You Know What They Say About the Apple…

DerrickAlexdrinking“It don’t fall far from the tree.”

When Derrick decided to join the Navy Reserves, my husband excitedly told me, “He’s going to do great!  This is a good choice for Derrick.”  I was not thrilled.  What in the world did he mean??  “He’s going to do great because he’s just like his Mother.”  I sarcastically thought  sweetly responded, “What do you mean!?”  “He’s a rule follower, just like his Mother.  This is a great fit for him.”

A few years ago I was visiting Derrick when he scratched his head.  Just a simple head scratch.  But I felt like I was in the room with my Grandpa Herb, who died when Derrick was about 1 1/2.  How could that be?  It was exactly how Grandpa held his hand, his fingers, everything.  When our grandson began walking and playing, he would squat down to play with something.  I felt like I was looking at Derrick, who played exactly the same way at his age.  “There’s a dinosaur in there Mimi!”  That one phrase took me back nearly 30 years and I was listening to Derrick talk about things that were only real in his imagination.  My grandson reflects his Daddy in many ways.

Bethany does not like surprises.  Every year she begs and pleads for us to tell her exactly what she is getting for Christmas and her birthday.  She frets over her gifts for weeks months, years.  (She’s made a list for me up through 2016 to make sure there are no surprises.)  My husband complains claims that I’m difficult to buy a gift for because I don’t like surprises and am hyper-vigilant when I think he might be getting me something.  I tend to check the bank account more often.  When I see a debit to Canon, is it my fault that I know I’m getting a camera?  My Dad obviously figured this out years ago and about a week before Christmas would take me for “a ride” and then “weedle” out of me what his Christmas gifts were because he just couldn’t wait for the surprise.  It drove my Mom crazy!  Do you see a trend here?

Some characteristics that we share are fun and some are more serious.  Some are genetic, some are learned behaviors, but all are based on relationship.  There is a connection.

The older I get the more often I hear my Mom or my Dad when I begin talking.  I see characteristics and physical traits in each of my siblings that remind me of my parents and grandparents.  We reflect our family to the world.  We are very different individuals and we certainly have our own identity, but in many ways, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

When thinking of this, I found myself considering our relationship with God… how do we reflect his love?  His character?  His traits?  When we face a challenge do we respond in a way God would have us respond?  If we face a moral dilemma, do we consider what the Bible says?  When we are wrongly accused or our character is attacked are we able to love as God loves us?  In the best of times do we reflect God’s grace and mercy to those who may be going through the worst of times?  In the worst of times do we reflect strength and behave honorably?  When the world around us is crumbling are we faithful in the small and large things?  Do we remember that even as he faced death on the cross, Jesus took the time to teach, to heal, to forgive, to restore, to love?  Jesus was always focused on valuing and loving others rather than himself.  Do we even try to go there?

On several occasions I’ve heard folks speak about my parents being good, strong, hard working, generous, and loving, but they had never met them.  These folks knew something about my parents by knowing their children and grandchildren.

When folks meet you do they know something about our heavenly Father?  Do they know that we’ve been redeemed, that we are in relationship with God?  When other’s see or hear you, do they see or hear our Father?  I was struck by this text today, “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” 2 Cor 2:15 NAS

Is our relationship with God so obvious that everyone around us recognize it?

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Col 3:17

You are in my prayers.  I love you,

Cindy

Hand Mimi, Hand

Cindy AlexWritten Jan 3, 2014 12:02pm by Cindy McMurry

“Hand Mimi, Hand.”

Last year I had no idea how precious those words would be. I had no idea how much love and joy I would experience by one little hand grabbing onto mine and in his words asking to go marching along, singing a song… any ole song will do if you’re holding hands.  Did you know you could march to “Away in a Manger”?  Trust me, you can.  “Six Little Ducks,” “The BIBLE,” “Deep and Wide,” “Running Over,” “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”… they will all work just fine as long as you are holding the hand of a two year old.

Grasping hands in prayer
Building puzzles
Coloring
Holding a prized toy
Tickling
Wrapping gifts
Cooking meals
Tearing into gifts
Changing diapers
Driving
Playing cards
Playing on the piano
Holding a Book
Touching
Eating
Patting children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews
Washing dishes
Combing Hair
Petting our pets
Typing
Writing
Yes, even paying bills
Today I was able to unload the dishwasher.  If you could have seen John’s expression… it was priceless.  I was quick to point out that he shouldn’t get used to it.  😉

Each day is a gift.  Each new thing I’m able to accomplish is a beautiful thing.  We recognize how blessed and fortunate we are.  My physicians and physical therapists are pleased at how my mobility continues to increase.  Fatigue sets in very quickly and most jobs take much more time than what it would have in the past.  But, I’m doing them.  Strength is slow in rebuilding.  But, you did read that right, it IS rebuilding.

Physical therapy has been marvelous.  Yes, it hurts.  It’s time consuming (2-3 hours a day).  It’s exhausting.  It’s demanding.  We see increases and then declines, but I rebound quickly.  Pushing through the discomfort and pain is worth it.  Already my mobility far exceeds what was expected.  We are so grateful!!

Just imagine, only five months ago we were not sure I would have an arm.  Today, I unloaded the dishwasher.  A few weeks ago, I wrapped all of our Christmas gifts.  Two weeks ago I held and played with both of our grandchildren.  It’s been a precious season in our lives.  Many of the things that we didn’t know if I would ever do again… just the normal things… I’m doing.  And that my friends is a gift from the Lord.

James 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Our idea of “good gift” has changed.  It’s not so much about the big things or dollars falling from heaven.  It’s minutes, precious minutes.  It’s holding the hands of sweet children.  It’s playing.  It’s laughter.  It’s hearing the Word.  It’s grasping hands with loved one’s in prayer.  It whispering I love you’s.  It’s quiet moments… time with your friends… reading a good book…  Thank you Lord for loving us so by blessing us with so many gifts.

In the last few days we’ve heard from two more friends who are in the push and pull of cancer.  One is having surgery tomorrow and needs your prayers.  Several friends are pushing through chemo and radiation.  Some are waiting on reports and test results.  Others are battling through addiction and depression.  Many are very, very frightened.  Some are angry.  I pray that each of you would be find a quiet place and find joy in the precious minutes in your life.

Remember, you may not know what challenges another person may be facing.  Be gentle with one another.

We love you,
Cindy and John

ps. I forgot to tell you, I’m sorry for being so slow about writing.  I am setting up a blog.  It’s been a bit time consuming.  Eventually I plan to move the posts from here to it.  When established it will be called “It’s Another Day of Grace.” Stay tuned.  xoxo

The Best Surprise!

Derrick and AlexWritten Oct 3, 2013 9:18am by Cindy McMurry

Thank God for his mercy…

My son, Derrick arrived back on US soil about 15 days ago.  I had a lot of folks ask if he’d called or if I had seen him.  I kept responding that he needed to reunite with his wife and son and I didn’t expect him to call or come see me anytime soon.  I was enjoying the pictures they posted and just thankful they were with one another. They needed time together.

However, after about 5 days, I began thinking that he really ought to call.  I texted his wife and asked her to have him call when they had time.  Silence.  My flesh got in the way and I started to let my feelings get hurt.

John took me to NC to meet my sister, and brother in laws.  He acted a bit grumpy on the trip.  My exhaustion was getting the better of me and I thought he was annoyed that he had to help me so much.  In my head I was coming up with all kinds of ideas that made no sense… yada yada yada.  Does this ever happen to you?  My flesh was getting in the way, but I was trying hard to keep my frustration under control.  Thankfully, I did not stick my foot in my mouth.

When we got to NC, we met up with Betsy and Rich at a little Italian Restaurant.  John disappeared.  I was beginning to think he was sick or something.  We placed our order and just about that time, Rich and Betsy looked up in shock, I turned around, and there was my son, Tanya and Alex.  I still get teary eyed just thinking about it.

Tanya and John had worked out all of the details and made arrangements to surprise me.  It was so sweet and touched my heart.

I’m overwhelmed by the love of God and the love and support from our family.  This has not been an easy time in our lives and seeing the kids was just what I needed.  We had a lovely time together.  Betsy did a lot of the cooking (Thank you Bets) and Derrick spent time showing us pictures and telling us about his time in Afghanistan (he climbed a mountain that was like 10,000 ft folks, the pictures are amazing!).  We all enjoyed watching Alex play and bonding with him, he’s a lot of fun.  The sunsets were stunning and we were richly blessed just being together.

Betsy, John and I have all gotten a virus since the weekend that’s taken the wind out of our sails, but I’m still relishing the trip and the time we all had together.  Thanks to John, Tanya, Bill, Betsy and Rich for making this such a great time.  Especially thanks to Derrick not just for surprising me and supporting me through this time, but also for serving our country with honor and dignity.  Welcome home Bud, we are so grateful to have you back.

“When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the Lord saying; ‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever.’” 2 Chronicles 7:3

Please remember friends and family who face illness, heartbreak and difficult times, those serving in government, those serving in the military, our wounded veterans and those who are unemployed.  Many are facing difficult times and need to know that God is near.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We love you,
Cindy and John

Good News!

Written Sep 17, 2013 8:50pm by Cindy McMurry

Just a brief note to check in and let you know Dr. Wurtz says everything looks really great.  I can s.l.o.w.l.y. and g.e.n.t.l.y. start physical therapy next week.  He said it will be at least a few weeks before I can drive, but I’m really better than expected.  The only glitch we seem to have hit, some nerve damage.  He’s hoping by my next appointment in 5 weeks that will be greatly improved.  If not, then we have to address that.  I also will get a baseline MRI in 5 weeks and sometime soon a new baseline PET Scan.We are all so thankful. Each day I am improving.  Only a few weeks ago in order to eat I had to take my mouth to the fork, or be fed, now my hand can reach my mouth and as long as I brace my arm, I can tip my cup to drink.

BTW… the best news we’ve gotten, Derrick is in Germany and will be home soon!   And, it’s Alex’s birthday.  Happy 2 Alex!

Thanking God for answered prayer and trusting that God is doing a good  work in your life today.

We love you,
Cindy and John

These are the Moments…

Written Sep 4, 2013 2:24pm by Cindy McMurry

These are the moments I get tickled and laugh at the things we take for granted. These are the moments I’m in wonder at the goodness of God. These are the moments that the change in my body distresses me. These are the moments that I try to process what our tomorrows will look like while being eternally grateful for our today.

I’m healing. Thanks be to God. There are some obvious challenges and some obvious changes. There are also obvious blessings.

John gave me a shower today and I realized washing my own hair was something I took for granted. Now my husband is learning how to care for me in a way I hadn’t expected and demonstrating love for me in new ways. Receiving care from others that we expect to provide for ourselves is both humbling and a blessing. John has teased me that I “have more skin surface” than he does even though he “is nearly double my body weight”… and has wondered if all girls wash their ankles. 🙂 I’m amazed at how tenderly he’s caring for me.

Yesterday John left quickly for work, before making himself a cup of coffee. I discovered the coffee maker hadn’t been plugged in since we returned home and there was no water in it. Not being able to reach or being steady with either hand made plugging it in rather interesting. Essentially I hiked my belly on the counter, braced my left arm with my right hand and the counter just to get the thing plugged in. Then I had to add water and hit the button on top to turn it on… I’m sorry you missed it. I’m sure you would have laughed… I’m learning to contort my body to meet our needs in ways you would be amazed. Yoga friends… beware. I’m going to need you.

Eating is not too rough. I brace my arm on the table and move my mouth to the fork instead of the fork to my mouth. I’m not sure if everyone else enjoys my meal that way, but I’ve found the food tastes the same… it’s also more work so perhaps I will eat less. I might be starting a new diet trend, who knows?

When I had my left scapulectomy I was much younger and it worried me that I “looked like a ballerina on one side and a football player on the other” because of the way my muscles adapted to accommodate my needs. Well… I don’t match this time either. I took a good look in the mirror today and I’ve lost my corner… no more sharp turn at my shoulder. It’s a lot more like a slope. Who knows how clothes will fit… most of my time right now is in pajamas.

My Mom is here and doing her best to help every way she can and our friends are preparing meals. I continue to be in awe of the sweetness, kindness and generosity of our family and friends. Just today we had three visitors, a fresh pineapple from Hawaii and flowers from my Rotary friends and a girlfriend.

In the middle of these moments I’ve been reminded that in 1987 a physician told me that my life expectancy was less than 5 years. F.I.V.E. Y.E.A.R.S. When I struggle to relearn to function and when I get discouraged because of the changes I remind myself what a glorious gift the last 26 years have been, even the struggle itself is a gift.. I may have to relearn to function in some areas, but I’m alive.

In those 26 years there have been more gifts and blessings than I could begin to mention… Derrick grew from a toddler to a man. He became a husband and a father, he serves our country with honor and dignity. Our girl Bethany came into our life and through her struggles has taught all of us to be better people and what courage it takes to face the challenge of everyday life. I met and married John who is an extraordinary human being. My Father has beaten bladder cancer and been a trooper through many accidents. All of my nieces and nephews have been born and grown into fine young men and women. And our grandchildren… Alex and Emma… let’s just say John says I have “Grandmother Derangement Syndrome.” What a gift they are to us. I’ve had the honor of serving God in churches as pastor and youth minister. We’ve been richly blessed with relationships that have challenged us to grow in faith, courage and strength.

Today I am not the same girl I was when I received that scary diagnosis 26 years ago and the prediction that my life expectancy would be less than 5 years. No way. Today I’m so blessed it’s hard to fathom. The fact that I CAN plug in the coffee maker is a gift. My shoulder may slope, but it’s still a shoulder and moves and will learn to do more. These are moments I will treasure, reminding myself that I CAN and if I can’t, there are others who will. What a great life I have.

I love you,
Cindy

And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 1Timothy 1:14

Sack Races, Shoes for Orphans Souls, Friends and Cancer… Oh Nuts!

Written Aug 15, 2013 9:55am by Cindy McMurry

Strange title, I know.  But it’s a good reminder to me that life keeps moving and in the midst of scary things, good and funny things can still happen.  Laughter is good for us!

We have a Champion!!  Bethany participated in Field Day yesterday.  She won the Sack Race over “all the kids at OLOP.”  She was pretty excited.  I’m hoping she’ll read this, so be sure to share your congratulations with her!  She also was able to eat some chocolate pudding with M&M’s hidden in it out of a diaper… she told me she ate a “dirty diaper.”  Evidently, she did not win this, but I’m thinking I wouldn’t have either.  😉

Our Rotary Club is raising funds to buy shoes for orphans.  One of the most distressing things I learned through this program; many children cannot go to school if they do not have shoes.  I’m so encouraged by the response of our friends in our club and the community, as we make the effort to change lives.  It’s an honor to be in a group of such fine people.

I’ve been able to be a part of several groups in Harlan and a support group on line.  Each group is special in it’s own way.  According to John there is “The Real Book Club,” “The Fake Book Club” (HA!) and “The Trauma Momma’s.”  Also we have our church family, Rotary, the folks at John’s office and the folks at Red Bird.  We are overwhelmed by the generosity and offers to help from all of you.  We’ve laughed and giggled at all the funny things you share.  You are so precious to us.  Thank you for loving and supporting us and being a part of our lives.

One of my dearest friends in Harlan has gotten some difficult news about her Mom’s health, unfortunately a frightening diagnosis.  My brother shared with me that a friend of theirs has gotten a cancer diagnosis.  Please pray for them!

There are so many things about cancer that is difficult to cope with.  First there is shock, then fear, then denial, then tests and treatments that are often hurry up and wait, then talking to family and friends,  emotional and spiritual challenges…  It’s not easy to combat all of this.  We all need the support of our family, friends and community and yet the offers of help are often overwhelming.  We also struggle to know how to ask for help or even what to ask for… Just yesterday we were the one’s helping others.  How do we switch so quickly?  How do we keep things from falling through the cracks (like paying bills etc)?  Please have patience with us.  Sometimes we will forget important things.  Sometimes we will say things that seem selfish.  Sometimes we will forget to call or write to say Thank you.  Sometimes it takes all of our energy just to be… just to put one foot in front of another.

In Sweet Alex’s words “Oh (Coco)nuts!”  It’s hard having cancer.

We do need you.  Keep making us smile.  Keep making us laugh.  Remind us that you love us and know that we love you too!  Pray for us and for others who are facing difficult times.

You are precious to us.

We love you,
Cindy and John

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”  Proverbs 17:22

Precious Times

Written Jul 31, 2013 9:02am by Cindy McMurry

Emma JaneWhen I was twenty two I learned the lesson that health and life were fragile.  That was during my first bout with cancer.  I learned to try to find value in each day and be thankful.

But it seems to me that what I’m learning during this time is how to appreciate and invest in the precious times and recognize that each second we have is precious.  It’s not the things of this world that have our attention, it’s the gifts we’ve so generously been blessed with; one another, our children and grandchildren, our family, our friends, our faith.

I find that John and I are laughing more, we are talking more, we are just ‘being’ more.  I notice that we are holding hands more and finding each touch precious.  We are not putting things off that we’ve wanted to do for a long time.  I find that we are smiling and laughing when we think of our two grandchildren, Alex and Emma.  Any problems we face seem to be made smaller as we look forward to times with our children and grandchildren.  All of creation just seems to be more beautiful.  We are no longer just thankful in passing for each day, we count each day and each moment as precious.

Pray for us that as we begin to have appointments at Vanderbilt, Indianapolis and MD Anderson that we don’t become overwhelmed by all we are hearing, but that we will consider each moment of our day and recognize just how precious it is. Ann Voscamp wrote “1000 Gifts” and reminds us to find gifts in the unexpected.  I pray we are able to have eyes that see and ears that hear, so we don’t miss the unexpected gifts and precious moments of our days.

We are going to meet our little Emma for the first time in the midst of my appointments.  Pray that we can drown out all the unimportant things and the things we cannot change and just revel in the miracle of our first granddaughter.  Isn’t she beautiful?

Thank you for being our friends and for your prayers.  You are precious to us.

We love you,
Cindy and John

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17