Cupcakes and tacos. Or taco cupcakes. Unfocus, people.

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Sam sent me two pictures this morning, items he has purchased today.  I shop Amazon. He shops Craigslist. We have issues.




We also have these six little lovelies and their mama, our oldest baby girl, coming to visit in just over a week, in the midst of this crazy life in which we find ourselves:

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This is why Sam is shopping Craigslist and there is unfocus.

In the middle of the inner mushness and the anxiety and the lists and the unfocus, there is also the joy and the anticipation and the calm and the overwhelm.

I am grateful for all of the cards I need to write, because that just means we are SUPER loved right now.

I am grateful for bikes and trikes and crafts and games and air mattresses and pretty pillows and Etsy and people who sell the things we need want on the internet.

I am grateful for silly poems in my inbox about catbirds and pickles and sunflowers, written by soon-to-be-author Linda who gives Dr. Seuss a run for his money.

I am grateful for text messages from Connie and Chris and Geri that make me wish for days at a cafeteria table once again.

Whatever leisure time we are able to invest in relationships is time well spent. – Charles Swindoll

I am grateful for distractions that cause me to unfocus because otherwise, I would turn into my mother and WORRY.

I am grateful for tight pants that remind me I really need to love celery and sweating.

I am grateful for KU Med Center and KU Cancer Center and the Ashcraft team and the Al-Rajabi team and the nurses and aides of 6440 and Tammy and Becky who made it all possible and Ali in admissions and operating room boss Diane Ozburn who made the anxiety less and Erica the pharmacist and Jackie the financial peacemaker and every person who sits behind a KU Med desk, because we have YET to find one who has not made our days brighter.

I am grateful for lights in the darkness who leave voicemails and emails of support and treat us to dinner and give a thumbs-up and mow our grass and fix our dishwasher.

I am grateful for a Dad who takes care of a naughty dog.

I am grateful for the hope of children coming to visit – there is almost nothing greater than the feeling of a child coming “home” after a long absence. We’d throw a ginormous party if we had it in us, but we are spending all the pocket change on bicycles and tricycles and air mattresses.

I am grateful for cupcakes. And ooey gooey cinnamon rolls. And a fresh bag of potato chips. And tacos. And the seasoning on Potato Olés from Taco Johns. Issues, I say. Every one of ‘em.

And I am grateful that Sam will have the pure joy of being with his whole family this next week to celebrate his Dad’s life.

Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should. – Psalm 90:12 (TLB)

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Short-circuited mush is better in a cone.

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When your insides are mush and your brain is short-circuited…

…it is never a good thing for a police officer to follow you and turn when you turn, and then turn when you turn again, and stare at your eyes looking at him in the rearview mirror. It just makes your insides feel more like mush, even if you are obeying every traffic law known to mankind.

…it is always a good thing to receive random text messages and emails from people in your circle who don’t expect a response but just want to say, “Hey, thinking about you and praying for you.”

…it is never a good thing to wait too long to go to the bathroom.

…it is always a good thing to have your bosses buy lunch and treat you and your Dad to breakfast, just because.

…it is never a good thing to forego devotions and that quietness, that “walk in the garden alone.”

…it is always a good thing to cross something off the list of things to do, whether you do them or whether you decide they just aren’t important enough in the grand scheme of 2017 to do.

…it is never a good thing to say “yes” to things out of guilt.

…it is always a good thing to sit on the front porch at dusk and marvel at fireflies.

…it is never a good thing to make decisions when you are emotional.

…it is always a good thing to curl up with a dog and take a nap.

…it is never a good thing to have a squeaky shoe or drive a car without AC in 95 degree heat or smell cabbage cooking on the stove or discover a humongo spider in the bathroom.

…it is always a good thing to meet Flossie at Chick-Fil-A and have her treat you to ice cream – “It’s my pleasure.”

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‘Til the storm passes by…


My insides feel like mush. My brain feels short-circuited. There are 14,000 things I need to remember to do, and my thoughts are not connected to Google calendar…yet.

Adam, a student RN anesthetist, walked into the room and visited with us a while ago, prepping Sam for what is to come. Nice guy. Everyone here is a nice guy. KU Med Center is pretty impressive. From the maintenance crew cleaning restrooms, to the doctors performing miracles, they’re all nice guys. Dr. Ashcraft, Sam’s rock star surgeon, is quite a character, but apparently, so is Diane, the head nurse in the operating room. She had us cracking up when she was in the room asking all of the questions.

When we remarked that it must be quite an adventure with the personalities of both Diane and Dr. Ashcraft in the room together, Adam responded with a wink, “We call it ‘the perfect storm’.”

Yes, we know the perfect storm these days.

I am grateful for people at this hospital who obviously LOVE what they do.

I am grateful for people who know insurance and can answer our questions.

I am grateful for a text message from Connie this morning while we waited for surgery.

I am grateful for employers who are giving me much grace to be out of the office for all of Sam’s appointments.

I am grateful for a good hospital cafeteria.

I am grateful for a kind PharmD who answered all of our questions about these chemo drugs that will cost approximately $10,000 every two weeks.

I am grateful that Sam is now in recovery.

I am grateful that even though my insides are mush and my brain is short-circuited, I know that God is in control, can calm the storm, and He will keep us safe ’till the storm passes.


A six course meal and ice cream.


“It’s okay, Dad. Go be with Mom. We’ll be alright.”

And so he did.

Psalm 23 (The Message translation)

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word, you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.

I am grateful that Max is back home in the arms of Jesus, experiencing THE choir of all choirs, walking the streets of gold with his sweet June, and he’s going to enjoy the best meal ever. No more hotdogs and canned peaches for you, dear Max, but all the ice cream you could ever want.


How much is that doggy…er, green thing in the window?

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Sam and I have a problem. Well, and an excuse. We have a very big yard, okay?

The other night, Sam was going to do a little painting and discovered the cheap, plastic paint pan liner he has been using as an actual paint pan had cracked and was not practical any longer. So, what do you do when you live in small town USA? You head over to the nearest Dollar General, or in our case, since we live in AWESOME small town USA, you head over to the nearest Orscheln’s!

I went with him, since a trip to Orscheln’s is like a trip to the big city these days.

Here’s where the problem begins.

Orscheln’s and most every other little store who deals in ALL things home and country, has an outdoor section filled with…growing things. Not mold and mildew. GREEN growing things. Okay, still not mold and mildew.

And at about this time of the 90 degree weather season, their green growing things begin to look really sad and I am sure that I hear whimpering.

As was the case of the Bald Cypress, the Magnolia, the Crab Apple, and six verbena beauties. And about 237 other little guys and girls in pots, but hey, ya can’t save ’em all.

They are like PUPPY DOGS. Just sitting there in their little temporary outdoor fence cage, staring at you and making you feel GUILTY for having such a big yard and all the space in the world for their new home.

We are now the proud parents of Uncle Cy, Magnificent, Mrs. Crabitz, and Verbenas 1-6.

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Did I mention the fact that we went to Colorado last weekend to get beetle kill pine for our ceiling? And while driving through Fort Collins, the pickup, ON ITS OWN, veered over to the right and parked just outside a nursery of all things baby and green and good-smelling, and we brought home an orphanage of aspens – there are so many I cannot begin to count them all – and a dark purple butterfly bush I’ve named Betty Jo, and coriopsis flowers and dianthus flowers and Holy Green Jeans, Batman, this is getting ridiculous.

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I am grateful for our newest additions to the green thumb family outside. 104 pots of various sizes planted.

I am grateful that most of them look happier, although we are struggling a bit with a few of them. I need a bag of treats.

I am grateful that after all these years of wanting to have flowers and flowers and flowers and grow things, after all these years of walking past the “window” and not being able to save and rescue, I found Sam, and he has the same problem I do.

Last night, he said, “Hey, I had to stop at Orscheln’s.”

Uh oh.

“There are three redbuds that are crying and they won’t stop.”

If Scooby, Dooby, and Doo, our little dogwoods on the berm, don’t start looking happier soon, Wilma Flintstone, Pebbles, and Jessica Rabbit are comin’ home…

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We’re all just walking each other home.

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It’s raining outside this afternoon. The sky is a dull gray, a few robins are chirping in the trees, and I can see the slow, steady pattern of a light shower outside this second-story window.

A few minutes ago, two boys walked in front of our house, heads down but side-by-side, making their way home from the pool, wet but getting even more so. They reminded me of the days of piano lessons, so many years ago…

My sister and I took lessons from Mrs. Good who was not very good, but she lived at least 14 blocks from Dad’s gas station. Our lessons happened to be on Saturday mornings, so Mom would drop us off at the gas station at 6th and Main first thing and then go on to work. Angela and I would spend part of the morning washing windshields and dusting under cans of oil stacked in pyramids or take turns playing with the adding machine on the desk before grabbing our piano bags to walk the 14+ blocks to Mrs. Good who was not very good. We would avoid the cracks “so we wouldn’t break our mama’s back,” and there was a house on Adams Street with a tennis court that we always walked by and wished we were rich enough to have a tennis court.

I remember the walks back to the gas station when Angela would have to console me because Mrs. Good was not very good and I left her house crying, or when we both couldn’t wait to get back to the gas station because Daddy would give us money to walk to McDonalds for lunch or he would treat us to Zaki’s or the Royal Inn buffet. We would take turns carrying the heavy piano book bag and wish we didn’t have so many piano books…

There were many moments of our sisterhood that were unpleasant – we were four years apart in age, and I was an annoying little sister. However, Saturday mornings, we were like peanut butter and jelly. Two sisters on a walk, looking out for each other, or actually, older sister looking out for little sister.

I feel like I have several sisters these days, walking beside me on days when good is not very good or when I am all wet and just trying to get home.

I am grateful today for Elaine who responds quite often to my writing with encouraging words and understands this desire to put my thoughts and feelings onto paper.

I am grateful for Linda who emails me almost daily with stories that make me laugh, with picture memes that pierce the soft spots of my heart, with devotions that she knows will mean much.

I am grateful for a phone call with Geri today and her invitation to visit when we can get away. We are far way from each other but I know she is right by my side, and I know she understands.

I am grateful for Michelle, the crazy sister, because she knows everything about me and loves me no matter the ugly, and she is okay with me not being so crazy and still hangs out with me even though I am the boring one.

I am grateful for gratefuls from Chris this morning, gratefuls that made my heart leap because she gets it, too, and because she loves french fries.

I am grateful for Joyce who checks on us and is that older sister/shake her finger at me/ tsk tsk nurse with a heart as big as Dallas.

I am grateful for Julie who is like a little sister without the annoying part, who, like me, loves birds and trees and daughters and was a connection from the first minute I met her in a corner of a big room full of scary people.

I am grateful for Karen who looks out for us and is one of the most gracious and generous women I have ever known, who wears her heart on her sleeve just like me, who is only two months older but is 12 years wiser…

And I am grateful for my piano-lesson-taking, walking sister who has been walking with me all these years, who started me on this routine back in 2011 of counting at least three things for which to be grateful every single day. She knew that on days when good was not very good, I would need a companion to avoid cracks with, a friend to dream tennis court dreams with, a sister to listen as I cry my big tears on the long walk home.

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Beyond our control.

I am grateful for tears.

I am grateful that when circumstances are beyond our control, we are still okay.

I am grateful for hymns like, “Under His Wings” and “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, and I Know Who Holds My Hand,” and “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” and “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”

I am grateful for hand holding.

This song is one of Sam’s Dad’s favorites. He used to sing with Sam’s Mom, and this was one of their standard pieces. I wish I could have heard a Max and June duet.

A week ago, we visited Max and as I played the piano in the lobby, Max and Sam and Susan, Sam’s sister, all sang along,

“And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own…”

Tonight, we drove to see Max, now on his final journey, his final walk, mostly unable to express what he is feeling, and most likely will not sing again until he is reunited with sweet June, his bride. But I am so very grateful tonight that he is not walking alone, that his hand is being held by Jesus, and that very soon, Max will walk in a garden once again, and he will probably want to work the ground a little bit. I’m sure God will have a section just waiting for him.

I am grateful that we had the privilege of holding Max’s hands again, had the privilege of whispering in his ear, “I love you, Max,” had the opportunity to see him open his eyes in recognition of Sam’s voice.

“Every step is getting brighter, as the golden stairs I climb, every burden’s getting getting lighter, every cloud is silver-lined, there the sun is always shining, there no tear will dim the eye, at the ending of the rainbow, where the mountains touch the sky.

Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand, but I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know Who holds my hand.




Sheer delight.

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I am grateful for the beauty of sheer curtains flowing from the open window with a Friday afternoon breeze, which makes me…

…grateful that we only have a window air conditioner so that in order to stay cool today, I needed to open a window, which makes me…

…grateful that I was strong enough to open these windows in this 100-year-old house, which makes me…

…grateful for solid construction, an upstairs window with a good screen, and a pretty blue sky day for daydreaming, which makes me…

…grateful it is Friday and for a work week completed.

The most beautiful place on earth.

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Last night, we went for another drive. We have been going for drives the past three nights, always at about sunset or just before, so we can see the sun set against a magnificent backdrop of healthy wheat fields that go on and on and on and on over rolling fields.

We drive on dirt roads barely inhabited. Windows are rolled down so that a cool breeze filters in and we are able to hear all the sounds of quiet countryside.

I am grateful for the beauty of a wheat field against a pink sky.

I am grateful for the gorgeous sounds of the meadowlarks and frogs, singing their gratitude to their Creator.

I am grateful for the delight I felt when we slowly followed a doe and her two fawns, leaping through a wheat field, silhouettes against the dusky pink and purple sky. It was so beautiful, I realized after several seconds that I had stopped breathing…BREATHTAKING.

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I am grateful for the opportunity to spend these evenings with Sam. He asks me every evening if I want to go for a drive, and as we marvel at the sights and sounds of north central Kansas on a peaceful and quiet night, he asks, “Are you okay with being here? Is this crazy what we are doing?”  Yes, and yes. A thousand times over, yes. As long as we are together, yes yes yes.

I am grateful to have seen the biggest rabbit I have ever seen in my life, hopping on the dirt road in front of us. I didn’t know what the creature was at first – I thought it might be a big turkey – but when he turned to hop up the embankment and get out of our way, HOLY BUNNY EARS BATMAN – it was a jack rabbit. His ears had to be a foot long.

I am grateful for hand-holding and static-y Royals broadcasting in a pickup truck.

I am grateful for a stump of a big elm that has been the perfect front yard bonfire for three days in a row.

I am grateful for Orscheln’s because they had weiny-roasting sticks and we were able to enjoy one of our favorite meals last night before our drive. When we returned, we were able to top off our evening in the darkness with toasty marshmallows squashed between two graham crackers and a piece of Hershey’s chocolate.

I am grateful for new friends who see us sitting on our front porch eating our toasty roasty dessert and honk and wave as they drive by.

Life just really doesn’t get much better than this small town life simplicity. I am so very, very grateful.

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