About me...

Pop the lid on my Mason Jar and meet my family. Jim {Jimma} and I have four kids, Creston (Ashley), Jami (Matt), Brandon and Chance. Our grandkids, Cade, Kirby, Eisley, Beck and Reed bring us more joy than any Mason Jar could ever hold. I am counting my blessings over and over and thanking God for His amazing love and grace.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oops!

Last Tuesday we rode over to spend some time with Creston, Ashley and the kids. They were so excited to see Chance and after playing a little while, they took him for a walk to show him the pond behind their house. Creston had put up a swing and built them a platform to swing off of. Cade explained to Chance how he and Creston swing together. Creston swings off the platform over the pond. When he swings back to the platform, Cade jumps on his back and swings with him. Chance was ready to try their stunt. He and Cade climbed up on the platform and I got my camera ready so I could video the two of them. When Chance swung back to the platform, Cade only got one arm around his neck and was barely hanging on. It scared me so bad that I completley missed the main action, where Chance is reaching behind his back with one arm, holding on to Cade as they swing out over the pond. It's still a cute video and we laugh every time we watch it.
video

Jim's Decorating Attitude Changes!

After many years of seeing Jim get extremely agitated over the simple task of putting a Christmas tree in a stand, I came to the conclusion that the kids and I needed to decorate the tree when he was out of the house. From that point on we waited until Jim was MIA to put up our tree and Christmas became more enjoyable. Problem solved. The “Christmas tree stress” no longer existed, the kids and I had fun, and Jim was happy as a clam to come home and find the task completed without his involvement.

The first year we moved to our current house, our neighbor decorated her entire yard with Christmas lights and decorations. Other than a tree I had never put up any decorations and decided that I was going to string lights on my fence and decorate my yard the next year. My neighbor was more than willing to help and she gave me a garland for my gate and helped me wrap lights around the columns on my porch. I was so elated to finally have outside decorations and absolutely loved my yard. Every year after that one, I put up more lights and got a little more creative with my decorations. Through the years I’ve had a friend and neighbors help me out at different times with my decorations. Other than asking Jim to hold the ladder for me and tell me if my lights were evenly spaced on the columns, I’ve left him alone, knowing he has zero tolerance when it comes to decorating.

When I found out that Chance was coming home for Christmas, I wanted to put up a sign with red, white and blue lights around it, some American flags and some yellow ribbons around the oak trees. When I got ready to put the sign on the fence, I ask Jim if he would give me just a few minutes of his time. Much to my surprise he said he would, and even helped with the rest of the decorations, staying with me until everything was perfect. This happens to be the one and only time I can remember that he willingly helped out with a decoration involving Christmas lights! I think he was so caught up in the excitement of Chance coming home that he would have done just about anything at that point, with no complaining! Here’s the end result -

That night when we were waiting to pick Chance up from the airport, we were surprised when my niece walked up. She was there waiting on a friend's flight. I gave her my camera and asked if she would take a couple of pictures for us. I'm so glad she was there and captured a couple of priceless moments for me. Can you tell I didn't want to let go when I saw Chance?
There were lots of tears and smiles that night - and still are!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Learning to Let Go

Wednesday afternoon we anxiously stayed near the phone waiting for the call from Chance letting us know his flight had landed and he was back in the states, after a six-month deployment. I hurriedly grabbed the phone when it rang and instead of hearing Chance’s voice on the other end, it was Creston asking if I had heard the news about my dad. He and Mom had gone to the post office to pick up a package and when Dad went to get the truck, he tripped on the sidewalk and fell flat on his face. Mom walked out to hear his cries for help and see his face a bloody mess. Some kind lady had already called for an ambulance and another couple stayed with Mom until my brother picked her up and drove her to the hospital. After several tests and getting his face stitched up, Dad was released from the hospital. He has to follow up with a plastic surgeon Tuesday because the bones around his eye aren’t “lined up right.” (mom’s words)

Two hours after we were supposed to hear from Chance, we finally got the phone call that we had been waiting on. He was in Baltimore for a layover and would be back on his base the next day. Two phone calls in one afternoon, both with completely different reactions, left me full of emotions. I had concern over Dad’s condition, compassion for Mom, and sweet relief that Chance was back from Afghanistan.

This afternoon was the first opportunity I had to go visit Mom and Dad and check on them since he fell. Dad is all bruised and sore and has a nice shiner on his right eye. With all that and not being able to wear his glasses, he looked a lot different than I’m used to seeing him. Other than being a little more confused than usual, he seemed to be his old cheery self, greeting me with a smile. I wasn’t surprised at all. That is my Dad. Take what life gives you and move on with a smile. And Mom? She was just as I knew she would be - wrecked with nervousness, worry and anxiety. No big surprise there either.

I sat today in the living room with Mom and Dad and realized that her world is slowly falling apart and she is in no way prepared. She has spent her life living in a “what if” world and not coping well when faced with a situation out of her control. This has been a way of life for her and the older she gets the worse she gets. I can’t remember my Mom going through a difficult time that she was not overcome with worry, stress and anxiety. I guess it was only inevitable that my life would be strongly influenced by her need for control and her worry issues. The older I get the more I see what it’s done to her and the more determined I am to not be like her. As I told Jim tonight, “At the end of the day I want God to look at me and say, ‘Good job Molly in trusting Me.’” I know there are many days that I fall short, but I’m also more aware than ever, that if I want peace I have to let go of the “what if’s” and place my trust in God. If “knowing” is half the battle, then the victory is mine!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

White Trash

This is one of my favorite Christmas recipes to make, and to eat. It's so super easy and one of those recipes that I just can't resist. Christmas just isn't Christmas without some "White Trash!"

White Trash

5 cups Cheerios
5 cups Corn Chex
1 cup mini pretzels, broken into pieces
1 can salted peanuts
½ of a large bag of plain M&M’s
1 24 oz. package vanilla flavored almond bark
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Combine cereals, pretzels and nuts in bowl. Melt almond bark with oil in microwave until melted, stirring occasionally. Pour over mixture. Add in M&M’s. Pour onto wax paper. Let cool. Break into pieces.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Celebrating Two Years

Today marks a two year anniversary for our son Brandon and someone I have only briefly met, his friend Angie. The anniversary they celebrate is one that connected them in a very special way and forever bonded them together.

Brandon asked me to fly to Dallas to meet Angie and be a part of the big event. Angie and her family were anxious to meet me and asked Brandon if they could take us to dinner. Brandon and I met them at a restaurant and spent a wonderful evening getting acquainted. Everyone was interested in knowing mine and Jim’s feelings about the situation and seemed relieved to know we were supportive of what Brandon was doing. We all left excited, nervous and full of anticipation for the next day, making plans where and what time we would be meeting.

In 1995 Angie was diagnosed with kidney reflux, a degenerative disorder on her right kidney. With the diagnosis came the news that her left kidney wasn’t functioning. Angie struggled with medication to combat the kidney reflux with no success. Eleven years later in November 2006, Angie’s physician gave her the choice of dialysis or a transplant. After watching her parents go through dialysis and pass away, a kidney transplant was the only option Angie would consider.

At the time Angie was employed at Baylor as the manager in the Transplant Business Unit of Central Services. When Angie explained her condition to her co-workers, three of them including Brandon, offered to be tested for compatibility to give her a kidney. Several of Angie’s family members went through testing and only one was a match. He backed out and Brandon once again made his offer to Angie. This time she reluctantly accepted. Brandon went through testing and it turned out he was a perfect donor match for Angie.

Brandon and Angie went through months of testing and counseling prior to surgery. I’m sure there were times Angie was more than a little concerned that Brandon might back out. Knowing his character and what a giving, selfless person he is, the thought never crossed my mind. Backing out of a situation that could save someone’s life wouldn’t be an option for Brandon.

The morning of the surgery I was in Pre-Op with Brandon when Angie and her husband came back to spend a few minutes with him. I’ll always remember her husband telling Brandon how sorry he was for all he was going to endure for his wife. Their hearts were full of gratitude and appreciation for the gift of life Brandon was giving Angie.

Angie’s family cried tears of relief and rejoiced with me when Brandon’s surgery was over and the surgeon gave us a good report. With the relief also came nervous anticipation waiting for Angie’s surgery to be over. When the surgeon came out and gave us a good report on Angie, there were hugs and tears of relief, happiness and rejoicing. Both were out of surgery, the two surgeries were successful and all had gone well.

I went back to recovery to see Brandon and his first question was, “How’s Angie?” Angie’s first question in recovery was “How’s Brandon.” Their concern was not for themselves, but for each other. Within hours Angie was already feeling the benefits of having a healthy kidney functioning in her body, ridding it of toxins.

Neither Brandon nor Angie had any complications from the surgery. He was out of work until the beginning of January and she was able to return to work the end of January. Shortly after, Brandon called to give us incredible news. Where most new kidney transplants function between 40 and 60 percent, Angie’s was functioning at 83 percent, which was remarkable!

Two years later both Brandon and Angie are doing well, celebrating their anniversary by having a family dinner. Brandon is very close to Angie’s family and they think of him as one of their own. I guess it’s only fitting since she will always carry a part of him wherever she goes.

Brandon was home recently and we had some special time to just sit and talk. We talked about the transplant and about Angie. He said that one of the reasons he felt so strongly about donating a kidney to her was that she is the most giving person he had ever met. And, he just couldn’t imagine a “world without Angie.”

Happy Anniversary guys! Here’s to many more!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Horrible Days

This morning as I reflected on my last post, I realized that I didn’t really explain why I used the description “horrible days” for some of Tammy’s days. The word “bad” just wasn’t bad enough to describe her life on those days. Maybe “horrendous” would be a more appropriate description? I’m truly at a loss for a word that fits the anguish, suffering and misery she’s experiencing.

On the “horrible days” Tammy begs and pleads for help. Many times I’ll walk in her room and hear her putting all the effort she can to talk over her trach calling out, “Help!” That cry for help tears at my heart and overwhelms me with a sense of sadness for her.

”“What do you need help with?” I’ll ask.

“Help me.”

“What do you need me to do?” The response is usually one of two answers. Sometimes she says, “Help me get out of here.” And other times she asks for me or Vicki to take “this off of me” meaning the machines she is hooked up to.

I have spent an entire hour listening to Tammy beg for help, asking for me and any nurses that are in the room to get her out of there. When she’s like that, you can’t carry on a conversation or pray with her because she constantly interrupts with “Help” and the whole “Help you what?” begins all over again. There is no calming her or stopping her. She reminds me of a two year old that can’t understand why you won’t grant her request. The difference is that you tell a two year old “No” because it’s what is best for them. You have to tell her “No” because it’s not possible to do what she’s asking. Oh, the helplessness of the situation!

Many times Tammy has said, “I’m so miserable.” I cannot even begin to imagine how miserable she is and what she is going through. The other day she kept asking me and Vicki to remove her shoes. We would pretend to take off the nonexistent shoes and she would ask us again to remove her shoes. Several times we told her we had removed them, lifting her bare feet so she could see there were no shoes. That would calm her for a minute and then she would plead again to have her shoes removed.

Tammy asks for help getting out of bed, help sitting up, and for help walking. Vicki and I have heard her say, “Put my legs over the side of the bed. Put my feet on the floor. Help me stand up.” In her mind, if we’ll do these simple tasks for her she will get up and walk out of the hospital. On several occasions she has said to me, “I can walk.” with sincere belief as she gazes into my eyes. If only the body could follow where the mind wills it to go.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a look of deep sadness as she mouths the words, “I’ve lost my voice.” Sometimes I can read her lips and other times, no matter how hard I try, I can’t figure out what she’s trying to say. What impresses me the most is she never loses patience with me when I can’t figure out what she’s trying to say.

The other day Tammy told me she had lost her arms and legs. “No, they’re right here.” I told her and lifted them so she could see them.

“They cut them off.” was the reply.

“Tam, no one has cut them off, they’re here.”

“I know, but they cut them off.” In her mind “they” had cut them off and there was no convincing her otherwise.

When I leave on days such as these, I feel a sense of loss and sadness. This is her life and I can’t make it better for her. I can’t help but wonder what good my visits are to her when she’s like this? Her incessant begging and pleading are for things that are outside of the realm of reality for her. I’m not sure I’m offering her any comfort or solitude when I have to say “No” to everything she asks me to do. But then again, maybe her not being alone in her room when she’s the most distressed and miserable, is a way I can help her.

I can honestly say, the good times have more than made up for the bad ones and my life has been enriched and transformed by knowing Tammy. I will continue to be here for her, with my love, support and prayers.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tears

(My September 18th post, "Out of My Comfort Zone" explain's Tammy's situation, tells about her and how I came to know her. You might want to read it before you read this post.)

It’s not unusual for me to cry when I visit Tammy in the hospital. There have been tears of joy, tears of wonder and tears of sadness. Today I cried when visiting her and I mean to say I cried! It was to the point that the nurse told me to leave the room for a while and then come back. She wasn’t rude, just matter of fact. She knew better than I, that it was best for me and for Tammy that I leave her room. I left thinking I wouldn’t go back today. I was emotionally drained.

I have been visiting Tammy since the end of August. I never know what she’ll be like when I walk into her room. If she’s having a good day, her face will light up when I walk in and she’ll say, “I love you.” More than likely we’ll spend our time talking about hopes and dreams, God and Heaven. The visits are uplifting for me and leave us both with smiles on our faces.

There’s the not so good days when I visit and she’s in a deep sleep. Sometimes I can wake her enough to say hello and then she quickly drifts right back to sleep. Those are the days that leave me longing for more.

And then there’s the horrible days, which are becoming more and more frequent. The visits on those days put me in deep thought where I ponder her situation, questioning God and wondering the purpose of her pain, suffering and misery.

Today was one of the horrible days and with it came a bucket of tears. Even though Tammy can’t “talk” she can mouth her words and get your attention. When I walked in the room today she mouthed “Water.” In the CCU the nurses would let me get a wash cloth, ring it out until it was almost bone dry and let her suck what little water she could out of it. Now she’s on the main floor and today there were no wash cloths. When I ask the nurse for one and told her why I needed it she said Tammy could not have ANY water, not a drop. Tammy began begging me repeatedly for water and became very upset with me because I couldn’t give her any. Then she looked at me and said, “I don’t like you.” This was a first, but completely understood by me. I can’t imagine begging someone for a drop of water and being refused, especially in her situation where she is completely helpless.

Tammy’s dry parched mouth and my not being able to help her, were causing her to become more and more frustrated and irritable. I was handling it pretty well until she said she wanted me to take her for a walk. I started to cry and then she asked me to get her dressed. I don’t know what it was, but that was the straw that broke this camel’s back. Maybe it’s because I walk every day and her request made me even more aware of the reality of her situation. Maybe it’s because there’s nothing I’d rather do than get her dressed and take her for a walk. It hit me hard knowing this will never happen. I began to pray over her, asking God to show His mercy on her and that’s when the tears poured.

I left in tears and came home in tears. I’ve thought about Tammy all day and keep wondering why she has to endure so much. Why can’t she just close her eyes and be with Jesus? Then I’m reminded that God sees the big picture. He sees the end from the beginning, has a plan and it is perfect. He is in the midst of our trials, troubles and tribulations working out His sovereign will. It is for me to trust in His infinite wisdom.

Tonight I just had to go back to the hospital and check on Tammy. When I walked in, she smiled and said she was so glad to see me. Then she asked me to please help her up and get her a glass of water. I told her I was sorry, but I could not give her any water. She told me how thirsty she was and the begging for a drink started all over again. This time I thought of something I wished I had thought of this morning. I began praying specifically for God to quench her thirst. The prayer calmed her and she started to drift off to sleep. I told her I loved her and left. Tammy was relaxed and sleeping as I walked out the door and my heart was a little lighter.