Katie & Briscoe

Katie & Briscoe

Monday, February 28, 2011

☢ Radiation Alert! ☢

I began my radiation therapy today. The first treatment was nothing special. It's very fast, taking no more than five minutes at the absolute most for the actual treatment. I spend more time getting ready for it. I have to change into a gown, then I get on the table. Which, by the way, is absurdly uncomfortable. The nurse laughingly told me the first time I got onto it that if I imagined very hard I could pretend that it was comfortable. Yeah, I have an active and well honed imagination, but even I can't drift that far away from reality.

I had my first experience with the table last week when I went in for my setup. For anyone who might one day have to go through with this, I'm going to lay it out step by step for you.

First off, I want to touch on something that caught me completely by surprise. I had all the typical things done along the way since my diagnosis. First came that day that the Dr. noticed the lump in my breast. Then came a breast ultrasound, followed by a mammogram, which in turn led to an in office needle biopsy. A few days later the official diagnosis came and that sent me on my way to the surgeon and the operating room to have the tumor removed. Then there were pet scans and cat scans and heart scans (called a resting MUGA). And I had another procedure under what they call twilight sedation where they inserted an intravenous port under my skin. Next came the chemo, all 8 of them. And Herceptin, a biological medical treatment came along with the last 4 chemos and will continue for a year.

Through every single step, I've been generally calm. I haven't felt scared or uneasy for the most part. No nerves to speak of. Mostly, I attribute this to my trust in God, and my knowledge that He is in complete control. I've had more than one person ask me if I was scared and the answer has always been no. But last week, for some reason, when I found myself standing there in that hospital gown as I waited for the nurse to tell me what to do next, I felt my stomach twist into a knot. My heart was pounding, and I felt just the slightest bit queasy.

She went over a short list of potential side effects, none of which I hadn't heard about before. The biggest one, she said, would be fatigue. She said those who have the radiation before the chemo usually don't start feeling it until about the third week. For those of us who have already had our chemo, the fatigue strikes sooner. She said I'll feel like I need a nap. I pretty much already feel like that all the time, so hopefully it won't get much worse. She also said that it would take approximately 2 months after I finish the radiation for me to start feeling more normal. I was hoping I could look forward to the fatigue being less of an issue since I was finished with the chemo, but it seems that I'll have to contend with it a while longer.

The second side effect I will have to watch for is a skin reaction. Mostly, this doesn't become a real issue until further into the treatment, but it can be anything from a mild redness similar to a sunburn to actual blisters. I'm sincerely hoping I won't have to deal with the worst case scenario.

So, after pointing out these two most common side effects, we went into the room and she adjusted a part of the bed that sits just below my rear to keep my hips in place. At the head of the table is a U shaped head rest and above that are 4 smaller rests to hold my arms. In all honesty, it isn't horrifically uncomfortable. I've lain on worse.

After getting situated on the table, the nurse folded back the gown to expose my right breast. Then she spent several minutes adjusting the position of the table. It moves pretty much in all directions, fast and slow, in tiny increments until they get it positioned precisely where they want it. There are targeting lasers that come out of the ceiling and wall which are used for positioning. After getting me in position, the nurse started drawing an assortment of things on my chest, from the center of my sternum, around the top and bottom of my breast, and off to the side as well. These marks were made with marker and consisted of lines, dots, and X's.

Following the marking, they applied two pieces of tape that had small pieces of metal in them so they could be seen on x-ray. They took an x-ray, then she came in and used a very thin wire that was laid across my breast to mark the outline. Then they took another x-ray. After all this, she came in and applied some tattoo ink to several of the marker dots. She used a small needle and pushed the ink into my skin, making several very small dots. Then, last of all she took a couple of photos of all the marks. And that was my setup for my radiation treatment.
 One of my tattoos. You can see how tiny they are by comparing them to the pores of my skin. I have six of them altogether. This is the only one that's visible while I'm dressed. It's above my sternum in the center of my chest. When I get my treatments they re-mark them with a marker to make them easier to see.

By the time I was finished with my setup, my nerves had mostly subsided. I don't really know why I felt uneasy at the start. I felt much less anxious today when I got my first actual dose of radiation.

Today I went in and after getting into my gown and getting positioned on the table and then getting the table in position, we took two x-rays. They will take x-rays once every week to make sure their targeting is still good. I will be getting treatments every day, Monday through Friday for a full month. During this time they will be targeting the whole breast. After this treatment is finished I will get a few "burst" treatments that will more precisely target the site where the tumor was located.

I was in the office for about 25 minutes today because they took the x-rays. Regular treatment days will probably take 15 minutes or less. I'll spend more time getting to and from the treatments than in the actual treatments. I keep telling myself that at least it's only for a month.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Anniversaries...

Why, do you suppose, do we humans make such an art out of marking the passage of time? We count every single thing on an annual basis. Birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries of every sort. I'm not saying I don't do this. I do. I count everything. I used to actually count even more, but I've gotten a little lazy as I've gotten older. Still, looking at my calendar, I notice that it is virtually littered with reminders of dates that I hold on to for various reasons.

There is my birthday, which I don't actually need a reminder of, but it's there none-the-less. And Mark's birthday, of course. And then come the birthdays of various family members and friends. Add to these personal reminders several holidays, National and Christian. Oh, and the yearly celebration of marriage, too.

What I find interesting is that we don't just mark the annual passage of dates that hearken back to happy days. Independence day, Christmas, Birthdays, Wedding Anniversaries, Valentine's Day, etc. each celebrate presumably happy events. Not being Catholic, I have no actual idea who St. Patrick was, which is fine since that day seems to be less about the saint and more about the green beer. As a kid, it was about making sure I wore something green so that I wouldn't be subjected to pinches. Where in the world did that come from!? Anyway, there are all sorts of holidays out there that either commemorate joyous events, or dates that at least usually make us smile.

There are memorial anniversaries, too. Memorial Day being the most recognized, and Pearl Harbor Day, and Patriot's Day. These dates remind us of those who have died either defending this nation, or in the case of Patriot's Day and Pearl Harbor Day, in attacks upon this nation. They aren't what I'd call happy events, but days to reflect back in somber remembrance to events so momentous that they can never be allowed to be forgotten.

And let's not forget the various dates set aside to honor those who in some way contributed either to the birth of this nation or to it's history. Today is President's Day, but we single out George Washington for his own day. And Martin Luther King, Jr., too. And there are others. Even members of our own families get special days of their own. Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents, all of whom certainly deserve to be recognized for the countless sacrifices they make, often on a daily basis.

There is even a seemingly endless list of far more obscure dates that some like to recognize. Things like National Eat Pie Day, or National Trivia Day. This list is both fascinating in its length and content. National Nothing Day comes on January 16. How, exactly, does one celebrate that, I wonder?

Last but certainly not least come the days that I personally would like to forget, yet that I continue to mark each and every year. Today is one of those days. My mother died on February 21, 1989. For 22 years now I've been watching that day come and go, often marked by tears and sadness, or at the very least, a general malaise. Today will be no different than those that have come before. But there's more to the story of my mother's death than just this date. Because I have two other important dates on either side of it.

Mark and I met on July 31, 1987. It was the last night of the Ohio County 4H Fair in Rising Sun, IN. My sister lived there in those days in a fairly small trailer park that abuts the fairgrounds. My mother and I were visiting her during our summer break. There was a girl my age who also lived in the trailer park and who babysat my sister's children. My sister naturally figured we would get along, and we did. Allison suggested we walk over to the fairgrounds that evening and take a look at the animals as they were loaded up. There was quite a large crowd milling around. At some point as we walked along, I heard a male voice say, "Hey, Allison." I glanced around as she laughed and said, "that was Mark." Not having ever met Mark, I had no idea what he looked like and so had no way to pick him out of the crowd. I shrugged it off.

Later that evening we were sitting on a small bench in front of Allison's trailer. The fair had wound down. We were just talking, as teenage girls do. Then a motorcycle came by carrying two guys. Honestly, I can't remember what the one on the back looked like. I was busy looking at the cutie who was driving. He came to a stop and said hi to us. I don't remember what words were spoken in those first few moments, just that he said he had to take his friend to his truck and that he'd come back after he did. (Mark later told me all about this night from his point of view. He saw me when we passed in the crowd and immediately wondered who I was. Later, as he was taking his friend Jeff to his truck after the fair, he spotted me sitting out there with Allison and stopped. But he was worried about Jeff being interested in me, so he wanted to get him out of there as quick as he could. Isn't that just precious?)

He did come back and we chatted that night. It was obvious to Allison, I suppose, that sparks were flying between Mark and me. So she made a special mention of the fact that I would be going to church with her in the morning. I don't know how long we talked, but he eventually left and I went across the road to my sister's trailer and went to bed. The next morning as Sunday school was winding up, we heard Mark's motorcycle pull into the lot. There is a long, drawn out story behind Mark and his parents and family and this particular church. Suffice it to say that he had not been there in quite some time. But he showed up that morning.

After church we made a date to meet so he could take me for a ride on his bike. This is us, probably on that date.
He was chewing on a straw. I don't know why. Anyway, we went for a ride and came back to my sister's place, then sat out there and talked into the wee hours of the night. I walked into my sister's trailer after he finally left to find my mother waiting up for me. I looked at her and said, "he's the one." Her reply was, "I know," and that was the absolute last time we ever talked about it. Which brings us to the first anniversary of my special cluster.

Mark made his first trip down to Mississippi to see us near the beginning of January of 1988. (I say "us" because he loved my mom as much as he loved me.) Some time after that, I don't remember exactly when, I accidentally over heard him on the phone with my mom talking to her about getting me a ring. (This remained my secret for YEARS, as I was careful to hang up the extension I'd picked up and to never say a word to anyone about what I'd heard. LOL) He gave me that ring on February 20, 1988. This means, of course, that on the date of the first anniversary of our engagement we were sitting in a hospital while my mother was dying.

We talked about it then. How neither of us ever imagined we'd be spending our anniversary like that. I always found it rather remarkable that the timing worked out like it did. I'd like to say that I found a way to take the joy of the 20th and carry it over to the 21st, but I didn't. In fact, I can't actually remember what I did on the first couple of anniversaries after my mother's death. I wasn't catatonic, but I was as close to it as anyone can be while still conscious and upright.

By late 1991 I was finally starting to emerge from the fog of the depression I'd sunk into. Mark, God bless him, stood by me through it all, even when I made his life a living hell. There are an assortment of reasons why we hadn't already gotten married. Partly, I suppose Mark wanted to make sure I would actually remember the ceremony. But he also had issues with our age difference. Despite having given me a ring, he was always afraid that I would "grow up" one day and decide that we didn't have enough in common. It is the only real insecurity I have ever known him to have.

For my part, I knew he had nothing to worry about. I'd known it practically from day one of our relationship. See I believed then and still do today that our meeting was no accident or quirk of fate. Some have told me I was lucky to find such a good man. My response to that is that I am not "lucky," I am saved. I don't believe in fate or luck. I believe in God. And I believe with every fiber of my being that it was His hand that guided Mark to walk past me that July night. It was God's hand that kept Allison and me out there talking so that Mark would see us when he passed by. It was God's hand that led me to attend church with Allison and that brought Mark to that church that Sunday morning in spite of the fact that he had personal reasons not to come. And it was God who knew that a short year and a half later I would desperately need Mark's strength to help me get through the single most emotionally devastating event of my life.

I wasn't looking for a husband when I met Mark. I was barely 16 at the time. (A big part of why Mark was so worried about me "growing up.") And I actually had a very casual boyfriend back home. He and I had decided that we weren't interested in any kind of serious relationship. We just had fun together and so agreed to go out until one of us found someone we did want a relationship with. Ironically, he missed me so much while I was gone visiting my sister that he called me as soon as we got home and told me he'd changed his mind, that he wanted to make our relationship exclusive. I had to tell him the truth. That I'd met someone else and that it was serious.

And Lord knows Mark wasn't looking for a girlfriend. Especially not a 16 year old girl that lived more than 400 miles away in Mississippi. He was 21, going to college at Perdue University. He wanted to be an astronaut. He certainly had the smarts for it. Just as a point of clarification, he didn't realize how young I was when we first met. By the time he figured it out, he was already attached I suppose.

God's funny that way. He likes to hook us up with people we wouldn't necessarily lean toward on our own, be it potential mates or even friends. Mark always called me a city girl. Compared to him, I guess I was. But in every way that mattered, we were alike. We shared the same values, the same belief in God. We shared the same love of family. We made each other laugh and it didn't hurt that we both found the other attractive, too. LOL

So I was engaged to Mark on February 20, 1988. I lost my mother on February 21, 1989. By February of 1992, I was at a point where I was beyond ready to be married. It was a bit of a coercion to get Mark to agree, even then. But agree he did. I decided that we would do it on the anniversary of our engagement. I figured it would be good to try to turn that date back into something joyful. This was all done kinda on the spur of the moment with almost no planning. I did buy a special dress and Mark and I bought rings, but other than that, it was pretty much a quickie kind of deal.

Indiana required prospective newlyweds to jump through quite a few hoops. Kentucky was far less particular. All we needed was proof of who we were and our ages and we could get a license. I called the courthouse and double checked. So on February 20, 1992 Mark and I and his parents headed over to the courthouse in Warsaw, KY to get married. We got our marriage license with no problems. Unfortunately the actual marriage was a bit of an issue. It turns out that the judge over there was gone for the day. There wasn't anyone to marry us. That was a Thursday. Poor Mark, in an effort to soothe my anxiety, suggested that we could just come back the next day.

I was NOT going to get married on the anniversary of my mother's death. I just couldn't. And I knew good and well that no courthouse was open on Saturday, which meant we were looking at waiting until the following week. I wasn't far enough recovered from my severe depression that this snafu didn't send me for a loop. I was angry and upset. I didn't want to wait several more days. It was a mess.

But, again, God came through. Honestly, looking back I can't remember exactly how it all happened. I just know that we found out that the judge in Carroll county was not only going to be in his office on Saturday morning, but that he would be more than happy to marry us then. So on Saturday, February 22, 1992, Mark and I and his parents went to Carrollton, KY and met up with Judge Harold "Shorty" Thomlinson. He married us that morning.
 (I don't know what I find more amusing. The blackness of Vannie's hair, or Mark's. LOL)
I really need to spend some time cleaning this picture up. But at least you can see our rings... and Mark's jeans. He really dressed up for the occasion. LOL

So this is how I came to have three anniversaries in a row. First our engagement, then mom's death, and finally our wedding. Every single year when these three days come around I inevitably wade through a roller coaster of emotions. Still, ultimately, I guess I accomplished what I set out to do. Or I should say that God accomplished what He set out to do. Because if Mark and I had gotten married on the 20th, then I would have had nothing but normal days after the 21st came around. Just regular old days for the grief to linger through. Now, while I may still grieve and mourn on the 21st of every February, the very next day I can't help but remember just how blessed I am.

I have a husband who I adore and who in turn adores me. We make each other happy. We make each other laugh. We would rather be in each others' company than with anyone else either of us knows. And if I had ever had any doubts about just how fabulous a guy my husband is (which I didn't), his faith, love, and support through my cancer diagnosis and treatment would have put them to rest.

Ultimately, I can't help but take some time out of these days to thank God for leading Mark and I to the places we both needed to be. I love my husband dearly. We are so well matched that it can be nothing BUT the hand of God Almighty that set it all in motion. So thank You, Lord, for my husband. Thank You for guiding us to each other. Thank You for blessing and protecting and encouraging us through all these years. And please, Lord, continue to do so.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Response to a Comment...

On the night of the Super Bowl, I posted about the absurdity of how the NFL rejected a commercial with a less than overt Christian message, yet offered several items of their own that openly and repeatedly referred to God: Are You Ready for Some Football (and Religion?) To my surprise, I received a comment from someone I do not know and have never heard of who took issue with my views. Here is his comment:
I trust you are not intentionally disparaging our nation's founding principles and religious heritage.

The truth is that church state separation is central to America's founding principles and faith heritage ... in reaction to the theocracies of colonial America, where "Christian" colonies persecuted and even killed citizens who refused to embrace the official state faith or obey the official religious laws.

In 1644, Baptist Roger Williams (persecuted by Massachusetts' "Christian" colonial theocrats, who considered Baptists heretical) called for a "wall of separation" between church and state. Baptists' "wall of separation" would prevent government from interfering with the free exercise of religion, and prevent government from incorporating religion into governance.

Generations of Baptists were persecuted, and shed blood, in the fight (against colonial theocracies) to separate church and state. Their triumph finally came in the enactment of the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, establishing the Baptist vision of a "wall of separation" between church and state.

Deniers of church state separation often respond that the phrase "wall of separation" is not in the U. S. Constitution. Well, neither is the word "Trinity" in the Bible, but most deniers of church state separation probably believe in the Trinity.

More importantly, Christians of the late 18th and early 19th centuries clearly understood that the First Amendment wording - "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" - separated church from state. Their testimony bears much more weight than the fabricated history loved by many modern conservative Christians and politicians.

Make no mistake: denying church state separation mocks our nation's founding principles and faith heritage. Church state separation was good for America in 1791, and it is good for America now. To see the problems of merging church and state, look to the Middle East, where conservative religious law (Sharia Law, based on the biblical Old Testament) rules.

Church state separation is a liberal, and American, moral value of which we all can be proud.

Bruce Gourley
Director
Baptist History & Heritage Society
www.baptisthistory.org
www.wallofseparation.us
 I visited his sites and decided to respond to his comment. I had to do so by email, since he provides no way for me to comment publicly on his "Wall of Separation" site. Here is what I said:

Mr. Gourley,
You recently commented on a post I made on my blog: winsomebulldog. While I appreciate your interest in my opinion, I believe you misunderstood the point I was attempting to make. I visited your “Wall of Separation” site and in your “Responding to the Lies” section you write this: “Today, many conservative Christians and politicians falsely claim that separation of church and state does not exist, and that the First Amendment was designed only to protect religious persons from government intrusion, not to prohibit government from favoring or establishing religion.” [emphasis mine] Where, precisely, did I made such a claim within my blog? In fact, I expressly stated that the purpose of the First Amendment was to prohibit the government from establishing religion. I said, "All it was ever intended to do was ensure that this nation would never establish a National Church..." I followed this up with a reference to the Church of England, which is in fact the very thing our forefathers were attempting to prevent in this country. I would also like to mention that I find it somewhat lazy of you to avoid addressing my thoughts and words directly and instead simply “cut and paste” the exact words of your website. Apart, of course, from your opening sentence in which you make a thinly veiled suggestion that I am “intentionally disparaging our nation's founding principles and religious heritage.”
I can also cut and paste large groups of words. From your website: Responding to the Lies
And here is a good followup to the argument that goes something like this: “I do believe in separation of church and state, but today the concept is applied to strictly” [Just as an FYI, the word before “strictly” here should be “too,” not “to.”]
Are you in favor of all faiths and no faith – Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, pagans, wiccans, atheists, etc. – equally being allowed to pray (or offer faith-based or non-faith based spiritual or similar commentary) in government-sponsored public settings like public schools, town council meetings, state legislators, Congress, etc.? Or do you think that such public religious roles, in government-sponsored settings, should be reserved for Christians only (or monotheists only)?
Baptists from the 17th century onward insisted that Christians, Muslims, Jews, pagans and atheists should be treated equally. And yes, they advocated for an absolute separation of church and state, as does our U.S. Constitution.
The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution does allow all individual religious persons to express their faith freely as citizens, and prohibits a religious test clause for government service (that is, a person’s faith or lack of faith has no bearing on government service). At the same time, the First Amendment prohibits government from promoting any religion or enacting religious laws.
This is not to say that America (in practice) always adequately separated church and state even in the 19th century, much less today; theocratic tendencies from our colonial era haunted us then, and still do. Religious majorities yesteryear and today, with their powerful influence and righteous certainty, too frequently want governments to enact their own faith-specific agendas.
My guess would be that many Americans today cannot fully grasp the historical context of our nation’s heritage of separation of church and state, apart from living as a person of minority faith, say, in the Middle East.
And I am quite certain that if Christianity were a small, minority sect in America today, the very voices now condemning separation of church and state would, suddenly, be demanding a strict separation of church and state.
Hmm... first of all, I would say that prayer is not “commentary,” whether it be of Christian, Muslim, or any other origin. [Another FYI, Buddhists do not actually pray to any god.] I would suggest that a prayer of protection and guidance, as would likely be submitted at any of the events you have suggested, cannot be compared to “faith-based or non-faith based spiritual or similar commentary.” Commentary is something you and I and countless others do in places like our blogs and websites.
You speak of Baptists insisting that all points of view (whether religious or atheistic) being treated equally. How, pray tell, does any of this have anything at all to do with me suggesting that a commercial with a profoundly muted Christian message was rejected simply because it had any Christian message at all? And how does any of what you’ve said address the fact that the NFL did this in spite of the fact that they allowed multiple other items with an undeniable religious message to be presented in their broadcast? These are the things I was speaking to. I was simply amazed at the blatant duality of their choices.
You may argue that the First Amendment was intended to support a strict separation of church and state all you like. You, like every other American, are certainly entitled to your opinion. I am simply unwilling to ignore the fact that faith in a single God, the Creator of everything, played a pivotal role in the foundation of this nation. The fact of the matter is, we are a nation with a majority of citizens who claim to be Christian. In the Middle East, where Islam is the dominant faith, I cannot imagine any sane person suing the government because they’re offended by hearing prayers of that faith. And I am not talking about the potential danger of doing such a thing in a place where open rejection of Islam can often be grounds for death. I am merely speaking to the fact that in any nation where the majority of citizens practices a specific religion, I would not be offended to hear them pray to whatever deity they choose to follow. I would not be offended by the sounds of Buddhist believers meditating in Korea or China. I would not be offended by the public Hindu shrines placed on public lands throughout India. These are the beliefs of those nations. I feel no need to fight them simply because I do not share them. By the same token, I cannot understand why so many, especially atheists, are so profoundly offended by prayers that they are not forced to take part in. The solution is very simple. Do not listen. Do not take part. If a nativity scene offends you, look away. If you do not believe in The Ten Commandments, don’t read or practice them.
These are exactly what I and every other Christian do when we encounter something we do not believe in. For example, as a Christian I find many of our society’s trends offensive. I am sickened by how often sex is used to sell products, but I have not sued any business because of it. I simply turn off their commercial or look away from their billboard. I am offended by the fact that the distinctly anti-Christian Theory of Evolution is taught as fact in our government-sponsored public schools, yet I have not sued anyone because of it. I find infidelity abhorrent, but I have not sued or boycotted or otherwise thrown a tantrum in an effort to convince the government to regulate the ceaseless television programs broadcast on public television stations that promote this behavior. The list could go on and on.
My point, which you clearly missed, is that our society bends over backwards to avoid stepping on the toes of those who do not share the Christian faith while making an art form out of slapping Christians in the face at every turn.
I will be addressing your comment on my blog. Please feel free to respond to this if you like. However, do so as an individual who does not share my opinion, not a person seeking to promote, and gain donations for, your website.
Sincerely,
Jennifer L.
I am open to dialogue. I have no problem debating my beliefs with anyone. But I do take issue with someone trying to use my blog to promote themselves. Mr. Gourley seeks to gain members, support, and donations on his "Baptist History & Heritage" site. He reprinted word for word his text from his other site in his comment. This is unacceptable to me. If you want to debate my views, do so personally, not by rote.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bye, Bye Chemo!

Well, I'm finished with the chemo. Been done for a few weeks now, but was waiting for the last of the side effects to fade before posting. Actually, I'd thought about doing a post that detailed my symptoms through that last chemo, but I just felt too bad to keep up with it. Suffice it to say that I am thankful that the pain is gone and along with it the odd twitching and spasms in my feet and legs. Then there was the first week or so when I couldn't taste anything, followed by the second week when I still couldn't taste anything I ate, but at the same time had a nasty taste in my mouth that nothing seemed to help. And I won't even talk about the diarrhea! The only issue I seem to have left at this point is watery eyes. Those aren't likely to clear up for several months. And I still have no eyebrows or eyelashes, though the hair on my head is slowly coming back. I really do miss having hair.

Yeah, that's my head. Mark teases that I have a receding hairline. I'm just hung up on how much gray there is. I've had a Lily Munster little patch of gray on top for a few years, but the hair on both sides of my head is almost all gray now. I guess that whole hair coming back a different color thing is true. My different color just happens to be gray.
Surprised Emoticons





( I just have to interject here that I'm sitting here watching the Gaither Gospel Hour on Inspiration, and Larnelle Harris and Ladye Love Smith are singing "I've Just Seen Jesus." I have always loved that song, though Larnelle originally did it with Sandi Patti. I sang it as a solo years ago, and it still gives me chills. It's that awesome moment when we see Jesus and our lives are changed forever. I love it! Okay, back to what I was saying.)
Happy Emoticons

Hmmm... have I mentioned that my attention span is kinda short, too? Ha. (I've got goose bumps!) I'm going to have to post that video here, just because I now can't get the song out of my head. I loved Larnelle Harris when I was a teen. And Amy Grant, and Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. I remember every afternoon when my best friend and I would get in the car to go home after school, she'd be like, "So, who's it gonna be today? Larnelle, Amy, or Brooklyn Tab?" Need I mention that we were not typical rebellious teenagers?
Free Avatars
Okay, NOW I can get back on topic. So, I have the gray hair coming in, eyes that sometimes water like crazy, and lingering fatigue that will take quite a while to overcome. All in all, I count my blessing that the side effects I've had have not been worse.

The funny thing is, Mark and I figured that the worst was over once the chemo was done. And I'm sure it is. But I have had one issue since I finished the chemo. After last week's Herceptin infusion, I developed swelling and a bruise at my port site. We saw my oncologist the next day, and he felt it was probably nothing serious. Mark was still worried, though, especially when the bruise kept getting bigger. So I saw my surgeon's partner on last Friday and after looking at it, he felt it was too early to do further testing. His theory was that my chemo nurse nicked a small blood vessel when I got my infusion. It was also possible that my port was seeping a little, but he didn't want to do further testing until we saw what the next few days brought.

The bruise is sizable, but stopped growing that day. It's now a lovely greenish-blue color. The surgeon told me to pay special attention when I got my infusion today and if anything felt off, to let them know. (As if I needed to be told that!) Anyway, I had my infusion and aside from an issue with the needle's initial placement, everything seems to have gone just fine. No swelling or new bruising so far. Thank you, Lord! I was not looking forward to possibly having to have the port replaced. I still need it for several more months, at least through October.

I'll keep getting the herceptin on a weekly basis while I'm getting radiation. That will start on February 28th. I go next Wednesday to do my practice run. They will also give me a series of small tattoos to make permanent marks for them to use to line up the machine. Not looking forward to that. They'll be very small, just little dots about the size of the head of a pin. The radiation will take about six weeks or so.

It's hard to believe the chemo is all behind me. In the beginning it seemed like it would take forever. Then again, it's hard to believe that I was diagnosed almost seven months ago. Hardly seems possible that so much time has already gone by. It just goes to show how time keeps marching on whether we notice or not.

So, the chemo is done and before I know it, the radiation will be, too. Then it'll just be the herceptin and no doubt that end will come with surprising quickness as well. My father used to tell me that time moved faster as we got older. He was right.

On a side note, one of the ladies from the Cancer Survivors' Network has just informed us that she has cancer for the third time. She was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2007. She fought it a second time, and was just recently in the hospital for what she thought was pneumonia. They found out after running tests that instead of pneumonia, the cancer has sprung up in her lungs. Her name is Barb. Please lift her up in prayer as she faces this battle once more. I know God will keep her in His care. He's taken good care of me.

Way to Go, Hickory!

Okay, perhaps you may have guessed that I am a dog lover. I'd rather not try to list every single dog I have ever owned, as there have, unfortunately, been a few that were not a part of my life for as long as they should have been. Still, I've had quite a few through the years, beginning way back at the very beginning with what may or may not have been some kind of Old English Sheepdog mix. Her name was Taffy, though I don't remember her. My dad used to tell me stories about how when I was barely able to walk, I'd take hold of her collar and use her for a kind of walker to get around. I don't actually know what happened to her. I guess I never thought to ask anyone. This is her, though:
Yes, that's also me... and my mom, and a cat (who I also don't remember) that I'm told was named Tiger. (My sister and I got into a discussion a while back about our family's lack of originality when it came to naming cats, but that's a whole other post.)
I wish I could remember Taffy, as she looks like a pretty cheerful dog. I do remember a rabbit we had, but only because it bit me once. My sister says I poked a finger into its cage and sure enough, it took a hunk outta me. Stupid rabbit!






Sometime after Taffy, my dad brought me home a new puppy. I was still very young, though I can clearly remember that moment. Mostly because my new puppy was so little that my dad could hold her cupped in his hands. I don't remember who named her, but her name was Misty. Here she is, patiently having the life hugged out of her:
I don't know how old she is here, but she looks close to full grown. (I still have both the stuffed bunny rabbit I'm hugging and the quilt you can just see peeking out from beneath the bedspread. I sincerely wish I still had Misty.)
Misty was a Cock-a-poo. Back in those days, that meant she was a mutt. Today she'd have been considered a "Designer Dog" and her breeder would have wanted an absurd sum of money for her. We got her for free. We had a fenced back yard, but a neighbor dog jumped it when she was in head and so... we added another dog to the family. (Not sure what happened to all the other pups. Given away, I'm sure. I think I begged to keep one, though.) His name was Toto. (I LOVED the Wizard of Oz.) He's the larger gray one. And that's Misty on my other side. So you can see just how old she was. Easily ten or eleven at the time this picture was taken. They'd both just had a clipping for summer. Without it their hair would get long enough to develop mats.
We lost Toto not long after this shot was taken. He had cancer. I lost Misty after my mother died. My father took her to Memphis and put her in a back yard that hadn't had a dog in it in decades, if it ever had. She escaped and was never seen again. It still breaks my heart. She didn't deserve to be lost like that.

So, after my mother's death, I moved up north to be with my then fiance, Mark. He had a dog of his own, Joshua Isaiah. (This is also the name we always intended to give any son we might have. And yes, we've often laughed about explaining THAT to our imagined child.)

 Josh was a Black and Tan Coonhound. This is him on a walk in the woods with us. He was a big baby, and loved being cuddled. He was also full-blooded and registered. Someone once offered Mark an obscene amount of money for him because he was such an excellent hunter and example of the breed. The fact that my dear hubby flat-out refused to part with his dog for any amount of money is just one of the many, many reasons that I love him. We lost Josh to cancer.
The first dog that Mark and I owned together was Feeper. Yeah, I know it's a senseless name. Neither one of us can remember why we named her that, now. She was a Shih-a-poo. (Shih tzu and poodle) She was the cutest thing in the world.

She was hit by a van on the road in front of Mark's parents' house. The driver didn't even slow down.











Mark and I eventually rented a house of our own and while we still had Josh, we acquired another dog purely by virtue of being the only ones around who cared enough to take care of him. We called him Fred.

Fred's origin and breeding were a mystery, though he obviously had some kind of spaniel in him. He was absolutely precious. Very skittish in the beginning, but incredibly loving once he figured out we meant him no harm. We literally lost Fred when we moved to our current home. I was working at the time and Mark moved the dogs all at once, then went back for more furniture. By the time he got back here, Fred was nowhere to be found. We searched everywhere for him for weeks afterwards, but we never found him.


Around this same time we had a collection of other dogs. First came Kelly:
She was some kind of shepherd type dog. She was stolen while I was in the hospital. We lived in town, next to a bar. All kinds of crazy things happened. Before she was taken, she had a litter of puppies and while we gave some of them away, the 2 we had intended to keep were also stolen.





In the end, we were left with only one of her puppies. I named him Wiggles (which Mark still derides to this day) because he had this crazy way of wiggling his entire body when he was excited. He favored his mother quite a bit, though with more of a hound face.
We had Wiggles until his death of natural causes. I have pictures of him with Katie when she was just a baby. He was a sweet boy, if a bit buffaloed by the cats. I've got pictures of that, too, though I wish I'd owned a video camera back in those days. One of our cats would march right up to him and swat him on the nose, meow, then patiently stand there as he bathed her. It was beyond comical.







Also during this time Mark got me a pure-bred Siberian Husky that I named Josey. Specifically, his registered name was Outlaw Josey Wales. This is one of Mark's favorite movies.
Josey was beautiful. He had gorgeous blue eyes. I loved him dearly. Unfortunately, I owned him at a time when I was too young and naive to understand what I was getting into. It didn't help that I was still struggling with severe depression when he was a puppy, either. I had no idea how to handle a dog like him. Specifically, I gave no thought to how much exercise a dog like a Husky would need. Or how crazy he'd go with nothing to do. He turned aggressive towards our other animals. He almost killed a goat we kept as a pet. No chain would hold him long, because he was incredibly strong. Another part of his breeding. He would snarl and snap at anyone who got near him when he was eating. Anyone but me. I didn't feel like I could give him away because I was afraid he'd hurt someone. And when he nearly killed our goat after breaking his chain, I just didn't know what else to do. So I had him put to sleep. I held him in my arms as he died, then buried him myself. To this day, I still mourn his loss. Mostly, I hate that I failed him so terribly. If I had him now, I'd know what to do, how to work with him and train him. I just didn't know what to do then, and I hate myself for letting him down. None of it was his fault, it was mine.


We also had a female Pit-Bull mix that we got from a shelter. Her name was Cricket.
I know the reputation that Pit Bulls have. But Cricket was the sweetest dog I have ever known. I don't know what her life was like before she came to us, but she was always so gentle and sweet here. I went into the shelter looking for a small dog and came out with her because she was the next one scheduled to die. One look into her sweet eyes and I just couldn't let that happen to her.






And then there was Angus.
Angus Tango was a full-blooded, registered Chow Chow that was given to us by one of my husband's co-workers. He was, without a doubt, the absolute best guard dog I have ever had. He was a giant ball of fluff, and nothing but a big teddy bear with us, but strangers were another story entirely. Mark worked nights back in those days and he knew he could trust Angus to keep me safe while he was gone. Angus died on Easter morning many years ago, but I still miss him terribly. I know many people are afraid of Chows, but I'd own another one in a heartbeat. In fact, I do have a Chow mix named Malcolm.
This is Malcolm and his sister, Beulah. They were quite young in this shot. Beulah died several years ago, possibly from some kind of congenital issue. Malcolm is an old man now, but he's still my big boy. He took over where Angus left off. Malcolm doesn't care much for strangers, though he's less aggressive about it than Angus was. He'll still let you know that he's here and watching. Sadly, Mark and I both know that he probably won't be with us much longer. He began his life as an outdoor dog but has lived inside for the past few years. These days he sleeps more than he's awake. He still makes his rounds, but he'd rather be in here snoring on the couch than outside chasing squirrels or possums.

And this brings us to Katie, the one for which this site was named. Hubby had always wanted an English Bulldog (technically it's just Bulldog, but people need the "English" part to know for sure what you're talking about.) He'd had an acquaintance who'd owned one when he was younger. So, in 2001 we brought Katie home. Her registered name is Katie-Bar-the-Door because we used to laugh at the way she'd careen around the house. We always said, "Here comes trouble!" when she'd come barreling into the room. As much as she loved to play, she was always a good girl, never chewing on things she shouldn't. Of course, she had plenty of toys to play with, so that helped.
Katie and her ball, caught in mid-leap. It's hard to believe she was ever that small! You can see her at the top of the page as well as in the collage at the bottom.






This is my most recent shot of her. She's starting to show her age with lots of gray in her face.
She's our baby girl, and we have no idea how we're going to deal with losing her. She's still as funny as ever, and occasionally gets frisky and likes to play. But she's slowing down as she nears her tenth birthday. She is, without a doubt, the smartest dog Mark and I have ever known. Smarter than Mark's Border Collie that he had as a kid. I joke all the time that if she had opposable thumbs, she'd be ruling the world.




And last of all, there is Briscoe. He's the other half of our Bullie pair. We brought him home partially with the intention of breeding him and Katie - which never happened - and also because we just wanted another Bulldog.
I'm thinking that we should have taken one look at this and known that he wasn't going to be the brightest bulb in the box.

Mark calls Briscoe a meathead. He's not particularly smart. He's almost six years old now and he's just recently figured out that he gets a treat when he goes outside to potty. By this, I mean that from the time he was a baby, we have rewarded him for going outside and doing his business. It's part of the training process. He goes out to potty and he gets a dog biscuit when he comes back inside. Katie long ago started trying to fake us into giving her extra treats. She'll bark within half an hour of having been out. She'll head toward the door and even go outside and pretend to potty. That's right, she'll PRETEND to go to the bathroom, all in an effort to get another biscuit. I do not fall for this. Mark seems to think she has a bladder the size of a pea, because he often does. Or he did. He's starting to catch on to her as well... Wait, how many years did it take him to figure out what she was doing? LOL

Anyway, Briscoe has just recently started doing the same thing. He'll head to the door and just stand there. If no one follows him, he'll bark. And he'll try to do this over and over again. You have to understand that I've never seen any dog with bladder control like his. He prefers to be sleeping on the couch. He likes the couch because he can rest his giant head on the arm. When Malcolm and Katie are practically hopping to get out the door, Briscoe has to be forced to wake up and go out. He is a true couch potato. The only time he gets in a hurry is if we tell him we're going to go "travel." He knows that word. Katie knows too many to count. But Briscoe just knows travel, probably because he absolutely loves to go for rides in the car.
He's not very bright, but he is an absolute love bug. He'd rather cuddle than anything else. He's loving to a fault, considering how many times I've found myself slathered with his drool because he wanted to snuggle.

He doesn't sleep upside down with his head hanging off the couch anymore. Probably because his head is so heavy that it would just pull him over the edge. He is the quintessential Bulldog, complete with snoring, drool, and gas that will bring tears to your eyes. He's bull headed (pun intended) and goofy beyond words. Katie has, from day one, looked at him with a mixture of contempt and disgust. She thinks he's a pure idiot, and treats him accordingly. The shots I have of them snuggled together always depict Katie with an expression that seems to say, "Please make him go away!" Briscoe has never figured out how she feels about him. He still makes the effort to impress her with his grace and charm. Bless his dense little heart.

I guess I just wanted everyone to know that I love dogs. There have been others besides the ones listed here, some mine, some belonging to others. My great aunt had a dog named Dixie that I loved almost as much as Misty. Another aunt had a poodle named Winkie. And there was my grandmother's toy poodle, Candy, who hated all children, including me, but who came to me willingly once I grew up a bit. And then there was my best friend's German Shepherd, Bear, who loved to play football. Our high school football team (coincidentally, the Bears) was pretty pathetic. We used to joke that they needed Bear to play for them so they might actually win a few games. She was awesome.

There have been plenty of other pets besides dogs, too. But tonight I'm just talking about them because tonight was the 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. I watch it every year, though sometimes all I catch is the final judging for Best in Show. This year I saw most of the show, including the Non-Sporting group that was judged last night. The Bulldog got beat out by the Chinese Shar Pei, which was okay. Usually it's the blasted Poodles that take that title. Anyway, tonight was the final judging, when they take the best of each group and pick the dog that's the best example of it's breed. Tonight, for the first time ever, the title was taken by a Scottish Deerhound. Her name is Foscliffe's Hickory Wind, Hickory for short. It's her final show. She will retire after tonight. So to take the top honor was especially significant for her and her owners and handler. In case you don't know what a Scottish Deerhound looks like, here's a shot of Hickory taken after her win tonight.
The girl in the middle is her handler. The men on either side are judges and other various officials. While not the largest dog breed in the world, Hickory is clearly no petite pup! Kudos to this beautiful girl and her handler.

I've had a lot of dogs in my life, and I've made a lot of mistakes with some of them. It's a true shame that so may people view dogs as just something else to own, something to stick out in the yard on a chain and give a pat to every once in a while. Dogs are pack animals. They NEED companionship. They need to be a part of a family. Dogs exist, not because they are born randomly, but because WE breed them, or let them be bred. They are not wolves, capable of surviving whatever nature throws their way. The vast majority of domesticated dog breeds have been created by us. God didn't send two Bulldogs, and two Pugs, and two Collies, and two German Shepherds, and two Chihuahua's, and two Scottish Deerhounds, (the list could go on for quite a while) to Noah to put on the ark. He sent two dogs. Maybe even just two wolves. We are the ones who decided that what God had created wasn't good enough. We are the ones that mixed breeds and manipulated genes until we wound up with dogs, like my beloved Bulldogs, that are so far away from their wolf ancestors that they couldn't even survive living outside year round. They require air conditioning in the summer due to their short noses. And they aren't built to tolerate cold, either.

We created the variety of dog breeds that now exist and we're still trying to come up with new ones. Ever heard of a Labradoodle? Eskapoo? How about a Goldmation? If you're interested, there's an extensive list of hybrid dogs you can glance at: List of Hybrid Dogs. (Be warned, it's ridiculously long.) Currently, these dogs are not considered individual breeds. It takes a long while to get enough hybrid offspring to begin being able to breed them to each other, and then another long while to get that new breed recognized by mainstream groups like Westminster or the AKC. By "long while" I mean decades. And there are other issues when it comes to creating a new breed, namely the problem of getting consistent offspring. Still, the fact is that humans have created the different breeds of dogs we have today. All because we wanted dogs that were better hunters, or better herders, or better companions, or any of a hundred other things. Bulldogs were created for the horrific sport of bull baiting. Since that was thankfully outlawed, they've been bred to be smaller and less aggressive so that they are now purely companion dogs.

Ultimately, I guess I wish people would be responsible enough to not own a dog if they aren't going to treat it like a part of their family. Almost 11,000 dogs are euthanized every single day in America. This is beyond shameful. And that doesn't even begin to consider the countless others who are kept in unhealthy, deplorable conditions by owners who think that they're doing all they need to if they toss a few scraps out the door every once in a while. Dogs require just as much care and attention as human children. They need to see a vet on a regular basis. They require protection from the elements, including flea and tick preventatives that actually work, as well as tablets to prevent heartworm infestation. And this is merely the most basic things they need. Even these basics are not cheap. Beyond these mere necessities, as well as quality food and a constant source of fresh, clean water, dogs need companionship and often, structured play and at least a minimum of training. It's a shame that we live in a society that treats dogs (and most other animals) like garbage that can be kept or thrown away at our leisure.

I am still ashamed by how terribly I failed Josey. I'd give almost anything to have a chance to do it over again. He deserved so much better than to be mishandled like he was. Hind sight is always 20/20, but even knowing that, I cannot believe I was so foolish. He was a good dog. He just had a bad owner. The lessons I learned from him haunt me to this day. I wish other dog owners could feel my shame. Maybe they'd learn to do justice to their dogs as well. After all, our dogs want very little from us. Love. Comfort. Shelter. Food. Security. And in return they love us unconditionally. Even when we don't deserve it.

Isn't it funny how we call them stupid animals when they seem to do so well what Jesus asked us to do?



Monday, February 7, 2011

Are You Ready for Some Football (and Religion?)

Have I mentioned that I'm a football fan? You can probably thank my father for it. I can remember watching Sunday football games when I was really young. Mom never liked it, but I always did, I guess. Daddy was a Dallas Cowboys fan, but that's not surprising since it was the 70's, back when the Cowboys were "America's Team." We lived in the Mid-South, so we had no pro-football teams of our own back then. Personally, I've never much cared for Dallas. I don't like Jerry Jones. Anyway, I do love football. I'm sitting here watching the Super Bowl as I type this. At the moment, Green Bay is up by 2 TD's. I sure hope this doesn't turn into a blow out. That makes for such a boring game. Plus, I don't want to see the Steelers go down like that. My team, since Tennessee FINALLY has its own team now, is the Tennessee Titans. Sadly, they aren't very good. But I'm not so picky that I can't root for other teams. I happen to like Green Bay and Pittsburgh, so I'm not really cheering specifically for either team tonight.

Football is pretty much the only pro sport I follow. I don't care for basketball, and gave up on baseball when they went on strike a few years back. (I'm sincerely hoping the NFL league and players can get their rears in gear and settle their differences before we get a strike this year.) Football is pure entertainment to me. I don't care who's playing, I'll watch the game. [Big Ben just ran for a first down. Woohoo!] 
The Super Bowl is a special game, of course, not just because it determines who goes home with the ultimate title and trophy for the year, but because it is the only time in the entire year when the commercials are actually kinda worth watching. There have been some true classics to debut through the years. Most recently, I guess the Etrade babies are probably the most popular. Mark and I still crack up at these commercials. Though I don't actually drink beer, I have to admit that they do produce some of the funniest commercials. (Though some of the ones I've seen so far tonight were more stupid than funny.) I was one of those stereotypical little girls who loved horses, so I always liked the Budweiser commercials that feature the Clydesdales. (The ones where they were playing football always cracked me up.) So far tonight, there have been a couple that have made me laugh out loud and a couple that have made me cringe. The second Doritos commercial tonight was just uncomfortable for me. (Guy loves Doritos so much that he licks the cheese off his friend's fingers... gross!) The one commercial most of us WON'T see tonight, is one produced by a group called Fixed Point Foundation. [Just saw the funniest Volkswagen commercial. Little kid dressed as Darth Vader. LOL] They have created a project called "LookUp 3:16." They created a commercial and pitched it to Fox for the Super Bowl but it was rejected because it was considered to contain an "overtly religious message." Here is what they say about the project on their facebook page:
If you had thirty seconds to tell the world one thing, what would it be? Would it be funny? Would it be about politics? If it were worth it, would you pay to be heard?

What if you used that opportunity to do something great? To share the message of hope.

We believe that Super Bowl XLV is an opportunity to encourage football fans to look up John 3:16. After all, John 3:16 is part of the football culture. It’s on signs, t-shirts, and even eye black. And yet, many fans don’t know what it means. They have yet to be touched by the hope it offers; the immediate relevance it has to their lives. Therein is your chance to say something meaningful.

We will be airing a commercial throughout Alabama during this year’s Super Bowl on February 6th, 2011. This commercial won’t sell anything, advance a political cause, or promote some organization. It will encourage people to look up John 3:16 and consider its profound message of hope.
Here is that commercial:
It's a shame that we live in a society where political correctness has so pervaded our day to day lives that the mere suggestion that those who don't know what John 3:16 means ought to look it up is considered "overtly religious." I watched a few minutes of the pre-game show. In it, Fox played a segment that has become something of a tradition for them in the years since 9/11. In it they have an assortment of players read the Declaration of Independence. It is quite powerful. Especially these parts:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (This gives me chills every single time I read or hear it.)

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions...

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
It should be noted that they left out a large portion of the middle of the Declaration that listed the varied and many ways in which the King of Britain had abused the Colonies. That's understandable, I suppose, considering just how long that list is. Of course, following this video came the also traditional singing of America the Beautiful.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
And then there was the National Anthem. I don't know how many out there know that the Star Spangled Banner actually has four verses. This is the final one:
O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
So, I have to ask, how is any of this less "overtly religious" than a commercial that merely recommends that those who don't know what something means should look it up to find out? That final verse of our National Anthem says it all. We are a land that owes our existence and freedom to God. As such, we ought to give Him the Praise for that. And our motto should be and is, "In God we Trust." And so long as it remains so, the stars and stripes will triumphantly fly over our land.

Trouble is, we don't give God the praise for all He's done for us. We have turned our backs on Him. We have made it unpopular to declare our trust and faith in a Creator. We have allowed a few to wholeheartedly reject the very principles upon which this nation was founded. Like it or not, a belief in a Supreme Creator played a major, pivotal role in every facet of the birth of this country. Separation of Church and State has nothing at all to do with whether or not the 10 Commandments can or cannot be displayed on the grounds of a courthouse or whether a cross can be used as a marker for a national memorial. All it was ever intended to do was ensure that this nation would never establish a National Church like the Church of England, which is still in existence today in England. (Just as an FYI, the Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England. Its supreme governor is the Queen.) Amazingly, I have NEVER once seen anyone supporting the establishment of ANY church which would be headed by our President. Yet this is exactly what many seem to argue against. As if having "In God We Trust" on our money somehow means we have a national religion. It is very sad to see how many let the rhetoric of a few sway their own beliefs. They aren't interested in learning the truth, they just believe what they read or hear and run with it. This is the ultimate failing of the American people. We have lost our interest in reality and just follow along behind those we idolize. People boycott what their favorite star tells them to. They vote for whoever does a better job of posting tweets on Twitter. We're getting less and less involved in the actual governing of our nation because it's just easier to pick someone we like and believe everything they tell us.

I often wonder what our Founding Fathers would think if they could see what we've become. Would they have changed the wording in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution? Would they have been more explicit in defining exactly what they meant by the right to bear arms and freedom of religion? Or would they be so disgusted and discouraged by us that they would give up on establishing a new, free nation at all?

I love football. I'll miss it through its off season. To me, football is America's game. In tonight's Super Bowl, while the National Anthem was being sung, they showed some of our military members standing at attention. They showed one of the players who had tears streaming down his face while his hand covered his heart. I've seen more than one NFL player kneel to pray on the sideline at the start of the game or as another player lay injured on the field. They sing God Bless America before every game. And as broadcasters go, Fox is certainly considered to be the most conservative station on the air. Yet even with all this, we still shy away from any suggestion that we might support the belief in God. I find that terribly sad. I am proud to be an American. With all our problems, I still believe we are the greatest nation in the world. I truly support the principles upon which our nation was founded. I just wish the majority of the rest of my fellow Americans did as well.