For those of you who have hung around and with me over the years, you know that I have a collection of what a friend calls “Careisms.” Careisms are comments that I use enough times in my vocabulary they’ve stuck - much like an octopus’ tentacles!
“That’s the way the pickle squirts” or “Did you take your B3 today? (Bible Before Breakfast) are couple Careisms. I’ve been asked if I have a favorite one. It truly is a hard question. Yet, after today, after our family Thanksgiving get-together at our place, I can definitely say “Blessings and s’mores” rates at the top.
I am so blessed to have a husband who has stuck with me through thick and thin, and is a real homegrown chef. He inaugurated his new BBQ today. We were treated to slow-cook/crock-pot short ribs, ribs over gas heat and/or ribs over propane/gas. I’m sure not going to be the one to say which was best – they were each stellar! He added his touch to a “homegrown” mea. His fresh high bush cranberry sauce, relish dip for the raw veggie tray, Ezekiel 4:9 bread mushroom/spinach stuffing with his homegrown seasonings (no boxes here!) and the munchies of artichoke/spinach hummus and meat and crackers tray the kids brought, we were more than sufficiently blessed!
Bill shares his love for cooking with our equally talented daughter. Her green bean casserole and pot of brown beans platter added to the bounty. And THENNN, a slice of Heaven was served. With her award winning gift of making stellar cheesecakes, I have a new favorite after today. She made Bailey’s and Oreo cheesecake cupcakes. Who could resist these blessings?
A second heap of blessings were the real life examples of the saying “If I knew grandkids would be so great, we would have had them first!” Scott and Samantha filled our hearts equally to overflowing as our tummies were. Samantha is like her mama. She loves her olives, especially if they are on her fingers! It wouldn’t be a holiday or birthday if we didn’t have olives, and if either of the Moms forget to throw them in the basket, stocking or have on the table, “uh-oh” are we in trouble!
Blessings, Blessings, Blessings!
Samantha literally ran circles around me in a game of “run around Nana” – after 30 circles we thought for sure she would crash in dizziness, but nope!! Round and round she went.
Scott and Nana stayed out of the way (mostly), playing with my Goofy bowling set, the annoying noise making Goofy crayon, working on matching and hidden picture games, finishing off making snowflakes and considerable (“Nana….go faster!) time on a mask. It’s sure a good thing my long-term memory is intact!
We always look forward when the kids are able come to our place. It’s a blessing we don’t take lightly, with their busy schedules, work and parenting. I realized I hadn’t seen Tim since his foot surgery on November 6th. I was a bit taken back with his neon pink cast/splint! He assured me it wasn’t his choice, but has found the neon pink is bright enough that people tend to steer clear of it, which he truly appreciates!
S’mores? That comes in because we used to say “love you more” to each other. It soon slid into s’mores. I confess, in the fall/winter I start going through withdrawal of campfire s’mores and I make microwaved s’mores. Samantha agrees with me that chocolate should be at the top of food pyramid! This summer Bill’s built a huge s’mores fire pit, complete with benches and chairs crafted from slab-wood. When we watch the kids for an afternoon/evening, we usually have pizza. Who knew the last time, we’d also had a s’mores pizza for dessert!
Need I say more? We know we are blessed. We don’t need a special day to celebrate Thanksgiving. For, in our family, Thanksgiving is every day. So are Christmas and birthdays. We daily take the time to be grateful, to give thanks, whether on the phone, in text, or in person. As a family, we know all too well, there are no ‘guarantees in life.
Our Careisms of “No Regrets” and “Take one day at a time” because “Any one of us could get hit by a moose tomorrow” are familiar in our family. We hope they will be for you, too!
Thanks for being OUR “Blessings and S’mores!”
The Alaska summer/fall season (aka: construction and tourist season) is quickly coming to a close. In reality, at times it’s hard to discern “what” season we are experiencing – unless we looked at the calendar. (Or if you believe in the tooth fairy.)
Cool temperatures and rain were the hallmark of our “summer”. Potatoes, beets, turnips, carrots and berries grew prolifically. Everything else either didn’t grow, or rotted…..except the peas. The moose got the peas days before we had hoped to pick them. Oh well, at least we know our moose are truly ‘organically’ fed. The rains continued into September, with sparse sprinkles of 60-70 degree weather – enough to rid ourselves of our winter white palor. (Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!!) In Alaska, because we are so close to the sun in the summer, you can sit outside for only 15 minutes and get a tan or if you forget your SPF, a nice red glow. The cool temperatures brought out the mega-mosquitoes. The aroma around town was “Ode to Deet” with an added tropical scent (your SPF sunscreen!)
While Fall typically lasts about two, maybe three weeks of splendorous colors , with reds, oranges, fireweed feathers and berries. This year, the colors did not stay the typical two weeks. Neither did the temperatures. All the way through the last week of October we had shorts/t-shirt weather of 50’s, with nighttime temperatures in the forties. Uncanny! We had the brilliant colors, but with the warm temperatures, they quickly turned to brown, and blew away on the evening winds.
Now, if you believe in the tooth fairy, you will believe our weather forecasters. This past Sunday we heard we ‘might’ get one to three inches of snow, We chuckled. SUUURE! After all, it had been in the 50’s all week breaking state weather records daily. Snow? No way!
Imagine our shock when we woke up: six inches of the white stuff, and still coming down hard - all day. The weather forecasters were right? A funky little system stalled over a small part of Anchorage, Palmer and Wasilla. Yet, 15 minutes from our house, nary more than a dusting of snow. (Whew! It is the last week to get a road job finished up Bill was working on!) Now that the snow has stopped, we delight in the return of diamonds glistening as the sun sparkles on the snow bedazzled atop the the once again bare birch limbs.
But MINUS THREE DEGREES? How could one forget what that is like? Our truck would not start. My post-chemo neuropathy flared big time. I drug out the hand-warmers. Three layers of clothes and snow pants and parka were under the Halloween costumes
I have been sleeping in the living room recliner for several weeks, due to the re-staging of my colon cancer attempting a come-back, nine years later. I've felt devastated. I feel sucker-punched. Going through all the tests and exploratory procedures set me physically, nutritionally, emotionally and even spiritually back. Especially as I was getting back to the final home stretch on Book 2: Don’t Wimp Out.
To make matters worse, (yet in a weird possible way) a tooth damaged from chemotherapy that was to be pulled almost 2 years ago was becoming infected, necessitating oral surgery. As the doctors said, “your “normal” (which is far from normal) was and is being very abnormal.”
My medical team’s prescription seemed like a cruel joke. “We want you to do NOTHING.”
What exactly is “nothing?” No talking (due to the oral surgery). No chewing. No talking. (Say whaat?!) I am to be in essential ‘medical quarantine’ at home, only around family. One doctor told me I am so medically fragile, it might do well to get my affairs organized (again).
Even eating/drinking what I could over the last nine months, I have lost over fifty pound – prompting me to remind myself and others: “Be careful what you pray for: you just might get it – like losing some weight, or some time to do “nothing”…..
Why am I sharing all this? First, is many people have been texting/emailing/calling asking have I disappeared. Au contraire – just working on my favorite Yoda quote: “Do it or don’t. There is no try about it.”
Doing nothing is hard work. Temptations are everywhere I turn. Yet, so are many other opportunities. I have time to be still. I have extra time to truly know what it is to learn how to ‘pray without ceasing’. And, while the neurological connections from brain to heart to hand are impacted, I know that the word of encouragement and admonishment that God has given me is spot on. That word? YIELD.
YIELD. Yield my time line. Yield my will. Yield to the moment and no more. Yield to look at the wonder around me. And take advantage of the time to “do nothing!”
What word is God sharing with you today? I’d love to hear!
We usually tell you that "no news is good news".....we think we are going to change that to "OUR 'normal' is so ABNORMAL!"
This is a statement we have recently heard from physicians, friends and family to boot. Our 'normal' summer was a hodge-podge mix of highs to 80, 2 floods/high water (and remodelling of our property AGAIN) and a bit of everything in between. My body once again stymied physicians, and not in a good way.
In the midst of our "you-can't-make-this-stuff-up" days, Bill found himself getting flown by a Coast Guard Search and Rescue heliocopter into the village of Nuisit (west of Prudoe Bay on the oilfields), His expertise and knowledge was called upon to come up with an emergency plan (and supervise its implementation) to re-open Nuitsit's washed out airport runway. It was even more urgent as the village had about 350 additional NON-residents of the village stranded as they had been attending the 45th anniversary celebration of the village, The Coast Guard helicopter was used to bring in emergency food and shelter supplies. Weather hampered some of the work (and delayed Bill getting home) but we are proud to say his plan worked and pilots praised him for his idea and implementation.
While he was away, we were experiencing high water/floods. I was certainly glad Tim had gotten home a week early from working the summer in the village of Nak-nek/King Salmon, doing lab work. He took over for Bill, overseeing everything from power outages, roads flooding, vet duties as poor Bubba (our brindle Mastiff/Rhodesian Ridgeback) got a tooth abcess that required surgery and chauffering me.
They say when it rains it pours - I was just glad that when we had smoke there was no fire.
I wrote the following the other night. it explains a bit of where we are at the moment. We are still working to wrap our heads around what it all means, but for now it will be as always: one day at a time, hitting life head on, with our heads held high. Book 2 (Don't Wimp Out!) is back from the editor, and as soon as I get my feet back under myself, I will get back to work on it. Sorry - "LIFE" got in the way to be able to have out for the holidays!!
Thanks for hanging in with us and for your support.
Sleep eludes my exhausted and pain weary body.
Feeling as though I have hit my lowest of low points,
I am empty and void of feeling,
I roll out of the warmth my bed and wander the house, hoping to discover some magical remedy that would allow me some semblance of restful sleep, if even for an hour.
Recent weeks have been filled with disappointments, at times even despair.
My heart is heavy laden.
Friends do their best to fill voids with cheery sentiments and well wishes.
You want them to just go away. How can they relate to that which they’ve not known?
The floods of summer rains tore majestic trees from their firm roots, depositing them on mounds of gravel that were non-existent one short week ago. Unusually early warm winds swept away the bright Fall yellows and reds of birch and willow trees. In their place are left bare limbs with piles of brown dry leaves in their stead. While the thermometer states it is an unseasonable temperature, more like a warm summer day, my chilled body shivers uncontrollably.
Wearily, I continue to wander in the stillness of the midnight hour, in the quiet of the house. I hope to not awaken Bill, sleeping soundly after laboring long hard hours, additionally performing my tasks as well. My days are relegated to prescribed rest, hoping to win another battle with my nemesis of physical foes. The constant companion of unrelenting pain plagues me with the guilt of having to let others take over, my depleted frame not able to achieve even the simplest of tasks. Relinquishing and humility are not easy.
I gaze outside one last time before returning to the bed that beckons. As I look to the heavens, I unexpectedly realize that the daylight hours have become shorter, and we are able once again to see the majestic Big Dipper, the Alaska State flag, with its tip pointing directly to true North.
As if on cue, a grand spectacle unfolds. First, twinkling stars appear. I focus my gaze at the black and bold outline of the mountains we live beneath. A white shadow comes into view over the very tops of the bold black mountain tops. Suddenly, with no fanfare, no warning, the white shadow turns into dancing reds, purples, greens and yellows. The colors shape-shift as they cascade running the length of the mountain range. Great spires of color reach higher and higher, scampering quickly, then fade.
In the stillness of the night, when I thought I had hit my lowest point, when sleep eluded my weary frame, the utmost of His highest handiwork fills my soul deep within. So like God, to know what you need, when you need it the most.
So like God to be in the details. One hundred percent of the time.
For those of you who know me, or have been following my blog or see me ‘occasionally’ on Facebook, you know that I don’t believe in “coincidences”- I call them ‘Godcidences!’
Furthermore, for those who know me, know people often ask: “Is there anyone you don’t know?” My reply is always the same: “Nope! Only the people I haven’t met/talked to yet!” (Some people say I should have a title of networking facilitator. "No, I SAY, "that's GOD’s job!”)
The last couple weeks have been like that for me. I can only chalk it up to Godcidences, and I want to challenge you to look for them in your life, too! You’ll be surprised that when all is said and done, the chanceS are 100% you are supposed to be connected with ‘whomever’ when they waltz into your life.
I’d like to share some of the amazing ‘connections’ that have waltzed into my life recently. Take some time at look at their websites/blogs and pass the information along – you won’t be disappointed you did!!
Don't hold your breath, but........Don't Wimp Out! has been sent to the editor! The hopeful release date will be Fall 2018 through Westbow/Zondervan/Thomas Nelson, and will be available not just on Amazon/Kindle, but bookstores like Barnes/Noble and more!
Even though it has been delayed a year, there are never any 'wrong turns, only unexpected paths" - a phrase I have come to embrace through this really bumpy year. But, then again, when hasn't our life been a bit bumpy, or like a roller coaster?
I have a bit of a breather til the first of June, then my final edits, and off to the publisher for all they will do.
Every single one of you have had a special part in this project - through your love, support, your tenacious prayers, your friendship, your keeping up with calls/letters/emails and s'mores. You will know how much of you is in the book, and how it is a true labor of love. (Even though Bill says if I decide to write another book, he's going to take a job on the Slope and work 6 weeks on, one week off, and he'll offer to work the one week off as a volunteer! HEY: It (or is it ME?!) hasn't been THAT bad!! Well.....maybe I do get a bit 'focused' and snarky when writing!
Stay tuned, and I'll be sure to not be as "radio silent" , book, body willing and the river doesn't rise!!
Today, the significance of WHO we are, while chaos reigns around us, we only need to be calm.
For the 'grace of The One' watches over us
. Our job today is to REST (relinquish everything, submit totally) in HIS Love.
Joy is the expression of the beauty of Holiness.
We are His. Deliverance is here for EACH of us, but it is true thankfulness and Joy that will open the gates.
Today is a day to be thankful, be grateful, be filled with the sorrowful yet gladness that comes from the heart of God.
Deliverance/freedom doesn't come from just quiet resignation, but to the joyful anticipation of all that is and is to come, blessed by Him.
So today, be filled with joy. Be filled with love and laughter- the outward expression of BEing 'God with skin on.'
Blessed Passover and Blessed Eastertide!
How many times have you heard the saying "take it one day at a time?"
Like me, I wouldn't be surprised if you had heard it more than a few times! The first time I heard it was when my dad shared it with me. I was 8 years old, and it became my 'life verse' (Matthew 6:33-34.)
The last few months, between the multiple holidays, bonus rounds of the flu being passed around the family, neighborhood, and Dr. offices, I spent more "set aside" time. Yet, this 'set aside time' was markedly different from the 4-5 months earlier in 2017 that I experienced.
In the first 'set aside' time, I found my 'territory enlarged', meeting many new people as we spent hours together getting IV's. Many stories were shared, many lessons learned, many coping tips were traded.
This second 'set aside time' has been a time of experiencing a deeper, stronger sense of what 'taking it one day at a time' can mean.
On more than one occassion, I encountered the phrase: "The One".
I have pondered for hours over the last few months what it means to live in the grace of "The One", the I AM;
I have pondered how will I extend grace, to myself and others, as I to live in the ONE moment. What does it mean to "show up", to live in the PRESENT, to live in His Presence – every moment, every hour, every day?
And, I had to learn, that when my plans for the 'ONE' day falls through, I need to look for 'The One's' adventure in store for me.
For The One, The I AM, never fails.
I've thought alot about my dad this week, especially since it fell so close to Thanksgiving Day. He was born on November 21st. Depending on the year, his birthday, like this year would fall within two days of one of his favorite holidays.
My dad taught me much about the meaning of gratitude, of being thankful, and being aware of things around you to be thankful for – large or small. He also taught me one of his favorite sayings.
When I was eight years old, we went to the traditional (at the time) Thanksgiving Service. It was there, while I was sitting up straight, prim and proper, with my little white gloves on, decked out in new patten leather shoes that were meant to be worn only on 'special' occassions.
Dad leaned over to me. He whispered ever so quietly in my ear: "Pay attention to this next reading. It is one of my very favorite, and I hope you will learn to do what it says. It will serve you well, as it has me!
"Sufficient unto this day, is the evil thereof. Therefore, take no thought of the morrow, for it will have enough worries and cares of its own."
from: The Good Book – 1928 version (as my dad called it!)
Even at the tender, young age of eight, the weight and significance of the saying was not lost on me. In fact, it would become my father's and my 'buzz phrase". We would remind each other, (in updated language!) to take one day at a time; to not fret, worry, or sweat the small stuff. And he would often remind me to not borrow trouble,or worry about the future, for each day has enough cares and concerns of its own, and tomorrow will take care of itself - IF I let it!!
I have learned the blessing of living life 'one day at a time'. Even when I might not see it, I can feel the vicarious power, well beyond my own. There is a Power that is not of the earthly power, rather, there is an understanding. No matter what I will face – whether for good or for what may seem as evil or bad, when I take a deep breath, focus on the moment and remember to keep my priorities, my passions and the purpose I feel for my life within its boundaries, somehow, someway, it will always work out.
Admittedly, in the retrospect mirror of time, it has always has worked out – and more times than not, for the best, to boot.
Some people may look at my life and say "Oh my! You have been through so much hardship!"
I reply, "What I have walked through may be different than what you have walked through, but we each have our unique path to walk. I would not trade a day of what I have gone through for the lessons I have learned and the treasures that have I have found and the countless lives who have touched and blessed mine."
Each morning we wake up, we are given the gift of a new day. It is a PRESENT.
But what good is your present if you are not willing to receive it? Or open it, much less use it for its unique, given purpose?
I think what my father was trying to teach me some 50+ years ago was the invaluable lesson of: SHOW UP! OPEN YOUR GIFT! USE IT! The gift of today was chosen just for YOU!
More importantly, he taught me to live IN the Present, and to BE PRESENT. C'mon! Open your gift!
This clipping was done several years ago. It fell out of my journal this morning as I got ready for my Wednesday "study"/quiet/ mid-week rest day.
I sat in front of the warm woodstove fire, watching the end of a Japanese typhoon's wind blow quickly through, whipping snow and left-over fall leaves around. I re-read the clipping and Ibegan to think :
I have one life to live : How will I live it?
I have one (raspy) voice : What will I say with it?
I have one shot at this thing called life : what will I do with it?
Life is short, too often too short; I know that ALL too well.
How did I answer myself? All I know is: I want to live my life well. I want to live my life with hope and prayerfully share that Hope more by living it than talking about it.
I want to be HOPE.
Sometimes it is hard to hang onto what you know to be true.
Sometimes our heart aches and hurts like a hurricane, changing everything around us. It seems like life is going to fall apart. Schedules get busy. Weather seasons change, bringing traffic delays, even a new season of illnesses that hit those around you.
The dreams that you have are still undone. There are days where your passion becomes drudgery, making a job real work, and not a desire that you were working to see accomplished.
We know we are loved. We know that things, eventually will turn out…..
Even if the healing of an illness doesn’t come the way you thought…..or wanted.
Even if life totally falls apart – emotionally, physically, or your career/job, you know you can stand firm in the One you run to, believe in, who works all things for good - even if it isn’t the same ‘good’ you think it should be.
Even if it is hard to trust, we will. For we know we are in Good Hands. Strong Hands. In One who not only loves us, but is….always.
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.