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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Meeting Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

{ Some images may not sit well with weak tummies. }

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying for pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
Revelations 21:4

{ Post face-wipe as Mom cleaned the suet off. }

This past weekend my Dad attempted to baptize himself with holy fire as the fuel tank on the boat exploded in his face. By the complete grace of God, Dad's life was spared from potentially worsened injuries to his face and body. He walked away with 2nd degree burns to his right arm and face; the potential of much worse haunts me. The boat still floats and Dad has been able to recover from home with his very own personal nurse (his lovely wife) by his side changing dressings and administering drugs on schedule to keep the pain away. 
We won't go into details about how this event happened, but enough to the point where Dad's arm was stuffed in the fuel tank when it exploded making his hair stand on end from the blast and glasses go flying off his nose. Traci went down to the boat later in the day to find his glasses dangling from the out board motor about to fall into Bellingham Bay. Dad had plastic gloves on which spared his fingers being blown off and his overalls which shredded from impact. 

{ Second degree. OUCH. }

Turns out if you want to get a room in the ER right away, walk in with a bloody shirt and tell the front desk you just walked away from a fuel explosion. Now, for Dad, walking into the ER means walking into a situation with co-workers who obviously had great concern for their new patient. 
Meanwhile, the blackened face text message Mom sent out got quite the jump-up-in-your-seat reaction from me. I was relieved to know God had this in His mighty hands much like He has since before time. Many will say, or have said, "What more does this family need to deal with? How much more can they take?
Crazy as it may seem, should we not be saying the reverse?
"God you know our hearts. God you know our capabilities. We trust in You completely. Why not bring us through another testing situation?"

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
Daniel 3:16-18

In our culture today, we have Christians being burned for their profession of faith. Believers being shot in the head for standing their ground and making God their King without waiver.  Young and old being tested in their faith journey as society tries with all it has to numb them from the Truth and make them turn their backs against the church.  The furnace we encounter today is terrifying. I shutter to think about the many more fires we as Christians will have to walk through in America as the projected timeline of Jesus coming back to earth gets nearer. Our government is making disgusting changes within the law that is speed-tracking Jesus coming to save us from the gross sins of this world; the pain as a result from God not being in the center of decision making. 
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the blazing fire and knew that God was going to save them without question! Their faith did not flounder when faced with a terrifying situation; potentially deadly situation. 
Dad's experience with holy fire reminded me of these three men. 
I think back to my sixth grade year as I had recently upgraded myself from permed hair, shoulder pads and moved into the, "I'm cool, know it all" phase of middle school. It was a normal day until Mom and Dad sat us three kids down to carefully tell us, "Dad has colon cancer." Of course, as a young girl my thoughts immediately went to, "Who is going to walk me down the isle? What is this going to look like for us now as a family?"
Our little school was AMAZING as they brought us meals and offered support in very tangible ways. 
Fear gripped us all, but the faith we founded our family in stood tall and didn't collapse under pressure. A year of treatments passed and at the end of my eighth grade we celebrated Dad's end of treatment with a trip to Hawaii. Our family became closer due to the illness and gave us a reality of being more open about expressing our love for each other. We had some pretty sweet moments in the fire.
Fast forward many years later to when Mom and Dad were driving Addi and I home from the Lighted Parade when I heard those words once again. 
"Honey, Dad has prostate cancer." My stomach sank. My heart was heavy for the discouragement I saw in their eyes and heard the uncertainty in their voices. Dads are never to show weakness. Never to appear fearful of the future.  Dads stand tall and strong and can do anything their little girls ask them to do. Never did I see this in reverse more, then when Dad was in Seattle at the UW for surgery and about to go on the ventilator. A blood clot had made its way to his lungs as a complication from a newly discovered platelet disorder. If it wasn't for my dear mom repeating the demanding words BREATH, I'm not so sure about the outcome. Little did we know this was not the last of the fires we'd be thrown into as a family. 
Four months later and My Hero was diagnosed with breast cancer which has continued eight years later with a lost count on treatments, scans, surgeries and barf bags. There have been many terrifying moments as tumor markers have risen to uncomfortable levels or waiting for results from a latest scan. The cancer has traveled many places in My Hero's body and one would think she'd become weaker as it tackles a new organ, BUT, it's almost as if the cancer becomes her fuel to make her faith stronger. 
I've watched my sister battle the physical hurdles over these past years, but more painful are the mental and emotional victories she's navigated through. God blessed me with fertile ovaries that gave My Love and I two beautiful, blond babies. God continued when He placed our fire-cracker Puerto Rican in our hands three years ago. We've shared intimate moments within our marriage. We've traveled as a couple and fought as one too. I have secure arms wrapped tightly around me at night and know I have a team, my little family, to support me when I'm weak or need help walking. I have my physical strength to do the things I love; running, biking, moving from sun-up to sun-down. Even though my career has changed and morphed into one without a plaque, my job as Mom is tangible and God has given me grace to achieve the assignments in front of me. 
Watching my Hero decide whether to have surgery or not because it would take all of these everyday blessings away from her was heart-wrenching. Seeing her battle the emotional aspect of the surgical outcomes wore on many around her. Yes, in the end her doctor really didn't give her any other option, but if it was still her choice of when to have the surgery, it would still be on the "to-do" list. 

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."
Isaiah 43:2

Never. Ever, have I seen My Hero question why God allowed the cancer minions to throw as many stones as they have in these past years. Never have I seen her complain ( okay, twice. ) about the exhausting, laundry list of pills needed to be taken daily, appointments scheduled or pokes had to get her through the next hurdles of the disease. She is a rock, a fire-proof believer that will not burn no matter what size furnace she is forced to endure. 

My dear Grandma of 87 years is facing uncertainty on this earth. Her faith is what keeps her tall as the disease is attacking her earthly body. The fire will not touch her soul. 
My dad, as he recovers from his flesh wounds, will bounce back and keep swinging because God has made him a tall oak that is hard to knock over. His roots go deep and even if pruned, will grow back healthier and stronger. A reminder of how quick life can be taken from you gives more reason to experience the life God grants us. 
My Mom; the nurse, the nurturer, the comforter, the one of being in many places while doing many things; her faith, although tested and stretched, knows Her Father has His hand carrying her giving the life-sustaining breath to fight for others. She never stops and stubbornly doesn't take offers of help. But, if I can represent anyone through my life, it would be her. This pillar of strength carries her beloveds cancer battles and mishaps, her daughters extreme fight for life, her own mother's and mother-in-laws cancer journey and the daily tasks, all on her shoulders with such amazing grace.
It would be an honor to stand as tall as Mom has while driving in so many directions for so many people. I'm exhausted listening to her week's schedule! 
My point is this...some may say we are cursed for bad things, plagued with potentially life-ending situations to happen within our family. I say, yep, why not? We believe in a God that heals, saves and forgives, right? So, if we believe in a God so much mightier than ourselves or any earthly power then why fear? Yes, we have emotions and physical pain that causes us to feel the good, the bad and the ugly, but that isn't a gage of our faith. Unless, it's one that states we don't trust God enough to throw us in the furnace and not walk our unscathed. 

"But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread."

Job 23:10-12

I pray my life can be of one that withstands the furnace much like Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into. I pray that we, as a fighting family, can "come forth as gold" after another diagnoses appears, accident happens or death occurs; physical or emotional. I pray for our relationships to not fray as negativity attempts to cut away around the edges with tensions, opinions or not understanding how to deal with the unknowns. I pray for protection over our kids as they are too young to understand the fire they too are walking through and for their faith to become like a thick wall that stands up to the blazing temperatures of life.  
I thank God for the other pillars in our life who have filled in the gap with prayers and support. It is not healthy for one to carry all the burden alone. I have a lifetime of gratitude for God sparing Dad's life with his encounter of holy fire. There are many who won't let him live this one down, but jokes aside, I believe God has a reason to keep Dad here longer. 
Once these temporary wounds heal, I think a family meeting should be in order as our days of fire walking are not done!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Gift of a Multi-Tasking Mother

Mother's Day morning I woke up to poppy eggs in bed with steaming hot coffee served by My Love and our Little Blessing's. As I sat in bed awkwardly eating my breakfast with all eyes on me, I was showered with reasons why I was special and dearly loved. There were a few pauses and thoughtful moments, but I'm going to say the silence was due to it being early that not many reasons were shared!
There are moments where I don't deserve the doting on as I snap or need to fall to my knees in forgiveness for my impatience. My role as a mom has morphed into teacher over the years and I'm blessed to have kids that offer me grace daily when trying to teach hard topics with a toddler dancing around. I'm forever grateful to be Mom to these kids!
Either way, I felt loved. Of course there came the cherished handmade gifts and attempts at a peaceful day but in the end, the day was perfect. A mid-afternoon run left me sweaty and we topped it with a sweet S'moresma as the sun set to the west.

 { Brothers. }

We spent the late morning at Gigi's enjoying an impromptu brunch with Aunt's and Uncle's. It's entertaining as the 1st cousins are now chasing the 2nd cousins in the back yard. We were missing a few, but the group has grown over the years. Gigi still has the same LEGOS my dad played with as a child for our kids to be creative with as the wood cars and John Deere's rolled around outside. The four brothers have evolved over the years too with less of more gray hair and bellies full of wisdom. And as always, more stories of these curious four come out with smirks and grins oozing with guilt.
Gigi is an amazing mother. She is a survivor, a do-it-yourself-er, strong in personality and strength and rarely gives in to whatever it is she's facing. I am blessed that God has given her so many years to inspire me, challenge me and to give our kids numerous memories of their Great Grandma.

 { Myriam was experiencing a bit of an overly tired, sensory meltdown during an attempt at pictures with 2nd cousins and Gigi. }

Thank you to all the Mom's in my life who have shaped the way I parent and love our kiddos. My Mother is a saint and I have been immensely blessed to watch her navigate extreme challenges both in health and at home that have inspired me to be greater. Thank you to all the mom's around me who have taught me to be a better wife, mother and friend displaying Jesus to our kids and those in our circles. Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Gift of Cousins

This past Christmas, Nana gave the kids all matching shirts. Some were cozy and pleased while the oldest boy, whom shall remain nameless, thought and still struggled with his shirt looking a little girlie. Whatever the outfit, these cousins looked ADORABLE in their coordinated outfits! Jodi did another phenomenal job directing all the little bodies into a still-enough position to grab a few sweet shots. She even came matching our color scheme! With our coral colors and dark denim, we managed to capture the personalities of each kid...
some more than others. 
Now to craft a project so Nana can display these sassy smiles on her walls!

 { 10.5, 7, 6, 3.5, almost two & 4 }
 { Our little blessings. }

{ the SNAP sister: Miss Jodi herself! }

 { The C Shop was closed but we drooled over the soon to be
chilled ice cream cones! }

 { I love the crazy captured in these pictures. The checking out toes, bursts of laughter and rock-handed punches. These kids bring us joy, teach us patience and remind us that God is so good. }

{ We are family. }

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Throw Back Thursday

There seems to be a trend lately of reminiscing over old photos and memories from long ago. At thirty something, I don't have that long to reminisce from, but I did get some serious laughs from the kids last week when showing them some oldies. "Nice Afro mom!"
Thought I'd share in the fashion and styles of my youth. All I'm asking is to keep your positive remarks to yourself. I have enough of my own!

If you were to describe my childhood in words I think a few that would best suit the era would be...

The sad part is most of this is back in style? Why folks? Why?
Let's revisit the horror...

{ Fresh permed hair in 1st grade to grown out, 3rd grade, pre-brace face pose in what appears to be a shoulder padded over-sized sweater. }

I'm very grateful to my Mother who spent endless hours at her sewing machine designing ruffles, lace and perfectly positioned buttons for my sister and I to wear. With fabric costs being so high, I'm deeply saddened that I can't pass this honor to my girls. I think Addi and Myriam would rock the ruffled sleeves! And what's up with the child mullet? Here I was worried about Myriam's personalized self cut looking too much like a back party. I have it going on!

{ As you can see, I still have the touch with glasses nearly 
covering all but my chin. }

 { Taking back family style. Yeah Mom! }

 { Overalls add about 20 lbs. Why are they coming back?? }

{ Our first official date. Kids. }

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Bunch of Random

Sorry I haven't had much to say here for awhile. No good or bad reason. Just a busy mama keeping up with chores, breaking up sibling arguments and keeping the peace elsewhere. Here's a bit of random for you...
Tim and I had a great date night last week as he strapped me to his bike and took me to Everson for dinner with our friends. I'm learning to risk my life on two wheels and Tim is adjusting to the feeling of nails piercing his side as I white-knuckle-grip him during high speeds. We closed the night out with delicious chocolate dessert at The Bistro 9. 
The funny part of the date came before and after we left. You see, recently we did some furniture shuffling which left us with one couch to sell and our original set we bought while engaged to gift away. There was no better couple to bless then "Guy" and Laura who are getting hitched the first of August! In return, they offered to babysit for us. 
"Guy," better known as Mac, is Myriam's favorite. As I was feeding Myriam her dinner, she was explaining to me the activities her and Guy would be doing before bed. This is when I was informed she was going to jump with butterflies who all had 200 wings and that Guy has a long tail. 
Say what??? Yep. You can guess what she meant. ( Potty parts have been discovered and learning what's appropriate is being taught. )
You never know what truths this young blood will tell ya'!
Later when we were checking on the kids we noticed this young couple needs a little more practice in the diapering area...yep, Myriam's was on BACKWARDS! 
Addison completed her four days of MSP testing at school. She's like me and gets test anxiety so I was so proud of her to do so well during the tests. Charlie had a test but we were able to do it from home. 
Both kids still keep busy Wednesday mornings with the Tribune paper route. They hate it, but I still make them do their one hour a week worths of work! Lucky I drive them around...back when I was a kid, I had all the papers in the bag, around my neck and on a bike going up and down many hills. Bellingham is not as flat as Lynden so you can only imagine what Tweed Twenty was like for a young kid delivering papers! BRUTAL!
We no longer have any tractors, mud pits or broken driveway. It's now beautiful green grass, crisp flower beds with fresh bark and a convenient drive thru making it easier to come and go from our place. It's about S'moresma time as the weather is making more sunny appearances and the kids are anxious to get the tins out for our sweet treats. 
The buzz of the neighborhood is from the kids getting into the swing of spring! From bikes to scooters, basketball games and trampoline fun. The tree forts are built and talk of lemonade stands have begun. We love our neighbors!!!
Tim has been extremely busy with work travel as he's just back from The Arbor Day Foundation in Nebraska. He also made a Realtime siting in California as the group prepares for their ten year reunion show at International. 
I've been fighting those darn allergies, but after the rain showers I finally feel some relief! This past weekend I was able to go trail running at Lake Padden and highly recommend going for a hike in the gorgeous local mountains we have in the area. 
Nothing else is really worthy of chatting about. Of course I could keep going but that's a bit boring for you. Maybe I should get to the piles of laundry and scrubbing some toilets? I'll think about it... Thanks to the plugged city sewer drains on Double Ditch, we had splashes of water bubbling high out of the toilets this morning. Lovely. 
Well, there's a bunch of random for ya'. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Invitation to DANCE!

I am learning to love Dance Jam and Zumba at E2 Fitness Center. I'm in the back row along with other gym members who can laugh freely with me as we stumble, stomp, twist and shake our way through the hour long class.
If anything, my abs hurt from laughing at myself! 
This local fundraising event is organized by another gym member and will be taught by the best. I would LOVE to "shake it off" with you so please consider coming to this amazing event and at best, HAVE SOME FUN!

"The event is to raise money and awareness to support Trish’s upcoming book for kids with type 1 diabetes and those who love them. Trish’s inspiration for writing the book is her daughter, who was diagnosed with type 1 at age 6 in 2013. Half the profits from the book will be donated to diabetes research. Trish is also the author of The Soul of Jazz: Stories and Inspiration from Those Who Followed the Song in Their Souls (available for purchase on Amazon.com) and a writer for AllAboutJazz.com. "
The workout will be led by E2 Fitness Center owner and instructor, Christie Duque, and E2 instructors Patti Douglas and Betty Beieler. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring Break Update

Spring Break was a HUGE relief for me! My sister was in town and came to our house all day Monday...yep ALL day! Together, we emptied the toy shed, built some shelves, reorganized the toys in organized bins giving every item a proper place to rest while not in play. I was blessed, stressed and reminded of how amazing having a sister is during the day. Myriam even got some jumps and snuggles in with Auntie before dinner time! 
Spring cleaning continued all throughout the week as I quickly filled Tim's truck with garbage and waste. Bins were purchased and storage rooms shuffled and turned upside down. My necklaces no longer are one unified bundle of beauty, but now independent neck weights. Addison squeezed in every last minute of play with the neighbor girls including driving lessons on the local golf cart. Yikes! I'm not ready for that! 
A cashed in birthday gift to Addi's friend gave us two hours of bouncing fun as well...what a workout!
Charlie found a place in Nana's van as it traveled south to bring Auntie Traci home visiting tulip fields, friends' home during Auntie's appointment and giggles at the apartment. 
I was blessed to attend the two day Empower to Connect conference at NCCTK for adoptive and fostering families. Dr. Karen Purvis referred to the amount of information her team presented to us via simulcast, as if we were drinking from a fire hydrant - information overload! While I was soaking up the conference, Tim was home with the little ladies continuing on "the list."
Outlets replaced, lights installed, handles fixed, timers set, naps given, furniture rearranged and odds and ins completed. 
Busy mama's need spring breaks more often. 

{ Big Sister do; Little Sister to follow }

{ Yeah. It won't last. }

{ Celebrating Kayden's birthday at the Trampoline Zone }

{ Auntie spending the day helping with chores and making some laughs too. }

{ Charlie sniffing purdy flowers. }

{ Charlie finding boy things after sniffing too many flowers! }

{ They make us laugh! }