Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

I know Memorial Day is a day to commemorate U.S. soliders that have died while in military service, but it's just as important to remember those that are serving now. It's also important to remember the families of these men and women, because they're the ones whose lives are most effected by their loved ones' service to our country.

This prayer by an unknown author encompasses all that are impacted by military service:

Dear Heavenly Father,

As we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice of death for our freedom, we think of how they have followed in the footsteps of Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Please hold our service men and women in your strong arms. Cover them with your sheltering grace and presence as they stand in the gap for our protection.

We also remember the families of our troops and ask for your blessings to fill their homes and your peace, provision and strength to fill their lives.

May the members of our armed forces be filled with courage to face each day and may they trust in the Lord's mighty power to accomplish each task. Let our military brothers and sisters feel our love and support.

In the name of Jesus,

Kent didn't die in service to our country, but, like a lot of people that visit the graves of their deceased relatives on this day, we did too. We cleaned and dried his head marker and then trimmed the grass around it before leaving beautiful Irises of assorted colors from his parents' garden in the vase.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Here, fishy, fishy!

After church today, Doug B., a former co-worker as well as friend and fishing buddy of Kent's, and his family took me, the boys, my father-in-law and nephew fishing and tubing.

The Bass were really biting! J caught the most and this was his biggest catch.

This was N's biggest catch. It was the biggest Bass of the day! Of course, this didn't make his big brothers happy, especially because he caught the biggest Crappie at the same place last year.

N even caught a Catfish. He didn't want to hold it though!

E and my nephew didn't fare so well. E had a big fish bite but it broke the line and got away, and G caught one that wasn't big enough to keep. They were disappointed but had fun tubing afterward.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Indiana Beach Amusement Resort

We roadtripped south last night to the historic Indiana Beach Amusement Resort where the boys and their cousin had a good time on the Boardwalk today. After seven hours and almost 40 rides, they were exhausted and ready to call it a day. It was a quick but fun getaway especially since it's close to home, smaller in size and reasonably priced.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Our Mailbox

Kent made our mailbox shortly after we moved to our house in June of 2004. After almost six years, it was in bad shape. I thought about buying a new one but, because of its sentimental value, decided to fix it instead.

We had fun sanding, priming and painting and later replacing the numbers and flag.

What a meaningful and enjoyable project! Now, we just have to add some perennials and mulch around the bottom of it.

Our Loved Ones There

For today's date in L.B. Cowman's classic devotional Consolation, there's a short but beautiful and encouraging poem that resonates with the hearts of those about to lose a spouse:

"Bid me good-bye now,
As going at night to my room:
If I may, I will open the door, love,
And call to you out of the gloom.

If I may not, the Lord is our keeper,
And still we are both in His care,
You on Earth, I in Heaven, both guarded,
Both safe, till you follow me there."

by Alfred Norris

It's so comforting to know that death isn't goodbye for Christians but, rather, a temporary separation until we are reunited again in Heaven. I've been missing Kent a lot lately, so I'm thankful for this reminder today.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

On your mark, get set, go!

It was an overcast morning in Chicago, but, despite this, it was great weather for the American Brain Tumor Association's 5th annual Path to Progress 5K walk/strut/run.

I met some survivors and caregivers with amazing stories as well as family and friends of those that have lost their battle. Also, after a few years of communicating primarily through YASG, a message board for brain cancer . . . specifically glioblastoma multiforme (also known as GBM IV or Stage 4), and now Facebook, I met two ladies from Texas and Virginia that lost their husbands and another lady from Iowa that lost her sister. We actually spent the afternoon and evening together which was a time of tears and laughter. No one understands the trial of brain cancer and the grief of losing someone to it like those who have traveled the same road, so it was a healthy part of our healing process.

This year's event was the largest and most successful yet with over 6,000 runners, strutters and walkers, volunteers and supporters raising over $750,000 for research to treat, prevent and cure brain tumors. My team, Hearts for Heads, contributed over $3,600.

God blessed this event and me in many ways and it was a privilege to participate in such a worthy cause. Thank you to those of you that participated with me by running, strutting or walking, donating and praying. I look forward to doing this in memory of Kent and others again next year!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Oh, Belle!

Belle is almost 4-months-old now and still growing like a weed. She's coming along with housetraining and starts a basic obedience class soon. She's a cute, loving and fun but ornery puppy. I couldn't keep her from running through our driveway culvert today. It's halfway full of water, so it made me nervous. She definitely needs to learn to sit and stay!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Camp Widow

Camp Widow, an annual gathering of widows from around the country and all walks of life hosted by the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation, is August 6 - 8 at the Marriott Hotel and Marina in San Diego, California. It's a weekend of hearing keynote speakers and participating in workshops with others who understand the life altering experience of widowhood. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Financial Crisis of a Health Crisis

Throughout Kent's entire illness, we had excellent insurance through an individual policy with Assurant Health for our family. All too often though, when people are diagnosed with something catastrophic, they're not adequately insured or they don't have any insurance which leaves them dealing with not only a health crisis but also a financial crisis. A friend, fellow church member and former co-worker of Kent's recently posted 5 Tips for Dealing with Medical Debt on his blog. This is a good read for those who are grappling with how to pay for surgeries, treatments and routine appointments for scans and check-ups.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Gift of Widowhood & Single Parenting

I have a gift no one wants: widowhood at 36-years-old. While I don't like being referred to as a widow, I've had to identify myself as one on a slew of forms since Kent died . . . so much so that it's made my lot in life really hit home.

I've been reminding myself that everything from God is a gift . . . even my widowhood and subsequent single parenting. God gives us gifts that we don't ask for or even want, and, sometimes, they're gifts that can't be returned or re-gifted . . . but, nonetheless, they're gifts out of His infinite love to teach and grow us in our walk with Christ while drawing us closer to Himself.

I've also been reminding myself of God's goodness. God does not make mistakes with what He allows in our life, so He is good all the time. Because of this, I can trust His plan for my life, though I may not always understand it. Even though some of His gifts can hurt, we have to trust that, in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

I once thought brain cancer interrupted my life, but it's been a part of God's good and perfect plan for my life all along. My widowhood IS a gift; what I do with this gift is up to me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

God is in Every Tomorrow

I received one of LB Cowman's devotionals, Streams in the Desert, this past Christmas, and this beautiful poem from January 14th has been quite a comfort and encouragement to me:

God is in every tomorrow,
Therefore I live for today,
Certain of finding at sunrise,
Guidance and strength for the way;
Power for each moment of weakness,
Hope for each moment of pain,
Comfort for every sorrow,
Sunshine and joy after rain.

by FB Meyer

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

I'm overwhelmed with my life these days. Mothering my three sons in particular is challenging, because my parenting partner isn't here anymore. Most of my days are long and exhausting, because there simply isn't enough time to get everything checked off of my list of things to do which leaves me constantly seeking balance in what I do for my boys with what I do with them. It can be frustrating! Despite this though, I'm thankful for the privilege to be their mother. They're gifts! Even though it's bittersweet sometimes, the blessing of mothering them has made widowhood a little easier to endure, because they encourage me to persevere through life while making it interesting and fun.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Life Goes On

When Kent's sister went home to Washington after staying with us in Indiana for a month to help me care for Kent and our boys, I cried. After a few months of constantly having the presence of someone else in our house with us, we were on our own to figure out life without a husband and father. I wanted to stay in bed, because I wasn't thinking when I was sleeping. I felt like my life had stopped, but it hadn't. My sons still had to be cared for and bills still had to be paid. Robert Frost once said, "In three words, I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." This is so true.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Our miniature Dachshund, Bailey, is 14-years-old today. I remember bringing him home when he was just eight weeks old. He was almost three when I met Kent, but, over time, he became more Kent's dog. During Kent's illness, his loyalty to Kent was very evident and was often found nestled along Kent's side. Since Kent died and even moreso since our 13-year-old yellow Lab died recently, his age has caught up with him in that he looks and acts like an old dog; although, our three month old Lab puppy gets a rise out of him every once in awhile. For the most part though, this old dog is low-key and prefers lounging around on the floor soaking up the heat from sunlight beaming through a window or curling up next to me on the couch in the evening.

National Day of Prayer

Today is the 59th annual National Day of Prayer which is an event that was started by Congress and signed into law by Harry S. Truman in 1952. Its privately funded Task Force encourages Americans to unite to pray for our nation and its leaders in government, military, media, business, education, church and family. To learn more, visit

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Let the tears fall!

My grieving process has, more times than not, left me in a puddle of tears. Tears reveal our humanity and the frailty of our human hearts especially when we suffer from a tremendous loss. While I don't want to wallow in my grief, I believe crying is one of the healthiest outlets for it. Joyce Landorf Heatherley, author of the Mourning Song, even says, "Crying is a natural part of the grieving process." It removes toxins, reduces tensions and increases the body's ability to heal itself, so let the tears fall!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Bittersweet Goodbye

The last MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting of the year was this morning. It's been a great year of learning how to nurture and grow our relationships with God, ourself, our husband (if, of course, we have one), our children, our family, our parents and in-laws, our friends and our community. We had great speakers this year that were quite a blessing of encouragement. I'm prayerful to hold close to my heart what we learned in order to have healthy, thriving relationships just as God intends.

While I'm ready for a break from ministry responsibility, this last meeting was bittersweet for me, because, for the last five years, I have served in MOPS but will not be returning next year. My pre-school days are coming to an end with my youngest son starting kindergarten in the fall, so it's time for me to prayerfully consider other ministry opportunites.

With relationships fresh on my heart and mind after this year's theme, I'm so thankful for the friendships that have derived from being a part of MOPS. God has definitely used this ministry and these friendships to enrich my life.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Brain Tumor Action Week

This week is Brain Tumor Action Week in Washington, DC which is a joint effort in the brain tumor community of patients and their families, friends and health care providers along with the North American Brain Tumor Coalition to educate the public about brain tumors.

Despite the efforts of some of the world’s finest researchers to develop better therapies for brain tumors, individuals who are diagnosed with them still do not have adequate treatment choices. In fact, the outlook for brain tumor patients has not improved that much in the last 20 years.

With this in mind, tomorrow, May 4th, is Advocacy Education Day which means the NABTC will be advocating Congress to take action on important issues to better serve the brain tumor community.

We can support Brain Tumor Action Week and National Brain Tumor Awareness Month by contacting our state Senators and Representatives as well as wearing gray ribbon t-shirts, hats, wristbands, etc.