Monday, October 24, 2016

Change of address...

For now, until I get the app/blog situation figured out, I'll be updating here:

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Noah Benjamin....

Dear Noah Benjamin,
     Turning ten has welcomed you with a harsher greeting than I would have chosen.  You have always had a bit of a tender heart, but these last few years you have really matured in this area. I didn't know how having braces would be for you, but you rarely ever complained and handled it better than I could have hoped for.  This year, on your birthday, mommy and daddy will both be gone, taking your little brother for a cancer check up to see if he needs more chemo.  Sometimes on your birthday, dad is at work, and it's a normal day with schoolwork and chores, but mom has never, ever been away from you on your birthday.....until now.
     I am so thankful for some very special traditions that we have, which make this year more palatable.  We got to spend the morning as a family, all celebrating you today (a few days early!). We also get to have our special dinner at Grandma's house with the cousins. I don't think any of my kids will ever remember a birthday without thinking of dinner at Grandma's.  You have requested beef stew for dinner, as well as fruit salad and lemon meringue pie.  You have such a tender and compassionate heart-so loving and affectionate. You never go to bed without giving me at least one hug....if not many more. You are my special helper who takes Elijah outside to play in the morning. It is so sweet to watch him point at you and then drag you around the house to find shoes so that you can take him outside. :)
     You are working your way through Teaching Textbooks 7, and have almost finished Rod and Staff English, Grade 5.  You are amazingly artistic. You love others so deeply and it is such a joy to see the way you remember others in prayer and bring such love and nurture into our home.  You are very friendly and agreeable, and I'm so thankful for the special friendship you have with your big brother Caleb. You quite obviously look up to him, and genuinely enjoy his company at all times.
     Noah Benjamin, my heart hurts to not be with you on your birthday. My heart hurts for the many ways that things have been more difficult this year. But oh! I am so thankful!!!! I am thankful for the chance to celebrate you before we leave, I'm thankful for Grandma and Grandpa who love all you kids so deeply and celebrate you with such joy and service. I am so thankful to spend time with the cousins, and hey, when you add any number of people to our already large family, it sure does feel like a party!!!! I'm thankful for the ones who are giving of their time and their lives to serve us by watching you guys! Grandma Connie and Grandpa Ron, Grandpa and Grandma Nash, and the Norris family. I know that each one of them loves you so much that you may hardly even notice that mommy and daddy are gone.
     And while a momma never wants things to be hard for her children....sometimes it is the difficult and hard things that build the most character. Sometimes, a momma has to let it be hard for her children, and entrust them to their Creator and Sustainer. So Noah, I entrust you to the One who is called Faithful and True. I beg of Him to cause you to know in the very core of your being that you are loved and treasured beyond measure. I celebrate you and all that you bring to this family with your smiles and your jokes and your love.  It's hard to be the middle child sometimes. But Noah....I see you. I see you growing in your service to our family, in your diligence in your work for school and at home, and I see your dependability when it comes to helping with the younger ones.
     Your name, Noah, means "to comfort."  You are a great comfort to our family with your smiles and your silliness, but this year, I pray that you, personally, would know the comfort of the God of all comfort. That you would know how high and how long and how deep and how wide is the love that He has for you. And that you would continue to look ahead with joy and excitement, knowing that His plans for you are good, even when they are sometimes hard.  Happy birthday a little early Noah!
With love,

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Birthday Boy

My sweet boy,
     Eight years ago today, I was anxiously awaiting your arrival.  With contractions on and off for about a month prior, I had almost given up hope that you were coming at all.  Not even one contraction that day, when I sent your daddy off to work night shift.  I called him just a few hours into his shift, almost in tears....and Daddy knew something was up.  When he got home, he found me in the shower and not too long after, you made your grand entrance into the world and became the first of our children to be born here at home.
     I think that is part of who you are.....I think you will be the one to blaze a trail to many "firsts" in this family and in the world!!
     You are a fantastic reader, although you would much prefer to be doing something active. =)  You were so excited about getting only makes mama a little nervous since you have already had stitches, glue, x-rays, and a couple of CT scans.  You excel in your use of language, as well as math, science, and pretty much whatever you put your mind to...but only on the days where it suits you.  You recently began Teaching Textbooks 5, Rod and Staff English Grade 4, and you are so happy to finally be learning cursive (it took mama a long time to order your book).  At Groups, you are taking Astronomy, Chess, and Legos.  
     One of the things you were so excited about as you turned eight, was the possibility of watching the Narnia movies for the first time.  We snuggled in and watched The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  Daddy had read it aloud to us a few years ago, but this was the first time you got to see the movie.  I asked the older kids, "Do you remember what it was like when you saw Aslan for the first time?"  As I watched the movie, I could identify so strongly with the battle scene.  Peter, still so young and unsure if he was ready to lead an army into battle.  Stepping out where he had never been before, unsure if he would even emerge alive.  And the thing that struck me the most this that Peter and Edmund entered the battle before help was on the way or even an option.
     Many times this year, I have felt like I was entering a battle that I was not ready for.  Many times, I haven't been sure if I could keep going.  And often, as we have prepared for trips to NY and not knowing what treatment or when or so many details for the has felt like entering a battle not knowing if Help would really come, but needing to just trust and believe that it would.
     My darling Ezra.  In many arenas, your heart is fearless.  But there will times ahead where fear will come fast and fierce.  You will feel as though you are facing battles that you may not feel ready for and aren't sure you can win.  And even if you step forward with courage, you may find yourself wondering if Help really will come.  In those moments, you have to go back to the moment when you first saw Aslan.  He is the most terrifying,  most beautiful, most gentle, most powerful lion...And even though he is not tame, HE IS GOOD.  Aslan is a picture...He reminds us of Jesus.  Jesus is terrifying in His strength and authority, in His sheer power and command over creation...but He is gentle, patient, compassionate, and good.  Remember the moment when you first saw Jesus.  And even more than that....remember the moment, after the dark night where the lion was slain, when the sun rises, and there stands the lion shining in the brilliance of the sun.  Jesus is alive.  He has conquered the greatest enemy we have.  It is His strength that gives us courage for the battle.
     Your name, Ezra, means "Jehovah is my help."  And Lucas means "bringer of light."  My prayer over you, my sweet boy with the heart of a warrior, is that by the help of Jehovah, you would bring light into the darkness.  When the enemy threatens darkness, I pray that you would be one who would shine the light of Jesus with courage.  And I pray that no matter what battles are ahead for you, I pray that God would always give you the faith to remember that first look at Jesus, and to KNOW that help is coming.  He is your help.  He is your strength.  And HE alone is always worth the battle.
     Happiest of birthdays to my sweet boy.
With love, and for the King,

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Quick update and Teaching audio

I'm having technical difficulties, so I haven't been able to update the blog.....(when would I ever sit down in front of a computer?????). I'm hoping to have this fixed before I leave for NY on Monday so I can keep everyone up to date on Elijah Bear.

In the meantime....I had the privilege of teaching on 1 Timothy Ch. 4, and here is the audio if you're interested.  :-)

Friday, September 30, 2016


(side note:  I have an app from which I can post to the blog, which automatically posts to Facebook as well.  I'm having trouble with the app since updating my phone's OS, so...if I don't update much, you'll know why.  I'm hoping to have it all worked out soon.)

My amazing Irish friend, Janet, took such good care of Elijah and I on our last night in the city before heading home.  She got us a STEAK (and we are talking GOOD quality meat here!).  I was excited for Elijah to try it for the first time.  Unfortunately, he was in a mood, so he just wanted to scream at me and wanted nothing to do with the delicious steak.  Finally, I decided to try putting Elijah in the bath.  He has happy and playing, and I didn't want the food to go to waste so I brought it in the bathroom to eat.  WELL!  Elijah decided he would enjoy his food much more while he bathed. 
I think he ate half of that steak!

Saying good-bye to the East River.

We found a cool little play area at the airport just across from our gate.  I know many were praying for us and our trip home.  I really don't have words to describe our return, other than to say that we made it, that part of this journey is behind us, and I am really thankful to be back home.

We made it home just in time for Caleb's check up at the endodontist....which revealed that he will need another root canal.  The tooth next to the one they have been working on had also partially come out in the whole trampoline incident.  The doctor has been watching this tooth and has seen changes that indicate he will need a root canal on that tooth as well.  While we were pretty bummed at this news, we are so thankful for a very diligent and thorough endodontist, who has become like family to us, and glad he was watching this tooth and knew when it needed treatment.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

All Things

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."
Romans 8:28

Elijah and I made it into the city and to the hotel. I was so exhausted I didn't know if I could actually get up and walk. I considered having food delivered but the hour wait time detoured me.  We headed out to Whole Foods, which was such a mad house that we left.  I had noticed a pita place so I headed over there. The price was more than I was hoping to pay, and after I ordered, I noticed that the only seating was upstairs (Elijah was in the stroller). I decided we would have to take it back to the hotel, but I was starting to feel faint from exhaustion and hunger.
Just about a block away from the hotel, I quickened my pace to make the crosswalk light....when the paper bag holding our food gave way and out tumbled our food onto the sidewalk.  I salvaged what I could, and we made our way back to the hotel room. By this point, Elijah was almost inconsolable for about 45 minutes so we decided to get loaded back up and head out for a walk.

Our friend Joey, who may have been in a work meeting with two of his associates.....invited us to come and crash their dinner meeting at one of our favorite cafes. I was worried about Elijah not having eaten, but Joey ordered his favorite frozen yogurt and fresh berries, which he happily devoured. He also, against my wishes, ordered a chocolate cake....which was like food for my soul. :)

Joey's associate and friend, Theresa was missing her boy (whose birthday it was), and so she gladly held Elijah and entertained him in his curiosity as a chemist mixing sugar and water. Joey and Taymour also enjoyed feeding Elijah, playing games with straws...
At the end of a long and wearisome day, I cannot say what a grace it was to have friends come around me and help with Elijah, and engage in pleasant conversation....not to mention the yummy food. :-)

We had a fantastic evening and Elijah slept wonderfully from 10:45pm when I put him to bed, until 2:15am when I woke him for his last feeding, and again until 5:45am when I woke him to get to the hospital.

It was a good reminder that many times the difference between a day ending badly and a day ending well is whether or not you keep going. (Although let's be real-there are those days that just need to be over.....think: early bedtime!)

Anyhow. We got to the hospital by 6:30am, and because we were trying something different with his anesthesia, he had to be poked twice for his IV (mostly because he was thrashing about.)

I took him back and laid him on the table and took a few deep breaths. I got Ben on the phone and then waited for the doctor.

The tumor near Elijah's central field of vision is growing again. The doctor carefully explained our two options: laser, or more IAC (intra-arterial chemotherapy.). He said that it is highly unlikely that they will be able to kill this tumor with laser without taking out his vision. So, the doctor felt that the best course of action at this time was to laser the tumor today, and loosely plan on chemo next month. (The doctor did go so far as to mention that he checked to make sure the chemo doctor is available in four weeks).  We will be back in four weeks, and our appointment lands on October 26th, which is my son Noah's 10th birthday.

When I saw the date, immediately so many things came to my mind. God's Word says that all things He is working for my good.  Even this? Even disease, and chemo, and missing important birthdays?
I can't always see it, and I don't always understand it.
But I thought of how the campground had been closed for Noah's birthday, so Ben took him on his 10 year old camp out early.
I thought about how Ben was home with the kids when we got this news, so as we told them with me on speakerphone, they had the comfort of having a parent with them.
I thought of so many ways that God has been in ALL things.

And so, while this wasn't the news we had hoped for....we will just have to expand our "All Things" file.  I have always had compassion for families walking through childhood cancer, but never anything compared to what I have now. Now I breathe it with them and feel the ache in my chest with them.
And not just cancer, but so many other difficulties that children face.
These last 19 months, I have discovered strength that I KNOW does not come from me. But I would not have found it if I didn't need it desperately.
There is joy that would never have been mine, as I nurse Elijah in the quiet moments. I delight so much in each moment I have with him, and in many more moments with all of my children, because I can't take it so easily for granted that tomorrow will come.
There are countless ways in which these last 19 months have been for my good, Elijah's good, and our family's good.  And all the ways that I can't see the good....well, for now I'll tuck those away into the "All Things" file and ask for the faith to believe when I don't see.
He is with us.
He is for us.
In all things.

Thank you for praying with us and for us.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Test....

It's 3am and we are on our way to the airport.  :). A friend of mine was posting about getting ready for their trip to NY this week as well, and I could relate so strongly to each mixed-up bottle of emotions.  
We sort of have a routine going. I even wear the same outfit for traveling (with minor changes for season, etc.). Due to construction at the RMH, we won't be staying at the house this time. Our hotel is only 10 blocks away from RMH, but in Manhattan, it's a whole new neighborhood. I'll have to find a new health food store and a pharmacy to buy diapers and wander the isles. 
We are doing a quick turn-around this time-I'll fly back Wednesday night and Ben starts his new shift at work early Thursday morning. New things all around.

Sometimes, it feels a little quiet with all the newness and change. I long to hear God speak to me and make sense of some things.  But the other night, I heard something really profound in a movie. The character said, "You know better than any that the teacher is always quiet during a test."

This rung true in my heart. How many times have one of my kids asked me a question during a test, to which I respond: "I can't tell you during the test. I'm trying to see what you know. When you're finished, we will go over it together." 

And so, even when it's quiet, and even when the changes are difficult, confusing, or hard.....I take such comfort in knowing that the Teacher is there! Perhaps quiet, but always comforting and providing and just being near.  

It was so neat though, the airline allowed Ben to accompany me to the gate, so it was nice to have my friend around until we boarded.
I think Elijah enjoyed it too: