The Blessings of Peripheral People – Part II

Last week I wrote about Sam who takes care of all kinds of duties we can’t manage ourselves at the moment. Today he mowed the lawn and set a trap for whatever is squatting under our porch. I’ll call him as soon as whatever is making the large tunnel in my flower bed takes the bait and gets caught in the live trap. We  pray it isn’t a skunk.

I still have my out of control weed problem in the garden. For some reason, it’s just not what I want to do so I’ve been dragging my feet. I bought the wrong stuff and ended up taking it back along with a sprayer because we actually had one of those in our garage. Who knew? Today Sam measured and poured his own solution into my sprayer, which he showed me how to put  together and use. I just need to add water and get it applied on a calm morning without rain in the forecast . That may not be tomorrow.  I didn’t act helpless enough for him to offer to do the spraying. I was willing to pay, but I didn’t want to push it. 

These are two relatively unimportant problems, but they stick in my mind and waste brain space that I need for other things. I recognize what a blessing it is to have Sam take these on.

Another peripheral person I’m thankful for is my “cleaning lady”. Several years ago when I was still working full time, my mother-in-law talked me into having someone clean monthly. It was a hard decision to make, but I’ve never regretted it. There are few things in life better than coming into a spotless house that smells wonderful. It’s worth every penny.

At this point I have a hard time getting down to really scrub and clean things so it’s been a real blessing that once a month my house will sparkle. It helps me keep up with the daily stuff. The day before she comes is a forced declutter day otherwise I don’t think I’d ever make it through the stacks of paper that collect.

Like Sam, Lydia has become a friend. She’s shared some of her personal difficulties and is always interested in my life. She’s flexible when I have company coming, and has worked around our often crazy schedule, especially when Doug has been ill. She always asks how things are going when we see each other. I try leave the house to get out of her way because we are both tempted to visit too long when we get the chance. We chat on the phone when we schedule her next visit. I always enjoy catching up with her.

I’m grateful to have her in my life and count her hard work, compassion and positive attitude as Blessings on the Journey.

The Blessings of Peripheral People – Part 1

I’ve found that gratitude is the antidote to feeling down and hopeless. During morning devotions, I often voice my gripes first thing in my prayer journal. Then I remember I have much to be thankful for. I start grudgingly with the easy ones. Home, cars, family, friends, lovely sky, green grass and flowers. Easy peasy. That seems to get me rolling though and I come up with some more original specific ones.

Doug can’t do yard work because of his compromised immune system, and I have a bum back. I love a nice lawn and we’ve found it necessary to have someone help us with the heavy lifting and the expertise. The first year after Doug’s bone marrow transplant, our neighbor did it faithfully and wouldn’t accept payment. We forced restaurant gift cards on him. When Doug still had issues the second year, we couldn’t possibly accept him mowing for us all summer again.

I worried about how to find someone who would do a good job for a reasonable charge. I asked around and Sam came into our lives. He said he would get our lawn in shape and then turn us over to a friend of his for weekly mowing. He fertilized and set up watering timers, trimmed bushes and soon our yard was beautiful. He has continued to mow for us, and his friend has never been mentioned again.  I look forward to his visits not only because he makes our lawn lovely, but I enjoy visiting with him. He’s friendly and upbeat and always concerned about Doug.

It turns out that Sam is a jack of many trades. He cleaned our gutters, installed a ceiling fan and helped us with a plumbing problem. He does a great job and  works for a very fair price. He is currently helping get rid of a varmint who has decided to make his home under our porch. That may be his biggest challenge yet, but I have faith he’ll come out on top eventually. Once Doug’s docs give the okay, Sam will do some painting for us so Doug and I can save our energy for something lots more fun.

Sam is like a personal Angie’s list and knows “a guy who can do that” if he can’t. He has given us names of tree trimmers and carpenters. I trust his judgement without question. I came from a family where nothing was hired out. My dad did it all so it was hard to accept the extravagance of having that kind of help. With Sam’s guidance, I’m confident we can find good help for whatever we need. That’s a real blessing and takes a lot of worry off my mind. Sam has morphed from a peripheral handyman to a friend.


Three Prayers

Anne Lamott penned the book HELP THANKS WOW.  My dear friend gave it to me for my birthday. Though I haven’t finished reading it, I’m convinced she has nailed the prayer types – at least for me. I find myself using this model every day. I always need HELP of one sort or another. I find many things that make me say THANKS during the day. Even on a day that looks like it will be short on WOWs, all I have to do is glance out my window to see the flowers on my deck.

I’ve told my grandkids about HELP THANKS WOW and it seems to give them something to hang their thoughts on, making it less intimidating to offer a prayer.

Another friend recently gave me this beautiful guardian angel.

I was so touched by the image which  helped me feel the angels around me.  I immediately wanted to buy one to send to my friend in Tulsa, who will start treatment for breast cancer soon. I asked my benefactor where she’d found this special gift. She couldn’t remember.The next time I saw her, she handed me this angel to send to my friend.


It didn’t take long to think of others who are struggling, and could use this lovely piece of art. I’m determined to find some more and send them to several who are in my prayers.

Blessings on the Journey come in all shapes and sizes. Small acts of kindness bloom into ideas for blessing others. The time, energy and courage it takes for authors to share their words often can change lives.

I’m so thankful and in awe of all the ways that God blesses us. I pray that I will be open and attentive to find the treasures hidden in each day.

Ups and Downs All at the Same Time – Part 3

We asked about any lingering aftereffects. Reed and Jeri chimed in together explaining that it took a little while to get his full strength and energy back, but progress was steady. Reed is a pharmacist and owns a pharmacy with two partners. He was able to resume work quickly.

Reed remarked, “One funny thing is that I lost thirty pounds. My metabolism ramped up. I’ve slowly gained back about twenty over the last two years.”

Jeri shook her head in envy. “He can eat a whole package of Honey Buns without gaining.”

After Doug and I voiced our concern, Reed assured us that he felt fine.  Before my friends looking for a way to lose weight login to to sign up for this apparent side effect, the bad news is, they’re looking for young donors. Ninety per cent of doctors look for donors 18 to 44.

Reed had some questions for us as well. He was aware that Doug became too ill for the transplant as originally scheduled since his donation had to be  delayed. We explained that Doug’s condition became Stage 4 leukemia and a month long session of chemo was required prior to rescheduling the transplant.

I told the family that Reed was the reason for two of my  happiest moments as we readied for the transplant. The first moment took place at Zio’s Italian restaurant. Doug and I had gone on a date the night before he was to have his first blood transfusion. His hemoglobin was dropping as we waited to find a donor. The doctor said Doug needed a boost.

I’d made it a habit to check my I-phone often, hoping for a message from the transplant coordinator at KU Medical Center, announcing they’d found a donor. Absentmindedly I glanced at my emails after we’d ordered, and tears welled in my eyes. Doug grabbed my hand. “What’s wrong?”I handed him the phone and he read the message. Three potential donors had been located. It was all we could do not to jump and shout.

The waitress came to our table. “Is everything okay?” We told her the news, and I saw tears in her eyes as she congratulated us.

Moment number two helped to give us hope at an awful time. Doug was in the hospital getting his second round of chemo to ready him for the big event. Things weren’t going great. The transplant date  couldn’t be set so the donor’s timing was up in the air. What if he back out? Or became unable to donate? The waiting was stressful because the timetable had to be perfect. Doug would need the stems cells available when he was ready. It was a constant source of worry for me. When the doctor came in and said, the donor was in the process of having the cells extracted, I broke down but in a happy way. The cells would be rushed to KU and kept frozen at the hospital. The comfort of knowing what Doug needed was close by worked miracles in my attitude.

We visited for about an hour and a half and said our good-byes with hugs and hopes that we would meet again.

This experience was so powerful that I feel a second book in my future. I better get busy working on Locker Room Angels which will end at the moment Doug receives his transplant. Should I have said “spoiler alert”?