Friday’s Fave Five #70

fff-delicate-leavesIt’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

Family time We celebrated daughter # 3’s birthday this week. As we were gathered around the table the topic drifted to hair.

“Do you remember when we were kids and I thought since mom’s razor was just for legs that nothing would happen when I ran it down my arm hair from shoulder to wrist?” “My arm itched like crazy the next day!”

“Yeah, and I wondered what would happen when I swiped it across my forehead and was shocked when I looked in the mirror and saw I was missing an eyebrow, and then tried to arrange my bangs so no one would notice.”

And the time when as a three-year-old, the birthday girl “borrowed” mom’s scissors, opened them widely and, placing the blades flat on her forehead right at her hairline, cut a perfect V in her bangs all the way to the scalp.

When “someone” turned on the gas grill on without opening the lid, waited a few minutes, then opened it and threw in a match. After the “whoosh,” her once straight hair was singed and curly.

Ah, memories! We laughed so hard tears were streaming down our faces.

A new RN Daughter #4 passed her NCLEX nursing exam and is now officially an RN. My father-in-law was a physician and my mother-in-law a nurse and perhaps hoped that some of their children or grandchildren would follow the medical route, but until now, none did. We have plenty of doctors in the family, but none of the medical variety. And now we have a nurse!

Remembrance Day Today is Remembrance Day in Canada (Veterans Day in the US.) When we first moved to Canada almost 30 years ago I remember being impressed at how seriously Canadians commemorate Remembrance Day. Red paper poppies are purchased to help support our war veterans and worn in the lapels of young and old. Schools hold assemblies to educate and solemnly recall the sacrifices others have made. Urban, suburban, exurban, and rural communities all suspend normal activities at 11 a.m. on November 11th to reflect, remember and give thanks. Wreaths are laid at cenotaphs throughout the land and those who fought for the freedoms and rights of our country are honored. The poem, “In Flanders Fields” is quoted and the phrase “Lest we forget” is repeated and tweeted throughout the day. (“Lest we forget” is quoted from an 1897 poem, “Recessional” by Rudyard Kipling and was likely inspired by the passages in Deuteronomy 4 and 6.)

Thank you to all who have served. Lest we forget. Lest we forget.

African violets My mom was a gardener par excellence. She loved growing flowers, but especially enjoyed nurturing and growing African violets. We had a small kitchen and no dining room so the table was pushed up against the exterior wall of the kitchen under a very large picture window. My dad built three or four shelves across that north-facing window and there mom tended her many African violet plants.

Until very recently I have been known as the botanical equivalent of the Angel of Death. I love flowers, but my heart would sink when anyone gave me a living plant. I knew they had just passed the death sentence on that lovely bit of nature. My family all joked about it. My husband would shake his head and ask, “How long do you think this one will last?”

But when we moved from Calgary to Edmonton seven years ago something changed. Some might even call it a miracle of sorts; I no longer automatically made plants die! First, my husband built me raised planters and encouraged me to start an herb garden as part of my post-surgical therapy. I was extremely skeptical, but to my absolute shock, not only did my plants survive, they thrived.

Indoor plants were still iffy. But somehow, over these past few years, I have two African violet plants that have done very well. I watched them grow and prosper and I remembered Mom. I remembered Mom transplanting hers when they outgrew the pot. I remember her trimming off the flowers when they wilted, and pinching off broken or damaged leaves. I remember her fertilizing the plants, gently brushing the dust off the leaves, and carefully avoiding getting the leaves wet when she watered her violets. I even remember her talking to her plants, and boy, did we ever tease her about that!

My African violets are outgrowing their latest pots and need something now, and I’m not certain what. Sure, I can google it or call a garden center or ask around, but I really, really, wish I could ask my mom. Not only would she have told me the right thing to do for my plants, she would have been proud and probably amazed that I haven’t killed these violets, and may even be developing a green thumb!

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Cards and Photos Here are some more cards I made this week when I had to lay low and be quiet. The photos are from various photography opportunities over the past month.

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Lake Louise

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Banff National Park elk

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Quiet abandon

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Splendor

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Majesty

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Canadian Rockies

 

Loving Louise – Beginning Chemo

Louise shaved headI’ve entitled these updates about Louise and her battle with cancer ‘Loving Louise’ to help our church family and others praying for her know better how to love and help Louise as she deals with cancer.

Aggressive treatment

Louise began chemo last Monday.  She is taking a powerful once-a-week oral treatment, two weeks on, one week off.  She will be evaluated after this first round to see if she is tolerating the drug and if it is helping.  The doctors want to be aggressive with her treatment so surgery is a possibility if the chemo seems to have no effect.

There goes the hair!

Last week Louise shaved her head in anticipation of the hair loss she was told was “98% sure” would happen.  Imagine her delight when three ladies from the church chose to shave their heads with her in a gesture of solidarity and support for all Louise is going through.  They even had a head-shaving party of sorts where they sang hymns and quoted scriptures and thanked God for His goodness.

Smells and nausea

What is Louise experiencing right now?  As pastor mentioned on Sunday, Louise is very sensitive to smells.  We can show her love by avoiding scented lotions, cologne, and grooming products when we know we’ll be around her.  Garlic breath, chewing gum scents, coffee breath, and most other strong smells can also evoke the gag reflex.  Louise has little to no appetite and is having trouble keeping down the miniscule portions she can eat.  Let’s not add to her troubles by carelessly triggering this problem with strong odors.

Louise is also sleeping a great deal, and when she is awake finds she is weak and unable to tend to regular household tasks.  She has been blessed by friends and family helping with cooking and cleaning.

Keep the notes of encouragement coming!

Many of you have called her and sent cards, text messages or facebook notes.  Louise is grateful for them all but is not always able to individually thank you for each expression.  Don’t take it personally if she is unable to acknowledge your note.  It’s a blessing to do things like this as unto the Lord without expecting any recognition for it.

Currently dealing with…

Louise’s dizziness makes it hard to lie down and get up without help.  Going up or down the stairs can be a major victory in her day.  She appreciates your continued prayers as she battles dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and weakness.

Struggling to always be thankful

Even the strongest Christian can struggle to always be thankful in difficult circumstances.  Louise is so utterly transparent in her reactions to what God has allowed in her life.  She has moments when she pours her heart out to God, telling Him she wants to be thankful in this trial, but not knowing how to.  She mentioned she has begun to understand more clearly that this cancer, as with all diseases, is a result of a sin-cursed world.

The gift of life

Louise was born very prematurely – about 4-1/2 months into her mother’s pregnancy.  Her family was told that if she survived, she would be a vegetable.  Not only did she survive, she thrived.  Those of you who have met Louise know she is intelligent, vibrant, and personable.  Though visually impaired, Louise is an eager reader, and allows very little to slow her down or discourage her.  Her take on this battle with cancer?  “I was supposed to die or be a vegetable at birth.  God has given me 29 wonderful years thus far, and I am so thankful for that gift.  I know that God is allowing this current struggle with cancer for my good and His glory.”

Praying and helping

So, dear church family, there are still many unknowns as Louise and Brian wage this battle against cancer.  Please continue to pray for wisdom, healing, effective treatment, strength, courage, decrease in nausea, and energy.  Keep the cards, notes, calls and other expressions of love coming.  If Louise is unable to chat with you because she is too weak, she’ll let you know.  If you want to help with meals or cleaning or errands, check with Michelle P and she will let you know what is needed and when.