Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Coke, it's what's for breakfast.

Okay, so it turns out that the "knots in my stomach" are more than that. I think I have a tummy bug. Just had to cancel root canal. Last week they had to cancel on me because the dentist's wife was in labor :)

This week it's my turn to cancel. Yippee.

We found out Monday that Samuel has strep. His long-term test came back positive. The short-term one was negative. So he stayed home yesterday so his antibiotics could kick in for 24 hours.

I don't think I have strep. Just a little bug of some sort.

Just as Lib walked out the door this morning she complained that her throat hurt. I was going to whisk her back in so we could go to doctors later but she said, "just a little. If it hurts later I will stay home tomorrow."

Great. I hope I'm not infecting other kids in her class. hoping she's just tired.


My stomach is horrible right now. I'm drinking Coke to settle it. I know it's 9 in the morning but Coke is the one thing that really helps me to feel better when my stomach is upset.

So yes. Coke, it's what's for breakfast.

Root Canals and other reasons to trust God...

I have a root canal this morning. I am not looking forward to it. It's not the experience of it as much as the anticipation. My stomach is in knots and I just have been feeling "off" the past couple of days anyway. It doesn't make a pretty picture.

I am lying in bed (temporarily). I've already been up. Mike got the kids dressed and I helped with breakfast preparations and packing lunches. Medicine dispersed. Notes to teachers written. Kids out the door. I cleaned the kitchen. Unloading dishes and then loading. Wiping down counters and spills and crumbs. Pushing chairs back in. Straightening odds and ends. I even cleaned out the coffee pot twice. with hot water and vinegar. So I'm lying in bed now and I don't want to get up.

I don't want to face the day. I don't want to get numb and hear drills. I don't want to move a muscle. I'm tired and achey and sad.

March is coming upon me like a sad procession. Like a bleak tolling of bells. Not the jovial bells or the twinkling sweet reminders of faithfulness but the low toll of sobriety. Somber. Solemn. Sorrowful. Gong. Gong. Gong.


I want to shake it off. I want to run away from it. I hate the way it's been creeping up on me and slowly overtaken and shadowed me. And I give it to God. All my thoughts. My sorrows. My hurts. My anger. My disappointments.

I long for a conversation with my sister who has passed from this world to the next. Sometimes it feels like she never even existed. There's a sense of guilt and struggle when I try to remember specific details. Somethings I can rattle off perfectly like a mantra. Things she liked or disliked. But then other things have slipped my mind almost entirely. I feel like I betray her when I forget. I feel like she's less of my sister when I don't remember. But I know that's not how she wants me to live and more importantly I know that's not how God wants me to live.

I know she's cheering me on. She's a spectator of this race called "my life". I know she sees in full what I can only see dimly and sometimes barely and other times not at all.

and yet, there are times where grief hits me still so hard, even almost 9 years later, like I've been sucker punched. I cried and I cried in the car yesterday. Driving and crying aren't always the best idea but sometimes you can't help it when they intersect.

And I was sad. And my heart ached. I couldn't be with my sister so I did one of the next best things. I went to a friend's house and sat with her. Surrounded by her sweet crazy children. I felt less alone. I felt I was in the presence of another sister. Not one tied to me by blood and by childhood memories but one still connected to me through love and through shedding of tears and through hearing each other's broken hearts. I fell into her world for a bit and was reminded that I'm not crazy for thinking mothering is hard. Because it is. And it's a struggle. And none of us do it perfectly as much as we'd sometimes like to. And sometimes it's grinding and crushing and your patience is worn so thin. And sometimes when you see sweet smiles and hear their beautiful laugh you almost wonder how it could be such a burden that it was just moments ago.

And  I'm blessed with a husband who understands when I'm sad that I don't always make sense. I'm not always logical or coherent and then he tries to be more gentle with me. And more kind. And tries to cheer me up. And gives me good things like sweet reminders that it's going to be okay. and that he loves me anyway. And to make sure I eat so that my blood sugar doesn't drop and make me more crazy.

And we sit and have a spontaneous cup of coffee together between my appointment and the next and his break at one work place before the next. And he holds my hand. And my tears pour down my face. And I talk about all the things that feel crushing right now. Like appointments with our kids teachers and root canals and a room that has to be prepared for painting and how I need to pack for my retreat this week-end and how I have yet to even start my Bible study for this week.

And he encourages me to breathe. And somehow I do. I keep breathing. And he encourages me to press into God.

God is the only One who sustains me. He is what I need. He is what I truly long and ache for. I want things to be made right in this world. That's impossible apart from Him. He is going to make all things new... but we're not quite there yet.

Jesus, please be enough for me. You have overcome this world. Help me to overcome my fear and my anxiety. Thank you for your love. Thank you for paying the price for my sin. Thank you for dying and rising again and giving me hope. And thank you for caring for me in the midst of  my sorrow. Thank you that you strengthen and change me. Make me more into your image.

Samuel at 7

Taken on his actual 7th birthday.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A thousand posts.

This is my 1,000th post. It's amazing to see where my journey on this blog has taken me. When I first started blogging it was 2006. Now it's 2013. When I first started I had two children. Now I have five. Then I was living in PA while my husband was just starting his Master's degree. Now we're waiting to hear back about the Ph.D. program at UVA. 

A week ago was Samuel's CT scan. It was the first time Mike wasn't present. He had work and I encouraged him to do what was needed... work. I know it took an emotional toll on him to not be there. But I didn't go alone with Samuel. I had Libby come with us. 

It was fun to pick them up at school and drive down to the Children's Hospital together. And after our time of scans and seeing the oncologist I treated them to chips and pretzels. They cracked me up when they wanted to pose with their treats. The first is sweet and the second picture Libby's hamming it up with her "warrior princess" yell while Samuel continues to make the same face   :)

Best friends Forever

Oh Yeah!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sweet & Serious

I am so thankful for my kids. I love their individual personalities. I love the way they talk and express themselves. It's interesting to see how their birth order affects them as well. Libby is a tried and true first born. & Peter is very much a last born. I think this child of mine is very secure. he knows he is loved by his parents and by his siblings. 
He shadows Michael and loves to follow him everywhere. He repeats everything that Ian say. Peter adores his big sister. He plays with Samuel or watches what Samuel is doing. It's been very fun lately to see him come into his own with language. When he talks sometimes it's his own made up language but every now and then he bursts into a full sentence. This has been fun and very amusing. At times we have to ask ourselves, "Did Peter just say that?"
His favorite thing is to ask where people are...

Peter: "Where's Michael?"
Me: "He's at school."

Peter: "Where's Ian?"
Me: "He's at school."

Peter: "Where's Papa?"
Me: "He's working."
Peter: "Cool"

Saturday, February 23, 2013

To Thine Own Self Be True

Do you ever compare?

Sometimes it is beneficial to see what someone else is doing. It can give you a new outlook or a fresh perspective on a different way and maybe even a better or more efficient way of going about doing something. It can allow you to try something you never would have. Push you past your comfort zone.

But, I find that often what starts off as a positive experience quickly descends into me beating myself up for not doing something the way someone else does it. I see my "failings" and "shortcomings" and quickly begin berating myself.

This can happen from wandering out and about in the real world... in a store or mall or hanging out at a party. But this danger also is even more potent in the world of "unreality"... the world online. Whether it be facebook posts or blogs or tweets or pinterest the temptation to compare yourself to someone else is very likely.

Twice recentlyI have caught myself comparing myself to my friends.

While enjoying the innocent company of a friend fixing food I walked down that slippery path.

This looks really good.

I like what she's doing here.....

Oh, she's so much healthier than I am.

I need to start cooking like she does and preparing food that way.

Why don't I do stuff like that?

Why don't I fix my kids that kind of meal/snack/etc.

What starts off as my appreciating something someone else's way of doing things quickly escalated into a 10 minute beratement rant of my lacking skill, gifting, insight, ability.

Online I was checking out a friend's blog. I was enjoying the humor and insight into mothering she has. But before I knew it I was getting envious over her photography and her ability to capture poetically and whimsically the ideas and stories she had. I began to become envious and desire to emulate her talent.

Now before you go off assuming I'm naturally jealous in nature let me inform you that I'm not. That's what baffled me.

But I think if we're not careful it's a natural desire to start wanting what we see others having or want to appear the way they do. We want to express ourselves like somebody else. We want to cook healthier like someone we know. We want to save money like our Frugalista friend. We want to be thin like her. We want our kids to behave like our fabulous Mary-Poppins friend does. We want a bigger bust or smaller bust or straighter hair or more curly hair or cuter clothes or better accessories or a nicer car or a bigger home or a more organized home or a more clean home.... like that person over there.

I want to rejoice when a friend has it "more together" than me. I want to maybe take down a few notes that could possibly help me or make my home run more smoothly... but I want to be wary that I'm trying to be someone else.

For reasons beyond my knowing God gave me this body, these kids, this home, this vehicle, these giftings. I want to thank Him and praise Him for what He's given me and be a good steward of my self, my time, energy, giftings, and provision. I want to challenge myself to grow and I want to encourage my friends in areas that I see them doing well in. But I don't want to harbor envy and jealousy and bitterness and lust after what is not mine.

Lord help me to the best me I can be. Not somebody else. I am not a mistake. You don't wish I was more like my friends or strangers that are more fabulous than I. You want me to become more transformed into the image of Christ. Made more into His likeness. And when I become more like you I am becoming a better me than ever. Help me to put off ungratefulness and carry on my lips praise for the good you have done and are continuing to do. Help me to fix my gaze not to the left or the right but upward into your face. Thank you that you love me as I am. Help me to grow in my love and knowledge of You. Help me to love and care for others better. Help me to be as Paul and  LEARN the contentment.

Philippians 4:11-13~   "...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I want that heart... that is content whether with much or little. That is grateful for what you have in that moment. 

Do you struggle with this at all?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Control... or the lack thereof

Today is Samuel's CT scan. I've been falling apart all week so I'm kind of glad that the day itself is here. In less than 12 hours I will know if all is as it has been or if the thing that still gives me nightmares has returned (cancer). I have no reason to think anything has changed. Samuel is doing well. Energy high. Happy. Full of life and joy and lots of smile and laughters.

It's the knowledge that things aren't in our favor. That the scale points in the bad direction (cancer returning). So there's this wrestling that happens. I know that God is big enough and powerful enough to  keep Samuel from cancer and to completely heal his body. But I also know that I don't control the will of God... and I do believe that God loves Samuel more than I do and has his best in mind... but that doesn't necessarily equal what I think it should.

I'm not sure if I'm coherent. I slept less than 3 hours last night and have this stabbing pain shooting through the base of my skull into my neck. It's not fun. My heart is fixed on Christ... my body just doesn't get the message.

I tell myself, "God is in control. His plans are greater than what I can know and understand."

But I also know, "His ways are not our ways."

How do you reconcile? When it comes down to it do I truly believe God is enough? Do I truly believe He is in control and also believe that He is good?

I wrestle.

Because let me tell you... all this is well and good when it's just thoughts and philosophy in your head... but when it comes to the life and death of your child it's another thing. I believe God is faithful. I know He has promised in His Word to never leave or forsake me. I know and believe that He has already met my deepest need. He has died in my place and rose again. I have His perfect record on my account. When I die I won't pay for my sins because Christ has already paid the price. I will be with God forever. Yet, here in this world where you must currently live by faith, trusting in what you can not see, it is a struggle.

I wish I could say my faith does not waiver... but it does. I feel I am holding on desperately. Sometimes hanging by the tips of my fingers but I have come to realize that my "holding" is an illusion. I am not the one holding... He is holding me. And His grip is firm. Constant. And He won't let go.

I remember as a small child holding my Dad's hand at the ocean. The waves would come crashing against us and I was excited and terrified by the pounding waves and surf. When I tried to hold onto my Dad I wasn't strong enough. I could easily be wrenched away by a wave from my feeble grasp. But when my Dad held onto me his grip was firm that even with the biggest waves I wouldn't be torn from his side.

And here I am in the water once again. I think I'm holding my Father's hand but in reality He is holding me. And I know that the waves are crashing and that they will hit me and wash over me. But I know He's there... never letting go.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy Birthday Adventure Girl!

Let me preface- I totally stole this picture from Alexis Williams. (Sorry Alexis. But I can't help it. You're too beautiful and seeing it has 3 of my kids in it... well, I didn't think you'd mind.)

Happy Birthday beautiful girl. Wait, I guess I can't call you a girl anymore. 18. I guess that kind of makes you a legal adult doesn't it? But you'll always be a little girl in my mind :)

So grateful for you and the gift you are to me and my family. Things may change over time but you will always be family! Nothing and no one can ever take your place.

God gave me such a wonderful Adventure Girl for a Friend! Mwah!

Have a great time in Maryland and I look forward to celebrating with you when you get home!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Almost 7.

6 & 1/2

My smiley boy!!!


Tomorrow Samuel Augustine will be 7. I can't believe it's been that long... and I can't believe it's ONLY been that long. It seems like an age ago when I gave birth and asked Mike after I heard my newborn cry, "Is it a boy or a girl?"

"It's a boy!" was his reply.

11 months old

After 5 weeks of contractions I gave birth to a 6 lb. 3 oz. boy. He was only 30 weeks gestation... translation = 10 weeks early. I didn't know all the complications that would follow. Samuel had to stay in the NICU hospital for 5 weeks. Intubated on and off. He came home on oxygen and stayed on oxygen and an apnea monitor for 6 months.

13 months old

Hospitalized ten times by his second birthday you think it wouldn't have been so surprising to learn his diagnosis of cancer at age 4. But it was a huge shock. He had been pretty "stable" from about 2 to 4 that we thought we were in the "clear" so to speak.

18 months

But Samuel is a survivor. But more than just surviving. He is joyful. You can see it in his smile. His laughter is contagious. He's always been joyful even in the midst of intense adversity. Even in pain and suffering. Even in the midst of shed tears. He is compassionate and caring. Sensitive to the needs of others. Long-suffering comes to mind.

age 2

My baby boy has grown. From a precious infant to a sweet chunky monkey toddler with beautiful curls to the sweet little boy he is today.

3 1/2

From diagnoses of asthma, chronic lung disease, reactive airway disease, and oral aversion issues to one who must patiently endure aggressive chemo treatments and radiation and shots given almost daily he has not only survived but thrived.

age 4

Through the years he has gone from being a precious little brother to Libby to a big brother to Ian and Michael and Peter.

Age 5

Samuel there aren't enough words to express how much I love you and how thankful I am that I get to be your Mommy. It is an honor and privilege to know you and love you. You are a perfect part of our family and a joy to those who know you. I'm so glad you're my boy!

I look forward to all the years to come and to seeing you grow in your knowledge and in your love for Jesus. He is truly our prize! My little one Jesus is the One who has sustained you and carried you and healed you. 

I know we have a journey still ahead of us but let's persevere fixing our eyes on the prize- Jesus Christ. We are hidden in Him. And He will be faithful until the end.

Age 6

My funny little Valentines.

Ian, Libby, Michael & Samuel (top)
PJ (on bottom)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Celebrate Love

I am caught in a trap. I must find the most amazing card ever that will completely and perfectly express my love and devotion to my husband. I went to Wal-Mart and Target and Hall-Mark and even the grocery store to find the best sentiment. It must be right. Everything must be the exact symbol of love and romance and passion. And then my husband reminds me... "Babe, you know they just want you to buy stuff." Aaaagh. He's right!!!!

Commercialism. We see it so often with approaching holidays. But what's scary is that we often forget it's there... we fall into the trap... Today is Valentine's Day. February 14th. The day of romance and love. But here's the thing... it's really a way for marketing/advertisers to get you to buy a certain product and spend money.

Am I against romance? Absolutely not. I LOVE ROMANCE. Am I anti-love? Heaven forbid. I believe love should be CELEBRATED! But I also believe love should be valued, honored, and respected.

I don't think people most of the time have an accurate view of love or romance. They picture red roses, sparkling champagne and oversized teddy bears. Okay, maybe for some people that really is what makes them feel loved. But sometimes love comes in much more subtle ways.

It's the dandelion picked by my son and presented to me right before we walk into church. It's my husband getting up and taking care of the crying child so I can sleep longer. It's sharing the bag of m&m's with your siblings when they didn't get a treat. It's running upstairs and bringing down Mommy's purse for her. It's electric toothbrushes as Christmas presents. It's the generous heart of a manager who helps provide Christmas for kids beyond anything imaginable. It's a friend sitting next to you in wet grass to comfort you while you weep.

Love is more than red hearts. It's something so much deeper than chocolate. And it should last for more than just one day a year. A friend told me recently that "Valentine's Day is just another day to remind me that I'm single." Are you worthless as an individual if you don't "have someone"?

God reminds us that we are valuable because we belong to Him. We don't need a spouse (or fiancee or boyfriend/girlfriend) to validate us. We are God's children... dearly loved. bought with The Price! The shed blood of Christ. That is what makes us special. We are loved! Wonderfully, passionately, and perfectly loved. The needs for love we have can only be fulfilled in Him. It is a gift when we can experience love from others but only He fully knows and loves us exactly as we are exactly the way we need.

You are not half a person if you're single.

And if you're married go easy on your spouse. Don't expect them to perfectly love and romance you today. So much stock can be put into one day. So much expectation.

My plans for tonight aren't terribly impressive (by worldly standards). I'm taking the kids to Chick-fil-A for dinner (so I don't have to cook for them)... and then i'm fixing made from scratch alfredo over fettuccine with garlic bread for my husband and I (after the kids are in bed). We'll probably watch a Redbox movie and snuggle after another long and exhausting day. But I'm so grateful that I can share the evening with my husband and for his love and care this past decade.

I used to get so hung up and caught up in specific days... be it my birthday, an anniversary or Valentine's, etc. I would have tremendous expectations and hopes and somehow expect that all the laws of science and physics operate differently on those days. No one gets sick. Nothing bad happens. God forbid you get inconvenienced, irritated or disappointed. The day is supposed to be flawless and smooth. And end completely and blissfully happily and satisfied. But it doesn't work that way.

Kids still get the flu. Doctors appointments & root canals still happen. You get caught in the rain without an umbrella. The check bounces. You break your eggs before you get them in the fridge. Your kid cries because a classmate said something unkind. You lose the card that you bought for your spouse. The flowers wilt. Your spouse is too tired to enjoy the overpriced romantic dinner. Plans change. The tire goes flat. You lock yourself out of the car.

I've learned (& AM CONTINUING TO LEARN) that so much of life is about our attitude. We can't always change our circumstances but we can change our attitudes. We can laugh. We can remind ourselves of the good things. We can let go of our expectations. We can accept what we're given and turn it into an adventure.

Love doesn't look like some steamy movie... it's a lot more humble than that. It's putting someone else first. Denying yourself to care for another. It's taking someone else's needs, thoughts and feelings into consideration. It's blessing.

Let's find ways to love and bless our family and friends every day... not just once a year. Start the car so it's warm in the morning on cold days.  Light candles for fragrance and ambience. Do a task for someone that they normally do for you (take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, gather the mail). Put their towels in the dryer so it's warm after their bath or shower. Write a note and leave it in their lunchbox, on their pillow, in their back back, on the door, in their purse, on the fridge, above the sink, on the steering wheel, or on the bathroom mirror.

Give hugs often. Say you love them & mean it. Stock up on a favorite snack.  Send them a song through itunes to brighten their day. Send a free e-greeting card. Massage their hands or feet with lotion. Listen to them talk. Ask them questions about their day. Acknowledge their feelings- sometimes there's nothing like being acknowledged. Bring them a glass of water. Fix them their favorite meal. Encourage them where you see growth. Encourage them when they've just failed.

Surprise them with lunch or their favorite coffee. Re-fill (without being asked) the gas tank, the coffee beans, the sugar bowl, bathroom soap, the toilet paper. Text them a compliment during the day. Tell them something you specifically appreciate about them. Load music they'd like on their ipod.

You don't have to spend money to be thoughtful and considerate. Use whatever resources you have available. Extra paper to make cards or funny notes. stickers to embellish lunch boxes. Cut flowers you've grown and share. Use veggies from the garden to make fresh salsa or basil to make pesto.

And don't get bound up in laws and rituals and what you must or must not do. I try to make it fun for the kids. They each have a Valentine waiting for them downstairs... some have chocolate and others have super hero lollypop rings. I even put some wrapped books in a back-back. I love to bless my family with favorite things like muffins for breakfast... I found clearance mickey mouse bowls at Target for their cereal tomorrow.

What do you do to show someone you love them? How is love/romance different than you thought it would be? Did you ever have a day that was all wrong that you redeemed? What is one of your most memorable Valentine's memories or traditions?

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

An Unlikely Friend...

Sometimes you meet people because you have too. That's how it started.

Mike was best man in his friend's wedding and so I went with.

This was before we were married.

I met the bride to be. She had gorgeous red curly hair and beautiful pale skind and a lovely smattering of freckles and I felt strange and shy being a tag-a-long. But before I knew it... before the wedding reception was over that week-end I thought.... I could like this girl. I mean really like her. Maybe it was that her family got together and danced around wearing crazy Grouch Marx glasses... you know the ones with the furry eyebrow & mustache combo...

Something special has happened over the years... this woman who I did not know became precious to me. Our encounters are limited as we live in different cities, hours apart... but my heart has been knit to hers. And I hope I'm not being too over the top, dramatic and I hope I don't scare her... no suzy, i'm not a stalker... but I really love you.

Being with you, talking to you, reading your posts or e-mails or facebook statuses always brings a smile to my face. And as we have become moms and have both had kids in quick succession my appreciation for you has multiplied as well.

I have nearly wet myself a time or two, tears streaming down my face as I read your facebook posts. And then I found your fabulous site.... and I knew I had to share it with the world. Because I'm pretty sure you could make anyone laugh and smile who needs to once they get a peek into the window of your world. Keep up the writing friend!

Love you Suzy. I really do.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Friday, February 01, 2013