Monday, May 25, 2009


I apologize for our absence from this blog. Some problematic details have arisen, but should be cleared up shortly. Please stay tuned. :)

Meanwhile, today is Memorial Day. Here is a very special Memorial Day video made by Youth on the Rock from the Bucyrus Free Will Baptist Church in Ohio. It is dedicated to all those that have ever served in the armed forces and helped to give ... remember, all gave some, but some gave all.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


A cancer diagnosis is devastating. It can upset the bravest and most stalwart of hearts. We know. This is our second time around the block. Today, I learned that cancer is truly no respecter of persons.

While at the gym I saw a poster for a Beef 'n Beer for a little boy named Sam. Figured he had leukemia or some other "childhood-type" disease. I didn't read the whole thing. Hey, I had to go around that circuit twice and since I've been sick, it wasn't the easiest thing to do. I was more than a little bit self-absorbed. I couldn't shake that cute little face, though. Then I started talking to the lady next to me on the circuit. Turns out she was his Grandmom. She told me his story.

Sam Hornikel is three years old. He is one of those cute little guys with bright eyes and a smile that goes from here to eternity. Sam was diagnosed with prostate cancer, a subject near and dear to our hearts lately. I can hear you now. . . prostate cancer in a THREE YEAR OLD??? That was my reaction, too, as I rudely interrupted her. Turns out, it wasn't really prostate cancer, but bladder cancer. It was pretty bad when they caught it, so they took out little Sam's bladder, prostate and urethra to give him the best chance at life. Reconstructive surgery has started and will get him back to as normal as possible. They even took his sperm and froze it. There is apparently new technology on the horizon that makes it pretty certain that by the time Sam finds the girl God has for him, she will be able to bear his children. He will need a few more operations. He just finished a round of chemo.

Through it all, this kidlet is amazing. He doesn't cry much. He runs around like crazy, dragging his tubes and poles with him. He loves everybody and keeps his nurses and doctors cheery. Three years old. Hit with a Mack truck before he barely knows he's alive. Through it all, Sam just knows he's going to be okay. The faith of a child.

In the movie "The Santa Clause," a wise little girl elf tells the main character that children have it right; adults have it wrong. She tells him that most people say "Seeing is believing," when, in fact, it's the other way around, "Believing is seeing." The faith of a child. It's like a child that we come to Jesus. Not the easiest thing for adults. Our heads are too clouded with other extraneous information that gets in the way. We know too much (or so we think). Kids see things clearer, cleaner, simpler. "And he said: 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'" (Matthew 18:3, NIV) Oh, would it be that I had Sam's simple faith!

The faith of a child. And this brave child's already seen more pain and suffering in three years than most of us will see in a lifetime. Can you help me get a few gazillion prayers ascending heavenward for Sam? I asked his Grandmom if that would be okay. She said, "I believe in the power of prayer." She didn't say it haltingly or softly. She made a definitive statement in a clear, strong voice. By the way, she's also a cancer survivor. She's doing well, many years later. I pray Sam will be, too. She obviously passed her strength on to this little one. Jesus will give him the rest of what he needs. Sam already knows that. Do you?

Jesus loves me! this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
they are weak but He is strong.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I know we've been silent for a few days. I haven't been feeling too well and we've had a lot of things to do. I apologize for leaving everyone in the proverbial lurch. All of a sudden (or so it seems), I looked up and. . . it's Sonday evening! Good thing I know the song I want to play for you, huh? :)

Ray and I attend Calvary Chapel. They have the local Christian radio station in town. In between teaching programs, they play "canned" music. There is no mention of who the artists are or what the names of the songs are. Drives me positively nuts! I have to scribble down lyrics and then run home and hit Google or Good Search and pray. This song plays a lot. It's not really notable (although a good song) for anything special except a line in the chorus that grabs me right in the driver's seat: "Whatever's in front of me, I choose to sing Halleluia." Note that I italicized the word "choose." That's about it. Choosing to be joyful is a choice. . .just like choosing to forgive, choosing to believe, choosing to do just about anything. We have choices.

When I went hunting for this song, I found one stunning presentation by a woman's interpretive sign dance ministry. Here's "Halleluia" by Bethany Dillon:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ONE OF THOSE DAYS (& new poem)

Ray had "one of those days" today. Nothing earth-shattering. Just. . . well, you know. He called to tell me had a hard shot of overwhelming sadness, to the point where he wanted to ball up somewhere in a corner and cry his heart out. It happens to me frequently. Not used to it happening to him. He's human. Why can't men feel like this? Obviously, they can and they do. It's just not associated with them as much as with women. We're more vocal about it. Our emotions usually hide in a public place. We talked. He wanted to come home but, unfortunately, the money situation wouldn't allow it. When the days get rough, I usually drive in to have lunch with him and break up the day. Today, though, I had to take our 13-year-old to her therapy appointment and the time just didn't work out. He assured me he was over it and would be okay.

On the way to the appointment, we talked. Well, we talked as much as you can talk to a 13-year-old hunger queen shoving a turkey hoagie down her gullet. Every now and then she chased it with a Dr. Pepper. . . and then we talked. We talked about a lot of things, boys mostly, but then the subject of her dad came up. She seems to need constant reassurance. She's only 13. I have trouble dealing with this occasionally, and I'm a heckuva lot older than 13. She's trying to understand. She watches too much TV. The word cancer frightens her. Hey, it frightens me, too, at times.

After the appointment, we decide to race like mad back to Daddy's work, to see if we can catch him on his break. She knows I like to drive fast. She tells me to go for it, that she'll watch out for the cops. :) I went maybe a little over the speed limit in places (lookout. . . my nose is growing!) and we made it with about 30 seconds to spare. We called him and told him to come outside. It was a fun 10 minutes. I think Ray appreciated it. The rest of the day went on, as usual, with Wednesday night Bible Study and Youth Group.

It's almost bed time. Ray just found a piece of paper outside of our door with another one of her poems on it. It reads:

"When I think of it I sometimes get scared,
But you're okay and I'm aware.
Nothing more important than your health to me,
You're gonna be fine, can't you see,
I love you and you love me.
Daddy, you'll be fine and okay.
I hope this poem makes your day."

Copyright @2009 Lilly Ives

Underneath that is a hand-drawn heart with "I Love You" written in it.

Yeah, I guess it was just one of those days.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


What do you say when you have nothing to say? Good question! Now those of you that know me are sitting back, trying to stifle the muffled giggles coming out of your mouth, and saying, "Carla has nothing to say? COME ON!!!" That's true most of the time, but your resident big mouth is actually short of words today. Why? Well. . .

Life is just "going on." The big rush of emotions that came with Ray's cancer diagnosis has since calmed down. We're no longer afraid of the C-word. We talk about cancer this and cancer that. We talk about possible procedures like we're discussing the grocery list. We talk about things like making our wills, making sure plans are set up for the "just in case." No emotion, no trauma, no fear. We just talk. And still the kids go to school, we fix dinner, Ray goes to work, I sit here looking for words. Life just goes on. That same life that seemed so important to grab hold of only a few short weeks ago is. . . well, it's just going on.

Isn't that what life's supposed to do? Yes, it is. That's God's plan. Things get intense and then they go back to whatever passes for normal. We live, love and laugh in the good times, but we grow in the valleys. We don't like them, but we need them. God knew that. He also knew we'd need a breather every now and then, to grab some scripture, rest up and get ready for the next valley. The intense periods will keep coming. I have no doubt of it. Once Ray gives the doc the definite go ahead on May 22nd, I'm sure things will heat up again. The posts will be better then, I promise! Right now, things actually seem a little. . . dare I say it?. . . dull.

So life goes on, dull or not. Hurry up and wait. No choice. Even if we wanted to do something today, we can't. Ray's insides are still too swollen and that makes proceeding with anything right now risky. Both of us would love nothing more than to get this over with tonight. We can't. So we hurry up and wait. Nothing more to do right now, nothing much to say.

So to finish off this "wordy-no words" entry, I would like to once again thank our friends, prayer warriors and readers for hanging in there with us, even when I seemingly have nothing to say.

Stay tuned. You KNOW I will have much more to say in the not too distant future. :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Well, it's Sonday once again. It's also Mother's Day, so. . .

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all the moms out there!!!

They played this one in church this morning. It's really cute and says it all. I went searching and here it is. The Mom Song by Jamie, Jason & Andy, otherwise known as Go Fish (a really talented Christian {usually} a capella group!) For more information on the guys, go to: Go Fish

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Pardon me, Rodney Crowell, for stealing your song title and some of your lyrics, but I can't get your song out of my head. The song is "What Kind of Love?" and part of the chorus says:

"What kind of love makes you go out in the wind and the driving rain?
What kind of love runs through your heart with a pleasure so close to pain?
What kind of love?
Only this love that I have"

A cancer diagnosis brings out a lot of "stuff." I've had a question kicking around in my head since Day 1 and I have to get it out. Here it is: Is the love I have for Ray enough to "go out in the wind and the driving rain? "

We will be married 37 years in August. We've known each other for almost 41 years. That's a long time. Married love tends to deteriorate. Maybe that's not the right word. I don't mean it goes bad, more like it gets mundane. After all those years, you kiss him as he runs out the door in the morning, you touch base by phone sometime during the day to remind him to bring home the groceries you forgot and you peck him on the cheek at night. In between there is dinner, some conversation if you're lucky and maybe some lovin' if Jupiter aligns with Mars. :) It's just not like it was in the beginning. Does it need to be? Doesn't your love need to mature, as both of you are doing? (Read that "getting old :)

Well, if this cancer thing hadn't hit us, we might have continued down that road. Comfy, like an old pair of shoes. But God chose this time in our lives to hit us with a cattle prod. Ray needs a lot of support right now. Reassurance, gentle treatment, support and, yes, love. But how much love? Does he need the same kind of love I showed him when we first met? Probably not. That was pretty much infatuation. . . with a little lust thrown in. What about when we got married four years later? Is that the kind of love he needs? I don't think so. There was still a bit of infatuation in that love, but that love was young, not tried or tested in the fire. Good love, but inexperienced. What about the love when the kids finally came? That was a love born out of work, mutual pitching-in, "Let's roll up our elbows and dig in, hon." It was good love, but it was exhausting love. Two "older" folks trying to deal with three little kids. Most nights, we didn't even get to the peck on the cheek. We were simply too tired.

So here we are, 37 years down the road and he needs a special kind of love to get him through this. Am I up to the task? Do I even know how to define this kind of love? Am I capable of loving somebody like Ray needs to be loved now? Part of me thinks I am. But in that hour just before dawn, when I'm usually laying there awake and time passes oh, so slowly, I wonder. I've been sick a lot of years. I have mobility problems. I have chronic pain disorders. My energy is spent most days just in getting through one more day. The kids are teenagers. They need me. My mother needs me. He needs me. And now. . . he needs me a lot. Is there anything left? The thought that the answer might be no haunts me. The Bible says that a man is to be the woman's covering. Sometimes, though, you have to switch roles, if even for a little while. Is there enough left of me to cover him with the love he needs right now?

The answer has to lie with trusting God. The only way I can do this is by putting Philippians 4:13 into effect. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (NKJV) I can't do it by myself. I honestly don't think there's enough of me left. But I do know who has what's needed here and that's God. I wear a silver cross around my neck that says, "With God, All Things Are Possible." I have to remember that. I am inadequate, but God is totally adequate, more than adequate. He can love Ray the way he needs to be loved and do it through me.

Ray needs a lot right now. God is certainly up to the task, even for "a love that goes out in the wind and the driving rain." Thank you, Lord, for being my umbrella.


I have gotten some comments and questions about this blog post. Here's what I found on Wikipedia about these catacombs:

Catacombs of Domitilla

Bearded Christ, from catacombs of Commodilla

Close to the Catacombs of San Callisto are the large and impressive Catacombs of Domitilla (named after Saint Domitilla), spread over 15 kilometers of underground caves. Entrance is through a sunken 4th-century church, at via delle Sette Chiese 280. Those catacombs are oldest of Rome's underground burial networks, and the only one to still contain bones. Catacombs include 2nd-century fresco of the Last Supper and other valuable artifacts.

In the beginning of 2009, at the request of the Vatican, Divine Word Missionaries––an Roman Catholic Society of priests and Brothers––assumed responsibility as administrator of St. Domitilla Catacombs.

The practice of burying the dead underground began in the 2nd century. The soft volcanic rock under Rome makes tunneling quite easy, and when the material is exposed to air it becomes very hard. In and around Rome there are miles of these underground burial caves built between the 2nd and 9th centuries.

The Catacombs of St. Domitilla are the best preserved and one of the most extensive of all the catacombs. This catacomb is also unique in that it has a subterranean basilica. The basilica eventually became unsafe and it was abandoned in the 9th century. It was rediscovered in 1593, and much of it was reconstructed in 1870.


Most of you who know me know that I'm a history buff extraordinaire. I've taught it, read it, watched it, you name it. I just can't get enough, so. . . when I saw this highlighted on Breaking Christian News this morning, I just had to show it to you! The short article is under the video screen. You can follow the link to the full BBC article, which gives permission to share the video far and wide! (Sorry it's taking up some of my side panel, but this was too good NOT to post!!!)

Rome's Largest Catacomb Digitally Documented; Results "Astonishing"
Teresa Neumann (May 7, 2009)

(Rome, Italy)—Until now, Rome's many 1,800-year-old underground catacombs have never been fully documented. But, following a recent 3-year project by a team of Austrian and Italian archaeologists, architects and computer scientists working to create the "first fully comprehensive three-dimensional image" of the largest catacomb, Saint Domitilla, that has changed.

According to a BBC report, the new, moving, images of this entire underground system have opened up the "beautiful subterranean world in a way that it has never been seen before." (Photo: BBC)

The report notes that the final result of the scans are astonishing. Says reporter Duncan Kennedy: "On a computer screen, you can now see the whole underground complex. Using different buttons on the key pad, you can zoom in on the tunnels. You can travel 'through' walls, down corridors and into chambers, giving the first real sense of its beauty, scale and detail. Paintings on walls, which have not been seen in nearly 2,000 years, are now visible—their colours vivid and clear."

Follow the link provided to read this article in its entirety.

Source: Duncan Kennedy—The BBC

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Let's get away from the C-word for a little bit. Whaddya think? I think it's a good day for some other news.

Some of you know, some of you don't, that I co-host a wonderful podcast called Grace Talk Soup. Grace Talk Soup (or GTS) boldly serves up God's word with a side order of humor and a touch of grace! My co-host, JoJo Tabares, is an expert communicator. JoJo holds a degree in Speech Communication and has over 25 years experience in writing about how we communicate (or don't) with each other. Don't need it, you say? Oh, ye of little faith!!! Communication does NOT equal Speech. You can get through your entire life without making a formal speech, but I dare you to get through one day of your life without communicating something to someone! Go on, try it! I dare ya!!!

And the icing on the GTS cake came in just this morning!!! We were picked up by Internet Radio Magazine and interviewed! You can read all about us here: Internet Talk Radio on GTS. To say we are excited is. . . well, let's just call it an understatement. Grace Talk Soup is on the move!!!

We broadcast every Thursday morning via Talk Shoe, 11AM EDT/8AM PDT. Find us here. You can join us in the chat room, on the phone or BOTH! We have lots of fun and tackle some of the tough Christian questions of our day. . . and we sneak in some Communication FUNdamentals besides! We do a great segment called I Love Language where I play Ethel the Editor to JoJo's Lucy Linguist. We have a lot of fun. You will, too. Tomorrow, we begin our May Mini-Series on one of JoJo's best studies, Say What You Mean: Defending the Faith.

Speaking of JoJo, there is a lot of fun coming up over at her labor of love, Art of You can get all the details from her latest blog entry. Go take a look-see. Follow her blog. You will learn some amazing stuff! Oh, oh, oh. . . don't forget to sign up for her newsletter!!! She offers specials and freebies you will not find ANYWHERE ELSE!!!

If you are a homeschooler, JoJo writes supercalifragilisticexpealidocious curricula for communication skills! And don't forget to check out her mascot, FIMM (Foot in Mouth Man). Our lovable FIMM will teach you how NOT to say it. :)

Now isn't that better than a cancer report? ROFLOL Well, only if it's a bad one. Stay tuned to this blog for more VICTORIOUS cancer reports sure to come. . .

REMEMBER: All things are possible with God.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Since this blog talks about the emotions of "us," Ray & Carla, during a somewhat trying time in our long, long, long. . . did I say long? :) . . . marriage, I often wonder what makes some couples that you never thought would make it stick together forever and why some that you just know were formed in heaven divorce sooner rather than later. I mean, hey, at our wedding, my family was making book in the front row about how many weeks this was gonna last! ROFLOL

I found this in the latest issue of Today's Christian Woman. It makes some very good points.


1. There's value in just showing up. When things get tough, hang in there for your spouse.

2. Approach problems from a new angle. If you don't, you'll find that doing what you always do brings the same results.

3. Resist the grass is greener myth. Instead, put your energy into making your marriage better. Grass is greenest where you water it.

4. Don't quit when it gets tough. A crisis is like a storm: loud, scary and dangerous. But to get through a storm, you have to keep driving.

5. Fight the battle between your ears. Resist holding grudges and bringing up the past. The most successful couples live by the motto: Forget and let it go.

--Mitch Temple, from The Marriage Turnaround (Moody)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Just When You Thought You Had It All Figured Out. . .

. . . life comes along and throws you yet another curve ball. We just found out today that the lovely "cowpie heaven" we live in has no DaVinci Robot and, while our doctor is more than happy to do the surgery, we'd have to travel quite a bit for it. Now in a perfect world, this wouldn't pose too much of a problem except for the fact that I have 3 kids at home who wouldn't be able to handle an emergency without one of us here and a mother who would be more of a hindrance than a help. I can't leave them alone that long, nor can I afford to keep driving back and forth. So now. . . we need a new option. There aren't too many to begin with. We had it narrowed down to two: (1) the robotic surgery or (2) a focal cryoablation, which is the freezing of the diseased part of the prostate to kill it.

The main problem behind Door No. 2 is that you need constant follow-up. As soon as your numbers start to creep up (IF they do), you're back on a biopsy table with the choices facing you all over again if they find additional cells. Still, with Ray's cancer so nicely contained, the doc feels it is a very viable option. It's also a same-day procedure AND done locally, so I can take him there, wait for them to be finished with him and bring him home the same night. Much easier logistics.

Still. . . Door No. 1 holds the prize. The Robotic Prostatectomy is still the way to go here, according to everyone we've talked to and all the reading we've done. There is next to no follow-up as the prostate is hasta la vista, baby! Nothing left to biopsy if the number should ever creep up. If it did, we would know that something had escaped prior and we would have to see a regular oncologist to track where in the body the nasty little bugger decided to go on vakay. OYE!!! Still, full prostate removal (prostatectomy) is the only procedure with long-term studies to prove its effectiveness. The robotic prostatectomy is the easiest on the patient. The focal cryoablation is a relatively new study with only about two years of results.

What to do? What to do? What to do? SCREAM!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, actually. . . no. That wouldn't help, but it would feel OH SO GOOD!!!

First step, Ray is going to go read some of the cryoablation support groups he's found on the net. The best way is to see what the guys say who have actually gone through this. (Our doctor concurs wholeheartedly.) The "focal" cryoablation (focused only on the one bad section) has a lot fewer side affects than when they attempt to freeze and destroy the entire prostate. So that's one thing we can do. We are still scheduled to see Dr. Lee on the 22nd as Ray's insides have to totally heal and that will take up to 8 weeks from the last biopsies.

Dr. Lee gave us some email addresses so we can petition the local hospital to buy him Robbie the Robot. He said they listen to consumers much more than they listen to doctors. He wants one BAD and this region sorely needs one. It's not only useful in prostate surgery, but in many gynecological procedures AND heart surgeries! It is called "bloodless surgery" and it would really help a lot of people in this area. So for our local friends, I will be contacting you soon with the emails and a sample letter to go begging with. LOL IF Ray decides to do the focal cryoablation, he could need the robot down the road, so we'd love to get one in place.

Today's Lesson (It's an old one, but not easily learned): This is NOT a perfect world and just when you think you have it all figured out, you don't. SIGH

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I can't believe the week went by so fast! Especially, since we were expecting the Friday miracle, but sorta kinda preparing for the Friday disappointment. I almost said "Friday despair," but that's not quite right. We knew that even if it was bad, we would give the battle to the Lord, while fighting the things we could fight on our own down here. Still, this week was a wild roller coaster ride of emotions for both of us. We got through it. We got our miracle. Some folks have said, "What miracle? He still has cancer and still has to have his prostate removed." Well, yeah. But once it's gone, he will be cured. Had the cancer spread, it still could have been cured, but with a lot more pain and suffering on Ray's part and a whole lot more life-altering stress on this family. So as far as we're concerned, prostatectomy or not, we got our miracle!

And now to celebrate our miracle (THANK YOU, JESUS!!!), here's a great Sonday song for you. A few years ago, Ray actually sang this in church and brought the house down with it. I wish I had a video of that performance. I don't. So you will just have to do with the little known (HAH!), composer and singer of the song, Chris Tomlin. (I LUV LUV LUV Chris Tomlin's music!). This song, How Can I Keep From Singing? is exactly how we feel on this somewhat-dreary-outside but very-bright-in-our-hearts Sonday morning!


Friday, May 1, 2009


Well, folks, this is going to be one of the best blog posts I've had the pleasure of writing since this blog began! We just got back from the doctor's office with some REALLY great news! Ray's cancer is totally contained and has not grown!!! No metastasis anywhere else! WOO HOO!!!!! So. . . bottom line is that we go back in 3 weeks too have surgery scheduled. The doctor said it will take his body 5-6 weeks to recover from the swelling caused by the last round of biopsies. The surgery will probably be sometime in the first 2 weeks of June.

The surgery will be a DaVinci Robotic Radical Prostatectomy. That's some mouthful, huh? :) Our doctor is one of the pioneers of this robotic surgical technique for prostate cancer. He has taught it in several major universities and hospitals. It's a laparascopic surgery (5 small incisions) so it will only entail an overnight hospital stay. There are very few side effects and Ray should be able to resume his normal activities in about 2 weeks. The BESTEST news, though, is that with his "young" age (snicker, snort, chortle. . . but he's young for prostate cancer) and otherwise fine physical condition, the doc is predicting a 100% CURE!!! Is that not the loveliest word (gimme a C, gimme a U, gimme an R, gimme an E !!!) you have heard here??? I know it is for me. :)

Now what about those socks? When Ray's PSA came back through the roof, I figured I would be sitting in lots of waiting rooms so I wanted to start a pair of socks for him. I've been knitting for over 50 years and socks are my favorite. They are small and very portable, easy to carry in your purse. I mentioned it to him and he was thrilled, as I had not made him new socks in a long time. He went through my stash and picked out the yarn he wanted. He told me these would be his victory socks. Is he prophetic or WHAT? He wore them to the first results conference with Dr. Lee, through the saturation biopsy and today for. . . THE VICTORY!!! Yes, I know they are only socks, but I prayed into every stitch, much like you do when making a prayer shawl. Oh, I am making him one of those, too, so when he does his short stay in the hospital, he will have my prayers to wrap up in.

I can't thank all of our friends, family and blog readers enough for praying for us. But please don't abandon the blog! We still have a lot of emotions to work through and will keep you posted on Ray's road to surgery, preparations, actual procedure and his recuperation. He is going to be making some more appearances here, too.

Tonight, we are going to chill and watch a movie. Both of us feel like an astronomical weight has been lifted from our shoulders. Our daughter, the poet, drew a pic with "I Love Daddy" on it and asked me to give it to him for the doctor's visit. He loved it. When we came home, he thanked her profusely, gave her a big hug, told her he was going to have surgery but then he will be just fine. She is elated. Her daddy will not only be walking her down the aisle when the time comes, but rocking her children on his knees, too. :)

Now we're off to sing a few choruses of Victory in Jesus!


Well, friends, today is the day we find out if Ray's cancer has metastasized or not. That answer will affect the treatment modality he chooses. We are looking for the good report!

The appointment is at 3:30PM Eastern Time today. Please pray with us and then watch the blog. I will post the update later on tonight.

Thank you to all our Prayer Warriors, Blog Readers, Friends & Family (or any combination of the above!)