Monday, December 15, 2014

Doing Battle, Week 12

Last week after I spent those two days being afraid, I stopped to wonder why I was suddenly giving so much airtime to fear.  And I realized the thoughts that kept tumbling through my head were focused on the bad, the pain, the misery. At the risk of sounding like I'm over simplifying things, or worse, wrapping all my troubles in a neat little package, I really think much of my struggle was because of where my mind was focused.

I had to stop and think about what I was thinking about. I recalled one of my favorite verses:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Over the years I've trained my brain and made it a habit to reign in bad thoughts.  I can go from wanting to divorce my husband to thinking I'm the luckiest girl in the world, all in my head, without my circumstances changing.  My kids go from disobedient wretches to tender hearts who need to be nurtured, just in the time my thoughts about the situation change. Its all about making it my habit of thought.

I heard someone say once, Fear and faith are both powered by focus. When I heard that it struck me that both require effort, its just where I want to place my focus.

When I'm having a particularly hard day, I will say the above verse over and over and when a negative/selfish/fearful/bitter thought comes looking for a parking space in my head, I'll run through the list to see if the thought can stay.

Is it true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious, the best, the beautiful?

If its not, then I do my best to send it away and replace it with something from the list. Is this always easy? No! In fact, sometimes its really, really hard and I don't get it right. Sometimes?  Hmm...maybe more often than sometimes. ;) Its not easy, but once it becomes a habit its easier, and the peace...the peace of God and the God of peace that follows is worth it.

Carry on, Warrior

One day this week my uncle texted me that we are prisoners of hope and children of promise.  Yes!  Paul wrote his letter to the Phillipians from a prison cell, but he said he wasn't a prisoner to the Roman government, he was a prisoner of hope. He'd learned to hold out hope in hopeless situations.

Unlike Paul I am far from being in a hopeless situation. And that's what bothered me after I posted last week that "I will do another treatment....that I have to."

I have to??  No, I get to. Seriously.

After I was diagnosed, we talked to my doctors about how we were going to treat it not if we could. My cancer was caught in time to be treatable. Not only that, but we have good enough insurance that we are not wondering if we're going to lose our house to pay for chemo drugs. And just 30 minutes away there is a good cancer center that can help me....we didn't have to relocate to get treatment. And we have a large family, both relatives and church family, who are stepping in to walk this journey with us, carrying much of the burden.

I can't shake the thought that SO many would love to have the privileges I do....affordable, accessible, life-saving care with an incredible support system. No, I don't have to go through chemotherapy, I get to.

So today I am off to take in Round #5. Not without some fear and trembling and dread and can't-I-do-this- again, but also with much gratefulness.

Thank you for your continued love and support and prayers. I covet them today and this week.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Project 365, Week 50

I was up and about and taking pictures this week, feeling good.

December 7
Proud finishers of "The Half".
 December 8
Amanda has been systematically asking us if she can get her ears pierced and this night her daddy thought it would be an appropriate time, given the good-for-her report card she brought home, for the first time ever with actual grades (first and second grade is just needs improvement, satisfactory, etc).

So, off to the mall they went.  Shaun held her hand and Avery took pictures and I think Aiden was cheering her on.

She was so sweet to call me twice, once to get my opinion on which earrings she should pick and throwing in an apology that she couldn't wait sooo long until I was feeling better and could be there and the second time to tell me the deed was done and her eyes had teared up a little bit.

 While there they did a little shopping too and Shaun, bless his heart, walked in the door looking like I feel after such an excursion.  I was going to say we are not a shopping family, but really its just that we are not shopping parents...the kids seem to think its great fun.

Except for Aiden who came back quite miffed because he'd put one of his hard-saved quarters into the helicopter ride, only to find out it was not only broken but also didn't give him his money back.

December 9
We were trying to get through school, but Aiden kept looking out the window longingly, talking about the puddles.

December 10
When Aiden wakes up he looks for me to say good morning but if he can't find me, he settles right into building ships and aircraft.
 The girls had their first-ever voice recital performing I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.
 Little Brother dressed himself handsome, too but wasn't feeling the group picture thing.
 At the last minute, a friend thought to FaceTime me so I could watch the girls sing live and then I got to talk to them immediately after.  It meant so much to me and to them.
 December 11
My girl is a snow-eating machine...always has been.
 Gingerbread House!  This kit came with the house already firmly assembled...just add frosting and candy, if there is any left after massive snitching....just our speed.  :)

December 12
This guy made some pretty neat creations this week with his hours of legos.  Its a lot of work to stay focused while he's telling me all about them.  But I try to remember the advice a friend gave me years ago....(paraphrasing) If you want them to talk to you about important stuff when they're teens, you need to lay the groundwork and listen to their "important" stuff when they are young.  Because right now to Aiden its important to him how his ship works and how many guns it has and which motors fire at which times.  Its work, but I'm trying.
December 13
Amanda did a science experiment in school where they roasted marshmallows with the open flame of a candle.  She came back super excited to do the experiment with Aiden.  So she made her daddy a list of supplies she would need.

The house didn't burn down and the kids got to eat marshmallows....I guess you call that a success.  :)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Time for a Change

Notice anything different??  (Three words that can strike fear in the heart of any man)

Yes!  My blog has a whole new look that is just...oh, about five years in the making. Way back when we added Aiden to the family my friend and blog designer offered to add Aiden's picture to the header and I just never got around to it.  Then about a year ago, give or take, I thought gosh, I have really got to do something different with this design!

I contacted Jackie and she was up for helping me out.  She was responsive but it wasn't a huge priority for me and then time just slipped away.  But finally, its done and just in time for the new year.

Its fresh and clean and I love the way it turned out.  I know I should be posting all my thoughts and pictures on Instagram or Facebook, but I'm just old-fashioned enough to still like this little space here.

Thanks for coming here to check on us and share in our lives.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Abide and Let It Go


That is the word God gave me as I was praying this morning.  

Its such a pretty word, I think, and I can't say it or think it without a brief 'ahhh' sign.  Abide.  Ahhh...that's better.  

Abandon my fretting and abide in Christ.  Release my worry and abide in Him.  Relinquish my perceived control and abide in Jesus.  Keep my eyes on Him and abide.  Ahhh.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matt 11:28-30

Yesterday and today have been good days and I know that is the power of prayer.  How am I so sure? Because these last two days have been rainy and gloomy and I could not have drummed up the joy and peace I feel on my own.  Today I'm not wondering how I will get through the next treatment.  Instead, I'm keeping my eyes on and abiding in Him. I don't have to be strong enough because HE is.  

[insert non-existent segue]

Its kind of funny to me that a side result of cancer is that I am embracing winter outdoor activities more.  The new med I'm on does not have the same cold sensitivity that the first one did, so it is possible to be outside.  And the thing I'm embracing about outside, is its germ free, which means I can participate!

So when I saw a Kids Fun Run in December advertised, I didn't completely dismiss it.  In fact, I thought...perfect!  Shaun was disappointed to not be able to participate in another "half", but we muddled through.  Although he again brought up the fact that he would've won back in October if Amanda hadn't cheated and tripped him at the starting line.  :) 

I invited Sienna because Alayna loves to run and also Elsa from Frozen was promised to be there. Win-win!

The "race" started at 10 AM but we got there early to register and find our way.  It was cold with a biting wind.  How cold was it?  It was so cold that even the kids noticed.  :)

To our surprise, Olaf was there, too and thankfully we got to meet him before the race started. (my sophisticated kids were unimpressed with his costume because they could see "the real person's head".

 Elsa and the others, too.
 At the starting line...Isaiah was thrilled to be out in the elements.
At the last minute the kids asked if I would go with them and I readily agreed because the course was not clearly marked and the organization was questionable.  I'm so glad I did because they ended a half mile opposite of the starting line in a busy and unsupervised area.  Strange.

Plus, it was so fun to run along side them and cheer them on.  The two five year-olds didn't totally grasp what was going on, but they followed the crowd  and ran with huge grins.

Waiting for us at the end was hot chocolate and cookies, so totally worth it in their book.  And getting kids out in the fresh air for exercise is what I am all about.  Wonder which one(s) will be the runner(s)?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Doing Battle, Week 11

I feel like I've stalled writing this post long enough.  The "on" weeks aren't so much fun to report on and honesty, this morning when I wanted to write, I was still really struggling.  I got through last week and I thought waiting on the other side would be reprieve, but instead I found myself this week dreading what I know is certain to come next week.

And that's just not me.  Worry about stuff that hasn't even happened yet?  Spend precious thought space thinking of the bad that could be?  What, are you crazy??

The thing is, we're half way through.  I know...woohoo!  But the problem is, we're half way through. So now I have a good idea of what is coming and I don't know if it should, but it doesn't make it easier.  Instead it leaves me feeling afraid and wondering if I can do it again.  

Of course I will.  I have to.  But I hate this fear creeping in.  So I spent the day meditating on a verse my cousin sent me this morning. I love this version of it (NIRV):

God didn’t give us a spirit that makes us weak and fearful. He gave us a spirit that gives us power and love. It helps us control ourselves. 2 Timothy 1:7

And now, hours later and after some wrestling, I have peace.  And that is probably the ongoing battle I will face this week as Monday gets closer.

Last week it was mostly just being sick.  Tuesday I was well enough to sit up in bed and be on screens...I even bought a few gifts online.  They added a fourth anti-nausea medicine to my regiment (me, the girl who always used to think long and hard before taking Tylenol) and I was hopeful it was working as advertised but then Wednesday I got knocked down.  I woke up Friday morning feeling like it was Monday and the week had just started but then I realized I'd actually just missed the week.

While I am making some bonds with the nursing staff at the cancer center, this week was especially sad patient-wise.  While waiting to see the doctor, we watched a woman check in for a consult, with a three-month old baby.

In the treatment room, adjacent to us on one side was a woman weighing in at 89 pounds and reporting that she'd stayed home for Thanksgiving, alone.  She was in and out of sleep, as was I, and didn't look like she had much more fight in her.

On our other side was a man who was turned away because his blood counts were not good enough to proceed with treatment.  So he waited for his American Cancer Society ride to make arrangements to pick him up ahead of schedule.  Both these people were alone, as many are every time we go.

On our drive home Shaun and I were counting our blessings, thanking God for the community He has placed us in, for the people He's put in our lives who love us big. Big.  And knowing people are praying for us everyday gives me strength....nothing on Earth is more powerful or effective than the power of prayer.

So this week I will look for God's grace.  It is always there in abundance.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Project 365, Week 49

This week's photos come courtesy of cell phones/iPad.  Its not really his thing to take pictures (nor does it need to be...I've pretty well got that covered ;)), but many of these are Shaun's and I so appreciate him helping me get a glimpse of the things I'm missing.

November 30
My nephew Armand was christened and then Sarah and Tony hosted a luncheon.  Check out the centerpieces she made!
 Since the family was across the state for the day, Amy came over to break up my day and deliver food.  We got to hang with no kids!  :)  I'm so grateful for her.
 Nana stays up on the times...bedtime stories on the computer.
December 1
Post-treatment and feeling just well enough to watch a movie with the girls I'd promised them this week, in bed on a lap top screen.

When I asked the girls if they wanted to watch a Christmas movie with me, I was picturing White Christmas or Its a Wonderful Life.  Instead, they landed on the classic The Dog Who Saved Christmas, though I considered myself fortunate, because we were this close to watching Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever.  PHEW!!
December 2
Sweet girls all match-y for bed coming in to kiss me goodnight.
December 3
No photo, tough day.

December 4
The kids and I did some kid-friendly Advent reading, starting just four days late using Thriving Family's materials.  It wasn't all peace and calm and twinkling Christmas lights but it was still beautiful.
 December 5
My first attempt to make zucchini noodles, this one with an avocado dressing.  It took five minutes and was pretty yummy.  I've done some research on raw food eating and some of the best cancer-fighting foods...there is an overload of information and everyone has their own opinion, it seems, but I figure its worth looking into at least.
December 6
Saturdays in December are all about squeezing as much as you can into one day, right?  Wrong, but that's what we tried to do this day.

While I dropped the girls at voice lessons, Shaun took Aiden to his very first basketball practice.  He loved it!  And when he got home, he thanked me for signing him up for it and making him go to the first practice.  (He was quite hesitant, if not resistant, at first...I wanted to record our conversation, as I'm pretty confident he'll have a life-long love of basketball, if his daddy is any indication).
For the past several years Shaun's grandfather has hosted a Christmas luncheon for his kids, grands and greats.  Since its getting harder for him to get out, Shaun's mom prepared all the food and held it at her house.  It looks festive!
Then Shaun took the girls to their first game of the season and Amanda's first-ever real game.  (They get to be on the same team this year!) Second-year Avery scored 12 points!
In the parent-divide-and-conqueror game, I think its safe to say I drew the short straw of the day.  ;) Since it was outside and therefore germ free, I got to watch Mud Bowl 2014, aka Class S State playoffs held across the state.
39* and steady rain to pouring, but thankfully I had my buddy with me.  Per request, we did math problems to pass the time.  And look...we're smiling!  :)  (Sadly, the team lost, ending a great season).
 After church, Shaun and a friend took this eclectic group of kids to CEC.  Good times.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

So Many Blessings!

We were able to set aside two days in November to say "thank you God for all we've been given by Your hand".  This was our 10th Anniversary of celebrating my with my side of the family on the weekend before Christmas.  How do I remember this?  Because the first we did it, I was gathering everyone together so we could share the news that we were expecting Avery!  That seems like light years ago.

This year I wasn't feeling great but decided at the last minute I really wanted to make it happen.  I'm so glad I did.  All I had to do was sit and relax in the company of people who love me.  Amy and Elizabeth both sent me pictures so we could remember the day.  So blessed!

 Sweet Sadie's first Thanksgiving!

My sister, the hostess, who also squeezed in her first Crossfit Competiton in during the morning before everyone arrived.  Don't mess with her...she's made of steel!

This year the kids had to work for their dessert.  :)

 Thanksgiving Day dawned bright and beautiful with a bit of snow cover.
 "A bit" or plenty, depending on your perspective and motives.  :)

For the first time ever, I sat and watched the road race from my couch, ending my 12-year streak running it, including the year I gave birth to Amanda four days after.  Kinda made me mad that cancer could take that away, but the weight sitting on my chest told me I'd made the right decision.  Next year!

It was hard to be around the house for the morning and not running the show.  Shaun has cooked our turkey every Thanksgiving since our first year of marriage and my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law had the rest covered, leaving not much for me to do.

While I should have just been so thankful (on Thanksgiving!), I had to pray through the pout that I could feel setting in.  God is teaching me much through this experience, one humbling lesson is that I have much more pride (aka sin) in my heart than I knew existed.
 Sweet Armand's first Thanksgiving!
 The team of table-setters did a fabulous job!

 As did the craft team who worked together on three different occasions to make place cards for each person present.  How cute!
 Love having a roaring fire that doesn't leave any woodchips or create dust.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. I Chronicles 16:34