A year ago I read the book 'Just Show Up.' It too was by Kara, the second book as part of a trilogy, so to speak, of her life. In The Hardest Peace, the first book, Kara tells the story of her past, finding Jesus, having 4 children, setting out on a path she thought would take her straight through to old age.
However, God had a different plan - stage four terminal cancer.
Even though a book of this topic may seem depressing, I promise you it is not. Every chapter, every passage is a gentle reminder at what a precious gift life is and how present God is every day if we chose to see it. Here are a few passages that really spoke to me:
"Everyone in that room felt the tight grip of life, this life that we cling to. We all had to confess how we see the picture of life as life itself. None of us have the strength to loosen our grip, untie the knots, open wide our hands to the loves we love. We lack imagination for life beyond what we can see, feel, smell, and taste. We are reckless in our grasping for more time, and forget the best is yet to come."
"Cancer is a gift. There, I said it. I can say that cancer and suffering give the beautiful gift of perspective. It is the gift you never wanted, the gift wrapped in confusion and brokenness and heartbreak. It's the gift that strips all your other ideas of living from you completely. The beautiful, ugly raising to the surface of the importance of each and every moment. I have loved motherhood in all it nuances but I lived each moment gluttonous. I ate and ate on the joys of parenthood with no thought of it ever coming to an end. I expected a long life; I may have even thought I deserved a long life."
"Cancer has slowed me, caused me to look at my activity and the purpose in it. I look at the precious lives in my home and long to pour my heart into each moment. Maybe it shouldn't have taken cancer to begin to live this way. Maybe, just maybe, this gift was given to me to being to look at the loves in my home and seek their hearts in the way I loved those who passed through my home. I still open my home, share my heart, live before whoever wants to watch, but boundaries on my time have been established. Perhaps it should not have taken cancer to create such a space in my life, but that was what it took to change my pace."
For Valentine's Day, my wonderful husband tuned into my soul and bought me thee most perfect gift. A finch bird feeder!
It didn't take long for those delicate little creatures to find the goldmine. And it took even less time for our cat's instincts to kick into high gear.
Don't worry. He (or she) survived. It was just a little stunned from being caught - twice. (Man, those cats can move fast.)
I took my little buddy outside and placed him in the bird feeder I got last year for Easter. (Have I ever mentioned how good my hubby is to me?) He stayed high and out of the cats way until he was well enough to fly off. But in the meantime, I enjoyed being up close and personal with one of God's winged creatures.
February had its set of workout challenges when I was plagued by a stomach bug and then a week later a head cold that wouldn't let go. But even though I wasn't feeling the best, I kept moving. Slower. Much slower. But I was moving.
The first time through the recipe is followed as directed. From there it is tweaked to our family's taste or scrapped because its just not for us.
Crafting is the same way.
When I see something I like, I copy it the first time and then make the second one all my own OR just give up before I start because I can't figure out how to do it.
For example, I have been eyeballing this patchwork piece of wood art over at Beyond the Picket Fence for a while now.
Its beautiful. Its eye-catching. The colors can be customized to our home. I want this in my home.
With Spring right around the corner and the desire to get back out in the garage working with wood growing stronger, I was determined to get a pattern made for this project. And since we were on a weekend getaway from the children, what a better time to sit down and work out the details without being interrupted.
Pattern from the example - DONE!
Now its time to tweak the project. Of course, the hubby and I are like minded and thought wouldn't it be cool to have a wooden Tetris piece of art on the wall?
Options one and two are squares. Just okay.
Lets try something more rectangle, like an actual Tetris Screen.
Got it right on the money on the first run through. Score!! Two patterns done in a matter of an hour or two? So empowering! So motivating! So lets keep going!
There is another project at Beyond the Picket Fence that is similar to the previous one but yet much more personal and beautiful.
Absolutely gorgeous. I have had this on my to-do list for well over a year, a lot longer than the square piece. But something about this was intimidating to me and, as usual, I just mentally added it to the scrap pile of "it will never get done." With the new found determination of just completing three other patterns, I set to work and surprised myself!
As long as the desire and motivation (and warmer weather) sticks around, I hope to set to work on these before summer.
ANNND since I was on a roll with making patterns, I tried to keep the flow going once we were home with the kids. These are some more fun spring-y projects I'd love to make happen and I got one pattern made.
But then the kids wanted dinner, laundry needed done, meal planning wasn't doing itself, and more threw me right back into reality.
I promise, on behalf of all momma's out there who just want to feel a personal accomplishment on something not children related, I WILL make these projects happen sooner rather than later. And we will all rejoice together.
Today was Holly's yearly routine cardiologist appointment.
As a refresher, Holly has two Congenital Heart Defects. The first being a PDA - in simple terms, a hole in a baby's heart that is supposed to naturally close after birth but does not.
Although Holly's PDA was not life-threatening, it was determined that she needed to undergo a procedure to help close the gap. Typically, inserting a small coil device via heart cath would be sufficient, but in Holly's case, the hole was on the larger side and a plug was needed.
The second heart defect is Pulmonary Valve Stenosis - a narrowing of the pulmonary valve which carries blood from the heart to the lungs. To fix this problem, a balloon is inserted (via heart cath) into the pulmonary artery/valve to stretch out the valve to a more appropriate size.
Both procedures were done in August 2014. The PDA has completely healed itself now and her body has become one with the plug. The routine visits are for the stenosis issue, to be sure as her heart grows that the valve grows with it.
That brings us to today.
At the hospital, the first stop was, of course, the bathroom. And, of course, Holly asked where we were. Tears were instant the moment I said 'Doctors.'
She was so mad she refused to talk, look, or sit by me in the waiting room.
Until I busted out the IPad and started watching her videos.
I did not get any pictures of the next part as this child was clinging to my hands every moment, but I am happy to report that Holly did allow the nurse to take her blood pressure, oxygen level, get her height, and her weight! That is quite the improvement!! It was not without tears and wailing, but she did it!! AND she scored herself a new kitty for it too!
But she was still mad at me.
Until she got bored.
The doctor came in to do his part of listening for the murmur and sending us on our way for our yearly ECHO. And you might have guessed, more tears ensued. BUT BUT BUT!! She got to watch Doc McStuffins!
With the exam and ECHO over, all we had to do was wait for the results. This was very happy making - for both of us.
Holly's valve gradient (which is the severity of the narrowing) last year was a 15 on a scale of 60. A 'mild' case. No biggie.
Today's gradient has her at a 20 now. A 'mild plus' case.
What does that mean?
Nothing. For another year. If we go back next year and her numbers remain the same, it is more of nothing for another year. But if we go back and her gradient is even higher, there is the possibility of having another balloon valvuloplasty in the future. The overall point is - she's fine, she'll be okay, nothing we have to watch for.
But every now and then if you can remember to send up a prayer for her, that would be most appreciated.
There were a lot of factors that went in to deciding to leave my job to be a full time stay at home mom. The pros far outweighed the cons and thus the outcome. But there was one little pro that I did not put on the list, a little something that will make you (as well as myself) laugh the moment it is spoken.
"I will have time to get so organized and be on the ball and get all my pictures in order for the kids' albums and I'll write on the back of each picture and graduation will be easy peasy!"
Funny statement, huh?
Although I know this state of organizational bliss will never be reached, I still have to attempt to take baby steps towards it, right?
When Bree entered preschool, I found these 12x12 scrapbooks.
I bought one for Bree and Jake with the intentions of keeping simple scrapbooks of their school pictures. On each page I insert a 5x7 portrait and their class composite.
Or if need be, the 5x7 goes on the front page...
...and the class composite goes on the back.
Still very simple. But then explain to me why I have had to search high and low, in every tote, drawer, cupboard, closet and beyond to try to find these kid's school pictures?! How have I managed to not keep this once a year, one picture, 5 minutes of my time scrapbook up to date??
To top it off and frustrate this momma's heart, I cannot find a 5x7 of Jacob's second year of preschool. At first, I could not find any picture, not even the class composite. But after much digging and disturbing of dusty areas, I found a wallet picture!! And then, lo and behold, I found the class composite!
It will just have to do. I'm sure as I'm getting organized (wink wink), I'll run across the 5x7 and fix his book. To be sure this mishap does not happen to Holly, I promptly ordered her matching scrapbook, purchased the school themed papers, and have her school picture and class composite stacked together, ready to go in.... the moment the scrapbook arrives.
We have reached the end of Jacob's first wrestling season.
Two practices a week (which also means two extra baths a week) since November are over. Archbold tournament and Wauseon tournament are in the books. The last hurdle to round it out is the Patrick Henry Tournament.
Jacob stretched, flipped, cartwheeled, ran and crawled to warm up.
Then it was time for the 6 year old bracket to start.
My heart took a little plunge when Jacob walked out to his mat with his opponent behind him. This six year old was ripped, stacked, built. Whatever you want to call it, this kid was a tried and true wrestler and it didn't take long to out power Jacob.
Jake doesn't show much emotion after his matches. Whether he wins or loses, he's pretty stoic. But a slight altercation with his sister in the stands moved him to tears. Losing that match really bothered him. Break. My. Heart.
I was highly nauseous and anxious and emotional when Jacob's age group came up again. How do sports moms handle this season after season after season?
The skill level for this match was more on even playing fields. Jacob fought hard. He did not get pinned. But he still lost with a final score of 13 - 7.
Oh, Jacob, I am so proud of you. Wrestling is hard. There is no team to back you up. Out there on the mat you are alone, fighting for the win. That takes courage and confidence that not everyone possesses. I hope that you hold onto and remember that from this day forward. No matter what circumstance you get into, you have the strength to get out of it. I believe in you.