Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Be Still My Soul

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to your God to order and provide;
In every change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; your best, your heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; your God will undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and wind still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

Be still, my soul; though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then you will better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe your sorrows and your fears.
Be still, my soul; your Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Hymn # 510
Lutheran WorshipAuthor: Jean Sibelius
Tune: Finlandia1st
Published in: 1752

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Boys are Back in Town

First came Zach, home to help his dad and me. We have a big house but he was warned…

Then, the expected arrival of Jeremy and the blondest of grandsons, Drew (5) and Noah (3), for most of the summer. Daughter extraordinaire is now a resident at Brookes Army Medical Center and will be busy busy busy supervising her own interns plus advancing in her career. Jeremy will be working for Pioneer Seed Company as a field supervisor outside in the hot, steaming corn fields 20 miles away while the boys will rotate between day camp, day care, Bible School, summer fun days, and the lake on the weekends.

Let’s just say that Princess Ivy and I will be outnumbered in any discussion of gender politics.

And there will probably be many instances of UP toilet seats. On the plus side, as they all leave spare change in their pockets, my laundry money haul should improve.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Our Visitor

Intimates know about our door bell situation.

Days after moving into our home, we accidently clipped those wires. Then “fix the doorbell” was on the job list for several months. But gradually, we adjusted and then realized that we were just fine without it. We avoided casual door-to-doors and other annoyances.

So to this day. Friends understand that we spend more time near the rear of our home and so they come around to the back door. Then, if the door is open, they call in or walk in and announce themselves.

So Jeremy was surprised when, on Friday afternoon, he answered the loud knocking at the front door and opened it to a visitor….not expected, not invited, but not unwelcome.

He called me to the living room and I greeted a local minister who offered his hand and began, “I’m not really sure why I’m here.”

He said that he had just this morning heard of Mike’s illness and something (hmmm, shall we say The Holy Spirit?) brought him to our home for the first time.

He’s not a stranger. 20 years ago, I served on a pastoral search committee that brought him to town. Since then, we had moved to another church and he had left and formed a new church. In recent years, he and I had bumped into each other on those occasions when I was treating myself to breakfast and he was meeting with a men’s group at our finest local diner.

Several months ago, he asked me to proofread a grant proposal where he recounted his life experiences for the last few years. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and is currently in remission but there’s so much more. Let’s just say that he is a modern-day Job and we’re no where near chapter 42.

Again, “I don’t know why I’m here.”

I gave him a short summary of our last few months. Then, Mike joined us. After 30 minutes, they thought maybe I had something better to do. 2 hours later, the emissary left.

All this in the context of our seeking God’s guidance in the course of Mike’s illness.

We did not speak of it until we were on our way to the lake. Then, Mike said, “Well, what do you make of that visit?”

I said I had no idea except that we had been praying and I knew that others were praying and this guy just shows up.

“It must have something to do with what God is trying to tell us.”

Mike agreed and said, “It means I’m going to take the treatment.”

Ok, then I’m dumbfounded. When it comes to decision-making, I am the impulsive; he is the deliberative. But not this time. We had not had time to work the win/loss column thing. He had seen the decision as crystal clear because of the visit.

And so this afternoon, I have contacted his doctor and we will meet next week to get all the particulars scheduled.

And please continue to pray. Although we realize that God’s will here is clear, today we are both quite blue.

And rejoice that God answers prayers powerfully.

Blessings to all of you. We will keep you posted.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Also this weekend...........

So besides all the other things on our minds, this weekend will bring the 16th Annual Mideast Sprint Optimist Triathlon to Winona Lake, Indiana.

Early Saturday morning, 700 or so enthusiasts will gather by the shore, eager to test their individual mettle. Ready..Set..Go!

400 yd. open water swim
and then
13 ½ miles bike ride
and then
3 ½ miles run

All for glory of 1) bragging rights; 2) a T Shirt; 3) possible door prizes; and 4) snacks.

I can't imagine what would motivate anyone to give this a go. There will be those present who follow these things around the country (world) for the glory of the win.

One would think that unless you had a chance of placing, the attraction is individual success. Since you’re not really competing with anyone but yourself, you cheer on each participant. BUT this is Indiana and there’s been a lot of trash talking going on around here. Sons and sons-in-law, brothers, nephews and nieces, sisters-in-law, neighbors are getting pumped.

We are, as always seems to be the case, looking at the hottest, stickiest weekend of the year. At the 8AM start, the temperature will be hitting the high 80s. By noon, those still standing will get to wilt under 100 degree skies and blistering sun.

Some of us will be sitting and sipping cool drinks, under big shade trees or MAYBE inside a nice air conditioned bedroom.

Prayer Team! On Deck!

The doctors and other health professionals who care for the terminally ill have a playbook with cliches’.

“I don’t have a crystal ball.”
“We’re all going to die.”
“Medicine is not an exact science.”

"We don't know."

So we met our oncologist/radiologist on Monday.

Mike: So, Dr., how do you see me?

Dr.: You are a relatively young man with advanced gall bladder cancer and no symptoms at the present time. Your cancer was not found early. That’s usual for gall bladder cancer. We do not have much data for your kind of cancer. You are a statistical study of one.

Mike: What do you propose?
Dr. We suggest that you begin a therapy regime.

(6 weeks, daily radiation, targeting the gall bladder bed; insertion of port (outpatient surgery) and 24/7 chemo)

Goal: so that the cancer does not grow back there. For how long? Not a cure. But we don’t know.

Side effects: Rad/Onc says that the chemo will be the harder; Oncologist said that radiation would be the harder; they both agree that "You’re such a young man in good health. You’ll do just fine.”

Me: As there are no symptoms at this time, what if we wait?

Dr: We don’t know. Maybe it will make no difference. Maybe it will make a difference.

What they DO know is that we can expect Mike to feel weak and ill, nothing unmanageable, several days a week. And that will mean no more flying. And the port will mean no more swimming.

The Dr. left the room and I told the hub that I would support whatever decision he made. But he pressed me and I confessed that I hated to see him give up what he’s doing right now, especially since they don’t know if waiting will make a difference.

So this week has been ‘sleeping on it’ and praying about it. Yesterday, Mike sent this to his oncologist

If I interpret (radiologist/oncologist) correctly, he advised that it will not make much difference whether I do chemo or rad commencing Sept 15, 2009.

Is it necessary to do both at the same time: Can I do one at a time, beginning with radiation? Will that make a difference?


Lynne and I do lots of fun things in the summer and we have some trips planned. Doing the treatment will kill those plans which I suppose could be changed.

If I do the chemo, I understand that I understand I must a port…when does that need to be inserted in relation to the start of chemo, should I elect to do that?


I am probably going to do both of them, particularly if it can be put off relatively safely until September.

Thanks you for the help. Please advise further.

She called this AM

"Your diagnosis is ‘microscropic metastatic gall bladder cancer.’ The therapy will be done together. If you wait for 6 months after diagnosis, there will be no benefit to therapy."

The therapy offers a chance of more time. But how much. And will it be good time?

We don’t know.

They traffic in optimism and hope at the oncology center.

So we are faced with a decision. Mike is a champ at a win/lose column comparision. This is perhaps the last time we will work this system.

We are going to be praying about this during the weekend and will ask you to join us. God’s grace will help us NOT REGRET the direction. You will be covering us, we know. Thank you, our friends.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pray Like a Child

Those in the family may remember that our daughter was verbally precocious at an early age. She was born an old soul. By the time she was four, we had amazing discussions about topics abstract and ethical. And spiritual.

She knew our friend by sight, a creative guy who owned a craft shop and drove a bright purple van, his golden retriever hanging out the right window. She would wave and he would honk. Street friends.

And her young ears caught our discussion that October night, when we thought she was asleep.

Our friend was in Arkansas, drove his van into a dark intersection, and hit the side of a semi. He probably would have died but at the last second, he ducked. Alive but with his skull crushed in front, he lay in a coma hundreds of miles away.

The newspaper had reported the accident plus some side information about the seriousness of his head injury. The portion of the brain that was crushed was the place of coherence. He was not moving. He was showing no signs of brain function. We didn’t even bother to wonder…he would die there. We grieved.

Then that little voice. “Mommy, what wrong with Mr. R?” (our children still don’t call some adults by their first names)

I had committed myself to always answering her questions truthfully. I struggled here. What could she understand?

“Well, honey. Mr. R was in a car accident and he is hurt.”

“What’s wrong with him, Mommy?”

Pause

“Well, he can’t seem to wake up.”

Thoughtful.

“Well, let’s pray for him, ok? Let’s pray that he will wake up.”

And for the first time with her, I struggled with what I should do. Should I try to explain to her that sometimes we don’t get what we ask for, that sometimes God has a different idea of what is best? For those who don’t remember Al as a young girl, you might not understand. But she understood. And she wanted to pray for her friend.

God guides us well, even when we are confused. I said, “Of course. Let’s pray for him.” So we did. Every night. Sometimes several times during the day. That sweet little voice, “Dear God, help Mr. R wake up.”

Reports from Arkansas were bleak in early November. Mrs. R was sitting at her husband’s side, playing tape recorded noises from our town, including their dog’s bark and local children singing. She pasted fallen leaves around the room, talked to him, smoothed his hair. And I’m sure, she wept much of the time.

Thanksgiving came late that year. As we were collecting our stuff to go to the in-laws, I pictured Mrs. R, sitting at her husband’s side, all alone in that hospital and I realized I had to call her, so I did.

“Lynne,” she said, “my husband is awake. Really awake. He’s looking at me right now. He’s smiling.”

We cried together and then she had to go. I found my little girl.

“Allyson! Mr. R is awake!”

She nodded, thought for a minute, and then said, “Ok. What does he need now?”

Oh, the pure faith of the child!

The next months were filled with baby step prayers. Mr. R blinked on command. Mr. R followed people with his eyes. Mr. R turned his head. Mr. R moved his fingers and toes. Mr. R sat up. Mr. R spoke. Mr. R stood.

In the spring, Mr. R came home. We greeted him with a backyard party. When I approached, he offered his hand and then, unbelievable, he cracked a joke. He had retained his wry sense of humor. Our friend was here.

Today, Mr. R prefers his wheelchair and lives a very different life than he expected but I’m betting he’d tell you it’s a great life. He teaches at a community college and advocates for the disabled. Whenever I see him, God reminds me that children pray without the burden of WHAT WE KNOW. God heals. God is in the miracle business.

As Chuck Swindoll said, “God likes it best when we reach the bottom of our ability. Then He says, ‘Stand back and watch Me work.’”

Mike and I are facing some decisions in the next weeks. We are grateful for your prayers and we want to be good stewards of what God has given us. We will keep you posted.

Cancer and Baseball

I grew up in suburban Detroit so sweltering summer days were filled with radio broadcasts of Tiger games. The din seemed a constant wherever you went…past a store front, on a back porch, visiting in the hospital. Windows were open and floor fans placed strategically but mostly, the heat encouraged you to slow down and sit.

Those radio broadcasts were the background music to life, except when you heard a CRACK and/or the swelling of the crowd noise. Then, as though scripted, the talking stopped and in the silence, you waited for the reason. A child on the floor who may not have learned this courtesy might get a gentle toe tap to the seat and a SHHHH!

After the Aha, the talking would begin again, often in mid sentence.
I was a child and didn’t follow too closely, although we must have traveled a lot to see the Minnesota relatives because I DO remember Harlem Killebrew, a name that always made me giggle.

The 60’s were rocky for the Tigers and as air conditioning became common, there was less of the baseball-on-the-radio-all-over-the-place atmosphere. I recall that a guy named Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s record for home runs in a single season and that in those pre-steroid-enhanced days, the controversy it caused as Roger had more games to play than did The Babe.

After that, I was busy with The Beatles and boys and, oh yes, school and such so I drifted away from the game. No big loss for either of us. But, in the summer of 1970, when the Red-Haired Boy from Indiana was coming to call, my dad arranged for what he thought would be a visit highlight—the Chrysler Corporation Box Seats, right behind the dug-out at the neck-and-neck battle between the Tigers and Baltimore. Cash! Kalain! Horton!

The seats were cool and, even to the minor fan, a baseball park is a great place for people watching. Alas, my boyfriend had not been following the battle and so did not grasp the coolness of the event. And, of course, I’m sure it was that he was interested in ME, not the Tigers……

Mike’s never been a big fan of televised sports, certainly not baseball. In the middle of Indiana, we don’t have our own Major League team so locals, if they follow, cheer for Cinninati or the Cubs. Even with an across-the-street neighbor who is playing pro, the whole 9 inning sport has not peeked Mike’s interest.
So it was with a bit of amusement that I entered the room to see a baseball game on the big TV.

It was during the weeks that Mike was hurting and healing from his surgery. Pain and pain meds had cast a pall over our room when son-in-law Jeremy hit upon baseball therapy. A home run for cancer treatment.

Jeremy would sit in the easy chair and turn on the game (there is always a game) and they would chat and watch. As neither of them, by their own admittance, knew much about the game, when one would ask a question, like “Why did he do that?” the other would make something up. A common answer was, “Strategy,” with the return, “Oh.”

Sometimes, the explanation was plausible. More often, and certainly as the game drifted into the late hours, the answers would become more and more bizarre. Their back and forth reminded me of middle school slumber parties where at 3:00 AM, everything is funny.

And speaking of funny, as the days progressed, they began to ‘get it.’ They began to follow the game, the teams and players. By the time Jeremy returned to Texas, the hub was hooked.

He has become a Yankees fan. He loves A-Rod and doesn’t care a whit for all the bad press.
And the lingo:
“It’s a walk-off homer.”
“He’s icing the pitcher.”
“Only 3 (4) (5) games out.”

The son-in-law is back and the baseball is on. Our evenings are often filled with cheering, howling, groaning, and discussions of strategy that make sense.

And the coup: next week the boys will drive down to Indy to watch our minor league team in a great, outdoor area. AND at the end of July, Jeremy has snared two tickets, by the dug-out, for the White Sox and the Yankees.

Healing comes in many containers. Perhaps that bad pitcher will stay home.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Making Music





Mike says that few things make him happier than 1) Zach being home and 2) making music with his son. Enjoy this smile with us.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What a Friend Brought Part II

This hangs on the wall in our bedroom. We see it first thing in the morning.

What a friend brought Part I

If you’ve followed our blog since the beginning, you will remember that in the darkest days after surgery, when Mike was at his weakest, Satan ramped up his attack on my husband’s assurance of his eternal security.

Mike became the target of doubt and fear. Doubt of all he had learned and embraced during his life. Doubt that he was, in fact, a child of God, loved by God, guided by God, and headed to his Father’s side. And the existence of that doubt seemed to underscore its reality. How could a believer doubt? If he does, does that not mean that he is NOT a believer? Blackest fear.

Catch 22. The Evil One has read the book.

Satan is a coward who targets the sure thing. This time it was this very ill man who was facing his mortality with immediacy. Why not torture a man who has a very real interest in where he may be heading after death?

Mike asked. He asked me. He asked family. He asked pastors. He called out to God.

And God surrounded him with many voices of believing friends who tried to show him, from scripture, from the evidence of his life, from the reports of his peers, that he is, indeed, a child of God.

One friend came to visit, a gruff, large bull of a man, a Harley guy, and a Christian. He has known Mike for much of his adult life and before coming to Christ, had need of a lawyer from time to time. Mike had served as an example to him in his difficulties and in his triumphs. Now, here was this example, wiped out physically, emotionally, spiritually.

This man joined the chorus in assuring Mike that he is God’s man. Even his voice could not take away the doubt and that frustrated him.

I wasn’t in the room but I’m betting it went something like this:

“Dang it, (or perhaps something a bit more colorful) Bolinger! What would it take to convince you that you are a going to heaven?”

“Oh,” weakly from under the covers, “I guess if I saw writing in the sky that said ‘Mike Bolinger is a Christian,’ that would do it.

The room’s conversations continued for a while and then all visitors went on with their lives. Except this guy. He spent a restless night, turning it over in his mind, what could he do to help his friend. He prayed for guidance and with the dawn of Friday morning, God gave him an answer.

He called a local artist who had not heard of Mike’s illness. Explaining what he wanted, he commissioned a drawing and told her he needed it ASAP. She jumped at this project and by Monday, she called the biker, he picked it up and delivered it in person.

The last few months have brought opportunities for people to express concern and kindness. Many of these events have brought us to tears. The drawing was the first.

Praying for Miracles

Around here in the spring, you can see these tiny birds that hop hop hop down a sidewalk, chirping with each move. They are looking for some goody, like a worm or a tasty bug. Movement and sound stops when the treasure is secured. Then the noise begins again as the bird lets us all know about it.

This reminds me of one of my best buddies. While diminutive in size, she’s a big-shouldered friend when it comes to prayer. She also breaths the Old Testament. She’s actually READ those minor prophets. More than once. Someone waxes Paulian and she, smiling, adds something related from Obadiah. And even though she’s concerned with Israel and the end times, she’s usually extremely UP, if you know what I mean.

It was a very different gal who stood with her husband at the end of Mike’s hospital bed the day after THE NEWS. Arms around each other’s waist, they prayed for us and then said, “We see no reason NOT to pray for a miracle.” And then they prayed again, something about healing…clean…gone…healthy. In the name of Jesus.

We know they are joined by many others who are praying for a miracle for Mike (and me). We know that some are praying as we would pray, that if it’s God’s will, please heal and if that’s not God’s will, then supply their needs as they face this illness.

My friend omits the addendum. Miracle. That’s what they’re asking for. Period. She gently chides us with James 4:2 (she knows the New Testament, also) “Ye have not because ye ask not.” Not her and her husband. They ask.

So, it’s no surprised that she was the first person to call me after we posted the update on this blog.

“Hi there, Love muffin!”

(I don’t know…)

“Aren’t you excited? Aren’t you just praising the Lord?” And then she reminded me of people who are praying for this miracle, every day, multiple times during the day.

And she’s pumped. Chirp.

We just love her to pieces but here’s the truth. Yes, we are praising the Lord. He is our constant companion these days and we’ve been given a gift of more time.

God has not asked us to pray for healing. He HAS asked us to trust Him and follow Him where He leads. We do and we will.

Excited? Well, no, not really. Please don’t let that dampen anyone else’s enthusiasm. What we are is STUNNED. The report was not what we expected nor what we thought we had prepared ourselves for. The good report left us numb. We need some of that extra time to digest it.

And as we were digesting breakfast the next morning, Mike asked me what I thought of it all. And I asked him. We both agree that we don’t have the faith to ask for healing. Another area for our friends to pray.

What we both confessed to each other: I had asked God for a terrific summer. Mike had asked for more time.

And we are praising God that He has heard our prayers and has answered them.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Amen.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Update

Getting the Roll is a basketball term, according to the hub. The player shoots. The ball circles the rim...sometimes it goes in...sometimes it goes out.

We knew you were carrying us as we went to this morning's appointment.

They wanted more blood work. Why? To confirm? To double check? Oh wait, they checked his chart and no, they didn't need more.

We were on time and they were not. As this is unusual, we began to ruminate about the whys....are they collecting themselves before they tell us? Are they assembling the crisis team along with major sedation for the hysteria that will follow? Are they clearing the sound-proof room with the padded walls?

You see why we need your prayer support. The nurse breezed in to take notes, check blood pressure, ask questions about pain. Mike reported that he felt fine, was swimming, biking and flying. She remarked that he had gained 10 lbs. Was that a note of amazement in her voice? Cancer patients LOSE weight, don't they?

She left and then in came the doctor. "Well, I have good news."

Huh?

"Your CAT scan is completely normal. We see nothing."

Huh?

I asked and she said, "We have looked at the entire abdomen. The liver, the pancreas, the lungs, the spleen, the stomach. We see nothing at this time."

Huh?

I indicated that this was not what we expected. "It's exactly what I was expecting," she said. "That's why I mentioned you as a great candidate for treatment."

We recovered enough to ask some intelligent questions. The treatment would target the area of the former gall bladder and should keep a tumor from growing there "which would be painful."

She did not say that there will not be tumors someday. BUT today, there is nothing. Nada. NOTHING.

"Did I get the roll?" he asked me. He had to explain the term and then we hugged and said, "Yes" together.

What does this mean? Well, first more time. LOTS more time. Time to live. Time to love living.

The doctor then discussed the treatment option....it would be a combination of radiation and a specialized chemo that must be taken through a port. A port means an outpatient procedure, so we'd go back to our Kokomo surgeon.

We will meet with radiologist next Tuesday, for an informational meeting. No decisions need to be made today. We are packing up and headed to the lake. This weekend promised to be hot and sunny. Fun fun fun.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

For our Praying Friends

Friday at 8:45 (EST), we have an appointment with Mike's doctor. At that time, she will discuss whatever findings come from the high contrast CT he had on Monday. We need strength and wisdom as we face this appointment.

Thank you.

Bathroom Remodeling 101 Part II



See 'arsty-fartsy wall hanging. It also goes with everything else.


The photo does not catch the colors....deep moss green, really gorgeous, if I do say so myself. Again, thanks, Fran.

Bathroom Remodeling 101 Part I

Until recently, our bathroom featured a prized possession: an oversized, cast iron, claw-foot tub. When we installed it, 4 large-bicep men carried it into the room, stopping twice to rest. Two of those men used clear silicone to cement the feet to the floor. That tub wasn’t going anywhere. I loved that tub. You could fill it up and stretch out, leaving only nose and mouth above water.

So the hub was surprised when, a few months ago, I suggested it was time to rip it out and install a shower unit. “You’re not serious?” he asked.

Well, yes I was. I had developed osteoporosis and he’s not as spry as he once was. Every time I stepped out, it was a 6 – 7 inch drop to the floor. I figured this was an accident waiting to happen. But as my daughter would point out, it would be ‘so us’ to wait until someone broke something and then look at each other and say, “We should have replaced that tub.”

The tub was great but the bathroom had its problems, notably a lack of storage. This encouraged us both to keep everything out so, though useful, the bathroom was a cluttered mess. Even my comfort with clutter was challenged most of the time.

So, we had begun the process of remodeling the bathroom. That process, based on past experience, should have taken us, oh, 5 or 6 years. We’ve gutted and remodeled a kitchen and finished several other decorating projects over the years and it’s always a slow, laborious testing of our pledged love for each other.

First, our decorating modes are different. Mike would like to research everything...fixtures of the world, flooring options with pros and cons of each, faucet types with a chart that includes warranty/cost/color/water flow. I would like to tell the contractor that ‘the shower goes there, the sink goes there, the cabinet goes over there.” Mike would think it’s wise to get a signed contract and then supervise the entire project. I’d like to write a check, go on a trip and come back with it is all done.

If a decision needed to be made, I’d tell the worker to just make it and I’d live with it. Do we need an outlet? Yes, probably. A window? Uh huh. Wouldn’t you just assume he’d put one in?

Then, we have to schedule shopping time and the big thing that slows down the project is Mike’s insistence, can you believe it, that ‘everything needs to go together.’ That means color coordination and that’s where I sink. Not my forte. Now, the hub is really good at this but he’ll drag his heels with his help, extending the time of the project. So the 5 or 6 years.

The first week of April changed so much in our lives. My sister, familiar with my house, said to me gently, “You know, Lynne, later on Mike won’t be able to bath in your bathroom.” She explained that it might be unsafe for him to climb into that tub.

“Well, THAT’S not going to happen,” I told her and I resolved to kick the bathroom project into high gear. It became a central goal for when we returned home from the hospital.

I wanted to get it done and I had to do it without Mike’s help. I wanted it to be useful and nice. AND, to please the hub, it all needed to go together. What to do, what to do?

My first stop was my local paint store, owned and operated by friend Fran who has the most unique gifts when it comes to color. “Help,” I wailed.

She told me to go pick out a floor and a cabinet color and come back. I did. She worked her magic and grabbed some color strips and asked me what I liked. “What do YOU like, Fran?”

She really prefers to pretend with me that I do the choosing. We both understand my skill level….so I ‘chose’ and she gave it her blessing. She pointed out what I probably wanted for the walls, for the towels, for the accessories. “Yes?”

Yes. Sure. Fran is the best.

I called another friend who is a contractor and who loves my husband. He told me that his crew would make this a priority. He went with me to purchase cabinets, the shower unit, the faucets, flooring and much etc. I was already stressed, in the early weeks of dealing with THE NEWS, and needed help making even simple decisions so this process was difficult and his presence was security.

Once everything was ordered, the project began. First I had to move us, clutter and all, out of the bathroom. Our big old house has three more baths but we had to reduce our stuff to the bare essentials.

My builder discovered that the subfloor was rotten; it needed to be replaced. One wall was not square…an understatement…and needed to be squared.

There were some other ruts…cabinets took a month and the seller didn’t mention that you had to order shelves separately. Who knew? The plumbing supply store ordered the wrong molded shower; it took a week for the wrong one to come so it took another week to get the right one. Plumbing in an old house is quite the adventure so there was much drilling and pounding in the basement.

We had purchased a special shower faucet set-up designed with safe guards against accidental scalding. We couldn’t figure out how to get any hot water so we had to take a class from the plumber.

And, as my husband will remind me, it was good for me to be around because there WERE some questions I needed to answer and some decisions I needed to make.

Finally, it was time for the painters and that gorgeous Fran-picked color coated the walls. The floor was laid, the cabinets set. I hung the towels. Oh my. It all goes together.

I even purchased some art for the walls…my children will laugh because I’m slow to pound those nails in new walls. So, voila! We have a new bathroom. And the hub is pleased (though amazed) that it ‘all goes together.’

No Coincidences

If you are God’s child…and we are, and you believe that He has a plan…and we must, then you come to the conclusion that there are no coincidences in life.

That does not exclude the idea that God has an ironic sense of humor.

He chose Moses, the guy with the speech impediment and some courage issues, to face Pharaoh and order the ruler to release his slaves/free labor force.

He created Eden, His idea of perfect life for His creation, in the area of what is now downtown Bagdad..certainly evidence of global climate change at least once.

He picked Peter, his impetuous disciple, the guy who often acted first and thought about it later, to build His church.

He selected Saul, a Roman citizen and strong enemy, to spread the Gospel in the first century. Even Paul had to chuckle over that one.

He has chosen the Bolingers, all comfy and soft, to navigate a difficult test.

The Plan. The Master Plan. Often, that plan is beyond our understanding so even as we ask, “Why?” He has to say, “You wouldn’t understand right now.” And we have to accept it. And we can when we rest in the love of our God.

In the last few months, there HAVE been situations that seem coincidental.

For example, several years ago, two young men, just past that magic 18-year-old protection, did something really stupid. It might have been a kid prank if they had been a tad younger. That prank began a series of events that resulted in major property damage. No matter that neither has ‘priors.’ They are in deep trouble.

Each hired a seasoned attorney to represent him and the cases have finally concluded. I was reintroduced to the other attorney. He has terminal cancer, only recently diagnosed. From all indications, and I’m not the final judge here, this other attorney is not a believer and is facing his end alone.

Coincidence? No. But why would God orchestrate this situation? Two different men, about the same age. Both facing the end of their lives. Their connection now is this years-old prank.

Another recent event.

Both Mike and I are invited to our high school’s 40th reunion. Now, that’s not a coincidence as we both graduated in 1969. Mike’s party is in July and we hope to attend. As he graduated from the local high school, many friends still live locally so his event is less of a ‘what’s-new-with-you’ meeting.

Mine will be held in Michigan in early October. There was a lot less mobility when I was growing up in Trenton, Michigan so some of my classmates were in kindergarten with me. These reunions are always such fun.

We plan to attend. However, when I connected with the lady who is the master planner, I told her about Mike and said that I might not be able to attend. She returned with the news that HER husband, also 57, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, another quick-moving killer.

Coincidence? No, not in God’s world. But why would He orchestrate this similarity to a long-time friend?

Not for us to know at this time.

These situations and people may be part of our test. It may be that we are to be sensitive to their needs as we pray for ourselves. We have to be open to that. His plan is bigger than our little minds.

It’s easy to lose sight of this simple truth. Something ‘just works out.’ People ‘just show up at the same time.’ Two or three dramas intersect and help each move to satisfying conclusion. “Funny how that works.”

Not funny. No coincidences.

The mark of the Maker of the Master Plan.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What a Great Day!

That’s what he said. “This is how every day should be.” I agree. The last 24 hours have been glorious.

Great Days come in many forms… weather, seasons, locations. Today it came in on the faces of guys who dropped by. Many friends have been in touch with cards and phone calls and today, some turned up the driveway, turned off their cars and sat for a spell on the woodshop’s porch. When Mike is out in his shop and the lights are on, when the third garage door is open and the Lotus shell is in view, we have always thought that this is a ‘come on in’ sign. Today it was.

There was Morgan who dropped by on his day off and stayed for several hours. There was Lynn who is connected to the Lotus project in the garage. There was Dr. Jeff, fresh from his shift. There was Dave, Scott, and neighbor Mike. And then Zack. The hub was busy and social, calling it a night late into the night.

I know that friends have been cautious about invading our space and respecting our privacy. Also, perhaps like myself in the past, some are uncomfortable coming to see the sick guy. What to say? What to do? “I’m not good at THIS,” one friend confessed.

Well, he’s not so sick, ya’ll. Friends don’t have to worry. These guys just hung out. They talked cars, motorcycles, guitars…you know, guy stuff. I think they enjoyed themselves as they stayed. I AM sure that they poured out some magical elixir that warmed Mike’s soul.

Then there was, apparently, quite a basketball game on TV. Something about overtime, jump shots, amazing feats of swishing nets. There was a good night’s sleep, windows open with a cool breeze and many blankets.

The morning brought a deep blue sky with wisps of clouds. Then Dad and Son unleashed more healing magic. They set up their acoustics in the living room and began to play. Toes thumping, heads nodding, the tune was Harlem Rag. Mike played lead. Zack played back up. They both smiled, joked, coached, and played some more.

I was called in to be the audience. It was glorious to watch my boys making music together.

Then, as I met a friend for lunch, Dad and Son ran some errands and hung out, Mike said, like old friends. They washed the truck, made a book store run, and cruised the aisles at Handy Hardware. Zack is amused at the very idea of Handy Hardware. Finally, they enjoyed some gyros by the banks of Wildcat Creek.

We are off to the lake. Some friends plan to come up after church on Sunday. I had thought we might open up the Trivial Pursuit 90's edition...we were all awake and aware in the 90's. UH. I have been peeking at questions and think we'll stick to UNO.

We’ve asked for your prayers, for our meeting next Friday, where our doctor will discuss the CT scan. Until then, we are going to live like today is the kind of normal day we want to face every day.

Swim, Sweetie

Mike’s never been much of a team sports guy. He played a little baseball as a child and tried, like every red-blooded Hoosier boy, to make the basketball team. But by high school, his size separated him from that dream. They grew ‘em big in Kokomo, even in the ‘60s.

He found his athletic niche in the chlorine of the local pool. From his early days, he has swum competitively. He began as a tad at the YMCA and moved on to high school to compete at the state level. All the while, he and his buddies were coached by the legend, the man, the MAL. Stories about Mal the coach are mythic around here, and they grow with the passing of years and the aging of the story tellers. Mal was demanding. His coaching style was often ‘physical.’ Mal used kick boards in all sorts of creative, motivational ways. If only a fraction of what the boys claim is true, let’s just say that he was not overly concerned with their fragile self-images or backsides..or heads; he pushed them to win.

And WIN they did, the longest dual-meet, consecutive win streak in Indiana history. They were never beaten in four years.

When he retired from coaching, Mal became a guidance counselor and he and I became colleagues and friends. One day, when I casually mentioned that I had eaten lunch with Mal, Mike’s jaw dropped. I don’t know if it was that I actually conversed with Mal or that he ate lunch like normal people.

Recently, Mike said, “You know that whenever I saw that man, into my 50s, he still hit me.”

“Hit you?” I asked.

He then demonstrated. A punch to the shoulder and “Are you still working out, you worm?” This ended in Mike’s 50’s as Mal moved on to that chorine pool in the sky.

I mentioned, in that context, that HE will also be waiting to greet the hub when he walks into heaven. A momentary wince crossed his eyes. “He probably won’t hit you in Heaven.”

Unless he needs it.

And for the record, let me say that the Mal I knew was a gentle, soft-spoken man, married to a teacher and father to a brilliant daughter on whom he doted. He served as a church deacon and Sunday School teacher and when he passed on, the church was filled to the walls with friends, fans and former swim team members.

Mal’s influence on Mike is also legendary. Mal inspired Mike to push himself to be the best and that has shaped his career as well as his marriage and his relationships with his family and friends. And to this day, Mike finds something ethereal when he plops into a body of water and swims. For some, the monotony of lap swimming would bore them quickly. For athletes, I believe, this is their special refuge. They are alone, with their thoughts. In recent weeks, Mike says, he uses this time for prayer.

On a practical level, the skills that Mal helped hone won the hub a scholarship to Wheaton College where he competed during his freshman year. He might not have chosen Wheaton had they not sweetened the deal. THEN, he might not have met his future wife on that cold November morning when, fresh from swim practice and with his hair still dripping, he watched me slip and sit into the street, up to my waist in slush.

Wet and cold met cold and wet.

Love would bloom later when we had both dried off.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Some things we'll NEVER get right

A few years ago, I was the driver on a road trip. My customers were a long-married couple. We had fun touring the Midwest and I learned a lot, as one will do when confined for hours and days to an automobile.

Throughout the trip, I noted that these folks fussed at each other...nothing major...over HIS driving and HER decisions about money. (I was driving and making those decisions.) I remember noting that apparently, even in good, long marriages, such topics may never reach resolution.

And that gives me permission to confess that there are some things we, Mike and Lynne, will never get right.

We cannot make up a bed together. As our ‘rule’ is last-one-up and that’s usually the hub, this is no big deal. However, the occasional weekend partner-try results in frustration.

My method is to pull up the sheet and blanket, pull up the spread and then fold it down to place the pillows. I then tuck the folded part up and over the pillows. Mike likes to pull up the sheet and blanket, place the pillows and then pull up the spread, tucking under at the pillow line. I cannot make a bed using his method. And he’s…well he’s not only left-handed; he’s the eldest child…so HIS method is THE method.

We have bickered about this and as we are now both at home during the bed ritual, the issue occasionally rears its pillowed head, as it were. So, I must either cringe and do it his way, tell him to leave it to me, or walk away. The difference between early years and now is that I can smile. And so can he…but he’s still right.

We also cannot load the dishwasher together. I try to put items where they will best be washed AND protected. (glassware on top and not touching, etc.) HIS method gets everything in and the machine closed as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon to find glasses broken and scattered from the bottom shelf.

Is this small? Well, yes. But…………

So while I’m quick to move away from bed making, I’m equally quick in taking over this task.

Of course, NOBODY in the house wants to empty the dishwasher but again, my method is to put things in the general areas that they belong. Mike wants everything put away ASAP so should he do this task, I’ll later ask, “Where’s that large Pyrex measuring cup?” and he will shrug.

That’s also a challenge when we deal with the clutter issue. I tolerate a lot more clutter than does the hub. Actually I LIKE clutter in a nesting sort of way. If my stuff is out and I can see it, I can keep track of it. He likes blank, empty horizontal surfaces and then can’t find things.

We’ve made peace with each other’s stuff management…I try to keep mine in check and in only a few places and he tries not to look at it.

It was difficult in those early years when we were more stressed out from graduate school. More than once, I would walk into the apartment and pass a horizontal ledge at eye level and realize that is was cleared of whatever decoration I had left on it. “Uh, where is the cut glass wedding gift vase from Tiffany’s.”

Shrug.

I did not need to check the bottom shelf of the dishwasher because we did not have one in those days. I just needed to search all drawers for the vase.

There are also some special challenges when we team up to lift, move, or turn over something large…planks of wood, small sail boats, book cases. This took a while to figure out, but as a south paw, Mike will turn things in the opposite direction than a right-hander would. As team items are just heavy enough that a slip would result in a drop, we have to remind each other which way we’re going or a mini disaster might occur.

And folding large sheets or towels? Don’t even ask. Even if we had another 10, 20, 30 years, I doubt we would ever get some things right.

So many of the quibbles that make up the day-to-day of our marriage are small. The trick is to keep them trivial. And as we face the future with our arms around each other, we are tossing the trivial.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cruise Update

As some of you know, I have been plotting to take my husband away. Insight for Living will be cruising up the inside passage in Alaska at the end of the month. As Mike has now devoured all of the Great Lives series, I thought he would really enjoy spending time with Chuck Swindoll and some great musical talent.

I began my research and then...well...plotted to talk him into it. It would involve a day of travel to Seattle and the spending of the night there. I had researched not-too-fancy motels near the docks that would make embarkation easy. I've been on the deck of the ship more times than the captain. I've chosen our stateroom and even talked to the cruise director to made sure we'd have what we needed/wanted.

When Mike was initially reluctant, I told him that if he wanted, he could just sit on our private veranda and watch Alaska go by. He began to cave.

Several family members even made monetary contributions to this excursion. It looked like such a good idea. My prayer was that Mike would agree and that it would all go smoothly.

Here's another thing about the author. I'm not too good on picking up God's leading. I CAN be lulled into thinking that MY ways ARE His ways. And, why wouldn't God want us to enjoy this trip and grow spiritually? Of course He would.

And when I'm in THAT 'zone,' the caution lights grow dim to my vision. Here's a problem. "No problem." Maybe you want to rethink. "Rethink? Bah." Is this best for you? "Well, sure it is. How can it NOT be?"

Keep praying, brothers and sisters. I'm learning.

I called again today, just to make sure the cruise is not sold out. (It's not) The agent reminded me that we would need our passports. No problem. We have passports. We used them the last time we flew.

So I got them out. Mike's was issued on June 10, 1999. That's right. It expires TOMORROW.

Tomorrow. That's less than three weeks from the cruise. It takes longer than that to get a renewal.

Yes, I know. There are ways around that. When Allyson went to England with Mike...I believe it was in June 1999...we discovered that HER passport had expired. The tickets were purchased and the trip was only days away.

You can see we are not big international travelers.

What to do, what to do? You can call to a regional passport office..the government's definition of 'regional' is a bit broad..for us it's Chicago or Detroit. You may be able to make an appointment. We did. In the early morning, we drove to Chicago, downtown, parked and found the office. It was full of other travelers who needed quick action for a passport. We had to show the printed itinerary and then wait for 4 hours to get the document.

We had a great time shopping on State Street, but it was a long day. We got back home around 9 PM.

So my first thought, when I looked at Mike's passport was "no big deal, we'll just drive to Chicago."

Then...and aren't you all praying for wisdom here...God whispered some possibilities in my ear. Like I would have had to have paid for the cruise. nonrefundable at this point. Plus I'd have to get the air tickets. THEN, what if we got a flat? What if we missed the appointment?

And, after all, is a full day romping around downtown Chicago all that good for the hub?

I'm now convinced that he would just go along, not complain, not show me how tired all this makes him, just to please me. What a guy!

And what a God! It's now clear to me that God has blocked this trip, for His reasons. He IS God, after all. (and I am not.....)

I told Mike at dinner about the complication and that we probably should forget the cruise. Can you spell R-E-L-I-E-F? It spread all over his face.

What he's doing instead....I asked him to renew his passport the old fashioned way. "Who knows? I may take you somewhere later in the summer." All smiles from me.

He just jumped on his motorcycle and is picking up photos at Walgreens. While he's there, he'll get a passport photo taken.

Oh, in case you're wondering....mine is good until 2011.

Thanks for your prayers. God is teaching us many things.

Reflection on a marriage

“You ready, Lyndie?”

With that and my nod, Dad tucked my left hand under his arm and we stepped on the white runner that lined the main aisle of Lincoln Park First Baptist Church.

This was his second offspring’s wedding and Dad knew his job. Ask few questions. Be available. Write checks. Show up on time. Walk this daughter down the aisle and hand her off to that red haired guy she brought home from college. Wish them well. Pray, pray, pray.

What was he asking, this man who could always let me be his little girl? No matter how old, I was Lyndie (Lou) and he was Daddy.

The year before the wedding, I had been away from his home, beginning my teaching career. A few phone calls, several trips home for bridal showers and the choosing of festivity arrangements…that was about it for Daddy/daughter time. Mom had been in the details and Dad, well, he had been on the financial end for this second sending off of a child.

Was I ready? For the show? Sure. With the ultimate wedding planner (Mom) all was set and ready. The dress, the dresses, the groomsmen and their duds, flowers, church decorations, time frame, organist, reception, honeymoon.

(Historical note: 1st class postage rates had just gone up to 10 cents. This was my part of the wedding expense)

Out-of-town guests had found their way. The pre-ceremony primping, the raised eyebrows at our choice of music, the unusual high noon commencement. Light the candles. Dim the lights. Places, everybody.

And then, Dad. “You ready, Lyndie?”

For what, Daddy? For my new adventure? For this next chapter in my life? As one who rarely gazes far into the future, well, sure. No problem. Let’s go!

This man, who along with his wife, had lived the example of a committed marriage for his children. This man who had seen a lot of life, had lived with parents who set the same example. Married. Keep only unto you. Til Death. He knew that it was more than that day's dance in the fancy white dress.

As I strolled to my waiting fiancĂ©, I was grinning as wide as my face could stretch. I maintained that grin throughout, having a carnival of a time. We got through those vows. We squeezed fingers with ‘better, richer, health.” These were our hopes. We smooched. We turned; we sauntered down the aisle, a married couple. Whoo Hoo.

Ready? For the bumps that come when two become one? For inevitable arguments, hurts, compromises, and advancement? How does one prepare?

Our first fight broke out on Sunday night, 18 hours after all the Fa La La. Part of my fallen nature is a capacity to remember. My love informed me that, in our home, HE would select all the furniture AND it would be Early American.

Let’s just say we were tired from our big weekend. We had no money to buy furniture, let alone a house. We knew we would have at least three years of tight budgeting, while Mike attended law school and I worked on my Master’s Degree, living on a young teacher’s salary. So his point was moot.

And those of you who know the author also know that when it comes to decorating, well, let’s just say that our early crate/cinder block/mattress-on-the-floor motif suited me just fine. BUT being informed, being told, intimating that I no longer had any rights, well THAT was a straw (not the last straw; we haven’t found it yet).

So, BOOM, the first fight. And there were others, especially during that first year. All those prayers. We were able to figure out a pattern; we saw that by Thursday night we were both so tired that it took nothing, not even the mention of furniture, to set one or both of us off. How many Fridays did I go to school with heavy brown eye shadow to ‘hide’ the puffy eyes? How many times did I look at myself in the mirror and say, “What have you gotten yourself INTO???”

Our solution was OUR solution which we reached on a calm, Sunday afternoon. We agreed that whenever one of us was just fixin’ for a fight, no matter what day it was, the other could say “Thursday” and that meant “End of discussion.” We had many more Thursdays than we had weeks in those first few years.

And, I’m wondering, how many brides would have stuck it out? Although it’s easier today, it was plenty easy to uncouple in the early years of our marriage. Easy except for

His parents…they were praying.
My parents…they were praying.

And those vows. “In front of God and these witnesses (each costing me 20 cents)” Better/Worse. You hope and squeeze for Better. Sometimes, you get Worse.

God does not take vows casually. He keeps His promises. He wants His children to follow His example.

When He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5) He meant it. And His perfect plan for marriage is that His children will not leave nor forsake each other. He intends that they will become each other’s support and strength.

When you don’t think you need all that support, it’s easy to forget. BUT when life throws you a curve, when all that you had planned crumbles, when God indicates a different, more difficult path, in addition to His presence, you can’t do better than your spouse.

I am so blessed these days. I am held and hugged and honored. The price is dear and the payoff is sweet.

Happy Anniversary to us!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hot hot hot

We are in San Antonio, visiting with Jeremy/Allyson and those gorgeous, very active boys. The local news says we are having an uncharacteristic 'cold snap' meaning it's only 90 today.

Last night, we all went to their fitness center, nothing like I've ever seen before. Huge. Busy. The boys showed off their skills as the sun was setting. (85 degrees) Noah (3) is fearless, jumping into the deep water..for him that's about 4 feet but deep is deep. Drew can now put his head in the water and, using 'big arms,' take a few strokes.

And the grampa, for the first time in a long time, donned goggles and swam laps. He has a graceful, efficient stroke, honed during his competitive days. It looked good and it felt good.

The gramma, who did not bring a swim suit, just sat and enjoyed the performance.

Mike had told me that he had spoken personally to most of the people he needed to except his daughter, so this trip was essential for getting that done. Last night, they went out to dinner, just the two of them. It was a good dinner.

While we are here there has been much watching of baseball. We will be back in the frigid north this weekend and then, before we know it, Jeremy and the boys will join us for the summer. The house will be full and singing. We converted the upstairs 'guitar room' back to a bedroom and moved Mike's guitar set up to the living room. There's plenty of room for a jam session....I'm just sayin......

We continue to covet the prayers of our friends. God is walking with us. Satan is trying to catch up. It is an illuminating race. The travel is tiring so that can be a specific for you. Also, we will have our first High Contrast CAT on 6/15 with discussion of same on 6/19, so THAT can be a specific also.

We are so blessed with all of you. Stay cool. (Not really possible in San Antonio) : )

Monday, June 1, 2009

So, welcome to the lake

So what about this Lake Cottage? You see a photo at the top of this blog. It is a quiet, healing place for Mike and holds many family memories from the past 15 or so years.

Some of you have visited us here. Some have spent a night or two. For overnight guests, two words: Salsa Eggs.

One of the many things that Mike does at the lake: he takes over all the cooking AND the clean up of said cooking. Really. And for breakfast, he makes his signature dish and serves it to whoever is sitting at the dining room table. He fires up all four burners and cooks bacon, scrambled eggs, and French toast. He serves each plate with some cut up fresh fruit (right now, it’s strawberries) arranged carefully and then, the piece de resistance, a dollop of hot salsa on the eggs.

He sets the table and pours fresh orange juice for everybody and voila! The plates appear, brief thanks to the Creator and a blessing on the cook, and then we dive in.

When something becomes routine and expected, it can lose its specialness. I have been rediscovering and savoring Salsa Eggs in recent weeks.

We also have a long closed front porch that faces the lake. It’s perfect for the occasional reprieve on a hot day as it is painted all white. We have 5 or 6 white rocking chairs and from time to time, they have all been occupied with friends, sipping on ice tea and watching the sun go down. One day, a friend who was spending some quiet time here, described it as ‘the front porch at the Cracker Barrel in heaven.” I hope he’s right. Every time I rock out there, that image comes to mind.

Inside, as all guest know, we have The Couch. It is a longer-than-usual couch..my 6’3” son can stretch out..it has removable cushions (3 back, 3 seat), it is striped white, blue and green AND has narcotic effects on anyone who lies down on it. As it IS the lake, it’s not uncommon for a guest to just plop down and put his feet up.

We wish now we had committed to photographing everyone who has fallen asleep on this couch because ANYONE who stretches out, no matter what time of day, no matter how already rested he might be, no matter who else is in the room or what kind of noise is in the room…..will be asleep within minutes and it will be a deep, wonderful sleep that lasts for 15, 30, 45, even 60 minutes.

I myself have napped there and one time, I tried to evaluate how the couch sucks you in. You lie there, usually on your back, and within a minute, you feel the weight of your shoulders sinking into the coach. Then the weight of knees, hips, feet, all sink sink sink and then float. You are cushioned and cuddled and you drift off.

So the other day, the hub was stretching out on the couch with the green throw and I was curling up in the blue leather easy chair with the blue throw, when he signaled that he was in need of some cuddling. I joined him and with his arm around my shoulder, my arm around his waist, head snuggled under his chin, our knees zig zagging and our toes touching, we melded into a single lump of person, drifting off to sleep. We kept both throws and cuddled for at least 45 minutes, a warm cocoon on the couch.

I have never felt so peaceful, so secure, so happy all at the same time. I told him I think that when it’s all said and done, THIS may be my best memory of the lake. (I still don’t care for hot salsa.)

Family Update

We took this photo on Memorial Day 2008. Life was simpler a year ago. One never knows what's in store.

Shortly after, daughter Allyson relocated to San Antonio to begin her internship in the Army. Son-in-law Jeremy, in white T-shirt, remained behind to work with Pioneer Seed for the summer. Those cute cute cute little boys are Noah and Drew. Mike and Lynne are in the middle and son Zack is at the far left.

Zack has been on his own in Indianapolis for several years. We never wanted to pressure him but with Mike's illness, his presence here became more than a blessing. As he is currenly unattached, we discussed the possiblity of him moving home for a while. He shared with me that he wanted to spend more time with his dad (and me) and that it's hard to get that done where he was.

So today, Zack moved home. We have a large house...four bathrooms, many nooks, so I'm hoping we don't trip all over each other. But, on many levels, having our son here will be very helpful for us.

We will travel to San Antonio soon and Mike will get to spend some quality, one-on-one time with Allyson. She, however, can't just take up and leave..the Army, you know.

In a few weeks, Jeremy and the boys will be back in Indiana. Oh, that son-in-law! He had a professional opportunity in the field that he loves. He chose, instead, to do another summer with Pioneer Seed because it will bring him closer to Mike. Perhaps they'll take in a baseball game.

They will all stay here, also, so our home will again be fun and full.