Friday, December 4, 2009


Have you ever felt like the little frog? Just holdin on with all your might and you know on false move will be the end? All your resources are used up; you no longer have the will to struggle. Your grip is weaker by the second. Soon and very soon it will all be over and you'll plunge to the bottomless pit.

Maybe that pit is depression, perhaps it's the final descent into your addiction....drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, anger, food.....the list is endless. You're on the precipice, a teeter away from sure annihilation.

Then, suddenly and without explanation, that fall into the pit becomes one big leap of faith. Without reason, you realize that you are no longer falling uncontrollably, but bounding from one unsteady resting place to a place of rest and stability. You feel your heart soar at the realization that you have a landing place, a rock to plant your feet upon. How did that happen? Where did that come from?!

Your sense of relief is palpable. You see the world through new eyes, you hear with opened ears, you feel a renewed strength coursing through your weak body. Your spirit soars! You're well aware that there will be another time of desperation, but for now, for this time, the needs have been have been rescued!

Now the full scope of the miracle you are living begins to open in your mind and in your heart. Yet again, our Heavenly Father has reached down and cradled you in His loving arms and has rescued you from the pits of yourself and your sin. He has raised you up and made you to sit in heavenly places with Him, just as the Scriptures teach! How awesome is that?! That the King of Glory would take the time and energy to see your despair and love you so much that He would stop everything just to be there for you?! This is the God I serve.

There's a lot of talk these days about who God is and what God does and what God thinks and where God is at. I am thankful I have been taught about the ONE TRUE GOD.....the great I AM. I am even more thankful that this great CREATOR GOD reached down to touch my heart at a very early age and I accepted His Son, JESUS CHRIST, as my personal Savior.

Yes, I have eternal peace with my Savior and here's the best part.....eternity doesn't start the day I die, it started the day I began to live and asked JESUS into my heart! I pray you know this same JESUS. If not, I'd like the opportunity to tell you about Him.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


This is my brother-in-love, Dwade. He is married to my youngest living sister, Debra. Dwade has had quite a journey during the last several months. In the summer of 2008, he discovered he had some mild coronary blockages and an aneurysm in his left main coronary artery. It was nothing to be greatly concerned about, just to be observed as time passed. He was started on a regimen of medication and told to keep all doctor's appointments so that he could be closely monitored over time.

He continued to have chest pain and other symptoms, even though the doctors insisted his problems should not be causing him pain. He was referred to a gastroenterologist for testing and found to have H-pylori infection in his stomach. He was given a regimen of antibiotic therapy and the infection cleared. However, the pain continued.

Finally, he had an episode that convinced his cardiologist that it was time for another catheterization. He underwent that procedure on November 18 of this year. Surprisingly, doctors found the aneurysm to have more than doubled in size over the last year. It was imminent that he undergo surgery to repair the aneurysm before it ruptured and he bled to death. The surgery was scheduled for November 24.

When the surgeons opened his chest they found the aneurysm to be located in a position that would be impossible to repair surgically. There would have been no way to prevent him bleeding out during surgery. They decided to proceed with two bypass grafts in order to reduce pressure in the artery by increasing blood flow through his heart. Other means would have to be found to deal with the aneurysm.

In Canada and some European countries, cardiologists are using a metal stent in the repair of aneurysms to prevent the invasive and risky surgical procedures. The stent, however, has not yet received FDA approval in the U.S. It was decided Dwade's best option would be to seek FDA approval and a waiver to use this stent in him. It would be introduced into the artery during a catheterization procedure just as the cage stents used to open blocked arteries.

Today, the doctors told him they had the approval and would be doing the procedure early next week, possibly even on Monday, and he could go home on Tuesday. He is weak and very sore and is suffering a lot of pain due to the bypass surgery. Surgical recovery has been steady, but difficult for him. Yet, in the midst of all that, one has to stop to realize what a blessing his whole ordeal has been.

Consider this.....the surgeon told us this type aneurysm occurs about once every 30 years. Most people never know they have it before it ruptures. It is fatal 100% of the time. Dwade will be one of only a few people in the U.S. who have this stent. Had he never had chest pain, he would never have sought medical attention. Had the pain not continued and even worsened, he would never have kept pushing his cardiologist to find out what the root of the problem was.

His blockages were not major and should not have caused pain, much less severe pain. Aneurysms have never been known to cause pain unless they are located in an area where the swelling blood vessel or artery puts pressure on other body parts. Had he not had surgery, the doctors would never have discovered just how rare his aneurysm is. Were medical professionals in other countries not moving ahead with research, the stent would not be available to repair the aneurysm.

When I stop to consider every step that brought him to where he is now, I am amazed yet again at God's goodness and His guidance in our lives even when we least expect it. The Scriptures teach us that "His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways". I am so thankful they are not! I am thankful I serve a living God who loves me and cares for me even when I don't know I need it or Him. I am thankful He is ever aware of the needs of my body, mind and spirit.

Again, the Scriptures teach us that "He knows the very number of the hairs on our head" and that "we are fearfully and wonderfully made". Thank you, my Creator God, for loving us and meeting our needs even before we are aware of them!

Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Psalms 100:3-5 (KJV)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have never a lump.

May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Alix Joy!

This little lady is who my husband lovingly referred to as "Blond Bombshell II", after her Mommy whom he nicknamed "Blond Bombshell" when she was a very young girl. Nine years ago today, #2 was born and was the first great-grandchild in our family. She was adored from the minute we all learned of her existence and long before she was actually born.

Alix Joy was very aptly named by her parents for she has been a joy to us since she breathed her first breathe. She is a tomboy and will out climb any boy her age or older! Even with her left arm casted from a fall this summer, she continued to climb and do stunts on her bike. She's a princess when she wants to be and an able adversary to any little boy when she chooses!

Her latest passion is cheernastics. Oh, and always, ALWAYS fashion! She has been a fashion plate since she was two years old and insisted that everything match 'very'! She is very outgoing and has a laugh that is contagious. Her smile lights the dark and brings happiness just to look upon. She is, indeed, a JOY!!!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ALIX JOY!!!! Your Aunt Di loves you and is so proud of you!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jacob!

This rather dashing young man is my nephew, Jacob, AKA Jake to us. On this day 24 years ago we were blessed with his presence in our world. His big brother and big sister sat in the waiting room with me, his Mamaw Mac and his Aunt Sue and waited for him to arrive. When he was finally wheeled out, they were so excited, wanting to crawl up into the bed with Momma and the new baby. Daddy held them up and they 'oooohhhhed' and 'awwwwed' and gave him kisses. Momma and I cried!

Jacob is such a free spirit on the one hand and yet so cautious on the other. I would say he is an extremely well balanced individual. He has dreams of being a pilot and I pray every day he is able to fulfill that dream. Some discounted airline tickets would be nice for old Aunt Di!!!! ;) He is currently working full time and going to school four days a week. He has a busy life, but he likes it that way.

Now, this OUR Jake!!! He has such a great sense of humor and keeps us laughing all the time! He can make the dullest day bright or the saddest hour happy. He would be a real catch for some young woman out there....hint, hint!!!!

So, Happy Birthday, Jake. I love you so very much and I am so thankful you are my nephew. I pray your day is full of blessings and that you get all things you want out of life.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Adam!

On Monday, October 10, 1977 this precious young man entered my world. Of course, he was a lot smaller then! He!He! This is Adam, my first nephew and the only child of my youngest sister, Debra, and my BIL Dwade. He was the first grandchild in our family and we all thought he hung the moon! Talkin about spoiled.....every single one of us spoiled him at every available opportunity! Momma and Daddy became Mamaw and Papaw on that day and thus, forever after.

Adam is a wonderful man with a loving heart and so much to give, and by the way, he's available! Sorry Adam, had to throw that in there!!! ;) I will readily admit that I am prejudiced, but he honestly is very kind and loving and adores children. Like so many young men before him, he has struggled to find himself and find his place in this world. I am so proud to say that he has found that place and has become a young man any aunt would be proud to call her own!

Adam is an outdoorsman and loves to do just about anything outdoors. He's not particularly interested in hunting, but does enjoy fishing. He finds so much pleasure in working in his yard and I swear I don't think I've ever met anyone who enjoys mowing their grass so much! In his early twenties, he rode bulls in the local rodeo circuit. Thank God, he gave that up before he got his neck broken! He's much more sensible now....WHEW!!!!!!

Try as I might, it is the most difficult thing to get a picture of this man with his eyes exposed AND open! Actually, I'm just teasing. I just wanted to post this picture because it has my sister and BIL in it with him. I'm pretty proud of all of them!

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ADAM! Your Aunt Di loves you and always will. Thank you for being in my life and for caring about your old aunt!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Outta The Blue...........

For the past several days (possibly even weeks or months), I have been having a real struggle trying to deal with the grief of losing my husband, physical illness, surgery and then the revelation that I too am suffering from terminal liver disease. It's a lot to swallow and I must confess, I am choking on it!

The other night, I sent out an email to some of my best friends and basically just had an emotional 'fall apart'. Today, out of the blue, I received a wonderful blessing at my back door. A group of wonderful ladies, whom I call my Scarf Sisters, sent a special delivery. This is it.........

This beautiful arrangement of colorful fall flowers arrived around 5 p.m. today. I cannot tell you how surprised I was! I cried for probably half an hour after the delivery girl left (who also happens to be my cousin-in-love, Wanda from Fancy Flowers in Middleton!). In the midst of all the pain and heartache, here is this visible witness to the love and concern of some very special ladies in my life.

Trish, Donna, Julie, Pat, Connie, Cathy, Terry and Deb...........these are the names of the girls who had the flowers delivered to me. Girls, I love you all more than mere words will ever be able to convey! These girls love me and pray for me, even when I am so unlovable. We cry together, laugh together, pray together, share our joys and sorrows. These are truly my 'sisters at heart' and I treasure each of you.

Thank you is such an inadequate phrase to express my gratitude to each of you. Just when my heart was truly breaking, you lift me up with your prayers and are The Wind Beneath My Wings and I love you!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Angel Baby

Forty-five years ago today, October 6, 1964, my baby sister was born....and died. Truth be told, she was still born. I never saw her, nor even a picture of her, but those who did say she looked like me when I was a baby.

Joyce Ann McDonald was her name. She has a little grave in the cemetery where my paternal grandparents are buried. There is a little white headstone that bears her name and the date of her birth/death and the names of Momma and Daddy.

I was not quite 7 when she was born, but I remember it like it happened yesterday. Daddy worked the second shift and we had no telephone, but lived within sight of my paternal grandparent's home. One of my maternal aunts, Aunt Shirley, was staying with us so she could go for my grandparents if the baby decided to come during the night.

Monday, October 5, 1964 was like every other Monday in my young life at that time. I went to school that day. My younger sisters, Charlotte and Debra, who were 5 and 4 respectively, had been at home with Momma, Daddy and Aunt Shirley all day. When I came home from school, Momma was resting, which was highly unusual. Momma NEVER rested. Daddy had gone to work and Aunt Shirley was working on supper.

As the evening progressed, Momma kept grimacing every now and again and holding her back. Aunt Shirley kept looking anxious and nervous. Finally, at some point after dark, Momma said something to Aunt Shirley about her going ahead and getting Maw and Paw McDonald. Aunt Shirley grabbed me by the hand and said something to the effect of "Come with me", and we were off! She literally dragged me down the road from our house to my grandparents!

When we got there, she ran up onto the front porch and started banging on the front door, yelling "Mr. Herbert! Ms. Ilene! Thelma's having the baby!" My Maw came to the door buttoning her dress and Paw followed closely behind. Paw grabbed the telephone and called Daddy at work and told him to come home. Then, we all loaded into Paw's car and they drove me and Aunt Shirley back home.

By this time, Momma was looking pretty sick and had gotten a small suitcase out and had gotten Deb and Charlotte into their pajamas. She told me to go get into my pajamas while we waited on Daddy to get home. Maw and Paw stayed with us until Daddy got home. When he did, he came running into the house looking worried.

I don't know how it was for everyone else in 1964, but in our house small children did not know where babies came from and were not given the truth when we asked! I honestly don't know what I was thinking, just very confused! Daddy helped Momma to the car and Aunt Shirley got all of us girls loaded.

Daddy drove us to Grandma and Grandpa Howell's house, where Aunt Shirley and us girls got out. Grandma Howell got into the car with Momma and Daddy and they were off. We were put to bed with no explanations whatsoever. In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, the telephone rang, waking us all up. Aunt Glenda came into our bedroom crying. She told us the baby had been born, but that she had died and that Momma and Daddy would be home soon.

This was my first memory of having anyone in my family die. I didn't know what to think or feel. Everyone was walking around in the middle of the night crying and so sad. I didn't comprehend it. Not too long afterwards, Daddy and Momma and Grandma Howell got back. Daddy came in to get us. Daddy and my aunts got us all together and took us back to the car. Momma and Grandma Howell were in the back seat and Momma was sort of lying over against one door with a blanket over her.

We got in and rode home in total silence. We got home and Daddy told us to go get in bed. So, we did. When we woke up, Grandma Howell was still there and Momma was in bed. I don't ever remember Momma being in bed during the day in my entire life up until that point. Soon after we got up, Grandpa Howell got there and Maw and Paw McDonald pulled up just behind him.

Then, people started arriving with food. Women were coming in cleaning around the house and working in the kitchen. Daddy was sitting in the living room with all the men and they seemed to be deep into a conversation about something. The women moved in and out bringing in coffee or iced tea and snacks and dabbing tears from their eyes.

Eventually, Grandpa and Grandma Howell left and the others started to drift away as well. Maw and Paw McDonald stayed with us. Momma finally got out of bed. She looked so tired and her face was all swollen and red. She came to lie on the sofa. Daddy sat in the floor in front of the sofa and never left her side as long as she lay there. She would cry softly and Daddy would have tears run down his face.

Finally, Maw called us inside for an early supper. Momma was now sitting up on the sofa and Daddy was there with her. He called us to come sit with them and Momma told us that she had had the baby the night before but that our baby sister was in heaven; that God needed her more than we did. She cried softly as she talked and held us close to her. As long as I live, I will never forget the look on Momma's face and the tenderness in her voice as she talked.

We were still sitting on the sofa when Grandpa Howell's car pulled into our driveway. He and Grandma Howell came into the house and we were shuttled to the kitchen. They talked quietly and Momma kept crying and saying "But I wanted to go".

Years later I was to learn that Grandma and Grandpa Howell had taken Joyce to be buried that afternoon and Momma never even got a chance to see her. Grandma Howell was very superstitious and had some very strange viewpoints about such things and refused to bring the baby by the house so Momma could see her. I'm not really sure Momma ever got over that.

Grandma and Grandpa left, we ate supper, Maw cleaned the kitchen and then she and Paw went home. Daddy and Momma sat with us watching TV almost like nothing had happened. It was never spoken of and we did not go to the cemetery until a few weeks had passed. Then, Momma and Daddy went to pick out a headstone. When it was delivered and set up, we all went to the cemetery together to see it.

Momma cried, Maw cried, Grandma cried; the men all just walked around basically avoiding looking at each other or the women. Finally, Daddy walked over to Momma and put his arm around her. She basically just dropped into his arms sobbing. Daddy almost carried her to the car; Maw and Paw got us into their car and we all left. Maw and Paw took us home with them and Momma and Daddy went to our house.

That night, Maw sat us down and talked to us. She told us that Momma was going to be very sad for a while. She said Momma and Daddy loved our baby sister very much and they were happy God wanted her in heaven, but they were very sad that we didn't get to keep her here with us. Nothing else was ever said until I was a teenager and Momma started to talk about it on occasion.

I never really heard her say very much about it until I lost our first baby. Momma cried with me, I think as much for herself as for me. She was finally able to grieve for her baby.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jaden!

Jaden Isaac Eppers
Blank Park Zoo
Des Moines, IA
Summer, 2009

Seven years ago on this day, my only grand nephew was born! He is a pure delight! He is so atlethic and is ALL BOY!!!! I took this picture in Aug. of this year. It was the day his big sister got her cast off and we went to the pool because she hadn't gotten to swim all summer. Jaden is quite the swimmer and loves to dive and splash!

This kid LOVES skateboarding! I swear, he would LIVE at the skate park if his parents would allow it! He's pretty good at it too! Got a brand new Pro Board for his birthday; he's thrilled! Here, he's riding his rip stick. I took this shot at the local skate park while I was there in Aug/Sept of this year.

All up into super heroes! I have no idea which one this is; but I've dubbed it the 'Ninja Jaden'! I took this picture while I was there in Aug/Sept of this year.

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JADEN! Your Aunt Di loves you so very much! I hope your present got there in time!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Letter To Heaven

Me and Terry
Mother's Day, 2008

My sweet Terry, I know you are now with Jesus and for that I am thankful. I cannot believe it has now been eight months since I last saw you, touched your face or held your hand in mine. I don't really know what I thought this would be like, but it is worse than I ever imagined it could be. I know the Lord protects us from thoughts that we cannot process and I am so thankful for that. I surely could not have lived to take care of you had I known how hard it was going to be to go on without you.

I miss you so much. I miss your smile and your funny little laugh. I miss your silliness and the way you picked on me every waking hour of our day. I miss hearing you tell me you love me and that I'm beautiful. I even miss having to tell you to turn the TV down so I can hear myself think! I miss the stacks of newspapers always puddled around your chair and blocking the pathway. I miss hearing you call me from across the house to come do something for you that you could have done for yourself! What I would give to hear you call my name just one more time!

Eight months ago today, I was so tired and so numb that the depth of the sadness couldn't sink in. Charlotte and Debra were holding me up because I couldn't hold myself. People were so kind and many came by to sit for a while and express their sympathy. Charlotte and Deb and their families and Daddy all came in for supper that night and everyone gathered around to help hold me up. I honestly don't know what I would have done without them. You would be so proud of them and the way they have taken care of me!

The boys have all been so good to me, helping me with things around the farm and just calling to check up on me. Daddy worries way too much about me, but I guess that's just being a good Daddy, huh?! I went to Katie's and spent almost a month. It was so nice to spend time with them. The kids are getting so big Terry. They are growing up much too fast. Alix and Jaden will be 9 and 7 in October and Allyson will be 3 in February. Oh, and she is such a little joy! She can say things that will just slay you! You would absolutely LOVE her!

Jaden is a skate board fanatic! He is really good to be such a young boy! Alix is all about being a cheerleader! She has joined a 'cheernastics' class on Monday afternoons and Katie says she loves it. She has a cheer clinic today. The high school cheerleaders are doing it for the elementary kids. Alix will go into their middle school next year and so she qualified to participate in the cheer clinic because she wants to be a cheerleader in middle school. I'm not sure what Jaden will do. He mentioned maybe wanting to do hockey again this winter. We'll see.

All of Charlotte and Ricky's family and I met in Branson, MO for the Labor Day weekend. It was so much fun, but it was a bit bittersweet for me. I kept remembering the last time I was there with you and Momma and Daddy. It has really changed and grown since we were there! None of them had ridden the ducks, so we did that and everyone really enjoyed it. We went to a safari park and to a Springfield Cardinals baseball game. I really enjoyed it. I remember when you used to tell me about Bill taking all you guys to the Diamond Jaxx games and I really couldn't understand why you enjoyed it. I do now. I really had a good time.

Deb and Dwade took a weekend trip to East Tennessee and had a really good time. Daddy stayed at home alone, he was adamant that he would be just fine! And, he was! He, Charlotte, Allyson and I met for supper at Chapman's on the Saturday night. We had a really good time and Allyson kept us entertained. Everyone else was busy, so we just went by ourselves! Daddy treated us so it made it even better!!!! :)

Oh, Terry, life is so hard without you. I do have good times and I do enjoy spending time with the family, but I sure wish you were still here with me! Not a day goes by that something doesn't happen that I want so badly to be able to tell you and talk over with you. I miss that so much. When I was at Katie's, there were so many things we did that I so wanted you to be there to share. I feel like half of me is missing and I'm not really sure that I'll ever feel whole again.

So, eight months have passed and I am moving on with my life; but I will never stop missing you and I will never stop loving you. There is a hole in me that has become so familiar and I realize it is because it is where you once were. Every time I leave the house, I think "I need to call Terry and make sure he is okay". I know you are so much more than okay! But, I still miss you! I always will...........

I love you, Terry Chandler. I have loved you from almost the first time I saw your face and I will always love you. How blessed I am to have known you and to have been loved by you! I am forever yours...................


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Take Me Back Tuesday

Welcome back to Take Me Back Tuesday! Thanks to Kari at A Giveaway Addicted Mommy for hosting this weekly meme. Each week participants showcase our pre-digital photos. Stop by and see what Kari is offering this week and check out others who are also participating.

The McDonald Girls & Families
ca. Fall, 1994

The above photo was taken at a local church during a fund raising drive. It was the Fall of 1994. Momma was insistent that there be a picture of us girls and our families without her and Daddy. Of course, we also did one including them, but she was always the most proud of this one. I don't know why?

I am in the purple dress and that is Terry sitting beside me. Standing behind Terry, in the pink shirt, is my BIL, Dwade and behind him and to his right is my BIL, Ricky. Debra is married to Dwade and is standing next to him. To Debra's right is their son, Adam and next to Adam is Katie. Jared is the one with the silly look on his face. My sister, Charlotte, is sitting on Katie's right with Jacob on her lap. Caleb, our baby, is standing in front leaning on my knee.

As I have said, Adam is Debra and Dwade's son. The other four - Katie, Jared, Jacob and Caleb - are Charlotte and Ricky's children. Terry and I had children that never made it to this world so we spoiled our niece and nephews as often as we possibly could! Terry was an only child and took my sisters to be his own. He loved having them be a part of his life and they loved having him in theirs. I am beyond blessed to have all of them in my own life!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Life Is Like A Box of Chocolates.........

"Momma always said life was like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get."---Forest Gump, 1994

And so it is. Sometimes you meditate, peruse and ponder the variety offered and finally make what you feel will be the best choice. You place the chocolate in your mouth with anticipation only to find a most bitter taste when you bite down. Then, as you chew on it and it begins to dissolve in your mouth, the taste gets sweeter. Finally, just as you swallow the last vestiges of the chocolate, it leaves a sweet and lingering pleasant taste in your mouth.

Last week, I bit down on what was and, to some degree, continues to be a most bitter taste in my mouth. I was told by my surgeon at my follow up visit that I have grade 2, stage 3-4 liver disease as confirmed by a liver biopsy performed while I was in surgery. This basically means that at least 50% of my liver is already involved and I am transitioning from stage 3 to stage 4 liver disease. Stage 4 is what is more commonly known as End Stage Liver Disease or Cirrhosis. A visit with my gastroenterologist confirmed that I am indeed in the early stages of cirrhosis.

As I said, with this first bite, the taste is bitter. It has been barely 6 months since Terry went to meet the Lord and now I am faced with this diagnosis; the exact diagnosis we heard from Terry's doctor in July, 2004. The taste is bitter.

I am back to a place of near numbness in my heart. However, my spirit and my mind are moving forward with practical decisions. This is the exact mode I moved into when we got Terry's diagnosis. The difference this time is that I am exhausted from grieving and other health problems. The taste is bitter.

This is not what I had planned for this time of my life. The grief is becoming easier to bear. Life feels good again; not necessarily happy, but at least on the way to happy. Then, to have this pill to swallow. The taste is bitter. However, I do feel myself beginning to taste the sweetness of it all.

As I was driving a few days ago, I was praying and asking the Lord for direction in all of this. In an almost audible voice, He answered me "You asked me for life, health and strength to care for Terry and I granted your request. Terry is now with me". I almost had to pull off the road as the tears began to roll down my face! Yes, Lord, you gave me what I had asked for! Yet again, my prayers were answered! The taste is beginning to be sweeter.

My family and friends have circled the wagons around me with love, support and prayers. In all my life, other than when I was with Terry, I have never felt more loved than I do at this very moment. The taste is, indeed, beginning to be sweeter! I have felt the loving kindness of God soothing my spirit as I cry out to Him. I have felt the warmth and compassion of my family and friends as they reach out to me. The taste is getting sweeter.

I know the road ahead will be filled with potholes and pitfalls. There will be setbacks and complications, but God is still in control of my tomorrows and only He knows their number. That is not my concern. Thank you Lord for reminding me of that! The taste is sweeter.

I still have moments of the bittersweet; but by and large, the sweetness prevails. Just as chewing that chocolate candy often brings little bits of the bitterness back as you chew, so will this experience. However, the sweetness will over ride the bitterness and it will seem but a nuisance in order to enjoy the sweetness.

At some point in time, just as it does for all of us, my time to leave this world will come. Jesus will call my name and I will answer that call. I'll continue to enjoy the bitter with the sweet until that time comes. Then, and only then, will I know the joy of that last vestige of the temporary sweetness before stepping into the glory that awaits me. The taste is getting sweeter!

From an old hymn Momma used to sing around the house when I was a child:

"Sweeter gets the journey every day
Serving Jesus really pays
I'm so happy that I can say
Sweeter gets the journey every day."

The taste is most definitely getting sweeter as I journey to those last bits before it's all behind me.

"I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD."---Psalms 104: 33, 34

Friday, August 7, 2009

Favorite Family Foto Friday

Welcome to Favorite Family Foto Friday! This weekly meme is hosted by Deborah at Pictures, Pots, Pens. Be sure to stop by and check out her FFFF exhibit and find others who are participating as well.

After my extended absence from this weekly meme, I am excited to be back and return to my family story!

Nellie Jane Atkinson
ca. 1900

This is my great-grandmother, mother of my paternal grandmother, Nellie Jane Atkinson. Nellie is the daughter of David James Atkinson and Elizabeth Rachel (Jane) Smith. Nellie was born on 29 March, 1881 in rural McNairy County, TN. She was the sixth of eight children. Nellie was always a sickly child, although no one was ever quite sure why. I have found no explanations for her weakness or frequent illness.

Ernest Newland with Nellie Atkinson-Newland
ca. 1905
On 15 January, 1915, Nellie Jane Atkinson married Ernest Newland in the home of her father, Reverend David James Atkinson, in Hardeman County, TN. By this time, the once weak and sickly Nellie had blossomed into a quite lovely young woman. Ernest was a man of small stature and great temper. According to my grandmother, he had a classic Germanic temperament! I don't mean to be offensive to anyone, but that is how she described her father! Actually, her words were "He was a mad German"!!!!

(L-R) Nellie Atkinson-Newland, Ollie Atkinson, Susie Atkinson-Morphis
Spring, 1915

Ernest and Nellie had six children, including a set of twin daughters, of which my grandmother was one. The above picture was taken in the Spring of 1915 prior to the birth of their youngest child, a son born in June, 1915. The picture is Nellie with her younger sisters Ollie and Susie.

Nellie died on 27 March, 1918 at her home near Pocahontas in rural Hardeman County, TN. She died of complications of the flu and was one of the earlier deaths attributed to that epidemic. The problems which had caused her so many health issue during her early life had come back after she began bearing children. Once the doctor diagnosed flu, he predicted she would die within the day, which she did. She is buried in a small cemetery in rural McNairy County, TN, which is no longer well kept or easily accessible other than by off road vehicles.

At the time of her death, Nellie left behind eleven year old J. C., nine year old Melvin, six year old twins Ilene and Vilene, Mildred who turned five on the day of her mother's death and baby Ralph (Buster) who was almost 3. Her sister Susie, stepped in to help out with the children. She and her husband hand been unable to have children and were more than happy to help.

My grandmother had many wonderful memories of the years with Aunt Susie and Uncle Joe. Her memories of her own father were much less pleasant and involved physical and emotional abuse on a regular basis. She had few memories of her mother, but did remember her to be a very soft spoken woman who loved her children with great devotion.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Talk In The Moonlight

Late last night, as I do on many nights, I took a drive around our county. I often do this since Terry went home. It helps relax me and makes me want to go home and go to sleep...well, most of the time it does anyway!

There was a full moon, that's not a picture of it, but it is a stunning picture of a full moon! Last night's moon was beautifully mesmerising . I was held in rapt attention to it as I drove around. It was otherwise cloudy, but the scintillating moon had rolled the clouds from her path in order to shine in all her heavenly splendor!

Mists of fog lay hauntingly over the little valleys and on the hillsides. Deer roamed the night in search of food. The barking of dogs could be heard in the distance. I was captive to this awe inspiring dance of nature as I drove, stopping often just to sit with the windows lowered to fully enjoy the beauty around me.

I was reminded of the Scripture from Psalms 19:1 which says "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. " As I looked around the heavens and surveyed the hills, valleys, and trees around me, my heart rejoiced in the presence of a Holy God, our Creator.

As I was meditating on that, I remembered once again the days of marriage after we built our home and hand settled into the 'good' years. We worked hard all day running a business and making money to provide for our family. We were busy with our church activities and so intensely happy it seemed our life could not be better.

On well lit nights, we often walked the country lane that ran in front of our house, admiring the heavens and basking the moonlit glow of our own happiness. We walked for miles, talking and laughing, dreaming and often making plans for our future. We walked until we tired, then turned around started the journey back home.

Those were wonderful times. When I think of those walks now, I remember the pure joy of being in Terry's presence and knowing the security of his love for me. I remember the contentment of discussing our church activities and plans. I remember the anticipation of planning upcoming trips together or family vacations or even just family dinners together. Those were precious times and have left me with even more precious memories.

Those moonlight walks ended when Terry was critically injured in an automobile accident in April, 2000. We often sat in our yard at night after that and watched the stars above and the traffic passing by. We laughed at how 'old' we had gotten! Gone were the days of running here and there like hamsters on their little wheels. Our life was much slower, but still so completely perfect.

Right up until the last month of his life, we would walk out onto our front porch on many nights and sit to stare up at the heavens and talk about what lay ahead. He talked about the pain of leaving me behind. He talked to me about the practical things I would need to know once he was often to change the filter in the A/C unit, where to take the car for oil changes and tire rotations, who to call if I needed a handyman, how to turn the gas on and off for the fireplace...just very practical things like that.

I must say that not one thing has come up since his home going that he did not cover at least once in those night talks. Even though he is now with our Lord, he is still taking care of me! What a wonderful blessing! I pray that I can leave this life with as much grace and dignity as he did!

Wow! It's quite amazing where a drive under a full moon will take you! I hope you have enjoyed reading this minutely as much as I have enjoyed writing it! I continue to be in awe of God's love for me and for the the man He gave to me. I am so thankful that moving forward also means taking the memories with you. So, I move forward with my memories cradled in my heart and look with joyful anticipation of what lies ahead.

I leave you with this verse from Psalms 84:12 "O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you." The joy of the Lord IS my strength and my hope!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Katie Gwen!!!!

Katie at about age 2 with cousin Adam. "Wagging her like a cat wagging a kitten" was how Momma always described this pic!

Glamour Shot made in Oct., 1995. She had just turned 15! Va-Va-Voom!!!!!

Katie with Brian, Alix and Jaden at Momma and Daddy's on Christmas night, 2004. Brian had just returned from a year's deployment in Iraq.

Oct., 2007 in Hickman Co., TN
Just before they moved to Mason City, IA

Katie with Brian, Jaden and Alix
Summer Vacation in TN, 2009

Katie with Alix and Jaden
Blank Park Zoo
Des Moines, IA
August 2, 2009
love you Katie! You are one of the lights of my life and have been since the day I knew you existed. I hope you have a wonderful day with your babies and many happy birthdays to come! I know Brian is missing you today and you are missing him, but it's worth the sacrifice in the long run! Can't wait to visit again soon!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I'm Baaaccccckkkkkkk!!!!

Well, actually this picture was made just before surgery, but it's the best I can do for now!

I am so excited to be back! I have missed all of you so much! Thank you all for your love, prayers and support during my surgery and recovery. I still have a bit of 'recovery' to go, but I'm so much better than before! I still have issues, but that'll all wait for another time!!!! Let the fun begin!!!!!

I am so happy to be participating in TAKE ME BACK TUESDAY again!

Take Me Back Tuesday is hosted by Kari over at The Giveaway Addicted Mommy. Drop in and visit with Kari and follow the links to other TMBT offerings. I can't wait to visit each one myself!

My first offering after my extended absence is this lovely little B&W of my 1st grade class at Middleton High & Elementary School. We were so small, we didn't even have seperate schools; we all went to the same place! It was great fun for the little guys, but I'm quite sure it was a boring nuisance to the high schoolers!!!

Anywho, I am the antsy little girl sitting on the end of the second row with her shoe kicked off! That was the very first thing Momma said when she saw this picture, "Girl, you've kicked your shoe off!"!!!!! I have always HATED to wear shoes; still do! However, I have now learned they are a necessary evil for diabetics who want to retain their tootsies! So, like a good little girl, I now wear my shoes; but I STILL don't like them!

I hope you enjoyed my little photo show today. Can't wait to get around and visit everyone and see what's been going on! Gosh, I'm so happy to be back, I could smoochie every last one of you!!!!

Have a Happy Day!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Just Droppin In......

Hello! I just wanted to drop in long enough to say a personal 'thank you' to each of you who have prayed for me during this time. Your love, support and prayers continue to life me up and help to restore my strength.

I am extremely tired and weak and understandably very sore. I can already tell a difference and the stimulator is only at it's very lowest settings. It will take a few months of adjustments to get it to it's optimal performance for my bodies' needs. The nausea is still present, but much decreased and, Praise the Lord, no vomiting AT ALL since surgery!!!! WooHoooooooo!!! Such a great relief!

I will continue to be at my sister's for the remainder of this week and possibly next. My doctor has instructed me not to lift anything over 5 lbs. for at least the first two weeks. So, we'll see how it goes!

I'm not visiting and reading for the time being; just concentrating on healing and feeling better. I go back for the post op visit in three weeks and will get the results from the liver biopsy and some other tests he did while I was in surgery. Please continue to pray that everything will be good and that I can return to better health. I don't want to be sickly and a burden to my family. However, I have placed all of those fears and anxiety with Lord and I refuse to take them back now! GOD IS IN CONTROL!!!

I pray each of you are having a wonderful week. God bless you all!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Update on Surgery

Hi all-
This is Katie, Diane's niece again. Just letting you all know that she came out of surgery and may even get to come home tonight, according to my mom. If there are any further updates, I will let you know. Thank you all so much for your love and support and especially your prayers. I appreciate them and I know Aunt Di does as well. God Bless!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Friday is the BIG DAY!

Just a short post to let you all know that I won't be very active for a few days, possibly a week or more. I am finally having my surgery on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. CDT at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville. Please pray for me and for the doctors and nurses who will be taking care of me. I don't expect any complications, I know the Lord in control of all of that. I only ask for His will to be done.

I have an update post scheduled and have made arrangements with my niece to post in case there should be anything out of the ordinary to come up. Again, I totally do not expect complications of any sort.

If all goes well, I will be back at my sister's house by Saturday evening and will be there for about a week. I will try to get online sometime on Sunday to update everyone. Thank you all so much for your prayers and concern. I am so truly blessed to have so many wonderful, caring friends who love me enough to pray for me! May the Lord bless each of you!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Take Me Back Tuesday

I am so excited to be participating in Take Me Back Tuesday again this week! I love sharing my old family photos and I love seeing other's as well. Drop in on Kari at A Giveaway Addicted Mommy and check out others who are sharing their photographic memories!

I am posting a series of photos today of me from when I was about 16-17 years old. It was about this time that I really began to have issues with my digestive system. I have always carried a few extra pounds. During this time frame, I began to notice that I was having huge fluctuations in my size. My weight didn't change that much, but my size changed dramatically almost from day to day and sometimes from hour to hour. Little did I know what those symptoms would finally lead to.

The surgery coming up on this Friday will replace a gastric stimulator for which the battery pack has died. The stimulator works somewhat like a cardiac pacemaker in that it provides electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve in my stomach muscle to encourage my stomach to empty it's contents. When the stimulator isn't working, I am constantly nauseated and throw up numerous (15-20) times daily and suffer from malnutrition, although I continue to carry extra weight. The bloating continues to be a constant problem.

This is me on August 4, 1974. It's not a great picture, but maybe you can get the idea anyway! This pictures was taken by Terry when we were at the lake one Saturday afternoon. I was 16 and was actually at a pretty good weight and size at this time.

This picture was taken in my front yard on the same afternoon. I'm not really sure why I included this one, other than I just like to look at pictures of us when we were so young and in love!!!!

Here I am at 17. Momma took this picture in our back yard on May 10, 1975 when we were taking pictures to publish with our wedding announcement. You can see that my waist is a relatively good size, but above my waist is bloated on this day.
This is May 18, 1975 following my high school Baccalaureate ceremony. This is me and my best friend from high school, Marcia. Note how bloated I am in this picture. This is only a week later that the picture above. I might note I had also just discovered on this morning that I had scarlet fever, which some doctors say contributes to my disorder.

This is my high school graduation night, May 19, 1975, only one night later. Notice that I am now my normal size again. Even when looking at my body shape in this gown, you can see my size is smaller than the night before.

This is us on our wedding night, June 14, 1975. I was just a bit bloated that night. Stress seems to exacerbate the problem at times.

So, there are you are. I think these pictures pretty well document the problem AND serve as a good TMBT post as well! I hope you enjoyed my pictures. I guess I'm just vain, but I sure enjoy sharing them with you all!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

Veteran's Memorial
Middleton, TN
God Bless The U.S.A.!

As I sit here this morning, my heart aches as much, if not more, than it did on that early Monday morning in January when I had just watched my precious Terry step into eternity. Grieving is such an odd journey. Just when I think I'm better, I'm again back where I started.

I went for a drive earlier tonight. The moon shone brightly from a clear sky, with millions of stars twinkling above me. I stopped at an old country road where Terry and I used to take evening walks. I got out of my car and stood alone in the dark, listening to sounds of the night and watching the stars. I remembered those walks of yesteryear.

In my mind's eye I was once again in my thirties with so many dreams for a future with Terry. We walked, laughed, talked, dreamed.....just happy to be with each other and so thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who had brought us together when neither was looking for love or commitment. I, too young to think seriously about such things; and he, too young and having too much fun playing the field! Yet, my lifelong friend was dating his friend, she told Terry about me and the rest, as they say, is history!

Tonight I miss him so much. It's the 4th of July weekend, one of Terry's favorite holidays. He loved grilling and he loved eating! Every year, he wanted my family to get together and grill and eat and shoot fireworks in Momma and Daddy's yard. Sometimes we did, sometimes we didn't. When we did, he absolutely loved watching the kids with the fireworks. When we didn't, he and I spent the day and evening alone together, often off on a brief trip somewhere.

It's odd how, when we're busy living our lives, we rarely take the time to stop and appreciate what we have. Then, we lose it and we're left with half-memories and too many regrets. So many of our years together are now just glimpses of memories captured in a picture or snippets of conversation caught on a video tape. Oh, how I wish I had taken more care to treasure each moment and hold it in my heart!

But, I have what I have and there's now nothing that can be done to change it. I am thankful I've always snapped pictures at alarming rates! For all the times Terry fussed at me for always having that camera in my hands, I am so thankful now that I did! I only wish I had been better at it. And, I wish he had been better at standing still so I could snap him! But, like everything else, the time for changing any of that has passed.

So much has passed. When Terry went home to be with Jesus, so much changed in my life. I'm now 'me' and no longer 'we'. I'm a widow, not a wife. If I want to decide what to watch on T.V., there's no one to offer a differing opinion. When it's time to eat, there seems no point in preparing a meal for only one. The plants are all droopy because Terry's not here to remind me to water them. When I come home, the house is so silent and empty, no one to hear me say "I'm home". Yet, I continue to say it because it just doesn't seem right to come home without greeting someone.

I'm way beyond middle-aged and I'm starting all over again. I'm not sure I have the energy to do that. Yet, do that I must; I have no choice in the matter. So, I press on. I have some really good days; days when I almost feel happy again. I laugh and actually enjoy myself. And, I have some sad days; days when all I can do is cry, and that's okay too. I used to feel that the nights were the worst but I'm not sure about that anymore. The time of day doesn't seem to matter much anymore. Perhaps that's just part of the moving forward in the process.

Whatever is or is not, this is my life now. As sad as I am to be without Terry, I also realize just how blessed I am to have had him in my life for the nearly 36 years we were together. He was human and certainly had faults, many and various. He was, however, a wonderful man and a loving husband. We had our troubles as any married couple will have. Our marriage faced struggles, times when we each sometimes wanted to throw up our hands and just walk away. However, we didn't. We stayed because love is not just a snugly emotion, it is a commitment.

Part of our commitment was to love each other until death parted us. We honored that and now I have to figure out where my life goes from here. One thing is certain, our love didn't end with Terry's death; it will never end. When he crossed the threshold into eternity, so did our love; it will never die. Will I love again? I honestly don't know. At this point, I cannot conceive ever being in love again. However, I have learned never to say never. I don't know what God has in store for me in the future, but I know He has a plan and I know I want to be in the center of His plan.

So, as difficult as it is, life goes on; and so must I. I will always love Terry and I will always miss him. After this upcoming surgery and the healing that must occur afterwards, I just want to be able to begin to move forward; to begin to see what God has in store for me. I don't want to box God in and have expectations. I want to be completely open to whatever He has for me.

I pray each of you has a wonderful holiday weekend! May we never cease to be thankful for all the blessings we have in our lives. God bless the U.S.A. and all those brave men and women who have sacrificed to procure and preserve our freedom and all will do so in the future.