Saturday, June 28, 2014

Jon's MRI is at 8am!

Tomorrow morning, Sunday the 28th, at 8:00am, Jon will have an MRI.  Jon's last MRI was 3 months ago and those results revealed that his brain tumor had started to grow back at quite a fast rate.  Our neurosurgeon at Mission Hospital (as well as the team at Hoag Hospital) told us that Jon needed to have Radiation immediately.  In an attempt to be thorough, we asked them for a 3 month "wait" period.  Tomorrow, those 3 months are up.  If the MRI tomorrow reveals/confirms the tumor growth, we will move forward with Radiation.  If the miraculous happens and there is no growth, we will hold off on Radiation.  Having Radiation on the brain is not ideal, so we wanted to double check with this additional MRI, just to be sure.

Would you pray with us tomorrow at 8am?  Pray that Jon would have a nice, relaxing nap during the MRI?  ;)  That the MRI would be a time of rest for him?  :)  Would you pray with us that when they do the MRI, they see NO growth?  Would you pray with us that Jon would not need Radiation?
It will be a week before we see our neurosurgeon for the results.  We will keep you posted....

THANK YOU for joining us in prayer as this journey continues.  We are grateful for you....

Saturday, June 21, 2014

45 Years of Marriage Never Looked So Beautiful....

This is a picture of my parents - 45 years ago, today.

On June 21, 1969, Paul Rischer and Carol Corbett had a wedding in Winnipeg, Canada.  They had just turned 20 years old.  Carol sewed her own wedding dress and in the ceremony, Paul and Carol sang a song to each other.  

8 years earlier, Paul and Carol had met at a Province-wide music competition.  Paul had won 1st Place in the 12 year olds Vocal Division.  Carol had won 1st Place in the 12 year olds Piano Division.  They stood next to each other in the Winners Photo.  4 years later, at age 16, Paul and Carol found themselves at the same High School and were cast as the 2 Leads in their school's production of "Brigadoon."  When Paul asked Carol on a date to "practice their lines," it was an amazing coincidence that the scenes he had planned for them to rehearse were all of their kissing scenes.  ;)  4 years later, these high school sweethearts had a wedding.  

Their wedding was beautiful. They were madly in love. They were surrounded by family and friends.  It was exactly what every young girl dreams about as a little girl.  

Over the next 45 years, their marriage brought them 3 daughters, then 3 son-in-laws, and eventually 11 grandchildren.  Over the next 45 years, they taught around the world on marriage.  How to have a healthy marriage... How to keep a healthy sex life... How to love and respect and serve your spouse.  Over the next 45 years, they continued to date.  And "practice their lines from Brigadoon" - even in public - even when their teen-aged daughters acted disgusted. ;)  They knew the best gift they could give their kids was a solid marriage.  And so they invested in it.  A lot.  Over the next 45 years, they took romantic get-aways without kids on a regular basis.  They held hands.  They put the other person first.  Their marriage was a picture of love and grace.  

For 45 years, Paul and Carol planted their roots. 
They invested time.  
They watered it.  
And the roots grew deeper.  
They spoke words of love and affection.  
Words of affirmation and encouragement.  
Deeper and deeper the roots grew. 

45 years later, these roots are so deep that they can withstand even the fiercest storm.

45 years ago, my parents didn't just have a wedding.
They began a marriage.

A wedding is sequins and lace.
A wedding is flowers and candles.
A wedding is pretty.

A marriage is sacrifice and service.
A marriage is hard work and dedication.
A marriage is beautiful.  

A wedding is pretty.
A marriage is beautiful.

Let me explain.

This is pretty:

This is beautiful:

3 years ago, at the age of 62, my mom was diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Dementia.  Her personality has become that of a young child.  She has lost about 98% of her ability to speak.  She cannot take care of herself.  So my dad does everything from wiping her mouth to shaving her legs.  My dad loves her and cares for her as if she was the exact same High-School-Sweetheart turned Bride he said "I Do" to, 45 years ago.  


The roots.  Those roots.  They are beautiful.  Roots of courage.  And sacrifice.  And love.  And romance.  They have never been more beautiful.  

Single friends:  Don't settle.  Who you marry matters.  You are choosing the person you will raise children with.  The person you will chase dreams with.  The person you will grow old with.  Be choosy.  Don't settle.  It matters.

Engaged friends: My mom always said, "It's not official until you walk down the isle."  If you have doubts or hesitations, explore those.  Be thorough.  The things you think will just work themselves out after you walk down the isle, won't.  It's never too late to call it off if it's just not right.  And you'll never regret being courageous enough to do it.

Married friends:  Invest.  No, not financially.  Invest in the stuff that matters when money can't fix it.  Love.  Grace.  Service.  Compassion.  Support.  Encouragement.  Patience.  Those are things that water and grow your roots deep.  Remember to date.  Re-fuel.  Fill up each other's tanks.  Kiss.  Hold hands.  Grab his tush as you're walking past it.  Believe in each other.  Go to marriage counseling if you need it.  Trash your pride and embrace humility.

45 years later, my parents would say one of the best decisions they've made was to commit their lives to each other.  But the best day of their lives has been each day since - learning how to take something so incredibly pretty, water it, invest in it, and experience the most profoundly beautiful expression in relationship that God has ever created: Unconditional Love.  

Happy 45th Anniversary, Mom and Dad.  

Marriage has never looked so beautiful.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

God Showed Up... Again. And Still.

This past Monday was my birthday.  While the big kids were in school, my in-laws watched the babies so I could celebrate my birthday poolside with Jon.  We laid out at the St. Regis Hotel pool, compliments of a friend's hook up.  The day was perfect.  So relaxing, I even fell asleep in my lounge chair!  It was glorious!  As we were driving to pick up the babies from my in-laws, Jon and I passed this amazing hotel called "The Blue Lantern Inn" in Dana Point.  13 years ago, when Jon resigned from his position at his first job out of college, they gave us a night away at the Blue Lantern Inn as our farewell gift.  It was incredible.  It's right on the ocean overlooking the Dana Point Harbor.  It provides wine and hors d'oeuvres each evening.  Incredible breakfast each morning.  Each room has a jacuzzi tub and a bedside fireplace.  Need I say more?  :)  As we drove past the Inn on Monday, we reminisced about the time we got to stay there 13 years ago.  We talked about how amazing it was and we talked about saving up so we could go back and visit someday.

Then Tuesday was Jon and my 14th wedding anniversary.  I woke up in the morning to one of the babies crying.  I went to stand up out of bed and I screamed in pain.  I collapsed onto my bed.  I knew I had gotten a sunburn on my legs the day before at the St. Regis, but this pain was different.  It was fierce and intense.  I tried to stand up again.  Nope.  The pain was debilitating. Long story short, I spent the next 2 days in bed.  Literally, in bed.  I didn't brush my teeth for 2 days because I couldn't even get to the sink!  The best guess I have (from the 'amazing' online research I did) ;) is that it was nerve pain.  The sunburn somehow did something to the nerves in my right leg.  (I literally have no idea - I've never experienced anything like it.)  So instead of enjoying our Anniversary with the amazing date night we had planned, we had to cancel our babysitter while I laid in bed.  Such a bummer.

When everything went downhill that Tuesday, my in-laws stepped up big time. They took the babies while Jon went in to work.  Then on Wednesday, they picked up the babies for an overnight sleepover.  Praise God for them!  I got to rest and let my leg recover.

Then Thursday morning, at 12:15am to be exact, I got an email from a friend.  She said, "OK this is crazy, but sometimes crazy can work!  Any chance you can have someone watch your kids for the night?  We have an extra room tonight at (ready for this?) THE BLUE LANTERN INN!  It is paid for and was going to sit vacant - but then we thought of you guys and knew you had to cancel your anniversary plans because of your leg.  If you can make it work, it's yours!"  Um, HELLO!!! What are the chances!??!  At 7:45am I called my mother-in-law to 'test the waters' to see how things were going with the babies.  ;)  She answered the phone and said, "Good morning!  I was going to ask you - Would you like us to keep the babies again tonight?'"  Amazing!!!  I proceeded to tell her about our offer and she was so graciously on board.  Then I called an incredible friend to ask if she would break all of our rules and host a "school night sleepover" for Jackson and Taylor.  ;)  She graciously accepted without hesitation.

So Jon and I spent last night (Thursday night) at the Blue Lantern Inn.  What a treat!

I've been reminded once again of how good God is.  I am reminded of how personal His love is.  I am reminded of how intimately He knows us and knows our story.  Your story.  My story.
How gracious of Him to not just give us a date night to replace our missed Anniversary - But to give us an extravagantly better Anniversary experience than we had even originally planned!  And to make it all the more sweeter, He had us drive past the Inn on Monday, just to build the anticipation.  ;)

God's ways are always gooder.  ;)  He can take our good plans and make them better.  He can take our lame plans that we think are good and create better ones.  When we make bad choices, He can redeem. When we make good choices, but are victims of circumstances, He is present - offering whatever is needed for restoration.  He. Is. Gooder.

I realize this "blog post" (if you can even call it that) could have been summed up in 60 characters saying, "Jon and I spent the night at The Blue Lantern Inn last night."  But I just couldn't.  It was so much more than that.  It was God telling us that He is here.  Still.

You'd think by now His beauty would be running out for all these ashes.
But they're not.
Beauty for ashes.  Beauty for ashes.
New beauty.
Every morning.
I surrender my ashes...
And He gives me beauty in return.
He is here.

Monday, June 2, 2014

I Forgot to Tell You....

Have you ever had "Posters Remorse" after a Facebook post?  We've all had "buyers remorse" at one time or another.  But "posters remorse" can happen easily these days as well.  This morning, I had "posters remorse."  I woke up to the post I had written about my mom and just wished I could delete it.  Not because I had said something wrong, but because I didn't say it well enough.  I didn't do her justice.  I tried.  But I barely scratched the surface.  I wish my words were more eloquent.  I wish I could remember more.  My mom accomplished a lot.  But WHO she was is even more remarkable.  I wish I could bottle up the essence of my mom.

When writing last night, I forgot to tell you that my mom would have conversations with ANY young adult - a waitress, a flight attendant, a hotel clerk - and encourage them to continue their education.  She was passionate about being a life long learner and by the time we ordered at any restaurant, she had that young adult considering going back to college.

I forgot to tell you my mom LOVED setting people up.  If you are were a young adult and were single, my mom had a guy/girl she just *knew* you were going to love.  Dates were set up all the time.  Many marriages happened as a result.  She loves love.

I forgot to tell you that my mom's favorite organizing tips were 1) E & C and 2) Only Handle It Once.  "E & C" - Eliminate and Concentrate.  Eliminate what you don't need and concentrate on what is important and what you value most.  "Only Handle It Once" - If it touches your hands, deal with it.  Don't pick it up, put it down, and then have to deal with it later.  Only handle it once.  You'll save much time in the long run.

I forgot to tell you that my mom invented "Happy Nothing Day."  So if there was a month with no official holiday to celebrate, she would celebrate Happy Nothing Day.  We'd come home from school to streamers and balloons and a little gift at our plate.  My mom LOVES to look for reasons to celebrate anything and everything in life.  A TMI example of this, is that we were able to get our ears pierced as a celebration of becoming a "woman."  ;)  No milestone was little and no event was small.  We had a reason to celebrate whatever, whenever!

I forgot to tell you that my mom threw the BEST dinner parties for her friends.  A few of my favorites was her "In Poor Taste" party where everyone was supposed to come dressed "in poor taste" and everything at the party was in poor taste.  The brownies looked like little poops, people dressed super tacky (think plumber crack) and my mom acted in poor taste the whole dinner - even shaving her armpits at the dinner table!  She was HILARIOUS.  The other one I loved was for my dad's 50th she threw a "Better Half" party to celebrate my dad reaching mid-life.  Everyone came dressed as their better half and had to act like their better half all night.  Again, hilarious!

I forgot to tell you my mom really REALLY valued family time.  As busy as our lives were, she would always block off "Family Nights" on the calendar.  When my sisters and I were younger, it was every Friday night.  And we'd rotate who picked what we got to do for Family Night.  (bowling, roller skating, etc..)  As we grew older and busier, she didn't sacrifice family night.  They remained a priority and she'd work around our schedules.  She loved to have people over and entertain, but she also protected time investing in just our party of 5.

I forgot to tell you that one Christmas my mom invited our old, widowed next door neighbor with dementia to join us on Christmas Day because she had no family in town.  And when she was finally put in a home, my mom visited her once a week - even when Mrs. Giles had no idea who anyone was anymore.  My mom visited without fail.  Another Christmas we had a single mom join us whose kids were with their dad for Christmas and she was alone.  Our home was a safe place for whoever needed one.

I forgot to tell you that my mom kept our house immaculate at all times.  And when I say immaculate I mean IMMACULATE.  Closets, drawers, cupboards.  What was seen and what was unseen was always in order.  Her driving force?  To be a perfectionist?  Nope.  She wanted anyone to be able to drop by at any time and feel welcomed and she wanted to be available to serve them without hesitation.  She even had a hidden key outside our door and typed instructions on how to use the TV remotes and A/C etc.. inside on the counter in case someone needed a place to stay while we were gone or out of town. She would just tell them where the key was and they were able to make themselves at home. Her home was her ministry.

I forgot to tell you that my mom was creative in her parenting.  When she taught us piano and we got into a "rut" she told us she hired a new piano teacher for us, named Mrs. Magilicutty.  The day for our lesson came and the doorbell rang.  We were so excited - ran to the door and found my mom standing there, dressed as "Mrs. Magilicutty." She introduced herself and all of a sudden new life was breathed into our lessons with our "new" teacher.   ;)

Here I am again. Needing to stop writing but I don't want to.  I literally could go on and on.  You've indulged me enough by reading this far.  I don't expect many will.  And I get it.  But I just had to say more today.  I'm sure over the next season of life as she continues to decline, there will be more "volumes" of these types of posts.  Thank you for letting this be a safe place to remember.  And reflect. And celebrate.

My mom was remarkable.  Gracious.  Smart.  Generous. Kind. Selfless.  Achiever.  Leader.  Strong.  Wise. Intentional.  Funny.  Hard working.  Faithful.  Creative.  Talented.
But most of all?

"Do As I Do..."

Last week, my mom turned 65.  A couple of years ago, my mom was diagnosed with FTD.  Frontal Temporal Dementia.  My mom has the behavioral variant of FTD which changes your personality, impacts your executive functions, reasoning, sequencing, speech, emotional, social...   It's not the type of dementia that effects your memory.  It's a type of dementia that effects the very things that make you, you.  My mom has lost about 98% of her speech and resembles a very young child.  Most people celebrate their 65th birthday with the hope of retirement, enjoying their empty nester years, planning world travels, spending time with grandbabies...  My mom's birthday was spent with our family sitting at a fancy restaurant that we know my mom used to love, ordering food for her we know she used to really enjoy... while she sat there silent.  We talked and told stories.  She sat and listened.  Most of the time with a blank stare.  A few times she smiled.  Once she even laughed.  (I know how to pick out a funny birthday card, if I do say so myself!) ;)

At my mom's birthday celebration, at the very end of the evening, my sister Cheryl pulled out 3 bags.  She placed one in front of my mom and one each in front of my other sister, Melanie and me.  Inside was a stack of CDs.  A large stack of CDs.  When my mom was my age, at 35-36 years old, she had her own radio show.  It was on KIRV Radio in Fresno, CA and she had a daily radio program.  She would talk about everything from women in ministry, to women at home, to leadership, to marriage...   Well, for my mom's birthday, Cheryl got ahold of all of the tapes from her radio show (reel to reel) and had them transferred onto CDs.  Then she had copies made for each of us.  You can imagine what the presentation of that gift was like.  Yes.  Tears.  

One of the things I think about most these days is, "I wonder what my mom would say about...." and I fill in the blank.  I wonder what my mom would say about how to organize this closet.  I wonder what my mom would say about how to really teach Taylor gratitude.  I wonder what my mom would say about Jon's health.  I wonder.  If my mom could speak into "_______" area of my life, I wonder what she would say.  Oh what I wouldn't give to hear her wisdom right now.  Cheryl's gift is the closest thing I'll ever have to hearing that voice again.  I now have a large stack of CDs and I get to hear my mom, at my exact same age, talk about raising her kids, keeping her home, serving in ministry.  I get to hear her voice.  I get to know her thoughts.  What an incredible gift!

Jon and I were recently in the car together and we decided to listen to one of the CDs.  I was blown away by the message.  This talk was a charge to women - to moms specifically - to live the life you are created to live.  Her bottom line?  She wants to be able to say to her kids (my sisters and me), "Do as I Do."  In an era that commonly said, "Do as I say, not as I do," my mom said there should be something better than that.  Something more.

I look at my mom's life - what she taught as well as what she lived at home - and want so badly to "do as she did." I'm not going to lie.  My mom's life was busy.  Full.  But our home never felt frazzled.  It never felt out of control.  We had family dinners.  Every single night.  We shared the best part of our day and the worst part of our day.  At every dinner.  At the end of dinner we would pick a missionary family and pray for them.  We practiced piano every day.  We were involved in our community and school.  At the same time, my mom was a conference speaker, radio host and author.  This was a big deal.  These days, anyone can be an author.  Much like an Indie Artist (like myself) who can make a CD, the wonderful world wide web has created a platform for any average person to write and and have a blog and consider themselves a "writer."  (read: me) ;)  And anyone can self publish a book.  When my mom was 36, Harvest House Publishing Company came to her because of the incredible woman, wife, and voice she was.  They asked her to write a book and she did.  This was a big deal and honor back then.   The book was called "Insights for Young Mothers."  I remember my mom being flown to appear on TV shows and interviewed for her book.  I also remember my sisters were entering their tween/teen years and my mom decided to put the brakes on it all.  She could have pursued more and more of that type of career, but she knew her kids under her own roof needed her more than other women around the country needed her.  My mom sacrificed much for us.  She still stayed very busy and connected to her passions, but her home base was her highest value.

Tomorrow, I turn 36.  I can't help but compare my 36 years to the 36 year old young mom I am listening to on the CDs.  Her voice sounds so confident.  So secure.  She had a (freaking!) radio show.  And was becoming an author.  She was so organized. And so focused.  She was so excited about God's calling on the lives of women.  She was considered a 'forward thinker' when it came to that stuff back then.  How proud am I of her!   Oh my, I forgot to mention something else - She was a business owner too!  Yes, she and my dad opened 2 clothing stores when they were 35 years old in 2 different malls.  She achieved much by such a young age.  Who was this adventurous, strong, smart, savvy, talented woman?  She was my mom.  She is my inspiration.  She is who I want to be.

I desire to wrap up this post with a final paragraph of eloquent words and a clever little tag line about my mom and her impact.  But I can't.  Every time I try to wrap this post up, my fingers won't let me.  My brain can't tie up the loose ends.  I think it's, because, there's just no end.  No end to her talent and charm and enthusiasm and passion and wit and wisdom and... and.. and...  I don't want to stop typing about her.  I want to gush.  And rave.  And gush some more.  But it's late.  And I must stop.

Tomorrow, I will celebrate my birthday inspired.  Challenged.  Encouraged.  I feel like I won the lottery when it comes to the legacy left for me.  When it comes to age 36, I will listen to the CDs.  I will hear the beauty of age 36 well lived.   I will do as she did:  Love God.  Love people.  Use my gifts to His glory.

No clever tag line.  Just a stack of CDs, a green light and my foot on the gas pedal.