Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday Afternoon

On the way home from church, Elizabeth commented that today would be a day she would sit with Daddy and play Wii. I asked her if she wanted to go to see Daddy and she said yes. This was her first visit back since the funeral and my first time to see the headstone. She wanted to decorate as well so we went to Big Lots (Mike's Favorite store) and then spent some time at the cemetery. It was a hard day for both of us that lead to a late night. I wish I could wake up and this all be a dream sometimes...

Monday, May 17, 2010

You can tell it is the end of the school year. Things are getting busier and busier here. I have been meeting with a financial planner and now we are adding in a lawyer to get everything together. I feel way more weight to make sure all i's are dotted so that if something happens to me, everything will be in a nice package and as simple as possible for Elizabeth. As far as the estate (for lack of a better word) goes, I feel like I have everything in a box. I still need to wrap it and put a bow on it, but everything is at least in one area. I have been dwelling a lot on everything and putting some things off. What is it going to be like when everything is done? Really, we have been juggling things for almost 2 years now and part of me doesn't want things to end because that means I really have to face, "Now what?". I am dealing with that in a way, but the paperwork, thank you's, house details, lawyers, etc.... distract from the ultimate, "now what?".

Yet, I know the NOW WHAT is already answered in God's time. That whole faith concept. God has been so faithful this whole journey (yes even though Mike is in Heaven) and I know he hasn't said, "OK, now you are on your own". He doesn't' work that way. Even though Mike, Elizabeth and I walked Mike's cancer journey together, He has a plan for each of us. Mike's was to fight, witness, and go home to Jesus. Mine? I think we are still in the middle of the book. Same with Elizabeth. Days are still up and down.. Nights the same. It is funny some of the things you do or things that stress you out. I noticed today that I killed this beautiful orchid that we got for Mike's service. It is amazing to me the need I have to keep these plants alive. I don't know if I like it or not. Probably should talk about that at my next therapy session :).

I am amazed at how God is still using Mike here on this earth. Today, I had the joy of giving $15,000 worth of Neupogen to a doctor going to Africa on a Medical Mission Trip. He was talking about how he hopes to let me know who gets the shot and how it impacts them. I told him that I have no doubt that God has a plan. I have tried to give the shots away multiple times and every door has been closed. This is the most complicated door and it is open. They have to pack it special with a thermometer and ice at all stops to ensure that it stays the right temperature. You can not even imagine the time, thought, and process it is taking to get these 15 shots over there. I KNOW God has a special plan for those two boxes. AND I don't need to know the whole story. God knows it and I am overjoyed at that.

That is all I need. So if I don't need to know the whole story for these boxes, then I guess I have to say the same for my "now what?". I know God has a special plan for me, I need to take a deep breath, be at peace and watch it unfold (prayerfully!).

Prayer needs:
Please continue to pray for Elizabeth and I. We have good days and tearful days. It is really hard sometimes.
Social Security Administration - that our appeal will go through
HAP - that our appeal will go through
Health - this virus that I picked up in Abilene is hanging on!

Talking to Marie
Things are manageable
Softball season
One more day!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Rest of the Story

The cool thing about this blog is that you can look back at decisions you made and see where you are today. Remember last Spring when Elizabeth was trying to chose her elective? Mike and I were debating between drama and band and many of you chimed with your thoughts. Elizabeth wanted band and she got the instrument she wanted - the OBOE. Well, it has been a year and she has done a great job. She loves it and has a goal to make Symphony I next year as a 7th grader. She still has her Solo Competition on May 25th, but I thought I would share my first ever FLIP Video with you. It is 5 minutes and two songs.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Blessing in the Lives you travel

Elizabeth sitting in the Pecan Tree that used to be in our backyard before they tore down the house and built new housing. The new houses now have TWO car GARAGES! LUCKY! I guess only special people know the joy of carports :)
Elizabeth's adorable face up close with the BIFF mug and BIFF Patch.

We met the face behind the "Biff Callsign"! Biff and Biff together in one picture!

What an amazing weekend Elizabeth and I had in Abilene. I want to first say a HUGE thank you and a job WELL done to everyone at Dyess AFB. The 25th Anniversary of the B-1 event was incredible. Everything from start to finish was first rate and blessed us beyond words. Actually, this is what Elizabeth told me Saturday night in the hotel in Abilene. She said for the first time she wasn't as sad and felt safe. She asked me if we could just stay at Dyess. She said she felt her Dad so strongly and just wanted to stay. They seem like simple words typed, but as many times as I have held her late at night as she as cried and told me how much she hurts....well, to have her tell me she was having fun and felt somewhat normal and happy made me cry!!
We had the ability to meet so many incredible people from our past. Did I mention that Dena sent Doug down from Omaha to escort Elizabeth and I all weekend? So I had help driving and a "strong tower" when I was weak. I knew we needed to go, but driving on base and going into the 28th BS was full of emotion for me. Plus Doug knew everyone and that helps in a sea of flight suits.
We checked in and that took about 10 hours!! I have never spent as much time in my life socializing as I did over the weekend. It was like a high school reunion only for the past 17 years of my married life. Every time you would turn a corner, you would run into someone. As soon as you finished one conversation, you would see someone else. I loved it! I loved it too because while we talked about Mike and journey we have been on, we also talked memories and it was so empowering and healing. Maybe the whole event, God just planned for Elizabeth and I :).
The first event we went to (after lunch at China Star!) was the Memorial Service. It was to honor our B-1 hero's that have died in 4 plane crashes over the years. I did OK until they got to roll call. They read each guys name and then from a line of guys in the back, someone called "absent". 12 guys, 12 echoing absents and then taps... tears just rolled, not only from me. Then, as they were wrapping up the ceremony, they said something like, " and to all our fellow B-1 airman that have past on, to include most recently Lt Col Mike "Igor" Phillips." After the end of the ceremony, members of the 7th BW presented Elizabeth and I with a memorial brick that will be placed at the Abilene Star at the front gate.
We finally got to the hotel with just enough time to shower and change for the formal event/dinner at the Abilene Civic Center. I relished every moment because I know that most likely it will be my last formal AF event. Elizabeth got to stay with Myagi's kids. I guess she practiced some of her black belt moves on one of the boys. She failed to mention it to me and Pat was harassing her about it the next day. She smiled and said she really had fun. I was mortified, but loved how quickly she was back in the fold. So Doug and I headed down to the Convention Center. We made it in the door, but then got caught in the talking game routine and didn't make it past the foyer. Doug said he was going in and I said it was OK, I would find him when I was done. What a mistake that was! I walked into the ballroom and I was taken aback. I had no idea how many people there would be! We did finally meet up and got seats in the back of the ballroom. We had the opportunity to sit with the Boldenows and this great crew from the B-1 Model Project. They are building a 1/8 scale remote control B-1. It was on display and it is fantastic. They have spent 10 years on it so far. We had great conversation. The evening ended and we picked up Elizabeth at 11:30 pm from Myagi's.
Friday morning, we were at the squadron by 9:00 am so Elizabeth could fly the B-1 simulator. She did really well and was a little too comfortable in the pilot seat. Our instructors were great and patient and Mike is so proud in heaven. I know it. Elizabeth is now wanting to take flight lessons to learn to fly. She wants me to take her to Beetle in Tucson! I think she likes the planes that go fast. We then got our new Military ID's and headed off to the Weapons School. We got an incredible brief on the future of the B-1 and walked down memory lane looking at all the past Weapon School graduate pictures. Lt Col Jeff Aldridge escorted us all around. We also ran into "BIFF". Elizabeth's nickname in our family is Biff. We saw a patch and mug at the schoolhouse bar with the call sign of Biff. I took her picture by it. At the Weapon's School we ran into BIFF. I explained the whole nickname thing and asked if I could take their picture together (a dorky thing a mom would do so she could scrapbook it). He agreed and took out his patch. Then he did something that I will never forget. He GAVE her the patch. Again, a simple kindness that ministered to Elizabeth and I in a very BIG way.
We spent the rest of Friday at a Wine and Cheese social where Elizabeth showed the fruit of her spirit by helping one mom with her precious son Alex. We went over to the pre-air show party in the park and then headed back to the hotel. Elizabeth and Doug then went out geocaching in the dark and I watched a movie and talked on the phone.
Saturday? I had to sleep late. I was exhausted. We then went out to the Air Show. I knew it would be a good day when the first static planes we ran into were A-10's from Davis- Monthan AFB (one Lobo and one Bulldog). I believe that was God again reminding me of his intimate care for me. We walked around and made our way to the Anniversary tent which was front row center for the Air Show. We ate barbecue and I once again had the joy of meeting another fascinating person. Chasity and Mike. We were eating at the table and started talking. Mike has been in the AF for almost 20 years and been with the Thunderbirds, B-2, and B-1. Just being apart of one of those communities is special, but all three? Wow. Then he shared that he was one of the first on scene at the Oklahoma City Bombings helping there. Then he shared he survived Katrina at Kessler AFB and helped out there. FASCINATING life story. He has two humanitarian medals. Throw in 9/11 and he has an Historical story that should be preserved if you ask me. After their incredible testimony (and he is a believer too), we watched the Thunderbirds and headed back to the hotel. We rested for about an hour then met people at Cypress Station for dinner. It was another late night.
Sunday we woke up, checked out, bought AM donuts and headed to FBC Abilene for church. We dropped off Elizabeth at youth and told her she spent years with some of the girls that she doesn't remember, and then headed to Sunday School with food. We then went to church and headed home. By this time, the pace of the weekend and maybe the past weeks had caught up with me, because I was sick. It is viral, but I am down for the count with blisters on my throat, cough, and just exhausted.

The best part of the weekend was that I got to say thank you to people. I was able to tell people that the changed me. They influenced me. I watched how you treat your daughters and learned how I wanted to treat mine. I got to tell Dr Christopher at FBC Abiliene that what was started there in that baptismal was now complete with Mike in heaven. We were baby Christians and they watered us and made us strong enough to move on to be fertilized by other Church's and people. I was able to give small gestures of gratitude's to the guys that helped. I was able to give a hug and say your cards were always perfect. Over and over and over again, I tried to the best of my ability to let people know how much they meant to me, Elizabeth and Mike. One thing the past 18 months has taught me is to leave it all on the table. Don't assume tomorrow. Let people know the blessing they bring to you.
Over and over again, in big and small ways, the men, women, and families of the Air Force and Abilene ministered to us and loved on us all weekend. For the past 3 weeks, our memory verse at church is from the Message Psalm 84:5. It is:

And how blessed are those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel.
I can not think of a better verse to speak over the weekend. I am blessed. Elizabeth is blessed. Mike is blessed. God had an incredible journey for us and he used the Air Force as the road. I have travel roads that I never dreamed of. I have met incredible people who are hero's, true hero's in every sense of the word. I have friends that drop everything to help in every way. I have been blessed to be apart of births, deaths, marriages, holidays, parties, baptisms, retirements, promotions, conversations and rebirths. Life is hard right now. It is. But I love God's tender mercy, love, and grace with Elizabeth and I right now. He knows just how to strengthen me and this time he used Abilene and Dyess AFB to let me be wrapped in His care.
Well, this is a very long posting. Probably my longest. I hope that makes up for the silence. I do have to say that somehow I feel a shift in my life after this weekend. I, like Elizabeth, feel stronger. I pray it is not temporary. But somehow, I don't think it is. A perfect example, I came home to a letter from a collection agency for a medical bill that was billed in Elizabeth's name for Mike's treatment. AND it has already been paid under Mike's name. Did I cry? No. Did I break down with the 2+ hours of phone calls, letters, and faxes? No. Something has changed. Thank you Jesus.
Prayer needs:
Healing for me....I hate being sick.
Direction from Jesus about what is next? What does he have for me?
Elizabeth- she is up and down and needs prayer
See above!!!