Friday, December 30, 2011

Rock of Ages...

I have recently (as in the past day or so) changed my definition of what it means to be young...

....being young means you can stay up until midnight on New Years Eve!

Something that at the age of thirty-something (higher thirties) I can no longer accomplish. How pathetic is that?

I overhead two teenage girls in the check out line at Target discussing their "like-oh-my-gosh-I-totally-can't-wait" New Years Eve plans...this was their conversation. Like, seriously:

Girl 1: "I seriously can't wait until Saturday, and...like, how perfect is it that New Years Eve is on a Saturday this year?"

Girl 2: "I know, right?!"

Girl 1: "I totally talked to Stephanie this morning and she said that she got a suite at Capital Plaza. How cool is that? I mean, how many people do you think we can fit? I think maybe we should book another room and try to get it on the same floor and then like if we have too many people in the suite we can party down the hall too. Eeek! I'm SO excited!"

Girl 2: "Totally. Book it. I mean seriously, this is going to be the best night of our lives!"

Girl 1: (flipping through Seventeen magazine) "Like seriously? They sell maternity clothes at Forever 21!"

Girl 2: "Duh, Teen Mom 2"

Did I sound like that at the age of sixteen? And hello???? Where are the parents?? Do they know that their daughters have booked a suite at the Capital Plaza Hotel? Furthermore, does the hotel know that they booked a suite for a cesspool of raging hormones???

It was overhearing that conversation that led me to reminiscing on some of my New Years Eve celebrations. It is really comical to reflect on my "Rock of Ages" so to speak...

Age sixteen: Sophomore year of high school. I was grounded (that was my life story growing up) for something I'm sure I did but tried to deny and my denial led me to an even harsher punishment. Being grounded on New Years Eve meant that I was free to babysit my little brother and my two little sisters while my parents went out to ring in the New Year. So I did what any normal (grounded) teenager with the most strict parents in the entire world would do....I snuck in the boy that I had been crushing on for the past year. Shawn...that was his name. He and his friend Jamie showed up to my parents house and I snuck them up the back staircase into my room (which at the time was in the attic, a remodeled area that was what every teen girl had ever dreamed of for her own personal space). My bestie, Nicole, was staying over with me, so she kept my siblings at bay by pushing a chair up against my bedroom door so they could not open the door and tattle on me. Of course all of that came to a head when my parents returned home after midnight and the house was a disaster, my brother and my two sisters were still awake and they immediately cried, "Betsy locked us out of her bedroom because she had people in there!" Yep...that bought me another two weeks punishment. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Age twenty-one: Dude, I was twenty-one....bars! booze! boys! .....wait....nope. I was married and pregnant. Seriously. Five months along with my oldest son Hayden. I sat swollen and hormonal on the living room couch watching Dick Clark on the television, counting down the last minute of the year. A bag of Cheetos and a glass of root beer....HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Age twenty-two: I wasn't pregnant. I was divorced. End of story. (I did have a beautiful baby boy!) HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Age twenty-five: New hubby, six months pregnant, asleep by 9 pm. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Age twenty-six: Still married (that was a big deal back then), a five year old, a six month old and....I was pregnant. Asleep by 9 pm. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Age twenty-seven: Three boys under the age of six (two were infants) and a hottie husband. Asleep by 9 pm. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

....and every year since hottie hubby and I have celebrated New Years Eve family style....TONS of junk food, sodas, movies and games with our three BEAUTIFUL boys!!

And I wouldn't trade it for any suite at any hotel....ever.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This Is Why I Just Wear Spanx...

Healthy living…it’s come up all around me lately. At the office we began a “Wellness Challenge,” three groups that are competing against one another in a weight loss competition – very similar to the “Biggest Loser” reality television show. Two weeks into the competition, I feel good about my eating habits (I’ve gone gluten free…although if I’m going to be real here, I must admit a cupcake or four) and I’ve even picked up a walking routine.


…Monday’s weigh in is quickly approaching and I really want to make my team proud, so I set my alarm this morning for 5:00 (by the way, anyone who wakes this early on a regular basis is a fool!) and with new tennis shoes, sassy workout pants and jacket, I made my way to the local YMCA!

Happy with myself that I was actually making an effort to be healthy and exercise, I unzipped my sassy pink jacket and hung it up on the coat rack (I didn’t want to get my sassy jacket sweaty). Full of new found energy I bounced over to the treadmill and placing both feet on the sides of the track, I began to push buttons…10 incline, 4.5 speed…..begin…..

….the track slowly began to move and I placed my feet in rhythm on the tread. Hurriedly unraveling my earphones that were connected to my IPod, my hands fumbled over the tangled mess and my IPod began to slip from my grasp. Catching the gadget in midair, one side of my earphones hit the track of the treadmill and was jammed….without thinking, I bent over to pull the wire free, lost my balance and began to slide backwards on the treadmill….hoping to gain balance, I lifted my right foot from the machine and placed in on the floor, only to have my left foot still dragging behind me, causing me to trip and fall flat on my rear.

Scarlet faced, I jumped up, looked around and gave that “Ha ha! I’m okay, no need to worry about me” look to the mass of people that saw the entire incident. I was totally over the treadmill…shame me one and screw you! So I sauntered over to the stationary bikes….seriously, what harm could I possibly do on a stationary bike?

Placing my rear in the seat, I adjusted the machine to fit my 5’9” frame and began to pedal. Within ten minutes I was really feeling the burn…it felt good….like fat was just melting off my body (gosh, if only that is how it worked). I decided to pick up the pace a little…I pedaled harder….my breath became deep and hard….sweat began dripping down my back and my forehead…..ahhhhhhhh….this was nice! My IPod was resting on the “shelf” of the bike and with my faster pedaling it began to shift and eventually it fell onto the floor causing my earphones to pull out of the devise.

…..without even thinking (because really, who would think this could happen?) I bent forward to pick up my IPod and SMACK!!!! …the pedal came spinning around and hit me in the face, creating a reaction in which I quickly raised my head up and hit the top of my head on the handle bar of the bike….

The lady next to me (witnessing the whole thing) gently said, “Ouch. That must have hurt!” ….as a side note, please don’t say anything to me when you have just watched me make a fool of myself and I’m in pain….it’s really irritating and makes me want to throw a wrench in the wheel of your stupid stationary bike, causing you to jolt to a sudden stop and possibly throw you off the dumb bike.

But I smiled and replied, “This is why I sleep in.” And with that, I grabbed my sassy jacket and holding my swollen, knotted head I left the building.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...



This is Sophia, she is my niece and I love her to the moon and back! I apologize for the blurriness of the video...she just couldn't stand still!  :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

See, It's NOT All About Me...

Originally posted on Thursday, October 22, 2009


See, It's NOT All About Me...

It's about my Hottie Husband too...

(I got this idea from a fellow blogger, thanks Terri! Now I seem less selfish)! ;)

1. Hottie Husbands real name is Mark. Come on, you didn't really believe his name is "hottie" did you?

2. Mark has an uncle Mark that he was named after. Although they share the same first and last name...they DO not share anything else in common. If you know who Mark's uncle Mark is, then you fully understand that statement.

3. Mark is a year younger than I. I robbed the cradle.

4. Mark is a graduate of Lincoln University with a degree in Criminal Justice.

5. When Mark and I met he was the General Manager of the Capital 4 Theatres. This is where my "free" movies began.
6. Mark is in the National Guard. He is adamant about serving his country. The National Guard is extremely important to him and he takes it very seriously.

7. I get weak in the knees for a man in uniform...therefore I think the National Guard "looks" hot on Mark! Oops...that was about me...

8. Mark is 6'4"

9. Mark is EXTREMELY intelligent. I mean seriously people...he knows EVERYTHING.

10. Mark is very strong in his Faith and has an incredible relationship with Jesus Christ.

11. Mark is not afraid to cry. It is one of the many things I love about him.

12. Mark is really witty and very funny.

13. Mark is somewhat shy...he tends to stay quiet most of the time. That may be because he can't get a word in edgewise with me around! ;)

14. Mark knows how to fix anything. Electrical, cars, remodeling, plumbing, gadgets...you name it, he can fix it.
15. Mark reads ALL the time. He has read more books than anyone I know. Maybe that is why he knows EVERYTHING!

16. Mark is an investigator for the State of Missouri. (Mark works full time for the National Guard now in the aviation division!)

17. Mark is extremely loyal, trustworthy and honest. It truly is admirable.

18. Mark is the most patient and loving father. He adores our boys!

19. Mark is an awesome cook! He also does laundry and irons all of my clothes!

20. Mark is the middle child of three. He has an older sister and a younger sister.

The list could go on and on...but then we would be getting into things like: Mark snores, Mark takes too long in the bathroom (and I'm not talking about primping), Mark doesn't understand my shoe obsession....

I love my Mark. And if I had to do it all over again...I would have picked him the first time! ;)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Fear Of Not Mattering...

Originally posted on Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The Fear of Not Mattering...

We have the most AWESOME pastor at our church! As a matter of fact, he is a HUGE part of why hottie hubby and I chose to join Memorial Baptist Church. Pastor Mark is one of those people that you instantly adore...he's funny, witty, intelligent and he's YOUNG...meaning that he's hip! ;)
Pastor Mark always has stories that speak to my heart, and this past Sunday was no exception. Our church is in the beginning chapters of a new study by Max Lucado called "Fearless." (It is an amazing book, if you haven't read it I would highly recommend it!) Sunday's sermon covered chapter two of the book, "The Fear of Not Mattering." Here is a small piece from the chapter:
"Ah, there it is. There is the question. The Amazon River out of which a thousand fears flow: do we matter? We fear we don't. We fear nothingness, insignificance. We fear evaporation. We fear that in the last tabulation we make no contribution to the final sum. We fear coming and going and no one knowing."

Towards the end of Pastor Mark's sermon he told us a story. It is a story that I have told over and over in my head because it truly touched my heart. It is a story that I want to share with you because maybe it will touch you in the same way it touched me.

The story goes like this...
****
On an evening not any different from most, a competitive swimmer walked into the gym and headed towards the indoor pool. Outside the only light that shone was the light of the moon and the stars. Inside, the gym was dark and quiet. The young swimmer walked into the pool room without switching on any lights. He wanted to swim in the dark. He wanted to be alone with his thoughts. You see, this young competitive swimmer had been an atheist. He didn't believe in God. He had no reason to believe. Lately he had been having second thoughts, but nothing to really verify that God truly is real. Nothing to prove to him that God had been by his side even when this young man didn't believe...

Slowly the young man climbed the ladder to the high dive. 30 feet above ground, the young man walked to the edge of the platform in the dark. He was alone with his thoughts. He had reached the end of the platform and turned to face the wall. Ready to dismount he closed his eyes and raised his arms perpendicular to his body. He took a deep breath in and slowly he opened his eyes and was stunned at the sight on the wall. Behind him a window let in the light of the moon and the young man's shadow was displayed on the wall. His body had made a Cross with his arms outstretched. He was consumed with the Spirit and he dropped to his knees at the edge of the diving board. He cried and out loud he asked for forgiveness. He cried to Jesus and asked Him to come into his heart.
Overjoyed at his new found Faith, the young man stood once again at the edge of the platform, facing the wall and stretched his arms out once again, ready to dive below. Just then, the janitor walked into the room and flipped on the light...startled the young man turned to see who was below and he realized that the pool had been drained to be cleaned....
****
Did the hairs on the back of your neck stand up? Mine did when I first heard that story. You see, we do matter. It isn't a coincidence that our bodies, arms outstretched, create the shape of the Cross. The Cross is the symbol of the triumph of good. By His sufferings on the Cross our Lord Jesus Christ washed away the sins of mankind, conquered the devil, abolished death and opened the way to eternal life for man. The Cross bears witness to God’s infinite love for sinful mankind. But the Cross is much more than a symbol; it possesses spiritual power.



Here is another piece from the chapter...

"Why does he love you so much? The same reason the artist loves his paintings or the boat builder loves his vessels. You are His idea. And God has only good ideas. 'For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago' (Eph. 2:10)"

Go out and pick up a copy of "Fearless" by Max Lucado...I promise you, you will love it!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

She's Having A Baby...

My last post was on July 27th and even then it was a "re-post" from the previous year...

...I only mention the date of my last post to make the point that my life has been somewhat "normal"...."low key" you might say....

Nothing "crazy" to report here.....

{insert sound of screeching tires...}

But all good things (or in my case, "normal" days) must come to an end...and my end was today....

Since hottie hubby began working for the National Guard full time, our health insurance has changed and with the change in coverage, there comes a change of doctors...

...Having to leave my beloved gynecologist (I've been with Dr. "B" from the beginning of womanhood) because he does not accept my new insurance, I searched out a new "down there" doctor, this one, a woman. I felt very comfortable with my decision and was actually excited to meet her (and let's be real...what woman actually gets excited for a gyno appointment??)

...Now...so that you can fully appreciate the happenings of my appointment and really "live" in my moment, I'm going to share with you every detail....it's important to me that you FULLY understand the craziness....

Knowing that my appointment was late morning, I took an extra long shower...and I know that all of you women that are reading this know exactly what I'm talking about...if we are going to be honest with one another, then let's speak it like it is....we all want to smell like crisp linen or a field of daisy's for our "down there" debut, right? Honestly...it's appointments with my gyno that I wish my vagina could chew a piece of gum...I know you wish the same.

Dressing for my day, I was certain to choose clothing that was quick and simple to slip on and off...nothing is worse than finishing up your gyno exam and the doctor leaves you to redress and he/she walks back in just as you are bending over, adjusting your breasts in your bra so they at least look like they are where they should be....
...I chose a pink cotton sundress with a lightweight black shrug and my gold slip on sandals. There was no point in styling my hair, so I pulled it back into a tight ponytail, put on my gold earrings and I was out the door...

I had a thirty minute drive to my new doctor's office...turning of the radio and using the quiet time during my commute, I carefully went over all the questions that I had in my head to ask my new doctor...health concerns that I wanted answers to..."can you check my thyroid?" "What do you make of the swelling in my left leg?" "I've been experiencing some heavy cramping, do you have a remedy?".....

Arriving at my appointment, I casually approached the front desk to check in...the receptionist was lovely, very personable and I immediately thought I would truly love my new gynecologist! I handed over my insurance card and information and filled out the typical "new patient" forms.

The waiting room was full of women, some pregnant, others like me...the "yearlies"...a few of the women were there for post pregnancy follow up, toting their new born babies, glowing like all new mommies do...

My name was called...."Elizabeth?".....I quickly inquired, "What's the last name?" and the nurse, holding a manila folder looked down at the colored tab on the folder and read, "Dudenhoeffer...."
...Nobody calls me Elizabeth (except for some family)....and I thought I remembered telling the receptionist when I called to make the appointment (and when I checked in moments before) that I go by Betsy....it should have been my first clue as to what was about to unfold.....

I was taken back into a small room that held a scale, a height chart on the wall, a computer and a chair. The nurse directed me to sit in the chair and she began to take my blood pressure. I was then asked to step onto the scale {really, this might be the worst part, agreed?} and after writing down my weight she asked me to stand against the wall and she wrote down my height.

Following the nurse down the hall, I was taken to an examination room, told to undress completely and put on the gown that was laying on the table, ties in front. She handed me a white sheet to lay over my lap and she stepped out of the room....

Quickly undressing, I laid my clothes neatly over the chair and slipped on the soft hospital gown, ties in front. I sat up on the table, laid the white sheet over my lap and patiently waited....
....I could feel my blood pressure begin to rise as I anticipated what was about to happen....I HATE these appointments....and the silly thoughts began to circle in my head...
...."Did I use enough deodorant?" "It's cold in here....great, now I have goosebumps and she's going to think I didn't shave my legs.." "I should have eaten something, my stomach is growling...how embarrassing!" "I hope I don't have gas...." {come on, I KNOW you think it too}

In walks my new gynecologist...my heart began to beat faster....ugh, I HATE these appointments....I smiled through gritted teeth...."Hello." She greeted me with a beautiful smile...I must admit, she made an awesome first impression....she was very personable...almost like she had known me already....

After answering a few medical history questions, I did think it was odd that my hysterectomy from two years ago was never mentioned....didn't she need to know why at the young age of thirty-five I had my uterus yanked out?? Wouldn't the fact that I no longer have a period but I still have cramping be important for her to know???

Helping me to lay back on the table, I thought it was a bit odd that she didn't begin with a breast examination....every other yearly appointment I had ever had began with the old "feel up"....but this doctor went straight to the down under....
.....hmmmmmm.......I noticed there was no "instrument" in my examination...and she was pressing quite firmly on my belly.....odd.....
.....she snapped off her gloves and very calmly said, "I will be right back Elizabeth...."

All I could hear was the ticking of the second hand on the clock that hung above the door of the sterile room that I was waiting in....

Moments later the doctor returned, "Elizabeth, I am going to have you walk down to the ultrasound room at the end of the hallway and I want to do a quick ultrasound, okay?"
.....ummmmmmmmmm.......o-kaay......what in the world is going on??? OMG, do I have a tumor??? I knew it! I have a tumor.....I'm going to die.....she obviously feels something abnormal and I'm dying.....I knew it!

I followed the doctor down to the ultrasound room and I was left with the technician in a dimly lit, small cubicle with a large ultrasound machine and an examination table....
...the technician was extra sweet..."Okay sweetheart, you just relax and I'm going to put some of this gel on your belly and we will get started, okay?" ....."yep".....

Using the ultrasound instrument, she pressed vigorously on my belly, prodding and poking to the point that I thought she might just go right through my intestines and hit the table underneath me....it hurt to say the least....it was as if she was looking for something and couldn't find it.....

With a concerned look on her face, the technician placed the instrument in it's proper place and stood, walking to the door she turned to face me and in a sugary sweet voice she explained, "Elizabeth, I'm going to go get the doctor and she will want to speak with you, you just relax honey...."

OMG....this was it.....my brand new gynecologist, who I was meeting for the very first time was about to walk in and have the horrifying job of relaying to me that I was dying from some humongous tumor that was overtaking my body and I only had a few hours to live.....

The door opened.....in walked the new doctor.....holding my manila folder of all my down under history she looked at me and opened her mouth.......here it comes.......and I braced myself.....

"Elizabeth......"

....choking back tears....."Yes???"

"What is your date of birth?"

....OMG......she feels terrible that I'm only thirty-seven and I'm dying.....she wants to know my birthday so she can tell me if I'll at least live to see thirty-eight.....

...my voice cracked...."4 - 6 - of '74"

........silence.......

"I'll be right back..." and with that, she turned and went out the door....

.....I couldn't believe it....she didn't have the heart to tell me herself....she had to get backup....I mean really, what a horrible thing to have to do by yourself....I completely understood...

The door opened again and the doctor entered once again....alone.....{tough broad}...
....there was a smile on her face....{really, she was going to try the "let's find the good in this" method???}....

"Elizabeth, you won't believe this....but there are TWO Elizabeth Dudenhoeffer's that are patients here...the other Elizabeth is pregnant...and my nurse accidentally pulled her chart....so now that I have the correct chart, YOUR chart...we can go back to the examination room and preform your yearly check up!"

EXCUSEX-MOI????? WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY????

So.....AFTER ALL OF THAT.....I STILL had to have the yearly examination......

....and I didn't even BEGIN to ask how far along the other Elizabeth is in her pregnancy....
because I'm frightened of what the answer would be....

Seriously.....who else does that happen to??????


And just for the record.....I am NOT having a baby.....that factory was shut down a couple of years ago!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Repost: "Into The Light...A Tribute To My Beloved Brother..."

Originally posted on Wednesday, August 4th, 2010


Seven days ago I lost my only brother...

...my heart has never felt such pain.

Cal was born on November 28, 1978...He was thirty-one years old.

...He was a very good natured baby from the start, with an even temperament and a quick and easy smile. My mother has shared with me that for the first week of my brother coming home from the hospital I relentlessly asked, "when will he go back?" :)

My greatest memory of Cal as a baby is his big ears. The family joke was to "tip toe" around our sleeping boy, as his ears were so big it was certain he could hear a pin drop!

As a boy, Cal was involved in many community activities. He was a Cub Scout, played Little League Baseball, and enjoyed attending youth activities at our church. In high school, Cal was a triple-sport athlete, playing basketball, football, and baseball! He was a tremendous talent when it came to any sport!

Four years apart, Cal and I shared so much together within the first two years of his life. Our parents divorce when Cal was two and I had just turned seven created a special bond between the two of us, as I felt the need to "mother" my baby brother, knowing he had no clue as to what was going on. Such a big, brawny baby boy, the sight of my scrawny self carrying Cal around brought laughter to those who witnessed....

...Cal and I were thick as thieves when it came to trouble...when one of us was receiving a "talking to", the other was hiding behind a piece of furniture, only to be seen by one another, giggling...which only got us into more trouble! I can hear my mother now, "is it funny?" Sometimes my brother would say, "a little bit." :)

When we lived in our apartment just after my parents divorce, my brother and I shared a bedroom. One day while we were playing Barbie's (I am certain that Cal "volunteered" with great enthusiasm) Cal pulled the head off my only Ken Barbie doll! "I will NEVER forget that you did this, and when we are old in our eighties, I will STILL remember..." and at the age of thirty-six, I still remember.

"Tickling" backs was our greatest negotiation! Laying on the family room floor, watching "Silver Spoons" and "One Day At A Time", Cal and I would bargain "tickling" time..."I'll tickle your back for two commercials, then it's my turn."

After high school, and attempting the college life (which neither of us did very well), Cal and I shared an apartment together. I had just been through my divorce, a single mother of a two year old...Cal and my son Hayden began their special connection.

Of course over the years there have been arguments, jealousy, bitterness, tears...

....but the laughter, the love and the brother/sister relationship far outweigh it all!

My brother's greatest gifts are his children that he leaves behind. Sophia, two years old and full of life! Her white blond hair, her tall lanky body, her chicken legs and her sassy attitude...she's a "Fine" through and through. Henry, just a year old, nicknamed "Hank the Tank", his chubby cheeks and his piercing blue eyes...I see so much of my brother in his precious face.

Cal...as I just shared with you a few short months ago, you were an incredible father. I am so proud of the daddy that you were. Your babies adore you...and with your memory still very much alive, they always will.

I love you so very much Cal. Know that I believed in you...
...life was difficult, but your smile and your humor kept you from ever giving up. You wanted so much for your children and for Corinn, and yet a terrible illness kept you from reaching your goals.

...Know that Mark and I will do everything we can to carry on your dreams for Sophie, Henry and Corinn. We will continue to love them as you loved them. We will provide for them in any way they need. Know that they are being protected and cared for.

I am so proud of who you were Cal. Never, ever think that I didn't love you every second you were here...

...and my love for you continues to grow, although I will now love you from afar, I know you know just how very much I love you!

Have peace dear brother...tear up the basketball courts of Heaven, catch up with your best friend Craig, and pass along hugs and kisses to Grandma and Popo...

...Wrap yourself in the love and comfort of Christ, as I know He loves you just as you were and are!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Grievance Observed...

One year ago today...

...I heard my brother's voice for the last time.

"I love you" ....were the last words I spoke to my brother...

"Love you"...were the last words spoken to me by my brother...

Three days later, my brother passed away.

I still have thoughts of...."I should have"...

...I should have gotten in the car and driven the thirty minutes it would take to visit him in the hospital...to hold his hand...to see his smile...

...I should have called him the next day and told him I loved him again...

But the truth is...nobody knew...

...we were blindsided.

I remember the day as if it were yesterday...and yet, it will be a year this Friday, July 29th.

...I remember every. single. detail.

And when I close my eyes at night, I relive each moment over....

But I also see God's work...

My therapist suggested that I record my thoughts...write down the details...

"Observe your grievance," she softly spoke...


A Grievance Observed...

The week of July 26, 2010 was sticky hot...my parents home was floor to ceiling with packed boxes, marked with various rooms for the new home they would move into at the end of the week.

Friends and students of my mother's occupied every space in the four story home that my siblings and I grew up in...chaos saturated every square inch...boxes were organized into stacks of "goodwill", "new home" and "pitch". Pick up trucks were parked in the front yard and several of the young, strong boys that were previous students of my mother's carried out heavy pieces of furniture...antiques that had been handed down throughout the years.

My brother had been admitted to the VA Hospital in Columbia, MO the week before. Living with Crohn's disease for several years, Cal had been in and out of hospitals frequently...the only real difference this time was that the doctors had given indication that they would finally do surgery (a last resort for most Crohn's patients)...

On Tuesday, July 27th I called the VA Hospital at 10:45 in the morning and asked the attendant to transfer my call to my brother's room. The phone rang twice and my brother's voice came across from the other end...

"Hello?"

"Yo! What's up?"

"Oh, I'm just sittin' back, drinkin' a daiquiri, watching the 'Price is Right', waiting for my sponge bath..."

"Hahahaha! how are you feeling today?"

"The same."

"Have they said anything about when the surgery will be?"

"No. They are trying to clear up an infection first."

"Okay...well, I might be in Columbia later this week for work, so I'll stop by if I have time."

"Okay."

"Alright....well, enjoy that daiquiri...and the sponge bath...hahaha!"

"Right."

"I love you!"

"Love you."

Click....

My sister-in-love had been staying with my boys during the day while school was out for summer vacation. Because she would go to the hospital every day and spend time with Cal, I was given a daily update when she would come to my home in the mornings to stay with the boys. In all honesty, my brothers stay in the hospital this time seemed like the "normal" routine as previous times that he was admitted...

...with all of the commotion over my parents move, every one's thoughts were focused on packing and organizing...the move itself was a huge ordeal...our parents were moving from their home of twenty-five plus years...moving from a four story home to a one level home to accommodate our ailing father, who was now in a wheelchair.

On Wednesday, July 28th, my father was sitting in the kitchen of our old home, attending to the dozens of people that were in and out among the boxes. Because of his MS, he did not have the strength to really contribute to the move, other than sitting back and barking out orders...(that's a bit of humor, he really wasn't all that bossy)...so he did what he could from his chair at the kitchen table, while snacking on kettle corn that one of the volunteers had brought to the moving "party"...

...this is where I see God's healing hand in the tragedy we would soon face....

....My father had chipped his tooth on a piece of kettle corn....it did enough damage that he needed to see a dental specialist right away....and the closest dental specialist that could see my father immediately was located in Columbia....just a few short blocks from the hospital where my brother was staying..

My mother had been so busy in the move that she had not had the opportunity to visit my brother in the hospital that week...but because my father needed to see the dental specialist the next morning, she would have the time to stop by and see my brother! (Do you see God's hand in this??)

...Thursday morning, July 29th my mother entered my brothers hospital room in the morning and spent a little over an hour with him while she waited for my father. Cal wasn't feeling well, he was in a lot of pain and his stomach was extremely swollen. His skin was pale and he asked my mother to leave because he didn't want her to see him like that...
...my mother spoke to the doctor and she was assured that they were treating an infection and then would proceed with the surgery....

Kissing my brother on his forehead, my mother told Cal that she loved him and she left his room...

...as a side note, I see God's healing hand in these particular details because had my father not chipped his tooth and needed to see a dental specialist in Columbia, my mother would not have seen my brother that morning...but rather, she did see my brother...the morning of his death...and she was able to tell him face to face that she loved him....

Late that morning my sister-in-love called me and asked if I would watch the kids (my brother's two year old daughter and one year old son) that evening so she could visit my brother and spend some time with him. Excited with the opportunity to spend time with my niece and nephew, I asked Corinn to call my cell phone when she was ready to bring the kids to me.

After work I changed my clothes and my husband and I went to my parents new home to begin unpacking boxes...in the hours before, all the furniture and boxes had been moved from my parents old home to their new home and the chaos moved right along with it all!
...at five minutes after six, as I was standing in my mother's new kitchen, unpacking her "everyday" dishes when my cell phone rang. My husband was closer to my cell phone than I was and picking it up he said, "it's Corinn..." I quickly grabbed the phone thinking that she was calling me to let me know she was on her way to bring me the kids...

"Hello?"

"Yes, Betsy? This is Michelle, Cal's nurse at the VA Hospital..."

confused I answered..."oh....hi...."

"Betsy, I'm trying to get a hold of your mother and I can't reach her...do you know where she is?"

...suddenly my stomach hurt...

"Yes, she's here at the new house, she's outside watering the plants...do you want me to get her?"

"No...actually, I need you and your mother to come to the VA Hospital."

...my stomach turned..."right now?"

"Yes."

"Why?? What's wrong? Is Cal okay?"

She hesitated...."Well.....we think he took a turn for the worse...."

"We are on our way" ....and I hung up.

Panicked I looked at my husband and said, "that was Cal's nurse, they think he took a turn for the worse....I can't tell my mom....she'll go crazy....what do I do??  Something is wrong...." I began to shake and then I headed towards the basement of my mother's home knowing that her two closest friends were unpacking boxes....my husband followed me.

...when I reached the basement I found Barb and Becky, two dear friends of my mothers, and the "head chief's" of the moving coalition that week...

...the tears came from nowhere...and they fell freely..."please help me....my brother's nurse just called and they want my mom and me to come to the hospital right now....they said Cal has taken a turn for the worse....something is wrong...I just know it....I can feel it....I can't tell my mom....help me....."

Becky looked at me and gently placed her hand on my back..."okay...it's okay, they probably are going to do his surgery now...your mom is outside, we can go tell her."

My husband calmly said that he would let my mother know that the nurse had called and that he would offer to drive us to Columbia....
...my mother reacted exactly like I thought she would...she was hysterical, asking me over and over to repeat exactly what the nurse had said to me....
...."She said that they think Cal took a turn for the worse....I don't know anymore mom....."

The next several moments are like snapshots in my mind....

*I remember getting into the backseat of my car, allowing my mother to sit in the front while my husband drove us to the hospital....we had a thirty minute drive ahead of us and it seemed like a lifetime...

*...I remember my mother using her cell phone and calling Corinn's number....
*...I remember the sound of confusion in my mother's voice (like mine) when Cal's nurse, Michelle, answered Corinn's cell phone...

*I remember my mother's side of the conversation....

"Michelle? It's Jennifer....what's going on?? ................................................. I need you to be honest with me Michelle...is Cal gone?......................................................."

*I remember the phone dropping from my mother's hand onto the floorboard of the car...I remember my mother turning to face me in the backseat and choking out the words, "Betsy.....Cal is dead."

*I remember my mother gagging like she was going to vomit.....

*I remember my mother vomiting in my car......

*I remember her violent sobs.....

I was like stone....I couldn't remember how to move.....my throat felt tight.....my eyes burned as if they were on fire.....my head began to pound.....my vision faded for a moment.....

I picked up my cell phone and dialed my biological father's phone number in Washington DC...Cal and I shared the same father....we shared the same blood....

No answer.

I dialed my biological father's cell phone....

No answer.

I called my biological father's sister, my aunt Mary.....no answer.

I called my biological father's other sister, my aunt Dixie....

"Hello?"

"Dixie....it's Betsy..." I sobbed.

"Betsy! What's wrong?"

"I can't get a hold of my dad....Dixie...I need my dad....Cal is dead."

"What!? Oh my God.....okay, Betsy...I will get in touch with your father...."

....and I hung up.

I called Becky, my bosses wife...someone that I love and adore...someone that I trust and someone that I knew could bring me comfort.....she answered the phone and I sobbed....

...I called my best friend of seventeen years and hung up when I heard her voice message greeting...and then I texted her cell phone....
...."my brother died."

Amy immediately called me back.....when we arrived at the hospital, Amy was there to comfort me.

*I remember my husband dropping my mother and me off at the front entrance of the hospital....
*I remember holding onto my mother as we entered the hospital...confused and heartbroken...

*I remember standing on the elevator and the doors opening up to the fourth floor where Cal's room was and right there, sitting in a small conference room was my sister-in-love holding my niece, embraced in a nurse's arms....Corinn's face was swollen and red....she was speechless....and when she saw my mother and me, her silent sobs were no longer silent.

....my best friend Amy scooped up Sophia (my niece) and walked with her down the hall, away from the sadness...

...My mother and Corinn walked the opposite way and turned at the end of the hallway into my brother's room. I stood....frozen. Unaware of my surroundings. I began to feel lightheaded again, so I turned and sat in a chair. My husband walked off the elevator and pulled me into his arms and held me tightly...swaying back and forth and whispering "I'm so sorry...."

My cell phone rang and it was my biological father....

"Hello?"

"Bets? What happened?"

Unable to control my crying I replied, "I don't know."

"Well, when will you know??" my father's voice was demanding...he was angry.

"I don't know." I just shock my head....

"Call me please when you find out. Where are you? Who is the doctor?"

"I don't know. We are at the VA Hospital. I don't know."

....and I hung up.

I remember Michelle, my brother's nurse walking into the waiting room where I sat with my husband, my best friend, my niece and now several of my mother's closest friends....Michelle looked at me and said, "Your mother wants you in the room with her..."

"I can't. .......I can't see him like that. .....I don't want to see him like this....."

The nurse just stood there and waited for a few moments....taking my hand in hers she knelt before me and looking me in the eyes she calmly said, "you can do this....for your mother. Be strong for your mom...."

Unconsciously I stood up and walked with the nurse down the hallway...
....snapshots....

*Standing in the doorway of my brother's hospital room, I see my brother's lifeless body....he looks like he is sleeping, except there is a tube sticking out of him mouth.

*My sister-in-love is laying in the bed with my brother, crying and yelling the word "no"....over and over....

*My mother is holding my brother's hand and her head is buried in his chest and I see her own body convulsing with sobs....

*I enter the room and I smell bleach....sanitation....I think the smell is odd.
*I feel hot and sweaty...nauceous....my throat begins to tighten....
*I walk over to my brother's body....I reach out my hand and I touch his face. His skin is cold. Pale. His eyes are not closed all the way and I bend down to look inside his eyes....and I mouth the words "I love you."

I remember having a conversation with God in my head while standing next to my brother's body....listening to my mother's cries and my sister-in-loves plea to bring him back....

"God?......I need you right now God.....I don't understand.....I need you to help me right now......God?......I need you to tell me if he is with you......I don't know God......did you take his hand in the end?....God.....did he take your hand?.........please God........I need him to know that I love him......I love him......I love him......I love you Cal......please God.......God, help me.."

I turned and saw my pastor.....and right now, as I type out the details, I am still in awe of my pastor.....my pastor who drove thirty miles to be with my family....my pastor who had never met my brother....he didn't know my brother....but he knew me...he knew my husband and our boys....he had met my parents....and he came for all of us.....he prayed for my brother.......he prayed for all of us.......

We stayed at the hospital for a few hours....late into the night. My bosses wife had driven to the hospital with my dear friend from church, Linda and the two of them held me while I cried.....

I remember when it was time to leave the hospital I held my brother's hand and squeezed it tight.....I kissed his check and I whispered...."no matter what Cal....I love you....I have always loved you....and I'm proud of you. I'm proud of the father you were to your children....I'm proud of the abundance of love you gave to others....your mistakes did not define you Cal.....I love you, I love you, I love you...."


......these are the details I remember. This is my grievance observed.

The next few days I will repost some of my posts from the healing process as it was closer to my brother's death.

Thank you to all who have touched our lives this past year with thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Little Boy Bra...

I would love for someone to share with me what a "normal" day feels like....

...because in the life of Betsy, there is no such thing as "normal!"

A "normal" Saturday for anyone else would be waking up and saying to your children...

"Be good little ones, mommy is going to run out to the mall for a few moments of 'mommy time', I'll be back in an hour."

...at least my day started out as "normal".....

All I wanted to do was to run to Victoria's Secret and purchase a new bra.

I'm tired of my "Target" bras...don't get me wrong, I adore Target...and their lingerie is perfect for our Dave Ramsey lifestyle....

....but hottie hubby is away, the kids are making me crazy and all I wanted to do was treat myself to something special...

...something that would make me feel good about myself....

...a beautiful, satin, lace-trimmed, Victoria Secret, specially fitted, bra....it sounded so "uplifting" (pun intended)

I entered Victoria's Secret...(there is nothing "secret" in that store, agreed?) and already I felt relaxed. I circled the racks of lingerie, taking my sweet time in choosing the perfect bra.

.....enter devil-child....a small boy who looked to be about four years old (old enough to know better, I think) who was running wildly in, out and under the racks, pushing bras and panties onto the floor and yelling at the top of his lungs....

I looked around for his mother...there she stood, oblivious to his actions, holding a see-through pink top with matching panties (or lack thereof) up to her body....

...I thought to myself, "sweetheart, if this is your child, I'm thinking you should steer clear from anything that might create another monster....."

The little boy grabbed a bottle of scented lotion from the glass shelf, popped the top and began squeezing the contents out onto the floor....

"Mommy! Look!"

"Just a second sweetie"...

Okay....this is NOT my problem, I thought...and I grabbed a bra in my size and walked back to the fitting room.

Closing the fitting room door, I carefully slipped off my top and hung it over the chair in the corner of the tiny space. I unhooked my "Target" bra and laid it on top of my shirt. Turning, I gently unfastened the new bra and just as I began to try it on....

....I see a small head peeping under the fitting room door....

...it was the wild child....holding tight to a half emptied lotion bottle....

"No, No!" I harshly whispered, arms crossed over my chest, new bra hanging from my waist....

Suddenly, the small boy began to wiggle his way under my fitting room door and crawled to the corner of this itsy-bitsy space....

OMGosh......

What is happening????!!!

"Go on...." I said, as if I was shooing an animal...."Go on....get!"

He sat, lotion in hand, in the corner, against the mirror, looking up at me.

"Boobs!" he yelled....

Seriously???!!!  Okay, Lord...just take me now!

I grabbed at my top that was laying over the chair and began to put it on over my head, I pulled up my bra straps and I grabbed my purse and flung open the fitting room door....

.....FURIOUS, I stomped my way through the store and found the little boys mother...

"Your son is in the fitting rooms!" I snapped, continuing to walk towards the exit....

I was so angry.....BEYOND angry.....how could a mother allow her child to be so out of control??! If my kids were here they would be perfect angels...sitting sweetly against the wall, not touching anything, waiting patiently...


.......BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.......

I had crossed the store exit and was inside the open mall.....

The alarm couldn't be any louder......it sounded like a tornado warning....

...then it hit me.....

OMGosh....I was still wearing the Victoria Secret bra.....

I turned, red faced and entered back into the store....by now a VS employee was walking towards me...

I stumbled over my words, "I'm so sorry...this isn't what it looks like....I'm not a thief.....I was flustered....there is a devil child.....look, he squeezed out your lotion!" I was pointing to the "Very Sexy" Victoria Secret lotion that made a trail in and out of the racks of lingerie....

"My Target bra is in the fitting room....that boy came into my room when I was naked....I...."

the young lady smiled at me, "it's okay....I know."

I made my way back to the fitting room and changed out of the "stolen" bra.

I was too embarrassed to not buy the bra...even though the VS bra was DEFINATLY NOT in the Dave Ramsey budget at $60!!!!

But...this will "lift" you up....

....the saleslady felt so badly for me, that she gave me a 30% discount!!!

And that, dear friends, is my "normal" day!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Kick It Kate"...

Thirteen years ago I met Katie Lehenbauer...
...a spunky, free-spirited, HILARIOUS, twenty-something gal that I immediately bonded with!

Katie and I met in our "banking" adventures...both the "newbies" of a local bank, we laughed together, cried together, planned our weddings together, borrowed each other's clothes and shared secrets! "Katie-bug" was my BFF!

Shortly after Katie married, she and her husband moved to Texas. Katie's husband had taken a job offer that provided a better opportunity for their growing family.

Over the years Katie and I have frequently kept in touch through Facebook (all hail social networking!), sharing photos of our children, our homes....our lives in general!

....Four weeks ago Katie contacted me to share with me that she has been diagnosed with OsteoSarcoma...
 a cancerous (malignant) bone tumor.

Although the cancer has been caught early, Katie is scheduled for eight rounds of Chemotherapy and will begin her second round today...

In the midst of Chemo treatments and dealing with her diagnosis, Katie and her husband (along with their three darling children) are moving back to Missouri, where her husband has been relocated in his job!
...Added stress, would you agree?

In effort to ENCOURAGE Katie in her fight, Katie's sister-in-law has had t-shirts, bracelets, hoodies and coolie cups made that are for sale and all the proceeds will be donated to MD Anderson OsteoSarcoma Research!

To place an order, you can email k.lehenbauer@yahoo.com

T-shirts start at $15...

For 2xl, 3xl and pocket t-shirt's add $2

Long sleeve t-shirt's $20, hoodies $25, silicone bracelets $2 or 3/$5, coolie cups $3.50 or 3/$10.

Orders will be mailed to you!

Please join me in PRAYING for this family, for complete HEALING and STRENGTH!

Support Katie....beautiful Katie!!

I love you Katie-bug!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Silver Lining...A "Thank You" To My Aunt Dixie...

I've shared my family struggles...

....my parents divorce when I was seven, my brother two...

Watching my father walk away trapped me in unimaginable pain and emptiness, and at such a young age the words and ways to express my pain was limited...although through the years I certainly have discovered how to be heard.

...Confusion is probably the strongest state of mind emotion within children of divorce...
...questions of why?, is it me?, what happens now?....

...and certainly a disconnect from extended family.

        ..................

On Thursday afternoon my "silver" lining arrived on my doorstep...

...a confirmation of love....

...a feeling of acceptance...

...a gesture that offered much needed healing.

My father's sister, my aunt Dixie shipped to me two boxes of gorgeous silver, full of family history...

...pieces from my grandmother that I never had the privilege to know, as a terrible illness took her from her family years prior to my birth...

I opened the boxes and carefully unwrapped each piece...and with each piece my heart felt a greater love....

...my aunts sweet note..."from your grandmother's heart and mine...with love, Dixie."

My tears fell freely...
...releasing years of confusion...

This weekend my husband and I will polish the silver...

...we won't put it away...

We will use each piece...some will be displayed...

And with each use there will be a connection...
...a story...

....a memory.

Thank you to my aunt Dixie...

...for my "silver" lining!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Incredibles...A Tribute to Three Incredible Fathers...

Today I celebrate three amazing men...

...Happy Father's Day to hottie hubby...our boys are incredibly blessed to call you daddy. The life that you lead and the courage and strength that you display are a beautiful testament to our family. I love to sit back and watch you with our boys...teaching them, molding them and creating value within them. I couldn't ask for a better father for my children...Happy Father's Day Hottie Hubby!


...To my step-dad, Erwin...whom I have lovingly and without regret called my "dad" for twenty-eight years! You entered my life when I needed you most...a nine-year-old little girl, sheltering her four-year-old brother from the pain of feeling abandoned. You entered, tall and strong, sweeping us up like your own, loving us like we were yours....and you have continued all of these years...
...Because of you, I know what it means to truly love. Because of you, I know what goodness is. Because of you, I know what it means to follow through in your promises...
...Never have I known a man less selfish or more altruistic than you...having always put others needs before your own. Nor have I ever met a man more truthful and full of Faith...Happy Father's Day dad!!

...To my brother, Cal, who is now at home with our Lord and Savior. Life wasn't easy for Cal...often a victim to low self-esteem, Cal struggled with feeling not loved, abandoned...something only he and I could understand the depth of. What Cal didn't fully understand was the extraordinary strengths he possessed...he was the funniest person I knew, always creating laughter and smiles in every moment. He had a freakishly amazing memory...knowing birth dates, anniversaries...memories from such a young age, things we all had long forgotten. He was clearly the most organized man I knew, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), a trait he and I both shared and often laughed about! Cal was a fabulous artist...creativity simply flowed through his veins!
...But of all of Cal's strengths, it was the sort of father that he was that was the strongest, most notable attribute. Cal was the father that doted on his children...never missing their needs or wants. He loved on his kids with a love that was deep and intense, wanting them to always feel his love, to know his love.
...When Cal looked at the mother of his children you could see the vast love he had for her in his eyes, the thankfulness for the two beautiful babies she gave him...an opportunity to love his children and become the sort of father that he felt he never had...making sure his children knew how crazy in love with them he was.
...And although my brother isn't here today, I know that sweet Sophia and precious Henry can still feel their father's love...his deep, unconditional, beautiful and amazing love....Happy Father's Day Cal!

Friday, June 10, 2011

(Repost) Caraline. Take 3...

Another entry in the "melanoma" journal....

Thursday, June 10, 2010



Caraline. Take 3...


Remember my "little" bestie Caraline?

...she's my burst of sunshine! Honestly, I can be in the worst mood or feel terribly ill, and Caraline can make all the ugliness go away!

The past two days have been awful for me. AWFUL. Radiation sucks! Not that anyone said it would be all rainbows and lollipops...

...I have felt lethargic and icky for the past 48 hours. I've cried until I have no more tears left.

Just when I think I can't take anymore...

...the mailman brings a letter from Caraline, who is away at camp with my boys.


Dear Betsy,

My mom said if I'm not nice to your boys this week, she will kill me. So, I'm being nice. Wink. Wink. I hope all your stuff at the hospitile is going okay. If it's not, and you die, can I have all the stuff in your office and your fake nose? Can't wait to see you when I get back!

Love,

Caraline

I love the honesty of a nine year old! Who wouldn't feel better after a letter like that? :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

(Repost) All Part Of His Plan...

This is my FAVORITE post during my battle with melanoma...

...it is also the perfect example of why we should "be still and know that He is God"....

Sunday, June 13, 2010

All Part Of His Plan...

The past few weeks I've said this, over and over...

"Why did I have to get melanoma? Why do I have to battle this?"

The past few weeks I've heard this, over and over...

"God has a plan..."

This morning, I witnessed God's plan.

Both my husband and I excepted Christ in our hearts a little over a year ago. We were baptized together in May of 2009. The following December, our oldest son Hayden made the same decision and he too was baptized. Just a few short months after Hayden's decision, our youngest son Benjamin turned his life over to Christ and was baptized....

...and then there is our middle son, Jack. Jack marches to the beat of his own drum...he's on what we like to call "Jack" time. We had asked Jack several times if he was ready to make the decision to accept Christ into his heart and be baptized...he said he wasn't quite ready. Of course he believes in God, he knows God is the only way to heaven, but Jack wanted to make sure he knew exactly what it meant to be "saved" and the significance of the baptism.

So we have waited...patiently, I might add...because those that know me, know that I am an "instant gratification" kinda gal. But I never, we never, pushed Jack into the decision...we wanted him to make it all on his own...

...We continue our journey through life...and BAM! I am diagnosed with skin cancer for the seventh time! This time it's not just "skin cancer", as it has been before...this time it was melanoma...much more serious. There would be surgery to cut out the melanoma, there would be high concentration of radiation to the areas, there would be much needed rest and recuperation...

...and then God stepped in.

...Several families within our church got together and created a "scholarship" for our boys to attend a Bible camp during the week of my radiation. A camp where my boys, who have never been away from their parents for more than a night or two, would stay for six nights and seven days. A camp where they would experience God for themselves, not just because mommy and daddy believe.

I rode down to the camp with my bestie Linda (Caraline's mother) and we unpacked the boys in their assigned cabin, put together their bedding for the week and drove away...admittedly I was hesitant to leave them...this wasn't a new experience just for the boys, but a new experience for their mama as well. I worried about all the things any mother would worry about...

...will they make friends?, will they be scared?, will they sleep well?, will they shower and wear clean underwear? (okay, maybe that's just the OCD in me...but it was a true fear).

...I didn't hear from my boys all week. I prayed they would be having a great time!

Yesterday Linda picked my boys up from camp and brought them home to me. Two little tan boys emerged from Linda's car, wearing the same clothes we dropped them off in (I now know that they wore the same outfits the majority of the time and only showered twice all week! Eeek!) and ran up to me to give me hugs and kisses...

...and then Linda said, "Jack, tell your mom what happened at camp."

"I was saved. I accepted Jesus into my heart!" Jack smiled.

I can't describe to you the joy that my heart felt. This was huge! This was Jack's timing...but it was God's timing too...

...and this morning, after the sermon, my little Jack went before the church and shared with our pastor his decision. And next week Jack will be baptized.

...and now all the Dudenhoeffer's are walking the faith journey together.

....Do you see what I see?

...I was diagnosed with melanoma.

...several families from our church step forward and send our boys to Bible camp to help me through my treatments...

...Jack experiences God on his own...

...Jack is saved.

I can't help but be a little bit thankful for my diagnoses...

....It's all part of His plan.

Jack (black shirt) and Benjamin (gray shirt) with a friend they made at camp!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

(Repost) Warning: Do NOT Put Cardboard Box In Oven...

One year ago today...(another part of my "melanoma" journey)....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Warning: Do NOT Put Cardboard Box In Oven...

Right.

In my defense, there was no warning on the side of the Domino's Pizza box.

But like my dad said, "there isn't a warning on the newspaper that says 'do not place in hot oven' either, but we know not to place the newspaper in the oven, right?"

Whatever.

Here's how it all went down (in flames)...

Last night I was hungry. Hottie husband was away with the National Guard, the boys are at camp for the week, so it was just me...all alone...and hungry.

I remembered there was left over pizza in the refrigerator.

I turned the oven on preheat to 400 degrees. I poured myself a Diet Dr. Pepper and I waited for the oven to heat up...

...(here is where I'm gonna pull the cancer card, for sympathy)...

...it was my first day of radiation...I was tired. I was weak. I started to feel ill...

...so the oven reached it's 400 degrees and I placed the pizza on the bottom rack...

...still in the box.

Then I went into the family room and sat down on the couch for just a moment....just long enough to shake some of the ickiness I was feeling...

...approximately 15 minutes later I awoke to the ear piercing sound of our fire alarm...

"Warning....fire! Beep Beep Beep

Warning...fire! Beep Beep Beep Warning...fire!"

I opened my eyes and all I could see was smoke...

....EVERYWHERE!

I jumped up and ran towards the kitchen...just as I turned the corner I saw the flames shooting out of the oven!!

I ran over to the oven and opened the door....flames began licking my ceiling....they were GROWING!!

I grabbed the kitchen towel and began to swat at the fire...

...(because in my head swatting at a fire would solve the problem)

As soon as the towel touched the flames, it too caught fire and I threw it to the ground...

....now the floor was on fire.

So I did what any normal, calm, grown woman would do...

....I called my mother.

Yes. I called my mother. NOT the fire department. My mother.

Brrrrrring. Brrrrrring.

Mom: "Hello?"

Me: "MOM!! OMGosh!!! MY KITCHEN IS ON FIRE!"

Mom: "WHAT?!!!?? WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOUR KITCHEN IS ON FIRE?"

Me: "SERIOUSLY? YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT I MEAN?"

Mom: "BETSY!!! WHAT DID YOU DO?"

Me: "MOM!!! THAT ISN'T IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW! MY KITCHEN IS ON FIRE!"

Mom: "YOU HAVE TO CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT!"

Click.

So...I dialed the phone...

Brrrring. Brrrrring.

Hottie Husband: "Hello?"

Me: "BABY, THE KITCHEN IS ON FIRE!"

Hottie Husband: "WHAT?!! YOU HAVE TO CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT!"

Click.

Mom (storming through side entrance of my home): "OMGosh!!! BETSY!!!! DID YOU CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT?!?!?!?!? WHERE ARE THEY?!?!?!?!?"


Me: "MOM! I CAN'T CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT! THE FIRE STARTED BEACAUSE I PUT A CARDBOARD PIZZA BOX IN THE OVEN AT 400 DEGREES!!!! HOW DO I EXPLAIN THAT?"

Mom: "CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT NOW!!!"

Me (dialing 911): "MOM?!?!?! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?"

Mom (running out of side entrance of my home): "I'M GETTING OUT OF HERE BEFORE THE FIRE DEPARTMENT SHOWS UP, I DON'T WANT THEM TO KNOW I'M YOUR MOTHER, YOU PUT A CARDBOARD BOX IN A 400 DEGREE OVEN!!"

Moral of this story:

Next time order from Pizza Hut. They have non-burnable boxes.


*As a side note, my mother really didn't leave me. She was a real trooper...she even whipped me up fresh pasta with cream sauce afterwards...in her kitchen (because mine is unusable now)!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

This Is Where The Healing Begins...

One year ago today...

...June 7, 2010...

...I began radiation treatments to combat the melanoma I had been diagnosed with weeks earlier.

In honor of being CANCER FREE for one year I am reposting my journey...blog entries from a year ago this week...

...a reminder of how God works...

....a reminder to TRUST in Him....

Monday, June 7, 2010

Truth...


I'm unveiling my true self...
I have loved everyone's prayers and encouragement...
...I have needed everyone's prayers and encouragement.

So many of my friends and family have shared with me what an inspiration I have been...
..."always so upbeat and positive"

...."always a smile"

"you've been so strong!"

...the truth is,

I. feel. weak.

Of course I'm "upbeat", "smiling", "positive" and "strong" out there...

...it's what people who know me expect me to be.

But in here...

...inside my home...behind closed doors...

I cry. I bargain with God. I scream "it's not fair!" I feel numb. I get angry.

...But I believe in God's plan enough to know that while I am hurting, I am also healing...

in two very powerful ways...

physically...

...and spiritually.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tears In Heaven...Isabelle Anelies

I met Kelley in high school. Four years younger than I, our friendship was unusual from the start, but Kelley and I shared the same lust for life...and laughter. Thinking back, the laughter is what I remember most in our friendship. The "just-between-us" jokes...like, "have you seen the movie 'Mask'"? (I'm laughing now as I type) or the time I called a taxi to take her home before curfew and she was scared out of her mind to get into the cab...I know, it doesn't sound funny...but trust me, it was HI-LARIOUS!

As life moved on, I graduated from high school and Kelley was only beginning. While she was studying American History and Geometry, I was married and having babies. Although we didn't see near as much of one another, our friendship was still strong....

...It's been several years since I have actually seen Kelley, but thanks to today's technology, Kelley and I have been able to stay in touch with email, facebook and blogs.

Three years ago I stumbled upon Kelley's blog...and immediately became an avid follower. Like a fairytale, Kelley's blog chronicled her marriage to Richard (her Prince Charming) and their life in the big city of New York. Posts about various eateries, organic juice stands and seeing somebody famous....

...until one day Kelley's blog took on a whole new subject...BABY! Kelley and Richard were expecting their first child and now each post was a beautiful entry of doctor's appointments, heartbeats, first kicks inside her belly and finally, the birth of their beloved and beautiful Isabelle Anelies!

I couldn't wait for each new post...Isabelle coming home from the hospital, Isabelle's first stroller ride in New York City, Isabelle's first word, her first steps...her first move to a foreign country!

Kelley and Richard moved to Doha for Richards job. Kelley's fascinating life continued and the photos she posted were breathtaking...but the real joy in reading Kelley's posts came from the heartfelt and tender words she would write to her daughter...

...Kelley was an unbelievably, amazing mother. The sort of woman that others look at and think, "if only I could be half of the mother that she is..." Kelley's deep and unconditional love for her baby girl was very clear in her expression and her photos that she posted each day....

When Kelley and Richard welcomed their baby boy, Sebastian into the world, their family was like that in a Norman Rockwell painting....perfect in every way. Soon the family moved from Doha to Holland, where the four of them reside in pure happiness and joy!

.....

Sadly, this past Friday, May 20th, sweet baby Isabelle Anelies, at the age of 2 1/2 years old, went to be with our Lord. Kelley and her two children had traveled earlier in the week to the United States to visit family and on Tuesday evening, Isabelle, stopped breathing during her nap. Isabelle was put on life support until Richard could come to the US, as he had stayed behind for work. Friday morning, Kelley, Richard, and baby Sebastian said their goodbyes to precious Isabelle.

...the past 48 hours (the time since I've know of Kelley's loss) my mind has been reeling...I decided to record my thoughts here, hoping that Kelley will one day read my words and know that I've prayed without ceasing...

...these are my words for my dear, dear friend Kelley:

Sweet Kelley,

I won't pretend to know the answers...quite frankly, I struggle in my walk with Christ to understand why these things happen. What I do know is this...sometimes God allows trials and tribulations to come our way to test our faith in Him. If everything was always perfect in our lives, we might begin to wonder why there is a  need for God. When my brother passed away last year, I drew closer to Christ, clinging to His love and His Word. My faith and my relationship with Christ grew deeper and stronger...I pray that the same will be true for you and Richard.

No words from me or anyone else can alleviate or lessen the real pain and anguish that you and Richard are feeling. I pray for you right now in the sure knowledge that God loves you despite what you are feeling at the moment, don't ever give up on Him....afterall, Christ felt abandoned on the Cross, but He never gave up.

God has a plan...it's difficult to understand at times, but He always has a plan. I read in your note to family and friends that sweet Isabelle's heart will now beat within a child who may not have had a life...your precious baby girl gave life to another child of God...Isabelle's life continues in her heart that will beat within another child, her life will continue in yours and Richard's heart and in the hearts of those that love her.

Know that you are being prayed for...know that your Isabelle has wings and will love you from above...and know that God is wrapping His loving arms around you, and you will once again know peace.

Much love and blessings,

~Betsy



Photo of Isabelle and her baby brother
(photo from Kelley's photo album on facebook)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Love Language...

Sunday was Mother's Day...

...it was also TWELVE YEARS to the day that hottie hubby and I married!

TWELVE YEARS!! And I love hottie hubby more today than I did the day we said "I do."

Two years ago (after I turned my life around, you can read about that here), hottie hubby sent me a letter in the mail while he was away with the National Guard:

20 reasons that I love you:
1. I love the way that you light up a room.


2. I love how enthusiastic you are...at ALL times.


3. I love the way you are always concerned about others and how they feel.


4. I love your gift to me of three beautiful boys.


5. I love the way that you brag about me to other people.


6. I love the way you let me think that I'm saving you all the time.


7. I love the way that you insist that our house is perfect, no matter what.


8. I love the way you push me to do things outside my comfort zone.


9. I love the way that in everything you do, you do it all.


10. I love the way that you found a church that you loved and now it is OUR church.


11. I love the way that you insist on having it your way all the time.


12. I love that the thought of my life without you seems very bleak and boring.


13. I love the way that I live for your smile and for your laugh.


14. I love the way that you make every holiday and birthday special for everyone.


15. I love the way that you support me in my dreams and aspirations.


16. I love the way you can make things happen, even when they seem impossible.


17. I love that I have the rest of my life to enjoy you.


18. I love the sound of your voice.


19. I love the way that you can make me yearn for more.


20. I love the way......this one is secret (but I'll whisper it to you when I get home).

I keep my letter inside the top drawer of my dresser and on Sunday I pulled it out and re-read it for the millionth time!

In celebration of our TWELVE YEARS of marriage, I have made a list of my own reasons for why I love hottie hubby...

1. I love how dedicated and dependable you are in every job you have ever had.

2. I love your passion for our country and your courage to protect it through the National Guard.

3. I love the way you look in uniform...  ;)

4. I love the way you make me feel beautiful.

5. I love watching you as a father.

6. I love your barbecue chicken and rib eye steaks!

7. I love that you are not afraid to show emotion.

8. I love the way you hold me when I need to be held.

9. I love how strong you are...both physically and emotionally.

10. I love that you love me for who I am...unconditional love....

11. I love the secrets that only you and I share....

12. I love when you get so tickled that you get the hiccups.

13. I love your faith, your strength through Christ and your passion to serve our God.

14. I love it when you tell me a joke and when you deliver the punch line you give that look of "get it?" at the end...

15. I love (and admire) your calmness in life.

16. I love that you are you...

17. I love the way you proposed to me....

18. I love your perseverance in life.

19. I love your intelligence.

20. I love....I'll let you know the rest of this one later tonight....   ;)

I love you Mark! You make me smile from ear to ear, each and every day! Happy Anniversary!!


Friday, April 29, 2011

Royalty...

I thought that I didn't care....

...but then I found it FACINATING!


...and now I want to be a part of it all! 

I told you I was royalty!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Re-Post: "Quilted Blessings, "Sewing" Friendships..."

Originally posted on Thursday, March 25, 2010


Quilted Blessings, "Sewing" Friendships...

I believe that the Lord blesses me each and every day. Sometimes the Lord's blessings are huge and easy to spot and other times they are so small I may not even notice. Thankfully, whether I recognize those blessings or not they are there to protect me, to teach me, to encourage me, and to help me grow to be the individual that Jesus desires me to be.

Today the Lord blessed me in a BIG way.

No, I didn't win the lottery. No, I didn't win a brand new car, or an enormous home. Nobody offered to pay my bills. Oprah didn't chose me for an extreme makeover...

The Lord blessed me with an incredible friendship.

Today I met two friends for lunch. Becky, my girlfriend from church and life group (she was one of the individuals in my post yesterday) and Patti, my friend that I met in the world of blogging! Patti has a blog, Osage Bluff Quilter and she reached out to me last year and introduced herself and we ended up meeting for lunch at Arris Cafe, she even picked me up because at the time I didn't have a license due to a medical condition (epilepsy). Patti is the lady who gave me the gift of the railroad cross that her husband, the blacksmith, created for me!!

So, Becky, Patti and I met today for lunch at Arris Cafe (we love that place) and after an hour of awesome fellowship and delicious food, Patti pulled out two gifts...one for me and one for Becky!! (she met Becky through my blog and they have become friends as well...small and fantastic world, eh?)!

*As I'm typing this and thinking about what I'm about to share with you I have tears...

Patti is a quilter (she's actually EXTREMLY talented in ALL areas of life) and she hand pieced this for ME:



Breathtaking, isn't it? Incredible. Inspiring. Humbling. Beautiful. I look at this and I am reminded that my salvation is what Christ did for me on the Cross. Everything is right there, in a hand pieced work of art by a beautiful friend...it exhibits my struggles and His solution, my brokenness and His love for me in spite of it, my shameful past and my glorious future.

Patti, God blessed me in a BIG way in "sewing" a magnificent friendship between two bloggers. ;) Thank you, Thank you , THANK YOU!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Just Like Death...

My family and I just returned from the most amazing and wonderful vacation in Washington DC...

...I have several "DC Vacation" posts, but today I am using my blog as an outlet...

I have so much anger, confusion and pain inside...building over the years but most recently pierced with the sharp reality of "it isn't going to change...ever"....

Last Sunday, my husband and my children and I flew out to Washington DC for our very first family vacation! It was an entire week full of "firsts"...first time my boys have flown on a plane, first time my boys have been to another state, first time for all of us to see and experience all the history within our US Capitol!

...My mother's college roommate and dear, dear friend of our family, along with her husband invited us for the week to stay in their home and tour DC. They provided tickets to every museum you can think of, along with a car for us to use while we were in the city...we spent the days together as a family and in the evenings we joined our friends for incredible dinners and more sight seeing! It was AMAZING!!!

...On Monday evening (the second night of our trip), my biological father was invited to our friend's home for a beautiful and lovely dinner! It was the first time I had seen my father since my brother passed away...

My parents divorced when I was seven and my brother was two. He left us for his secretary at the time, who shortly after became his wife. Unfortunately, when you are seven years old and your father is taken and begins a new family, the "new" wife doesn't typically start out on your "best friend" list...

...that being said, I do feel that over the years I have allowed every opportunity for a relationship between my step-mother and me, sadly, she never intended for my brother and me to be a part of her new life with our father and so there has always been resentment and anger between us. I've always felt that she was the separation between my father and me...my father and my brother. Countless vacations and business trips, a home in Florida, trips to far away places....my brother and I were never a part of their fascinating life.

My biological father is a business man...a very successful business man. Traveling all around the world, it seemed he was gone more than he was home...and when he was home and my brother and I were visiting, he seemed preoccupied with the next week's business.

Even though, my brother and I loved our father. All we ever wanted was his love, his acceptance of who we were...

...it's no secret that both my brother and I made many, many mistakes in our lives....often causing embarrassment for our parents....

...having said that, our mother and our step-father never, ever gave up on us. Of course there was disappointment, but their love was unconditional...

...I guess I could say that our father always kept in contact with me (but if I'm to be honest, I really only heard from my dad when I would call), but the last seven years of my brother's life he didn't hear from our father at all....up until the last year, with a few sporadic calls. In fact, my brother's death was the first time our father had ever met his grandson (Cal's son), who was over a year and a half....

Our father moved to Washington DC roughly eight years ago...not once have my brother and I, along with our families, ever been invited out to visit. In the eight years he has lived in DC, I've seen my father a total of four times, one of them being my brother's funeral.

My children (my father's grandchildren) don't understand the relationship...they know my father as "Cam"...not as "grandpa". In fact, my youngest son refers to his grandfather as "your father" when he asks me questions about who my father is....

....I say all of this to paint a clear picture to you of the sort of relationship my brother and I had with our biological father....a relationship  (or lack thereof) that completely confused and angered my brother, robbing him of his self confidence and self worth...

...fortunately, after many years of repeated mistakes, I found the love of my life....my husband. Mark has shown me, and continues to show me, what real love is...therefore, I feel like I was able to escape a lot of the head games that come along with having a selfish father...although, I'm not completely free of the pain.

After my brother's funeral my father wrote me an email (and later sent a letter) saying that he did not wish to pursue a relationship with me or my boys any further. He was upset because at my brother's funeral, his name (my father's) was not mentioned in the service....

...the thing is, my father never introduced himself to the pastor...and the pastor only knew of our step-father, the man that has never once made us to feel like we were not his...the man who raised us since I was nine and my brother was four...the man who taught us unconditional love...

But for some reason, my biological father blamed me. He believes that I "planned" my brother's funeral so that his name would not be mentioned....sad? Completely. To begin...I didn't "plan" anything for my brother's funeral. Secondly...it wasn't about our father....it was my brother's day....a day I feel like he never got to have....he didn't have a wedding, he didn't have a graduation day....sadly, his day came due to his death....

On Monday evening, my father showed up for dinner....truthfully, I was a nervous wreck and somewhat apprehensive as to how the evening would pan out. After All, there were still fresh wounds from harsh words that were spoken after the last time I saw my father.

...Our friends put together a delicious dinner of barbecue and appetizers, potato casserole, fresh asparagus, and S'mores for dessert! The evening was gorgeous...we sat out on the patio, next to the pool...

...my father was with us for approximately two and a half hours....two and a half hours of conversation about my father. He didn't engage with my children, he didn't speak to my husband, he barely asked me about the happenings in my life....

....it was all about him.

And then he left.

Afterwards, as I sat in the guest room with my husband I realized that I don't know my father. Over the years I have felt that I knew bits and pieces of who he might be...but in that moment I discovered I don't know anything about him....

Honestly, I was okay with that. I don't really have a choice....

...unfortunately, the next few days would bring more pain and confusion...

I'm not sure if my step-mother and my biological father are jealous of the relationship that I have with my brother's wife and his children...or maybe they feel guilt for the years lost and now not gainable...but for whatever reason, my sister-in-love was called and told hurtful lies by my step-mother and my father.

I won't go into what was said to my sister-in-love....it doesn't matter what was told to her...what matters is that she was lied to...and in turn, she was hurt....and is still hurting.

Sadly, my sister-in-love is just now experiencing the hurt and the pain from my father and step-mother. It is easy to fall for their traps...they are quite convincing and have the money to "buy" love and admiration...I fell for it for years....

...and now I see. And I feel...

Last night my husband reminded me that I have to give all of this to God...for He knows the truth. Mark reminded me that my Heavenly Father has loved me since day one...never forsaking me, never leaving me....it's His love that I need to focus on....His love that I need to feel.

And so....I'm letting go....I'm letting all of it go....

....I'm handing it over to my Heavenly Father.

...as a very wise friends just recently said to me...."he's been living rent free in your head for long enough...it's time to move him out."

It's just like a death....
....another someone that I loved....that I cared for....a part of me....I, a part of him....
and I've got to let him go....