Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Life's disappointments and Challenger Baseball

Life is not always easy and perfect, but life is good.  This past weekend the house on Claytor Lake that we love so much sold.  It has been on the market for a while now so it should not have been a surprise when I got the call that it is under contract.  I am a sentimental person who has a lot of love and memories tied up in that house.  It has been apart of my extended family for over 40 years. 

Jeremiah 29:11 is my go to verse and this week I have chanted it over and over.  For I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  This verse has been special to us for many years, hence the name of our daughter, and this week it has sustained me.  We have this vision of what we think life will look like, and sometimes God's vision and reality are not the same.  I trust God completely even when my heart hurts and things on this side of heaven make absolutely no sense.  God's got this and He has proven over and over how trustworthy He is.

My fabulous photographer friend, Jason Burris attended the first Challenger game Saturday.  He sent me a few pictures from the day and I actually gasped when I saw them. 

This is Jacob hoofing it to first base.  Running is a challenger for him, but check out that determination!  I love this boy and I love this picture!!! At the volunteer meeting there was a wee bit of a fight over this cutie:)

This little dude inspires me every single day and I am so proud of our little baller!  Look at that awesome form!  He was by far the sassiest player out there Saturday!

The whole first game was amazing but I was especially touched at the preteens and teens that begged and harassed their parents to bring them to this to get involved.  Saturday watching these teens interact with the challenger players assured me that the next generation is going to be fine and dandy. 

Seeing that smile on my boys face made all the planning totally worth it.  Thankfully Amber was not hurt carrying David and his 85 pounds off of the field! 

Even my shy Kyle had a wonderful experience with his player.  When we got into the car to head to the Smokies game, Kyle was smiling and he said "wow Mom that went really well!"  Thirteen year olds do not show that much excitement typically so that made me smile.  God blessed our world with these differently-abled children and this weekend watching them on the field made me pause and thank God.  Our lives are richer and fuller because of them.  We can see God's handiwork in their lives and they bring such joy to us all. Our games are at noon on Saturdays at the Little League field in Marion.  If you are free- come on our and cheer on some pretty amazing ball players. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Happy and Blessed Tired

It is after dinner Sunday evening and this Momma is tired.  Really tired.  Tired because our weekend has been full of love, laughter, joy, and blessings.  There was one sad part of the weekend that I am not ready to process yet, but that will come later.  Life can be hard and so disappointing.  But life can also bless you with more joy and love that you heart can handle.  I have certainly experienced that this weekend.

Friday evening started with a fun night at church for an indoor "drive in" movie night with pizza and the movie Big Hero 6.  The kids could decorate a box to be their "car" and look at these cuties in their car!  I love so much that church is such a big part of my kiddos lives, including their social lives. I also love that they have Christian friends and that church offers so much fun and learning for our kids.

I still have a smile on my face thinking about our first Challenger baseball game that happened Saturday after months of praying, planning, prepping, and organizing.  Folks have attached my name to this project, but it has been all God.  I had to hold back tears all day long Saturday watching over 20 special needs kids take the field to play ball.  This ball player was dressed and ready by 8 a.m. Saturday for his noon game.  If you need a blessing in your life, come to the Marion Little League field on Saturday at noon to see some of the most amazing kids play ball.  Only God could have raised this money, upgraded our facilities for handicap accessibility, brought us the players, and sent us angels disguised as volunteers.  My heart could not handle the smiles and joy.

Sunglass selfies before heading to the ball field! 

Not only did our David love playing ball, but I got to watch my 13 year old be a buddy and that was such a blessing as well.  I could still tear up thinking of both of my boys on the field playing very different roles.  It was inspiring to see so many middle and high school students excited to be apart of this program!  

After our first Challenger game, Mike stayed at the field for Hope's Tball game, but I loaded up these awesome guys for a road trip to Pigeon Forge to watch the Tennessee Smokies play baseball.  Their travel team got to participate in the Field of Dreams program where they got to go out on the field with the players for National Anthem. Our first stop was the beef jerky outlet! 

Our 10u and 13u Riverdog players lining up to go into the stadium. 

Our players on the field with some of the Smokies players.  Kyle is on the right with the right fielder:)

I had such a fun night with a group of crazy thirteen year old boys-I love seeing this smile on my boys face.  We did not get home until close to 1 a.m.-this Momma is so ready for bed tonight!! All three kiddos needed baths or showers this morning before 10:00 church but we made it.  We still had wet hair walking into worship, but we were there! It was a fun night with my oldest and totally worth it!

After church this afternoon the youth group had a very cool activity called The Amazing Race.  It is similar to the TV show where they had to follow clues to destinations around town to solve the scripture clues.  I did not drive Kyle's team, I was a driver for another group!  At church I typically volunteer with children's ministry so it is a treat to hang out with Kyle and the youth.  At one of the destinations they had to make cards for the shut-ins using bible verses.  I love seeing teenage boys hovering over bibles copying down scripture.   

Kyle's group chose John 3:16 for their scripture. The scripture had to be accurate, neatly written, with a personalized message!  What a great activity for one of the stops.  What a fun way to cap off a wonderful weekend. 

I am counting the minutes until bedtime after our crazy weekend but I am going to bed tonight thankful for the joy, love, and laughter God has blessed us with this weekend.  I am a tired but such a blessed Momma!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Baseball, Sunshine and Superheroes

We have certainly been blessed with a weekend full of sunshine! It was Little League opening day in our neck of the woods and I had a T-baller that was ready to play!

Hope and her sweet little Tball team.  She really loves playing:)
I love our little Tball girl:)

After Hope's game our family took a shift in the concession stand.  Hope and Sydney were the customer service reps and took the orders!  Ha!  I really think Hope enjoys working the concession stand as much as she enjoys playing ball!  :)

Mike has a lot going on these days, but he loves working in the concession stand when he has the time.  It is a great way to see kids he has previously coached.  He wears the plastic gloves well and my man can sling some hot dogs!

David's Challenger league did not play this weekend because the fields are one step away from being handicapped accessible.  He is so ready for his first practice this upcoming week!!  During the opening day festivities there was a home run derby and David wanted to participate:)  He hit one in the infield and the big boys cheered for him.  This community is so amazing to our rock star. 

Kyle also had a travel tournament.  I wish I could say that I love baseball but I really do not.  Mike and I take turns taking him when he has a tournament so Hope and David do not have to spend their entire weekends at the ball field.  I went with Kyle Saturday evening to his two games, and though I am not a baseball fan, I am a fan of having one-on-one time with my oldest at this stage of his life.  Coming home late Saturday night, just the two of us, we were blessed with a great conversation about priorities, our faith in God and what interest him for the future.  Thirteen year olds can be moody and challenging, so when I am given an opportunity to chat one-on-one,  when Kyle  feels like talking,  I am a happy Momma. 

Today I took these cuties to worship while Kyle had day two of his tournament.  My Mom bought this dress for Hope and I really want one in my size!!  It was so awesome to be in church praising and thanking God for his goodness last week with David's clean scan.  During prayer and praise time, David wanted me to tell everyone at church that he had a clean scan.  He was so proud of that scan!  It was truly icing on the cake when the praise team sang his favorite song, I Am, by David Crowder. 

Here is superhero David getting ready for his photo shoot for an album cover for the group, Forsaken Hero.  David can be difficult to get a good picture of, but for Casey and Emily Price,  he was perfect!  I now know who I am going to call when I need pictures done of my kids!  Ha!  I cannot wait to see how the final album cover turns out.  We are certainly thankful for this superhero that God put into our lives! 
We have some new experiences on the horizon for us this week.  Kyle has his first ever track meet tomorrow and Challenger baseball is starting this week.  After all the planning, praying, and organization, it is going to be so awesome to see these awesome kids take the field this week to play ball! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Because He Lives

Please take three minutes and listen to this gorgeous song by Matt Maher.  It is beautiful and I have played it probably ten times today waiting on scan news. 

Because Jesus lives we can face the fact that every few months we have to return to UVA hospital to put David through an IV stick and the CT machine to see if the cancer has reared its ugly head again. I love the these lyrics from the song:

Because He lives
I can face tomorrow
Because He lives
Every fear is gone
I know He holds my life,
My future in his hands. 

Jesus is the only reason we can handle these stressful days. 

Blessedly I can report that the day went smoothly for our Rockstar!  He weighs 85 pounds now!!!  His physical exam was good and his Creatinine and labs are holding steady.  He handled the CT beautifully and we got the glorious call late this afternoon that his scan was clean-No Evidence of Disease!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Thank you for all the love and support we received today. 

It is now 8:00 on a Friday night and after our huge week we have had, we are in our pajamas and headed to bed.  Put a fork in us, we are done!  We are going to bed exhausted yet thankful that our red-head is getting closer to the magic five year milestone!! Good night!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hit the Wall

I have always used this little sacred corner of the world to be real, to share my faith, and to hopefully encourage another Momma out there to keep on keeping on in this hard but amazing world of motherhood.  We cannot do this without Jesus and tonight I am clinging to the One who can give Peace beyond understanding. 

This week has been an unusual one for this family.  We were off Monday for Spring break which we spent catching up at work for Mike, preschool for me, and our house.  We love feeling productive and organized:)  Monday evening my parents came down to help with the children because Mike and I had to leave early Tuesday morning for a day-long interview at a local community college. 

I have not shared this news here on the blog or on social media but Mike was chosen to be a finalist for the President of Wytheville Community College.  Each of the four finalists had an entire day at the college this week with several interview sessions, a public forum, tours of the college, local tours for me, and a chance to meet the folks that work at the college.

I would be lying if I said I was not scared to death!  Preschool teachers typically do not have an extensive professional wardrobe, so I got to buy a new outfit, cool new shoes, and many pairs of pantyhose!  The day was long and exhausting for me, but we came away with a total appreciation for the gem that is our local community college.  The campus is beautiful, the people were genuine and friendly, and we came away thankful for the opportunity. 

I, of course, was so proud of Mike.  During the public forum he presented his presentation and then the crowd could ask questions.  I sat in awe of how Mike handled himself  professionally.  Educational leadership is his spiritual gift and passion, and that came shining through.  We did not speak the entire thirty minute ride to the college early Tuesday morning.  We sat in silence in the car listening to Randy Frazee (co-pastor with Max Lucado from Oak Hills Church) preach on the subject of leading like Jesus.  It was perfect before a day long interview:)  We are both at peace over this decision-we have prayed for months that God will lead us where He wants us to go.  We were ourselves during our day long interview, we prayed extensively about it, and we rest in the knowledge that it is truly in God's hands.  Blessedly Mike has a job now that he loves, so we have total peace that God will guide us.

This is also scan week for David which is a huge emotional burden that Mike and I have carried around this week.  Once again God is in control. He carried us during cancer treatment, he can certainly handle a little IV for David and a chest and abdomen CT.  We will update as soon as we hear from the oncologist with the results.  We are so thankful for same day results!!!

On another note, I have been suffering from extensive poison ivy on my face this week, which required a trip to the doctor for me today with two steroid shots.  With the emotions of the week and extra steroids in me tonight on the eve of David's scan, Momma is feeling the heat.  David is also feeling punky tonight with a head cold.  This momma has hit the wall tonight emotionally.  Thank goodness we serve the Prince of Peace! 

Lastly, this week I took David and Hope to the eye doctor for their yearly exams.  Both of those cuties are far-sighted and Hope's eyes are now requiring her to wear her glasses full time to prevent a lazy eye.  David's prescription has amazingly improved but he is still in bifocals and without them he is cross-eyed. 

This week has reminded me that we never know where our paths will take us.  When Mike and I said "I do" fifteen years ago I never dreamed we would parent a special needs child, endure cancer treatments for our cutie, deal with vision issues, food allergies, and asthma!  Our last fifteen years have not been boring at all, we are just thankful on this amazing ride called life that our Prince of Peace has been with us each step of the way.  On nights like this, I am so thankful that He always has a listening ear for me. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter 2015 and This Week

I love Easter so very much!  Christmas is awesome as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but frankly Christmas is a month-long celebration that tends to wear a Momma out.  To me, Easter is the foundation of our faith in Christ.  He overcame the grave as a way to save us from our sins and to make a way to be with us forever.  That is truly amazing love.

Saturday  I took two sweet little girls, Hope and Sydney to the church Easter egg hunt.  It was sunny but very chilly, and they had a blast hunting eggs:)

These girls are hilarious together and I am so thankful for their sweet friendship.  God has certainly blessed our family with some great friends to do life with.  Before heading to the egg hunt, we had to stop at Walmart to buy a few personal items for me, and that was a riot with these two!  :)

Mike and I have never gotten into the Easter basket thing too much.  Hope wanted the movie Annie so we did get that, but we really have only done a few little things like candy, snacks, and a few school supplies that they may need. 

After Easter basket time, it is rush time to get to church by 9:00 so Hope and David could play handbells during church.  Kyle also had to run the projector for the early service.  Hope was SO excited to take flowers to the church to decorate the cross.  Adding beautiful and real flowers to the cross Easter morning is one of my most favorite things in the church ever.  To come into the Easter service to a plain cross and then leaving the Easter service  with a cross full of beautiful flowers takes my breath away.  It is a wonderful visual that our Jesus is no longer dead, we serve a living and risen Savior!!

I got teary watching David play the handbells.  They played Christ the Lord is Risen Today on the color-coded handbells and David was so precious concentrating so hard on his color.  I worried he would ring it the whole time, but he did not!! He waited patiently for the orange card to be held up! 

My sweet girl took her role seriously as well!  I love that sweet little face:)

Hope is putting her flowers on the cross.  We put some yellow daffodils out of our yard for Memaw who also loved this tradition of adding flowers to the cross.  We added some pink flowers for Susan Kilby and her sweet Momma who is currently in the nursing home and having a rough time. 

Simply gorgeous!

Daivd had a case of the sillies yesterday and it really was difficult to get a decent picture with all three.  He is a nut for sure, but we finally did sort of get this one!  Happy Easter!
This week is an intense week here in our household.  Friday is David's next scan.  I wish I could say these get easier, but they really do not.  It is a blessing that now he does not have to be sedated for them and that helps some, but waiting for those results is painful. 
Mike and I also have another important meeting this week as well that we could use your prayers for.  We thankfully trust in God's plan for our family no matter what the outcome will be.  God has held us in the palm of his hand since we said "I Do" back in 1999 and I know that if he has helped us navigate a special needs child, cancer, and a stressful job for Mike, he can handle this meeting and a scan for David.  Without Jesus I would be fretting, but it is a beautiful thing to be able to bring your fears and worires to a living Savior and lay them at his feet.  Amen.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Festivities and The Story

I love  Holy week!  I am blessed that between two different preschool classes, our afterschool children at church, and my own kiddos at home, we get to talk all week about Jesus and how in one short week we went from parading into Jerusalem on that donkey to dying a cruel death on the cross. 

After school at church Wednesday, we made resurrection rolls which are a wonderful visual that when the rolls are baked Jesus truly is not there!  They are also super awesome to eat. Here is the recipe and explanation how to make them:) http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Resurrection-Rolls/
I have made them for years with preschoolers, big kids, and even the youth group made them last year. 

This little bunny loved all the easter festivities at her school.  She has an awesome teacher that makes every day so very special in kindergarten. 

Yesterday we had a fun family day here at our house.  GG and Pops came down for the day and we had such fun.  The kids colored easter eggs-Hope is still at such a fun age!  Pardon the Halloween table cloth:)

David and his best friend, Pops! 

We have been coloring easter eggs on Good Friday for twelve years now!  I know I will miss these days when my kiddos grow up:)

Instead of bringing the kids more easter candy that they really do not need, GG and Pops brought them this cute little greenhouse and seeds.  GG and Hope planted squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers to grow in our little greenhouse.  Hope had  blast with it!!  What a cool and creative alternative to candy. 

Even though I have made a bazillion resurrection rolls this week, my own kids wanted to make them at home!  Hope rolled "Jesus" in the butter and cinnamon/sugar recipe and then we sealed him up in the tomb.  David and Kyle just wanted to eat them.  Kyle spent a good portion of time Friday afternoon at church with the praise band practicing running the projector for the Story last night.  He got home just in time for the rolls to come out of the oven!

After a fun crafting afternoon with GG and Pops and yummy steaks on the grill, we headed to church to watch the praise band perform The Story.  I really do not have the words to express how amazing this show was last night.  The Story told the life of Jesus through song based on different perspectives from the bible.  I was so proud of these musicians using their talent and gifts to bring glory to our God.  It was  a beautiful and powerful service. 
Of course, David had to show some love to his favorite guitar-player, Casey Price!  Casey and his sister Emily performed last night and they were amazing.  I am also in awe of how Bryan pulled all of this together and led this group to perform something of this magnitude.  We sat in front of Bryan's family and that was an added bonus of awesomeness!
I was very proud of my Kyle.  Kyle was a quiet and unseen part of the praise band last night running the projector for this event.  He ran all the videos for the event and all the lyrics for the songs.  It is not something I am knowledgeable enough to do, but with two practices under his belt, he did it beautifully last night. 
I had a hard time choosing my favorite song to feature here on the blog from The Story.  I love Be Born in Me about Jesus' birth but I also love this song Alive from the perspective of Mary Magdalene. 

Thank you praise team for providing us all with such a blessing on Good Friday.  Thanks to GG and Pops for coming down and having a fun family day with us.  Thank you to Kyle for making me proud and using his technology talents for God.  Thank you sweet Jesus for enduring that terrible death on the cross for our sins.  Amen!