denial. We know what Parkinson's does to the body, but we also know the research that supports the positive effects of exercise on PD patients. He starts with his trainer Monday.

Tuesday we went with a group of older adults from the church to spend some time at the river house of one of the members. We are very near the Tennessee River and there are many lakes, creeks and the like associated with the river. the house where we went is located on Lick Creek, at Parsons, TN, the sight of a Civil War battle. Most of our group enjoyed a ride on the pontoon boat, while the rest of us chose to remain at the house to visit and get lunch ready. Tommy had prepared his own version of pulled pork and others of us fixed slaw, potato salad, baked beans and dessert. After lunch I taught several how to play Chicken Foot, a domino game, in case it's not familiar to you. What a good time we had!

On the way to the house I noticed a field of cotton so full of open bolls needing to be picked that it looked like snow. The sight made me think of two things, completely unrelated. First, I thought of the Bible verse that tells of the "fields that are white unto harvest." No matter how many churches dot our landscape, no matter how many profess to believe, there are many remaining who need to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That personal relationship is so much more than putting our name on a church register. What can I do to help with the harvest?

The second thought was of a tee shirt friends gave Tom one Christmas we lived in California. The shirt is white with a dark gray design of a cotton field. The caption reads: "Ski Mississippi." Any time Tom wears that shirt I imagine cotton in the fields at all its stages--each one is beautiful. The only stage that is not so beautiful is when the picker has done its job and all you see are brown stalks with white leftovers. Did those cotton scraps not quite measure up? Did they miss the bus? What will become of them? It seems like a waste. Nevertheless, it's only cotton. What if we went through the "fields that are white unto harvest" and ignored the ones who cling to the stalks, the ones that are left and ignored?

Tomorrow is Corinth--no visit with the oncologist, just infusion. We keep praying for healing, but these days I especially pray for a good attitude and for patience to stay the course. Will you join us?

Pastor Margaret

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fall in the South

This has always been one of my favorite times of year. I love the cooler temperatures, the changing colors, the falling leaves, the way the shadows fall at the end of the day and I love high school and SEC football.

I love the Farmers' Market in the fall. This morning I hurriedly dressed for a quick trip to check on fall offerings. The nearby Mennonite community sells large pots of mum in a variety of colors for $5 each. I wanted one of every color, but decided on yellow: two for the front porch and one for Kia, our helper. Next, I spotted someone selling pears and apples and bought a few pounds of each. Our stash of apple butter and pear honey has been depleted and it's time to make some more. You know what I'll be doing next week.

Tom has been working in the yard this week, trying to trim bushes and get rid of privet hedge. I've decided privet is like sin and cancer and possibly kudzu. Once they start growing, get a foothold, they are hard to stop. Cutting back privet doesn't help; that only encourages growth. You have to REALLY cut it back, saturate the stumps with deadly chemical and pray for the best. Sounds like cancer and its treatment to me! Sin, too, needs to be completely eliminated and the remaining parts treated with daily doses of spiritual medicine. Kudzu may be unstoppable. In any case, privet, sin and cancer all call for drastic measures. We're out to get them all!!

The good news of last week paled a little this week. That one infusion of Avastin last Friday sent my blood pressure right back up again. I've been on a med to bring it down and keep it at a desirable level, but the insurance people, in their infinite wisdom, disallowed it and sent a substitute. I've not yet started the sub, but according to the literature, the side effects are many. Why would they change something that works perfectly well? Oh, well. It's part of the journey. Our prayer is that a safe blood pressure level can be maintained and that the Avastin will reverse the progress of the cancer. That's a lot to ask, but not too much for our God.

Now I must tear myself away from football and my comfortable chair to satisfy Tom's lunch craving--good ole' West Tennessee barbeque. Only Tommy's can beat it!

Pastor Margaret

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Banner Week

This past week was full of doctor stuff with four out of five days finding one or the other of us being seen for something. That seems to be more and more the norm--not a complaint--just a statement of fact. Most of our appointments were in connection with Tom's cataract surgeries: Monday we did follow up on the first surgery; Wednesday was the second eye and Thursday was the first follow up to the second surgery. The doctor seems to be pleased with his work and with Tom's progress, though it will be a little longer before the final correction for his sight. Right now he's experimenting to see whether he sees better with his glasses or without. I suspect it's a little frustrating, but he doesn't complain.

Friday we learned that the Avastin could be resumed. My blood pressure was the lowest it's been since Avastin was introduced over a year ago. Hopefully, medication will help maintain it so I can continue the Avastin. Also, my red cell count had improved by 2 tenths of a point--not much, but it did go up and not down. You can bet we've said many hallelujahs and praise the Lords!

There are hints of fall in the air--falling leaves, a few trees beginning to turn, football. I love the way the shadows fall in the late afternoon this time of year. Still the daily temperatures promise to remain in the mid-nineties. I'm ready for cooler weather!

After a week such as we've had I ponder all the ways God has blessed us. His blessings never cease; they just keep coming. It is humbling when I consider how truly unworthy and undeserving I am. God's blessings are such a demonstration of His unconditional love for His children. I am unworthy, undeserving, but oh so grateful!

Pastor Margaret

Monday, September 13, 2010

Too Good to be True

We have just returned from the most wonderful weekend with our church family in Jackson, MS. Covenant Presbyterian Church celebrated its 50th anniversary this past weekend with much visiting, remembering, food and a glorious worship service yesterday morning. I cannot begin to write how special everything was.

At the Friday night banquet we were seated with some who had served on staff together in the late eighties. Joe Rightmyer, former senior pastor, had driven over from Dallas with his wife and daughter; Bill Ballou, former youth director, came from Memphis with his wife and daughter; Kathy Kenne, former children's director, flew in from a mission trip in Kenya that afternoon and was perky and pretty as ever; Will Jones, former custodian and faithful follower of Jesus came with his son. Later we saw other former staff members--Stewart Edwards, now president of French Camp Academy and former youth director and Robyn Farber, former children's director and mother to three beautiful daughters, one of whom was there also. Sitting around that dinner table brought back lots of memories of sitting in staff meetings together long ago. Especially I remembered how energizing it was to be with Joe, Bill and Kathy at our afternoon chocolate seeking or yogurt craving outings to discuss upcoming ministry events. We planned and laughed and fed off each other. What a staff! What wonderful friends!

The Saturday luncheon provided opportunity to see more friends and to be brought up to date on some who could not be there and to be reminded of the history and ministry of the church through the years. I was given an opportunity to tell something of what has been going on with us in the years since we left "home." Being in front of people to speak is not difficult for me, but I'll have to say Saturday's remarks were the most difficult I've ever had to deliver. I was not prepared for the emotion that overwhelmed me when I stood at the podium and looked out into the faces of those who have nurtured both me and my family, who have encouraged and affirmed the ministry God has given me and who have literally shared most of my life. I was so scattered that the carefully thought out remarks disappeared.

We had been told that the sanctuary had a "new" look and that we wouldn't believe it. That was an understatement. I was amazed at the transformation and the beauty of the worship space.
Covenant has long been noted for the quality of its music ministry and yesterday's offering was wonderful. The angels in heaven were no doubt singing along! Again we saw friends who had not been present at other events. We were packed into a pew with special friends, son Tommy and grandson Jacob.

Tom and I stayed with special friends, Glen and Marilyn Graves and had such a good time relaxing and catching up. Saturday afternoon they took us on a tour of downtown Jackson so we could see recent developments and how the city has changed. Now, if the city would only resurface the streets!!! Saturday night we stayed in, enjoyed a tasty dinner that the Graves had waiting just in case we didn't want to go out and watched a little football. There is nothing like good friends, good food and the comfortable, sustaining feelings that come when being together.

Having Tommy and Jacob with us was a bonus. Tommy did all the driving and watched over Tom and me like the protector he is. They stayed with Liz's brother and his wife (who, incidentally, was Jacob's first and favorite babysitter) and three little boys. That gave them opportunity to visit with family and be part of the celebration as well. It was quite a weekend for us all!!

This morning the emotions are mixed. Memories of the weekend have my spirits lifted above the clouds. I am grateful for the blessings God has given us through the years, yet I miss being surrounded by the "cloud of witnesses" known as Covenant Presbyterian Church.

Pastor Margaret

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Yesterday . . .

Yesterday was a serendipity kind of day. I had not been to the grocery store in three weeks--no bread, a few eggs, no milk, no lettuce. Thank goodness for a freezer and for leftovers. Still it was time to make a trip and it was the first Wednesday of the month meaning a five percent savings for senior citizens. I had a plan--had, being the operative word. Kia had to leave for a little while, but was coming back to go with us to the store. Tom had another plan. His involved no extra help. I knew it was a mistake to engage his plan and not mine, but I also knew that was not a battle I wanted to fight at that time.

I had a good talk with myself before we went. I would be patient; I would not raise my voice when he couldn't find things on the shelf; I would be glad he wanted to go and could help even a little bit. He pushed a shopping cart behind me as I motored up and down the aisles--it's a good thing those motorized things stop on a dime! His ideas didn't always jive with the list I had, but it didn't matter. Only when he picked up the wrong sugar did I send him back to exchange it for what I intended. We were doing fine until check out when I realized that it was almost one, we were in the line with a brand new checker and we had a doctor's appointment at 1:10 p.m. In order to save time, I handed Tom the car keys when the groceries were all in the cart and suggested he go begin putting things in the car while I helped correct some mistakes made in the ticket. I could see our car in the first handicapped spot right outside the door, but I couldn't see Tom. When I finally did get outside I spotted him two rows over and in the middle of the lot. It was so noisy it was hard to make him hear me, but I guided him to our car, we loaded the groceries and headed home to put frozen things away. It was 1 p.m. Fortunately, we live close to important things like church, grocery store, drug store and doctors' offices! We made it to the office at 1:12, waited a few minutes and were taken back for his check up.

While we were waiting for the doctor Tommy called to see if we could possibly get Jacob from school. I said we could if we weren't long with the doctor. We finished up, came back home to unload more groceries, put drops in Tom's eyes and off we went to get Jacob. Of course, we'd had no lunch. Jake and I usually get ice cream when I pick him up and Tom and I decided that would do for lunch. We went to a place in town that has been designated as one of the ten best ice cream parlors in the US. None of us had been and had a good time walking around see all the "treasures" for sale--enjoyed the ice cream treat too. Afterwards, we stopped by a music store to see if baritone sax reeds Tommy had ordered had arrived. Jake knew the store well because Pop, his other granddad, and he had been there together. He showed us the 12 string guitar and the mandolin they had looked at and was a happy young man to walk out with the long awaited reeds. I was a happy wife and grandmother to be with two such fine fellows.

A harried, hurried day had turned into one where we just let things happen. Spending a leisurely hour or so visiting and eating ice cream with our grandson was one of the week's highlights, for sure!!

Last night at church Tommy taught an overview of Galatians in preparation for a ten week small group study. I have heard him teach a lot since we've moved here, but I'll have to say that last night was probably the best. Not only did we learn things about Paul and his writing to the churches in Galatia, but those who will be small group leaders were helped in their preparation as well. God has blessed Tommy with a real gift and He has blessed us to have the opportunity to hear him teach!

Tom's cataract surgery went very well and we are looking forward to the second one in two more weeks. We are hopeful that when all is said and done, his vision will be improved. It has been a busy week. We look forward to the beginning of SEC football. Go Dawgs!!!!

Pastor Margaret

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Old age is not for sissies . . .

At least that's what I've been told. I've also heard these older years referred to as the Golden Years. The response to that is whoever named them "golden" hasn't reached these years yet. So, how did I get where I am today?

Just this week I was reflecting on the beginnings of Older Adult Ministry at our home church in Mississippi at the request of some folks working on the fiftieth anniversary of the church. I was reminded of one of the obstacles I had to overcome--age. I was in my forties and felt rather presumptious telling people older than I what they needed. My convictions about ministering to and alongside older adults were, at that point, theory. I had been carefully taught both in the classroom and by being a caregiver for my mother, but I was young myself. Then one day I opened my eyes and the theories had become reality; "they" had become "we." We were on Medicare and folks no longer asked to see ID if we were to qualify for senior citizen discounts. Those maladies that plagued the elderly "others" became all too familiar.

This week Tom has the first of two cataract surgeries, a condition associated more with the older folks. We have to be at the surgery center Tuesday at 6:45 a.m. Who in their right mind gets up that early anymore? The surgery has become so streamlined over the years that the pre-admit process takes more effort than the actual surgery--or so it seems. Tom is looking forward to improved vision.

I am increasingly aware of limitations imposed upon us, not just because of our ages, but also because of our illnesses. How far or how much I have to walk determines much of where I go and what I do. This week I've had problems with sore feet in addition to the persistent fatigue. Both are side effects of chemo. Plans to go to the grocery store have become as involved as planning for a two week vacation. I have begun to use a motorized cart and thus far haven't run over anyone or anything and I've found that most people are really eager to help you reach those items that are either too high or too low on the shelves.

This week our goals are for him to see better and for me to walk better. Those are not only our goals, but our prayer as well.

I have been blessed by so, so many people in Older Adult Ministry. There are people for whom the ministry was planned; there are those with whom I worked--people in local churches, people across the denomination. My life has been enriched by them all. The circumstances of older age might not be golden, but the wisdom gained, the rewards of friendship and family shine brighter than gold.

I am older, but I am definitely not a sissy.

I will claim Isaiah 40:29-31: He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Pastor Margaret

Monday, August 23, 2010

If I had a nickel . . .

Last week we were sitting in a doctor's examining room and for the umpteenth time one of us posed the question: how much money would we have if we had a nickel for every hour we've spent waiting in a doctor's office? We would have earned our nickel, and then some, on that day. In fact, that doctor always apologizes for keeping us waiting before he says hello. Friday we went to Corinth and waited some more, though it wasn't as bad as it could have been. The appointment clerk had originally scheduled us for 9 a.m. even with my telling her that we couldn't get there that early and why. I simply asked someone else if it could be changed; she does understand our situation and gladly changed it. If we had arrived by nine the wait would have been over two hours--and I would not have been happy. Today I had a check up with the primary care doctor to have blood tests and discuss my blood pressure. The wait for him was minimal, but this afternoon we visited the eye clinic for Tom to have pre-surgery tests done. They involved a wait! When he finally was seen and his blood pressure checked, it was found to be too low to have his cataract surgery next week. The tech got on the phone, checked with the primary care to see when Tom could be seen and was told we could come straight there. More waiting, but, after all, we weren't on the schedule. When the doctor came in, he laughed when he saw us back and said, "What have you done today beside sit in doctors' offices? You look exhausted." He did give the go ahead for the surgery. Too bad Tom and I can't share blood pressure!

My visit with the oncologist Friday did not change my treatment schedule. He continues to be concerned with my higher blood pressure and wants it down before resuming the Avastin. We are to get a monitor so I can track the pressure daily, let him know and hopefully, start the Avastin again. The good news is that the CA125 has dropped a few tenths of a point, after having increased little by little for the last several months. One doctor is concerned with the stroke possibility; another doesn't like my aenemic state; I want to keep attacking the cancer and live to the fullest in the meanwhile!

Finally the heat has broken some! We are actually promised some days this week down into the eighties and someone said they heard we had a fifties forecast for a night later in the week. Whew! The heat has been stiffling, but I'll have to say that the humidity isn't as bad as what we experienced in Mississippi all the years we lived there.

What I have written seems full of complaints: too much waiting; blood pressure issues for us both; issues with the chemo treatments; heat and humidity, but I don't mean them as complaints. On the way home this afternoon I couldn't help but chuckle thinking about the ups and downs of the day. It wasn't dull! We have wonderful doctors with caring, compassionate staffs. The blood pressure can be monitored and adjusted; the treatments keep me fatigued most of the time, but they also are keeping the cancer at arm's length. We are glad to be alive.

Pastor Margaret

Friday, August 13, 2010

The day after . . .

It is the day after Tom's birthday and we are still celebrating. He has been receiving cards all week--in fact he got one the first of the month--he has been hugged by grandchildren in town, talked to by one far away, and tonight we are going out to eat and go back to Tommy's for ice cream and cake with the grands. I made caramel cake, at his request, but the frosting isn't quite right. Maybe I got in too big a hurry. Anyway, we're up for a celebration!

Yesterday we drove to Blytheville, Arkansas so that I could attend a meeting of the Board of Directors of Westminster Village of the Mid-South. It was my first visit to the facility, though I have been aware of it since it was on the drawing board. There was a Strategic Air Command base located in the cotton fields surrounding Blytheville and it was closed when the government began downsizing the military and our defense systems. Presbyterians representing the local church, the Presbytery and the Synod teamed up with other interested folks, negotiated a lease with Uncle Sam and chartered the property for a retirement community, a school and conference center. Because the property cost was minimal and there were living quarters already present, they have been able to offer nice retirement homes at more affordable prices than some out there. I was invited several months ago to join the Board but had not been able to attend a meeting until yesterday. It was such a pleasure to see the continuing project and to hear an unsolicited testimony from a resident in the cafe. If anyone reading this blog is interested in knowing more, let me hear from you and I'll get information to you.

In order to get to Blytheville from here, there are two options: drive south to Memphis, cross the river, then go north to Blytheville--about 140 miles; drive northwest to Dyersburg, cross the river into Missouri, then go south to Blytheville--about 95 miles. We chose going through Missouri. "The river" of which I speak is the Mississippi, a body of water I have always loved and for which I have deep respect. Many years of my life were spent close to the Mississippi and I crossed the river at least once a week during those years. I never tired of watching it roll by; I loved seeing the tugboats pushing the barges; I was always aware of the dangers of the river, but also how it contributed to economy of the area. After all these years, yesterday I felt excitement rising to the surface as we approached the bridge and as I looked below and saw the Mighty Mississip'.

The other sight that thrills me is descending from higher ground into the Delta. As a young child I lived in the Mississippi Delta and traveled with my father when I could. He represented a wholesale drug company out of Memphis and his territory consisted of the little towns up and down Highway 61--that's Blues' land. Those were happy days for me. For a time I didn't know hills or mountains or rocky plains existed. I thought all land was like the Delta. Yesterday we drove through lots of cotton fields, soy beans and corn and the sight took me back. The machinery we passed is modern--no people chopping and sights of large contraptions that look like insects with giant arms reaching out to irrigate the fields. Times have changed; I've gotten older, but my love for the river and the Delta it has created only grows. God's creation is amazing. We've been privileged to see a lot of it.

Have a good weekend.

Pastor Margaret

Thursday, August 05, 2010

This n' That

This past two weeks have gone by quickly and once again it's time for our bi-weekly trip to Corinth tomorrow. Since our last visit I have begun taking medicine to lower my blood pressure so will be interested to see if it's working. Still, I don't imagine a decision will be made on The Avastin until I see the oncologist in another two weeks.

Our friends John and Connie, transplanted from California to Iowa came to see us Saturday. John is quite a Civil War buff and visits battlesites whenever he can. I would even imagine that he has seen more of the Southern ones than I have. Anyway, we benefit from his hobby since we are close to or on the way to many sites in the South. Last week they drove to Vicksburg, MS to tour the battlefield there and then back to Memphis to visit with some of Connie's relatives. They spent Saturday with us and would have come back on Tuesday, but John was under the weather and they wanted to be considerate of my lowered immunity these days. We were disappointed, but glad we had Saturday.

Public schools opened here on Monday. It's too soon and too hot!!!! The summer vacation was barely two months and temperatures have been over 100 degrees for several days. Tuesday the heat index was 120. We have stayed inside as much as possible, going out only when necessary. Last night we did go to church, today to Bible study and to pick up Jacob from school. I asked to be excused from a Committee on Ministry meeting in Memphis because of the heat and the distance I would have to walk to get to the meeting room. (I never thought I'd hear or read that I'd said those words. I've always been the "Don't tell me I can't do something else I prove you wrong" kind of person.)

The other thing we did today was vote--the ballot was long and I only cast a vote in four races--hardly worth the effort to go. Some candidates have flooded the airways, lately with negative statements about each other. Many candidates were unfamiliar names, people who either didn't have the funds to campaign or thought it unnecessary. Our local newspaper has been absolutely NO help--maybe I'll write a letter to the editor. If we're going to live here, we need to vote, but we need to be able to vote intelligently.

At an early age I began reading historical novels, a real bonus to my education. My mother belonged to the Book of the Month Club and that genre was a favorite of hers. Believing that reading is one of life's greatest pasttimes and not having a TV until I was a senior in high school had me reading in much of my spare time and it is one of the things that I relish in retirement. I have recommended books of a Spiritual nature (and will again), but today I want to tell you about a recent read. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is a story of the Channel island of Guernsey and how the people lived during the German occupation. It is written as a series of letters between one character and another, a style I have not previously encountered. At first I thought it might be too boring, too stiff, but after reading five or six letters, I was hooked. There really was a literary society on Guernsey that often served potato peel pie for refreshments. How the society formed, what it did for the people and how they survived, eating things like potato peel society, is all part of the book's charm.

The kitchen calls. Count your blessings--if you can stay awake that long.

Pastor Margaret

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Salt and Pepper

Ever since Jacob was big enough to stand on a step stool he has cooked with his dad. I remember a time I was keeping him and was told he'd like macaroni and cheese for lunch and that he would like to help make it. He was between two and three years old. The others have come along behind him, each taking their turns in the kitchen, helping buy groceries, choosing vegetables at the Farmers' Market. Now, it's time for Marty to start the same with Christopher who is two and a half. I can think of all kinds of good reasons to teach your children to cook with you: the parent learns to exercise patience, the child beams with a sense of accomplishment and it's one more thing you can do together. I love knowing that my children are spending time in the kitchen with their children--and I love the outcomes.

Recently, I called Marty, asked what she was doing and she said she was eating a blueberry muffin with salt. That seemed a strange combination until she told me that it had been Christopher's job to add the salt. He went a bit overboard. But, she, being the good mother she is, was eating those muffins and enjoying every bite. Monday night we had a hamburger supper with Tommy and family and Meredith had helped him stir up the baked beans. They were really hot. You guessed it. She added the pepper and was so proud of herself for how she had helped. Tonight Sarah, age 10, made the berry cobblers for supper at the church. Not a spoonful was left in either pan so I know they were good. I'm a proud grandmama and a proud mama. I'm proud of my children for teaching their children to cook; I'm proud of my children for exercising good parenting skills; I'm happy to witness the bonds that are being strengthened with every stir.

Pastor Margaret

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wrapping up the weekend . . .

The weekend was busy, yet quiet. Friday was a Corinth day and a visit with the oncologist; Tommy, Liz and family left for Family Camp; Saturday was too hot to do much of anything; and today we worshiped at Humboldt.

Ever since the TIA episodes in June and seeing the oncologist right after their occurrence we have felt as if our feet were stuck in concrete. It wasn't good news to hear that the medicine that was supposedly helping so much would have to be eliminated, even for the time being. The good doctor said that we would have to wait and see what happened in the next few weeks. Friday was the day we were to "see." Thankfully, my blood pressure has come down, so now the plan is to discuss medication possibilities with the primary care doctor that will assist the pressure to stay down. Elevated blood pressure is a possible side effect of the Avastin and an effect that was much more than a possibility in my case. We are all hopeful that medication will help and that I can get back on the Avastin ASAP. Again, Dr. Reed spoke of the scans taken in June, emphasizing that there was no advancement of disease. He even smiled some, making me feel much better! Hopefully, the red cell boosting shot I got will help chase away the constant fatigue. Tom and I celebrated at our favorite Corinth restaurant, the Dinner Bell, a typical down home, Southern eating place.

As we were getting back to Jackson, Tommy and his family were loading vans for Family Camp. The children had been talking about it for weeks--couldn't wait to go. I suspect the parents didn't share their enthusiasm. It takes a lot of effort to get everyone ready, pack the right equipment, sleep with seven in a room, then wade through all the dirty wet clothes upon coming home. The heat continues to be stiflling! Fortunately, there is a cold mountain stream running through the campsite that helps some with the heat. We didn't even consider going this year because of the heat and the walking involved. You might say that we're feeling our age these days. Saturday was too quiet. Just knowing that no one around the corner was home created a real feeling of emptiness.

I missed my Saturday early morning trip to the Farmers' Market--lack of energy and heat kept me home. Now it will be Tuesday before the tomato lady is there again and "Yes, we have no tomatoes." In the summer, that's just plain criminal!

This morning I had the opportunity to participate in the installation of the new pastor at 1st Presbyterian, Humboldt. What an uplifting service! The congregation has been so welcoming to the pastor and it was obvious that in the few short weeks she has been there that they have endeared themselves to each other. In many ways it was a homecoming experience for Tom and me as we literally soaked up the smiles and hugs that came our way. I look forward to seeing what God will do in Humboldt.

I look forward to seeing what God will do in our lives. How will He use me next? How will I use my gifts to glorify God? When God is in charge life is never dull. It is exciting and full of promise. I can't wait to see what comes next.

Pastor Margaret

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Reminder to Self . . .

In blogs past I have written of a friend Marty's age who was diagnosed with inflamatory breast cancer in 2007, just months after her second little boy was born. Not only is she a wife and mother, she also has an impressive career as a nuclear physicist with NASA (I think I have that right), is a wonderful friend and family person and has campaigned tirelessly for awareness of her particular kind of cancer and advocated for mothers with cancer. She is quite a young woman! She has been in remission until a few months ago and a second cancer was found, necessitating more treatment. Her comments about the fatigue and its effects on her life have caused me to think about my own and the ways I've tried to manage it. They also made me wonder just how she does all she does and what an inspiration she is!

Do you remember the story about the three billy goats gruff? I didn't until just now as I was visualizing what the fatigue is like. It could be likened to the troll(s) who lived under the bridge the goats had to cross. They knew they had to go over the bridge to get from one place to another and that there was the looming possibility that the troll was there waiting for them. It was a monster determined to attack as they crossed. Anticipating crossing the bridge caused apprehension. There was fear while crossing and finally they reached the other side--or not.

Fatigue during chemo and/or radiation is unavoidable. (I have not had to have radiation so I'm only writing what I've heard about it.) The drugs do lower your blood counts, though every cancer patient responds differently. The lower your counts, the more tired you become; the more chemo you take, the more difficult it is for your bone marrow to produce new cells. Those things are givens. I will be tired, but I have a choice in how I manage. I can either focus on how tired I am and do nothing or I can live with it the very best that I can.

A few words come to mind:
*PACE yourself. Alternate tasts that require a lot of energy with those that don't.
*ACCEPT help that is offered and thank God for His provision.
*REALIZE that you are not Super Woman (or Man). You will not be evaluated or judged by how much you can and cannot do.
*RELY on the strength Paul writes about in Philippians (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me) and the grace he writes about in II Corinthians (My grace is sufficient for you).

Practically speaking, LEARN to use your time wisely; LEARN to do things sitting down; and LEARN to tell it like it is. You know your body; you know when the fatigue hits and when you are at your lowest. Plan your errands for the time when your body is recuperating and the energy is rising. Don't stand to do a chore in the kitchen that you could you as easily do sitting down. If you are visiting with someone and you tire of standing, ask if they mind if you sit. Ask your doctor to fill out the paper work to get you a temporary handicap parking permit.

It is amazing how God uses people in our lives. I have known Susan, the young woman about whom I wrote, for more than twenty years--ever since she and Marty were in junior high. I listened to them giggle, heard them whisper about boys and helped them dress to double date for their first dance. She was the scientific sort; Marty was the musician, but they were friends above all and have remained so all these years. I pray that God will completely heal her and that she will touch others as she has touched me.

Pastor Margaret

Friday, July 16, 2010

Doing what comes naturally . . .

If you follow me on facebook you know I described yesterday as a "great day" and it was. I was standing at the stove cooking hotcakes when a Humboldt friend ran in the back door to bring crowder peas and tomatoes. She brought both shelled and unshelled peas and I look forward to shelling them later today while we watch a baseball game on TV. For years that's what I did on Saturday afternoons after lunch in the summer. I'd set up a TV tray, spread it with peas or beans and settle down to watch the baseball game. It won't matter today that it's Friday and the peas came from a friend and not from Dad's garden. Missing will be Spook the cat who loved to steal peas off the tray for his own enjoyment.

Later in the day I peeled and chopped tomatoes to make a triple recipe of tomato sauce for the freezer. Some years ago I found a simple tomato sauce recipe in a pasta book and using it as a guide, have been making it ever since. When tomatoes are in season I use fresh ones--fresh herbs too when I have them--and in winter I use canned tomatoes. What a difference a good sauce makes! Our children took up the habit of making their own sauce too. In fact, Tommy freely gives out his recipes when asked, but he never passes on the information that the sauce is homemade and surely never shares how he makes the sauce.

This afternoon summer kitchen habits include making peach pie for the freezer and cobbler for eating now. We have an abundance of peaches since I went to the Farmers' Market Tuesday and someone brought us a bag full the same day. Maybe I'll make extra pie crusts and put them in the freezer to have when needed or maybe I'll put two peach pies in the freezer.

The highlight of yesterday was leading Tommy's noon Bible study. Health issues have kept us from attending and it was good to be with special friends and to open God's word together.

Yesterday was a stifling day--hard to breathe and certainly not a day to do any work outside. After a run to the post office to finally get our income tax packet off to our CPA, we went to the nursery to buy plants for the bed Jacob has been cleaning out for us. The choices were few to say the least. Who, in their right mind, would wait until the middle of July to plant summer flowers? We would! We bought a butterfly bush, two big lantanas and some shasta daisies, all for our enjoyment and to attract birds and butterflies. They don't know it's late in the season.
Today hasn't been quite as hot and we did get four holes dug and the plants in their new home. I also managed to get in a little weeding and trimming. I'd forgotten how much I like to work in the yard. Now I'm both chemo tired and yard tired--mostly a good feeling.

I love summertime and all the memories of summers past. I love being in the kitchen, taking care of summer produce, putting things in the freezer, enjoying vegetable plates with biscuits for Tom and cornbread for me. We are blessed with an abundance of good things to eat, family with whom to share, friends who share with us. "Our cup runneth over." And now, I'm signing off to take a power nap. Enjoy your summer and be thankful in all things.

Pastor Margaret

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Looking Back . . .

The week was full of doctor visits, family time and fresh produce. The doctors are necessary and we're grateful for the ones we have so I'm not complaining about going. Tom had a check up with his primary care who grinned from ear to ear when he saw Tom. He couldn't get over the amount of improvement he saw--weight gain and increased strength. Annual checkups with the opthamologist brought news that Tom's cataracts are ready and we'll go back in a couple of weeks to visit with the doctor who will actually do the surgery. Our doctor no longer operates. I had some macular changes and it is believed they are causing a little change in my vision. When the "problem" was discovered several years ago I was told it would deveop over time and eye vitamins would help. At that time we thought the cancer would take over and I'd not have to think about possible eye issues and I confess that I'm not good about taking vitamins, but think I will now. Friday was a trip to Corinth for the chemo drug, but not the Avastin. Often I am a bit nauseated and tired the day after, but haven't been either today so took advantage of feeling good and worked in the kitchen some.

After I enjoyed a pedicure this morning I went to the Farmers' Market, mainly for tomatoes. I went, telling myself that I would buy just what I could put up or cook today and stuck to it. so this afternoon I made blueberry pie and froze two packages of corn. Can't wait to eat blueberry pie in a little while!

Monday afternoon we had planned to grill hamburgers etc., sit on the porch and watch the children play. Tommy was involved in a project so we decided to order pizza instead and still get our visit in. Jacob was inside playing the piano and came outside to get Sarah and Drew to play a game of matching tones. After a few minutes of that he came back and proudly proclaimed that Drew matched every tone! I looked at Liz and said, "Could anyone else tell that this is a family of musicians?" His Mimi & Pop (Liz's parents) and his Aunt Marty would be equally proud since they are musicians of note. The rest of us all have musical backgrounds as well.

What might be called "the thought for the day" in a link to Our Daily Bread said this today: If we obey God's calling, He will provide the needed strength. A few particular people came to mind as I read that statement. We all have issues; we all have frustrations; we all have areas where we just have to be in charge. Some continue to search for God's direction--for a specific call; some believe they know what God wants of them, but are frustrated with the process. The quote for the day affirms what we already know. God demands our obedience whether the issue is what we should do or where we should go. Even in retirement we are to remain obedient. The second part of the statement is another 24/7 thing to remember: He will provide the needed strength. Today I will remember to be "anxious for nothing;" I can depend on God to provide the strength I need.

Pastor Margaret

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Postscript to yesterday . . .

What irony! Sometimes on Saturday we turn to AMC to watch old westerns. Yesterday we disccovered that John Wayne was being featured, westerns and WWII movies. After I had written the post a new movie came on that was about the war between the states--with a Union focus. (Those are hard for me because I am so Southern that I feel that my loyalties are being tested. Crazy, I know, but I digress.) The movie opened with Union officers discussing strategy that would enable them to block the Confederates from using the Mississippi River between about Memphis and New Orleans. The river was the South's lifeline and as long as they controlled access, the North could be defeated. The ironic part was that the North did capture Vicksburg, MS, essential to the South, on the Fourth of July. The area was no longer free and until recent years the city of Vicksburg did not celebrate the Fourth. I had forgotten. What price freedom! Thinking of that war brings me to a point of sadness I cannot express. Thank God we are One Nation Under God--whether it is acknowled by all or not.

Reading the Sunday paper a little while ago, I came across a column entitled, "July 4 Celebration Spiced with Gratitude." It piqued my interest because of yesterday's post. In it was a quote from an Erma Bombeck column on an earlier Fourth of July. She said: You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism. She had a way with words.

Let's hear it for patriotism however it manifests itself.

Blessings and Happy 4th,
Pastor Margaret

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Remember that freedom is not free!

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, a favorite holiday because it holds so many good memories of family. When I was little and lived with my aunt and uncle I couldn't wait for the family dinner on the Fourth of July. It was one of two family dinners held annually by my uncle's family. He was one of nine and though he was my uncle by marriage, I thought of them as my family too. Every family brought enough food for themselves and to share. What a spread! My favorite part of the day was the middle of the afternoon when the ice cream freezers appeared. They were the hand crank variety and as the saying goes, "the wheels of progress grind slowly." In other words, it seemed like the ice cream would never be ready! I can taste it now.

When our children were growing up, it was another holiday spent with grandparents: Mom and Dad and Honey, my mother. We decided from year to year what we would cook on the grill. After the sun went down we might take our lawn chairs to the driveway and watch the fireworks display at the country club a mile or so away. Holidays with family are the best!

We have no definite plans this year--just know we'll cook with Tommy, Liz and family. He thinks I should rest and let him do it all, but I convinced him I should do dessert. It won't be hand cranked, but the 21st century version of homemade ice cream made in a countertop machine.

This morning I was up early to go to the Farmers' Market before the night time help left. I came home with lady peas (already shelled, of course), butterbeans, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, peaches and a coffee cake. My friends on the West Coast may not know about lady peas; I know they aren't familiar with good ole' Southern butterbeans. I surely missed pink-eye purple hull peas, butterbeans, lady peas and other Southern fare when we lived in California. Of course now we miss all the fresh citrus, strawberries and other produce that was so plentiful where we were.

Family, food, freedom: part of who we are as Americans. We remember especially at holidays the good times, the good food and the family with whom we've shared. Much of that family lives only in our memory. We enjoy because we are free. In the midst of all our celebrations, let's pause to give thanks for the greatest freedom we have--freedom in Jesus; for the second greatest freedom--to be citizens of the USA; and all the other freedoms that come to us beacause of the first two. God bless you as you celebrate and as you ponder the freedoms you enjoy.

Pastor Margaret

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week in Review

Last Monday we traveled the seventy five or so miles to the East Memphis office of West Clinic so I could have the requisite scans. It's not a bad trip, not a bad procedure. It's having no coffee until afterwards! I usually begin the process, not focused on labs, all that liquid I have to drink or how still I have to lie on the scanner table, but focusing on the coffee that awaits the completion of all the little details. Last week my focus was both on coffee and trying to be warm in an over cooled waiting room. Afterwards we wasted no time in stopping by the coffee cart and getting outside to the 95 degree weather to wait for Kia to get the car. While sitting on the bench I could not help but notice the colorful lantana planted in front and the butterflies having a wonderful time flitting from plant to plant. How appropriate the message!

Butterflies signify new life; they illustrate beauty that can appear from unattractiveness; they make me think of possibilities of newness. I have new life in Christ; in Him I am a new creature. He took the ugliness in my life and replaced it with the beauty of His life. Cancer is ugly; it can be life ending; it can destroy who we are if we let it. The West Clinic has wings as its logo and Wings is the name of their newsletter. As I sat there, just briefly, I reflected on the the imagery of wings, of butterflies, of freedom. Through the ugliness of treatment, cancer patients are often given new life, given the freedom to grow and to share with others. Maybe you had to have been there, but it was a special moment for me and I am grateful for it.

Tuesday morning I saw our primary care doctor who seemed to be far more concerned about my lowered blood counts than the TIA episodes. I entered his office huffing and puffing, out of breath from the short walk from waiting to examining rooms. He advised me to be sure the oncologist was aware of my counts and I assured him that I have labs every time I go and the counts dictate whether or not I am treated. He did straighten out the problem we were having with the insurance not wanting to allow a particular prescription.

During the week I had a couple more episodes of what I call "dead leg." My left leg gets numb and tingly and I have trouble moving it. Sometimes it is a passing symptom; other times it stays with me an hour or more. I had it all day yesterday, but determined that I was reacting to the treatment on Friday and/or the anti-nausea pills I had. Today, I'm tired, but no "dead leg."

I saw the oncologist Friday and thought the visit not as conclusive or informative as I would have liked. I like details. I want to know what to expect. I got no details and still don't know much. He did give us some information that I rather expected from what little I know about the Avastin I've been taking. (It is the non-chemo drug that has shown great promise in the treatment of several kinds of cancer.) Unfortunately, in some rare cases it can have some neurological side effects, so it's being withheld for the time being. My mind naturally goes into the "what if" mode. "What if" the Avastin really is working and what will happen if I can't take it? "What if" I continue with it and it causes a full blown stroke? One could go crazy with the "what ifs" in life!

Often the night before we see the doctor in Corinth, Tom and I both have restless nights. This past Thursday I tossed a bit before drifting off, thinking of some of those "what ifs" and how I would respond. Then this calmness came over me as I pictured 24/7 on the ceiling. I let God have those questions and I went to sleep picturing myself being carried in the arms of Jesus. He never looked so strong and I never relaxed so much!

So the journey continues . . .

Pastor Margaret

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's No Secret . . .

. . . that yesterday was the first day of summer. We were in Memphis for an appointment for scans at the cancer clinic. It was freezing inside the clinic, but oppressively hot outside. Of course I grew up mostly in the Memphis area and I remember well the hot, humid, high temperatures. The heat advisory continues and we continue to stay in unless it's necessary to go outside.

. . . that Southerners lie in wait for the first tomatoes of the season. Whether we grow them ourselves or rely on the Farmers' Market, we take turns checking to see if/when the "tomato lady" will have some to sell. Last Saturday Liz visited said "tomato lady" before I even opened my eyes and wasn't disappointed. This morning a friend called, said she had been to the market and wanted to bring a vegetable supper to us. It was so good! We had green beans cooked w/ new potatoes, squash and onions, corn on the cob and cornbread. What a way to end the day!
Earlier in the day a friend brought lunch along with cucumbers she had just picked in her garden. We had a little touch of heaven on earth. I wonder if vegetables can get any better.

. . . that we have health issues. I wonder sometimes how many hours of my life have been spent waiting for a doctor or for a procedure to be done. I had an appointment this morning with the primary care doctor and we thought it was a most satisfactory visit. He straigthened out a glitch we encountered trying to get a medicine the insurance wouldn't cover. His main concern seemed to be my low blood counts and believes when they rise, I'll feel better. Well, yes!!! Of course, as long as I have cancer, I'll have treatment; as long as there is treatment, there will be low blood counts. Just as cancer and treatment have become a way of life, so now will fatigue.

. . . God is faithful beyond what we could ask or think. In spite of the knowns and the unknowns, I am more at peace than I have been in a while. Once I remarked to my friend Susan, who also has ovarian cancer, that my trust in God is firm, but it seems I forget sometimes that He is in charge and is caring for me. She reminded me that I don't have to remember because God is on duty 24/7 and never forgets. Just what I needed to hear. As I face tomorrow I can be assured that I do not face it alone. As God said to Joshua: I will never leave you nor forsake you. Now, put a smile on your face, straighten up, be strong and courageous; be strong and very courageous (a few of my words added). You may have some concern in your life that would be helped by remembering "24/7."

Pastor Margaret

Friday, June 18, 2010

Breaking Silence . . .

Several of you have e-mailed or called because I've been away from the blog, Face Book, and e-mail communication for a while. Here is a whole bevy of reasons. Last week was extraordinarily busy: preparing for the last Sunday at Humboldt, going for a regular treatment on Friday and we were pleasantly surprised by a visit from Tom's brother. We had not seen him in about five years and had such a good time while he was here. He and his wife, Susan, are moving this weekend from Richmond to a little town below Denver . That's a long way from here!!

This week I adjusted to not having a deadline or sermon preparation--still feels funny. On Tuesday I had a delightful lunch with Humboldt's new pastor. Though there are challenges, as there are for any new person taking over a pastorate, I believe she will be excellent in her new call. I look forward to a growing friendship with her and watching as God works through her.

Wednesday, I dressed, went by the Farmers' Market and on to the grocery store. Then it started. I began feeling lightheaded and dizzy, with numbness and tingling in my hands and feet. It was not something I had felt before now, though I do have numbness and tingling in my hands and feet--a chemo side effect. I felt exremely weak and wondered if I would make it to buy groceries and drive home. Fortunately, I made it. After resting and drinking lots of water I felt almost back to normal. When I got up about 2 to go to sit with the little girls while Liz took Sarah to the orthodontist, I had another episode and realized I couldn't/shouldn't drive or be responsible for children. I called the cancer clinic and was told by the nurse that the symptoms described were those identified with heart attacks or strokes and that I should get to the ER right then. So, tonight after two nights in the hospital, too many tests to remember, I am home.
Tom's neurologist has now become mine and we couldn't be more pleased and our daily sitter, Kia, arrived here as usual at 9 a.m. Wednesday and never left us until we were home and settled at 4 this afternoon. Her care and loyalty is unbelievable!! For those two people we are very grateful!

The verdict: there is evidence of TIAs and narrowing of blood vessels in my skull. The two episodes I had were the TIAs. The heart was not involved. Now, we'll need to balance medication for this new issue with the cancer medications, I'll have to change some eating habits and certainly not ignore symptoms, blaming anything quirky on chemo. I can tell that my left leg and hand are weaker and not as easy to control which could have implications for driving right now. I don't have to tell you how to pray.

I do plan to be a better communicator. We love you and are so glad you are a part of our life!
We are safe in the arms of our mighty God.

Pastor Margaret

Monday, June 07, 2010

Yesterday was my next to the last Sunday to preach in my current capacity at Humboldt. These days are bittersweet! I am ready for a break, but so sad to be leaving a people whom we have come to love very much. They have encouraged me in ministry and supported me with love and advice when Tom was so sick. They only thought I was sent there for them! In reality God knew I would need what they had to offer and put me in their midst.

Yesterday was hard because of the winding down, but it was also hard because I had a hard time walking and standing, a result of the medicine I was taking, I believe. While I was preaching, I heard my voice, but it was completely lifeless--no enthusiasm. I hoped that no one would notice, but I know they did. I thought I had figured out the side effect schedule, but found out I was wrong. The bone pain in my back usually comes five to seven days after a treatment and it did. Only this time it was accompanied by waves of nausea. That meant taking pain meds and anti-nausea meds which I found don't mix well. Fortunately, I wasn't being judged on my preaching--I would have failed. I didn't do God's word justice.

In the days preceding my entering the hospital with pneumonia in 2006, I didn't leave our room except to go to the doctor. Tom would ask me if I'd like to come downstairs or if I felt like going down. I usually replied that I could go down; it was going back up that gave me problems. That's how I feel now. After so long and so much chemo, the body begins to resist and signal that it's time to stop. Is that what's happening or do I need to keep pushing? Tom's back went out on him in the night last Wednesday and he's spent a lot of time in the bed and on pain killers. The pain and the medication intefere with his congitive processes and I am reminded of how much he needs me. At times like this I get a little angry at illness. Our retirement was to have been picture perfect with lots of time for travel, grandchildren and just being together. Tonight I'm a bit angry at the whole situation; I hate seeing such a strong, intelligent, compassionate man being stripped of his most endearing attritbutes; I hate making plans and having to forego them because I don't have energy to perform. Then I ask:

Where would I be without the strong arm of God to support me? Where would I be without the trust I have in God's everlasting care? Where would I be if I had no faith and had to depend on myself? Please pray for strength of heart and energy for my body. You have been such a help and I'm grateful for each of you.

Pastor Margaret

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

It's Official

Memorial Day has come and gone and today is the first day of June. Though it's still spring on the calendar, it's summer in our thoughts and practices. We had a somewhat laid back weekend, beginning with a trip to Corinth on Friday. Every day--almost everything we did revolved around food.

We have a favorite place to eat in Corinth. It's a down home type restaurant with daily lunch specials, senior citizen portions and really good catfish. It's called the "Dinner Bell" and it has one out front that gets rung on occasion. We went there Friday to satisfy a taste our friend Marge had for chicken and dressing, the daily special. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, it was all gone. We try to arrange appointments so that we can get to the Dinner Bell before 2 p.m. when they quit serving the special or by 1 p.m. so they won't be sold out. So much of Southern culture revolves around food and the way it's served and daily specials at the Dinner Bell are a big part of that culture, one that's duplicated all around the South.

Over the weekend, we went from one meal to the next, laughing at ourselves for planning the next before we ate what was currently cooking. My children know me to be somewhat of a purist in the kitchen. I'm not opposed to shortcuts or tools that simplify a task, but packaged foods rarely find themselves onto my shelves. Why buy canned soup when what you make is better? Why buy frozen dinners when you can fill a plate with leftovers and freeze it yourself? Age and treatment have altered some of those attitudes! Now, we keep frozen dinners on hand for times like Friday night when I come home all washed out! Times have changed.

When I sit and let others cook it's a sure sign of fatigue. I belong in the kitchen! And, it's hard to sit back and let others do all the work. Tommy cooked burgers on the grill Saturday night, flank steak in his new stovetop smoker Sunday night and ribs at our house last night. I didn't contibute much--just a big potato casserole and cold slaw on Sunday and a place to eat last night. I miss cooking for my family, but feel pampered when they talk me down and do it all--and they pretty much did this weekend. It would have been perfect if Marty and her family had been here too!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dancing in the Streets

The public schools of Jackson-Madison County officially closed yesterday. Most, including teachers, were happy to say goodbye to another year. Liz has had a particularly challenging time with one "special" child. I know it has been frustrating and tiring to deal with this child in a loving manner, but she's done it. Wednesday the child's mom and grandmom came and heaped thank yous and praises on Liz--proof that they know a good teacher when they see one. Makes me proud! The school board is doing a grand job of moving people around for next year. Some pupils don't know yet where they are being assigned. It's a mess, but it's not peculiar to this town. I learned when Marty was here that their daughter, Mallory, had everything set to enter high school and got a letter telling her she was being reassigned in the Raleigh area. I picked up Jacob from school yesterday and loved being able to go the last day. He and I have a routine of getting ice cream on the way home and if he talks to me at all, it's then. I'm a grandmother, so I'm safe.

The week was long for us--didn't have that much to do, but we both were tired every day. Things started looking up this morning and I'm hoping blood counts will rise and I'll feel better. Our dishwasher just quit a week ago Friday. It was FULL, controls set and it wouldn't start. It was Tuesday before a service man could come and he gave the "good news" that it would cost almost to fix it as a new one. We're talking about a 3 year old Kitchen Aid! Aren't they supposed to be the be all and end all? Let me tell you. They are not. The KA had a one year parts and labor warranty and when it expired I bought a two year extended warranty which expired
May 7--exactly one week before it decided to just sit there and occupy space. After much discussion, we determined to buy a new one, but couldn't make it to the store until late yesterday. We have always searched, researched, compared stores, compared warranties, before deciding. This time I said: "Let's just go to the place where we know and trust what we are told and buy it there." We did and ended up buying a machine with a warranty longer than my life expectancy. Sometimes I have set goals of living until my children are adults, living to see my grandchildren graduate from high school, or living to be Tom's carepartner. Never have I had the goal of outliving the warranty on the dishwasher. Now I do!

Tomorrow is Pentecost and it also the preschool graduation for the Presbyterian Day School at Humboldt. I have really enjoyed the sermon preparations for Lent, the Easter season, Ascension etc. and I've been focused on Pentecost. Then, I wondered how to combine that with a focus on the children that would be spotlighted tomorrow. After Wednesday night Bible study I mentioned my dilemna and my friend Mel said "go for Pentecost." Proven point. That was the work of the Holy Spirit, speaking through Mel to tell me where to focus. God promised us His presence and His power through the Holy Spirt; Jesus told the disciples to use that power to be His witnesses, first at home, then in the workplace, the community and out in the world (my words). Who better, who more important do we have to bear witness to than the children God has entrusted to our care? Happy Birthday Church!!! I'll be wearing my stole that is mostly red made by my friend Joan at FOPC.

Sometime in June or July we're going to Raleigh to see our family there and for me to baptize Colin. What a blessing to hold your grandchild, declare him a member of the family of God and to pray for him to follow the way of Christ! It will be a wonderful day!

Pastor Margaret

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Back again . . .
Has it really been over a week since I've posted? Makes me wonder where the time goes. After all I am retired and have nothing to do or so I've been led to believe. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. We still have to eat, wear clean clothes, keep appointments, etc.--all the things that make life fun. Retirement is a concept I can't quite grasp. It's much like age. The years keep piling on, but I forget the numbers. Surely I won't be seventy in a few months! A wise man once said: the only retirees are in heaven. I believe it! After all the catechism says that a person's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. It doesn't say when to start, nor does it end--forever is a long time. In the eyes of the world I'm retired and have lots of time; in my own mind I'm busy as I can be and love every minute of it.

Today is a good day! Forty one years ago while Tom was at the Law School taking two of the most important exams of his first year in law school: Contracts and Torts, I was at the hospital giving birth to Tommy. It almost seems like yesterday. Then I look around and I think about the "remember whens" and I know years have passed. We will have birthday dinner with him, Liz and all the children later today. I love celebrating family birthdays and didn't think anyone loved them as much as I. That was before his children were born. They make every birthday, every holiday an event. That's part of the joy of the day. Liz has made lasagne and I'm taking German chocolate cake at his request--baked the cake yesterday and will make frosting in a bit.
In our family we call it "elbow cake." Before Tommy married he and his friends came in one night after I had gone to bed. The next day was Tommy's birthday and I had made the requested German chocolate cake late in the day, leaving it on racks covered with dish towels to cool overnight. When I uncovered the layers I noticed one was sagging through the rack and I wondered why it fell. I carefully pieced it back together, went ahead and frosted the cake. We had family dinner and friends came for cake. One said, "Hey, Tommy. What did your mom say when she saw I had put my elbow in the cake?" Thus the name; thus a memory; thus a laugh all over again.

After worship this morning the congregation at Humboldt honored Tom and me with a "thank you" luncheon. It was a bittersweet time. A new pastor will begin on June 15, a pastor we believe God has called for this time and for this church. That's good. We, on the other hand, have gotten so attached to our Humboldt friends that we are sad to be saying goodbye. What a wonderful year it has been for us!

On the health front we're doing okay. Tom continues to gain a little weight and recover strength. The therapy he's had has worked wonders. I have had my root canal and await an appointment to have the crown measurements taken and then installed. Treatment continues and seems to be going well. God is good!

Pastor Margaret

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Here's the story . . .

As I've received e-mails and facebook messages in the last few days, I realize that some of you might have wondered about our safety and the condition of our property. I am happy to report that, though we seem to be water logged, we have remained safe and dry inside. Water got inside our garage and several things got wet. The tornado sirens woke us about 3 a.m. Saturday morning, we got up, turned on the TV and made arrangements to go to our "safe place." Tom went back to sleep when the warning was lifted about 6:30 and I stayed up until I could get in touch with our daytime sitter to tell her not to leave her four year old. Also, roads giving way, sink holes, bridges washing out and flash flooding was already a problem and we weren't sure she could get here. Then I went back to sleep for a couple of hours. Saturday it rained off and on all day, with the emergency management people recommending that people stay off the streets and roads and that all activities for that day and Sunday be cancelled. I talked with two of the leaders in the Humboldt church and one told me his rain gauge registered 16 inches. They weren't sure I could get there from here, so we cancelled our services as well. That night the rain continued and there was a tornado touchdown in Humboldt. About 3:30 I heard my phone signal that I had a text message--Tommy around the corner to see if we were up watching the weather. We weren't, but I stayed up the rest of that night as the severe storms came through all around us. The pump under Tommy's house died sometime Saturday and when the plumber finally got to him at 8:30 that night, he diagnosed the problem and out of the goodness of his heart told Tommy that he would loan him his personal pump until he could get back on Monday to install a new one. Meanwhile, the downstairs, consisting of a shop, a big storage room , laundry and large playroom all flooded. What a mess they have had! Finally things are beginning to come together to repair the damage and I cannot say how generous and considerate the service people have been.

Our friend LaLa, recent graduate of Bama took four of the children to spend the day at her house yesterday. That in itself was a gift, but she also washed, dried and folded six loads of clothes for Liz. (Before the storms came, Tommy had planned to put a new motor in their dryer. The motor burned out last weekend so they could wash, but not dry at home.) I took hamburger patties and hotdogs out of the freezer and we fixed supper. Nobody seemed to care that Paw Paw made the fire too hot and some of the burgers looked like charcoal briquettes. It's disappointing to realize our limitations and how little we can do to help these days. So much of what Tommy knows about fixing things, etc. he learned from his granddaddy who was always the first person we called, either to come help or give advice. Tommy laughed at one point and said: "At times like these, I really hate Dad's Parkinson's. If he could he would be right here next to me doing all he could to help." Tomorrow the schools reopen and hopefully, things will get back to normal.

We went to Corinth Friday and resumed treatment. Dr. Reed decided that three doses of Neupogen to stimulate development of white blood cells this week before the root canal were in order. This is a drug I had taken in California with few side effects, but when taken here last fall, the effects were such that the doctor discontinued it and rearranged my treatments. I have had two of the shots and so far only extreme fatigue and some back ache are affecting me. I was going to have to travel to Corinth three days this week to be given the shots, but our friend Marge who frequently drives us has a retired oncology nurse friend with whom she paints. Through that contact, the nurse has come by my house to give the shots. As a result of the storms Saturday night there are stretches of the highway leading to Corinth that are impassable. Liz commented this morning, Marge is a good friend to have. I couldn't agree more for lots of reasons!!! My CA125 is not as low as I would like it to be, but it did go down about 3 points.

For the rest of the week I'll be busy reworking Sunday's sermon which is entitled, Extreme Makeover. Inspired by lectionary tasks, I've been preaching about the difference that should be obvious in our lives because we have "seen" Jesus or we have spent time with him. Peter was one whose whole being changed after the Spirit was given him by Jesus and certainly after Pentecost. My challenge is tying it to Mothers' Day in some meaningful way. Circle meets Monday and that lesson has to be prepared so I'll be studying---except on Friday when our dear Mississippi friends come for the day. We can't wait to see them.

Two prayer requests to share: Susan at 1st Church, Humboldt who recently had surgery for ovarian cancer and has started treatment and Boyd, retired medical doctor, who left Sunday for a medical mission trip to Haiti. He's from our home church in Mississippi, but has gone with a church in Fayetteville, NC.

This has gotten to be longer than I anticipated, but we had a little more news than usual.

Pastor Margaret