Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Half full.

Half of my day my gut was in knots and I wrung my hands walking in circles and feeling like I was going to throw-up on something. Today was Samuel's CT scan. There were some frustrating experiences that kind of exacerbated the anxiety. It wasn't until after 3 in the afternoon that we got results.

Samuel screamed a lot today. We had to do an IV because he no longer has a CVL that we can draw blood from and push contrast through. So... that was painful. He was writhing, shaking, hitting, kicking and pushing. It's heartbreaking. It's frustrating. It makes me want to go punch a wall. But instead I rub my husband's shoulders as he has our son in a bear embrace to keep Samuel from moving as he is being poked with needles. The first stick didn't take... so guess what... you do it over again.

The problem started early on when the radiologist tech told Samuel that he would need an IV before she had anything to start one with. She wasn't ready or prepared. If looks could kill Mike would have slain that woman. Yeah, she really wasn't thinking. He started crying and getting hysterical... so much so that the tech sent us up to the clinic to have them take blood and start the IV. She wimped out.

We had arrived at the hospital at 8 this morning. It was 9:10 when we were seen by the tech. It was 9:45 when she sent us upstairs. It was almost 11 when the IV was finally placed. It was 11:30 when we had the CT scan. It was 11:45 when we saw the oncologist. And then after 3 for the results. My new favorite 3 letters N.E.D.... No Evidence of Disease.

This transition of resuming "normal life" after treatment has not been easy. It's confusing. So much has changed... and so much hasn't. Samuel still has pain. Because of the radiation... the scar tissue from where the tumor died... side effects of chemo... etc. Samuel has painful bowel movements. He cries and screams... and it's a mess. Trying to encourage him to use the potty is like asking your kid to hold their breath under water for 5 minutes. Torture.

Samuel's diet is not varied. We can barely get him to try new things. He gags and throws up so easily. His issues of oral aversion only got worse with his cancer diagnosis. His staples consist of dry instant maple brown sugar oatmeal, go-gurt, cheetoh puffs, applesauce, fries and Cliff Z bars (nutrition bars for kids). So beside wanting sugary junk like cookies or frosting on cupcakes there is not much else he will eat. I agonize over this. I know he needs proper nutrition. He gets a feed every night through his g-tube so I know he's getting the nutrients he needs but still....

I mean come on. How many of you have read about all the good anti-cancer foods out there. Broccoli, spinach, blueberries, etc. Heck, I wish I could just get him to eat mac n' cheese, chicken nuggets... something! I mean yeah, veggies would be a bonus. So hopefully over time I will slowly get him to take a bite of new things. Literally one bite. And go from there. In the meantime I might start juicing carrots and green veggies like spinach and cucumbers and putting it in his feeding tube.

Who  am I? This question echoes in my head as I stare vacantly into the mirror. Who is that person peering back at me? Vague thoughts bounce around.That unshowered person with no make-up.... when has she brushed her teeth last? Did she even fix her hair? Oh, yep, that's definitely chocolate smeared on her shirt... but hey it's complimented by the yogurt on the other sleeve. She looks tired. Is there a woman underneath all that mess? Yes. Buried underneath requiring deep excavation and overhaul... but I'm still there, somewhere.

Then there's the guilt that comes piling on faster than a plate on Thanksgiving Day. Should I do this? Should I do that? How do I care for the special needs? The regular needs? Which thing should I turn my attention to in this moment... the playroom that looks like it was blown up by a toy explosion. Kid whacking other kid with a block. the child in tears because a toy was "stolen". The spilled milk on the table. The banana and yogurt mush on the floor... the pile of dishes in the sink. The crying baby. The exhausted student. The homework. The laundry.

My bedroom that has somehow become the secret operating headquarters of every member in our family- piles of clean clothes in laundry basket, dirty dishes, broken toy, Christmas wrapping paper, half-eaten snack bar, box of items that I need to do something about, box of half-written Christmas cards.

Reminders of all that is undone everywhere I look. The phone calls that need to be made. The appointments that need to be scheduled. The child that needs to be listened to. My lap needs to be sat on by a minimum of two children at a time and an assortment of books ranging from my little pony to dr. seuss to thomas the train and the magic school bus are placed at my feet. Good thing I'm sitting indian style.

All that said, this may sound crazy, but I know this truth, I'm going to miss this one day. My kids are going to grow up. And they're going to leave... and have lives of their own. Wow. In 17 years Peter will be 18. And I know 17 years is a very short time. In 11 years Libby will be 18. 11 years. I've been in love with my husband for 10 years. 11 is not long. It's a blink. It's a breath. Inhale. Exhale. Time passes too quickly.

So instead of focusing on my disaster of a room... or all the things left undone I'm going to stop and savor. Savor the smell of my son's head... a mixture of banana and sunshine. Enjoy the beautiful drawings and pictures my daughter makes for me. The monkey antics of a little boy who desperately wants Mommy's attention. The unspoken communication through the raise of little eyebrows while a hand is jammed into a mouth.

This winter break has been so good. I've just been enjoying my kids. Enjoying reading to them. Playing with them. Singing with them. Dancing with them. Feeding them. Bathing them. Talking about Jesus with them. And I think I'm learning that at the end of the day it's more important that they know how loved they are than how pretty and put together Mommy is or the house is. I think they like my smile and snuggles more than make-up, style and a cold tone or harsh rebuke.

You know when Mama ain't happy.... no bodys happy.

So, adjust my attitude. Enjoy the dirt. It will pass. One day my kids will be out of the house and it will be clean. But I think secretly I hope it's never perfect. I hope that I have grandchildren mucking it up for me. I don't want to be so caught up in my own little world that I can't let life enter. Life is messy. It's complicated. It's beautiful. It's horrible. It's painful. It's transforming. It's full of CT Scans and medical appointments. It's full of pancakes and syrup. It's mopping the floor. It's watching your children make up knock-knock jokes that make no sense whatsoever but you're laughing so hard because they are hysterical. It's watching the performance of a world-famous hoola-hoop artist. It's broken crayons and coloring outside of the lines. It's grocery store shopping with five kids by yourself. It's running out of toilet paper. It's cooking the perfect turkey. It's burning the cookies. It's putting on a band-aid after kissing owies. It's music at night. It's belly laughs while watching NBC comedy shows. It's apple with peanutbutter. It's roses with thorns. Somedays I'm walking on broken glass. Somedays I pretend taking a shower is time at a spa. It's winter's bleak gray sadness with the promise of spring. It's burning fevers and Tylenol. It's a pair of red high-heels. It's a perfect quote from a book that captures your heart sentiments. It's warm cozy blankets with hot cocoa with peppermint whipcream. It's writing your heart on paper... or at least on a screen.

Congratulations. If you have read this far you should be proud. You have read the ramblings of a tired, borderline crazy Mama. Thanks. I think I've said enough for one day...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas reflections

Holidays have this way of bringing out the best and worst in people. I'm constantly amazed by people's hostility and rudeness and also overwhelming kind-heartedness and generosity.

Some people are happy. They are in a new relationship, just got married, got a promotion at work, had a healthy new baby added to the family. And others are devastatingly sad, juggling grief, loss, and painful memories. Others are bewildered. Just tired, overwhelmed, and burnt out.Whether it's loneliness, a loss of job, family member or friend, or just plain exhaustion the holidays tend to exacerbate the situation.

The days run short. The nights run long. The bills stack up.

And then all the events started. School winter programs. Holiday cookies. Reminders to provide hot cocoa for the class event. Pajama day at school. Bring this. Buy that. Remember this. Blah.

I don't mean to sound scroogey but I'm kind of over the chaos of the holidays. People dragging whining children in stores (yes, I still take them with me). People buying meaningless gifts with money they don't have for people they feel obligated to give something to. Silly, isn't it?

Is it as mad as people trampling others so they can't get the best black Friday deals? And we think the Spaniards are crazy for their bull runs.

Here's the thing. The question you have to ask yourself.

What am I celebrating for?

Really think about it.

If your answer isn't celebrating Jesus, God who took on flesh, Saviour of the World, then well, I guess all the other stuff makes sense. We're trying to fill empty spaces with air. Meaninglessness. Nothing else satisfies.

Not Christmas presents, cards, candy, parties, lights, decorations, and not even people. Nothing will truly satisfy the cry of the heart.

I read a book last night to my children called Goodnight Jesus, or Nighty Night Jesus. Something like that. They didn't understand why the donkey would have been surprised to find a baby in the manger. I had to explain... this is where the donkey would have gotten his food. This is where the animals would gather to chow down.

The King of Kings. Creator of all. Savior of the World. Emmanuel. Come to sleep in a feeding trough.

Born of an unwed, virgin teenager.

A humble, hungry, crying infant... dependent on his mother for nourishment, warmth and provision.

And it's not just the birth, but the life, death, and resurrection that gives us Hope. God has restored us to Himself through Himself. Pretty Awesome to think about.

So this may not make everything seem good or rosy. You'll probably still get annoyed if someone cuts ahead of you in line or bumps into your shopping cart. But the good news is that God came for us. He came into a smelly stable so that He could save wretches like us. He came to bring us to Him.

I'm still frustrated with my kids. Contemplating what I will make for dinner... spaghetti or waffles. Somethings don't just magically change.

But I hope that as I reflect on what I'm celebrating that my heart would change. That my heart would long to love others and share kindness and friendship... knowing in and of themselves it's not good enough but when your heart is filled with the hope that comes from Jesus Christ may it spill over to to every other part of me.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy Endings.

Last night was a normal night. Preparing dinner. Getting kids into bed. Doing the teeth brushing ceremonies. The pajama dance. And bedtime reading ritual.

And then I got a message. "They are okay. Kristin and Madison were in a car accident." My stomach dropped. The love I feel for my sister-in-law and my baby niece is intense. If things weren't "okay" I would have been undone.

It's moments like those that I recognize how blessed I am. And how much I love.

The thing I appreciated about how I was told was the first sentence. "They are okay." I know the end result before I even knew what happened.

It's kind of a reminder of where I'm at. I have the promises of God and the hope of Heaven to propel me forward. So the bad thing that happen now are okay. I know the ending.

I wish I could remind myself of this reality regularly. In the end all will be well. This isn't the end of the story. We're caught in the middle right now.

Can you imagine watching a movie that is horribly intense and sad... with tremendous suffering. And you were left hanging not knowing what the ending is... but what if you were to watch that same movie and you knew that the ending was not only good but redemptive, beautiful, and transforming. That is our story.

If our hope is in Jesus Christ, our Savior, then we know the ending. And it's not just okay... it's AMAZING. Beyond what we can imagine. We will live with God for ever. No more sin, sorrow, suffering. No tears of grief. No more loss. No more jealousy. No more comparing. No more gossip. No more murder. No more hatred. No more crime. No more frustration. And more than the absence of pain and the consequences of sin... but the presence of God. He has given us Himself. All things will be made new. And we will be HOME. The place where we were made for. In the presence of the One who made us, loves us, redeems us, and transforms us into His likeness.

It's the ultimate ending...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

In the Storm

I don't know how good you are at reading between the lines so let me spell it out for you... I'm not doing well right now. My mind has been tossed to and fro and I've been shaken to my inmost parts. I feel like a fragile bird's shell. The slightest pressure breaks me and spills me out. And it's messy. Very messy.

The intensity of life has been building over the years and I'm so worn out. I no longer have a shell to protect me. My skin is vulnerable. No scales to cover or shield me. I'm completely exposed. Raw. Pathetic and broken.

I have gone to some of my close friends and sought help. So much good encouragement. My Grandma reminded me to listen for God's answer. And this morning in the middle of cleaning the kitchen I heard Him. Nothing audible. Nothing life-shattering. But a simple prompt in my heart, "I've already lived life perfectly. You are released."

Whoa. You mean I don't have to keep trying... I had found myself saying over and over lately, "I just can't do it anymore." But this can stop. I don't have to do it anymore. I can surrender myself to Him and say, "You do it. I'll stop trying."

God is showing me that any good thing that's going to come out of my life, my heart, my family... it's going to be His. He's the One who is going to make it happen. He will make it possible. He will receive the glory. It's not me. It's not my attempts to survive or even venture to thrive. When people will look at me and my life they will be aware that it's not anything I've done. It's God. It's Him preserving me. It's not my work. It's not my frail efforts. It's His power of the Holy Spirit at work in me.

I realized this morning that I had lost my confidence because I had forgotten who I am. I had been constantly second-guessing and doubting myself. I would over think things to the nth degree. But when I am reminded that the same spirit that empowered Christ is dwelling within me... and I can trust Him to lead me, guide me and carry me through this. My friend Amy reminded me of 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

fBlessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

(Bold and italic emphases are mine)

I can relate to being so burdened you despair of life itself. That has been a struggle of mine lately. Yes, I've been in a very dark place. But my hope is also the same... that I wouldn't rely on myself but on God who raises the dead. He will deliver me from myself. That same power that raises from the dead dwells in me.

Thank you Jesus that I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to have it together. I don't need to pretend I'm okay. Thank you for your life lived perfectly and for your sacrifice on the cross. Thank you for forgiving me of my sins and for making me into a new creature. Bringing the dead back to life. Thank you that your Spirit lives in me. You are bigger than the mess I am. You will make all things new.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I'm lying in bed waiting for the alarm to go off. The reminder that my day needs to officially begin. I didn't sleep well last night. I couldn't fall asleep until after 1:30. I could hear Mike getting up at 5:30 to wrangle the kids into their clothes and see them off to the bus. 6:55 my alarm reminds me to take some action. So I set my alarm for 7:15 and I lie in bed sick to my stomach with anxious thoughts swirling in my head. Thankfully my son comes to bother me a few times so I can't fall back asleep. He needs me to help him open his wrapper on his breakfast bar among other needs.

My eyes sting and feel itchy and scratchy. My throat burns as it has for almost a week now. And I lay in bed unsettled, restless and wild.

I don't want to start this day. I want to fall asleep with the blankets over my head and just pretend it all away. Maybe I don't need to be responsible this day. But I do. And I need to get ready now. And yet I keep typing.

Maybe if I type long enough I will gather some momentum. The cold doesn't help much. It makes me want to stay warm under my covers, putting off that which needs to be done.

And yet God is still God even of this day. It's not a mistake. It's not by chance. And this is a day I can rejoice in. Even with all the mundane and not so mundane that is set before me.

My stomach is still unsettled. My thoughts are somewhat scattered. But I am reminded that the God who never sleeps is watching over me. He knows my anxious thoughts. I pray for His peace that surpasses all understanding and I set down my computer to ready myself for this day. This is the day that the Lord has made and I will choose to rejoice and be glad in it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


I've been weary. The kind of weariness that almost takes on a dream-like quality. I find myself trying to do things but I keep going slower and slower. It's like I'm moving through mud... or maybe even quick sand. Because not only is it hard to keep pressing forward but I find myself sinking down, down, down. Almost afraid that I will soon be in over my head.

Tomorrow (December 7th) would have been my beautiful sister's 29th birthday. And she's not here to celebrate with. She's having the best party imaginable. In Heaven. With Jesus. And her son. And those who have gone ahead. Lucky.

In the meantime I'm still in this sinful, painful, broken world. And frankly it sucks.

I find myself going through the motions. doing laundry. Washing dishes. Preparing meals. Giving kids their medicine. Reading books. Exercising. But I feel so on the brink of breaking. Imploding. Collapsing in on myself.

Even the normal and mundane tasks feel more than I can bear. a fatigue has set in that I can't shake. The lethargy grips me before I even rise in the morning. I feel tired and overwhelmed before the day begins.

I know it won't always feel this bad. And I hold onto that in the midst.

I'm difficult right now. Moody. Irritable. Raw. Quickly hurt. Quick to be angry. I'm so frustrated with myself. Because I'm not behaving how I think I should. I should be kind. Patient. Gentle. Loving. Etc. But I'm not. And I can't even be better. I can't do it on my own. That's where I fall on my face and scream, "Jesus help me. I can't do this." And somehow, miraculously, I find myself getting through the day. And another day. And through the week.

Samuel's scans are on the 28th. Yippee. Something to dread through Christmas. I'm trying to put the anxiety aside but it keeps popping up like a buoy in the ocean. I try to shove it under the water... and I succeed for a little while and then bam. It pops up again.

So, yeah, I'm not a cheerful, uplifting person to be around or read right now. That's okay. God is big enough to hold on and hopefully you can bear with me during this rocky time.

A lot of people have asked me how things are going right now. That's hard to answer. We are extremely grateful that Samuel's life has been preserved. He still has bouts of pain. Lot of late effects from chemo and radiation. Lots of big adjustments. We are still trying to figure out what life is outside of "living" at the hospital. Mike is proactively looking for work. We are still trying to pull things together... and it still continues to be a struggle. One day at a time. We hope that we're on the upswing of things. We know life has been harder at various points then it is right now but we're still struggling under the pressure, stress, intense suffering of many years.

So please be praying for us and asking God to uphold us. We are hanging in there... and sometimes that's all you can do.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A few thoughts after the fact.

So how do you follow up a post on Disney?

I've had so much to say... so much inside my head that I've been wanting to verbally express and a lot that I'm trying to process... being tongue-tied has left my post a blank. So instead of carefully composing I'm going to slap my paint on a canvas and start somewhere. It might be messy... less than ideal... but it's real.

Our time away was good. The kids did an amazing job traveling and we really enjoyed watching them have so many new, different and exciting experiences. It was a blessing to be able to go somewhere where we didn't have to worry about the cost of parking, park admission, hotel costs, etc. And with a family of 7 and with our friend Alexis to help us... well, 8 people... it's a lot.

I found myself so grateful yesterday... so much God has given us. Above and beyond what we need. I'm a rich woman indeed. The Lord is truly our provider. And He is a giver of good gifts.

I also found myself heartbroken... and outright weeping. I missed my sister. I found myself in the presence of many sister relationships yesterday and it reminded me of how much I am missing with my sister gone. I was thankful that the relationships reflected were good. That they were sisters who love each other very much. But I missed Libby. And I felt a little lost. And it hurt so bad.

Things are not right here on earth. I shouldn't be surprised by the continued brokenness and that things are not made whole yet. But I am. And it catches me off guard. Like the moment when you know you are falling and you try to catch yourself, but it's too late... all you can do is maybe use your hands to help cradle your fall. Your palms end up scratched. The impact is quite jarring. The thing was, I didn't catch myself falling.I found myself on the ground. I didn't know why I was hurting til after the tears already began to spill down my cheeks.

Grief catches me unaware. It's a suckerpunch. It comes out of nowhere. It hits hard and fast and almost always a surprise. There's no time to think, react or respond... it smashes into me like a bumper car, crashing ... and I'm left with whiplash.

I don't understand my life at times. I feel torn between two worlds. There is the "normal" world or maybe I should say "ordinary" or "average". People with typical families. They don't have kids with life-threatening illness. They have problems... and I'm not downplaying the stress or the suffering of the daily wear and tear that life brings... but it's different. In this world I find myself trying to relate and find myself grasping and missing the connection so often.

E.G. I'm at the YMCA today and this is a real conversation between me and one of the attendant caregivers at the  play area.

          Me: "Can you please try and remind Samuel to use the restroom? He's in a pull-up but he needs to be reminded....
           Caregiver: "Of course we have lots of kids in pull-ups."
           Me: "Well, he was pottytrained... it's just his cancer has made it hard...."
   A minute later... talking about Michael with same attendant.
          Me: (smiling at Peter in the baby section for non-walkers) "I remember it took so long to get     Michael out of the non-walking area..."
          Attendant: "Lots of kids walk late..."
           Me: "Well, Michael walked late because he was a preemie and has cerebral palsy... We're so thankful when he started walking...."

Why do I try and explain? Why can't I just shut up and nod to the 18-19 year old who thinks they're talking normal parenting jargon with me? Why can't I just drop it? Why do I have to show how freakish our life is... exposing it like some horrible scar that I should have left covered up. It's the reality of my life...

Sometimes I'm so damn stupid.

My attempts to want to be honest tend to get me nowhere in those kinds of settings. I usually can be quiet about it. Today I wasn't. It's not like anything I said was untrue but I feel as if I said something shocking or shameful... something that made everyone uncomfortable. Like breaking a holy moment with profanity.

And then I'm mad because of the hot shame that burns my cheeks. I shouldn't be embarrassed about talking about my life.

I get frustrated, and jealous and annoyed at the Mom sitting across from me in the doctor's office. Her toddler daughter looks like the picture of health across from me. But the Mom is fretting and worried and I just want to shake her and say, "She's not going to die from this cold. Be thankful it's not cancer." Aaaaagh. Where does this come from? It's a normal thing for a parent to be concerned about their child. I don't want this lady to experience the same suffering I've walked through.

And then there's the other world. The world where chemo and radiation are a normal part of everyday conversation. Where "scans" makes your heart race and you discuss the pros and cons of anti-nausea meds. Or the world in which the child is deformed. Unable to stop their hands from becoming bent and clawed... or shaking their limbs or twitching their heads. The world where people look on in pity... or disgust... or just look away because it's too painful too look. I've seen those who have it worse than me. I've seen their exhausted hollow faces. I've seen them try to protect their child bound to a wheelchair from the cruel world that surrounds them.

And I bounce back and forth between these two worlds. I feel like a ping-pong ball being sent back and forth... to and fro. And I don't know how to relate... and I don't know how to acclimate. And I know that both these worlds have suffering. And both these worlds are broken... and I don't know where I fit. And I don't know what to say. And in one world I'm a personal reminder that bad things happen... and in the other that they're not alone... we're in the same boat.

This division wreaks havoc on me... mentally, emotionally. I feel frayed and worn. I see that I have so much to be grateful for... but get angry when others aren't quick to be thankful for their circumstances. Who made me the gratitude police?

I found myself in Florida experiencing increasing tension between the two worlds. We would be at Give Kids the World... staying with other families who have children with life threatening illnesses. The place where all of us "odd-balls" are normal. Where it's just as typical to see a child in a wheel chair and where special needs are seen as typical needs.

And then to go to the Parks and be bombarded by the "normals". Aaagggh. It was making me crazy at times. Kids screaming and falling apart with the "gimmees" and the demands of children gone wild around us. I could see some people give us questioning looks as to why we got special fast lane privileges... It made me want to say... well, you can have this privilege too if your child gets cancer.

This desire. This "need" of mine to be understood. And even accepted. It's the cry of my heart. But I am gently reminded by God. Only He really understands. Only He gets it. He knows the intimate details of all my circumstances... all my life situations... He knows the depths of my heart and the secret hurts... He knows all the wounds and scars I carry. Nothing is secret from Him. He longs for me to bring myself to Him... all of my imperfections and worries and heartache. And even as I groan in this earthly body.... even now, Jesus is interceding on my behalf. Praying perfectly for me... And He loves me and He knows me.

And so I rest in that tonight, I am loved and known by the Great I Am. The One who made the stars and formed the galaxies also knows the intricate details of my heart. And although I collide in these worlds that feel at times like night and day... I know God is in control- He hasn't changed. I belong to Him. He is my hope. This world is not my home. And One day ALL things will be made new.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Best of Friends.

Libby and Samuel are truly best of friends. I am so thankful for their love and affection for each other. They are sensitive to each other, aware of each other's feelings and how the other is doing. It was really hard for Libby when Samuel was diagnosed with cancer. She had to adjust to a new school, new teacher... and no little brother to walk alongside her... She was so worried about Samuel dying and struggled with being unable to express her feelings and concerns. I'm so thankful and blessed that they love each other so much. I'm grateful that we have now... over a year later, able to enjoy seeing them in all their sibling-ness. Playing and talking, pretending and laughing with one another. It's such a gift.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Mike's Message.

Mike spoke last Saturday night to Access our Church's Singles Group. You can listen to him speak here.

He did a great job. He discusses Suffering and our testimony of our life together and specifically with Samuel's cancer. He also talks about Psalm 41. I highly recommend listening... it helps you understand where we're coming from but also is a good exegesis on this Psalm.

Isn't Peter precious? I can't believe he just turned one on Monday. Happy Birthday Peter!

This video was taken when he was just a wee little thing. Shortly after Madison was born!

Okay, whoops! Just realized that this is the video of Madison crying while I'm trying to film Peter. Kind of funny.... Sorry Kristin! I promise she wasn't always crying like this :)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Taking the Road Less Traveled.

Often I find myself when I drive thinking of the poem by Robert Frost "The Road Not Taken". The roads I take on a daily basis greet me with green. Trees are everywhere. Now they're becoming colored in scarlet, orange, and brown. And becoming bare. Shedding their layers and showing off their long limber physiques. I love the drive that I take. I love the roads I choose to venture on everyday. Living out in the country might take longer to get places but it's almost always a scenic path and peaceful. I have plenty of time to think, listen to music or NPR or books on tape. Always time for conversation. The kids are used to being in the car for extended periods of time. These are my roads I travel... from home to the front of the driveway :)

The Road Not Taken- Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 

Friday, November 04, 2011

Help Us Whip Cancer.

A friend put together a fundraiser for Samuel. It's a pampered chef show where 25% of sales will go to his fund. If you are interested in purchasing go to

Click on shop online.

And purchase. I am your host: Jennifer Napier if you need to put it down.

Any local orders I would be happy to arrange drop-off/pick-up of your order.

The guest special is if you spend $60 you receive a cookbook or bamboo kitchen towel for free.
If you spend $100 you get to Choose one cookbook, Bamboo Kitchen Towel, Easy Read Measuring Cups or Smooth-Edge Can Opener FREE

Slow down.

Having a quiet moment before I burst into a flurry of activity. Trying to slow myself down. I'm so tempted to rush, rush, rush that I'm  not even savoring anything of my life. I don't like it when I live from event to event or one "to-do" to the next. I don't even appreciate what I accomplish... I gulp down some caffeine and push myself to the next thing. Sigh.

Why do I measure my productivity to my happiness... and even worse- to my self-worth. I forget at times that I am valuable even if I just sit and read a book. I am valuable even if my to-do list is not touched. I am valuable even if I screwed up really badly. BECAUSE I am valuable because I am in Christ. Because I was bought by His precious blood.  Because He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Created in His image. A daughter of the King.

So as I sit and ponder and think and write I just want to embrace the truth like a warm blanket on a cold morning and wrap it around me. I am valuable because I am His.

When I get ready to leave and do my next action for the day may I relax, take a deep breath and be at peace. May I be aware of Jesus going with me. Planning my day is something I love... but only He knows what a day will hold. So I give it to Him and surrender.

Like I prayed over my daughter the other day, "Jesus, help us to see the good things you have for us in this day... and thank you that even in the rough things, the bad things that happen, that you are there. You promise to never leave or forsake us. Thank you for this day!"

Friday, October 28, 2011

Kids, Carseats & other feats of amazing significance.

Most people think to themselves, "I want to go somewhere" and then grab a bag (maybe), their keys and walk out the door. They get in their car. Start the car. And go. That doesn't happen in our world. It is a task that sometimes feels as grueling as climbing a mountain. First, is the gathering. The bags. The diapers. The wipes. The returns to the store. The shopping lists. The sippy cups. The snacks. The activity bag (no getting bored). The coupons. The directions. The agendas. Next is the ushering out. This sounds simple... open a door and have children move towards the car. But sometimes the direction goes askew. The play ground beckons. The tricycle must be ridden. The water hose must be tampered with. A hershey's kiss must be deceptively snuck out of gramma and grampa's nest (efficiency apartment). If I can get them to the car and still have them avoiding the appealing mud puddles or rocks from the driveway then comes the next step. The wrangling into carseats. Sometimes this feels more like trying to rope tie a hog covered in oil. Not that I've done that. But I do have imagination. Getting kids over seats into the right seats and having them strapped securely. Being sure to avoid kicking a fellow sibling in the face while diving back into the way back is not something to belittle. This takes serious skill. After carseats is the final round and chorus of moans, cries, pleading, begging, or gabbing. "I need my doll." "I have to go potty." "I forgot my milk". "I need blankie." "I need my fuzzy." "Mommy, he hit me." Recently while pumping gas in the car I was informed very loudly by my daughter, "Mommy, Ian's throwing chicken nuggets at me." I was alarmed by this misbehavior but even more so because we hadn't had chicken nuggets in several days! Not only did he manage to accurately hit his sister in the back of the head with a nugget but also landed one on the dashboard of the car. Whining subsided. Passy found and soothing in progress. Thumbs are being sucked. Crackers are being eaten. Milk is being drunk. I slide into my seat. I manage to safely back out and NOT hit Ben or my Dad's vehicle and we're on our way. Rocks are crunching underneath and we leave our home to enter the unknown. Once we hit paved road we know we are successfully on our way. We are headed to "town." Seriously, yes, that is what we say. We say, "We're going into town. Need anything?" What are we? Little House on the Prairie? I don't think of myself as a country girl but how can you NOT be country when you ask the question of anything followed by "while I'm in town." "I'll go there when I'm next in town." "I will make that return while I'm in town." Yeah, it's like that. Sometimes a thumb is not enough. Michael likes to suck on all his fingers!

Fall Barbie Princess Party.

Libby's Birthday party was a lot of fun. We enjoyed pizza, decorating pumpkins and a cake. I used a bundt pan for the cake and then bent Barbie in half... the cake was her "ball gown" style dress. It was a lot of fun to make. Pictures didn't turn out great... hope to eventually get a better camera so I can take better pictures... but thankful I have what I have. Should have taken pics in the daylight time... but that's hindsight, isn't it. You always see 20/20 looking back. Libby had a great time. She enjoyed her party. That's the important thing... Not my silly desires for perfection.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Libby Girl.

Don't you love the pumpkin grins. She's missing her front two teeth and one on bottom. So cute! Hard to see in the pics.... but they are missing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My thirty-one party.

My friend Shelley sells thirty-one products. I'm hosting an online party... and you're invited! Go and browse and shop here! The party closes at 5 p.m. on the 30th (this Saturday). Orders are done online. Here's a sweet deal... if you spend over $31 you get their organizing utility tote (valued at $25) for just $7.
From their signature purses and totes to storage solutions that help organize your life, you'll find something to fit every personality and situation.

Hunt Club

Pictures from my time with Samuel & Libby and my cousin Emily at Hunt Club Farms