Friday, March 30, 2012

Good news.

For those who don't follow on caringbridge (www.caringbridge.org/visit/samuelnapier)

Here is what I just posted...

We had the CT scan this morning very early... and now a little after four in the afternoon we have the results. There doesn't seem to be any evidence of disease! Praise the Lord. 

One of his lungs is a little deflated but that seems due to all of his respiratory issues he seems to have going on- mucous, asthma, cough, etc.

So we're good for another 3 months...

Very grateful.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I just posted on my caringbridge site here.
Please pray that Samuel's scan in the morning will continue to show no evidence of disease.

Samuel's Scan tomorrow.

We have had some super sick kids. Fevers. Vomiting. Coughing... actually more like barking like seals. Friday I took the boys in to the pediatricians and they got chest x-rays. No pneumonia... yay. But they did need oral steroids.

Sunday evening I took Michael to the E.R. and we got home in the wee hours of the morning. He had been having sharp abdominal pains which was rather worrisome especially given the fact that was the start for Samuel that led to his diagnosis. Michael was really constipated. Thankfully things are much better now.

Michael and Samuel have had to stay home from school all week though because they're still hacking.

Tomorrow is a big day for Samuel. We leave very early in the morning to take him to CHKD for a CT scan and a follow up appt. with his oncologist.

My friend Nathalie recently wrote a very beautiful post on her blog prayerwalkguides.com that describes so much of how I feel... this waiting game that I often feel I am in. She describes it much better though. More elegantly and more powerfully. You can read her blog post here.

God willing all will be well. I will update as soon as I can.... Please pray.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Buttered Bed & other stories of my life

Mike went on a trip a week ago. I was thankful that he got the opportunity to spend time with a very dear friend. He had some time to decompress, download and get some refreshment. My job was to hold down the fort.

The night before he left I got some weird, strange tummy bug (something I ate?) and proceeded to be sick through the middle of the night. It wasn't a great way to start his absence. Getting kids to school and picking them up. Sleep-overs. Medical appointments. Errands. Library book sale. Church.

I got these weird urges at night to organize and clean.... closets... pantry, etc. I tried to get to sleep "early" most nights so I can manage the kids "well-rested". My nights were restless and I found myself tossing and turning.

By Sunday I was getting a little desperate and crazy. The dog had puked all over my bed, peed on Samuel's bed and pulled apart a favorite toy. The boys were eating gum and candy for breakfast. Libby was so sweet to prepare English muffins... She had everything arranged neatly on a tray. She had the plate with english muffins and the butter dish and a butter knife. I was impressed. We each shared a yummy cinnamon raisin english muffin. I had Peter on the bed with me and the dog trying to jump on the bed when Michael asked me to change his diaper. Okay, no problem...  I left Peter on the bed, I wasn't thinking, (clearly!) and took Michael to his room and changed him and got him dressed for church. I then got Ian dressed for church. And then it hit me. Oh NO!!! I left Peter on the bed... Sleep deprivation makes you do weird things...

I walked into the room to the crashing sound of the breakfast tray being shoved off the bed. There was Peter.... Butter dish in hand... eating butter and spreading it all over my freshly washed sheets and pillows. I had a buttered bed. It was pretty evenly distributed... I will give him that. His hands and arms were nice and greased up. His cheeks were slathered in yellow butter. His smile was bigger than life. Oh my.

Peter also found a partner for his bathroom adventures. He and Penny take turns exploring the toilet. Peter splashes his hands in the bowl and Penny drinks from it. Toilet paper and paper towels are investigated and strewn throughout.

Fruit snack wrappers litter the floor in the boys room. The sheets I had washed the day before... must be rewashed... again.

I  did manage to get a break. Thank you Mom and Dad N. for watching the boys! Libby had an overnight with a buddy. Thank you John for the life-saving pizza.  Thank you for those who helped me at church as I was starting to slip from sanity's grasp.

Mike's back home. sigh of relief. The kids are sick now. Fevers. Cough/colds, ashtma/allergies... I'm so thankful Mike's here to help me!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

God's promises

Lately, I have been struggling to remind myself of God's truth. I have been very fearful about Samuel lately. His stomach has been bothering him almost every time after he eats. I have to try and stay calm. He's also had a lot of pain with potty issues too. So immediately what comes to mind is what happened when Samuel was first diagnosed. It's uncomfortable to think that way.

I know it's more likely than not (statistically) that Samuel's cancer will return. Yet, I hold on... praying and hoping that the Lord will eradicate any cancer cells from his body.

I must confess the thought of going through what we just went through with his treatment of almost 15 months... well, I shudder to consider going through that again.

I am trying to fix my eyes off the statistics, off the symptoms, even off Samuel and onto the Lord. May I trust Him with my whole heart. I know that God is in control and that He has good things for us. Yet, I know it doesn't guarantee a specific outcome.

So I seek to enjoy Samuel this day. And be thankful for his life... and the lives of all my precious children... and I cry out to the Lord...

"Have MERCY!"

Samuel's CT scan is March 30th. I breathe in. I breathe out. I am reminded of God's covenantal promises through many things: full moons, pennies, and rainbows. I know He is faithful.


One of my favorite songs is "He's Always Been Faithful". I love Sarah Groves' version.

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God's hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me.

I can't remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can't remember one single regret
Find more similar lyrics on http://mp3lyrics.com/I7pqIn serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me.

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I've heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful, He's always been faithful
He's always been faithful to me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Just so you know the Lord did hear my prayer. I finished my work yesterday and it was due today. Yippee. Phew. Nothing like a deadline to create some motivation. In all sincerity I am so thankful the Lord helped me to keep on...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Writer's Block.


I thought I was a writer. I thought I had a gift. But as I sit here wracking my brain to write this article that is due Tuesday... I feel stumped.

I'm FAILING

I have writer's block... and this is really good.

I'm once again reminded that I must cast myself on Jesus. I need the illumination of the Holy Spirit. I can't do this apart from Him. And instead of a blank page as I have now... or pages of jumbled words, feelings, and confusion that I have already written... but when it all comes together... it will be the Lord's work.

I'm writing about Samuel. And I find myself unable to write because I'm crying. And I feel sick in my gut. And I feel unable to move forward. The bile creeps up the back of my throat... and I swallow... the acid burns. But I feel my heart is refluxing more than my stomach.

How do I share a story about Samuel without being so bombarded by my emotions? I can hardly think in my head. It's fuzzy... blurry... About to swallow me up.

So I stop. I sit. I pray. I write. 

God, help me. Help me to express my story as a Mom walking through her child having cancer. help me to communicate truth... and the Gospel. Help me to be a light to others. May you be glorified in my life... in my writing.. in my words. Help me to comfort other mothers who are walking through trusting their children with you. Who are struggling to cast their cares on you. Who doubt that you could love their children more than they do. Lord, you are faithful. You will not abandon or forsake me. My hope is in you. Whether this article is written or not... You are good. You are powerful. Please don't let me get in the way of what you want to do. Thank you for the gifts you have given me... may they bring you honor. And Jesus, as I write... let me know, that I write for an audience of One.

In Your Name I pray, the Name above all Names, Jesus Christ ... Amen.

Just because I prayed doesn't mean the words are magically pouring from my fingertips as I type... but this is in the Lord's hands. 

And now, back to the work I need to complete...

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Sweet Sorrow.


9 years ago my sister was married. Yesterday, March 7th, marks 8 years since my sister went home to the arms of Jesus. It's another "heaven birthday" as I like to think of it.

It feels somewhat surreal. A couple days ago I was feeling edgy and irritable all day and I couldn't really put a finger on what was bugging me. And as I was washing the dishes and trying to pinpoint where my angst was coming from it hit me. I'm grieving. I really miss my sister. And my body, like clockwork recognizes this time of year. It knows the season. My very bones have recorded the pain of when I lost my sister.

The light is the same. Every March I see the sun setting and see the same light that I saw after her funeral. It's strange how the light changes throughout the year. And once again we've traveled around the sun and we're back to springtime. 

I used to be angry in March. Things were coming to life. Buds on trees. Spring's arrival. Reminders of new life. New birth. Freshness. Newness. These things seemed to mock me after my sister's death. Spring became death to me. It became loss. Pain. Tears. Heartache.

Now I see differently. My sister was being birthed into Heaven. Libby was stepping from this world into the next. She moved through death into life. She is in the presence of Jesus now and forever. Because of Christ's resurrection death has no sting. Death is merely the vehicle that moves us from here to there. 

This time of year still doesn't cease to be painful. I still hurt. I miss her. I would love to be with her. I lost a lot when she went home. My sister wasn't just my sister. She was my dear friend, one of my closest confidantes, my fashionista expert, my bossy little sister. The one who understood family dynamics. The one I went to China with and taught English. She was the one who saw me throw up on the Great Wall and who later braved the streets of Beijing for me to get a calling card so I could call home and complain of my sickness. She sang as I walked down the aisle to my groom. She was who I argued with, cried with, laughed with and if all else failed ate ice-cream with.  

Things I remember about my sister:

- She was amazing at playing "Chubby Bunny"... she could stuff so many marshmallows in her mouth.
- Sometimes she would snort when she would laugh really hard.
- She played the guitar and sang beautifully.
- She was compassionate toward those with disabilities.
- She loved her some shoes!
- She would gasp at everything. It could be remembering something she forgot or seeing someone she hadn't seen in a while. It was almost always very startling.
- She loved me.
- She had a great laugh.
- She was extraordinarily beautiful inside and out.
- She loved Lucky Charms.
- She was a true girl- Loved chocolate.
- She enjoyed riding horses.
- She and I played sports together. During softball I would freak out every time she went up to bat. It would make me so anxious. I was so worried she'd strike out... she rarely struck out.
- She would visit me when I was working at Starbucks- caramel macchiatto or white chocolate mocha?
- She and I made up our own dance routine to Amy Grant's "Baby Baby"
- The way she would say, "Je-ennn...." followed by eye roll.
- The way her eyes crinkled when she laughed.
- Icecream- it's what's for breakfast.
- Swimming in the pool playing Marco Polo and other water games.
- watching her play soccer, basketball, softball.
- Playing tennis together. 
- Grocery shopping with her when she was pregnant. She would get so sick she would have to run to the bathroom. I pushed the cart around.
- Her smile- beautiful, genuine, and larger than life.
- Her wide feet.
- Getting matching flip-flops together.
- Eating twizzlers. 
- Playing hopscotch and jump rope.
- birthdays, birthdays, birthdays.
- Getting Christmas trees on her birthday.
- She used to be afraid of Cancer. She would call it "c" (literally)
- She was afraid of getting old because she thought she would be scared of herself. Wrinkles freaked her out.
- My side-kick at any family event... including dramas I would make-up, fashion shows, and magic shows... singing... I can't believe she would do what I said.
- Her love of tulips.
- Her love for Jesus.
- Going to the state fair as a family... her laughter at the pig races.
- Peanutbutter pretzels.
- Inside jokes.
- She would never talk until she brushed her teeth. 
- Playing office as kids. We loved to pretend to drink coffee as we wrote on legal pads.
- Overhearing her sing in the shower or in her bedroom while playing guitar.
- Her stealing the dog from my brother to sleep in her bed... even though she got to have the dog most every night... poor Christopher!
- Talking late into the night while scratching each other's backs. 
- shared pets: hamsters, dogs, fish, guinea pigs, bunnies.
- Her lying to me about ever having her eyebrows waxed.
- Her empathy on men and marriage.
- Walking the beach.
- Taking pictures.
- Road trips.
- Singing music in the car at the top of our lungs.
- Her encouragement to dress a little more different... less like myself :)
- Eating a can of green beans at a party I had for my bridesmaids.... we didn't know then she was pregnant with Sam!
- Insisting on blueberry crumb-topped muffins on her wedding day... that I stayed up til midnight making for her... that she was too nervous to eat.
- Her engagement in NYC.
- The most beautiful bride I'd ever seen.
- Talking on the phone when I was in Australia... we both cried a lot on the phone.
- Watching her toss her hair.
- Bath & Body Works lotion and body spray.
- listening to Dad read Chronicles of Narnia
- She introduced me to good music.
- Roofing with her and my brother... we were using "pitch"? Covered head to foot in stickiness, Requiring kerosene to scrub off. We got stares when we went to McD's for lunch.
- Her warning me to be careful or Mike and I would end up falling in love with each other (when Mike and I were just friends before Mike and I were boyfriend and girlfriend.)
- The way she stood with her hands on her hips.
- Feeling Sam kick my hand. Libby laughing and pushing him so he wouldn't be hurting her ribs.
- Her praying continuously for my great-grandparents salvation. My great-grandfather died years after her death... he became a Christian a couple weeks before he passed at 100.
- Shopping for maternity clothes with me... a week before she went home.
- She would get her nails painted and then be chipping at her nails hours later... by the evening she'd take off the nail polish.
- As a little girl she hated to wear tights.
- Til We Have Faces... C.S. Lewis
- Movies. You've Got Mail. Pride & Prejudice. Emma. Sense & Sensibility.
- Mission trips together.
- writing encouraging valentines for her caregroup ladies
- She was never afraid of labor/giving birth
- Our regular date with Billy Blank's Advanced Tae-Bo
- Playing in our two-story play house our dad built. I can't tell you how many "clubs" we had!
- Her desire for "jelly" shoes. Her feet were too wide for jellies. She was devastated.
- Wearing bangles.
- Getting ears pierced.
- Screaming over the cockroach in our hotel room in Beijing.
- Her getting in trouble at school often for not being able to stop giggling.
- Learning how to shave our legs.
- Baking cookies with Grandma.
- A complete and total middle child.
- The way she'd put up with my emotional outbursts and theatrical displays.
- Paddleboats at Northwest River State Park. Feeding the ducks.
- She always thought people were talking about her or laughing at her... which made her suspicious... and was even more fun because she was so gullible!
- Rescuing her from a babysitting experience when one of the children drew all over a table... or was it a wall?
- Babysitting Waskos and Williams together. We were nuts! Especially when the van got towed.... Aaaagh.
-Meeting Chris Rice at Summer Camp. We were shocked. Later listening to his album in March... Untitled Hymn
-Sunrise at the Beach with Powerline.
-Worshipping together.
- Her amazing... tight... hugs!
- Fall Bonfires.
- Watching her ride bareback in West Virginia.
- Eating way too many s'mores.
- Playing Skip-Bo and Uno.
- Her accidentally giving Christopher a concussion....
- Piano Lessons together at Mrs. Beecham's.
- She loved the smell of gasoline.
- Coming home from prom to find her and Jeremy Parker sitting talking in the kitchen. It was like 11:30... what the hey... but I was on my way to Paris the next day, I had to go pack.
- Peeing in the woods in N. Carolina.
- Screaming for Christopher to pull the ticks off.
- Conspiring on the phone with Mike Gris to determine engagement ring and plans... while we were in CHINA... Libby walks in... "Who are you talking to? she says all annoyed. "Mike!" "Well, hurry up I want to call My Mike..." Little did she know I was talking to her Mike... not my Mike :)
- Her skit which she did for Singles and then for church... She acted like such a ditz... she was supposed to be a contestant who was being asked dating questions... when asked what she thinks is a perfect date she replied... "April 21st... because it's not too hot and not too cold."
- My nickname for her "Libbeth Anne"
- We also called her Libby Anne JOY.
- Libby was with me at my first OBGYN appt. it was the first time I met my mid-wife Debbie.... and the last time Debbie saw Libby.
- One of Libby's elementary school classmates thought her name was "Libbya"
- She loved TARGET!!!
- Dunkin Donuts
- Getting our hair braided in Mexico.
- Also in Mexico, Watching her accuse me of being a jerk because I bargained... and then watch her turn into a bargain nazi!
- Begging her to order pizza for me... I hated calling strangers... I would get so nervous.
- Her holding our dying dog Sophie... after witnessing the accident.
- Her love of children.
- She wanted lots of kids.
- Bagels.
- Campfire songs.
- Her voice... laughing, talking, singing.
- Working out at the Rec Center together.
-

I could go on and on... so many memories. What a precious sister I was given. I am so blessed to have been her sister... and I look forward to the day where we're reunited... and I can meet my nephew.. and we can worship Jesus together... the ultimate longing fulfilled. Til then I know she is rejoicing in the love of her Savior and she's probably also egging me on.... (Hebrews 12:1)

I love you Libby! MWAH!


Friday, March 02, 2012

Epiphany.


I think I've begun to appreciate something anew. People, especially Moms just want to be understood. We want to be accepted. We're overworked, overwhelmed, overscheduled, over processed, overwrought. 

We care too much what others think of us: our friends, our neighbors, our mothers, our children's teachers & therapists and doctors, our husbands; and we are so afraid to fail. We fear making a single mistake. We MUST NOT FAIL! We overthink what we feed our kids, what our children do, where and what our children play with. We're anxious, freaked-out, controlling, neurotic and obsessive.

So here's my challenge. Let's surrender. Give it to the Lord. Lay it at his feet. Tell him our concerns, our worries and ask Him to fill us with His Spirit and for a peace that surpasses all understanding. Rest in the grace of belonging to Him. He alone knows. He knows us intimately. He knows our children intimately. He knows our husbands intimately.

We can let go of the expectations and hopes of others and instead live our lives for an Audience of ONE. Ask the Lord to be set free. Free of our perfectionism. Our striving. Our anger. Our stress. Our need for control. Rest in the grace that He gives us each day. His mercies are new every morning. When we are in Christ we are new creations. The old has passed away and the new has come. 

We have HOPE. If Christ is our Savior, if we have turned to Him asking Him to save us and forgive us of our sins... to rescue us and if we follow Him then we are covered by His blood. Nothing can separate us from Him. and not only are we forgiven for every sin we ever committed, will commit and currently commit we also receive His righteousness. With Christ we have the record of His perfect life attributed to us. Isn't that awesome?!

So breathe in. Breathe out. Accept that you will fail. You will make mistakes. But in Him you're perfect. have faith to believe that He can work in ordinary, sinful, unlikely people- US. He's way bigger than us. He spoke the world into existence. Created everything from nothing. By the POWER OF HIS WORD!!!

He is Amazing. Awesome. Worthy of ALL our praise. Rest in Him. Rest in the work He's done. And be at peace. He is all we need. And He knows our needs, our true needs... and He will meet all our needs. His Work is finished. He said, "It is finished." He is seated at the right hand of the Father because He accomplished His Work. And even now Jesus Christ is interceding for us. We are His precious children, holy and dearly loved. He longs for us to know Him and be known by Him.

That intimacy you seek. That loneliness you fear. He alone can fulfill you. No husband. No job. No home. No child. No car. No food. No alochol. No sex. No relationship will EVER satisfy you the way you need. You will be let down. People will fail you. Money will fail you. Things will fail you. Only GOD ALONE can be what we need. He alone can satisfy. He made us. He's our Creator. He's the Lover of our souls. He is anxious for us to taste and see that He is good. He has not left us. He has not abandoned us. 

And when your hope is in Christ you can rest today knowing that he took the full cup of the wrath of God. He drank it to the dregs. It is empty. He made Himself sin, taking on the sin of all mankind. He paid the price. He died AND He ROSE again! Our Savior is not dead- He is living. And if you believe in Him then you can be filled with His Holy Spirit... the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead. How Amazing is that?! That same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is in us. He is working in us.

So where are you at? Are you hopeless? Discouraged? Despairing? Are you fearful? Anxious? Exhausted? Are you bitter? Angry? Lonely? Are you desperate? Confused? Overwhelmed? Go to Him. Bring all to Him. Lay it at His feet. And know that He will transform you. He will make beauty from ashes. He will cause you to rise up on wings like eagles, you will walk and not be weary and run and not be faint.

He will finish this good work in you. He will make you into His likeness. He will transform your mind with His Word.

Hold on. Hang on. Take Hope. He has not left us to ourselves but has given us His very own Son!

And even on days that come that are bleak, and dark and rainy and stormy and all you see is darkness... do not despair. He has promised to NEVER leave or forsake you. He walks with us... even in the valley of the shadow of death.

A typical day.

I just posted about how I'm doing with giving up sugar on my other blog Fearfully & Wonderfully Made.

These past couple of weeks have been interesting. Sick kids with stomach bugs. Fresh coughs and colds. Mike working at night. Mike working in the day. Mike working at night.

We are so thankful for work. It's not necessarily a permanent situation right now but we are trusting God in His provision. He continues to be faithful. I shouldn't be surprised but I find myself regularly marveling at how God meets our needs. We do NOT lack.

The kids are growing. Stumbling. Tripping. Falling. Eating. Playing. Running. Chasing. Throwing. Kicking. Hitting. Loving. Forgiving.

My days are very full. And very long. A lot of mornings begin at 5:30. Sometimes earlier. Sometimes later. Libby, Samuel, and Michael get ready for school and we have lunches packed and backpacks ready. We get in the car to drive to the end of the driveway (it's a half a mile long) at 6:25.

And now I'm learning to compute time to take the dog out to go to the bathroom and get her breakfast ready. Penny's up and att'em when she hears the kids in the morning which is super unfortunate because she also does this on the week-ends.

And then there's Ian. He doesn't understand that he can sleep until after 7. Often he's the first to get up. Aaagh. Just sleep kid! :) He doesn't appreciate sleep the way he should. He's up and hungry and wants to watch a movie or play something. Thankfully he's nowhere near as destructive as he used to be. I don't worry about when I send him downstairs. And the mess he might create is a lot more manageable.

Ian gets driven to school and arrives between 8:15-8:30. And Peter's a little tag-a-long. Thankfully he's easy to attend to. Change a diaper. Cup of milk and a banana can hold him off until "real breakfast" which usually consists of eating half a cupboard's worth of food.

I often find myself during the day going from one thing to the next. Alarm goes off. I roll out of my bed. Do my back stretches. Put on my slippers. Throw on a fleece jacket. Let the dog out. Feed the dog. Change diapers. Dress children. Fix breakfast for the kids. Pack lunches if I wasn't able to the night before. Start laundry. Help children put on shoes. Brush and fix hair. Give medicine. Put Michaels' glasses on him. Get coats on. Kids to the bus. Clean up breakfast. Empty dishwasher. Load dishwasher. Get Ian in his school uniform. Switch washed clothes to dryer. Start new load. Eat my breakfast. Get truly dressed for the day. Often by this time it's only 7:30 in the morning. Whew.

And that's how my days go. Lots of busyness. Lots of bumps and boo-boos. Lots of meals to make and clean up. Lots of laundry to wash and fold. Lots of spills and messes to clean up. Lots of clorox wipes. Lots of paper towels and sanitizer. Lots of dirty children to bathe. Lots of throw-up to clean up. Lots of arguments to work through. Lots of books to read. Lots of children to love.

Then there's the whole errands thing... groceries to buy, dr. appointments, penny to the vet, specialists, therapists, appointments, book studies, phone calls to make, letters to write, bills to pay. Throw in a little downtime. Coffee with a friend. Baking cookies with the kids. A date night with my husband. Caregroup meeting. A writer's meeting for a magazine I'm starting to write for.

My kids are NOT in any special activities, NO: soccer, swim teams, basketball, baseball, ballet, music, art lessons, etc. and yet I find myself unable to get to my computer most days. It's becoming a rare moment when I have time to spare. By the time I get to the end of the day I find myself stumbling into bed... often not even changing into pajamas.

I usually get a second wind and talk to Mike and download the day's events and swap stories, share concerns, talk about plans for the next day, watch something funny, read a little and fall asleep.

Sometimes when I start writing a post I have no idea where I'm going and where I will end up. This would be one of those posts. But I find that when I write then I know myself. It's often that in writing I realize what's really on my mind, what I'm thinking, feeling, processing, hoping and struggling with.

So thanks for listening. Maybe I should change my blog to ramblings by jennifer.