JOURNAL STYLE UPDATE THURSDAY 6/25/09

IN J’s OWN WORDS…
JENNENE’S RECENT PONDERINGS

Hello friends.  Thank you for reading.
It feels a little strange writing this blog while on the tail end of cancer treatment.
Actually, it felt strange during treatment also — at that time I was surprised at how many people read and commented.  Well, now that I’m feeling so well and concern for my well being is not as necessary, now it feels like there aren’t as many people — by the way, if you are reading, thank you for your continued concern.
I guess that’s one strange thing that I have experienced with all of this.  There was extra attention or “specialness” attached to my situation when I was diagnosed.  But one thing I’ve seen very strongly while going through this is that there are always people in pain and struggle all around me.  I was never really unique, except that I finally got to share in a tiny part of the suffering of the masses.  Even the times of suffering, though, seemed very minimal, easy and doable.
I look at others’ experiences and realize that I had it easy.

It was a strange transition for me to be pulled out of my comfort zone and for my life to be more public.
Now I think that it is another transition to fade back again into oblivion.
We made jokes at the beginning about how I had “carte blanche” in what I said and did because I was the cancer patient.  Well, that may be a little bit of a stretch, but it does make me wonder what it will be like in this transition back to “normal.”
Will I get less benefit of the doubt, fewer cards in the mail, less prayer from church members, less physical help?  What expectations do people have on me now and will it increase or decrease?  Will people still want to read about my life?  And what about me?  Will I miss the attention?  Will I resent being “normal” and wish to be more “special” — perhaps I have let myself become spoiled by all these kind, caring friends and the extreme ways they have served and supported us?
I certainly don’t want to be selfish, so I hope the loving attentions I received in my time of need will naturally move on to those who need them now.  I hope I will become a part of the group who offers these loving attentions asking for nothing in return.

TRANSITION TO THOUGHTFUL PEOPLE
Speaking of loving attention, Kristin M is truly a kind, thoughtful person.
My foyer is now graced with roses from her regular Tuesday gift. 🙂

Also, E and I really appreciated the time in Lake Arrowhead, thanks to Roger and Michele H so generously providing us a stay at the resort.  It was a beautiful, peaceful setting that was perfect for a getaway.
E and I took the opportunity to review the year and our marriage, and to make goals for the next year of marriage.  From our cool times of debrief, I can see that God has been knitting us together more and more, which is such a blessing.
However, what I also saw was that there is always room for improvement in any relationship.
Well, there is in ours —  mainly that I am still finding ways that my selfishness creeps in.  As an example, one goal of mine this year is to take a greater interest in E’s interests (Biblical — “look to the interests of others” and “consider others as more important than yourself”).  So taking a greater interest in sports is one of my goals this year.  🙂   Yes, watching sports is now Biblical — ha ha.

CURRENT PHYSICAL RATING
Overall I am a  9.7 out of 10 (10 is the best)

PICS FROM THE LAST WEEK

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THE LEGACY OF FATHERHOOD SUNDAY 6/21/09

SUMMARY
Spent time with family this weekend, went to church
Feeling good – 9.7/10

KIND GIFTS AND NOTES
When we got home from Georgia, there were some sweet cards and gifts that welcomed us.
1) My Aunt Sierra sent us a postcard from Yellowstone, and in her words, it “is a good place to see God’s hand carving and creating.”
2)  Got a loaf of banana bread and a sweet note from Meg & Adam Powell welcoming us back! Mmmmm… Thanks guys!
3)  Opened a package full of tea! My friend Wendy Y. from the Master’s College (& Facebook) was kind enough to send me a favorite beverage and a very kind note of encouragement. The card message reads, “‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.’ Romans 8:28. I trust God will bring to pass all that is best for you — and I pray He’ll continue to give you grace for each step along the way.” And in Wendy’s own words she was grateful that Christ was getting all the glory in my situation, and that the “Don’t Waste Your Life” blog was a great ministry tool. Thanks Wendy and family! Truly any good that has come from all of this is from the Lord!

Eric also got some love from family for his b-day:
A) a cute card from his dad’s family: “There are three good reasons this birthday card is late. 1. I bought it late. 2. I signed it late. 3. I mailed it late. (Inside) Best reasons I could think of. Happy Belated!” ha ha. They’re sweet. 🙂
B) a very thoughtful card from my mom and Rich (she picks good ones): “For a special Son-in-law: When parents have a daughter, they try to imagine the kind of guy she’ll marry and the happy life they’ll share. They hope for a son-in-law who’s strong and considerate and easy to talk to…. like you. So on your birthday, you should know how much it means to have that special someone as part of the family… someone who fits in just perfectly and makes us all proud. Happy Birthday!”
And her own words: “This says it so much better than I could! Thanks for taking such good care of Jennene and loving her so much in a such a godly way!!”

FAMILY TIME WITH THE MARGRAVES (E’s brother’s family)
Dave and Marybeth and the kids came over Saturday night and we all enjoyed the maiden voyage of our barbeque grill. I was thrilled that Eric and I were able to get it cleaned and working (I bought it used). So now you are all welcome to invite yourselves over for BBQ at our house this summer! The Margraves provided almost the entire dinner, which was delicious, and we enjoyed an evening of talking and eating out on the deck. Then E and I watched the kids for a few hours while D & MB went to see a friend’s musical performance.

We had a good time with the kids — they like the Food Network, so we watched that with them. It was also fun to ask them questions and hear what they had to say. The kids’ show we were watching had a “grumpy squirrel” on it, so E asked each kid if they were ever grumpy. Only the oldest girl J admitted to being grumpy at times — ha ha.
E said that he gets grumpy sometimes, so the youngest boy, age 4, asked, “What makes you grumpy?” E replied, “getting up in the morning.”
The oldest girl J nodded in solidarity. She and E are SO related!!

FATHER’S DAY
I enjoyed the sermon at church about the legacy of fatherhood. Pastor Bob made such a great point about the responsibility that rests on dads’ shoulders to teach their children God’s word. Truly we can trace either greatness of a nation or failure of a nation back to how well fathers have done in their role as leaders in the home (well, that’s what I think…). My favorite illustration he brought up was Jonathan Edwards — from his legacy he had many descendants who were senators, college presidents, college professors, ministers/missionaries, judges, etc. The stats were pretty impressive.

So speaking of dads, E & I took my dad out to celebrate Father’s Day.
He said he would like Chinese food, so we took him to the Panda Inn in Pasadena and enjoyed some tasty food there. Highlights of conversation included telling him about Georgia, reminiscing about camping memories, and hearing about his health. On the car trip home, I asked him what he was thankful for — He said he was thankful for his 3 kids, that we turned out okay and none of us are in jail or have criminal records (hmmm, glad to know we accomplished the minimum…). Ha ha.
He also said he was thankful that he’s alive, that he’s almost 76 and has decent health and hopes to live much longer. I’m glad for him that he has those things that bring him satisfaction, but in my conversation with him, I was just struck by the fact that his relationship to God is more of a detached respect than a personal loving relationship of Father and child.
It made me sad for him.
But I’m hoping to continue to have conversations like that with him and hopefully “add rocks to his shoe” in terms of getting him thinking… Who knows. E ended our time w/ dad by praying — it was cool. He prayed for dad’s health and concerns, and I was so thankful to have the night ended that way, with dad there hearing E pray for him. I’m just so thankful to be on the same team w/ my husband working toward the same goal. It’s awesome.

Later E & I took a walk (trying to build up my strength), and we called my stepdad Rich to wish him Happy Father’s Day. R and I talked a little about golf and Tiger, but he’s not much of a phone guy, so it was short and sweet. I also sent him an e-card thanking him for being an example of consistency, hard work, generosity and humor. He always makes me laugh. 🙂 But seriously, I’m glad he’s in my life and I certainly look up to him in many ways.

So Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers!
Keep up the good work — it’s so worth it!!
“Don’t Waste Your Fatherhood” 🙂

PICS


HOME ON THE RANGE FRIDAY 6/19/09

SUMMARY
Events: we enjoyed a few more days in Georgia with family and sightseeing, and returned in time for Eric’s sister’s graduation
Overall I’m 9.7/10

HEALTH UPDATE
I’m feeling pretty normal, but am still a little amazed at the little ways I am still affected by chemo and surgery. Nothing too alarming or difficult to deal with, but little things, like numbness in my toes or little shooting, itchy, shocking nerve jolts in my feet or legs.
I was feeling some occasional swelling in my hands and feet (but that is starting to wane), and still there is the occasional hot flash or weird sleeping pattern. It’s amazing to me because it has been quite a while since my last chemo, but still the effects are there — powerful stuff.
But I can tell things are moving more and more towards normal.
My right arm is getting stronger but I still feel a little weaker than usual. I will need to heal a little bit more before radiation, but that will start soon.
I will be seeing my oncologist Dr. Shin in early July to check up on radiation and to start hormone therapy.
I will have 6 weeks, 5 days a week of radiation.
From what I’ve been told, I will probably be okay at first, but near the end have some sunburn-like effects on my skin and will be pretty tired. I am hoping to be as active as I can (but not more than is wise), because I have noticed that I am still pretty physically weak from the winter of sitting on the couch.
Move it or lose it, as they say!

E & J’s HIGHLIGHTS FROM GEORGIA
–Martin Luther King, Jr. Historical Site was a highlight. We saw Ebenezer Baptist Church, MLK’s tomb, and went through the museum. He was a world changer, and we were inspired that world change occurs through individuals
— also, we were encouraged by the excerpts of his speeches and such, especially the parts that showed his love for God.
–Mary said that E has mellowed a lot, in a good way. Perhaps a result of our ordeal? I’m so thankful for him — he is such a great support to me!
–For E, he enjoyed spending alone time together, especially driving to North Carolina — we had a fun time in the car.
–E also really liked touching the Atlantic Ocean, and he finally beat Larry in tennis (but to be fair, Larry had spent the whole day out in 98 degree heat & humidity, gardening).
–We also had a great time at the Zimmermans — had dinner at Aunt Nancy’s with cousin Kelly and Joe, and Mary and Larry came over, and aunt Kathy showed up also! It was nice to reconnect with the cousins, and everyone seemed to be in good spirits.

THE LAST MARGRAVE GRADUATES
Well, technically there are 3 more Margraves left to graduate, but they are the next generation.
Of Ned’s children, Kara was the last to walk to “Pomp and Circumstance.” She was excited to have us there, and seemed very happy to play several of her original songs for us in the hour before she had to leave for grad night. Some of our thoughts and highlights: –we’re happy for her, hopeful for her –we admire her talent and desire for the guitar –we had a nice time of talking with Susan back at the house, along with Diane, her sister, and Ned –E is happy for his dad and that the girls both made it through school! 🙂

PICS FROM THE REST OF THE TRIP & GRADUATION 🙂

SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY & THE GLOBAL CANCER FAMILY MONDAY 6/15/09

Written by both E & J

SUMMARY
Visited Savannah,
quick road trip through South and North Carolina,
spent time with Uncle Mark and Aunt Nancy,
and have been feeling pretty well – 9.7/10.

SAVANNAH
Larry lent us his car and we took a 2 1/2 day trip to Savannah just for fun.
Our highlights:
-J loved the history and architecture of the “Old South.”
-a nice night out at Belford’s restaurant where E had the best crab cakes on earth.
-Our Bed and Breakfast in the historic district. We booked the cheap basement room, but they upgraded our room to one of the nicest in the building! There’s the benefit of going on a Monday and Tuesday.
-We met a couple from Orlando at our B&B.
Over breakfast we learned that the wife was a survivor of ovarian cancer, discovered when she was 21, newly married and newly pregnant! She and the baby both survived and now they have 3 kids and she is training for a triathlon! And we learned they were Christians. She even shared a Bible verse with us -that our suffering in this life is light and momentary in comparison to the glory that will be revealed in us. It was cool to see how God brought our paths together that morning to be mutually encouraged! 🙂
-The touring: a 90-minute trolley tour, getting an overview of the entire history of Savannah was good. We learned that it was the 13th colony of England. We walked around much of Tuesday -we weren’t sure if J could do it, but we did it, even past closing time of several places.
-Going out to Tybee Island on Eric’s birthday, just the two of us driving around and putting our feet in the Atlantic Ocean was very nice. J collected shells and E ate animal crackers, a special birthday treat.

SOUTH & NORTH CAROLINA
On Eric’s birthday we decided to drive to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill — it took us a little longer than we thought. But despite air conditioner and weather problems, we had a few highlights:
-Now we can check off a few more states, that we have been in them.
-The hospitality from E’s Uncle Mark — amazing, above and beyond hospitality, maybe even “Southern” hospitality. 🙂 He ran to the store on short notice and bought cinnamon rolls and birthday candles and sang “Happy Birthday to You.” He also slept on the couch so we could have the bedroom, and got us shirts from Duke University, where he works.
-We had great conversation with Mark -mostly about what went wrong with the current generation and what could his generation have done differently.
-Seeing the UNC campus briefly -we didn’t get to see the basketball arena (the main thing E wanted to see) due to a local high school graduation.
-We listened to the Kite Runner novel on CD — very gripping and well-told story, but profoundly sad. Mostly about redemption and the necessity of forgiveness in our lives.
We recommend it as a window into Afghanistan culture and a poignant view of human nature.
-Driving in heavy rains! First time we ever had to pull over on the freeway because we couldn’t see through the rain. It was crazy.

BACK IN GEORGIA
-Activities: E went to the gym, Mary and J shopped, we played ping-pong, E played tennis with Larry.
-Mark and Nancy came over -catching up with them was nice.
We learned more about E’s grandparents and the financial difficulties of their family when Mary and Mark were growing up. Apparently their dad used to fix their shoes’ soles when they wore out!

THINGS WE’VE BEEN LEARNING AND THINKING ABOUT
-Lots of thoughts on marriage -we borrowed the Andy Stanley CDs for the road trip to Savannah, about Staying in Love.
-J has been meditating on her role as a wife and how it’s supportive of E, thinking through the power of submission and respect, that it really sets a tone in a marriage and actually leads to greater joy in the end than pushing for one’s own way.
-E has been reading in I Peter, thinking about lots of things -being obedient and not being conformed to what the world is doing. Pursuing obedience every day, which is a big deal. Realizing that pursuing obedience isn’t enough, you have to love obedience.

PRAISES AND PRAYER REQUESTS
-J hasn’t been taking sleeping meds but has been sleeping pretty well. She wakes up a few times during the night, but is able to go right back to sleep.
-Praise that we’re alive and well and enjoying our time in Georgia
-Eric’s cousin Kelly is trying a new treatment tomorrow for her kidney (she has a transplant), and his uncle Thom has just been laid off. We are struck often by how many people are suffering in different ways. We would want for them to have as much support as we have had! Also that they would find their hope in Christ as we have found it in abundance!

PICS FROM THE TRIP SO FAR
(admittedly, I, Sam, have no idea of who/where most of these pics are…so, I miiight take some editorial liberties in my captions.  🙂  Quotations will be J’s words).

THE LOVING HUSBAND’S BIRTHDAY WEDNESDAY 6/10/09

Sooooo, the birthdays celebrated during J’s cancer schmancer season have been hers, mine (Sam) and now … Eric’s!!!!!
JUNE 10 is Eric’s birthday.
He & J are in Gerogia, but thanx to technology, we can all still express our joy in him.

There are LOTS of reasons why it’s good to know Eric, but I’m going to get this virtual party started by throwing out a few reasons… feel free to add to the list
-E loves J . . . a LOT…actually, E adores J!
-E loves God…even more than he loves J (is that possible)?
-E loves to learn
-E loves to laugh
-E loves to read (to himself, to J, to us, to his classes)
-E loves to see people challenged to be more like Christ
-E loves to think logically, but feels passionately
-E loves his family
-E doesn’t like animals 🙂
-E makes us laugh… alOT
-E does not want to waste his life
-E is a sucker for Extreme Home Makeover
-E loves Michael Jackson music, but not the Beatles (which is ironic, since MJ owns lots of Beatles rights…right?)
-E likes long drives to think and pray
-E is a blessing on lots and lots of levels
-It’s so fun/comforting to have E on your side!

Eric, hope you have a great birthday!!

Awwww, he's all grown up!

Awwww, he's all grown up!

FRIENDS, FLIGHT, FAMILY SUNDAY 6/7/09

IN J’S OWN WORDS…
SUMMARY

9.5/10 — Sat: decent flight, arrived safely in Georgia, ate Chinese food; Sun: went to church, took a walk, met Eric’s Aunt Kathy, planned a jaunt to Savannah, watched the Lakers.|

FRIENDS
First off, thanks Holly for the ride to the airport.  We debriefed our weeks and talked about things we were convicted about in our lives, particularly about loving people and seeing the difficulties as gifts and sharpening tools in our lives.

FLIGHT
I enjoyed being at LAX — there are so many possibilities at an airport.  So many people speaking so many different languages about to travel to so many varied locations.  Also, I feel a euphoric anticipation at the beginning of trips.  Also, we had lots of time so we were able to get breakfast at a food place, where I briefly conversed with the Ethiopian cashier.

Our flight went well — Eric and I listened to our ipods and read.  I managed to remove my wig while in my seat and having no one see me. 🙂  I wore it because Eric’s mom thought if I wore a hat, they might make me remove it at the security check.  I almost don’t care anymore…  well, I do a little.
Anyway, I wonder if people were confused when I got off the flight (“Didn’t she have hair 4 hours ago?”).
I tried to make some goals for the trip during the flight.  Mainly my goal is to make the most of time with people — to listen, help, enjoy, serve. Also, I want to make the most of the location — it’s very pretty and green here, so I’m hoping to get out in nature a bit and spend time with God.
The birds are very colorful, the trees are tall, and the frogs and crickets are loud at night; all of which is very cool and I hope to enjoy it!

FAMILY
So Larry and Mary seemed very glad to have us here to visit.  We enjoyed dinner with them and then tried to go to sleep despite the time zone difference.  I didn’t sleep particularly well, but hopefully I will adjust soon.  Today we went to Brown’s Bridge Community Church, one of Andy Stanley’s churches.
It was a sermon about our “status” with God — basically that we often see Him through a lens of fear, and that His intention for us was to have a status of total trust.  Sin entered the picture, though, and has changed everything on our side of things.  But he encouraged us with the hope that God is immutable and has not changed in His loving intentions towards us. Some cool things to think about.

Later today I finally met Mary’s sister Kathy, who recently moved to Georgia from Texas.  It was fun getting to know her and seeing the similarities and differences between her and Mary.  🙂   We spent a very nice time preparing dinner and eating together out on the covered porch.  I’m thankful to have these opportunities.

AND THE TRAIL GROWS COLD… SATURDAY 6/6/09

Hi everyone!

Sam here.
Well, E&J left today on a jet plane…for Georgia.
They are getting in a vacation before J starts radiation.

Sooooo, the blog will go dark for a couple of weeks…hopefully with a few tidbits here and there.
(Though, I did hear that they landed, had dinner with Mary and Larry.  AND, they saw fire flies).
Please continue to pray… that E&J have a relaxing and recuperative time in Georgia (E’s mom lives there) and that J will be ready for the final cancer schmancer push: radiation.

Don’t Waste Your ________________
Much grace & peace from all of us at DWJC!