Tuesday, December 18, 2012

grief musings

I feel a bit tongue-tied. I mean how do you talk about the normal daily grind when there's been a national tragedy?

I had originally wanted to share my whirl-wind trip to CA but somehow i feel shallow talking about what fun I had and what a great break it was and all.

This is the strange thing about tragedy. Most people's lives move on... and usually relatively fast unless you were someone who is extremely close to the situation.

I speak from experience.

Although my sister's death was nearly 9 years ago I'm still severely affected. But people around us move on. They have lives and change and grow and develop. They have other life events: marriage, babies, grandbabies, new jobs, cars, homes, friends, and even other deaths.

The people in Newtown are not going to "move on"... they will move through. They will eventually have a new normal. But it's like losing a limb. It's not best to pretend that someone didn't lose a limb. Someday they will be able to cope relatively well without that arm or leg but it's not as though it's somehow better. You learn to function without that limb but you still wish you had it.

This is uncomfortable for most. Having a part of something so essential to everyday life taken from you is so hard to bear.

I've learned how to adapt to the lack of my sister but it doesn't mean that the ache isn't there. My heart longs to see her face again and talk to her and hear her laugh or  have her tell me something stupid to stop me from crying. I want to hold her son. And all of the other children that she would have had.

Life is so bitter-sweet in limbo.

I long for the things that will never be and yet I try to move forward. Not move on per se. but move forward. You can't drive a car forward while staring out the backseat of the car. You have to look ahead to see where you're going.

I have been down and low as of late and I really miss my sister, Libby's presence.

I feel a mixture of relief and guilt when I hold my children to me. My babies are alive. My toddler, two pre-schoolers, 1st grader and 2nd grader are alive. And there are parents who no longer have their children to hold.

What an evil day in age this is. But is it so different from the past where people would sacrifice their children to the "gods"? I used to think this evilness is a new thing but now I'm beginning to see it has resonated in hearts from almost the beginning. Didn't Cain murder Abel his own brother?

How many lives have been lost to genocide? How many dictators have slaughtered thousands? Hundreds of thousands?

I cry out to the Lord for His vengeance. May justice be done. We have yet to see the redemption of our land and our world come to pass but there is a day that all will be made new. A day of renewal. A day of resurrection.

Although my heart is heavy with grief. Grief of personal loss and the grief of a nation's loss. Are we not all groaning?

I think of Romans

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

(Romans 8:18-25 ESV) emphasis mine.

But isn't it true. Aren't we groaning... longing for redemption? Rest in this hope. The sufferings we experience can't even begin to compare the glory that will be revealed to us.

Meaning that as messed up as all this is there is something so much better waiting for us ahead. Sounds impossible doesn't it? really hard to believe. But that's what God Word tells us. So I don't know about you but I can't wait until then! That's going to be amazing.

I'm reminded of Ecclesiastes

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV)

So right now it's okay to cry. It's okay to be sad. It's okay that things are jumbled and confusing and overwhelming. Holding to the One that holds me. Waiting for His time... in which He makes all things beautiful...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

This is my sis-in law, Kristin. I love her so much. She's an amazing woman. Crazy sweet, sarcastic, funny, organized, and beautiful. So grateful for her. Just thought I should say it out loud...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Response to School Shooting in Conneticut

My heart is broken. I was sitting in the car listening to K-Love when the news came on to announce a school shooting in Southern Connecticut. 26 dead of which 18 were children. Life comes in perspective in these moments. My anxieties about my holiday planning, the concerns about parenting, and life in general seem to evaporate quickly like morning dew.

I have four children in elementary school. I can't imagine the heartache that these parents are facing. I can't imagine the fear that the survivors are feeling. When you can't send your small children to school with peace in your heart...

It's taking everything within me to not rush to my kids school and pick them up.

How do we deal with tragedy like this? How do we trust in God's goodness in spite of such evil that is present in this world?

Honestly I don't have answers. I still trust and believe in God's goodness... and I hold onto the knowledge that He's in control. And though that control sometimes doesn't look like what I think it should, I'm trying to give Him my fear....

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
(Psalm 46:1-3 ESV)

Right now the earth is giving way for these families and these children. Let's lift them up in prayer. May God comfort their hearts in the midst of such pain and heartache.

My peace doesn't come from the knowledge that this can't happen to my children and my family but in the knowledge that even though evil DOES happen and does occur that God is with us in the midst and He has promised to never leave or forsake us. And he has promised that though everything feels wrong now, one day everything will be new. Only the Messiah's death shows that God understands how bad this world is tainted and only Jesus' resurrection can answer tragedy by promising the resurrection of his people.

Holding onto the promise that He will make all things new One day.... and I'm longing for that day...

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

This was not the plan.

My good intentions of exercising and showering didn't happen. Instead I got some stuff done. Stumbled back to bed while PJ was napping and drifted off to sleep. I awoke with a call from the nurse at my kid's school. I thought she was calling to tell me that Michael's bandage had come undone but instead it was about Samuel. Instantly my adrenaline was running... again.

The nurse explained that Samuel was having pain and she could actually see the spot that he was pointing to that hurt... and that it was swollen and puffy.

Okay, let me just tell you now. This is every pediatric oncology parent's nightmare. What?! Is the cancer back? Did he grow a tumor since his last scan, just four short weeks ago?

I went to school and picked up Samuel and Libby. I called our pediatrician's office while on the way there. I explained to the administrative staff what was going on. They managed to get us in within less than 15 minutes.

The doctor was thorough and kind, which was nice, because in the past I didn't care for this doctor's bed-side manner but this go round he was really helpful. He asked good questions and did a good job probing, etc.

Samuel was given a write up for a chest x-ray as well as prostate/bladder x-ray. He was to give a urine sample and a blood draw.

This all sounds sweet and simple but from start to finish (getting the initial call to getting all the tests done) it took about 4 hours. It was 2:30 p.m. and I had nothing to do but wait. I hadn't eaten all day because I couldn't eat so I decided to take the kids to Chick-fil-A. They were excited to play and I knew it would be a good distraction.

All this was going on and I had to keep it from Mike.

I got the initial call from the nurse about 10:50 in the morning, 2 hours before his test was to start... so I had a decision to make to inform Mike or to keep him in the dark. I knew this meant I wouldn't be able to tell him anything until after 5 p.m. I didn't want him going into one of the most important tests he would take with worries and concerns about Samuel/cancer?/pain. So I withheld.

And it was torture. I realized how much I rely on Mike to help carry the emotional burden and strain of our kids health issues. I am so blessed to have someone who is a strong sounding board and who can think clearly in the midst of serious distress. And this time, I didn't have his support. So I prayed for him to do well on his test. And I prayed that Samuel would be alright.

After a long afternoon, which felt like eternity, I got a call from the pediatricians. Everything looked good. The tests seemed good. It appeared that Samuel was severely constipated with impacted waste. That can cause pain.

Relief didn't even begin to described what I felt. I felt relieved but then I also felt every drop of energy leave my body. I don't think I realized how much I was giving to get through the day. I felt like jelly.

So when Mike called me after 5 it was my job to inform him of what happened that day. j

But it was worth withholding when I found out his score. The GRE's are a three part test. One part math (which he did well in- 16 years since his last math class). The analytical writing part we won't know the results of. But his verbal reasoning portion of  the test was a completely perfect score! Perfect! 170 of 170 correct.

I know my husband is smart but dang, that's amazing to me. And I know he doesn't want to brag about it but I do. Because he's worked so hard. And he's made some tough choices to help me and the kids during times when he could/should have been studying.

All that said. I'm wiped out. I'm glad Samuel is okay. I'm glad I'm not holding my breath anymore.

So much of my life is built on plans I make. Let me put it this way... I try to plan my life... and it goes my way about 5% of the time.

This was not the plan for the day. But the Lords purpose prevails.

It reminds me of the following Proverbs...

The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.
(Proverbs 16:9 ESV)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
(Proverbs 19:21 ESV)

So Lord direct my plans and my steps today! I know your purposes are better than mine. Lead me according to your will!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Broken fingers & Broken hearts.

I'm writing by Christmas tree candle light, in the early morning hours, after sending the four out the door with Papa (Mike). This morning wasn't unusual in any particular way except that it felt difficult. I needed to provide money for Michael to go to "Santa's workshop" at school.Libby couldn't find her P.E. shoes. Ian spilled pink powder all over the kitchen floor. Children were more demanding than usual about getting milk. Notes had to be written to teachers. Coffee & protein drink for Mike. Cleaning up dishes. Rallying them to cooperate with me.

And I'm so tired. And anxious.

This week-end Mike and I decided to leave our home as the property was going to be taken over by a billion guys in camouflage and airsoft guns. My brother is the proud owner of Ballahack Airsoft and had an "op" this weekend. It's pretty awesome but it meant that the land would be full of people, vehicles, and we wouldn't be able to go outside. So we went to the Outer Banks. My in-laws graciously allowed us to use their beautiful beach house in Nags Head, NC.

I was excited to have some fun down time as a family. It was a little crazy packing up especially with it being so spontaneous. I must confess amazement at how fast we were able to get everything packed up for all 7 of us and how quickly we got out the door!

We settled the kids down for bedtime as soon as we arrived and Mike and I got to have some time to talk. The next morning the kids awoke at 6:20 which I guess is sleeping in since they have to wake up at 5:30 on school days. Mike held them off for a few hours allowing me to get a little more shut-eye.

Things seemed to be going fine. I was getting ready for the day when I heard a loud noise, Mike yelling, and Michael screaming. Ian had smashed Michael's hand in the door. A very heavy door. I walked out to find Michael sitting at the kitchen table with tears rolling down his cheeks and blood pouring out of his right hand onto his yellow sweatshirt and all onto the floor. Mike was already at the sink wetting paper towels and I grabbed a few more and we put pressure on Michael's hand.

It looked bad. I mean really bad. I was concerned that one of his fingers might have been severed. I directed Mike to give Michael ibuprofen and I sprung into action grabbing my purse and putting on slippers while grabbing a few hospital essentials... a book, some granola bars and fruit snacks, a sippy cup and the IPad. I felt calm. That serene gift of adrenaline and shock propelling me forward.

I was fine driving him until I thought about the hospital and then I started to freak out. So I called my parents to talk me down. This wasn't the first time I've called them semi-hysterical about a child in medical crisis and heard their voices and calmed down.

I felt sick as my mom's phone kept ringing with no answer. I called my Dad and he picked up on the first ring. I knew this was probably prime-time airsoft time and both of my parents were working so I was thankful to reach them. Through tears I explained to my parents what happened and I asked them to pray. I felt revived when I hung up the phone. I scooped up Michael and carried him to the E.R. and asked for help.

The OuterBanks Hospital was kind, professional & efficient. They triaged Michael immediately and after getting his blood pressure, temperature and a lengthy medical history they put us in a room. The doctor who saw us was amazing. He was compassionate and had 7 kids of his own. I felt quickly at ease. After examining Michael's hand he told me that he thought the best option was to x-ray and then splint Michael. One option could have been to numb Michael up with lydocaine and then remove the finger nail that was cut all the way at the base of the nail bed but he didn't want to go that route because he said it would be traumatic and painful for Michael. So Michael had an x-ray which was excruciating because we had to get him to lay his broken finger flat when it was bent, twisted and distorted. After the x-ray we saw that the tip of his finger was fractured and that the bone was in fragments. They washed him with soapy water and then splint and bandaged him. We were released with a prescription for STRONG antibiotics and the promise that we would follow up with an orthopedic doc.

Needless to say this emergency trip to the hospital cast a bit of a shadow on our trip. Uncle John came to visit us though and it was a great distraction for the kids.

Ian was a bit anxious about his standing with us. He asked if he could still come back home to the white house... (our house is white) and if he was still allowed to be apart of the family. We explained to him that we love him. That accidents happen and that he would always be in our family- NO MATTER WHAT!!!

So here I am today, sitting at the kitchen table with it's red table cloth covered in beautiful white snowflakes eating the remains of Ian's donut from this morning and a cup of milk. Thankful that everything is what it is and not so much worse as it could have been.

But I'm struggling with anxiety. Mike is taking his G.R.E.'s at 1 p.m. I know this test is really important. He's applying for a Ph.D. at UVA and this test is a requirement.

And then there's my minor medical procedure this week. I'm having a MINOR breast biopsy done on the 7th. The 7th of December. The day my sister would have turned 30. I've been having pain in my left breast. And when the did a scan they saw a shadow and they could feel something there.... So, to be safe I'm getting a biopsy. Doctor believes it's a cyst or a fibroid adenoid (sp?), I think that's what it's called.

And did I mentioned we just found out recently that we were dropped from insurance. We never received a letter or notice of action... nothing. We had coverage til October 31st. Thankfully the kids are still on Medicaid but apparently Mike made a $100 too much.... So, yeah, even though he hasn't had but one day of work in the past month... we lost coverage.

I want to cancel the procedure but Mike thinks it's important so I'm going through with it. And beside, it will be good to be out of pain.

And then there's the 7th... And all that it means. I've been missing my sister so bad. And it feels strange to think she would have turned 30. And it's too hard to explain how my heart still breaks and how much I wish things were different. That my kids would have cousins to play with. And how my sister would be with me to do things that sisters do together... and to just talk with her and cry and laugh with her... There's too much to say about this....

My way of coping and dealing with the stress has been to store the tension in my body. My back and hips are paying for it with huge knots. In addition when I'm anxious I try to figure out a way to make EVERY THING work out. My mind has been desperately seeking ways to take control and I get consumed with finding answers, being efficient, and somehow making things bend to my will. Or imagining that it will.... LOL

But I am trying to pry my fingers off this idea of control that I have. I'm trying to relinquish it to the Lord and say, "Not my will but yours be done." If He cares for the sparrows and provides for their needs... will He not also care for me?

I'm going to go walk for 30 minutes and take deep breaths. And then get a shower... which is equivalent to spa time in my book. And maybe take a nap while Peter is napping...

If the Lord is for me than who can be against me? What can separate me from his love?

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Romans 8:31-39 ESV)

Bold emphasis mine.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Calculator, Ma!

Okay, so yesterday I had five sick kids so I took them to the doctors... by myself.

Peter became fascinated with the calculator in the waiting room... and soon Samuel took interest as well. He started punching numbers.

"Look Mom. 8 plus 7 and it gives me the answer 15!"

Needless to say it reminded me of one of my favorite skits on SNL...

Guess what's going to be in Samuel's stocking for Christmas this year... Yep, a calculator.

(Dollar Tree has a tone of different colors/varieties!)

Hope you enjoy the skit as much as I do...

Monday, November 19, 2012

while you were sleeping...

Ian Asleep... 

Samuel asleep in his plastic box...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Broken Christmas Cards

I found myself online looking through Christmas cards to find one for this years family photo. I’m a sucker. I really love picture Christmas cards. As I scrolled down the options on the page I was captured by the bright colors and sentimental words.

Something began to feel off. I noticed that each picture represented was perfect. No one was unhappy or ugly or crying. You looked at the pictures represented and couldn’t help but think these people live a charmed life… at least that’s how they’re represented. Now I recognize that these are beautiful models being used to sell Christmas cards but it felt so false and artificial.

Am I saying it’s wrong to use a good photo? No, of course you should use your best picture. Is it wrong to have cute kids? Absolutely not. My kids are adorable.

I guess I’m just realizing we’re not always smiling. Our clothing isn’t always perfect and pristine.  And sometimes you can’t always see the heartache behind the smiles.

When did we stop being genuine? Why is it a crime to be broken? When people ask how you are they want to hear that you’re doing well and not get beyond that. Part of it is a social custom. The other part is people don’t know how to handle messy people.

Yet I also think we crave reality. How many of us balk at the traditional “My Amazing Family” Christmas newsletter: “Bobby made the all-star sports team, won first place at the science fair & is going to Harvard next fall. Little Suzy made student of the year, straight A’s, is prima ballerina for her recital and was made homecoming queen for 3rd grade.”

I’m not trying to be cynical. It’s good to be proud of your kids achievements. It’s good to talk about good things… but isn’t there more? Isn’t there something lacking? Why are we so defined by our achievements and successes? Why are we afraid to talk to the person who just lost their child? Why do we ignore the hard issues that people around us are walking through… or hide the ones that we’re walking through ourselves.

We want to appear to have it together. We want to look beautiful and successful and without flaws.  And when we do that I think we’re desperately fighting our need for a Savior. We don’t want to need saving. We don’t want to appear to be in need of rescuing.

The truth is we’re all messes. We’re all broken. We all have problems, needs & issues. And we all need a rescue. To pull us out of our messes and to save us. To redeem us from a tragic, broken world.
And we’re also not alone. God has given us each other to encourage, support, pray for, and uphold. So I’m standing with you wherever you’re at. No matter how bad or sad or hopeless it seems. And I need people to stand with me and to remind me just how big and amazing our savior is. Our God can raise people from the dead. He takes dead things and makes them alive. Our God is mighty to save. He rescues broken messes. I know, because He has rescued me.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lib's Party

Libby's birthday party last week was a fun time of hanging out and laughing. Eating fun food. Playing pin the tail on the deer to accentuate our woodland themed party. A lot of her friends were unable to attend due to illness and to the party's change of date due to hurricane sandy. She worked through her disappointment and made the most of it... which to say, was a blast!

Friday, November 09, 2012

halloween reflections

Halloween was a strange day for us. Samuel's CT scan early in the morning. A day full of long crazy waiting. a day spent holding our breaths and frizzled and frazzled with the tension of much anticipated news. In the evening before we knew the results we gathered the kids and dressed them up. I took them to the mall for their first experience ever of trick or treating. they had a great time.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Big 2!

Today my baby is 2. Happy Birthday Peter Joel. The blessing of having you in our family is abundantly clear to all who know us. You are a joy to have in our lives. I love the way you seek to make your siblings laugh. You are already the class clown.
I will never forget meeting you on the day you were born. You were a huge sweet chunky bundle of love. 9lbs, 4 oz. and tremendously "short" at 18 3/4inches. I felt like I birthed a baby butterball. I loved all the rolls I could bite on and your beautiful head of dark hair. 

I remember praying that I could take you home the day I went home from the hospital and the Lord kindly heard my prayers! You were in the Special Care Nursery for a few days so we could get your sugar stabilized and then home you came the day I went home. I was so grateful. 

Peter you brought so much joy in the midst of such extreme suffering and intense trials. Samuel was so sick when you were born. He was throwing up all the time and the chemo was so rough on his body. And here you were this healthy baby boy who made the world around you smile. You brought life in the midst of heartache.  You spent a lot of time with me and Samuel at the Oncology Clinic at CHKD and brought sunshine wherever you went. Samuel was 4 and a half when you were born and he would call you "Peter Joy" instead of Peter Joel. And he was right. You are our joy boy! 

Thursday, November 01, 2012

After a long painful wait and having to call the "on-call, urgent-only" oncologist we have our results.

No evidence of disease.

Yay! One year of "clear scans."

All is well.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Thankfully we didn't lose any power during the storm. And the storm wasn't really anything more than a typical rainstorm out here. We had some minor flooding but the puddles have dissipated and we were able to easily get to the Children's Hospital this morning.

Samuel got an IV early this morning, a CT scan, chest x-ray and blood draws.

We are waiting for results.

I must confess the adrenaline and anxiety are a nasty combination. Praying and hoping for the best but trusting God ultimately that all things are in His hands, including Samuel.

Fixing my eyes on Christ...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012