Saturday, May 30, 2015

Where are you God, Part 2?

First off, let me start by saying thank you to those who took the time to comment, facebook message me or text.  I really appreciated it.

There's one thing I didn't mention on my last blog post because we didn't know for sure and now we do and my mind's in a while once again and I want to say, "Really God? Don't we have enough right now?" But I guess not and it hurts so deep and so raw and how do you grieve one more thing.

But yes, it's true: my oldest sister has officially been diagnosed with breast cancer. I'm not going into a lot of details on this blog, likely never will for two reasons: one, we don't know much yet and two it's her story to tell. But I will beg and plead for prayers for her that she could be healed and for her husband, her children, her siblings, and her mom as we try to make sense of the "evil" that has invaded our family and as we try to figure out how best to help and I don't even know how to request prayer for this, just pray. I just think of her children and yes, I know some of them will read this, but I think of you, my nieces and nephews as you grieve the loss of grandpa and now try to grasp the fact that your mom is sick. My heart breaks all over again.

So there you have it: the whole awful Mast saga of the last few weeks.  As my niece so aptly said, "If only I could go back to being 17 again." This sequence of events seemed to start on her 18th birthday with Dad's surgery. Yes, I know God was in control and He knew all this, but I have wished so many times that we could just roll back the tapes to April 27 and redo things and have Cheryl and Bentley and Dad with us and have this awful cancer diagnosis somewhere in outer space never to touch our family.

I did read something this morning in my daily devotional book. I'm behind, but the date would have been May 28 and the title is "Impossibilities"  "The same is true for you whenever you experience the overwhelming storms of life. Though they rise unexpectedly, there is no reason to fear, because the Lord is with you. When you place your trust in him, he will provide the protection you need to get through every trial--even the kind that seems impossible."

I do want to hold on to God during this time, but I will be honest--I think it's Him holding on to me because my grip has lost its grasp and the will to hang on is there, but the strength and energy is gone.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Where are You God?

Okay, let me start by saying I still believe in God. I know He is powerful and all-knowing and caring, but.... as one of my friends said, sometimes it feels like we are just pawns in His hands and He just does with us whatever He wants. And yes, I know that the bad things are more a result of the curse and living in a sinful world that doesn't honor God, than it is God wanting to hurt us.

I got a text back the day Cheryl died that said something to the effect that God must see great potential in me to be putting us through these tough times and right now I would like to say, "God, I'm maxed out. There is no more potential to be sucked out of me, so could you please just let me be now?"

I know I should pray, but I feel like what's the use?  I prayed that Dad's surgery would go okay and his heart stopped on the operating table. I prayed that he would wake up and instead his brain waves went flat. I prayed his heart would stop before we had to make the decision to stop the life supports and his heart reverted to normal sinus rhythm the morning he died. I didn't pray about Amber cooperating on the day Dad died and she slept solidly from the time we left home until we were at the restaurant after Dad had died. So should I stop praying? It seems my unspoken and even unthought of requests have a better success rate than my spoken pleas.

Yes, yes, I know I shouldn't stop praying, but these are things I think of.  And then this weekend someone brought up the question, "Do the choices we make determine when we die?"  Now I know that the person who asked this question may read this blog and I mean no offense to you for raising it, but allow me to give my take on that question.

First off, it would drive me to insanity if I totally believed that, because everything you did you would double guess.  Will this doughnut be the nail in the coffin of diabetes and heart disease?  Should I buy organic vegetables or should I eat only whole grains? Yes, I do believe there are some choices that do determine when we die, like smoking and drinking can definitely shorten your life span.  However things like heart surgery? That was supposed to add years to Dad's life, so yes in retrospect the decision to have surgery did determine when Dad died and yet did it?  We have no proof that if he would have skipped the surgery and come home that he wouldn't have died on Monday from a heart attack instead of a week and a half later. Looking back we realize that Dad was likely in a lot worse shape than most of us realized and we have no way of knowing that the chest "ache" Dad said he had wouldn't have left the rest of us rolling on the floor in agony.

And let's look at Nicole: what choice did she make that ended her life almost before it had really begun? I am pretty sure that she didn't decide to break her own protective sac and I'm pretty sure she didn't decide to allow infection in. So then was it my fault and I brought about the death of my own daughter?  That thought alone could drive me to depression and suicide.

Sudden, unexpected death always causes us to double guess our decisions, but in reality God is in control and He does have a plan. It's just sometimes I think His plans aren't so great, but that's just me.  I'm quite sure Dad and Cheryl and Bentley are having the time of their lives and think God made a great choice.

Whether this made sense or not, I don't know, but these are the ramblings and scattered thoughts of someone who is grieving and hurting and trying to figure out what life is really all about.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Taken by Dee Henderson

Product Details

I am a Dee Henderson fan.  I think she writes a good, captivating story. There is normally romance mixed in, but I don't consider it the predominant feature.

This book is the story of a girl who was kidnapped at age 16 and escaped 11 years later. Shannon was a remarkable girl in that she dealt with her captivity by developing and maintaining a strong faith in God, journaling, and developing her photography skills. She didn't attempt escape earlier because she didn't want to cause another person to die which is what would have happened.

Shannon chose Matthew to be her guide to settling in to the real world again as his daughter had also been kidnapped and recovered. The romance aspect was Shannon was pretty determined to date Matthew and he was equally sure that while he also wanted to date her, he thought she needed to wait and work through some of her issues first.

The book had a good flow to it; very little edge-of-your-seats drama, but captivating all the same. I was extremely impressed with the faith of Shannon for all she went through and all she saw while she was kidnapped. I would like to have faith like that--faith that can stand up under trials and tests; faith that perseveres and grows and deepens; a dependence on God that we in America often neglect. That is the faith I desire.

the amazing make-ahead baby food book by Lisa Barrangou, PhD

Product Details
"make 3 months of homemade purees in 3 hours"

Ahh, the inspiration this book incites.  Some people think I'm a little nuts for being excited about starting Amber on baby food and while it makes me a little sad to think of her growing up so fast, it makes me excited to move her on to the next step.  I have about 3 more weeks to wait because we all know that 3 months and 29 days is too early to start them on food, but 4 months is the perfect time!!!

Anyway, this book has inspired me to attempt making my own baby food. I was planning to anyway, but this book breaks it down into recipes so I can know how to steam the veggies/fruit and also gives some combination recipes for mixing two kinds of food together.  The author also recommends really branching out in the food categories: kale, quinoa, beans, etc; things I wouldn't have thought to give a baby.  Two features I really like in this book are: a breakdown for how to cook the food in 3-1 hour increments and the second is a menu for feeding the baby with each food being given for three to five days in a row as the only new food to make sure there are no allergy issues.

She does provide some combination recipes in the back. I will likely try some of them, but I'm pretty determined that if it something I wouldn't try myself, that I don't make my baby try it in combination. I will make my baby eat peas, etc., but I don't know that I will force her to eat soybeans, dried seaweed and brown rice all mixed up together.  Also included in the back are some recipes for toddlers as well - Coconut Granola Parfait, Avocado Egg Dippers, etc.

I really like this book. It's a nice hard cover, attractive looking book and just makes me want to go make all the stuff right away!!

This book was given me by Blogging for Books for the purpose of reading and writing a review on it. All opinions expressed are my own.

Princess Charity by Jeanna Young and Jacqueline Johnson

Inspired by Jeanna Young & Jacqueline Johnson
Pictures by Omar Aranda

This is a children's, I would specify girls, activity book. Age range is 4-8. From what I have seen, I would think this book goes with some stories about Princess Charity because there really isn't much of a story line in this book, but it looks like fun.  There are reusable stickers. I was a little disappointed that there weren't more places in the book designed to hold the stickers.  I remember as a little girl having sticker book and they were so much fun.  There are 50 stickers, but I could only find designated places for 4 of them.  There is a spot a word page, a maze, a color by number, a dot-to-dot, etc.

I love the looks of the book, It looks bright and clean and so inviting.  It made me want to do the coloring myself.  Like I said there's not much of a story line, but you can gather that the authors are Christian simply by the use of the names. Princesses Joy, Grace, Hope, Faith and Charity.

I love this book and can't wait until Amber is old enough to be able to do it unless I force myself to gift it to someone else in the meantime. I will definitely try to check out other books like this.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review about it. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Some Thoughts

I'm just going to openly plagiarize here for a bit.

I think the hardest part of losing someone isn’t having to say goodbye, but rather learning to live without them.  Always trying to fill the void, the emptiness that’s left inside your heart when they go.

"We're not necessarily doubting that God will do what is best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." C.S. Lewis. Remembering precious lives...a beautiful little girl, a young mother and her newborn, and a wonderful grandfather...all lives that once were and thankfully, 'forever more will be' just not here and with us. Death has a way of raising real fear and some hard questions that trite 'cliched' answers won't fix. Lord, breathe your peace over us all please, in the name of Jesus ‪#‎FlorenceMarigoldinBloom‬  Heather Dawn Kuhns

These quotes stuck out to me when I read them this past week. I could expound about each of them individually, but I think I will let them speak for themselves.  I would also add this that maybe sometimes the heart is too overwhelmed by the losses to even begin grieving when the person draws their last breath.  Maybe time has to pass for a few weeks before the heart is able to grab a hold of the loss and begin to grieve.  

Adventures in Saying Yes by Carl Medearis

Product Details

A Journey from Fear to Faith

This is the story of a man with a lot more courage than I have ever possessed.  He looked fear in the face and seemed to laugh at it a lot of times.  He lived in the Middle East for about 11 years. He wasn't afraid to ask the Imam if they could host meetings in his mosque to talk about Jesus. By saying his talks were about Jesus and not Christianity, he was able to open many more doors than he would have otherwise.  But he did mention that he had to learn about Jesus and who He really was to be able to really talk about Him.

Carl spent some time in prison, he was kicked out of the country of Lebanon, but he wasn't afraid to keep going forward.  If he felt God was calling him to do something, he said Yes and then jumped in with both feet.

He admits you can tell God no if you want to, but what will happen is you will eventually stop hearing God's voice and you can miss out on some grand opportunities.

While I wish the book would have been more chronological in its stories and even included more stories of the years in Lebanon, it was a well-written and challenging book.  It definitely included the adventures in saying yes. I guess I was just expecting more of the adventure to be shared. The back of the cover says how the Medearis family "has faced Middle Eastern prisons, death threats, being kicked out of a country twice, and war." There is very little of this in the book. One story about a night in prison and a little bit about the first time they were kicked out of Lebanon and that's it, so in that regard it was a little disappointing.  However, Carl is a great storyteller and I would recommend this book.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Summer by Summer by Heather Burch

Product Details

This was a chick flick; one I think I decided I wouldn't really like before I started reading it. Not a very good way to start a book, but my perspective did change a bit with reading it.

After the events of the last couple of weeks, having a light book that required no deep analysis or applications to my own life was nice. The story line certainly wasn't very real to life in my mind-- stranded on an island with the boy you thought you hated, but of course fell in love with. The island just happened to have been the place of a new resort that was wiped out before opening by a hurricane, but which just happened to have lots of canned food so survival wasn't a real issue there. Of course, the bad guys were also using the island and the rescue was touch and go as the plane was shooting at Summer and Bray and the helicopter was returning fire.  But of course, they were rescued alive.

But we can't stop there-- there always has to be another girl that comes on the scene and drives Summer away.  By the time, she's ready to be reconciled, Bray is sick and in a coma, but her coming to him and talking to him wakes him up the first day.  Nice? Of course.  Realistic? Not in my mind.

But let's face it, I'm jaded here.  After having sat by the bedside of my Dad for a week waiting for him to wake up, I'm a little annoyed that the author would have Bray magically wait up within hours. I want to say--"Listen, that's not how it works." I know it can work that way, but it didn't for me and I'm not hugely interested in hearing about people it did work for, even if the work is fiction, maybe especially because the work is fiction. I do recognize that it is not Heather's fault that I read her book when I did, but it does affect my feelings about it.

The other thing I wasn't that keen on was the lack of God in the story. Yes, Summer started to pray again and seemed to renew her relationship with God, but never does it talk about Bray and how he felt.  Yes, he was willing to abide by Summer's commitment, but it never shows him being committed to God or purity or anything really. Unequally yoked comes to mind and I don't like it.

All in all, it was a nice story, not exceptional and I would say not at all realistic, but I would read another book by Heather before totally negating her as an author.  The book is certainly nice-looking enough especially to those of us up here freezing away in Northern Wisconsin.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers for  the purpose of reading and writing a review

Monday, May 11, 2015

It's Monday

Today is Monday. The company is going home, but the real work is only beginning.  Even for me, I am able to go home and somewhat forget about the events of the past two weeks. But mom? She is faced with it every day, every evening when Dad's little white truck doesn't come rattling up the driveway, she is reminded that this is the new normal.  That breaks my heart.  To go to family dinners and Dad's seat is empty; his chair sitting unused in the living room, those are the things that drive me to tears much more than the well-wishers of the past few days.  Don't get me wrong--I appreciated every one of you, but my tears had left me. I felt dry-eyed and numb.

But now?  I don't know.  Life goes on and we find a new normal and as Dan preached yesterday, we will try to learn to fly again, but until that pray for us, especially Mom as she is the one that has to face this the most head-on of all of us.

I love you Mom and I'm sorry Mother's Day was not so happy this year.

I know some of you are looking for a recap of that last day with Dad and someday I will write about it.  Will it be this week?  I don't know for sure.  We will see, but keep checking back.  I will someday write it.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dad's Visitation and Funeral Service

Amos Mast Visitation & Funeral

15571 W Co Hwy B
Hayward, WI 54843

2:PM to 4:PM Saturday
5:PM to 7:PM Saturday

Hayward Wesleyan Church
10655 Nyman Ave,
Hayward, WI 54843

Visitation 1:PM
Funeral Service; 2:PM

Gravesite Service;
Northwood Mennonite Church
14547W Cty Rd K
Hayward WI 54843

Meal served at Northwoods Church afterwards

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Dad has Gone Home

Dad passed away peacefully this afternoon about 2:05.  Viewing and funeral on Saturday and Sunday.  Details to follow.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Special Kind of Prayer Request

Yes, it's me again asking for prayer again.  Dad is being anointed this evening at 6:30. I firmly believe God is ABLE to heal; I struggle with the faith to believe that He will heal. I want Him to very, very badly.  We are asking that, if you think of it, to pray for Dad this evening at that time and any other time you think of it as well!!

Dave and I were talking about Dad's prayers on the way home.  He often started out his meal prayer with "Our gracious heavenly Father, we come before you this...(often a little pause as Dad tried to remember which meal he was praying for) :) :)" I would give so much to hear Dad pray this prayer again.  As someone else pointed out, Dad's prayers had a lot of "We thank you for..." and right now, I'm thinking that would be concluded with "all the people who are praying for us."

In other news, Dad seems to be doing much better today physically.  He does have an infection, but they are hoping to get some of his extra IV lines out today and a PICC line put in.  This is an IV generally put in in the upper arm that can stay in a lot longer than the other IV's without as big of a concern for infection.  His blood pressure and oxygen seem to be much better today.  We are praising God.

Mom was able to have a really good night's sleep. She was out tilling her garden this morning which was great therapy for her.  She was also able to talk with some really good old time friends last evening which she said was better than any medicine.  I talked to her on the phone and she sounded so upbeat again.  Thank you for those who have been praying for her as well--while this is hard on us children, it doesn't begin to match up to what Mom is feeling as she watches her husband lie there.

Thanks once again for all of your prayers and we ask that you continue to pound heaven's door.  I/We want to be submissive to God's will, but I want to be good and sure that God knows what we want!!!! I know He does, but He also says we must ask if we hope to receive.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Post Op Day 5

What a day!!  Really the last few days have been a roller coaster of emotions.  Yesterday wasn't the greatest day for Dad, but to be honest I somewhat distanced myself as Dave and I went to Cheryl and Bentley Burkholder's funeral.  To those who there and asked about Dad, I apologized if I seemed rude, but it was too much to talk about at the moment.

Hope had been diminishing over the previous couple days and it was hard to talk about.

Let's recap today.  Today started very early for us. I got a call from the hospital at 2:49 AM saying Dad had made some changes during the night, his oxygen sats weren't very good, his blood pressure was dropping and his kidneys seemed to be failing.  They thought we should come.  So those of us who were at the motel went in right away with Darryl & Ruthie, Dave, Dorothy and Ross coming as soon as they could.  Dad was stable when we got there and over the next couple of hours, his oxygen got better and his kidneys seemed to be doing their job better as well.  His heart had flat-lined briefly during the night, but came back with no intervention other than meds.

The doctors came in and wanted to do an MRI of the brain which would tell us the extend of the brain injury that Dad had.  They were pretty much absolutely certain that Dad had brain injury related to his post-surgical incident when his heart stopped as they were sewing him up.  In order to do the MRI, they had to pull the temporary pacemaker.  This can cause conflict between the neurologist and cardiac surgeon, but temporary patches were applied to be used if it became necessary.

His original MRI was scheduled for 11, but the machine was broke down and so another one had to be used and his MRI took place at 12:30.

Both the cardiac surgeon and the neurologist came to talk to us together and to their complete surprise and ours as well, the MRI showed really no brain injury.  Now our emotions were off on the other end of the spectrum.  All of a sudden there is hope again. The other complications of the last few days were concerning but not worrisome. They can be a result of heart surgery.  Dad is almost 80. Their recommendations are to continue to give this more time.  While it feels like months to us or at the least weeks, it has only been 5 days and much could happen yet.

They did sedate Dad a bit more so that he would quit breathing on his own.  This was done because the ventilator and Dad were not in sync and it made very jerky looking breathing.  It was awful to watch him like that because it looked like he would have really been struggling.  He looks much better now.

We have a wonderful team of doctors. They took the time this morning to explain things and to answer our questions about the events of the last week and a half.

So we are back to the waiting game.  Mom and Vivian, Dave and I came home tonight.  Mom and Vivian I think will go back tomorrow. I am thinking tomorrow or maybe even Wednesday.  Darryl and Ruthie and Dorothy and Veronica are there tonight.  They will all leave tomorrow sometime.  Kevin made the difficult decision to go home this morning in the midst of all this with the plans to return on the weekend again. We are trying to work out something of a schedule that will allow two people to be with Dad without wearing any one out completely.  This is still such a waiting game, but it doesn't feel completely hopeless now.

I talked to Ruthie tonight and she had spoken with the doctor who said that Dad did improve throughout the day. So things feel more positive.

So we would just beg and plead for your prayers.  We want God's will to be done.  It feels like a miracle is needed now.  Darryl put it very well today: "Dad is not afraid to die, but he also isn't afraid to live." And we would love to see Dad put in a few more years on this earth, but we want God's will to be done in this as well.  So, the more prayers the better.

When you are this close to the situation, at least for me, it is hard to even pray.  You aren't even sure how to pray, but we are grateful for all of you who are lifting Dad and Mom and all of us up to God.  I and I think I can speak for the whole family are especially blessed by those of you who have prayed for Dad when you have come to see us.  It means so much.

Also a huge thank you to all the visitors.  We appreciate it so much--it helps break up our day. Don't feel bad if we push you off or tell you to come another day.  It is nothing personal, we are just trying to space out our visitors to make them "last longer".

This feels like a very factual, somewhat emotionless update.  Trust me, emotions were present today, but it is late and it has been a very LONG day and I am really ready for some good sleep.

Thanks again to all of you were are caring.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Post Op Day 3

Just a quick update on Dad.  We continue to wait and watch and see.  Those are the words of one of the medical professionals that was in to see Dad today.  That is really all I have to say.  

We continue to covet your prayers and we hope desperately that Dad will wake up, but until then we wait.

Friday, May 1, 2015

My Dad: Post-Op Day 1

Good evening, I know we have sent a few random updates throughout the day and we are grateful for all of your prayers and support.  Tonight is a bit more of an in-depth story of what happened today.

We started wandering over to see Dad this morning a little after 7.  I had called at 6:30 for an update and they said that Dad was doing fine, but his sedation medication had been turned off at 3:00 this morning and he wasn't waking up.  Darryl's went to see him first and he seemed stable, but when Mom, Vivian and I stopped in a little later, the nurse didn't want us talking to him or touching him or anything.  His blood pressure was quite high and she was trying to get it lowered.  We left and returned for a few minutes at 10:30.  Dad was still not responding and while they weren't terribly concerned yet, they were getting concerned.

I called back around 1 and they were now concerned.  They sent him for a CT scan of his head to see if they could detect any reason for him not waking up.  The biggest concern was that he had had a stroke or that he had suffered a lack of oxygen to his brain from when his heart stopped when he was still in OR.  We went back to the hospital around 2:45 and were just scared as we waited for results from the scan.  The only explanation that they could think of was a stroke or some form of brain injury.

BUT PRAISE THE LORD!!!!!!!!!  The scan came back clear.  You could feel the mood in the room change as it all sank in.  The doctor came in and explained it and said she talked to the radiologist who double checked the scan again to make sure.  She said even the lack of oxygen known as an anoxic brain injury would have shown up yesterday.  She said this doesn't completely rule out a brain issue as sometimes a week later something can show up, but at this point we are not looking at any kind of a brain issue.  She simply feels at this point that it is just taking Dad a long time to come out of the sedation.

We've heard of a few people that have taken 2 days to come out of sedation, so we feel like we have hope again that he will be fine.  While the doctor was still in, the nurse was trying to get dad to respond and she got more response than ever.  Vivian and Ruthie read him some of his favorite chapters in Isaiah and his foot moved a few times.  His eyes did seem to start trying to focus a little better at times as well.

A huge thanks to Clair and Ruthie for coming down in the afternoon and just being there for us.  Ruthie took over babysitting Amber for me so I could be back with Dad and also while we all went for supper.  Clair sat with Dad while we were gone for supper as well.

We had an amazing nurse during the day.  She was so helpful and concerned and took such good care of dad.  She is not scheduled to work on Friday, but thought maybe she could adjust her plans to be able to come back in if they needed her.  Our night nurse?  Not quite as nice. I think she is competent, but rather lacking in PR. The doctor is amazing; I think she had a stressful day yesterday worrying about Dad.  She told us she was a little short in the OR because she was worried.

It is now Friday morning: Vivian and I both called in during the night and they said there has been no change.  Darryl's are over there now and then we will go over in an hour.

Just continue to pray that Dad would wake up.  That is the biggest need right now.

Vivian is planning to stay a little longer--at this point she has no return time planned.  Dorothy will go home today for the weekend, I think.  Ruthie is staying through the weekend; I'm not sure what Darryl's plans are for today.  Dave is going to go home today and will come back early tomorrow morning and then we will both leave for Spencer for Saturday and Sunday to attend Cheryl Burkholder's viewing and funeral.

I am feeling very torn right now.  Dad is stable at this point, so in that respect it feels safe to leave, but the fact that he hasn't woken up at all makes me feel like I need to be here and yet I can't do anything here either and I feel like we definitely need to go to the funeral for myself as much as anyone.  Cheryl not being here is still so unreal--I need to see it and I want to be with her friends and family so we can grieve and cry together.  So just pray for us that we would have wisdom to know what to do.

As far as visitors?  They are welcome, but it is more of a sit in the waiting room most of the time; it's more knowing that someone is here that means something rather than any amount of visiting that gets done. We are back and forth from the waiting room to Dad's room.  We don't have any definite plans for the day.  We will be at the hospital a good bit, but if Dad doesn't respond more I doubt that we will be there all the time. We are now allowed to be in his room as much as we want.

Okay, this feels just a bit disjointed, so let me sum it up as best I can.

Pray that Dad would wake up soon.

Praise God that the CT scan was clear.  Knowing that has been a huge relief, but it is still very stressful to just wait.

Pray for Mom: she is doing as good as can be expected.  As hard as it is for us to see Dad like this, I am sure it is much harder for Mom.  Pray especially that she can sleep good at night.  So far she has been able to pretty well.

Big Trucks Getting the Job Done Together, Illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi

A dozer, a digger, a crane and a dump truck work together to get the job done. Written in rhyme, it reminds me a bit of the book "L...