Steve Schappell-My Blog

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Pillow Talk...

Hmmm...Glad you did not go there.   This light-hearted post is about pillows.  More directly, the pillows on our bed.  At last count, I think there were about 15 pillows of various sizes.

When I moved in and set up my room, I had 4 pillows.  (2) per side, and that seemed to work out just fine.  There were blinds in the windows and I replaced them with pleated Roman shades.  This helped to make the room darker to sleep, but left some light in between the windows in the middle.

This was before I added the shades.

A few years later, and a year after that, my wife and her boys moved in.  She brought pillows, and we have bought new pillows since then.  Pillows have increased and so has their function.  I did not realize that more pillows actually are better.

See, I am a minimalist.  I don't need that much.  Being married, I have learned to embrace new ideas and thinking.  (I know, it is just pillows)  This is some Saturday silliness here.

When I sit up in Bed and write this blog, or read, I use (3) long, larger pillows for my back support.  (2) of those I use to sleep with.  I use a smaller one over my head (to fall asleep--makes the room darker) 

Remember that gap between the shades than can let light in?  Shari has a small embroidered green pillow that says "Christmas Tea" on it.  This get wedged between the headboard and the window.  Problem solved!  We have a darker room.  (We both like a room quiet and dark.)
Lastly for myself, I use a small, red pillow with a heart design in the center.  This is used to elevate my legs to sleep.

Shari uses some of the remaining pillows to work and sleep.  When she sits up in bed, those large pillows are in use.  When she sleeps, they are tossed to the foot of the bed.  She uses a soft, cushy red/white pillow to sleep on.  A memory foam pillow, mid-side long red pillow, and another pillow are used as body pillows for comfort.    Finally, she has another smaller pillow to elevate her legs.

It's fun making the bed in the morning stacking and hiding all the pillows.  You would think that during the day, the pillows get a break.  But not so, they are the domain of the dog and cat, who lay on the pillows and take in the view.

Look, today is my stepson's birthday.  Noah turns 19, and we have people over.  I wanted to write, so I wrote about pillows.  It's a blog.  Have fun.

C-H-E-M-O.....and cancer was it's name-o

TGIF everyone, 

It's an overcast Friday night when writing this.  The NFL Draft is on, and the work week is done.  This recollection is helping me to process everything again, and I hope it can give you a glimpse into what goes on.

 Time to continue the story.  Last time, we talked about the diagnosis and surgery.  As it turns out, that was the easy part.

Chemo.  Saying it can give you chills,especially, if you are the one who will receiving it..  Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in your body. Chemotherapy is most often used to treat cancer, since cancer cells grow and multiply much more quickly than most cells in the body.  That is a straight definition.  To me, it meant the woman I love was going to go through a long, hard process that I wish I could take on.  My first line was prayer and information.  Of course, by now, word had been out to Shari's friends and family, her church in Ohio, and our church in Palmyra.  Plus her family and friends.  Many had been praying for us--for Shari and her surgery.  Prayers to remove the cancer.  Prayers for healing and recovery.  Prayers for our family.

An aside. I have been a member of Gravel Hill United Methodist Church since 1997.  Over the years, I have become more involved in the internal and external ministry of the church.  It has become like another family.  I was about to find out the extent of that family during the chemo treatments.

To prepare for the chemo, my wife needed surgery to install a port.  This would essentially "feed" the chemo drugs directly into the bloodstream.  I didn't realize that while the Chemo finds and attacks cancer cells, I also attacks other healthy, fast growing cells like hair and eyelashes.

The surgery was outpatient and went well.  Her chemo treatment was 16 weeks, with chemo on  a Monday every 2 weeks.   So, in October, she began her first treatment.  I am grateful for the help she received with getting rides to and from the cancer center at the hospital.  That was the first gift we received.  The gift of kindness and caring from Shari's female friends for the rides she received. 

The chemo treatments also included a Neulasta shot the day after Chemo.  This required another visit t the hospital.  This is where we received the 2nd gift.  My wife made a connection with a woman during treatment, who is married and lives one street over.  Her husband is a nurse and qualified to give the Neulasta shot.  So, he would come over every other Tuesday, saving a trip to the hospital.

As I found out, a routine began to develop with my wife.  Week one was the treatment and shot.  This was followed by sever fatigue, muscle pain, soreness, change in appetite.  This would diminish during the following week, and by the 2nd weekend, was feeling better....just in time to have the next chemo treatment.  During this time, she took other medications to counter the medication she was taking.  To me, it was crazy.  I learned you have to be a strong person to go though this.  I never really told my wife how I admired her courage and strength during Chemo.   When she could, she would go into work.  She still had school work assignments to complete.  I would have crumbled underneath all the weight.  But I saw a tremendous faith at work.  A personal faith that only comes though trial.  I am extremely proud of her.  

One of the biggest gifts we received from our church family were the meals.  I found out that people really wanted to help.  They were not sure what to do.  One of our friends from church organized meals to be delivered during Shari's chemo week.  These were for our whole family, and were adjusted to allow what Shari could eat.  See, my wife is a true Italian.  However, during chemo, you need to avoid spicy foods and acidic foods.  That meant no red sauce, for example.  Pizza was replaced with white pizza.  (She does not miss that now)  We were and are very grateful for the meals we received.  Some were delivered anonymously, others called us in advance.  This was a way for others to help.  It was quite an outpouring.

I made a decision that I would shave my head when she lost hers.  She was told that with this Chemo, she would lose her hair and her eyebrows.  As her hair started to fall out, she first cut it short, and it looked cute.  Then, as it progressed, there came the evening when she asked her son, Noah, to shave it off.  After that, it was my turn.  She told me I did not have to do it.  I made a promise and told other people about it, including all the guys in my men's group, so I could not back down.  Noah was excited to shave my head, and my other stepson, Phil filmed it and took pictures.  In a few minutes, I was bald.  All my life, I had hair, and was losing it up front.  I was not expecting the comments I received at work, church and when out.  I was told it looked good.  That I was no longer hiding my receding hairline.  That I had the head shape for it.    Well, it sure is easy maintenance.  I just shave in the morning and good to go.

Well we got through the Holidays and Christmas.  Here is our Christmas Card in the midst of the Chemo Treatments.  A group picture with my daughter, her boys and the dog and cat.

There was some real excitement around her last Chemo treatment the end of January.  She made it!!  It was an exciting time.  No more steroids to take.  No more treatments.  There was a light at the end of the tunnel.  Things were looking good.

Ultimately, this was another step on our Journey though Cancer.  When the treatments ended, the pain slowly reduced, and some of her energy returned, she faced another decision.  The Chemo did it's job, and will continue to be working for a while.  Given that there was a small amount of cancer in a Lymph node, her surgeon recommended radiation to add a 10% change of a non-occurrence.  This would make it to a 95% change this type of cancer would not return.  She prayed about it and decided to go with the radiation.

She had her port removed first, and then 5 weeks of daily radiation on weekdays.  She was able to drive herself, and continued to work and handle school work.  However, there were new challenges.  The radiation made her weak and she would tire easily.  And personally, I think they over radiated, as she became very red and burnt like a really bad sunburn.  Things are healing better now, but she is using a regimen of different creams, lotions and medication to help the skin heal.

There is more I could go on about.  The continuing side effects.  The exercises to prevent Lympademia in her left arm.  The ongoing physical pain.  But Hallelujah, her treatments are done!!  Now she can continue to heal, and in time, have reconstructive surgery.

I know where were many praying for us and some who continue to do so.  I am grateful for their prayers and we have been blessed during this whole ordeal.  I hope that you never have to go though something like this.  I saw my wife's character and nature during this process.  She is a fighter, a strong women, and a victor.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Surgery was the easy part....Cancer story continues.

Yesterday was the first step on the Cancer journey for my wife.  The biopsy and diagnosis.  Our camping weekend and our new reality.

We got back from the beach Sunday night.  I emailed my work and asked to meet with my boss and our HR person. I was not sure what was going to happen and wanted my workplace to know.  As soon as I got in Monday, I met with them first thing.  I remember, they thought I had found another job, or something else.  I explained the situation and they were very understanding and would work with me.  I told them I wanted a day off to go with my wife to the meeting with the surgeon to discuss the results.

Things began to move quickly after that.  I started to read anything I could about breast cancer, and chemo information.  Terms I was not familiar with.  In Situ, Ductal, Carcinoma.  For me to make sense of things, I need information.  So, I got what I could going into our meeting.  For the record, Shari made a great choice.  We went to Pinnacle Health and their cancer center on the East Shore outside of Harrisburg.  Her surgeon was Dr. Brynn Woolf, who was compassionate, smart and bonded with my wife almost instantly.  I went along to her appointment, and remember that I did not see one man anywhere.  We met with several women during the appointment.  One for initial paperwork and background information.  One for the Healthy Women's program, the surgeon, and one for the genetic test information.

When her surgeon went over the biopsy results, my wife was quiet, taking it all in.  I was writing notes  (those who know me, know that I take lots of notes.) We learned it was considered a Stage 1 Carcinoma.  The Cancer was basically one mass, about 15 cm.  It had started to break through the ductal wall, and was no longer considered In Situ.  It was all very clinical, but delivered by someone who understood all too well.  We talked about the next steps--surgery and chemotherapy.

Our last part of the meeting was to discuss genetic testing.  Shari's mom and grandmother both died of cancer.  In their cases, it was a stage 4 by the time it was addressed.  My wife wanted to see if she had some of the same markers that could affect her children.  They asked lots of questions, took a sample and said we would know results in about a week.

When we were done we went to lunch, and while there, got a call that insurance was going to cover the genetic test.  This was the first of many provisions that God provided for us.  The Healthy Women's program for the state of PA was a blessing and helped with most of the costs through this process.

So, about a month later, here we were, going back to the beach for the weekend and camping.  Only this time, it was the weekend before her surgery.  Things were more hopeful.  There was a game plan, we had information, and we had faith that this was going to be used for a purpose.  My wife has an amazing testimony, and a gift for working with women.  This was going to be used for God's glory, were were sure of that.

The next Tuesday was surgery.  Shari had a good friend come and stay with us for a week, to help my wife after surgery--to drain the fluid, make meals, and provide support.  Thank you Mickie!!!

Surgery was supposed to only take about 2 hours if all went well.   The hospital had a video screen and a patient number.  You could follow on the screen to see the progress.  You could even have people go to their website and follow the progress at home.  I started to get a little worried when it was almost 3 hours later until the surgeon came out.  We took a deep breath and got some good news.  She was able to remove the mass completely with good margins.  They removed 18 lymph nodes on her left arm and body to test for cancer.  All was clear, except for (1) lymph node that was closest to the Cancer.  ( I learned that Cancer progresses like a chain from the mass up the lymph nodes and to the body.)  There were going to do tests on that.  If it was in the lymph nodes, then chemo would be recommended.  I asked why it took so long.  The surgeon described the surgery and how she was able to only have (2) small incisions.  One under the arm for the lymph nodes, and the other one at the center of the left breast.  She was able to save all of the skin around the breast, so that during reconstruction later on, the existing skin could be used to maintain a more natural look.  Doing that took a longer time in surgery.

To wrap up, the post surgery went well.   Shari was taken care of at home and the follow up appointments began.  We next learned about Lymphademia, about sleeves for her hand and arm.  And the next changes in preparation for Chemo treatments.

More on that in the next post.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cancer and Camping....they shouldn't mix

I never really liked camping.  Oh, I remember doing it in Cub Scouts, and at church retreats.  Most of our "camping" was going to the Poconos, and staying in a friend's lake house.  That was not roughing it.

So imagine my surprise when I married a camper and kids.  They like camping for the outdoors, and the cost savings.  As a blended family, we sent to the shore in 2014 for day trips.  That led to Shari and I going for an overnight and staying in a hotel.  Last year, we decided to do long weekends in June, July and August and camp out.   We like Avalon, and Stone Harbor, NJ--Cape May and Ocean City.  So, we bought a tent that can sleep 10, Queen air mattresses, and other related gear.  We packed up the van, and headed out on a weekend in June. 

This was a new experience for me.  Setting up camp in a group campsite.  Making all our meals and leaving everything behind when we drove to the shore.  Taking showers in a bath house and going for nite mini golf and ice cream.  That weekend in June was a good time with family.

It was a little before this time when my wife felt a lump on her left breast.  She was sure she felt a lump a year before, but during her annual mammogram, they dismissed it as "fibrous tissue."

However, this year, it was different and more pronounced.  She made her appt for the Mammogram and while there, was offered a 3-D Ultrasound for an additional $35 more.  She agreed, and had this done.  A short time later, she was contacted for schedule a biopsy.  They thought they found something and wanted to make sure.  I was a little nervous.  "Not all biopsies are positive, right?" I thought.  I did not want to think about Cancer.  I went into denial and prayed about it.  Shari prayed and, as she does, she trusts God will take care of it.

She arranged to have the biopsy the week of our next shore weekend in July.  This was so she could receive the results by Friday, when we were on our way to the shore.  The biopsy went well.  She had a friend take her and offer support while I was at work.  We packed for our trip and loaded up the van Friday morning with my daughter and Shari's sons that live with us.  Also following were her daughter, husband and their 2 young kids.

The drive was uneventful, until she got the call.  As I remember, it was surreal moment.  I am driving and trying to listen, but not listen.  Shari sounded clinical, asking questions and taking down information.  She was thanking people on the phone and starting to cry.  I tried to hold her hand and say silently "No.  Not her.  Not now...Not her...Not fair..."

When she got off the phone.  She needed some time to gather her thoughts and then she told us, all of us in the van.  The biopsy was positive for breast cancer.  They found a single mass on the left side.  They wanted her to come in the following week to go over the results.  We were in shock.  Stunned.  Silence in the van.  She said not to say anything to her daughter until we were at the campsite.  There was some good news from the call.  They told her about a women's health program in the state of PA for women with breast cancer that could help cover most or all of the costs with surgery, treatment and reconstruction.    She was going to Pinnacle Health Cancer Center in Harrisburg.

We got to our campsite to get set up.  She broke the news to her daughter and then we started to make dinner.  Imagine the range of emotions we are feeling.  Shock.  Denial.  Anger.  Sadness.  Things were not going to be the same again.   I remember my wife tapping into her faith, and belief that this was not the end.  She would sometimes cry, other times ask why was this happening.  She was finishing up school work at a local college in order to start a degree completion program in the fall.  "Why was this happening now," she told me.

That first night, when everyone had turned in for the night, there we were, on the mattress in the tent and looking at the stars between the trees.  We were sharing a set of ear buds, listening to her favorite artist. Bebo Norman, and thinking our own thoughts.  I fell asleep sad but hopeful.

The rest of the weekend included telling other family members by phone the results and next steps.  Of course, there was school work for Shari to complete.  And time to go to the beach, out for ice cream and mini golf.  Going to the pool at the campsite and making smores by the fire.  It was the start of a new chapter in our lives, framed around family, and held together by love.
Now, this is primarily about my side of this experience.  Believe me, I hope you never have to go though this.  My wife does not wish this on anybody.  Being the person she is, she was glad this did not happen to her children or myself.

Thanks for reading.  More to follow about the next steps in the process and the road to recovery.

Monday, April 25, 2016

I am Harping about AARP... (A brief aside from the Cancer story)

Ah, Monday.  Back to work again.  Stuck inside while a nice spring day awaits.  After staying at work an extra hour, I get home and grab the mail from the box.  A few bills, political ads, and a strange "Happy Birthday Steven" and CARD ENCLOSED.  I tear into it, only to find this.

AARP.  One year membership $16.00.  AARP, The Association of Retired Persons.  Retired?  Me?  No way.  I will be working until I fall over.  Isn't this the old persons club?  Medical Supplemental Health Insurance?  AARP Bulletin Newsletter?  AARP fighting in PA for people like me regarding pension rights, medicaid, social security?  Social mean the thing that will be bankrupt by the time I wait, fall over.

The letter starts out, "Dear Steven,  enjoy your birthday."  It ends by saying to make the most of my life over 50.  No wait, I am not 50 yet.  I AM STILL 49 FOR 6 DAYS, 2 HOURS AND 10 MINUTES I scream inside.  Go away AARP.....go away 50...

When I was in my 20's, I thought that 50 was O L D.    Why, that is like 30 years away.  I am young, wild and free....

So here I am, on the verge of middle age.  The realization that unless I live to be 100, over half of my life has already happened.  The number of remaining Christmases, birthdays, and other holidays and special events are limited.  They always are, we just don't think about it.    Today, I was given another reminder that the black balloons and "Over the Hill" are just around the corner.   

Of course, I could say the 50 is the new 30, and leave it at that.  I am still a kid at heart.  I play video games (Bring on Star Wars: Battlefront.)  I play Minecraft.  I act childish (Don't go there), and still feel young.  I am young.  I am young.  I am young.....(I keep telling myself that)

So bring on the fun insults (I mean compliments) next week for my birthday.  Go ahead, laugh it up.  Some of you are already there, and for the rest of you.....AARP has your address and may be lurking around you mailbox.

But I remain optimistic.  Hey, I receive a free insulated AARP travel bag if I act before June 10th.  Always something to look forward to...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A cancer update....not the whole story

Happy Sunday everyone (Or whatever day you are reading this),

I have been wanting to talk about the Big "C" word, AKA Cancer.  That will be a long blog, or several blogs.  There are some of you who are aware of what has happened, and continues to transpire.  For those of you who don't, here is a little summary.

My wife has fought, and survived a battle with Breast Cancer.  This has affected not only her, but our whole family and friends.  Not to mention-work, school, our schedules, lifestyle and things we thought that were important--that were not.

We were driving to the shore last July when Shari got the call with the biopsy results.   I was driving, and we had my daughter, and her (2) sons in the van, with her daughter, husband and grand kids in the car following us.  I could only imagine her thoughts when they told her it was Cancer.   She thanked them for calling and telling her.  Some tears and silence.  She then told all of us in the van, and waited until we arrived at the campsite to tell her daughter.

The following month at the shore was the weekend before her surgery.  After the consultations, meetings, and a genetic test, she decided on a mastectomy (single, left side)   Surgery went great--they got it all.  Good margins, they tell you.  And then some recovery time over night.  She had a good friend stay with us for that first week to help drain out the fluid from the surgery and to be with her 24/7.  That was a blessing.

After surgery came the initial recovery.  Then another surgery to have a port installed.  Easier for the chemo to get into the blood stream.  The next step was Chemo treatments.  The pain and side effects.  The medicine to take care of the side effects.  The hair loss, weight gain from the steroids, and the feeling like you were going to die at times.   Through the chemo, I saw my wife's strength, her resolve, and their faith played out every day.  I don't know if I would be able to endure what she went through.

Several months later, post chemo, she had a decision to make.  Her cancer was a Stage 1, and with the Cancer breaking out of the ducts, it was classified as Stage 2.  She could choose to be done, or have radiation treatments, which would add an additional 10% chance of non-reoccurance.  In other words, go from 85% to 95%.  She chose radiation.

Surgery first to remove the port, than having her body marked for radiation.  Then 5 weeks of treatments, each workday.  No missing any sessions they told her.  20 minute sessions, and driving back and forth about 30 minutes.  All while working when able to and doing school work.

Now the radiation is done.  But still more recovery.  Radiation was like a really bad sunburn.  There is some healing of the skin, but it takes time.   Finally, there will be reconstruction, which involves more surgery and more recovery.

When all done, about 2 years will have passed since the day she first noticed a lump and had it checked out.  There is much that has happened, and I am amazed at her progress and her strength, and her solid faith.  More on this in another post.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Let's talk about ASIA....the band, not the continent.

Hello again,

Yesterday, I was listening to some CD's in my car, and got caught up in the past.  Funny how a song can transport you to another time and place.  That got me thinking about a musical journey.  With that in mind, let's hop into the Delorean and punch the coordinates for June of 1982.

Our Delorean stops in the small town of Hamburg, PA.  Picture this.  It's Another sunny summer day, as I ride my bike through town and to our local community pool.  While there, a song comes on the local radio station they play over the speakers.  "I never meant to be so bad to you.  One thing I said that I would never do..."  I found out later it was "The Heat of the Moment," the first single from a new band called ASIA.  They were formed with (4) English musicians from other successful groups into this new super group.  Geoff Downes (from Yes), Steve Howe, (also from Yes), Carl Palmer (From Emerson, Lake and Palmer), and John Wetton (King Crimson and Uriah Heep).

I immediately liked the combination of rock and roll, progressive, and synthesizers, that were put to good use in their 2nd single release, "Only Time will Tell."    I made sure on our next trip to the mall to pick up their record for my collection.  Now remember kids, this was the 80's and most records were just that, Vinyl.

So, evenings were spent in my room, listening to their album on my Sears Stereo Cassette System with (2) Speakers.  Talk about Hi Fidelity.  I enjoyed every song on their album, over and over again.
Now, you know that some songs connect in a way that when you hear it, not only are you transported back, but you feel like you are actually there.  Song #8 on their debut album is called "Cutting it Fine." An almost 6 minute song, with 4 minutes of no singing.  When I play that song, I am back in my bedroom, lights off, except for plastic Christmas Candles in the windows, some snow falling outside.  It is 2 nights before Christmas.  16 years old, and everything was alright in the world.

Now hop back into that Delorean and fast forward to early 2009.   The band ASIA has released several albums and gone though several personnel changes.  I have lost track with the band, although they are and still remain one of my favorite bands of all time.  

Somehow when searching online, I looked them up and find out they recently released another album called "Phoenix," and like that mythological creature that rises from the ashes, ASIA re-unites with the (4)  original members of Downes, Howe, Palmer and Wetton.  This time, I buy the CD and download it to my iTunes.

Now, music can do many things.  It can cross boundaries and borders, it can speak to young and old, it can make you happy, or comfort you when you are sad.  It can make you think and it can have you sing along.  And for me, this album was the comfort I needed during my divorce.

You see, I thought about writing a book on my divorce, with each chapter relating their songs from the album.  It's hard to explain the pull that music can have on a person.  I connected with their music from the start, not so much on a lyrical basis, but on their music and sound that was different to me.

However, I started listening to the lyrics from this album and want to share some of that with you.  An aside, that this was not the only thing that helped me get though my divorce, but was a therapy nonetheless.   So, there are some of those songs, and what they meant to me.

The first track is called "Never Again."    Here are some of the lyrics and chorus: "The darkness that I knew is no more, the sun will shine for me, of that I can be sure.   This is the day of my ascendance, A time for life, a time for independence.  NEVER AGAIN...will I bear arms against brother, NEVER AGAIN...will I wish evil on another.."
-The song gave me hope that I was embarking on a new chapter, a painful one, but one with hope.  I already had that hope in God through Christ, but this helped and reminded me that I needed to forgive others, as I have been forgiven.

"Nothing's Forever"You know that Nothing's Forever, it's just for today.  Can't live for the future, forget yesterday.  And hold on to life, for in moments it can fade away.    Maybe I'm following too closely, Sometimes you can feel you've had enough.  Make the most of what you have today.  Just hope and pray, for those you really love."
 -This reminded me that nothing on this earth lasts forever.  A divorce changes so many things.  We had to sell the house the kids grew up in.  Their relationship with their parents would change.  Our friendships changes.  And to pray for my kids and our relationship after everything that had happened.

"No Way Back"  "Push forward again, I reach the point of no return.  No condemnation remains, No more bridges to burn.
Keep on working the room and the end is in sight.  Something unknown propels me now, leading me to the light.  I got to be free it's life on the edge for me, the harder it gets the harder I try...and there's NO WAY BACK."
 -This was a duality for me.  There was no way back from the way it was before.  But though the hurt, I sought counseling and God showed me there was light on the other side.  I also was seeing a (selfish) freedom from the marriage, and that I could try new things, make new friends, and move forward.

"Alibis "ALIBIS, little lies, procrastination.  Secrecy, Duplicity, the end of you ALIBIS.  Goodbye your tiny whispers of comfort.  Never the victim of circumstance, you had me deceived."
-This was straight forward.  I was not aware there was anyone else, until it was found out, and then the reality of everything became clear.

"Parallel Worlds "And somehow deep in the night, there is a girl and she feels how I feel.  Cause were living in parallel worlds.  
-Funny, I would listen to this and wonder if there was someone out there who was going though what I was, and could understand my situation.  Little did I know that 2 years later, God would open a door that led me to Shari--my wife.

"Over and Over"Over and over again, we will resolve our true destiny.  Only though love our passage guaranteed.  Let it lift me up above
-This song was like God speaking to me.  The rest of the song has an ethereal quality to it.  God could help lift me above my circumstances.

"An Extraordinary Life"
"A perfect day, or so I say from where I'm standing.  This rollercoaster ride, fate will decide the ending.  The smiles and frowns, the ups and downs of fortune turning. The twists and turns, the lessons learned.  The bridges burning.  Nights to remember and never forget.
Go seize the day, wake up and say, This is an extraordinary life.  Enjoy today come what may.  This is an extraordinary life. 
I gave it all, my cards have fallen.  But I'm still alive.  And in the end, I believe my friend, I will survive.  Glory and heartache, and all of the Joy.  All of the good times and all of the bad.  Responsibility is totally mine, I rightly stand accused.  But I believe that I can change.  Yes, I can change my world."
-I encourage you to find this song on Youtube.  It summed up to me what I was experiencing and going through, and what was so follow.  It also helped me to see that it is an extraordinary life that We live.  I have (2) great kids, I had friends and a church family that I have gotten to know much better over the years.  And I met an amazing woman, who brought 4 more young men and women in to my life.  Plus, a dog and cat and grandchildren.

Thank you ASIA, for allowing your music to enhance my life for many years.  Thank you for the healing power of music.  May music in whatever form you listen to it, continue to enrich and enhance your life every day.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

PRINCE Died, and you will also...

Welcome everyone,

Well it happened again.  Another celebrity has passed away.  Today it was Prince Rogers Nelson,or Prince, or that symbol.  I imagine that Purple Rain will be playing on Cable TV this weekend.   I started to see the platitudes on Twitter and Facebook.  Another musical legend is done.  I can see some of the pedestal raising now.  The larger than life artist has died.  It was the same for Bowie recently, and, I presume, will be again for the next artist.

Now, I personally have nothing against Prince, Bowie, or other artists or celebrities.  We should celebrate their greatness, their art, and what they brought to our lives.  However, when it comes down to it, they, and we, are all human, and we will one day all die.

Mortality.  The word itself seems scary.  The word, Death also.  I will be turning 50 in a few days  (May 2nd), and realize that perhaps unless I live to be 100, that I have lived more years on this earth than I have left.  Soon AARP forms will be in the mail, and I will be asked about funeral pre-planning.  (Not done yet, but I have a will and life insurance in place)  When I was 20, I thought that 50 was old.  Now, I am almost one of them, and still believing that I am young at heart and in spirit.

We learn in our Men's Fraternity group at church that how you approach the end of your life, will determine how you will live it today.  Some live just for today, that this life is all their is.  Others, embrace a transcendent cause, and want to leave a legacy that follows them.    It defines your life.  Live for the moment, or live for a legacy.

Prince is leaving a legacy of his music.  It will live on after we are gone.  For some, the music will transport them back to another place and time.  He was a gifted artist and shared his talent with the world.  We should be so lucky.

In an interview, Prince said he was a devout Christian.  He said he had changed over the course of his life and was not the same, as in his younger days.  There are posts that he is rocking in Heaven,  Or he flying with the angels.  I don't know what he is doing right now.  I do believe that if he believed in Jesus, and received him in, then he is in Heaven.

As a Christian, that is what I believe in.  That Jesus died for me (and you) and that all who believe in him shall receive eternal life.  That there is life after death.  Death is a natural part of life, and we can live forever.  I believe in a relationship, not some hokey religion, or a set of rules.  A real relationship with an all-powerful, all-knowing and unseen God.    I heard this phrase before and is one way I want to live my life.

"I would rather live my life believing there is a God, then die and find out there is not one.  Then live my life with no God, then die and found out there is one."

So today, we mourn the loss of a great talent, and pause to consider our own mortality.  We all will die one day.  It's how we live that matters.

Where have I been?

Welcome everyone,

It has been waaaaaayyyyy to long since I was last on here.  What happened?  Well, for starters, I got married almost 4 years ago, and now have a blended family.  I am a parent to(2), Step-parent to (4), and grandparent to (2).

I still live in a townhouse in Palmyra, which is now a full house, as my wife's daughter, husband, and their (2) young kids are living with us until they find a place.  They are moving to the area, in part, to be closer to family. 

In addition to that, (2) of my wife's boys live with us full time, and my daughter rotates in and out weekly.

My wife just came thorough a 9 month fight and victory with Breast Cancer and is working through the healing process.

 Life got, well, life.  Everyday things, new and exciting things, difficult things, and the Blog went bye bye....

Then last week, I received an email.  Someone read one of my posts, on the 7 levels of friendship, and commented
that it helped them out.

Wow, that said something to me.  And I need to get back on the train again.  Whoot Whoot!!

Let's try this semi-regular blog again and see where it takes us.

In Christ,