Penny Pinching Peach


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What Lung Cancer Can’t Do

Mom & PawPaw, Together in Heaven Now

Mom & PawPaw, Together in Heaven Now

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

My mom- a previously healthy non-smoker- died of lung cancer just before Christmas in 2006  at the young age of 44, a whirlwind two months after her diagnosis. We don’t know what caused her disease, and still don’t understand how such a vibrant, healthy and active woman succumbed to it so rapidly. I’ve learned that dwelling on what cancer has taken from my family and what power it can have over us can be completely soul numbing. Instead of dwelling on what lung cancer can do and what it can rob from us…this month I want to remind myself and others of what lung cancer can’t do.

Lung cancer can steal your voice, but it cannot take the words you have spoken. Choose words of love, encouragement and peace.

Lung cancer can leech away your energy, but it can’t quench your spirit. My mom was still such a caring, curious person all the way to her last breath.

Lung cancer can stop your heart, but it cannot stop the love you have inside of it. Show that love to those you care for.

Lung cancer can zap the strength from your body, but it can’t touch the strength of your soul. Who you are is stronger than cancer.

Lung cancer can take away life from your loved one, but it can never, ever take away the memories, legacy and relationships you have. Those will live on long after you are gone, regardless of whether you are taken by cancer or die in your sleep at the ripe ol’ age of 105.

Cancer doesn’t always win even in the physical realm. Don’t think I am saying it has to take all of these physical things away….but it can. As long as there is light in the eyes and breath in the body, there is hope. There are so many things it cannot reach, though, and we all need to remember that. Don’t give lung cancer- or any cancer- that kind of power over you. That power belongs to us, as humans. The human spirit soars far above and beyond anywhere that any disease can reach.

Never forget. What can you think of that lung cancer can’t take away?

“Penny Pinching Peach is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com”

If you are interested in lung cancer related items to inspire hope and/or remembrance, here are a few of my favorite picks:

This beautiful Ribbon of Hope Angel is holding the lung cancer ribbon in her arms. Elements Pearl Ribbon of Hope Angel (Lung Cancer) by Pavilion, 5-Inches Tall
This e-book is free with Kindle Unlimited, and looks like it would be quite helpful in coping with the ups and downs of cancer: Cancer: Coping With Cancer: Controlling and Understanding Emotions of Cancer (Cancer,Cancer Books,Breast Cancer,Colon Cancer,Lung Cancer,Brain Cancer,Prostate Cancer,Leukemia, Skin Cancer)
This lovely bracelet says “Where There Is Love, There is Life” along with the lung cancer ribbon charm…and that is such a powerful statement. I need this reminder, myself! Lung Cancer Charm Bracelet (Retail)

This bracelet has the cancer symbol with the colors for what appears to be all of the cancers we all hate so much, and I love that about it. Prepackaged (7 3/4 in.) Cancer Awareness Bracelet 18 Colors, 8mm

If you are in need of more information or resources for coping with lung cancer, here is the link to a great non-profit organization: LungCancer.org
 

Grace & Truth Link-up @ Busy Being Blessed


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Dear Mom…

Mom Laughing

Mom in Joyful Times

Dear Mom,

Happy 9th birthday in Heaven!

You should have been 53 today, but you’re forever frozen at 44 in my mind’s eye. I know you’re at peace and free from pain up dancing there in heaven, but I’d rather be able to celebrate the life I feel like you should still be living here on earth.

Just the other day, my oldest daughter- your much longed for granddaughter- came to me sobbing like her little heart was breaking.

Once I calmed her enough to find out what was wrong, my tender hearted, deep thinking child said “Mommy, I’m so sad! My Grandma Dorinda never got to meet me, and now my baby sister will never get to meet our Grandma Dorinda or our Ganna! Both my mommy’s and my daddy’s mommies are in heaven now! It’s not fair! I miss them! They should be here!”. I had no words to comfort my little girl for awhile, because my words were drowned out by the tears I was swallowing for my own grief that came rushing like a flood from the vast void that she reminded me of so powerfully.

Finally, I calmed my own spirit enough to speak, asking God to help me be the

Mom, Nana and Me

Mom, Nana and Me

kind of wise & loving momma I always felt blessed to have. I told her that her Grandma and Ganna were probably watching together from Heaven, bragging to all the other souls up there about having the most beautiful, amazing grandbabies that ever lived. I told her that they both live on in our hearts, in the love we still have for them, and the stories we can tell about them. I told her that love never dies. It lives forever in the hearts of those we loved, no matter what. I told her how lucky she is to have her two grandpas, step-grandma, two great-grandmas and a great grandpa still on earth to give her hugs and see her and all of the other children in our family. I told her Grandma and Ganna want her happiness more than anything in the world. You know what? She calmed. She believed. She went back to play calmed by the love that is very much alive in our family.

Mom & PawPaw

Mom & PawPaw, Together in Heaven Now

The next day, my sweet girl came to me with some news.

She reminded me of her firm belief that you chose her as the perfect grandbaby for you, and the perfect daughter for your little girl. She went on to add that she is had great news. “Mommy, my Grandma Dorinda and my Ganna did a wonderful thing! They went together through all of the babies in Heaven, and chose my baby sister for us! You know why they did that? They heard me telling Jesus that I wanted a baby sister more than anything in the whole wide world, and they wanted to make sure I had the best little sister for me! Wasn’t that sweet of them?? They really do love me lots.”

Mama, you may be gone from us physically and never got to meet any of your precious grandchildren, but the love you so desperately wanted to share with your grandbabies has been shared.

They can feel it, believe it and cherish it. Your body was taken from us far too soon, especially for them, but that love lives . It ripples and whispers through our hearts and lives at just the right moments in just the right way. It will never die. You have proved to me that the love of a mother and a grandmother is stronger than distance, stronger than pain, stronger than cancer, stronger than loss and even stronger than death.

So…..happy birthday in heaven, Mom!

I miss you every day, but especially days like this. I’m thankful to have something so amazing and precious to celebrate today, though. We are celebrating 53 years of your love.

Love Ya Bunches!

Your Daughter


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Black and Blue Butterfly Greetings From Heaven

Butterfly greetings from heaven

Butterfly greetings from heaven

Losing my mom to cancer changed so much about me.

It changed my personality, my perspective and even my life plans. Everything about myself was intertwined with her, and suddenly a huge part of the fabric of who I was, the life I had and my hopes for the future was ripped away. I was left feeling torn apart, broken and irreparable. Visiting her grave was no comfort to me, and I felt at a loss for any tangible way to feel that connection with my mom while she was gone. It hurt in such an achingly empty manner, I can’t even explain it in words.

One day as I was walking outside, praying & crying & wishing I could talk to Mom about whatever crisis I was coping with or just get another one of her warm, loving, mama hugs…it happened. God sent the comforting symbol I needed. I was randomly surrounded by fluttering blue and black butterflies! To most people, this would seem magical and beautiful. To me, it was a sign from Heaven of my mom’s continued love. You see, her favorite color combination was blue and black. One of my favorite things in the world is butterflies, and she would often give me little things to do with butterflies. The unique combination of those two things that were so special to each of us and personally significant between us was a symbol to me, and something I latched onto. Finally, something tangible to bring me comfort and help me to feel connected to my mom!

“Penny Pinching Peach is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com”

These black and blue Butterfly Greetings from Heaven have recurred over the years many times, usually at moments when I was thinking of my mom or dealing with something difficult and feeling alone.

Sometimes it’s a lone butterfly, others an entire swarm of them, and at times they even land on me as I watch them and try to listen to whatever message may be whispered to me by God in that moment when He has my attention.

The butterfly hello has also become an unexpected and beautiful way for my daughter to feel connected to the grandma she was never blessed to get to know.

When she sees blue and black butterflies- after hearing my story of the time the black and blue butterflies swarmed me when I was feeling sad and missing my mama and how they always make me think of her when I see them now- she will say “Hi Grandma! I love you, too!”. It brings bittersweet tears to my eyes every time it happens, and is yet another thing that is special about these particular butterflies for me.

If you have lost anyone close to you, is there something special that makes you feel connected to them in particular, like they’re saying hello, or just plain brings you comfort when you see it? Read my Letter to My Mom.

Below are some beautifully touching products following the sentiment of butterfly inspiration:

Girl Nursery Quote – Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,she became a butterfly – Wall Decal Sticker (Black, Medium)
DaisyJewel Azure Blue & Silvertone Butterfly Hoop Earrings
Vietsbay’s Butterfly Collection Necklace Pendants Pewter Silver


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My Cousin’s Fight

My cousin

My cousin

My cousin, Marquita, has been diagnosed with Stage 3 Cervical cancer. She is a hardworking, family oriented, sweetheart of a single mom of three beautiful children. With mounting expenses, another cousin started a fundraiser to help her. While I normally avoid using my blog for fundraising because there are so many needs out there that it could take over completely, I’m sharing for my cousin here in hopes of multiplying the prayers and goodwill sent up on her behalf and possibly inspire anyone who may want to donate any amount to help her and her children. Some people in my dad’s industry did a fundraiser for him to help offset her medical expenses, and I remember how much it meant to him monetarily and emotionally both. For more details, please click the link below. She is on the back left in the photo, pictured with her three children and her mom.

Thanks and God bless you all! http://www.gofundme.com/kkh8jg


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National Sanctity of Human Life Day

Sanctity of Human Life and My Right to Choose- Pro life or Pro choice

Ordinarily I steer clear of topics I consider controversial, but this is a celebration I feel strongly about.

I never thought I’d have to think about the sanctity of an unborn life in personal terms, but I wound up having to really think about it at one point.

What choice I would make if it came down to a literal life or death decision? I’m writing this not to judge, but to share my heart about something I’ve not been able to bring myself to really talk about much with anyone at all. First, let me tell you how this particular day came about.

* (Quote) In one of his final actions as president, Bush declared January 18 to be “National Sanctity of Human Life Day.”

“All human life is a gift from our Creator that is sacred, unique, and worthy of protection,” the presidential proclamation read. (End Quote)

*Source of quote: http://www.lifenews.com/2009/01/15/nat-4748/

It is easy to say that you are pro life when you never have to face a situation where you are carrying a baby during a health crisis, will be alienated because of your pregnancy, etc.

It’s all RAH-RAH and warm fuzzies when you are not faced with a life or death decision or when you are terrified of the changes & consequences pregnancy means for you. That is when you truly find out how you feel about it. I have trouble judging anyone in extreme circumstances too harshly for the choices they make, although I am 1,000% for saving life whenever possible. For myself, I always had some empathy for the situations some people find themselves in, but having my own personal brush with possibly having to make an extraordinarily difficult decision has given me an even deeper understanding of the emotions and conflicts people can go through.

When I was pregnant with our second child, they found a grapefruit sized mass in my right ovary.

When they finally informed me about it, they had no idea whether it was cancerous or spreading or anything. They began to rush appointments to diagnose exactly what this mass was, stating that it was “almost too late for a choice if you require treatment”. To be translated, if they didn’t find out if I had cancer and needed immediate treatment pretty much right then, I would lose the window of time of being able to abort our baby.

I was floored and terrified.

I knew that delaying treatment if it were aggressive and cancerous could mean my daughter and unborn child could wind up being robbed of their mother. I lost my mom in a short two months after her diagnosis, so I had no illusions about what could happen to me. In that moment, I understood why women in that very situation sometimes do choose abortion. There was never a moment I was willing to kill my child- who was completely healthy and okay at that point in pregnancy- but I understood the gut wrenching conflict for life threatening situations in a way I never had before.

9 Days Old

9 Days Old

When they brought us in for my testing, they rushed the results. As I sat with my husband waiting for the news, I was shaking like a leaf and praying in silence that it would be good news. When they told us that it was a benign dermoid tumor- with no risk of cancer and the ability to delay surgery until our child’s birth- I bawled. They thought I was upset about the news they’d given, but I was just so relieved that I would not have to choose and that the odds were we would both be okay in the end. I didn’t want to choose to possibly die for my baby, but I’d already made that choice. Because of my experience with my mom, I believed that if it were cancer, my babies would very likely not have a mother to grow up with. I would never have allowed them to kill my baby to save myself, though, and was totally at peace with that decision, as horrifying was it was to me.

First Day Home & Meeting

First Day Home & Meeting

My pregnancy and delivery were far from easy.

The complications were pretty major, but it gave me such an appreciation for the gift of life and the sanctity of all human life, especially those who cannot protect or choose for themselves. The day we brought our son home from the NICU and were able to finally introduce him to his big sister is shown above, and that was an amazing feeling.

All of the above pictures, except the last photo, were taken by my sweet friend Ashley Bell with https://www.facebook.com/aBellPhotography/ and she did a wonderful job capturing the precious gift of our son’s life and homecoming (and managed to get a decent picture of him with his mommy who wasn’t doing or looking very well after all the trauma, which is amazing in itself).

Please join me in celebrating and acknowledging the beauty, joy, wonder and sanctity of all human life, no matter how small.

For the story about the miracle of my son, check out the post I published for his first birthday here: My Miracle Man‘s First Birthday/

“Penny Pinching Peach is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com”

For a statement your baby can wear about being prolife, go here: Inktastic Unisex Baby Pro-Life Pink And Blue Ribbon Infant Creeper


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Mom In Heaven

Mama and me

Mama and me

December 20th was the seventh anniversary of my mom’s passing. She was only 44 at the time. I had no idea how I was going to face life without my mom, because she was my best friend, mom and everything all rolled into one amazing woman. Life has gone on, but it will never be the same. I wrote a poem about her on the 20th, but was hesitant to share it here. It’s “off topic”, and not my best work. I decided to go ahead. Maybe it will touch someone else struggling with facing life and/or the holidays without a loved one they feel should be here to celebrate with them…

If you had asked when I was young

How long I thought my mom would live,

I’d have told you she’d outlive us all

And still have time to give.

If you had told me she’d be gone

When she was only 44,

I’d have called you crazy

And not listened anymore.

If I had known that she’d be gone

Before her time should be,

I’d have done all I could do

To keep her here with me

If I were given the chance

To see her once again,

I’d tell her how much I love her,.

Thank her for all she’d been.

She lived more in her short life

Than many who are old and gray

She was the best mom she could be,

And I miss her every day.

When she knew the end was nearing,

She had little left undone.

She just wished she’d see me married,

Get to hold the children of her daughter and son.

When I look at her grandbabies,

I see her sparkle and her smile,

I feel her love and laughter,

See her dancing silly and wild.

I know her love is with us,

And in our hearts, she’ll never die,

But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss her

Or in the darkness cry.

If I could give my mom a present

I’d fly all of us up to Heaven,

And spend a day with her in

The place she’s been for seven.

In Loving Memory of My Mom, Dorinda

Mom, Nana and me

Mom, Nana and me


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Continuing the Kindness

Mom & Dad in 2005

My parents taught me how to be kind.

“You can change the world one act of random kindness at a time.”

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer in October of 2006, we had no idea how quickly it would take her away from us. She had always been so strong, healthy and active that it was hard to imagine something so seemingly intangible & mysterious as cancer could beat her. To our shock and horror, it stole her life, and rapidly. In a short two months, my vibrant mom was gone.

I won’t go too deeply into the details of her sickness and our loss right now, since that isn’t the point of sharing this. The point of sharing is the legacy of kindness that my mom left behind and the ripples of kindness others showed when she was taken from us so quickly.

When I lost my mom, I also lost my best friend.

The hole left in my life and heart is something indescribable, and nothing anyone could understand without having been there. There were those who probably didn’t know what to do to help me, so they did nothing. There were many more who probably knew they couldn’t make my pain go away, but they still reached out to let me know that I was not alone. Most of the latter were probably unaware of the difference they made for me and my family, but every little thing someone did for us made a huge impact. Without the kindness of those around us, I don’t know that we could have made it through our loss as well as I have.

Do you want to know some of the many acts of kindness I was blessed with during the loss of my mom?

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I had just started getting really involved with a new church community. I didn’t expect much support or love from them, since I’d had alot of negative & unkind experiences with church people in my life previously, but they were there for me every step of the way. They didn’t just pray for me, which is always appreciated, but they actively let me know they cared. They’d come to me and ask how my mom was and how I was handling things and if I needed anything. They also reached out to my brother, and were a strong support for him during his grieving process. I would never have asked for help, even with the offer, but the offers still mattered and the concern made it’s impact.

Mom & Brother At a Family Reunion, 2005

Mom & Brother At a Family Reunion, 2005

Family and friends alike called and emailed regularly to check on us and let us know they were thinking of us. Some offered help. Most just let us know they cared. All were an important part of our family’s survival of my mom not surviving.

My dad owns his own business, Cue Man Billiards and Hightower Cues http://www.hightowercues.com, and my parents had no health insurance. Other business owners and individuals in the billiard industry organized a fundraiser to assist with the mounting medical bills. The money helped. The fact that all of those people cared enough about our family and had that much respect & concern for my dad to reach into their pockets and open their hearts to help us in our time of need meant even more than the cash, though. I saw my dad- who is not a very emotional person- with tears in his eyes because of what the gestures of so many people in his business world meant to him. The billiard industry doesn’t have the best reputation in some circles, but I can say from experience that there are some amazing and good hearted folks who love pool. 🙂

Speaking of my dad’s business… even his customers showed kindness to us. I was working with my dad at the time, and we would have customers who were aware of our circumstances ask on a regular basis about how my mom and our family was doing when they called or emailed to order . They probably didn’t know, but the moment it took to show care and kindness made a lasting impact.

I was involved in an online community who consistently kept up a thread just for prayers and encouragement for me through this time, and each post reminded me that our family was not alone on an island of sickness. Friends who were distant would send e-cards and messages of well wishes, prayer and just reminders that they cared. I didn’t realize how many true friends that I had until I was going through something I could never have handled alone.

The women at the gym my mom & I once frequented together now saw me coming in alone, and kept up with her sickness and sent well wishes to her on a regular basis.

When my mom passed away, I was shocked at how many people from near and far came to pay respects to her and show support to those of us grieving this loss of this amazing woman. Each and every member of my Bible study group showed up either at the funeral home for visitation or the funeral. Women from the gym my mom had once loved to go to came to show their final respects. Most of our relatives, both close and remote, seemed to have shown up. Old friends even came from states away to be there for us. I was amazed at all of the names in the sign-in book.

(On the topic of that sign-in book… please, please, please always sign that book when you go to a visitation, viewing or funeral! It is so important to the grieving family, because they may be in such a daze that they can’t recall or even notice everyone who is there. That book will tell them you were there for them.)

Brother at his daughter's 1st birthday in 2008, passing on the love mom left with us.

Brother at his daughter’s 1st birthday in 2008, passing on the love mom left with us.

There were tons of flowers and cards and even a beautiful painting from people whose lives had been touched by the radiant & loving life my mom had led.

People from my church, my dad’s church and my uncle’s church provided us with food for meals we would never have bothered to cook for the first couple of weeks. Our next door neighbor even brought us a hot breakfast the morning of my mom’s funeral. In our grief, we would most likely have forgotten about eating anything significant, but these people literally gave us comfort food.

A couple of people donated to the cancer society in my mom name. Some told me stories of ways that she had touched their lives. Others simply said they were sorry for our loss or said nothing and gave me a hug. All of them touched my heart deeply, because the feeling behind the act is the most important thing of all.

Noone made anyone do anything for us. They just cared, and showed it through their acts of kindness.

There were many more that I’m not mentioning, but it would fill pages upon pages. The point of sharing all of this is to encourage everyone who reads this that no kindness is too small, no word too insignificant, no action too simple to make a difference.

For my fellow penny pinchers out there, kindness costs you nothing and gives so much. Just telling someone who is grieving or having a difficult time in life “I care” or “I am here for you” goes a long ways, if you truly mean that from your heart. All of those tiny acts of kindness, along with the legacy of my mama’s love that I have kept in my heart, helped carry me through the murky mire of overwhelming and debilitating grief that eventually threatened to drown me.

In my everyday life, I’ve also experienced many acts of random kindness, but… well, that’s another story of kindness for another day. 🙂

Mom in Joyful Times

Mom in Joyful Times. She taught me so much about what it means to be kind! Help me pass that on!

 

Is there some small kindness someone did for you during a low point in your life that helped you to struggle on another day? Please share!

Remember…

“You can change the world one act of random kindness at a time.”

To see the first post of this series, you can go to: Acts of Random Kindness or read the next one at Share the Kindness!