Christian. Wife. Mom. Weirdness Magnet. Choosing Laughter and Joy.

Three years ago today…

So I disappeared from the interwebs for a while. Have a post about that coming but this is way more important.

Fifteen years ago (wow I feel old now), I shared an apartment with three other college students. We drew straws to see who would share bedrooms (four girls in a two bedroom apartment). Jes got stuck with me, and that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. We have only lived in the same city for four months-that one semester fifteen years ago. We have lived 120 or so miles apart the other 14 1/2 years. We drifted apart for a few years-life just got busy in our separate cities. Eventually our lives became very similar. Staying at home with kids. Awesome husbands who worked long hours. Miserable pregnancies. Trying to walk out our faith as woman, wife, mother, Christ follower. At some point we started talking on the phone daily. Or almost daily. Sometimes for an hour or more at a time. Most of the time we wouldn’t even be talking to each other, but rather mothering our kids with the reassurance of someone whose butt we didn’t need to wipe being present also. (it’s the little things, people!) She is my people.

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Jes, Jim and their kiddos

Jes and her husband Jim are amazing people. I’ve known them so long and am just so used to the awesome that is them, that sometimes I forget that not everyone is like them. I know, I’m spoiled! Jes and Jim managed to have five kids in the same time we had three. They win that contest! (wait, it’s not a contest?!?) Almost four years ago they had some serious drama. They sold their home and the closing agent stole the money instead of sending it to their mortgage company. Surprise! You’re in default on a mortgage you thought was paid off! All of this happened during the holiday season. Not fun. Kind of a little bit of stress. Through it all they kept trusting God and clinging to hope. During this time Jim started having headaches. Figured it was stress related-ya think?!? Finally things got less stressful; the house was sold and they moved to a bigger, better, nicer neighborhood. Yay fun! Now life is normal! Except the headaches stayed. Jim went to the doctor- could be a dozen benign reasons for the headaches, but standard protocol is to have an MRI. No problem, just a detail! Waste of a good Saturday!

That MRI was three years ago today. It showed that yes, Jim did have a brain (phew!) but it also revealed a walnut sized tumor in his brain.

Follower of Christ, husband to one, father to five, host to one brain tumor.

I vividly remember getting Jes’ text as I sat in the Wal-Mart parking lot. “They found something.”

Somehow I made it home.

“They’re operating tomorrow.”

Noel and I went to the hospital to pray and love and support.

Can I just say something here?

Cancer sucks. I hate cancer. I’d like to punch it in the face or stab it in the gut and watch it die a slow horrible death.

One year of chemo. Radiation of the entire brain and entire spine. Medulloblastoma is not a cancer that jokes around. It wants you dead.

Even in the darkest of dark though, God’s love burns bright. Jes and Jim have trusted God with their lives, their children, their future. It’s not all smiles all the time, but at the foundation of it all is trust and faith. The belief that God has a plan. That what the enemy meant for bad, God will turn to good.

I could list so many challenges they’ve faced in the last three years it would make you want to cry, but I could list twice as many gifts and blessings that have come about from it too. Not the least of which is this guy:

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Jim with baby Silas

He is nothing short of a miracle baby. Now they have six and we have four. They win by a landslide!

The point of all this is to ask for your prayers for this amazing family. If you want more info they have a caringbridge site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jimcrandell

Jim still gets scans every few months to make sure the monster is kept away, so this is a long term battle.

I just want to honor this amazing couple and their beautiful family on this weird anniversary. A day where the life they thought they’d have died, but also the day a new life with new hope was born.

 

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

“Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

PS: I forgot to add that Jim had scans today to make sure the cancer isn’t back. Please pray for clean scans!

 

On why I hate New Year’s Eve

December 30th, 2005 I got the call that Grammy had been rushed to the hospital with severe breathing problems. Collapsed lung or pneumonia or maybe-those-spots-really-were-lung cancer or all of the above. It didn’t seem super serious, she was awake, alert. She was receiving oxygen at the hospital as she had been for months at home. No biggie for a chain-smoking 79 year old. We kept our plans of hosting a New Year’s Eve party.  The next day, New Year’s Eve, uncles, aunts and cousins had flocked to Grammy’s hospital room. Noel stayed home with Ethan and Will, (who were 3 1/2 and 14 months) and set up, cooked for and hosted our party. I went to the flower shop to pick out flowers for Grammy. They were low on bouquets, they only had Lilies. They told me the hospital doesn’t usually allow such fragrant flowers. I told them who I was and who they were for, (my aunt works at this flower shop), they bagged the flowers and hugged me. Tears came to my eyes as I realized this may be more serious than I expected. Up to Grammy’s room. Most of the family was there. For some reason the conversation kept turning to food as Grammy sat there with her cup of canned fruit and water. At one point I was alone with Papa and Grammy. Those 30 minutes spent are sacred to me. I shared with them that we were expecting. Grammy grinned from ear to ear and asked all kinds of questions. Papa just held Grammy’s hand. I told them if it was a girl she would be Natalie Margaret- Grammy’s name was Margaret. She was pleased as punch about that possibility. I told them they were sworn to secrecy for a few weeks. (No one beside Noel and one friend of mine knew I was pregnant.) Nods and smiles. Everyone trickled back into the room. It got late. Grammy kicked us out. I hugged her, kissed her forehead, told her that I loved her and I left. I drove home bawling. Praying she’d recover. I went in to my home filled to bursting with friends and family having a wonderful time. I tried to smile and play. I wasn’t very convincing. A few hours into the new year my phone rang. There was no question why my phone was ringing. I was sobbing before I answered. It was Mom. Grammy was gone. I sobbed and sobbed and finally slept and woke to sob some more. The next day I got the bouquet of Lilies back. The reek of them turned my pregnant stomach. They made me nauseous but they were my last gift to her, they stayed in the far corner of the dining room until death claimed them too.

At Grammy’s visitation I learned from an aunt that Papa was telling people I was pregnant. This one nugget of hope and happiness had bloomed in his mind; there’s a baby coming. I gave Papa a break and didn’t tease him about forgetting that little detail of being sworn to secrecy about my pregnancy. You get a free pass from a lot of things when your spouse of over 60 years dies. I had to tell my mom that she would be a Nana again in the back room of the funeral home at her mother’s visitation. The relief that Papa wan’t losing his mind, that I was in fact pregnant brought relief and fleeting smiles amidst the tears and grief.

7 months later we rushed to the hospital thinking something very bad was happening to my baby. Fresh blood, intense pain, but not contractions, days before my due date when the boys had been overdue. The nurses were not panicked, but urgent. In the chaos and blur I heard a voice. The voice of a friend who I’d known since high school. Slightly awkward seeing each other for the first time in many many months and she’s gonna examine my cervix, but we handled it with class because that’s how we roll. I was dilated to 8 cm. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that I was in labor. 3 pushes and a few minutes later, my friend handed me my tiny, swollen, beautiful little girl. Natalie Margaret had arrived. The second person to hold her, the person to hand her to me, my friend, was the same nurse who had been one of the people with Grammy when she died.

Last to first. Death to life. The beauty of the symmetry takes my (OCD) breath away. Even in the dark and the sad and depths of despair- He is there. God is there. If we trust Him, trust that He has a plan, we can see Him even in the darkest of night.

Psalm 30:5b “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.”

 

 

 

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary

It’s late. I should be in bed. I should post something Christmasy. My heart and soul are heavy though. I’m sick, burned out, worn out, frustrated, sad and depressed. I fall so short as a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, a blogger, a picture taker, a homemaker, just as a human. All this responsibility heavy upon my back. My failures taunting me.  The little hands pulling at me, climbing on me, screaming in my ear, making messes. Everyone needing something from me. Bills to pay, budget to balance, a never ending To-Do list, a husband traveling (again) for work with no notice. Cancel plans, make new plans for single parenting it (again). Re-re-prioritize what I can actually get done by Christmas and still stay sane. (quit laughing… Sane for me) Alone, alone, alone… Poor poor me. Meanwhile friends are losing babies, trying to not lose babies, husbands are cheating and leaving, life altering accidents, serious financial issues, sick children, even death. And on and on. I know we’re not supposed to compare. But I do. Poor me and my minutiae of inconvenience and unmet expectations. I don’t deserve to feel bad when there’s actually real crises going on in other peoples’ lives!  I feel bad that I feel bad. So pile that bad feeling on top of everything else and welcome to Crazyville, I’ll be your tour guide! Here’s the deal though. To all those who feel like they’re in crisis without an actual “crisis” and thus feel like their stress or depression or sadness or overwhelmed feeling isn’t valid:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 (NASB)

Unmet expectations= hope deferred. Hope deferred= heart sick. It’s real and it’s valid. Even without the big shiny crisis headline. Sometimes we just need to readjust our expectations. That’s not settling or giving up, that’s called maturity. Sometimes we just need to grieve. Sometimes we just need to be sad, that’s called reality. It is okay to feel sad, to feel angry. I see (and have experienced) this pressure to gloss over the unpleasant. To minimize the negative. “Hurry up and get back to being happy! You should never be less than joyful or that makes you ungrateful, selfish, worldly and lacking in faith!”  Yes, sometimes people can get trapped navel-gazing and focusing on the negative for too long and ignoring the good. But sometimes, often times, people just need the freedom to be sad for a while. To grieve. To mourn. To process. To heal.

Ecclesiastes 3:3-8
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
 

Sometimes daily life can be overwhelming. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, not a boulder. Rabbit trail here… I hate the phrase “God never gives you more than you can handle.” Ugh!!! It’s not biblical, for one thing… Secondly, if you could handle everything, there’d be no need for God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit or prayer! In my weakness He is strong. In my inability, His ability shines through so all the glory is His… Back to regularly scheduled ramblings…

So this is me, in all my internet given powers, granting you (and me) the freedom to be sad, overwhelmed, angry, or depressed. For a time. Not for forever. (If it doesn’t go away or improve, or you have thoughts or urges to hurt yourself or others, please talk to a Pastor or Doctor or Mental Health Professional. For realz) It’s okay to cry over your situation. It’s okay to be mad about your situation. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. You and I need to hear this though: it will get better. Things will change: sometimes it’s the circumstance, sometimes it’s our perspective. Light will come to the darkness. This situation is not for forever. And when I’m bawling my eyes out all alone in a darkened room long after the kids are asleep, I’m not really alone. Neither are you. God sees us and knows our hearts and loves us still. He doesn’t shush(or shoosh? that’s a weird one to spell out…) or criticize or toss out cliches. He’s not disappointed in us. He comforts and heals but we have to admit we need the comfort and the healing in order to receive it.

Whether you’ve been smacked by a boulder of crisis or just had your straw pile grow too large and break your back (yeah, I totally just called you a camel. Twice! You’re welcome), I pray for you to receive God’s comfort and love and also the freedom to mourn and grieve for a season. There will be a morning though that the joy will break through and a new season will start. You can make it until then, just trust in Him, that is what I’m doing: what I have done and God has never let me down.

Psalm 22:24-For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from (me); but when (I) cried to Him for help, He heard.

Psalm 116:1-2 – I love the Lord, because He hears my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.

Psalm 30:5- Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.

And Noel is home now from his trip. He hasn’t left again. I started this post while he was gone, just didn’t want anyone confused ;)

This first song you might know from Josh Groban singing it, but Selah wrote it and their version is AMAZING! albeit a slightly cheesy video…