Monday, September 1, 2014


I think I miss Sara most on weekends.  That is when we can usually connect with all our other kids, and I just can't shake the feeling that something is missing.  It is also when I am usually home cleaning the house.  There are countless little reminders of her everywhere.  I LOVE the reminders, I wouldn't want it any other way, but it does make me a little melancholy.  I just miss her. 

Five years ago, on August 31, 2009, Sara had her first major surgery related to her cancer.  The surgeons removed her entire femur, knee, and hip, and gave her what Sara called "a bionic leg".  It was the most traumatic of her surgeries, and Sara faced it like a champ.  She endured two and a half weeks in the hospital, 92 staples, six weeks of a cumbersome brace that encircled her waist and extended down below her knee, and was back in the hospital facing more chemo three and a half weeks after her surgery.  I look back now and am so amazed at how tough she was and how little she complained.  God brought us all through each step of the way.

Four years ago at this time, she was back starting classes at Corban College, determined to finish her senior  year.  We missed her, but we were rejoicing and praising God that He had brought her through the year of treatment, that the cancer was beaten, and that she was actually able to go back to school.

Three years ago, we were still trying to figure out how to accept the fact that Sara was gone, that the cancer had returned, and that God's plan was to take her home at the age of 22.  Some days I feel like I'm still trying to figure out how to accept that.  TRUST is a big thing.

I know this is true for countless others who have suffered loss, and I know everyone has.  It is a struggle of life.  When Sara died, there were people who said (in a loving and well-meaning way) that it would get better with time.  I don't think I really believe it gets better, it just becomes different.   I'm praying that God would grant me a deeper TRUST in Him, which is the basis of FAITH, which is the basis of HOPE.
 August 2010 - Sam's wedding

Friday, May 2, 2014

3 years

It's been eight months since I've written here on my blog.  I don't know why exactly.  I think I reached a point where I felt like I couldn't condense my thoughts into words that were worth sharing.  I think it is just hard to see life going on. . . . but it does.  It often still feels like I'd rather suspend time so that all my memories of Sara remain clear and fresh, and recent. . . . .or, fast forward to the time that we can all be together for eternity. 

Today. . . . three years since the night that Sara went to be with the Lord. . . .for HER sake. . . I would not wish her back here to live with the pain and stress of cancer.  She is far better off where she is.  But I would so love to be able to spend the weekend with her. . . .hearing all about the last three years she has spent in heaven. 

As it is for everyone. . . my daily struggle is Philippians 4:8. . . ."whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things"

Focusing on all the lovely memories and trying to let go of all the things I wish were different but can't be. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dreams and Thoughts

I'm dreaming again.  I am a person who has always had very vivid and outlandish dreams (that I could usually remember with much clarity).  Then I went through I time when I stopped dreaming (probably has something to do with the fact that it has also been quite awhile since I have had a good nights sleep).  Sleep still eludes me, but I usually fall asleep and stay that way sometime between 2:00 and 3:00am.  Now that school has started, I'm back to getting up between 5:00 and 5:30am, and this week I have had some crazy dreams that stay with me when my alarm goes off.

The first day of school I woke up from a dream where I had decided to go see my friend Leslie in California for one last visit before school started.  I had spent the night, confident that I could get up, get ready, and make it to school by 7:00am.  In my dream, my alarm went off at 5:00am and I realized that there was no way I could drive from Southern California to get here to Fallon by 7:00.  To make matters worse, I couldn't find her bathroom to take a shower, couldn't find my clothes. . . . and I finally woke up, relieved that I really only had a 10 minute drive to school!

Some of my other dreams this week have included Woody and I moving into an old "antique style" house, complete with many interesting nooks and crannies (that I have never seen in reality but somehow recognized from previous dreams).  Weird!  I also dreamt that I was diagnosed with Siberian cancer of the mouth (have no idea where that came from, but it was so real that I was ready to look it up on the internet the next morning to see if there was such a thing).  I even dreamt that I had a baby.  It was supposed to be a boy, but actually turned out to be a girl.  She came out talking and looking exactly like one of my adorable 2nd graders at school, with long brown hair and freckles.  The best dream was that Sara was actually with me all the time, but no one could see her except me.  Selfish I know, but it was wonderful!  How I wish that could be true.  I would absolutely be willing to share her if we could have her back!  I'm thankful for the dream anyway. . . . hope I have it again. 

I went to get my hair cut on Thursday after school and picked up a magazine while I was waiting.  The first thing I opened to was an advertisement for the City of Hope cancer center.  The ad said something like. . . "Two of my friends were knocked down by cancer.  The doctor told them they should just enjoy the time they had left.  Instead of giving up, they contacted the City of Hope Cancer Center, and now. . . they are both cancer free!"  I can't even tell you what that did to my heart.  I am happy for those people, but it takes my mind right back down the path of. . . . maybe we didn't do the right thing for Sara.  Maybe we should have left UCSF and sought another opinion or another course of treatment.  Maybe we should have made Sara stay on an intensive regimen of chemo even when the doctors said it wouldn't cure her but would only make her last days more miserable.  Maybe we should have pursued some of the obscure clinics or treatment plans that were constantly swirling around us.  Maybe we just didn't pray hard enough. . . . .maybe, maybe.    I know all these thoughts are futile and unproductive (and not God-honoring).  I know that we have to trust that God took Sara EXACTLY when and how He planned.  But it is still hard.  It will always be hard.  Trusting God and surrendering to Him is a DAILY, no HOURLY discipline.  We know we need to do it, but we need HIS strength to keep at it and to let HIM accomplish it in us. 

Philippians 4:8  ". . .whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."    Still counting 1000 (plus) gifts. . .

370.  Sleeping long enough to dream
371.  Good memories
372.  Children
373.  Grandchildren
374.  Busy days at school
375.  Recess outside
376.  Constant and complete forgiveness
377.  Air conditioning
378.  Early morning sunshine
379.  Three day weekends
380.  Anticipation of Fall
381.  Pumpkin everything!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Summer's Over - Back to School

So another summer comes to an end.  This summer ended on a very high note with the birth of our third grandbaby on August 21st.  Graden Ames Timmerman joined his brother Wyatt, and sweet little cousin Ellery.  We feel so incredibly blessed to have been able to spend so much time with all of our children this summer, and to have plenty (although never enough) of grandma and grandpa time.

Enjoyed some good books, worked in the yard, grew some beautiful flowers, found some fun antiques (or maybe just good junk with character), did some craft projects, worked with children's musical theater camp and put on a fun pirate musical, spent a little time with friends, and spent a lot of time with family.  God has used many things this summer to keep me reflecting on where my heart is.  The best thing I know to do when things seem rough is to focus on blessings, and all I have to be thankful for.   So thankful for God's grace! 

The REAL pirates. . . .


And our precious grandchildren . . .

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pirate Beards

Yes, this is an amazing family. . . . who will humor their mother and actually pose for a picture in pirate beards.  So thankful for each of our kids and their spouses. . . and of course grandkids!  We are extremely thankful for every moment we get to spend together.


Sunday, July 7, 2013


The summer sure does go by quickly.  I'm so thankful for a job in the school district.  Having a couple of months off during the summer, but knowing there is another busy schedule coming just around the corner, definitely enhances my appreciation of leisure time.   I like to be busy, but I also like to "putter".   I like to be with people, but I also need some time to myself, and I crave time with family (which is a challenge now that Woody and I are at least a long day's drive from any of our family).  I am very thankful for summer puttering and summer visiting. 

So far we have enjoyed time with my mom, time with some dear California friends, time with our kids (and grandkids) in Oregon, time with Heidi and Brady (and Sandi Patti - the dog) as they came through town on their road trip to Oregon, time working in the yard, and plenty of time puttering.  I actually just looked up the word puttering in the dictionary.  It means "to occupy oneself aimlessly, as in wasting time".  I feel like I should look for a different word now, because I believe that my time has been spent productively, and productive puttering would seem to be an oxymoron.  Oh well.  I am still going to give myself permission to continue puttering this summer.

Another blessing is that as I was struggling today with the technology of downloading pictures from my camera to my computer (should be a simple task I know), I found a file of pictures on my computer that I hadn't seen for a long time.  One thing about missing Sara is that it is such a gift to randomly come upon a picture of her, or something of hers that sparks a memory.  It's the same with special songs, funny stories, or little things I see that I know she'd like. I hope and pray I have those sparks in a constant and consistent way for the rest of my life here on this earth.  We are going to celebrate Sara's birthday in Oregon with all of the kids this year, and we will embrace all those memories as we wish we could be embracing her. 

A picture from Sara's senior year in high school
Time with Wyatt & Ellery
Time with my amazing mom

Being creative in our backyard

351.  The Happy Book - a gift from a much-loved friend
352.  Antique stores
353.  Browsing
354.  Summer rain
355.  Yard art
356.  Flowers
357.  Good books 
358.  New songs
359.  Air conditioning
360.  A comfortable home
361.  Salted caramel coffee ice cream cake
362.  Road trips
363.  The funny things children say
364.  Being honest with yourself
365.  So many daily blessings that I never want to take for granted
366.  Time to be quiet
367.  God's never-failing love, patience, & forgiveness  
368.  Learning to yield
369.  Creative outlets - like crocheting pirate beards - Pirate musical coming the end of July!                    
My goal is to number at least 1,000 gifts and blessings.  I haven't gone back and read through the first three hundred, but I'm fairly certain there are many repeats.  That's okay.  When I get to 1,000 I'll be interested to go back and see which blessings are listed over and over again.  Most of all I want to keep cultivating a thankful heart.  Not holding on to things of this world, but keeping my eyes on God, the One who provides, and finding joy in Him.   


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Birthday Blessings

Yesterday was my birthday.  I had set my expectations pretty low in anticipation of the day, or even the week.  As May rolls into June the memories that flood my mind are of my birthday in June 2009 when Woody and Sara and I headed to Reno to "get Sara's knee fixed" and then spend the day celebrating with shopping and dinner.  Instead we began our journey with Sara's cancer. 

In June 2010 Sara bought a heart charm and had it engraved on one side "June 2009" and on the other side "Phil 4:13".  She was done with her year of treatment and set to move forward with her life.  She said she wanted something to always remind her of what God had brought her through, and she wore it on a bracelet.  I wear that charm now, and I will always remember.

There's a line in a song. . . ."HE gives and takes away, HE gives and takes away.  My heart will choose to say, 'Lord, blessed be Your name!"  It's hard to accept God taking Sara away, but He has given me so much.  My birthday was a great reminder of that.  Thankful list continued. . . .

331.  My parents. . . I miss my Dad. . . my mom is absolutely AMAZING!
332.  My brother and his family. . . don't get to see them much. . . love them to pieces
333.  My husband. . . such a blessing. . . and his family . . . blessings overflowing
334.  Our kids and their spouses. . . .they fill my heart
335.  Early morning phone calls
336.  Grandkids. . . oh what absolute JOY!
337.  Ellery Sara Swenson born 5/29. . . . pure preciousness!
338.  Airplanes!!
339.  Friends and family near and far. . . . gifts from God every one
340.  A job I love. . . with a staff and kids that are absolutely wonderful!
341.  Laughter with co-workers. . .even when things are hectic and crazy
342.  A ga-zillion birthday wishes and hugs from my kids at school
343.  Watching kids grow up. . . investing in their lives. . . loving them
344.  High school kids. . . graduations
345.  Flowers. . . fun pots/containers. . . watering early in the morning or late in the evening
346.  Summertime
347.  Planning musicals
348. The end of a school year
349.  Memories. . .
350.  The grace and mercy of God that gets us through each day!

. . . . . could go on and on. . . . gotta go to work. . . .second to the last day of school with kids!