Today’s Blessings

I continue to be amazed at how my BSF Bible study of the gospel of John and my GriefShare workbook and peoples’ need intertwine! This could only be a God thing! What I study for the week and learn during the morning on Thursdays is so applicable to our Thursday night meetings for GriefShare. Tonight was one of our best nights, because we (the leaders) watched the group help each other. We talked about real progression from where we all were 9 wks ago and who is sharing and talking today. And what concrete needs, physical needs we have that we can help each other with. I am so humbled by what God is doing! At some time we are ALL going to grieve for someone. That is life. What most people don’t realize is that grieving is a process-and that you have to go through the process. You have to take the time to grieve. If you do not, it will come back on you in some way, some how in the future. GriefShare is just that-sharing our grief, regardless of what loved one died. Processes for moving forward in a good way, not pushing it down and ignoring it as so many do.

Sometimes people are mad at God. How can a good, loving God take their loved one away? Sometimes there are no answers, but I can promise that God will bring good things out of the bad times. Sometimes, that one good thing is all you have to cling to when you are so desolate, but God absolutely will meet you where you are if you will call out to Him. He is just waiting for that call-He will wait your whole life for that call if necessary.

I was reflecting this week on this past year and the changes in my life since my parents died last year. I too have looked for the “good things”. And really there are so many. I’m now involved in a ministry that is helping other grieving people. People have come to know the Lord personally as a result. This is absolutely not something I would have sought out for any other reason.  My relationships with my siblings and spouses is closer and I have watched as they have grown closer together and to the Lord in their own search for that “one good thing”.  My mom’s spiritual gift was evangelism. There wasn’t anybody, anywhere that she wouldn’t share her faith with. If the refrigerator broke down, she’d just know that the repairman was going to meet Jesus that day! Now I have to say that I haven’t gone that far, but I know that God brings people into my sphere for a reason-and I am always willing to share His love and grace with anyone that  is interested. This  urgency is new this last year. I don’t know how God does that exactly, but I feel like the mantle has been passed on to me. I don’t bring up the conversation, HE does. I just give HIM permission every morning to do so! Maybe that is the difference. I am available.

One thing that my parents left was a legacy. All their six children know the Lord Jesus personally. All but one of the 10 grandchildren that are old enough to have made a personal decision to trust in Jesus have also. I am sure that the others will come along as will my grandchildren someday as they too are being taught about Jesus. Deuteronomy says that we are to teach our children at all times-sitting down, mealtimes, walking-whatever we are doing-we should be teaching them about Jesus and His love and His sacrifice for us.  I wasn’t all that great at following those directions in raising my girls, but I thank God everyday that what little I did say or do and all the praying I’ve done since I got over my “God mad” has made such a difference in their lives. Now I have my 3 granddaughters to pray for and to teach. Like I said BLESSINGS!

Profoundly Changed

I kept my promise and got involved in a very depth Bible study. The first book we studied was Phillipians. I couldn’t imagine learning so much from that one little book-but I did. I began to share what I was learning with my husband as we walked at night. Sometimes we discussed the lessons. Eventually I started going back to church and suddenly he was getting up to go with me. We didn’t join or go to a Sunday School or small group, but at least we were worshiping every Sunday.

Sometime before all this happened, I got over my “God mad”. One day, it was as if God knocked me on the head and said, ” Cindy, if I hadn’t let him (my ex-husband) leave, you would have never met and married the love of your life-who has loved you and cherished you, raised your children-been there through thick and then. Don’t you get it?” That very day, I got down on my face before the Lord and asked forgiveness and then I claimed the verse where He says He will restore the years that the locusts have eaten. Since then, it certainly seems like-with what I am learning and doing and sharing-that He is really doing that!

Sometimes I think that my body has rebelled against me and decided that every part of it should be fixed, taken out or repaired. In 1994, I had a problem with my colon and my bladder. I have to say that of all my surgeries, this was probably the worst. On top of that, my bladder went to sleep and didn’t wake up for a week (we didn’t know I was allergic to morphine and this was one of the side effects), so I had to go home with a foley! It was awful! It took me many months to recover from the surgery and all the side effects. I was blessed that I could work from home or the office and that God kept producing the placements!

During one of our regional business meetings I noticed that my hands had started swelling at the joints, were hot and very painful. The next thing I knew, I was seeing a Rhuematoidologist-a specialist in Rhuematoid Arthritis. After xrays and blood tests, I was diagnosed with one more awful thing. As it progressed, I had to learn to live with chronic pain. Some days, I couldn’t walk. I felt like I was walking on my bones in my feet. Sometimes, I just lay in bed and ached all over. It was like having the flu, but not the flu. With RA, there is a methodology to treatment. They start with the light weight stuff before going to the needles and then infusions through IV. Some meds would work for awhile then stop, some wouldn’t work at all. I can’t remember how many I have been on, but just now, the most recent drug has quit working too. What a shame for me and for the insurance company that paid such a hugh amount for my infusion. Now it’s back to the drawing board and back to the Vicodan and heating pad!

This is one of my “thorns” that God has not chosen to heal. I don’t know why-He certainly has healed me from other things-very miraculously, but not this. It certainly keeps me dependent upon Him for my every move and reminds me to pray for those in worse conditions!

uh oh!

Everything was going along well. We had a good office of 8 consultants and me. Then I was stricken with breast cancer. It was kinda crazy how it all came together. I had had regular mammagrams. One showed some changes in one area and I was to come back in 3 months and have another one. Still more changes this time, so I went to Moffit and also sent my slides to my doctor at Emory in Atlanta. Moffit told me to wait and watch, while Emory said-let’s test further. I went up to Atlanta and consulted with 2 other oncologists. They thought that I should not wait for things to get worse, but to go ahead and have a double simple subcutaneous mastectomy. I was on premarin from my previous hysterectomy and certainly did not want to give up that medicine. I was 39 years old and by this time had had numerous biopsies with diagnosis on the edge of malignacy. It was time to make sure things went no further. This way, I would not have to have chemo or radiation…althought that is no longer what they do today in treatment.

We scheduled the surgery over the holidays in November. I thought that the less I was away from my office the better. I was gone three weeks.

Still business struggled and our office suffered as a result. Finally  we moved into  a shared office with MRI Clearwater and MRI  West Palm Beach as well as MRI Tampa. Consolidating the offices was good. We could play off of each other-although  most of what they did was not local as I was. Still it was a great learning time for me-in terms of all kinds of recruiting, objections, ect.(probably one of the most fun times of my life)

Soon after that the General Manager left to purchase his own MRI franchise. And so began the saga of new MRI mgrs…I just kept my head down and did my business.

In 1993, I had my final surgery for my breast reconstruction. It was supposed to be nothing at all. In fact done right in the clinic operating room. I woke up with a tube in my throat in the hospital. I had had an asthma attack under anesthesisa and had stopped breathing. They had fought to get me back.

My first thought was not that I almost died and what would have happened to me,but that I was there standing before the God of the Universe. He asked me how I had spent my time on earth after I had become a believer. He asked me if I knew all the guys lined up beside Him-it seems that they were his prophets-the writers of His Word. Had I even read all of His love letter to me? All I could think of  was that I was so ashamed. I was so convicted of my negligence. That day I purposed in my heart that I would change my ways, my life. I was given a second chance and I would make the most of it!

Starting Over

The recession hit with a bang in 1987 and 1988. Due to new laws, investors pulled out of commercial real estate and everthing stopped. Well, not like present day, but enough to kill our little commercial floor covering business. We lost a lot as we had personal guarantees, but we paid those we owed with the last of the money we had. Now we had to start over-financially and personally.

As we wound it down, MRI came calling to me! They knew of my experience in Atlanta and wanted to open an office here in Tampa. I never thought that this was a risky proposition, just an opportunity to work back in something I knew. This was one of the major competitors I had when I worked in Atlanta. I knew they were a class act and was thrilled with the opportunity. I was really fortunate that they worked with me on my draw–I needed guarantees that you usually don’t have in a start up situation. I was glad that they believed in me and really supported me.

Of course I did acknowlege this was a gift from God. It’s amazing how one starts praying when one has great needs! Dennis landed a job with a local distributor and we began to work our way back.

Once again, God was blessing my work.  I didn’t really pay that close attention as my days and many nights were filled with calls. I wanted to have a successful office and it took lot’s of hard work. I found out that if I achieved a certain level of production, I could win a trip to Hawaii! Well, of course, I had never been there and so that became my goal. We did go, taking Melissa with us. What an absolutely life changing trip it was for me. For the first time, I realized the power of MRI and what working for them could afford us. I saw Top Ten winners at the Awards Banquet-that was like the Oscars. That became my new goal-to become a top 10 winner.


 As I have expressed in previous writings, we had issues with Laurel. She  was a ‘daddy’s girl” from the start. Cried for him so many times as a toddler, even when she was getting tubes in her ears! Several times! unfortunately when she reached 11, we really started having problems-withschool. We met many times with the psychiatrist as well as school officials and her teachers. No one liked giving her the medicine for ADHD. That was one problem. She was very smart and once she showed you that she could do long division or spell a word, she didn’t want to repeat the process in homework. It didn’t help that her dad was making a play for her to come live with him-lots of promises of what could be…finally I gave up when we were filing for bankruptcy with our business and I was facing breast cancer. I truly believed that they could give her the counseling and and one on one time that she needed! Of course this was the worst mistake I ever made!

Laurel went to live with them at age 12. She came back to us at 18. She finished her senior year of high school. Dennis taught her to drive, to balance a checkbook and other essential things that a child should learn to be able to become an adult.

The rest is her story…with us doing what we could and can for her!


Early Tampa Years

Our first home in Tampa had a nice big swimming pool. We moved in the summer, so the kids (and the dog) were in heaven. I loved it too as I got to stay home with them, doing a little secretarial work for Dennis’ business until they moved into their office in the Westshore area.  When Dennis would come home from work, we’d all go swimming together. We had such a great time those few months.

When fall came, it was back to school for the kids. We had moved where we felt the best schools were for them, but for Laurel, it was very hard. Her class had team teaching and ADHD kids don’t do very well unless they are in a structured environment. We worked very hard with her and her teachers. I went to work as an outside sales rep for a temporary staffing company. I thought that this was the best way to get to know the city and the players and really hadn’t met anyone that did search and placement like we did in Atlanta that I wanted to work with. Very quickly I got very consumed with the job and there were many late nights filling job orders for companies to which I had sold our service.

The company sent me to Atlanta for sales training as that was their policy. And it was great sales training! My second time up there, I fell on a broken sidewalk and broke my foot. I came home in a cast and on crutches, but went right back to work. It was my left foot, so I could drive. Of course, my foot didn’t really heal well and as soon as I was out of the cast and off crutches, I re-injured it. Still, I kept working, just in the office for longer this time.

Then my neck started acting up. I had had a car accident back in 1978 in which I had cracked a vertebrae and damaged nerves in my neck as well as sustaining a concussion. Now I was starting to have regular times of just not being able to move or lift my head. I had had occasional bouts of this in Atlanta, but after physical therapy, I always got better. This time, I didn’t really get better. I saw a chiropractor-he did help me a lot more than the therapist. He was very thorough-did a blood test, blood pressure along with xrays. At 36, I had high blood pressure, high chlorestorol and high triglycerides! Well, that scared me for sure! My parents had heart issues and I certainly didn’t want to follow in their footsteps. I changed my diet significantly. I also changed my employment. That changed my blood pressure!

Of course there is more to the story! Our Melissa had fallen for one of the sons of one of the people I worked with. She was 13, he was 18. We caught her sneaking out at night to meet him and Dennis went ballistic! He had had sisters and warned me to watch her more closely,but I of course, couldn’t believe that my daughter would do that! He pulled her out of public school and put her in a private, all girl’s Catholic school. They wore uniforms and no makeup. I picked her up every day and for 6 months, she didn’t have a social life of any kind. I have to admit it worked. We didn’t have any trouble with her behavior after that!

But at work, tension between me and my co-worker was very strong. She, defending her son and his being led astray by my daughter! Dennis wanted to prosecute the boy, but we didn’t. About this time, my dad was stricken with his heart and went through his first quadruple by-pass. Seeing him like that, something in me shifted and I knew that I didn’t want to wind up like that because of a job or my  circumstances.

Dennis and I decided that I would work part time for his company-marketing to designers and architects. Having grown up in the business with my mom and then my sisters and brother, this was an easy transistion for me. I was able to help the business and work the hours I needed to, but be home for the girls.

You notice there is still no God connection in all of these years. Yes, the girls occasionally went to church as I did. But He was not an important part of our home, our decisions, our conversation. I think He was letting the rope out with me. He says that He will never let us go once we are His-and eventually He was going to pull that rope up tight!

Some Major Obstacles

One of our challenges in our first house in Atlanta was a small deck and lot’s of pine trees. My husband was such a great handy man-do it yourselfer-before the HGTV stuff!

We had a big back yard and wanted a puppy for the kids and so he rented an auger-a posthole digger and proceeded to put a fence in. It was very physically taxing. I could only help with offers of water or food or occasionally moving stuff, but he did all the work. Then he proceeded to take down “extra” pine trees. He had a pulley with a chain, along with his other tools and he took down a bunch. One day while he was working outside, my daughter came rushing up and and told me to come to Dennis right away.  The pulley had broken and the cable had snapped back on his leg and torn it. He had a towel wrapped around it and was very calm, telling me I needed to take him to the ER. That was Dennis-still is-very calm when emergencies are happening! We went to the ER down the street and they cleaned him, stitched him up and gave him antibiotics. He was doing well, I thought, when a few mornings later, I saw red streaks running down his leg and I knew that meant blood poisoning. Back we went to the ER and got more meds. Again, Dennis was a lot calmer and less concerned than I was but he healed and was good to go! The next thing I knew, he was building onto our existing deck and expanding it all across the back of our house. It and he were amazing! We celebrated Laurel’s sixth birthday with all her friends on that deck. It was a lovely party because of him.

One of the hardest things we dealt with as parents was Laurel’s difficulties in school. She simply couldn’t stay in her seat! Yet she read National Geographic magazines-in the first grade! She also had a bladder problem. Her teacher suggested we take her to the pediatrician and find out what was going on. And so began our odessey to take care of Laurel…

We were referred to two doctors. The first was a pediatric neurologist. She did some testing with Laurel. After the first session, she called us and said that although there was more to do and she’d also give a written report, Laurel needed immediate help and she didn’t want to wait to give it. She ordered Ritalin for ADHD and also suggested we see a pediatric urologist. This was long before all the ADHD diagnosis’ or the use of Ritalin, but it did make an immediate impact on Laurel’s behavior and her ability to concentrate. The Ritalin also helped a bit with her bladder problems. Her brain and her body didn’t get the signals right that she had a need to go to the bathroom. With the urologist, we found out that she had a bladder the size of a pea. He operated, stretching out the bladder, which also helped, but didn’t eliminate the problem, especially at night. I must admit, this was not my finest moment as a mother! I should have found other solutions for her other than our daily unhappy, change the sheets sessions. Still with the medicine, Laurel improved greatly in school-she was/is quite intelligent and soon was bored with her studies. They put her in higher level learning classes and the education was great, but she was much too young and immature for her classmates. She was not a happy little girl…unless she was reading. She loved to read and read everything she could get her hands on! Then she’d tell you about whatever she had learned. We were always being amazed. Our only other issue with Laurel was her singing! The first time she sang, we all came running, thinking she was hurt or something. Of course, that wasn’t funny to her, but we admonished her after the 3rd or 4th time that she had to come tell us when she was going to sing. And she would! Wherever we were, whatever we were doing, she’d come and say “I’m going to sing now” and off she would go. Laurel still loves to sing!

Finally that last year in Atlanta, I changed my office hours to be home with the girls in the afternoon. I hoped that my being there would help with Laurel’s happiness and behavior. I have to admit, I was still too consumed with my responsibilities with work and spent a great deal of time on the phone instead of them…one of those things I’d definitely do over.