Thursday, May 28, 2015
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
"... Christians are certainly not above experiencing the occasional face plant, sometimes one right after another. The difference, however, is that the son or daughter of God "rises again" (Prov. 24:16), even on scraped hands and scuffed knees. We may only be crawling by that point, barely getting back to our feet. But our eyes are pointing forward, and our intent is to press on, "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith." (Heb 12:2)
And the more consistently this happens - this again-and-again pursuit of Him - the more clearly the Spirit will bear witness "with our spirit" that we truly to belong to Him, that we are indeed the children of God."
"When hardship comes your way, will you tell yourself it's a tool of God's grace and a sign of His love, or will you give in to doubting His goodness?"
"If you are not on God's redemptive agenda page, you will end up doubting his goodness.... Here's the bottom line. Right here, right now, God isn't so much working to deliver to you your personal definition of happiness. He's not committed to give you a predictable schedule, happy relationships, or comfortable surrounds. He hasn't promised you a successful career, a nice place to live, and a community of people who appreciate you. What he has promised you is himself, and what he brings to you is the zeal of his transforming grace. No, he's not first working on your happiness; he's committed to your holiness. That doesn't mean he is offering you less than you've hoped for, but much, much more. In grace, he is intent on delivering you from your greatest, deepest, and most long-term problem: sin. He offers you gifts of grace that transcend the moment, that literally are of eternal value. He has not unleashed his power in your life only to delver to you things that quickly pass away and that have no capacity at all to satisfy your heart.... when you are tempted to thing that God is loving you less because your life is hard, he is actually loving you more.... these hard moments aren't in your life because God is distant and uncaring, but rather because He loves you so fully."It isn't about what I'm feeling today.
It isn't about my comfort.
It isn't about my idea of happiness.
It's about more than just today.
It's about eternity.
It's about His glory and my good.
I'm sometimes tempted to think He couldn't possibly understand, when in reality, I'm the one who doesn't understand.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
A few weeks ago, Tim and I took a couples trip down to Georgia to hang out with some good friends of ours. We decided to drive and made a few stops along the way. This was a big trip for us, in the sense that it is the longest we have left all of our kids, for a total of 6 days. My amazing mother-in-law (and father-in-law) watched the kids the entire time we were gone. Yes, I know how blessed I am :)
The first stop was in Indiana where we stopped at a casino to play a few rounds of roulette and black jack…. we lost $32 :(
For lunch we ate in Florence Kentucky at this place called "Mai Thai" (thanks to trip advisor) and while we were a little rushed because we got there at like 2:45 (15 minutes before they close for the afternoon), it was fantastic - if you like Thai and sushi. We go to Cincinnati every year and I look forward to going there again.
The next stop was Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, TN where we took in a show at the Smoky Mountain Opry. The show was good. We had wanted to do the dinner show about the Hattfield and McCoy's but the line was way long and we knew we wouldn't make it to the show on time. So for being our second choice I was not disappointed in the opry show. We loved the variety, and mostly we loved the juggler and the gospel music portion. So good! I love that our country still has a few spots where this type of things still happens.
We also ate lunch at this little spot called "Wild Plum Tea Room" it was rated #1 on trip advisor. It was off the beaten path and was a very unique experience.
Their regular menu was very small, and to be honest I was a little disappointed when we first sat down until the waiter came over and told us all of the daily specials. We both ended up ordering a special, as well as their famous tea (which was delicious btw). My only complaint is that I would have preferred for the specials to be written somewhere only because it's easier for me to process things I see rather than things I hear, and there was a lot so it was hard for me to keep up.
While in the art district we stopped at a few shops, primarily to look at the pottery. I did purchase a little pottery mug for my morning coffee…. it's so cute and authentic!!
From there we drove through the mountains - including the Smoky Mountain National Park - to Elijay, Georgia. The drive was gorgeous!!
Unbelievably beautiful, i could not take enough pictures!!
It was a great time and something I will never forget.
And there is no one in the world I would have rather experienced it with!!
Once we got to Elijay, we stayed at a cabin in the deep mountains (I say deep because it took 15 minutes to get 2 miles with all of the curves to get to the actual cabin) although I would not describe it at as remote, I would describe it as "a ways out" thanks to the curves. There were 8 of us staying there, and I think after the three days only 2 of us had not gotten car sick. But it was a beautiful cabin with lots of room for us and the three outer couples we were staying with.
While there, we enjoyed some of the amenities on site: the outdoor pool (which was so warm it was like getting into bath water). I personally decided it wasn't worth getting my hair wet and just kept my legs dangled over the side. :) We did a round of mini golf, basketball and tennis (or at least the others did the basketball and tennis…. way too warm for me to be working that hard).
Our second day there we decided to do whitewater rafting. I was very nervous at first. And by very nervous I mean, for a few moments I considered not getting into the raft.
We went with the Rolling Thunder River Company - our group of 8 was divided into two groups. Tim and I's group was with Morgan (we called her "Captain Morgan") and it was AWESOME!! As scary as it was, it was memorable and exciting. I truthfully can't wait to go again sometime and while I want to take all of the kids, I particularly can't wait to take Treyton - I know he would love it!!
It took about and hour and half and when we were done, all I could think was that I wanted to do more, but the next morning my arms were a little sore, so I think, in the end, it was just enough.
Side Note: we technically were in Tennessee for the whitewater rafting.
Our last day there we decided to go for a hike before we headed out (Tim and I left a day before everyone else), after losing our way a bit we ended up hiking The Approach to the Appalachian Trail to the Amicalola Falls. It was probably the most intense hiking we had ever done, but was well worth it once we saw the falls. It wasn't too far either, mostly just steep - both up and down. I'm very glad we went - even if Tim and I had sore legs the next day. :)
It was an amazing trip - my favorite part aside from seeing our friends and participating in the world's most amazing dance party - was the great food and the whitewater rafting and the scenery…. okay I guess i loved it all!
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Friday, February 14, 2014
Where does the time go? I had really good intentions to blog more regularly…. and you all see how far the "good intentions" have gotten me.
Busy as it is, life is good here.
It's actually a lot more settled down now that the holidays are through and we've gotten through the new year.
Thanks to the so-far-below-freezing-no-one-should-be-outside temperatures, we've spent more time than usual at home, which has been nice. I am working on more crafts than ever (because I have the time at home) and am beginning to bring the kids in on as many as I can. In the last months they've made bath bombs, embroidery, scrabble tile signs, paper beads, crocheting and more. It's so much fun to work on crafts together. They really get into it, and they want very badly to do well.
In general the family is doing well, I hate to even say this but we've even been virus free for over a month!! No colds or anything. Again, I think this is due to the fact that we've been out and about so much less, but whatever the reason we will enjoy it while we can.
Treyton is currently in basketball (once a week) and loving it. No big surprise there. He loves any and all sports, and basketball happens to be one of his favorites. He is really looking forward to playing during the high school basketball game this coming up Friday (which is now, today).
He has lost like a million teeth now, for those of you that are technical, I think the actual number is 6 but either way, a lot is a lot. He loves pulling his teeth, which is a good thing, because it's a job that while I don't hate it, I'm comfortable passing it by.
School is going well. It continues to take a lot of effort on his part, but when he is trying, he does very very well. He is super smart and has such an "intellectual" way of looking at things. My favorite part of doing school with Treyton is the discussion. He always asks insightful questions and is an extremely curious child which caries over into everything he does. Even if it's a commercial on TV, if he doesn't get it, he wants to and will ask lots of questions until he understands.
A thorough thinker, he keeps us on the straight and narrow and focused on the things that matter.
Alexa had her dance recital last week. I'll be honest, I shed a tear or two when she was out on that stage, dancing her little heart out. She is such a passionate little creature and it all shows whenever you turn the music on. I love that about her.
She loves piano and reading and doing tie blankets, which her Aunt Toni helped her start doing. She is very crafty and could work on crafts almost as much as I do, if I let her. Though her weakness is cleanliness and organization, so working with her takes a little more patience on my part. She's the kind of crafter who just gets in and gets going and doesn't care where she sets something down….. I on the other hand work with everything having it's place…. we are good for each other.
She is doing very well in school. I am keeping her in her current reading program, although she really doesn't need it. She is such an intuitive reader that she just catches on to most new words she comes in contact with. She reads much like she lives her life, generally within the boundary of the rules, but having no real idea or concern for what the rules actually are. :)
A carefree soul, she is always making us laugh and slow down to appreciate the smaller things.
Audrey continues to do speech therapy at the school two times a week. Because of the weather and a scheduled day off, It had been 2 weeks between visits with her speech pathologists, when he finally did see her, he was amazed!! He can't believe how quickly Audrey is flying through the program, though he says it's not surprise considering the amount of time she is able to commit to it. She is a very unique 3 year old, we hear that ALL the time. She is very smart and wise and although she can't communicate it, she does know what's going on, and hardly misses anything.
I have started doing more structured preschool with her (Before Five in a Row, namely) and she is LOVING it!! She already know 4 or 5 colors, and can count to 10 fairly well, so we are adding to all of that obviously and reading lots of stories. This week we are also learning about hibernation. Her favorite part is the crafts, which I'm trying to incorporate daily.
A determined should she has taught us so much about character building and how the easy-way is most certainly not always the best way.
Titus, Titus, Titus…. what can I say? He's hit the age of 50% adorable, 50% trouble :) He is a go-getter. Praise God he is a good napper, and is still napping twice a day, and sleeping 12 hours at night, so we get some break-time, because that kid has some energy. He's not naughty by any means. In fact, for his age, I think he listens rather well. He's just in to everything and wants to be a part of anything and wants to eat constantly!!!
He is soooo funny, and is quite the little character. He loves hiding under blankets and walking around, which his parents find oddly hilarious. He loves peek-a-boo and music. He's a cute little dancer and when he really wants food he will do squats - it's adorable!!
He does not like loud vibrating noises (such as a whoopee cushion, or loud engines). He does love our inflatable house thingy and can spend large chunks of time just letting his older siblings bounce him around in it.
He is not speaking much, which considering our past experiences, I am trying very hard not to be concerned about. Truth is, he is a boy and the 4th child, it's okay that he's not saying a lot. (or at least that's what I'm trying to convince myself). He at one point said "mama" but he doesn't really say that anymore. He says "DaDa" "Tay-ta" (Treyton) and "yes" ---- i know how weird is that? Especially considering typically, developmentally the /y/ sound does not show up until 2 1/2. (Sad that I know that….. anyway…..)
He is an adventurous little soul that keeps us on our toes and helps us to remember that we're not as young as we once were.
Friday, January 31, 2014
(DISCLAIMER: Below is an extremely raw and real story about the final weeks of my uncle's life, if this makes you uncomfortable, I would ask that you not read it, I'm writing this, for me and for my family, these are moments I will never forget, nor do I want to forget because they changed me, and God is using these moments in a big way in my life. However, I understand it may not be for everyone to read)
Over the past several weeks, my uncle, who I am very close with began to face the downhill part of his two-year battle with lung cancer. Two weeks ago I received a phone call on Sunday morning, telling me to come to Baraboo to see him, for probably the last time. He was in the hospital with pneumonia, and while the day before I had heard he was doing really well and expected to come home in the next couple of days, he had taken a sudden turn for the worse over night and they weren't really sure what to expect.
I got there at about 10 in the morning. I walked in, and while he acknowledged my presence and told me he was glad I came, there was very little acknowledgement on his part throughout the day. He was tired and struggling.
We had found out that morning, that despite the third round of chemo that he was currently on, the tumor had grown and was now wrapped around some blood vessels. His hemoglobin had dropped two points over night, and they were not sure if the vessels had been compromised or not.
That day our entire family sat by his side as we watched him struggling to maintain his oxygen levels. He was scared and anxious. They gave him some medication to help, but we could tell he wasn't ready. I decided that I would stay the night that night with him while he was in the hospital so that he wasn't alone. I live two-and-a-half hours away and I wasn't willing to leave and drive home, knowing how sick he was.
The nurses explained to me that often times patients would get worse during the night. But he didn't - he actually started doing better. At about 3am he had even sat up on the side of the bed and we got his blood ox up to 99!! Uncle T and I both started checking wires…. we were sure the machine was malfunctioning!! :)
The next morning social workers, doctors and nurses were coming in as we started to discuss the possibility of hospice. Todd was not willing to take the steps towards hospice quiet yet. He knew he wasn't ready to go home to my mom's house (he was still not able to get out of bed or take care of his own basic needs), but he wasn't ready to stop fighting either.
The hardest part for Todd during all of this was his inability to communicate easily. Around Thanksgiving he had lost his voice, most likely from the tumor pressing on a nerve, and he was difficult to understand without an oxygen mask on his face.
It was decided that he would go to a nursing home under rehabilitation. With the hope that they would help him get stronger and at least get out of bed on his own, and then he would go back home. He got moved in on Tuesday. He worked really hard at his rehab and was doing better. Though he didn't feel like he would be ready to go home in the two-weeks time they were hoping for, with help he was getting out of bed and eating in the cafeteria with other patients. During the next couple of days, Todd became more at peace with his diagnosis and, I think began to realize there was not anything, medically that could be done for him.
He had made his peace.
My mom and older sister, Skye had gone to visit Uncle T on Saturday morning. They found him sitting up in his wheel chair with his feet propped up on the side of his hospital bed making a list of things he wanted them to pull out of his house before the estate sale.
He was in good spirits and visited with them for a while before they left to go work on the house.
Sunday morning, my mom was at home and had tried to call Todd several times to let him know she was probably not going to visit that morning. She had been visiting him every day for the last two weeks, and with the cold weather she had wanted to stay home that day. Todd had not answered her several phone calls. I was on the phone with her at 12:30 when she got another call from a number she didn't know. I said "It's probably Todd calling you back, answer it and call me when you can."
She called back minutes later and said "It was the nursing home, they think Todd is dying and wanted to know if I wanted them to send him to the hospital. I'm walking out the door now, I'll call you when I know more. Call your sisters for me."
I hung up and called my sisters.
I called Tim who was dropping Treyton off at basketball. He said he would come and pick up the other kids so I could head out.
I got to Baraboo around 3:30.
I walked into Todd's room…. it was very calm and peaceful. I came around his bed, kissed him and told him I was there, and that I loved him. He opened his eyes and told me he loved me too.
It was my mom, my step-dad, Luke, and my sister, Skye.
Todd was at the nursing home, they had decided not to send him to the hospital, because there was nothing the hospital could do for him as far as actually healing/helping him. We were in the stages of making him a comfortable as we could.
Todd's blood oxygen was now in the 70s and we could not really get it to come up. His body was going to begin to shut down. When my mom had gotten there Todd was pretty anxious, but mostly because he felt like he couldn't breath. He was tossing and turning and unable to get comfortable. They gave him some medication and he was now calm, and resting.
My mom was able to talk with him when she had first gotten to his room and asked him if he needed anything. He said "no", she asked him if he was scared he said "no", she asked him if he wanted her to leave him alone he said "yes". She stood up from sitting on the said of his bed. He said "hey" she looked back at him and he said "I love you, good night."
He was finally at peace.
He rested all throughout the day.
At one point, around 7 at night, Todd had "sat up" and opened his eyes, he was slightly agitated at which point they gave him more medication. We each got a chance in those few brief moments to tell him we were there and that we loved him. He acknowledged each of us.
After this, he didn't respond as much, though he would still move occasionally to get more comfortable.
The nurse had told us that he could live days like this. My sister and I decided to stay that night to give my mom a break, because we would have to be going home on Monday. My mom left the hospital around 10. My mom kissed him and said her goodbyes.
My sister and I cuddled up on a cot next to Todd's bed and rested when we could. The nurses and aids came in every couple of hours to turn him and give him more medication.
The night nurses were not well received by my older, very protective sister and the aids were attempting to handle Todd more than she was comfortable with. So after 1am, Skye was sitting next to Todd watching him (and anyone else who may have attempted to enter his domain) very carefully. I was laying on the cot. We were watching him breath.
He was very peaceful. Though looking back, there had been a change in the last couple of hours.
At 1am when the nurse came in to give him medication. His respiration was at 20 a minute. By 1:30 he was at about 13 respirations per minute. At about 1:45 he had started breathing more sporadically, before long I told Skye "we should call mom" She agreed but said, lets count for a minute and see where he's at.
We started counting. It took 15 seconds for one breath. I said "Call Mom!!" She did.
I leaned over my uncle, kissed his head and said "We're right here, uncle, you're doing so good."
He took another breath.
Skye was talking to my step-dad.
He took another, very small breath.
And he was gone.
There was no struggling, there was no gasping. It was very peaceful.
We sat by his bed holding his hands until my mom got there about 10 minutes later.
Yesterday was his funeral.
I can't really explain to you the emotions we've all been going through. We are at peace, truly. My uncle's ugly battle with cancer and emphysema is finally over. And he is completely healed! My uncle had a very strong faith, perhaps the strongest faith I've ever seen, and we have no doubt where he is today.
We are sad, because we will miss him, but we are joyful for him.
I wrote something in honor of my uncle which I then read at the funeral. For those that know me, I do NOT speak publicly but I knew this was something I really wanted to do. I'm sure the presentation wasn't perfect (I had to read the entire thing) but I know the message was received and that's what matters: