The photo that you see is a tree that came crashing down, falling across our river, hours after I had been sitting where you see my camp chair. It sums up how the last four months have been going for us!! The hits just keep coming!!
First, Jamie, our daughter broke her leg in 6 places the day before her 40th birthday. One short month later, she and her 23 week old unborn daughther unexpectedly passed away.
At the time, I was well into my yearly cancer and orthopedic follow-ups.
Cancer?? Ten years since my colon cancer diagnosis. While there is still a 'mysterious' mass lurking in my transverse colon, the doctors are in the midst of watching and re-staging the cancer. The good news?? TEN YEARS!!
Orthopedic? The back, neck and leg bionics checked out. Unfortunately, the plate and 10 screws R upper arm hardware was failing. The "plan" was to remove the hardware, and replace them with a "reverse" total shoulder replacement.
ME? Have a surgery go NORMAL?! NOT! First, there was no deltoid muscle to be found. Solution? Plan B: put in a "old-fashioned" total shoulder replacement with a lonnng arm. What was to be an hour and a half surgery ended up to be five. ..and a lot of blood loss. Onto the next plan...
Plan C: Take me to Jiffy Lube and give me a couple pints of blood. Easy-peasey, right? NOT!! I had a reaction that won me a ticket to full cardiac work-up, CT and MRI. The doctors thought I might have suffered a stroke or seizure. We STILL don't know "what" happened. BUT!! If my orthopedist had NOT ordered the MRI, they would NOT have found my new "brain buddy" (tumor) who has taken up residence at the base of my skull over the occipital-parietal region. Enter another new plan.
Plan D: I will have a craniotomy/ open brain surgery on November 8. The neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists (my NEW friends!!) agree that since we don't know "what" the tumor is (a metastasis from cancer or a meningioma and if "it" is benign or malignant), it is too large for just Cyber-Knife radiation.
Plan E? I think we call that "Entering the world of unknowns." No idea how long the surgery will be. No idea how long I will be in the hospital. Or if I'll need rehab. No idea of side effects (possible visual loss in right sides of both eyes? More neuropathy? Flare-up due to swelling of brain and symptoms from first brain surgery in 2001 show up (speech/balance/memory problems) or MAYBE NOTHING!!
Just wanted to let you know I'm still here - but if I don't blog for awhile, you'll know what I'm up to and I'll see you here, there or In the Air! Thanks for your continued love, prayers and support!
OH!! I almost forgot!! I finished the manuscript FINALLY! It's at my editor's as I type, so prayerfully you will see Don't Wimp Out! Finding Faith, Courage and Victory in Life's Daily Battles in print in 2020!! Stay tuned!!
I have a friend, Cayman, who is in his twenties. He is a wonderful young man, with contagious joy and the gifts of compassion, mercy and helps. The picture he drew for me says all I needed to hear - especially the day it arrived. He drew it after seeing a photo of Jamie from the program at her Celebraion of Life. He caught the very essence of Jamie. I am so grateful for the abilities God blessed Cayman, including autism, and that he uses them. . .
For those of you who have not heard, I am sorry to have to share this via a post. Thanks to all of you who sowed so much into not only Jamie's life, but into Jeff, Scott, Samantha and our lives these past short 40 years.
Jamie Marie (Tuk) Casey, 40, and unborn baby girl, passed away at their Chugiak, Alaska, home on Monday morning, June 24, 2019, as a result of a heart attack. She was born on May 25, 1979, in Enumclaw, Wash., to Bill and Care Tuk. She married her soul mate, Jeff Casey, on Nov. 9, 2013. Jeff and Jamie have two children, Scott (4) and Samantha (2). Jamie's favorite part of life was being a devoted loving wife and mother.
Full of compassion for the outdoors, hiking, gardening, reading and football, she lived her life to the fullest. Her talent for cooking showed with Jeff's pant size. She loved going on adventures and taking pictures of her children. Jamie spent summers living out of their camper close to Jeff's work to keep her family together and their marriage strong. Those who knew Jamie knew she was truly remarkable; beautiful, quiet, kind, gentle, talented, giving and loving, she touched many lives. She was a caring daughter to her parents, that helped inspire her joys in life, and a sister that adored her little brother.
Jamie graduated with honors from Riverside High School in Chattaroy, Wash., attending Spokane Community College and UAA. She worked at Family Pharmacy and Fred Meyers and Carrs Pharmacy in Alaska before becoming a mom, choosing to spend her time at home with greatest loves.
Jamie is survived by her husband, Jeff; and children, Scott and Samantha; her parents, Bill and Care Tuk of Wasilla, Alaska; brother, Timothy Tuk of Wasilla; and Wrigley, her dog; as well as numerous, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and many dear friends. She was predeceased by her grandparents, Bill and Yvonne Tuk and Bob and Betty Dressel.
In lieu of gifts or flowers, a donation can be made to the family to be put into a fund for Scott and Samantha. Celebration of Life was held Monday, July 1, 2019.
“To do or not to do” – I’m sure you’ve heard that saying a time or ten in your life. But did you LISTEN? I mean really listen…not just 'hear.'
To do or not to do requires a decision, action on your part.
As I was prompted to several days of steeping in God’s Word this week. It wasn’t my plan, but I'm glad I not only heard, but I was willing to be still and listen. I was also prompted to praying in the Spirit – I had no idea “what” I was praying, or for whom. By the weeks end, no less than ten people had contacted me with prayer requests, needs, but mostly, to stand in the gap for them as they were facing critical mass warfare.
As I spent those days, at first I was annoyed. I had wanted to get finished up on my second edit for Don’t Wimp Out – Finding Faith, Courage and Victory in Life’s Daily Battles. I have been getting impatient as every time I get close to finishing up, I get knocked on my keister. First the post-chemo complication of having my small intestines wad into a knot, requiring surgery. Recovering included getting all the way to Heaven’s Gates (for the 3rd time) only to have CPR bring me back. Then it was a re-staging of my 14th separate battle with cancer. Most recently, it was a two month battle with pneumonia.
As I have been forced to be “set aside,” I have had hours to look “Up.” God reminded me that sometimes He puts us on our back so we will look ‘Up.’ Having a hoarse voice or no voice at all, and zilch energy, I was a captive audience and truly listened to Him, and looked Upward.
God whispered the same 4 words He has been saying to me since 1985 (Obviously, I am a SLOW learner!): Trust, Obey, Rest, Wait. (Trust: Totally Rely Upon the Savior’s Timing; Obey: Openly Believe the Eternal Yaweh; Rest: Relinquish EVERY thing, Submit Totally; Wait: Willingly And Intentionally Trust….which brings it back full circle to “trust.” (OK, so I’m a dyslexic disciple, too, getting things backwards) He’s tells me to go Right and I meander more to the left, until He hollers: “CARE!! The OTHER left! (meaning get back to the “Right” side!)
As I reflected on each of these words, and watched and listened to the news, and watched God’s Church, I realized how blessed I am to have a non-existent immune system where I can’t be in “public.” I am in a season of being ‘set aside.” It has given me eyes to see how the Church has become complacent. Not just denominations or buildings or race, but His Body. The Church focuses on how many likes they have on their Facebook Page, or how many followers on Twitter; they count numbers of bodies that fill the seats as they “entertain” instead of delving into His word – our Life’s Road Map. Moral failures and sin abound because the Church in America is ‘listening’ but not HEARING; they are ‘looking’ but not “SEEING.”
Our only “Like” should be to God. Our only numbers of followers should be the ones we are bringing to Him, and showing them what a REAL RELATIONSHIP is, not a social media site or gaming site with someone you can’t see or talk to face to face, or go to church for a Sunday performance.
Everyone is bickering and grousing, gazing down at their phones, texting, talking to Siri instead of to God. Their GPS (God’s Personal Sign – to something bigger than themselves) is totally out of kilter and they wonder why they constantly feel “lost.”
I believe, what God was showing me in multiple ways, at multiple times, through multitudes of people and their situations and actions/inaction is – “If My people will not take a stand up for what is good, right and REAL, then they will stand up for nothing.”
I don’t want to get to Heaven’s gates and have God say to me: “Why do you call me Lord, Lord? You have been lukewarm. I don't know who you are.”
Will you stand up against the throngs of today’s worldly culture that shows no respect, values life little, and who does not have a personal relationship with God where God's Heart is their Home?
I hope not.
It’s no secret that I’ve been “set aside.”
At first, I chaffed. I complained. I whined. It didn’t take long to realize tantrums don’t result in answers other than letting pent up feelings blow out like the steam of a pressure cooker.
But being “set aside” has had more blessings than any basket could ever hold. And maybe, just maybe, it took “setting me aside” was the point – to come to the end of myself.
Someone recently asked me: “What is the meaning of Life?” I paused, and thought real hard. My friend’s answer was spot on: “The meaning of Life is LIVING a life full of meaning .”
And then we found this rock at Care's Corner.....what do YOU see?
YOUR life has meaning…are you living it?
As I look from our front window, the seasons of change are evident. Piles of dirty snow sti;; cover most of the the ground, a driveway of glare ice is painstakingly slow as it changes to the Spring Break-Up look of mud, muck, hidden slippery ice and huge dagger like icicles flying off the gutters. I think I may have seen my first bit of green today on ground that had been snow-plowed bare.
It is easy to grouse and complain of the mud tracked through the house from boots not taken off, or an array of “tweener-season” clothes that are dropped by the front door. Does one wear boots? Cleats? Snow bibs? Thermal bibs or walk about in jeans and a hoodie? Wait five minutes and the answer will change.
We are gaining 6+ minutes of light per day, and our bodies getting used to Daylight Savings Time. My ol' bones adjust to losing an hour of sleep. Sigh… my daughter reminds me sleep is far over-rated. Besides, that’s what happens when we die, right? Rumor has it we get to catch up on sleep! (But I've not had confirmation on that, yet!)
Seriously, though, in the middle of my grousing about mud, muck and roller coaster temperatures, I received a Kingdom Keister Kick. Was I going to continue to complain and nag to/about those around me about the mess and the lingering boomerang bug/flu we’ve been hit with (for the 3rd time, thank you) or was I going to kneel – and say a prayer of thanks that we had made it through another wild Alaskan winter, say a prayer grateful for more daylight, and the return of many birds who had flown south (wisely) for the winter? Will I make myself pleasant to be around as I focus on the good things surrounding me – my family, my friends, a warm wood stove and new opportunities as Bill begins his last season of a long, hard, yet rewarding working career?
The choice is totally mine. What about you? Will you NAG or KNEEL?
Every have one of “those” days? You know, the days when the phone rings incessantly, appointments have to be changed, your desk is under mounds of papers (at least I think it is!) and all you want to do is go play outside in the sun and snow?
These are the days that I consciously STOP. Literally... STOP.
I take a breath (or three). Then I go to the place where I know I can find peace. It’s my special quiet place where I meet with the One who laughs with me (and at me some times, I’m sure!) who listens to me, who encourages me.
In fact, I just got back from there – and this is what He reminded me:
3. Remember My care is for all that concerns you. Don’t forget that I created nature to refresh you – so be faithful to get out and breathe in all that I have created. Sing! SING LOUD!
4. Don’t go throwing yourself onto or into the scrap heap.
5. Have patience: Why? Because I choose the strong and willing who will be pounded, hammered, challenged, tuned up by turning screws tight until just the right music emanates through you, showing the world how much you are willing to love and honor Me, not the stuff in the scrap heap!
Ahhh... I'm sure glad I took a "time-out"!
As I opened the window blinds in the bedroom, there she stood, munching away, trimming one of our hedges. I commented to my husband, “Yep! Must be getting to that part of the year! Mama Moose methodically continued chomping down her breakfast. Her yearling calf was on the other side of our house, directly beneath one of the kitchen windows, before joining mom for breakfast around our place. The two of them gave “Bed and Breakfast accommodations” a whole new meaning!
In the last twenty-four hours we have had a huge temperature swing. It went from minus 24 to plus 34 degrees F. The warm-up, forecasted to stay in the teens to low thirties, is a welcome change from below zero temperatures as a high. I think the moose thought so, too, as they slowly meandered from one hedge to another. We have been worried about the moose lately with the extreme cold weather (even by Alaska’s standards). Over a foot of snow covers the ground and snow/ice pack the main roadways. With limited hours of light (sunrise was at 10am and sunset at 4:30pm today – a gain of almost 5 minutes of light!) moose kill increases as they search for food. Searching on paths of least resistance, they tend to walk the railroad tracks or on the sides of snow-plowed roads and driveways, making them a hazard for cars, drivers and the moose. We don’t mind their trimming our hedges – it saves us the work come Spring, plus the pruning will bring out more prolific vegetation and greenery!
Watching Mama trim our hedge, it reminded me of one of my devotional readings this week. It was the lesson of “the hedge.” Often we think of a hedge as an object put up for protection - something to keep us away from harm, even if it has thorns or something sharp and is painful, when we lean up into/against the hedge’s foliage.
As I thought about it, while yes, a hedge is for protection, it can hurt or painful. Protection comes as we are ‘hedged in’ during various trials or tough times that we are facing. God and His garrisons and legions of angels encamp around us, 24/7, and uses protection THROUGH the trials, the thorny situations, to teach us patience, endurance, coping, even peace. And while we may feel the pain, God never lets us go through any more than we can handle.
So will we allow God to put a hedge of protection around us, even though at times it might mean experiencing hurtful sorrow or pain?
How can we not as He wore a crown of thorns for us?
The hours of light grow longer for us in the North, as sure as Seasons are made for change. The events of another year have filled us, grown us, changed us and even shaped us. The weeks and months continued to make us into the ‘us’ we are, and will continuing to BE.
In each day’s little (or big) happenings, we have pressed on, doing our best to live in the moment. Some days have been easier than others, yet if we look close, there are nuggets of golden memories in each day we had life to breathe.
I had no idea what the word LEAN IN” (my ‘word’ for 2018) would mean. I’m not sure I can adequately express the significance these two words held for me, other than it was the right word for the paths I would travel.
Uncertainty fills the air as I enter into the next year – from retirement of being an occupational therapist, looking towards Bill’s retirement from his life work of construction of every shape size and color, to continued adventures at the end of our hand being “medical missionaries.”
So it seems appropriate as I pondered and prayed for my 2019 “Word of the Year” that
CONTENT would bubble to the top and burst to the top of the list. Whatever crosses my path, wherever the journey will take, I purpose to be CONTENT…and with that word comes much Peace.
Thank you for journeying with me through 2018. Hopefully THIS is the year that my second book, Don’t Wimp Out will find it in the hands of the publisher – its close!
May you find your special word to bring you peace, purpose and passion in 2019.
thaYep - Alaska is no place for wimps. Just ask any of the several thousand people in Alaska who have lived with 684 earthquakes in the last 24 hours......That makes it probably well over 800 since the 7.2 that you may have seen on TV, that hit at 0830.
One of the infamous photos is of a road buckling. That road is a main feeder roads where we live. My daughter ventured out today and for your information, she says the sink hold they show on all the news clips don't compare OR prepare you when you drive by it.
One of my favorite hoodies has the saying above: Alaska: Just North of Normal.
Where else if the airport, seaport and trains grind to a halt do you realize you will only have 3 days of groceries available, as it come by land, sea or air. If the roads are buckling.....oh well!
But we are resilient, we are hearty, we are kind, and we help each other. We are blessed to have no earthquake related deaths recorded yet, and only 3 fires (from broken gas line). Yes, it's in the 20's, yes, it's snowing off and on, yes, there are millions of dollars of damage, and yes, our nerves are shot with aftershocks. Structural damage, road damage is everywhere and kids are delighted there will be no school for at least next Wednesday.
But like you - we rely on Faith, Family, Friends and FUN......after all - a lower 48 news caster reported our "salami' evacuation order was cancelled. We were SO relieved, as we didn't have crackers in the cupboard! (It was supposed to be tsunami!!)
Thanks for the out-pouring of concern, texts and emails. We are fine - nothing a vacuum cleaner and broom and elbow grease won't clean up.....when it stops shaking! Stay tuned!!
Care Tuk is a nationally known speaker, educator, and retreat/workshop leader. She has been a school, hospital, and home health occupational therapist for more than 30 years. She has been named as a Top Business Woman in America and recognized for her work with youth, disability outreach and awareness, and the American Cancer Society.