Category Archives: Random

Homecoming: thoughts of heaven

This weekend was Homecoming Weekend for the university in town. Although it meant nothing to me (besides a fun parade and getting pumpkin chai with my sister afterwards), there were many class reunions during the weekend where the alumni had returned to their Alma Mater to celebrate their years of attendance and also seeing the vision of the school continue through the current students. This year was also special as it was the coronation of the new university President.

Homecoming is coming home. Ok, so maybe college is not home…nor your high school, but when you are saying “homecoming,” it is the welcoming back notion. I have to admit though, when I was in college, my term for “coming home” literally meant calling Mom and saying, “I am coming home.” Home. My mind has been thinking about this word…I think I started when we took a little weekend road trip to Toledo.

After my mom remarried, we moved to Toledo. I was about a year and a half old or so. We moved to Colorado a few months after I turned six years old; my first memories of a “home” were from there. As we visited a few weeks ago, I realized that all my memories of Toledo were of places, such as the tunnel you walked through under the main road to get to the zoo; the Bob Evans we passed to get to our house; the house itself (I can still see the inside); the church we attended (but when we actually attended church I noted how much smaller the sanctuary was compared to my five-year old mind); MacQueens Produce Farm and a really awesome ice cream place by car lot (which I finally got the name: Jan’s.) I remember things like my classroom at school, getting red tokens for lunch when you wanted pizza, learning the alphabet, and being Mother Goose in the end of the school year play. I remember singing a Honey Tree song for church and playing in the turtle sandbox or eating orange pushups. But what I don’t place is people’s faces. I only remember them through pictures.

All that changed in Colorado. We moved in the summer, meaning I started a brand new school that Fall. The kids in my class were the peers I attended the rest of my school years with, graduating together and continuing to keep in touch here and there (thank you Facebook.) Home was no longer just things or places…it involved people from town, school and church. Home, physically, was the house…a place where I could be myself, protected from the world. In the bigger picture, Colorado was home. I still consider it home. It is my Alma Mater.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe God moved me here for a purpose…especially in the area concerning my health. I now have friends, live closer to my extended family, a “home” church I have attended since the move and many open doors for my paintings. So why doesn’t it feel like home? Time may play a part in it: we lived in Colorado for almost twenty years (seventeen to be exact). Whatever the cause, I think it fits into the season of the soul..this current road I travel, with thankfulness.

Home brings thoughts of heaven. As my body continues to decline, [yet I am still becoming all that God has planned for me in this life] there are times when I do honestly question God in aspect, “I don’t know how much more of this I can handle.” Maybe I am using thoughts of heaven as an easy way out of this worldly suffering. Heaven is joy…and I look forward to that Homecoming. There will be nothing like it in comparison. But here, in the now, I should not be praying centered around myself, but God. It is only then that this temporary home (my body) will find strength in thanksgiving, even in the suffering:

Man-centered prayers tend to ask, “How can God help me with my problems?” while God-centered prayers consider, “What is God doing in this? How can I join in God’s purposes here?” This changes not only what we pray for, but also the way we pray.

Tim Challies. “Persevere in Prayer.”

Philippians 4:4-7

~Mel 🙂

*http://www.challies.com/articles/persevere-in-prayer?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_content=5575&utm_campaign=Four-hourly_2013-10-02+12%3a15

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Family Times, Random, Uncategorized

The End of September

I love this time of year. Over time, trees start turning their shades of orange, reds and yellows; the flavors pumpkin and apple spice fill the menus; the harvest of corn and soy beans continues to dry out, looking more like thick winter wheat; and farmer’s markets are filled with a variety of fresh squash, apples, different colored mums, cider, delicious goodies and canned products. It is only the end of September, but it feels like Thanksgiving Day could be tomorrow.

And why couldn’t it be? Thanksgiving Day shouldn’t be just one day for football, family and fancy feasts. Pure thanksgiving should flow through everything…like a next breath.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~1 Thessalonians 5:18

These past few weeks, I have been trying to live in a full life of gratitude–replacing the focus off feeling guilty of being a burden to how I can bless those who bless me. I also have been trying to find thankfulness in my physical body. Let me tell you something, there are epic fail moments: Like this morning, frustrated at my hands I blurt out, “Ugh! Stupid hands!” Not a very thankful tone. And yet there are moments when I have an “awakening” thought…such as, “I can’t drive at the moment, but I am told by my MRI scans that I should not even be walking.” Perspective.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. ~Hebrews 12:28-29

I write on my posts about blessings; I talk about gratitude. And I am thankful…but I have been convicted in my heart about being prayerfully thankful–praying in thankfulness for needs met; the needs not met; the needs that God wants me to be fulfilling; the needs of family, friends and strangers; the need to show God’s love, mercy and grace; my need of a Savior.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ~Philippians 4:6

Prayer, thanksgiving, humbleness, pure of heart, compassion, confession, serving…like the Autumn, it brings in a bountiful harvest of new beginnings. As the season begins, I hope it continues until the last leaf has fallen and the first of Winter appears. “This fall, celebrate the goodness of God, and may the Lord give you gladness of heart.” ~Dr. David Jeremiah

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Favorite farmer’s market in Toledo.

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Happy Autumn

And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and was to come
You are autumn

~Nicole Nordeman, “Every Season”

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Looking Upward

Over the weekend, I finally accomplished putting into chronological order and placing my college to present pictures in photo albums. It brought back many great memories. As I sorted, I found these pictures that made me laugh at the memory of the evening:

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During my years living in the Denver area, I lived in a neighborhood called Bel Mar. On the corner of Wadsworth and Alameda, this was the rising place for living and shopping. The Target I was employed at was about fifteen minutes from Bel Mar…connected to a flat mall that had an indoor mile track that ran its course around the stores. I enjoyed a mile walk on my lunch breaks. I think every mall should be modeled after that one.

Even though there were a few Target stores in the area, Bel Mar also built one a few months before I moved. It was one of the “new city” model styles where the parking garage was underneath on the “first floor,” making the actual retail store on the second floor, all of course equipped with escalators, a stairway, and an elevator. I opted for the escalators.

Mom came to Denver every other week to help me on my chemo weekends. After the grand opening of Target (we had watched it being built over time), I wanted to show her the inside of the new Target. Up until this point, I had only been in a few times, because it was more convenient for me just to get my needs and groceries from my Super Target rather than stop at another one on the way home. But with Mom, we had grabbed a few groceries and as we left, I made a discovery: they even had an escalator for your carts!!! I was laughing so hard, Mom was afraid I would fall down our own escalator. 🙂

Currently, I have recently developed a phobia of walking down the stairs. Going up the stairs is not a problem; just coming down. Too many falls in the past few months has triggered this phobia, but I can’t say that I had really classified it as a fear up until a few weeks ago when I mentioned it to a friend. Now I am not even sure if it is just the stairs I fear falling–I think it is falling in general.

With my balance continuing to worsen, I have now restarted Physical Therapy, but it takes place here at my house. Due to the decline of function in my hands (especially the right hand), I will also be starting soon some sessions of Occupational Therapy. The reason for having the sessions here at home is to help me with my everyday living. For example, because I started my first PT session last week, we did a huge overview of my current conditions and discussed the areas in which I need assistance. Most of my current frustrations deal in the realm of OT, but balance was a major issue for me in PT. She gave me a suggestion for going down the stairs sideways, but to be honest, it doesn’t make me feel any better about the decline. As for right now we are mainly focusing on extra balancing exercises to accompany the PT strengthening exercises I have been doing already.

To access my current conditions, my therapist had me perform some “strength and mobility” tests. I can only stand on one foot for a mere one or two seconds…and standing with one foot in front of the other depends on which foot is placed first. Considering I have had two blood clots in my left leg, don’t be surprised to hear that it is my stronger leg. I think it always has been to be honest. When we lived in Colorado, I did get the chance to learn how to snowboard before my balance would no longer permit the activity. My Dad insisted that my sister and I take a half day of lessons before we just went out on our own. At the rental shop, when deciphering which foot you will put forward on the board, the rental personal did a little test. He had me turn around and gave me a slight nudge. I put my left foot forward first. He said, “You’re a regular foot.” (A right foot is called a goofy foot.) I think if anyone gave me a little nudge today, I would just fall over.

I am seeing the reality that my balance and falling will worsen. I have no control over it. There are days when I am to the point of tears at my balance. Other days, I find humor in it. I think it parallels the balance of life: days when strength is strong and days when strength is weak…in both I need to keep looking upwards, knowing when I fall, He still stands.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121: 1-2 ESV

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Family Times, Funny Stories, Muffy, Random

Deliciousness :)

At the beginning of summer, I had invited my friend over for a brunch. Because planning ahead is a personal forte, I made the menu days in advance and set out grocery shopping. I especially wanted to make banana bread, so I made sure I had all the ingredients on the recipe card from my grandma that I found in my mom’s cookbook.

Upon gathering the ingredients to get started baking, I realized I had forgotten the shortening. With my parents out of town,  I started to panic as I am not good with these mess-up-to-fix-with-different-ingredient kitchen professionals. So I just went to the computer. I figured someone else had been in the same situation. I was right.

I found this banana bread recipe on Simply Recipes (http://simplyrecipes.com). It is quite simple: no shortening, no problem!  You just replace it with butter instead. 🙂 I also added in some blueberries to the batch and once in the pan, I sprinkled (in very gracious quantity) nutmeg and cinnamon spices on the top before placing it in the oven. Simply DELICIOUS!

I just made another batch last night as I wanted it for a fast breakfast on the go, because Mom and I set out in the very early morning today for Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati for my MRI. Last night’s cooking experience was NOT as easy as the first time, due to the increased numbness and weakness in my hands; But the finished product was totally worth the huge mess I made in the kitchen otherwise. 🙂

Banana Bread

Prep time: 5 minutes (Not in my timing, but just what the recipe says, LOL)

Cook time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • *Blueberries: approx. 1 cup
  • *Optional: 1/4 Tsp Cinnamon; 1/8 Tsp Nutmeg; 1/4 cup crushed Walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt (*and optional ingredients) over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. *Add in blueberries last. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. *Add cinnamon and nutmeg on top if desired. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

I mentioned to my interpreter this morning that I had baked this and she gave me the idea to serve with cream cheese. We just so happen to have whipped cream cheese in the refrigerator at the moment–I think I will try that on my next piece. 😀 Enjoy!

*I added in the blueberries and optional ingredients myself. It is not part of the original recipe:

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/banana_bread/

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A cup of tea

Mr. Tumnus: “Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?”

“Thank you very much, Mr. Tumnus,” said Lucy. “But I was wondering whether I ought to be getting back.”

“It’s only just around the corner,” said the Faun, “and there’ll be a roaring fire–and toast–and sardines–and cake.”

C. S. Lewis. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Great Britain: (Geoffrey Bles, 1950.) pg. 116.

I think Mr. Tumnus was on to something: tea is best when shared with a friend (or a way to make new friends); tea is always better served like a tea party (although I question his choice of sardine refreshments); and tea no matter what time of the year it is…is tea, and can be fully enjoyed whether on a sunny day or in the winter chill by a roaring fire. (In my opinion, rainy days make great tea days.)

The concept of tea started for me at an early age. We sisters would sometimes have tea parties. My older sister had a tea set and Mom would serve tea (apple juice) with refreshments (usually graham crackers.) Tea time was serious excitement.

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Melissa and I

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After the apple juice excitement faded, tea was non-existent in my youth–although I applaud my Mom’s efforts in having us try herbal tea. “Add some honey.” Even honey was not sufficient. I never touched tea again until college. Then everything changed. Tea is now a hobby.

Socially, I don’t throw tea parties but I have thought about it a few times. Back at my birthday, being in the south where the best tea resides, my parents gave me a book on tea party history and etiquette. It is fascinating. Books and tea, what could be better?

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You don’t necessarily need a tea party to share with friends. Over the past few weeks, I have been given in gracious amounts–tea–resulting in the enjoyment of a few cups during the day. I have been given teas that I have never tried or even heard of in flavor. Once again, excitement resides!–because as far as tea goes, I usually stick with flavors I know or ones that help my stomach (such as peppermint or Bigelow’s Lemon Ginger Plus). But now that new flavors are being given to me as gifts to try, my knowledge of tea choices is expanding and in turn I share the new favorites with my family or other friends.

In order to give, we must also receive.

In life, we have been given a divine invitation…more than just a tea party, the invitation is for eternity, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ~John 3:16.

The gift has been freely given–freely receive.

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Books and Movies, Family Times, Random

A Fresh Look

I don’t know if this is something hairdressers learn in their training schools, but how they can take a woman who comes in the hair salon looking like she just got out of bed (which I practically did) and have her leave feeling completely fresh is beyond me. This was my morning.

I woke around 8am. To get my day started, I did my physical therapy exercises and then planned to read a little over breakfast. The latter never happened. Mom found me asleep on my exercise mat at 9:15am…late for my chemo dose, I scramble to the kitchen and take my medicines, cram in a bowl of cereal, fill my Tervis of coffee and then head out the door. I get in the car and state, “I think chemo is making me more tired.” I think it is true.

My body changing quickly over the past few weeks has set me in a place where I have been going through insecurities about my physical state, especially the beauty aspect of it. It is easy to hear, “You are beautiful!”, but look in the mirror and see the opposite. Lies also wear you down…they make you tired. I was at this point a few evenings ago. After dinner, I decided to devote my evening just to reading with a cup of peppermint tea to help my sickly-stomach feeling. A few chapters later in my book, I come across this verse:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

I went to my bathroom mirror and excitedly wrote the verse with a purple dry erase marker. The verse does not say, “You are beautiful!”, but I think it is implied. Choosing to believe it is now like a fresh look at the day…will I leave empty or satisfied?

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