12/11/18

Just wanted you all to know that my sister Wanda got through chemo round one okay today. It took about six hours, and she is now home snuggled up with Taffy, weary and resting. She thoroughly enjoyed two visits from therapy dogs during her session, a Rottweiler and a St. Bernard. 😊

She learned that she will actually be doing three monthly cycles of chemo, once a week for three weeks and then a week off, so she won’t be finished with that until the end of February, and then the surgery can be scheduled for bladder removal. We are taking it day by day, and she wanted me to express her appreciation for the outpouring of love and prayers! ♥️

 

 

 

 

 

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12/10/18

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My father sent these Christmas Stockings to me years ago as he was sorting through his possessions when preparing to move from his house to a small apartment. These are the stockings that my mom made for my two sisters and me when we were small, and we hung them with great excitement every Christmas while we were growing up. When I got them from Dad I packed them away with my other Christmas things, and they have remained In the box since then.

This year when Papa Bear and I began sorting through the many boxes that we have had in storage for the past 10 years, I pulled out the Christmas boxes and found the stockings where I had placed them. I got them out to take this picture to share with my sisters, and I immediately realized that this was the perfect time for them to hang together once again on my wall. You see, this Christmas our relationship as sisters has become more important than ever before…

Last September it came as a shock to all of us when my sister Wanda, who is two years older than me, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bladder cancer. Since then she has undergone two surgical procedures, one in which a tumor the size of a lime was removed from her bladder.

Thus began a series of doctor appointments, tests, and consultations leading up to this week where the reality of life with cancer comes to the forefront. As I write this she is attending a chemo education class at the cancer center just a few miles from her home in Minnesota, and tomorrow morning she will return there for the first of four weekly chemo sessions. Once these have been completed she is to to be scheduled for surgery to remove her bladder in hopes of eliminating the cancer.

My sister lives alone but she has a few good friends who will be there to support her, and her daughter Kari who lives nearby will be there for her too. My younger sister Connie and I will be cheering her on by phone call and text, and we will be praying extra hard for God to banish the cancer from her body.

We all know someone who has died of cancer, friends or family. Papa Bear’s late wife died from breast cancer. He knows the struggle all too well. But we also know those who have fought the battle, survived, and have gone on to live cancer free lives.

Wanda’s faith is strong, as is that of our family who surround her. Although Christmas is a hard time to be going through chemo her house is decorated for the holidays as are ours, and we are trusting in God and praying for miracles.

Three Christmas stockings hang on my wall, and across the miles three sisters in their 60’s are holding tightly to each other’s hands and hearts as we walk this scary road together. I will post updates in the weeks ahead. Your prayers for my sister Wanda (and her daughter) will be much appreciated. ♥️♥️♥️

Thinking Out Loud 10/25/18

I know a few people who always seem to be angry about something, their conversations and/or their Facebook posts are an endless stream of rants about one thing or another, and some days I find myself wondering if there is anything in life they are happy about.

While I believe that it is important to take a stand for or against things you feel strongly about, it seems like some folks are just out there looking for yet another issue to take on. Being around them can be very draining, and I have learned to limit my exposure.

This reminds me of a girl I used to know who was always angry. She was angry at God, she was angry at life; she was angry at people she considered to be her enemies, and often angry with her family and friends. Deep down, she was probably more angry with herself than with anyone or anything else.

From her perspective, her often-expressed anger seemed like righteous indignation, but thinking back, it was more of an excuse to complain about everything because she felt so miserable. Very rarely did she follow up on her rants with positive actions to change things for the better. It was a lot of talk with very little walk.

Then one day she took stock of her life and realized that instead of making things better she had made them worse by adding her ever-present negativity to everything. She wasn’t part of the solution, she was part of the problem.

And just like that, she made up her mind to be happy. Happy isn’t about what you are experiencing, it’s the way you decide to approach things. It starts with your attitude. Is everything an obstacle, or is it an opportunity? Is everyone wrong but you, or is it possible that you might be looking at people through dirty glasses?

When this girl started to look for more reasons to feel positive in her own life she began to see more good things in the world around her because she had changed her focus. She began to look for the good in other people too, and she began to look for ways she could make things better.

The world is full of armchair critics, what we need is more encouragers. I gave up being the angry girl several years ago, and my life is so much better because of it. Most of the time I feel hopeful and at peace, and that’s an awesome place to be.

If you find yourself angry at everyone and everything, maybe it’s time to ask yourself what’s really going on inside your head and heart. Maybe it’s time to choose a new attitude.

– JTS –

Thinking Out Loud 10/24/18

Today my favorite dog rescue, Mac’s Mission in Missouri, posted a series of before, during, and after photos of the grooming session a little female schnauzer received after being rescued from a deplorable situation with a thick coat of dirty and badly matted fur.

I can’t help but think how heavy it must’ve been and how hard for her to move around, how miserable she must’ve felt! And this occurred while living in the care of someone and producing unwanted litters of puppies that were also neglected.

I am trying hard not to pass judgment on the owner that relinquished these dogs, because I really don’t know her situation and I’m sure there are bigger issues involved.

But for the life of me what I don’t understand is how anyone who knew this person could look at her poor little dog and all the nearly-feral puppies and do nothing to help, no kind of assistance or intervention at all.

Recently Mac’s Mission shared another rescue story with us about a dog that was found laying in a ditch along side the road and people drove by for several days and tossed food to it, yet no one bothered to stop and find out why it was still there, if it was sick or injured.

Clearly something was wrong or it would have run off at some point. How did the people tossing food go home and live with their conscience, did they try to convince themselves they were alleviating it’s suffering?

What is wrong with people? Have we become so afraid of offending someone that we can’t find the courage to be a voice for those who have none? Have we become so hard-hearted that we can turn away from a suffering animal and do nothing? It makes me cry!

Thank God, in both of these cases, and in many others like it, once Rochelle at Mac’s Mission was alerted to the situation she initiated plans for rescue and care.

If you encounter a situation like this and don’t know what to do or how to help, PLEASE contact someone who does… don’t just turn away. The survival and well being of these animals depends on YOU!

And if you find yourself with a few of spare dollars now and then, please donate to Mac’s Mission (Mac the Pitbull on Facebook) or to your local rescue group. They do amazing work and they can’t do it without your support!

If you are an Amazon shopper like I am, you can also participate in the Amazon Smile program in which Amazon donates a portion of your purchase money to the charity of your choice. Mac’s Mission is on that list, along with many other good causes. It costs you nothing, and every little bit helps!

-JTS-

Thinking Out Loud 10/18/18

It’s rained here every day this week. Rain is always welcome in West Texas, some years we hardly get any at all. The damp, gray days don’t make me sad, but rather reflective. I tend to spend more time thinking about the person I want to be, and if the things I do are keeping me headed in that direction.

How do you feel when you are texting or having a conversation with someone and they start making snide remarks about someone else? Does it make you uncomfortable, or do you find yourself laughing in agreement and maybe joining in? It sometimes seems so easy to fall into that trap, even if your heart is telling you that it’s not a nice thing to do.

I wonder why we tend to be so critical of others, even people we care about. Does it make me feel better about myself if I point out other people’s weaknesses or imperfections? Maybe mine aren’t quite so bad then, or at least I am in good company.

Or maybe I just like the sense of camaraderie with the person I’m talking to, and talking about other people makes for easy and often humorous conversation.

But every time I say something unkind about someone else I feel a twinge of sadness and disappointment in myself. The little voice inside me asks why I had to say that, it wasn’t necessary.

I remember a quote I once read that said great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, and small minds talk about people. Small-minded is not the kind of person I want to be.

If I want to be thought of and remembered as a kind and compassionate person, I need to take more care of my thoughts and what comes out of my mouth. I need to become less critical. It really isn’t that hard to think of something nice to say, there is no excuse ever to be unkind!

-JTS-

Thinking Out Loud 10/14/18

Our sunny warm day here in West Texas has dropped from 75 degrees to 45 tonite, and the chilly wind reminds us that autumn will soon be drawing to a close.

I love Fall, but the thought of cold gray days to come makes me sad. I know my Midwest family and Northeast friends laugh when I call 40’s cold, we are admittedly spoiled here and more acclimated to heat. We typically get very few snow days, and it usually thaws within a day or so.

I don’t miss the sub-zero cold of my growing up years in South Dakota, and I certainly don’t miss driving on ice covered roads! I do have to admit that I miss the magic of that first big snowfall, and Christmas will never feel like Christmas to me when our landscape is brown and dry and we are outside in sweaters or lightweight jackets. I miss seeing my breath frosty in the air, and hearing the snow crunch underfoot.

Winter, and the approaching holiday season, is not my favorite time of the year for a lot of reasons, some of them personal, memories I’d rather not remember, and family too spread out to gather.

My father passed at the end of December, and my mother passed early in January… funerals on bitter cold days in Dakota, more sad memories. I usually manage to shake off the winter blues about mid-January.

This year I plan to do better, to keep my mind active and stay busy, and to do fun things for family and friends. In other words, to spend less time thinking about myself and more time thinking about others. An attitude adjustment might just be the best Christmas present I could give myself! 🙂

– JTS-

Thinking Out Loud 10/11/18

My daughter’s name is Inshallah. It is an Arabic expression which means “if God so wills”, and is commonly included in Arabic conversation to express the speaker’s wish for a given future event to occur.

I first encountered the word Inshallah in the writings of Kahlil Gibran. It affirms my belief that all things happen according to the will of God. I often include it in my thoughts and prayers, especially when I am hoping for or requesting something. I think it is a mindset we all could benefit from, a reminder that we are not in this alone.

Peaceful mind… peaceful heart… peaceful life, Inshallah.

-JTS-