Friday, December 31, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Hubby and I wanted to keep it a secret from the boys until Christmas morning. After the Christmas melee was over and we'd eaten breakfast, we sat them down and gave them each one more gift.
We got boxes!
T-shirts? We don't get it.
WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!!!
Opening Disney Dollars from Nana and Poppy.
Little Middle: "Mom, is this a credit card?"
After the gifts were opened and the great cat was out of the bag, we called Nana and Poppy to say "thank you" for the Christmas gifts. That was when the final surprise came out: Not only are the five of us going to Disney World, but my parents are going, too! The boys were hootin', hollerin', and running in crazy circles!
In just a matter of weeks, hundreds of people in five different states donated money, airline miles, and other resources to make this trip possible. Every last detail, from park admission down to luggage fees, has been taken care of. There is a travel agent who worked feverishly to put together an itinerary so that we don't miss a thing. Meals are paid for, and we are even having breakfast one morning with Chef Mickey!
My Goliath will turn 9 while we are in Florida. I can't think of a better place for my gentle giant to spend his birthday than at Disney. Our friends arranged a special birthday surprise for him...I absolutely can't WAIT to see his face!
This Friday, seven very excited people will head to DFW airport to catch a plane to Orlando. We will be in the Magic Kingdom in time to watch the fireworks and ring in the new year. We will return to DFW next Thursday. I fully expect that we will be tired, happy, and chock full of memories that will last a lifetime.
To Our ChristMUST Wish Friends:
You are amazing. We are simply blown away by your generosity, your love, and your friendship. Many of you don't even know us, but you have shown us the love of Christ and given us great joy this holiday season. God has allowed us to walk a very dark and difficult road this year. There have been many days that I wasn't sure that I could, or even wanted to, take the next step. But along the way, God has been faithful to place people in my path who could cheer, encourage, and pray. "Thank you" is so inadequate to express how grateful I am that all of you allowed Him to use you in such a special way. But for now...Thank you for lightening my load and giving me something to look forward to (and brag to the chemo crew about!). Thank you for making my husband happy. Thank you for the smiles on my boys' faces. Thank you for the delight and excitement I hear in my parents' voices when I talk to them.
P.S. I will try to post small updates and pictures on Facebook while we are gone. Watch for them!
Hubby read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to the little cowboys.
Handsome Little Middle showing off his new Christmas pajamas before bed.
Cookies and milk for Santa, carrots for the reindeer.
Christmas morning...Santa came!
They were up early...a little sleepy-eyed, but very excited!
Goliath read Santa's letter out loud for everyone.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
"And Mary said, 'I'm bursting with God-news, I'm dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened--I'm the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten, the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others. His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him. He bared his arm and showed his strength, scattered the bluffing braggarts. He knocked tyrants off their high horses, pulled victims out of the mud. The starving poor sat down to a banquet, the callous rich were left out in the cold. He embraced his chosen child, Israel, he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high. It's exactly what he promised, beginning with Abraham and right up to now.' " Luke 1:46-55
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Baby: "Mommy, you are a female and females are bad guys."
Baby, while playing the Wii with his brother: "We can't kill that guy because he is music-activated."
Little Middle, after waking from a rare afternoon nap: "Mom, is today still yesterday? You forgot to wear new clothes."
Friday, December 17, 2010
We don't use that hymnal much these days. My kids are learning song lyrics from a screen in the worship center rather than the hymnal in the pew. In fact, I'm certain that that hymnal is not much more to them than a hard book to put under their children's bulletins that they work on during the sermon! And that makes me a little sad.
When I was growing up, sometimes I would get bored during the sermon. My mother suggested once that I listen carefully and write down all of the words I didn't understand. The only word I walked away with was "multitude," with a bunch of tally marks for every time the preacher said it. Sometimes I would pass the time reading the hymnal. Yes, I know it's kind of a dorky thing to do. But that opened my eyes to what I now consider to be often-overlooked treasures: the second verse. We always sing the first verse of a hymn, and often the third or fourth. But why not the second?
It's no wonder, then, that I was surprised in a good way as I was driving around town running errands with the radio on this week. "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" has a second verse that strikes my heart and meets me right where I am this Christmas:
And ye, beneath life's crushing load
Every step I take feels painful and slow, and sometimes even backwards. Even my commitment to seek out joy this holiday season seems like a mountain in and of itself some days. I will gladly accept the invitation to leave my load beside the manger and listen to the angels sing.
And I will sing along...with my hymnal open.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
The scan takes less than 10 minutes, but it seemed so much longer than that. Finally, it was done and I was free to go. I collected my things and my mother and practically ran for the parking lot. Once we were safely in the car, I lost it. I simply could not contain the anxiety and fear any longer.
Mom, Baby, and I passed the waiting hours of Wednesday doing a little Christmas shopping while the big boys were at school. After school, there were spelling words to practice, friends to play with, and iCarly to watch. I'm pretty sure I've seen every episode of iCarly that there is. We went to bed early, and that brings us back to this morning. "Today is the day I will find out if I have cancer in my body."
As it turns out, the scan was clear. The emotions I felt with that news were a mixed bag: Relief, fear, joy, sorrow. Of course it was good news! It was exactly what I, along with so many of you, have prayed for. In the back of my mind, though, I can still feel the fear creeping in. This clear scan is just a reprieve...a temporary sigh of relief. The Sickness will be back, unless God overrules medicine (and He absolutely could choose to do that!).
I explained it to a close friend this afternoon this way: I feel like Eeyore, who always moved around with a dark cloud hovering over his head. No matter where he went or what he did, that cloud stayed with him. That's me. The cloud of cancer follows me everywhere. Just because it's not raining right now doesn't mean it isn't there or that I am not acutely aware of it. It permeates everything I think and do. It threatens to open up and pour down on me at any time. And do you want to know the truth? I am scared of it.
I hate that I'm scared. I want to be brave. My boys make me want to be brave. Whether or not my time with them is cut short, I desperately want them to remember that I trusted my Lord with all that I had. I want them to know that I faced the Sickness, if not cheerfully, than certainly with a welcoming spirit for the challenge. I want them to know that they were worth fighting for, and that the strength that I had to fight came from above.
Tonight I cooked one of their favorite dinners and we celebrated the good news with root beer floats. Watching them enjoy their desserts, I breathed a prayer of thanks that there is "no evidence of recurrent or metastatic disease." I asked God to help me slow down and be present in the here and now, and most of all, to help me get a handle on that spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. If God is for me, who can be against me?
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Now, I know that in the grand scheme of things, eyelashes don't matter. Hair won't get me to heaven. My husband won't judge the temperature of our relationship on whether or not I can flutter my eyelashes at him. The boys won't remember that Mommy's makeup looked different from other mommies. But to me, in the here and now, it matters. It suddenly seemed to matter even more after I questioned my chemo nurse about it, and she told me that there is a very real possibility that I could re-lose the hair on my head as well.
Monday, November 1, 2010
The three cowboys were much happier standing in line for the hay ride with their friends.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
On October 15, 1975, I became a mother. I already knew--not through technology, back in the day--but in my heart I knew for sure that our first child would be a girl. And then she was here, ten fingers, ten toes, beautiful in every way. A daughter. Allyson Amber. What joy!
Larry and I couldn't believe that God would give us such a gift, but apparently He had, because we took our amazing daughter home with us and she began showing us who she was. She grew, and soon she skipped off to kindergarten with her little ribbon-tied pigtails. She was the smartest girl in the class, she made the best friend ever, she was everything a mother could want. Sweet joy!
Years flew by. Every school year started with an oh-so-cute picture of Allyson and her red-haired friend Caroline. Allyson became big sister to Phil and Jenny, loved her daddy above all people, and, through God's grace, developed a relationship with her Heavenly Father. Together we went through the drama of junior high and the happiness and minor heartbreaks of high school. She made us proud. Continuing joy!
One of my favorite quotes says that being a mother lets you know what it's like "to have your heart walk around outside your body." Every mother knows this feeling. Allyson is my heart. (Phil and Jenny too, of course. How blessed am I!) The day came when we did the strangest thing. We drove Allyson to college and left her there. I've never known such a feeling of incongruity as I felt looking back and seeing my heart happily waving me away. This, even this, was joy.
In college Allyson fell in love with the man she would choose to marry. She chose well. Clint is a man who is committed to protect her and walk with her through all the stages of life. Together they have given us the world's three greatest grandsons and made a home filled with love and laughter. Joy multiplied.
Along the way, a surprising thing happened. My daughter became my friend. Not just a you-might-as-well-be-friends-because-you're-stuck-with-each-other kind of friend. She is the kind of friend who makes me laugh like no one else, who knows what I'm really thinking, who holds my secrets and trusts me with hers, who wants the best for me, who I would have chosen to be my friend whether she had been my daughter or not. That is an amazing joy.
Today, my daughter, my baby, my girl, my friend, is 35! And today she faces a powerful, terrible enemy named Cancer. She stands strong and proud as she faces the foe that makes her future uncertain. In some way her strength protects all of us who love her so much. She says, "Lift up your eyes. See that God is good," and we see. She says, "Be still and know that He is God," and we are stilled.
Do you wonder what I feel when I see my girl suffering through this horrific trial? Oh, I feel the things you would imagine. I feel deep sorrow, great fear, dismay of the why-couldn't-it-be-me? variety; but there is more. I feel the deepest joy I have known.
This amazing Allyson is my daughter and my friend. I have the privilege of walking this walk with her. Our love grows deeper with every step. My admiration for her expands daily. And wonder of wonders, the greatest lesson of mothering becomes ultimately clear to me. All along, she has not really belonged to me. She has belonged to her God, her Creator. I stand back and watch as He cares for her and the two of them face the future. I know He has her, He loves her, He holds her. And that joy is unspeakable.
Happy birthday, Heart Girl. I love you.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
All I want is a place somewhere
far away from this chemo chair
where women have no hair
Oh, chemo is not loverly.
The nurse says be careful
what you eat
I say I still can not feel my feet
Off week is such a treat
Oh, chemo is not loverly.
Not so loverly sittin'
I want to cry when it comes
in view just over the hill.
Old ladies staring straight at me
Talking over my misery
Oh, where is Stephani?
No, chemo is not loverly.
Loverly, loverly, loverly--
No, chemo is not loverly.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Hubby helping Goliath with his tie. Handsome men!
I love these guys with all my heart.
The happy couple!
Confidential to Phil: All of us who love you have longed for and pleaded with God for the happiness you showed on Saturday. Your joy fills my heart to overflowing. I will never, ever forget the look on your face and the tears in your eyes as I walked down the aisle toward you while you waited for your bride. I mouthed "I love you" to you, and I know you understood that there was nothing that would have kept me from sharing that moment with you. You have stretched my heart in a way that no one else can: Thank you for teaching me about faith, grace, prayer, and humility. My little brother has grown up to be a godly man; I am so proud of who you are and what you do. I will continue to pray for you and Chelsea as you begin your life together. May your home and your hearts be always joyful...you deserve nothing less. I love you so much!