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Christmas Vacation, Final Edition

Here are the final three letters from my grandchildren: Gabe, Isaac and Micah.

The following is from my grandson Gabe

Dear Papa, I just want to thank you for all that you have done for our family and all that you mean to us. You provide so much moral support and you provide financial support too. Some of my favorite memories have come at the Club from playing to just sitting down and having a nice conversation and a great meal. Other memories have come when we came over and made klachecez. And 1 other thing, I love you.

From: Gabe

The following is from my grandson Isaac

From:Isaac To:Papa

You are the best papa a boy could have. I remember at camp that you would tell these outstanding stories that I will never forget. Also at camp I remember when you did the “Sardines and Pork and Beans” that will always give me a good laugh. I will never forget you and the stories you tell me and I will tell my friends in the coming. Thank you so much.

Love,
Isaac

The following is from my grandson Micah

Dear Papa, Thank you for doing all you can for us. The three things that I had with you was (2) Camp Brosius, (1) spending time with you and (3) having Christmas with you. We still love you and praze you. We know it’s hard for you. So we hope you have your amazing last moments with us.

See accompanying picture from Micah on the Photos page, along with other pictures from our trip.

Christmas Vacation, Part 3

Continuing the theme of posting the letters from my grandchildren, here are the letters from my granddaughter Abbie and grandson Isaiah.

The following is from my granddaughter Abbie

Dear Grandpa,
As I’m sure you could probably tell by now, this is a letter. A rather sentimental one; addressed to you. I have, in fact, scrapped and rewritten this letter an innumerable amount of times by now. Each passing time I began to feel more frustrated, why can’t I write anything good enough?! I scolded myself. My words will not be as intellectual as Lydia’s, as kind hearted as Will’s, or as strong as Gabriel’s. They are my words and they belong to nobody else but to you and to me but, are my words good enough? It was actually that single thought that reminded me why all together I am putting these words together for you. It is a single, simple yet beautiful reason: why I love you.

Now Grandpa, I love you more than flowers love sunshine, more than the night sky loves the stars, and surely more than I could type into such seemingly measly words. Never forget that.
So here I am- worrying all about creating some breathtaking, beautiful masterpiece of words that will bring you to tears. Then it hits me. This isn’t a school project with an outline all ready to be filled out and a rubric to be graded upon. You aren’t reading this letter with the expectation for it to be “good enough”. The most you have ever asked of me was to to simply be Abigail Mae Krefta and I know if these words come from me then they are “good enough” for you.

Throughout my whole life you have always made me feel valid and important in any situation. You have always just wanted me to be me and I cannot describe how significantly that has impacted me. As a teenager who is staring straight into the terrifying abyss that is the real world, the huge ideas of growing up are absolutely daunting. It feels like I should be so much more than who I am and I have to meet all of these unreachable standards of individuality and independence. But with you, I have always felt that the girl who I am typing this letter and the girl who I was when I was 7 (who used to drink chocolate milk like it was liquid gold) are one in the same. That who I am is 100% capable of doing anything I want to do. I don’t have to become somebody else to achieve things. The person who I am is entirely capable of conquering the world. You have never once let me be intimidated by obstacles. You never once made me feel like Abigail Mae Krefta wasn’t damn important. I cannot thank you enough for that.

It terrifies me to think I will have to overcome much more without you by my side, but please never forget that while I’m trouncing these obstacles I will hold you close to my heart. I will never let it slip my mind that you believe in me. So whenever I’m a parent, I will remember to pass on these vital life lessons to my own children and grandchildren. Everytime I step on stage I will always remember you as one who never stopped supporting my passion for dance. Many times, in every little way, I will remember you. Even when you feel the world to be slipping from your grasp, please don’t forget that I am with you in your heart as you are in mine. I love you Grandpa <3

Forever and Always,
Abbie

The following is from my grandson Isaiah

Dear Papa,

I just wanted to start off by saying that I love you so much. I remember when you used to carry me on your shoulders when you took me to school. I remember all the times we played wiffle ball in the backyard. I remember when you were teaching night classes and I ran from my mom and came into your class. I remember how we used to go get our hair cut together. Also how I lived with you and grandma until I was 7. You mean the world to me and I would go to war for you. I remember all the years we went to Camp Brosius starting when I was 2. We would go out to the tennis court and play games of horse. We would go back and forth but I can’t lie you would get me.

I don’t know what I would do without you. You’ve been there for me my whole life and never gave up on me. Even when I was hardheaded and didn’t listen you would still find a way to get through to me. I know I am different from all the other grandkids but I still love you the same as they do. You’re the most awesome grandpa somebody could ask for. No matter what happens just know I love you so much and you will always be in my heart. I’m praying that everything goes good because I can’t lose you.

Sincerely, Isaiah

Christmas Vacation, Part 2

I’ve had an enjoyable time sharing the highlights of our Christmas vacation with the many visitors and callers I’ve since we returned. As I mentioned, I’m posting the additional letters from my grandchildren. Here are the letters from my grandsons Ben and Will.

The following is from my grandson Ben

Dear Grandpa,

Some of the fondest memories of my childhood not only include you but were made possible by you. Those memories were of Camp Brosius. It was the one week of the year that it was just us for, what always turned out to be far too short of a week. This is where I learned to sail, canoe, build bonfires, and have some fun trying to stay on the water tube as you tried to toss me. Those are some of the fondest memories of my childhood. Camp also taught me a lot of valuable lessons growing up. It was you that taught me to be independent and to try new things. If it wasn’t for you I would have never learned to sail a boat. Know that you are and have been one of the most influential adult figures in my life. You have played an integral part in making me the man that I am today. It now brings me greater joy to see you as a great-grandfather to Jenna. It comforts me to know that you have been able to influence her life as well because it will certainly influence her to be a better person.

Your loving grandson
Ben

The following is from my grandson Will

Dear Grandpa Jeff,

I can’t express in words how much influence getting to go to Camp Brosius with you and the rest of the gang had on me when I was growing up. I always looked forward to it with excitement each summer. I feel as though it is where I discovered my strong appreciation for the peaceful absolute solitude nature can offer. The way that lake could seem so calm in the early morning made it seem as if time had stopped for a moment of pure serenity. To this day when I feel the pressures of the world weighing on my soul I go to my place of serenity, the absolutely still lake. I will always have that place of tranquility for the rest of my life. There are no words to express how much that comforts me. I love you and know for a certainty that there is a place in my heart where I can always feel your presence.

Forever with love,
Will

Christmas Vacation (Not the Clark Griswold/Cousin Eddie type)

There have been many times during this journey when I thought of something to do or the family thought of something and we didn’t get right on it and realized the clock’s not waiting for anyone. Our Christmas vacation is a good example. Once we got going on the planning, we went after it full speed ahead. Tom, Leslie and I did an Internet search of nearly every 4-6 bedroom house in south Florida. We were looking for specific bedroom configurations in the southern half of the State. Just when we didn’t think there were anymore properties to look at, a unique property in West Palm Beach came online. It had the right number of sleeping spaces, a pool and was priced right so we made the payment and waited for Christmas to come.

We all decided to drive as airfare was prohibitive. Each family took varying amounts of time to get there but all arrived within an hour of one another, arriving Saturday December 26th. The configuration was just what we had thought would work best for us. Sue and I got the biggest bedroom and smallest bathroom. If I hadn’t seen it, I would not have believed you could put a sink, stool and shower in a 4×6 space. I’ve seen bigger bathrooms on a cruise ship. Now that I’m no longer the big guy, but rather the medium guy, it was space enough for me. There were 17 of us, all enjoying each other’s company at the pool, the beach or just grocery shopping.

We ate well, watched plenty of football, got sun, saw some fantastic hotels, homes, and cars (even saw where The Donald has his home).

If you’re ever counting on God to answers your prayers, this trip is a perfect example. He kept me in good health, able to travel, and spend quality time with Sue, Leslie (Mark), Sara and Tom (Tasha) and all my grandkids.

While we were there, my grandchildren presented me a scrapbook of their thoughts of their time with me as grandpa/papa. I plan to publish here excerpts from the book in order to share my wonderful relationship with my wonderful grandkids.

The following is from my granddaughter Lydia

A Letter to the Grampster from the Lidster

Debts: $20 owed – Lids to Gramps; summer 2005

Repayment: Outstanding

For years I’ve been waiting for the day I can pay you back $20 worth of cable car rides.

I’ve thought about that day – the day I could show you how far I’ve come, how much you’ve helped me grow since my high school graduation so many years ago. You would visit and I would proudly hand you those green, cardboard billets that meant a full week of exploration via cable car (those were the days – a one way ride costs $7 now!), repaying my debt on that stack of tickets lost to the streets of Union Square on a chilly San Francisco morning.

But recently I’ve been thinking of a different way to honor the extra few dollars you spent on me that day to make sure I had such a wonderful trip. I’m going to pay it forward.

One day I hope I’ll be lucky enough to have an eager Granddaughter, who can’t wait to ride a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, the promise of redwoods and miles of Pacific views on the other side (San Francisco hills be darned), who is eager to try all the food in Chinatown and a cool little diner next to the hotel. Maybe she’ll feel like she’s old enough to explore Fisherman’s Wharf alone and I’ll let her… even though I’ll text her every 20 minutes to make sure she’s ok – because after all, she can’t keep track of her cable car tickets for more than 5 minutes. I’m going to pay it forward to her.

Yes – I’m going to pay it forward, the memories of trips to the Big Apple and nightly pleas to see the sensational lights of Times Square. Memories of Broadway, dessert at 11pm and Katz’s hotdogs for breakfast. Memories of extra trips to the Hershey’s store for all the free chocolate and can there really be that many different colors of M&M’s? Maybe she’ll have her first celebrity sighting, seeing Melanie Griffith at Tavern on the Green (even though the Grampster might insist it isn’t her – the Granddaughter and Grandma always will know it was). Maybe she’ll even be so excited that when they emerge in Newark she’ll be floored, thinking this is it because she’s never been to the big city before. But then, passing through the Lincoln Tunnels she won’t believe her eyes when she sees the real thing. I bet I’ll share her pure joy as she sees it for the first time.

I’ll pay it forward, taking her cruising across the Caribbean, hopefully avoiding a seven mile beach hike of tears along the way. I’ll pay it forward making her feel loved and a part of a wonderful family, always setting aside time to spend with her on Thanksgiving and Christmas, always making sure to be there for the important things – the first communions, the birthdays, the soccer games, the graduations. And maybe most importantly, I’ll pay it forward by making sure to always take her out for ice cream, even secretly when mom says no, even if she’s a Colts fan .

I’m so lucky to have such a loving Grandfather with which to share such wonderful times. And I think I understand now – the Grampster wasn’t that mad he had to buy an extra $20 cable car pass – because $20 was easily worth it to ride those cable cars to Fisherman’s Wharf, to rent those bikes that took so much effort to get up that hill, to make it across the windswept Golden Gate Bridge, because that’s a memory the Grampster and the Lidster can cherish forever.

Biking the Golden Gate is my favorite summer activity now that I live in San Francisco – how could it not be when the first time was so great?

Love you Grandpa,

The Lidster

Note To Self

Note to Self:

  • Childhood was happy with a loving and nurturing family (even if my sisters were a pain more often than not but I loved them dearly). Then at 17, another sibling in the house as Pat came along (another set of challenges but I loved him too).
  • 2 years in the seminary helped to form my faith (later I found dragging kids to church had a similar effect).
  • High school was a period of growth with involvement in academics, athletics and drama (had plenty of the latter around my house as well).
  • Military service was also a time of development and travel (even if it was… forced)
  • Along came Sue, the love of my life, with benefits: Tracey and Leslie. Then, of course, a few years later, the twins Sara and Tom. Mistakes were made but there were more successes than failures; look at how they all turned out (still questions about Tom).
  • University study was another time of development and growth (less drama, more administrative skills that were able to be applied as a professional).
  • Professional life filled with extended family members, from University colleagues to professional colleagues in the NIRSA (and this is family I got to choose).
  • Retirement brought extended circle of friends, like golfing buddies and spouses (had to find new people to share stories with).
  • The continual visits from family, former students and friends has made being in my home even more enjoyable (and at least I’m not in a home).

You’ve had a rich and full life. While this part of the journey wasn’t chosen, it could have come at a worse time, preventing these great experiences.

I appreciate all of the thoughts and prayers, which have kept me going. It has been a life well lived.

Update:
My recent visit with the oncologist determined that the chemo is not working. No alternatives are valid either: surgery or other trial drugs. As such, we are living one day at a time and still hope and pray that is for an extended period of time. There are many things left to do, like a trip to Florida from Christmas to New Year’s with the 17 members of the family.

PRAY WITH ME

Update – I haven’t published for a few weeks. I visited with my sister Jane, brother-in-law Allen, cousins and spouses; Carol and Bud, John and Cathy, Ann Marie, Nancy and Dick, Alice, Eddie and Irwin and Linda. Also I’ve had two treatments (missed one last week) and I had my three stents replaced this past Friday. Then, I just haven’t had much energy. I’ve had some extra nerve activity in the area of my liver which makes me a little uncomfortable which makes me just want to sit in the recliner or on the sofa. I also have nerve activity in my back which is what I think is referred to as neuropathy. I have some tingling in my hands (similar to what diabetics experience) and in my back likely caused by the chemotherapy. Lest it sounds like I’m complaining, and as you’ve heard me say before, it could be worse.

Sue and I are leaving tomorrow morning for a six day trip to visit our friends the Corrington’s in College Station which I’ve heard will include an A&M football game. We’re taking a big leap of faith traveling for this long. The trip to Minnesota was shorter and I felt it for a few days after. But, it’s not like I have anything that will interfere with my “recuperation.”

So many of you continue to share your thoughts and prayers and Sue and I really appreciate it. As we said at the beginning of this journey, if we are to beat this, it will be prayer and good medicine. What I’ve used for this blog are some prayers shared by our friend Francine. They are both encouraging and spiritual.

PRAYER FOR HEALING CANCER
Heavenly Father, I come before You with a solemn heart and in need of your intersession. I pray that the cancer that has come into my life soon fades into a quick remission.
I believe in Your capacity for miracles and ask for this on my behalf.
As we grow older, I know we become closer to the day You accept us back into your kingdom.
I ask that You delay that holy union if it be Your will. In Your name I pray. Amen

PRAYER FOR TODAY
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your plan for my life today.
Help me to grow deep roots in my relationship with You.
Cause my thoughts to be Your thoughts
So that I will be strong and established.
Thank You for Your favor and blessing in my life today,
In Jesus’ name. Amen

Don’t just Pray about what seems logical and possible.
Pray Hard about the Impossible and God will show you that
Nothing, nothing is impossible with Him
Ever! Period! End of story!
Pray when you feel like worrying
Give thanks when you feel like complaining
Keep going when you feel like quitting.

Dear God, heal those with cancer. Amen

Heavenly father, may every cancerous cell be cast out and replaced with a good one
May every spot of these deadly cells be wiped out by Your powerful hands. Amen

Heavenly father, we are reaching out to You. Hear our cries.
Lord Jesus, You have stated that where two or three have gathered in Your name,
You are in their midst.
And so with You in our midst, we declare that every broken spirit is healed and restored.
Father God, thank You for healing the broken hearted,
the down-spirited, the weak, the down-trodden.

Dear God I don’t ask You to make my life easier,
but I ask You to give me strength to face all my trouble. Amen

THANK YOU LORD
For the roof over my head and a nice bed to sleep in.
There is food on my table and shoes on my feet Your loving touch is everywhere.
Forgive me if I forget my great blessings if I ever start to complain.
Only let me live each day full of praise and thanks immersed in Your grace. Amen

Thinking Back

Let me say up front that I’m writing this blog for my therapy and if it conjures up a memory or two for you, great.

Journaling has become today’s version of keeping a diary. Both men and women journal for one reason or another, but I don’t remember any boys keeping a diary. I write this because I sure wish I had kept a diary when I was in elementary or high school to refresh this old mind of “the good old days.” I still have some very fond memories but I might be able to reminisce even more.

When I first started to serve mass, it was like being in a play and I was one of the supporting actors with the priest playing the lead role. There was so much to do; put on my cassock and surplice (yes, that is what they were called), get the altar ready, light the candles, put out the linens and cruets, prepare the incense if it was to be used and have this all done in time for the start of mass. Then, there was the mass itself. Well, one mass per day did not seem to be enough so I prepared an altar at home and, when they were available, enlisted my sister Jane and my cousin Linda as servers. I used grape juice for the wine and Neccos as hosts. In today’s politically correct society, I’m sure this was all sacrilegious. Eventually, at age 13, I went to the seminary and Jane and Linda were off the hook.

As young as I can remember, we took the train from North Judson to Chicago (on the Erie Railroad) and then to Minneapolis. Someone came from Anoka (my birthplace) to pick us up to bring us to grandma and grandpa’s farm where we spent most of the summer. The train we rode from Chicago to Minneapolis was the Zephyr operated by the Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&Q). There were two Zephyrs, one headed north and one headed south. They eventually passed each other along the Mississippi River. Thus, they were called the Twin Zephyrs or the Twin Cities Zephyr. I still remember the observation car with a second level so you could see out into the distance. I also remember the Bar Car for lunch and snacks and the Dining Car with its white table cloths for breakfast and dinner. Maybe it’s time for another train ride.

When I was about four years old, my grandpa was the County Commissioner, he was still driving, and he had important meetings in town. I always wanted to go with him but he had more important things for me to do. If my mom and grandma were cleaning, he would give me a pencil and paper and ask me to keep track of who cleaned what area of the farmhouse. I dutifully said yes and when he returned, I had a page of scribbled notes. Scribbled because I was only four and had not learned to write yet. At age 11, I became my grandpa’s designated driver for those trips to town. His heart wasn’t the best and he wasn’t supposed to drive. I was tall enough to reach the pedals so he would get me in the car on the pretense that he was teaching me to drive. We would drive the roads that divided the farm fields and then take the back way to town. I learned then that all of the important meetings were taking place at Schmidt’s Tavern. I didn’t complain because Schmidt’s had the best root beer this side of A&W and I got to drive. I’m sure my mom and grandmother knew but they never let on.

Then there was eating breakfast at my grandparent’s kitchen table each morning with the Sanderson brothers. The three brothers weighed about 300 pounds each and they farmed for my grandpa. My grandma fed them each morning at about 9:00 after they had been in the field for 3+ hours. I was always sure to be at the table at 9:00 for oatmeal, eggs, potatoes, ham or pork chops and fresh biscuits. They were responsible for my poor table manners because if you didn’t reach, you might not get anything.

In the immediate area of my grandparent’s farm, there were 10 cousins and 10 “second cousins” and an assortment of neighbors so yard games never lacked participants. One game regularly played was Red Rover. In today’s high tech world, Red Rover might not be able to hold anyone’s attention. We managed to continue to crash into the opposition line of cousins as long as no one got hurt. It all seems so simple now; call out a name to be “sent over” and then prepare for them to crash into your outstretched arms. When Red Rover was over, some of us resorted to hiding in the ditch that guarded the road from town and we would jump out of the ditch and make noises and faces at the passing cars. Another low-tech activity for the day.

My Uncle John was the county sheriff and lived with my aunt and cousins in Little Falls, Minnesota. The National Guard camp, Camp Ripley, was near Little Falls. In the summer, I would visit and my cousin Eddie would cut me in on his summer job of going to Camp Ripley to sell the two Minneapolis newspapers; the Star in the morning and the News in the afternoon. In between we would shine boots for the guardsmen in camp. What a deal. It was easier to do than trapping gophers and selling their little legs for the 40-cent bounty; which I did with my other cousins. The time spent with my Uncle John always involved a lot of teasing which exposed me to what my mother had endured being six years younger than her brother John and it toughened me up for when I returned to Indiana.

My grandpa had a Model T Ford that mostly took up space in the machine shed. One year he gave it or sold it to my dad and mom. We got to drive it back to Indiana, about 600 miles. That same year we took a drop leaf desk/dresser home with us. The desk fit in the back seat so my sister Jane could lay on the drop leaf and I could sit next to her. I remember the dresser drawers were packed like a suitcase. Well, as you can imagine, we didn’t go very fast. Also, it is very hilly between Minnesota and Indiana so going up the hills was a struggle. But for the two of us in the back seat, going down the hills was like being on a roller coaster.

As I said, writing this was therapeutic for me. Thanks for bearing with me.

Update – I’ve had six treatments without any issues. I’m off this week so I’m going to Minnesota to visit my sister Jane and brother-in-law Allen. Who knows, I may find a Model T to drive back. I’m sure it would be without Sue.

It Not Easy to Take a Stand or Get Involved

Lately we’ve heard the expression, “See something, say something.” Many wrongdoings could be avoided, stopped or the perpetrator could be caught if just one person stepped up and reported what they saw. With the various forms of anonymous reporting venues such as Crime Stoppers, retaliation by the person committing the act, has nearly been eliminated.

Opportunities for us to take a stand are not limited to the commitment of a crime. There are any number of times each day that someone says something which we know to be wrong but it is easier to “let it go.” Responding in these situations would likely not be anonymous so responding is much more difficult because it makes us uncomfortable and may seem confrontational. Not responding may give the impression of agreement. If you do agree, say so or say nothing, they may both have the same result.

Let me interject here that my writing today may seem a little preachy, holier than thou-like or that I think I’m the king of Political Correctness. My actions sometimes (maybe often) would suggest that my being preachy fits the expression, “Do what I say not what I do.” I often fail at taking a stand because I’m not sure that I can handle the possible confrontation. I put this out there as food for thought.

Recently, some politicians have ignored attacks on President Obama while others have made negative, some unfounded, statements of their own against their opponents. I sit back and think about how often we show so little respect for those with whom we disagree. Years ago I used an expression with my Ethics in Sport seminar where we did a lot of choosing up sides and debating topics; Honesty in Debate. Since generally during a debate or something that more resembles an argument, there are no fact checkers. If we enter the fray with false or misleading information, we are not respecting the process. If we don’t respect the process than we are showing little respect for our “opponent” and more important ourselves.

One of the more confrontational examples is when someone tells a joke that is racially insensitive, gender biased (also insensitive), is negatively pointed toward someone’s religion or their sexual orientation. There are other categories but these cover many of the so-called jokes. What we do when someone says have you heard the one about the (fill in with race, religion, blonde or gay person to name a few possibilities) give a good indication where we are on the take-a-stand scale. We can say no, listen and laugh, say no and not laugh, say yes to keep them from telling it, or say no followed by and I don’t think I want to hear it. If you are at this end of the scale, be prepared for having an uncomfortable moment.

Having said all of this, we don’t want to respond to any of these situations in a way to add to any volatility that might be present. Be tactful.

Tidbits – I searched for a few gems to illustrate taking a stand. I found a few of them in Richard Frisbee’s Daily Meditation (with Scripture) for Busy Grandpas. I hope they are illustrative.

Observing how seldom whistle-blowers in government or industry get anything but grief for their integrity, one is reminded of the early Christian martyrs. Tradition depicts them standing up to the lions. Grandpas usually try to avoid painful situations. But it’s good to know that there are still people whose inner selves are beyond the reach of predators.

A sign is posted at the entrances to Bloomington, Illinois, says Not in Our Town – No Racism. Putting up a sign doesn’t make it so, but it’s not a bad thing to establish a climate that declares racism out of bounds.

A great deal is owed to the many people who hid their Jewish friends from the Nazis at great risk to themselves and their families.

On Rikers Island, where New York operates the world’s largest prison, the city spends seventy thousand dollars a year to lock up each juvenile. That’s nearly ten times the budget for each child in the city’s public school system. Some of the prisoners no doubt need to be locked up to protect society . But doesn’t it seem that if some qualified grandfather took charge of, say, three of these kids and was given over two hundred thousand a year to spend, something better could be done?

Small boy extorts a toy from his younger sister. She pinches him. Daddy observes the pinch but not the theft, so he scolds her. Grandpa, who has seen it all, wonders which course to take. Should he risk acquiring a reputation as a snitch? Or should he take a stand for justice. Nobody promised grandfathering would be simple.

Update

I’ve had five consecutive treatments as of last Wednesday. Yea! Still no serious side effects; an edgy stomach once in awhile, still not eating as much as I should and light headed if I don’t stay hydrated. We’re going to Minnesota to visit my sister Jane and brother-in-law Allen in two weeks during my week off.

Thoughtful, Heartfelt Prayer

The concept of prayer has been in my thoughts a lot lately because it has been a very important part of my cancer journey. That includes my prayers and the prayers of those of you who have been praying for Sue and me. I imagine that there are almost as many ways of praying as there are people praying. This thought process has led me to examine the spirit with which I pray.

I’ve gone from more ritualistic prayer to more prayer from the heart. I think of it as more of a conversation where I say what I have to say and imagine God’s side of the dialog. In “The Purpose Driven Life,” Rick Warren references authentic prayer or worship. He reminds us that Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart and soul; with all of your mind and strength.” Only thoughtful, heartfelt prayer fulfills this command.

In my conversations with God, I’ve tried to focus on making these conversations thoughtful. I find myself looking forward to the next opportunity to give thanks, ask for God’s intercession, remember people on my prayer list or simply to receive the peace of mind that a conversation with God can bring. As our son Thomas wrote in the blog Welcome, “With the combination of God’s grace and good medicine, the future is bright.” I pray for that for sure.

My friend, Cheryl Orkis, sent me a card with a cute story involving prayer.

It seems that the church service had started and everyone’s attention was turned toward the Pastor as he delivered the words of his sermon. Because the church had no nursery, one couple had the privilege of having their active 3-year-old daughter sitting in the pew with them.

She had been appropriately instructed to be quiet, but after many admonishments, her father found it necessary to take her outside for a little conference. This was not here first trip outside with Daddy, and she understood the significance. She also understood the significance of prayer!

For as her dad picked her up and was walking down the aisle to the back of the church, she reached over his shoulders with her arms outstretched to the congregation and the Pastor, and proceeded to call out to all who would listed: “Y’ALL PRAY FOR ME!”

Update – This was my week off and all is well. Tomorrow we leave for Pittsburgh to attend our granddaughter’s wedding. We are looking forward to a safe trip and joyous weekend. I have an Oncologist visit and infusion scheduled for next Wednesday and a stent procedure scheduled for next Thursday. Keep up the good prayers!

Don’t Give Up

There are numerous poems and other writings that seem so appropriate when you are facing a daunting task and one which surfaces thoughts of doubt. They come under the titles such as Don’t Quit and Don’t Give up.

I selected one from my favorite writer, Edgar Guest.

Don’t Give Up
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow,

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you can never tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

I’m not quitting.

My first thoughts of having doubts but not being willing to give up had to do with baseball.

My favorite sport was baseball. We played it from sun up to sun down on Saturdays on the field next to the high school, in my cousin David’s yard (wiffleball) or in my yard with a rubber ball (that cost 25 cents). The reason I remember the cost is that we had to replace at least one per Saturday after someone hit the first one into the (nameless) neighbor’s garden. The pain of trying to retrieve it was too great. If, when we played in my yard, we were short players, we recruited another neighbor, Alma Jean Davis, to be the designated pitcher. She had the best arm and was the only one willing to do it.

Now the pertinent part of the story. We also had organized little league that played our games on the field next to the high school. Just past right field was a stone gazebo with a tile roof. We often hung out there until the coaches came with the equipment. I was almost the first one there and if it was raining, the only one there.

I would gather my glove and bat at home, raining or not, and make the four block walk to the field. When it was raining, my mother would say, “You know there won’t be a game today.” I’d answer, in my most respectful manner, “You don’t know that for sure.” There was a four-way stop within yards of the gazebo. In fact my cousin David, who batted left-handed, nailed more than a few cars driving through the intersection. Well, while I was standing in the gazebo, rain coming down all around, cars would go by and when they reached their home, any number of them would call my mother and ask, “What’s Jeffery doing in the gazebo? Can’t he see the rain isn’t going to quit? And if it does, the field will be too wet to play.” She’d answer, “I tried to tell him that.” I was either not very bright (quite possible), stubborn or simply didn’t want to give up on a chance to play baseball. I’d like to think it was the latter. I think that was the beginning of my looking for a silver lining in every cloud, even rain clouds.

Update – Well, today, for the first time I had treatment number three in the cycle of three. It was a great birthday present. I’m off next week and meet with my Oncologist, Dr. Loehrer, on the 16th and start the next treatment cycle that morning. I’m often asked if I have any idea how the treatments are going. I have no idea but with great medicine and everyone’s prayers, I can only hope for the best. If I have any doubt about the power of prayer, I need only to remember that God is the only reason I’ve made it this far.

Stay Strong and keep on keepin’ on with your thoughts and prayers!