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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Take the Plunge!

Why do they do it? The crazy ones. The crazy ones who wanted their moment of fame and took the plunge over the Niagara Falls. The first one to go over the falls in a barrel was Annie Taylor in 1901. She intrigues me because like me she was an educator. She was close to my age when she did it. Actually, she was just 7 years older than I am. It is documented that she did it for financial reasons, but there had to be something more that motivated her. Maybe not, people will do insane things motivated by money. In the end, she died destitute.
What did she have inside her that made her want to attempt something that had never been done before and risk her life?

That is what I think about now as I drive home from my trip to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side this weekend. As I watched that powerful force of water drive over the edge, I tried to climb into Annie Taylor’s mind and imagine her as the barrel closed over her with no turning back. Was she confident that she would survive or did she have doubts? When she climbed out of that barrel at the end of the ride was she expecting her life to be completely different? What about as she was preparing for her journey over the falls? I can just imagine the talk of the town about the “crazy one.”

Then I started to compare my life to hers. Now I’m in no way saying that I want to risk my life doing something like going over those Horse Shoe Falls. I’m a scaredy squirrel when it comes to heights and roller coasters, so that’s not my thing.
But am I living my dream or just “swimming upstream?”

That is the comparison I think about. Since I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, I have this desire to be more of a risk taker. Life is no longer routine for me. I do crazy things like write songs, write this blog, enter song and writing contests. I am in the process of cowriting a children’s book. I am more out-going and love to meet new people. I do all of this not because I want to get rich or famous. However, I hope not to end up destitute like Annie Taylor. What motivates me? I think I’m a little bit like Annie Taylor inside. I do not think of the outcome of success or failure. I do not think about those around me who think I’m a little off my rocker. I do not listen to those who question me and say I will never have a hit song or wonder why I invest in this book I believe in.

I wonder if Annie Taylor enjoyed the journey of going over the falls? Yikes! I bet it was both exciting and terrifying at the same time.

That is how I want to live the rest of my life. Living the dreams that God whispers to me, “This is going to be both exciting and terrifying. People are going to think you are crazy. Do it anyway!”

That may be the difference between Annie Taylor and me. I pray that the risks I take and the dreams I follow honor God help me to see his miracles in my life.

Funny, Annie did walk away from that plunge over the falls in a mere wooden barrel! Miracle?

So I ask you. Are you living your dream or just swimming up stream? Do you have a dream for which you need to “take the plunge?” Do it! Life is short. Just don’t tell me that your dream is to go over the Niagara Falls– or life could be a little shorter. Live your dream!

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Oops, I Did It Again

The first time was right before I was first married 30 years ago. I remember the situation like it happened yesterday. Oh yes, that’s because it did happen again yesterday and countless times in between the first and most recent incident.

Every person has strengths and weaknesses. If my family was to fill their stomachs with my strengths, they would starve because cooking would be listed on the weakness side. My husband has said it is an easy problem that I could solve with one simple gadget that has been around for decades — a timer! I say it’s more complicated than that.

The Wall Hanging: The first time cooking baffled me was before I was married and living in Dallas, Texas where I met my husband. We were gathering with friends to celebrate Thanksgiving that year. I was 24 at the time, old enough to read directions, but the interpretation of what is firm I still protest can be debated. I was assigned the beloved of all delicacies, the pecan pie, and given a trusted recipe on a 3 x 5 where I still recall the last line saying
“cook until firm.”
Firm? Firm? I checked that pie for over an hour and my interpretation of firm was never met, so I finally took it out of the oven. When we attempted to cut it that afternoon among gathered friends, it was definitely firm. After hanging it on the wall as a decoration for awhile, we took that “firm” undigestible pie and broke it in two pieces with a hammer. My reputation had begun.

Rice Casserole: This one happened right after we were married. A recipe should not assume that one would know to cook the rice before it was added to the ingredients and baked. But to this day my husband still says it was a no brainer and step that should not have been overlooked as he recalls almost breaking a tooth crunching through the uncooked rice in that casserole.

The Pizza
:
Who can mess up frozen pizza? I think it was my mistake of leaving the card board under the frozen pizza in the oven, setting off the smoke alarm, and almost starting a fire that caused pizza companies all over the world to add that Mr. Obvious step to the packaging “remove cardboard before baking.”

The Cookies:

Oh, the countless times the hint of the aroma of freshly baked warm cookies would start to make our mouths water. This tease of that beginning smell so many times turned to the smell of death– the death of another batch. It happened again yesterday. They were even frozen cookies, but my husband was so looking forward to these speciality lemon cookies for which I spent too much money. Eighteen cookies were in the bag. The first 6 I burned the week before, but I didn’t panic because I had 12 left. Then compassion overtook me and I gave six more to a friend who just had surgery. That leads to yesterday and the pressure was on. As I put the last 6 in the oven, I could hear my husband’s words echo in my mind, “timer, timer, timer.” Nah, I’ve got this. At first I was committed to those cookies, but I became restless. The piano called my name. the laundry called my name. My phone called my name. In the middle of that multi-tasking, the smell of death entered my nostrils and the panic set in, and attempt to cover up the crime scene began. My husband was on a conference call upstairs, so I didn’t have much time to hide the evidence. I turned off the oven, threw the cookies away, sprayed air freshener, and jumped in my car to go take back the six cookies I had given away. To my disappointment, my friend did not answer phone. Rats! Now I had to go from cover-up to grovel and redeem. There is a place in my small town called “My Sugar Pie.” I had found my peace offering– a cherry pie. When I walked in the house to present my pie perfectly “firm” that I didn’t cook, my husband stood waiting for me with a huge smile on his face. “You did it again,” he said. However, through his teasing, his hug told me everything.
He loves my in spite of my cooking ability.

I don’t know why I refuse to use a timer. Stubbornness. Laziness. My husband thinks there is a deep seeded reason to my refusal to use a timer. He has tried many interventions. I have no excuse, but I’m not going to change. I think I’ll go out and buy a package of Oreos. It’s hard to mess up opening a package of Oreos. So far, I am an expert with a pack of Oreos!

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