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.