A new road

Just a quick update…we are in the process of getting Dad ready to come back home.

I know…I’m in shock myself. But as my dad has always done, he has managed to set his own path, beating the odds, and leaving the doctors scratching their heads.

My sister, niece and Dad…all enjoying a nap.


He has spent some time recovering in a nursing home nearby, but the time is coming soon in which he can return home. And we’re hoping that his journey to recovery continues to astound us.

While I’m typing this, I’m sitting in a room in Nashville, TN, where the events of the last 24 hours still amaze me.

I was privileged to be seated five rows back from an address by not only the US Secretary of Ag, Sonny Perdue, but also by President Donald Trump. Now, I get that not everyone agrees with his policies, but we should all admit that being able to personally witness an address by a sitting President is an honor.

And I followed that with a live interview on Fox and Friends…that’s right, national TV. Seriously.

Sometimes the events that unfold in my life just take my breath away. But I’ll chat more about that tomorrow.

For now, I hope you have all jumped into 2018 with both feet, tackling the new year with renewed vigor and hope. For we never know what tomorrow may bring.

Heck, we aren’t even certain about today.

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Making decisions

I’ve been away from this source of therapy for far too long…but Mark mentioned to me last night that maybe I’d feel better if I wrote down my thoughts. I think he’s right. (Don’t tell him…let it be a surprise.)

For those that may not follow me on Facebook, or who may not know me in real life, I’ll fill you in: about 9 days ago or so my Dad was taken to the hospital via ambulance. That’s nothing new in my Dad’s life. He’s an old hat when it comes to hospitals, ER’s, doctors, etc. Except this time was different.

We don’t really know what all happened. We’re not sure if Dad had a stroke, a bad fall, a bad infection…and I guess it doesn’t really matter, because it doesn’t change with what we’re left with today. And that’s the shell of the man my Dad was last week.

We do know a few things: he had sepsis (to the point that the doctor told us frankly that only 50% come back from), he had a bladder infection, his gallbladder took a dump on him and his kidneys were in trouble. Let’s add to that Stage IV Congestive Heart Failure, COPD, GERD and a host of other things…and let’s just say that Dad was a hot mess.

Somehow, someway – he made it through. Or at least, his body did. The man that doctors warned at the age of 50 that he wouldn’t live to see 52…well, he’s now 77 and he’s still beating the odds. At least, on the outside.

But right now, we’re dealing with a new normal. My Dad can’t walk much on his own. He needs oxygen almost 24/7. And he doesn’t always know what’s going on. And he gets very angry and confused.IMG_3360

Last night he told me to not go home through Ripon…because traffic may be bad. For those that may not know, Ripon is in Wisconsin. We haven’t lived there for more than 40 years. But he was there last night.

He was also angry with the nurse and I because his chair “wasn’t spliced properly! The damn alarm is gonna blow this whole place wide open!” We looked at each other and tried to assure him that it would all be taken care of – the alarm wouldn’t go off unless he fell. He still grumbled and swore that he was rewiring the damn chair. (To which, I had to warn the next nurse not to give my dad a scissors or finger nail clipper or anything that may be tool-like…because he actually does know how to re-wire things. And I’m most certain the next time they looked in on him, they’d have a huge surprise on their hands. Kinda funny in this whole mess.)

For those that may visit, or have visited, and all of those praying, I can not say thank you enough. You have all been amazing. Sometimes he’s awake and alert and although maybe a little hard to understand, he attempts to talk…and sometimes he’s not.

By the grace of God, Dad is healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital. But unfortunately, we cannot take care of him at home. And there is where the problem lies…

and I’m broken.

We have tried to explain to my Dad that rehab is the only place where he is safe. And that once he gets some strength back, he can come home. But he’s adamant that he won’t go. And the hospital told me today that they cannot force him to go. Which places it solely in our laps.

I can’t even begin to describe what this does to my family. Or how the dynamics play out. Just know that the last few days have been difficult at best. For nine days I have sat at a hospital, doing what I can, praying for answers, talking, researching, holding a hand, rubbing a back, massaging lotion on skin stretched too taught, deciphering, translating, communicating…and yet…

My Dad is angry with me. He doesn’t want to talk to me. He hung up on me earlier when he tried calling my mom, but she couldn’t understand him. He’s frustrated. And although I know he doesn’t mean it, it hurts when he says those things. Although we have been there since 9 this morning, he accused us of not having stopped to see him today. He said I don’t care.

I know he doesn’t know what he’s saying sometimes…but still. This is my Dad. And I’m not alone in this. My siblings and my mom have all had to go through this together. But I’ve always been the one that “takes care of things.” Like paperwork, medical records, treatment plans, etc.

Everything that my Dad never wanted to go through…it’s all happening right now. And I cannot do what he wants me to do. I need to protect him. And my Mom. And it breaks my heart.

Even though you will probably never read this, Dad, please know that I love you. Through it all, I have always loved you. And above all else, I just pray that you find peace and relief from your pain. You’ve worked so hard…and you have earned your rest. I just don’t want you to hurt any more.

That is my Christmas wish.

I am afraid

I am afraid.

I am afraid that my children will wake up one day and not understand that there is a difference between Freedom of Speech and being free from consequences for what you say.

I am afraid that my children will be so immune to hatred and conflict that they won’t stand up to fight it because it’s simply the norm.

I am afraid that my children will not understand that the value of a person comes from what they can accomplish, not what they can accrue. And neither is decided by any physical characteristic.

I am afraid that my children will take the ability to succeed for granted…but worse yet, will not experience the value of being allowed to fail.

I am afraid that my children will not know that great leaders do not make you fear the unknown. But more importantly will give a sense of peace and security, even when the path is not clear.

I am afraid that my children will forget about the battles that others have fought, writing them off as trivial and irrelevant to their lives.

I am afraid that my children will raise their children to be even more removed from their surroundings.

I am afraid of all of these things…and more. Which is why I will teach my children to stand up for what is right, speak for those who can’t and appreciate the gifts and blessings that have been given.

I am afraid…but I must move past the immobility of fear. For darkness only fills spaces where the light doesn’t reach.

Be the light.

Darkness only occurs where the light can’t reach.

Finding Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was never a holiday that my family celebrated all that much. The timing was usually off, coming at the end of deer season, and we would have other things to do – like cutting up deer, butchering pigs, mixing, stuffing and smoking sausage – whatever was needed to be done in preparation for winter. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, we would always stop for a meal – it just wasn’t necessarily a holiday that brought together all of the family from the four corners of the Earth. Just those of us lucky enough to still be home.

So I have to admit that I’m a little distracted by the hubbub that’s being caused by the Thanksgiving holiday and Black Friday hours. Now, don’t get me wrong…I understand the importance of time with family. And I know how important it can be to have a reason to get together. But let’s take a little closer look at it.

Future Farmer

Thanksgiving isn’t just for one day…it’s for every day.

I’m now going to read to you every scripture that talks about God’s commandment for Thanksgiving:

 

 

That’s right…not once in the Bible does God say anything specifically about Thanksgiving, and yet our society is up in arms about the unfairness of businesses being open on that day in particular.

And yet…Exodus 20:8-11. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Oh, and then there’s Deuteronomy 5:12-14. 12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do.”

So why is it that we are so willing to stand up for a holiday that celebrates an event that should be done every single day – and yet we are so willing to go against what God has specifically commanded us to do?

Now, don’t get me wrong – as a farmer’s daughter, a farmer’s wife, and a mother of four, I completely understand that life throws you curve balls on occasion. Animals need to be fed, people need to eat, crops need to be brought in, and sometimes the only day in which the weather cooperates is Sunday. Truthfully, the only reason I mention it at all is because we need to be aware of the convictions that we have and the reasons that we have them.

Perhaps, instead of criticizing those that make decisions that are different then our own, we should focus on what Thursday is supposed to be all about. Let THAT be our message to share with the world – instead of commercializing the holiday even more.

First of all, why is it that we need one day out of the year to get our families together and give thanks for the gifts we’ve been blessed with? Is this not something we should be doing at a minimum of at least once a day? If not almost every minute of the day? I don’t believe that there is a single person in this church that doesn’t tell God how grateful we are on a regular basis.

We see these gifts every where we look – we just have to be willing to open our eyes. Like we read in Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…”

I haven’t always been a thankful person. I didn’t grow up in the most prestigious manner. I didn’t have a church family that I felt I belonged to, and my upbringing was unconventional at best. Some may call it the school of hard knocks, I just call it a lesson in reality. You win some, you lose some – and most importantly, only you can decide what your future may bring.

But my outlook and heart had a pretty drastic change following the events that began in the spring of 2009. For those that may not know me that well, that was the year in which our youngest son, Eli, was born.

None of my pregnancies were easy – and I will openly admit that Eli was no different. I had problems with my kidney, as well as undergoing emergency surgery in my fourth month of pregnancy to have my gallbladder removed. I was grateful that there was a planned end in sight, with a c-section scheduled the day after my own birthday. Eli came into the world at 9 pounds, 10 ounces.

As with all of my boys, it was love at first sight. And even though I never once questioned my love for him – I did question his health. For weeks, and then months, I kept having a nagging suspicion that something wasn’t quite right. He developed jaundice late, and it hung on for weeks. He wasn’t gaining weight. I always joked that he looked like the saggy-baggy elephant.

Finally, I took him in to see the on-call doctor – and the events that unfolded from that moment on became a roller coaster for the next 18 months. I shudder to think what may have happened if my family hadn’t pushed for answers. If Eli would have been the oldest instead of the youngest. Would I have been so willing to keep pushing? Would I have listened to my instincts?

But the fact is, none of that matters. And after Eli was diagnosed with his condition, and I saw him finally starting to grow, and develop, and become the child you see before you, I realized that the path we took to get here may not have been the easiest, but I’m grateful for the experience.

You see, we can’t always change the events that happen around us. The diagnoses we receive. The actions of others. The hours that a business sets. But we can change our response to it. We can change our attitude. And with that, we can change the world.

Thursday is Thanksgiving. But true thanksgiving doesn’t happen every year at the end of November. It’s not marred by a business trying to improve their bottom line. It’s not determined by whether or not a family is sitting down for a meal together.

Thanksgiving happens in our hearts – every day. It’s in the gratefulness we feel towards doctors and the advances we’ve been blessed with in science. It’s in the wonder we feel when we watch our families gather. It’s in the strength of a person who faces adversity with tenacity and determination. It’s in the eyes of a 6-year-old who defies the odds that science has set.

Thanksgiving doesn’t happen once a year. And it doesn’t take place at Walmart at 6 p.m. on November 26.

And for that – I am thankful.

Dust yourself off…

I’ve been MIA, but the last few weeks have been like watching a video on fastforward while taking speed. Not that I really have a lot of experience with that, but I think I have a good idea as to what it may be like.

I’ve put an insane number of hours into my weeks, and have literally felt myself at the end of my rope several times – so I guess it’s time for a revamp.

It’s crazy to think about how life can work out. I think my biggest struggle lately has been coming to terms with who I am, and realizing when what I’m doing is just not enough – and maybe it never will be. I remember the first few times I thought I was in love, yet no matter what I did, I couldn’t make them love me back. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that it wasn’t anything I could do, you can’t force someone to love you any more than you can force someone to communicate with you.

As I get older, the same lessons occur, just in different themes. But maybe I’m finally making headway.

I can’t make people understand where I come from, but I can still do my best to communicate what I can, and take it from there. I just need a little brush up on that communication part. A work in progress, I guess.

But aren’t we all?

Tomorrow on the blog I have a few cool projects to share – they made our fall spectacular!

And a few cool stories, because that’s what this is all about.

Catch ya on the flip side.

When the picture starts to sharpen…

I would apologize for my lack of writing, but I’ll just chalk it up to life occurring – which is kind of a funny way to put it, with where my thoughts are right now.

Sometimes we think we have life figured out, and we’re going along at a pretty good clip, and then the rug gets pulled out from under us and we realize that everything that we were pretty sure wouldn’t matter…well, we find out deep inside that it does.

Sometimes it’s not that we’re looking for answers or some magic spell to make it all better. We’re just looking for reassurance that our efforts aren’t in vain. That there’s a reason for the madness and that one day it’ll all make sense.

Yeah, I’m being a bit vague and general. Because it’s very hard for me to be open – well, to most people.

It’s been a crazy summer already, and the Fourth is upon us. I haven’t been fishing with my boys, we have projects that haven’t been completed, we haven’t been to the camper yet, we’ve not roasted marshmallows – the list goes on and on. But as of right now, it doesn’t matter.

This week I have walked pigs with them, watched them play baseball, listened to them argue, and have taken what I can only imagine will be amazing photos. And I cannot wait for the morning, so we can do it all again.

Yes, sometimes the reminders that we’re getting wrapped up in the wrong details come pounding on your door, and other times they are as light a feeling a butterfly land on your cheek.

And as I rest my head tonight, I will remember those that don’t have that chance to share their thoughts with the ones they love, with the world, with their friends and family – and I will enjoy more, and take for granted less.

And I will write.

Day 20 – Thoughts on gardening

I love to garden. I really, truly do. My problem is time. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

One of George's favorites out of the garden this year!

One of George’s favorites out of the garden this year!

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about people who are pretty serious about where other people should get their food from…and here’s a deep thought for them: butt out.

I’m sorry, that’s not very polite, but I’m getting a little tired of the judgments that occur daily, without people thinking twice about what it is that they are truly saying.

Guess what? The world’s not such an easy place. Answers aren’t always black or white, and so many times we get so wrapped up in being right, that we forget what it is we’re even arguing about! Argh! (Sorry, there went a rant, I should have warned you.)

Let me put it this way: If you can garden, go ahead. If you can buy organic, go ahead. If you have 10 minutes to shop and the produce aisle in Wallyworld happens to be right next to the diaper aisle, go ahead.

We need to quit getting so wrapped up in other people’s business, shouting from the rooftops that they aren’t doing it “right” that we forget to be thankful that they can even make those decisions to begin with…there are so many that do not have that privilege. And yes, it’s a privilege.

I garden because I enjoy it, not because I do not believe that anyone else could possibly grow food for my children. I use my canner because it’s a tradition, not because I fear anything at the grocery store.

Homemade salsa, a staple for the winter months!

Homemade salsa, a staple for the winter months!

But my decisions are just that, my decisions. And you each have your own to make.

It’s a month of thankfulness, perhaps we should work on that, instead of judgments.

Just a thought.