Gift with Purchase

And the adventure begins…. My husband and I began a new adventure yesterday. We are now “village people.” Ever since 1991 when we first moved to Zionsville, Indiana, we have wanted to live in one of the town’s quaint historic homes and yesterday, for better or worse, that dream came true.

Our little house began it’s story in 1865 with the Higgins family. I can’t wait to take time to dive into the history preserved in the thick binder left for us by the previous owner. But for now, I will spend my time unloading boxes and saying hello and good-bye to the resident who thought he owned the house and perhaps he did. He keeps me awake this second night in our new house thumping on the prison gate of his cage that is propped on the roof above me. Lured there by the finest of delicacies — a Little Debbie Swiss Brownie.

We said hello today while I stood in our new dining room when suddenly a decorative metal round piece popped off the wall and crashed on the floor. I now have learned this was a cap to the flue of the chimney once probably used by the Higgen’s family as they cooked on their wood- burning stove.

In the picture you can see the faint outline of the masked face that stuck his head out of that hole to greet me. That masked- bandit will be moving out of the village this morning. I hope he enjoyed his brownie before moving on.

When you buy a house built in 1865, you expect many obstacles along with adventures, but I didn’t expect this “gift with purchase” that we will be returning to Mother Nature. Hello friend and good- bye. …. and yes, I am so hoping you are a “him” and not a “her.”

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F

To all my fellow Parkies out there. This is for you! If you do not know what a Parky is then you are missing out on some of the greatest people I know.
My fellow friends with Parkinson’s Disease, I had my 4 hour cognitive ability test yesterday as one of the measures to determine if I’m a candidate for DBS surgery, and I would like a redo! I would demand a redo, but I know it would be futile.

At one point in the 4 hour process that will determine my fate, I was given one minute to come up with as many words as I could think of that start with the letter L. No problem. Those L words rolled off my tongue with ease. Then I was asked to name as many C words as possible- piece of “cake.”
Then she said name as many F words as possible and for about 10 of those precious 60 seconds the mother of all F words was stuck in my mind and would not get out of the way of all the other more innocent F words that wanted their turn. I stumbled and stammered to pull those pleasant F words out from behind the big one. But like a bully, it stood its ground in my mind and blocked my other F “friends.” I thought about just saying the big one to release the others behind it, but then I
would have to admit to the evaluator the fact that word existed in my mind. So for the remaining 50 seconds, I fought off the “word that shall not be named” and held up my honor, but I’m sure lowered my score.

So neuropsychologists everywhere, take note, please pick another letter besides F during your cognitive ability tests. If you use F, your data will be skewed because most of us do not want to admit that the F word exists in our minds or has ever been spoken out loud when only 60 seconds determines our fate. There are 25 other letters from which to choose, and I get F, gosh darn it!

Red Shoes

(This is a continuation of the post from 6/3/17 titled Meet Lorisa.)

They are Lorisa’s favorite– her red high top tennis shoes. You see them somewhere on almost every page of the book. When they are on her feet — always untied.
There is a the back story about red shoes. Lori’s oldest boy played little league baseball like many boys do when they are seven and eight years old, but you will not hear of his name in the MLB because it was soon discovered that his gift was numbers and baseball stats. He is a successful financial consultant today. Oh, but he did have a pair of coveted red baseball shoes that he passed down to my oldest boy two years younger. My oldest wore the flashy red shoes for one year of little league. He soon realized that baseball was not for him the day the coach had to yell out to him in the outfield “take the glove off your head!” Today he volunteers his attention and time to young kids through the Big Brother program who are also at times are being told “to take the glove off your head.”

Next, the red shoes were handed down to my middle child. They were actually a size too big and flopped on his feet the first year he wore them. However, the minute he put them on and a teammate said “cool,” it was like those shoes were magic. He wore them for the next two years until the rubber cleats were completely worn down. You will not find his name in the MLB either. He traded his passion for baseball for a career as a sales analyst. Lori and I share cherished stories of a little boy who looked up to his older brother and older family friend so much and insisted on wearing red shoes a size too big for him. He was even nicknamed “Red Shoes” for a few years.

So as you read the pages of NOT YET and see a cute little girl proudly wearing her high top tennis shoes, you now know the precious memories that Lori and I share of “red shoes.”

Why are Lorisa’s shoes always untied …… because “she’s not quite there yet. She’ll get there. You bet!”

NOT YET….. coming soon!

By:  Lisa Cox & Lori Hockema

 

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Mom Wut?

Some things of your youth should not ever be resurrected. That’s what we discovered when I purchased a used French horn about a year ago.

One of the many non-motor ways Parkinson’s affects me is my voice volume. Common words from my husband are “what, I can’t hear you, you have to talk louder.” Remembering my glory days of fighting to remain in first chair position as a fine-tuned French horn player in high school, I thought bringing the beautiful sound of this instrument that adds depth to so many songs as an accompany instrument was the answer. I read that playing an instrument could strengthen muscles and help with voice volume, and it’s true. I forgot that there were a lot of um, pa, pa’s played by the French horn in most songs as the flutes had the main melodies. Oh, but there was Tchaikovsky. I envisioned playing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with the same precision as when I did in high school. In this piece, the French horn finally gets its glorious moment taking center stage of that grand song commemorating Russia’s victory over France.

Mr. Eric Wainscott, beloved band director of my youth, I hope you get to see this video. From the moment in the 5th grade when you helped me select this instrument that would be part of my life, it has strengthened me. Mainly, from all of those years lugging it back and forth each day from school, as I enviously watched my flute playing friends tuck their instruments under their arms and skip home. But I also learned from this instrument that most of life is spent as accompaniment — in the background. The world doesn’t revolve around me as usually it didn’t in songs for the French horn — except for in the Overture of 1812.
Just like Russia battled France as portrayed in Tchaikovsky’s song, I will battle Parkinson’s. — it just may not be with playing the French horn.

My greatest victory is my three boys plus husband who lovingly endured my attempts at bringing back to life a time of my past history.

I love this video made by two of my three boys. The laughter it brings me, may not do much for my voice volume, but it strengthens my soul.

So good-bye French horn. Thank you for the life lessons and memories.

A Story I’ve Always Wanted to Share

Believe!

It was a walk I will always remember. My grandmother had just died and I was distraught about her death and my failure to be a witness to her. My grandma who I had never known to go to church and never speak openly of faith, died at age 91. It had always puzzled me, my dad’s side of the family. There could not be more loving, giving, caring people. Growing up I always wanted to ask my grandma about Jesus, but I never could find the courage. The only evidence I ever saw of a faith was a cheap plastic framed picture of Jesus that hung on my grandma’s wall in her small bedroom. I hadn’t been in that room for many years.

The last time I saw my grandma was in a hospital room. She was battling a blood clot in her lung and had an oxygen tube in her nose. At one moment she was with us. Then she would drift off for a minute and wake to say something a bit delusional that indicated for me that I only had one last chance to ask my grandma about Jesus. Did she love Jesus? She had just looked at my aunt and I and expressed her love for us all, so I thought this is my moment. I asked the question. “Grandma do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” She lifted her head and answered, “Jesus, is he the one who stole my purse?” My aunt looked at me mortified with an expression that said “what are you doing?” I left that hospital room humiliated and embarrassed. She died that night.

The next day God and I battled on a long walk. I remember the sky being particularly clear and beautiful, and I looked up and had a conversation with him in my mind. “I can’t do this. I am a shy person. It’s just who I am. I have prayed for her for years. You let me down. Now I will never know. Do not ask me to share my faith with anyone ever again!” Those were some of my rantings and accusations I threw at God on that walk. What I heard in return was “go into her room.” At the time I didn’t have a profound understanding that God had just spoken to me. Now that I look back, I know it was God because– I argued with him. “Oh no, a cheaply framed picture of Jesus on a bedroom wall does not mean you have given your life to Jesus.” “Go into her room” is what I heard. Would that picture hanging on her wall give me peace? I thought not!

A few days later after her funeral, I sat among a gathering of family and friends in my grandma’s living room. I thought maybe I would find comfort in looking at that picture on her wall, but I really doubted it. I was nervous when I asked if it would be ok to go in her room. I didn’t know why.

As I opened the door to her bedroom, my heart was pounding and I looked to the wall in front of me where I remember the picture being. My hope plummeted as I saw a mirror hanging where that picture had been. “See, it’s not even there,” I threw at God in my mind with contempt.

When I spun around to go back out the door, I froze. There it was, the picture I remembered. It was surrounded by three more pictures of Jesus in different settings. There were several crosses on the wall, bible verses stuck in the door frame, an angel pin I had once given her, dried palm leaves that her other grandchildren had brought her after Palm Sunday services, and statues of Jesus. I had to take a second look to make sure that it was not a tribute to Elvis. In that fleeting moment while I stood frozen, I know this sounds crazy, but I felt a flutter, and I know an angel stood behind me whispering in my ear, “Your grandma is fine. This is for you. Your grandma is fine.”

The moment was over when my dad barged in the room. I pointed at the wall and asked, “Why didn’t I know this?” He just laughed and said, “Oh, your grandma always loved Jesus.” I just smiled and took that picture and walked out of the room.

I have always wanted to tell this story even though it makes me sound crazy.
I may never have that kind of experience again, but it had a profound effect on my faith. God has such a sense of humor. I just know that he and my grandma are laughing and loving the moment when she told me that Jesus stole her purse! Believe!

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Sharks

I like a movie with a good happy ending. I saw one awhile ago that had everything but that. It is called Open Water. Now if you plan on watching this movie, stop right now because I am going to tell you the ending.

Basically, a married couple go on a tropical vacation. They go on a scuba diving adventure. They are having a great time diving, but when they surface they find their boat has left without them. The scuba diving guide miscounted and did not realize his mistake for days. The majority of the movie is spent with the two of them bobbing up and down with a few boats that pass too far away to see them. Eventually, the man gets bitten by a shark and dies in her arms. Then she just takes off her life jacket and goes under. I hated it. Where was the redemption? Where was the hope? Where were the rescuers who would risk all to bring them home?

They say it is based on a true story. That makes me shudder as I have been scuba diving about 3 times. This couple placed their trust in their guide, the scuba diving company, their watches, their equipment, their rescuers, and each other. None saved them from their plight.

Sometimes I feel like my life is kind-of like that open water. And it makes me think about where I place my trust. If you are a Christian, you will understand when I claim that I place my faith in Christ alone. There is a familiar song that I have sung often in church. It goes ” in Christ alone, my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song.” Yes, I profess that I place my faith in Christ alone. Those of you who are not Christians, to you I I fully admit that I live as a hypocrite most of the time. If I am honest with you and myself, I place my faith in my comfortable home, my job, my husband’s job, my health insurance, my family, my doctors, my food. I could go on and on. Those worldly things are not bad, but they are as fleeting as that negligent boat that left the couple in open water in that movie. There have been times in my life when I have been striped of those worldly things that I mentioned and have felt as vulnerable as those unfortunate scuba divers.

In 2010 when my health the striped away from me is one of those times. I felt panic, despair, and the fear was like sharks nipping constantly. But unlike the movie, I stopped bobbing and trying to battle that fear nipping at me. The words to that song became a reality. I was forced to either keep battling myself or live those words I have sung for years — in Christ alone.  I finally surrendered my plight to him. The rescue chopper did not come. I am not miraculously healed. He could have sent it. Instead, I feel like he has put a shark barrier around me, protecting me, and giving me wave after wave of joy and blessings in my plight. That is real. That is how Christ rescued me. I can without reservation claim “in Christ alone.”

We all live by faith in something.  There is only one I have found who can protect me from the sharks of life. In Christ Alone.

There is a sequel! It’s called Open Water 2. If you plan on watching it, again stop reading. In this movie there is a new set of friends on a sailboat sailing across the ocean. How does it end? Well, let me just say this. It’s all fun and games as you push each other in the ocean until after the last man jumped and you realize that someone forgot to put out the ladder and you can’t get back into the boat. More sharks!

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All My Sisters and Me

img_2310“We are family….. I’ve got all my sisters and me!” Well, actually I just have one younger sister, but she means the world to me. If you take a close look at the picture of the two of us, you can see she was the favorite one. Why else would my mom put that God-awful hat on me and dress her up so cute? We have laughed about that for years. When we were growing up, she had to endure my first born dominance of hogging the bathroom, bossing her around, and can I just admit to all. I did tickle her until she wet her pants. I think that was sort-of a form of torture. She wasn’t laughing. She has forgiven me and has become a treasure in my life. …And I have forgiven my mom for the hat!

I have three boys who I have watched wrestle, tease, and fight over their growing up years. However, I do not believe there was any tickling torture in my home. I have said the prayer countless times as I watch them interact. “Please, Lord, let them be friends as adults. Let them see the gift that they are to each other.”

It warms my heart as I see that happening.

People don’t always stay close to their siblings when they are adults. It takes acceptance, understanding, and a lot of forgiveness. It takes being intentional and reaching beyond oneself. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.

I love my many many friends, but I have only one sister. However many you have, value them. Don’t let a gap widen in your relationship. Warm your mama’s heart. Give them a call today.

….. and don’t even get me started on cousins. I adore my cousins!

“We are family…….

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