The Other Half of the Story from Wren…

Hi dear ones!

I have been meaning to write this post to you for a long time.  Finally, today!

The rest of the story…

So, y’all may remember my long story about the surgery that I had and the many unexpected events along with it.  Infection, the wound vac, going back into the hospital.

But, there is one little piece of information I hadn’t included…really because I was still processing it myself.  The purpose of the surgery was to remove a large cyst, and the surgeon successfully did so.

To my shock, the cyst was cancerous.  We are so thankful that it was completely enclosed within the ovary (which was also removed).  They felt good about getting everything out.  But, we agreed with the doctor that chemotherapy was the way to go for a good prognosis.

So…I’ve started down the chemo journey.  I have actually completed two rounds already.  They give the chemo on day 1, then 21 days later they give the next round, and so on.  This coming Friday, I’ll have round #2 with the goal of completing 6 total.  That will give us October as the final round.

So, what has it been like?

The chemo infusion (or whatever you call it…probably there’s a technical term I’m missing there) wasn’t bad at all.  It contains steroids to help the body assimilate the chemo so you actually think you feel better than you do.  Two days later, the steroids have worn off and the uck part begins.  I had only a little nausea (no vomiting, woo hoo!).  The worst part for me was bone and joint pain from the waist down.  That was not probably excruciating but pretty darn painful.

So that was week 1 of the round.  They say that during week 2 and 3, the person feels better and better and that was true for  me.  In fact, last Thursday I woke up for the first time since before the surgery IN NO PAIN!  Ask me  how happy I was.  🙂

 

Something else happens between week 2 and 3…

Yep.  You probably guessed it.  The hair makes its exit.

I have to admit that it has its funny moments.  I knew it was going to happen, and I did have one emotional evening.  I have gone from a big-haired Texan to…well…NOT a big-haired Texan!  As a matter of fact, I have always thought I had a big head.  Turns out it was the hair.  Which may not sound that funny but around here, it is!  (For any of you with kids who watch the Disney show “Mighty Med,” I am particularly partial to supporting cast character Philip’s line.  He has a HUGE head…but compared to others on his planet, his head is small.  He loves to mention his “embarrassingly tiny head!”)

I have a few beanies now and a wig.  I haven’t worn the wig yet just b/c the hats are so easy.  But I expect I will.  The hair will come back, 6 months after the chemotherapy ends…which should be around March.

So, what’s next for me?

Two chemo sessions down, with four to go, with the last one estimated to be in early October.  We’re just trying to live as normally as we can, given the circumstances.  We’ve being blessed by support from so many friends and family.  We appreciate those so much!

My goal is to just walk this out as positively (and healthfully) as possible.  By God’s grace, right?

So now you know.  🙂

Lots of love!  –Wren

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Tips for Moving ~ Guest Post from Cassandra at A Glimpse of Normal

 

My dear friend Cassandra from A Glimpse of Normal is guest posting today for finchnwren!  She and her family just moved into their dream home (WHAT a story!) and she’s written about how she and her family made the big move simpler and less stressful.  Enjoy–and then hop over to Cassandra’s blog and see their neat new home!

We recently made a big move and bought a new house.  It has been a lot of fun and it is my dream house.  It is a renovated barn and the kids have a lot of fun telling people they live in a barn.  Now that we have been here for a few months I have been thinking about the things we did that made our move easier.  That is what I want to share with you today.  This list is by no means all-inclusive and I am sure there are plenty of things I am forgetting to include, but these are the main things that helped us make moving easier.

1.  Declutter, Declutter, Declutter – If you are thinking about moving start decluttering. This will help you weed out the items you want to keep and move from those you don’t need anymore. Sometimes it isn’t easy, but just remember the more you keep, the more you have to move.
Start Packing Early – I know it sounds a little crazy to start packing before you move, but if you are even thinking of moving, start packing boxes. There are almost always things in our house that we can do without for a little while, so start packing those items. Packing takes forever in general, but the less you have to pack in the last couple of weeks before you move, the better off you will be.

2.  Don’t Pack the Crock Pot – When we moved our crock pot was our best friend.  We had the luxury of a couple of weeks to work in our new house before we closed on our old house.  So during the day I would throw our food into the crock pot and as soon as hubby got home from work, we grabbed what we needed to work that night, a load of boxes, and our crock pot.  Dinner was ready when we got to the new house.  We would eat and then work.

3.  Pack a Tote of Cleaning Supplies – Once we knew the closing date of our new house, I packed a tote of cleaning supplies to take with us on the day we closed.  This included bathroom cleaner, paper towels, toilet paper, kitchen cleaner, wash cloths, rubber gloves, window cleaner, and scrubbers.  This way I could begin cleaning while my hubby and the guys were ripping out carpet.  It also helped because I knew I had these supplies at the new house so I could work on cleaning it when I had a few minutes of downtime when we were remodeling.

4.  Check Out the Cost of Living Where You Are Moving To – Many people move and it just across town, but some are like us and you cross state lines.  This means that the cost of living for us is different.  One thing we did when we first started seriously considering our new house was to find out how expensive it was to live there.  We asked about the utilities, internet, insurance, car insurance, taxes, trash service, how far it was to the store, how much is gasoline there, and more like this.  We also made a list of things we could research when we moved like who plowed snow around us, heating and cooling companies near the new house, and figuring out where we need to go for things like licenses, county taxes, and so on.

5.  Plan for the Unexpected – Every new house you buy comes with unexpected costs.  There are things at our house that we thought were in good order when we purchased the house and they passed inspection, but once we started looking into it more, we had to make some repairs or replace a few things before we could use them.  Try to set aside some money for these unexpected costs.

6.  Work With the Kids – I mean this in a couple of ways.  Our kids were excited about the possibility of moving but at the same time they had reservations and fears.  Work with them through this.  One way we did this was we had a family meeting and we created a list of things we could do if we had a fresh start.  Many of the things on this list were things we could have done at the old house, but just hadn’t taken the time to do.  We have been very diligent about this list and we are making a conscious effort to help our kids check off these tasks from the list we made.  The other way I mean work with your kids is let them work alongside you.  My kids loved getting to decide how their new bedrooms would look.  They also loved being able to give a vote for paint colors and they have come up with clever ideas for decorating at the new house.  They loved being a part of making over the rooms we have made over so far and it gives them a sense of accomplishment and it helps them make the new house theirs.

7.  Enjoy the Process – Once we made the decision to put our house up for sale and put an offer on a new house life got a little crazy.  There is the hurry up and take care of this while at the same time you are waiting on other things.  The whole process of moving is a hurry up and wait kind of thing.  The best thing that we did through it all was to try to enjoy every moment of it even though at times it was frustrating.  We did our best to stay positive and stay focused on what we could take care of and not focus on the things that were out of our hands.  So I encourage you to try to enjoy it all, even the crazy last minute details.  The moving process happens so fast, but so slow and it will help everyone if you just try to enjoy it all.

If you want to read more about my dream house you can hope over to my blog A Glimpse of Normal and looks for my posts about Our Barn Home.  It is a work in progress, but we are truly loving our new home.  Thanks for reading my post today and I think I can safely say that we would love to hear any tips you have for moving.

P.S.  – A special thanks to FinchnWren for letting me share on their blog today.

I just loved Cassandra’s tips.  So helpful and things I might not have thought of off the bat!  Many thanks, Cassandra!

Enjoy! –Wren

What Iron Man & I Have in Common

If y’all knew me personally, you would be laughing about now.

 

 

And maybe even from reading the finchnwren blog, you might be smiling at the title of today’s post.

In the Marvel movie, The Avengers, Captain America and Tony Stark have the following exchange:

Cap:  “Big man in a suit of armor.  Take that away, what are you?”

Tony:  “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.”

So you can see from that alone how different we are!  But I had to laugh last week, when my husband, son, and I rewatched Iron Man, which introduced us for the first time to the man who would be Iron Man and part of the Avengers.

You’re still not making the connection, are you?

Well, it’s this:

 

 

This handy little machine is my wound vac.  If you’ve read any of the recent finchnwren posts, you know I had abdominal surgery at the beginning of May.  The incision became infected, and part of the solution is the wound vac’s job.  It’s attached to me by tubes, surgical tape, and sponges, and it brings healing by drawing out the infected cells and stimulating them and others to grow healthy cells.  It is working, but we’ve also had to add antibiotics b/c of several repeated infections (trust me, you don’t want to know the details on those!).

 

 

Still not seeing it?

Well, here it is then!  In Iron Man (just in case you haven’t seen it, I won’t include too many spoilers), Tony ends up captured and taken hostage, held captive in a cave in the Middle East by a group of terrorists who want his weapons and technology.  They demand that he build missiles for them.  But he has a very different plan.

Tony’s life has been saved by another captive who performed a dramatic surgery on him; he’s placed an electromagnet in Tony’s chest to keep the shrapnel from taking his life.  But the electromagnet has to be powered by something, doesn’t it?  Yep.  A car battery, attached to the electromagnet by wires.  So Tony has to tote the car battery around everywhere he walks in the cave.

That’s it!

Yes, it is.  My situation is not so grim, clearly!  But when I saw Tony carrying around that battery that was connected to him and saving his life, I had to laugh.  (Trust me, I DO realize that my reaction is not what the directors intended!)  And I continue to smirk every now and then when I pick up my wound vac as I head to the kitchen, up the stairs, wherever.  Where I go (for now), the wound vac goes with me.

And there you have it!

Probably the only thing that Tony Stark and I will  ever have in common.  🙂

 

Hope you’re all doing well.  Enjoy!  –Wren

Faith: I am One with the Force, and the Force is with Me

Have y’all run across Heather Bock from the Glimpses of Jesus blog? I started following her a number of months ago and so appreciate her humor and faith. This post of Heather’s, about ROGUE ONE and my favorite character from the movie, Jedi Knight Chirrut, has stuck with me ever since I read it the first time. Finally, I’m reblogging it to share with you! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you, Heather, and enjoy, dear readers!
–Wren

Heather Bock

i-am-with-jesus-and-jesus-is-with-me

by Heather Bock

“for we walk by faith, not by sight”
II Corinthians 5:7

I didn’t grow up watching the Star Wars movies like my husband and many others did. The first time I watched them was in the theater, but it was when they were rereleased in the late 1990s. Therefore, I don’t have as much emotional attachment as others might, but I do enjoy watching the movies and following the story (sometimes semi-following: my eight year old son, Mr. C, was a big help during the last film, as he often leaned over to whisper explanations about new characters). So when Rogue One came out,

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A Quick Note from Wren….

 

Dearest Readers—

Well, we’ve had several weeks of highly unexpected things happening around here.  You might have noticed that things have been VERY quiet at the FINCHNWREN blog!

  1.  I had surgery (expected) to remove a cyst from my abdominal area that was—I kid you not—the size of a baseball/tennis ball (depending on which tech/doctor was describing it).
  2. Spent a week in the hospital.  (Also expected.)
  3. Went home on day #7.
  4. Got up the next day with a fever, tons of pain, and what turned out to be an infected incision.  (Unexpected!)

Now, everything else has fallen into that “Unexpected!” list:

  1. 4 more days in the hospital, May 8-11.
  2. Infected incision area and an introduction to this odd yet miraculous little machine called a “wound vac.”  Yes, it does just what it sounds like it might do; it is attached to my abdominal area via tubes, sponges, sticky clear tapey stuff, and it sucks out the bad stuff, stimulates cells to do good work and get healthy.  It runs via electrical cord/battery and I haul it around everywhere I go.
  3. The unexpected blessing of home health care.  I have nurses who come to my home every two days to clean the wound and change the dressings.

We don’t know how long this process will take.  It is at times, absolutely exhausting, painful, sleep-inducing.  Yet it really is miraculous, and healing is occurring.

I also want to send hugs and blessings to our dear friends and family–here in person, and via the Internet all across the world.  We’ve been blessed with meals, gift cards, prayers, cards, kind words, thoughts; so much care extended by so many.  Thank you!

I’ll do my best to stay in touch with you all.  Finch and I have some fun giveaways to bring to you this summer.  But at the moment, my focus is to heal; to love my family; to rest; and to hear God.  Here’s a sweet verse that I read just in the last hour; the perfect thing to close on, I think!

“Because of the LORD’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.””        —Lamentations 3:22-24

Isn’t that lovely?  Just the thoughts I’d like to have on my heart as I get ready to go to bed.

Bless you all, friends.  I’m looking forward to being more in touch with you.  –Wren

Meet Varina Denman! Author of JILTED & the MENDED HEARTS SERIES

I have the enormous pleasure of introducing you all to Varina Denman this week!  She’s the author of the wonderful MENDED HEARTS series, the stories of three women living in small town West Texas and dealing with life, joy, pain and love.  Varina’s newest book (and third in this series), JILTED, has just been published.  On Friday, I’ll be sharing both my thoughts about this book…as well as the opportunity for you to win a copy of JILTED, courtesy of Varina!

Today, Varina has been kind enough to answer some fun questions about herself and her writing career.  You’ll love getting to know her better, just as I have.  Enjoy!

V. Denman Author Int. Banner

So, Varina…your third book, JILTED, has just been published! What’s it like to be
a published author?

It seems like a dream, and I keep waiting to wake up. Or maybe someone will suddenly say, “Oh! You’re Varina Denman? This is a mistake.” But other than that …it feels GREAT.

How did you embark on this writing life?

It’s funny, but I never intended to become a writer. I studied computer science and mathematics in college, but then I took a break to stay home with my kids. During all the late night feedings, I had plenty of time for reading, and I consumed novel after novel. It was then that I began to wonder if I might be able to write, but it was still years before I tried it.

Jilted Windmill QuoteHow did you get “discovered” as an author?

In 2012, I attended a writer’s conference that was hosted by the American Christian Fiction Writers. Since it was my first conference, I was nervous, and much of the weekend was spent seeking out other clueless newbies so we could
boost each other’s spirits. The registration packet included two 15 minute meetings with literary agents. I was TERRIFIED of these appointments, but I made it through them without embarrassing myself too much. Neither of the
agents offered to represent my work, but they gave me pointers and encouragement. After that, I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the events.

At lunch the next day, I noticed a girl sitting alone at a table, and I sat down next to her and struck up a conversation. We talked about our children, our hometowns, the conference in general, and then I asked, “What do you write?”
You can imagine my shock when she said she was an agent. I stumbled over the rest of our conversation, but at the end of the meal, she asked to see my proposal, and a week later, she called and offered me representation.

I am SO THANKFUL I didn’t know who she was, or I might never have sat down next to her. We’ve had a marvelous relationship since then. During the year following that conference, she encouraged me as I worked on my manuscript, and the next year, my debut novel, Jaded, won the ACFW Genesis Award. My career was off the ground … all because I struck-up a conversation with a girl I didn’t know.

What does a “day in the life” of Varina Denman look like?

Typically, my alarm goes off at 5:00. I start my day with a fruit smoothie and Bible reading, then I jump into my writing. If all goes well, I’ll draft a chapter in the morning, then take a break to exercise. Next I’ll work on blog posts or marketing until lunch. In the afternoons, I help my teenagers with their homeschool assignments (during the school year), and try to do a little housework. After dinner, I read a book or watch a movie. I love a routine, so I’m happiest when I barely deviate from this schedule.

Varina Denman Mended Hearts coversA key element I’ve noticed in your books is that what others see (and conclude) about us is not always true about the persons we really are. I love this, it’s so true! Did this just “happen” as you wrote, or is this a theme you’ve thought on for awhile?

I was such a newbie when I started writing the Mended Hearts series, that it definitely just “happened” as I wrote. But by the time I got to Jilted, I was more aware of the recurring theme, and I began to work with it. Now it’s almost a given
that this theme will at least be brushed on in all my books. In my current work-in-progress it’s a major key point once again.

I like the way that you shift POV from first person, with Lynda, to third person, in Clyde. How did you decide to tell JILTED in this way?

So much of Jilted evolved through the writing of the series. Decisions I made way back with Jaded and Justified trickled down into the pages of Jilted, and that is true about the POV as well. When I first started writing, I didn’t know much about point of view, and I didn’t know I was sort of breaking the rules. I wrote and re-wrote, trying the perspectives differently, but it always sounded better with the heroine in 1st person and the hero in 3rd . I’m continuing that trend with at least one more book.

Varina Denman Jilted Cover 3DJILTED concludes the story arc for three women in the West Texas town of Trapp, in
your Mended Hearts series. What’s next for you as an author?

Right now I’m working on a stand alone novel,also set in Texas. Unlike the Mended Hearts series, which is set in the Lubbock area, the new story will happen a farther north, just on the edge of Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo.

And last but not least…how does it feel to walk into a bookstore and see your books on the shelf?

Amazing! I actually hadn’t done that until last week, and I found all three books side-by- side on the shelf. I wanted to squeal, but I was too embarrassed. 

Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. Her award-winning Mended Hearts series, which revolves around church hurt, is a compelling blend of women’s fiction and inspirational romance. A native Texan, Varina lives near Fort Worth with her husband and five
mostly grown children. Connect with Varina on her website or one of the social media hangouts below.

A little about Jilted:

A heartbroken woman desires to move beyond old memories, but will her past give way to hope?

Lynda Turner has struggled with depression since her husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years ago. Yet unexpected hope awakens when a local ex-convict shows interest. As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life in which the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.

Jilted tells of a woman who has lost the joy of living, of a man determined to draw her back toward happiness, and of a town that must—once and for all-leave the past where it belongs. It is a gentle reminder that all things can work together for good.

Be sure to join us again on Friday for more about JILTED, and for your chance to win a copy for your very own in our book giveaway!  And be sure to visit Varina Denman at her social media sites!

Enjoy –Wren