Journey to Israel … Nazareth … Part 7

We visited Nazareth, the place where Jesus was raised, on the first day of our Gate1 tour. That day dawned and stayed cold and wet! What an interesting start to my very first ever international tour!

Viewing Nazareth from atop Mount Precipice. (As you may be able to tell from the picture, it was very foggy and cold the day we visited.)

Nazareth lies in the center of Galilee in Northern Israel. It is a picturesque, hilly setting. The current city was built on top of the old village. Only a few archaeological remains from the time of Jesus have been discovered.

As of 2017, the population of Nazareth, known as the “Arab capital of Israel,” was over 75,000 people. Nearly 70% of those living in lower Nazareth today are Muslim; about 30% are Christian. The Jewish population lives in Upper Nazareth, known as Natzeret-Illitl.

In Jesus’ day, Nazareth was much smaller. The strongly Jewish population was estimated by American archaeologist James F. Strange as less than 500.

Nazareth is home to a number of Arab-owned high-tech companies, mostly in the field of software development. It is sometimes called the “Silicon Valley of the Arab community.” Another large employer is Israel Military Industries. About 300 people work there manufacturing munitions.

Christmas in Nazareth
Tourist info here. We didn’t stop in.
Souvenir shop. We didn’t take time to shop.
There are a lot of McDonald’s restaurants in Israel. Some are kosher, some are not.
There were times when I wasn’t sure I had ever really left America! McDonalds and Microsoft seemed much the same as here.
Shops like this lined the streets of Nazareth. Vendors called out to tourists, hawking everything from umbrellas to olive wood.

In Biblical Days

Mary, the young virgin betrothed to marry Joseph, of the House of David, lived in Nazareth when the angel Gabriel appeared to her, bringing her the news that God had chosen her to give birth to His Son. Can you imagine her shock?

The Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Israel

Luke 1: 26-33

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

King Herod was very jealous when he heard that the King of the Jews had been born in Bethlehem. He sought to kill Jesus, but God had directed Joseph to take Mary and the baby to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous plan.

The little family resided in Egypt until it was safe to return home to Nazareth. While not a lot was written about Jesus’ childhood, we know that He spent most of His childhood in the town of Nazareth.

Matthew 2:19-23

The Return to Nazareth

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Basilica of the Annunciation

While we were in Nazareth, we visited the Basilica of the Annunciation, aka Church of the Annunciation. It was quite remarkable.

I apparently didn’t get a picture of the main doors through which you enter the church. They are worth a look. I did get some close-ups of some of the door.

The Church of the Annunciation has an interesting history. It was first built by Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, in the mid 4th century. It might interest you to know that Helena also built the first Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

The original church was destroyed during an Arab invasion in 638 AD. In 1109, Crusaders arrive in Nazareth. They built the second church to honor the hometown of Jesus. Sometime between 1229 and 1263 AD, the church was destroyed again, this time by Mamluks (Azzahir Baibars).

In 1620 AD, the Franciscans purchased the ruins of the Basilica of the Annunciation and built the third church.  In 1730, the church was rebuilt for the fourth time. In 1877, the church was enlarged.

Finally, the church that stands today was built during 1955-1969. Designed by Giovanni Muzio, it is a beautiful structure that features two levels, the Upper Church, which is decorated with mosaics and artwork gifted to the church by nations across the world, and the Lower Church.

The Lower Church enshrines a sunken grotto that contains what is believed to be the home of the Virgin Mary. It is said that it was here that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, announcing that she would be the mother of the Messiah.

Upper Church

Rainy day at the Basilica of the Annunciation. The concrete dome stands 55 meters high. It is in the shape of a Madonna lily, a symbol of the Virgin Mary.
Magnificent upper church. This is the parish church for the Catholic community of Nazareth.
The walls are covered with mosaics given to the church by nations from around the world. At the center is one of the largest murals in the world, depicting the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church”.

 

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Spiral staircase leading to the Lower Church

Lower Church

Lower Church
View of the Lower Church
In the background is the home (cave) where it is believed that Mary lived and where Gabriel is said to have announced that she would be the mother of Jesus. The grotto is found on the lower level of the Church of the Annunciation. Flanking the cave are remains from the earlier Byzantine and Crusader churches. The altar inside the cave is inscribed, “Here the Word was made flesh,” in Latin.
Simple altar in front of the cave home of Mary. Tiers of seats surround it on three sides.
The small altar in the Lower Church is situated directly under the Madonna lily-shaped cupola of the church.
Statue of Mary as the young girl to whom the angel Gabriel appeared and announced to her that she was chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah.

 

Links to the Hope and Survive pages related to my 2019 trip to Israel:
Journey to Israel – The Beginning … Part 1
Journey to Israel – Getting There … and Getting Home … Part 2
Journey to Israel … Bethlehem … Part 3
Journey to Israel … Bethlehem … Church of the Nativity … Part 4
Journey to Israel … Bethlehem … Church of Saint Catherine … Part 5
Journey to Israel … Bethlehem … Shepherds’ Field … Part 6
Journey to Israel … Nazareth … Part 7
Journey to Israel … Caesarea Maritima

 

Journey to Israel … Bethlehem … Where It Started … Part 3

Our tour of the Holy Land did not follow the timeline of Jesus’ life. For instance, we didn’t go to Bethlehem, where our Savior was born, until the sixth day of our visit. By the time we went to His birthplace, we had already seen where He was baptized and where He died, was buried, and rose again.

I have decided to try to put as much as I can into chronological order rather than how we saw the landmarks while on our tour. I think it will make more sense that way. Naturally, you can skip around this blog at your convenience and can visit whichever page(s) you desire in the order that pleases you.

Notice the Christmas tree on the left and the Peace Center on the right. (I believe the Peace Center actually may just be a restaurant, but given the political situation, I thought it might be something more significant…)

Bethlehem

It takes someone much smarter than I am to understand how the West Bank and occupied territories all work. I’ve tried to do some research on it all, but I am sorry to say that my mind is left spinning.

So, while I do not purport to understand it all, suffice it to say that Bethlehem is in the West Bank. Our Jewish Israeli tour guide was unable to accompany us into Bethlehem because it is under Palestinian rule.

There is a sign at the border warning Israelis that they could be hurt if they cross over into the West Bank. If I understand correctly, this is because of Israel laws, not Palestinian.

 

Israeli citizens – turn around! You are not allowed here!

Therefore, we were given a Christian Palestinian to guide us through Shepherds’ Field and the Church of the Nativity. I wish I better understood all of the politics of it.

The Names of Bethlehem

Bethlehem plays an important role in both the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible. In Biblical times, it was known as Bethlehem Ephrathah or Bethlehem-Judah. Currently, you may hear it referred to as Bethlehem or by its Arabic name Bayt Laḥm (which translates to “House of Meat”) or its Hebrew name, Bet Leḥem (meaning “House of Bread”).

Getting to Bethlehem

Today, Bethlehem is located in the West Bank. It is only about five miles south of Jerusalem, situated in the Judaean Hills. To get here, though, you have to cross out of Israel and into the West Bank. Fences and warnings abound.

In recent years, tourists quit going to Bethlehem because it was simply deemed to be too dangerous. However, the Palestinians have made great effort to remedy that situation since much of its economy is tourist-driven.

Border security.

Bethlehem in Biblical Times

Bethlehem is important to Christians for many reasons, most especially because it is where our Savior was born over 2,000 years ago. The Church of the Nativity, which stands over the cave where Jesus was born, is one of the oldest Christian churches.

It was initially built by Helena (326-328), mother of the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine I. The original church was destroyed but it was rebuilt during the reign of Emperor Justinian (reigned 527–565). It remains substantially the same today as it was then.

Luke 2:4-7:

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 

Bethlehem is important to Christian pilgrims for more reasons than “just” the birth of Christ:

  • Rachel, Jacob’s wife and the mother of Benjamin, died during childbirth on the way to Bethlehem (aka Ephrath). She was buried there. (Genesis 35:16-20)
  • It is where most of the Book of Ruth took place. Ruth married Boaz in Bethlehem. They ultimately became the great-grandparents of the mighty King David.
  • King David was born and raised in Bethlehem. It was there that he was anointed king of Israel by the prophet Samuel (I Samuel 16).
  • King David’s grandson, Rehoboam, who became the first king of Judah (2 Chronicles 11), fortified the town.
  • Shepherds’ Field, where the Angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds tending their sheep and announced the birth of Christ is also near Bethlehem.
  • King Herod assassinated all boys in Bethlehem, ages two and under, in a jealous rage after he heard that Jesus, King of the Jews, was born. He hoped that by killing all young boys he would do away with the Christ-child.

Bethlehem Today

The population of Bethlehem and surrounding villages today is over 220,000 people, including over 20,000 living in three refugee camps (Dheisheh, Aida and Beit Jibrin). While Christians made up most (86%) of the population of Bethlehem in 1950, that is no longer the case. Now, according to Bethlehem mayor Vera Baboun, Christians make up only 12% of the population.

Church in Bethlehem

 

Sadly, Baboun says that the unemployment rate in Bethlehem is a staggering 27%. Part of the reason for this high unemployment is the declining tourism trade. Most tourists, even if they go to Bethlehem, do not stay long and spend little of their money there.

When we were there as part of our tour, we ate lunch in Bethlehem, quickly visited Shepherds’ Field, spent an hour or so at the Church of the Nativity (including waiting to be allowed down to the cave over which the church sits), visited a very commercial, very expensive shop, and left.

Angel carved from Olive wood. Beautiful and expensive.

I personally spent a total of $16 US in Bethlehem, the cost of my lunch. I suspect that was also the case for many of the other people who were on our tour. Unfortunately, we didn’t help Bethlehem’s local economy much by our visit.

Just for Fun

Before I leave this page, I want to leave you with a touch of America that has made it across the ocean to the West Bank. Not only did we pass a number of McDonald’s fast food restaurants during our journeys – some kosher, some not – we saw lots of other American companies represented in the Middle East.

Coffee, anyone? I loved the play on words here. (Although I didn’t see it while in Bethlehem, there is also a Walled Off Hotel … playing off the name of the popular Waldorf Hotel in America.)
KFC, Samsung, Dell … All brands we know and love here in America!
You can find Coca Cola at most restaurants. I didn’t have one so I am not sure if it tastes the same as in the US. Notice, too, our American Santa pushing the product!

 

Links to the Hope and Survive pages related to my 2019 trip to Israel:
Journey to Israel – The Beginning … Part 1
Journey to Israel – Getting There … and Getting Home … Part 2
Journey to Israel … Bethlehem … Part 3
Journey to Israel … Bethlehem … Church of the Nativity … Part 4
Journey to Israel … Bethlehem … Church of Saint Catherine … Part 5
Journey to Israel … Bethlehem … Shepherds’ Field … Part 6
Journey to Israel … Nazareth … Part 7

 

Inside a Mind Addled by Chemo Brain

Do you know what frustrates me as much as almost anything? Having an idea and losing it before I can make it happen.

Does that happen to you? I guess I experienced it to a point even before chemotherapy blessed me with chemobrain, but oh man!! It is terrible now.

MORE…

Finding Your Gratitude

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie

Begin your day with gratitude

Sometimes when we are delivered a blow, like learning that we or a loved one has lung cancer, it is hard to find reasons to be grateful. But, I believe that searching for and finding gratitude, even in the face of adversity, is vital.

MORE…

 

Sing!! Bellow it Out! It’s Good For You!!!

Do you like to sing? Well, guess what? Science says it is good for you to sing.

Benefits of Singing

Prevention magazine lists six ways singing is good for you:

  1. Singing eases your stress and improves your quality of life
  2. It can help you bond
  3. This one is BIG!!! Singing improves immunity in cancer patients!!!
  4. Singing may be good for your heart (it is definitely good for your soul!)
  5. Really? Singing helps curb snoring! (Your significant other may like this!!)
  6. Singing may help people with asthma

Wow! Who knew?

Even though I love it, I am a terrible singer. I used to get such a kick out of my little family when we would be in church. All three of us were singing our hearts out. All on a different key. And none on the same key as the masses. I know our pewmates wished we would just mouth the words!

Usually, that’s just what I do if I am in a crowd. I mouth the words. Even when we are singing happy birthday to someone. I am just so embarrassed that I can’t carry a tune. But, get me alone!!! That’s when the stops come out! I love to belt out songs that mean something to me.

Let’s Share Favorites!

So, the purpose of this blog is not only to inform but to share. I have some favorite songs that I want you to have the opportunity to hear. I hope one or more of them will speak to you like they do to me.

Overcomer

One of the most meaningful songs to me is Mandisa’s “Overcomer.” That’s what we cancer survivors are, right? Overcomers? Take a listen! (And, if you aren’t a cancer patient, there is no doubt in my mind that you are not overcoming challenges of your own. This song works for all of us!)

 

Blessings

Laura Story’s Blessings speaks volumes to me. We don’t have to look far to see blessings in our lives. And, sometimes, what seems to be the worst thing to ever happen to us isn’t.

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

Lots of people might call me crazy (no offense taken if you do), but I see so many blessings in my life as a result of my cancer diagnosis. I know you are thinking, “You must be kidding.” But, I’m not kidding at all. It isn’t that I wouldn’t rather not have cancer. But, since I do, I have to say, it has brought me many friends and experiences I would have never had otherwise. And, I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

It is Well with my Soul

Yes! It IS well with my soul! No matter what happens to my earthly body, I know where my salvation lies! It is great comfort to know that when I take my last breath here, my next will be on Streets of Gold in Heaven.

Casting Crown’s Oh My Soul

The night Casting Crown’s singer Mark Hall was diagnosed with cancer, he sat down and wrote “Oh My Soul.” It is a powerful song. Mark describes the motivation behind the song,

I just sat down on the piano and was looking at the verse where David says, ‘Why so downcast, oh my soul. Put your hope in God.’ So the song is me just having a little argument with myself and giving it to Him.”

God has my cancer, too, Does He have yours?

End of the Beginning

Another favorite song of mine has nothing to do with encouragement or cancer or counting blessings, but I just love this David Phelps (he’s one of my favorite artists) song.

 

There are more songs that speak volumes to me and that I love to belt out, but I will stop here. We’ll do another blog at another time with more songs.

As you can see, the ones that mean the most to me also have a lot to do with my faith. I couldn’t go through this battle without my faith.

What about you? What songs are most meaningful to you? Why? Let me know!

Reuniting with the Grandkids

Dad with Jimmy (8) and Jonah (6)

Starting Over Again and Again

I have started and restarted this entry. It’s hard when there has been a divorce. There are so many emotions. So many hurt feelings. So many sides to a single story.

We adults have been hurt by the divorce and the withholding of the kids. But, who has been hurt the most are the kids. And, I hope we adults can be mature enough to realize that it doesn’t really matter what we think or what we want … what matters is what these two precious children need.

They act grown up, but the reality is that they are not men in little people suits. They are still children. Still little beings in desperate need of love and attention and acceptance. From their mother, from their dad, from their grandparents, and from anyone else who is in their lives at any given time.

These two precious souls have been giving out way too many signals that they need more than they are getting from us. We adults must provide what they need. Now. Before we lose them.

Two Weekends in a Row!

After not seeing the children for nearly a year, we were blessed to have them for two weekends in a row during August 2015. If things don’t change between now and Friday, we may luck out and get to see them this coming weekend as well. For their sake and ours, I hope so!

In the meantime, I want to post some memories here. There was so much fun and so much love passed around the past two weekends. It will be good to return here to remember.

When the kids are here, we stay very, very busy. They have lots of requests … and as a doting dad and grandparents, we try to honor as many of them as we are able. They’ve requested a trip to the park. We haven’t fit that in yet. If they come next weekend, maybe we will have a “park day!”

Swim, Swim, Swim

I am not often all that delighted to have a swimming pool. I do love to swim, but it seems it is rarely convenient to do so. So, the pool is a hog of money, chemicals, water, and time without providing much pleasure. But, when the grandkids come to visit, I am so glad we have it. We spend a lot of time out in it – diving, swimming, jumping, playing!

Look at me!! No Floaties!!

 

WATCH!!! Here I go!

 

Grandma – always with a camera!!!

 

 

Barney: Be careful!!!! You’re going to be hurt!!!!

The kids, the adults, and the dogs all have a barrel of fun playing out in the pool. I really didn’t realize quite how much fun Cotton and Barney have until I started looking at the pictures. Nearly every one has at least one of the two dogs in it! Barney is the most likely to appear.

Yesterday, poor Barney boy wore himself out completely because he couldn’t decide where he needed to be to protect everyone! We were not cooperating and all staying in one spot so he ran from one end to the other; from one side to the other. His feet were so sore this morning that he was walking very gingerly.

Barney: Jimmy!!!! Get away!!! He’s going to throw you!!!

 

Barney: Jonah!!!! Be careful!!!! You’re falling into the water!!!!

 

 

Cotton: It’s okay!! I’ll get these splashes.

 

Cotton: There!! I chased it away!!

 

But, we did more than just swim while the boys were visiting. One of the things they wanted to do was take a walk on the nature trail by our house. We weren’t able to do it the first weekend, but we managed to go the second weekend, despite the fact that their daddy was not feeling well at all.

A Walk on the Trail

We all love the nature trail behind the house. It is a lovely place, even during August in Texas when temperatures are as often as not in the 100’s with all-too-high humidity levels. Trees overhang much of the trail, shading the hot, hot sun. I had heard there were many, many copperheads on the trail this year so I had not braved it all summer.

The boys really wanted to go see if the Fernandez Field was still there. Last year, there was a big pile of rocks where they had a lot of fun playing. They wanted to play there again if it was still there.

 

 

 

Well, the pile of rocks was much smaller this year than last. But, it was still there. So, they marked the pile as theirs and then made themselves a bed. It doesn’t take much to make kids happy! And, if the kids are happy, the adults are happy!!

And … so are the dogs!!! Cotton, Barney and Chloe were in heaven during the walk. They had their boys here and they were on the nature trail – one of their favorite places. They did a lot of smiling!

 

 

 

We walked to the end of the trail, where there was yet another photo op!! The kids are very patient with Grandma and her camera. Or, so I thought. I did notice during edit that there weren’t as many smiles as I thought there were while I was shooting the pictures. Oh well…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids found sticks along the trail that reminded them of pistols and shotguns. We all had our hands full with the found treasures. When I went out to water my plants this morning, I carried away an armful of sticks off of the glider in the backyard, remembering what fun the kids had with them while we were on the trail. Strangely, as soon as we reached home, the sticks became just that – sticks. No more playing with them.

Agility

I didn’t get any pictures, except on my phone, while we were at the DAWG agility field. We all got up early and made it to the field. On the first weekend, Jimmy got the opportunity to run Cupcake, a friend’s dog. He did an excellent job, but something has intimated him so he wasn’t interested in trying again this past weekend.

Nevertheless, everyone was glad to be out at the field. Both weekends, we had milk, donuts, and lots of fun!

On the way home from agility on the first weekend, Jonah asked if we could go out to eat. At first, I said no, but then I asked him where it was he wanted to go to eat. He responded with, “McDonalds.”

Well … I know the food is not all that healthy, but the kids love to go there to play. So, once we took Cotton home, we packed it up and headed to McDonalds.

 

 

I didn’t manage to get all that many great photos, but the kids had a lot of fun. They played in the tunnels with one another and with the other kids who came and went for at least an hour. It was a nice, cool place to play and they got lots of exercise.

Since the McDonalds they enjoy most is near Kohls, we went over there after playtime to see if we could find a couple of outfits for them to start school in. It was tax-free weekend so there were plenty of people shopping, but we managed to find some cute clothes without too much effort. Each boy also ended up with a new stuffed toy to take home to remind them of the time they spent with us.

Hoping for One More Weekend

The ex-wife has said that the boys can return this coming weekend. I hope she doesn’t change her mind. It is for the good of both young boys and my son … and for grandma and grandpa …. for them to visit. They need to know how much they are loved. No matter how much time passes. Some things stay the same. Especially, our love for them.

Blessings

You have to look for your blessings where you can … and I know you guys will think I am weird, but this lung cancer made it possible for me to retire. I can’t even tell you how wonderful it is not to have to go to work any longer. I have had to work one or two jobs since I turned 20. I am loving every second of not having to do that any longer!

Another HUGE blessing is that the treatment I am on (clinical trial for immunotherapy drug) is wonderful. Here I am … Stage IV non-small-cell lung cancer patient … nearly 1-1/2 years after diagnosis … still doing fantastic!!! The tumors are still there, but they are just sitting in the same spot as they were when we discovered them. They haven’t grown or multiplied or spread. Hallelujah and Praise God!

The immunotherapy is the best thing since sliced bread. It doesn’t make you sick or tired and before I started getting it I was sick and tired of being sick and tired!! The hardest part of getting it is spending a long half day at the hospital getting an infusion every two weeks. Lucky me and lucky cancer patients everywhere … the company is or will soon be seeking FDA approval. From what I know, none of the patients who are participating at the clinic where I go has had terribly adverse side effects and I think everyone is doing quite well in the fight against their cancer.

I am so glad that I found UT Southwestern. Some people told me that they felt like it was a huge and cold institution that didn’t care about patients except as numbers in science experiments. Well, that’s far from true. The girls behind the desk know you, the aides who take you from place to place know you, the nurses, physician’s assistants, researchers, and doctors all know you as a person. I always feel like I am seeing friends when I go. Which is a good thing since treatments occur every two weeks.

My life is so full. Every single day is packed with things that I love to do. In the past, my days were full, but they were full of work-type activities. I worked at my 8-5 job and then I came home and took care of SchoolGrants, the business that God blessed me with since 1999. I let it go a couple of years ago and that was quite a liberating feeling! It still is. It was my passion for a long, long time but I burned myself completely out.

Once you receive a cancer diagnosis, I don’t think the fact that you have cancer (or had cancer if you are fortunate enough to beat it) ever leaves your mind. I never go through a day that I do not remember quite well that I have cancer. It impacts my thought processes. On the other hand, some days I can’t believe the diagnosis is correct. How can I be so sick when I’m so healthy??!!!

Which brings to mind more praises! Week after week, month after month, my blood tests come back perfect. We do thorough blood analyses before every single treatment and every time, my tests are perfect. My doctor is amazed. He said that less than 1% of cancer patients are as fortunate. It isn’t just my blood tests that come back perfect, so do my blood pressure, oxygen, and temperature readings! How can I not call myself lucky? LUCKY!! or, more appropriately, BLESSED. Totally.

Here’s another way I am blessed. Insurance. Oh my gosh. Fighting cancer is expensive. Ridiculously so. What do people who don’t have insurance do? I really don’t know. I’m glad I don’t have to find out.

I have been on some cancer sites lately that are sort of like support groups or something. I have never felt the need for a support group but I like to go to these online groups and offer support to those just learning they have cancer. I want them to know that a horrible diagnosis that scares the living daylights out of you may truly not be the end of the world at all.

Those people who get the diagnosis and decide right away that they’ll just go with palliative care distress me. No one thought I had a lot of time left but I was determined to make the best of what time I did have. My life has slowly evolved to something that it wasn’t when I was diagnosed. For instance, I do not participate in all of the same events, like agility training and competing, that I was consumed with prior to learning I was battling lung cancer. But my life is full. Every single minute of it! I am as happy as can be. Each day ends with me thinking that I needed more hours to get everything done that I wanted to get done that day. Amazing.

Those who just give up are missing out on so much. None of us have tomorrow promised to us, so we should all appreciate each and every hour that we are given. I just wish that those who choose not to fight their cancer would reconsider. At least I wish they would try to get into a test study so that the doctors can research the effects of more treatments. It might or might not help them but it surely might help someone else down the road. I’ve never been a hand-wringer. I don’t guess I understand  those who are.

Well, I planned to post a lot of pictures here and discuss some of my recent activities, but I’m really beat. Today was treatment day and it was a long day. I’ll come back before too long and post some lovely pictures I’ve had the opportunity to capture over the last few weeks and months.

Until then, take care and thank God for another day!

I’ll leave you with two of my most favorite blessings:

My lovely Cotton. She’s doing some birdwatching here. I’ll be posting pictures from our bird watching in the near future.

Barney. My heart and soul. 

The Weekend

Well, this blog seems to focus mainly just on cancer. But my life isn’t just about cancer. Not by any stretch of the imagination! I actually probably cram more into life every day than I did before I was diagnosed. Now, it seems that life may more finite than I imagined. (In reality, life is finite for all of us! And only God knows when He’ll call each of us home so the logic is suspect, but nevertheless, there it is!) I tend to cram my weekends and holidays as full as I can get them with as much fun as possible!

The Dallas Arboretum

Yesterday, my best friend from the 4th grade, Patti, and I spent the day together. Patti came to pick me up and off we went to the Dallas Arboretum. We attended a breakfast for new members and then we wandered through the gardens until it got too warm.

Speaking of which … we have been blessed with very cool weather in mid-August in Dallas, TX. Highs have been in the low 90’s with lows in the 60’s. Unheard of around here where August usually brings us highs in the 100’s and lows in the mid-80’s.

I didn’t take my good camera with me, but had my little point and shoot. Always. It rides in my purse! Just in case I need it. (Unfortunately, I can’t always get it out quickly enough to capture what I want to preserve. Like the day when I was going to work and a rat came running out of plants on the median of the road. By the time I got the camera pulled out, he had run back into the plants…)

Here are a few of the pictures that were taken:

 

We really had a good time together. We always do. Laughing and carrying on … life is fun when we’re out and about.

I love the Arboretum too – lots of water features, beautiful flowers and landscaping, interesting people to watch… I am really glad we joined. Don’t the pictures just make you smile? The quality isn’t great – my little “purse camera” leaves a bit to be desired – by you can get the gist of some of what we saw!

Shopping with the Grandkids

Sunday afternoon was spent shopping with my daughter-in-law and grandkids. It is time to buy new school clothes! I arrived at Kohl’s where Sara and the kids were already shopping. My youngest grandson is Jonah, who turned 4 in May. He came running to give me a hug … and then said, “But Grandma!!! I wanted you to bring your camera with you!!!” Lucky for him, I had my purse camera!!! Fully recharged!

Jonah is 4 and goes to daycare. Jimmy is six and is entering first grade, while Jonathan is 11 and going into middle school. WHAT???? When did my babies grow up … middle school already??? Incredible!!!

Don’t you just suppose that other people who were shopping at Kohls today thought I was a crazy old woman? I can honestly say that I do not believe I have ever seen anyone following a bunch of kids around with their point-and-shoot camera at the ready!! 🙂  But, that’s okay! The kids love to have their picture taken and I love looking back at them!

Do you notice a common theme? We were there for school clothes shopping but most of the pictures were taken in the toy section!! The kids begged for toys while their mom was deciding what they would be wearing to school when it starts in a couple of weeks.

Jonah was the cutest. He asked if he could have some toys. I told him no because we were there to buy school clothes today. (Outfitting three boys is expensive!!! There was no more money for toys!) Jonah was not satisfied with that response. After all, he told me, he isn’t in school yet so he could spend his money on toys instead of clothes!!