Living With Scleroderma With a Smile


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

January Jots

We had a wonderful January celebrating birthdays, visiting with family, and miscellaneous other events!!  That's just because I can't remember them all!!!

Things are going pretty well:)  I feel good most of the time....winter I'm sure takes it's toll on many of us!  Ken's  had a couple of trips in to mid Illinois/Indiana...and another very quick trip to Florida.  FIAMM is keeping him busy! 

Joel started working out an "Anytime Fitness" in Cadillac at the start of the new year.  He is doing quite well...exercising three times a week...eating well..and has actually lost several pounds! During the winter it is very convenient to stay inside and kind of "hibernate".  So we thought this would be a good challenge for him.  Happy to report~~~He LIKES it!

Our Dad sold his house in January....amazingly after only three months on the market.  It was bittersweet to  think we would not have a home to visit in Onekama anymore after 50+ years.  What made it somewhat cushioned is that Dad was  confident about the sale...and is adjusting well to life in Cadillac.

During the week he seems to find alot to do...but the weekends are a little quieter. So that he doesn't feel cooped up in the winter...we have started picking him up on Saturdays and bringing him out to the house.  Linda visits frequently...which we ALL enjoy:)

Birthdays celebrated in January were grandson Andrew's 6th b-day and Ken's 54th.  I had the pleasure of traveling to Kenosha, Wisconsin with Heidi's parents to celebrate Andrew's birthday...Ken drove me as far as GR where I rode with Ron and Carol to Wisconsin.  Joel had a Special Olympics tournament that Ken stayed behind to hold the fort down

Things are pretty exciting for Kurt and Heidi and fam as they have plans to move into their new house the end of February.  They have been renting a townhouse in Kenosha...and found a lovely home in Racine, Wisconsin. We  are hoping to help them move when they are ready:)

Jason and Emily and fam took a trip to Arizona to visit Emily's sister Sarah (Mike and family) and also to go to the Tuscon jem show. (buying trip to Wexford Jewelers.  Other than several 'airline" glitches...they had a wonderful visit and savored the warm weather and family time.

There never seems to be a dull moment in our lives~~
I'm  not particularly thrilled about winter and the bitter cold....but I do enjoy getting around more this year than last:)  I find myself busy with our local Area 32 Special Olympics, serving on their management team and publishing the newsletter,  active at our church...singing in the choir, leading music at AWANA, taking care of grand kids every Thursday, chaufferring Joel here and there, visiting my Dad, and enjoying every moment that Ken is home!!

I still feel very bad that I am not as faithful to updating our blog as I am to my daily "musings" on Facebook.  But I guess once a month is as good as it gets for  the moment!! We are already in to the second week of February!  On the 5th we wished Happy Birthday to our daughter-in-law Heidi, and brother-in-law Don.  Joel has several b-ball games this month, and I anxiously am counting down the days to SPRING!!!  

I have a keen interest in current events and having been daily following the news locally and internationally!  There are so many people we can be in prayer for!  I encourage you to "jump" at the opportunity to uphold friends, family, and those you have never met in prayer....for the needs are great...and the privilege of coming to throne of God on your knees is life changing!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Memories 2010

Christmas Eve with Dad

Dad and I in front of the new England Village
Mom and Dad collected these pieces for years...
when Dad moved into Green Acres he brought the set with him.

Linda and Don Christmas Eve

Dad and Linda Christmas Eve

Ken and I opening our card

Dad opening his gift from us
A 16 x 20 picture of our entire family taken Nov. 20, 2010

Dad, Linda and me

Christmas Day at Green Acres  12/25/10
I knew that Christmas 2010 would not be the same without Mom...but I don't think anyone could have prepared me for the sadness in my heart when the eve and day actually arrived. I had a perpetual lump in my throat, tears welled up in my eyes, ready to pour out at the mention of "Merry Christmas" for nearly three days.

Please don't get me wrong...I love Christmas!! I love celebrating Jesus Christ's birth!!! I cherish the memories in my heart that have been made during my lifetime.....but this Christmas...I put on a good front and struggled through.

Christmas Eve was special because Linda and Don came to Dad's apartment where we gathered with them to exchange gifts with Dad.  We all went out to dinner first at Ponderosa in Cadillac.  Special memories had been made there years before!! When our kids were younger...and just before Dad and Mom went off to Florida for the winter they would take us there for supper.

It became an annual "smorgasbord" for almost 20 years!!! Hopefully our boys remember those times:)    So this time we had our smorgasbord...then went back to Dad's apartment #211. We exchanged gifts...remembered good times...and said our goodbyes....

Christmas day we exchanged gifts with Joel and headed over to Dad's for Christmas dinner at Green Acres. Jason, Kurt and their families have established their own Christmas day traditions with their families so for the past several years we have had our "Nichols Christmas" the week before.
They both called us on Christmas Day.....I tried my best...yet  admit I didn't do very well.

 Our Christmas meal was wonderful and the company was delightful!   But deep down was the fact that most Christmas afternoons in my lifetime , this daughter  has "gone home to see her mother". I've been told by many friends that it is common for a daughter to "go home" and for a son to go to his in-laws.... But for me "going home"  has changed.....and over time....I'm sure I will get used to it:(

This year after dinner....we went back to our home....Dad with us....again I was choking back tears as to not upset Dad.  I know he was sad was my sister Linda. We have always been a close knit family.....started out as the "four of us" and growing over the years into "twenty-four of us".  What a beautiful blessing our family has been to us!

I know that so many of you have experienced what I am talking about in your lifetime.  Maybe you have lost a parent, a child, a spouse, a friend.  holidays and special gatherings can seem unbearable during those first few years without your loved one....but by the grace of God...and the comfort HE gives..we will made it through.

We have experienced this before....Ken's Mom passed away 25 years ago...just after Christmas,  Ken's Dad passed away in 2006..right around is never an easy time...but we have the hope of eternal life to see one another again forever...never ending!!!. It makes our time on earth seem like a fleeting moment......

Please accept my apologies for rambling on...but I am grateful I can share this with you....the reality of life and death.....the reality of every day living.

So tomorrow is a new day....a stronger day emotionally day for me! I am thankful for living....I am thankful for the time I can spend with my family and friends...I am thankful for Jesus coming to earth as a baby in a manger.....dying on the cross for our sins....and providing a way for us to be with Him in eternity!!!!  Now that is a reason to celebrate Christmas!!! 

"Nichols Christmas" 12/19/10

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

November News from the DECEMBER:)

We had an absolutely wonderful November....and may I add....very busy!!
We celebrated grand daughter Madeline's "2nd" birthday....took a quick trip to Kenosha to see Kurt, Heidi, and family....had a birthday party for Dad celebrating his 87th birthday....and enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with Jason, Emily, and family.

Looking at our November calendar...I was shocked to see how fast our days filled up!! Then......before you knew it...December looked the same!!

In between all the birthday celebrations and trips and babysitting and  choir cantata rehearsals...and bathroom remodeling...and bringing in fire wood..and keeping up with Joel's schedule.....visiting Dad...and getting proper rest....and posting on Face Book (real important)....we find ourselves quite content and able to fit in a few episodes of 'NCIS" and the news!!!!

I'm sure you can guess who does what jobs listed above!!!

Now that December is here...I am excited to say I think we are ready for Christmas.....and anxiously awaiting our family celebration with our sons and families in a few days:)

We sang in the choir cantata for our church on December 5th  "O Holy Night".  It was beautiful!! This year Ken and I both had solos in the cantata...Ken sang a song called "Joseph".....I sang a solo in the song "Be it Unto Me".

We were scheduled to watch Kurt's kids overnight last weekend...but the snowfall hit Northern Michigan....and our plans changed:(

This week  we will be attending a Christmas concert presented by students at Heritage Christian School.  I will be directing the young fives and kindegarteners in their Christmas medley.  I have had the privilege of teaching the children once a week on Fridays....they are precious and so much fun!! 

This will be the first Christmas without Mom....and I am finding myself with mixed emotions that I will save for another blog....but I am grateful for her life....her testimony...and her love for her family.  We are experiencing great joy as we prepare for Christmas....a joy that our Mom would want us to have in our keep our Dad safe and be together to keep the traditions alive that we enjoyed while we were growing up.

Enjoy the pictures....see you soon:)

Madeline;s Birthday trip to Toy Town with Grandma
for her "2nd" birthday.

Kurt, Heidi, Jon, Kirsten, Rachelle, Andrew
at Grandpa's 87th birthday party.

Dad and Daughters

Happy 87th Birthday to Dad
November 21st, 2010

Jason, Emily, Isaac, Madeline, Annabelle, Seth
at Grandpa's birthday

Jason and Emily's kids on Thanksgiving Day

Kurt and Heidi;s kids at Grandpa's party

Our entire family celebrating Dad's Birthday

Jason and Emily and family

Our visit to Kurt and Heidi's in November

Grandpa and Kirsten

Kurt and Rachelle

Ken, Heidi, and kids after we ate at the Rainforest Cafe:)

Dad with two of his good friends at Green Acres
Roy Wolverton  and Margaret Bass
They play skipbo almost every day

Me, Kurt and Heid at Dad's party

Grandpa and his 9 great grand children

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Birthday to our grandson Jonny:) Four years old!!

Today we enjoyed a wonderful time with Kurt, Heidi, and family celebrating Jonny's fourth birthday!  I can't believe how fast he is growing!!! 

We all gathered in Wyoming at Grandpa and Grandma Scott's. Kurt, Heidi, Ron, and Carol had the garage all decorated for food and games:)
Jonny had such a good time...and was very thankful for his birthday surprises!
I was VERY impressed how his siblings patiently sat and watched as he opened his gifts! 

Times like these are very precious to our hearts...and we are so thankful to be able to share the joys of our children and grandchildren.

Friday, October 29, 2010

October 2010.....three years later

I'll never forget October 2007....the official diagnosis of my scleroderma, the last choir concert I would ever direct at CHS, the last day of teaching in the classroom.

Three years ago I was in Blairsville, Georgia at a health ministry retreat called "Times of Refreshing".  Even though the three week retreat was very beneficial to me in many scleroderma was advancing at a very fast rate....and to make a long story short...upon my return to Michigan I went under the watchful care of some really good scleroderma specialists...and a treatment program was started.

Three years later....October 2010...I am literally beating the odds.
Now we all know....that it's not the odds that I'm beating....but rather God's perfect plan unfolding.  HE is the one who has shaped my life, my path, and my skin.  HE is the one who hears the prayers and petitions of His children....HE is the one who gives me hope, courage, and who allows me to live. 

Everything I have experienced the last three years has shaped who I am today.  When I knew I was unable to return to my career as a music educator...something I had done for over 30 years...I thought I would crumble up and die:(   Now I look at this health challenge as an added blessing in my life.  My journey with scleroderma has opened up doors of ministry, advocacy, sharing my story with others, and most of all recognizing on a deeper level God's mercy and grace in my life.

October 2010 has brought sunshine and joy....
Dad is doing very well and adjusting to his new home at Green Acres.
He has made some good friends....and enjoys visits from family and friends.
He is going to church with us every Sunday, and had even invited one of his buddies, Roy, to come along too!  What a delight:)

Linda and I talk almost every day and have enjoyed special times with Dad. Andrea and Elliott have also come to Cadillac....we always enjoy their visits.

Dad sold his car this month, and on November 4th their household items will be auctioned off combined with two other estates in Onekama by Ringel Real Estate and Auction.  It was bittersweet as Ken and I, Linda and Don sorted through the belongings of our parents. There were some things that Dad wanted kept in the family.....but there are also LOTS of items that will be in the sale.

The house is also listed for sale......we continue to pray for the right buyer.

Ken is in  the middle of a bathroom remodel for Joel's bathroom.  I am grateful for a handyman husband who can plumb, wire, build, and figure out ANYTHING:)  He hopes to be done with it soon...then on to other projects.

We are going to see Kurt, Heidi and family on October 30th to celebrate Jonny's 4th birthday....also planning on taking a two day trip to Kenosha the first weekend in November.  We are also looking forward to the entire family getting together for Dad's 87th birthday this next month.  All of our kids and grand kids, as well as Linda and Don's family  will be able to celebrate with us.....Dad is pretty excited:)

Linda, Andrea, and Elliott visited Grandpa


Picture from Green Acres Octoberfest

Don and Linda's grandson Elliott Hoagland
Mom has been in heaven for 4 months now.....we miss her so much...and I still can't get past the moments that I think I can just call her on the phone and chat...I'm sure that will be with me for a long time.  Just imagine the precious reunion when we are together for eternity!!