Oh, the possibilities!

It’s been a busy three months.  I cannot believe it’s been that long since I blogged.  I truly hope my friends and family who live far away aren’t too disappointed.  😉

I have some exciting news to share.  I thought I would blog about it and maybe this will be the catalyst I need to get back at this thing…

So, here goes…

In March, I left my job of 15 years.  I’m not gonna lie…it was a really tough decision.  I loved that job.  But, I really just felt like it was time to move on.  I had graduated in December from Indiana Wesleyan University with a business degree and needed to see what the Lord had next for me.  I knew what I wanted to do.  I prayed pretty specifically about it, but kept trying to find something to do while waiting on THAT job. 

Now, I cannot think of very many times in my life where I’d prayed so specifically about something.  I trust the Lord.  I know He’s got my best in mind.  He knows what I can do.  He knows what I’m capable of doing.  He knows the desires of my heart.  So, why not pray specifically?  He’s God.  He can do anything!

My prayer for a job was this…I wanted to work at the high school where my kids go & we only live about a mile away, I wanted to work a consistent job (no subbing), preferably part time but pays well, I wanted to be able to be on the same schedule as the kids, I wanted to work in the high school building, not intermediate or primary, because the Lovely daughter is a Junior so I would get to see her each day, and next year both the Lovely Daughter and the Little Man will be in that building. 

After being interviewed and turned down for two different jobs at the high school, and turning down another one because it involved Algebra (math = gag), AND being interviewed at another local middle school and not getting that job, I found a job that paid well but was at least 40 hours a week and it kept me from home too much.  I didn’t really enjoy it and if you know me at all, you know that my deepest heart’s desire is to be a mom, a good mom.  I enjoyed working with a wonderful woman I know from church, but I was missing my kids too much.  In the three and a half weeks there, I did not cook supper for my family one time.  boo.  I would get home in the evening and just want to crash because I had to get up early in the morning and do it all over again.   Or I would get home and things were just chaotic with practices, small groups, meetings, blah…blah…blah.

The day after I started that job, I found out that there was a job opening for church secretary at a local church.  It was almost exactly what I had done for those previous 15 years.  In fact, it would have been the perfect fit, except…it too was 40 hours and would only get me home about an hour earlier each evening.  Still not what I had prayed about, but a great job with some really great people!  I was excited about the possibilities of that job.

However…the day before the interview at that church, I got a call from the Principal of our high school.  He had a job for me that he thought I would be perfect for.  Was I interested?  Why, yes. Yes I am.  But shoot, now I have this interview at church and you’re offering me this?

But literally, the decision all came down to the hours I will be at home with my kids.  I took the job at the high school.  I start Tuesday morning after Labor day.  I’ll be learning all about it for a couple of days with the teacher who is there now, then it will be “my classroom”.  I’ll be a paraprofessional at THS in the credit recovery class.  It is a class time for those students who have failed a class they need in order to graduate.  It’s an online class for them, I will really just be the facilitator.  The principal told me that they really want someone in that classroom who will get to know the kids and let them know someone cares about whether or not they do well.   

In my whole life, all I have ever wanted to be was a mom…have I mentioned that?  But there have been a few times in my life when I thought I could have been a teacher, except for the actual “teaching” part! 

Am I nervous?  A little…but really, I’m just excited! Excited for the possiblilites.  Excited for what God has for me (I’m sure this will stretch me in ways I’ve not been stretched before).  Excited to be able to work in the school that my kids go to.  Excited to hang out with students every day.  Excited to, hopefully, be someone who can motivate them to do their best.  Excited to get to know them.  Excited to see if I can really do this!

Memorial Day…it’s not just another 3-day weekend…

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Memorial Day means something different to me now, as an adult, than it did as a child.  I remember Memorial Day as a day off from school, the “unofficial” start of all the summer activities, opening the pool, having barbeques with friends and family.  But now I know what it really is.

 

Memorial day is so much more than all those things. 

On Memorial Day, we are to memorialize, remember, honor those who have died in their service to our nation.  I don’t personally know anyone who has died while serving in the military.  But I do know two very important people in my life who know someone.

My Daddy was drafted to serve in the Vietnam war.  He was in the United States Army.  He watched, on many occasions, while the men fighting for their lives right alongside him, were killed.  He was actually wounded twice, but made it home.  Unlike so many he knew.

My Son is a United States Marine.  He wasn’t drafted, he chose to be a Marine after high school.  He’s been deployed twice to Afghanistan so far.  He has also watched as those he served alongside have paid the ultimate price.  He was also wounded, like my dad.  He also came home safely.

While I don’t pretend to understand all that they went thru, I can choose to honor them and those like them.

Like so many others tomorrow, we will be having friends and family over and having a cookout and hanging out.  There will be a time while everyone is here that we will stop and say a prayer for our troops and those families who are not “celebrating” Memorial Day, because of their losses.

So, if you’re reading this, please take a moment out of your day on Memorial Day to remember and honor those who have paid the ultimate price for your, for our, for my freedom. 

May God continue to bless this great nation.

 

Snickerdoodle Muffins

This morning while checking facebook, I came across this recipe for Snickerdoodle Muffins.  I thought to myself, “i have all those ingredients.” 

So, to the kitchen I went to make them.  I mean, seriously, SNICKERDOODLE MUFFINS!  And it’s a chilly Saturday morning, what could be better than SNICKERDOODLE MUFFINS and a cup of coffee?!?

So I followed the recipe exactly. 

Something I have learned in cooking and baking.  In cooking, you can stray a lot from an original recipe to really make it your own, make it different, without really ruining it.  Actually, anytime I try a new recipe I always follow that recipe exactly the first time and then tweak it a bit to make it more to my or my family’s liking.  But with baking, not so much.  I know that baking is all about chemical reactions and proper measurements and stuff.  Blech…math and science. 😉

So, back to the muffins.  This is the recipe I used.  My modifications are in italics.

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2 sticks unsalted butter (I used salted butter)

1 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp cream of tartar

3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/4 cup sour cream

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar and 1 TBSP cinnamon mixed together for rolling

1.Cream the butter and sugar until soft about 3 to 5 minutes (I should probably tell you that I LOVE my KitchenAid stand mixer). Add in the vanilla. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix until each is incorporated.

2.In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar and nutmeg.

3.Add the flour mixture and the sour cream alternately to the egg-butter mixture in the additions. Start with the flour and end with the flour. Scrape the bowl occasionally.  (I love my KitchenAid stand mixer…have I mentioned that yet?)

4. Using an ice cream scoop (for the regular sized muffins, I used my medium Pampered Chef scoop, and used two scoops per muffin, for the mini muffins, I used my small Pampered Chef scoop and used one per muffin) scoop out muffin batter one at a time and drop into a shallow bowl filled with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the muffin around in the mixture until it is covered completely in cinnamon sugar (not gonna lie, this was a bit messy.  I even considered not skipping this step and just sprinkling it on the top after I put the muffin batter in the pans, but I’m so glad I didn’t skip it!). Place muffin into muffin tin. Depending on the size of your tins, you should get about 12 to 14 muffins (I was able to make 12 regular sized and 24 mini’s). Bake them for approx. 20-22 minutes in a 350F oven or until they are golden brown. (I baked the regular muffins for 22 minutes at about 325 and the mini’s for 12 minutes.)

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Mini Snickerdoodle Muffins

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Snickerdoodle Muffins

 

They were very yummy!  The Little Man informed me that I’m the best cook and that these muffins were the best ever!  If Little Man likes them, you better believe I’m making them again! 

Oh and by the way, no one paid me to say anything nice about my mixer and my scoops, I just love them!

A New Chapter!

This week ends a big chapter of my life. 

Fifteen years ago this spring, I began helping our Student Pastor in the office at church.  In those first weeks, I just volunteered once a week to help him with some of the “busy work” part of a youth pastors job, things like making copies, putting information into a database, getting visitor letters ready to mail, typing meeting notes.  It quickly led into a 2-3 day a week ministry for me.  Our student ministry began to grow, so the things that needed to be done grew also.  It so easily could have been a full-time job.  Fifteen years is a long time.

So many things have happened in the past fifteen years.  Not just in my life, but in our church and in our nation and in our world. 

When I began, I was the mama to one precious little girl. 

I have since become the mama to two boys also. 

My oldest son graduated from high school, joined the Marines, has been to war and has gotten married. 

We have moved twice since I began and are finally in our “forever” home. 

Our church grew, we moved locations and changed names and just in the past couple of weeks we’ve transitioned as a church to say goodbye to our pastor of nearly 40 years. 

I have had the privilege to serve five different student ministry pastors and 13 (i think) summer interns. 

I’ve had 4 nieces and 2 nephews born since I began. 

My sister and her family left for the foreign mission field and recently returned to the States to live. 

My brother and his family left for the foreign mission field where they continue to serve in the South Pacific. 

Our church went through a fire.  Almost everything related to the Student Ministry was lost. 

A few years ago, we had a pastor on our staff die on Valentine’s day and then the very next day, the only Grandmother I ever had died. 

My mom got very ill following a surgery and spent nearly a month in the hospital. 

My very best friend moved away right before I was diagnosed with breast cancer (from which I was healed.) 

My daddy battled cancer and was healed.

The things I have learned because of my job at church are immeasurable.  I’ve not only learned practical things, like how to use a computer, but things about myself, about how to be all that God has called me to be.

And now, a new chapter begins… 

I graduated in December from Indiana Wesleyan University with a business degree.  I had hoped to be able to use that degree in my job at church, but God’s plans are not my plans.  So, I’ve had to take steps of faith.  I accepted another job in town at a locally owned coffee shop.  I’m nervous.  I don’t accept change well.  It was a huge deal for me to even fill out an application after nearly 18 years. 

We shall see what the next 15 years holds for me! 

If you want any more details just let me know.  I don’t want anyone to be upset that this is how you found out.  I just thought this was the quickest way to let people know.  But I would love to talk to you in person if ya wanna.

Chocolate.

Chocolate…

So, I’m not a huge fan of sweets.  When I’m hungry for a snack, I prefer crunchy and salty.  If you know me at all…that usually means Hacienda chips and salsa.  amen.  and hallelujah.

But I do for some reason enjoy trying different types of chocolate.  Which is weird, because not only am I not a sweets fan, I’m also REEALLLLLYYY not a chocolate fan.  I mean, you will probably never find me sitting in front of the t.v. eating chocolate. 

But, when I go somewhere new, I enjoy checking out different types and brands of chocolates.  Weird, I know.  The Lovely Daughter, however, loves anything dark chocolate.  Don’t even bother giving her anything milk chocolate.  It will rot before she eats it.

So, when we went to San Diego in December for my son’s wedding, I bought some little chocolate samples (actually called ChocoPod®).  They had full sized bars that were a mere SEVEN DOLLARS A BAR.  Yeah, that’s not happening.  But next to those were these cute, little samples. 

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chuao chocolate pods.

The brand is chuao.  I’ve never seen them before or since.  Here is a link to their website… www.chuaochocolatier.com

The first one I dared to try was “maple bacon”. 

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The label says this, “Crisp bacon, delicate maple sweetness and bonfire smoked sea salt, bathed in milk chocolate.”  It was actually quite tasty.  The chocolate was silky smooth.  I enjoy smooth chocolate.  not grainy chocolate.  There were these little tiny pieces of bacon and salt in the chocolate but nothing tasted overly “wrong”.  I expected this overwhelming bacon and maple taste, but it was very mild and yummy. 

I may let you know how the others are…

*and by the way, I bought these samples with my own money, this is my own opinion, no one is paying me in any way to write this.  amen.

A Skirt…oh, and a pillow too!

Yeah, so I wasn’t creative with that title. 

Sorry.

But, guess what?  I made a skirt! 

I’ve never really been confident enough to stray very far from the whole “straight stitch only” thing.  And I certainly haven’t even considered making something that I thought someone else might wear in public.  I mean, I’ve made pillows, crafty things, and well…yeah, pillows and crafty things. 

But, the Lovely Daughter is in Color Guard at her High School.  They were told Tuesday evening at rehearsal that they would each have to come up with their own costume/outfit before competition today, Saturday.  That gave us less than 4 whole days to figure something out!

They are doing a show with an old fashioned 1940’s USO theme, so they needed to have outfits that reflected that time period. 

I had pinned this skirt (by Amy at ‘This Big Oak Tree’) on Pinterest and asked the Lovely Daughter what she thought.  I told her that I have never made a skirt before but Amy’s tutorial made it seem simple enough.  I was so nervous about making this.  I mean, she is a teenager.  I didn’t want her to be embarrassed by it.  But, we decided to take the plunge. 

So, we bought material at Joann…

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and…I made a skirt.

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I followed Amy’s tutorial EXACTLY but with the Lovely Daughter’s measurements.  Amy had photos of each step of the process.  I was so thankful for that.  If I had been using a traditional pattern and been told to purchase a zipper and add it, I would have been totally lost and confused.  But, because I could see photos of that, I felt like I could handle it.  

There were many firsts for me with this sewing project. 

My first skirt.

My first time adding a zipper.

My first time gathering material.

My first time adding a waistband.

My first time making a sash/belty thing.

My first time using a different foot on my sewing machine.

My first time using my sewing machine in our new house!  😉

I love it.  It turned out almost perfect.  Well, at least, exactly like I intended it.  But seriously, I would not have even attempted it if I hadn’t read Amy’s awesome tutorial. 

AND,

Since the sewing machine was sitting out and just waiting…I made a pillow tonight. 

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Stay tuned for the pillow tutorial…it will be up soon!

amen.

The Pantry…

It has a long way to go.  But at least it is organized for now.  I’ll go ahead and post the photo now so you can see it.

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better than it was, but not quite finished.

I’m not gonna lie.  When we first looked at this house, I was instantly in love with the kitchen AND THE PANTRY!  In our last house, we didn’t really have a pantry.  Our washer and dryer were in the kitchen behind bi-fold oak doors (blech!).  I had to stuff all the little appliances, food, paper products and other “pantry” stuff in the cabinets or in other closets throughout the house.  Soon after we moved into that house, we had to purchase a new washer and dryer so we purchased a pair that could be stacked.  That then gave me room to add shelves in that “laundry/pantry”.  It was what we had so we made it work.  And I hated.it.every.single.day.

I dreamt of the day when I would have a huge “walk-in” pantry with plenty of storage.  Oh, I had lots of ideas.  Lots of “Pinspiration”.  🙂

I mean seriously, look at that pantry!  It reminds me of an old-fashioned candy store!  Everything in clean jars!

This one is almost exactly the size and shape of our new pantry.

And I love Shelley’s Pantry at House of Smiths!

Soooo…back to our new pantry.

Now that we live in the country we have mice.  I had been warned.  I knew they were here.  I saw the “evidence”.  everywhere. in. the. kitchen.  Here is some evidence of them being in the pantry.

mouse hole

mouse hole.

So I had to clean out the pantry anyway, so I just decided that would be a great time to reorganize it.

On the top shelf, I put things up there that don’t get used often, but that I still want in the kitchen.  I bought 12 red “school lunch” plates a while back when our church was selling our old building.  I love them and just can’t seem to find a reason to get rid of them.  They make me happy!  I also went through my utensil drawer and pulled out everything that I don’t use at least every week.  I put that in one of the baskets on the top shelf.  In it are things like the cheese grater, corn-on-the-cob holders, candy thermometer, and things like that.  In another basket up there are all our plastic silverware.

On the next shelf down are all the canned foods, then the dry goods, like pasta, oats, brown sugar are in clear glass jars that I bought at The Walmart and The Meijer.  I see that there is a sneaky bag of Doritos there, but that is now in a clear plastic container.

I tied wire baskets to the shelves.

pantry3

The top one is for potatoes and onions and the bottom one is for fresh fruits, and it’s in reach for the Little Man to reach the apples and bananas for after school snacks.  Also the little lime green buckets hold little snacks also.

And yes, I made my cookbooks look pretty!  Just because it’s a pantry doesn’t mean it can’t look pretty.  Right?!?

pantry2

I also moved my Longaberger pottery canisters into the pantry.  I had them on the kitchen counter over in the corner by the stove.  But I never felt safe reaching for them because I would have to lean over the stove, sometimes even when cooking.  I was afraid I’d burn myself.  So they didn’t work for me on the counter.

In the baskets on the floor are the reusable/travel mugs and other plastic containers that don’t fit other places but need to be easily accessible.

I’ve had dreams of a nice, neat, organized pantry.

I want it to serve my family.

I want it to be tidy.

Knowing what’s behind the closed doors, when I open it now, I open it with a “flourish” and think (and sometimes say out loud) “Voila!”  I can hear angels singing in the background…AHHHHHHMMMEEEEEEEENNNN!

I’m sure I’ll still tweak it here and there, and after living with it for a while, we’ll have to see what works and what doesn’t really work for us.  But for now, I feel like that’s one item I can successfully cross off the “new home” list.

Pantry, check.

How Can He Be…

10? 

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On a date with Little Man!

My Little Man turned 10 years old today.  He is such a precious boy.  He has brought our family so much joy in these past 10 years.  I am so thankful for him each and every single day.

Today we also celebrated his baptism.  His Grandpa, my Daddy, baptized him.  Then we celebrated his birthday with pizza from his favorite pizza place, Gabe’s. 

 Happy 10th Birthday Little Man!  I love you with my whole heart!

My Marine’s Wedding

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My Marine and his girl

My Marine got married on December 29.

My Marine and his Lovely Bride!

My Marine and his Lovely Bride!

He had us called from Afghanistan and told us he would be proposing as soon as he came home from deployment.  He came home at the end of October and they were married just two months later!  He called the Little Man and asked him to be one of his groomsmen.  Little Man was so excited.  He’s been the ring bearer in lots of weddings, but to be asked to be one of his big brothers groomsman was something altogether different for him.

The Little Man as a Groomsman.

The Little Man as a Groomsman.

The four of us left home just 2 days after Christmas to fly out to California for the wedding.

On the plane bound for Cali!

On the plane bound for Cali!

We got in late that evening and pretty much just got to the hotel and went to bed.  We got up the next morning and had breakfast and then met the Marine at his favorite barber shop in San Clemente, Señor Barber.  Both boys got “Marine” haircuts.

jack and nathan haircuts

my boys at the barber

Then we went onto Camp Pendleton to get tickets for the San Diego Zoo.  We then left the Marine and ran some errands, picked up the tuxedos, had lunch at In-N-Out and I made an appointment to have my hair done the morning of the wedding. in n outin n out food

That evening, we met the Marine and his soon-to-be wife at Macaroni Grill for supper.  The food was so yummy.  The kids have been asking us to go to the one in Indy ever since!  We had a really nice time visiting with them over supper.

The next morning, we got up and the family took me to my hair appointment at Lotus Den Hair Studio in Oceanside.

lotus den

I had found them online a couple of days before we left and called them and they were able to do my hair.  I did have to send a photo of myself to the girl who would be doing it so she could see the length and get some ideas for me.  So, Saturday morning, the Lovely Daughter came with me and Ginger did an amazing job.  I knew in my mind the look I wanted and kind of told Ginger, then she just made it work.  When she showed me what she had done I was nearly in tears, it was exactly what I wanted.

terrible picture but you get the idea...

terrible picture but you get the idea…

After that we went on base at Camp Pendleton to the Marine Memorial Chapel where the wedding would take place that afternoon.

Marine Memorial Chapel

Marine Memorial Chapel

The rehearsal was scheduled for 10:30am and the wedding was at 1:30pm.  The rehearsal got started late, but everything went smoothly.  After the rehearsal, we all got ready for the wedding.  I even had the honor of helping the soon-to-be daughter-in-law put on her wedding dress and shoes.  She’s a great girl and she loves my son.  I’m excited to be able to be her mother-in-law and get to know her more!

After the wedding, we had some pictures taken and then we headed to Jolly Roger’s for the reception.

It was a nice little reception, the food was very good.  There were simple but pretty decorations.

Table decor

Table decor

There were little bells used as table place cards and the Little Man would put all four of our bells in his hands and ring them so the “happy couple” could kiss.

smooches.

smooches.

Every time he did that, he would blush!  It was definitely a cute memory!

ring those bells Little Man!

ring those bells Little Man!

Champagne toast

Champagne toast

 

First dance

First dance

Mother/Groom dance

Mother/Groom dance

 

After the meal, toasts, and cake, we all went upstairs to the bar and did the traditional dances and things.  We didn’t stay long since it was in a bar and the Little Man and the Lovely Daughter were very uncomfortable being in a bar.  In fact, the Little Man was so uncomfortable that he cried.  He just kept saying that we shouldn’t be here, it wasn’t a good place to be.  Which, for us, it wasn’t necessarily the best place and I was thankful that he was sensitive to that and brave enough to say something to us about it.  He’s a great little kid and I hope and pray that that is not the memory he has of being in his big brother’s wedding.  But we had a great time at the reception and wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

The next morning we got up early and headed to Legoland (which was literally 6 miles from our hotel).

We're here!

We’re here!

We have talked about going to Legoland with the kids since the Hubby and I were out there for the Marine’s first homecoming a year and a half ago.

homecoming May 2011

homecoming May 2011

I was so glad we decided to go with the kids.  It was a wonderful park.  We all four enjoyed it, even though it was rainy in the morning and chilly the rest of the day.

Legoland San Francisco

Legoland San Francisco

There were things for all of us to do and see.  We all loved Miniland and the roller coasters.  It really was a great family park!

After we left Legoland, we decided to go see “The Hobbit” at the theater, which was really good.  I’m so excited to start reading “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” books I got for Christmas!

The next day, we had decided to just head down to San Diego and walk along the waterfront and shop.  But, we had to stop and eat at Ruby’s first for lunch!

Ruby's Diner Oceanside

Ruby’s Diner Oceanside

Ruby’s is a great restaurant out at the end of the Oceanside pier.  It’s decorated like an old-fashioned diner with yummy food and even yummier milkshakes.  After lunch we headed to San Diego for the rest of the day.

Tuesday was our last full day in California and we spent that day at the San Diego Zoo.

san diego zoo entrance

If you like zoos, and you’re ever in that part of California, you need to go.  It’s a wonderful zoo.  We easily could have made it a two day trip in order to see everything.  It was a lot of walking but it was worth it.  We stopped by the Marine and his wife’s apartment on the way back to the hotel that evening and visited for a bit and said goodbye.

We were up early the next morning and headed to the airport.  We did stop off in Oceanside and walked down to the beach.  The Little Man took off his shoes and socks and ran in the sand and water for a few minutes.

the Little Man on the beach

the Little Man on the beach

the Lovely Daughter on the beach

the Lovely Daughter on the beach

It was a beautiful day.

We had a wonderful trip.  We did lots of things but never felt super rushed or hurried.  We were able to relax and sleep in a bit and go to bed at decent times each night.  Then we came home and left three days later for another little trip.  But that’s for another post!

Enjoy a few more wedding photos!

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Cancer? What Cancer?!?

“Index shaft of the left humerus lesion previously noted is not identified on the current study.”

Know what that means? 

The cancer that was there before is NOT THERE ANYMORE!!!

What great words to hear!  After several months of appointments, waiting, tests, waiting, more appointments, more waiting, more tests, chemo, chemo and more chemo…more tests, waiting a little bit more, more appointments…those words were like “a breath of fresh air in a dusty world”.  That last quote is actually something the Lovely Daughter said to the Little Man a while back and they were what came to mind as I was thinking about the feeling I got when the oncologist said, “The Cancer Is Gone.”

My brother, who lives in Vanuatu, flew home for a few days and was able to be with us in that appointment with Daddy to hear those words.  When the doctor came into the room, I told her that he came all that way so she better tell us good news and she said, “It was not a wasted trip then.”

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us and with us, cried for us and with us, allowed us all some extra grace over the past few months, who brought meals to my parents, who laughed with us when we needed to laugh and gave us time to “shut down” once in a while.  You may never know what a relief and encouragement you were are to all of us. 

Even though the cancer is stupid, bye bye, gone, this isn’t over yet.  Daddy will begin radiation therapy soon.  He will have it every day for a couple of months.  The doctor said that really the purpose of the radiation is to give that old cancer a last “kick in the butt.”  So, please don’t stop the praying.