Mar 2, 2013

Special for the boy trying to fix up my son who is (in my opinion) years from being old enough to superheroes and capes and then make you a cape and give it to you as a gift. It takes a special kind of friend to still be willing to admit they're your friend when you are running around the church with a cape on. And that is just the beginning.

During the last few weeks when I was really struggling mentally and emotionally , God sent person after person to me with words of encouragement. Right around the time I figured we've become old news and people are probably not remembering to pray for us anymore, I got several messages from people saying, "You've really been on my heart this week. I'm praying for you." In those moments I see the way the God of the Universe stops and takes time for me. And I see that he has already given me the strength I need.

We are better together. God has given me incredible friends (and in some cases sent incredible strangers) to encourage me and sustain me. So when I feel not so super, the Body of Christ rallies around me, carries my burden, and helps me to soar. My friend made me a cape. My friends are my cape.

Feb 24, 2013

I've lost my cape

It's been a little more than seven weeks since Jake's diagnoses. He's been admitted four times and I have gone from barely knowing how to get into the hospital to becoming an expert on what elevators go where and how to get to 11G from almost anywhere.  We're through two rounds of chemo and headed back to the hospital for round three on Wednesday. I think I've gotten to sit through two church services in that time, but I can only clearly remember one.

Usually I'm really disappointed to be missing church, but this morning when I dragged myself out of bed I immediately (and hopefully) asked if anyone was too sick to go to church this morning. It's not that I'm mad at God or unhappy with church or anything like that. It's just that I've been having a hard time finding the motivation to do anything lately. All I really wanted to do was crawl back into bed, pull the blankets over my head, and forget about life for a while. I'm not sharing this because I want your pity or attention. I feel compelled to be honest and transparent about my journey for a couple of reasons. First of all I always strive to be authentic in hopes that the people who look at me will see the real faith of a sinner who rests in the hope of God's grace. And secondly, I don't want to appear unapproachable, "all together," or some sort of superwoman.

A year ago I wouldn't have felt the need to dispel myths of my togetherness, because I am painfully aware of how disheveled and scattered I am. I have one dear friend who has jokingly referred to me as superwoman on several occasions, and it's always good for a laugh. But after we found out Jake had cancer that friend pointed out to another friend how getting me to ask for help would be the hardest part of helping me. And nobody argued in my defense. Not even me. At that moment, I became aware how un-super I really was, and how okay it is to un-super because no one can do it all.

Admitting that I was in need of material help was difficult. I'm still struggling with sharing the burden, even though so many have come along side of us to help shoulder it. It's been difficult, but nowhere near as difficult as the emotional battle. When that sweet resident walked into our ER room and delivered the toughest news I've ever heard, I didn't cry. My mom cried, my friend Meg cried, my son was tearing up. After looking at all those crying people I decided I would have to stare exclusively at the doctor if I was going to hold it together. And she was choking back tears. So I stared at the wall and listened. "Advanced, treatable, biopsy, good cancer, chemo, oncologist. Can I call someone? A pastor? Can I pray with you?"Ok, I did cry when the resident prayed with us, but chalked it up to God not my emotions and quickly regained my composure.

If you are a momma, then you probably have some idea where I'm coming from, even if you've never dealt with something like cancer. We don't have time to lose it, we don't have time to break down and be upset because too many people need us for to many things, so we soldier on. That's not to say I haven't cried at all since January 3, or that I haven't had many conversations with God about our situation. There was a moment in the first couple of weeks (probably around the time Jake's shoulder pains started) where I cried to Todd, "I think God mistook me for someone else. I am not strong enough to bear this. I am not superwoman, I can't do it!" But I haven't ever allowed myself to park there. Dry your tears and get it together, you have 5 kids who need you!

I never allowed myself to park there, but this week my emotions have decided to park illegally. All of the anger, doubt, and fear that I thought could be managed with good theology and strong faith have been taking up residence in my head. And let me be clear, those things are not winning in my mind, but they are making a run for space that I would never want to give them. When you're up all night fighting the fear and the anger it's hard to jump out of bed with any sort of motivation in the morning. And my poor, sweet husband was perplexed as to why I was crying and overwhelmed in the Wegmans Cafe when he took me out to lunch last week. "Everything is going well, Jake is responding to treatment, and he even feels pretty good right now. Why are you upset???" My response was something about how now there is finally time for me to be upset.

I have three days to get myself together and rested enough to survive round three of chemo. I am comforted by the things that I can see God doing in my family, how this has forced all of us to come together and to listen carefully to his voice. I am amazed that God saw fit to bless me with such an incredible family and put me in a community of people that are so loving and helpful. Last night I had a dream that I was watching Jake's first JV football game. I can't wait for that day. Until then, I will rest in the shadow of the Almighty and see if he has a cape I can borrow.

Jan 26, 2013

Recent events in my life have reminded me how therapeutic writing can be. And I feel like I can't ignore that need to write anymore. I've come back to my long abandoned blog to write because it seems so appropriate. On January 3, my oldest son was diagnosed with cancer. His diagnoses has taken my faith in and dependency on God to a whole new level. The need for me to put myself aside and let God be God is far greater than it ever was before. So the caringbridge site will continue to be a place for updates, but my view of our journey will be chronicled here. 

I'm sitting here watching Jacob get a massage, and over and over again my heart cries out "God, heal my boy!" The atmosphere here is so serene and seems so contrary to life as we know it right now.  That's not to say that there is no peace in my heart, because there is. The day he was diagnosed, before we knew exactly what was going on, I said to Jacob, "No matter how good or bad it is, God is still God, and he's still in control." And three weeks later, looking cancer in the eye, I still stand by that statement. 

But serenity has been nearly nonexistent. I feel like I am constantly being pulled in a million different directions. There are doctor appointments, visiting nurses, case workers, meds to manage, more doctor appointments, tutors, visitors, phone calls, and on and on it goes. And then there are 5 kids who need me. Each in there own way, and on there own schedule. And I'm supposed to somehow maintain my marriage (I fear that's not getting enough attention these days). At the end of the day, my heart is longing for communion with God, but my body is too tired to pick up my Bible most days. 

I am confident that He rescues and He saves, but I fear for the heart of boy. Will he be able to rest in God's faithfulness in the same way I do? Are the roots of his faith deep enough to weather this storm? And, oh that he could be spared the pain and the sickness! So while I rest in shelter of the Almighty my heart cries out, "God, heal my boy!" I recently came across this quote while learning more about goju-ryu, the style of karate I study:

 "At all times accept life as the willow tree accepts the wind. Rather that fight the inevitable by being immovable as the oak tree, the willow will bend not suffering any hardships, whereas the oak will fight and fight and in the end will be destroyed by its own stubbornness . Tomorrow after the wind has calmed the willow will bounce back to its original straightness, whereas the oak will bear the unhealable scars of the day before. 
Meet hardness with softness and softness with hardness." 

As I contemplate our current circumstances, I pray that I will be like a willow tree not just in my karate training, but in my life. And, God, make my boy a mighty willow.

May 11, 2010

Ethan is Six Months Old

I can't believe he's six months old. He's trying really hard to crawl but he usually goes backwards... and he looks kind of like an inch worm when he does it. He loves all the attention he gets from his brothers and sisters and is a pretty happy baby. Here are some pictures that I took of him today (Both of the other boys wore the hat Ethan has on in their 6 month pictures).

May 10, 2010

Busy Weekend

This weekend was a busy one, but a good one! Friday was field trip day in Albany. We visited the USS Slater, a destroyer escort from World War II. The kids even got to work the guns! The boys really enjoyed learning about life on board the USS Slater.

We also stopped at the New York State Museum where Jacob got to see an old elevator, the construction site of a skyscraper (things we just studied) and a 9-11 memorial exhibit. Then on Saturday the kids got their AWANA awards! As usual their feelings were mixed between excitement over the awards and sadness that AWANA is done for the year. They all did a great job, and we even brought lots of friends with us to AWANA this year.

May 6, 2010

Playing around

The kids wanted to take a couple of pictures with the Mac today, and I thought I would share them.And here were are comic book style!

Apr 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

We are having a pretty relaxing Resurrection Day here. After church we came home and let the kids have their baskets and do an egg hunt. Then we went to my Aunt's house for Easter dinner and another egg hunt.
We are so grateful for all that God has done for us, and most of all for His Son!

Mar 15, 2010

It's Been 2 Months...

since I last posted. I spend most of my time walking around in a haze. I always mean to post, but rarely feel like I have the mental capacity to do so. Can you guess who still isn't sleeping well at night? It's wonder that school gets done every day. Or at least most days.

In spite of my fogginess I am enjoying this stage of life. The older kids are getting pretty independent. Jacob is really beginning to develop opinions and ideas of his own (like what music he likes). Gabriel and Cadence entertain each other really well most days. And everyone loves having Ethan around.

Ethan is 4 months old now. He is still a pretty serious baby, but he is very easy going, too. He recently started eating cereal, and it is not helping him sleep any better. He has rolled over a few times, but he isn't doing it consistently yet.

Jan 11, 2010

2 months old

Ethan is two months old. It is already hard to remember what life was like without him. He's weighing in at 11lbs, 11oz, and is in the 70th percentile for height. (How did we manage to make another tall one?) He's doing great except for a little trouble with reflux which we now have a prescription for.

I'm pretty sure he is the most spoiled baby on the planet. Every time he fusses one of the other kids is right there to entertain him. Entertainment is provided by...

Jacob the super tall

(That's 4'9 and1/2" and growing)

Gabriel the stuffy
(Him and his daddy are convinced that hanging a tissue out your nose will help clear it)

and Cadence the toothless.

(At 4 and a half she already lost two teeth.
And no one has even punched her in the face lately!)

This is classic Ethan...he always looked a little worried.

and the only way I could get a smiling picture was to put him in his seat with his turtle.

Dec 28, 2009


Ethan is really enjoying one of his Christmas presents. He smiles at it and talks to it. He is especially fascinated by the music that it makes when he hits it. I love, love, love his smile :) And I finally got some pictures of it.

Dec 14, 2009

My Boy

I just had to take a minute to share how proud I am of Jacob! He has become such a great help - I don't know what I would do without him. I took this picture of Jacob with Ethan this afternoon. You may notice that Jacob has 3 stitches on the top of his nose. Those came from his most recent trip to his dad's house where his cousin hit him in the face with a snow shovel (accidentally).

Jacob has matured by leaps and bounds in the last year. He has surprised me many times in the last month by going above and beyond what is expected of him for no other reason than he just wanted to help. He still has his moments where he gets out of control, but they are becoming few and far between.

Jacob loves having Ethan around! He is the best big brother ever! He holds the baby every chance he gets. He doesn't have any interest in changing diapers, but loves to help in almost every other way. This morning as we were getting ready to go somewhere, he brushed his sister's hair (and it actually looked fairly good!!!). Then he came downstairs helped both little ones get their coats and shoes on, put Ethan in his car seat and got himself and all three siblings into the van. He did all of that without being asked. It blew my mind - all I had to do was grab the diaper bag and walk out the door.

I think that the responsibility of helping with Ethan has been great for him. It seems that responsibility is some of the best therapy for him. When I am(or anyone else is) counting on him he tends to really step it up and focus on what needs to be done.

Oh, and Ethan turned one month old this weekend. That's why I had the camera out, and the other boys wanted in on the photo shoot.

Nov 19, 2009

Ethan's Arrival

I've had a week to recover and gather my thoughts, and last night my husband chastised me for being home all day and not finding time to blog :) ... so here are some of my thoughts and details from the story of Ethan's arrival.

Very early in the pregnancy, the doctor let me know that he was planning on inducing labor at 38 weeks. Even earlier than that I started praying that Ethan would arrive in God's perfect time, of his own free will, and with an easy, uncomplicated delivery. In my finite mind, the only way for that prayer to be answered was for the baby to come before week 38 and I fully expected to have an October baby.

Week 38 came and went. The doctors seemed willing to work with me when I asked not to be induced - this shocked me! In the past (with a different doc) there was no negotiating with anything and I was induced right at 38 weeks. Week 39 came and went. The baby was looking great and they continued to leave me alone. Week 40 came and went. I could not believe that it was November and I was still pregnant. I am so grateful for doctors that listen and carefully consider all the facts before making decisions!

With week 41 approaching, the doctor put the decision into my hands. Although the baby was looking great, there was a small chance that something could go wrong and they could miss it. Inducing should not be bad at this point but it could be "a two day affair." He wouldn't advise for or against anything, just laid out all the facts for me. I went home thinking about it, and after a day and a half decided that it would be better to go ahead and face the "two day affair" than it would be to leave the baby alone and have something be wrong.

We arrived at the hospital on the morning of November 11 to be induced. The doctor had forgotten to call and notify the hospital that I was coming. Every full term pregnant woman in Syracuse was having her baby that morning. Labor and delivery was crazy.

They broke my water and started petosin at 9:00 am . Todd and I settled in for a long boring day (my last induced labor was about 15 hours). At 10:00 we were playing cards and Todd said "You're going to have the baby at 11:26 am." Yeah, right. I wasn't even in active labor...we were playing rummy. I was only 4 cm.

At 11:27 I was looking at my baby. I was surprised that the baby was a boy. I was surprised that labor was over already. I didn't think that there was any way I would have a baby before dinner. We didn't even get a chance to play Boggle. And if I hadn't had to wait for the doctor to run in from her C-section, Ethan probably would have come at 11:26.

My baby had arrived quickly and safely. I was confident that it was God's perfect time, I read a Spurgeon quote the day before that gave me peace as I wrestled with whether or not to induce: "There are no mistakes, no accidents, and everything is still on schedule." But I could not figure out why we had to wait until the 11th of November for this baby. It wasn't until the next night when I was home nursing Ethan...

The hospital photographer was a young mom struggling with a son who is labeled ADHD. She kind of joked about her frustration, but my heart immediatly went out to her. I knew exactly where she was at, trying to fight for this kid but not knowing how. Knowing what doesn't work, but not knowing what else to try. Seeing the potential in her son and being frustrated that he may never meet that potential.

As she was leaving, I brought the conversation back to her son and suggested that (if she was interested) she should read the Out of Sync Child and consider sensory integration disorder. We shared about our struggle with Jacob and how the right diagnosis and therapy have made a huge difference with him. She was VERY receptive and very grateful for the suggestion. She asked a lot of questions and shared more about her son. Todd promised to pray for her, and told her to look us up on Facebook.

We kept wondering if we could have done more to reach out to her. But as I was sitting at home I felt confident that God had placed there on that day (she was talking about the different photographers that work on different days) to minister to that girl. No mistake, no accident, she needed an interaction with a mom who understood on that day. And the God I serve is big enough to bring other people into her life and to call her to himself. Getting people saved is not my goal. It's not my job. I can't save anyone anyways. All I can do is strive to be like Christ and share his love in tangible ways the people who are around me. Not that I'm always good at that, but I'm growing in it, and I'm pretty sure that's why Ethan was born on November 11!

Oct 28, 2009

My Pumpkins

Click here to view photo (big)

Last weekend we made our annual trip to Tim's Pumpkin Patch. This year we decided to keep it to two pumpkins (one for the boys, one for the girls) since Todd could end up carving alone. And it was a little to cold to enjoy all that Tim's has to offer (like the barn full of animals), but we still had a good time.

The kids are looking forward to Halloween and hoping that the baby doesn't come at the wrong time, although Grandma will take them trick or treating if we can't. I'm hoping I don't have a Halloween baby... although we could just consider it a Reformation Day baby and name it Martin if it's a boy!

Sep 28, 2009

A Busy Fall

Here we are, well settled into a school routine and enjoying a beautiful New York fall! Life has been busy but largely uneventful. School is going well with all three kids. Jacob is learning about 19th century American History, decimal points and diagramming sentences. Gabriel is learning about multiplication, and Cadence is making great strides as she learns to read and count past 10.

At the beginning of September we went apple picking, which goes a heck of a lot faster than it did a couple of years ago. We picked a bushel and a half of apples in about half an hour, and then bought a few more bushels of "seconds". With all of those apples we completed our first "getting ready for baby" project - making 39 quarts of applesauce!

"Getting read for baby" is something I keep thinking about, and talking about, but not doing. Two or three times I have started to clean out the corner where a bassinet needs to go in our room, but I never quite finish and then the corner ends up full of stuff again. There are 37 days left until my due date. I did manage to fill out all the hospital paperwork and go to the Birthplace for an orientation the other day... that kind of helped with the reality of how close we are to having four kids. I plan to finish cleaning out our room today...

Aug 20, 2009

When I Was 5...

Today we were out running errands and I decided to treat the kids to ice cream at the Big Dip. We were in North Syracuse (which is not our usual stomping grounds) and the kids were fascinated by the giant ice cream cone on top of the building. I remember getting ice cream at the Big Dip when I was kid, and told them how I lived near there until I was five.

Gabriel (who is 5) was very interested in the fact that I moved when I was 5, and wanted to know all about it. Then he asked "Mommy, where as smart as me when you were 5?" Umm, well, hmm... how do I answer that?

"I could read when I was 5, but I couldn't read as well as you can," was my reply. There, I was being honest but not adding too much fuel to the fire for Gabriel's super ego.

"So, you weren't as smart as me?" he asks.

"Or maybe it's just that nobody taught me to read when I was two." As I said it I'm thinking "I probably couldn't have learned to read when I was two because while I am intelligent, your IQ seems to be in a whole different ballpark than mine. But if you figure that out now, I won't be able to live with you for the next 13 years..."

Thankfully, he gave some credence to the fact that he was given opportunities that nobody gave to me. That, and I quickly changed the subject by offering to drive them past the house where I lived until I was 5. Crisis averted!

Aug 17, 2009

Pony Rides

On our second full day at the ranch Nicole had arranged for the kids to have pony rides. Gabriel and Cadence each got a turn being led around the ranch on Blossom.

Jacob got a little bit of a riding lesson, and then he got to hold the reigns himself! He rode Blossom around the barn while Nicole watched and gave him pointers. I got a little video of him too...

Aug 8, 2009

A Little Getaway

The kids and I went to spend a few days with my sister and left Todd home to work and attend the Willowcreek Leadership Conference. We arrived at the ranch after lunch on Wednesday. After dinner, my niece Becca helped the kids do a little fishing. Jacob (who needs no help fishing or baiting the hook) dug up some worms before we went to the fishing hole.

The boys each caught a fish, but Cadence didn't have the patience for it.

When it wasn't his turn to be fishing, Gabriel discovered a rope swing rigged up across a ditch near the fishing hole. I was a little nervous watching little Gabriel swing back and forth clinging to the very end of a rope he could barely reach. Frankly, I'm surprised he wasn't nervous about doing it. Eventually I got over my nervousness and decided I should try to get some good pictures of this recklessness.

His sister and brother soon lost interest in fishing and joined Gabe on the rope swing.

And before long, my concerns about this form of entertainment were validated. Gabriel fell off the rope and into the muddy gulch. He wasn't hurt, but most definitely was upset. He did not like the way the mud felt all over his backside. Aunt Cathy made him pose for a picture, which he did while crying. Then finally we got him to smile.

Before heading home to bed, we took Aunt Cathy's army truck for a spin around the ranch grounds. The kids loved riding in the army truck, especially when they got to hang off the back of the tailgate.
Stay tuned for part two of our trip...