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Monday, June 23, 2014

Land Hunt... Treasure Found!

Here's our current State of the Union Address...

It's been 6 months since we packed up the farm and said goodbye to dirt roads, goat baby snuggles and quiet walks in the woods.

We have been on an exciting, roller-coaster journey ever since... many have followed the Hunt through thick and thin!  Lots of places to see and explore, miles of roads to cover with an abundance of pros and cons to weigh... to be honest, there were days when I tearfully feared we had made a huge mistake.  I desparately longed for the safety of our tree-lined drive and wanted nothing more than to head back home...

Our lowest point of the hunt was back earlier this spring.  Despite a torn rotator cuff, we spent the day with our realtor and found a place that whispered home to our hearts.
It was the last stop of the day and we fell in love.
But our hopes were dashed when we found out that the cost of running electricity to the 11 acre property was "astronomical" putting it squarely out of our reach...
Sad.  De-railed.  Not sure of our next steps... It is when fear took hold and was, oh, so very hard to shake. 
Just what did we think we were doing?  Maybe, possibly, we had mis-judged?  Time to re-group and get torn rotator cuffs repaired...
God graciously re-filled our cups and the dream flared bright... with recuperation of torn tendons came hours to spend pouring over maps and listings.  We drove endlessly, enjoying the advent of spring and countless stops at small town Dairy Queens for Blizzard breaks... 
And we kept coming back to our 11 acre paradise to see if anyone else had bought it. We were like crazy, land stalker people... smile...
We just couldn't shake it.  Nothing else we saw could compare... And I think maybe God had a plan.
He just had to convince us to trust Him.
Amazingly enough, the 11 acres remained on the market despite a lot of activity. 
And so... Last month we made an offer.  A low offer.  And held our breath. 
It felt a bit like we were standing on the edge of the high dive... scared, nervous, excited... How many times did we ask, "God, are you sure?" 
He was sure.
The offer was accepted without even a counter...
It's Ours!
Back at home, down tree-lined dirt roads...
Quiet walks under the sun dappled oak canopy...
Meandering Brushy Creek borders the property, just begging
the kayakers and fishermen to come play...
Wildlife abundant...
The banks of beautiful Lake Texoma bordering our southern boundary...
We closed on the property this past week and are still pinching ourselves.  Truly?  Ours?  Thanksgiving pouring freely...
Silly grins on our faces, pouring over log cabin designs and planning future family gatherings...
Oh, and the electric?  Still don't have it.  Yep...  And water?  Not that either... We took the plunge off that high dive with abandon.
Seems that this farmer family doesn't do easy...
We do Adventure.
We do Glorious.
We do Crazy very, very well...
But, oh, the joy it brings to our very souls.
Throwing Gratitude Heavenward for all Good Gifts.
Trusting the Gift-Giver for each step of the Journey ahead...
Giddy with Grace,

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Death Begets Life...


May He bring Beauty from the depths of our Darkest Pain...

"Therefore if any man be in Christ,
he is a new creature:
old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new."
                                II Corinthians 5:17

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pancreatic Cancer Call to Action!

Throughout the past few years on this blog and website, I have heard from family members who are struggling to walk out this journey with their loved ones.  It is heart-wrenching to know that pancreatic cancer is still devastating lives today.  We feel weak and impotent against the ravages of this disease.  We would give anything to escape the heartache, but are helpless to stem the relentless advances of this vicious cancer.  Many ask what can be done...  Where is a better treatment?  When will there be a cure?  How do we survive this?

Today you can take a small step and begin to fight back.

Today you can let pancreatic cancer know its days are numbered.

Today is the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network National Call-In Day 2014.

Let your voice be heard.  There must be an increase in funding for medical research to fight this deadly cancer.  We are the voice of our loved ones.  While they are in the trenches using antiquated treatments, struggling hard against the odds, we must give voice to the fight.

When mom passed away, she was being given the same treatment used 20 years ago for pancreatic cancer.  20 years ago.  That is ancient medicine in today's technology driven world.  We need that break-through.  And one way to get it is to increase the support and funding for medical research.

There is a cure.  It is not too late for those in the fight.

I spent about 10 minutes this morning placing calls to my Congressmen in Texas.  Sharing our heart on this subject is vital.  Our Senators and Representative need to hear from families that are going thru this struggle.  They need to know it's personal, it's our heartbeat, it's our loved ones...

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network makes it easy to find your representatives.  Just click here to access your state's listings... Then make a short phone call...

Here are some easy Talking Points if you're not sure what to say when you call...

1)Hello, my name is [FIRST] [LAST]. I am from [YOUR CITY & STATE] and am calling to support the nearly 500 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network volunteers who are on Capitol Hill today, June 17th.
2)I'm calling to urge Senator [LAST NAME OF SENATOR] to support at least $5.26 billion in funding for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in FY15.
3)I also ask that the senator support the inclusion of pancreatic cancer in the Department of Defense's Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP), and to ensure that the program receives at least $25 million in funding as it did last year.
4)Finally, I want to urge the senator to show his/her support for these issues by joining the new Congressional Caucus on Deadliest Cancers chaired by Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ). Membership is open to both Senators and Representatives.
5)You can learn more about this new caucus and the growing threat of deadly cancers like pancreatic cancer at a congressional lunch briefing this Thursday, June 19th at 12:00 noon in the Rayburn Office Building (Room 2218). I urge you and your health staff to attend.
6)Please deliver my message to the senator. Thank you very much for your time.

To be honest, you don't need to use any of the talking points.  Just tell your story.  Share your fight.  Let them know this is so very, very personal... It's a small step in the journey, but can have profound long-reaching significance. 

Walking this Journey together... Graced to Fight alongside each and every one of you...

My Love,

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day









Happy Father's Day Dad!

Love you to the Moon and back!
                                          Yours Always, Jane

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Graduations, Transitions and Life Lessons!

We're celebrating with our sweet niece!

Graduating from High School... the world just waiting to be explored!  Such promise!  Such joy!

Life is chock full of transitions... and they start early!  I can remember the excitement of "graduating" kindergarten.  Not because of any great academic goals, but because 1st graders could get off the rocks of the playground and run out in the grass.  I'm sure I was properly appreciative of my ABC's and 123's, but, oh my, just giddy at the freedom 1st grade brought!

And then there was the kid's table in the kitchen at Grandma Meiers.  How we grandkids longed to eat at the "Big" table with all the grown-ups.  It was a promotion of huge proportions to move up to the elegantly appointed dining room and eat on real china!  We laugh now at our misplaced aspirations!  Once we "arrived" we found out that grown-up conversations and the requisite fine manners really put a damper on having fun at the dinner table!  I'd go back to the "kitchen table" shenanigans in a heartbeat...

And so it goes, transition begats growth.  But not all transitions bring such excitement, nor anticipation.  Transitioning from healthy to sick, from traveling the world to tackling cancer treatments, from planning retirement hobbies to bravely discussing end of life preferences... these are the kinds of transitions no one wants to face.  These transitions stretch us to grow in ways we never imagined.

In the midst of all the graduation festivities, one speech touched a chord for me... wise words spoken to not just the young, promising graduates of 2014, but to each one of us struggling with the hard transitions of this life.  Might you take a moment and be encouraged?
The Commencement Speech was given by Navy SEAL Admiral McRaven when he returned to his alma mater at the University of Texas at Austin.  He shares 10 Life Lessons he learned from his basic SEAL training.  It is a powerful reminder that we will all face transitions and adversity as we journey through life.  And whether it's facing racial injustice, fighting for that dream job or confronting a terminal diagnosis, it is how we face these challenges that determines the outcome and brings God-honoring growth.

And here's the abbreviated transcript from the above video:
"The University’s slogan is, 'What starts here changes the world.'

I have to admit—I kinda like it.
'What starts here changes the world.'

Tonight there are almost 8,000 students graduating from UT. That great paragon of analytical rigor, Ask.Com says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their lifetime.

That’s a lot of folks.

But, if every one of you changed the lives of just ten people—and each one of those folks changed the lives of another ten people—just ten—then in five generations—125 years—the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people.

800 million people—think of it—over twice the population of the United States. Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world—8 billion people.

If you think it’s hard to change the lives of ten people—change their lives forever—you’re wrong.
I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the ten soldiers in his squad are saved from close-in ambush.

In Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a non-commissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses something isn’t right and directs the infantry platoon away from a 500 pound IED, saving the lives of a dozen soldiers.

But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn—were also saved. And their children’s children—were saved.  Generations were saved by one decision—by one person.

But changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.

So, what starts here can indeed change the world, but the question is… what will the world look like after you change it?

Well, I am confident that it will look much, much better, but if you will humor this old sailor for just a moment, I have a few suggestions that may help you on your way to a better a world. And while these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform.  It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status.

Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all.

I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years. But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, California.

Basic SEAL training is six months of long torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacles courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable. It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL.

But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships.

To me basic SEAL training was a life time of challenges crammed into six months.

So, here are the ten lessons I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.

If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.
It was a simple task—mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection.

It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

#1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews. Each crew is seven students—three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy.

Every day your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surf zone and paddle several miles down the coast.

In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in. Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain. Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.

For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.

You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help— and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.

#2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class which started with 150 men was down to just 35. There were now six boat crews of seven men each.

I was in the boat with the tall guys, but the best boat crew we had was made up of the the little guys—the munchkin crew we called them—no one was over about 5-foot five.

The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African American, one Polish American, one Greek American, one Italian American, and two tough kids from the mid-west. They out paddled, out-ran, and out swam all the other boat crews.

The big men in the other boat crews would always make good natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feet prior to every swim.

But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the Nation and the world, always had the last laugh— swimming faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us.

SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.

#3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.

Several times a week, the instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection. It was exceptionally thorough. Your hat had to be perfectly starched, your uniform immaculately pressed and your belt buckle shiny and void of any smudges.

But it seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starching your hat, or pressing your uniform or polishing your belt buckle—- it just wasn’t good enough.

The instructors would find “something” wrong.

For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand. The effect was known as a “sugar cookie.” You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day—cold, wet and sandy.

There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right—it was unappreciated.

Those students didn’t make it through training.

Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.

Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie.
It’s just the way life is sometimes.

#4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events—long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics—something designed to test your mettle.

Every event had standards—times you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to—a “circus.”

A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics—designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.

No one wanted a circus.

A circus meant that for that day you didn’t measure up. A circus meant more fatigue—and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult—and more circuses were likely.

But at some time during SEAL training, everyone—everyone—made the circus list.

But an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list. Over time those students-—who did two hours of extra calisthenics—got stronger and stronger. The pain of the circuses built inner strength-built physical resiliency.

Life is filled with circuses.

You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.

#5. But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.

At least twice a week, the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including a 10-foot high wall, a 30-foot cargo net, and a barbed wire crawl to name a few.
But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life. It had a three level 30 foot tower at one end and a one level tower at the other. In between was a 200-foot long rope.

You had to climb the three tiered tower and once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end.

The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977.

The record seemed unbeatable, until one day, a student decided to go down the slide for life—head first.
Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the TOP of the rope and thrust himself forward. It was a dangerous move—seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk.

Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training.

Without hesitation—the student slid down the rope—perilously fast, instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.

#6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

During the land warfare phase of training, the students are flown out to San Clemente Island which lies off the coast of San Diego. The waters off San Clemente are a breeding ground for the great white sharks.

To pass SEAL training there are a series of long swims that must be completed. One—is the night swim.

Before the swim the instructors joyfully brief the trainees on all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente. They assure you, however, that no student has ever been eaten by a shark—at least not recently.

But, you are also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position—stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid.

And if the shark, hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you—then summons up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away.

There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.

#7. So, if you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.

As Navy SEALs one of our jobs is to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping. We practiced this technique extensively during basic training.

The ship attack mission is where a pair of SEAL divers is dropped off outside an enemy harbor and then swims well over two miles—underwater—using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to their target.

During the entire swim, even well below the surface there is some light that comes through. It is comforting to know that there is open water above you. But as you approach the ship, which is tied to a pier, the light begins to fade. The steel structure of the ship blocks the moonlight—it blocks the surrounding street lamps—it blocks all ambient light.

To be successful in your mission, you have to swim under the ship and find the keel—the center line and the deepest part of the ship.

This is your objective. But the keel is also the darkest part of the ship—where you cannot see your hand in front of your face, where the noise from the ship’s machinery is deafening and where it is easy to get disoriented and fail.

Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission—is the time when you must be calm, composed—when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.

#8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.

The ninth week of training is referred to as “Hell Week.” It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and—one special day at the Mud Flats—the Mud Flats are an area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slue’s—a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.

It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors.
As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some “egregious infraction of the rules” was ordered into the mud.

The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit—just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold.
Looking around the mud flat it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over eight hours till the sun came up—eight more hours of bone chilling cold.

The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything and then, one voice began to echo through the night—one voice raised in song.

The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm.

One voice became two and two became three and before long everyone in the class was singing.

We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well.

The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing—but the singing persisted.
And somehow—the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away.

If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan—Malala—one person can change the world by giving people hope.

#9. So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.

Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.

All you have to do to quit—is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock.

Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims.

Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.

Just ring the bell.

#10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

To the graduating class of 2014, you are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. Moments away from starting to change the world—for the better.

It will not be easy.

But, YOU are the class of 2014—the class that can affect the lives of 800 million people in the next century.

Start each day with a task completed.

Find someone to help you through life.

Respect everyone.

Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if you take take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and—what started here will indeed have changed the world—for the better."

May you each be graced to find God's very best for you in the darkest moments of this life.  And don't ever, ever ring the bell!

Congratulations to the Graduates of 2014!
 My Love to each, Jane