Tag Archives: cancer

Adoption is…

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Adoption is caring.

Adoption is giving.

Adoption is hope.

Adoption is redemption.

Adoption is a blessing.

Adoption is LOVE.

But adoption is also heartache, heartbreak and loss.

It is all of those things, and if we don’t acknowledge that truth then we are doing a disservice to those who are embarking on (or are already traveling) the  adoption path.

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Adoption is emotionally messy. Choosing to open your heart and home to a child that has come into your life through loss and tragedy creates a muddy mix of emotions on all ends. With each placement I am better understanding this reality and have adjusted my expectations accordingly.

When Tyler came into our home as a hurting 6-year-old boy, I am ashamed to admit that I really didn’t get it. I viewed what we were offering him to be a loving gift that he should be grateful and excited about. I wanted his emotions to mirror mine. I was feeling excited, blessed, and full of love for my new son but didn’t recognize that his emotions were more complicated.

The reality is…

As much as media wraps the experience in the tagline of: “Adoption is LOVE,”

(Which it is!)

It should equally be acknowledged: “Adoption is Loss.”

If a child comes to you through adoption, whether due to being removed from an abusive home or placed as an infant by a loving birth mother who is sacrificing all for the sake of the child she loves, loss is involved. There needs to be an understanding that while adoption is a beautiful blessing, it is not all joy and gratitude and celebration. There is also a lot of sadness, confusion, fear, anger, and grief connected with this journey.

The past five years have taught me a lot and I feel better equipped to sensitively and kindly navigate this road with Brandon than I was able to with Tyler. God is working on all of us and opening our eyes to the bigger picture and the deeper reality.

Two weeks ago we made a trip down to Washington County so that Brandon could have a visit with his adoptive father (whom he calls “Pap.”) His adoptive Dad is under the care of hospice due to terminal cancer. It is because of a series of heartbreaking losses in Brandon’s life that we find him living in our home. The visit was a good one. It was good for Brandon to see that we would continue to facilitate visits with his Pap and make visits a priority while we still can, but also good for his pap to see Brandon thriving.. giving him a sense of peace about the situation.

When it was time to leave and we were walking out to the car Brandon asked if he could go say “hello” to his dog.

Tied up in the backyard was a beagle that was bouncing with excitement at the sight of his boy. Brandon asked if I would go back with him because he wanted me to meet his dog.

The next 30 minutes were spent sitting in the grass as the pup bounced between us. With that wiggling mass of pure love in his arms, Brandon’s soul opened and the words began to pour out. Sitting beneath the shade of the tree he  started talking; sharing memories of all that had happened in that place. Memories of his dog, of afternoons spent in the woods. He shared memories of learning to cook at his adoptive mom’s side and the struggle of watching her health diminish,

And the crushing loss he felt when she died.

It was as though his reinforced, emotional dam broke loose and the thoughts and feelings of the last few years poured out of him. There in the backyard of his home he purged a lifetime of tears and broken dreams and I sat and listened. It was cathartic and I could see the physical affect that emotional purging had on him.

I held him as he cried.

His overgrown, man-body shook with the tears of a toddler…those tears that wrack the body and wash the soul.

I held him tight until he released his grip, indicating he no longer needed hugged. As he stepped away he turned to say good-bye to a furry friend who has been a loving companion through some of the darkest life experiences a person can endure.

I suggested we take a picture of him with his dog so that we could print it and frame it for his room.

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He eagerly agreed and the pup thought it was a good idea too!

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We left the home of his Pap with the last of his meager worldly possessions packed in a black garbage bag. We will be returning for additional visits, making sure he has as many visits with his Pap as we can before Brandon experiences another horrible loss.

But despite the fact we will return for visits, there was a sad finality in the way he looked over his shoulder as we left, at the place he has called home for the last few years.

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Adoption is about hope, care, redemption and love…

but it is also about loss.

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We must never forget that.

 

 

Bringing Sunshine

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It’s been said:

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I have always found this to be the case.

The people I know who are happiest and radiate joy are those who are most earnestly engaged in the spreading of sunshine.

I have been blessed with many sunshine spreaders in my life…

I especially see this in Molly.

Molly is a sunshine spreader.

Nothing brings her more joy then to have an opportunity to deliver a little sunshine to those fighting the darkness that so often threatens to close in on us all.

She was born with a servant’s heart, and that, in combination with a naturally sunny disposition, makes her the most effective sunshine spreader I know.

This summer, as part of her National Honor Society membership, she had to come up with and lead a service project in the community. She decided to pair her project with the young women’s goal setting program at church and make it a NHS/ Personal Progress project that would involve the adult members and her fellow young women at church.

After much consideration, she decided to take on a project that was a bit more personal. Having watched a few close family members battle cancer in the last few years she thought collecting items for chemotherapy care kits would be a nice way to show love and support for patients who are fighting this hard fight.

She began by compiling a list of items she thought would be helpful for those who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments at our local cancer center, and then posted the list of those items around church and on social media.

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Her original goal was far surpassed as donations came flooding in from friends, family and church members around the area.

Molly was overwhelmed and touched by the show of generosity!

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At a young women sleepover the girls wrote letters of encouragement to be included in the care kits.

A gift card to Dollar General, given by a friend, allowed her to purchase fun, brightly colored bags to hold all the donated items.

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This week Molly gathered the donated items and the letters of encouragement and created the care kits.

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She was overwhelmed and touched by the generosity of so many and couldn’t believe how many items were donated. The generosity of so many allowed her to assemble twice as many chemotherapy care kits then she originally planned.

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Thank you, friends, for the sunshine you spread this month!

It was such a show of love towards Molly, and will be a beautiful show of love and support to those who receive the care kits!

Finding Solace at the Homestead

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This week I have been thinking a lot about the many blessings God has granted me. With Thanksgiving just days away I have much to be thankful for and I find my heart filled to the brim with humble gratitude for God’s loving providence in my life. I have been blessed beyond measure, certainly much more than I deserve.

As I count my many blessings, the blessing of family can be found at the top of the list. I grew up not fully recognizing the treasure I had in my family. With no other frame of reference to compare my life to, I assumed everyone enjoyed the same love, support, care and companionship within their families that I did. I had no idea that the special bond I enjoyed with my parents, my siblings, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, was a unique gift that many others have not been blessed with. This revelation became all the more pronounced as we stepped into the world of foster care and became aware of the horrors found within so many families. The gift of a loving family gave me a life advantage far beyond any other blessing in my life, and my heart is full of gratitude for that.

Sometimes in the midst of the busyness and craziness of life we forget to be grateful. We lose sight of our blessings and all that we have to be grateful for. We become focused on the minutiae and forget to step back and focus on the big picture…on the things that are really important.

A few weeks ago I received an unexpected phone call from my parents. They were calling with the news that Dad’s cancer is back. For those who have followed our blog for years, you might remember his initial diagnoses. He had an aggressive form of prostrate cancer that resulted in the need for surgery. At that time we asked for prayers from our friends both near and far and those prayers were answered. The surgeon found the tumor to be encapsulated and contained, and no further treatment was needed. He was cancer free, but now we have discovered that cancer cells have returned. Radiation is required. And we are asking for prayers again…prayers for healing, for wisdom, for minimal side effects to the treatments, but mostly for peace for my parents.

We ask for your prayers…

Prayers for the peace that only God can bring during those unexpected bends in the road of life.

My Dad starts treatment this week, so last weekend they took advantage of the time they had before he begins treatment and invited Rusty out to the Homestead to enjoy his belated birthday celebration. For each of the kids’ birthdays my parents invite them out to the Homestead for a special one-on-one weekend where they enjoy lunch out, movies, board games in the evening, and all the fun that the Homestead has to offer. It is a special tradition that all the kids look forward to.

On Sunday, the rest of us drove out to Ohio to celebrate Rusty and Tyler’s birthdays with my parents and then bring Rusty home.

We arrived to find my parents wearing the shirts we bought them for their anniversary last month. This year marked the 41st year of marriage and their 42nd year together. What an example they are to me!

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When we walked in Rusty was eager to show us the birthday gift he received from Mimi and Pop Pop. They had taken him to the toy store and let him pick out a Lego set. He was allowed to enjoy it early and by the time we arrived he had it completed.

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Tyler was allowed to open his birthday gift as soon as we arrived. Mimi and Pop Pop know Tyler so well and always hit it out of the ball park with their gifts to Tyler. This time was no exception. They bought him a laser tag set that he and Rusty enjoyed playing with the rest of the day!

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My Mom had an unexpected gift for me as well. She had come across a picture I had drawn for my Dad when I was in early elementary school. It was a picture welcoming him home after his time training in the field and she had it framed as a surprise. What a treasure! I was thrilled!

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We enjoyed our time at the Homestead.

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There is something about the Homestead that brings feelings of peace and contentment. It isn’t the home of my childhood, but it is filled with the objects and people of my childhood, thus feels like home.

Our day was spent enjoying a meal as a family:

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Playing card games:

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Enjoying the critters:

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And counting our blessings…

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As we pray for my Mom and Dad during this unexpected season of life, we also count our blessings, for we have so much to be thankful for. God will take this struggle and from it create something beautiful and blessed, as He always does.

God is good!

Always good!

A Week at Home

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There is nothing more wonderful than a day at home with no place to go!

I treasure these sort of “stay at home” days,

probably because they are such a rare occurrence. 🙂

Swimming lessons wrapped up last week, and we are done with summer camps. so after a busy two months of traveling and shuffling kids to and fro we finally had a week at home with minimal outside obligations.

It was just what I needed.

As I tackled the Mt. Everest sized mountain of laundry in my laundry room, and the 2 inch layer of protective dust on all my vertical surfaces, I felt the weight lifting. As my home became more organized  I felt the weight of anxiety lighten.

“Ok, I can do this,” I thought to myself as I began systematically crossing items off the “to do” list.

This was what I needed.

Just a few uninterrupted days ( uninterrupted except for football practices and therapy) to tackle those tasks that were weighing most heavily…

It was heavenly!

As I focused on addressing all those little worries and frustrations I found the big worries didn’t seem quite so daunting.

Here is a peek into our life this week…

granted most of our activities really didn’t justify pulling out the camera

 unless you wanted a shot of my Mt. Everest laundry pile. 😉

Monday was Gracie’s “one on one” time with me, that one hour of uninterrupted time with Mom to do whatever that child wishes. This week Grace told me that she wanted to use her time to work on her National Honor Society project.

For one of her requirements to maintain her membership in the National Honor Society she has to plan a 10 hour service project each year. This year she decided to do a literary day for the 4-10 year old children at church. She is working with some of the other teenage girls at church to plan a day of crafts, activities and lunch all based on their favorite children’s books. She has been preparing for weeks and is very excited.

For her time I helped her do advertising and sign-up sheets for the event.

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Another requirement for her membership in the National Honor Society is a set number of tutoring hours each year. She has been fulfilling some of that requirement this summer by working with Tyler on his reading and spelling skills. On Monday she came up with the creative idea of taping the alphabet letters to the piano keys and letting him spell words. Tyler loved hearing the “songs” different words made.

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I thought it was a clever way to engage her ADHD brother in a task he is not too fond of. She is going to make an awesome teacher one day!

On Monday night the big kids decided to try one of our bucket list items. They decided they wanted to spend the night sleeping on the trampoline. It was a perfect night for it with cool temperatures and a clear sky. Molly was a bit nervous that the coyote would come prowling around so they zipped up the trampoline safety net and kept Winnie, our bulldog, outside with them for the night. They came in the next morning at 7:30 am, declaring it a wonderful night’s sleep.

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Tuesday was Molly’s “one on one” time and she chose to use her time to make a craft she had seen online. The craft was making stained glass light catchers to hang in a window. It was so simple but they turned out very pretty.

Step 1: Decorate clear plastic cups with sharpies.

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Step 2: Place them rim side down on an ungreased cookie sheet.

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Step 3: Bake them in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.

Step 4:Pull them out and let them cool.

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When they are cool punch a hole, string them, and enjoy.

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They turned out so well Grace decided to use them as one of her crafts for her story book camp.

One of the items on my “to do” list this week was to make more allowance envelopes. Kids’ allowances have always been a struggle for me. They are supposed  to receive their allowances on Fridays each week but it  never fails that Friday would roll around and I wouldn’t have the cash on hand. Then I would have to try to remember who I owed what to

when we were at the store and they were wanting to purchase something with their allowance money.

A few years ago I got smart and realized that if I would just plan 6 months at a time the allowance headache that creeped up on me every Friday would be solved. Now twice a year I go to the bank and take out $300.00 in one dollar bills and $100.00 in dimes and make allowance envelopes for each child for 6 months. I use dimes for part of their money to make it easier to pull out their tithing and separate their saving money from spending money. It is a laborious process, taking a couple of hours to count out, package, and label 26 envelopes for each of the five kids BUT it saves me from having to deal with the allowance headache for 6 more months. It is well worth an afternoon of counting out dimes. 🙂

Counting:

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All done!

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On Wednesday the girls had an activity with their youth group at church. The young women were going to the wave pool to enjoy an afternoon of playing in the waves. This was the first year I wasn’t needed as a driver so I stayed home with the boys while Grace drove Molly and herself to the church to carpool with the rest of the group.

They picked a perfect day for it…at least in terms of the temperature. It was one of the hottest days of the summer, making it perfect for playing the pool. Unfortunately all of Pittsburgh had the same thought, making for a very crowded day at the wave pool. Luckily the girls didn’t mind and had a blast despite the crowds.

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While the girls were off playing in the waves I took advantage of a day trapped at home. Toby had to take my car to work so there was no temptation to leave the house. I was able to tackle the monumental task of registering Molly for high school. This year she will be attending the same school as Grace and Rusty. I am excited for this change and know she will love 21st Century Cyber Charter School as much as her siblings do.

But it never ceases to amaze me the amount of paperwork required to register a child for school. Getting the paperwork completed was my goal for the day and felt another burden lift off my shoulders when all the papers were placed in the envelope and put by the front door to be mailed.

Today was spent on the phone dealing with a delicate situation involving one of Tyler’s biological siblings. Brandon, his older brother who recently lost his newly adoptive momma to cancer has found himself in limbo.

We have arranged to have Brandon spend the weekend with us. We are taking him camping. The whole situation is horrible and heartbreaking and we are hoping to give him a weekend of healing…

a vacation from a heartbreaking reality.

We approach this weekend with caution and hope…

Hope that we can be a blessing, but also that we can meet manage the behaviors and meet the emotional needs of a wounded little boy.

We ask for prayers,

continued prayers,

for Brandon and this weekend ahead of us.

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If I die young…

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It is the middle of the night.

We leave in 2 1/2 hours, at 3:00am to board a bus for Mount Vernon, Virginia.

I should be sleeping but I can’t turn my brain off.

Oh, how I envy my sweet husband, snoring next to me, who can simply shut off the worries of his day and sleep.

This week a friend passed away.

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We haven’t talked in a few years but this friend had a life changing effect on my life. This friend was the one who started our home school co-op group. She saw a need and worked to meet that need by creating a venue for our children to gather, and learn, and for friendships (kids and mommas) to be forged. Meeting her on a cyber school field trip put me on a path that forever changed my life. Her effort has blessed my life abundantly. My children have blossomed, learning has taken place, memories have been made, and friendships have been formed. I owe her so much.

It is funny how the Lord uses us to answer the prayers of others…

and uses others to put us on the paths we need to be on.

Sometime friendships are life-long, but so often friendships are seasonal. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t real, or deep, or special, or valuable, it just means they are there to meet a need or serve a purpose, and then the Lord sends us on to the next friend that needs us.

Or the next friend that we need.

This friend came into my life during a season of transition when I needed support and encouragement. I was graduating from MOPS and moving out of the toddler/ preschool phase of life and entering the world of home schooling. I was nervous, insecure, and lacked a support system. I joined co-op just as it was beginning and immediately felt like I had come home. The past 10 years have been all the sweeter as a result.

I look at the profound role this dear friend played in my life. She affected the lives of so many, far more than she probably ever realized. We haven’t talked in a few years but I was heartbroken to hear of her tragic passing. It has affected me profoundly…

Perhaps because the loss feels so personal. She is me. She was living my life, she was my peer, with kids the same age. In a moment their lives were changed forever. It makes me all the more aware of my own mortality and the fleeting nature of life. In a moment it can be over.

The reality of these thoughts have been all-consuming this week as I consider my own life…

as I look at my own children…

as I listen to my husband snore next to me in the dark.

What would I say if tomorrow were my last day? What would I want my children to know?

So here it is. My words to my babies…

If I die young:

1. I love you. Oh, how I love you. I never understood the power of love until I held you in my arms. In loving you I better understand how my Father in Heaven feels about me, and I am humbled. I worried, with each addition, that I wouldn’t have enough love in me to go around, but I discovered love is sort of magical. It grows and multiplies until it is spilling out of your very soul. There is no limit to it.

I can’t wait until you each hold your first baby and feel the love I’m talking about. Then you will understand the love I have for you.

2. Being kind is the most important thing. More than being pretty or smart or talented. It is important to remember that everyone you will meet in your life is fighting a hard battle. It could be sickness, infertility, the loss of a loved one, financial struggles, a loss of faith, addiction. Everyone has a burden they carry. Most of these burdens are hidden and you will probably not even know they are there, so it is imperative that you be kind to everyone. Be kind to those who deserve it, but more importantly be kind to those who don’t. They are the ones who need it most.

Nothing has greater value in this world than kindness and if you can be nothing else, be kind.

3. The answer to life is found in JOY. The acronym is simple. Jesus first, Others second, then Yourself. By following this blueprint you will always have joy, because contrary to what the world is shouting at you, real joy comes from forgetting yourself and serving others.

4. Build a relationship with your Father…earthy and heavenly. They both love you dearly and want the best for you. These relationships are built from TIME. Your relationship will grow and sweeten as you spend time together, communicate, listen, and follow their guidance.

5. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, only how you are doing it. I don’t care what vocation you choose. I see no more value in being a doctor than a handyman. I only hope you will let God lead your steps as you seek out your life’s path…

and whatever you find yourself doing, do it well. Work hard, give it 100%, do your best. If you can learn early the enjoyment that comes from a job well done you will always find life enjoyable…for there will always be work to do.

6. How you treat someone who can do nothing for you says more about your character than anything else. Remember this when choosing friends or considering a future spouse.

How do they treat animals, children, the janitor, the homeless man on the corner, or the man behind the counter waiting on them? That is the real test of character.

7. Embrace plan B. Your life will be full of plan Bs. Those unexpected roads and course changes that go against your plans. They are often disappointing and it can be hard to embrace plan B when you are struggling to let go of the dream you had. Just remember that your plan B is often God’s plan A…

and His plan is always better!

8. Be grateful. Gratitude is the  father of all other virtues and the key to growth and happiness. Count your blessings and change your life. Something as simple as listing your blessings can change everything…

it may not change the circumstances, but it will change you.

Say thank you. Express gratitude to your Heavenly Father and to others. Take the time to write a thank you note when someone does something kind.

Please be grateful.

9. When it comes to relationships you get what you think you deserve in life. This is a hard one and its root is found in the way you see yourself. You have divine worth and you must believe that. For when you truly understand your great value in the eyes of your Heavenly Father you will attract a spouse who also sees that value in you. Unfortunately, I have also seen the opposite be true.

Believe you are a royal daughter or son of a Heavenly King and you will attract royalty.

10. Live today…really live! So often we postpone the important for the urgent, spending our days racing around “putting out fires,” and never really living. Each day is a gift from God and how you use that day is your gift to Him. So for today be present. Stop and see. Experience the world around you. Listen to the words of those you love, really listen. Work, and pray, and laugh, and love a little more. Practice patience.  Say your sorry and forgive…

Forgive others. Forgive yourself.

Give that compliment, and hug those you love a little tighter for a little longer. Share your testimony. Dream big dreams…

and enjoy the journey,

every twist and turn,

because it is an amazing ride!

“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present…Gratefully.” – Maya Angelou

The difference a year makes…

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Remember this little boy?

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I introduced him to you last year.

We met him for the first time last year when God miraculously brought together Tyler’s siblings for the reunion of a lifetime.

Tyler has five siblings who live in five separate homes. When they were removed from their biological home there were multiple failed attempts at placing the five of them together. It was decided that there wasn’t a family out there who could parent all five successfully. As a result they were placed in separate foster homes and one by one they were adopted into loving homes. When we met Tyler he and his brother Brandon (see photo) were the only ones who weren’t adopted. They were the “toughest to place” and had multiple failed placements.

One of the heartbreaking results of the system placing them in different homes was that for a period of a few years the children lost touch with each other. Last year a  big miracle happened when these brothers and sister were reunited through a series of small miracles. We held the reunion at our home. What a joy it was to watch these siblings reconnect. One of the greatest blessings was getting to know the other adoptive families and gain the testimony of God’s love for each of these kids while seeing His hand in their placements. As I got to know each child and each parent I knew that each child was exactly where they were meant to be. There was such joy in that. They were all so happy…except one.

One lost soul.

One forgotten child.

One orphan.

Brandon was still not adopted. Although his foster mom loved him dearly and petitioned the courts over and over again, the “system” continued to drag its feet.

The difference in his life was evident in his pictures.

He was the lost boy.

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Last year the siblings reunited!

But God is good!

He does not abandon us or leave us orphaned.

I know many of you saw the sadness in his eyes and began to pray for this little boy. The many prayers sent heavenward for Brandon have been answered.

I am happy to report Brandon is now part of a forever family. His foster mom and dad were able to adopt him this summer.

Just look at what belonging, feeling secure and being loved unconditionally does for a child…

He looks like a different child, doesn't he?

He looks like a different child, doesn’t he?

This is what love does!

This Saturday we had Tyler’s siblings over for another reunion. Tyler couldn’t wait to see everyone!

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Tyler helped me plan the menu and activities for his reunion.

All set for company.

All set for company.

Brandon was the first to arrive, followed soon by Sean and Cheyanne. We got a last-minute call that Michael, Tyler’s oldest brother, couldn’t make it. Although Michael and his family were missed, it was a wonderful evening of food cooked over the fire, games. an egg hunt planned by the girls, and lots of football tossing between the brothers.

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Tyler kicking the football.

Tyler kicking the football.

The girls hiding the eggs they stuffed.

The girls hiding the eggs they stuffed.

Ozzie trying to figure out how to carry all his eggs. :)

Ozzie trying to figure out how to carry all his eggs. 🙂

Roasting hotdogs

Roasting hotdogs

Fun on the trampoline!

Fun on the trampoline!

Brothers racing...

Brothers racing…

Tyler teaching his little sister how to properly kick a football :)

Tyler teaching his little sister how to properly kick a football 🙂

Don't they look like twins?!

Don’t they look like twins?!

It was a wonderful reunion. I had such a good time visiting with the other families. We laughed, played, ate good food but this is what the night was all about:

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Siblings

Siblings: knit together by blood…

separated by horrible circumstances…

reunited through the power of love!

All adopted.

God is good!

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Brothers!

IMG_9868Our prayers were answered…

And now I ask you pray again.

With the good news of Brandon’s adoption came the heartbreaking news of a scary diagnosis.

Tina, Brandon’s new Mom. is facing a battle for her life. On the heals of an adoption celebration came the diagnosis of cancer and a prognosis of 6-12 months.

This little boy finally got his forever mom and now is facing the heartbreak of loosing her months later.

This little boy has faced so much loss in his short life so I am calling on all the prayer warriors who have lifted this little boy up in prayers before.

Let us pray again for Tina, for Brandon, and for all the orphans who have yet to find their forever homes and loving Mommas.

All children should have the chance to belong… to be loved… and to have a forever home.

All little ones should be able to smile like this.

Pray with me.

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Managing blessings

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There are two teams of players in the game of life…the “glass half fulls” and the “glass half empties”. Some people fall naturally and easily into one position or the other. Many however find that their place on the sidelines depends on more factors than simply what fate has dished out. While I would consider myself a glass half full person by nature there are certain trends I have noticed in my day that quickly change my outlook from positive to negative. Things like fatigue, stress, worry and fear are all triggers that can alter my glass half full outlook to viewing my glass as practically empty. It is during those emotionally vulnerable moments that I forget the truth, that I lose sight of each blessing and only see the struggle of that moment. I focus on the hardship instead of all the goodness. I hear only the thunder and lose sight of each blessed drop of life-sustaining rain. It is easy to get in habit of resenting the very gifts that God has blessed us with. This week I have found myself struggling with seeing life through half empty glasses. I have struggled with frustration, fatigue, self-doubt and dread. I know how easy it is to quickly spiral out of control once I start down that road so I have made a valiant effort to refocus on the blessings. This isn’t always easy in the midst of the storm. When lighting is flashing and thunder is crashing it can be hard to count the raindrops… but we must count them, one by one, because that is how we see them.

So…

When I’m focused on the task of washing a mound of dirty dishes when all I want to do is go to bed…I count the blessing of having the food to eat that dirtied those dishes.

When I am focused on the frustration of having to deal with yet another temper tantrum…I count the blessing of being able to adopt these two precious souls into our forever family.

When I am focused on the bills that need paid…I count the blessings of having reliable electricity and a working phone to keep in touch with those I love.

When I am focused on the bowl of cereal that was spilled on the rug…I count the blessing of a working washer and dryer in my own home.

When I’m focused on the frustration of teaching  phonics to a seven-year-old who would rather be anywhere else doing anything else I count the blessing of being able to home school my children and spend my days with the people I love most.

When I am focused on the fullness of my calendar, all that is looming, all that needs done…I count the blessing of a full life because although my days are busy they are busy with wonderful things. Each appointment is the manifestation of the very blessings we enjoy.

One author expressed it eloquently when they said:

“Most of our problems are simply aggravations that come with managing so many blessings.”

There are so many blessings.

Wednesday was my Dad’s surgery. I drove out to Ohio to be with my parents. He checked in at 6:00 am. The surgery began at 8:00 am. For four hours we waited in the waiting room praying for a good report from the doctor. At noon we were called back to meet with the doctor while my Dad was taken to recovery to wake up from the anesthesia. The doctor was pleased with how it went. The cancerous mass was larger than expected and as a result the doctor took his time to slowly scrape and remove all the cancerous cells that he could. He is cautiously optimistic that he got them all. Tissue samples were removed during surgery and were sent to pathology. We will receive news from pathology next week. Finally around 3:00pm we were able to see my Dad. It was difficult seeing my strong, healthy father looking weak and in pain. As the anesthesia wore off he became more alert and had better color but we could tell that he just wanted to go to sleep. My mom and I left him to rest while we went home to take care of the barn chores. We returned in the evening to visit for a bit before we said our good-nights. He has a long road ahead of him as he heals but the surgery itself could not have gone any better. This was one of those glass half full or glass half empty days. We could focus on the fear, the unjustness of a 58-year-old man battling a very aggressive form of prostate cancer, the frustrations and fatigue OR we could count the blessings as they dropped from Heaven..

The blessings of:

A day of uninterrupted Mommy/daughter visiting in the waiting room,

The affordability and deliciousness of hospital food 🙂

The diligence of a doctor that was determined to do it right the first time,

The blessing of Wooster Community Hospital having the technology of robots to do the precision work needed,

The gift of a husband who would take off work and be Mr. Mom so that I could be with my parents,

The many prayers being said on our behalf,

The wonderful staff…desk clerks, anesthesiologists, lab technicians, cafeteria workers, gift shop volunteers and nurses who all blessed us with smiles, laughter and peace of mind as we waited for news.

The  Nurse Bait we used to thank all the wonderful staff that came and went from my Dad's room all day long.

The Nurse Bait we used to thank all the wonderful staff that came and went from my Dad’s room all day long.

It was a long day, a hard day, an emotional day, but also a blessed day.

While I was with my parents Toby stayed home with the kids and took on the daunting list of errands, appointments and school work that were scheduled for that day. The big appointment of the day was Rusty’s appointment to get braces on. I felt bad that I couldn’t be with Russ for his big day but Toby shined as “Father of the Year.” He even thought to bring Gracie’s camera so that he could share the day with me. Isn’t he wonderful?!

Rusty "before."

Rusty “before.”

Assume the position..

Assume the position..

Dr. G putting the braces on.

Dr. G putting the braces on.

Braces installed!

Braces installed!

Rusty's new brace face :)

Rusty’s new brace face 🙂

When life gets hard or busy or overwhelming we just need to remember that we are… managing blessings.

Don’t believe me?

Just start counting!

“The rhythm of motherhood will always be set to a slightly chaotic beat. I can be rattled to the core by the unpredictability of it all. Or I can choose to laugh, dance, and remember that I am managing blessings.” – Lysa Terkeurst

 

A call for prayers

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When I started this blog 1 1/2 years ago it was to serve a single purpose. I started recording the day-to-day happenings of my life so that I could share our life with family that lived far away. Its purpose was to keep our family connected with the people we love. At the time Tyler had just moved in with us and so by blogging I was able to introduce him to loved ones that wouldn’t be able to meet him for a while and help them to feel like they knew him before they met him. Since that time our life has continued to change and the purpose of the blog has evolved. It has grown from simply being a journal entry for loved ones to read into something more profound..

It has become a way to connect with old friends from my past and extended family members I had never met.

It has served as a form of therapy as I typed out my fears and discouragements with tears falling in the middle of the night after a long or particularly hard day.

It has been a way to encourage others. As we faced the challenges of adoption, parenting, loss of a pet, etc. we were able to reach out and encourage others facing the same challenges. At the same time this blog has been an incredible encouragement to me as others have reached out in love and reminded me that I am not alone in my struggles and challenges.

It has been a way to connect with faceless people around the world who have become virtual neighbors to our family as we have invited strangers from around the world into our home.

Today this blog serves another purpose, a more profound purpose, as I reach out to all of you and ask for prayers.

 On Friday I received a call from my parents, whom you have all met through our blog visits to the Homestead, and was told the devastating news that my dad had just been diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. It was unexpected. This Thursday he goes in for additional tests to determine whether the cancer has spread. The results of Thursday’s test will largely determine the prognosis and treatment plan. I am reaching out to you, the family that reads this blog, old friends, acquaintances, readers from across the ocean that we have never met, and ask for your prayers. We know the power of prayer and it is because of that testimony that we share this news with you and call on your prayers…

Prayers of wisdom for the doctors who will do the testing and the treating.

Prayers of peace for our family as we shoulder the burden of waiting for news.

Prayers of rest for my parents…rest for their racing minds and troubled hearts.

Prayers of healing.

Prayers for miracles.

Prayers for my Dad.

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 “The power of prayer has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see the mighty wonders of divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God’s standing challenge, “Call unto me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not!” – J. Hudson Taylor