May You Rest in Peace ~ Andrew Mc Naughton

I've been caught up in my own little world of late that I almost missed this.

You may have noticed the donation/blog hop logo on this blog for a young man named Andrew McNaughton. You may even remember that I am a contributing author in Nick Wilford's anthology, "Overcoming Adversity." You may also remember an interview I posted with Nick hen the book was published

It is with a very sad heart that I report that young Andrew passed away this weekend.

My heart goes out to Nick and his family. To lose a son even if he is a stepson is hard. Being a stepson is no barrier to the heart to grief. To Nick, Andrew was his son too in all senses of the word.

Having walked in those shoes before, I know from personal experience how hard it is. Andrew, may you walk, run, and do all the things in heaven that you couldn't do on earth. To Nick, his wife, and his sisters- may God send his Holy Spirit to wrap you with the comforting blanket of His love in the trying days and years to come. May He bring remembrances of the joys this son gave you and fill your heart with laughter. May He bring your heart peace.

Andrew may your rest in peace and reside in joy.

Today is my husband's birthday. Happy Birthday, my beloved!

Once again, he's proved us all wrong by opening his eyes to see another one. This is an important milestone.

Yesterday, we weren't sure if he would. He went into congestive heart failure again. A slew of rapid phone calls between his cardiologist's and pulmonolgist's offices and me on a course of action. I popped him with a large amount of heavy duty diuretic and potassium, but not without consequences. A "quick" trip to the Emergency room to semi-stabilize him lasting four hours with my ex-husband burning up minutes on my cell phone to call the squad. But for his comfort we (two daughters and myself) transported him via my van to the hospital.

He was eventually released for home. It is his ultimate wish to die at home surrounded by things and people he knows and loves. I, being his Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, made sure he would be released before I even took him. My girls and I know this, but I'm glad I have their support even though it is very difficult.

So now he is in his own bed. I can't give him his Lasix because his blood pressure in only 50/20. He needs the fluids to maintain that blood pressure. He lost eight pounds of fluids yesterday with the Lasix and it only marginally reduced the extra fluids putting pressure on his heart, and filling and compressing his lungs. It's an oxymoron at best.

Our youngest daughter stayed here last night to help me and allowed me to get some rest. So I'm doing well. Or as well as can be expected. The hospice admit nurse from my #2 daughter's job will be by today. It is time. Not because the end is imminent and we are not capable of handling what is needed, but it gives us a break.

The girls will be by with the grandchildren like any other birthday. My husband will blow out his unlit candles because of the oxygen with his grandchildren's help. He'll eat maybe two bites of the cake and maybe a bite of his ice cream because it's required. We will try to make it a jovial event with this heavy cloud hanging over us. For the second time this will be done at his bedside. The first time he was in the hospital.

Once again we take humor of the situation. In the past it has always been around a holiday and a Thursday that my husband has had a crisis event. Yesterday was time for an 11-year old joke. "It's Thursday, do you have gas in your car?"

And the wait continues...

The Final Gift

It's no big secret to anyone following this blog that I've cut back on my blogging. I've even changed what I do blog about and when except for those blogs I'm committed to do. This is another of those times.

For the last couple months I've been struggling with the care of my husband. For those who do know, he is terminal with a bad heart, bad lungs, and cancer. Yes, he's been terminal for a long time...11 years and counting.

It's my anniversary today! Happy Anniversary to us for passing the 21 year mark in spite of life's hard knocks. That's what faith, forgiveness, and fortitude has done for us, but I'm afraid this is coming to an end.

No not divorce but death.

My husband's condition has rapidly deteriorated over the past year since my stroke. He has honestly given his disease ravaged body a good fight for staying with me. This year so far he has fought numerous bouts of pneumonia and congestive heart failure. At the end he's bounced back, but had not bounced back fully. Each time has taken its toll to the point where there is almost nothing left.

I watch him struggle to draw a breath and stop breathing completely for a few moments, and can see the truth. We've had the revolving door of in and out of doctors' offices, the *ologist's brigade, over the past several months to where we are all exhausted. All of it to hear the same thing, ""It's time."

They all wonder why he is still breathing and talking. I wasn't sure myself, but for years I've been praying for peace and comfort. I no longer pray for healing. That has been given to us in spades although it might not seem that way to most. I've been blanketed, no cocooned, in peace and comfort that I've forgotten all my worldly training.

This week that revelation was brought home to me by my hospice nurse daughter while we were discussing his condition. For the past month now, my beloved has imposed on our children to take me out and do fun things like the farmers trade and swap, movies, lunches etc. for several hours a week. Another child, or grandchild, or extended family would sit with him and take care of his needs. I couldn't see why he was doing it or at least refused to see why.

The reason was to get me involved with life again. To make me realize that life goes on even after death. It was his gift to me. My daughter said, "Mom, you need to tell him that you will be fine without him. It's time to say goodbye."

Now I have counseled umpteen gazillion people to do the same thing. I've even done it with family members like my mother, sister, assorted others. I've counseled others as a nurse and a minister. BUT it never dawned on me or recognized that it was time to do this with my husband.

So this week as I stroked his face and kissed his lips, I told him goodbye. I will be fine that he could stop fighting. He could look into my eyes and see it was the truth. I gave him permission to leave me until we meet again. This was my final gift to him and there is nothing more precious left to give.

And now I wait, because I refuse to mourn his passing until he breathes no more.

Grief-Upturn and Acceptance

Today is the last segment on grief. It is the upturn and acceptance.  Acceptance is the ultimate goal in your recovery process. I will say this and I'll say it again. There is no cure for grief. It is forever, just not as painful given time. With time it will not feel like someone stabbing you with a knife and twisting it, but a sting like a mosquito. Painful, but not as painful as before.

I want to make something clear to my readers also. I write this as counseling to make you aware what is going on with you and that it's normal. While I use me as an example, I've moved forward and onward. Yes, I have relapses from time to time as do most folks recovering from a death or a stroke. Each relapse is shorter in time than the last time. That is to be expected. Read the above paragraph. It's a case of preacher heal thy self with God's help and pass the knowledge on.

Yes, I still revisit all the phases as time passes, but in acceptance you realize that there are some things that are. It is reality and facing your given situation. Yes, horrific things happen and it happened to you. Things that you may contemplate for your worse enemy but in actually never honestly wish it on another soul. There are consequences to every action you take in this life and acceptance for your circumstances is the key to recovery. Acceptance depends on your willingness to move on. This is what cards you have been dealt in this life. So what are you going to do about it? That is the one thing God does not control and He left for us to will. It is our choice how to live our lives.

How would you like to live your life? The choice is yours. Your present is what you make it. Would you rather lives in the stinking quagmire of guilt, denial, anger, and depression of memories of the past you and longing to have it back? The past is past and baring some time machine, we can't go back and change it. Or would you rather look to a brighter tomorrow where you strive to get better? The choice is ultimately yours.

For me, I end my usual stroke survival posts with "nothing is impossible with determination." I mean it. It's my way of looking to a brighter future and I hope to impart that message on to you. I always look to the light or brightness. Yes, there are a lot of dark times in my past and my future, but I will always walk towards the light. There is always a glimmer there in our souls just waiting for us to see it. You have to want to see it and walk towards it to reach acceptance.

Another thing I usually say on this blog is, "for right now." It's a quantifying statement of acceptance. Everything in this life is temporal. It's perception of what we are experiencing. The thing about perception is that it is constantly changing with circumstances and knowledge. My perception of life as a child is nothing like my perception as an adult, or an elder person.It does not mean I will not try to make it better. I am a mother and grandmother who will always try to kiss it and make it better.

Another reason for my quantifying statement is while I accept the way I am this minute, I refuse to give up hope for a better tomorrow. A tomorrow where I've learned new adaptable helps or recover some of what I've lost. Life is an ever evolving process. What is paramount today may not be tomorrow. When you reach a level of complacency, events will always step forward to disrupt it if you let it. When you've had the worse thing that you can imagine happen to you, be aware there may be even worse things in the future. But does that stop you from trying to live your life? No. So long as you are breathing, there is hope for a better tomorrow.

My prayers are heart felt for all of you that you reach a level of acceptance. Reach beyond it. Never be complacent with life as you know it. Be aware of changes that happen in your life have a purpose as a growth experience. And no, I want no one to have to go through these trials for a growth experience, but here we are. The question is, "What do you want your tomorrow to be?

Sometimes, all we can do is believe there is a better tomorrow. May your belief bring a better tomorrow.


Welcome to stage three of my series on grief counseling. Today's topic is depression. Everyone gets depressed once in a while. If someone tells you they've never been depressed and they are over the age of ten...THEY ARE LYING.

That's like the couple that say they never argue. Someone is stuffing their feelings and they are not communicating to each other. They are in big trouble.

You've had a significant loss in your life and it has changed forever. If there is any more greater reason to be depressed, I can't think of one. Everyone gets blue when thinking of what they've lost.

Honestly, I still get in a blue mood on August 2nd and November 19th, the anniversaries of my mother's death and my son's. It's been 30 years for one and 27 for the other. These were traumatic losses for me and those dates will live forever in my brain until I die, maybe even after that. Like I've said, there is no cure for grief only coping mechanics.

You feel a lack of energy. You cry a lot. You get angered easily and inappropriately. Your blue. You may even think your life is over. You may even think of suicide to end this pain and you lack the will to go on. After all, everyone else would be better off without you putting yourself and them through this. Did I hit a raw nerve or strike a chord of truth with these statements?

First, realize that this is depression. It's a disease process. It's also a normal process when faced with a loss. It's part of the cycle of grief. What I mentioned earlier about getting blue is different than what I'm talking about here. That's old healing, but a remembrance honoring a past hurt and family in my life who have passed on. It doesn't fully impact my daily life to the exception of all else. That is the huge difference.
With the current loss, everything is fresh and in your face constantly. Every time you turn around you are repeatably confronted by the loss. Yes, I'm still there after a year since my stroke, but there is a new purpose in my life...moving past the loss. It went from constant to intermittent and I will always have bouts with it. There's not a day that goes by that I wished I had use of my arm and hand back (especially for typing), or could walk again, or speak normally, or return to my own, semi normal, old life. But it no longer consumes every waking minute or thought. I am stringing words that make sense and sentences. I am typing. Those are major milestones and should be looked at as such. They are proving to me that I am moving on with my life.

By moving on and getting on with your life depression lessens. At first you are going through the motions but with time, you are no longer an automaton. You find yourself taking an interest in the things that you are are healing. You are awaking after a deep slumber. You may do this with drug therapy and professional counseling or you may do it all on your own. Don't be ashamed of seeking help. You are taking steps to get better. Admitting you need help is a big step in the healing process. I, myself, am on an antidepressant. I originally, it was prescribed to deal with my fibromyalgia, but it has also helped with my depressive state after my stroke. No it doesn't account for my mostly cheery disposition that's natural.
  • Get together with friends and family for an outing. You may have to force yourself. You may be surprised that you enjoyed yourself. Don't feel guilty about this.
  • Go to church if this was your usual practice.
  • Find a new interest or hobby that you didn't do before. Even stop and notice how the trees move in the wind.
  • Fill your hours with busy work. Anything you can do without thinking. You are not suppressing your grief only sidelining it for a period of time. Be sure to set a time limit or you will be stuffing it.
  • What a comedy and laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine. I remember when my mother died. All of were heart broken because we held hope so tightly until the end. My sister brought up the memory of Mom where she held out a finger shaking it when you were young saying, "You no cry." It became a symbol that carried us through the tough days ahead. It caused us all to chuckle at the memory. It still does.
  • Baby steps. You won't heal over night. You will not heal tomorrow, but maybe in the months to come it will be there and take hold without you even noticing it.
Remember everything in life is about baby steps. You have to know how to balance the good and the bad. My children, now adults, say when I threaten them, "Yeah, but I can outrun you now." And I usually retort one of two things, "Yeah, but I can throw this cane like my old police baton and trip you." Or but when I do catch you, I'll be busier than a one legged woman in a butt kicking contest." I am a one functional leg woman after all.

I'll start you off. I dare you not to laugh or at least crack a smile at least one of these.

I saw that smile. Felt good didn't it? Right after my stroke I watched AFV for weeks on end to learn how to laugh again through my depression. Sometimes laughter is the only way to stop from crying.

Remember even your momma told you, "It's only a phase"? Depression is too. It's part of the grief cycle. If it gets too bad don't hesitate to get help. If you don't recognize it in yourself, listen to others around you. They see it. In the grand scheme of things this is a pit stop and it will get better although it might not seem like it.

Grief and Anger

For today it's part two of the grief series that deals with anger. You know that emotion where there's this devil on your shoulder poking you until it overrides the angel whispering in your ear.

After a death of a loved one, your emotions are raw and exposed for all to see.

Besides this with the grief of loss, you become angry at everything. The dog barks. The cat meows too loud. The kids drop a cotton ball on the floor. Someone whispers "boo." Or nothing at all. It can turn you into a screaming meme. It's all part of your grieving process. It's also one that will revisit you periodically in years to come. Grief doesn't end, but it does lessen over time. You learn to cope better the farther you get from the incident. You won't stop missing what was lost ever, but adapting to your new reality.

You are walking down the hall and the toe of your shoes hits the floor wrong. The cat runs
between your legs and causes you to stumble or fall. You end up hitting your arm or leg for not catching you. "Stupid! Useless things! Why did this happen to me." You lash out at the first available thing. You aren't really angry at that person or thing, it's just handily available. In the short term this can be tolerated with open communication lines, but the long term is a different story.

What you are actually angry at is the loss. The fact that your comfortable circumstances are forever changed and changed drastically. There's the crux of the matter and if you are honest with yourself.  You will see the truth in the matter. It hurts your ego. Your life is changed from comfort to uncertain. Your future is changed irrevocably. What you thought about yourself has changed.

People do not like change. People don't like adapting.  For both of these statements I'll add ...unless they have to. That is exactly what happened to you. You had to make a change not by choice of want to or need, but had to. It's easy to blame someone or something as the cause for this change. But ultimately it is only your resistance to change that causes anger.

So how do you break this cycle? What do you do with a child in the middle of a temper tantrum? Well, you examine the cause. Can you change what causes these outbursts? Absolutely! Granted you can't physically bring back what you lost. No one can. No matter how much we beg and plead our case. It happened. It's real.

Now some coping skills to deal with your anger issues during grief.
  • Take a minute to breathe and think before you act or in this case act out.
  • Examine to root of your anger and the real cause. Are you angry at yourself or something else.
  • Does the person you are directing your anger towards really deserve it. Part of your mind will say yes but to the extreme you want in to take it?
  • Realize that the anger you feel may be justified but gauge an appropriate response.
The fact is you are not a two-year old who can't express what they need.Understand that anger is self feeding and self perpetuating. Refuse to play.

If your first impression is anger don't give in to the emotion. If you need to absolutely vent your rage, do so in a pillow. Those around you will greatly appreciate it. It also saves money for all the things you didn't break. A mad at the world attitude gains you nothing but is self-feeding and perpetuating.  Make all around you aware that it's not them but you before you vent to broach any misunderstandings.

Again face the root for your anger. It's how you are adjusting to change with all the frustrations it brings. Deal with the anger and vent if you really need to. Be cautious though of lapsing back into the guilt trip discussed last week. If you have lapses be the first to apologize to those around you. Even a dog will wag its tail in response. It's time to put your big boy panties and move on.

Don't expect knowledge to be an instance cure. There is none. Yes, you will relapse into this stage many times during the coming months and years to come. Accept it. Be forewarned that this might happen again and be on your guard. You know the warning signs better than anyone else.

So what are you really angry about? Isn't it all about you? Isn't it resisting or adapting to changes?

Got Faith? Have none? Follow me.

Grief~ Denial, Bargaining, and Guilt

As promised this is the first of my grief counseling for survivors. Not all the stages occur in order within your life and you may experience several at the same time. The order is just a guideline.

Today is about denial, bargaining and guilt. Now don't say you are not going through this because you are. You are just in denial. <G>

At first denial is easy. I spent my first 24-hours in denial. I still go to sleep each night, after a year, hoping to wake up in the morning and finding this has been a bad dream similar to "Dallas." If you are not familiar with this old television show, a whole season was choked up up a bad dream sequence. Well, I can hope can't I. But the next morning I awake and find it wasn't a bad dream. I could deny it all day long if I could lie in bed not moving, thinking, or speaking not that it happens that way. I can only play Ostrich with my head buried in the sand so long before I have to roll over to shift positions or have to pee and then reality sets in. The empty side of the bed or chair.

Eventually nature will call and I'll have to put my AFO and shoes on to toddle off to the toilet. It only works for the short term, but may be intermittent and come and go. Something will always smack you in the face with the reality of the situation.

 "No, I can do it myself!" This statement is a form of denial. In reality, I can't do it myself, but I've got to prove it to me. A painful thing for caregivers to watch. It's a doubled edged sword which often has me in tears of frustration when I finally get it through my thick skull that I can't do it myself. I need the help of another soul to get through this. This has worked for me and against me.

"I'm not listening! LaLaLa!" and "Talk to the hand." When we refuse to listen to others we only hurt ourselves. Sure they might not have the answers either, but if all else fails, they are a sounding board. Granted if you are in depression nobody can stand listening to grunt and groan on the pity pot, but more on that later. Just know that denial is a short protective mechanism of the mind. Realize this. Accept this. Sometimes everyone needs small breaks from reality. Now if your denial lasts for a prolonged period, professional help is advised.

Bargaining- "Lord, please take this burden from me. I'll do this or that better from now on." Or something along these lines, is another natural stage of grief. If you will do this, I'll do that. "I'll stop smoking, lose weight, eat right, do what my doctor says, (insert your own bargaining chip here) from now on, but just make it better."

Honestly we may mean them when we say them, but life has a way of interjecting them back into our lives no matter how hard we try. It's an Indian Giver's promise at best.

After my stroke I promised to stop smoking and then I was discharged home to a house full of nicotine. I was almost violently ill just walking into it. All my clothes, bedding, curtains, carpets, furniture, painted surfaces etc are drenched with the stuff accumulated over the past fifteen years. So I puffed and coughed through a cigarette to just be able to live in my house. I haven't put them away yet.

I started losing weight in the hospital and continued after I got home. I was very incapable of doing much besides the basics of self care. Meals were the TV dinner types. The nuke and eat. Of course with all that processed food entering my body, the weight inched back up. Having a bad heart doesn't help when you can hold thirteen pounds of just extra fluids in your body at any given time. It was frustrating at best. I zigzagged on the scales not knowing if it was fluids or fat. I finally gave up. My allergies went haywire during this time and I couldn't do anything about it.

Starting this Spring brought about better changes. I started gardening again to reduce my allergens. But still my weight was at issue due to my heart. Try as I might and with three cholesterol medicine I couldn't lower my LDLs more than 50 points. I swore off red meats and eating animal based protiens twice a week substituting bean curd, vegetables, and ate rich HDL foods to no avail. It's heredity for me to have high bad cholesterol.

So all in all bargaining and begging doesn't work. No amount of bargaining will change the outcome.

That brings us to guilt. The what-ifs. Now I'm big on what-ifs as a writer. Some of my best stories start off this way. Of course, we are our own worse critics. Nobody can be as hard on themselves as I can be. That's part of my stubborn nature. But all of us have a stubborn streak. It's part of being human, but I got a triple helping when God was handing out this one. I'm worse than a Jewish and Catholic mother combined when it comes to guilt trips and I do it to myself.

If I had done this or that, this would not have happened to me. The fact is, it probably would have. Guilt leads to depression. Guilt leads to low self worth. Guilt leads to you not fighting to get better. Guilt is the root of all evil thoughts and actions.

I had a physical therapist (not my regular one) ask me this week if I did everything in my power to prevent this stroke. I looked at her in shock. Now I had worked through my guilt ridden stage before now so needless to say I didn't need an additional thing to feel guilty about. She said I smoked so I didn't do everything in my power to prevent a stroke. Did the woman fall off the sensitivity truck? But like I always do, I pondered her words.

I thought back to my cousin Ricky who recently died from a stroke. He lived a healthy life style. The number of babies die yearly. They are innocents. Others who have no bad health habits who die young or old each year. No, I'm not helping my body by smoking. Yes, it is a big no-no for people susceptible to stroke or had a stroke.  I accept that risk factor. We all make choices. Accept the choices you made and move on.

I'm fond of saying, "Don't borrow trouble." Until the doctor pronounces the big "C" word, don't worry the whole time while waiting for the results for it to be cancer and how you will react. I got news for you. It won't change the outcome. Guilt is an indicator that you've done something wrong and deserve what is happening to you. Unless you've gotten behind the wheel intoxicated, hit and harmed someone else, it just ain't your fault! Yes, you could have done this or that differently but does it really change what you are going through now? No, not a lick. This is almost a part of bargaining.

It's time to move on. Accept what has happened as an unchangeable fact and go on from here. Because in the grand scheme of your life, this is a small segment. It's what you do from here on out that counts.

Next Sunday is about Anger.

Grief Counseling with a Twist

Any time you suffer a significant loss or have a devastating event happen to you there is a sense of grief. It is not only a death. It can be a mini death of sorts.  For me, the latest besides bereavement for a close cousin, Ricky, and has been an ongoing struggle with grief because of my stroke. And yes, it has been over a year since my stroke. I am doing a similar blog on my writer's blog for stroke survivors on Sundays. For here it's for survivors.

I've actually mentioned the stages of grief in various blogs but I don't think I've ever broken it down like this before. I do know that I charged $100 for grief counseling sessions that lasted twelve weeks in my ministry profession. This is a gimme course that is free so take advantage of it.

So over the next five weeks I'm going to explain to you the stages as it pertains to your recovery. I will give real world examples of what I've gone through, coping skills, and exercises for you to do to gain a level of acceptance in conquering each step. After all, knowledge is power and control. It is something we as survivors rarely feel until we work through the process. Understanding is the key. Think you've mastered it all? You've been a survivor for multiple years and this doesn't pertain to you, think again. I've met dozen of survivors still grappling with these after ten or twenty years. Am I through it all? Yes and no. I'm still bouncing around the steps taking victories where I can as a stroke survivor. There is no quick or easy fix.

I've spent years in grief counseling both as a grief stricken person and as a counselor. So needless to say, I recognized it in my own stroke recovery as well. Grief is an individual process. Your success depends on you.

The Stages

And if you want to carry it farther into seven steps, you can.

Both apply in a case like a stroke. I usually combine Shock and Denial, and Bargaining and Guilt, the Upturn, Reconstruction with Acceptance. So my version is five steps while taking the seven into consideration. Now with death this process takes roughly a year to complete or maybe a little longer. With stroke recovery it may takes years! You may bounce between levels or be on multiple levels at the same time and you may gain acceptance in certain areas faster than others. It is not a linear thing or happen within the order given.

Why should survivors care about this? The ultimate of ultimates of recovery is to be...
  •  the best you can be given the circumstances
  • a more proactive survivor
  • aware that this is going on and it's normal. Isn't it nice to be considered normal. <g>
  • forewarned is forearmed
Knowledge is power. Foresight is awesome. Being prepared is everything. Tune in next week for the first installment...Shock and Denial. These will appear Sunday morning as well here.

Keeping faith and sharing the blessings.

My Opinion ~ Paula Deen

I usually stay away from controversial subjects on this blog, but this is one I couldn't let go.

I live just 72 miles south of Paula Deen and her restaurants. I have children who live in Savannah. I have met her on several occasions over the years before and after her Food Network fame. Like her or don't like her is your choice. With her, it's what you see is what you get just like me.

While I might not agree with her on various cooking styles we respect each other.The current hype is her using the N word to describe a black person THIRTY years ago and under duress. All I gotta say is give me a break and cut her some slack.

What southern person over the age of fifty has not used that word once in their life? Even my unracially prejudice mother in law has said it, it is currently used by teens, and even I've said it once or twice in my lifetime. I'm far from prejudice or racially bias being nonwhite myself.

The points...
  • She was traumatized at the time. Having a gun pointed in your face would kinda do that, don't you think?
  • It was THIRTY years ago
  • She could have lied under oath. It wouldn't be the first time someone did it, but she didn't.
  • Does her use of that one word damn her for all time, it shouldn't. We all say things that we don't really believe or mean at times.
I've watched the story progress because it is close to home. Not because it's how the mighty fall from grace. She's lost her job with Food Network because of it. She's lost sponsors because of it (Smithfield, WalMart). Granted, it's a small chink in the armor of her multi million dollar enterprise, but still it's asinine.

The NAACP has a campaign going to bury the N word, but lately I've heard it said by persons of color mostly to describe each other. Isn't that an oxymoron? If it's wrong to say, isn't it wrong for everyone to say it? Where is the prejudice or racial bias now? When you hold one race to a different standard than your own, isn't that what the Civil Rights Amendment was all about? Equality for all not dependent on race, sex, or religion?

I'm not saying her use of the N word was right because wrong is wrong, but to punish her for the slur now after THIRTY years is ridiculous. It has no bearing on her present day status. At the time, she was a single mother of two trying to make ends meet just like the rest of us. Why must we tear down the successful to make us feel better?

I don't hide to fact that I was a drug addict or alcoholic in my twenties. Now looking back as I approach my seventies, do I regret it? Nope, I've used that experience to move on and help others. That is far more damaging for a minister and semi-public figure than using the N word. We all have a history and a past. We've all said and done things in our past that we might not be particularly proud of in our past. Let it go and move on. Even Christ said, "Go and sin no more."

Just my quarter for my thoughts.
(It used to be a penny but with time and inflation it raised in value)

Condolences and a Prayer Request

Rick's family in 2003
After I finished posting yesterday, I got a call from my Aunt Viv. My cousin Ricky had a massive stroke.

Now Ricky and I go way back to the cradle almost. He's the same age as my little sister, Janet. Every time we were in country we always stopped at Uncle Ferdy's house before visiting my grandmother.

When we arrived in the States after the fiasco in Ceylon in 1971, that family was the first to welcome us home. We were shell shocked and exhausted both mentally and physically. I remember well how Uncle Ferdy's boys drew us out into some sort of normalcy instead of constantly looking over our shoulders for people trying to kill us. Yes, a lot of Escape from Second Eden is factual and really happened.

Between playing hoops, which now I'm not sure I won all those games against the boys fair and square, and exploring excavation sites, they drew us out and started the healing process. I'll be forever grateful to all of them for that. I lost my lucky elephant hair ring on one of those excursions. Ricky promised to keep looking for it even after we left. He never found it.

I was planning to go down to Jacksonville and play cheerleader for him this weekend. The first road trip for me alone since my stroke. Each day I am thankful to be alive and still able to hug my children and grandchildren since my stroke. I'm constantly reminded of those who are not able to do that. One third of the  million plus a year who suffer strokes are not here anymore. I am, for all my griping and complaining, one of the lucky ones. I am a survivor who can relearn what I lost.

I went to the family website, since we are all stretch across this country and a few others, and read where he had died just after midnight. My heart is heavy for his wife, three daughters, and grandchildren today.

Please send a prayer of comfort for the family he left behind.

Nothing is Impossible and Choices ~ Resignation

This is in part a carry over from my writing blog. What does the belief "nothing is impossible," and "The choice to do or don't" have to do with Christianity?


But I will add two deviations here on this blog...Nothing is impossible with determination and faith in the Almighty, and the choice to do or don't is a gift from God called free will.

In my last blog I expanded on belief systems and that even atheists had faith. I know some of you think I was being sacrilegious by saying that. I do read your emails. But basically, I stand on my beliefs. They may not be your beliefs, but I'll allow your choice to see things differently. It is the free will I spoke about above. If God ordained it, who am I to argue?

Nothing is impossible with the faith in God. We may not have the big picture of our lives as God sees it. When my mother was dying of cancer, I prayed feverishly and constantly for God to restore her health. I did this selfishly because I didn't want to lose my mother to heaven. But I actually started listening to her. Her greatest wish was for her to sit on her Big Daddy's lap and talk about all her unanswered questions.

At that point my prayers changed. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to comfort me and mine for the times that would surely come when He took her Home. And come they did, she died within thirty days. The child in me, strove with determined effort to keep her with me, but the faithful side of me realized the truth.

Free will is a double edged sword. When we make choices in our lives as Christians, we judge the goodness or badness of that decision by our Spirit. If it is a good choice, the Spirit will give comfort and further insight to face what comes. If the choice is bad, our Spirit will quake and doubts will set in.

I have come to realize, wisdom born of pain, that even when we make bad choices hope remains. Yes, there will be consequences for the bad choice, but in the overall scheme of things faith will carry you though. God is forever faithful.

By Whatever Name

I know it's been a while since I posted. The entire month of April and half of May zipped by with life getting in the way of me posting, but not my faith although it has taken some bad blows. But I'm still here.

The key to doing anything in life is to keep going. If you've read my blog for any length of time you may have found out a few things about me...
  • I believe in a higher power
  • I'm too stubborn to give up
  • I'm too mean to let sleeping dogs lie
  • Nothing is impossible
Yes, I'm a Christian by choice. I've studied a multitude of religions over my decades on this earth. And whether you call that higher power-Jesus, Yhwh, Buddha, Mohammed, or by any other name you are still a believer. Even an atheist believes something...there is no God. From that belief, you gain power and faith in your conviction. Sounds strange from a minister right? I believe in love and commitment in whatever form it takes. I don't point fingers and say you are wrong. Who am I to judge others?

Nobody, that's who.

I have a set of beliefs in place that works for me. In the grand scheme of things, isn't that what really matters?

I will talk and befriend homosexuals, adulterer, fornicators, atheists, and a host of others. Isn't that what Christ did? I will them them my point of view, based on my belief system in place that I believe that if they continue in their practice, they will go to hell. Yes! If they can get past that, then a friendship can develop. I simply do not judge the behaviors of others.

I know the Bible teaches, "Cast not your pearls before swine" and "...brush the dust from your sandals," but if I were to to do that would cause me to judge. As a Christian in a world of sin, I lead by example. In my belief system, the number one priority is one another. I also know that change begins within. I cannot change anyone. I can only show them the way.

Food for Thought ~ Blessings

As you face the adversities of life, remember God is WITH you. I watched this beautiful video on the Stroke Tattler blog on Blogspot this morning and had to share. I couldn't have said it better myself. Even though it is titled Secrets of Old Age, it's a lesson we all should keep in mind daily. Enlarge it to full screen because some of the words are tiny.

Be blessed, oh Blessed be.
Today, I was going through my blog roll and hit a "friend" who was in turmoil. Les Floyd is facing the demise of his mother.

I have to say that I've walked in his shoes. Losing a parent is everyone's greatest fear who's had a loving parent. Now for the rest of the story...

The year was 1988. My mother had a sore throat and went to her family practice doctor. No big deal, right? The doctor looked down her throat, felt her lymph nodes, and palpated around her throat and then focused his attention on her thyroid. He focused so long on the area her skin had actually started to turn red.

Concerned, I asked him what he was feeling. He said their was a knot about the size of a kernel of popcorn. He invited me to feel and sure enough, there was one. Given my mother's history, surviving the Nagasaki atomic bomb, he recommended a surgical consult. He would have done the surgery himself but he was healing after a broken hip fracture from a car accident.

So off we went to the surgeon. The surgeon diagnosed it as a thyroid goiter and my mother left armed with a prescription for iodine tablets. We all breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn't cancer which killed 100% of all atomic blast survivors. At that time we trusted doctors. After all, they spent years in school learning so they had to be smarter than us, right? Wrong with deadly consequences.

Three months later, we were back in the family practice doctor's office for a routine appointment. He look at her neck expecting to see a scar which there was none. He felt her neck and excused himself. He must of went straight to his office and got on the phone to the surgeon because we could hear him yelling. The words that engraved themselves on my mind forever more were, "incompetence," "larger," and "surgery now."

We were living in a dream world of hunky- dorry for three months believing this other doctor. Now all my fears were realized and soon would be fact. My mother underwent surgery for a thyroid removal within a week. I was at work in the E.R. The surgeon came and found me. I had been dealing with doctors for almost twenty years at this point and one look at his face and I knew all had not gone well.

"We have to wait for the report, but the tumor has invaded her thyroid, parathyroid, and her larynx. I scraped what I could off the larynx to save her voice."

Wait a minute. We went from a simple thyroid goiter to tumor that invaded? The big "C" now entered the picture. His next words were lost for the most part in my brain while it muddled through the information I was given. All except his words, " I'm sorry. I should have listened better."

He walked back to post-op and his next surgery while I was left with my new awakening. I made two calls before I returned to work. The first one was to my father at work and I filled him in on what the surgeon said. The next one was to my family practice doctor. I have to say after that I buried myself in my work trying not to think of the consequences of the surgeon's words.

By the time I got off work, a plan of action was formed but I needed to talk to my family first. We had wasted three month already and could not waste anymore time. My mother would remain in the hospital for further tests instead of being released the next day. I went ahead and made all the arrangements because I knew my father or mother wouldn't object. That was one perk of working at the hospital, I had abundant resources available.

Thyroid cancer is one of the easiest forms of cancer to cure when it is caught early. In three months we'd gone from a kernel of popcorn to metastasis. So regardless of what the pathology report showed, it was time for action and fast. Decision had to be made and questions answered from my family. I knew they were counting on me. It was a two-ton boulder of weight resting on my shoulders.

The first reaction from my father, sisters and brothers was shock. Then came the questions but I was armed with some answers. My father was grateful. Then came the flurry of trips daily to the Mayo clinic in Jacksonville, seventy-five miles one-way away. Another surgery and heavy duty radiation treatments for three more months.

Finally we were were referred to a local oncologist. "Thirty to sixty days." Despite all our efforts the metastasis had invaded her lungs fully, wrapped itself around her carotid artery and her brain. Now all that was left was the death vigil by the family except for me. I was the nurse and caregiver. I arranged the morphine, delaudid and phenegran. I gave the injection, monitored vital and conditions, and only cried when I was in my bed alone at night for a few short hours. I had quit my job at the hospital because when working with cancer patients in post-op circumstances, I couldn't keep my personal life from invading my professional one plus my mother and family needed me.

I pushed all feelings aside while dealing with my family and my mother's care. I stuffed my emotions and became a automaton doing what needed to be done. My family leaned on me for support so I had to keep it together. Until the day finally came to past.

I received a call from my father who had taken my mother to our family doctor for an insertion of a peg tube for feeding. I had spent hours during my mother during her lucid periods explaining the benefits. We had spent many hours discussing what she wanted and didn't want. A Do Not Resistant order was written and signed. I knew her wishes. Discussions about organ donation and who got what of her personal belongings. In reality they were snippets of conversations over days. Nothing personal about my feelings for her, it was basically clinical and social work.

On the day of her doctor's appointment I had a parent- teacher conference and some other things to do that couldn't wait another minute to be resolved. At the time my mind was going a million miles a second and I was slightly irritated that my father couldn't handle one simple thing without me until he said, "Your mother stopped breathing."

In disbelief, I asked a bunch of questions and I realized he was crying. The child in me got scared. I'd only seen my father cry on two occasions. Him being a former Marine and a man, real men didn't cry. He said she started breathing again on her own and was transported to the ER.

I quickly arranged for someone to watch my children and drove to the hospital. The ER doctor pulled me aside and showed me her x-ray of her lungs. How she had kept breathing was a mystery to me because she only had quarter sizes pieces of lungs that were not consumed by the cancer. He suggested this and that which I refused because she didn't want it.

The hardest moment came when my father with tears in his eyes said, "Please, Joey let them do it." I had tears in my eyes when I shook my head no. If this was the last thing a child could do for her mother, I was going to respect her wishes. She didn't want a ventilator. I brushed her bangs out of her eyes, applied the ointment in her eyes and taped them shut. When another nurse tried to interfere, one look told her to back off. She was admitted to a room upstairs to finish the waiting game.

I went home after giving the hospital a copy of her living will with instructions to call me before doing anything else to her. I knew the nurses on the floor would do it and offer compassion to my father while he waited beside her bed. I was one of them. I would do the same if the situation had been reversed. Now I had to go home and prepare my children for their grandmother's death. It wasn't a question of when, it was a surety within twenty-four hours. I had heard the death rattle in each breath she took before I left.

When the phone rang at 4 AM I knew before I picked up the receiver. She was gone. My husband tried to hold me, but I shook him off, got dressed and drove to the hospital. Her fight was over. It took me until right after the funeral to finally be the child who lost their mother. I exploded with anger fueled by grief at my father how I had been voluntarily forced into the role of constant caregiver and decision maker squandering the little time I had left with my mother.

"Joey, I never realized. You're too damned dependable," he told me after I helped him up from the physical punch I'd gave him.

You know what. He's right. I'm too damned dependable, and still am. But lesson learned, I realized how short life really was. My mother was only fifty-six when she passed this life for the next. Never again would I let circumstances stand in the way of letting everyone know how I really feel. Never.Now you know the rest of the story. Now you know why I'm the way that I am.

Adversity and Hope

We all face adversity at sometimes in our lives. It is what we do when faced with the trials that defines us.

I, myself, am going through one now as God teaches me patience. My stroke was devastating to me because God put me in a box. I couldn't move, literally and figuratively, in any direction. The things I loved doing were taken away except reading. Of course my ability to read was in tact, I couldn't read His Word if it wasn't. That alone was a Saving Grace.

Remember I said that I don't go out and publicly seek those who need God, but God has His way of putting them in my path? A case in point even now. Recently, I met another soul going through an adversity. He was raising a son with cerebral palsy. This son had a dream to go to college. Like any good father, Nick, sought to support his dream. Same as our Heavenly Father does with all of us.

Now, Nick being a writer and blogger reached out to his readers, writers, and fellow bloggers with a plan to fulfill his son's dream. He organized a blog hop asking fellow blog writers to post on how they overcome adversity in their life. Since I do this regularly on this and my other blog for writers. I gave him permission to waive the copyright on my blogs to use which ever one he wanted. He published a book where the proceeds go to pay for his son's college. It launches today!

Now inspiration comes from all sources, but ultimately it comes from God. Remember when God or Satan closes a door, Our Father always opens a window. Sometimes this window is a book written by others that shows you the way.

A collection of seventy moving and uplifting original pieces - real life, flash fiction, and poetry - about battling against the odds and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. The contributors include Amazon bestselling authors Alex J. Cavanaugh and Kyra Lennon, and the cream of upcoming talent.

The anthology is part of a fundraising effort to send the editor's stepson, Andrew McNaughton, to a specialist college in England. Andrew has cerebral palsy, and is a remarkable young man with a promising future. However, the free further education options offered in his own country of Scotland will not challenge him and allow him to progress. In order to access the education he deserves, Andrew will have to pay exorbitant fees, thus creating a situation of discrimination.

Help us get Andrew to college by buying a book that runs the full gamut of human emotions, ultimately leaving you inspired and glad to be alive. Whatever struggles you are going through, our sincere hope is that this book will help.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Editor Bio: Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction. When not writing he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also co-running a campaign to get a dedicated specialist college built in Scotland. Visit him at

At $2.99 for a digital copy he will need to sell thousands and we wish him luck.

Lost and Found- God's Timepiece

As I sit here in front of my computer screen this fine but chilly Sunday morning, I'm mentally at a loss of what to be thankful for. Yes, I'm thankful for being alive, but am I really?

My momma always called God her Big Daddy. She often said while she was alive that she couldn't wait until she sat on her Big Daddy's lap to talk to him in person. She was a firm believer. HE was her everything. The ultimate in power and love.

Simplistic her her views of God, but oh, so powerful of an image. So am I thankful for being alive and kicking? Not really. I could be like her sitting on her Big Daddy's lap and receiving the ultimate, unconditional love. In fact, it makes me kind of sad that I'm not. The love we experience in this life is nothing but a substitute for what awaits us in Heaven.

Do I have a death wish? Yes and no. While I might want to go to Heaven, I'm not in a rush to get there. It's not my time by my Heavenly Father's time piece. God's time tends to be a mystery to us humans living on the earthly plane.

God's time versus our time. I recently watched a movie called "The Genesis Code" which explained the difference between science fact versus the biblical time frame and why they are at odds. Granted it's only a movie, but in essence it explain and marries the two times into our understanding the difference. Good movie. Go rent it today if you can. The old mathematician and science geek in me was satisfied with their answer somewhat.

On the down side, it brushes over quite a bit of both scientific and Bible based knowledge, but it is only a movie. What I took from the movie was simple. It's all about perception and perspective. We always say, "God's will," or God's time" without fully understanding it. Will we ever? Yes, one day. All the answers to our questions will be answered in God's time and not in our time.

So I'll continue on my trek through this earthly realm until my time equals God's time. It will happen eventually.

Blessed be because I am.

Are You Frustrated with Your Life?

Frustration is something we all experience it at some time in our lives. That feeling that no matter what you do or try it just isn't working. The want to pull your hair out, want to runaway and hide until its all over. You know that feeling, right?

You can get frustrated with things like your job, your writing, your life, your situation, your finances, you're not succeeding, and people around you (some you don't even know). There are a thousand things in this world to frustrate you and trip you up in your Christian walk.

Notice one thing that is repeated in the above paragraph? It's Y-O-U or a variation of it. It's your frustration. It's all about you and things not going the way you want it to. How you feel about things. How you interact with situations around you. The only one who can change that is Y-O-U. Even with the help of the Holy Spirit, you can't change takes time.

Isn't that the same thing as self pity? No, it's different. No, it's the same thing. So get off the pity pot already somebody else wants to use it!

I hear you. I've spent considerable amount of time on the pity pot myself with trying to get a handle on the feelings accompanied by my stroke and life in general. I've had a pretty hard reality setback with my stroke, but there are stroke survivors who have it much worse than me out there. My grandmother was stricken with seven strokes throughout her life. It gradually took everything away from her until she was almost in a vegetative state before she died with the seventh over five years in the progression.

Now for the fix, or some ways to stop frustration. This worked for me and it was years in the learning. God is teaching me patience with this added malady.
  • Step away from what is frustrating you. Even if it is going into another room.
  • Do something else not related to what you were doing. Continuing to punish yourself by keeping at it just makes the frustration worse.
  • Remember it can always be worse. For me when I feel myself slipping into a rut I'll remember a friend who is in worse financial, physical or emotional straits than me. You'll smaller after feeling frustrated by such petty things that frustrated you in the first place.
  • Find the root cause of why you are feelings frustrated. It may be something deeper than what you are frustrated with at the moment.
  • Make your expectations smaller. A lot of times we expect too much from ourselves and set ourselves up for failure
  • Focus Smaller. Stop trying to fix the world's problem. Settle for a smaller thing you can do to make it better today. Just today.
  • Simplify. Don't try something that takes fifty gazillion steps, if you've never done it before. Think of a jigsaw puzzle. When you were putting one together for the first time you didn't start out with a 1000 piece puzzle or a 3-D. You worked up to it.
  • Allow yourself to fail attempts. Recognize that the first ten times you are not going to get it perfect. Learn from the failed attempts and make all new ones.
  • You are not alone. Take a look around you. There will be others.
  • Be kinder to yourself. Think of all the muscles it takes to frown, how blotchy your face looks after a crying jag, How your screaming and yelling scares the neighbors, and how you will have to replace whatever you break.

I've just given you ten ways to stop frustration in its tracks. I don't expect you to do all of them at one time. Make a conscious effort to do one a week. In ten weeks you will be frustration free. Well maybe not totally, but you will be better armed against those feelings when you feel it start to well up inside you.

May the peace of the Lord be with you.

A Blessing or a Curse ~ It Depends on Your Point of View

Happy 2013 y'all. I thought I'd share something that might make your life a little easier. It's call having faith and realize that your perception of situations is only an error in your point of view.

Several years ago, I met a woman who wore one of those round pins like campaign buttons or a smilie face. It was about three inches around so you could read it from a distance. I know you have all seen something similar.
What stuck me at the time was the genuine smile on her face. She actually believed it.

At this time, my husband was in the hospital for the umpteenth time. I had spent more hours in the hospital than when I had worked there. God was working on me with trusting Him. The doctors had used the words "cancer," "failing heart," "severe COPD," and 'terminal." The last thing I wanted to see was this woman's smiling face and her dagnabit button. The thought that this woman hadn't walked a mile in my shoes came to mind. I just wanted to skulk off in a corner and stew in my own misery for a while. The burden of "carrying on" was just too heavy. I was surely cursed.

God had other things in store for me. This is a low point in my life and He showed me His love everlasting. I had faith in my Holy Father, believed I was washed in the Blood, and had professed to all that would listen "I am Saved." But still I was heavyhearted at the prospect of losing my soul mate. Surely my Heavenly Father wouldn't take this joy from my life. If He did, what was the sense in loving a God like that?

I sat at a small table in the hospital cafeteria and ate my salad like an automaton. My body language dared anyone to approach me even old friends who still worked there. Like Greta Garbo, "I vanted to be left alone." But no, God put this woman beside me. She was the kindly grandmother type. Now, that's a laugh because usually that is used to describe me. I took her little button and smiling face as affront to the pain and anger I was feeling.

She reached over and patted my arm in a gentle fashion that only a southern old lady can do. "It will be okay."

How was this going to be okay, my mind revolted. I gave her a rather rude snort. Nothing was going to be okay ever again.

She got up to leave. "It's all your point of view. It will be okay."
Then she was gone and in all my years since, I've never seen her again.

I thought long and hard about her words ever since that day. I realized she was right. It's perception to any given situation that makes horrendous situations a blessing or a curse. It was a revelation.

Yes, but is this a curse?

  • My husband is terminal with cancer which has metastasized to his lungs. The doctor gave his life expectancy at that point between 3-6 months.
  • My husband has a weak heart and can barely lift 10 lbs.
  • My husband also has bad lungs and can barely walk ten feet without gasping for breath.
  • Our home looks like a partitioned hospital room with all the equipment and medicines.

Nope, it's a blessing.

  • That hospitalization was four years ago and he's still with me. I've come to realize that each second he's with me is a blessing. 
  • I know him better having spending every second I could with him than I did in the first ten years of our marriage. We just celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary.
  • We share a closer relationship because of what we've been through.
  • God is still in control. Man's time is not God's time.
  • I am counting blessing instead of trials.
  • I'm stronger in faith because of this lesson my Father has taught me.
It all depends on your point of view. The choice is yours.