Sunday, November 9, 2014

What are you thankful for? For me, an awareness of blessings, contentment and growth by facing cancer with my husband.

Inspired by an Etsy team discussion, “…What are you thankful for?”, I respond:

Attaining 2,629 sales by this point in November 2014 is certainly a significant reason to be thankful that I’ve become a seller with Etsy. “Help” sections along with a willingness to learn and try new things made this possible for me. Encouragement from other sellers makes it enjoyable. Other reasons I am thankful are:

  • Being born into a loving family where creativity, design and entrepreneurship were valued and encouraged by example and opportunities.
  • Involvement with community “families” and teams throughout life such as 4-H, high school dance-line, church youth group, technical design college, adult art classes, Lutheran Women in Mission and book club.
  • Living in and near the country with places to explore nature, swim, bike and hike.
  • Being married to my best friend, a creative, hard-working guy with a good eye for vintage has influenced FreshRetroGallery. My mother-in-law inspired me to design a family tree chart. At the time, it was purely so we could chart our own ancestors—little did I know that many others were searching for an attractive, practical way to record this precious information on a printed piece that serves as a keepsake of handwriting. I am delighted that people love to give these as gifts.
  • Having a son and daughter on the bottom line of my genealogy diagram. Becoming a mother made my dreams come true. Their father and I are honored to be on the next line and it was fun to fill in the poster with their grandparents and up to 3x great-grandparents. Having a grateful heart is just one of the wonderful character traits that have been passed through the six generations that my family tree chart holds.

The rest of this post touches on the journey my husband and I are taking after his diagnosis of lower esophageal cancer. Looking at the big picture, I find blessings related to even this terrible disease and its treatment.

Mayo Clinic interactive museum display
Interactive display at the Mayo Clinic Rochester Museum
Mayo Clinic interactive museum display 2
Attributes of staff and doctors at the Mayo Clinic

Tears of Cancer

Crying feels cleansing to me. It’s a way to release emotions such as stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, loneliness and frustration. I’ve read that it is healthy to cry to avoid being set up for depression. When I learned the shocking diagnosis of cancer, I was struck with the reality of human mortality—the disease’s connection to a possibility of death. Over the first couple weeks after absorbing the news, my sad, tired, worried eyes were frequently rinsed with tears.
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Psalm 56:8 ESV
No snow in this area sign, Minnesota
On our quest to find zucchini bread, Stan’s miracle food, we walked to a bakery in Rochester and happened to see an unusual sign.

Cancer brings out the best in family, friends and acquaintances. 

Blessings of shoulders to lean on, ears to listen, kind words, hugs, cards, visits, phone calls, posts, “likes”, emails, gifts, offers to help, knowledge/experiences to share, prayers and encouragement surrounded us. We made our connection to a specific surgeon at Mayo Clinic through a friend of a friend who shared his own positive experience there just one year ago. While carrying out Stan’s treatment plan, we made new friends with special people dealing with similar cancer who could totally understand and relate to our situation. We were drawn to closer relationships through the necessity of sharing the diagnosis and news of Stan’s cancer treatment plan. This life-changing event brought our family together. It gave us opportunities to befriend others.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34 ESV

Visitors at Saint Mary’s Hospital
Lynne, Liz and Kaye regularly attended the Desk R waiting room while husbands Red, Stan and Alvin “caught some rays” to fight esophageal cancer at Mayo Clinic. Six weeks later, here we are connecting at Saint Mary’s Hospital, Mayo, after two of our men went through a super-major surgery. God bless you, friends—together we shared ice cream on the Mayo patio, hot dogs and live music in the street, sentiments, laughter and wife-experiences of suffering with the men we love.

Christian faith holds me together while facing cancer with my husband. 

As I put it in my Heavenly Father’s hands, trusting that His will be done, my prayers are for courage, grace, wisdom in making health care decisions, physician and medical team’s skill, mercy for a cure, full recovery, patience, comfort, rest and healing. I have hope in the inevitable death Stan and I will face some day and comfort in the loss of loved ones who’ve gone before us.
How do Christians face death? Christians face death as they face life—with their eyes fixed firmly on Jesus. We cling to the promises of His Word, which, when facing death, seem even more wonderful and powerful. One of the most beautiful promises our Lord gave to us is found in John 14:2–3 where He says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” We realize that no matter how our lives may end, there is one thing of which we can be absolutely certain. We shall pass from death to life, from this life to the life beyond, with our Lord. And there we shall rejoin all of our loved ones and others who have gone before us trusting in Christ their Savior. (excerpt from pdf file): Read more on Death and Dying - The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

Other Blessings

Central Park at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota
On the first trip to Mayo Clinic, our daughter Laura gets fresh air and exercise with me while her dad rests. She spent a few days with us before traveling to Milbank, South Dakota to spend time with grandparents and relatives in western Minnesota. The fountain is in Central Park near Mayo’s extended downtown campus which is comprised of about 30 buildings and 5 parking ramps.
Hope Lodge at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota
We stayed 2 weeks at the Brentwood Inn before a room became available for us at Hope Lodge where we made several new friends and learned a card game called “Golf”. (camera credit: Vicki Peterson)
State Park in the hill country of Texas
We met Jim and Betty at Hope Lodge. In the middle of our process, they visited us one evening as they were traveling from Worthington, MN to the State Park in the hill country of Texas where this photo of them was taken. We spent 6 weeks at home in Kansas between the 7-week stay in Minnesota for tests/radiation/chemo and the 2-week stay back there again for tests/surgery/hospitalization. Thanks to all visitors and everyone’s kindness and support during this journey.
Hilton Building at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota
During our second trip, our son Nathan reads a Christian devotion or blog to his dad waiting in the Hilton Building for a test to help the doctor determine that Stan could have surgery. Upon Stan’s discharge after surgery we were told that he might start feeling better in 3 to 6 months. Prayers ascend for Stan and all the wonderful people we met on our cancer journey. Praise be to God for His mercy and loving care.
Despite the awful nature of sharing Stan’s struggle with cancer—body failing and difficulties related to eating, drinking, radiation, chemotherapy, major surgery and recovery—I learn to submit rather than resist. I live with new understanding of the present, moment by moment. I focus on health, emotion, thought, imagination, creativity and living. I get in touch with my soul. I thank my Creator for gifts of medicine and healing. Through His gift of the Holy Spirit, I receive faith by hearing the Word preached in church. I have forgiveness of sins by Jesus’s suffering, death and resurrection. I trust what is true and pure.
I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:23
If your life is touched by cancer, may you be blessed with these words. I encourage you with some of my favorite Bible verses:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. Philippians 4:4-14

Monday, June 30, 2014

Marriage tips, wedding anniversary ideas and 30 things I love about my man Stan.

Celebrating our 30 year wedding anniversary! 

Time flies when you’re in love! Compared to men and women who’ve been married 60 years, Stan and I are only half way.

 My sister Emilie was organist at our weddingThe Recessional, God of Grace, Manz
Video organist Erik Geilenkirchen, 2008 Casavant Pipe Organ, Concordia University, Seward, NE

Elizabeth Ann and Stanley Warren Knaus, June 30, 1984
Approximately 11:30 am at Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS), Appleton Minnesota.
The wedding dress had been my mother’s. Mom and I went to a seamstress to have the gown professionally re-fitted, cleaned, pressed, a new veil fashioned from her original head piece, and a satin-covered arm loop created to carry the long train. 30 years ago, I wore the pearl necklace she’d worn 34 years earlier. All in a day… we had a reception lunch in the church basement following the ceremony. The party moved to my parent’s farm for gift opening. Stan’s parents helped us move our gifts 100 miles southwest to the house in Brookings. We celebrated the evening with a live band at Danceland by Lake Campbell. The next day we started a honeymoon trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota.

My parents, Ruth Margaret and Walter Christoph Frederick Busse
November 11, 1950, Appleton, Minnesota

I met my husband, Stan, the day a friend from my hometown came to Brookings, South Dakota, where I’d taken a job at a print shop, beginning my career as graphic designer.

I knew no one in the city except for my employer and co-workers, so I was happy to receive a call from this old friend who was on his way with his friend, Stan’s brother. In my little upstairs apartment across the street from Taco John’s, the three of us had chicken for dinner and then went to Stan’s home. He was hosting a few of his friends who were in town for Hobo Day, the SDSU homecoming celebration. When I first met Stan, I saw his blue eyes and the fact that he is 13 inches taller than me. Love at first sight is a silly concept, but it seemed that’s what I’d been struck with. This guy liked Norman Rockwell and collected antique Saturday Evening Posts … huh?!?

30 things I love about my man, Stan
  1. Stanley is manly
  2. Beautiful blue eyes
  3. Hard-working
  4. Artistic
  5. Generous
  6. Conservative
  7. Kind
  8. Respectful
  9. Ambitious
  10. Tall, Gray and Handsome
  11. Creative
  12. Thoughtful
  13. Genius (pronounced with a G like goofy)
  14. Sense of humor
  15. Supportive
  16. Spiritual
  17. Father to our children
  18. Friendly
  19. Helpful
  20. Romantic
  21. Responsible
  22. Integrity
  23. Sensitivity
  24. Faithful
  25. Dedicated
  26. Handy Mr. Fixit
  27. Mr. Right (for me)
  28. His confidence in believing he is always right
  29. Ability to admit [when he can see] he’s wrong
  30. He’ll love me forever

In a perfect world, I would see only positive virtues all the time. 

Utopia wouldn’t allow me to focus on things that aren’t going “my way”. Stan would be telling the truth when he jokes, “It’s been 30 years of pure wedded bliss!” I may be a dreamer, but this is not a perfect world. Life on this side of heaven is full of sin which brings out ugly junk in our hearts and actions, whether we realize it or not (and sometimes we don’t). In our real world, from time to time, every married couple experiences some form of misunderstanding, dissatisfaction, disappointment or loneliness as a result of sin.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

How do we deal with this junk? How do we recognize it? What makes us content? Where do patience and peace come from?

The officiating minister of our marriage service required pre-marital counseling. We scheduled a date and drove 200 miles to learn from Reverend Buchholz at Trinity Lutheran Church. I highly recommend all engaged couples to seek “help” from the pastor before the wedding. He described a higher form of love necessary in a marriage. The word agape means a self-sacrificing covenantal love, the kind of love that God has for us in Christ. Every marital challenge and tough relationship situation I face in life brings me back to this concept and helps me cope.

Stan and I have a date at least once every week. 

Every Sunday we get together with a group of other people who personally confess their own junk and are eager to learn about agape love. Together, we hear a sermon prepared by an ordained minister—a well-educated theologian with a master of divinity degree. Our souls are filled with the Wisdom of God which convicts, shapes and forms each of us. As we commune at our Savior’s table, through Spirit led confession/repentance, we receive forgiveness. We pray, sing and give thanks to our Creator. We’re fueled by the Good Shepherd’s counsel, pointing us in the right direction! Every week we need our faith to be refreshed, over and over again.

Stan is an antiquer, dumpster diver, American picker and junker. 

Many nights he stayed up late cleaning and fixing “one man’s junk” to turn it into “another man’s treasure”, dedicated to help pay for our children’s college tuition and contribute to our nest egg. Fascinated with history—the story each item contains—he appreciates the utilitarian potential these items hold to be re-used, recycled, up-cycled or simply to enjoy for decorative beauty.

Compare this interest in antiques to the love God has for us in Christ. 

Stan picks up obsolete, forgotten, discarded, rusty, broken pieces of junk and restores them to fresh merchandise. Jesus suffered, died, was buried and rose again in order to take away the sin of the world. Sin makes us rusty (weak), broken (damaged), obsolete junk (worthless). By hearing the Word, we’re picked up by The Spirit, led to repentance, washed clean, restored for eternal life through our baptism into Christ—built up with potential to share this Living Good News which draws others to faith. God’s essence is grace and mercy. Out of thanksgiving, we seek to improve and do beautiful things.
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:3

Nathan and Laura playing with blocks
Nathan and Laura playing with antique building blocks.

In 30 years, two of our greatest blessings are named Nathan and Laura. 

The Lord’s help, through support from our extended families and community, enabled us to nurture these babies into adulthood. What a wonderful opportunity to love and honor each other and God. He placed us and our children here!
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28
yellow bunnies hug salt and pepper shakers
I found these sweeties while we were vacationing in Park Rapids, MN.
Definitely a gift for Stan—he loves hugging! They also remind me of my parents who had a gray set of salt and pepper shakers like this, tucked in their china cabinet. Bunny hug, yellow bunnies, designed by Ruth Van Tellingen Bendel,
circa 1947, made by Regal China.

Designed to compliment each other, we are not alike—we’re unique.

Opposites attract. Physically and psychologically, God created us differently, uniting us in marriage with His blessing, for His design.
  • Man and woman
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Connection and adventure
  • Catsup and mustard
  • Hamburgers and buns
  • Bride and groom
  • Security and freedom
  • Garbage and trash can
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Left and right—gloves, shoes
  • Ascending and decending—flight patterns
  • Husband and wife 
  • Support and challenge
  • Flowers and vases
  • Sugar and spice
  • Paper and pencil
  • Tooth brush and tooth paste
  • Father and mother
  • Comfort and intensity
  • Car and gasoline
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Swimming pool and diving board
  • Wine and cheese

Faith is a gift of The Spirit—we’ve also been given the free will to think for ourselves.

We can reject faith (failure to trust in Christ alone for forgiveness and salvation) or we can regularly receive it’s power to strengthen and mature us so we may share spiritual intimacy. Our selfish human nature is contrary to God’s plan. Holy and True love turns adversity into character-building function for His name’s sake. When we receive our Heavenly Father’s involvement, healthy balance, confidence and positive growth are brought into our relationship.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17

At our Bible-based church we are in agreement and fellowship with other believers on “God’s design for marriage”. 

We are in disagreement with certain church bodies, politicians and individuals on the topic of what they call “gay marriage” or same-sex civil unions. I was pleased to see action to protect our religious liberty at the Faith Lutheran Church Quarterly Voter’s Meeting, March 30, 2014, when an Amendment of the By-laws of the Constitution was made by adding:
ARTICLE XII – MARRIAGE: (passed by unanimous vote) The marriage policy of Faith Lutheran Church, a member congregation of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, is and always has been consistent with the Synod’s beliefs on marriage. We believe that marriage is a sacred union of one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24-25), and that God gave marriage as a picture of the relationship between Christ and His bride the Church (Eph. 5:32). The official position of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, as set forth in 1998 Res. 3-21 (“To Affirm the Sanctity of Marriage and to Reject Same-Sex Unions”), is that homosexual unions come under categorical prohibition in the Old and New Testaments (Lev. 18:22, 24; 20:13; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:9-10) as contrary to the Creator’s design (Rom. 1:26-27). These positions and beliefs can be found on the LCMS website, along with other statements, papers and reports on the subject of homosexuality and same-sex civil unions and “marriage.” Our pastors will not officiate over any marriages inconsistent with these beliefs, and our church property may not be used for any marriage ceremony, reception or other activity that would be inconsistent with our beliefs and this policy.

Anniversary Card printable from
Anniversary card I designed—this plus other occasions printable art and blank stationery is available at FreshRetroGallery. Past posts you may be interested in: How to make cards on the computer and Wording ideas for handmade cards.

How to celebrate a wedding anniversary

  • Thank the Lord for taking us through this year. 
  • Confess shortcomings. 
  • Forgive one another.
  • Pray for myself and my husband.
  • Reminisce about the past, learn from experiences.
  • Celebrate present moments.
  • Talk about the future.
  • Re-commit the vow—the promise we made to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.
  • Pray that by the grace of God, we continue to accept each other’s unique individuality and ask the Spirit to lead us to love as Christ loved us.
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bucket list for 10 simple pleasures

“The Bucket List” is a to-do list for activities in life before death (kicking-the-bucket). The phrase was made popular by the movie which included activities such as flying over the north pole, climbing a pyramid and sky diving. A bucket list should be as unique as the individual dreaming it.

“First we work, then we play, then we have a happy day!” is a rhyme that reminds me that life requires balance. To God be the glory for opportunities to work hard and imagination to set goals for enjoying activities. The Spirit’s guidance to live life to the fullest involves seeking inspiration from the Word.

ice cream pail bucket scoop
Ice cream for desert was casually served as we passed out empty dishes followed by the pail so each could help ourselves and serve our neighbor. My aunt and uncle were visiting us from a city in California. They had one child, so it’s not surprising she wasn’t accustomed to our lifestyle on the farm with a family of eight. Aunt Marian says, “Are you going to pass the whole bucket around?” Funny, that comment has not yet been forgotten.

This 10 simple pleasures bucket list represents blessings in my life. 

God-willing, I may change or add more wonderful things to my list when the inspiration comes. Instead of crossing these off when I’ve achieved them, they remain with hope to repeat and renew the joy, perhaps in new places or under new circumstances.
  1. Hang out with loved ones
  2. Create art
  3. Days on beaches and riverbanks
  4. Swim in pools
  5. Wander in woods
  6. Visit festivals, experience performances
  7. Browse art galleries and museums
  8. Read/discuss books with friends
  9. Sunday mornings in Church
  10. Have peace in Christ

Hang out with loved ones

Our Heavenly Father pours out His love through my friends and family—grandparents, parents, siblings, husband, children, cousins, aunts, uncles and all the special people in my life. He works through me and each of us to nurture, train, educate, protect, share sorrows, encourage, work, play and bring joy.

Create art 

Inspiring, interesting and beautiful things have been accumulating over the years. I want to use them to create mixed media and assemblage art. I want to take my sketch book along more often for the few minutes here and there—while waiting for the next available clerk at the post office, for a train to pass or during long road trips. Sketching art project ideas, words — lettering, creative quick still life drawings of whatever is in front of me and random doodles that take what my heart speaks to my brain which tells my hand what to do.

Days on beaches and riverbanks

Lake Oliver, also known as Long Lake is a beautiful Minnesota place I hiked or rode my bike to regularly as a child. I’ve watched nephews perform a spectacular Little Crow water ski show, spent time with a friend on a yacht tour past the Statue of Liberty and had opportunities to enjoy the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. My walking route takes me to where The Solomon River joins the Smoky Hill River in the beautiful Kansas agricultural valley where I live now.
  • The quiet reflection of the moon, sun, wildflowers and trees
  • Skip rocks
  • Float in a tube
  • Rhythmic waves lapping on the shore
  • Watch fishermen—boats in the summer, fish shacks in the winter
  • Sled down the hill out onto the ice
  • Ice skate
  • Sit on the dock with time to think and pray
  • Discover aquatic life
  • Water ski, ride in a boat
  • Cross country ski off the beaten path

Swim in pools

Behind my backyard is a lengthy spot where neighbors plant a vegetable garden. I once dreamt that in this space was a lap pool. I highly respect all farmers and gardeners and enjoy their produce, but I prefer swimming over gardening. Kansas record highs reach 111° to 113° four months in a row. I’m thankful for the nearby City pool where I can enjoy my favorite form of exercise during the hot months. My parents provided swimming lessons, a protective act of love because our farm was next to one of the 10,000 lakes Minnesota claims.

Wander in woods

I’ve loved to explore the woods with my childhood faithful companion collie dog, create a pretend home by roping off trees and make white clover decorated mud pies with with sisters. Hiking trails with my son to magnificent places such as Multnomah Falls in Oregon reveals the awesomeness of our Creator.

Visit festivals, experience performances

I love quiet time in nature, but events that surround me with thousands of people celebrating life together make a great change of pace. One year our family took a special vacation to Disney World. It’s always fun to take in local events such as the Smoky Hill River Festival which includes children’s art activities, artisan craft demonstrations, all kinds of foods, browsing fine art and craft booths and enjoying performing art entertainment

Browse art galleries and museums

Visual arts involve imagination and expression of reality through the creation and interpretation of images or objects with paint, sculpture, printmaking and photography. Architecture, decorative and commercial arts are common practical applications I pay attention to. The Wichita Art Museum and Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis are among exhibitions I’ve experienced to engage my aesthetic sensibilities.

Read/discuss books with friends

Having a friend choose books offers motivation to participate in a book club. As a reward for reading, a “scheduled time” helps cultivate friendships through discussions. I enjoy reading books written by a grandfather, friends and cousins. I’ve picked up stacks of garage sale books which remain a mystery. So many books to read, I should never be bored!

Sunday mornings in church

I “like” my church! If I miss being there on a Sunday for some reason, I feel as though I missed something very important.
“Worship is like no place else in this world. But there is one place that it does resemble, and that is heaven” —“Taking a Tour of Heaven” Reporter insert, LCMS
Church is our life together in worship… confessional faithfulness, artistic excellence, integrity in presentation, distribution and reception of the Blessed Trinity’s life-giving gifts in Word and Sacraments.

Have peace in Christ

I don’t know when the last day will be, but at the end of my days, it’s all about Jesus. My bucket is full and I’m completely in the peace of Christ. God gave His Son who lived perfectly but took upon my sins at the cross and rose from the dead on the third day. Through the gift of faith I received in baptism and by hearing the Word in church, I know that my confessions are heard and I am forgiven. Eternal life in heaven is for me and anyone who believes. Simple truth, everlasting pleasure.