falling snow

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Morning Has Broken!

"Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven,
Like the first dew fall, on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass."
-- Mark Stevens

"Morning has broken." Rebirth, renewal and re-creation are upon us once again. Indeed, this is one of my favorite songs on Easter Sunday as we celebrate our risen Savior. We awoke to a snowy Easter Sunday this morning here in the Midwest, big, fat, fluffy flakes silently descending upon the waiting earth. It was quite the sight to behold since our winter had been so mild. And by this afternoon, a bit of warming and glorious bright sunshine, so fine for this day of celebration!

I'm sharing a fun little Easter card I made this year. I wanted to do something "cute" since I just received the Simon Says Stamp set, "Melody's Easter." A set filled with cute!

The background for the sheep and bunny was cut from the My Favorite Things "Stitched Arch Stax," distressed, and flicked with some water from a paint brush to add depth. The animals were spot colored with Prismacolor pencils and the sheep was paper pieced with some paper run through an embossing folder for a bit of texture for her fur. The bunny's and sheep's feet were coated with Wink of Stella and Glossy Accents for some shine and sparkle. I clear embossed the sentiment on patterned paper from the Simon Says Stamp March Card Kit, my first kit. I'm looking forward to using those cute Peeps bunnies on some spring cards yet this season. A few sequins from the kit added a bit of springtime bling. Several Simon Says products on this card, so I'm entering this in the Simon Says Stamp Flickr Challenge #41, "Anything Goes."

I hope each of you has had a most joyous and blessed Easter filled with hope and renewal. And, maybe, just a bit of chocolate, too! 


Paper: Neenah Solar White; Bazzill; Echo Park "Spring"
Ink: PTI "Limeade Ice" "Lemon Tart"; Ranger "Abandoned Coral"; Versafine Black
Dies: MFT "Stitched Arch Stax"
Stamps: SSS "Melody's Easter"
Other: SSS March Card Kit; We R Memory Keepers Embossing Folder "Woven"; Prismacolor Pencils; Wink of Stella
          Glossy Accents; WOW Clear Embossing Powder

Saturday, March 19, 2016


It has been quite a long, unintended blog break since last April except for a couple of special day posts and a Valentine to share. Last spring found me busily cleaning the backyard, moving plants, creating a few new planting areas, and doing general cleanup after two years of neglect. The activity continued until the Midwest heat and humidity sent me scurrying back inside when I busied myself with tending to long neglected things on the "to do list for someday," when "someday" finally arrived. I began this post in late November, Christmas is already past, winter arrived in her full glory mild though she was, and spring is beckoning once again, ever beckoning. Over and over again I rediscover the renowned truth that time indeed doesn't wait for me.

In amongst the busyness I have been listening attentively, especially the last few months.

Listening to birdsong at the feeders in early spring last year as this mama downey woodpecker fed her baby, and now, as the birds feed heartily through winter's end and spring's beginning.

Listening, trying oh so hard, to listen to the beat of butterfly wings in late summer.

Listening to the wind in the trees as autumn's coming ushered summer on its way.

Listening to the silence that is winter; listening for her stillness for filling, guiding, enfolding.

Listening as spring bursts forth heralding her cleansing song of hope, rebirth, and renewal.

Listening. It is something I did frequently in my days as a Pastoral Assistant. There were times I was asked what my "job" involved. As I described the usual tasks, my response always ended with, "I listen." I didn't advise or counsel. I was simply available in the presence of one who needed to be heard. I listened. I was honored and humbled to share in that rare gift in which both participants receive. One is gifted by being heard and the other is gifted as the trusted recipient of words that comprise a life story. I learned, over the years, to listen to not only the spoken but also the unspoken words; oftentimes they completed a story, and I would speak them for others when they could not. The small plaque remains on my bathroom mirror, placed there when I first began my ministry, all those years ago.

It is true. It continues to impress upon me the value of listening to whoever needs to be heard, whenever I chance upon them in daily comings and goings; these days, even as I listen to myself. Ah, yes, it is often the most difficult task of all, to listen to ourselves, those internal hints and rumblings.

And so, I have been fine tuning my listening skills once again, having not practiced them as much over the last few years. I continue to listen, as I hear over and over again the conversation with Dr. S that fateful day last summer on July 27, after his examination and review of the ultrasound results. 

It is the "c" word. 

You know the one.

To this day it is still difficult to say the word and even harder to put in writing. Sweet, sweet Spirit, our dear girl, the good cat, the princess, the diva, sweet Spirit Anne, was diagnosed with a growth on her bladder wall. A tumor approximately the size of the little finger nail. It is the first time I have used the "t" word, preferring to reference it simply as "the growth." Somehow it seemed less invasive that way, less terrifying, less ominous, less hopeless, even less real. There was no way to diagnose if the tumor was malignant, but in most cases, when located in the bladder, it is cancerous. There, I did it. Both words in writing, in the same sentence. It is real. To biopsy the tumor meant the risk of spreading the possible cancer. And so we assumed the worst and provided the best treatment possible. Spirit was experiencing blood in her urine in May and again in July without any sign of infection. Sometimes there can be an infection that doesn't show up when the urine is examined. An ultrasound was done with the expectation there might be a bladder stone; a good thing, all in all, treatable. But that was not to be. Spirit also had kidney dysfunction since December 2011 and was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in May 2015. There wasn't anything to be done for the hyperthyroidism or the tumor since any treatment would have been too detrimental to her already weakened kidneys. It may have caused kidney failure. I asked the question, the one I always fear asking, but know I must, so I may plan how to spend my days. TC taught me well what matters most is time spent with loved ones. "How long do we have?" And Dr. S's response was, "Four to six months. It could be longer." I listened, as I knew to do, to his kind, unspoken words. "It could be fewer." And I knew, in the depths of my heart from watching her over the following days and weeks, "fewer" was the greater reality.

September, 2015

Spirit was doing well until the week of September 13; eating well, gaining a bit of weight, sunning herself at the front door as the heat of summer gave way to cooler mornings beckoning her to enjoy the approaching Autumn days. I cannot go into the details of all that transpired this week; the words are not there, and perhaps it isn't even necessary. Suffice it to say, it was a difficult week of emergency phone calls and visits to the vet. I am writing to let you know it is believed our sweet girl suffered a stroke, possibly several, sometime between September 18 and 19. We bid her peace just shortly after noon on the 19th, cradled in our arms, held so very close I didn't think we would ever be able to let her go. 

Spirit was 17, a smallish cat weighing nine to ten pounds in her prime, with a personality as huge as the chasm her absence has left in our hearts. She had the biggest, loudest purr and raspiest meow that reminded us she was in our midst. She made the rules and she enforced her rules for our entire family. She was the boss, the princess, the diva. She could also be the wild child. She did everything in a big way. She was named Spirit for a reason, for all the trials she had to overcome when she first appeared on August 28, 1998 as a malnourished, critically ill stray in our neighborhood. Her absence continues to leave its mark on our family because her presence was so impressive. Our home is not only empty now, but continues to experience a vacancy of spirit. It is the void of her presence. Time has once again become my friend for I have tread this path before. My plan was to document Spirit's journey the same as I did for TC. The busyness took over and unexpectedly I ran out of time. It has been six months today; holding her in my arms, listening to her purr, and feeling her soft fur still a vivid memory. I close my eyes and I feel her head butts upon my chin, her face rubbing my face. It doesn't seem possible, six months of days, and yet, the tears now are most often replaced with smiles, comforting memories of a gentle soul that continues to inhabit our spirits. I plan to tell Spirit's story as it is one I wish to share with those who care to read it. But even today, I haven't the words. They will become known, in their own time, when I can embrace their presence and give voice to her story. For now, I invite you to share with me a brief photo journey of 17 years loving one beloved gentle cat, our sweet, sweet Spirit.

First photo - September 28, 1998. She was 8 months old and weighed only 4lbs 7 oz.
She spent her first month "with us" in quarantine at the vet's office. I visited her daily.

First bath - Fall, 1998

Summer, 1999

A favorite photo - September, 1999

Another favorite photo - 1999
November 10, 2001

December, 2001
December 19, 2002

June, 2005

Another favorite - August 26, 2005
December 31, 2006

December 25, 2007
April 29, 2010
October 25, 2011
October 31, 2011
November 28, 2011
April 4, 2013

July, 2015
July, 2015

Blessed be your heart, sweet Princess Spirit.