Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mike's parenting a Girl, and The Weekend

I love fall weekends because there is much fun to be had, but I am sure exhausted tonight. 

Our fun started Friday night with two of our local high schools playing each other.  It was a beautiful night for football and it was fun to see folks and cheer the teams on.  David found sweet Morgan and wanted his picture with her! 
Amber's high school alma mater was one of the teams playing and she sat with David at his special seat on the track for some of the game.  This picture melts my heart. 
Saturday David was blessed with a chance to go with Pops to the VT football game!  He loves it so much and he had a blast with his BFF, Pops.  I took Kyle to East TN for his baseball tournament Saturday and spent a beautiful day at the ballpark cheering on my oldest.  Mike and Hope had a Daddy/Daughter day together. 
Sadly today we had to head to Radford for a funeral for a dear lady, Marie after church.  Since David's cancer, she has faithfully sent him cards of encouragement and she would always sign them, your friend, Marie.  She died very suddenly last week while on a beach trip.  David wanted to dress like Pops and Daddy for the funeral.
Before the funeral we had time to visit with Memaw in the nursing home.  She was having a good day:)
We also were able to visit with my other grandma who lives in an apartment. 
Mike and I have been talking lately about focusing our little family on what is truly important in this life.  Our walk with the Lord and our children's growing faith is a priority to us.  There are so many things/activities that can get in the way of families growing in their faith.  We have talked this week about as our schedules get busier and busier to remember Joshua 24:15 that strongly proclaims that "but as for me and my household we will serve the  Lord." 
There are so many distractions that compete with families for their attention and we are trying so hard to cling to God so when hard times come we will refuse to sink.  We have such hope and faith in our God and we refuse to start down a slippery slope of apathy towards God and His church, and focusing our priorities away from eternal treasures. 
Saturday Mike was channel surfing and came across this video on TV.  He was so touched by it, that he made Hope Madeline watch it.  They watched it together online while I was gone.  I was floored by it when he made me watch it tonight.  It is so powerful and every.single.woman and girl needs to watch it.  When the speaker mentioned the specific women of the bible I had cold chills.  Seriously, this is a must watch.

It touched me to think of my hubbie with our little girl on his lap watching this empowering video about who she is because of who God is.  I am married to a good man because this touched him enough to show it to our daughter and to me.  This video will be the four best minutes of your day-seriously watch it and let me know what you think!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Birthdays and Bald Babies

Today is my 39th birthday. This is the start of my last year in my 30's and frankly age does not bother me too much. I had a great day! There is nothing like sweet preschoolers walking into the classroom bearing flowers and cupcakes:) I had a wonderful and much needed lunch with my dear friends, and then cake and ice cream tonight at home after ballet. Good thing calories do not count on your special day! The worship team at church even sent me a special musical birthday message that made my whole day!

Today on the Today show, Hoda Kotb did a segment on childhood cancer and this song /video was shown. My heart can barely contain watching these precious brave children in this video. Thank you to all the awesome souls that sent me a link to this or posted it on my facebook page. Thank you that you continue to pray for our David and to show your love for our family.

This video is so amazing and it made me remember our own sweet, brave, bald, and awesome warrior.

I hated that he had to fight cancer, but I did love rubbing his soft and beautiful head. I would lay for hours in the hospital rubbing his head (when he was asleep) praying for him and whispering how brave he was and to keep fighting. Sadly children all over this world are fighting this beast called cancer and it is simply not fair. I praise God every. single. day that our David is with us. and that he is happy and healthy. David is a constant reminder to me that God never ever leaves us alone in the darkest moments of our life. He is faithful. Amen.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


This week is truly been unbelievable in many ways.  It has been busy and a little bizarre but nonetheless, it has been amazing because I have seen and heard God. 

I know you cannot see God in this picture, but truly He was there.  Here is David not only sitting in a dental chair, but he is letting the dentist and Daddy take x-rays!!!  He has been complaining for two days of a bad headache.  Yesterday we visited the pediatrician to make sure he does not have an ailment like strep throat that would be making him feel bad.  The pediatrician said he had a pink throat and a few swollen lymph nodes, but nothing major.
Today the school called again saying that David is still complaining of a headache and that he has not been himself.  Mike and I take his complaints seriously because children with Down Syndrome have a high pain tolerance, so he if he complaining of something it truly does hurt.  So our new thought today was that he had a toothache because he has been messing with a certain tooth in his mouth. 
I will be honest and say that our sweet and amazing local dentist agreed to see David today, and I was dreading it.  I knew David with his sensory issues, would be not the most complaint patient and it would be an ordeal.  In the past even putting on the paper napkin around his neck was high drama. 
Well today, God was with us, because he jumped up into the dental chair, and stated "hey Bill what's up?!" I was stunned because he was the most compliant patient ever.  He let Dr. Bill Thompson look in his mouth and he even let them do an xray!!!  We were floored and so proud of David.  Only God could have helped us get a good look at this problem tooth and sure enough an adult tooth is trying to come in on top of a baby tooth that has not fallen out yet.  David feels a little presure according to Dr. Bill.  I know that a trip to the dentist should not require God intervention, but with David it does and God met us at Dr. Bill's office today. 
Laying in bed last night the verse from Joshua 24:15 rang in my head over and over again. " But as for me and my household we will serve the Lord."  It was so strong in my head that I even posted it on facebook because my phone was right next to me in bed. 
I came into work this morning and was talking with my dear friend, Misty, about this verse. She had seen my facebook post last night and we were talking about how crucial this verse is.  It is so tempting so allow our households to follow so many other "Gods" and that I felt like God was speaking this to me to remind me that He is a jealous God and wants our full devotion.  Later after a somewhat brutal day at preschool, we went to lunch together as is our normal custom.  While chatting and eating chips and salsa at our favorite mexican restaurant, her husband had texted her this amazing devotional from one of his male buddies about the same exact premise with that exact verse in it.
We were speechless that between the amazing service at church Sunday, Joshua 24:15 screaming in my head last night, and then the devotional from Misty's husband spoke volumes to us today.  We sat at our favorite Mexican restaurant speechless that God has over and over and over again reminded us of His desired place in our lives.  Nothing can or should fill the God-sized hole in our hearts but Him. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Seeking Him

I love weekends.  Friday evening started out beautifully with me on the deck in my pj's watching a beautiful sunset while doing my Beth Moore Bible study homework.  I love quiet time like that.  In our crazy life, quiet time is a rare treat. 

It is a good thing I  had a lot of quiet time Friday night, because Saturday David and I headed to Virginia Tech with Pops, Clayton, Chad, and Hunter to cheer on our Hokies against Georgia Tech.  It was a beautiful sunny day-perfect for football.  Sadly the Hokies did not get the memo that they needed to play the entire 60 minutes and they lost on a field goal with two seconds to go.  Sigh. 

This picture of Pops holding David and Clayton's hands walking through the crowd gave me the biggest lump in my throat.  Pops is very protective of his boys in that crazy crowd and that was so sweet to see him being such a Poppa bear to the boys.  VT football to me is way more than just some college football players throwing a ball around-I grew up going to Hokie games, and now it is something that three generations of us enjoy.  It is really more about building special memories and having fun than a football game. 

David, Clayton, Hunter, and Pops getting ready to cheer on the Hokies!  The weather was so pretty but we had to slather the sunscreen on David. 

We were also blessed with a quick visit with David's favorite VT hoops player, Seth Allen.  We ran into several of the other players and it was amazing that they still remembered David.  We text often with Seth and David certainly loves him some Seth Allen! 

In the Fourth quarter VT scored a touchdown and Dave was so cute-he was shocked!  We are loyal VT fans even if they have lost two games in a row in the last minute.  Sigh.
Today has been full but awesome.  God is blessing me with some amazing women in my life through my circle at church and also through this bible study I am doing at another local church. We women need each other and for this season of my life I am surrounded by christian women who make me laugh, encourage me, and push me to serve God.  My circle at church met tonight at one of my friend's Kelly's home.  We planned a bible study via podcast and also a christmas service project. 
Today at church we had a moving service during our refuse to sink sermon series.  After the sermon time, we were welcome to come forward and receive an annointing of oil to remind us that we are whole in Christ.  It was very powerful and several amazing musicians sang this song while we were receiving our blessing and/or praying at the altar.  This song spoke to me so much today.

I want to sit at your feet
drink from the cup in your hands
lay back against you
and breathe
Feel your heartbeat.

Those lines give me goosebumps, because so often that is why I want to do to God.  I want to sit at his feet and just like my own children do to me, I want to lean back against God and feel Him.  Life is tough, life is stressful, and life is certainly complicated.  I am so thankful that because of God I am whole.  I certainly flawed, full of sinful tendencies and often spoiled brat, but I am fully seeking God because he is the only one who can make me whole.  Amen.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Life Lessons on the Diamond and Oma

The weekend started out very hectically Friday morning when both David and Hope had picture day.  I posted on facebook Friday morning that fellow mothers of little girls had failed to warn me how DRAMATIC school picture day is with a girl!  It has always been a breeze with boys, but Friday, we went through several dresses before we could agree. 
The final product!  David wanted to rock the shirt and tie of course, and this was the dress that fit the dress code for school and that we could both agree on. 
This weekend we watched a lot of Riverdogs baseball.  Yall know that baseball is not my favorite sport, but I love our  Riverdog family.  Some amazing moments happened at the field this past weekend.

Early this fall ball season, our boys won a championship!  David had been in the dugout with the boys all weekend being apart of the team in the best way that he could.  When the team won the championship, the first trophy presented was to David by the head of the BPA association.  He is the guy in the white shirt in this picture.  He shared with a friend of mine this past weekend that he has put together a lot of tournaments this year and presenting this trophy to David was the most fun he has had at the park all summer.  This picture is actually his screen saver on his computer. 

Sometimes we get jaded by vocal and negative people, or distracted by extended family drama, or life sometimes just gets hard.  Then you hear that your child has touched someone and impacted them and you realize that there are some amazing folks in this world.   There are some amazing and big-hearted folks in our neck of the woods and I am so thankful that David often finds them:)

At the ballpark last night a guy from the opposing team got hit in the hand by a ball.  It had to have hurt this kid and we all felt sorry for him.  Because they had just the exact amount of players needed to play without forfeiting, this kid had to bat again later in the game when the game was tied.  Bless him, he was trying to bat one handed to avoid getting an out for his team.  Our coach watched him try to hit and he stopped the game.  He said that no child should have to come up to bat hurt and that they could skip him in the batting order without forfeiting an out.  The game was tied at this point and it impressed us all that our coach saw that winning was secondary to this kid.  I know our team saw this kid's relief when he got to go back to the dugout and it was a proud moment for us all.  Men of integrity are the kind of men I want coaching my son. 
I also had another proud moment at the field watching my son.  This morning we had to be at the field very early for a game.  Kyle woke up with an upset stomach.  I thought it would get better by game time, but sadly he got sicker and sicker throughout the morning.  He spent all of warmups in the bathroom and he chugged Malox and chewed on tums.  He was so sick it broke my heart.  But because he was in the batting order he had to bat.  He did not play in the field at all, but he had to bat.  This is how pitiful he looked coming up to bat.  My heart broke knowing he was sick and was worried to get on base and be unable to get to a bathroom, but amazingly he stuck it out and got on base.  I was proud that he gave it his all despite being very sick. 
I love that we all learn so many awesome life lessons at the ballpark.  I love that God used baseball to teach integrity, perserverance, compassion, and that winning is secondary to doing the right thing.  It was a great weekend at the field. 
After getting home from the ballpark and resting a little (or in my case taking a two hour nap) we went to Hungry Mother with Oma for a little playtime.  It was a beautiful fall day today and it was fun to watch Hope and David play and to show off to Oma our local state park. 

Mike, his Mom, and our kiddos.  She is here through Tuesday and I think our family schedule has probably worn her out!  Ha! I keep joking that she is going to need a vacation from her vacation in Virginia. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Busy Week

This week has been full - Mike's Mom is here visiting with us from Texas, I have started a new bible study that has intensive homework, and afterschool started at church this week.  It has been busy but blessed.

I just started a new bible study with a group of ladies at a nearby church.  I think this is my 8th Beth Moore bible study that I have done in the last 13 years.  Hearing Beth's voice on these videos instantly brings me back to the sweet little fellowship hall at Beth Carr Baptist Church many years ago in Madison County.  I love being in this intense of a bible study even if it is a challenge to get the homework done each week.  It is hard, but oh so worth it. 
I know that God used those many Wednesday night bible studies all those years ago to prepare me for David's cancer.  I learned and grew so much in my years as a young wife and new Momma and the fellowship with those other ladies and the truths of God's word built me into a better christian, wife, and mother.  Those were precious years to me.

Fast forward thirteen years later and that same baby that I used to nurse during my first Beth Moore bible study is now in youth group at church!  Our afterschool program for kids and youth started this past Wednesday.  It was awesome to see those kids again and to start our new curriculum.  It teaches God's word based on candy.  Afternoons at FUMC are sacred to me.  I love this program and love serving in this ministry.  I also love that my three kids are in church every Wednesday afternoon. 

We are also spending quality time with Mike's Mom who is here visiting us from Texas.  She has not been here in two years and we have toted here around to all the kids activities so she can see them in action.  She also had a birthday her first day here, so we had a little birthday celebration for her.
She makes these chocolate chip brownie pillow cookies that my kids adore!  They started making them tonight and they will finish them tomorrow afternoon.  Cathy is a great cook and we always have fun chatting over recipes and experimenting in the kitchen while she is here.

This weekend we have Cathy's schedule full of soccer, baseball, church, and more baseball!  She will need a vacation from her vacation when she leaves here! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Soccer and our Anchor

This weekend has been low key and laid back.  The big news of the weekend is that ths little love started Upward Soccer!

She loved it so much and my parents even showed up to the game and surprised us!  They are busy taking care of my grandmother, so that it is a treat when they come to town.  We visited with them and had a yummy Mexican lunch before they headed back to Radford.
Upward is a wonderful christian soccer program where there is no score kept, a devotion is done at halftime, and it is a poitive environment to learn soccer.  Check out this girls smile running down the field!  I also think it is adorable that they follow the ball as a pack in soccer at this age:)
Kyle and I bonded last night by staying up very late to watch VT upset Ohio State!!  What a fun night to be a Hokie!  We watched every play and cheered like lunatics down in our basement while Mike, Hope, and David slept:)
Despite staying up way past our bedtime to cheer on the Hokies, we were up bright and early to head to church for the contemporary service at 10:00.  Kyle ran the worship board and helped serve communion.  David was perched on the front row getting his worship on with the praise band.  David insists to sit on the front row to be near the band!  He worships with total abandon and I do worry that he distracts others with his full-on praise, but several folks today commented to me that he is a lesson for us all on how to worship with abandon.  Once again, David teaches us all a lesson. 
Lately it seems that many folks from our congregation are struggling with really hard stuff like cancer, divorce, death of a loved one, sickness, family drama, etc. Bryan and David came up with a new sermon series entitled refuse to sink.  Today was the first Sunday in the series and it was powerful and awesome.  If you are struggling with a burden right now that seems bigger than you can handle, take a few minutes and listen to the sermon today which remindind us all who our anchor is in troubled times.  It inspired and encouraged me-hope it does you as well!
Here is the link to today's sermon.  I cannot wait to listen to it again- it was that good.
Bryan (worship minister) does all the graphics for the church.  Besides being crazy talented at everything musical, he is a master of graphics.  When this sermon series idea got rolling, he googled the word "hope" and this logo came up because evidently this is a popular tattoo!  I am not going to hit the tattoo parlor anytime soon, but I am intrigued about an anchor and a cross with the words "refuse to sink." 
Because of Jesus no matter what this life throws at us, we have an anchor to hold onto.  God was our anchor during 2011/2012 watching David endure chemo and radiation.  Life is hard, overwhelming, and brutal at times, but amazingly we have anchor to cling to even during the toughest storms.  Come join us next Sunday at 10:00 for a powerful worship service, or enjoy the sermon downloaded at your convenience. 
Because of Jesus we all have an anchor and we can refuse to sink.  Amen!

Friday, September 5, 2014

This is Childhood Cancer

September is childhood cancer awareness month. October is usually flooded in pink for breast cancer awareness, and September is gold for children fighting cancer.

Every child's journey fighting the Goliath called cancer is different. David was diagnosed on November 17, 2011 after complaining of belly pain for a day and having a fever. Every family has a different story and so here in this sacred place I will attmept to share how cancer has changed our life. This blog is where I shared this journey and I am forever humbled and thankful when people stop me in the community and ask about David and saying that they are still praying for us.

Immediately he was taken by ambulance to UVA where an oncology resident was waiting for us in the middle of the night. When Dr. Alisanki, the attending, arrived in our hospital room bright and early the next morning I knew we were in trouble. Big trouble as she calmly told us that our baby had cancer. Luckily she waited until later to share that it had metastasized and that he was Stage IV.

A day later, we were huddled around David's bed with dear friends like Ashley and Jason, the Jonas', some extended family and GG and Pops. Jonathan led us in prayer for David as he headed downstairs to a huge sugery to remove his kidney, adrenal gland, and to probe around to look for suspicious spots. God love Dr. Kane, he was the most patient and kind surgeon answering lots of really hard questions we threw at him. The nine hour plus surgery was brutal. Mike struggled the most during the surgery waiting for tidbits and news from the OR. Had they found more cancer? How was our buddy tolerating this huge surgery? Was he going to survive? It was brutal and I held it together until the end when they said it would be another hour. At this point it was past midnight and our supportive entourage was with us the whole time.

Amazingly David made it through that huge surgery and after a week of recovery he started an intensive chemo and radiation regimene. The radiation was the hardest on him and he lost more weight, lost his hair, and lost his sparkle. In the month of June his port had gotten infected and he had three back to back infections. One sad and scary night he got very sick here at home and he was medflighted back to UVA:( Here he is flying in the helicopter.

Our poor buddy endured lots of painful tests, lab draws, port accesses, echo cardiograms, antibiotics, mouth sores, during the chemo and radiation. Cancer treatment is not for sissies. The life-saving regimene of chemo and radiation comes with lots of side effects that often make kids very sick and often are fatal.

David's initial weight on diagnosis day was 56 pounds. He got down to 45 pounds which was scary. We kept him off of a feeding tube by using a calorie booster and feeding him whatever and whenever he wanted. Here is sweet Kyle feeding him an cupcake:)

Cancer is devastating on a family. Here is sweet David and Mike sleeping in after a rough night in the hospital. I will never know how Mike did such a great job as a Dad, superintendent, and Cancer Dad during the nightmare. He balanced it all beautifully on very little sleep and very little time off. I was able to take a leave of absence from my job, but Mike could not. This was also the year our county was renovating one school and building another. only God could have carried Mike through all the stress of the 2011-2012 school year.

Kyle and Hope lost precious time with us, as they stayed at home while we tended to Dave at the hospital. The guilt of not being home consumed us both, but we had to be there with David. He was so sick.

Childhood cancer is a nightmare that we hope and pray we never have to endure again. Despite the drama and fear we saw God move in amazing ways in our lives. He was truly with us each step of the way. I hate cancer, but I will always treasure how close we felt to God during that time, our amazing prayer warriors and friends, and family memories we were able to make in a difficult situation. God was so present with us and He changed us all.

So thank you for loving us through the nightmare, going gold and realizing that kids just like David are fighting this beast every day and that more funding is desperately needed to come up with safer treatment options. Cure Search is a great organization that we support that goes into funding for research. Out of every five children that are diagnosed with cancer, one will not survive. The facts are sobering and scary and sadly childhood cancer is the number 1 killer of children. Thank you for going gold to support the kids fighting cancer!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Weekend 2014

This weekend was pretty amazing.  It started early for me on Friday with a day out shopping and having a leisurely lunch with two dear friends.  It was a wonderful girls day out and I loved it. 

Saturday was the the first home Virginia Tech football game!!  It was a fun day at Lane Stadium with Pops and my boys.  Hope and her Daddy stayed home and got some home projects done and I had a blast with my boys. 

When we got into the stadium I tried to take a picture of the boys, but Dave was not feeling very photogenic!  Ha!  There is no one in that place that loves it more than David.  He loves the Hokies and he cheered every cheer and watched every play.  He loved it.  I love that VT sports is the thing that I do with my boys and Pops.  Mike loved having a day at home with Hope watching football catching up around here and I loved cheering on the Hokies. 

Before the team comes out, one side of the crowd yells "lets go" and the other side yells "Hokies!" Here are Dave and Pops yelling with all their might.  David and Pops have a special bond for sure, and I love days in Blacksburg with this crew.

Jumping during Enter Sandman!  It got me a little teary thanking God that a healthy David was at a game and having  a blast.  I remember the day after he was diagnosed with cancer, we tried to waqtch a Thursday night game in our hospital room and we didn't even have the heart to cheer.  What a difference three years makes!  Praise God!
Sunday after church, we headed to the Williams Farm for their annual Labor Day party.  It was such fun!

They build a hay loft with slides for the kids to play in.  Here is Hope with some of her friends enjoying a snow cone.  They host a huge potluck meal with everyone contibuting side dishes and desserts and the family grills chicken, hamburgers, and hot dogs.  Yummy food set on a beautiful farm on the last weekend of the summer-pretty cool!

Thankfully David just sat on this four-wheeler for a quick photo op, he could not sweet talk anyone into giving him a key!  What a beautiful scene with the mountains in the background.  Southwest Virginia is certainly blessed with breath-taking beauty everywhere. 
After the big meal, everyone loaded up on these two wagons for a hayride out to the amazing and huge tree house.  A hayride in the dark was pretty cool for all the kids, but I did worry about losing David on the short hike up to the tree house!  I should have put a glow stick around his neck.  He was so excited that he was hard to keep up with.  Thank you Williams for welcoming us out to your farm-what a fun night that certainly left a ring around the bathtub.

Today on Labor Day we were catching up around the house and we decided to visit the pool one last time before it closed for the summer:(  With Steven Dimit's help, David FINALLY jumped off of the board!!  He was so excited and proud of himself.  Poor Steven burned a bazillion calories treading water waiting patiently for David to get the guts up to finally jump!  What a fun way to end the summer.
Summer of 2014 you have been a blessing.  I am sad that you are over, but I am kind of excited about Hokies football which will lead to Hokie basketball (woot woot), pumpkins everything, and gorgeous leaves changing colors.