2010 – Part 3…50 Years Old

Early in life, I latched onto some false beliefs:

Do not question authority and, by implication, do not question God or the church.

I was safer flying under the radar.

It was easier to allow people I deemed trustworthy to think things through for me.

Conflict is perilous and to be avoided at all costs.

Disagreeing with anyone, even safe people, felt terrifying, dangerous, and disloyal.

I had begun to recognize some of these unhealthy beliefs and coping mechanisms during my time at SALTS. I was on the healing journey and beginning to let go of old lies and ways of navigating life which were no longer serving me well. So how would I choose to respond when “my people” viewed a situation differently and headed in a direction different from me? What does love, honesty, respect, and honor look like especially in the face of disagreement?

My inner turmoil was ramped up to top speed. I played the options over and over in my mind, trying to figure out a good solution. I hate change. I hate confrontation. I like to please people. One side of me tried to figure out how to avert the issue. Yet, I knew that I could not support the church’s theological beliefs on counseling which had become significantly different than my own.

I could not figure out a way to reconcile this no-win quandary. Leaving our church would come with a high cost including eliminating regular opportunities to see family, friends, and children-of-our-hearts. Yet, staying would come with a high cost of my personal growth since my support groups had been eliminated.

With heavy hearts, we were in full agreement. As much as we might wish we could stay, our hearts knew that it was time for us to move on.

We were brokenhearted. Our “new normal” would be filled with grieving and times which were difficult, awkward, painful, and uncertain.

2009 – Gregg with 8th grade guys who had just ridden bikes across Florida from the Gulf to the Atlantic!
2004 – Gregg and Josh Karadeema at Wild Adventures – a Jr. High summer day-trip.
2002 Pioneer Club pool party. Kim Hayward co-led this group with me.
2004 – Pioneer Club “graduation” to Middle School. Kristin co-led with Kim Hayward and Carole Ritchey.
2004 – An all-time favorite picture! Christine Diskin, Jenni Lipscomb, and Paige Murray at Wild Adventures the summer before 6th grade.
2005 – Grubby Night – Playing with food.
August 2006 Extreme Excursion retreat
2007 – Nicole, Jenni, Paige, Christine, Hannah and Abigail remembering our overseas Real Life Group member, Amandalee!
2005 – Sunrise on the beach at the end of Insane Insomnia. Only the prayers of my good friends beseeching the grace of God on my behalf got me through these all-nighters! This girl needs her 8 hours of sleep!
2006 – These beautiful hearts!! “My Girls” visiting and loving on Mrs. Perryman who was fighting cancer (Mom and I made friends with her while she and Mom got chemo in 2004.) I believe we ate lunch with her on this day. Their first visit to Mrs. P. they did yard work for her, and another day they made and delivered a Build-A-Bear.

2010 – Part 2…50 Years Old

We arrived in Hungary with a mixed bag of emotions – excited, nervous, confused, sad, and exhausted.

Our time at English Camp was AMAZING! We ate, roomed, talked, studied English and the Bible, loved on, and played 24/7 for 10 days with high school and adult campers. Many had never experienced daily interactions with Jesus-followers. My heart bonded with my roommate. We have kept in touch throughout the years and now I am thrilled to be considered an honorary grandma to her children. 

After English Camp, we drove to Great Britain with friends. It was a lovely time with well-suited traveling companions. Cathy drove, Gregg navigated, and they formulated a plan for our next destination. Erika and I sat in the back seat – enjoying the view, conversations, talking about food, and passing out snacks.

During our time in Europe, Gregg and I cried, prayed, and talked through the changes in our church. We moved to Jacksonville ten years prior so that we could be more involved with family. Their church home had become our church home, sharing many friends, and immersed in ministries together. Gregg and I had actively participated in adult small-groups and studies, five mission trips to Peru, and missionary Sending Teams.

Gregg was intentional about being involved with our 3 nephews, leading their small groups in elementary, then middle school. Our 2 nieces had established leaders, so there was not a similar opportunity for me to connect in the same way. Instead, I followed in the example of my nieces’ leaders. Our first fall at the church, I volunteered with a group of 2nd grader girls on Wednesday nights. I moved up with “My Girls” each year through their 8th grade year. These girls remain very special to my heart.

Our lives, including vacation time, had revolved around the middle school program for the past 4 years, joining them whenever they met: on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Wednesday nights, and often weekends for retreats, special events, summer activities and all-nighters. I hosted sleepovers, baking days, and movie marathons. Gregg did guy things including riding bikes across Florida.

Life was filled with family, friends, and children-of-our-hearts, all at this church.

It would be a huge death if we chose to leave.

2010 English Camp at Lakitalek
Gregg was on the Green Team and Kristin was on the Yellow Team
The Yellow Team – the object of this game was to collect the most objects in your team color.
Kristin teaching her afternoon Conversation Group.
Roommates! Judit is a precious woman and friend who declared me an honorary Grandma!
Oxford – Gregg, Kristin, Jennie and her son, Corwin, in front of the pub where C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and the Inklings met. Jennie and I went to Cocoa High School together. She now lives in England.
We couldn’t go to Oxford and not go punting. We laughed so hard! Erika played it safe and stayed on land. We all tried our hand at it and stayed balanced and afloat!
Cathy and Erika having tea at Eagle and Child Pub
Loving Life at The Irish Sea!
Afternoon Tea in Canterbury. SO FUN!

2010…50 Years Old – Part 1

I eagerly embraced my 50th birthday, walking into “the 50’s” with hopeful anticipation. In hindsight, this decade brought about its share of difficult times. It also gave rise to much personal and spiritual growth, including freedom from childhood perspectives and coping mechanisms that were no longer working for me.

Gregg and I committed to volunteering at a 10-day summer English Camp in Hungary. Having never taught English as a Second Language, we began volunteering at the International Learning Center teaching English to refugees. It was a win-win, helping our community while learning new skills. On mission trips, I loved developing relationships with the local women. Even so, I hadn’t anticipated how deeply my heart would be drawn to refugee ladies.

In another area of my life, God was facilitating deep emotional healing through the ministry of Mending Hearts. My heart was stirred to attend SALTS (Survivors-of-Abuse Leadership Training Seminar) in April. This week-long intensive training in Michigan was a step towards becoming a Mending Hearts small group co-leader.

SALTS is not a “how to” training, rather, a guided opportunity for personal growth and healing. I roamed the beautiful conference center and shoreline of Lake Michigan during free time. Being in nature helped me talk to God and courageously process my childhood perspectives and survival techniques. The week was full of pain, joy, healing, tears, laughter, new relationships, and God holding me closely. In hindsight, I see that this week had an eternal impact on my life, kindling a journey towards profound healing and growth.

August arrived, and we were off to Hungary for English camp. Sitting in the airport, a text divulged that our local church had abruptly discontinued Mending Hearts and similar ministries. I was stunned and grieved. A safe place had been amputated. In my experience, the remaining counseling model seemed helpful in the moment, yet kept me in bondage to “try harder,” “disregard feelings,” and “readily accept the ramifications of other’s actions.” I had beaten myself up under that theology. It was not a healing place for me.

I had a pit in my stomach wondering how we would respond. What were we to do?

Birthday cake and pizza rolls!
Sandy was an amazing mentor as I “helped” in her classroom and accompanied her on home visits.
My precious Grace Group for the week and leaders, Elaine and Silvia.
The daffodils were a sweet Jesus-gift to my heart!
Had to stop jogging to capture this cheerful color!
Being around water soothes my heart. Seeing new life budding from trees brings hope. And Francesca Battistelli in my ear provided encouragement to give Jesus My Paper Heart, take “a giant leap of faith, Trusting and trying to embrace, The fear of the unknown, Beyond my comfort zone,” and allow God to “make my life something so Beautiful.”
“You said…To put my faith
In what’s beyond my eyes

And to believe You
I have to come as a child
So help me to rest in the mystery
Of what I can’t understand”

Francesca Battistelli – Unpredictable from My Paper Heart
“When you need a reason
To help you keep believing
Let my love be your blue sky
Your blue sky…

Don’t you know that I know
Life can be so hard, it makes you wanna give up?
But don’t you know over the horizon
The sunny day you’re looking for
Is waiting right here in my love?”

– Francesca Battistelli – Blue Sky from My Paper Heart

I’m Back! February 2020 Birthday Celebrations!

My Dear Readers,

Thank you for your encouraging feedback on my birthday posts and grace while waiting for the series to be completed. I paused writing to give myself space to live in the moment and enjoy being celebrated. Coincidentally, my next post (2010) is a labyrinth of joy and grief, so I drug my feet to begin writing again. Now the pain of procrastination is worse than the pain of finding words to share.

First, an update:

February 2020 was wonderfully extraordinary. A week before my birthday, Gregg hosted a perfect-for-me celebration – an open house for family and friends to talk, eat, laugh, and relax together. I was overwhelmed with the thought and preparation he put into making the evening special, including making ten soups for a soup-flight-bar and finding a fireworks candle for the ice cream cake. My sister, Bryn, outdid herself with decorations, a photobooth, and a photo-memory album.

Friends came from near and far which deeply ministered to my heart. Mysteriously, my life felt more cohesive – a whole story in one book rather than segments – as family and friends from all periods of my life mingled together.

Basking in the glow of a wonderful party, my actual birthday was to be low-key. Mardi was unable to come from Alabama, yet a quiet heart-hope whispered, “It would be so special if she surprised me!” I was talking to Mardi on the phone when Bryn arrived to take me to breakfast. I opened the door to a huge balloon. Bryn is so festive and thoughtful! Then, when the balloon moved to the side, it revealed Mardi! My jaw dropped, dumbfounded with delight and my heart soared!

We set out for a sisters-day, filled with love, laughter, delicious food, and lots of shopping. Topping off the phenomenal celebrations, Gregg created a delicious ice cream cake, shared with family and Crazy Love friends that evening.

I am grateful to be alive, for a husband and family who love me, for the treasure of friends, and for God’s relentless love. I enter my sixties leaning into a paradigm shift, embracing the gift of being loved.

2009…49 Years Old

2009…49 Years Old

The Donna half-marathon to raise funds for breast cancer research was on my birthday this year. Gregg surprised me at the start line and ran alongside me. It meant a lot that he didn’t mind going slowly so he could spend time with me.

We began getting bored with running so we joined a Sprint Triathlon training class. Finding time to swim, bike, and run each week was all-consuming yet we made new friends and had fun. The day of the race was brutally hot. We swam ¼ mile in the ocean, biked 12 miles, and ran 3.1 miles. I came in 3rd…from the last. But I finished and am officially a triathlete! And…that is checked off my bucket list.

While training for the triathlon, we were invited to train for the MS-150, a fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis. I learned to draft in order to bike 150 miles in two days. The ride began in St. Augustine, we spent the night in Daytona Beach, and we rode back to St. Augustine the next day. That, too, is checked off my bucket list.

Not that we were obsessed, but we took our bikes on vacation to ride trails around the USA. We enjoyed riding Route 66 outside of St. Louis, Missouri. Also this year, Gregg led a group of 8th grade boys on a bike trip across Florida from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.

I had the joy of watching my husband have the time of his life at Cedar Point, “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World.” He saw his third-largest smile that day, his first being at our wedding and his second at seminary graduation.

I’m convinced wallpaper was invented by the devil. It doesn’t help when the builder glues the wallpaper straight onto drywall – what a mess. Having removed the evil, our walls are now a happy yellow or white, and the master bathroom is lavender. Gregg painted his office a Steeler/West Virginia gold. It looks great with dark wood furniture. The project was a lot of work and it was well worth it!

I continued in Mending Hearts this year. Frustrated at my lack of memories, I took a trip to my hometown of Cocoa, Florida. It was special to see old stomping grounds and reconnect with friends. How ironic that both of my childhood homes are now painted yellow.

Judy and Dina Daniel, Jean Allen (aka Godmother), and Kristin Friend in Jean’s Highview Drive home.
Our first Cocoa, Florida home on Highview Drive in River Heights
First Baptist Church of Cocoa
Our 2nd home in Cocoa on Emory Lane
My friend, Donna Kates Meyer, from high school drove around with me to help me remember landmarks.
Gregg with Alyssa’s dog, Lily, at the Howalds’ lake house
Lynchburg, Virginia with Joel and Theresa Hesch and Steve and Sherri Pettit – friends from Derwood Bible Church in Maryland
At the JAX airport with Elisabeth Arnold
Fun reunion with our St. Pete friends – Mikel and Kathy Patterson & Chuck and Joyce Elkins.
Shuttle launch seen from Dad and Gladys’ Cape Canaveral condo
Gladys and Norm (Dad) Abell at our house
Golfing with Dad and Gladys in Arkansas
Outside of St. Louis, MO – Bike trail on the old Route 66.
Thanksgiving Day races – the girls did a 6K and the guys did the half-marathon
Lots of snow in Markleysburg!

2008…48 Years Old

2008…48 Years Old

Snippets from 2008:

“The Donna,” a local race to raise funds for breast cancer research was my first half marathon (I have done three.) Walking into the expo to pick up our race packets, I promptly told Gregg that I was going to cry. It made me think of Mom and others who had battled breast cancer. Participating in the race was also emotional; a sea of pink runners, each honoring someone and protesting cancer.

2008 brought fun travel experiences. Extending a business trip to San Diego, California, we celebrated our 20th anniversary with sightseeing, a hot air balloon ride, biking down a Mount Soledad, and kayaking. It was so enjoyable that soon after, we bought bikes and kayaks.

In the fall, I sensed Jesus inviting me to return to Mending Hearts, a survivors of abuse support group at church. I had participated the year after Mom died, then changed my focus to walking through my grief. 

I was a survivor and my coping mechanisms had been heroic and necessary. But they were no longer working for me. I yearned for more healing; Mending Hearts had visibly helped a friend. Dan Allender, author of The Wounded Heart, had helped write the material. If you are familiar with that book, you know it is not an easy read. Facing painful areas of my past was difficult, yet it was the lesser of two evils; the alternative allowed ghosts to continue chasing me.

Gregg and I took our fourth ministry trip to Peru in November. Bryn and Brad were also on the team. The four of us vacationed in Cusco before joining the JFYM Team in Arequipa. The highlight was touring beautiful and amazing Machu Picchu. The Inca mysteries fascinate me – how they transported huge granite stones to the mountaintop, how they built without mortar, and their astute observations of nature, allowing them to precisely predict cyclical events such as the solstice and equinox. Machu Picchu reminds me that ancient people were not “lesser” versions of us. They were intelligent, innovative, and their hearts longed to connect with God.

We ran the 1/2 Marathon in the inaugural 26.2 With Donna – the National Marathon To Fight Breast Cancer, now known as The DONNA.
I ran for Sweet Momma
A sea of runners, mainly in pink
48 Years Old – DQ Ice Cream Cake!
Precious St. Pete friends – Jim and Mary Ann Woods (aka MAW), Dr. Ruth Perry, Gregg and Kristin
I thought I needed to be brave to this…it was so smooth! If my eyes had been closed when we took off, I’d never have realized we were moving. An elevator goes up faster than this balloon. So fun!!
Morning bike down Mount Soledad
Ready to kayak! We won’t repeat our 10th Anniversary Hawaii mistake – we rented TWO kayaks.
Pacific Ocean kayaking. That may be Dr. Seuss’ home in the background.
What else would you expect us to do when we pass a Ghirardelli store?!
Rocky, cold, Pacific Ocean beach
Breathtaking Machu Picchu, Peru!
At Machu Picchu – Brad, Bryn, Kristin, Gregg
Machu Picchu – Kristin, Gregg, Bryn, Brad
Machu Picchu with Louis, our private tour guide
Cusco, Peru
Jesus Focused Youth Ministry Team and missionaries in Arequipa, Peru
Gregg, Eric VanPelt, Eileen Felton, Cynthia Sundman, Bill Griswold, Marty Hayes, Rosalba?, Brad, Bryn, Kim DelRocco, Kim Kutsch-Hayes
Aunt Lillian, Howalds, Friends, Welchs, Wilkersons, Mr & Mrs Howald, Dad and Gladys Abell, and dogs – Addy, Lilly, and Tiger

2007…47 Years Old

2007…47 Years Old

“My girls” and I would share prayer requests each week. My frequent request was to exercise consistently; nothing kept me motivated.

Jacksonville hosts The Gate River Run, a huge 15K race (9.3 miles), each March. Unbeknownst to me, this was on Gregg’s bucket list. The Jacksonville Times printed a daily eight-week “Couch to 15K Training Plan.” Gregg decided to follow it beginning December 2006.

In high school, I tried jogging with Dad in our Cocoa neighborhood. I hated it; it felt like my insides were going to drop out. So, when Gregg said he was going to try running, I was hesitant. Yet, I had been praying to find a new exercise, and having a goal with Gregg would keep me motivated. At age 46 I began a new “sport.”

The first time I went to “run,” I could not go the distance between two driveways without stopping to walk and catch my breath. Little by little, I built up endurance, although my Garmin always labeled my pace a “slow jog.” No matter – my goal was to get exercise…and eat ice cream guilt free.

The Strider’s Resolution Run in January 2007 was our first 5K. Our second 5K was surreal as we ran a 5K around the NASCAR Daytona 500 Speedway. In March we accomplished our goal, running the Gate River Run 15K.

Now that we were in a running routine, we both decided to continue. It was an answer to prayer for me. We transitioned to the Jeff Galloway Run-Walk-Run Method. For my slow pace, I would run one minute then walk one minute. Gregg stuck to his interval plan during his first half marathon at Thanksgiving, feeling good and finishing the race ahead of a younger running friend.

The Galloway Method helped me complete three half-marathons, several 15K’s and 10K’s, and many 5K’s. I was my own competition, comparing my times with previous races. We both enjoy the camaraderie of new friends we have made through running.

I’ve never really “enjoyed” running, aside from the friends and ice cream rewards. In May of 2019, I fell while jogging in the neighborhood resulting in a trip to the ER, 5 stitches, and a concussion. I have since stuck to walking, while continuing to indulge in my ice cream habit.

Resolution Run – my first 5K
47 years old
Daytona Speedway 5K
Gate River Run 15K
Gate River Run t-shirts
Tea Party Time! Kristin, Rachel, Bryn, Julie, Emilee
Kristin and Rachel Friend
Kristin, Bryn, and Mardi with Aunt Lillian. We love her SO MUCH!
Mardi, Aunt Lillian, Kristin, and Bryn
Howalds, Friends, and Wilkersons
Thanksgiving Day races – Kristin ran the 6K, Gregg ran the Half Marathon (13.1 miles)

2006…46 Years Old

2006…46 Years Old

Our big 2006 adventure was driving a rental car through nine European countries in eight days: Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia. We began and ended our trip in Hungary; Cathy and Erika were marvelous hosts, as always.

Gregg loves languages and loves the challenge of being in a non-English speaking area. Me? That sets off my anxiety alarms. I really like control. You know, like being able to understand what a road sign says especially if it says, “one way” or “do not enter.” Europe has unposted rules such as speed limits and pre-buying a toll tag for certain roads. Don’t even get me started on traffic circles.  Cathy did a great job of giving Gregg a traffic-rules crash course.

We didn’t know how to pay Slovenia motorway tolls. Gregg stopped at a gas station before leaving Italy hoping to find out. A non-English speaker said, “Como Italia,” – pay the same as Italy. That was great fun for Gregg.

The big travel loop allowed us to connect with two sets of DTS friends as well as see God’s stunning handiwork. We had visited Brenda and Tracy in Bratislava, Slovakia with Mom. They had moved; we enjoyed seeing their new home and neighborhood. A good time was had by all eating lunch in their back yard.

We met Debbie and Dana and their daughter, Danielle, in Germany to vacation together. We visited Neuschwanstein Castle among other places as we made our way to their home in the Black Forest area. The four of us had a gelato obsession. I can neither confirm nor deny that we often felt compelled to eat gelato more than once a day. While in Kandern, we took a day-trip into France, a new country for Gregg.

From Germany, we went to breathtaking Switzerland, then on to beautiful Lake Garda in Italy. Heading back to Hungary, the traffic outside of Milan, Italy was absolutely nerve wracking and we got lost in Croatia.

It was refreshing to spend more time with Erika and Cathy, and meeting with other friends in the area. As much as I enjoyed the gelato, I am partial to Hungarian food – fruit soup, Chicken Paprikash, their bread, and anything that Erika cooks.

Bryn, Aunt Lillian, Kristin
Carolyn Philips – a special mentor
Corn Maze in Huntsville, Alabama – so fun!
We laughed so hard!
Huntsville, Alabama Space and Rocket Center – Bryn, Kristin, Mardi
Timothy, Jessica, Matthew, Reagan, Sydney
Hungary – our rental car on the street outside of Cathy’s house. We drove it through 9 countries in 8 days.
Brenda and Tracy Lesan in Bratislava, Slovakia
Pizza picnic in the Lesan’s backyard.
Dana, Debbie, and Danielle Cherry by Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany
Gregg, Debbie, Dana, Kristin with Neuschwanstein Castle in the background
Gregg is eating his gelato faster than Debbie 😉
Happy Man!
Dana, Debbie, and Danielle
When in Switzerland, eat fondue!
Lake Garda, Italy
Figuring out how to pay for parking
Studying the Slovenia map … how we navigated before Google Maps directed us turn-by-turn
Gabor and Lidia (in their home) with Cathy and Erika
Eating apples we picked in Lidia and Gabor’s yard – Gregg, Erika, Lidia, Gabor, Cathy
Erika, Cathy and Matches
Erika always cooking something delicious!
Anita, Cathy, Erika and Gregg in a Budapest restaurant

2005…45 Years Old

2005…45 Years Old.

In January 2005, we celebrated Mom’s life service in the Orlando area. She was loved by so many people there; in turn, they loved us through honoring Mom.

Being Mom’s primary caretaker was an honor … and … it was emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausting. Having never raised a child, I was suddenly parenting – my mother. The responsibility of “keeping her alive” was overwhelming at times. Once the dust began to settle, I noticed health issues of my own including severe acid reflux and depression. I began seeing a counselor but declined antidepressants.  

Elisabeth and I continued getting together. She mentioned that each furlough they gather food, cleaners, medical supplies, and other things they might need the following four years. These items are packed in barrels and shipped to West Africa with other necessities. Rick built a large storage pantry in their home, but life stayed so busy, they usually just hunted for items when needed. I can still feel how my heart leapt as I thought, “I could unpack those barrels for her!” But, but, but… would I be courageous enough to go? When the Arnolds shared that they needed someone to set up their computers and a Wi-Fi system, Gregg and I decided to visit Senegal together to help them get re-settled.

The Arnolds’ home is a safe haven. In the evening, we would venture out; it felt like walking through a National Geographic magazine. The village people were welcoming and gracious, even giving us African names, Guy and Khadija Bathily. As we sat on a pretty floor mat in our adopted family’s house, eating with our hands from a common dish, we were overwhelmed by their friendship and generosity. I’m thankful I stepped out of my comfort zone and accepted God’s invitation to go to Senegal. I trusted God in a whole new way.

Two months later, we took our first of five trips to Arequipa, Peru, helping train Peruvians lead their church youth. I fell in love with the Peruvian translators and continue to keep in touch with several.

In December, Gregg’s brother, Doug, was diagnosed with melanoma. After several surgeries and a year of grueling treatment, he has remained cancer free. Thank You, God!

Elisabeth, Sagna, Maria (?) and Kristin in the Arnolds home
Alyssalyn by the barrels full of food and other necessities for the next four years
2005 Food Pantry after it was filled
Soaps cabinet after it was filled
Medicine cabinet after it was filled
Gregg working on the computers (Elisabeth is standing next to him)
Boat ride
Stopping for a cool drink
Dinner with our family
Dinner with our family
Our family had the local tailor make these clothes for us! Sagna and Elisabeth put henna on my hands and feet.
Christmas time at Dad and Gladys’ Cape Canaveral condo

2004…44 Years Old – Part B

2004…44 Years Old – Part B.

In June 2004, Mom was diagnosed with small tumors in her brain. She was offered hospice but opted to try other options. The tumors were removed by gamma knife radiation, a non-invasive surgery, on June 30. Whenever her blood counts permitted, she continued chemo.

In August, Mom attended a ladies’ Bible study. She made friends with Elisabeth Arnold and thought we would enjoy each other. She was spot on! Mom loved spending time with her, too, even offering Elisabeth her last smile here on earth. Elisabeth and I remain good friends – a gift from Mom and Jesus!

In October, the family returned to Destin for a repeat beach vacation.  It was a special time! Two weeks later, we received devastating news – new tumors in Mom’s brain “looked like buckshot.” There were too many to remove with gamma knife.

Mom was quickly losing mobility. On November 8, Mom had an oncology appointment, but she couldn’t walk. Even if I could get her into the car, I could not have gotten her out. With no other options, hospice was called. They were a huge blessing to Mom as well as to me.  

Mom was bed-bound and unable to speak her last week and a half. Pastor Tim Lusk visited, and his words stuck with me, “This bed may seem like a prison, but it is not. It will soon become a mysterious doorway into the next life.”

A few days before Mom walked through that portal, the Mandarin High Prayer Group visited. As they stood around her bed, Mom seemed to be intently looking at something that we could not see. Maybe the portal was beginning to open.

I checked on Mom in the middle of the night, attending her needs as she slept, telling her she was loved and beautiful as I kissed her head. In the morning, I awoke to silence on the baby monitor. Heartbroken, I knew before I got to her room – she was gone. Mom had peacefully left us and met Jesus. Life would never be the same.

Drs. Augspurger and Zeal preparing Mom for gamma-knife surgery
Mom being prepared for gamma-knife surgery.
Mom’s view from her bed
Jessica and Reagan try out Me-Mom’s lift chair
Our first formal goodbye was a graveside service on December 20 – Brad found a cemetery plot in a lovely old cemetery on Mandarin Road, full of huge trees and history.
Our second formal goodbye – Celebration of Life service at Christian Family Chapel
Mom loved cardinals and had many stuffed animals. Each grandchild picked out one of Mom’s cardinals and another stuffed animal to remember Me-Mom.
A Christmas poinsettia for Mom with a message written in the sand – Me-Mom, we love you.
If the headstones in this cemetery are any indication, this is going to be a happening place at the resurrection!
Mom’s daughters…grieving behind the smiles.
Have fun storming the castle, Mom! … Think it will work? … It will take a miracle!