Tuesday, June 25, 2013



Today, The Hubs and I are off to Mayo… again. Gary completed his fourth infusion last month so now it’s time to ‘look under the hood’ to see if the cancer has turned tail and run. Of course the doctor has told us not to get our hopes up. He tells us that this particular type of cancer cannot be cured. He has warned us that the cancer spread might even get worse before we can tell if the infusions have had any affect at all.  A scary thought. Yet, I still have hope.
H. O. P. E. 
Where would we be without hope? It is a four-letter word that does its own miracle over a burdened heart. In the face of all odds, it is hope that convinces a David he can fight a Goliath. It is hope that makes the unbearable bearable. It is hope that surpasses all understanding.
So, where does hope come from? The heart? The mind? The left foot? Where does it hide until it is needed? How is it birthed?
Here’s my theory: Hope is like that tiny, red heart at Build-A-Bear. Ever been there? I’ve taken several of my grandchildren for their birthdays. It’s a special place where you can build your own stuffed animal. You choose the perfect animal from a line up on the wall, and then take the limp, stuffed-less animal to the next station where a ‘helper’ guides you as you fill your animal up with all this life-giving stuffing. And then the magic happens. After you have plumped your animal to your liking, you take this tiny heart in your hand, make a wish, kiss it, and then place it into the chest of your chosen. All is sewn up and you go home with a new best friend.
Hope is like that tiny heart. God holds it in His hand at our creation. He makes a wish and gently kisses it with holy lips and then lovingly places it within us. Then one day our faith awakens it and His wish is granted. We believe and Hope is born.
Today, if you think of it, say a prayer for my Hubs. Place your hand over your heart and think of us. I thank you in advance for your kind thoughts and prayers.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”               
~ Ephesians 3:20

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kitchens & tables

My two-butt kitchen


 Next week we will have lived in this country house for fourteen years.  We moved here from a house in town that we’d lived in for 23 years. The house in town was over 100 years old and had a big, roomy kitchen. Our new house sports what I call a two-butt kitchen.  The alley way between the sink and the island is truly the heart of this house even though only two people can maneuver around it at a time.
No matter the size, kitchens are where we live.  It is the one room in the house that can employ all members of the family at the same time.  Setting the table, stirring the pot, getting the ice out for drinks, and shredding the cheese.  Kitchens provide an open forum for giggles, arguments and learning to help out.

When our sons were growing up our kitchen table was a tongue and groove antique pine board table. Rubbed to a soft, shiny sheen, that old table gave warmth to the entire room. Not only was it a great table to munch Special K on, but also for mulling over the day with a hot cup of tea.  Mail was read there. Snacks were prepared there. Grocery lists were made there. It was a great table for laboring over homework… at least I thought so.

Kitchens and kitchen tables are pretty basic to our way of life. We all have our spots for the dishtowel, the cookie jar, and the dishwashing stuff.  Centerpieces made up of salt and pepper shakers and sugar bowls are universal.  Nothing fancy, just functional and familiar--a place to gather around at the beginning and end of the day; a room that gives us a hand at being family.

These days our little two-butt kitchen serves me and The Hubs just fine. But when the eight grandkids come it does this miraculous ‘five fishes and two loaves’ thingy and expands to handle every one at the same time. This one needs a drink of water; this one is helping me bake cookies; this one has Crayons and markers spread out on the table—the activity fills my soul.

Got any kitchen table stories? I’d love to hear them.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teachers who love to teach...


As I rode LuLu the other morning I realized the school buses weren’t running. Once you don’t have any children in school you lose track of when school starts and when school ends. However, I do have two sons who are teachers and another son who teaches and performs in school retreats, so the school calendar is still part of our family life.

The other day I asked one of my sons if he liked what he was doing.  He answered, “No.  I love what I’m doing!”

Wow! Great answer. Isn’t it good to know that there are teachers teaching your children, who love what they’re doing? When school rolls around in the fall, teachers will begin preparing themselves to go back into the classroom after a summer’s break.  They’ll start getting butterflies in their stomachs, sharpening their pencils, decorating their rooms, making lesson plans and some of them will even begin praying for the children that will soon walk through their classroom doors.

One of the greatest counter balances to the horror that has besieged our schools are teachers who love what they’re doing. Who knew how dangerous teaching would  become? Who could have ever imagined that a teacher’s role would one day include shielding a child with their own body against a crazed assassin? Teachers are priceless and in my opinion way underpaid.

I’m proud of my sons and what they do and how they do it.  If someone like them is waiting for your child at the start of the next school year, dance a jig and say a prayer of thanksgiving.  Teachers who love to teach ignite imaginations, nurture creativity, and educate a nation.

As I pedaled LuLu, I thought about those big yellow buses and their precious cargo. Blessed is a child who has a teacher who loves to teach.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

My proclamation

As most of you know The Hubs has been diagnosed with Stage IV atypical Melanoma. It’s been a path we did not choose. Most days, I’m coping, but some days are a little rough. Gary is doing wonderful and his spirit is one to stand in awe of.  He is teaching all of us how live. But here’s the thing- it’s hard. It’s very hard and I’m truly learning the meaning of the word ‘struggle’.  I don’t ask ‘why’ out loud, but it’s there. Last week was the worst. But then on Monday something happened. God and I went to a place I have never been, a holy, hard. yet precious place and I came out of it changed.
 I think I've been asking the question of the ages. I don't doubt God one bit, but what I've come to believe is that I will never understand Him. I only see the hem of His garment. I guess this is where faith is either going to carry you through or you simply quit. I'm at a place where if it's going to be real for me, I must stop trying to understand and fall on my knees and say as Mary did, "Do with me what you will." I've concluded that those who are called to walk through fire are the Favored. Through the ages we have seen that being favored by God means you better pull up your bootstraps because God is about to use you for show and tell. I'm convinced that every faithful follower will get their day walking over the coals. And, the lesson learned, the insight given, the glimpse of God's power is not just for the one going through it, it is for the salvation of all mankind. Watch and learn. Watch and be in awe. Watch and fall to your knees. Abraham, Mary, Peter, Paul, the bleeding woman, the adulteress, David, Solomon, Samuel, Elijah... and the list goes on. All of their experiences teach us who God is, how God loves, the promise of something so incredibly better that our earthly understanding just simply cannot take it in.
So, with that said, I'm done trying to figure it out. God and I have come to an understanding. I've wrestled with angels long enough. He is the Great, I AM. I am the unworthy but loved, I AM NOT. I will follow Him anywhere. I will endure anything holding on to the promise that one day I will finally rest in His arms and that all, every tear, sorrow, guilt, pain, joy, fear, awe-struck moment has been preparing me for that moment when I finally see His face.
Today the sun is shining. Birds are chirping. My heart is hanging on the line with the warm summer breeze fluffing new life into it.  Gary and I are going to be okay. 
Today, I will rejoice, for this is the day that our God has made. I will take and face what comes because my God says I can... and Who knows me better than the One who made me.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I spy...


THINGS I spied today on my bike ride: a pond cleverly hidden behind a house I’d been driving by for years but had never noticed. This same house also sported a lovely screened in back porch that was only a few feet from said pond. Discovering this lovely spot was like being surprised by the taste of mint in something totally unexpected. 

That’s what riding a bike will do for you- you notice things that have been invisible to you when riding in the confines of an automobile. It’s like looking through a window at a summer rain verses kicking your shoes off, walking out the door, and allowing the cool droplets to poke-a-dot your skin. The experience suddenly goes from two-dimensional to Three-D.

My ride this morning was nine miles and just to shake things up a bit, I treated myself to a new route. That’s a great metaphor for my real life right now. I’m taking a new route, however, not one I’ve chosen, nonetheless, one I find myself on all the same. I have discovered both unexpected beauty and heart thumping fear along this new road. The beauty comes in many forms, from a brilliant sunrise I greet after a sleepless night, to a homemade card from a grandchild, to a comforting arm around the shoulders. The fear materializes from the unknown, the failure to be in control, and futile efforts to try and second-guess God.

So, I keep pedaling. Some days, the beauty brings me to my knees; other days the tears do the same thing. I keep pedaling. I keep discovering. I keep pushing back. I keep reaching out. What else am I going to do?

THINGS I hope to spy one day while riding LuLu (sort of a Bucket List for biking): a Highlander in a kilt. It’s not what you think. If I were to spy the said Highlander in a kilt, it would mean one thing: I’d be riding LuLu along a coastal trail through an idyllic village in Scotland. That’s what I’m talking about…

Pedal on, friends…


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sit and wait...NOT!


It takes courage to leave the house as one ages. This morning I rode LuLu six miles and was passed by three school busses. I’d thought I’d left early enough to be done before I they ran, but not so. You cannot convince me that some little kid on one or all of those busses did not turn around in his bus seat and laugh at the overhang on my bike seat.  If the students would have been a little older I feel sure some cell phones wouldn’t have been snapping away at the retreating *Cowgirl.

I understand why older people just keep to themselves. I get it that they don’t want to be bothered by the foolishness that goes on today. I understand retreat and lay low. But, if we’re not careful, as we age, we will retreat so far and for so long that we’ll have nothing left to offer.

I’ve shared this quote before, but here it is again. lJoan Chittister in her book, The Gift Of Years says, “We learn to say early in the aging process, “I’m too tired. I don’t think I’ll go.”… We teach them to ignore us and then wonder how it happened…. We do less and less all the time until sitting in place becomes the way we go through life.  … We drop out of living just as sure as if we’re already gone and buried….  We deny ourselves layer upon layer of life and wonder why life holds no excitement for us anymore. We do it to ourselves….. So we don’t go on to the next step to begin something new. We fail to go on becoming. We stop in our tracks with years ahead of us and wait.”

I’m only 62. According to Joan I’m considered the pre-teen of old age. Now is the time to ‘man up’ and stare down the attitude that lures me to the recliner that tempts us to shut the door and close the blinds. So what if some kid thinks I look silly riding a pink bike with my big butt waving at them? Deal, kid!
This pre-teen of the dinosaur set has things she still wants to do.  And I invite you if you’re anywhere near my age, saddle up, put on your sun visor and get out there. Don’t be afraid. Don’t give in to the arthritic creak. Don’t be one of those who chooses to sit and wait.
If God didn’t want us out there, He wouldn’t of created Spandex, Ben-gay or Dr. Scholl’s.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Month of May...

Gary's May infusion at Mayo


Don & Judy Truitt on Bird's Nest deck

Judy singing "Does your chewing gum lose it's flavor on the bed post over night?"
I've always had a love/hate relationship with the month of May. It was always the end of the school year, which was great, but it also meant so much activity with spring sports overlapping summer sports (we raised boys, there was gonna be sports), field trips, homework, end of school projects, arrrg.
Now, with the kids grown, May is still a very active month. And this May hasn't turned out any different. Still love it. Still have had our hate moments... like traveling to Mayo twice for The Hubs ipi infusions. One week while there we woke to fifteen inches of overnight snow. Yeah,  you heard me on May 2 schools were closed in Rochester, MN. because of snow. Arrrg! The second visit in May brought Gary's last infusion, but then the waiting began. Has the treatment worked? Won't know for another month. Arrrg!
Matthew & his rowing crew
Katie on injured reserve from the serious soccer game
Now the love part... Three Clevelands celebrated birthdays in May. And, we had our Every-Other-Year Cleveland/Truitt Reunion over Memorial Day. Twenty-seven folks sleeping on blow-up mattresses or anywhere you could lay a pillow. Three days of fun, games, laughter and good visits. We had a talent show ( I use that term loosely), a Billard's Tournament, and a very serious soccer game. Then there was the paddle boating, canoeing, a competitive game of Washers (if you have to ask, you don't deserve to know), flaming marshmallows, tractor rides, sparklers and fireworks. And have I mentioned food... lots of food?

Paisly Jane Cleveland
The Truitts and Clevelands are friends who have melded into family. Now, a third generation of us has been introduced to each other. Children, cousins, aunts and uncles, moms and dads, brothers and sisters and grandparents all bonded together by love, tears, laughter, naughtiness, and a shared heartbeat. Holy Ground.

I've put together a few photos of May. (Sorry, Kelly & Chris, you guys must of been hiding everytime I took out my camera) I'm thankful for the last thirty days. I don't take these days for granted anymore. I hope your May was just as joyous.

"This is the day that the Lord has made..."


Gary & Don tossing Washers

Cormac & Meier fishing for shark

Cian (Nathan's Mini-Me) Cleveland

Harper Grace Cleveland
Kasia Cleveland
The Annie Oakley Gang
Twins Isamae & Kasia and friend.
Papa & Paisly
Brothers Cormac & Cian with their dad
Sewon, Judy & Meier
Jeremiah Joshua, the lost brother of the Duck Dynasty.

Katie, Macey & Harper flipping pancakes

Meier (Todd's Mini-Me) on garage roof.

Serious Soccer Game
The Todd Truitt Family performing a rendition of some country song while clapping and moving cups around on top of the canoe. We don't mess around when it comes to talent, folks.

Macey Truitt & Harper Cleveland

Josh and Harper gettin' down with the Elmo Rap.

The twins May birthday at Build-A-Bear
Some serious stretching before the serious soccer game
Toddy and Kristi Truitt
Auntie Erin and Zella Bean
Aunt Sarah and Cousins Paisly and Harper

Uncle X and daughter, Nellie Rose
Don Truitt or Paul Newman???

Paisly shared her 9th birthday w/ us.