Saturday, June 25, 2011


The week is over, we made it through. Dad's ashes have returned to the earth and last night we celebrated a life lived in service of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. I felt so overwhelmingly blessed this week by all the friends and family who lifted us up. It truly has felt as though we were being carried. Maybe that's why this song just keeps playing in my mind...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sick of the Storms!

So this is my blog right!? And I'm not being graded and theoretically not being judged for the thoughts I post-right?  Well here goes...yesterday was Dad's visitation, yes Dad passed away, on Father's Day of all days. He is no longer suffering, and our suffering on a nearly 17 year long roller coaster ride has come to an end. Or has it? In the midst of the 6 hour long visitation, Jonny and I snuck outside for a brief break from the crowds. When I say crowds I mean crowds, my uncle & cousin estimated that throughout the day we had nearly 500 people in attendance!!! Insane!  It was an amazing show of support for our family and my father's amazing legacy! Regardless though you can understand why I needed some air, so as I said we were standing outside, when suddenly in the midst of the peaceful moment, sirens started blaring. Storm sirens. And they just kept coming! So we headed in to the funeral director's office and he confirmed that it was in fact a tornado warning. We joked with him privately about the fact that in leu of no basement we would just take cover in the casket room...just snuggle in to a casket and shut the lid for cover. He was a great guy that has really kept us sane this week with his humor or I guess acceptance of our strange coping humor.  We spread the word to family keeping it private from my mom, not long after Kenny-the funeral director came out and assured me that the warnings were called off. Our close family and friends joked about the irony of all of it and went on visiting. But just as the night was coming to an end and I was sitting with a close friend, exhausted, wishing we could just all go home and rest, Kenny came back in and sweetly yet very seriously said, it's worse! He told me actual tornado's had touched down and that the storm would hit is in about 15 minutes. Close friends and family waited in the hallway while we, My mother, brother & myself, said goodbye and prayed over my father's casket. And then we headed home to my Mom's house. We spend the next couple of hours in the cluttered basement, with gathered up chairs and old handicapped shower seats of dad's-we used what was available.  We tried to keep my 3 1/2 year old nephew entertained, but as you can imagine he was crazy restless after they day we'd just had. My best friend was with us with her 8 month old son, and yes she's pregnant again and was trying to pretend not to be exhausted and ready to get to the house/bed she would actually be sleeping in.  A close friend of Eric & Daphne's (my brother & sister-in-law) watched the internet feed of a local tv weatherman wondering when it would be safe to drive back to her home in Lexington, where her dog was waiting for her.  Did I mention my sister-in-law just gave birth 12 days ago! Yes, she was holding my newest nephew and also exhausted and I'm sure hiding physical pain because of a C-section just 12 days ago! And then there was my Mom, snuggled up in an old recliner we covered with a sheet to keep her away from the cobwebs and dust the basement is covered in.  All of this after a day of standing near the casket of our deceased father, husband, grandfather, friend.  By the end of the night, I just wanted the storms to end, both LITERALLY and figuratively. I couldn't help but ask, "God, why does everything have to be so complicated!"  Haven't we had enough!?
The storms passed, we found our beds, that is afer Jonny & I had to chase down our dog who refused to come in for the night-again-complicated!
Today we have the day off, Dad's body will return to ashes, tomorrow we will commit those ashes to the earth. And tomorrow evening we celebrate a risen Lord and the life of an amazing servant that now lives in heavenly worship of our Lord. I pray now that tomorrow really will feel like resurrection day...and that the storms really will be calmed by our amazing Savior.
Thanks for reading friends.

ps. This may sound like a selfish prayer request but Jonny & I actually had plans to get away for a vacation this Saturday to a condo in Maine. It's already paid for and now if someone else doesn't rent it we will lose all the money!  We could try and still go after the weekend, we have it for a week, but driving from here it would be nearly 20 hours! We have our dog and jeep so we have to drive back to NJ regardless. This would have been the first vacation time my husband has taken that didn't involve the stresses of my family illnesses in the 2 years we've lived in NJ!  We don't know what to do! If you know anyone who wants a last minute vacation here's the beautiful website

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A blessed week! (Newborn baby photos included!)

What a week!  On Monday I started my summer “field education” internship at Urban Promise, in Camden NJ.  It was a long but extraordinarily rewarding week. God is alive and working there & I am going to soak up every second I have this Summer, learning how the heck they do what they do so well.  For the first few weeks I will be working in the Development Office. I came in at an extremely busy time for the office so within the first two days I was creating a program for their Wine Tasting fundraiser and driving a 15 passenger cargo van through the narrow and overcrowded streets of NJ (now that was interesting).  The week culminated with a very very long workday on Thursday, the day of the Wine Tasting.  To summarize that day read my status update from Facebook: ‎13 hour work day highlights: 1. Having Bruce Main start calling me Kat 2. A man who said, after telling me he wasn't all that religious... "I bet you'd be a pretty cool pastor to hang out with" 3. Remembering how good it feels to be totally exhausted yet completely energized by being part of something that really matters!!! Just to explain the background info: 1.  Bruce Main is the president and founder of Urban Promise and someone I greatly admire, Kat was a nickname I was given in college but ironically have not been called by anyone outside of that circle since, until now!  Very cool! 2. The man who told me I’d be a good pastor to hang out with was a gentleman I met at the Wine Tasting.  He visited me frequently at my table of Spanish wines. Great guy!  And well 3. Is pretty self-explanatory.  With everything going on with my family, ie. My Dad’s illness, it’s been great to feel so fulfilled this week... and distracted!  

This weekend was once again filled with fun! On Friday evening we drove to Morristown, NJ to see Jonny’s favorite comedian, Brian Regan. We met his boss (aka friend-he absolutely loves this guy!) and his family for dinner and the show.  Below is a photo of Jonny with his boss John, John's wife, son & girlfriend at the show. 

Jonny’s rapport with his boss isn’t exactly the stereotypical relationship you might expect. Example: Within the first week of Jonny working here in NJ, John, his boss had duct-taped Jonny’s lunch down to the desk-I think that’s when I realized they were going to get along just fine!  So obviously we were in for a fun night out but I have to admit I was a bit distracted. At that point my sister-in-law had been in labor for over 15 hours and we were anxiously awaiting news about the birth of our newest nephew! 

In 2007 when my first nephew was born, my brother called in the middle of the night and within minutes I was in the car driving to Nashville, TN!  That was a 3- hour drive, this time, it would be a 14 hour drive.  So obviously I opted for waiting on text messages and phone calls, which meant sitting through dinner with my cell phone on the table.  I hate it when people do that during dinner out with friends, as if the company of those around you isn’t enough, someone more important might be calling. But this time, I didn’t care how rude I looked, and of course everyone understood.  During the show I sat my phone in my lap, on silent of course, constantly checking it under the jacket in my lap to shield the light from distracting others, again, I was that obnoxious girl.   Basically it went something like this, Laugh hysterically-check my phone, chuckle till I almost peed my pants-check my phone, repeat, repeat, repeat.

After the show I finally got the news, my sister-in-law had safely delivered my brand new nephew Evan James by C-section!  A C-section was not exactly what she wanted to have happen, nor any of us, but after 18 hours (approximately) all anyone cared was that both baby and momma were healthy and happy!    

I know I’m biased, but seriously look how cute that kid is!  At last our family has something to celebrate again!  

Evan James
Born June 10, 2011
7 pounds, 8 ounces
19 inches

On Saturday night we walked a few feet from our front door to the apartment of our friends Emily & Stephen for a game night. It was great to relax and laugh with some of our favorite neighbors (plus a couple of new friends). The week ended, or I guess a new week began, with a great worship service this morning at our Church, Kingston UMC and Starbucks with my girlfriends Emily & Rachael.  It was a blessed week, to say the least!  

ps. If anyone know's how to line photos up side by side in a blog...let me know! I only know how to stagger them left to right or line them up vertically.  

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I unpacked...

The past couple of days have been, well, miserable. The nursing home care team made it clear that they felt my Dad was nearing the end but as is understandable couldn't give me any timeline of when to start heading toward Kentucky.  So basically I have carried my phone with me at all times and because I had just gotten back from KY a few days before, I didn't even bother to unpack knowing I may be repacking at any moment.  I haven't had many distractions because I've had the week off since my Grad school semester recently ended. Tomorrow I start my first day of a summer internship at Urban Promise, which I have been looking forward to for months! But in the mean time, I've had nothing of urgency to do, which left me sitting in front of the TV trying to stay distracted & keep my mind off of my parents.

Yesterday my husband looked at me and said, "You have to keep living your life."  So we got out of the house and took a beautiful drive into New Jersey wine country, yes, there is such a thing!
We visited Alba Winery and had our first ever wine tasting.  It was so beautiful and relaxing and the woman who guided us through the tasting answered every one of my ridiculous questions about how grapes are grown and harvested.  I was clueless!  They gave us free-reign of the vineyards so we drove up to a picture perfect outlook, where they apparently host weddings and enjoyed the view.

Afterwards we headed to The Oyster House which Jonny has wanted to visit for months! He became acquainted with the head chef/owner  a while back. After seeing the restaurant listed in the newspaper as having the #1 Zagat rating for seafood in NJ he convinced me we better go!  Our meal was amazing & we felt like rockstars when the owner came out to our table to check on us.  I'm not usually big on seafood but I ate every last bit of it!  Our day ended by stopping in Lambertville on our way back home.  It's a great little town right on the Delaware River with a bridge you can walk across into another ex-hippie artsy-fartsy fun town in PA.  Basically my husband did what he does best and distracted me with a day filled with love!  I am so blessed.

Today I spoke with my Mom and it appears Dad is really hanging in there, his pneumonia actually appears to have improved.  It's still clear we are coming to the end, but like my husband said, even while my Dad lay dying, I have to keep living my life.   So...I unpacked.

Friday, June 3, 2011


I had great plans to start blogging great & hilarious things about my life. My plan was to post uplifting stories with pictures of our life here in NJ to prove to our families and friends back in KY & IN that we really have had a great life here over the last 2 years.  To show the great ways God is working in our lives here.  NJ really is more than crime and industrial smoke stacks! But things have changed, again, and in honor of my father, I won't stop writing this time!  

Dad has pneumonia, his white blood cell count is up around 25,000 and normal is around 4,000.  His fever has fluctuated between 99 and 102, which is totally unlike him, I know because just like my Daddy my average temperature is around 97.9.  He slept through the night peacefully with plenty of medications to keep him comfortable.  He hasn't woken up yet today, even when the doctor examined him and my Mom squeezed and prodded him.  It’s not the first time we’ve had a night like that. 

We've been told pneumonia would be the thing that would take my Dad because of his already poor health and Dementia.  I was just there though, on Sunday. This seemed to come out of nowhere this time.  17 years is a very long time to be on a rollercoaster.  Right now it feels like those nasty teacup rides that just spin in circles until you get nauseas and are left begging for it to stop.  Once again I face the decision, when do I head back to KY? 

Yesterday my brother and I texted back and forth for hours.  He lives around a 3 hour drive away from my parents but he has a 3 year old and his wife is pregnant and due, literally any day!  It was hard but we are both trying to accept that when the day finally comes that Dad does pass on, we may not be by his side.  Because we are Christians we are certain of Dad’s future, but it doesn’t make letting go any easier.  I was definitely a daddy’s girl as a child and though our relationship was strained through my youth and young adult years, I will always be Daddy’s little girl.  The greatest feeling is knowing that whether I am by his side or not, he knows just how much I love and adore him!  I will treasure that no matter how bad his speech became from the stroke I can always clearly recognize his words to me, “I love you” “I’m proud of you” and “Beautiful.” Some people live a lifetime hoping and praying to hear those words from their father. I’ve been blessed to hear them in nearly every conversation I’ve had with my father since birth.  I’m a lucky girl!  I love you Daddy!

Ps. I should add that his words of reprimand were still clear as day this past weekend. He definitely told me “Hush!” which made the nurses bite their lips to avoid laughing. They couldn’t understand a word he was saying at that moment but “Hush!” came out clear as day when apparently I was talking too much.  I just smiled and said, “That’s my Dad”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

She Started Writing Again...

I can't believe I'm Blogging!!!
You see, I’ve grown up feeling as though I lived my life in a fishbowl.  I was a preacher’s kid, often living in really small towns, feeling the eyes of the whole church & sometimes town watching my every action and word.  So you can imagine how this left me a bit protective of my privacy.  Yes I have a Facebook, and I once had a Myspace (back in the day when we all thought that was cool), but my security settings are cranked up to the highest level possible and I only accept friend requests from people I actually “know”.  Truth be told the thought of posting or “blogging” my thoughts for the whole world to read without any privacy settings makes me want to vomit a little, ok a lot. It’s not the thought of people knowing my inner thoughts that bothers me, it’s the thought of being judged by them. 

As a child I wanted to be a writer. My best memories of time spent with my father were when he took me out to write. We’d both take a notebook and pen and go out to a park to sit beside a body of water and just write whatever came to mind. He encouraged my imagination by brainstorming crazy stories during car trips.  

When my father became ill in my junior year of High School I stopped writing.  I just stopped.  I remember telling my English teacher that I just couldn’t express myself in that way anymore.  She told me it would take time and that I just needed more distance from the situation.  I had no idea it would take nearly 17 years for me to want to express myself in this way again!  I had no idea that Dad would still be alive and suffering this many years later.  Sure I have written throughout those years but always with an editors voice in my head, like a little devil on my shoulder pushing thoughts of evaluation by others into my mind.   It was no longer simply for the pleasure or cathartic release by simply expressing my inner thoughts.  

So how did I get to the point where I actually felt comfortable enough to start a blog!?  When we started the Caringbridge website for my Dad I realized it was somewhat liberating to be able to control the flow of information that went out.  Now when rumors began to spread around (which they do! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from others that my Dad died, which he still hasn’t!) we could point to the website & say, "look here’s the real truth!" 

This Blog is my own liberation, my words, my own ever-changing definition of myself for the world to read.  Dad is no longer able to fully communicate because of his stroke and severe brain damage.  He is no longer able to connect his jumbled thoughts into well structured and poetically flowing sentences like he once did.  He loved to express himself in writing and he passed on that love to me.  So now to honor him, I will fight the fear and once again, I will be “Writing Without A Grade.”  Here I will write free from purpose, without a goal, without expectation placed on myself to please anyone or win approval.  I will simply honor my father's request that I share my "special way with words" (as he called it) with the world.  Now as a grad student in a school so good that I often wonder how the heck I got in, more than ever, I need an outlet that is free from evaluation and critique.  There WILL be typos, there WILL be run-on grammatically incorrect sentences with consistent failure to use commas-get over it. Fighting all voices of fear, here goes nothing, Publish Post!