Miss America

"Miss American" as Lucy says.  Best. Day. Ever.

Today 3 Pageant queens, the LeBonheur Foundation and Lucy's school gathered to let her know that she has been chosen at the Children's Miracle Network Champion Child for the state of Tennessee.  It is a huge honor and we are so proud that she was chosen.  I know all to well that there are so many miracle stories all around the nation and for hers to be recognized makes our family very proud.

I don't know all the details yet but there will be some media appearances, including a trip to Washington, DC.  The most exciting part for Lucy is that she will get to go to Disneyworld!  Oh my goodness she is so excited.

The most precious part about today was that she wore her Princess sash all day long.  She even wore it to church tonight and told everyone she was "Miss American."  For a little girl who was once obsessed with Buzz Lightyear, she sure has found her feminine side.  I just love her!

On another note, Jack has finally started showing an interest in "learning."  He can handle a pair of scissors like a champ and he has been all about the letter P this week at school. He makes me laugh a million times and day.

And not to be totally remiss, Ella was awarded one of the lead roles in the school Spring musical.  I am a super proud Momma tonight!

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It's hard to believe, but I have started planning Lucy's 8th birthday.  Some days it seems like just yesterday that she was born.  Every year I get to plan a birthday for her I am so thankful.  Each day is truly a blessing.

I have to share these pictures of Lucy from her 100th day of first grade.  All the kids were told to dress like 100 year olds.  Seeing these kids dress like "old" people was hilarious.

I seriously could not imagine one minute on this earth without my children.  I am a blessed, fortunate mother.
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How Did I Miss This?

I'm not sure how in the world I haven't gotten around to posting this.  Hello?!  We went to see Zac Brown Band live in concert.  It was an amazing night--one we will never forget.  We got to have dinner backstage with the band and even had our picture made with Zac.  Lucy was invited to go on board Zac's bus and was able to meet 2 of his daughters.  One of his little girls was named Lucy!

The dinner was unbelievable.  First of all, the food was wonderful.  All made by the band and their chef.  The band members actually served the food and Zac himself stood at the end of the food table and spoke to every single person who walked through.  I was blown away by the genuine nature of the band.  Zac Brown was one of the most down to earth and soft spoken people I have ever met.  While we all ate, the band members and Zac came around and sat down in empty seats and just talked.

Lucy didn't make it very long into the concert, falling asleep in a friend's private box.  Sweet girl. It was just sensory overload for her once the music started.  Zac dedicated "Chicken Fried" to Lucy, giving a lovely tribute before he sang.  It was a very emotional time for all of us.  So many Lucy supporters were in the audience and it was amazing hearing everyone cheer her on.

I could never say thank you enough to our friend Michelle who arranged this night for us.  She is an amazing friend and this night was one we had waited on for a very long time.  Thank you so much Michelle.  You are tops!

Like I said, Lucy didn't make it very long but she sure enjoyed it while she was awake.  I'm still learning how to use my new computer.  Switching from a PC to a Mac has been a big adjustment.  When I started to post these pictures I couldn't find them anywhere and I was devastated. The memories we made that night will last forever, but I sure am glad I have these pictures, too.  
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Weekend Wrap Up

I absolutely adore a 3 day weekend.  We started our weekend with a slumber party.  It was Lucy's first.  I had three of her friends come over and we made homemade pizza, had a Perler Bead creation fest, made popcorn and cookies and watched movies.  It was Friday so of course Lucy was tired.  She was the first to go to sleep but the other girls weren't too far behind.  I was so proud of the way they all got along and they seemed to have a blast.  I have always opened my home to my children's friends.  I've said it before but I am happiest when my home is full of children.  (Ella stayed with a friend so the younger girls had my full attention.)

Saturday morning we went to Ella's basketball game.  She is playing Upwards again this year and we have been so pleased with the progress she has made since last year.  Erik and I have noticed that when Lucy got sick Ella became very cautious.  She stopped being aggressive in sports and she always wanted to stick pretty close to mom and dad.  Its taken a while but I think she is finally starting to come out of her shell.  This week was her third game and its like watching a whole new child.  I am so proud of her.  She is aggressive and really works the ball on the court.  I am really, really proud of her.  

Quick story.  The first week of basketball we were getting ready to leave the house when I couldn't find Lucy.  I went upstairs and she was in her room packing her purse.  When I realized she was putting money in her purse I assured her that I would buy her a snack at the game.  She proceeded to tell me that she wasn't taking her money to buy herself something, but rather to buy Jack a Ring Pop.  And so it has been every single week.  Lucy carries her purse with her quarters so that she can take care of her baby brother.  Oh, how I love that child!


And here is Jack with his Ring Pop stained mouth.

Saturday night we went bowling with some of our very best friends.  I had thought about having Lucy's birthday at this cool, new bowling alley and we decided it would be a good idea to check it out first.  You know, we took one for the team (wink, wink, nod, nod.)  While the adults had a wonderful time, I think it might be a little loud for Lucy.  I would hate for her to be in a state of sensory overload at her own party.  Oh well.  Back to the drawing board.  

Today we spent the morning in church and the early afternoon at my parent's eating lunch and visiting with family.  I absolutely love Sundays, especially when there is nothing on the calendar and we can relax and be lazy.  I very seldom have the chance to actually rest on the day of rest.  But today, we all did just that.  I piddled around the house and made dinner, Erik read a book, Lucy played Wii, Jack, well, he's Jack and Ella made 8,001 loom bracelets.  

Momma in on the bracelet making action. 

Jack's Hot Wheel's Wall Race Course
Today in Sunday School my Dad taught a lesson on suffering.  It was a hard lesson for him to teach, but an even harder lesson for Erik and I to sit through.  Dad did a great job teaching, as he always does, but today's topic was just a really though lesson to grasp.  Several families in our class have been through major life events that have shaped them into different people.  I won't pretend to be able to explain suffering or even go into depths about the lesson's perspective but I will say that the one thing we all took from the lesson is that life is what you make of it.  

You have the opportunity...the gift....of being able to take your suffering and turn it into good for someone else.  Mentor, teach, coach.  All of these things help you share with other what you have learned through your own suffering.  There are lessons to be learned and blessings to be had.  You only need to allow yourself to receive them.  

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Fire Alarms

Oh this precious child.  How could this angel cause so much trouble?  In an act of total innocence, he pulled the fire alarm at school today.  Our school and church is attached and the church was hosting a funeral meal today.  So, right in the middle of this mournful time, the mind-numbingly loud alarm started blaring.  Does it make it worse that I was standing right beside Jack when he pulled it?  

Pretty much sums up the hours he is awake in a day.  
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First Step

I look at this picture and it's true.  I really have so much for which to be grateful.

Tonight I am speaking at a local church.  It's the first time I've spoken in public about "it."  You would think that for someone who's poured her life out on the pages of this computer for so long that this wouldn't be a big deal.  Not to mention that in my life I have given 3 graduation commencement speeches in front of 5,000 people each time.  Yeah, not so much.  I am very nervous.

I hesitated to agree to speak because of the struggles I have been going through lately.  However, no matter how hard to tried to say no I felt convicted that this was the right thing to do.  I know that if left up to me I will stumble on my words and be a total disaster.  All week long I have prayed that God would speak through me.  Someone there may need to hear one certain word or receive a slight glimpse of encouragement.  I am just fully relying on God to use me tonight to do His work.  

This afternoon as I fight my desire to be Jonah and run to Tarshish I am clinging to a verse that Erik shared with me last week.  James 4:17 "If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them."  Tonight is not going to be easy but I know I have to do it.  Tonight is one step in my journey of healing.  

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Hard Pill to Swallow

image via Pinterest

So, obviously, it's been a pretty hard couple of weeks for me.

I want you all to know the following:

1. I already take medication. I am not embarrassed or ashamed and I do not think it makes me any less of a Christian.

2.  I share my life on this blog as an act of honesty and accountability to myself and others.  There are, unfortunately, too many parents suffering through similar situations as mine for me to be anything but completely upfront about life.  What an injustice it would be for me to give anyone false hope or set forth unrealistic expectations .

3.  I sincerely appreciate all the loving and compassionate comments you guys have left over the past few days.  I'm in a valley but I'm climbing out.  I am looking forward to finding a Christian counselor or psychologist to speak with.

Now, in an effort to try to appease my hurting heart I've been trying to better understand how I can feel so much faith one day and then feel utterly hopeless the next.  I can say tonight that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I still don't have a clue.  Other than the fact that I am human,  I am full of sin and I was never made to be perfect.

I was able to pray today and it felt really nice.  I couldn't find the words to pray for myself but I did pray for others.  Today it proved to be true that giving really was better than receiving.  I started thinking about how I often say that even if I can't pray God knows my heart.  I wish I was more versed in the Bible to be able to find a vast array of verses to back this assertion.  In my limited time I didn't find an arsenal, but more specifically a few verses that affirmed my Hope.

In Psalm 139:1-6 David pours out his heart and says " O Lord you have searched me and know me.  You know when I sit down and when I rise up...you are acquainted in all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether."  If this doesn't speak of a promise that God knows your heart I don't know what does.  Surely the God that knows your thoughts surely knows your heart.

This my friend is what I call Blessed Assurance.  This is what I am able to cling to on my darkest, darkest days.  And believe me, there have been some very dark days.

As I was reading I found something written by the great Oswald Chambers in the book My Utmost for His Highest.  (In the recesses of my tired brain my grammar degree is telling me that I need to italicize or underline or something....)  He wrote this:

     "The goal of faithfulness is not that we will do work for God, but that He will be free to do His      work through us. God calls us to His service and places tremendous responsibilities on us."

Ok, I get that.  I totally believe that.  I'm actually ok with that.  It's the whole refiners fire thing.  Some days I'm actually excited about what God is doing in and through my life.  Most days I pray that God will use me.  And then....here comes the kick in the butt.  Chambers says, 

       "He expects no complaining on our part and offers no explanation on His part. God wants to        use us as He used His own Son."

Wow.  That's a hard pill to swallow.  You mean I don't really get a say so in all this after all?  And seriously?  I'm not supposed to complain.  Someone must have read that wrong.  Surely there was a misinterpretation, right?  Don't get like a vacation day or something?  

This is the part of the story where I struggle most.  How in our flesh are we to go through life without complaining?  Not even the smallest whine?  While this is obviously a nearly impossible task it sure gives us something to live up to.  Its probably an unattainable goal but one that will bring so many blessings in the end. 

We pray through the Holy Spirit and He will speak for us when we can't find the words on our own.  I am thankful tonight for the promises of the Bible and how God brings me peace in even the worst storms.  

image via Pinterest

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This Time

It's been a very long time since I've written on this blog in the morning.  There was once a time when day and night bled into each other on a daily basis.  3:00am was no different than 3:00pm to me.  The walls inside a hospital are a lot like those of a casino.  You can be become so distracted that your life is just in an endless time continuum.

The past few weeks have seen like that inside my house.  I don't sleep at night and only want to sleep during the day.  When I do close my eyes the nightmares start or strange dreams that seem to go on for hours and hours.  I wake up either in a puddle of sweat and tears or so exhausted that I can't put one foot in front of the other.  Walking through life in a fog seems the normal for me these days.

Maybe it's depression, maybe its the added stress of this recent infection and now virus in Lucy's eye and face.  Maybe its the countless trips to the hospital where I am surrounded by very sick and dying children and mothers and fathers whose burdens are so heavy they ooze from their pores.  Maybe it's the survival guilt I feel when I enter those hospital doors and feel sad when I should be nothing but grateful.  Maybe its the failure I feel as a mother to protect my child and give her the life I so desperately wanted for her.  Maybe I'm just jealous of the carefree and happy lives that those around me seem to live.

I know the easy answers.  Read the Bible, seek the help of friends, let those tears on out.  Yes.  I know those are the answers.  But right now they aren't working for me.  I read the devotionals and books but I'm so distracted that I can't tell you what I read ten minutes later.   I do covet your prayers as I try to find rest for my soul and my mind.

This page continues to be a way for me to chronicle our lives, especially mine.  I would be anything but honest if I didn't share this period of mourning in my life.  Some days are better than others.  That's just the way my life has unfolded.  I debated about sharing this post at all, but I felt led to.  Maybe just one person needs to read it.  If so, I pray that you will find the rest that my soul desperately longs to find.

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Because of You

Because of you this check was written.  

The Go Lucy Go Foundation was able to bless another family this past week.  This money will help the family pay for travel expenses, pay utilities or even make a house note.  All because of you.  I may do the leg work (along with some great volunteers) but none of if would be possible with your contributions.  

I pray everyday that God would open doors for our organization to grow and become what He wants it to be.  Sometimes I feel as if I'm not doing enough, but I have to remind myself to take one step at a time.  As we continue to seek God's will, we will keep working hard to raise money to help the families of cancer patients.  With your help---we can do so much more.  

The next Go Lucy Go 5k is coming up and we are hard at work making it a huge success.  Please mark your calendars for Saturday, April 5th.  Our goal is 1,000 participants!

On another note, last week we were able to meet up with a precious family that many of you have prayed for.  I often talked about Lanie when Lucy was first diagnosed.  Lanie had Medulloblastoma just like Lucy.  Her family and our family became very close during the following year.  Lanie fought hard for about 9 months but at the age of 2 went to be with Jesus.  It was a devastation loss for her parents and us, too.  Lanie's mom was pregnant when Lanie passed away and has since had another baby girl.  It was so wonderful visiting with them over lunch.  

When you have been through cancer and the death of a child your whole life changes.  We talked and cried as we shared our feelings of anger, hurt and sadness.  We also smiled and laughed as we talked about being thankful for the appreciation we have for life now.  I miss this sweet family and I oh how I wish they lived closer.  I walk through life most days feeling that no one really understands, but they do.  On every level they understand.  In the most unfortunate way they understand.  

Tonight I am thankful for the opportunity I had to reunite with friends that are truly kindred spirits.  

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Happy 39th birthday to my wonderful husband.  We celebrated his New Year's birthday at home as a family.  It was perfect.  We built a fire outside, took down Christmas decorations, grilled some super yummy food and we are now all curled up on the couch watching a movie.

I couldn't imagine my life without my husband.  He is my best friend and my soul mate.  The life we live is very hard.  There are so many ups and downs in every single day of our life, but he is the one who gets me through.  When God brought us together He knew what He was doing.  That moment we met during a college conference while playing a "get to know you" game was the greatest moment of my life.

Happy Birthday, Erik.  I love you.

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