Thursday, April 22, 2010

"What is He doing?" Sweet Jolee

Only one thing to say at this time...I am heartbroken by cancer. I've taken care of my mom while she fought through it, I've cried with my husband when he was diagnosed, I've held my father's hand the moment he passed. I've listened to friends talk of their struggles and watched as their family and friends fought it.

One question always seems paramount....Where is God at in all of this? How could God leave a 8 year old to take care of her dying mother? How could God take away a 2 year old from a mother's arms? In the midst of all of the pain and emotion, it's hard to understand God's will. We want our family and friends to always be here. We are never emotionally ready to let go. It's never enough time. We want to barter with God for just a little bit more. I sometimes wish we could see the entire canvas as He does, but then I wonder what we would do with it. Many times the small portion we get to view gets distorted.

Today a very special little girl named Jolee joined so many with her Holy God in Heaven. While we are here on earth crying in remorse, there are many more joining in songs of praise for her spirit. Oh how she is being lifted and praised right now. But in that joyous time, her family and so many touched by her short life are left with an emptiness.

This is a hole only God can fill. His promise to us is not that He can keep these tragic things from happening, but that He will see us through them. He is waiting for all of us to lay our burdens down and to give these things up to Him. Only He knows and understands why this happened, no words we can say here on this earth can take this away or make the pain subside. In sorrowful times, it's hard for you to let it've been holding it together so long. Being strong for everyone, but God is being strong for you. He is your rock. Lean on Him. Let Him comfort you. Let Him give you peace.

The whirlwind of emotions will continue to spin and at times you will feel completely over taken by them. Little things will remind you of her, even years later. Every time you hear the word cancer your heart will break in remembrance. But, Jolee touched so many. She gave so many courage and strength. We were in awe of your family.

I wish I could take it all away. I wish I could say it's going to be easy. What I can do is continue to pray and ask everyone that is reading this blog to do the same. I am praying for peace and understanding and strength for all of you. I am praying you know how much your little girl meant to so many. I am praying you know what an inspiration your entire family is. I am praying you know what a wonderful place Jolee is in now. She is holding onto the arms of her heavenly Father, completely healed and saved.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I just cannot take something else happening in my life

I have a lot of family/friends right now going through a wide spectrum of life's dealings...and while I do not want to bring their journey's into the light of the entire blogger world, I do want to write a post of encouragement.

I have friends that are being beat down by the sheer challenge of being a parent, some are going through financial changes, some are battling family issues and some are fighting for healing for family members. Maybe one of you reading this blog are going through one, or all, of these too.

It's hard to hear the confusion and frustration and fear in these voices. Sometimes they just want to run away and have a break from it. Wouldn't that be nice? Like on that Adam Sandler movie where you can have your own remote to just pause everything so it can sink in and maybe make sense?

It's hard being a parent. Period. There really is nothing else to add to that. It is the most rewarding, amazing, life changing thing you can do.....but it's hard. Your patience is tested, you are being watched all of the time, you are at one or more people's becking call, you are in charge of one or more futures....teaching them, molding them, discipline, encouraging, feeding, cleaning, scheduling....etc. It's going to be an adjustment when you add another beautiful child to your house, whether it's your first or 19th. Don't be so hard on yourself. Love yourself so you are able to love others. No one is perfect. You have every intention of giving that child all of the love and hope possible..and that is what is important, not being on a certain nap schedule by now or showing the world that you have it all together. We all have had those moments where we have just broken down....that's the beautiful moment when God goes to work and puts us back together.

It's hard when your life from a financial standpoint has not exactly turned out how you thought it would several years ago. It's easy to buy into societies notion of feeling like a failure or not being on the right path because you don't have a certain amount in your bank account. While money is important to sustain us with food, clothing, shelter, etc., it is NOT the definition of your life. You are rich beyond anything printed paper can prove. And those mistakes made, they are just that...past tense..made. The beautiful thing is you can learn and move on. A new opportunity has been provided for you and your future to live in a different way. Your future is your blessing. Look forward to it and please don't beat yourself up over an unchangeable past. You are a wonderful person with a wonderful future.

It's hard when you are called apart from your family. We all have those family secrets that we hide...and these have molded us probably more than we know. When you count on your parents for unconditional love and support and beliefs and views collide like no other. Hold fast. Don't give up. I stand amazed at what pride can do to completely break down a family. You are incredibly strong, forgiving and kind hearted. It is not going unnoticed. Pride is a hard thing to work through no matter what your beliefs are. Hold strong. I am so proud of you.

It's hard when the people you love and care for the most get sick, and there isn't anything you can do about it. You feel completely out of control and at mercy to this world. You hold it in and hold it together because you don't want people to see it's affect on you. Everyone is amazed at your strength, but you are really breaking down inside. We are selfish beings....we all want our loved ones to stay with us forever. We love them so much. We cannot imagine life without them. Cancer is an incredibly cruel thing. I don't think I know anyone it hasn't touched in one way or another. Please, find someone you can open up to. A friend, another family member...Pray. Be vulnerable....let the emotion and fear and anger out. I know you are feeling all of those and so much's OK. It's normal. Walking with a family member or close friend through something like this is life changing. I cannot say why it's happening and I know that was my main question. Why. I was mad. I was sad. I was unbelieving. I was overwhelmed. I felt alone. I was overwhelmed with emotions that I have no words for. Please know there are so many of us that love you, pray for you every day, and will walk with you through this. I don't know where you are in your personal journey through this battle, but there is always a hand or ear here.

You are God's child and He loves you. Talk to Him. Be honest, be open. Ask questions, be open to answers. And wait. You are not alone, you are loved and adored by so many.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Through the looking glass

We all have our very own views...why and how we feel about everything. Most of the time, these are created through what we have witnessed with our own eyes, experiences we've had, things we have been told to be true.

Growing up, most of my perspectives were a result of things I had experienced or what my peers were telling me. Like any other kid, we all thought we knew everything didn't we?! But where did following these worldly views send me....hopelessly nowhere. I believed I could be it all, have it all, money was the key to living a happy life and my happy future was dependent upon building up my 401K. I bought the scam and believed the lies.

Sitting in church this morning, I was thrilled that our new series was about Jonah....boy can I relate to this one. I started this blog a month or so after we moved here, at a time when my life was starting to be turned upside down. I am amazed at what has happened 100 posts later and I am incredibly happy about it.

My mind and focus was set on my worldly view of things, how I thought my life should be and how I perceived it should all go down. Truth be told, I was very bitter about the move. This was certainly NOT in my plans! For those of you who personally know me, or have picked it up from my writings, I am pretty stubborn. In this case, it was not a happy virtue to have. In one phone call from my husband's boss, my world view was completely changed. In one phone call from my dad a couple of months later, my world view was changed again. And it was devastating....because my view was based on something that is ever changing and not on anything consistent and true. I was absolutely lost...and mentally I ran. I ran from facing what was going on with my dad, I ran from accepting our move and being happy about it, I ran from figuring out what I wanted to do with my career instead of settling....I ran from the feeling that something bigger was going on here.

I didn't want to show weakness. I didn't want to give up control...what I wasn't getting was the fact that I never had it in the first place! I truly believe by tearing me down, God built me back up. I was so stubborn and so ingrained with my thinking, it took this much. Looking back now, He had sent Godly people into my life (Ashley, Meredith and Diana, you know who you are), to help me, He had made health changes, He had shown me so many things...and I knew it, and I still ran. I didn't want any part in it because it didn't fit with my plans...and we all know how much better my ideas are :-)

Anyway, thank goodness He loved me enough to not leave me there. Even though I was loving the world and not Him, He never gave up on me. It was unconditional...with nothing back He gave it all for me. I never want to stay in that complacency again because I know I'm meant for something more than this world told me I was!

This Sunday I give praise to my redeemer, my rescuer, my Heavenly Father who loved me even when I slammed the door in His face so many times. This step of turning my back on the world and living by faith and not by sight is one that I would have laughed at two years ago and now I wouldn't go back to spend a day there for all of the money in the world.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Let me tell you about this little girl....

This little girl is incredible and so is her family. This little girl was born prematurely...weighing in at one pound 5 ounces. This little girl is a fighter.

With the hand of God, the strength and love of her family, the wisdom and care of her medical team she fought and persevered.

Last summer she was diagnosed with Stage IV High Risk Neurtoblastoma. She has fought through many treatments and was doing better, however the cancer has now come back and has completely overtaken her poor body. She just celebrated her second birthday last month.

They are doing another round of chemo to see how her response is. Depending on those results, this family may have some tough choices ahead of them.

This little girl is named Jolee. I came to know her though a co-worker who is her aunt and one of the most kindest people I've ever met.

Can I please ask that you all hold this family up in prayer. I look at my two little ones and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for their safety and health. I know how incredibly hard this decision was when I had to make it for my dad....but for your child, I cannot imagine. It just makes me cry.

Please, put Jolee on your church prayer list. Please prayer for healing for her little body and spirit. Please pray for strength for her family. Please pray for wisdom for her medical staff. Please pray for a miracle for this family. Please pray that no matter what happens in the coming days, that they lean on God for support because I know he is wanting to cover them in love and comfort.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pressures of the modern day woman/parent

I think it's hard being a woman (of course I'm one sided and bias here), but especially today and especiallly being a parent.

In a time when Destiny's child can have hits with a song like "Bills, bills, bills" about having a man to pay their bills and then turn around and release "Independent Woman" some years later about being completely independent from that same notion. I grew up wanting to be completely independent. I didn't want to depend on anyone for anything....all too many times there were strings attached. If I worked hard, I could control it all....I could do it all.

I felt pressure to have my own career and be a successful figure, to own a certain type of home, to have 2.5 kids...which of course I would manage without blinking an eye, be completely supportive of my husband and have dinner on the table for all of them at promptly 6pm after working all day. At night, I would be able to get all of the cleaning and laundry done and start my next day in a perfectly clean and organized home. That commercial with Kelly Ripa for those washers and dryer where "she can be even more perfect" drives me up the wall.

Seriously ladies, it's tough out there! I always held tight to that advice or those conversations I would have with folks that I knew would be real with me.....your laundry will pile up to 5 or more loads and it's OK, your dishes will fill the sink and you will be too tire to wash them sometimes and it's OK, you will not always have Mary Poppins patience with your kids and it's OK. I love and cherish these stories of families just being real because I just couldn't keep up with the notion (and stress) of doing everything perfectly all of the time!

So, I thought I would share some real stories with you guys. Some of you are just now starting families, some of you have babies or many more kids than I do, but I thought it would be fun to share some. I know I'm not alone in saying that worry seriously takes over sometimes...I worry a lot about the parent I am and the effect I'm having on my kids and I think that's a normal thing for any mom to do, but life happens and sometimes you just have to run with it!

~Life Lesson #1: Lock away your art supplies. Don't just put them away in drawers.
We were getting our house ready to sell and we had just spent two days painting and preparing. I was in the bathroom and came downstairs to a lovely painting of green all the way down my living room entertainment center...and even the poor unsuspecting dog. Another two days of painting......

~Life Lesson #2: Always ask your child questions about what they talked about with their friends that day.
Kyleigh was 4 and was discussing with me a video a friend was telling her about at school that she wanted us to buy for her. Honestly, I was half listening, thinking she was going to ask again for another Barbie movie, but I asked the name of it. "Well (child's name) said she stays up late and sees it advertised. She told us it's called Girls Gone Wild". After a freak out of follow up questions about what exactly the other child said about the video, we found out that Kyleigh just thought it was a dancing video and really didn't know anything about it's true content! Seriously would have never thought this would be a conversation occuring at 4!

~Life Lesson #3: Go to Rooms to Go right now and splurge on a mattress protector.
Not only do they save your mattress during potty training at night (which is an adventure in itself), but when your 4 year old decides to sneak in the gallon of strawberries you just picked into her room and stains EVERYTHING her favorite color pink, your mattress will survive yet again!

~Life Lesson #4: Time outs are for mommies too
Oh we love these kiddos so very much, but something very serious happened with my girls at 2 and most notably age 4. Some stubborn, loud, knowing it all, nagging demon possessed them. Luckily, it goes away (I'm sure to rear it's lovely head again in the teenage years), but during this time it's a test like no other. They are figuring out limits and independence...and testing your limits at the same time. It's OK to get frustrated, but know that I'm pretty sure they all go through this...and we've all survived and are even looking forward to having more! I never wanted to be that mom screaming at her kids or hitting them out of shear frustration. We've learned when we have situations like this, both mom and child have a time out for the same gives us both time to calm down and not react emotionally. We come back together and can clearly talk it through. This has worked much better in our house than anything else we've tried. And a night out with your best girl friends are so important. Plan that lunch or dinner date with them and keep it!

Oh there are so many more (and more to come I know!), but I thought this would be a fun post!