Monday, December 05, 2011

And by "Busy" I mean...

This guy keeps me on my toes. He's napping now which has allowed me this brief moment to post a few pics and random thoughts.
This is his cupboard.
See.  He actually sleeps in there.  Kidding, kidding!  But it is his cupboard where, if he's not reading a book, throwing the dog her ball, trying to climb the stairs and walking around things, he's pulling out the unbreakable contents of this designated cupboard.
This drawer, the napkin drawer, and by "napkin" I mean 500, was not a designated drawer...except we hadn't put the latch on it yet, so Ryan found it and designated it napkin party central!
These are actually Jason's shooting ear pluggy cover thingamaboppers, but Emily likes to put them on once in a while to drown out "background noise" aka, her little brother...Ryan just likes to put them on to look like a recording artist...or Bob the Builder...
When my little lover is contained in his booster chair, I'm able to breathe deep for the brief amount of time it takes for him to snarf down his food before he's onto the next adventure.

I can't imagine life without him!  I am so grateful God has allowed us the life we have lived thus far, the good, bad and ugly, in order to have met the kids we have, the one we don't anymore, and to gain the perspective that even in the day to day mundane, there is beauty, laughter, and meaning.

Okay, except that wasn't what I was going to post :)  But I'll leave it at that.  Grateful.  Thankful.  Busy but with good stuff.  Finding joy in the day to day.  Asking God to lead me by His Spirit so I'm not just doing things to do them or to please others, but to glorify God and walk in obedience to Him.   
Yeah, that...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Saying Goodbye

It's not something you ever really get used to.  Specifically I mean, saying "Goodbye" for good.  And by "for good" I mean until we meet again in God's presence, but who knows when that might be?

I get emails from friends, friends of friends, family, strangers, many different people who share a link to either a story, blog or email about a little kid who is sick or dying.  I knew when Noah was in the hospital that he most certainly wasn't the first sick kid on earth and unfortunately would not be the last.  And I don't mind receiving these emails at all!  Though my heart breaks for them, knowing I can pray for the families helps me even on my own journey.

Weeks leading up to our decision to take him off life support and offer him as a gift to God, I was also made aware that we weren't the first parents, nor were we the last, to be placed in such a situation.

But, it's not something you ever really get used to, even if it's something with which you are familiar.

I have a girlfriend who has a non-profit organization, offering perinatal hospice care and support to families who have received a fatal diagnosis for their sweet baby.  Because of support she had leading up to the delivery, moments together, and tender time of saying "Goodbye" when her daughter was born, she is able to encourage others on their journey...but, it's not something you ever really get used to just because you have experienced it.

Today I received an email about a little boy who was removed from his ventilator earlier this afternoon.  His parents are brave.  They are strong.  And at the same time they are holding onto that last moment for a miraculous intervention this side of Heaven.  And, all at the same time, their hearts are juggling a million emotions of peace in knowing their boy won't suffer any longer, grief because life didn't turn out the way they had hoped, dreamed or planned, anger because if they had control of the Universe they'd most certainly change the outcome of their biggest nightmare.

At least I am guessing that's what's going on in their hearts, among other things.  I don't know because I am not them, and even though I've walked a very similar road, saying "Goodbye" is not something you ever really get used to...

Prayers for his family and for their hearts to know that even though his footprint on earth was small and too short for our liking, it's his heartprint that will last a lifetime.  Either way, whether we can see the hope in it or not, it doesn't mean it doesn't suck and that it's ever easier to say "Goodbye."

Saying "Goodbye" isn't something any of us should ever get used to. 

I'm not so sure, though, that there's anything we should ever get too used to...because when we do, even though there's a level of comfort, it can teeter between "familiar" and "taken for granted."

My point is this:  life is precious, the first breaths, the final moments, and every day in between. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Better Late Than Never?

Well, I know Halloween and Fall Break were a while ago, but I thought I'd post some pics anyway so you can see the Adventures of Emily and Ryan. 
We had an early snow so we pulled all the pumpkins into the front hall.  Ryan played "ball" with these every day until the snow melted.
For Halloween Ryan was "Adam" from the Garden.  Just kidding.  His little tooshie was raw from 2 months of diarrhea so we let him "air out" at Nana's house.  FYI:  his big D is gone and the kid broke 4, count 'em, 4 molars!  Fun times...
Em and I got to ride horses at a friend's house while we were home in South Dakota. What's that?  Yes, I am wearing a Pashmina with camouflage and running shoes...(no, I wasn't prepared for the chill at sunset!)
Bonus kid points go to Emily this year...she told me she wanted to be Cleopatra and wear her Egyptian princess costume again...it's from two years ago...the bonus points come in that Mama didn't have to make a costume this year!  (*To tell the truth, I kind of missed making one...)  LOVE our niece and nephews pajamas that glowed in the dark!!!  And that's Aunt Kitty behind the sword...let's just say Ryan DID NOT LIKE Auntie's face painted like a kitty!
Ryan, or "Squirt," helped me pass out candy to the kiddos in the hood.  And by "pass out" well, I have video of him chucking it left and right but I'm not sure how to post it here.  He's into that stage of throw down/pick up/throw down/pick up!  Fun for Mama!

In order to stop Squirt from chucking the candy dish all over the hallway I allowed him a few seconds of phone time.  I NEVER allow this as a phone is NOT a toy...not in my book, anyway.  I have a feeling this kid is going to be like his daddy...a techy brainiac genius type.

I guess I did get to sew a little...we were invited to a friend's family party down the street.  Emily insisted that we HAD to dress up, that EVERYBODY would be wearing a costume, so, I was either going to sport my senior year gold sequin prom dress circa 1990, my Grandma's old house robe with slippers and rollers with face cream, or a flapper dress I had made for a murder mystery party we went to 15 years ago...Can you tell which one I went with?  I had to take in the dress, if you count that as sewing.  

And did we have the best costumes there, you ask?  Well, yes.  Yes we did, in fact...BECAUSE WE WERE THE ONLY FRIGGING PARENTS DRESSED UP AT THE PARTY!  So, there you go...Halloween down, Thanksgiving in a week and then December the next week!  This year is flying!


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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Made for Greatness!

Do you believe you were made for greatness?

Sometimes in the day to day it doesn't seem like it.  Sometimes in our darkest moments, greatness isn't even a word that comes to mind.

But, when God made you...when He thought you up, designed you, decided on your color scheme, personality, and heart attributes...greatness was what He had in mind.

But, this greatness He had in mind for you was not just so you could toot your own horn or reap all of the benefits...this greatness is to be an asset to all those you encounter, because He made you, on purpose, and is totally in love with you!

So, is there something that is keeping you from walking in greatness? 

I know what's been holding me back for over 30 years and I'm not going to let it stand in my way anymore!

Want to join me on a road to be the best YOU God intended you to be?!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Where you'll find me for a while...

So, if you've been here a while you know that I have another blog.

This is where I'll be spending some time writing while I make some layout and aesthetic changes on this blog.

Plus, it's just time to face my demons.  Anyone care to join me?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Old Geezers

So, last December my folks moved to within 10 minutes of us in Castle Rock, CO, hailing from Fountain Hills, AZ.

And with them came my 93 year old Grandpa at the time. 

Here we are last Spring...


Today, Gramps as I affectionately have always called him, is 94, pushing 95 in March, 2012.  Lou, as others know him, now lives a little over a mile from my house door to door.  He needed a little extra care that my mom currently fighting cancer, could not provide...plus, he needed to have a bit more "social" interaction.

On my way home from running some errands yesterday, kid-free mind you, I decided to stop by and give my Gramps a kiss.

I also had a question to ask him, the answer to which "No" was not an option.  I'm just that stubborn...

Let me set the scene for you:  Three senior, and I mean senior, seniors, snuggled under warm blankets all in their individual reclining chairs watching football on a pretty sweet gigantic flat screen...each of them with a personal bowl of potato chips on their laps.  No, they didn't have white tank tops on and none of them have enough hair to grow mullets.  And to clarify, by watching I mean: in between naps, they catch the game.  Anyway, when the kids are with me I usually sit in the chair next to my grandpa but I wanted to be a little closer to him so I knelt down next to him instead.  He had been cat-napping but was happy to see me so we visited a while.

I told him I was sorry it had been so long since my last visit, that we had been out of town, Ryan has been sick off and on, etc.  Believe me, it's not cool to spread kid germs to already frail grandparents!  Especially whatever Ryan has had!

And then I dropped the question.  My mom already told me he told her, "Thank you, but no."  But, I'm like a preschooler...I'm persistent :)

"Gramps, I would like to invite you to our house for Thanksgiving."

You may think this is just your run of the mill question and it would be quite obvious for a grandparent to respond, "Well yes, of course, we'd be delighted!   Thank you, Dearie!  Is there anything we can bring?"

But my Gramps thinks at 94, he's a real bore.  He thinks since his teeth aren't as dapper or useful as they once were, he'd just be a hassle to have around because he can't eat most of the food and will just sit in a chair and take up space.  

He grabbed my hand and held it close to his chest.  He looked at me and thanked me for the invitation but assured me it would be better if he didn't come.

I didn't let go of my grandpa's hand for the next 45 minutes...even when I wiped a drip from his nose.  His hand was soft, no longer callused from 75+ years of hard work, and it was warm in mine.

I said, "Gramps, guess what?!  You aren't a burden, you are just old.  And, Thanksgiving is the perfect meal because you can eat pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, soft stuffing, and I'll even puree you some turkey, if that even sounds good to you?  It's all soft food so you'll be able to eat whatever you want!"

He looked at me out of the corner of his eye and smiled a little.  He patted my hand with his other hand and said, "Sweetie, thanks, but really, it's too much work."

I knew I had to plead my case so I dropped a name.  You've done it.  When you need to make a connection work or want to get something done.

"Gramps, Jason's Grandpa is flying in from South Dakota.  He hasn't gotten on a plane in probably 5 years, so it's a really big step for him.  He wanted to see all of his grand kids and great-grand kids.  I know he'd love to see you!"

"How old is he?"

"89."

Here's Jason's Grandpa and Em and Ry last summer...


These men have seen a lot of life.  They have experienced great joys, losses, disappointments, celebrations, both widowers wishing they were anywhere else but living life on earth without their brides.  They love their kids and grand kids and are grateful for the visits, but each night when they are alone I am not there with their thoughts of longings and what if's. 

We talked about what my Gramps would have done if he hadn't been a trucker and school bus driver.  He asked me what kind of work Jason's grandpa had done.  We talked about a lot of things.

*Em was quiet in the car one day after we had visited Gramps.  I asked her what was up and she said she didn't really know him that well so didn't really know what to say to him.  I told her even though his outward appearance seems old and frail and can be a little intimidating to kids, my Gramps is a man with a story, just like anyone else.  I told her she could tell him all about school and her friends, and in turn, to feel free to ask him anything.

The older people in our lives have a lot of stories to tell...yet they are the ones without social media outlets, the know-how of texting or cell phone usage.  They are sitting quietly, often napping, in old folks' facilities, filled with 90 plus years of real-life lessons with so very much wisdom to offer.  To learn their stories all you need is a chair and listening ear.

Somehow, though, in this day and age, it's the 20, 30 and even 40-somethings doing all the chatting.

There's nothing wrong with us sharing our experiences, our stories, even things we have learned on our journeys.

However, if there is an older person in your life, stop and ask yourself if you've asked them a question lately like, "Gramps, what was such and such like when you were 13, 24, 36, 58, 79...?"  Sometimes a smile will grace their lips as they recall a memory, other times tears may well, or it's quite possible the memory just won't be there, trapped deep in their heart without a way to be shared.

My point is this, just taking the time to ask and to listen may add a bit more life to their already grown and tired souls.

Do you have an old geezer in your life?  

I have two, my Gramps and Jason's, and they'll be eating mashed potatoes at my dining room table together for Thanksgiving this year.  And for that, I am thankful...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Ry Guy

"Mom, another picture?  Seriously?  Can't a kid get a break from the paparazzi?!"

Priceless finger prints on my clean windows
Diving into play
Crawling in the grassy yard
Ry being silly with his hoodie


Proud parents on Ryan's 1st birthday!

It's been a busy Fall.  Em's enjoying school so much!  She went to camp with her class and loved it which is a huge milestone for her!  She literally loves getting up each morning and heading off to see what the day will hold.  If I hadn't mentioned it, we aren't homeschooling this year.  Jason and I prayed a lot about it and with no other explanation other than the Lord opening the doors wide, Em headed off to a very special local school this year and is loving the experience of learning once again!  Jason is a pretty wonderful guy as he attributed her return to a love of learning to our time together doing homeschool, spending quality time reading and, not to brag, but to be plain honest, me taking the time to listen to my kid.  It was a difficult year and wonderful all wrapped up in one package.  I'll do it again if God leads us, but as of now, she is flourishing and we trust God she is in His hands and in the center of His will.
As far as Ryan goes, that little man has brought so much joy to our lives.  Em thinks he's great and we think she's right!  

I just have one bone to pick with the kid...

He has had the "Big D" for over a month now.  I don't think I've informed you of his digestive journey thus far, but early on he struggled with the "Big C" for several months, trying to pinch it at all costs because it was obviously painful.  I will spare you the details but let's just say, it wasn't pretty!  I started pureeing prunes and giving him a natural plant source of arabinogalactan which worked wonders!  He stopped avoiding what Freud said we all love to do and was pooping along seemingly for a good 5 months or so. 

And then, a little over a month ago things started flowing a little too freely.  Let's just say bath time became a part of our morning routine!  He has maintained an exceptional appetite, along with reaching his milestones.  But more recently on our road trip to and from South Dakota, with Ry's behind being washed off at an Interstate Rest Area, well, let's just say this mama has been pounding the Internet and library research sites.  

And the diagnosis, "Toddler Diarrhea" just isn't acceptable, nor scientific enough for me!  Yeah, there were several websites that said it's normal for some babies to just have diarrhea for the first 3 years of life.  What a load!?!!!  

Diarrhea=Mal absorption=Poor Nutrition 

If a professional ever gives you the diagnosis "Toddler Diarrhea" turn around and walk out the door.  They are stating the obvious.  It's just like the "diagnosis" of "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" which is a fancy way of telling you what you already know!  You are tired all the time!  Duh!  BUT WHY?!  Don't get me started here...

I haven't fed, knowingly at least, Ryan foods containing major allergens.  I did give him a few gluten free/dairy free/egg free waffles, but of course they had soy in them, so have halted those.  He literally just had corn for the first time in his 14 months of life, 3 days ago.  And I'm not on the American corn bandwagon, so he won't be consuming mass quantities of that!  The only grains he's had are brown rice, gluten-free oatmeal, quinoa, and chia, with the exception of kamut which I soon realized was a fancy Egyptian name for wheat.  That's been out of his system for maybe 2 months now.  I know he's allergic to eggs because his little belly immediately breaks out in a rash after eating them, which sucks...but I'm allergic to them, too, so it's not that hard not to buy them...anyway, he's mainly been a meat, veggie, fruit and rice kind of guy.

So why the "Big D" is the big question.

He has an appointment tomorrow with our doctor.  I have a feeling I already know what's going on...the kid, along with his sis, parents and pretty much whole lineage of relatives, has some food sensitivities which, in turn, translate into bowel issues.  Diverticulitis, IBS, chronic constipation/diarrhea, minor and major food allergies/sensitivities, gluten/dairy/egg intolerance, just to name a few of his genetic contributions.  I will seek to find answers without invasive procedures...I think his brother endured enough of that for our whole family.

Add to this the fact that the FDA thinks it's awesome to genetically modify foods (GMO) that God Almighty created differently, throw in 100 years of refined foods that our bodies aren't used to breaking down, and that's my theory of why we have a whole generation of food allergies, sensitivities, certain diseases and other disorders.

Anyway, people, when they hear the food sensitivities/allergies that I have or Emily has, always say, "What can you eat?"  I can eat a ton of foods and there are so many awesome blogs and cookbooks out there that are allergen friendly, so I never think of myself as missing out on anything.  Em and I made homemade Oreo type cookies from Cybele Pascal's cookbook just recently...Em said she likes them way better than the original!  I'm a foodie, I'll admit it, so I'm seeking food that tastes good and is good for me and my family, not just something to shove down our throats.  Having food sensitivities has helped me think a bit more about what we eat and why.

So, this is where we are on our journey.  Thankfully, in spite of the diarrhea, we have a very active and happy little man on our hands.  We know we will need to tweak a few things in order for him to flourish and be healthy, but I'm thankful for the last 5 years plus of research I've already done so that this task won't feel so overwhelming.


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Chemo-sabi!

So, today I was supposed to meet my mom at her chemo appointment at 11:30.

She had forewarned me that the room wasn't really that big and there may not be a lot of space...that I may be bored just sitting there with her for 2 hours while she has "poison", as she calls it, pumped into her veins.

But I'm empathetic.  Not enough to have my boobs cut off, but enough to want to sit through boring appointments with her!  So, Auntie came over to the house to spend time with my handsome little lover boy and I set off.

We live about a half hour to forty five minutes from the hospital and oncology offices where my mom is receiving treatments.  I decided to call my BFF on the way there and catch up since it had been way too long.  As a result, the 20 minute traffic delay didn't seem so bad, but I did arrive a 1/2 hour late to my mom's appointment, thinking I had missed a good 30 minutes of toxic tonic time with my mom.  My dad met me in the lobby and we headed in to see Bebe.  She was in an examination room waiting for, what, she did not know...

Someone checked to see what it was my mom was waiting on, besides getting the show on the road.  Apparently she had a doctor's appointment first, so after that was all said and done, it was an hour into when my mom thought she'd be done with 1/2 her chemo.

We headed out to the chemo room.

Oh!  My!  Word!

Imagine a room as big as your family room with a dozen recliners in it, 6 and 6 opposite one another, and a dozen portable IV stands.  Granted, there was a sky light, windows on one wall and a glass wall into the nurses station on the other wall, so there was ample lighting, but the scene was nothing short of a blood bank donation station or a gore-less scene from M.A.S.H.

I ASSURE you, there's no way on earth that cute kids at Children's Hospital are lined up getting chemo without space for their Mommy or Daddy to snuggle up next to them.  What the freak?  How wasn't there room in such a setting, under such circumstances, for a loved one, friend, or family member to sit aside their chemo recipient and press on through 2 hours?

I tell you what, there's got to be a better way!  There were cute little old men and ladies in there, sitting in their comfy chairs, getting chemo all by themselves.  The sweet little man who had had a stroke, snuggled under a warming blanket, stole my heart.  The brave woman next to my mom, IV flowing, fighting her disease, seemed alone.

I smiled at each one.  I made eye contact.  I let their hearts know that I was sorry they were doing this, that I thought they were brave and strong.

And then I had to walk out of the room with my dad because there wasn't room at the Inn for us.

My dad and I headed to the bistro and had a bite for lunch.  After about 45 minutes, we were wrapping it up and my mom called my dad to tell him that she hadn't even started her chemo.

So, yes, if you are doing all the math, we are now at the "15 minutes until I'm outta here" moment my mom was looking forward to and she hadn't even had one red drop of her chemo yet!

They couldn't find her port, for goodness sake!

After 4 painful pokes, the nurse called radiology, set up an x-ray for my mom, and, long story short, I called my mom at 5:00 after I had been home for 3 hours trying to get Ryan down for a nap, to see what the scoop was...she was in the car finally on her way home.

...her port had shifted a little in her arm so the nurse couldn't find it, but they finally did with the help of the x-ray and my mom had her second round of chemo, by herself, in a room full of other alone people, all of whom were not her family members.

So, next time I go I'm taking my own folding chair, by golly, and I'll blog an interview with my mom...and anyone else in there that will talk to me...because we'll have 2 whole hours, or 5 and a half, or whatever...





Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"To Infinity and Beyond!"

"To the Bat Mobile!" - Batman

"There's no need to fear, Under Dog is here!" - Underdog

"Up, up and away!" - Superman

"Avengers assemble!" - Captain America

"Wonder Twin powers, activate! Form of an iceberg!" - Wonder Twins


So, I was reading through a book on leadership the other day and found this awesome prayer. (At any one given time you can find me reading a broad spectrum of topics, from leadership to parenting to nutrition and recipes to biographies and topics specific to women and conquering the world...)

Here is a list of titles of the pile of books next to my bed currently, in case you are bored or don't have some reading materials of your own:
  • NIV Study Bible by God
  • The Skinnygirl Dish by Bethenny Frankel
  • Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro
  • How Babies Talk by Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, PhD and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD
  • Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
  • The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook by Cybele Pascal
  • The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss
  • The Healthy Child by our doctors at Partners in Pediatrics (Ryan and Em are both sick...)
  • No Compromise, The Life Story of Keith Green by Melody Green and David Hazard
  • I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui
  • The Secrets Women Keep by Dr. Jill Hubbard
  • Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos by Lynette Lewis
  • When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin
Oh my goodness! It's no wonder it takes me a while to finish one book! And that doesn't even include my pile of library books! Holy Schnikeys! After writing that list I almost forgot why I was blogging in the first place...Oh yeah! Oh, but first, let's not forget the book that is ALWAYS on my reading list, the one that has permanent residency on the back of my toilet, where at one point each day, I truly have a moment of solitude: One Minute of Margin by Dr. Richard Swenson.


Okay, so, back to the prayer I found in "Leading on Empty," page 103. Jason and I have been praying about some specific things lately, seeking God for His direction and will, waiting on Him for open and closed doors and directives for the next season of life. Well, I hadn't actually looked at this book in a few weeks and snatched it up the other day, seeing I hadn't left a bookmark in the book. The thought "Chapter 7" came to my mind, so I sat down and started reading. The heading, "Monks to the Rescue" stood out to me so I started reading what is currently my favorite prayer! Here is the author's adaptation to a prayer once written by the Franciscan Monks who started serving the Lord in the early 1200's.

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, hard hearts, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live from deep within your heart where God's Spirit dwells.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world and in your neighborhood, so you will courageously try what you don't think you can do, but in Jesus Christ you'll have the strength necessary to do.

May God bless you so you remember we are all called to continue God's redemptive work of love and healing in God's place, in and through God's name, in God's Spirit, continually creating and breathing new life and grace into everything and everyone we touch.

Side note: When I was in elementary school some of the priests at my church wore long brown robes with rope waist ties and large wooden bead rosaries. Picture Friar Tuck in Robinhood and that's totally the look. My dad informed me they were Franciscan priests who had taken oaths of poverty in order to rid their hearts and minds from distractions of the world and serve the poor and outcast. For those hungry for history, it was started by Italian Giovanni Bernardore, known as Francesco by his father, and finally called Francis, who is known to us today as St. Francis of Assisi.

Anyway, throughout history the Franciscan order has morphed and changed, but one thing we have from them is recorded prayers. I haven't practiced Catholicism in almost 25 years, but this prayer is without boundaries of denomination. Heck, it's without boundaries altogether!

I LOVE it because it's totally the way God works!

God works in OPPOSITE WORLD! He doesn't do things the way we think He should and, as a result, it helps our eyes be opened to life as it was meant to be...selfless, without hindrances, lived to the fullest extent, full of love, without hate, lived out in complete trust, encouraging others along the way.

My favorite part of the prayer, at least for right now, is the part that says, "May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world and in your neighborhood, so you will courageously try what you don't think you can do, but in Jesus Christ you'll have the strength necessary to do."

If that part of the prayer doesn't make you want to tear open the front of your shirt to reveal your superhero insignia, I don't know what will!

No matter what hat you wear, what title is before or after your name, where you work, if you are out of work, or if your over-time job is that of being a mom, God is the One Who can give us strength to face ANYTHING! ANYTHING! ANYTHING!

Don't let the opinions of others pull you down! Don't believe lies!

God made you ON PURPOSE! He has plans for you!

And if anyone ever accuses you of having the audacity to believe you can actually change the world for the good, just thank them and keep going, because with God's strength, literally anything is possible!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gotta have faith!

Today my mom starts chemo. I wish there was no such thing as cancer, sickness or any type of disease or pain, suffering, or heartache.

I wish magic was real, fairy dust worked, and really awesome things happened when I twitched my nose...not only cures for disease, no more famines and war, but even instantaneous house cleaning, disappearing laundry piles, and steaming fresh dinner on the table, along with a spotless kitchen, by 6:00 every night.

In all truth and honesty, I wish my reality matched my faith...because I have HUGE faith! I do not doubt that God can do anything at any time in any part of the whole wide world...and yet at the same time, I've known sadness and deep disappointment in the way my heart yearns for things or outcomes and the way that God runs the Universe.

I'm not disillusioned to believe that life on earth will be without its struggles. It's life on earth, the first clue. I just wish I could take away other people's pain and sorrow.

At the same time, I know full well that it is through hardships, suffering, resistance, opposition, challenge, and pretty much anything that drop kicks us out of our comfort zones, that makes us grow stronger, putting down deeper roots, and allowing the false fluff of faking it to fly away.

My mom is really brave. It's not that she wants to be brave. She doesn't want to walk through this as much as you and I don't want to walk up and order our favorite java treat in a busy coffee shop BUCK NAKED. Yeah...who wants to do that? Who even wants to see that, right?!

And you know, this journey being one of her daughters, watching, listening, praying...it's been interesting. For the most part, it's been beautiful, in spite of the word cancer. The very word has opened doors to people willing to be vulnerable, real, candid, honest, and sincere. And, of course, the word cancer has also brought out some of the well-meaning sentiments. Like, "Betty, you already ARE healed. You don't need to DO anything about it but just have enough faith, because you ARE healed."

Yep. Someone said that. To my mom. If the person had said it to me, let me just say there would have been a can of whoop-ass opened at that moment. You see, my mom has faith. Like I said before, it could be a bumper sticker on the back of my car that states, "My mom has more faith than your honor student..." or something to that effect.

But let me just expose something that I feel is just one of the reasons some people shy away from God and church in the first place. Yes, in order to believe in a God we cannot see, we need faith. And, yes, there is a woman in the Bible whom Jesus spoke to and told her that her faith had made her well. Not her willpower, but her trust that Jesus was who He said He was and that God was bigger than her condition. BUT, here's where I get a little crusty. When people think they have control over a negative situation by sheer will power, positive thinking, or even trying to manipulate an outcome through prayer and fasting. And, this really gets my panties in a wad...I've even seen it here in blog world, but when an idea is put out there that if we just get enough people praying, it will change the circumstances...yes, historically God has moved when His people prayed...but at the same time, He knew their motives. He always knows our motives...and if motives are "bandwagon" or sheer entertainment, well, how pure is that?

So, basically, that thought process is stating there's a magic number that will change the outcome to line up with how we want it and if we can just hit that magic number of people praying...Or, I've heard people say, "Well, I guess I didn't have enough faith..." or "You know, you have sin in your life so that's why this is happening to you..." or "God's trying to teach you a lesson." Jesus blew the "sin in your life=why this is happening to you" theory out of the water.

ANYWAY, I am ALL FOR enlisting a lot of people's prayers, not just for the healing of a dying little boy or the healing of a cancer patient. But, what about enlisting prayer on a daily basis. What about talking to God in an intimate way, regularly that doesn't come with an agenda or a "What I want for Christmas" list? Since God is real and Santa's not...And, what about having faith and trusting God because He's good, even when we don't agree with how He does things? And not just when it works in our favor or benefits those we love?

When we pray for other people and the rough road they are walking, it's time that we are one, not thinking of ourselves, and two, communicating with the God who is in love with His creation. How great is that?!

Jesus gave us a model by which to pray. The part in there that says, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done..." I would guess many want to leave out the "Your will be done" part because it doesn't line up with our own.

Are we able to trust that even though we may not understand why we walk through trials and suffering or why our lives aren't as smooth as we would like, that maybe, just maybe, maybe, maybe, "Your will be done" is a beautiful thing? That perhaps God sees a bigger picture, and even though we don't, He's got beauty in mind for each of us?

I don't have all the answers, but I do know this. My mom's got faith. And my mom's got cancer. And my mom's got her first round of chemo today for the next half year. And God's got my mom. So, I have faith in Him.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What's in a name?

Jason and I both wanted our kids' names to mean something, not just sound good to the ear. And by "mean something", we wanted their names to bestow a blessing on their character and life, a kind of calling, if you will.

I knew for sure for our first kid, if it was a boy, or girl I guess, that I didn't want a name where a synonym for "Rambunctious, wild, moronic, dare-devil" could ever be found. I also wasn't keen on the kid's name meaning "pansy or wimp or lily-livered fraidy cat."

I actually knew for our first kid, since I didn't really know what I was doing being a first time mom, that I could sure use a little helper. Someone who would be my assistant, a hard-worker, a kid who could roll with the punches and not give me too much flack. Is that wrong?! :)

Well guess what?! Emily means "Industrious, strong worker."

And, with Noah, since we knew he was a boy via ultrasound, Jason had chosen either Jude which means "Praise" or Noah that means "Peace." Either name had beautiful meaning in our book, but when I was pushing and our son was taking his sweet old time, Jason chose "Noah" in the delivery room and said, "Noah, come out!" Noah's middle name was Steven. It means "Crowned." Ironically, it's not a royal crown but the kind of crown you receive after a race of endurance. It fit him, and his powerful little life calling, beautifully!

For all of our kids we had actually always loved the name "Ryan" either for a girl or boy.

Now, in choosing a name, it was so very important to us that there were no booger eating, cranky, mean, violent, creeper people attached to the name. We had to skip one boy name we had been thinking about for Noah because there was this creeper guy in college that always gave all the girls back/neck rubs and it just gave me the heebie jeebies. Thankfully there are millions more from which to choose :)

But let me tell you about my history with Ryan's.

The first Ryan I ever met was in Michigan while I was in high school. He was a really great friend that had a fantastic sense of humor, such an easy-going personality and true character. As a grown-up, I know he loves his wife and is a loving dad.

The second Ryan I met was my husband's friend. Jason lived next door to Ryan's grandparents growing up. Jason's and Ryan's families went to the same church in their small town, and actually still do. The first time I met Ryan was after my freshman year of college when I went up to meet Jason's family and everyone else that came along with the package of falling in love with a boy from South Dakota. I liked him instantly. I could tell he was intense, sincere, and a really hard worker. I could also tell that he was the kind of guy who was a true friend to Jason, the way Jason is to others. As a grown man, Ryan adored his wife and 3 sons, was a faithful friend, was a man of his word and really cared about the quality of life, life to the fullest.

I met the third Ryan as a young married woman. He had the hots for one of my best friends, and she reciprocated. To get the boy to talk was like pulling teeth, but I could sense his depth of love for my dear friend and so wasn't going to stand in the way of watching them fall madly in love! Like the other Ryan's, this one loves his wife and children with his whole heart, works diligently to provide for them, and is a man of integrity.

Bonus material: All three Ryan's are easy on the eyes...in a strictly platonic sort of way, just sayin'.

Ryan means "Little King" or "Kingly." Maybe that's why I easily couple it with "Lion" when I sing to my little man?

Ryan the Lion...Ryan the Lion...


All I know is that when Jason and I took a leap of faith and got pregnant after losing Noah, then learned it was another boy, I knew, as we did with all of our children, that this child, too, was not ours but God's. I knew that God loved him more and had a plan for his life. I knew that my knowing him on this earth was, and is, a tremendous blessing, but also a huge responsibility...

...I also knew his name had to be a blessing not only to his character, but to God and to the people he would encounter.

Ryan means "Little King." His middle name is Everett. It means "Strong."

I can already tell my sweet Ryan is both of these things. I also have to say, I am so very grateful he is in the company of three Godly men who have set the tone for how to humbly carry the meaning of their name. Not that they are perfect, but kings in their own right.

Today, I write in honor and memory of the second Ryan, after whom we named our beautiful baby boy. What an honor it is to raise a boy by the name of Ryan!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Soup, it's what's for dinner!

So, I've been called the "Soup Nazi" by some who love me and my random made up soup recipes. I must confess, I love soup and could eat it and make up a new recipe every other day. It's souper easy and coupled with a salad and/or some good gf bread, well, it's a little bit of heaven :)

I've been asked to share, and with the crisp air at night and fall right around the corner, I'd be happy to...

Butternut Squash Soup is simmering right now on my stove top:

First, items needed (I buy organic, but use whatever you have):
  • One butternut squash (scoop seeds out, clean, toss w/olive oil, bake at 325 for 15, set aside)
  • One Pink Lady or other yummy apple, cut up, skin on
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 or 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ginger (powdered)
  • 1/4 tsp sage (powdered)
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp organic Better Than Bouillon chicken base (I'm gluten free and haven't had issues w/this stock...it DOES NOT SAY IT'S GF, SO IF YOU HAVE CELIAC, USE YOUR FAVORITE CHICKEN OR VEGGIE STOCK!!!)
  • 6 cups pure water
  • Plain yogurt or sour cream (I use goat yogurt b/c I'm dairy free)
  • Parmesan or asiago cheese, shredded

  1. Cut and quarter one butternut squash, scooping out seeds and pulp (clean seeds, dry on paper towel, toss w/olive oil and sea salt in bowl, bake on cookie sheet at 325 for 15 minutes, set aside for later)
  2. Set oven to 350. Pour or brush however much olive oil you want (I do probably 2 to 3 Tbsp) on the skin side of squash and place pieces skin side up in baking dish with 2 Tbsp water.
  3. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes. (I did this all last night and then refrigerated it to use for today...)
  4. Okay (I'm so cheffy with my steps, huh?)...in a large stock pot on medium to medium high heat (I LOVE my gas stove!!!) pour 2 to 3 Tbsp olive oil in pan.
  5. Put chopped onion, celery, and apple in oil and saute until onions start to brown.
  6. Add ginger, sage and rosemary. Stir.
  7. Scoop cooked squash out of skin into celery/onion/apple mixture. Put a little water in the baking dish that you used to cook squash to get the yumminess out of the pan and into your soup pot.
  8. Add bouillon 6 cups water to pot.
  9. Let this all simmer on medium to medium low for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  10. Scoop soup into your blender or, in my case, my NINJA :) and puree. If all of it doesn't fit into your blender, that's okay! Scoop some, blend, pour into pot, scoop some more out, blend, pour into pot, etc, until it's all smooth.
  11. Scoop into bowls, top with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle each of toasted seeds and Parmesan or asiago, or no cheese if you are dairy free like me.
  12. Probably makes 6 bowls of soup, but haven't ever paid attention!
  13. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jealousy

Have you ever been jealous of someones life? Maybe their circumstances, their title, bank account, seemingly problem-free family life?

I just received a text from one of my best friends telling me that her sweet Grandma was now with Jesus.

I'm not trying to sound overly spiritual, because actually, my initial response surprised me even a little, but I immediately felt jealousy. Not because my friend's heart is hurting. That would just be weird. Not because she and her family are grieving the loss of a beloved woman.

A different kind of jealousy.

I had just tucked Ryan in for his morning nap, taking in his cuteness, soaking in his little head snuggled into my shoulder, in awe of God and the gift of being able to hold his chubby feet in the palm of my hand. As I always do, I prayed over him and his time of rest, that the Lord would bless his dreams with dreams only He could instill in my son's heart. I prayed God would put a deep desire in Ryan all the days of his life to pursue God and serve Him always, to be used for His Kingdom and to be a man who longed for Jesus' return. And I thanked God, as I smooched Ryan's sweet, soft cheeks, that He loved him more than I ever could and, in His goodness, had a plan from the beginning of time to save the baby I love bigger than the Universe from death because of sin in the world.

I had to leave his room (because he wouldn't fall asleep if I stayed there staring at him, obviously, and because I was so choked up, thankful that God is so in love with His creation that He'd do what He did for crummy old us...).

And then I got my friend's text.

My phone was on the kitchen counter where Jeremy Riddle was belting out "What Joy is Found" and, at that moment, I was overcome with jealousy...

...a different jealousy than the kind that leaves a sick, dissatisfied feeling in our hearts. Instead, the kind that instills a passionate pursuit and longing for the very thing we were created to do. Like when you just feel this intense drive or motivation to do something with all your heart!

Like worship at the feet of the All-loving Father, the One True God, King of kings and Lord of lords, Creator, Divine, Everlasting, Good, Holy, Healer, Redeemer, Savior, Majestic, Pure, Beautiful, Wise God.

We weren't made for here. We were made to live in His presence.

Do you long for it or does the thought scare the tar out of you? Or is it the furthest thing from your mind because the busyness of life has set in?

I'm not going to lie and say it's the thought at the forefront of my heart every. single. moment.

But at that moment, when I learned that my friend's Gramma was with Jesus, it was...

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Through thick and thin...

I want to share with you my mom's Facebook status from yesterday. Then I'll share some of my own thoughts...
"I want to thank everyone for their love poured out to me in prayers and well wishes, flowers, cards and lots of dinners! Just received a synopsis on the pathology report from my 30-something breast surgeon who really rocks......the cancer cells did not go beyond the first lymph node.....and the tumor was not larger than they anticipated. Thank You, Jesus.....my Faithful Savior.....my Hiding Place......my Comfort.....my King!"
My mom means this....that is, she's sincere in her thanks for the encouragement, but also, regarding that last sentence, giving thanks to Jesus, her Faithful Savior, Hiding Place, Comfort and King, that part she means.

And she means it all the time.

It's easy to have those sentiments about the Lord when all is well, when we receive good reports, when life is smooth and peachy keen.

That's often when people are able to warm up to God, let Him in a little, give Him credit, even admit a bit of admiration for Him.

But what about when life hits the fan?

What about the bad days, the ill reports, the moments that grip us with fear or utter and total disappointment and despair? What about those moments?

Is Jesus still all of those things that my mom mentioned in her Facebook status?

I will say this...He is. He is even more! He doesn't change just because our circumstances change. God is the Only One in the Universe that remains Faithful and True.

He remains.

He is unshakable.

A Rock. Our Firm Foundation. Never-changing. Always and Forever. The One True Lover of our souls.

And for my mom, whether her super awesome cancer surgeon had told her the cancer had spread, or they got it all, she would have posted those same sentiments about the Lord...because my mom knows that God is in love with her, regardless of circumstance, that He will never leave her or kick her to the curb.

The reason I can share this with such confidence is I've been able to witness my mom over the last 30+ years as she has trusted the Lord with her life, as well as our lives as her children.

She takes Him at His word...He promises that He is Who He says He is...no less. She knows He's not a liar.

I tell you what, through thick and thin, whether it's fashionable, popular or comfortable, my mom trusts God. I am so grateful for her example! And I am so thankful to love and trust Him, too!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Birthday Boy!



Jason and I hugged maybe a little more than normal yesterday. We just kept staring at our son, looking at one another, and then finally stating the obvious, "We have a one year old son. We've never had a one year old son before...Thank You, Lord God, for the blessing of Ryan Graves!"

Not trying to be morbid here or overly dramatic.

The truth is, becoming Emily's parents we were blessed with the awe and realization that nurturing a child is not only a gift but a lifelong mission of great responsibility. When Noah was born this understanding was only solidified, then taken to a deeper awe of cherishing each moment, one day at a time. The day Ryan was born I knew time was precious, even the day to day, un-glamorous stuff.

I'm not going to lie and say I am a perfect steward of every moment of each day. But, as Jason and I recently took the Love Language quiz, it was confirmed that our most treasured language is time. We both topped the charts in this area. (I HIGHLY recommend you heading over there now and taking a few minutes to assess your heart. Then, talk to your loved ones and friends about taking the quiz. We had Em take it and it helped us know what we already did...the girl loves to snuggle and spend quality time with people she loves.) So, wasting time is the ultimate blow to my heart. I don't want to waste yours, I get irritated when I've wasted my own, and let's just say, I'm not a fan if someone has overstepped mine.

All that to say, looking back over the last year, Ryan's first year of life, I've been beyond blessed with the opportunity to hibernate and spend time with a very precious little growing soul. I literally sing songs when he poopies, so thankful he has healthy bowels finally. I love greeting him in the morning, seeing his smile and smothering him with kisses. Snuggling him before bed for a few minutes, praying God's blessings over his life, God's calling and anointing in him to glorify God in all that he does, is one of my favorites times of day...crawling on the floor with him, playing catch and fetch...not just giving him a bottle since he's big enough to hold it, but nuggling him as he inhales every drop. So many things. I do not take these for granted.

I know from what we walked through with Noah and having met and spoken with countless other people who have walked similar roads that time is something to be cherished, it goes quickly, and it's nothing we can ever regain.

So, you've never lost a loved one. You still have healthy parents, grandparents, and your friends and family are healthy as a band of horses. That is totally awesome! It's something to rejoice in!

For the most part, that is my life, too! Yes, my mom has breast cancer but she's, "Stronger than your honor student." Yes, my dad is 66 years old today and can't lift a washer and dryer by himself anymore. I've got a healthy husband, healthy kids, and I'm currently the healthiest I've been in my life and I'm pushing 40...

My point is this...whether you've weathered tragedy personally, walked through it with another person, or only observed it from afar...are you stuck on the hamster wheel or are you thanking and living one day at a time?

Because guess what?! There will ALWAYS be financial troubles, broken bones, disease, torrential weather, infidelity, famine, heartache, disappointment, homelessness, someone else with more stuff, etc, etc.

But, tomorrow isn't promised.

TODAY!

Today, start small. Give a hug. Hold a hand. Smooch some lips. Read with your kids. Forgive. Stop, rest, heal. Listen. Pray. Dip your finger in the frosting and let your kids lick the beaters. Forget the obsessive cleaning for a day and discover that the time you spent instead playing a game is what will put a healthy deposit of love and security in your kids' hearts...your husband's heart.


Jesus said, "...therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough trouble of its own..." Matthew 6:34

...and then, "who by worrying can add a single day to his life?"

TODAY! One. Day. At. A. Time.



(I lost my little white thingamajiggy that helps me upload pics...I am headed out to purchase one and will then show you how sweet Ryan was downing his very first allergen free birthday treat!)


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Resting and Healing



I got to kiss my mom.

She's one tough lady, that's for sure!

I won't share what she said to the nurse when the nurse asked her why she was in pain...let's just say "chopped" was one of the verbs...

My dad said my mom got a pretty good night sleep. But, let's be honest. To all my nurse friends out there, we all know it's not a hotel, it's a hospital so sleep, though necessary for healing, is kind of a joke in the hospital unless one is knocked out.

I'm headed up there with my big sis to learn home care along with my dad. When they told us that my mom would be released likely the day after surgery, I'm pretty sure we all thought they were on crack. But, she's much more alert, up and walking and gaining strength today, so, apparently the medical team was not, in fact, on crack.

She'll be released later this afternoon. Thanks for your continued support and prayers for my mom and our family!

This is the first leg of the journey...now for all that is ahead of us, we know with God's strength and an encouraging group around, she's gonna kick cancer in the pants!





She's out and in recovery

I'm headed down to see my mom now. My dad and big sis got to see her.

She said, "I feel like I got hit by a Mack truck..."

Thanks for all your prayers.

Here's to the next leg of this journey...






2nd Update

The surgeon came in to tell us that her portion of the surgery went well and is complete. Now the plastic surgeon is with her finishing his part. My mom will be out of surgery around 4pm, then to recovery and then finally into her room.

The cancer did spread to her left armpit, so the surgeon removed a series of lymph nodes to be sent off for diagnostics. What this means is that what was originally only a chance she would have to have radiation, now is part of the protocol.

My dear friend came to sit with me so I'm going to go.

Thank you so much for your prayers for my mom! I know you all have journeys of your own going on right now, and so please know we don't stop praying for you and yours even though we are in the midst of our own needs. Please feel free, as you did when Noah was in the hospital, to put your prayer needs in the comment section and we'll pray for you, too!!!

I will post again later when I see her and then we are probably setting up a Caringbridge site for my mom so she can post her heart and thoughts and you guys can send her messages of encouragement there.

Surgery update...

For those of you praying for my mom, I just wanted to share an update...

She and my dad got to the hospital early this morning. They started surgery at 8:15. My dad just got a call at 11:45 that they had completed one side and are moving onto the next. They expect to be done around 2pm. They said all is well and looking good.

Dad went back to my mom's recovery room to rest a bit, since they were up at 3am. My big sis and I sniffed out a warm solarium with west views of the entire Rocky Mountain range, from Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs to the Wyoming border. It was also the only place my computer could find wi-fi.

It's surreal knowing what is going on as I sit here and take in these beautiful views.

I don't think, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" I don't wonder that. We live on Earth, in a fallen world, and as my mom said as soon as she was diagnosed with breast cancer, "God doesn't owe me life on my terms."

And, anywhere you look in the Bible, there are trials, pain, and suffering, mixed with hope and joy and great expectation...people with fairly decent records and the ones society and religious circles had kicked to the curb.

I just wish my mom didn't have to go through this...this pain...this portion of the journey...really, any of this.

As we prayed together last night, she said, "I want to use this for God's glory. I want to be able to encourage others who will have to face this one day. This will not be in vain."

My mom is a rock. She isn't The Rock. But she stands on The One Who Is.

As I prayed with my folks, all of us holding hands over the table, I was overwhelmed and so very thankful that God introduced them, that our family of 5 growing up was always close, that my parents came to know the Lord when my big sister and I were young ladies, that we've been able to grow in our walks with the Lord as our family has grown over the years. I am so thankful my parents love one another. Grateful they didn't get stuck in a religious rut that was an endless grave of duty and performance. Thankful to know God intimately because of His ultimate expression of love through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Whether we walk through trials, which we all will, or whether things are coasting along seemingly, God will always get the glory from our family.

Always.

Anyway, what I was saying is God's got this...and my mom is doing well. I'll update later.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Boobies

I have to say, it is so very refreshing to be in a setting where, what was once private and hush hush, can be spoken of with earnestness, sincerity, and candid authenticity. (I know that is quite a list of words but Em and I have been reading the original Nancy Drew books, and boy does Keene use great vocabulary!)

Anyway, cancer is a big word. It's really a new journey for our family, and as I walk along this road with my mom, I am a student in this new topic. Em knows a lot about death and heaven because she lost her brother. But she and I don't know a lot about cancer except that it's not our favorite word...and it's something my mom has. I want to be sensitive not to teach Em all the cellular dynamics of cancer at the age of 9, but to allow her to ask questions and hold her grandma's hand when she needs assurance, I feel is of utmost importance.

So, today, after I tied on my pink ribbon belt, slipped on my hot pink swirl half-dome ring that's as big as a bouncy ball, and stepped into my pink cancer awareness flip-flops, I hopped into my car donning breast cancer plates and drove over to Emily's school to snatch her away for a couple of hours. You see, seeing her "Bebe" in a hospital bed with tubes taped onto her and machines all around may be too overwhelming...but...to go to her "Bebe's" wig fitting appointment, letting her try on a few, and seeing what her grandma will look like in a couple of months, well, I thought that would be a great way for Em to be connected on this journey.

The women who helped us were beautiful. Both survivors, even. One, seven years ago, had the EXACT kind of cancer, same stage, same invasiveness, same factors and treatment, as my mom. My mom had been specifically praying to be able to speak with a woman who had all of those things and God provided her, today, in that room where we were able to speak candidly about boobies and baldness.

No one really wants to suffer and then have another person suffer through it, too. But to be able to share our stories and say, "Me, too!" is a powerful thing. It allows us to know that we aren't alone, that God provides comfort and companionship even in the midst of our darkest moments. No matter how hard Satan tries to tear us down, God is always faithful to be our Rock, our Steady, our never-changing King of Peace. God is good!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Yer purdy...

Last night as we were winding down, Jason on the couch, me tidying up a few things in the kitchen, getting my glass of water for bed, I asked Jason a simple question.

Me: "Did you think I looked pretty today?"
Jason: "Of course!"
Me: "Well, why didn't you say so?"
Jason: "You look beautiful everyday..."

Now, of course that is the right answer, but really?!

Me, snarkly-like: "Oh, then I guess you don't have to tell me ever again..."

Yes, we both just smiled.

I know it sounds like I was fishing, but PEOPLE, I had taken a shower! I mean, it's not that rare, but as a busy mom, let's all just be honest here...showers may happen every day or every other day, but actually washing and blowing dry my hair, well, that happens maybe twice a week, if I'm lucky!

Husbands, take notice!

I already felt pretty yesterday and didn't need Jason to say so. I had spent a lot of time reading God's word and felt very refreshed, beautiful on the inside because God had said so...I also just happened to have a skirt on, which never happens, so, you'd think your hubby might notice...wink, wink.

Anyway, from my post yesterday or the day before about the Proverbs 31 woman, I'm inspired to try an experiment. First of all, let me just say I don't ask Jason if he thinks I'm pretty all the time. Remember, he said I'm beautiful everyday. Ahem.

But, my experiment is this: I'm not going to shower or wash my hair ever again. And let me tell you, it's gonna get stinky! I'm going to have me some very hairy legs and my hair, well, it'll look like I stuck my head in a deep fryer. So, add to the lack of hygiene more time reading God's word, praying and sitting at His feet, and I suspect Jason will be simply overcome by my appearance.

Okay, so, I'm totally kidding! Ewwwwww!

The point is this, ladies, our beauty is on the inside when our hearts are before the Lord. Here's a quote from my jewelry blog:

"We truly believe that every woman's heart was designed to be beautiful. What we wear on the inside will always be seen by the discerning eye. What we wear on the outside is simply a reflection of our tastes and who we are...it will never take the place of our inner beauty...beauty that will last us a lifetime."

And all you guys out there, even if you think your lady is beautiful every day, tell her what you think...she's not a mind reader.

And, if she's not pretty, if her heart is dark and broken, sad, distraught and in despair, if she's angry and unkind, well, start filling her heart with Truth. Fill it a little bit at a time. Encourage her in God's word...it may be a slow process but God is bigger. He works miracles all the time.

And one day, when she walks in the door, you won't be overcome by her appearance, you'll be taken aback by her beauty.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What's in your man-cave?

So, I was reading Proverbs 31 for the millionth time the other day. I have a lot of thoughts on this wife and mom, but for this particular post, I will share what stood out on that day. First, here are the scriptures:

" 10A wife of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. 11Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. 12She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life." Proverbs 31:10-12

Verse 11 is where I started jotting things down. The word "lacks" first jumped out at me. Followed by "value." I have a good friend that is a professional organizer. She has worked some modern day miracles in peoples lives, helping them purge and reorganize. She's even worked with big time hoarders. If I were to guess here, she helps clients determine what is of value to them, and then, with those things the client deems valuable, she helps put them in places where they are easily accessible. The things they are able to get rid of, those things that are simply taking up space, or lack value, they either donate or throw away.

It's all about creating margin. Space. Not only in their physical homes but in their hearts and minds. Less is more.

Now, in all fairness, if you dropped by my casa right now you'd witness my organized chaos and want to call my friend the organizer to tattle on me. Don't worry, she's knows :)

But that's not what I'm talking about here...

I looked up the definition of value. It talks of worth, both "material value" and "human value."

Which one is verse 11 addressing?

It's not difficult to realize that in light of eternity, the obvious answer is the eternal, Godly value of life and love. But the problem is, in America the land of excess, I think there is a big blur between our material and human values. I don't think it. It's rather obvious.

Do our husbands feel loved and have full confidence in us because their garages are chock full of man toys and their basements pimped to resemble something of an IMAX theatre? No. I mean, hopefully not. Hopefully if those things were swept away in an instant, you two would still have a foundation. (I'm not judging you if you have a lot of toys or a home theater. That's not the point.)

The point is, if two people without earthly possessions can fall in love and stay in love, isn't that man's life full? He lacks nothing because he has what is truly valuable. He has love. He has relationship. He has trust.

On earth, we can get caught up in a rat race of the realization that there will always be someone else out there with more stuff than us. Filling our lives with more stuff won't give us more value. Heck, even if you had an expensive house and genuine diamonds, were in all the right social circles and had loads of finances in the bank...if your heart was empty, your family distant, and your marriage a shell, compared to one of Jason's (my husband) moms in Bolivia whose home is made of mud and wardrobe made up of two articles, but she has food on her table and beautiful children laughing and running around, well, it's not hard to see which husband has value and which one is trying to fill his life with meaning.

Having lost a child it's not difficult for Jason or me to not attach heartstrings or value to things.

Life is short. People are God's very creation, an expression of Himself to share His love with the world.

And as moms, our children are only with us for a short time. That time is valuable. And, their lives are priceless. I guarantee that if you give your kid a hug and kiss and tell them how very special they are to you, they will feel so much more valued than if their toy box is full and they wear the latest fashions.

I know I have a lot of margin to create in my home. I have a list of projects that include purging, cleaning, donating and organizing. But when Jason comes home from his blessing of a job, arriving in his paid for car, to our beautiful house, he doesn't hug the wall and kiss the television and the Blue Ray. Instead, he puts his computer bag down, tries to calm the spastic dog, crosses the kitchen to give me a kiss and then embraces and loves on his sweet kids that he hasn't seen in hours.

Monday, August 15, 2011

More summertime fun!

Here's a pic of Ryan sporting Em's backwoods redneck teeth as he crawled around in his cute military style crawl:

Em actually wore this set of teeth to the dentist recently...the dentist screamed and then couldn't stop laughing! My kid is quite the prankster.

*I actually didn't realize Ry had a prune mustache until I just posted this. This is because I don't usually clean off his face after he eats...because I think he's a cute dirty little boy.
Here are some pics from our summer adventures:

Em and her two BFF's camping in the family room

Em requested dirt dessert. I know for a fact I left something out, but when you crush up Oreo's and put worms and flowers on top, no one really notices.

Em and her birthday guests

A picture of Em after completing her first kids triathlon. She was exhausted but wants to sign up again for next year. Any of your kids want to join her?

Here we are visiting my Gramps in the hospital when he had pneumonia. My gramps is doing great now, fyi. And, a side note, he and Ryan are 93 years apart.

We got dressed up and went out to celebrate Noah's 5th birthday. Inquiries: Em's wearing a recycled Sari. Ryan is actually wearing a recycled Noah shirt, so I'm grateful it finally was worn!!!

Me and the best little mid-life crisis Eh-Ver!

Ryan's first trip to the Denver Zoo. He loved it! He also fell asleep. Notice the delicious chubby wrists on this guy! Arghhhhh!

Em and her favorite babysitter in the whole wide world, who is actually on the other side of the whole wide world in Africa presently, doing relief work. We love you, Miss Claire! Thanks for the piggyback ride!

Em and I bought some feathers off the Internet to put in our hair...do you think I overdid it?
*For some reason, in the 60's, I believe, women wore these feather wigs while they were lounging by the pool, sunbathing. It was my Grandma's wig. Em's feathers actually turned out great!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Some summertime fun!

I know it's been a long time since I've posted pictures or even shown that our lives are also fun amidst tough stuff. We had a wonderful summer visiting family and friends in South Dakota and Minneapolis. We laughed a lot this summer. We relaxed, breathed, and just simply enjoyed.

I honestly can't imagine my life at this point without Ryan in it. He brings me so much joy! He's an easy going kid and brings a lot of laughter into our home.

This summer he got to hang out with his younger cousin quite a bit. The pictures below show our ad-lib version of kiddie pools at Nana's house.

Nothin' like a buck nudey baby! So squeezy!!!








Love this aerial shot of the cousins in their "tubs"



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Thursday, August 11, 2011

The "C" Word


Cancer is like saying #$%^&*. It's got six letters but it's a four-letter word.

I've never liked the word cancer.

Merriam Webster defines it four ways:
  1. a northern zodiacal constellation between Gemini and Leo
  2. a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis; an abnormal bodily state marked by such tumors
  3. something evil or malignant that spreads destructively
  4. an enlarged tumor-like plant growth
I guess I don't mind looking at constellations in God's big beautiful sky, but seeing a malignant tumor on an MRI, and that tumor belonging to my very own mom, well, that just sucks, to be frank.

I went to my mom's appointment yesterday along with my dad and younger sister. I choked back some tears here and there as I watched my mom be so very brave. I mean, my mom was like, "I'm not scared. I trust God. I trust Him when things are good and even now. I trust Him."

I sat there next to my dad who has always been so in love with my mom, knowing this is his journey, too. I thanked God in my heart for parents who still enjoy being together, thankful for their loving example of marriage for my own life, so very thankful God opened a door for them to live so close to us.

So many things were running through my thoughts in that office suite dedicated to education and treatment of this "new to me" disease. We all listened to one pretty amazing doctor share knowledge and courses of treatment, maybe not realizing she was now part of our journey. Of course the "Noah" mom came to the forefront of my mind...wanting to fix it...wanting to conquer the world and find a cure for all cancers, but especially breast cancer because it's front and center in my world. But, as much as I am on this journey with my mom, this is her journey. And she's one pretty amazing woman, so I know she's got it...because she knows The One who has got it!

In 7th grade a nurse came to educate us girls about self-breast examination. I freaked. Not because I thought it was silly to talk about touching my boobies. Something in me was gripped with fear and I was sure I would die of breast cancer before I even left high school. I even had my mom take me to the doctor because I had lumpy breasts. The doc said, "Do you eat chocolate?" Of course my reply was an emphatic yes! She asked, "Do you drink caffeine?" Hello! I'm in junior high! Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper were my BFF's next to Stacey, of course! She said that caffeine increases fibroid tissue in the breast and can cause pain and discomfort. I stopped drinking pop. I didn't drink it again until my freshman year of college...which accounted for my 15 extra pounds at the time. I gave it up again. Water is my favorite, anyway...

I don't fear death anymore thanks to God's grace in allowing me to be mommy to a sweet little boy whose name meant "Peace." And, I don't fear breast cancer. I don't fear. What the heck is the point of fearing?! It steals joy and hope. Walking through this with my mom, even from the first call she got, watching her trust in God, and her peace, there's just no room for fear.

Cancer is a four-letter word, but having met it, I know now it can be beat!

It's not going to be a cake walk. There will be surgery. There will be chemo. And, since I'm not having either of those aforementioned, there will be a boat load of walking on my part. I haven't picked the city or the date, but this time I'll probably do the 60 mile walk. And yes, if you are interested, I'll be forming a team...

As a daughter of a woman with breast cancer, I know I can't fix it. I've learned that from experience. I can definitely be a support and encouragement. I can do practical things like make meals and help care for my mom over the next 9 months or so. But there is other stuff I can do, and I know it will not only help my mom, but help my generation and Emily's generation to come.

No. Breast cancer isn't my "new" platform. I've championed for it, or rather against it, in the past...simply because I have boobs. Yes, you will hear more about it here in days to come. But I'm still passionate about loving women, encouraging women, and telling them about God's AMAZING LOVE for them...this isn't new, either is God's love or my passion to tell it.

It's just that breast cancer has helped re-light a fire under me that had nearly died out.