Background HTML Whitewashed

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Birth of Inspiration

It's said that Life happens while we are Busy making Plans.  And for those of us touched by Pancreatic Cancer, the Life we end up Living is nothing like we Planned.  We can succomb to the Darkness or rise Above it...

Such is the case for 2 brothers from Minnesota.  David and Daniel are the inspiration behind PurpleRide.  The following is an excerpt from their website, PurpleRide for Mom.

My name is David Breitenbucher. My mom, Ann Schommer, passed away on April 26, 2005 from pancreatic cancer. This is our story.
  
In the summer of 2004 my mom was experiencing back pain. As the weeks went by, her pain was increasing to the point where she could hardly sleep. Not only was her back pain becoming unbearable, but the pain was creeping into her stomach. Her doctor was unable to find the source of the pain. Finally, my mom went to her doctor and said, "I can't live with this pain". Her doctors finally ordered a CT to investigate the source of the pain.

On October 1st, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 (final stage) pancreatic cancer. It was extremely difficult to come to terms with the rapid growth of this cancer when my mom had really only experienced two months of symptoms. After her diagnosis, our family slowly came to the realization that there is no cure for pancreatic cancer. Still today, we continue to struggle with the reality of this cruel disease. After an unsuccessful surgery and two different chemotherapies, mom's condition continued to deteriorate to the point where she spent virtually all of March 2005 in the hospital dealing with horrific pain, overwhelming nausea, and terrifying seizures. Our family experienced some of our darkest days during this time.
 
As I helplessly sat day after day watching my mom battle for her life, I came to the realization that I must do something in honor of my mother and to help fight pancreatic cancer. My sisters and I set up The Ann Schommer Foundation to raise money for pancreatic cancer research. 
 
After setting up The Ann Schommer Foundation, we wanted to do more to raise awareness and money in honor of my mom. That is how PurpleRide was born! I, along with my half-brother, Daniel, decided to bike across America in the summer of 2005. This sixty day trip was completed in honor of my mom.

And that is how PurpleRide was born. Inspiration from Adversity.  2012 marks the 7th Annual PurpleRide Twin Cities.



Each year brings more awareness and funds raised for the Pancreatic Cancer cause.  And this year, I am excited to spotlight Team Jeanne!

Jeanne has been battling inoperable pancreatic cancer for over a year.  She and her husband are joining PurpleRide Twin Citie this years to add their voice to the growng Call for Funding to Find a Cure.  You can watch the support grow at Jeanne's Journey.

There are so many others out there fighting to End Pancreatic Cancer.  I am inspired.  I am humbled.  I am so greatly encouraged.  The foundation is cracking under the death grip of pancreatic cancer and a break-through in research is imminent. 

We are adding our voice to the Call, to honor the memory of too many moms, and dads. friends and loved ones that have fought the battle bravely.

Today we send our support winging over the miles to Team Jeanne... You Go Girl!

                                  May Inspiration Grace your Journey this Day,
                                                                        My Love, Jane

Monday, July 30, 2012

New Love

 A Country Wedding...

Perfect Antidote when life gets heavy, dreams get rusty and hearts are hurting.

This past weekend, Leroy and I were privileged to join the festivities as dear friends celebrated the wedding of their daughter.  We were carried away to a time of sweetness, and purity and rejoicing.

These are the pictures of a New Love Beginning...

















Two Become One, A New Journey Begun...

Fresh, New, Filled with Hope and Wonder,
May you always Walk Together with the One who
Graces the Heart with Love Rich and Abundant.

My Congratulations to the Happy Couple!
Love you, Jane


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Breaking Barriers

This week the nation lost another beautiful soul in the pancreatic cancer fight...


Sally Ride
First Woman in Space

She passed away Monday, July 23, 2012 after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer.  A life lost too soon.  A family grieving an immeasureable loss...

There have been many tributes to this woman of uncommon courage and inspiring passion.  One in particular speaks to her amazing life and legacy:


"Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism — and literally changed the face of America's space program. The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers and explorers. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sally's family and the many she inspired. She will be missed, but her star will always shine brightly,,,"
    ~Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator

It occurs to me anew that pancreatic cancer is no respecter of persons.  Young or old, male or female, wealthy or poor, famous or not, pancreatic cancer has struck in all walks of life.  The list of celebrities who have lost their lives to pancreatic cancer seems to grow daily.

It makes no difference to the cancer whether you've broken barriers of any kind.  And in this we realize that the most important barrier to break in this life is the barrier to living lives of mediocrity and fear.  It's obvious that none of us are promised tomorrow, but what's less obvious is that none of us are promised a future without barriers.  For some, that barrier is Cancer.  For others it's Alzheimers.  For others it's Divorce.  For others it's....

Life can be one big Barrier.  And it stops some.  Lays them flat out. 

But what if we Broke that Barrier.  Broke it with Grace?  Lived a life of Purpose and Passion despite the hardships and heartaches? 

I want to live like that!  Leaving a Legacy that will always shine brightly...

In Grace Remembering the Life of Sally Ride.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fire on the Farm!

Yesterday was Mom's 72nd Birthday...

And we had a beautiful "celebration," but the rather incendiary turn of events at the farm precluded my lovely blog post last night!

So, today you get two for the price of one.  First, the Fire (most important...we're all OK, whewww!)...

Yesterday afternoon, as I was driving home from Dad's and our commemorative Birthday festivities (more on that later), I noticed smoke in the distance, and it sure looked suspiciously close to our place. But, I reasoned, what are the chances?

None of the neighbors had called, no fire engine sirens were blaring. Probably just a controlled burn...

Except, the closer I got to home, the closer it looked to be our place... I turned down the lane, still no fire engines, but tons more smoke... drove thru our gate, heart pounding, and saw smoke billowing across the driveway....

The woods were on fire. Holy Smokes! And there was lots of smoke. The fire was low and smoldering thru all the leaf tinder and spreading fast...





9-1-1 !!!!!!!! What's your emergency? FIRE!!!! FIRE!!!! FIRE!!!!! (I may have sounded just a little hysterical....maybe....)

And then I called Leroy and Travis (they were at Trav's working on a truck), and yelled FIRE! (a wee bit less hysterical...maybe...)

Good news. Leroy and Travis made it home fast. And so did the Fire Department. 2 hours and thousands of GALLONS of water later, the fire was out and we were breathing much easier.



And the really great news? Moments after the Fire Department left, the skies opened up and the RAIN came down in a Big, Drenching, Swoosh of a Soaker. What a Gift, after weeks without a drop of rain. God's Perfect Timing...




Cause of the fire? No idea. The Firefighters couldn't pinpoint a cause. Perhaps a spark from the Transmission Lines overhead,



 or an ember from a big grass fire way south of us (not likely, but maybe), in other words, we may never know. Kind of scary to think we're that susceptible to random fires...



And the neighbors?  No one else was home at the time the fire broke out - doubly scary... If I had lingered at Dad's or done some shopping (it happens), and been even a half hour later, the fire would have swept into the ravine and been nigh impossible for the Fire-fighters to reach.  Shudder....

God's Providential Hand...Grace in Action...

Which is exactly how Mom's Commemorative Birthday came about.  A providential timing orchestrated by unseen hands for a family that was dreading another first.  A Birthday without Mom. 

Several weeks ago, Dad received an invitation from the Cemetary/Columbarium were Mom is inurned.  They were hosting a service about Organ Donation presented by UT Southwest and also having an "indoor" picnic for all the families with loved ones buried there.

The Date?  Saturday, July 21st.  Mom's 72nd Birthday.

A difficult day, made so much easier by the love, laughter and community of others facing similar journeys.  The service was touching.  Several donor recipients shared their stories and one family shared the heartbreak of losing their son only to have his life continue on in the lives of so many others thru organ donation.

Then after the service, we participated in a group Butterfly Release.  Simply the sweetest, most uplifting part of our day.  Even Dad was captivated...



As the butterflies circled around us, dipping and swaying, lighting upon our shoulders and hands, we read in unison the verse from  Numbers 6:24-26:

"The Lord bless you
and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace."





Mom would have been utterly charmed.  Dad and I agreed that we couldn't have planned it better if we had tried...



Happy Birthday Mom!
You are loved always and forever....

P.S.  The Goats, Donkey, Dogs, Cats, and Peacocks survived the Farm Fire with nary a singed feather, nor sooty hoof.  Tonight we are humbled completely by God's Merciful, Abundant, Soul-Soaking Grace...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Foxy Visitor

Ok, the Goat Baby Bawling is getting to everyone...


Even Daisy, our placid, good-natured, guardian Donkey, is getting cranky!

The incessant crying of spoiled goat babies echoes long and loud across the farm.  And unbeknownst to us, the distressing cry of weaning babies has acted like a dinner bell for some hungry hunters...



As I headed out to feed this morning, early, I was startled to find I wasn't alone.  Mama Fox eyed me warily from just across the Windmill garden.  Way too close!  And way too comfortable!!

And even more startling, she didn't turn tail and run when she saw me.  I had time to turn around, run into the house, grab the camera and come back out to take these pics.  It probably helped that the dogs were all inside eating breakfast :)

As I snapped away, you could see Mama Fox weighing her options.  Friend or Foe... Flight or Fight... She flinched with each camera shutter click, but held her ground.  I was too excited by the chance to get these pics to be afraid.  (Apologies for the quality of the pics, obviously in my excitement I forgot to hold the camera still.)

And as I clicked a few more, I noticed out little black cat, Pebbles, in the background... Gasp! 


See her there at the back of the tractor?  She's hiding behind the log-splitter.


And she seemed oblivious to the danger!  Fox! Fox! Fox!  I tried to telepathically warn her, but to no avail.  She hopped over the log-splitter.  I drew a breath in, knowing I couldn't save her.  And that's when she saw the Fox.

 Fox! @#$&*!  (That's cat language for Oh Crap!) This alarm was accompanied by much hissing and spitting on Pebbles part.  Confusion on the foxes.  And flabbergasting on my part (I forgot to take pictures - I was sure it was gonna be ugly...)

When I realized Pebbles had the upperhand I started snapping again.  Here the Fox has backed up, Pebbles is behind the windmill and I'm still holding my breath.


I'm not sure what she told Mama Fox, but she sure looked satisfied with herself by the time she rounded the corner...



As she made her way to my side, I was vaguely aware of the goat babies crying for their breakfast, and the peacock's rusty cawing as he emerged from his nightly tree-top perch.  Pebbles rubbed against my legs, happily purring as Mama Fox and I shared a respectful moment of understanding...


Then she kindly headed on for breakfast brunch down the road.


May all your daily visitors be as engaging, breathtakingly-wild and ever-so-polite as our Foxy Friend.

Feeling God's Grace-Hand on our farm this day...
 Always, Jane

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's Time...

Weaning Time on the farm.  Everyone's crying!

Mamas...Babies...Me...
This is so not fun.  I wish there was another way, and I'm not the only one!

First we separate the mamas way across the farm in their own pasture...


That took 3 people, 2 buckets of feed and more cunning and muscle than expected.  Those mamas DID NOT want to be separated from their babies!  And if I wasn't sweating and huffing so bad I would have to admire their tenacity.  However, after a few hooks from those horns I wasn't up to admiring much.

Then we went back to mollify and feed the babies...


which required lots of loving and some heavy-duty ear plugs.  Goat baby bleating is very loud and yes, very irritating.  Ask Baby Peacock...


His feathers got rather ruffled with all the ruckus. But I do understand those babies.  They were missing their mamas.  I know what that's like...

In their sheltered life, goat mama was always there.  She was there to nurture, to protect, to nurse, to guide, to push, to nuzzle, to love.  I had that too, for oh so long. 

I get it, I really do...


And I can tell you, little fuzz-ball, that you will be okay.  Cry.  Grieve.  Make lots of noise.  You will miss her like crazy, that's for sure, but after awhile you will realize that the missing has softly turned into sweet remembering somewhere along the way.  A cherishing of all she taught you.  And she raised you right.  Good and strong.  Ready to face greener pastures and new experiences with strength and confidence.  Love provides a sure foundation and Baby you are loved.

You're gonna be alright...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Purple Stride...Boston Style!

Michele, this Shout-Out is for you!!

One of the most surprising blessings of mom's journey has been the chance to meet so many wonderful, courageous and giving people.  When we were in the trenches fighting desperately for healing and strength and sanity, this village of beauty simply rose up and wrapped their love around us.  How many times did mom just lean back and smile as a neighbor popped in with a meal, or an email arrived to cheer the day, or a cyber friend "knocked" on the door for an update... And many of these cyber friends knew all too well the struggle we faced, for they were right there in the trenches with us. 

And that's how we met Michele.  Compassionate, daring and generous...She is the daughter of a mom who has fought pancreatic cancer.  She knows a little about the battle...And without hesitation, she decided to do something about it.  Michele will be participating in PurpleStride Boston on August 26, 2012 to raise awareness and funds for this most deadly of diseases.



Michele shares her mom's story on her fundraising page and it is the kind of inspiration that we need to hear.  In a follow-up email this weekend, Michele said,

"I am willing to do whatever it takes to help with the fight against Pancreatic Cancer. My mom went to the Cancer Center yesterday and had a PET/CAT scan.  Everything is still clear and her tumor markers are at 19.  YEAH!!!  Let's pray that this stays like it is.  I am so thankful for The Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  Please, if you would...mention that they are remarkable.  They treat all cancers but, at least there is still HOPE for the Pancreatic patients if there is none where they live."

There is HOPE.  I hear it loud and clear.  Michele's mom has been given that second chance.  And with each day, each dollar dedicated to research, each person tuning in to the need, there will be many more second chances.

Not everyone will be able to participate in a PurpleStride event.  That's Ok.  Not everyone will be able to give for research.  That's Ok. 

But...everyone can spread the HOPE.  In your own way, in your own time, in your own place...

Be the HOPE that someone desperately needs today.


Friday, July 13, 2012

The Wanderers are Home...

Home... At Last!!!



Heaven to be sleeping in our own bed.  Snuggling with the pups.  Loving on goat babies...

Doing Laundry!!  That's the sign of another vacation in the bag!

And such a wonderful vacation it was.  Busy, Bountiful and Blessed.  We traveled through Wisconsin and Illinois visiting family, making sure food and fun were a part of the daily agenda!  Leroy and I had the pleasure of escorting Dad up to the family's Big Reunion in Wisconsin and then we took the scenic route home through Illinois by way of Lake Michigan (our route was anything but straight!).  We also had the added joy of including our daughter Katie, her husband, Jordan and two nieces, Amanda and Sami, into the traveling menagerie! What a crew.  Here's the vacation in pics:

We ate...





And we canoed...



and survived!


The guys fished...


and fished...


and fished...  Dad had a blast!!


And then we headed in for the Big Reunion.  And what fun that turned out to be!  The reunion committee simply outdid themselves, beginning with a beautiful remembrance service at the small Scandinavian church (in Scandanavia, Wisconsin) that my great-grandparents had attended.  The day only got better from there!


The service was followed by an impromptu parade thru town to the old homestead!



Grandma and Grandpa Christensen raised 11 children in this tiny, 4-room home.  Such memories!  Such treasure!  Such Love!!


And here's the whole Bunch of Us!


And Dad with his sister, our favorite Aunt Di



And Dad with his favorite cousins...


There was time for food...


and face painting...


and fun around the Bonfire!


Our Beautiful Wisconsin Family...


Love you to Pieces!


I can't help but remember our last family reunion and vacation.  What a difference a year makes... So hard to believe where our life was last year.  Mom's journey was well on its way and we didn't know.  Pancreatic cancer de-rails the best laid plans.  If anything it has taught me to cherish the moments we hold in our hands completely, for we aren't promised a minute more...

Because mom is never far from our thoughts, we honored her with a trip past her family home in Wilmette, Illinois along the shores of Lake Michigan.



Her spirit dipped low and the breeze blew her kisses soft across our cheeks...

Home At Last