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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Merry Christmas ... 2018 Style

If you are here by way of a paper card, it was handmade courtesy of Louise Cruetz. Thanks, Louise! She graciously sent me some handmade soap as well, to deal with my ... ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

If you are here by way of a FB link ... this could be redundant.

MERRY Christmas! The gift of Jesus causes us to be grateful and merry (or the ancient meaning of the word ... strong).

What a mixed bag of challenges and blessings 2018 was!

January had us traveling to Florida to celebrate our 41st anniversary. We did something we'd never done before...went swamp sailing and saw more than a few gators!

February saw Anthony and Tony Evans with Mark in the middle. During a WYLL gathering.

I (Rhonda) was privileged to spend time with the four grandkids who live nearby, volunteering some time at their Classical Conversations community day each week. They concluded their homeschooling at the end of May 2018

Dad turned 88 in March, with Don and Diane by his side at a memory care unit. Dementia began catching up with him quickly, and the decision had to be made for his safety.

Last Christmas, we surprised our oldest granddaughter (Ashley) with a trip to California in April.

God's timing is perfect. We arrived on a Saturday, visited with Dad on Sunday, and was told we'd better say our goodbyes. I promised Dad that we would visit again on Friday, but we got the call on Wednesday the 25th of April that he had slipped into eternity. We were so grateful to have much of our family there. 


Time with the kids and grandkids in CA. 

We got to take Ashley to K-LOVE to visit our friend, George Rath, and met Lauren of Air-1.

Mister Dad greets Lara at the new Apple complex.

Danny, Rhonda, Diane. We missed David! Gathering to go over memorial arrangements in Grass Valley and Dixon, CA.

These handsome imps: Linus and Oliver.

A trip had already been planned for me to spend a week with Oliver and Linus while Adam and Britany celebrated their 15th anniversary getaway. So we planned Dad's memorial to coincide with my time in California. His military memorial was poignant. Dad's only surviving brother, Jerry, (and Aunt Gladys) was a part of the ceremony.

At this point in the narrative, we were anticipating results from a mammogram and biopsy. On July 3, we got the bad news and the good news: You have breast cancer. But it is treatable. 

Mastectomy was scheduled for July 18, and the ever-serving-trooper-sister Diane (seen here giving Pepito a bath) came to help out for the first two weeks while I recuperated. With pathology results looking good, we are super grateful that I did not need either chemotherapy nor radiation. My new normal is just fine!

Nana (me) with Drew and Ava and their Grandma Williames.

Four of the grandchildren (the local ones) are now in a Christian school and finding their new normal as well. Ashley and Amberleigh are on the cheerleading squad.

Ingrid has the opportunity to work at the kids' school as the "hot lunch lady" and preschool aide. It keeps her hopping, but allows her to see the kids in their new environment. 

Andy continues to minister to the "up and outers" in Illinois politics and with cohorts around the world so that they will know Jesus.

Adam and Britany have started homeschooling Oliver and Linus. Kudos! New normals all around! Adam's heart for ministry has him antsy to try new things. He continues to manage the Granite Arch climbing gym. Both he and Britany do art in their "spare" time.

Marshall's job with Apple has literally taken him around the world this year. When she can, Lara hops on the global visits. But when she is home, she is busy with her job helping couples maintain strong relationships when they bring a baby home. Or she is training the trainers. 

 Mark is busy each and every day communicating via "Let's Talk with Mark Elfstrand" on WYLL in Chicago and around the world online and on the app. (AM1160) Go, Mark!!!

Kids, grandkids, friends. It's been a full year of blessings and challenges. How about you?

I know that so many of you have been through your own literal and personal storms this year. Hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes, cancer treatment, loss of loved ones, and on and on. 

We are reminded that "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

It is THIS ONE we remember as our gift each year. God has been gracious and merciful. All we have to do is unwrap the gift. We trust you have done so. It's the best gift of all!

Merry Christmas 2018 
from Mark and Rhonda 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Thursday's Child

Monday's child is fair of face
Tuesday's child is full of grace
Wednesday's child is full of woe
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good always.

August 29, 1957, was a Thursday. There was no hospital in this tiny hamlet of Polo, Missouri, and so the mother, heavy with child as she was, knew that there was a drive to Cameron in her near future.

If history had taught her anything, it was that she had better get to the hospital when she felt her first "pains." So she quickly got the two older children ("older" being a loose term, since the oldest daughter would turn 3 tomorrow, and the son just turned 1 three weeks earlier.) to the church babysitter. She then enlisted her minister husband in driving the 24 miles on a hot August day.

The mother's obstetrician had warned her early on not to have any children at all, given her Type 1 diabetes ("juvenile" as it was then called), and its danger to not only her but the children as well. But the two older children were born healthy and she had minimal problems, so she had no reason to believe this birth and child would be any different.

In the 1950s, it was common practice to use heavy anesthesia to, in effect, put the mother to sleep while the doctor delivered the baby. And in this small town, that practice still existed. But this mother was a study in fast labor, so when she and her husband arrived at the hospital, she was well on her way to delivering her third child.

Goodbye to the father ... not allowed into delivery unless by emergency edict. Not long after, a baby crowned. 

"Put the mother out!"

The hapless mother couldn't understand this backwards event. The baby was being born! She didn't need to be anesthetized. What was going on?

From the doctor's perspective, there was something dreadfully wrong with the baby. He was convinced the baby had two heads. Sparing the mother this sight upon delivery was his main objective.

Fast forward to recovery. The doctor met with mother and father, telling them that the baby had a rare condition known as hydrocephalus. This had resulted in a water "bag" on her brain that had looked like a second head at the time of birth. Newly developed and understood procedures allowed for draining the cerebrospinal fluid, but the doctor had more bad news: the baby girl also had half an extra vertebra, which would cause problems later in life; he warned that due to the pressure on the brain, she may not live to go home from the hospital; if she did go home from the hospital, she may not live beyond 8 years old; if by chance she did live that long, her mental capacity would never surpass a 12 year old.

Numerous hospitalizations were followed by a move to a tiny town in eastern Iowa, followed by another move to a tiny town in northwestern Montana. The infrastructure wasn't much better in either location.

At the age of 3, what should have been a running toddler/preschooler was scooting around on the floor on a cookie sheet, as she was still unable to walk, and had never crawled, due to her spasticity. Her speech was nearly incoherent. But she was indeed happy. The mother described her as the happiest of babies.

The town of Conrad, Montana, was approximately 60 miles from Great Falls, the largest city nearby. So instead of going to preschool or kindergarten in a town of 2000, the little girl was driven to a special class, physical therapy, and speech therapy down the highway. She would bring home scrapbooks full of glued letters and cut out animal and food pictures. Eventually, she was walking, talking, and putting two and two together.

Time and care availeth much! Although her speech still sounded like she had hailed from Massachusetts, progress was happening.

It became obvious, around the age of 10, that the girl had scoliosis. By that time, the father had joined the Air Force as a chaplain and was being transferred from Montana to Minnesota. A fortuitous move for the family. Opportunities and resources became readily available. Little D was fitted for a "Milwaukee" brace that covered her body in steel and leather until the time when the doctors felt it was time to do back surgery.

That time came not in the US, but after the family was transferred to an Air Force base in Japan. At the age of 12, the daughter was taken to a nearby hospital for surgery that would remove some hip bone, remove the half extra vertebra, and fuse her spine; in essence stunting her growth from that point. She was 4 feet, 10 inches tall at the time.

With the steadfast love and care of a mother, Little D progressed mentally as well. Upon relocating to Missouri, and then California, she was about to graduate from high school ... no small feat. But one of the requirements of the high school was to be able to swim two laps of the swimming pool. The young woman's spasticity (what one side of the brain did, the other did also ...) prevented her from driving, swimming, and the like. Anything that required the two sides of the body to be working independently. (Although she DID learn to type at 56 words per minute!)After much intervention from the parents, the school recanted and allowed her to graduate on the merits of her schooling alone.

"She will not live past ... she will never ..." 1. graduate 2. get married 3. live independently 4. have meaningful employment

And this is where we come to the chapter of disclosure.

She moved in with her sister for a short time, and then into a boarding house, where she went to work for the county in a training program. This led to an aide position in the public school system, for special needs students, with whom she could empathize. This led to going to a local church and singles group. Which led to dating, and eloping to Reno, Nevada!

Diane ... my sister ... is nothing short of a miracle. She has held her aide position, as an awarded member of the school employees, for more nearly 40 years! She almost singlehandedly assisted our parents through their life at a local retirement community, until their deaths. She has had the difficult job of sorting through all of their things, as well as sifting through probate issues.

God has the final word! Not the "she will never" naysayers. Outside of a limp and still sounding like she spent years on the East Coast, Diane is a thriving giver to her church, school, and family communities.

Today, Diane is a wife, a sought after teacher's aide, a gardener, a camper, one who gets asked the tech questions, a kitchen gourmet, and a believer in Jesus. Maybe I should have put that one first. Above all, that is what matters most. God has been gracious and merciful in more ways than temporal. His grace is eternal.

Thank You, Lord, for my sister and the miracle that she is. She has come far. Just like Thursday's child.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

One Score Minus Three

September 7, 2001, we closed on our newly constructed home. We began the laborious move across town, and by "across town" I mean about 40 miles away. On Monday, September 10, we finally closed the new garage door, full of boxes, and went to sleep, wondering how we would acclimate to our commute to Moody Bible Institute the next day.

Mark awoke just before 3 AM, as per usual, readied himself, and got to the radio station by 4:30. His morning program went from 5 AM to 9 AM.

My alarm went off at 4:10, so that I could get on the road at around 5 AM and hopefully miss the dreadful commuter traffic on the Stevenson (I-55 heading into Chicago).

My desk was in a quad toward the back of the building housing Moody Press (now called Moody Publishers) and Public Safety. I went to work ... which included greeting all my coworkers and combing through emails to find the urgent items of the day. And, as a dedicated wife, my hubby's program was on in the background.

As the years go by, certain memories bubble up, but exact times are not some of those memories. I've never been good with sequential events.

It must have been just before 8 AM when Dave Mitchell, the morning program's news director, broke in with the sad news that an airliner had just "crashed" into one of the World Trade Center buildings in New York. We were so shocked, wondering how does that kind of accident happen? It wouldn't be long before we figured out ... this was no accident.

At that point, we had computer video news going as well as the WMBI audio.

And as all eyes looked on in horror, the second plane hit the second tower. Shock doesn't begin to describe the realization that intentional mayhem had just occurred.

The towers fell. Another plane heads into the Pentagon. And the heroes on Flight 93 brought down the terrorists, and therefore the plane before it could hit its most likely intended target: the White House or Capitol building.

No one was concentrating on anything productive. The TV was on in the conference room, and as the plane hit the Pentagon, I began sobbing uncontrollably. My brother is a military retiree working as a consultant to military medical practice. He would have been within walking distance of the Pentagon on a typical day.

We were called together as employees to pray for the responders, the family members, and our nation. The one line I will never forget is, "Lord, thwart the evil intent of these people."

For a short while, the nation rallied. Flags everywhere. People back in church. "We are America strong!" The skies were devoid of aircraft, as everything was grounded. Those stranded at airports had to try to find rental cars.

Soon, the TSA was formed. Security lines. Armed police and military at the airports. Travel, and life, would never be the same.

There has been an undercurrent of distrust ever since. Will it happen again? Will they use trucks? Cars? Are my neighbors suspect? And yet, there is an entire generation coming up now who have no knowledge of why this emotional buzz is just part and parcel of our reality.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Over and Out

"Well, I don't like to toot my own horn, but that looks really good!" No, I did not say that. It is a direct quote from my surgeon, Dr. Beatrice Klade, of the Edward-Elmhurst Medical Group. It's the kind of thing a survivor likes to hear from her surgeon: that the 12-inch scar extending from the underarm to the breast bone has healed so far ... and has closed this chapter in this part of my cancer journey.

I say "closed this chapter" because, to the even mildly observant, life is not to be taken for granted. The zero on my Onctotype DX test is fantastic, but it does not preclude a recurrence entirely, nor does it promise that the remaining side won't take off on its own. 

The team at E-E has been nothing short of excellent. Caring. Thorough. Empathetic. Accessible. And transparent.

But there's more to this journey than just the testing and the surgery. The emotions are part and parcel of the process. And for support there, I thank my friends and family on Facebook, my breast health navigator (yes, that's a thing) at E-E, and the incredible women on the Pink Sisters in Christ Facebook page. Prayers have encouraged me, and God has sustained me. The roller coaster ride has smoothed out a bit since the beginning, but there are still days when worry rears its ugly head.
In case you didn't know, the answer is "no."

Part of the healing is acceptance that life will never look quite like it did before. But in an effort to feel as "normal" as possible, survivors have the insurance-required option of reconstruction or prostheses. The most desirable boutiques are those who will work directly with your insurance company. So it was that my navigator suggested I head to Naturally Yours, which is a bit of a hike for me, but worth the effort. 

Don't assume that the prosthesis is for vanity or aesthetic value only. No, the "good ones" are weighted to the point of balancing your posture as naturally as possible. Otherwise, over compensation takes over, followed by back pain. So I am thankful that Blue Cross/Blue Shield is taking care of my posture today. ;-)

Speaking of keeping the spine aligned ... and other physical considerations ... I (re)joined a health and wellness center yesterday! Admittedly, I'm a bit nervous about actually showing up. I mean, what if my new body part takes on a life of its own and decides to bow out during Zumba or AquaFit? Yipes. No, that won't happen ... will it?

This brings me to what the future looks like. 20/20 vision only works in hindsight, as you've no doubt heard. Seeing the future is squarely in God's purview. Not mine. 

Original sin's ramifications are far reaching. Death, disease, broken relationships, and evil in general. If someone tells you you can avoid the ravages of sin in this life, they are selling something. "The rain falls on the just and the unjust." And this will continue until Jesus returns. But that doesn't mean that we are without power in this life. Nor are we without hope. Jesus has secured my eternity. The Spirit is carrying me through this life. All because God first created us and loved us. 

In my humanity, there will be days I'm concerned that I might have to go through this again. But overall, God has been incredibly gracious and merciful to me. One might even say that I suffer from a bit of "survivor's guilt." There are women (I'm specifically referring to breast cancer here) who have to take on years of treatment, struggling to stay upright physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I'm grateful for the path God has opened for me. 

For now, let's leave it at "over" ... and it's "out." Thank You, Lord!

Monday, August 06, 2018

Big Hairy Deal

I was attending college when I first started singing the jingle to "Sun In." Remember it?

šŸŽµšŸŽµSun in and sunlight, and you'll be blonder toniiiiiight!šŸŽµšŸŽµ

The best it ever did for me was to turn my ash colored hair a bit redder. More of a strawberry blonde.

Then, when I was in my mid thirties, I noticed the dreaded stray gray hairs begin to appear. Over the counter color boosters worked just fine. But by the time I was in my mid forties, I alternated between over the counter color and paying someone to make me look "natural." Assuming "natural" is not gray, of course.

So, now I'm sporting a full blown stripe of gray down the middle of my head. There's a fairly good reason for that. I'm pragmatic. I don't like to pay for something that may have a short shelf life.

As you are aware, I had a single mastectomy on July 18. I'm not quite three weeks into recovery. The surgery went well. I only have slight aches and pains if I overdo it. And the nodes and margins were clear. Praise God!

But there's this little thing called the "oncotype score" that is a good predictor of whether cancer will return or not, based on all sorts of factors too scientific to relate here. The score ranges from zero to 100. Each number represents a percentage of "likelihood of recurrence." Depending on the score and the oncologist, there is generally a "break even" number where the benefits of chemotherapy outweigh the side effects. You've no doubt known someone who has suffered through those "benefits."

If I'm going to head into rounds of chemotherapy, losing my hair two weeks into the process, I'm sure not going to pay good money to rid myself of gray that will fall out anyway ... know what I mean? Instead, I'd need to have her buzz my hair to get ahead of the game.

My prayer warriors went to work, praying with me that the clear nodes and margins would also translate into "no radiation" and "no chemotherapy." I will be the first to admit that I don't know how prayer works. I do know that it is a conversation with my Creator ... my Savior ... my Comforter and Healer. And I know that God is sovereign. He has the right to rule, and that means that what He says goes. I know it will be for my best, because He is working in me to make me more like Jesus. God ALWAYS answers prayer. We just don't know HOW He will answer, and we may not like the answer.

At first, I thought I was going to go to my oncologist appointment this afternoon ... alone. There is something about that word. I can say "by myself" and be fine. But as soon as I say "alone" the tears start. And so I asked my dear hubby just how late he could head to work today, knowing he usually has to leave no later than 1 PM ... the exact time of my appointment.

He asked me how important I thought it was that he be there. Duh!!! If it's bad news, I'm going to need to cry on his shoulder. And if it's good news, I want him to be there to do the happy dance with me! Okay, maybe he'd just watch ME do the happy dance, but that's close enough.

Thank You, Lord. Mark went with me.

The first stop is always to get the vitals. Rats! I drank two cups of coffee, ate way more than I should have for both breakfast and lunch, and first stop was weigh in. Quick! What can I take off? Oh, well.

Then comes blood pressure. You can imagine it was on the ascending scale as I'm waiting for what could be life changing news.

Then meet with the kindly nurse, and a knock on the door from my sweet, albeit business-like, oncologist.

"Well, I have your results here, and let's just get this out before we discuss anything else..."  Blah, blah, blah ... "You are only the second person I have ever seen with this score in my 11 years of oncology." And then she handed me the results sheet.

I cried.

Yes, I prayed for a low oncotype score, as did so many of the prayer warriors out there, but ... God, You are just showing me that I need to trust You with everything!

ZERO!!! Unheard of! ZERO!!!

That is a big hairy deal. So, please excuse me while I go make a hair appointment ... praising and dancing all the way!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

I Just Might Dance!

Right now, Diane is going through my discharge papers, which tell me what kinds of activities I should be doing ... most include the word REST. But others say shoulder rolls and 90-degree arm raises. You know, the hard stuff ... ;-) Really, not supposed to do anything else until given the okay by the surgeon on Monday.

Speaking of the surgeon, I was blissfully sitting with my personal comfort dog, Pepito, when the phone rang. It was my surgeon, Dr. Klade (I think this is the first time I've named her.).

She said, "I hope I didn't disturb you. I know it's Saturday, and I'll see you on Monday, but I didn't want you to worry until then. We got your pathology report back, and ...


So, I just might do my happy dance in whatever way is permissible without damaging a stitch or two.

PRAISE GOD from Whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him all creatures here below!
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts!
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!


Where do I Begin?

Buckle your seatbelt, this is long.

Before the residual fog of anesthesia and time blur the memories, I need to recount (to myself, if not to you) the events of my single mastectomy on Wednesday, July 18, 2018.

I drank my required 12 ounces of Gatorade at 10 PM the night before, and again at just before 7 AM, along with 1000 mg of Tylenol ... this, they say, to just start to take the edge off of upcoming tests before surgery.

Thanks to Sue Meilleur, I packed up my tiara and pink feather boa, along with all the various and sundry things the hospital said I should bring, and headed for the hospital in Naperville just before 7 AM. Pete Tammeling, our church's care pastor, called on our way to pray with us.

Sidenote and repetition: I am SO grateful for the prayers of family and friends! My goodness, I feel like the young man whose friends lowered him through the ceiling to get to the healing power of Jesus. Just that thought makes me want to weep. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your prayers!

All parked, winding our way through the maze of hospital hallways to the one elevator that leads us to the surgical check-in, I'm remarkably calm. This is unusual for me. I don my tiara and feather boa and walk into the office to a grinning receptionist. I swear, everyone we came in contact with was comforting and welcoming. And probably a little shocked at my appearance, but I digress.

Not long after, Ingrid walked in, also all smiles. She's one of my best cheerleaders.

From here on out, I get the royal chariot ride treatment. Wheelchairs all the way, baby! First stop, vitals and gowning. They want to make sure I know who I am and why I'm there and that I will sign away my firstborn should anything go wrong. Okay, not really, but I get no drugs until I've signed the paperwork. ;-) First the nurse applies a "desensitizing" cream to the area in question. Then I get the valium. Why? Because I've got some tests coming up that might cause a little anxiety.

Wait, wait, wait, while that starts to take effect. Family goes to the waiting room, while I get the chariot ride to radiology. I'm greeted by (see, I've already forgotten her name...). Again, so friendly. I told her that a friend of mine warned me that I might want to punch out the doctor who does this test. You see, they inject a radioactive tracer to find the nearest lymph nodes to the affected area. They tell you that it "might burn" a bit. The radiologist returned, "Yes, that's why we give you the Valium. You can't hit as hard that way ... *grin*"

But what I didn't know is that there are two different types of radioactive injections. One is the tracer that just finds the sentinel nodes, and one is the blue dye that finds all the ... well, the rest of them and their pathways. Praise God, this was the former!

So, I'm on a typical exam table. The desensitizing cream has been covered up and doing its job, and the radiologist explains the procedure to me. But wait, I'm staring at the ceiling where usually you'd see a glaring light. Instead of squares of fluorescence, there is a tree branch with diffused sunlight. Great! I can count the leaves!

Next comes that freezing spray and a "pinch" (why do they always say it will feel like a pinch?) as she injects the first tracer of four. Ditto three more times. Now she turns on some soft music, dims all the rest of the lights, and those tracers find their marks. I could almost fall asleep ... almost. And no, it didn't hurt. She asked me, on a scale of 0-5, what pain level that test was. I said, maybe a 1. Bingo! Right answer. She was happy to oblige.

Now it's time for four 5-minute pictures of where those tracers ended up. For this, I get my first experience in an open MRI, of sorts. But it's not MRI, it's gamma rays, she says. "Are you claustrophobic?" We'll see, as I glide into the machine and the "ceiling" comes within an inch of my nose. Thankfully, it's open on the sides, so I turn my head and close my eyes. No problem.

All done with that and head back up to OR holding, where my surgeon and anesthesiologist will visit just prior to wheeling me off.

At this point, Mark, Diane, and Ingrid are able to come wait with me. Ingrid had the temerity to say that she really likes me on Valium ... uhhh, just what do you mean by that?

Dr. Dude (I've given him that nickname, since the first part of his name sounds like that, and he is a really funny guy) comes in and tells me that he's going to send me to lala-land so I should pick out a dream now. Then the surgeon pokes her head in to tell me that they'll be ready for me in just a bit, how am I doing, and jokes with Dr. Dude. Mark asked her how early she starts surgery in the day, and where am I in line? She said I'm the 4th of the day, and mine is scheduled for 11. Wow!

Here we go. My transport awaits and takes me through a labyrinth of secret hallways to OR #19. They assist me from the gurney to the OR table, and introduce me to everyone in the room who will be helping for the mastectomy. No, I don't remember ANY of their names!

Somewhere behind my head, Dr. Dude appears. He asks me what dream I've picked out. I said, "A Viking Riverboat cruise!" "Where are you going?" "The Grand European tour." "Great! Bon voyage! Have a great cruise!" And that's the last thing I heard ...

Until I awoke to a nurse asking me my pain level. I'm groaning. I'm crying (not afraid to admit it). And I am shaking like a 9 on the Richter scale. At one point I was sure I was having a seizure. I could not stop quaking. "Your pain level?" "Maybe 6-7. And my face is itching!" "Okay, I'll give you something." wait...wait...wait... "How about now?" Crying ... 6-7. "Okay, morphine it is." I think I quit shaking after that, and at some point my next chariot came to transport me to an overnight room.

By the time I was coherent, the nurses informed me that I had an allergic reaction to something in the anesthesiology cocktail (thanks a lot, Dr. Dude!)...most likely the Ancef anti-biotic. Who knew? I do now.

But hey, from then on out, pain level was almost nil. The nurses and techs were incredibly helpful. Numbers stabilized. Christian inspirational music piped through my "entertainment system" and I got food! Good food, actually!

My nurse navigator and surgeon visited the day after surgery, walked me through what to expect going forward, including all the goodies that the kind folks at Blue Cross/Blue Shield and the American Cancer Society have available to survivors.

Because that's what I am. A survivor!

Monday, July 16, 2018

God is in the Details

Are you a detail person? Or are you a "just give me the big picture/bottom line" kind of person?

Call it a control issue (I know you will), but I want it all. Give me the goal, and then I want all the details that will get me there.

Some say "the devil is in the details," which is true if those details go awry. However, God is a God of order, and therefore I can trust him with the details.

Here are some details I'm dealing with right now.

  • My mastectomy surgery is on Wednesday, but I still don't know what time. I'm told that the hospital will call me on Tuesday with the time I'm to arrive. Important detail.
  • Before surgery, I will first go for sentinel node mapping. (What are the details of that, you ask.)...
  • Head to Nuclear Medicine in the hospital. I'll be wheeled there, thank you very much. Mark can follow me.
  • I'll change into "the gown." 
  • I'll be given an IV.
  • Cream will cover the surgical area (they don't want to slow blood flow during this time, so no lidocaine).
  • Hop onto the exam table.
  • More numbing from topical spray (that feels like you just jumped into a bucket of ice, apparently).
  • I will receive four injections of blue dye that may burn.
  • I'll be given a warm pack for comfort after the previous jolts.
  • Wait for 15 minutes while the dye works its way to the lymph nodes.
  • Then come four 5-minute scans.
  • I'll be wheeled to OR, where I'll chat with the anesthesiologist (yeah, right) and the surgeon. 
  • Followed by possibly waiting for one hour before surgery. 

I'm told that the surgery will take 1-1½ hours. Sounds like a good nap to me.

So, please pray that ...

  • Every one of those details runs smoothly.
  • I have a bold and trusting attitude, considerate of those who are working with me.
  • The surgeon and anesthesiologist have every one of THEIR details under control.
  • I will relax into the knowledge that God has every detail under control, and me in His loving hands.
  • The final outcome is ... all clear! "Clear" to me means no cancer remaining, no infection, and no lymphedema.

Thanks to all you detail-oriented people who can pray specifically now. And thanks to all of you bottom line people who will pray for that final outcome.

The biggest God detail I want to remember is that, because of His power, I can have peace.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Real Notes

Things got real with the call from the surgeon's office.

"What time would you like to schedule your operation?" (You mean I actually have a choice? Well, let's get this thing going!) "What is her first availability?" "Let's see ... looks like next Wednesday, the 18th." "What time?" "We won't know what time until you get a phone call the day before."

Well, okay then. Here we go. T-minus 6 and counting.

Notes from the pre-op instructions:

  • No blood thinners from now until surgery.
  • No multi-vitamins until surgery.
  • No more coQ-10.
  • Zi-cam seems to be okay.
  • Nothing to eat after 11 PM on the 17th. But wait ...
  • Drink 12 ounces of Gatorade 12 hours before surgery.
  • Drink another 12 ounces 4 hours prior to surgery.
  • Take 1000mg (if my math serves me correctly, that would equal 1 gram) 4 hours before surgery.
  • We can park on the second floor of the south parking garage that states "reserved for surgery patients."
  • Enter in the south lobby, turn left, go to elevators at end of hallway and take them to second floor.
  • Straight ahead to check in (heart palpitations...).
  • Leave all valuables at home.
  • Take off all jewelry ... rings, piercings, etc etc.
  • Wear loose clothing that buttons up the front.
  • No pathology will be given over phone.
  • Staying overnight.

MyChart is my frenemy. Timely information, and sometimes too much or too little to suit me.

My sister, Diane, has volunteered to stay with me for the first part of my recovery. I'm so grateful. She may as well be a home health aide with as much as she's done for our parents the past few years. So now she is stepping down a generation and helping me.

As we go into this next week, my prayer list goes like this:

  • Bravery
  • Trust in the LORD
  • Peace
  • Flights at a good price and time for Diane
  • Pain management without dependence
  • No infections
  • All cancer GONE!!!
  • Ministry to those with whom I'll come in contact

I purposely didn't put a link to this blog today. If you are reading it, you have determined to be a prayer warrior, and for that I am SO grateful! Thank you.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

My Comic Relief

For Women Only! (Men, read at your own risk.)

This blog is really just an elaborate ruse to say thanks to my own private comedy company: our daughter, Ingrid. Between my husband and her, their lot in life is to make me see the bright and humorous side of everything.

And so began my day with the plastic surgeon. Ingrid agreed to accompany me to give her womanly wisdom on the subject of reconstruction.

I mean, really, should that be cause for laughter? Only when you can see that God is saving you from something far worse and, therefore, whether or not to add a stand-in for a soon-to-be-removed breast qualifies as joke fodder.

First, there's the fact that I had to weigh in ... again! Horrors. But the nurse laughed. Ingrid laughed. I removed my glasses, shoes, and anything else that I could without being indiscreet ... and laughed. At one point, I think we probably discussed how much weight I would lose by having my breast removed, but ...

I may have been raised in the 60s, but I am a bit on the reclusive, modest side. I get a tad embarrassed at the doctor's office, and this is really pushing it for me. Because next came "measurements." And I don't mean "around." Picking a focal point ("my eyes are up here!"), the reconstructive surgeon measured to the center of each breast. So no ... not twins of a gazelle. More like distant cousins. And remember when Mark had to get his eyes lifted a few weeks ago because of "ptosis"? That means "sagging to the point of falling asleep." The same term was used for those "twins."

You might guess, if you know me well, that I am risk-averse. I'm practical to a fault, usually. When I initially met with the mastectomy surgeon, she made it sound like reconstruction would be done at the same time as the mastectomy. Well, sort of. The only thing that would be done at the time of first surgery would be to install an "expander" in the space, which (much like a dental expander) would need to be tweaked each week to accommodate the next surgery for actual implant. Remember the risk-averse? Yeah. More than one surgery is not my idea of recovery.

Basically, there are three types of reconstruction open to me. Since I must have a complete mastectomy (sorry if all of this is TMI), I can either leave it as is (no reconstruction), implant a saline sack, implant one of two different types of silicone gel sacks, or opt for autologous reconstruction.

The best thing I heard all morning was when the reconstructive surgeon was discussing the autologous type of reconstruction. Frankly, it makes my knees go weak just thinking about it. Skin and underlying fatty tissue is removed from either the abdomen, buttocks, or inner thigh, and used to form the new "breast" and then inserted where an implant would go. But wait! He said I didn't have enough to work with. Hahahahaha! I guess that one  oversized love-handle wasn't enough to go on.

Then there is the saline implant. Much like implanting a water balloon. Picture that, if you will. I laugh just thinking about it. I asked him how many he did of those each year, and he said, "One." What? Well, yeah ... that mind picture. However, they are probably the more "safe" of the two types of implants, because if there is a rupture, the saline just gets reabsorbed into the body. Right after your chest deflates...

So then there is the gel implant. One is smooth, and moves around under the skin (creepy) and the other is textured and stays put. So, why wouldn't you want the one that stays put? Because all that texture tends to gather problems that the lymph system wants to war against.

Most women opt for the "gummy" type of gel. I have two friends (who will remain anonymous unless they want to out themselves) who got these gummy gel implants. One describes it as feeling like something is constantly strapped to her chest, never quite feeling natural (gee, I wonder why?). The other affectionately calls her breast "Sponge Bob Square Boob"! Go ahead and laugh ... it is hilarious. This can happen due to scar tissue build up around the implant.

Then he treated Ingrid and me to "before and after" photos, complete with tattooed nipples (why do I not like to even say that word?). This is an ingenious and excellent way for someone who has been through the reconstruction process to have a sense of normalcy.

But since when have I been entirely normal? My initial surgeon wanted to make sure I got together with the plastic surgeon to go over options. I've done that now, thank you.

To reconstruct or not is an extremely personal decision for each woman. I belong to a FB group called "Pink Sisters in Christ." All 3300 of us are somewhere in our breast cancer journey: newly diagnosed all the way to 10 years NED (No Evidence of Disease). I want to thank a friend of mine for turning me on to the group, because it is a treasure trove of encouragement, wisdom, and women praying for one another. I love it! Thank You again, Lord, for your praying people!

Every one of the women in that FB group is unique and has their own reasons for how they decided on recovery and reconstruction.
My bottom line: I'm sticking with mastectomy and no reconstruction. So now you know. Sometime in the future, if we should meet face to face, I expect you to look me in the eye, because there is nothing to see down there! Just call me "one and done." Or "One-derful" will work, too. Or, perhaps, "Padiddle" (you know ... when you see a car with one headlight out?). But whatever you do, help me keep my sense of humor.

I will keep my scar.

It will be a constant reminder of what God has saved me from. There are plenty of alternatives out there to show the outside world that I look "sort of normal." But I will never be normal again. That makes me tear-up just a bit. So ... someone tell me a joke. I would like to laugh my way through recovery.

Thanks again, Ingrid, for being my morning comic relief. I love you (and pray you never have to go through this yourself).

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

God is so Good!

If you were standing near me right now, you might hear me singing those words. Here are some things I am thankful for today:

  • Compassionate surgeon, who is thorough and has a sense of humor
  • Compassionate medical oncologist, who promises empowerment
  • Friendly medical staff
  • Reconstructive surgeon's office rearranging their schedule so I can get a consultation before their normal 30-day wait!
  • Praying friends and family
  • Culver's frozen custard ... okay, I shouldn't have eaten that, but it was delicious

I cannot imagine doing surgery or oncology for decades. Unless you have faith in the Almighty God, how do you possibly keep your empathy and patience for every single person who comes through the door with a new diagnosis? But these folks I've run into sure do. I am so grateful that God has placed them where they are.

Here's how the schedule has gone so far:

May 23 ... appointment with primary care physician. Lump was enough of a concern that she scheduled me for next available mammogram

May 31 ... mammogram immediately followed by ultrasound

First week of June ... follow up letters on My Chart give me mixed messages. First it says, "nothing to worry about." Followed by, "We have designated this as a BIRADS-5. Please schedule a biopsy." Not a happy week, for sure.

June 25 ... Stereotactic core needle biopsy guided by ultrasound. Initial response by radiology doctor was that tumor collapsed during biopsy, and she felt this was a good sign. Hopes are up that this is benign.

June 28 ... Pathology report states, "Abnormal" and I head to the report consultation with Mark at my side. The bad news/good news of cancer, but a rare form that may or may not be contained. Immediately schedule me for appointment with surgeon.

July 3 ... Met with highly recommended female surgeon at 8:30 AM. Friendly. Forthcoming. She went over all the results again with me, and all of her recommendations. From the looks of it, the lumps are far enough away from each other, even though they are in the same quadrant, that a lumpectomy would cause quite some deformity. I had already read enough that I was leaning toward complete mastectomy anyway. She agreed that would be a good choice.

But here's the thing. I erroneously thought that taking all the tissue would be a "one and done" deal, and I didn't plan on any reconstruction. No more risks for me, thanks! However, she talked me into at least speaking with the plastic surgeon for options.

Here's the other thing. I thought we would schedule surgery by the end of the appointment. But I have to meet with everyone else first, and if reconstruction is in the picture, their schedules have to line up.

And that brings me to my 3 PM appointment with the medical oncologist. If you didn't know, and I didn't, the surgeon only gets the cancer out of the location. If radiation is necessary, a radiation oncologist is called in. Not likely in my case, since it will be mastectomy rather than lumpectomy. If reconstruction is chosen, the plastic surgeon steps in, either right at the time of mastectomy, or later if there are complications.

The medical oncologist is necessary for anything that may be systemic. You know, those nasty little cancer cells that went rogue and camped out in the lymph nodes or took a ride down the bloodstream.

The medical oncologist went over my results again. Let me tell you, every time helps! She was SO encouraging! Between her and the surgeon I got the picture ... nothing is determined until pathology gets ahold of the removed tissue. BUT, her initial look (I think I'd better quit depending on those) was that unless there was a rogue cell in the sentinel lymph node, I may actually ... dare I hope it ... bypass chemotherapy! If that is the case, because my particular type of cancer feeds on estrogen, I would go on a post-menopausal estrogen blocker for five years as a protection for the non-affected side.

Please pray:

  • That the cancer is indeed contained (non-invasive)
  • That the sentinel nodes will be clear
  • That no radiation or chemotherapy would be necessary
  • That I would have peace about reconstructive surgery (the earliest they could get me in for consultation is July 10)
Praise God that everyone I've spoken to so far has assured me this is not an aggressive cancer. They want to let me know that this is a "bump in a very long road." 

Encouraging and empowering. And I know where that came from. GOD is so GOOD!

Monday, July 02, 2018

Aren't I Special?

When one takes a test, one would love to be in the top (or most unique) 1%, don't you think?

Well, then there's this ...

From Johns Hopkins:
Papillary Breast Cancer
Papillary Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Papillary breast cancer is a very rare type of invasive ductal breast cancer that accounts for fewer than 1% of all breast cancers.  The name comes from finger-like projections, or papules, which are seen when the cells are looked at under the microscope. 
Many papillary tumors are benign.  These are called papillomas.  Even when a biopsy is negative for cancer, the pathologist often needs to look at the whole tumor under the microscope to be sure about the diagnosis. This is why surgery to remove a papilloma is usually recommended, even if it is thought to be benign. 
Malignant papillary tumors are a form of breast cancer.  Like other types of invasive ductal cancer, papillary breast cancer begins in the milk duct of the breast. Most of the time, papillary breast cancers include both in situ cells (which have not yet spread outside of the duct) and invasive cells (which have begun to spread outside of the duct).
Papillary breast cancers are usually small, and positive for the estrogen and/or progesterone receptors (ER/PR+) and negative for the HER2 receptor (HER2-).  Compared to more common types of breast cancers, papillary breast cancers are less likely to involve the lymph nodes, are more responsive to treatment, and may have a better prognosis than more common types of invasive ductal cancer.
Papillary Breast Cancer Treatment
Local therapy is aimed at preventing the cancer from coming back in the breast. Local therapy includes surgery (lumpectomy or mastectomy), and may include radiation. 
Systemic therapy is used to prevent the disease from coming back or spreading to another part of the body.  This may include endocrine (hormone) therapy, chemotherapy, and therapy that targets the HER2 protein.  Often different types of treatment are used together to achieve the best result.
Your treatment plan will be based on the features of the tumor (type of cells, tumor grade, hormone receptor status, and HER2 status) and the stage of the disease (tumor size and node status). Your oncology team will recommend a treatment plan based on what is known about papillary breast cancer in general and tailored to your specific disease.
We know that it can be stressful to receive a diagnosis of breast cancer, and learning that you have a rare form of the disease can add to your anxiety.  We hope it will be reassuring to know that our team at the Center for Rare Breast Tumors is dedicated to latest research and treatment of papillary breast cancer, and is here to support patients and their families through diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship.

Like the radiology pathologist said: bad news and good news. 

So, I'd appreciate prayers for:

  • an oncology team that is prepared for this type of cancer
  • that I would submit to treatment with a positive attitude
  • that I would be a witness to the power of God in my life
  • that the tears that fall would be cleansing and not ... cannot think of the term ... in dismay

Sure, go ahead and tell me I'm special. And grin when you say it.


I got the sweetest texts from one of my granddaughters the other day. She and the family had been talking about "Nana's cancer." And like most of us with limited experience (or no experience) with the topic, she immediately went to the worst case scenario.

"Ur (sic) one of the most healthy person (sic) I know." Yes, weird, isn't it?

We seem to always hear the phrase, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." But what about the fact that sometimes we cannot even see what is killing us??? Or has the potential to, anyway.

It's the hidden disease that has the most potential to harm. Disease that we don't even want to admit exists. As I've written before, "I'm an idiot!" I ignored the warning signs, attributing them to experiences with which I was more acquainted, rather than having them checked for ... breast cancer.

The same holds true for spiritual disease. We don't want to admit sin and so we ignore the warning signs. But God's Word is true and right and holy. It contains the definition of sin ... and the cure.

The Creator knows me inside and out. He knows my hidden disease, physical and spiritual. I'm trusting that the Creator is also my Healer.

Can't hide from that.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

No, Thank You

No, thank you. I'd like to decline membership.

I've just been admitted to a club I never wanted to join. As a matter of fact, Caroline (my favorite nurse so far) said, "Welcome to the club no one wants to be in." You see, she is also a member.

It's called The Breast Cancer Club. Whether you've just been diagnosed (me) or are in treatment or have been cleared for many years, you are part of the club. But I'm choosing to think that's okay. I have friends and acquaintances and friends yet to come who have wisdom and strength I don't yet possess but may be able to share with someone down the road.

This morning my loving husband went with me for the initial "results consultation." I was really hoping for, "This was all just a big misunderstanding. You can go home now." But no. The pathologist who read my biopsy results said, "I hate to be the one to relay this kind of news, but I have bad news and I have good news. Yes, you have cancer. But the good news is, it is totally treatable and you WILL get through this."

God got me through this consultation without so much as a tear drop. I'm amazed, really. My prayer warrior friends should not give up, because sometimes I really don't know how to pray.

It seems that the papillary glands (did I say that right?) are the problem. And breast feeding three kids did not prevent it. Nor did the fact that no one in my immediate family has had breast cancer. So much for "the odds."

My next step is to visit with the breast cancer surgeon, Dr. Klade, at Edward Hospital. I trust she is great, because the rest of the team has been extraordinarily empathetic and informative. Before I left the consultation, I already had an appointment with the surgeon for July 3. At that appointment, the treatment options will be ready for analysis. I have my 'druthers, but I need to hear her recommendations.

And once again, my loving husband will go with me as a second set of ears. Because, you know, anything after the word "cancer" just sounds like .... blah blah blah blah blah...

No, thank you. But thank You, Lord, for Your provision. It could have been a whole lot worse. This is a "small" cancer compared to what could have been. And, note to self, quit with the assumptions! I assumed the lumps were nothing more than the calcium deposits like my mom had and what I've had before. Bad call.

I will fight. God will have His way. But please keep praying.

Signed ~ a new member of the "No, Thank You" club

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Let the Adventure Begin

God, You have my attention. But this is an adventure I never wanted to sign up for. I have started the roller coaster of emotions and thoughts, and have to remind myself of the "EVEN IF" clause.

On Monday, the 25th of June, I arrived early for my core needle biopsy. Fairly calm, actually. The prayers of my friends were lifting me up, for sure.

The staff at Edward mammography is so good at what they do, including caring for the human who is going through some trying times.

So, gowned and ready to go, I was covered in a warm blanket by Caroline, while the ultrasound tech circled the trouble spots in purple on my skin. The doctor came in and introduced herself, keeping the conversation friendly and light. Caroline held the hand that wasn't behind my head and patted my arm at various intervals.

I think I have a natural aversion for anything that may cause me to get drowsy or resist pain, because they always have to double dose me with the numbing stuff. This was no different. And they had to numb me in two different spots because they were far away enough from each other.

Then came the core needle that the doctor affectionately compared to a sewing machine sound. Four or five times per lump, then placement of the titanium marker that allows future tests to accurately see where biopsies have already been done.

I shouldn't have done it, but I did. I clung to something the doctor said and convinced myself that everything was just normal and this was all a big misunderstanding. She said something to the effect of, "The lumps collapsed when I used the needle. That's a good sign."

Apparently not enough of a good sign.

Today, I received the couched results, complete with a nurse's empathetic reminder to bring a family member to my appointment tomorrow. MyChart gives a truncated result chart, ending with the word "ABNORMAL." And swimming somewhere on the page are all the percentages of hormone resistors, etc etc.

So, from here on out, "normal" is out of the question. Now we fight. Tomorrow I will find out a bit more how that fight will look. What kinds of weapons I'll have. The length of the fight, as best they know it. And all the resources I'll have at my disposal while I'm fighting.

But in case I forget, remind me WHO has the final word. WHO has the power and the love and the wisdom and the purpose for this fight.

Yes, God, I'm guessing You are drawing me closer because I'd been wandering. This is important. I'm listening.

Let the adventure begin.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

What if...?

These words have haunted me most of my life. Nerves and fear follow in their wake. I've turned them to my advantage, as I say it keeps me on my toes and ready for any eventuality. But those words ... what if? ... rob the joy and trust and faith that a believer in Jesus is supposed to have.

Next week holds some uncertainties. Tests that could reveal either "benign" or "life threatening." So the "what if" is haunting me once again.

God is all powerful. He is all loving. He is all wise. He is everywhere. He is all knowing. God is with me every moment. So why do I fear?

Even if ... that's what I need to focus on.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Case in Point

Right now I'm listening to my husband speak to someone on Focus on the Family about what kids remember about dads. The emotional touch points. Not big things. The everyday little things a dad does to make life special.

My dad took me on a "date" on my 18th birthday. My mom had to convince me to want to go, because by then it was too little too late.

Today I got a sympathy card from someone I knew well when I was in high school and college. This makes the point that my dad was one person to the outside world and another to us as a family. His words are quite complimentary. But they describe the man he knew, not the father I knew.

Following are his words:

Very sorry to learn yesterday the news of Dale's death. He was a gentle spirit who truly cared about people and their relationships. 

While technically he wasn't the first person I met upon arriving at R-G in 11/71 (that distinction belonged to the person staffing the front gate), Dale was my first friend–even though he outranked me by several levels. We met at the sparsely populated O Club one weekday morning as he would come there to visit with personnel over breakfast.

He introduced himself, we talked while eating, and discovered we were kindred souls theologically. Later we would play racquetball together and attend AF-sponsored religious retreats at St. Olaf College in MN–all the while crossing paths at the base chapel on Sundays and holidays. That first Thanksgiving, Dale and Joyce had several of us who were single (both enlisted and officers) to their base house for a meal.

While Dale may have been a bit shy by nature, it didn't prevent him from reaching out in order to connect with others. He was approachable and his concern for the other person genuine.

We've lost a good one ...

And then he signed it. I have mixed emotions about these tributes. I appreciate that they liked my father. But it is disturbing to know that this description is not the man I knew. God knows who Dad really was. I need God's mercy and grace and understanding.

Like the Corners of My Mind

Memories ...

This past week was full of them, as I leafed through scrapbooks, photo albums, and steamer trunks. As I was part and parcel of two memorial services: one at a national cemetery, and one at a retirement home.

It is a shame that all of our earthly life would boil down to scraps in a garage. When our children must go through our possessions, it might be just as well to hire a truck and haul it all away. Sad.

To have Father's Day on the heels of the memorials for my dad is just too poignant.

The siblings and I heard glowing remembrances from his friends at the retirement center and the church he had chosen to attend. Unfortunately, that was the persona he showed to the outside world. We knew someone totally different.

"A great listener." To us ... don't argue with him because he will not listen.

"Generous." To us ... all the money spent on strangers and his family forgotten.

"A friend to all." To us ... nebulous at best.

"Always there for you." To us ... never there for us.

Double life. Duplicitous. Those were how we knew him. So when the glowing remembrances ended with the "minister" saying, "I'll bet you kids were so proud to have a dad like that...", we admittedly looked at each other and rolled our eyes.

Now, when I say he lived a double life, I mean that in many senses of the phrase. After he had strokes, he did become more affectionate with family ... to a degree. But in all our growing up years, he was extremely guarded with any affection. Most emotional memories are stained negatively, not positively.

So, although the photos and writings may have shown the world one side of my dad, the one the family remembers is ... absence, distrust, clandestine meetings, disease, Mom's tears.

He lived such a hidden life apart from our family that he no doubt used his "religiosity" to cover it. He was always liberal theologically, but after retiring from the chaplaincy he whole-heartedly embraced any denomination (and attended several) that leaned far from biblical truth.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating, that I'm eternally grateful that Dad went into the Air Force as a chaplain. God used OTHER chaplains to speak biblical truth into our lives, as chaplains rotated preaching schedules on each base. While my father spoke from written and read notes, other chaplains spoke from a heart devoted to Jesus and God's Word. The difference became crystal clear.

Try as you might, you cannot change truth by continually believing a lie. The truth remains.

And so do the memories, even though softened by time.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Remembering Sunday

As I’m reclining and resting after a morning of pre-K Sunday school and an Outback steak, I vaguely recall what Sundays were like when I was a child.

My father was a pastor of small rural churches until I was ten years old. On most Sunday mornings, we were up early, dressed in our Sunday best, and eating “dry cereal” before piling into the family station wagon to go get a congregant who had no car.

Hymnal page numbers were posted on a wooden sign, big and bold. I sat with my mother until I was old enough to sit alone while she sang in the choir or played the piano. Then after the “children’s sermon” we were dismissed for Sunday School. Off to the church basement we went for Bible stories and songs. 

Our family was always the last to leave, of course. Dad had to talk with everyone, and so Mom would wisely pack herself a sandwich just in case her blood sugar dropped too low. Then home for the Sunday dinner, most likely with a singleton, couple, or family who needed a place to eat. We wouldn’t think of going out to eat on a Sunday.

Blue Laws. Nothing was open on Sunday, with the exception of hospitals and perhaps a gas station. Sunday afternoons were for resting, letter writing (yes, by hand!), and sometimes running down the street to find a friend to play with, although we were fully aware that many families wouldn’t let their children out to play, either. 

And then it was time to call Grandma and Grandpa, because those were the cheap rates, and they lived several states west of us. 

What happened to the simplicity? Do you recall when we were sold a bill of goods that stated we would have MORE leisure time “in the future”? Instead we’ve tried to fill every moment with something ... anything ... for self gratification. 

It’s getting more and more difficult to recall those Sunday afternoons, but I’m doing my part ... with my dog on my lap ... in my recliner ... on a quiet Sunday afternoon.