Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Last Gifts- "Holding Watch" for a Dying Friend

Note 2/12: Dennis Keen died peacefully on Monday, February 7th, surrounded by loved ones. His memorial service was held on Thursday, February 10th, where hundreds of friends, family, colleagues, and students remembered this man of faith and integrity. I will miss him forever.


My heart is broken. I am losing my dear friend Dennis Keen to cancer. I have been his friend for 23 years.

Every morning I saw him at school as he was one of the "early birds". I have watched him battle this horrible disease with courage, stamina, resilience and GUTS! I am, beyond, what any words could ever describe, proud of him. He has been a warrior against this disease. He did chemo every week for close to 2 1/2 years.

And I am learning some powerful life lessons.

I am choosing, as my dear Mom called it, to "hold watch" for my friend.

I am not ignoring this part of his life because it is SO hard to watch him deteriorate.
I am holding his hand and kissing his bald head and telling him how much he matters to me (and to so many others).
I am making meals, baskets, cards and being "present" in this part of his journey.

And it isn't easy.

I am NOT pretending that this will have a pretty outcome here on earth. It won't.

Most of all I am so cognizant of what it means to have such a dear friend leave your life.
I am "holding watch" with other friends of his...crying, hugging, whispering his name to God as he inch-by-inch goes Home.

I have loved having the chance to reminisce with Dennis, laugh, and share stories.

One of the fun moments in this part of the journey with Dennis came after I had visited him at the hospital and realized he was in too much pain to sit up. I wanted him to remember, as he looked to the ceiling of his bedroom at home, how dearly loved he was.

So I decided to create a "quilt-like" ceiling card (to go on the ceiling over his bed). His friends at school could take a square of colored card stock and write him a message of hope and love. I used my scrap booking supplies to make repeat cards, cards that would have a theme and tie the quilt together. I used powerful tape to hold all of the squares together on the back side.

The card started on a table in the faculty lounge in Old Main. I left extra squares and a pen so others could share their love for Dennis and his wife Virginia, who also works at SCC.

The card grew and grew.

AND GREW!

As expected, some of the messages came from his inner circle of friends at SCC.

Other unexpected messages came from maintenance people who had heard that Dennis Keen, who always spoke to them and showed gratitude to them, was terminally ill.

When I delivered the card it was five feet tall and 14 feet long!


Message after message celebrated the large and small kindnesses that Dennis did every day!

Today I am headed to see Dennis and deliver a meal. I don't know how many visits I'll have left with him
Each one is a reminder that life is fragile and such a GIFT!
Each visit reminds me to live every day as if it was my last.
Each visit is a reminder to tell those I love that I love them.

Yes, I am "Holding Watch" for my dear friend and while it is hard, it is a great honor to be there.

God Bless!
Love Linda

Sunday, January 09, 2011

A NEW YEAR and NEW HEALTH!

Carrots on my blog? Healthy vegetables in the background?

What in the world is going on with me?

The lessons pour in, cascade in, and stare me in the face. One of the greatest gifts God can give us is a healthy body. The question is simple:

DO I TAKE CARE OF THAT BODY?

Anyone who knows me knows that I have, for my whole life, struggled with taking time for me, taking the time for healthy nutrition, and getting in enough exercise (although I still do a brisk walk for the first 20 minutes I am at SCC every morning).

NOT ANY MORE!! Sloppy nutrition and sloppy health habits stop here and stop NOW!

Last quarter I battled a bug for weeks and weeks, I had three round of antibiotics, and my doctor, husband, family members, students, and friend Sharon all gave me some tough love....it's time to say "No" to some things and "YES!" to my own health.

These are smart people. They love me.

I would be a F.O.O.L not to pay attention!

As I watch dear friends battle for their lives with cancer, and saw Dennis in the hospital this past week, I am reminded that the Lord also has some tough love for me on this issue. This is a precious body, His gift to me, and I have not been doing a good
job taking care of it. I may have some A grades in some other areas of my life, but I have a D- in this area. Shame on me!

SO...things have been a changin' at the Salisbury home!

**During December and January we have been keeping our crock pot out on the counter, it's aroma filling our home. We are experimenting with lots of healthy soup receipes! Our latest is a lemon-chicken soup with oregano and tarrigon.

**I am on a RIGOROUS, daily vitamin regiment. No excuses! Take those horse pills (all 8 of them), no complaining allowed. Thanks Boppa for helping me with this!

**Get more sleep. Yesterday I went back to bed and got another 2 hours of shut eye!

**Let go of old hurts. I know that what I hold on to impacts my health. It's time for a fresh start with some folks.

**Have more seafood in our diet. Last night I fixed a poached salmon and lemon dish that was out of this world! Today we'll also add some fresh cracked crab to that menu.

**Focus on having a healthy breakfast! I am eating oatmeal and a 1/2 banana every morning during the school week. Yesterday morning, for Bert and for me, I made a veggie fritata with organic eggs and vegetables.

**Try new receipes and have FUN with cooking! I do have fun cooking during the summer, but truth be told I have tried to skate by most of the rest of the year!

**I am reading books about nutrition, watching the food network, watching Dr. Oz, and making it a priority to...

change my thinking about nutrition!

For some folks, this may seem small and not a big deal. But let me tell you...

IT IS A BIG DEAL TO ME!

I would appreciate your prayers and any encouragement you can give me! Sharon, thanks for the care package you sent, all about self-care! It was right on target!

Yup, it's time to move toward a more healthy life style. After all...
next month I'll be 64! I want to make it to 74... and beyond!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A New Way To Celebrate The New Year! Start With Two Pages of Paper...

Many people ring in the New Year with a fun party and a list of New Year's Resolutions. That list encompasses their goals for the year to come. While I love to set goals in every area of my life, and I always appreciate the "new beginning" a new year ushers in, every New Year's Day I do something just a little bit different. I thought I'd share this idea this morning, one I learned from a speaker on the Power of Prayer at the Cannon Beach Christian Conference Center. Here's a new way to usher out your "old year" and bring in the "new". This is also especially great to try with your children as it really helps them to focus on the power of prayer and being grateful for God's blessings.

So here's the exercise:

On the first day of every new year I get out two pieces of paper, some colored pencils and markers, and some stickers.

On one page I write the words:

"Thank You!" Page

On the second page I write the words:

Prayer Requests for the New Year

On the first page I thank God for all of the blessings He has given me during the last year. I even go back to my prayer requests from the previous year and look at what He has done and thank Him for all of the blessings.

When I look at my prayer requests as 2010 started I am AMAZED at how God came through, how the yearnings of my heart were answered, how He knew what I needed, even when I didn't. I've always thought that prayer was powerful. I pray every morning and keep a list of people to pray for and the specific needs that they have.
I also include my own specific requests. For example, one of my specific prayer requests every morning in 2010 was that Amy would get relief from the horrible pain she suffered as a result of a car accident. I asked God to bring a specific doctor, Dr. Weigle, to help Amy. I wrote this down on January 1, 2010. And low and behold, God is answering that prayer.

At the start of 2010, I asked God for healing in specific relationships (the details are personal) where all seemed lost and hopeless. God's healing in these realtionships has been nothing short of a miracle.

So, this morning on my "Thank You!" Page I have been writing down all the things I want to thank God for...all of the blessings bestowed on me, His daughter. I am thanking Him for my job, for my friendships, for help with struggles and relief from worry, for changes at work, for a new attitude, for optimism about an illness, for a new and closer relationship with HIm.

On the second page, I write down my new Prayer Requests for 2011. God promises me in Psalms that He is an "ever present help in trouble". He also promises me that He will know the cry of my heart and what I really yearn for.

Once again I am writing down prayer requests for myself and others...anticipating that in God's perfect timing I will once again see how He answers these prayers too.

I keep these pages from year to year so I can go back and look and see how God is moving in my life and the lives of those I love, care about, and am praying for! When I look at the list from 2009, I am amazed at His grace. As I write the list for 2011, I anticipate how He will answer these prayers too. I hold to the quote that if I have faith, even as small as a mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible.

And that, for me, is a GREAT way to usher in 2011!!
Want to give this a try? It's a meaningful way to grow your faith and see the power of prayer!

God Bless!
Love, Linda

A Reminder of What Matters...

                   "We are all just walking                       each other home."                                             ...