Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmas Miracle

I wasn't really sure about this Christmas. Perhaps that's why I've been silent this month. It's hard to read everyone's blogs about the happiness, celebrations, and traditions of Christmas when my own heart has been breaking, worrying, wishing, and praying. My brother's one wish was to come home from the hospital, be around his family, and maybe share this Christmas in a familiar, loving place. When every breath is a painful, exhausting struggle for him, it is so hard for me. . .to the point I wish I could just exchange places. . .

My sister and I are so far away, but Skype has brought our family so close together. We can all sit and talk together, cry together. . . or like last night, sing together.

I wasn't sure about last night -- in fact, I don't think I'm sure about anything. It was so hard for my sister and me to see Ton coughing and struggling for every breath -- harder still to see my sister, brother, and nephew tend to him with such tender love and care. Being Christmas Eve and the first time all 5 of us siblings have ever been "together" as adults on Christmas, we began to sing. Singing was central in our family when growing up. We sang in the car, sang around the old piano, sang around camp fires, sang as we did the dishes, and even san ourselves to sleep. So there we were, late on Christmas Eve when most of the world was wrapping it up for the night, we were just getting started. We sang through the hymnbook, sang all the choruses we learned in DVBS. Didn't matter how we sounded. Didn't matter if we had the words right. Didn't matter if we cried or laughed. What mattered is that Tony loved every single moment of it all. It went on forever. And I'm sure the the angels listened in wonder and amazement as one little family celebrated Christmas together through the internet. The cookoo clock struck midnight and we realized we had sung in Christmas. . . the day my brother wanted so badly to see. We all prayed together and I went to bed exhausted.

I could not sleep. The words to hymns and Bible verses raced through my heart and I wondered if my brother was sleeping. I prayed. I prayed for a Christmas Miracle. The strange thing was, I had no specific miracle in mind. I had no idea what to ask for. I only knew I wanted the Lord to be so very close to Tony through those early hours of this Christmas Day. Over and over I prayed the same vague prayer. . .

And God heard. Does He not always hear the cries of His children????

The news this morning was that Tony is doing so much better, talking, and wanting to sit up. He slept well last night, was so thrilled with our "party" last night, remembered all of it, and is just so happy that we could all be together that way.

Tony's pastor had mentioned to him something about the final week of Christ's life and following in His footsteps, so Tony has been listening to readings of Scripture relating to this. Just so happened (do things really "just so happen????"), I found Max Lucado's book, "And the Angels Were Silent," a beautiful book about the last week of the life of Jesus. I downloaded it to my Kindle (free for your PC), and have been reading nonstop. I just can't put it down.

Somehow, I believe the angels were silent last night as the Lord leaned over and listened to one little family sing His praises with hearts that were heavy and joyful and everything inbetween. Somewhere in the depths of my heart, I know He sat by my brother's bed through the early hours of the morning.

Miracles? They come wrapped in strange packages and tucked away where we almost miss them. I got mine. . . and the strange thing is, I don't even know what it is.
Yes I do! It's peace. A heart full of peace. And Tony? His miracle today is another heart full of hugs from those who love him more than he can ever know.

Merry Christmas, Tony! The Lord has worked miracles through you into our family that has changed us all for eternity! And the angels thought it would never happen, I'm sure, and are silent today at the wonder of it all!!!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I've never seen him in a suit, nor do I believe he would ever wear one. Old jeans, a tee shirt, and flip-flops seem to fit him best. And for some odd reason, it's the way I like to see him.

He always seeks me out, grabs my hand and gives me a warm, huge smile lit up with twinkling eyes and loving words. My heart feels contented, and I thank my Heavenly Father for this man of grace and many gifts.

I thought I was stuck in the old hymnbooks when it came to my choice of music. But on this particular Sunday evening, I found a new place in my heart that I never knew was there. It included drums, guitar, harmonica, piano, flute, and this man with a voice like Chris Christopherson, eyes that shone with God's glory, and a heart full of God's love.

And the tears began to fall.

He was singing the song that is playing in the background, "The God of the Mountain," a song that came to mean so much to me during my cancer journey. A strange thing happened during those few minutes: It seemed that I took a fast-forward trip through all those chemo treatments, surgery and radiation, and experienced all the emotions that I probably should have had back then. . . .No, on second thought, it was different. You see, I was looking back to a mountain and a valley in my past. And this song had now changed from an encouragement for me to a testimony of all God was and had done for me.

I never tire of his singing, but I missed him last week. I missed the drums, I missed the guitar, I missed his eyes, and most of all, I missed his expressions of love for our Saviour. My heart told me he needed prayer, and I prayed often that the Lord would be his strength.

I don't know what moved me more -- to see his tears and his broken spirit as we hugged and he shared that he had fallen --- or to see one person after another "restore such a one in the spirit of meekness". I learned compassion, I learned forgiveness,I learned repentence, I learned humility, and I learned faith. I learned that MY problems are so small in comparison to others. I learned that God's grace IS greater than ALL our sin. I learned that the Shepherd DOES go out and finds His sheep. And I learned that the Lord DOES inhabit the praises of His people. I was there. I saw it happen. And I'll never be the same.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Thankful Heart!

Thanksgiving and the long weekend was such a busy time for me. Not that there were loads of people around -- in fact, it was just my sister and me. Yet, I felt that my thoughts were racing wild, emotions were at their peak, and the Lord was as close as He could be.

My prayers all week had been that my brother would be allowed to go home for Thanksgiving day and that "the guys" would be able to get him there peacefully and without a lot of "tadoo!" You see, my brother has lung cancer and having such a difficult time right now. He has gotten so weak and needs help to get out of bed, etc. Wednesday night, I was listening to Lynda Randle sing, "God will make a way," and I just cried, praying that He would make a way for Ton to make home. He did!!!
And the best part was, I got to talk with him through Skype, a free video calling system, and we could see each other and have a great talk. God is sooooo good, isn't He?

Thursday nights, we have a Bible Study at our church, so my sister and I went. I've been attending this church for about two months, and I feel that my heart has finally found a home. Pastor spoke on thanksgiving and the need for us to direct our thanks to the Lord. So many people today just say, "I'm thankful for. . . ." without ever directing their thanks to anyone at all. I wonder how many times I have said that myself? He pointed out that just the word, "thanks", demands that there be a recipient of our thanks. The singing, praise, and message were so heartlifting, but I was stunned afterwards to find out that Pastor had had a mild heart attack earlier in the day. I just couldn't believe that he was there for us!
He is such a man of God, and in so short a span of time, I've come to appreciate him so much.

Saturday night, my brother was rushed from the nursing home to the hospital with terrible chest pains and trouble breathing. I couldn't sleep that night, and all I could do was pray for him and for my pastor, and for a few others that I had great concerns about. Isn't it great that we have a God who hears us, who never slumbers or sleeps, and walks with us through those dark, sleepless times???

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A New Start -- A New Look!

Weather changes so quickly and drastically here in Florida -- one day hot, one day cold, one day rain, next day drought, etc. Here it is, the middle of November, and a beautiful pink rose is blooming in my backyard. So. . . . I decided it was time to change the look of my blog, begin a new season in my life, and start blogging again.

So many of you have emailed me, checking in on me, telling me you still pray for me and think of me. I can't tell you how much that has meant, and I know it is because of your prayers that the Lord has seen fit to give me added days with good health. All my check ups have been great so far. Can't help but say, "Everything is coming up roses" for me.

Jumping back into a blog is not easy, but there is so much to say and share and it seems a shame to just keep it all inside. So this is my new start ---- roses in November!!!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Squash Blossoms!

Normally, I am a meat and potatoes kind of person. You know the type ---- normal, everyday, homecooking like meatloaf, baked chicken, mashed potatoes, peas, corn, broccoli, etc., etc. I don't usually stray too far from the safety zone. I will try new recipes, though, especially if I have all the ingredients around the house and it all sounds good.

Since starting the gardening thing, I've been on a search for good veggie recipes. I've been trying to get away from a lot of meat, as my cholesterol seems to be inching its way up. I'd rather control it with diet rather than the pills.

So. . . . with that in mind, I stood outside staring at my poor zuchinni and squash plants pushing out all these beautiful flowers, but no females with the fruit on the base of them. ALL males. I have read that the male flowers come first, but this was just too much. I had heard that these flowers are edible and well liked, but not available in grocery stores because of being so highly perishable. If you do an internet search for "squash flower recipes," you will see that there are hundreds to choose from ---- baked, fried, deep fried, raw, stuffed, etc.

I took my trusty scissors out there and started snipping. I took them all!!!!! I found this recipe and decided to try it for supper last night. I psyched myself up, saying that there were frozen meals on standby if this did not work out and not to get crabby or mad or blame myself as this was DEFINITELY out of my comfort zone of food. I must say, this rates a 10 on the scale of "we'll do it again" recipes. We wolfed it down so fast, there was no chance for pictures, sharing with Sis, or with Buster.

So here's the recipe.

Stuffed Squash Blossoms


1/2 cup grated jack cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (I used pepper jack cheese, so didn't need the pepper)
1/2 cup chopped prosciutto or other ham (I used crumbled bacon)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (I used 1/2 teasp dried oregano)
1 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I used 1/2 tablspoon dried)
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, diced and drained (I just chopped and threw it in)
salt and pepper to taste
16 to 18 sqash blossoms
1 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 325
Oil or butter casserole dish
mix everything except blossoms and oil in a bowl
Remove stamens from flowers (I used a scissors as I kept ripping the flowers)
Stuff each squash blossom carefully with about 1 tablespoon of mixture.
Press edges together. Place in casserole and drizzle with olive oil.
Cover with tin foil, bake 15 minutes. Remove foil, return to oven and bake 15 minutes more.

The recipe said to serve with a tomato or spagetti sauce. I heated some up, but never used it. They tasted soooooooo good just the way they were.

I made a box of the pasta roni noodles, garlic and olive oil flavored. Since I had a lot of the cheese filling left over from the blossom stuffing venture, I threw that in with the noodles and tossed.

I've got to tell you ----- this was a supper to die for!!!!!! I'm not sure my blossoms out there will ever make it to the squash stage.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I need a Man!

I came to the conclusion yesterday that I need a husband. All my life I prided myself in the fact that a single woman could do anything (well, maybe just about anything, as I CAN't fix the car!). My sisters are so spoiled, and I remind them of that whenever they yell for their husbands to come and do something for them.

But yesterday, I faced the fact that I needed one of those things called a husband. You see, I was in Walmart. I pushed my cart to the Garden Center and thought while I was there, I would put a few bags of dirt in the back of the car. No use coming home with an empty back when I still needed to fill some pots. I didn't see the usual check out counter there by the exit, so I asked the guy working there by the dirt bags, "How do you do the dirt thing?" In a very crabby voice, he said, "You put the dirt in your cart and to to the check out, Mam!!!!" And he turned away and never offered to help me lift those suckers or put them in my car for me. For the very first time in my life, I wanted to call him something very nasty. I walked away feeling horrible with myself for feeling that way, mad because I had no dirt (there was no way I could lift those bags into a grocery cart and then lift them out into the car), and I sort of felt old and disabled to some degree. I just couldn't believe that this guy wouldn't help me!!!! So no dirt yesterday!

I did go to one of those "preppie" you-pick farms on Saturday and bought a grocery bag full of chicken poop. Can you believe $5.00 for a shovel full of poop????? It would be worth raising chickens just for that!!!!!! But, we wanted it so we got it!
At first, it was going to be poop tea bags to make the manure tea. But then, the whole bag got wrapped into an old tee shirt and sunk into a big bucket of water to soak and steep for a while. Last night I got a sprinking can full of that smelly stuff and gave my plants a good, healthy swig of that "gold" and said goodnight to them all. I wonder if they will all be dead this morning?????

My zucchinni squash plants are all blooming profusely. Since I have seen no bees at all, I took a Q-tip and tried the self-pollinating thing. Went around twice to each flower, hoping there were male and female flowers in the bunch and that each got pollinated right. I'll have to do it again today, as there are more flowers opening.

Today. . . . I guess I go back to Lowes for my dirt. And then I'm done til fall.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A New Start!

I can't believe that it has been a year since I finished my radiation treatments for breast cancer. Time just flies. I have been feeling so much better as time goes on --- I didn't even realize that that I WASN'T feeling that great before all of this. No big news ---- and that's a wonderful thing to me. Every six weeks I have to have the port flushed out, and every 3 months I see the oncologist. Saw him last week and everything was just fine. And so far, I've lost about 42 pounds since July (about 65 total since I began the cancer journey). I finally settled into the diet thing as I knew it just had to be. I stopped kicking and screaming and just sucked it up!

My only hard thing was trying to get back into some sort of "normal life" -- moving on -- or "finding a life" -- whatever you want to call it. It was to the point that I didn't even know what to write about here on a blog. Every day seemed a little boring and just the same old routines. . . . Until . . . .

My sister started putting in her garden a few weeks ago. At first, I thought it was something I didn't want to do. I've been there, did that, didn't work, etc., etc. Besides, I didn't really know if I had the strength to do all that was involved, as I would be starting from scratch. But then I couldn't stand it any longer. I still had my earth boxes from years ago, and thought i would just do those 5 earth boxes. How hard could it be to fill them with dirt and plant some tomatoes????

So the week of March 15th or so, I went out and bought my dirt, my tomato plants and started. . . . . . And it hasn't stopped. I'm obsessed!!!!!

I saw somewhere on the internet about these "grow bags." Have you seen them?? They come in several sizes, small ones for strawberries, etc., medium sized for tomatoes, and the large sacks for potatoes, etc. They are a plastic type material and sell for about $20.00. So. . . . one day I was in Staples, and they had their reusable shopping bags at the counter for $1.00 and I grabbed up 10 of them. Filled them with dirt, planted my peppers, eggplant, sage, cabbage, etc., in those. By the way, Joann's has really nice green ones for $1.00. I have some of those, too.

My favorite planters were these styrofoam ones that look like old whiskey barrels. I put those back into use with string beans and yellow squash. I ran out of pots.
Don't laugh, but I went out and bought a bunch of styofoam cooler chests with the lids, punched holes in the bottoms, and put those to use, too. So now I have EVERYTHING growing.

My zuchinni already has tons of blossoms, my tomatoes and peppers have blossoms, beans are started to climb and cucumbers are on their way. Winter squash is planted, and I'm stocked up on seeds for my fall garden.

Have any of you ever done the straw bale gardening????? I am so intrigued with it. You can read up on it here.

I just don't know if it's worth the price of the straw bales, as you have to get new ones every year, and I'm not sure I can carry the bales!!!!!! But it would be wonderful not to have to bend when you garden!!!!

The best part of all of this is how it has made me feel. I feel now that life has moved on for me, that I am once again able to do something that I thought I couldn't. Lugging those bags of dirt isn't easy, but I did it, and just that makes me feel just great!!!! I may never get a tomato or a pepper, but it was really a good feeling to know I could at least try!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Gotta Love The Face!

Anyone out there wanna play ball with me?????