Thursday, December 18, 2014

Throwback Thursday

 Christmas 2007 was the Christmas-Before-Christmas:  It started out with a  lovely Minnesota wedding...

Continued family time for the Hanson clan at Lampost in Cedar Falls where we shared lots of laughs (and the stomach flu as I recall...)

 And my brother and his family treated us to one of their dinner show performances. They are a talented and generous group, and I will be missing them this year!

And time with my siblings always makes me laugh until my sides hurt.

Miss you all, Hanson siblings!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Finnegan Family Christmas Update 2014

2014 was a year of great blessing for the Finnegan Family.  Let me share some of the most important of those Blessings with you!  

On April 4, we added our first grandson to the family.  Ezra was born to dad Tim, mom Nikki, and big sister Emma.  His mom was pretty much on bedrest from December through April (bless her heart!) and Grandma Chris got to spend a lot of time in Arizona helping out, which she loved.  And then, at full term, Ezra entered a healthy, happy, smiling boy.  He is a joy to behold!

Tim continues to work at Raytheon,and is a team lead on his new project. Emma turned 4 this fall, and they are beginning to think about school for next year.  How is that possible?!  Nikki has her hands full, and does a great job as a full-time mom and wife.  We are very grateful for this family!

And on June 16th, our youngest granddaughter was born.  Carys joined Dad Ben, mom Elsa, and big sister Ada. She is a content, sweet little thing. 

Grandma Chris had the privilege of being around for the birth of Carys, too, and Grandpa Dave returned just a week later while Ben had hernia surgery.  But that was not the end of their summer excitement!  In July, Elsa stepped off a curb carrying Carys in her car seat and the diaper bag, and broke both the bones going into her ankle.  So Grandma Chris and Grandpa Dave returned to help out again, this time while Elsa had surgery.  Elsa was a real trooper!  She pulled off major surgery while nursing a newborn and caring for a toddler, and made it look easy.

Ben continues to teach Latin at the Peoria, AZ campus of the Basis charter school, and serves as department head for foreign language, and head coach of the flag football team. Elsa manages her home of sweet girls like a pro.  What a blessing this family is to us!

Dave's mom, Marilyn, continues going strong at 88.  Despite a stroke this summer which ended her driving career, she still gets around, using the transit system in town, and with Chris and other friends.  She attends the Silver Sneakers class twice a week at the YMCA, and walks for about 90 minutes twice a week with a friend.  She has almost no remaining side-effects of the stroke.  God has been very gracious to us.

Chris' parents. Jack and Shirley Hanson, are also doing well, and enjoying a period of good health.  They recently went with us to Tucson for Thanksgiving, and we had a great time all together there.

Dave continues as a staff member at Los Alamos National Lab, helping to keep the world safe for democracy, as I like to say.  He also continues to serve as an elder at Bryce Ave PCA, and has gotten pretty handy at making child-sized furniture and toys, fixing cars and appliances, and giving lots of support to his needy wife.  I don't know what I would have done without him for the last 34 years.

 And I am in an amazing place of remission from all diseases.  No cancer, and able to come off of the post-breast cancer drug.  Autoimmune disease in the eyes at bay, and the continuing treatments being tolerated well.  Feeling well, and having energy again. I was able to have cataract surgery last month, and now look forward to new glasses and being able to see again, too! I never thought I would feel this way again.  God has blessed me beyond all telling! 

So 2014 has been an amazing year of watching God at work among us.  We are so very grateful for His presence to cheer and to guide and to heal.  May we continue to be grateful for His blessings in 2015.  And may you, too, dear friend and gentle reader, experience his presence in this season and always.

This group gathered at the Phoenix zoo on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and it was a blessing to be together!  From left to right: Chris and Dave, Tim holding Ezra, Donna Johnson (Elsa's mom), Elsa holding Carys, Nikki, Chris Johnson (Elsa's dad) Elsa's twin sister Bethany, her husband Erle, and Emma on Erle's shoulders, Ada on Ben's shoulders, Shirley and Jack Hanson.

Monday, December 08, 2014

A poem to ponder while finishing Christmas presents

Mary Considers Her Situation

What next, she wonders,
with the angel disappearing, and her room
suddenly gone dark.

The loneliness of her news
possesses her. She ponders
how to tell her mother.

Still, the secret at her heart burns like
a sun rising. How to hold it in—
that which cannot be contained.

She nestles into herself, half-convinced
it was some kind of good dream,
she its visionary.

But then, part dazzled, part prescient—
she hugs her body, a pod with a seed
that will split her.

Luci Shaw

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Recent travel and projects

Our recent trip to Arizona was a fabulous time of fun and blessing.  One of the highlights of the trip was a Saturday meet-up at the Phoenix zoo.  The Hansons, the D. Finnegans, the B. Finnegans, the T. Finnegans, the Johnsons, and the Petus' all joined for a beautiful day.  I will post more photos of the time tomorrow, but here is a precious reminder of our time together.

I enjoyed a recent flurry of activity to prepare some things to take with me on our Thanksgiving travels.  Here are some goodies I created:  I made sensory bags for the Littles to feel and look at and chew on.  And the Bigs got pumpkin spice playdough (which Ada thought looked like baby excrement, I am sorry to say!)  I also took some jars of maple pumpkin butter, and a receiving blanket for Ada's new Petus cousin coming in April.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Life on the other side

I have been quiet lately, Gentle Reader, not because I have nothing to say, but because I have so much to say that I have been at a loss how to say it succinctly and meaningfully.  I am not sure I can do so now, but let me make a start by sharing one thing that has changed my life significantly.

The week before my cataract surgery, I saw my oncologist and received my remicade infusion. I had an honest conversation with my doc about managing the side effects of the post-breast cancer hormone therapy drug I have been on for about three years now. I had been on one of the aromatase inhibitors for that time, and prior to that, had been on the similar drug tamoxifen for about 3.5 years after my first breast cancer.  I knew I didn't feel well on those drugs, but the side effects were accumulating, so we crunched my risk numbers again, and weighed the options, and decided I could safely discontinue that drug.

As I said, I knew I was not feeling well for the last 6.5 years on those drugs.  But I had no idea how dark the place I have been living really was.  The first day off the drug I slept through the night for the first time in 6.5 years.  I woke looking forward to the day for the first time in 6.5 years. And despite the infusion and the surgery, I have a renewed sense of energy and hopefulness that has been totally absent from me.  I really had no idea how tough that medication was on my body until I came off it and saw the difference.  No words that I have tried to use to describe this does it justice.  It has been a huge surprise, a revelation, a rebirth of sorts.

I have heard people who have dealt with serious depression say that in the midst of it their pit is so deep and dark that they have no thought of ever being able to climb out of it.  That is how life has been on hormone therapy for me.  I knew I was not depressed in the sense of losing my grounding or my hope or my comfort or despairing.  I just felt so terrible all the time that realistically my outlook was bleak.  But there is new wind under my wings, and a new hope-- not just in the eternal and the spiritual, but in the here-and-now incarnated world-- just when I had given up on ever sensing it again this side of heaven. Every day has been such a battle.  I have felt like every step was made walking through wet cement. But now everything is different.  I have made it through something very hard and long.  But I am currently on the other side. Amazing.

Add to the end of the hormone therapy that my autoimmune disease is under control and in remission, and I truly feel like I've been given my life back.  Wait until I can get glasses that work, and can actually see again.  Life will be totally amazing!

God is so good.  And I am so thankful.