I am a Christian

I have been told my whole life that I have a big mouth. Yep, that is true. I try to control it, but can’t help it. Anytime anyone is talking, there is a parallel script going through my head, more like a comedy routine. When I find a break, I toss in a tidbit. They are not usually golden, but I find them funny. However, the people you should be aware of are the silent ones. I have a friend, Jaime, that doesn’t talk much, but when he does, it is golden. I believe this is because he thinks of these lines months or even years in advance. Waiting for the appropriate moment, they toss out the line. This takes way too much patience. I don’t have patience to wait months for a joke. Lately I have been tossing out inappropriate one liners at Bible Study. 

There. Have you formed an opinion of me yet? Since I said “Bible Study”? The other day again I could not stop my talking via my hands on Facebook. A former coworker said she was disappointed with her church for having a stand against homosexuality and marriage. In her opinion, the church was on the wrong side of history. Well, the debate began. I am no Bible scholar, but I know what I believe. My comment was as follows:

“I believe it is a sin like any other sin. This is what the Bible says. I would expect any Bible based church to believe this. We are all sinners. Overeating, hating, etc are all sins. Who are we to judge? Hate the sin, love the sinners.”

It appears that the words I believe were completely ignored. How can someone be condemned for believing something? I am not affecting anyone by my decision. I am allowing you to believe what you want. I am not bashing anyone. Yet, the comments following mine let out a tirade of Christianity bashing. It boggles my mind that this is done by supposed open minded people. Being I am a Christian Republican, I am suppose to be the close minded one. I do not believe in judging you for your beliefs. To each his own. However, what I consider a sin is what I try to avoid in my life. I struggle with gluttony and sloth. Those are my sins to bear. We are all sinners. I am not telling anyone they are not getting to Heaven by being gay. Jesus died for ALL our sins. If you believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, then you will go to Heaven too. This is pretty clear. 

In this post, one man honestly asked what the Bible said about homosexuality. I posted a URL that listed several Bible verses related to homosexuality. Again, I was picked apart by giving a straight forward answer to this man’s question. I then further clarified my point:

“The point is. Believe what you want, but allow everyone to believe what they want while loving as Jesus said.”

Again attacked. Here was one of the comments:

“That kind of was not your point. By saying “I believe it is a sin like any other sin.” you are in fact placing a very negative judgement on an entire group of people. It’s my honest and respectful opinion that you are doing so without basis. 

While I respect your belief, and completely support your freedom to believe anything you want. I also strongly support your freedom to say anything you want. What I won’t support is you doing so without being called out on it. This in no way stops you from believing what you want. It may make it uncomfortable, but I think that’s ok.

Calling “it” a sin is a negative judgement, plain and simple. It is in fact a pre-judgment, since you are judging a large group of people without knowing anything about the specific people. Prejudice is an ugly thing. Being prejudice should be uncomfortable IMHO.”

Little does this person know me. I know a few gay people. I do not single them out or discuss their “gayness”. They are just friends and family. I find it funny that I am not allowed to make anyone uncomfortable for their belief, yet it’s ok to make me uncomfortable for what  I believe. This hypocrisy reminds me of the time I went to a 3 day management diversity workshop. People in the class were spewing the politically correct responses to racism. I said that over the years I had heard comments from older adults negatively stereotyping various ethnic groups. So, when I come across someone different from me, a tape of the previously heard stereotypes plays in my head. A woman yelled that this made me a racist. This is wrong. I told her if I listened to those words, then yes, I would be a racist. However, I choose to override those tapes, which makes me a realist. Anyone who denies the ingrained tapes of previous generations is either in denial or had many, many years of therapy. Or possibly a concussion. 

I am a proud Christian.  Because Christians tend to be mild and meek, not speaking out when they are being bashed, we have become the newest, most popular scapegoat. Those who preach tolerance are not tolerant of Christians. Oops! I did not mean to say that about a whole group, however this Facebook thread has lead me to believe this to be true. The word Christianity makes them cringe. Yes, on both sides there are radicals. I abhor anyone who bashes any group of people. It seems that both sides “cherry pick” verses to suit their stand. Quoting changes in history or that society has changed is a big reason given on why we should not believe in sin. God has not changed. Many of the things in the Old Testament fell away when Jesus became the sacrificial lamb, but God has not changed. I find 1 John verse 2 sums it up. One verse says:

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[d] is not in them.16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

It seems that society has fallen in love with the world. It is clear when we put athletes and stars as our idols. We need to each seek what the will of God is through prayer and the teachings in the Bible. The whole Bible. I also rely on religious mentors to help me clarify where I have indecision on the true meaning of verses. The more educated you become on God’s word, through Bible stories and a variety of books, the more God’s will is known. 

Churches each have different doctrines. Churches include man’s rules, so If you are in a church that does not match your beliefs, leave. Find a church that has your same mindset. This does not require you to bash Christians or a specific religion or even go to a church. There is plenty of room in this world for each of us to have our own honest opinions. If I believe eating too much is a sin; I am not hating fat people. This is just something I feel I need to try to get under control in order to lead a Godly life. This does not keep me from sharing this belief by writing a diet book to help others. Trust me. If I wrote a diet book, you would not want to read it. It would include recipes for the major food groups discussed in the movie Elf. Every person has the right to free speech to attest to their beliefs, but do so without hate. 

Luke 10:25-28 says what needs to be said on how the comments in Facebook and life should go:

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

I will always respect your opinion and your right to have that opinion. Here is my advice for future interactions with others:

Do not label anyone who’s opinion differs from yours.

We are all sinners.

Do not judge.

For some, if my beliefs include a Bible, I am hated. I am a Christian. I will love you no matter how much you hate me.

 Following Jesus’ words, if we love each other, nothing further needs to be said. 

 

 

 

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Did you hear that thump?

I awoke from a deep sleep. “What was that?”, I asked my husband. “Did you hear that thump?” Exhausted from working late, my husband wearily said, “It’s probably just the wind.” and fell back to sleep. Not me. I pride myself on being the lioness of the home. So I took off to investigate,  along with my trusty sidekick, Chief. Chief is my dog, a springer spaniel, who’s only concern at 4Am is to go pee or a bunny. Proceeding towards the noise, lacking the proper tools most security guards would carry, such as a gun, cell phone, or even a flashlight, which is an app on my cell phone, I checked the most likely prospect, Emily falling out of bed. Nope. Emily was still tangled up in her mass of blankets and stuffed animals, making it difficult to determine which end was up. I bent and kissed her and continued my search. I kept hearing music from horror movies playing in my head. I also swore I heard someone whisper, “Don’t go into the dark!” or was it “Don’t answer the phone.” I get my horror movies confused. Undeterred, I progressed towards the location of the mysterious thump. Or was it a bump?

I flipped on the front outdoor lights, expecting to see a burglar running across my yard in his typical garb of black pants, black shirt, and of course, the black ski mask. Nope. Just a boot. The same winter boot that Emily thought was not cool enough to wear to school when it was snowing, yet were cool enough to wear when pretending to be a construction worker shoveling the load of gravel dumped in a big pile in our driveway. When she discarded her boots in favor of being barefoot (you’d think the child didn’t own socks), I specifically remembered telling her to take her boots in the house. UGH! Now I was distracted from my mission. I had to get the boot, since it was suppose to rain. As if a winter boot could be ruined or washed away by a little rain. I opened the front door to retrieve the boot, and it hit me. The winds swirled around my short pajamas as if twirling me in a dance. In typical Marilyn Monroe style, it lifted my pajamas displaying what no one needs to see. Luckily it was 4AM, so who would be looking or shall I say “lurking”? I had completely forgotten that a ne’er-do-weller could very likely be in the midst. I grabbed the boot, turned and there it was. The cause of the thump was staring me right in the eye. It was definitely the recycling cart, tipped over, laying on its back with its lid laying open. I replayed the thump in my head. Yep, it was the  sound of the recycling cart falling over. Proud of my deductive reasoning, I called Chief, who had gone off to do his own investigation of which piece of grass was the appropriate place to pee, and went into the house. By this time my haggard husband had been woken up again by the banging of the front door and came downstairs to do his own investigation, not of the bump, but more likely of what his accident-prone wife had gotten herself into. Seeing, with only one eye open, all was OK, he got a drink and went back to bed. What did I do after my scary dilemma? I decided to write about it. Lame, huh? What else are you going to do at 4AM when there are no ne’er-do-wells in sight?

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Beware of Toaster Pastry Guns

I just read an article about a school suspending a 7-year-old for eating a toaster pastry into the shape of a gun. Seriously? You can make a pop-tart (I would add the R in a circle but don’t know how) into a gun? I guess the young boy was using his imaginary gun in a threatening way. How can you be threatening with a toaster pastry? Actually, I can answer that. When I was a kid on vacation with my family, my Mom burned her finger on the bubbling hot pop-tart liquid which had oozed out of the perfectly toasted pastry.  She tossed the pop-tart in the air, as if it was a hot potato.  It landed squarely on my sister’s bare shoulder. I am not sure why my sister’s shoulder was bare, but I can still hear her screams. To this day, it still makes me laugh. Sorry Dawn, who ended up with a blistered shoulder!  I remember some of her shoulder floating away as we played in the lake. That is another story.

I have to ask myself, what did the other kids think he was going to do with the toaster pastry? Crack it over their heads? Shoot blueberry juice on them? Are kids minds so fragile that they fear pop-tarts? I don’t recall having one bad pop-tart nightmare as a kid.  That gives me a good idea. Maybe instead of spending all our defense money on guns, we could buy toaster pastry at a much reduced price. Heck, we could probably even get them for free if they are expired.

Have today’s school administrators forgotten what it was like to be a kid? We use to play tag, cowboys and Indians, and cops and robbers. Although kick-the-can was my favorite. And for what it is worth, I hated dodgeball. Now that is a real threat! When I was a kid, we were rewarded for our imagination or possibly it was just that our parents wanted us out of their hair.  My Dad constantly said, “Go outside and play.” Me and all the neighbor kids would make up all sorts of games. Are we suppose to live in a sterile bubble of a world where kids aren’t exposed to the reality of life? Then hide the TV and video games. The commercials alone carry too much reality for my taste.

Back in the early 90s when my oldest daughter was in first grade, I had a similar situation. It was mid-morning when I received a call at work from my daughter’s principal. She explained in a very calm manner that I needed to come to school and take my daughter home. There had been a “situation”. The young, and fairly new, principal explained that Heather had brought a gun to school. This perplexed me since we did not own guns. The principal went on to describe what she assessed to be a “gun-like” weapon that Heather had shown another child in her backpack. I lost it. Not only had my daughter not brought an actual gun to school, she had never even taken it out of her backpack. There was no threat. Who was this kid who felt the need to tell his teacher about Heather’s “gun”? Did he have a fear of toaster pastry as well? My final words to the principal were, “You don’t have any idea on who you just messed with. I am not one of those parents that will just roll over and take it.”  I then called my husband at work and arranged to meet at the school.

Back then I was probably only 50 pounds overweight and a strapping 5’2″.  Yet, it appeared that I had intimidated the teacher, who towered over me at over 6 feet tall. With a little tremor to her voice the principal explained to my husband, who remained calmed and kept saying, “Uh ha.”, while I fumed next to him. My husband at the time said he wanted to speak to the superintendent right now. The princpal arranged for us to meet with the superintendent that very afternoon, but our daughter would have to go home with us right then. I grabbed Heather’s hand and said, “Come on Heather, let’s go shopping. We have had enough negativity for the day. Let’s go have some fun.” My husband then said, “Wait, you can’t go shopping because KTTC (the local news) is going to be stopping to do an interview with us, so we need to be home.” I believe I saw a trickle of sweat roll down the principal’s temple.

We went home, and I turned into the lawyer I always wanted to be. I researched what is considered a gun. Did you know a gun has to have a hole in it? Heather told us that she had taken her white alien laser gun with the red lights and cool pew-pew-pew sound to daycare that morning. She didn’t want to leave it there, so she put it in her backpack. My neighbor, who was watching her that morning, said he even saw Heather put the “gun” in her backpack and thought nothing of it. He also had a daughter in the same school. It is a toy after all. I went over the school’s weapon policy with a fine-tooth comb. Gun-like is such a vague term. Heather’s toy didn’t have a hole, and there was no actual similar gun on the market. I would think the same could be said about a toaster pastry. So, how can it be gun-like? I even called doctors and psychiatrists to get their opinion on the affect the school had on my daughter’s young mind and self esteem. My husband was loaded for bear when he went to meet with the superintendent. The first question he was asked was, “Where’s your wife?” He told them, “Where do you think she is? You sent a 7-year-old home. A 7-year-old is not old enough to stay home alone.” The school treated my 7-year-old daughter as if she was a 16-year-old in high school. We were outraged.

I sat on pins and needles waiting for my husband to get home. He came home victorious. The suspension was dropped. The school had apologized for overreacting. All I could think of was “What if the parents of the child were the quiet type that just took what was dished out?”  Due to the fact that we stood up for Heather and fought back, the school changed the policy to be more clear, and to consider the child’s age. More common sense. Or so I thought.

The following spring I took Heather to the school carnival in the school’s gym. The prizes that Heather won included a travel mug in cellophane that had advertising on it that said “Apollo Liquor and Smoke Shop” and a squirt gun. REALLY?! Does anyone see any hypocrisy here? I immediately fired off a letter to the school board, superintendent, and principal. The principal replied with a note that said that all gifts are donated, so they have no control over what the volunteers collect for donations. I debated about taking this further, but decided to take the high road, which is rare for me back then.

The scariest part of this new school regime is what they have turned our kids into. What will these kids become as adults? I foresee a world riddled with lawsuits because someone looked at another person in a threatening manner or an employee is fired for dropping their toaster pastry on the floor and having it end up in the shape of a gun or bomb. We as a society need to stop getting hysterical every time there is a school shooting or “incident” with a child using their imagination. We should not allow the vocal few to set parameters on how the rest of us must live and act. There are lessons to be learned from our past. Our parents and grandparents did a great job at making us realist without scaring us to death over a pop-tart, although my Mom did come close. I now wear asbestos gloves when reaching for a hot toaster pastry. Moving forward, I would like to suggest that each school add a new course on common sense. It may be difficult to find any teachers to teach the class, so I would ask that we seek applications from WWII veterans, retired school teachers, and anyone who lived through the depression. On second thought, I am sure that any Common Sense knowledge will end up on the wayside like another school subject, Algebra. It will never be used in everyday life. Teachers, parents, and lawmakers, I ask that whenever you decide to sit down and write down policy or law, you look at the facts. Emotions and politics should never enter the room. Our future needs to have kids who will see a pop-tart as a pop-tart, just another toaster pastry.

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I Love My Robe!

Robe

 

Seriously? What kind of title is “I Love My Robe!”?  Let me explain.  The other day I bought an “old lady” robe for my hospital stay in a couple of weeks. You know the kind. The kind of robe your grandma wore. My husband calls them “housecoats” or “dusters”. Really? It is a robe. I consider the source. My husband calls the black-eyed Susan flower, brown-eyed Susan. What can I say? He is from Oklahoma after all.

Here’s the real problem. I love it! I really do. It is soft and pink microfiber. It is the good microfiber, not too thick or that weird type that catches on your dry fingers. Yuck. It has long sleeves and goes just below my knee. A floor length robe would likely need me to hem 6″ off of it, so I buy the short one. Another bonus, it’s a snap robe. This is for common sense reasons. I am having stomach surgery and won’t want to bend over to find the bottom of the zipper to zip up. This way I can just snap the top couple of snaps and let it flow. These little details may seem nonessential to the first time hospital stayer, but trust me. It is important. I have had several surgeries. This is not my first rodeo. My last snap robe, bought in 1986, was a light teal green. Again, just below the knee. Although it was short sleeved and not soft. It appeared to be made of some type of nylon fabric, vaguely flammable. Over the years some of the snaps have dropped off and the ever essential front pocket now sat diagonally. Thus my old robe was delegated to my “hair coloring robe”. You know. The kind of robe that you can sit around in for 20 minutes as your lusciously colored dying hair, piled oh so precariously high on your head, starts to slowly tumble down to your shoulders. The top yoke of the robe has a permanent oddly colored brown or red section, depending on the time of year, and my mood. Telltale signs of color on a robe’s collar leads to a new status and location in the closet, farthest in the corner. Only to be brought out for monthly touch ups. I loved that robe too. Once.

Every time I declare my love for the next greatest thing, my husband has to remind me that he hates that I use the word love for everything. I do love everything. I love to shop. I love new clothes. I love puppies. My husband insists that you like those things but you love your husband. Yes, I love him, and those things too. My heart is big enough for all of us. To protect the innocent, I will not reveal the ranking of anyone or anything on my list. Did you notice my husband hates me using a strong word such as love for inanimate objects? All the while he is using a strong word himself? Hate. He hates actions of others, such as when drivers are at a 4-way stop and the Minnesota Nice begins. People are waving to each other, mouthing the words, “No, you go.”, smiling as if they are long lost friends. I believe I mentioned my husband is from Oklahoma. They must not do nice down there. I do understand what my husband’s point is, but prefer to go through life loving without abandon versus just liking. Like is for the chocolate cake with the cherries in it. Love is reserved for the German chocolate cake with coconut pecan frosting. I have morals. I do have levels of love in my food relationships. I try not to use the word hate very often, but when it comes to fish. I hate away. And as I often hear, “You would like fish if you had it made with my Grandma’s very special way of battering the fish.”. No thanks. I’ll pass.

I know loving your robe is odd. But is it really? Imagine a cold winter evening, sitting on the couch watching TV all cuddled up with your kids in your soft, pink robe. How important would your robe become at this point? Can you feel its softness against your skin? Against your child’s cheek? So I ask you. Can you overuse LOVE? What if an outfit makes you look 20 years younger. Wouldn’t you love that outfit? I also love ants, even though they have done less for me than any outfit. Personally I love the enthusiasm of using and feeling the word love. It is freeing. So the next time someone says, “Do you REALLY love it?” Proudly say, “Yes, with 8.9% of my heart.” Blow their mind with the math. Who would expect that response?

I once saw a documentary on Dr. Emoto’s book “The Hidden Messages in Water”.  Here is a link to what this Japanese doctor has discovered.

http://www.masaru-emoto.net/english/water-crystal.html

This documentary blew me away. It showed how important the word love really is, especially since humans are made up with nearly 70% water. I think my love with the word love began at that moment. Before that time, everything was cute! So I encourage you to investigate love and start loving things will all out abandon. However, keep in mind that inanimate objects do not love you back and won’t care if you give them a trip to Goodwill or the trash. If you confuse that point, you will be walking the fine line of hoarding. Love away. Start with yourself.

Disclaimer: Any reference to Oklahomans is truly in fun. I mean no harm.  I just want to point out the differences in speech between a Minnesotan and Oklahoman. I believe this brings quite a bit of confusion into our marriage. One final example is when I told my husband the store I wanted to go to was kitty corner from the gas station. My husband thought my “kitty corner” was my “cute-ing up” the term “catty corner”. I had to clarify as tactfully as possible that my term was correct so there was no longer confusion on where I wanted to shop. This is a priority.

 

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Get on Your Hands and Knees and Look Around

Have you ever gotten on your hands and knees to see the world from a different angle? In the last few months, there has been a couple of statements that have made me do just that. I have studied the Bible and other religions for quite some time, but recent events have brought me to focus on them all through a different lens.

The first event came via a TV show. An atheist being interviewed said death was just like birth. You don’t remember what life was like before you were born. Death will be the same. I had never thought of death in this light, or lack there of, before. How sad would it be if this was actually true. Nothingness.  Some of my friends and family are atheists. In order to try to understand their views, I have looked at websites, books, and articles.  I still don’t understand. My daughter once asked, “What if you are wrong?” I told her that I will have lived my life with hope, love, and peace. If I am wrong, I won’t know any better. What would’ve been wasted? However, I am right. It has been nearly 10 years since I was saved. I am now a Christian. To be technical, my new tag is born-again Christian. I was changed forever. Nothing can describe the feeling I felt, on my couch one weekday evening with my husband and two teenage kids, accepting Jesus as my personal savior. God and Jesus were never really out of my life, but growing up Catholic didn’t give me the close up view I now possess as a Baptist. My life had changed for the better. Now I have the Holy Spirit within me. One example of my change involves my judgemental nature. Trying to be a better Christian has led me to have a more loving attitude toward others. When I go into a situation where my “old” self may rear her ugly head, my husband reminds me to chant, “I am a grown Christian woman!” It has helped.

The purpose of this inspiration is not to convert you into a Christian, although it wouldn’t be a bad idea. The point is how a simple sentence can help you see life through a fresh set of eyes. I was not converted to an atheist, However, the statement from this public atheist brought me to appreciate the faith I do have. It also helped me understand my family and friends who do not believe. I still know they are wrong, and it makes me sad. I fully see the glory of God both now and in the future.  It is my prayer that those who don’t believe have someone utter a statement about Jesus that will make them get on their knees and look around.  Get a new angle, or is it angel?

The other two events came to me through Christmas music. Every time I hear “Joseph’s Lullaby” or “Breath of Heaven” I see Jesus and his suffering through the eyes of a parent. This morning I was getting ready for church, loudly singing along to “Joseph’s Lullaby” sung by Mercy Me, as I blow dried my hair, upside down. Tip: This gives you volume.  It may not be Christmas time, but those two Christmas songs are a timeless reminder of Jesus’ suffering for our sins. I was thinking while I was singing how my eyes were opened to the worry Joseph must have had holding baby Jesus, knowing how his son’s fate. This song tugged at my heart. The song is a lullaby sung to baby Jesus from Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father. The lyrics as a whole lead me to view Jesus through the eyes of a father. Think of the weight of the world on the shoulders of a newborn child. A father is suppose to protect their children. What pain Joseph must’ve felt. It was his wish to have his son sleep in peace. This song also makes me think of children struggling with illness. I can picture parents, sitting in the hospital, with beeps and ticks keeping beat in the background, rocking their precious child, with tubes taped to their body. Sick children and parents have one goal. Get better. Jesus had one goal. Die for our sins. Did Jesus know his fate as a young baby? If so, how could he sleep? He had overwhelming struggles to overcome. As I was upside down contemplating my new angle on Jesus’ life, my husband was standing in the doorway calling my name at the top of his lungs. I straightened, startled. He said, “Emily is not listening. She is still not ready for church.” The reality of my own child suddenly came into focus.

Another Christmas song, which I also love to sing to, got me to think of Jesus from Mary’s perspective. Breath of Heaven, sung by Amy Grant, makes me think of all the doubt Mary may have had. It is similar to how new parents feel, but on a larger scale. I am well aware of how mothers can have doubt about everyday, ordinary stuff and the impact on their child. Mary asks Jesus for help her as she grasps the scale of his future. She already understands how holy and powerful her son will be. I have thought of Mary before, especially being Catholic. I had thought of how scared I would’ve been when the angel appeared. However, I had never looked through Mary’s eyes at the child given such a burden. Even now, I, like Mary, can call upon Jesus to pour his holiness over me. His love saves us all.

None of these statements that changed my thinking were profound. None changed my stance on Christianity. These statements opened my eyes to a depth that I have never seen before. It was as if I had gotten on all fours and discovered gum under the kitchen table. I may have suspected my youngest daughter, but never really looked for gum. Once your eyes are open to the fact that there is gum under the table, you are forced to do something. You need to remove the gum or it will nag you forever. The statements over the last few months have provoked me to use a different approach to the same old things. Nothingness. Life. The Bible. Jesus. My own child.

I ask that you listen to others. Get on your hands and knees and really look around.

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Personal Space: GONE

Image

It is a beautiful, sunny, mid-winter morning. I can’t move. Tucked under layers of covers, with the fan blowing on me (if you’re over 50, you know why), I had become a human sandwich. One slice laying with his back to my back was my big, fluffy, white cat, Tommy. The other slice was my black and white springer spaniel, Chief, sprawled with his back against my stomach. Why do dogs need to sprawl? Any given morning could lead to many different sandwich combinations. Some mornings I wake up to the soft sounds of a slumbering six year old, my daughter Emily. Other mornings I wake up to Emily poking me in the face. In the last combo, she was already awake, if it was not already obvious. Although she has poked me in the face before while she was sleeping. The hazards of a parent sleeping with a child. It is always a mystery on how or why she ever got into our bed. Yes, I said OUR. My poor husband has little room left for himself. Who would think a king side bed could become so small.

This morning, in my inability to move, I laid there and started to think. When did I lose my personal space? I no longer have any personal space. Why? Do others just not respect my personal space? Usually when I think, I end up with more questions. I believe it started years ago as a child. It was Christmas, and my sisters and I just unwrapped our first puppy. It was so exciting! I had not even noticed that I had little protection against a tiny poodle jumping on my face and licking it until I giggled. That white fluff ball kept me distracted while my personal space slipped away.

Then of course came the children. Every new baby should be slapped with a warning label, “WARNING: Becoming a parent to this beautiful child will cause you to lose all personal space“. There is no personal space when you are breast feeding. This must be where we absentmindedly train our children that moms bodies are theirs to use and abuse. Emily thinks my body is a jungle gym, a pillow, a blanket, and a protector during scary movies.

Boys are different. Starting at puberty, boys recognize that moms have a personal space. It starts when you are no longer are allowed to kiss them in front of their friends. At 26, I can barely get a wave from my son. A simple hug can be considered smothering. But girls, never outgrow the cuddle space. My daughter Heather, now 24, still likes to sit and cuddle with her Mom. We unashamedly hug and kiss when we greet. I recently went on a trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with my parents and 3 sisters. No kids and no husbands. It was a twice in a lifetime vacation. We loved it. Movie time at night involved all of us girls and Mom curled up on the L-shaped couch. My mom turns 75 this year. I guess girls never outgrow the invading of each other’s personal space.

When Heather was about 6 years old, we went on vacation to Florida, where my parents live. We spent a lot of time in the car going to various fun-in-the-sun spots. After a long day of having fun, Heather, Grandma, and I were sitting in the back seat. My Mom told Heather to lean her head on her and rest. Heather replied, “No, you are too bony. My Mom is much softer.” OK, so I was a number of pounds heavier than my Mom. At this point, I didn’t care. My baby preferred to cuddle with me. Thank goodness for those few-too-many extra pounds.

My youngest daughter Emily told me the other day that she wished she could be stuck to me forever for 2 reasons. It seems that she had really thought this through to come up with not only one, but two reasons.

1. So she would never have to leave me
2. So I would have to go to school with her, and we could snuggle all day.

Yes, my personal space is gone. And I have never been happier!

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Cancer is not a friend

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The doctor uttered the words, “You have breast cancer.” My best friend seated next to me shut down. I could see that from this point on nothing was going to register. That was why I was here. I had to catch the details. I was surprised at how matter of fact the doctor had said those dreaded words. There is no sugar coating the diagnosis. The doctor went on to explain the battle plan to launch the attack on the enemy.

My best friend, Stacie Lepp, was a single mom, raising a boy, Alex, who was her world. I had never met anyone as caring as Stacie. She was everyone’s friend, yet I was able to call her my best friend. Stacie had a hard time accepting help from anyone. She was a strong, independent woman. Even when she was called into her job at IBM late at night, she would bring Alex, who would curl up under her desk and sleep. I had offered many times to have her drop him off when paged, yet she only accepted a time or two. Notice I never offered to go into work for Stacie. I guess I was never as giving as her. I enjoyed sleep way too much! Even though Stacie made half the pay that I did, she would’ve given anyone the shirt off her back. She took it as a personal mission to bake everyone on the team a cake for their birthday. Even the guy we all hated. She felt sorry for him. She baked him a cake anyway. That was Stacie.

I had met Stacie when I was hired at IBM. We were on the same team. Stacie had already been working as a technical support person for four years by the time I was hired. Stacie worked for a vendor company while I worked for IBM directly. It didn’t matter. Stacie was one of the smartest people on the team. She took more calls, fixing database issues for customers, than anyone on the team. This means she also had to solve more calls. She was my hero. She was her customers hero too. I often went to her for advise. We were thick as thieves. Except for one difference. I am a HUGE Minnesota Vikings fan, and Stacie was a die-hard Green Bay Packer’s fan. I always thought it was funny that when my daughter was four, she called them Gringo Packers. Stacie’s family lived in Green Bay. I think football is in the blood. I took great joy in throwing Viking confetti on Stacie’s desk when the Vikings beat Green Bay, and avoiding her when we lost. I can’t take what I dish out.

Now it was my turn to take care of Stacie. Her family lived eight hours away. She had no one. I carefully listened as the doctor set the date for a lumpectomy. The next few days flew by. Stacie’s Mom, Ginny, came and was there for the surgery. Although Stacie insisted she needed no help. A few days after that we all sat at Mayo Clinic listening to her cancer doctor give the regime of chemo and radiation. Again, my  job was to listen. I had many questions. I didn’t want to miss a thing. The doctor handed Stacie a book that would help her with some of the questions she may have. He said, “Maybe your friend would like to read it first.”. I was “on-duty” protecting my best friend. We left the room and sat down to discuss the future plans. Stacie, her Mom, and I all had different stories. Amazing when you are still reeling from news how the picture gets skewed. Luckily I took notes.

Have you ever heard the Craig Morgan song, “Tough”? Amazing! It described Stacie to a tee. She was so afraid of losing her job that she would go to chemotherapy over lunch and come right back to work. She never complained. Insane. I would’ve been lying in bed crying my eyes out. Stacie was an incredible Mom and woman.

Finally she was done. YEAH! We all celebrated.

A couple of years after the free and clear diagnosis, Stacie started taking kickboxing. She was really getting in shape. I was so proud of her and yet jealous that I did not have that same desire. Now I had to be careful and not get Stacie mad at me, or she would kick my butt. Then her hip started aggravating her. Stacie and the orthopedic doctor, unaware or ambivalent of her previous cancer, assumed it was a sore muscle from the start up of kickboxing. This went on for months. Stacie attended physical therapy, yet things kept getting worse. Finally someone checked further. The cancer was back. She was stage 4. Again I sat next to her as her cancer doctor explained that stage 4 meant final. Fatal. There is no recovery. At this point you are living with cancer. The goal this time is to try to stretch out the time you have left. Alex was still around 11 or 12. Stacie’s goal was to make it to his graduation. As I was listening, asking questions, and taking notes, tears stained my paper. Stacie fought as valiantly this time as she did the last time. There are 1% of women with stage 4 breast cancer who end up cancer free. Stace was determined that would be her. I had never met someone so hopeful. Pain was a constant companion for Stacie. Some friend. At one point she went to the hospital for an outpatient procedure to have a pain pump installed. As I was waiting for her to return to her temporary room, I read a popular woman’s magazine. It had an article on tips to not get your doctor mad at you. One of the tips was to bring along an annoying friend who will ask all the silly and insignificant questions that we all want to know. This way the doctor gets mad at your friend and not you. I was proud of the fact that I was fulfilling my job so well. The doctors loved Stacie and hated me. Stacie’s outpatient procedure did not go smooth. It ended up being a few days in the hospital instead. I called her Mom and told her to come and plan on staying for awhile. This bothered Stacie because she did not think she needed help. Plus, who wants their Mom hovering around all the time?

Stacie was very loved by all at IBM. A group of us close friends, including Kristie Edwards and Holly Rademacher, Stacie’s fellow teammates, decided we needed to get together to have a benefit for Stacie and Alex. We even appeared on the local news. They played at every broadcast for days. Even after the event. Oh well, it brought in money. Stacie did not realize how much she was loved until that night. The love was overflowing. The place was packed. Stacie did not make it out much, but she lasted through the whole event. She was exhausted but happy. She said if she didn’t make a cent, she didn’t care. She never felt so loved. People from every aspect of Stacie’s life showed up. Even her cancer doctor and wife showed up. I am pretty sure that we honored Stacie and her family by setting up the tables to have a Vikings section and opposing Green Bay section. The Green Bay side was mostly Stacie’s relatives, except for that one friend of mine who only wears Green Bay Packer clothes. You know who you are!

Stacie had gone through many versions of chemo this time. Hopeful, together we went back to the doctor to hear the progress on the new trial drug. The news was grim. It was over. It was time to sign up for hospice. This officially means death was within 6 months. Stacie and I were in shock. We took the long way back to the car. The cancer had eaten through Stacie’s hip bone and adjoining organs. Despite this, Stacie needed to walk. As if she could escape the news.

The doctor had given us a sheet telling us what to expect in the end. We went back to Stacie’s apartment, and got her comfortable on the couch. This was Stacie’s space. She had spent many hours snuggling with her son watching TV. Now it was her prison. I asked Stacie if she would like me to tell he what the sheet said. She said yes. I read to her how things will proceed. In my head I was screaming because Stacie had the symptoms of someone within 2 weeks of death. It can’t be. I cried all the way home. The next Friday, Stacie told her Mom to go home for the weekend. I offered to stay with Stacie since Alex was also going away for the weekend. She said she just wanted to be home alone, plus I had a baby at home. Later that afternoon i got a call at home from the hospice worker who visited Stacie at home. She couldn’t get Stacie to answer the door. She wanted me to drive in and unlock the door. I lived 30 minutes away, and I had no key. Luckily it was an apartment building so I sent the worker to the apartment manager. The worker called me back and told me Stacie had been moved to Seasons Hospice for care, at least for the weekend. I stopped to see how Stacie was doing. I saw Stacie through her open door, sitting up in bed with no shirt on. I rushed in and put her shirt on. If you knew Stacie, this is so unlike her. She was very modest and reserved. Stacie introduced me to her new home. She showed me the kitchen, bedroom, etc. All were imaginary and beautiful in her mind. It amazed me that no matter that Stacie was throwing up and constantly queasy, the food channel was always on the TV. I talked to the nurse and found out that Stacie had been given a suppository pain medicine since she was too sick to her stomach to take pain medication orally. Obviously she had a problem with the new medication. The next day I took great joy in regaling Stacie in the story of her great nakedness. Isn’t it great to have a friend like me who will point out all your flaws and weaknesses? I have no clue why Stacie chose me to be her best friend. Insanity is all I can think.

Season’s Hospice was a beautiful location. It was early June and gorgeous. At lunch, I would ride my motorcycle from work to see Stacie. This was a scary ride since I had a fox run out in front of my motorcycle one time and a deer another. I learned to ride very slow. To my surprise the following Saturday Stacie’s Mom called and told me to hurry. It was near the end. I drove my motorcycle in. I was too late. Stacie had passed a few minutes before I got there. I went in to say goodbye. The family left to make arrangements while I stayed with my best friend. The hospice folks were so good to us. I was upset that Alex was alone. One of the ladies who cared for Stacie showed me a book that Alex had been read. It explained death and heaven in the kindest way. Since I was too shook up to ride my bike back home, I sat out on the back patio looking at the glorious June day and remembering my friend. I will never have a best friend as kind and gracious as Stacie. Her legacy will live on in the lives of the many people she touched. She was a living example of how we all should live and love.

Stacie had requested no funeral. We had a celebration of life in her honor and a drink or more at the bar, with the smelly funeral flowers in the center of the table. We finally had to move them since they stank so much. I was surprised at the lack of tears at Stacie’s service. People talked of the great Stacie we all knew.

I was happy to keep tabs on Alex via his Grandma. He had moved in with Stacie’s brother. Alex finally had the dog and house Stacie had wanted him to have. Now Alex is my  Facebook friend. What better to keep on eye on someone? One of Stacie and I’s coworkers and friend, Chuck Campbell, is an avid fisherman. He still meets Alex occasionally to go fishing. Alex was big into fishing. It was fun watching Alex go on to play college football. I hope he realizes how special his Mom was. Stacie and I were also appreciative of my boss, Chip Larsen, and IBM for allowing me the flexibility in my work hours to help Stacie when she needed me most.

Stacie would’ve been 53 today. I miss her now as much as ever. She was a very private person and would hate that I published her story so publicly, but I want the world to know what a great person she was.

As a final remembrance of Stacie, her family gave me a pink signed Deanna Favre Green Bay Packer hat. I keep it hidden in my room so the Vikings don’t see it on game day. I get to see it everyday as a reminder of my great best friend. Oh, and that Brett Favre played for the Vikings for a time. Stacie, I love and miss you so much!

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