Christmas Thoughts

Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year.  I love the carols,the lights, the look of wonder ina child’s eye as they open their presents on Christmas morning.  But this year, Christmas is a bit different for me.

This has been a tough year on my family.  It has also been a good year.  In May, we welcomedinto our lives our first grandchild, a beautiful little girl.  She is a joy.  At the same time, we lost a family member to cancer, after a long and hard fought battle.  And that makes the holiday harder for us all.

I take comfort in the thought that he is spending Christmas with the reason we celebrate the season.  That helps a lot.  In a way, I am jealous, as he is probably getting to relive the birth of his Savior, while sitting at His feet.  What a celebration that must be!

I have learned a few things through this process.  Things, I actually knew, but, inthe hustle and bustle of everyday life, had pushed back into the back of my mind.  I guess you might say I have been reminded of priorities, and what is really important in life, and at Christmas.

Presents are nice, andI love to give them and get them, but, that is not what Christmas is about, really.  We celebrate by giving gifts to remember the Special gift that was given to us that night inBethlehem so many years ago.  The most precious gift we could possibly have gotten.  The birth of Christ, our Savior.

It hurts me to see what we have done here in this world about that gift.  You see, we seem to have forgotten the importance of and shut out the feelings of love that came from Heaven on that night.  I know that we all get busy with the holiday, and all that comes with it.  But let us stop and think about the day Christ was born.

Was it a cold December morning?  Probably not.  Scholars tell us that Jesus was probably born in warmer weather.  Were their presents?  Sure, but not that night.  Was there a big celebration of that birth?  You bet there was!  Angels sang to the shepherds and a star brighter than any candle was in the sky that night to proclaim that birth.  And yet, our Savior was born in a lowly stable, because there was no room in the Inn.

You know, I think I have learned a lesson this year, with its events about waht is really important in life, at least to me. I have learned that your daily life is a testimony, and that we should all be striving to live the best life we can every day.  We should look for ways to pass on that gift that was given to us at every opportunity.  Because that is a much better gift than anything we could go and buy for anyone.

Am I saying tht we shouldn’t give gifts and celebrate Christmas?  No, not at all.  I am just saying that we need to stop and take time to remember why it is that we celebrate.  I know in my own life that I get wrapped up in the season, as most of us do.  But this year has taught me that that gift is one that I not only want to keep, but to give away as many times as I can. 

I guess I have learned that Christmas is not just a day to open presents, and eat (too much) and watch tv.  And it shouldn’t be just one day of the year.  We should be looking to keep that spirit of Christmas in our hearts each and every day through the year.  And celebrate the fact that God gave us His Son, who in turn gave His life for all of ours.

It has also taught me that the one thing on this earth that we can have and cherish is family.  I think the events of this year have brought us closer together as a family than we have probably been in a long time.  I know it has for me.  Through the ups and downs of this year, I have learned patience, and also just how very blessed I really am.

My wish for you this Christmas is that you have the real joy of the season, and that your celebrations are the best ever.  Don’t forget to tell those close to you that you love them, and spend time with them.  May the REAL meaning of Christmas invade your heart, and soul, and may you pass that gift along to everyone around you, during this season and throughout the year.

Merry Christmas!

 

Remembering Tim Hargis

Sometimes in your life,  you have people who you look up to, and who is brought into your life for a reason.   One of those people who God brought into my life was my brother in law,Tim.  My husband is his older brother.

Tim is one of those people that when you meet them, you immediately like them.  Sometimes  you are not really sure why, but you just know that you do.  I remember the first time I ever met Tim.  .It was on our first date, and Joey and I went by their house for a minute.  Tim was sitting in the floor, along with his Dad, Mom,and brother watching The CincinnatiReds on tv.  That wasone of the years of the Big Red Machine.

Tim was kind of shy, and didn’t say much.  But as I got to know him better, I found out what a good person he was.  He had a sense of humor that never disappointed.  Always coming up with the perfect line at just the right time.  And  even at a young age, you could see his love of God.

I remember when he met his wife, Ann.  They were both on vacation in Florida, and Tim came home talking about this girl he had met.  He made a lot of trips to Louisville after that for a time.  I remember when we learned that he had asked Ann to marry him.  He looked so happy.  We were so glad for them both.

Tim was always the employee that every boss wished he had.  No matter what the job, Tim always did it with pride, and without complaint.  (That is not to say he loved every job he had…I remember when he worked at Kroger,)  He went on to become a very respected employee of Ingersol tools, travelling all over the world with his work.

I remember Tim as a wonderful family man, as well.  He loved his wife and kids, and was involved with them in many activities.  Especailly at church.  Tim was always willing to do whatever was needed to help out in his church, and with the youth program.  He helped to build and maintain a baseball field.  He was active in witnessing to   others.  But, he didn’t have to say a word.  All anyone had to do was to just watch him. His faith and love for others were evident in his daily life.  That was the kind of man he was.

A perfect example of this to me was when he was diagnosed with cancer.  It was a little over a year ago, and our oldest daughter was about to get married..  Tim had found out the week before that there was a problem, but didn’t say much, as he did not want to ruin her day.  Not too long after that, we foudn out that he had a rare form of bile duct cancer.

What did he do when he got the news?  He did not sit around and feel sorry for himself, but sought out the best treatment available to fight the disease, and went on with life.  He worked, even after taking some of the treatments that made him so very sick.  He was still involved with his children, and by this time, six grandchildren, and his church.  And his attitude was never one of anger, or pity.  But one of strength and faith.  Tim didn’t question God, but  instead put it in His hands, and went on living life.

Last Friday, Tim lost his battle with cancer.  And we lost a big piece of out family.  but even when he knew that time was short, and he and his wife were planning his funeral, his thoughts were not to have people remember him, but that they might see Christ through him.  His funeral was not an ending, and sorrowful.  Instead, it was a celebration of his life, and his faith.  And even then, Tim was still being Tim, witnessing to all who came.  That was the way he wanted it.

I know Tim is in Heaven now, and no  longer suffering the horrors of cancer.  HE is whole, he is healed, and he is in the arms of God. We miss him a lot, and I know that will never go away.  But, in looking around, and listening to the people who came to pay their respects, he made quite an impact on mnay lives.  I don’t think we wil know just how much until we meet again in Heaven just what an impact he made while here on this earth. 

  I know that in time, we will be able to go through pictures, and be more able to talk and laugh remembering the things he said or did.  That will keep him alive in our hearts, and memories, until we meet again.  Tim may have lost this particular battle, but, he won the war.  May we always strive to be the type of person and example that he always was. And until we meet again, in Heaven someday, we will keep remembering Tim.

One Step Forward….Three Steps Back

The reality of the new healthcare law is beginning to be felt by many people.  And they are NOT feeling real good about it.  I know.  My own familywas sucker punched twice today with the effects of it.

My husband is the GM for a small construction and enviornmental products company in our town.  They are a small company, employing less than 20 people in busy times.  But they have been very successful for a company of their size.  That does not mean that the fallout of the new law does not hit them.  It does, and hard.

Today, we found out that due to the new “law”, both my husband and my son in law are losing their health insurance.  Not because the company wants to , but because they are being forced to by the new law.  They found out that in order to keep their insurance, they are going to have to shell out (in my husband’s case) more than $750 a month to cover himself only.  And my son in law, who has a new baby, will have to pay more than $350 to keep only himself insured.  For both of them, this is well more than half a paycheck. So, what choice do you make?  Do you keep insurance, and lose your home, or not eat,  Or do you drop your insurance, and pray that you stay healthy, and never have an emergency that requires you to go to the hospital?

Well, when you get this kind of news, it feels like you just got sucker punched.  And, well, frankly, we did.  Not only my family but many more out there who depend on their insurance coverage as part of their benefits. Sadly, this kindof thing isgoing to only get worseas more aspects of the law take effect.

Oneof the biggest lies that was told when the debate over the healthcare law was going on was “If you like your insurance, you dwill be allowed to keep it.”  Well, I guess you can if you are independently wealthy, or plan on going into the bank robbing business.  In our case, the “new” premium for coverage on my husband is a lot more than we can afford to pay.  And his employers wrestled with any and all solutions to keep this benefit going.  But, when their own costs (fro their contribution) is going up to over $9000 a month on less than 10 people, well, it doesn’t give you much choice. 

The sad thing is, there are people who will sit back and say so what?  To those who feel that way, I can only say, I hope you have a rich relative that is willing to pay your medical expeses, if you have a major illness or accident.  I prefer to have the choice of whether I get treated or not, and not have that decision made by some bureaucrat who is a pencil pusher.  Today, sadly, that choice was taken away from my family.  And soon, it will be happening to many more Americans, as it already has to many others., I do not see this as progress.  When my government tells me that I MUST, by law, carry insurance, but then regulate insurors to the point that they cannot offer affordable coverage,  that is not progress.  That, my friends, is a dictatorship. 

 

 

 

Sometimes, You Gotta Go With Your Gut

I often write about things that affect me.  Most of the time it is in the form of poetry.  But there are many things that I simply can’t get my mind around.  One of those things is what a horrible disease cancer is, and how it feels to get that diagnosis.

About  seven or so months ago, my brother in law went to the doctor for an MRI because he was having trouble with kidney stones.   When they did it, they found a shadow on his liver.  Did the biopsy, and, you guessed it, he has cancer.  One spot is all that showed up, and the doctors were pretty sure that they could remove it with surgery.  But that was not the case.  As it turns out, he has a very rare form of liver cancer that not a lot is known about.  I can’t spell it.  But I know it is not good.  The best thing we heard on that day was that it is confined to the liver, and that is not usually the case, either.  So, we had hope.

Tim has now gone through a full regimen of Chemotherapy, but with no real results.  The doctors plan now to insert radiation beads, but they have to map the area first.  Of course, the insurance company has not yet approved the procedure, even though the Doctors have stressed ot hem that time is of the essence.  So, we are waiting.

But, let me tell you about Tim.  He is one good, solid, Christian man, whose faith through all of this makes me ashamed.  He has missed very little work, even though the chemo had some nasty side effects.  He has been a marathon runner, and continues to run, nearly every day.  He welcomed their newest grandchild into the world the day before his surgery, and ran 6 miles.  Tim is the very epitome of  health.  So, I have repeatedly wondered why this has happened to him, and to our family.  I can’t believe that God would let it be found, if He did not mean to heal Tim.  But, then, I stopped, and thought about it.  The lesson may be one we all need to learn.

My family is no stranger to cancer.  I lost both of my own parents, and an aunt to the horrible disease.  So, I am well versed in the paths that it can take.  Did I want to lose them?  Of course not.  But, they were a bit older, and somehow, easier to take.  Tim is in his early 50s.  I know that age has nothing to do with it, either.  But, somehow, it just doesn’t seem right.  But if you talk to Tim, although I know he hopes for a cure, he is at peace with whatever way God chooses to handle it.  His thought is that either way, he wins.  If God does heal him, ok, and if not, well, he knows where he is going.  And that gives me comfort.

One thing this has done is brought the family closer together.  We don’t live in the same town, but,  are only about an hour and a half apart.  We saw each other at family gatherings, and the holidays, and other than that, pretty much went on and led our own lives.  Now, we keep in touch through phone calls, texting and facebook, and talk several times a week.  In fact, since this type of cancer is so rare, we are planning a 5K walk/run in early June, to raise awareness, and money for research for this particular type of cancer.  Right now, we are waiting for an approval from the insurance company to do a procedure called mapping, so that the doctors knowhere to insert the radiation beads.

UPDATE….I started this piece yesterday, and this morning, I found out that the insurance company has denied approval for the radiation beading.  Their poor excuse is that “they do not deem it medically necessary, since the chemotherapy did not work.”  I dare say they would deem it necessary if it were their own family member. How can you deem a procedure that could be life saving as medically unnecessary?   As I stated earlier, this is a rare type of cancer that not much is known about.  How can they determine that radiation will not work without even trying it?  Of course, Tim’s doctors have appealed it, and have already stated that time is of the essence.  If you are a praying person, I humbly ask for your prayers in this matter.

I have not talked to Tim or his wife today.  I know how hard the news hit me, but I have no idea what it must have done to them.  I do know that they will deal with it just like they have dealt with this whole situation; with a strong faith in God, and in His will.

Part of me wants to question why  things like this happen, especially to someone like Tim, and our family.  But I am sure that is the same question that any family would ask when told this kind of news.  I know that God knows the why, and that He knows much more than we do.  I trust that whatever happens, it will be His plan.  Does that make it any easier? Not at all.  But it does give me comfort, in knowing that He is in control, and knows what is best.

Right now, all we can do is pray……and wait.

And The Beat Goes On….

Well, here we are into a new year.  I have been thinking about some things I can do this year  to make a difference.  Not necessarily in the world, but in me.  I am painfully aware that  there are many aspects of my life that could use some improvement.  So, this years project is going to be to work on me.

One of the things about me that I dislike the most is that I tend to let others kind of bully me around.  I get upset, but, instead of fighting back, I tend to seeth in silence.  This, in turn makes for a bad few minutes when I get home, as my dear husband has to listen as I blow off steam, and get it out of my system. So I know he will appreciate this.

I also have been a closet writer since the age of 10.  I write mostly poetry, and I alway keep a copy of whatever I write.  The things that inspire me are things that happen around me, like, the Challenger disaster.  I also see things as I go about my every day life that just make something “click” in my brain, and I write a poem about them.  I never know when one is comoing, but when they come, I have to write them down.  I want to devote more time to writing.  Why?  ther han the fact that it gives me great pleasure, I really don’t know.  I have never known how to submit anything for payment, and still have no clue.  But something inside of me just says that I have to write.  So, I am going to do it.

Another thing that I want to do is to try to find some clothes that are a little more updated.  I am from the old mold.  I don’t feel like a fifty something should necessarily dress like a 20 year old.  But on the other hand, I don’t think a 20 year old needs to dress like a fifty something, either.  So, I am going to try and get myself out of the rut of what is “safe” and be a little more stylish, without looking pathetic.  (This will be a big challenge for me, as I have a hard time finding clothes that I feel are appropriate.)

I am, and have always been, very opinionated.  Sometimes, to the point of bluntness.  This is something that I need to work on, so I plan to do that.  I have another blog, where I will be stating my opinion about world affairs, politics, and just my own opinion about them.  But that is not for this blog.  This one is more for  just everyday stuff.  Kind of like  this piece. I would like some fedback on it, if you would..  I like to know that someone reads what I write.  Like it or hate it, I would like to  know what you think,   If you have suggestions, I would really like to hear them.

I am also going to be more consistant with the posts.  Whatever I feel like writing about is what you will get.  But, I promise, here, NO politics.  Today being MLK day, I will borrow a line from his famous speech.  “I have a dream.”  It is to work toward being a better person, and hopefully, share some of that with you.  Until tomorrow, take care, and keep smiling.

Thoughts On a New Year

Well, here we are, fresh into another new year.  And, as usual, I am sure that many of you made those New Years resolutions.  I have been known to do that.  But, this year, I didn’t.  I did do some goal setting, but, none of the “R” things for me.

I have made one of my goals to try and live each day trying to be a better person to those around me.  If I can treat people like I want to be treated, it may just change their day.  And who knows, it could just make mine.

I have also decided to set as a goal to let those closest to me know how I feel about them, and what they mean to me, and to do it often.  We found ou a few months ago that one of my husbands brothers has a very rare form of liver cancer.  Though the news has been tough to take, we must keep the faith, keep praying, and keep going.  He has been a real inspiration to the whole family, as this is what he is doing.  But, the point here is that it shouldn’t take news like this to make us reach out to those closest to us and draw them nearer to us.  So, if you are one of my family members, reading this,  know that I love you very much, and if you get seemingly “strange” phone calls from me, stating that very fact, all I can say is get used to it.

There have been a few changes made at work in the past couple of months.  For the better.  But, with change comes some uncertainty.  And also, some differences in technique.  So, there has been an adjustment period.  But, things are going pretty good, and everyone is settling in pretty much.  One of my goals is to do my job to the very best of my ability, and treat my co-workers with respect and good humor.  Anyone who works with others knows that this is one goal that is hard to achieve.  But, I believe it can be done.

We found out about three months ago that we are going to become grandparents for the first time this May.   Of course, we are excited.  But, I have to say, I am a little bit scared at the same time.  This is new territory for me.  Never been a grandparent before.  (Can’t be too much harder than being a parent, can it?)  Looking forward to meeting little Anna Ruth in mid May.  Everyone tells me that there is nothing like it. 

I guess that I am becoming a little more mellow.  I don’t think that means tha t I am getting old.  But it does mean that I am reordering my priorities.  Maybe that is a sign of growing up.  (You know, growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional.)  Well, I refuse to totally grow up.  Never will.  Acting like a kid helps keep me young.  And we all need to act like kids at times.

I look forward to seeing what this new year brings.  I know there will be a lot of good things, and probably some things that are not-so-good.  But, whatever it brings, I know that with God’s help, I will get through it.  So, I am going to enjoy each day, live it to the fullest, and hopefully, in a way that makes someone elses day a little bit better.   If I can do that, then 2012 is going to be a great year.

Why We MUST Remember

Ten years….  but it seems like yesterday.   I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the report of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center.  I had just got off my school bus, and parked it from the morning run.  I remember thinking what a beautiful morning it was.  I got in my car, and when I started it, I heard the news man say that a plane had hit the south tower.  I rushed home, and ran into the house to turn on the FOX news channel, and see the damage, and hear the reports.

Just as I got into the house, and turned on the television, I saw the second plane hit the north tower.  I felt my eyes tear up and I sat down, not believing what I had just seen.  I remember Jon Scott making the statement, “Uh..this is no accident, folks.”  I called my hisband and told him to get to a tv, and what had happened.  Just after that, all the news channels were reporting that there had been an explosion at the Pentagon, and the the FAA had ordered all commercial planes grounded.    A little later, we got word that there was another plane still flying, and it had altered its course back toward Washington, DC.   Then,  contact was lost, and soon after came word that a plane had gone down in Shanksville, PA.  First responders hurried to the site, only to discover that the entire plane had disentigrated on impact, and all on board were lost.

We only later learned of the heroes who were aboard that plane, and what they did to thwart another attack, possibly on the White House, or the Capitol.  Yes, these people were just average Americans, like us, when they boarded that plane that morning, but they showed the very epitome of the American Spirit with their actions.  They fought the first battle of the war, and won.  But their families paid a great cost.

Back in New York, it only got worse, as first Americans watched in horror as the south tower fell, soon to be followed by the north tower coming down.  Hundreds of people, including first responders from the NYPD, FDNY, and Port Authority police.  There were also heros among them, as they bravely entered the buildings, and stayed with the injured who could not get out, giving their own lives while performing their job.  These men and women deserve our most earnest praise, and gratitude.   While most would have probably still have died while going up to fight the blaze, some could have saved themselves by exiting the building, but they didn’t.

America lost a lot that day.  And she was forever changed.  But although we were bruised, and hurt, we did not quit, and were made stronger.  We were stunned, but we did not falter in our resolve.  We did what Americans always do.  We licked our wounds, pulled ourselves up by the boot straps, and started the process of cleaning up, and rebuilding, and  preparing to find those who did this, and bring them to justice.

Now, ten years later, as I watch remembrances of that day, I find myself  once again full of emotion, and anger, and I still feel helpless.  Even though what I saw today was history, it was just as real as if it were happening again.  I have not forgotten September 11, and I never will.    I will never forget the families of those who were lost, although I know none of them.  I will never forget the horror of seeing that second plane hitting the tower, nor the determination on the faces of the first responders as they made their way into those buildings.

Nor should we forget the lessons learned.  there are those that would have us chagne our way of speaking about it.  It is no longer politically correct to call it a War on terror.  Yet, that is exactly what it is.  We are told that we must tolerate (and give in to) requests for mosques to be built on or near the site of that attack, yet, a Christian Church cannot be built there.  We have been told that we must try to understand these people.  And that if we will just talk to them, we can work out our differences.

Well, here is the way I see it.  THEY attacked US, on our own soil.  It was an unprovoked attack, and our response was justified. (Remember December, 1941?)   This was no different.  While there are Muslim people who are not a part of the fanatical sect, and I respect their right to worship as they choose, I am tired of being told that we must bend over backwards to accommodate  those rights while I am being told that my own beliefs have to be kept quiet, as they may “offend” someone.    Their symbols are no more important than mine.  Yet, I am told that my Bible offends them, while their Koran should not offend me? 

September 11 is now a part of our nations history, just as the Battle Of Gettysburg, and the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Many things in our past history are painful.  This is no different.  But our response must make it clear that we will not lay down and give up.  I don’t recall congress complaining about the cost of giving our military what it needed in 1941.  Yet now, nearly everyday, you turn on the tv, and hear some congress man talking about how expensive the war is, and what it has cost.  There are many who think we need to defund the efforts.  To them I say this…..there has been NO other successful attacks on our Nation since 9/11.  This is thanks to beefed up military, and security procedures ut into place after September 11.  Yes, they are time consuming, and at times annoying.  They certainly go too far in some instances.  But if it keeps another bunch of madmen from being able to perpetrate another such heinous crime on this nation, I can live with it.

A little while ago, we went to a local parade for the first repsonders in our county.  Our county has one paid fire department, and numerous volunteer departments.  Each department was represented in the parade, as well as the State police, Our local Sherriffs office, and our city police.  I salute and thank them each and every one, for their service, and their sacrifice.  My son in law is on one of the volunteer departments.  These men and women train very hard, and work very hard to make sure that their equipment is up to date, and in good working order.  They have families, and most have full time jobs as well.  Yet, when the page goes out, no matter what time it is, or what day, they repsond.  They help keep us safe.

Which brings me to another point….in looking at all the coverage of 9/11, I rarely saw any pictures from NYC that first responders were not in.  They were important then, but at the ceremony marking the 10th anniversary, there was not room for them?  Come on, Mayor Blumberg.  You need a better excuse than that.  They sure are important when you have a fire, or any other emergency.  I don’t see you out there risking your own life for people you don’t even know.  (And in the case ofvolunteer FDs,) without any compensation.

This day will pass, and life will continue on , as usual.  But, I think, without a doubt, we added a new definition for the word ‘normalcy’  after September 11.  So, what is the new norm?  I am ot going to tell you that.  You need to study, and find out on your own.  Watch the programs about 9/11.  Read books and articles about it.  But wahtever you do, do NOT allow yourself to ever forget it.

If we forget September 11, we are destined to repeat the mistakes that we should hae learned from.  I don’t know about you, but I personally do NOT was to see another day like that one. 

Thank you, first responders, military personnel, and just plain citizens.  You are appreciated more than I can ever tell you.  But, just know, that if you ever come to KY, there is one person here who considers you ALL to be heroes, and I am thankful that you are willing to do the job.

September 11, 2001…..Never Forget!