Hope for a monday

Today was a great day.  Everyone is feeling good again (no more pukies!) and it was nice to get back to a normal schedule. Both of the two older kids went to school and Ephram and I went to the YMCA.  By the way, I love that place and how much they love my little boy.  It is my own little oasis- me time where I put on my headphones and see very little of what is going on around me. I love it!

Josh's mom and dad were here for the weekend and didn't leave until this morning. Josh's mom helped Josh get in bed both Saturday and Sunday so I got some uninterrupted sleep which is glorious! Tonight, Josh is out with a friend who offered to help him in bed when they arrived home. Oh how I love to be spoiled...

Ephram was dedicated in church last night.  It was a very special evening where 11 babies from church were dedicated. So, what is dedication you ask? No, it's not infant baptism.  It's more something for the parents and people of the church where you promise to try and raise your child as Christ would have you, and the people of the church promise to pray for you and your child.  Both my parents and Josh's parents were able to be at the service.  Ephram was a little sweetheart, blabbering and drooling away and (in my biased opinion) being the cutest one up there. I may have a few friends who may disagree. :-)

The house is coming along nicely. Jason's dad came this past week and did a gorgeous job on all the trim (thanks Keever!). I'm not exactly sure what's next but I do know that move in is still scheduled for around the end of June.  I believe we have to pick out light fixtures sometime this week. Most of the decisions have been made so the craziness on our end has let up. I know for our builder, Todd, it only continues to get crazier.

Ava's birthday is drawing near.  She would have been three on May 5th.  Her birthdate was 05-05-05.  I love to see that written out.  She would probably be done with diapers, driving her sister crazy, getting ready to start preschool in the fall, and starting to lose the baby chub.  My, how life does not go as you expect.  I am reading a book by N.T. Wright called "Surprised By Hope."  It talks about heaven, the afterlife and what Christians believe. I am not far enough to know what I think of the book but I am excited to read what the Bible says about it.  It may give me a glimpse as to what my baby girl is up to.  In the book, there is a poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye which says it perfectly:

Do not stand at my grave and weep;

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.


Do not stand at my grave and cry;

I am not there. I do not die.


I have a sick baby.  It's the first time my little boy has been sick. I went to a shower for a girl at church today and got a call that Ephram had a fever. He's been miserable all afternoon, laying his head on my shoulder and moaning. I couldn't figure out why he didn't sleep very well last night as that is very out of the ordinary for him.  Both Josh and I were sick with the throw-up flu this week, but Ephram has yet to throw up. I think he may have a touch of something else.

When Josh and I got married, I promised to love him in sickness and in health.  That was never a problem until this week. You're thinking "uh-oh, she's decided she's had enough!"  Not exactly, but my limits were definitely tested. When we decided to have kids Josh and I had an understanding.  I would deal with the poop if Josh would deal with the puke. This understanding worked out well for the most part. I remember one of the kids getting sick while Josh was at a conference and telling him he needed to come home to fulfill his duties! Just kidding. Now, he not only cannot clean up the puke, I have to clean up his as well. So anyway, it's late Thursday night and he's moving around and making some groaning noises. He keeps waking me up but not enough  for me to ask what's wrong.  Around 4 a.m. the puking started. There was me holding the bowl in front of Josh while he threw up. Not only do I have to hold the bowl while he throws up, I also have wipe his face when he's done, rinse out the puke, and be on red alert for the next bout. Yes, I say this with some humor but it really makes me look at how even the most basic human actions are difficult for Josh. Because he has no stomach muscles puking is not like it used to be. I won't go any further than that other than the fact that it's not pretty for Josh.  This is the first time that I really looked at the situaiton and felt like I may not be able to handle it.  Looking back, I think it all went pretty smoothly considering what it could have been. But it causes me to think what it is that God is continually trying to teach me. This situation that I am in, purely God's plan for my life, I really don't like. Is that okay? I pray that God would give me grace as I struggle down this road I would rather not be walking. I prayed for grace while Josh was puking and he granted it. So, what does all this really mean?

I pray that God is using me, this situation and Josh to further his kingdom. I pray that he uses me to encourage others that are going through difficult times. I pray that God brings other peoples needs to my heart so that I can pray for them and remember that my problems are not the only problems.

One family comes to mind who needs prayer. They are experiencing much pain at this point in their life. The family is from Josh's home town and is a 5th grader who has experienced more health crises than many will experience in a lifetime. One of the main concerns is that it seems like the doctors cannot fully understand why all this is happening. Through all this, I read of a mom and dad who refuse to give up faith that God is able to heal their little girl, even when the odds seem stacked against them. Please pray for this little girl. Because I have not asked permission to do so, I will not leave her name. Please pray for this little girl who is too little to understand how all of this works into God's plan and why this is happening to her while all of her friends continue to go to school and play. I'm not sure why I brought that up, other than the fact that this little girl has been on my heart a lot this past 2 weeks.

Thank you to all of you who pray for us and love us. We appreciate you and continue to need your prayers.

A Clean Pathology Report

We got word from the hospital that all of the pathology reports came back negative! Praise the Lord. This is a huge answer to prayer. What this means is that the cancer is completely contained. Because my mom has had the entire cancerous area removed, her prognosis is excellent. She is going to see the oncologist in the near future to see what the next step is. 

Going into this whole cancer thing, my mom was acting like it wasn't a big deal and that is was just surgery.  Since the recovery process has begun,  she has come to realize how much of an emotional battle this has become. She is often emotional,  not sure why she is crying, but feeling down  just the same. Please be praying that  the Lord stays near to her and comforts her. Her healing continues to take it's own sweet time so she just continues to rest. :-) She's read a lot of books and done a lot of looking at the backs of her eyelids. 

Our kids came home today. Seven days without your kids is a loooooong time. I say this in both a positive and a negative way. We missed them so much but we loved having some time to ourselves. We spent numerous days watching movies, falling asleep in the middle, and then having to rewind. Don't you just love days like that? I know, they are few and far between for most of us, but much appreciated when you get the chance to indulge.

Josh and I had a ton of time to talk about how we are going to continue moving forward as a family. I say this with reservation because I know there are some readers out there who have experienced an injury similar to Josh's or is the significant other of that person. I realize it has been over a year. I realize we need to move on. I realize how much we have been blessed and loved. I also realize that as of about 3 weeks ago, I was ready to check myself in somewhere because I felt I was standing on a precipice, getting ready to fall off. My sanity was gone long ago (I'm joking... okay... only joking a little) but I do need to be able to function at a certain level where we can all survive and be happy. Because of my lack of sanity, Josh's parents took the kids for the week so I could get some uninterrupted sleep and figure some things out. We've come to the conclusion that we may be looking to hire some help. I know many families do this without help, but my personality definitely predisposes me to depression. It is a constant battle for me to feel like I can do this. So many of you have been so much help to us over the past year, but I will ask again. :-) Will you please be in prayer for our family as we journey down this road of looking for someone who fits in well with our family and meets our needs? We aren't even sure what we are looking for at this time but we are praying for God to prepare us and this person who may become a big part of our lives.  It is difficult for me to admit that I can't do it all, especially when I see other's handling it without outside help. I guess this was just not to be for us. I wish I could do all the laundry, make all the meals, clean the house, play with the kids, help Josh with all his needs, and still have a lust for life. Most evenings, I'm so tired I just want to get in my bed and have a few minutes alone before falling asleep. 

I was in the chapel at the YMCA this past week and doing some praying about our present circumstances. I get so frustrated with myself for not being able to handle everything with a decent attitude. It was then I felt like the Lord was telling me that HE made me. He knows what I am capable of and what I can and cannot handle. He put me in this situation. It did not just "happen." God chose for me to be Josh's wife, knowing full well Josh would become a quadriplegic. When He placed Ava in my womb, He knew we would only have her a short time. He created me to be Josh's wife and Ava's mom. Whether I think I can handle it or not is insignificant. My God can get me through anything. But my God has also allowed others to help us so that we CAN handle it. Those people are you. So many of you are my sanity. The meals that people brought, the money people gave so we could survive and outfit Josh with all his new needs, the people who came and cleaned my skanky house and toilets, the lawn that was mowed, the driveways that were shoveled, the time you spent loving my kids and still do... all of these things were my sanity. But most of all, your prayers for God to continue to surround us and love us, for Him to make his presence known to us in even the hardest situations, these are the main things that get me through. Please continue to pray for us. When I have a day where I think I should be losing my mind but I am just thankful for life, these are the days I know I am being prayed for. Thank you. More than you know...


So, it's been a while...

I've spent the last few days thinking of my little girl.  I'm not sure what it is about these changing of seasons that makes me miss her more than normal. Don't get me wrong, I miss her all the time, but the last few days it has been poignant. I feel the weight on my chest, I am back to listening to her song, and reading my Bible and listening to devotions on loss and pain.

I think I'm at a new place. I don't remember the day we lost Ava with such clarity.  The things I remember clearly: her dear smile, how she looked just like my mom in baby pictures, how she would hold onto the neck of my shirt while I fed her, how Noah loved to bite her toes and make her scream (crazy this is a good memory!), how laid back and easy-going she was. She was a real blessing.  So why is she a blessing when so much heartache has accompanied her memory. I used to wonder if having her for three months was worth it. Would I choose to go through a difficult pregnancy, have her with us for such a short time, be blessed by her just "being" if I knew we would lose her? I look back and think of how much I have grown since she died. I don't even know if I'm the same person as I was almost 3 years ago. I think I take life a little more seriously, take my relationship with God much more seriously, and notice the small things in life much more than before. For a long time after she died, it bothered me that Ava never got to see the snow. I know, there are kids all over the world who never experience snow, but it is just a thing I have. In my mind, childhood is tasting snow, going sledding with mom and dad, and building a snowman. She never got to do these things. A few months later God gave me a memory that I hold onto tightly. Ava was only a few days old, it was a few days after May 5th. I distinctly remember looking out our front window at our house in Kalamazoo, and seeing it snow. At the time, I'm sure I was disgusted (flurries in MAY?  Come on!). Now I treasure this- Ava got her snow.

A friend of ours wrote a song after Ava died. He was one of the few who came to the house during the flurry of ambulances, fire trucks and police officers. He was there when we held her one last time. He listened to us, heard us cry and held Josh when he thought he would die from the pain. After everything that he was there for, he wrote a song that encapsulates what we said and described to him. We are currently waiting for permission to post it.

Life here is in slow motion right now. The kids are gone with G'ma and G'pa B for spring break. Josh and I are in "married with no children" heaven. :-) Yes, I miss them. No, I'm not ready for them to come home. They'll be gone until Sunday and I will enjoy every extra minute of sleep, every less dish that goes into the dishwasher, every sippy cup I don't find under the couch, etc. I will also continue to look forward to when they come home. Funny how that works.

Josh is doing okay. His spasms are pretty bad which seems to affect a lot of other things. He has been pretty frustrated over the past week. They have had to up his meds which he hates because he knows it's hard on his liver. The higher the dose, the more side effects. Please be praying with us that we get his spasms under control again so that we can lower the dose and minimize the side effects. Please be praying for his spirits to remain positive. Considering how frustrated he's been, he's doing very well. We have an amazing group of family and friends who love and support us. This is very encouraging to us both. Thank you to all of you who continue to lift us up in prayer as we continue on this journey of life God has carved out for us.