My Summer Surprise

Olivia began shuffling her feet, rounding her shoulders and looking down as we approached the classroom. My happy-go-lucky-can-make-friends-anywhere girl was not up for the challenge.  She has been struggling with a recent transition in her life where she has to courageously participate in a program of 6th-8th graders, knowing hardly anyone. And… the two or three kids she does know, may or may not be there on any given session.

Totally intimidating!

I said a quick prayer over her and stated, “Olivia, what if you don’t worry about your discomfort, but rather look for somebody else who needs a friend, and help them feel welcomed? What if God has you here for that very reason? What if God answers my prayer for you to have a friend in this class, by you being a friend to someone who looks lonely?”

Reluctantly, she left my side, giving me one last pleading look with those beautiful brown eyes. I quickly walked away, but not without first noticing how ginormous those 8th graders were!

It’s interesting how much I fight lately with trusting God to prove himself faithful to my kids. So much so, I think I delay the process in their lives because I interfere and/or intervene when God is training THEM to rely on him.

Several times this past week I would be chatting with one of my kids, saying how much they can trust God, and… simultaneously… thinking how unconvincing I sound. In other words, I’m saying all the right things, speaking words of faith while silently begging God to come through for them.

But that’s just it. I have to release my grip, my control, on what I think God SHOULD do for them. His “coming through” will most likely look different from what I want… and even what they want.

So…it’s AGAIN back to the issue of trust.

Can I trust God with my kids?

Or rather…DO I trust God with them.

Do I trust He will watch over Jessica, Cory and Olivia in hard times? Painful times?

Can I stay out of the way and let a personal relationship unfold between THEM?

I don’t want Jessica, Cory and Olivia to have years of struggle like I did, BUT I do want them to have a real, intimate connection with him. I’m their covering in so much of life, but they have to grow in their own relationship with Christ.

An hour later, Olivia was walking toward me. I scanned her face, looking for the first clue of how things went.

She was smiling.

“Mom, we talked about how God wants us to have confidence in him. I think the talk was for me.”

Priceless.

As we reached our car, Olivia turned and waved goodbye to a new friend. “That’s a girl I just met. She’s really nice and a bit shy.”

2 Timothy 1:12  “I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day,”

Entrusted. What a great word. It means to put into the care and protection of someone. I am entrusting my kids to God, in whom I’m believing… AND working on being convinced that he is ABLE to take care of what I’ve entrusted to him.

Olivia turned 11 last week. She is a gift, my little summer surprise, a child we specifically prayed for by name for years. (What can I say… I’m a HUGE Olivia Newton John fan!!)

It is one of my greatest joys to be her mom, and now one of my greatest joys to watch her grow in her faith in God.

Not only am I entrusting her to God, God has literally entrusted Olivia to us— put her in our care and protection. (You can read a bit more of her story HERE.)

I hope your summer has been full of God-given surprises! Just remember this… from a hopelessly devoted Olivia Newton John fan………….

He honestly loves you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Hillbilly

Do you remember the show The Beverly Hillbillies? THAT’s my dad’s family minus the Beverly Hills part! (He is pictured in the back row, 4th from the left)

He was raised in Arkansas during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. They were sharecroppers, meaning they worked HARD and had very little to show for it.

My dad was born 91 years ago today.  Isn’t that incredible?! He and his twin sister, Evanell, (3rd from the left)were the youngest of six children born to James and Nellie Polk. Wow… I never noticed until writing this down that Evanell was named after my Grandma Nellie. AND… my dad was named JL which means the twins had rhyming names; JL and Evanell. Hah! NEVER thought of that before! JL was his full name, not a nickname or abbreviation. In fact, his best friend was GW! (Pronounced Gee Double Ya!!) I’m using the past tense because my dad changed his name when the family moved to California. NO ONE out here had initials for names so he legally became Jack Lee.

His two older brothers, Roy and Charlie, moved west first, sending money home and encouraging them to come to California where there was a lot more opportunity to earn a living. So… they loaded up the truck and they moved to…not Beverly!  My dad tells stories of leaving their tiny two room house where anywhere from 8-11 people were living at any given time, and driving west, camping on the side of the road each night. Some real Grapes of Wrath type stuff!

My dad has faced a lot of loss in his life-time. All of his brothers and sisters have passed away, with the three girls dying at very young ages. Velma was probably early 20’s and died during childbirth.  Opal and Evanell both lost their lives to cancer in their 40’s.  So tragic! And… my mom died of cancer at age 46 after 28 years of marriage.

He has also lost some body parts along the way due to cancer (you can read about it here, here, and here) but that has taken a while to slow him down. He really could be the poster child for how to go through cancer well!

Seriously!

My dad has done SO many things well: lived well, loved well, and frankly, aged well. He is a man full of faith and lots of fun. Just last week he was telling Jessica a few stories from his teen years when she asked him if he was a ‘lady’s man’ back in the day. He quickly replied, ‘No, no. That’s why I didn’t get married til I was 31.”

He loved my mom through her many life struggles of dealing with her past, including bouts of depression and low self-esteem. He nurtured her, helping her in any way he could. I KNOW it’s because of his example that I married Eddie. My dad set the bar high for how a man should love his family and I wasn’t willing to settle for anything less.

There are so many stories I could tell you… from crazy Ozark days setting a field on fire, to having company over every Sunday night after church to play Rook or how he won the heart of his current wife, Sue. (Hmm…Not a lady’s man?!) But… I just want you to know…

…my dad has loved ME well. He invested in my life, giving me the best of his time and providing for all my needs. He has lived his faith out and represented Jesus so well!

While my dad may have never attained a Beverly Hills lifestyle, my favorite hillbilly has had wealth beyond measure. From the family he grew up in, to the family I was raised in, Jed Clampett’s got nothin’ on JL.

Happy 91st birthday Dad!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eeyore on Steroids: “I’d Look on the Bright Side if I Could Find it!”

I gave my usual ‘I need your best person because I’m a really hard stick’ speech to the pleasant lady checking me in for bloodwork. She was unable to locate orders which was strange as I had literally JUST walked across the hall after meeting with my doctor with clear instructions to go straight to the lab. The last thing I needed was more waiting, escalating the anxiety.

I had prayed for an uneventful appointment with my Stanford doctor, and so far, my prayer was answered… other than a possible naked man leaning his backside against an apartment window on the hospital grounds. I say possible because at first glance, I would SWEAR that’s what I saw and not wanting to stare, I can’t completely confirm.

My anxiety was simply based on dreading needles, NOT on any unusual findings. Everything was fairly routine with a quick scope procedure and check-up. The biggest challenge for all my doctors is managing follow-up care for lynch syndrome. My oncologist stated she spends a chunk of time the night before she sees me analyzing where we are and what needs to be done.

High maintenance in yet another area of my life! Hah!

After 30 minutes of entertaining myself with heating pads on my uncooperative veins, it was finally my turn. The lab is set up in a circle with full view of everyone getting their blood drawn. While contemplating the reasoning for this, I was directed to take the one and only chair in the middle of the awkward circle. I guess she hadn’t picked up on what a baby I am and how this might not be the best idea to have all eyes on me.

Even though the lab tech was amazing, I still found myself fighting the usual tears as I prepared to leave. It’s my moment of feeling sorry for myself, sad I have to walk through this. I’m sure it’s just my way of releasing all the emotions of getting through another doctor visit and hoping everything is fine.

Rounding the corner to the waiting room, I saw a family friend. It was great to see her and she quickly caught me up on the details of the last few months of her life. Cancer had been found in her spinal fluid and now she was undergoing harsh treatments of radiation and chemo in hopes of prolonging her life.

As crazy as it sounds, she looked wonderful! Even in the midst of describing horrific details, she was absolutely radiating with positivity. She laughed often, joyfully declaring how God is in control no matter the interruption to how she thought her life would unfold this year.

I was convicted to say the least.

I KNOW I’ve grown in my faith, but my friend challenged me to take it to the next level with God. Just that week I had been describing a woe-is-me, negative person to a friend and used the phrase, “She’s like Eeyore on steroids.”  I now felt like the phrase could accurately describe me and how I’ve been viewing God’s ability to work in certain areas of my life, mainly having to do with my kids. I’VE been the Eyeore-on-steroids person who only sees the impossible obstacles we are facing and not the God-who-can-move-mountains-Heavenly-Father who is more than able to meet all our needs, big and small!

I’ve been reading Priscilla Shirer’s book God Is Able, and the description on the back starts with, “Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing.” She explores Ephesians 3:20-21, building her case that God is always up to great things.

This is my summary/narrative of the verses based on her book:

Ephesians 3:20-21. “Now (our current reality and God’s present ability) to Him (eyes on Jesus!) who is able to do (for YOU) exceeding abundantly beyond (Lord, please do this or something better) all that we ask or think (He’s got it totally covered) according to the power that works within us, (flip the switch— depend heavily and consistently on the Spirit of God— make room for HIS ability) to HIM be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. AMEN!

I began journaling prayers for my three kids; what am I believing God for in their lives? On Cory’s page (which happens to be the longest right now…TEENAGERS!!) I wrote a specific prayer for his grade in summer school math. This is actually a HUGE concern in that he missed passing the second semester by one point. ONE POINT!! High school math is HARD and it has been challenging for little mister. Under my journaled prayer, I wrote…

God Is Able!

The class is now halfway done and Cory has a 95!

GOD IS ABLE!!

It might be a small example to you, but to me… it’s miraculous! AND… as I sat down to blog, I literally could have written about each one of my kids. God has answered a specific prayer I had for each one of them THIS WEEK!

So… rather than being an Eeyore in the circumstances of life, I am looking for God in everything and believing He Is Able!

In the words of the rumbly tumbly theologian Winnie the Pooh:

“Yesterday is a history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”

I’d love to hear from you and how God is working in your present situations. After all, “A friend is someone who helps you up when you’re down, and if they can’t, they lay down beside you and listen.” (Pooh)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parenting Pep-Talk

The sting of the slam signaled my words cut deep.  I had again said the wrong thing to my 21year old daughter, Jessica, and she was upset. What was meant as a helpful correction came across as a nit-picky insult.

(photo credit: Margo Design Studios)

I have to say… I was not prepared for the incredible pain of releasing Jess to grow up.  The last two decades have been an all-consuming focus on preparing her, praying for her, and protecting her and NOW… I have to find the ability to truly let go of her

No words.

(Well.  I actually DO have words because what’s a blog without words?!)

I quickly knelt down and asked God for help, praying Psalm 139:23-24.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

I don’t want you to think I’m this super-spiritual-always-praying- or-always-in-church person, BUT… I really do understand my need for Jesus. Many times, for me, life boils down to this statement:

Life is hard AND God is incredible. He’s my hope, my strength, my comfort.

In the quiet of the moment, God nailed me. I was so quick to bring up her words, tone of voice and attitudes but was not dealing with those same issues in my life.

It was a classic case of Matthew 7:3-4 (NLT)

“Why worry about a speck in your friend’s (daughter’s) eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend (daughter!), ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ …when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?”

It was a humbling realization.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this topic of parenting adult children, and I keep coming back to analyzing Ephesians 6:3

“… do not exasperate your children (provoke them to anger); instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

The word “instead” packs a punch.

Instead of controlling my kids, I can be an example to them… a mentor.

Instead of demanding— provide clear boundaries.

Instead of “guilting” them into doing something—ask questions and guide them.

Jessica often says I remind her of Phoebe on the show Friends. I thought this was a compliment until I watched a few episodes and it became clear Phoebe strategically uses guilt-inflicting comments to let her friends know they’ve disappointed her.

Message received loud and clear.

In those moments as I prayed for Jess, I knew I needed to respond— to find a positive way to reach out to her and build our relationship. I decided to write a letter, a one-sided conversation where I could tell her how much I love her and how proud I am of her— where I could write my apology and express what God is doing in my own life.

If you’ve followed my blog at all this past year, it should not surprise you when I say… as I was halfway through writing the letter, my song came on … No Longer a Slave to Fear. It’s God’s love song to me, and he keeps using it almost weekly, to encourage me. I definitely felt the warmth of his approval.

I left the letter on the kitchen counter as Eddie and I prepared to leave. We were heading to dinner to celebrate his birthday. On a whim, we decided to run away from home and stay the night in Monterey. Sometimes the parents of adult children need time and space, making sure their relationship is strong. After all, it won’t be too many years before it’s back to the original two—Ed and I.

Are you currently parenting an adult child? Do you have older children living in your home? Any tips, thoughts, strategies or book recommendations you could share?

As for me, my focus is to work on being a better wife and mom, and my ultimate goal…

to be a better friend than Phoebe ever was in ten seasons!  Hah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Car Crashes and Other Not So Fun Stuff

The words seemed to hang in the air as a slow wave of fear formed in the pit of my stomach. This was the second time in less than a year the phrase, “Mom I crashed,” was being spoken to me. I immediately pulled off the highway to talk to my 17 year old son on the other end of the phone.

The Salinas Valley Fair was coming up later in the week and we were planning to camp nearby as Cory and Olivia showed their pigs they raised for a 4H project. The problem was the campground filled up faster than expected and we were without a reservation—landing us 27th on the waiting list for overflow.

Ed had talked to a John-Candy-look-alike ranger over the weekend who said he had 7 sites with hook-ups set aside and was willing to sell them starting on Monday: first come, first serve.

We didn’t NEED to start camping ‘til Wednesday, but Eddie knew I NEEDED full hook-ups so he decided to drive our RV to King City early. Cory was going to drive the 90 minutes down to give him a ride home.

As Cory was walking out the door, I stopped him and delivered a passionate speech about the dangers of driving highway 101 during the evening commute through Salinas… lots of speeding cars navigating only two southbound lanes. He promised to be careful.

“Mom. I’m fine. I was in a car accident, but I’m fine,” I willed myself to remain calm as the story unfolded. Cory explained a mini-van had suddenly pulled in front of the line of cars causing everyone to slam on their brakes. He managed to stop in time, however, the guy behind him did not… rear-ending the corner of Cory’s truck and landing in a ditch.

At this point I launched into a second impassioned speech telling Cory to NOT let the other guy leave the scene of the accident. (Apparently the “landed in a ditch” part of the story was not registering.)

“Take a picture of his driver’s license, license plate, insurance card, your truck… EVERYTHING.”

Cory quickly hung up stammering something about needing to get his truck off the road. WHAAATTT?? !

Ed and Cory were both stranded and while Cory’s truck was not drivable, Ed seemed to be not reachable, and I was 40 minutes north of the accident.

It’s a mixture of feeling sick, relieved and very emotional all at the same time.

I got back on the highway heading south toward Cory while trying to reach Ed. About 15 minutes down the road, Cory called, letting me know a fireman had tweaked the back end of his truck and he was able to keep driving toward his dad. He again assured me that although his head had snapped forward and then back, he had not hit it against anything and felt fine.

Ed was a bit shocked at what had transpired and super frustrated with his phone… not one text or voicemail had come through.

The guys slowly made their way home with Ed driving (I realize I don’t usually use slowly and Ed’s driving in the same sentence) and Cory sleeping. Cory seemed slightly dazed from all that happened and had a headache. He continued saying he was fine, just a bit shaken up and trying to process the last couple hours.

The next morning, he was acting SO strange— groggy, frustrated and unable to stay on task with getting ready. I knew his allergies were bad, but he absolutely had to go school. It was the week before finals and he was already going to be missing Thursday and Friday for the fair. He had a math quiz that morning along with tons of reviewing in his other classes.

I let him take his time getting out the door, providing him with a note excusing his tardy, allergy medicine and ibuprofen.

Within the hour the school nurse called wanting to send Cory home. She suspected he had a concussion and needed rest. I felt like the worst mom ever! I hadn’t even mentioned the crash in the note, blaming his tardiness on severe allergies. It never even crossed my mind!

Our doctor confirmed Cory was displaying all the symptoms of a concussion. He explained it can happen even though his head hadn’t hit anything. The whiplash movement of the sudden jerking was enough to cause the problem. He was most likely able to function so well the night of the crash due to the rush of adrenaline.

Cory was to take a break from academics and screens… phone, computer, tv. Nothing cognitively taxing for a few days.

The next afternoon we were headed back to King City for the fair. On the drive down, a friend called and we began chatting about our families. She shared how she and her husband spend a few minutes every morning praying together for their kids and how it’s making all the difference. I texted her later asking what they specifically pray about.

This is what she said:

“We pray that God will allow us to accept our kids the way God created them and show us how we can support them. We have prayed to let go of our expectations of what we thought our kids should be like and ask for wisdom to recognize them for who God made them to be. We pray for protection and for God to send good people into their lives to help them along. We pray for the strength to turn off the Xbox One! Haha. We thank God for the lessons they teach us and for the opportunity to grow closer to God as we journey together through the ups and downs of being a family.”

Isn’t that BEAUTIFUL!

My friend went on to say how much God is blessing their marriage because of this daily discipline of a few minutes of prayer together.

It was a good reminder to Eddie and me to not let the busyness of life crowd out the most important thing.

Cory recovered and is doing really well. I find myself copying my friend’s prayer outline for Jessica, Cory and Olivia… with A LOT of emphasis on the protection part for my little mister! …

… He’s gonna need it ’cause I JUST discovered he ate all the ice cream!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smiling Through Pain

Let’s start with the biggest news of all from my most recent Stanford appointment. This is, well… basically… HUGE!

Are you sitting down?

Ready??

I WAS ABLE TO SLIDE MY WEDDING RING OFF BEFORE THE PROCEDURE!!  Hah!

Forgive me for all the build-up, but this is a really big deal. If you’ve followed my blog for a bit, you know I reference this extremely buggy issue often.

But…I have lost 10 lbs. …and being able to avoid the awkward conversation with the nurses of why I can’t take my ring off was HEAVEN. And hopefully the weight loss will continue and begin to show up in other places besides my ring finger!

This procedure required an IV and THAT turned into a comedy of not-so-funny errors. The first nurse about KILLED me with several failed attempts. She discreetly slipped away and nurse Donna gave it a few unsuccessful tries. Donna decided to send for Dan who is their best guy for challenging patients.

Meanwhile, I quickly got Ed’s attention, asking him to send out an IV-SOS-text for prayer to Wendy and Kelly because I was now nauseous and faint— not to mention BRUISED and hurting. The problem, however, is Ed is not a fast texter:  He over-thinks his wording and spelling before he will send anything. In the chaos of the moment, I SWEAR he asked me how to spell “IV.”  Hah!

Before the infamous Dan could arrive, an older nurse named Dixie stepped in to give it a try. Donna tried to persuade her to wait for Dan, but Dixie was determined! Donna literally leaned over me and whispered, “I apologize in advance for what is about to happen.”

Oh my!!

Funny thing… Dixie got it.  First try.  No bruising.

I also had a mammogram followed by an ultrasound.  Not my favorite appointment for a number of reasons… mainly, my mom died of breast cancer and I find myself fighting twinges of fear and being super sad when these times come up.

During the ultrasound, the technician suddenly stopped the screening and with a concerned tone in her voice said, “I need to get someone to look at this.”

She abruptly left the room and I was lying there with instant tears, thinking, “This is it.  They’re gonna say I have breast cancer just like my mom.”

My mom was beautiful— reserved, classy, graceful. I feel TOTALLY ripped off to not know her through the different seasons of life. I really miss her and Mother’s Day weekend is a nice opportunity to write about her, reminding the world that Devona Dean Polk lived and was a remarkable person! Sometimes I wonder if God took her home early (age 46) because she had finally worked through all her past pain… kind of like ending on a note of joy and emotional wholeness. I don’t know. I’m not God and let’s just reiterate my life mantra yet again: I trust him. Period.

The two technicians entered the room and began fiddling with the computer screen. Within minutes the problem was diagnosed… an equipment malfunction which was never about me at all. If the original technician hadn’t been so grumpy, I would have pointed out that after reviewing a patient’s medical history, one should not run from the room stating you need someone to look at this!

Finally, many of you have asked about Eddie’s shoulder since his driveway-motorcycle accident. It hurts and is still not quite right. I don’t want to flat out say it’s an emergency situation, BUT… he’s unable to massage my neck and shoulders because of the pain, so… it’s pretty critical he deals with it!

Seriously, I keep encouraging him to follow-up on it because his future well-being and livelihood depend on it and it’s just not any fun to be in pain.

Speaking of pain, I hope Mother’s Day is a nice day for you. I KNOW it can be hard for a variety of reasons. There was a time in my life when my mom had passed away AND I was just finding out I was unable to have kids. On Mother’s Day the emotional pain was simply TOO MUCH!! If you will be attending a church service where they ask all the moms to stand up and you are struggling with becoming a mom…as Nurse Donna would say, “I apologize in advance for what is about to happen!”

I do pray you find a reason to smile through life’s challenges and are able to bring some joy and laughter to those around you.

You can always borrow a line from Eddie and ask someone how to spell “IV”!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The (Not-So) Glory Days of High School

Last weekend, for me, was JAM-PACKED. I have to insert “for me” because I have become such a wimp with how much I can handle these days. I am battling a constant feeling of being overwhelmed and having NO energy.  There are reasons for this — many of which are out of my control — BUT… many are very much dependent on choices I make in three specific areas: diet, exercise, and rest. (Included in the “rest” category would be Bible study, prayer, sleep and good ‘ole down time.)

I blew it in all three areas leading up to the weekend!

Because of my poor choices, I was not able to navigate the highs and lows of what was coming my way… and… CRASHED.

Friday night began with a high school reunion of sorts. A close friend from back-in-the-day persuaded me to meet her. We both decided it would be a great opportunity to visit even if the alumni program ended up being a flop.

ONE other guy from our class showed up. I have absolutely no connection to him— basically steered clear of him in high school because he was a wild mess! Fast forward 35 years (shocking… I KNOW!) and he’s completely turned his life around.

The three of us ended up talking in the parking lot two extra hours and had the BEST time reminiscing and catching up.

So surprising!

Keeping with the reunion theme… I was able to see my life-long friend, Carma, the next day. She moved away several years ago and I miss her like crazy! She makes me laugh like no other! Such a fun day visiting and, of course, LAUGHING.

While I was re-living my high school glory days, Cory was reminding me of how GLAD I am to NOT be in high school anymore! He made a few decisions that sent me reeling and wondering what he was up to.

THAT was where I lost the battle in my mind and allowed fear to grip me.

By the time Sunday came around and we were headed to church, I was a disaster—physically and emotionally exhausted. Absolutely defeated.

Well…

God is loving, full of grace and extremely kind to me. Guess what song the worship team was singing as I walked in.

MY song! (As so many of you now call it.)

I’m no longer a slave to fear!

The first line says…

“You unravel me…”

That instantly had my attention. What does it mean to be unraveled by God? I definitely had come unraveled in life circumstances, but God was willing to disentangle me from my out-of-whack emotions. To unravel literally means to set free.

I stood there next to Cory and could not stop crying. I had clearly put back on the shackles of fear, making myself a slave to it, and God was offering a release.

I, again, purposed to walk by faith, keeping my eyes on Jesus.

And… just for the record… Cory hadn’t done any of the things I was imagining. Fear had taken me down a destructive path of vain imaginations. The more we talked, the more I realized he was making tough choices for all the right reasons.

So…

My encouragement to you is:

1. eat good, healthy food

2. exercise often… and…

3. REST!

Rest in knowing you are a child of God. Let him unravel you.

And…

BE THANKFUL YOU ARE DONE WITH HIGH SCHOOL!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taxes and Birthdays

I don’t know how it goes in your family, but over here, tax season is absolutely no fun for a couple of reasons.

First of all… April is my birthday month and that’s a good thing. What complicates this, is owning a business and ALL the prep needed to be done to be ready to file our taxes.

So… are you following my line of thinking?

I don’t want ANY mixing of the two— my birthday and preparing for taxes.

Every year, starting in January, I begin hinting to Ed that it would be nice to have our taxes completely done before my birthday. Last year he met with our tax lady ON my birthday and then we went out to dinner.

Technically he had them done before my birthday celebration, but NOT exactly what I had in mind.

This year I decided to be extra clear, and again, starting in January I said, “Do you think it would be possible to have our taxes done before my birthday… as in… EVERYTHING organized, handled, done-deal, no meetings-still-to-happen?”

In other words, I was asking for a tax-free birthday.

Eddie assured me this could easily happen.

Well… January, February and half of March came and went with no activity in the tax department. I could feel my tax-free-birthday-wish being encroached upon, so I began probing (slight possibility Ed would use the word ‘nagging’- which would be completely inaccurate) as to the plan for getting our taxes done. He explained he would work on them the last week of March and meet with our tax lady on the 31st.

Tax prep makes for a long, miserable week.

Ed handles all the business paperwork and I do the personal stuff. Translation: He spends about 30 hours working on it and I spend… well… ummmm….  probably 2… at the most.

At the March 31st meeting, Ed was told he was the tenth person out of 200 clients, to come in and meet with her. He took that as high praise for how incredibly early he was in getting his taxes done.

Not exactly helping my “tax-free birthday” cause!

A few days later was my birthday and… let’s just say it wasn’t entirely tax-free. Eddie called 4 or 5 times with tax questions for Jessica AND we had to drop off more papers to our tax lady on our way to dinner.

Oh well.

I tried!

I’m just so incredibly grateful to be married to a hard-working, super-caring, over-the-top thoughtful guy!

Even taxes can’t change my mind about that!

Ed just informed me that this year we have until the 18th to file because of the weekend and Easter.

Who knew? He really WAS way ahead! Hah!

How about you? Are you ready for April 18th? How early do you get your taxes done?

Disclaimer: Any and all answers could potentially be used next January as I start the tax-free birthday persuasion talks yet again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking with Friends Through Cancer

It’s my friend’s birthday today and I just keep thinking about her and all she did for me 8 years ago as I walked through scary times with a cancer diagnosis. This is one story that made me smile in the middle of facing my biggest fear.

(summer 2009)

My friend had her blinker on, ready to pull in to a prime parking spot when all of a sudden, a man jumped into the space saying, “We’ve been waiting a long time to park here.”

Where did HE come from?

It was all very odd and, frankly…a bit maddening! The beach was humming and parking spots were hard to come by.

My friend rolled down her window and took me by complete surprise as I heard her shout, “Oh FINE. I’ll just keep driving around my friend who has cancer and is going through CHEMOTHERAPY!”

Our new foe quickly answered back, “Well.  MY friend only has ONE leg!”

It was just the comic relief I needed.  I could not stop laughing at the outrageousness of the exchange I was witnessing. Two people determined to look out for their suffering friends.

It was my first week of chemo and my friend was making sure I was being taken care of.  She had gone with me to get my hair cut super short in anticipation of it all falling out in the next couple of weeks. We had gone out for lunch at a local deli and now wanted to walk on the beach.

Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

What a beautiful Biblical promise! As we purposefully pour our lives into others, God fills US up.

Humility is a fascinating concept. On the one hand, you have to humble yourself to accept help from others. It is very hard to admit you need this assistance. One definition says, “Acknowledging that achievement results from the investment of others in my life.”

Likewise…if you are the one helping someone, you are also showing humility in that you’re putting aside your own interests, schedules and plans for the sake of another.

It’s two sides of the same coin that Christ uses to keep us from pride.

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

It was a wonderful day with my friend.  After we circled the parking lot a few times, a spot finally opened up for us RIGHT next to the man we had just encountered. We pulled in and humbly unloaded our things. And…

yes… his friend really DID have only one leg!

 

 

 

Volleyball, Mudslides and Cancer

I KNOW you’re on the edge of your seats, waiting for updates about my life… or at least that’s what I like to tell myself.

Well, I’ve got some!

Let’s start with the basics and see how this unfolds.

Volleyball. What can I say? Apparently, I am a HUGE fan. I had no idea I would love this sport so much!

Cory had an all-day tournament this past weekend. I missed the first match because I was definitely taking my sweet time getting there. I was just so happy to be in the car all by myself, sipping on Starbucks and switching stations back and forth from classic rock to worship music. My definition of solitude!

I made it JUST in time for the second match (is that what you even call it??)… which we won. A match is a total of 3 games, playing until a team wins two. Our little group of parents are super-dedicated to cheering the boys on. After each game in a given match, we switch sides to make sure we are in the best spot to effectively root for our team.  Have I mentioned how stressful this sport is?? The boys really have to work together to execute the perfect bump-set-spike situation. VERY technical! Cory is an outside hitter and is growing in his confidence to nail the ball on the final hit. He’s doing great, especially considering he hasn’t played since Jess was in middle school. Hah!

We made it to the championship round, competing for the bronze. It was wild, three games happening simultaneously, inches apart… like a war-zone with volleyballs coming at you from all directions.

We lost the first game, but came back to win the second by a landslide. The third game would decide it: first team to score 15 would be the winner.

We were smokin’…11-4.  The boys looked unstoppable!

And then…

An injury.

The captain of the team jumped, dove (and possibly collided with someone or something…it all happened so fast) and went down grabbing his ankle. He was HURT and would not be able to finish the game.

This young man is the most outstanding volleyball player, but along with that, he holds the team together like nothing I’ve ever seen. He’s super encouraging to the guys, coaching them after each play… the heart of the team.

We never scored another point.

It was a sad moment, but sweet to see how this team supports each other as the coach led them in praying for their injured captain.

Now we wait to hear if he will be able to play in the games this week.

Ahhh.  Such is life.

In other news… our road is hanging in there.  We are driving on it as if everything is just fine. The sunshine had lifted the “doom and gloom” feeling, but now rain is in the forecast for the whole week. I overheard Ed chatting with a friend about possible repair options this summer, so… I guess that’s the plan: Pray for it to hold ‘til summer!

And…finally, (well, I had more, but apparently rambled on about volleyball more than I thought I would)…

I go to Stanford this Friday. This is the next procedure in the schedule my doctor has set up. I’m not looking forward to it AT ALL, but I’m thankful for the close monitoring.

I’ve been praying Ephesians 3:16-19 over myself and my family recently. We are working our way through some hurts and situations with no idea of outcomes.  We DO know that God is with us and he offers strength, encouragement and hope to whatever parts of our life are injured. He holds our “team” together and we need Him like crazy!

Ephesians 3:16-19…    “I pray that out of God’s glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to KNOW this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Here is an example of how I would take these verses and pray them over Cory:

“Lord, I pray that out of your glorious riches you would strengthen Cory with power through your Spirit in his inner being, so that you would dwell in his heart through faith. I also ask that Cory, being rooted and established in love may have power, together with all of us, to grasp how much you love him; to know how wide and long and high and deep is your love for him. I pray that Cory would KNOW this love that far exceeds anything in his life. Fill him up with more of you… And may his volleyball team win!!” (Doesn’t hurt to ask!)

Praying these verses encourage you! Make them your personal prayer and try praying them for someone else.

I’d love to hear about what God is doing in your life. Have a blessed week and may YOU be filled to the measure of ALL the fullness of God!