November 4, 2017

When it's time, its time, and it's time.


When its time, it's time, and it's time. 

This is how it goes at the Robinson's when food prep is starts. Someone pulls something out of the pantry. The jar of spaghetti sauce has a exp. date of, oh...lets say 2013. That person looks at the Mom and says "Is this ok? It's a hundred years old?." This is what the Mom say's, "Cindy'd use it." And we use it, and we have never had a horrifying result (lets face it, food poisoning is ALWAYS horrifying.)

My dear friends wanted a quick, but decent read for book club this month. They chose a book I gave away last year without giving a second glance. (I'm such a snob.) The title of this book  is The Christmas Jars. So wanting to move it along quickly I take it to Slab Pizza (not worth it) and gave it a good start. Within, oh, maybe five pages we discover that the main character, a single mom has cancer, which always makes this girls heart rate increase, but to make matters worse, or maybe better in the long run we learn she has Ovarian Cancer.

The words Ovarian Cancer strike more fear in me than just about any other of the bizillion cancers there are out there.

Let me tell you about my friend Cindy (referenced above). Cindy has been a friend of mine for, as far as I can figure, about twenty-five years. At least. Cindy was one of the friends you have that you live very close to, but don't always see a lot because we were both so busy raising lots of kids, and if you are Cindy McDonald, you don't sleep. Cindy and I would catch up standing on the corner on the way home from church, once a month or so, or later not even that frequently.

Cindy didn't sleep much. I'll tell you why. Cindy was busy. She was busy serving in every possible way that she could. She raised seven kids to adulthood, and taught them by example. She bottled a million or so bottles of everything. She made killer salsa, she made PEAR JAM! What a colossal pain in the tushy, (I was her greatest fan and miss my jam!) She attended a million activities, always supporting her children, grandchildren and neighborhood kids. She and her husband ran the concessions at MVHS football forever, she went to every single wedding reception she was invited to, and that was a lot because everyone knows the McDonalds. Really. She sang in the choir, she taught when asked. She did this without a single complaint that I heard anyway. She chatted on the phone with her daughters living far and near every single day (I thought that was excessive till my own daughters weren't just downstairs.) Cindy was a stellar advocate for scouting, she even earned her Silver Beaver! All while I just played 500 with my cubs. Cindy was the BEST dutch oven cook ever! I'll tell you what...that woman went to girls camp year after year after year and spoiled my girls rotten with her cooking. One year I was asked to go to camp and be her cooking assistant. Well, friends, let me tell you, I have never in  my life worked so hard and another thing...Cindy did not clean one single dutch oven the whole week. She broke me in but good! A little story here. One particularly dry year at Camp Shalom, Cindy and I decided to both go to amphitheater. Usually someone stayed back. Well, we put a big 'ol pot of water on to boil and forgot about it and it was under a lovely dry pine. I referred to Cindy's heating source as Cindy's Butane Pillar of Fire! We came back early (Thank the Lord above) and saw it flaming away under an entirely empty pot! WE TOLD NO ONE. It was a miracle we did not set the whole forest on fire. Mortified, that's what we were.

So you know what kind of person my friend was. She quietly went about doing good. Always.

If you haven't guessed, my friend Cindy got the gosh-awful worst diagnosis of advanced stage Ovarian Cancer. She cruised over to the beautiful side two years ago. I had the enormous honor of helping her a little as I am a whiz with a needle  and vomit and all sorts of semi-useful nursing skills.Thankfully I had lots of back-up. I spent hours and hours watching Kelly and Michael during the long mornings, and her game shows during the longer afternoons. Cindy's family had her covered. They, as my own family were all over this nasty illness. I say nasty because my friend endured a huge hell of a lot! I could not for the life of me understand her. I would try to get her to complain! I would try to drag feelings out of her and guess what...that is not how she was going to play it. She would just humor me as I plopped down right next to her on her bed as she would sleep, sometimes smile a little, maybe once in a great while a big smile if I said something entirely inappropriate. She was beautiful without hair, I would tell her her lovely olive/tan skin was NO FAIR! She trooped into that damn bathroom long after I could imagine she had the courage and the strength. She put up with my clumsy first attempts at hooking her up to her feedings. If I ever complained for her what a sucky card she had been dealt, she always said the same two things. 1-It is what it is, and 2-What can ya do. One time, during her last week or so on this tough old earth she was getting a little um...loopy and she was all about her Dr. Pepper that she would suck down and we would suck right back out (she didn't  really eat for all those months) She had all these hospital mugs and insisted she had two more upstairs and she wanted them really bad. There were no mugs upstairs but she was pretty insistent so I said OK..I'll go get them. I zipped home so fast,  grabbed two mugs from my many inpatient visits and zipped back. I set them down, and she looked at them, looked at me and accused me of getting them from my house. Sheesh, she was not as under the influence as I had thought. I did not confess.

My friend Cindy was grace under pressure to the end.
She never missed my birthday, or Christmas. Ever.
She always, always went down the list and asked about every single child of mine.
She never complained.
She had a rock solid knowledge of her truth.
She worked harder than anyone I have ever known.
She loved her family and put them first always. They adore her.
She was loyal to a fault.
She would would be mad if she knew I was putting this out there for you to read.
She would be happy to know it was something waiting, just waiting for me to do.

So, my friend, I raise that freaking dutch oven rubber scraper to you, and miss you, alot. With so much love.

 Always.



September 27, 2016

"Old habits die hard"

"Little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems." I used to throw that little bit of phraseology out to the universe regularly. Its not really true. I had little kids with some big problems, but somehow these issues are more easily dealt with when said kid can still sit in your lap, which would be around age 20-25, (Once they get married it ain't my problem no more. Also a lie.)
I find it maddening that we are never, ever through learning. Patience is a virtue that I am constantly at odds with. The object of my impatience is almost always....wait for it...ME! Now, I am willing to bet that many of you lovelies who are reading my ramblin are thinking "Me too!!" So why? Why? Why? No, I really want to know. Why can we not give ourselves a freakin' break?

I have a dear friend.  I hang out with her a bit while she is Rehabbing from a MONSTER of a stroke. Today, away from home, dependent on others for almost everything, gone from a life she lived hard, inside and out, even she expressed as we were chatting that she seemed to be feeling bad about herself because, in her words "Other people are so much worse off than i am". This led to a discussion about miracles. Me: "YOU are a MIRACLE! I know you have heard this over and over but not sure you believe it." She replied, "The real miracle is the Mom who takes care of herself and her four kids by herself because her husband decided he was done, it was too hard. She's a miracle." I could not argue with that kind of logic. She also told me to "Never, ever bargain with God." I love this woman, I believe she has been places the rest of us would never understand. I will not be bargaining with God. Ever.

Back to my original question to you and to myself. Why do we beat ourselves up? My friend has every single reason to give herself a pass for awhile, to give herself a break and feel sad, angry, cheated, a myriad of feelings without feeling guilt, but she, as many of us doesn't seem to think that she is entitled to even the tiniest of pity parties. Well by HOWDY if I didn't feel the same way two years ago myself. Did you know that it is possible to be ill at a pain/misery scale nine out of ten, (ten is unconcious) and still fret and fuss about someone else cleaning the bathroom (and worse)? "Old habits die hard".

So LISTEN UP PEOPLE! We must absolutely find that part of us that is inborn, that part that our outstanding Heavenly Parents instilled in us. That part of us that is nice, sweet, kind, and loving not only to every one else, but to ourselves as well. I think that we must, in the loveliest way, TURN VICIOUSLY ON OURSELVES, and be nice instead of punitive, to be loving rather than accusing. To be sweet as opposed to reactive. I used the word viciously because this is a big fat problem. I am tired of suffering, yes, that is what anxiety and constant self-bashing feels like. Its not how the Big Guy planned it.

Sooooo, next time, probably within five minutes of reading this, you hear your own voice criticizing or expecting, stop and say it again, but this time, please BE NICE TO YOURSELF ! as if you were talking to your little tiny self, as if you were talking to the person you love most.

Its hard, like I said "old habits" and it most certainly is a habit. Knock it off ok? Do it for me, I had cancer ya know! (still pulling the card occasionally).

It can be done.
I love you.
I love Jesus.
Peace out for today.

November 8, 2015

Eggs

There is an old quote that say's, "Don't put your eggs all in one basket." I have said that to my kids a few times, not often however.  I will explain. If you are going to put your everything, your time, your laughter, your work, your tears, your study, your children, your job, or your bestie, your heart,  into one basket, that 'basket' had better be Jesus Christ. For me, that is the only time it's going to be ok for you to have just one basket. If you depend on one person, or one hobby, or one anything to hold you together, like a basket holds the eggs, then what happens when that 'one' person, or object, or that 'one' anything is gone? What are you left with?

"And now my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our redeemer, who is Christ, the son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shatfts in the whirlwinds, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."  Helaman 5:12

Do not misunderstand. I am writing this so that I can read it, and read it, and try and calm my heart, which is taking a beating right now. It is important for me, and for you, to to understand that life was not meant to be easy. Life is always interesting, in that we never know from day to day, or hour to hour what is going to happen, what you will feel like, what awesome thing will happen, and what you will do when the heart wrecking things happen. They don't call it "a vale of tears" for nothing ya know.

I woke up this morning so out of sorts, not in a grumpy way, just something was so off in me. I love church, I wish it was longer! but I could not get out of bed. I finally pulled myself together and was at least ready to go to my YW Mia Maids class. It is one of the best parts of my week. We were getting a new presidency put in today. When the girl's started getting set-apart, the tears started falling down my cheeks and my nose went out of control and all that hard work putting on make-up twenty minutes earlier was destroyed. Now you have to know, I adore these girls. They are wise beyond their years. Every single one of them are the most stand-up individuals ever! So while the setting apart prayers were going on, both the darlings on either side of me put their arms around me, and ya know what? I think the same thing would have happened no matter which of these girls were next to me. The Spirit in that room induced those tears which have been just barely inside me all day and I just didn't know it. Also, I will forever be grateful for the stellar, beautiful, and very wise adults I work with and I think they would agree with me that these young women are teaching us every single week as they do not hesitate to open their mouths and tell us what they feel, what they think, and most importantly, what they KNOW. I love them.

I love the only true comforter, my Savior Jesus Christ.
I love you.
Don't just have a good week, have "the BEST week" (Savannah)

















September 21, 2015

Not all who wander.

"Not all those who wander are lost." JRR Tolkien
"Not all who were taught, say thank you." Jrob

Just something I had rolling through my head that fell onto the keyboard.
If you know me, you know I am not a fan of the Summer months. Yet my parents always taught me never to complain about the weather, because it is equal to telling the Big Guy that he made a mistake.  Summer is absolutely essential if we care to continue eating. How can one not believe that their is a higher power, a God, that loves us enough to pay such detail to it all, for instance, in the Spring, the Crocus pops up, shrinks back down to the earth, then the Daffodils, then they curl back down to the ground, then the Tulips bloom, all in perfect order. Same with the crops. Being the daughter of a fruit farmer, At my young age I was always dang impressed that my Dad could manipuate one crop at a time, Sour cherries, then Sweet cherries, then apricots, then pears, then peaches then apples.  Which one has a decent shelf life? Only the apples!! for crying out loud its all brilliant. (Saying God is brilliant seems lame). My father always said "It always snows on the Forsythia." His way of saying, the winter ain't over till its over. I had difficulty convincing my kids and others that this is always true. Even when it gets so warm some Springs, even I doubt it. but absolutely, in all my 55 years on the big ball, have never seen a year that Winter was not finished till it snowed on the beautiful bright yellow bushes.

Fun fact: My father died on the morning of May 5th, His favorite song ever, was 'The Wintry Day Descending to it's Close. That morning, there was snow on the ground. That afternoon it was a typical May day, requiring the AC to be turned on. Cool ey?

I have a lovely friend, her name is Cindy. She is fighting a ruthless case of Ovarian Cancer. During the summer, I would come into her room in the morning, she would look around and say " Every morning, I wake up unsure of it being morning or evening. That is because she would go to sleep while it was still light and wake up in the light. Time and seasons are a strange concept to me. Last spring and summer was five months of being damn sick in the hospital or having Chemo, therefore, when it was September and it got cooler and the grass was green again and so pretty out, I thought it was Spring. I had lost an entire season. I, by the grace of God, stellar Doctors. and a anti-nausea shot I had with Chemo, a shot that lasts about five days, I never had nausea that the pills couldn't manage.. God knows what we can handle, and I would have driven off a cliff if I had had the horrible nausea. However  I was so confused so much of the time and so terrified it was ridiculous. One day I was talking with a friend and mentioned that there was so much time I could not account for, especially in the hospital, and the time I did remember was triggering the crap out of me! She looked at me and very quietly said, "I prayed that you would not remember." Those prayers were answered. I will forever be grateful.

So again, it is Autumn, my favorite season, as I am certain must be many of yours also. The light bends differently as it shines on my South facing home. I can smell and feel the exact day that I walk out and for me, it is fall. When I was a child, as I mentioned, my father was a High School welding teacher (God love him!) and then he would come right home, change into his dark grey work shirt and pants and would head to Salem where he co-owned an orchard with a good friend of his. He bought the orchard because he wanted my three older brothers to understand the value of hard work and a dollar. My younger sister and I would tag along and I spent years just hanging out in the orchard or the fruit shed, never old enough to help even if I begged. (Really....I could not for the young life of me understand why my Dad did not let me use the pruners! it looked so fun and easy).

I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my life in that orchard with my Dad. You see, we would walk up the hill (it is right there on the south side of the Salem Cemetery) to a small shack. When I say shack I do not exaggerate. Quite old and dark, no electricity that I remember, no bathroom, a little stove, probably wood burning and smelling pretty strongly of tobacco and campfire, and usually a dog. During the spring and summer, my Father would hire someone to help him out and keep an eye on the fruit shed etc. There were two men, If I remember correctly, their names were Red, and Woody. They seemed pretty old to me but in reality, were probably not. They seemed contented living in that shack, grateful for the job. My father would take them once a week or so to the little grocery store in Salem and buy what little groceries they needed, and also, some beer and either cigarettes or chewing tobacco. I remember being a little shy with them but even with their hard living appearances and their lack of teeth, I remember their kindness to me and their laughter and teasing. I am so grateful to my sweet Dad for taking us with him when it was probably a pain,  and for being a gosh-dang stunning example of Christlike love that he showed these lovely humans who were, on the outside so different than we were. He showed us that they were God's children and not one bit less loved, and valued because of their circumstances. My Dad never said any of this. He showed us. And that...dear readers is one more reason why I love Autumn. As JRRT said it so well, "Not all those who wander are lost."

Thanks Valton.

July 13, 2015

"What if you're wrong?"

I have a lot of feelings today.  They are not exactly good or bad, I don't know what they are.  I am on a quest to try and figure out the best way to rid my body of the hits it took last year for quite a little space of time, I mean in the grand scheme of things, my stupid cancer took, start to finish, 15 months. That's how long the big stuff takes. Guess what? It aint over and I am trying to fight fire with fire. In my case, it left me with weight gain, fatigue, and a lot of aching, pain and frustration. I understand why I feel like this and so I understand what I need to do to try and reduce some of these common side effects.  I have another doctor, that makes nine! who is a post cancer pain dude. He is so great. He is compassionate and funny and passionate about his job. He told me, that when you have cancer, its like you died. You have to start over, nothing feels right and you cant believe the stuff you CANT do anymore. I was so relieved after he told me this. He told me that most of his pts, by the time they get to his office have given up and just say, "give me a pill" so he was real happy that was not the reason for my visit. Fighting fire in my case, means doing stuff that really hurts with the bones and muscles that already really hurt! So, oh well, they are the professionals and one thing I have learned is what I told my darling friend yesterday, very recently diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer...Always, no matter what, obey your Cancer doctors and nurses orders. No exceptions. You might think that you know more than you do, but, what if your're wrong?
I have the most delightful, lovely, smart and selfless girls, which I teach and play with in  my church. I look at them and I know how some of them feel about themselves, I know how they think others see them, and I just want to stand up and yell real loud at them, "WHAT IF YOU'RE WRONG?! Kids struggle as teens. that is nature and if they get to about 16 or 17 it seems like most of the crap they deal with decreases a bit. Texting makes me worried because there is no way for these kids to be able to perceive what was said, if it is something emotionally charged because there is not the human aspect of emotion behind the words.  I always busted my kids when they said "just kidding, or jk" because "just kidding' means "I really meant what I said but I just don't want to get in trouble'. Truth is, I adore adolescent girls. I want to protect them, I want them to love themselves , I want to protect them from the evil out there, especially the evil that wraps itself up in pretty packages. That's extra evil. It absolutely breaks my heart to know what has gone on behind closed doors, sometimes open!
But what if I, yes I, am wrong....I have a Brother who died in a freak train accident many years ago. He was a single father to two beautiful and lovely kids, one boy and one girl. After my brother was killed, it was decided that they would go back to live with their mother, I believe they were 8 and 11. They had a rough grow up, but are now are just the most stellar people with beautiful families.  I confessed to my niece, not to long ago that I had felt guilty for not raising them myself, (at the time I had a 3 year old and a 1 year old). She immediately said "Never feel bad about that. I would not be the person I am today if things had been different for me growing up". Hmmm I was wrong. We are the sum-total of our experiences.  My brother had given them a good foundation and they took it from there, with much help from their mothers relatives. I was useless. 
One of my favorite, kindest, most compassionate people I know, had the most horrifying life that I have ever heard of. You would not even believe her story. I guess that's why she lives her life making sure that others don't have to grow up feeling like she did. She is a bad-ass Angel, just like most of the BACA bikers you see are.(Bikers against Child Abuse) You want to feel protected, just call up the BACA people. They'll have your back in a red hot minute.

Before cancer: That which does not kill us makes us wish we were dead.
In the middle of chemo:That which does not kill us REALLY makes us wish we were dead.
At the end of Cancer: That which does not kill us, really does make us stronger.

Love my readers, who ever you are, jrob

May 11, 2015

Walt

So I had a lot of time to think this week, it is think or be entirely bored while you are at Disneyland and in the car for a million hours and cant rustle up the enthusiasm to read or watch a movie. I can people watch for hours and at Disneyland there are just lots and lots of people to watch.  I know that it has been said that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth and I smiled for two days straight and I watched people and a lot of people at DL were not smiling.  Maybe that's because they don't know Jesus. Maybe its because they are in crappy relationships, maybe its because their feet are killing from wearing cute, not sensible shoes.  Maybe they don't smile cause no one smiles at them.  Maybe they don't know who they are, and what direction to point their lives in. Maybe too much of a good thing can make you melt like a puddle at Minnie's feet. It is my belief that this world is hard. Life is hard. It is not supposed to be easy, they don't call it a 'veil of tears' for nothing ya know.  But by that same source that tells me life is hard, I know that it is also suppose to cause a great big bunch of JOY too!  It is a mystery to me why it seems, that it is easier to be negative than positive. That it seems easier not to smile than to smile. That it seems that feeling 'put out' is easier to feel, than it is to think, "Hey, I am helping someone here.  We all know that it is in the choices we make every  second of every day. 

I am wondering about Walt Disney. I have not read up on him, other than my friend had a life changing and very vivid dream which Walt was in.  I also love the movie "Saving Mr. Banks" I feel somewhat of a sort of comfort when I watch that movie. I would kill to sit in on hiring interviews for employment at Disneyland. I want to know who they need, who they are looking for, their mission statement, all that. And this is why: Disneyland is magical. I understand why you awesome DL diehards are so obsessed, it's because IT IS HAPPY!!!! and people want to be happy. I have been to DL, coincidentally on the 30th anniversary, and the 50th and the 60th, and two other times. So I have been there five times and I didn't get it till now.  I will tell you, I experienced magic.

Emily, my daughter who rules the checkbook with an iron fist, decided she wanted to take her sweet Minnie obsessed child Ivy to the Breakfast with Minnie and her friends. So I decided to go along, with Holly and Jill. The kids or someone had given me a 'celebration badge' that said "I'm cancer free" on it and I thought nothing of it. You pay, then they take a professional picture of you and then you eat and so we were in heaven I tell you.  We have a young friend in a fight for his life slaying a pretty big case of Cancer. I have a bracelet that I wear that say's 'Seanstrong' and I wanted to get pictures with as many characters as I could holding or wearing the bracelet. We were eating and suddenly one of the employees came out to our table, looked at me and said, "you are brave and we are so happy you are ok, please accept this little gift from our staff. It was  a beautiful little cupcake with a candle which she lit, and said "make a wish" then gave me a card they had written just for me and had all the staff sign and a beautiful long stemmed red rose. Yes, we were all crying, and yes, I am crying right now. So we got awesome pictures with the bracelet with Tigger, and Pooh, and Rafiki, and Minnie, and then the lady with the photographer comes to sell us the picture they took on our way in. It is so happy, it is so bright and full of love and no way was I not going to buy it. It was an eight by ten of me, my girls and my granddaughter, and Minnie on the other side and four smaller photos for 35 dollars. I turned to get my wallet and that kind lady said, "Never mind I am giving them to you."  I think Walt would have been pleased.

The rest of the day went somewhat like that. I know that they are trained to look at the badges, but you cannot train an employee to hug a total stranger who knows what a legit hug feels like. All day long we bumped into employees and I  swear every one of them wished me well or hugged me and I felt the love I tell you. I felt the love of Walt Disney and what he wanted to accomplish and how he wanted his guests to feel.  Where else can you go and get treatment that genuine and that kind. It has to be hard to be on your feet all day and still notice the chubby white Mormon mama's "Cancer Free
badge, and give her a smile and a high five.

So my friends, And I will name some names here, the Phillips Family, The Holdaway Family, The Evensen Family, and all my other DFF'S (DisneyFreakingFans)... I GET IT.

Thanks Walt.

You said WHAT??

I just read my last blog and thought I would add an addendum to it, to the part where I had my Mia Maids practice saying SEX out loud. Apparently I ruffled some feathers. I feel I would like to address the reasoning behind my actions and if you would have come to talk to me, this is what I would tell you.  I had a very, very strong impression about this lesson. I had a very, very strong impression that these lovely, sweet, virtuous darlings that I love, needed to hear from someone, anyone, that it is imperative that they understand how over the top powerful sexual feelings are and that its not just like when you are dying for a waffle covered with Nutella or when you just MUST have a dirty Diet Coke.  It was a small part of a lesson and I wanted them to feel at least comfortable as they could, in a class full of girls only, about the subject. I adore these girls and I have the utmost respect and love for the two adult leaders that were there with me in that class. I would never intentionally cause controversy. Consider the source. Like someone once told me, "Joanna, you just say what everyone else is thinking"