Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It's been 5 YEARS!!

Dave came home from work and handed me a card and chocolates.  I was confused, until I opened it up and read the card.  He'd remembered that it had been FIVE YEARS since I was diagnosed with cancer.


I watched the days go by in 2010 and counted down till I was done that year.
2 surgeries.
76 doctor's appointments.
9 scars.
8 rounds of chemo.
35 shots I had to give myself.
33 days of radiation.

1 wig, and 2 fake eyelashes to make it through, and most importantly, countless prayers from family and friends.

Now.....5 years (!!) later, I have been blessed so much that I can't even keep track of it all.  Oh, God has been so good to me. He is good, he is faithful, no matter what, through the good and the bad.  But over the last 5 years, I've been given more good things than I can count.  Not the least of which, I count my husband, 3 kids, and all those who prayed me through the tough times.

I am thankful beyond measure.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sometimes Traveling is Hard.

Traveling has changed for me a bit over the years.  I remember the wonderful time when Mom pretty much did it all.  Then, I was single and could be packed and ready to go in about 15 minutes.  Thirty-five if you include my shoe and makeup bag.

Then I got married.  Adding in time to pack Dave's supply of pop definitely took the process up to about 45-50 minutes.

Then we added a dog, and packing time increased to an hour and change.

Then the children came.  We added HOURS to the routine, and don't even get me started on the level of chaos and confusion that became part of leaving for a trip.

And now that we've added a baby......I can't even begin to estimate.  All I know is that it takes YEARS off my life, and adds approximately 7 additional grey hairs to my head. (Yes.  I said additional.....sigh.) 

And the actual time on the road?  Stops used to be easy and fast and trips could go by quickly.  And now?  I can't even talk about it.

But a few weeks ago, we hit a whole new level of chaos in traveling.  We were on our way back from my cousin's lovely wedding.  It was snowy, and we were worried about the weather and roads getting home.  Having found out about a Caribou at an upcoming exit (thanks, mom), we decided to make a quick stop to get gas, food, and coffee.  Drive throughs, kids staying in the car.....badda bing, badda boom.

In and out, that was the plan.

Except that when we stopped for gas, it woke Clark up.  So he started screaming.  And kept screaming all the way through pumping gas.

Next we ran to Wendy's.  It was supposed to take approximately 3 minutes.  Instead, it took about 10, apparently chicken nuggets are a slow item to order.   Clark was still screaming, and through the sad cries, Dave asked Andy (in the way back of the van) to get him a bottle of pop from the cooler bag.  While doing so, there was a crash, and Andy ended up trapped under the stroller.

I have no idea how that was possible.

But, after FINALLY getting through Wendy's, we whipped into the Caribou parking lot to get Andy out from the stroller.  But, instead of going in through the back of the van, Dave decided to go in through the side of the van, over the top of Isaac, who was lost in a book and didn't want to stop.

Then there was a yell, and a large exhale of air, and I saw that Dave's feet had slipped out from under him and he had fallen on top of Isaac.  Not to be distracted from his book, Isaac continued to read while being squished like a taco.

After getting his footing, Dave still tried to go at it the same way, Isaac still wouldn't quit reading, Andy was still trapped under the stroller, and Clark was still screaming. 

Thankfully Dave met with more success that time, and finally, Andy was unpinned, Isaac unsquished (still reading), Clark was starting to settle down, and Dave offered to still get coffee.  I declined, since this stop had already seemed to take forever.

However, Dave - still flustered from the whole experience, took a shortcut and turned into the Caribou drive-through, cruising right past the ordering mic, and around the corner....  where we were stuck waiting behind other people who had actually ordered.

For the love.

But after my blood pressure came back down to a normal range, Clark stopped crying, Andy was back in his seat, and Isaac was still reading, I just started laughing.  Uncontrollably, with tears coming down my face.  My children weren't sure if I was mad or sad or happy, or had just lost it altogether, but eventually they started laughing with me. 

I may dream of the days of easy traveling, but I'm pretty sure I won't see them again for years. But, I'm wondering if these won't be the memories we all love reminiscing over someday.  For now, though, I vow to never be stuck in a Caribou drive-through without getting coffee again. 


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

4 years and counting!

Blessed doesn't begin to describe how I feel right now.  It's been 4 years and 2 days since I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I fought my battle with cancer with wonderful doctors, nurses, and techs guiding my care, and amazing friends and family holding me up in prayer and support, not to mention the oodles and oodles of delicious meals brought to us.  We were not only never hungry, we were never alone.  God sustained us and gave us an abundance of grace for each and every difficult day.  I learned to find joy and rest in the rocks and hard places.

At the end of my battle, we had a party.  By God's grace, I kicked cancer, and I kicked it hard.  I was so thankful, but God's grace and goodness just continued to overflow in my life.  He is so faithful!

I never thought I'd be able to have kids.  And yet God brought not just one, but two of the most amazing boys I've ever known to my home and entrusted them to me to be their mom.   There have been good days, bad days, and even some awful ones, but my word, I never knew I could love a child like that.

As followups continued, I had some scares.  But I promised to praise God no matter what, and even so, he has allowed continued health.  I don't deserve it, but I am so grateful.  He is good, no matter my circumstance, and I WILL give thanks, but sometimes, God just makes it so easy.

And then.  My word.  This past year, I had the shock of my life when I found out I was pregnant.  I never thought I would experience that, and I had come to terms with it.  But God is so gracious, so loving, and he loves to bless his children.  Those blessings do not always come in the form of easy things, or times that feel good, but he is so, so good, and I am absolutely humbled by the blessings he has put in my life.

This past September, I gave birth to one of the 3 most beautiful boys in the entire world, and I lost my heart all over again.  I never knew I could love three little people this much.

And now, 4 years after life felt like it was starting to crumble down around me, here I sit.  My two bigs are playing games while my tiny one naps, and I'm here, fresh from the doctor's office, having received yet another bill of GREAT health.

I am beyond grateful.

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. -Psalm 34:1-10

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas!

This past year has quickly flown by in the slowest way possible. It seems like yesterday that I was writing last year's Christmas letter; it seems like it was years ago at the very same time.

In January, we found out that I was pregnant!  Our family was excited and happy, and discovered something together:  We are not a patient group of people!  For the next 9 months, we were often learning about Peanut's growth and talking about what we were looking forward to.  Compared to adopting kids, this process of adding a child to our family seemed painfully slow!

February went by in a whirlwind of nausea.  I'm not entirely sure what else happened that month, besides the fact that we ate an exorbitant amount of take out in effort to avoid cooking smells!

March came, and with it came Andy's 10th birthday.  Double digits for my boy!  Hard to believe, and we celebrated with a giant Angry Birds cake and a basketball game/concert combo featuring Jason Gray.

In April, we went on a family vacation to Philadelphia, New York, and Washington DC. We toured Independence Hall, saw Carpenter's Hall, went through museums, saw the Statue of Liberty, ate ice cream cones on the famous steps of the New York Library, ate pizza at the first pizza restaurant in the USA, saw the New York skyline from the Top of the Rock, napped in Central Park, mastered public subway systems with children in tow (totally different than just having to fend for yourself!), looked at the Declaration of Independence, went through George Washington's home, watched the Changing of the Guard at Arlington Cemetery, and looked at the White House.  Are you tired yet?  We were.  But we had so much fun, and many family memories were made.

May brought Isaac's birthday, and he turned 8!  His love for Star Wars continues to grow,
and so we celebrated 8 years of existence with a Lego-Mini-figure Luke Skywalker cake.

June and July were filled with many fun summer activities, and Dave continued to work at finishing our basement.  We went swimming, played at parks, took a road trip to Kansas City, and enjoyed time together.

By August, it was time to start school!  We are homeschooling again this year, and started early so we would be able to take some time off when Peanut joined our family.

Andy is in fourth grade this year, and doing well.  He has really had a chance to develop his own interests in reading, and has learned a lot through all the biographies he's read!

Isaac is in third grade this year, and his favorite subject is math.  He is blessed to be very talented in this area of study.

September rolled around, and I was ready to have Peanut by the first week of the month.  However, he tends to have his own schedule, and didn't arrive until September 25th! He has been worth every bit of the wait.

October was filled with sleepless nights that come with that newborn fog, but we enjoyed being a family of 5 as we made it to the apple orchard, watched football, and spent time with each other.

November and December have been a fun time of holidays and celebration, and a reminder to be thankful for all the ways in which God has blessed us.  I hope you have time this holiday season to reflect on the birth of Christ and find awe and wonder at the hope that tiny little baby brought to this earth on that night so long ago.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Naughty or nice......

George Winston's beautiful music was playing in the background, and I was working on yet another to-do list.  Christmas time truly is the most wonderful time of the year, but my word, it's exhausting for mamas. (or is that just me?  Tell me it's not just me.)

And then, as my favorite Winston song, "Joy" starts playing,  Andy turns to me with an angelic look on his face, and innocently asked, "Mom, is that YOU playing?  It sounds JUST like you! When did you record this?"

Ah.....someone knows it's only a couple of days till Christmas, and is still trying to solidify his place on the "nice" list.  Well played, kid, well played. You know me well.

On an unrelated note, if anybody needs me, I'll be busy shopping on Amazon for...... some last minute things.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Naps and such.

Occasionally, a giant ellipses is needed to sort of catch up on life.  Consider this post to be such.

On my last post, we were just starting school, and I was extremely pregnant.


And so our life as a family of five has been wild and fun.  My two older boys have become wonderful big brothers, and my littlest one's smiles makes all the exhaustion worth it.  Seriously, I can't even remember what a full night's sleep is like. 

One of the cruel tricks of life is the imbalance of sleep and the desire for sleep.  Right now, for example, I'd do about anything for the opportunity to nap.  Such opportunities are completely wasted on this little one. Just wait, kid, someday you'll miss these chances.

Just the other day, I tried to put him down for a nap.  I tried to tell him it was nap time.

"Wait, you want me to do what?"

"You say you want me to SLEEP?"

"Haha, that's funny."

"Oh man......Can't.Stop.Laughing!"

"Ok, I give up........."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Back to School! (Already)

We had our first day back to school yesterday.  Since Peanut is due in September, we decided to get a head start on school, so we'd be able to take off a few weeks guilt-free after he comes.  The kids have decided it's a pretty good trade-off.

We started the day off with the traditional going out to eat on the first day of school (started by my parents back when I was homeschooled!).

After a good breakfast, we dove in.  The boys had written letters to their future selves at the end of the last school year, with advice and encouragement for this current year, and we read those before getting started with Bible.

Yesterday was pretty fun, and to be honest, there's something nice about getting back to a routine (though that enjoyment naturally comes after a nice, long break from it!).

Our school year is off to a great start!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I would never have guessed...

The other day, I came in the front door after a long afternoon out with the kids, only to find this on the table:

I started thinking through possible reasons - but my birthday and anniversary are all pretty far away right now.  I had almost chalked it up to another "just because" bouquet, when I spotted the card tucked into them.

"Happy 3 years since the end of treatment!!"

I had completely forgotten, but my sweet husband hadn't.  Three years ago that day, I had finished my cancer treatments.  Suddenly my mind was in another place, another world.  I remembered crying the entire way home from the hospital that day, because I was so overwhelmed at the idea that I was DONE with cancer, and because I was so grateful to God for allowing me to have victory over that terrible disease.

I also remembered wondering what God would have for my life, and I really had no idea.  We had wanted children for so long before cancer ever hit, but at that point, it just seemed so painfully far off.

But the fact is, I serve an amazingly huge God who just loves to bless His children.  I deserve nothing, and yet He gives me so much. I would never have guessed that just 3 short years later, I would have adopted two children and been pregnant with our third!  God is great, and He is so good to our family. 

If you had given me a secret peak into a window of my future 3 years ago, all I can say, is that my life has moved far beyond what I would have imagined.  I'm so thankful that God has blessed me so richly, and so wonderfully, these past 3 years.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Poppyseeds to Pineapples

We're having a boy this September, and I still can hardly believe it.  We had really become comfortable that we would adopt all our children, and were happy with the plan we thought we understood.  It's been an amazing blessing to add another child to our family, though compared to how quickly we had our first two, the wait is seeming rather long.

One way we've been processing through the growth with the boys is with an app on my phone that compares Peanut's size to a fruit based on the week, and we learn about his development.  He started out the size of a poppyseed.  We told the boys around the time he was the size of a grape, and they've eagerly followed his progress with help from the produce department.

I have really seen them gain new understanding of life as God sees it through this process - as they learn more about their baby brother, it has really cemented the truth that the baby is living and breathing and real - and that he is made in the image of God, to be protected and provided for, from the time he was the size of a poppyseed.  They have started to value life in a way that touches my heart, and I'm certain pleases the heart of God.

It has been a joy to share this pregnancy with our family - both the boys and Dave have been able to feel kicks and punches (there have been plenty to feel!), and as he has grown to the size of lemons, apples, and mangoes, we've just fallen in love with him.

Currently, he is approximately the size of a pineapple, and is growing like crazy.  He is healthy and active, and I can hardly wait to meet him and hold him in my arms!

Peanut at 20 weeks

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Psalm 139:13-14

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mom, what are we doing this afternoon?

Such was the opening question from one of my boys the other day.

Not sure where this was going, but assuming it had something to do with playing outside, I easily responded, "Not much.  Why?"

"Well, since we have free time this afternoon, I was thinking we could go down to the shelter and get a couple of kids to bring home."

I took a second to digest that.

He continued.

"We have plenty of room, Mom.  And those kids need homes.  Please Mom, can we?  Please?"

I didn't immediately know how to respond to his request and help him connect with the reality that it's not as easy as picking up a dog from a rescue center, or getting a new cat, without crushing the spirit of the request.  

And my word, I loved the heart behind it.  Carefully, I told him that there is more of a process to adopting kids, to help make sure that the kids go to good homes - processes that are intended to protect them.  But I encouraged him to continue to pray that God would bring the right kids to our home in His perfect timing.

God has placed within the souls of my children a heart that is broken for kids who need homes.  I love it, I'm challenged by it, and I'm blessed by it.