Team Brian

Our Clan: Front Row: L-R--Debbie, Brian, Mandy, Dallas. Back Row: Jason, Dee, LuAn, Josh

Our Clan: Front Row: L-R–Debbie, Brian, Mandy, Dallas. Back Row: Jason, Dee, LuAn, Josh

Meet Team Brian!

This photo was taken last fall before Brian’s cancer surgery. He thought the disease was over and gone, and he had even been cleared to return to work. Well, guess what happened? Some of those nasty little cancer microbes hid from the treatments and returned with a vengeance. He is now back to Stage 4 Terminal again. The doctor told him he wasn’t giving up on him. Neither are we!

Brian begins his treatments again this week. He is not going to be able to return to work, and he has another big battle on his hands.

Please support him with your prayers. There is also another way to help, and I am posting the link here:

Help Brian Through Cancer

Our daughter Debbie set up a GoFundMe Project to help her brother. Anything you can do will be sincerely appreciated.

Meanwhile, keep Brian and LuAn in your thoughts and prayers.

Thank you


Praying For Our Son

Brian, Howard, Barbara Beall, taken July 2014

Brian, Howard, Barbara Beall, taken July 2014

We just learned that Brian’s cancer has returned with a vengeance and are asking for prayers for him. He underwent surgery for esophageal/stomach cancer last October. They were able to get all the cancer they could see. Then he underwent chemotherapy treatments for five months (January-May). That worked as well. They found some cancer cells that were trying to come back and the chemo destroyed them. All looked good.  And now it is back again and he is back at Stage 4 Terminal (where he was last summer).

This is a particularly aggressive cancer–but God is more powerful than the disease. Howard and I believe that God has a special plan for Brian. This is a part of the plan, and I believe this disease can be defeated. Therefore, we are asking for prayers.

He was in the hospital all last week–something we didn’t know about. (Our kids have a habit of keeping things secret from us.) Then he needed a ride home on Friday. He had a mass in his kidney–something related to scar tissue from his surgery. They also had to drain off two pounds of liquid from his lung–and they found cancer cells in that.  He was really glad to see me when I opened the door to his room.

So now he is back on the prayer list. He said he as going to need tons of prayers.

Howard’s treatments for prostate cancer proved fruitful this spring. He underwent radiation treatments; the cancer is gone. He just lost a good friend to the dreadful disease this week, but his friend was diagnosed five years ago and did nothing about it. He was a dentist! (What is the old saying that doctors and dentists make the worst patients?) He did nothing about it for five years until he couldn’t walk. Howard met him at the cancer center. Two of a kind, they bonded immediately and their friendship remained strong until the friend passed the other evening. Now, we aren’t prepared to lose our son!

There is a cancer gene in the family–something that was determined when our daughter had breast cancer several years ago. She had a double mastectomy and is on anti-cancer drugs and is doing great.  And now the horrible disease is plaguing our son.

Please keep him in your prayers. We thank you!



An Unexpected Blessing

book_under_productionBack in September, I was busy making my doctor appointments for my annual visit. I had scheduled my doctor’s visit around October 7 or 8. And I thought–wouldn’t it be great if I could get my eye visit the same day. So I asked about it. No, they told me. They had no appointment available at that time. The earliest appointment I could get was 8:40 A.M., November 28th!

The day after Thanksgiving!

I wasn’t too happy about having an eye appointment the day after Thanksgiving. After all, Howard and I planned to go to the Cracker Barrel and have a feast on the holiday, etc.  It would be nice to spend Friday at home. Plus, Howard had some errands planned for Friday.  However, after learning the next available eye appointment was late January or early February, I went ahead and took the 28th. I wanted to get it out of the way because it had been four years since my last exam.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving.

Howard became ill that day. He actually became ill the day before when his stomach started hurting. By yesterday, the pain settled on his lower left side. We cancelled our plans for the Cracker Barrel, and I fixed a dish here at home. In short, we didn’t go anywhere. And by evening, he was still in pain.

When he woke up with the pain yesterday morning, he decided to do something about it. After all, I had an eye appointment at Kaiser. He would try to schedule an appointment for himself with his own doctor. And he was able to secure that appointment. By 8:15, we were on our way up the road to Kaiser.

My eye appointment took about an hour. Yes, my eyes had changed a bit and no, they hadn’t changed too greatly. I have cataracts on both eyes, but they haven’t reached the point as yet where they require surgery. They dilated my pupils, so I was seeing double for a while. I left the eye department and headed up to the 4th floor where the primary physicians are located. I sat down in the waiting area and waited.

Presently, I heard the door open and saw Howard. He had been diagnosed with diverticulosis. The doctor prescribed medications for him, so we had to stop at the pharmacy before leaving the building. Then we had to stop at the store because Howard needs to follow a liquid diet until he feels better. Of course, I spotted a poinsettia at the store and returned home with it. Fast forward to later yesterday afternoon.

Howard definitely felt better last evening. I honestly believe that had I not had that eye appointment yesterday morning, he would have put off the doctor and that would have resulted in surgery or worse. I firmly believe the hand of God was involved back in September when I scheduled that eye appointment.

All things happen for a reason.  And that reason is apparent here!

A Happy Thanksgiving


I will admit that I have been slacking! I haven’t posted a thing since October! Now, it is time for me to crawl out of my hole and “get with the program” again. At least the yard is finally raked ahead of the snow advancing upon us. The solar lights now adorn the blue spruce in our front yard. I braved the icy wind untangling them and draping them over the branches, and then I ended up wishing I had purchased more this year. Will see how well these work on the tree and will think about purchasing more next summer. Our house is decorated for Christmas a week before Thanksgiving. To me, that is an accomplishment.

This has been an eventful year. At the beginning of 2014, I was working on my book–Chasing the “Wild Bunch”–One Woman’s Journey. By that time, I was busy on Section Two while making some wonderful discoveries. Then came some unexpected events. Our grandson Jason graduated from high school in May, and we traveled to Littleton to attend the ceremony. Our son Brian also attended. We didn’t realize how sick he was at the time. Neither did he. In June, he was diagnosed with cancer. The tumor was at the base of his esophagus and at the top of his stomach. One surgeon believed the surgery was impossible and felt his condition was terminal. Another suggested surgery was worth the try. The surgery was scheduled October 22. That put me into forward motion on my book. I realized I needed to finish it. By late August, it was off my plate and on its way to the publisher.

I cannot begin to estimate how many people prayed for Brian and encouraged him. His sister Debbie (who conquered breast cancer a year and a half ago) was one of his big cheerleaders. She and members of her family created Team Brian T-Shirts. They will no doubt be wearing those shirts while running and walking in cancer races next fall. Several churches (ours and Brian and LuAn’s, and all prayer warriors in both churches and in other churches as well) were all praying for him. A host of friends and relatives were praying. Howard even received a telephone call from a lady in Illinois who was a friend of a friend of his from Memphis, Missouri where Howard graduated from high school in 1956! She prayed for Brian over the phone! People who didn’t know him prayed for him. And on October 22, Brian had his six-hour surgery at University Hospital in Denver. The result? Surgeons removed all of the cancer they and their equipment were able to see. He does have to go in for chemotherapy after Thanksgiving. They want to make certain they get rid of all the little microscopic cells that could turn into cancer. I don’t know how long his chemotherapy will last, but it will be stronger than what he received prior to his surgery. When Brian learned that the surgeons successfully removed all the visible cancer, he got down on his knees and thanked God.

Now Howard begins his own cancer treatments–something he has been putting off until after Brian’s surgery. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago and was scheduled to go in for treatment. That’s when they discovered his irregular heart beat, and he had to go into the hospital for an ablation. The doctors do not think the cancer has advanced since then, and they also believe they can treat it with radiation. All of that fun and excitement begins December 11. After that, he will undergo 40 radiation treatments stretched out over five days per week. That will probably begin the end of December or the first of January.

As for me–well, I finished my book and decorated the house for Christmas. I did have an interesting experience. My Toshiba computer expired last week! Now, had I still been working on my book and had I not backed everything up, I would have lost all of that. My book is saved on disks along with a large part of the research. I may have lost some things when the computer crashed–but nothing really important. At most, I had earlier drafts of the books on my hard drive. I was also so relieved that my 50th Anniversary picture collection had been saved on other devices. Howard and I celebrated our 50th Anniversary last April. I went through all of my old picture albums and disks and gathered all those pictures into one huge picture file. Had I not saved that file, I would have lost all those pictures. Another blessing? I got a new computer–this one a Dell–in one of those pre-Black Friday sales from Amazon. They shipped it immediately. I’m still becoming acquainted with it and all of its bells and whistles. But last night, I had that picture file fully uploaded on my new computer. I also have my family tree in Ancestry’s newer sync version of FTM. Was using the old 2009 on my Toshiba.

Yes, this has been an eventful year. We look forward to this Thanksgiving feeling blessed. May all of you feel blessed as well!

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving

Son Has Cancer Surgery This Week


My writing is on hold this week, and I will return to the Spence articles after my son’s cancer surgery is successfully completed. This old throwback picture of him was taken in 1971, so he was almost three years old at the time. He goes in for his surgery Wednesday. I will get back into the writing mode after the surgery is successfully completed and after he is on the mend.

He’s really been upbeat and has built himself up well for the procedure. Now that his esophagus has healed from all the radiation and chemo, he’s able to eat a lot more things that he couldn’t eat before. It could be a seven-hour operation and he could be in the hospital for 10 to 14 days. Another thing that has given him an emotional high is the fact that his beloved Kansas City Royals are in the World Series.

Brian and the Royals “shall prevail!”

A Touch of Spring


As a general rule, my front window sill is blanketed with flowers. From September until April or May, two Christmas cactus plants peer through the front glass. They spend the warmer months in the basement where it is cooler. I used to keep them out in the back yard during the summer months, until a cat fight spread one of them across the grass. Since then, they spend the summer in the “Underground.” One of them–the large one–belonged to my mother. Howard gave me the smaller one when it was tiny several years ago. He rescued it from the local super market for $1.00. The flower clerk actually sold him two plants.

“I don’t know whether these two will make it,” she told him. “They need a lot of TLC.”

He brought them home. One–and I forget the name of it–died. The Christmas cactus survived, however. It gets bigger each year.

And my window would not be complete each year without a poinsettia. The current resident–purchased in Walmart’s December 1–is still quite beautiful and happy. The plant will stay in the window until the Easter lily arrives. Then I will move the poinsettia to a different location.


Yesterday after church, we struggled through the ice and snow to head over to Home Depot. Howard is doing a minor plumbing job in our kitchen, and he needed to have a small pipe cut. I elected to go to the King Soopers store next door in search of a couple of items. A table of plants greeted me as I entered the store, and I was instantly drawn to a table of hyacinth plants for sale at $4.99. The table had been covered with them. I stood there looking at the remaining four or five. These little plants consisted of one bulb inside a glass container filled with water. The bulbs each had an amazing root growth, and all of them had the beginning of a hyacinth growing from the top of the bulb. Two of them had great starts in the flowering phase. I chose one of those.


The instructions for keeping my new friend? I had to make sure the water level was 3/4 full. I had to keep it in a cool room. And the room needed a lot of light. So finding the right location in my house was a challenge at first. The plant didn’t like the “underground”–too dark. And it didn’t like the “Gold Room.” Too cold. Besides–I couldn’t see it in those locations.


The hyacinth finally ended up in my front window with the two Christmas cactus plants, a tiny version of the larger plant I am trying to root, and the poinsettia plant. After all–it is 1 degree above zero outside this morning, and it was below zero last night–so the “cool” requirement was certainly met in that window.


When I awakened this morning, the hyacinth said “Good morning.” The leaves are beginning to open, and the flowers are beginning to form! The plant really loves the window!

Can hardly wait for it to bloom!

Story Behind the Doll House


People have started asking me about this huge occupant of my living room. After all, you can’t miss it. It takes up a lot of room! Little girls head straight for the house to peer inside the rooms and look at all the activities outside. This particular photo was taken last Easter. My Easter display won’t look exactly like this in 2014, but you can bet the house will be decorated!

In November or December 2005, Howard found this partially completed structure in our local Habitat for Humanity Store. He heard me say for years that I wanted to do a dollhouse in my retirement years. Well, I wasn’t retired in 2005 and had three and a half years to go. Howard decided making such a find again would be impossible, so he bought it.

“Now, this box goes with it,” the clerk told him, referring to a cardboard box labeled “Dollhouse Junk.” [Not a nice way to label a box if you truly loved the dollhouse!]

Two women came into the shop with big purses. Howard was looking up an aisle, but he could overhear the conversation at the front of the store. He has extremely keen hearing.

“This has been sold!” the clerk advised them.

The women began shuffling through the box.

“And that goes with the house, so please stay out of it!”

A little later–

“I told you, this has been sold. So please don’t touch that box!”

Howard decided to move the box to the car and lock it up in there. Otherwise, it could be empty by the time he arrived home.

Fortunately, the neighbor was home and saw him struggling with the house, attempting to remove it from the trunk. She sprang into action, and helped him carry it into the house. It was waiting in the living room for me when I arrived home.

“I’m afraid some of the pieces may be missing,” Howard told me. “A couple of women were rifling through that box, and I think they made off with some of the furniture.”

The furniture didn’t bother me, I told him. Years ago, I had purchased furniture kits I could put together. No problem!

It was a year before I even touched the house. I found the original booklet inside the box. It was a Southern Plantation Mansion kit with a copyright date of 1979. The kit was made by a company in Illinois and was purchased by a lady who lived in Michigan in 1980 or 1981. The receipts I found inside the box were all dated for those years.

“So, how did the house travel from Michigan to Denver?” I wondered.

This part is all imagined. The lady in Michigan was elderly, and I think her husband helped her with the early construction. He may have died because by 1982, all work on the house ceased. The woman may have had a son in the Denver area who decided to move Mom into his house. She wouldn’t leave Michigan without her dollhouse, so that’s how the house made the trip. And when the house arrived at the son’s house, his angry wife told him, “That monstrosity is not coming into my house!” So it was consigned to the porch where it sat for a number of years. [I’ve seen so many large dollhouses sitting on front porches over the years–a horrible place to put them! I found evidence of some moisture on the upper floors, so it was undoubtedly sitting unprotected on a porch.] And the box labeled “Dollhouse Junk?” The original owner died, and her daughter-in-law decided to give the house and its box to the local Habitat for Humanity Store. The label on the box was definitely a woman’s handwriting; the original owner of the house would not have labeled her project “junk”! The daughter-in-law was only too happy to see it off her porch and out of her life!

It took me four years to get the house to where it is today. I shingled the roof. The carport took some imagination because it is still the weakest part of the structure and sometimes collapses. Not only did I put all the furniture kits together, but I was so fortunate on a trip through Abilene, Kansas in 2006. We stopped at an antique and collectible store there. The top of one counter had a whole collection of kit-made dollhouse furniture all completed and requiring no effort. I found the main family in a collectible store in Fort Scott, Kansas in the spring of 2006. Since then, I’ve added others.

Structurally, the house is finished. Every once in a while, I need to repair something. And from time to time, I find some object my house cannot do without. Each room is designed for a particular holiday, and I move the main family from room to room each month and to the outside patio April through September.

Yesterday I saw an article concerning expensive presents rich kids get for Christmas. One item was a dollhouse with a $57,000 price tag on it. Howard paid $90 dollhouse for this partially completed structure and the box. I looked at the picture of the expensive item and thought, “It can’t hold a candle to mine!”