Thursday, April 17, 2014

Good Friday 4.18.2014

Good Friday is a time of deep reflection. As we feel and think about what happened that day on the hill called Calvary, let us at times recall that we are not alone, but rather part of a great tradition that has reflected upon and responded to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for nearly two thousand years.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mid April, already?

Can you believe that it is nearly mid April?  I can.  Especially since the last two weeks have moved at a glacial pace.  What were once just annoyingly necessary work days have now become annoyingly necessary and incredibly LONG work days.  So why you ask...well I'll tell you.  One: it's spring.  Spring means pollen.  Pollen means a runny nose, sneezing, itchy watery eyes, sinus headaches and popping allergy pills like candy.  Said allergies can make the day very long.  Two: I now work for a new company so everything is all new at work.  And not in a good way.  Not new exciting but rather new aggravating.  Whereas I was the "go to" person with all the answers in the office, now I am the "go to" person with more questions than anyone else in the office.  Basically, ignorance is annoying.  Have I mentioned that I'm annoyed??  I think I did at least a few times.

So here we are just a matter of days before Easter.  Coming this Holy Week at PGUMC is the Maundy Thursday service, Stations of the Cross on Friday and then of course Easter Sunday.  We all know how Joe loved holiday music.  One of my fondest memories is from several years ago when the PGUMC Chancel Choir performed "Shadow of the Cross" for Maundy Thursday.  I have never witnessed a more beautiful and meaningful service.  Then last year, coming just a few months after Joe's death, I was a complete mess at the Maundy Thursday service.  Then the next day upon arriving at the church for the Stations of the Cross, I was greeted by the sound of Joe's "Time of Centering" CD quietly playing through the sound system.  Needless to say I only made it to the first station before breaking down in tears.  So what to do?  I don't think I can handle another Maundy Thursday service, no matter how much I would like to be there.  Yes I know, it's probably cowardly to just not go.  However, my public emotionally distraught displays have to be tiresome for my church family.  If nothing else, not being there will give my friends a break from trying to console me.  That leaves the Stations on Friday.  I think I can do that one.  Yes I know, more public displays.  But it's mostly solitary and much easier to hide a mental meltdown!   Finally, Sunday means Easter.  On the plus side, I don't have to be there before 7:00am for the sunrise service like I was for several years.  On the down side, I also don't get to hear Joe play the heck out of that organ.  I think that is one of the things I miss most on Sundays.  Hearing those glorious chords blasting through the antiphonal speakers making everyone sit up and take notice.  Just yesterday at church I sat there and I could almost see Joe  sitting on the organ bench, grinning that irrepressibly impish smile of his.  I miss that so much.  I guess it really is the little things that you miss the most. 

Okay, the tears are flowing freely as I type so I will just end.  Of course, no March, April or May post would be complete without mentioning "Relay for Life".  My fundraising has gone well but I am so far behind last year.  But behind is okay.  One can only beg so much before completely alienating everyone.  But I'm not at that point yet, so here goes.  First, to those that have already generously donated to my fundraising efforts; thank you.  To those that haven't had the chance to make a donation, here is your chance.  Relay for Life only works when we as a community come together to raise funds to Fight Back against cancer in all it's many forms.  Help make another birthday a reality.  To make a donation to support me in my Relay for Life efforts, just click on the footprint below.


You can donate online via credit card or by check by printing a donation sheet and mailing to the American Cancer Society.  Please make checks payable to the American Cancer Society.  The donation form can also be found by following the same link.  All donations are 100% tax deductible.

There are two ways to get me to stop asking for a donation: 1) Tell me to stop asking (not my personal favorite but highly effective) -or- 2) Make a donation (my favorite and equally effective).   Either way, thank you for your time and consideration as well as all the support and prayers that I feel every day.

REMEMBER * CELEBRATE * FIGHT BACK 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March 2014 is coming to a close....finally!

Has anyone else out there had enough of this month?  Snow, ice, cold rain, wild temperature swings, irritating people...this month has had it all.  I've had work delays, work irritations, work power outages, home improvements, home irritations, home bound, church meetings, church irritations, church sorrows, church happiness, and then I fell down.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, I fell again and messed up my left ankle.  For faithful readers, you may remember March 2011 when I fell getting up off the couch.  That resulted in a foot broken in two places and a slight tendon tear.  This time I wasn't quite as spastic.  It happened this past Sunday.  Church got out at 11:55pm so I decided to swing by Chipotle and pick up some lunch.  After getting my "burrito bowl" to go and pulling back on Glenwood Ave. I decided to swing into the CVS for sinus meds.  As I was returning to the car I stepped off the curb.  That's all it took.  My ankle twisted and gave way and down I went, in the parking lot.  I managed to cut my knee and tear a perfectly good pair of pants.  However, I did manage to miss the bumper of my car by about an inch.  Only saving grace.  I had two onlookers.  The first one just ignored me and went back to his Red Box selection.  The second, who was sitting in her car, asked if I was ok and then got out and helped me get into my car.  I drove from there to Duke Urgent Care and managed to get someone to get me a wheelchair so I could get in the place.  X-rays showed nothing broken, just a bad sprain.  So I'm back in the boot and back on the crutches.  Hopefully neither will be needed long.  My arms are already aching after just 2 days.  At least I'm getting an upper body workout!

Other than that, the only thing that is really going on is Relay for Life prep.  I ordered a very nice (at least I think so since I designed it) banner for the event.  It's generic for church use so we should be able to use it for several years or until it tears or wears out.  Whichever comes first.  For anyone interested, and I know ALL of you are.  The Relay event I'm participating in is the Relay for Life Leesville/Brier Creek/RTP that will be on May 30th-31st at Leesville Road High School.  If interested in participating or in being a sponsor/making a donation, please use this link.


The only other news from March is that after 3 years, I am off my anxiety medication. YAY!!!!!!!!!!  At least for now anyway.  It's been 2 weeks.  It has taken me the last 3 months to ween myself off.  I found out the hard way that you can't just stop cold turkey.  The body does not like that.  I went from a 1mg tablet 2 times a day to a .5mg tablet 2 times a day to then just 1 .5mg tablet daily.  On March 7 I had my last .5mg tablet.  Since then it's been nothing, nada, zilch!  I must say it is nice not to have to take them.  Now if I could only get my sinuses to behave (spring, it's lovely but brutal on my allergies).  So far in March I have had major headaches and sniffles.  Mid May can't get here soon enough for me.  That's usually about the time that I start to acclimate to the spring. Until then I sniffle, sneeze, wheeze and blow my nose.

One other thing this month is my reservation at Holden Beach for the summer.  I made a deal with my sister and family that if I got the house rented, would they provide the food.  Phyllis & Woodie took the deal so we are set for July.  Another YAY!!!!!!!!!  New house, so other than the location (Holden Beach) it shouldn't be too sad.  At least I'm hopeful.  An opportunity to make new memories.  As usual, I want to thank everyone for all the support, prayers and good wishes.  It's you who keep me going!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pursue Love

Today in Glastonbury, Connecticut, Rev. Kate VanDerzee-Glidden of First Church of Christ, Congregational preached a sermon based on 1Corinthians 14:1, "Pursue Love".  Kate is one of the ministers that married me and Joe.  She tells her own story of fear relating to the events of mine and Joe's wedding.  Of course I cried.  I think most people would when they hear their own story used in a sermon.  I think most people would if they heard someone else tell their love story.  I've listened to many sermons from the podcast site that Kate has preached.  She is always eloquent, personal, and listeners must relate well to her.  I know I do.  If you have a spare 19 minutes, take a listen.   You will be glad you did.

First Church of Christ, Congregational 3.9.2014

Please remember that Relay for Life is just around the corner.  I would appreciate any and all support.  You can click on the box at the top right to make a donation or if you would like to join the team, you can find that area of the site by following the same link.

We walk all night because cancer never sleeps.

Peace,
Jeff

Friday, February 28, 2014

Can I get an "AMEN" that February is over?

February is over!  WOW, what a month…and not all good.  My last post was on Joe’s birthday and that set the tone for pretty much the whole month.  I had no real illusion that just because the firsts were over that the seconds would be much better.  Joe’s birthday was a very sad day.  I handled it well, but it was a mellow kind of day.  The snow that fell on his birthday was a nice touch though.  However, what followed for the rest of the week was a little over the top.  Snow, then some snow, followed by ice and then a whole lot more snow.  One of my co-workers texted me on Thursday during the height of some of the heaviest snow and asked me if I could tell Joe that enough was enough!  That man really did like to see the white stuff falling.  He would have had a great time for the 24+ hours that we had stuff coming down.  Now mind you, I like snow as much as the next person, but after being here at the house for only 8 hours watching it fall, I had had enough.  I usually would have enjoyed it more, but much of that was because before I had a 6’7” man running around like a kid.  I tried to stay positive, but after hours upon hours of snow coverage on the TV, hours and hours of snow coverage on the internet, I was ready for it to end.  It was very pretty though.  I got some very nice photos and a couple of good videos.  A friend of mine from church told me the following Sunday that she thought she could probably find my house in Durham because of all the photos I posted on Facebook of my backyard.  I never actually went outside, but rather would just open the back or front doors and shoot from the threshold.  It was cold out there.  After arriving at home on Wednesday at noon, I didn’t venture outside except from my doorway until Friday at noon when I drove to the office.  But that was then.  The white stuff fell, it was pretty, it was nice, now it’s over….until we get sleet tonight anyway.

By mid-month, my head was starting to refocus.  But then the last half of February happened.  Now it wasn’t all bad.  I had the opportunity to go prom dress shopping with Sara & Aimee…2 days.  I got to go down to Hope Mills for Sara’s 18th birthday party….that I really enjoyed.  It’s hard to believe that she is actually 18 and going to college next year.  Seems like just yesterday that her little 3 year old self waddled over to Joe and asked, “can I call you Uncle Joe?”  That was the moment that she stole a part of his heart and she never let go.  I am so glad that she got to spend the afternoon with him the day that he died.  She got to lay on the bed and talk to him all alone.  He got to look at her and smile.  He was so happy to have seen them that day, although feeling like crap.

But I digress.  Then the month started to go wrong.  First Joe’s cousin David had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital in Wilmington.  It was very bad.  The prognosis was very grave.  Then less than 2 weeks later, David’s father, Joe’s Uncle Dave was rushed to the hospital in Laurinburg.  His prognosis was even worse.  Joe’s cousin Steve, David’s brother and Dave’s other son, left Asheville and went to his dad.  Sadly, only 4 days later, Uncle Dave died.  Then just yesterday, just a little over a week after his father passed away, David died in Wilmington.  It has been an extremely tough time for the family.  My heart goes out to David’s wife Vickie; his children, Holly, Christopher and Adam; and his brother Steve, along with the entire family. 

Loss.  That just seems to be what February was about.  Me revisiting, yet again my loss.  The family being dealt a terrible blow yet again.

February also has been the start of the Relay for Life 2014.  I’ve started trying to get an early start on donations to support my walk again this year.  So far so good.  I’m very pleased especially since it is still very early.  This year’s event is May 30-31st and once again will be at Leesville Road High School.  I set my initial goal a little higher than I did last year and hopefully by the end of March, I will have attained that goal and can bump up the amount significantly.  Last year I moved the goal up higher 3 times.  While I hope to surpass last year, I don’t want to be greedy, so I’ll just plan on 2 goals.  My initial $2000.00 and once I reach that, I’ll raise the goal to $4000.00.  That’s not asking too much is it?  “Reach for the moon.  Even if you miss, you land among  the stars.”  Right?

So with that said, if you would like to sponsor me in my 14 hour walk, you can do so by clicking on the link below.  You can donate via credit card by clicking on the donate now button on the website or you can click on the link below the “Donate Now” button and print off the donation sheet and mail in with a check.  Please make the check payable to The American Cancer Society.  Your donation is 100% tax deductible.  CLICK HERE TO GO TO JEFF’S RELAY FOR LIFE WEB PAGE

“We Walk All Night Because Cancer Never Sleeps”


Here’s hoping March brings some brighter moments in all our lives.  Thank you for your prayers, your support, your concern and your friendships.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Happy Birthday Joe

It's been an up and down kind of day.  I had done really well until lunch time when I checked Facebook and saw all the Happy Birthday wishes that friends were posting on Joe's wall.  That brought some tears to my eyes for a little while.  Once I was home this evening I got to thinking about his birthday, the snow yesterday and the forecast for more over the next two days.  He would have been like a kid in the candy store: his birthday and multiple snows all in the same week.  We wouldn't even have had to get him a present, the snow would have been enough.  A big goofy smile and lots and lots of hot chocolate.  That man could down some hot chocolate on snow days....and other days.  Thinking about the snow got me to thinking about snows in the past: the 20+ inches in January 2000 when we hiked 2 miles to a convenience store; the ice storm of December 2002 when we had no power for 7 days and boiled water on top of a kerosene heater; the snow of February 2004 when we walked through the snow covered woods of what is now our neighborhood; the snow/ice of January 2006 when we decided to go for a walk but only made it to the sidewalk in front of the house before both of us slipped and fell thus deciding to go back inside for two days; and on and on up to the snow of January 2009 when we went walking in the post-dawn hours while the snow was still falling.  That's where the photos below were taken.  As I looked at the photos, the one that struck me most was the one of Joe looking at me in the distance and the one of Joe walking away, footprints in the snow.
                              

                           
That's when I couldn't hold back the tears and I had a long cry.  I remember vividly taking that photo and subsequently talking with Joe about how much I liked it.  The simplicity, the footprints, just Joe and the snow.  I even had it as my laptop wallpaper for a while.  Now it takes on a whole different feeling, a whole different meaning for me.  With that I decided to come on upstairs and go to bed.  As I brushed my teeth, I looked over at the window and the plant that sits there.  It's a poinsettia that a piano student of Joe's gave him in November 2011.  It was blooming then and right after Christmas the blooms fell off.  It didn't bloom again until I noticed one on it on Joe's birthday last year, one month after he died.  Tonight as I glanced over there I noticed something new...once again on his birthday.  One small, solitary bloom.  From Joe.
                               
It may sound silly to some, but Joe knows how much I like the color red and have at least one red thing in each room. Giving me a little red flower is just the type of thing he would do to surprise me.  I love you Joe.  Happy Birthday.



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Relay For Life 2014...Yes, it's time to get started again

Yep, I'm afraid so folks....get out your checkbooks and/or credit cards 'cause Jeff is coming to ask for money for sponsorship.  My walk for Relay For Life will be Friday, May 30, 2014 @ 6:00 pm through Saturday, May 31 @ 8:00 am.  Here is my story:

Why I Participate in a Relay Event 
Because on January 13, 2013, the most wonderful man I have ever known, died from pancreatic cancer. My partner in life and love fought that dreaded disease for more than 2 years.  For more than two years he endured surgery and constant radiation and chemotherapy treatments.  For more than two years he never complained but held his head high and lived a dignified life filled with love and grace.  If that man, my husband, could fight that hard for that long, then I owe it to him to do whatever I can to help others not have to feel that pain.  Because I know I will make a difference in the fight to end cancer. I know that by raising funds and walking in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life event, I will help save lives from cancer. I do it to honor Joe Lupton and the strength and dignity that he exemplified in life. I do it to honor my mother who died of colon cancer in 1997.  I do it to honor my colleague Cathy Walker who fought colon cancer in 2013 and won.  I do it to honor Paxton Phelps who has bravely fought leukemia this past year and taught all of us what real courage is as he continues his battle, heading towards victory. (Go Team Paxton!)

It's astounding to think that millions of people will be diagnosed with cancer this year. I know from personal experience that when that happens, life as you know it is changed forever.  Mine was.

A Relay For Life event is not only a way to join my community to fight back against cancer, but it is also a way to inspire hope by raising funds and awareness to help those facing the disease. All of us know someone who has had, or has a form of this dreaded disease.  That is overwhelming to me.  A disease is so prevalent in our society, that all of us have been touched by it in some way.
 
Who I'm Participating For
My reason for participating in my Relay For Life event is very personal.  It is for the most important person that ever was a part of my life.  It is for my partner and husband. We all participate in Relay events because we've been affected by cancer in some way and because a Relay For Life event gives us the power to make a difference and fight back. This is my opportunity to honor Joe and the incredible impact he had on so many lives.  He was loved by so many.  Influenced so many.  He should be here.  He should be physically walking beside me in this event.  However, pancreatic cancer took him much too soon.  So I will be there and carry him in my heart and throughout my very being throughout the night and the rest of my life.

I have signed up to walk and fundraise in the Leesville/Briercreek/RTP Relay For Life event. I hope you will consider making a donation in support of my efforts. Or come join me.  It is one of the most rewarding nights you can ever had. Last year we laughed alot, we cried alot and we walked alot.  Walking last year was the impetus for me making radical lifestyle changes:  excercise, diet and attitude.  Now I am more than 50 lbs lighter and will probably run some of the laps this year!  The event is filled with empathy, grace and fellowship.  If you haven't participated in one, consider it.  You will not regret it. (Unless it rains!!)

Together, we have the power to help create a world where cancer can no longer claim another  life.
For my Joe.  Joe Lupton. 2/11/1956 - 1/13/2013

If you are feeling even remotely generous, please visit my Relay for Life page HERE .  You can contribute by credit card online or you can print up a donation sheet and mail a check.  If you write a check, be sure and make it out to The American Cancer Society.  The information needed to identify the event I am participating in is on my page.  Once again, you can access the page by clicking HERE.

Last year I far exceeded by primary goal.  I hope to do so again this year.  But it isn't about coming in first, second or third (which I did last year by the way out of approximately 300 participants...but whose counting, right?).  It's about raising money to fund research and creating awareness of this overwhelming disease and the need to find better treatment and ultimately cures.

Here is link to the Luminaria walk from last year:  LUMINARIA WALK - RELAY FOR LIVE 2013

Thank you for the consideration and for your support.
 http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?fr_id=61119&pg=personal&px=32467456