The Journey to Hilton Head

The journey to South Carolina was anything but direct.  First was a stop at Erik's parents who are located in the Knoxville area of Tennessee.  After a night's stay we made our way down to Chattanooga for a day of sight seeing.  We rode the incline, the world's steepest inclined railway, up to Lookout Mountain and toured the old battle ground site.  After that we went to Rock City--a treasure in itself.  We had such a good day just spending time as a family.  It's honestly not something we get to do very often.   Ella had the best time of anyone, taking in every bit of  historical data she could get.

Lucy walked like a champion this day.  I was so proud of the way she pushed through being tired and really tried her best to keep up with everyone.  There were a few times when she got tired, though.  This is a side of Lucy I don't see that often.

Jack was in hog heaven with miles and miles of trails to run on and the freedom to roam about fairly at will.  I'm pretty sure it was a day the kiddos won't forget for a while.  It just goes to show you that there are fun memories to be had in the simplest of excursions.

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The Palmetto State

I'm sitting here tonight watching Lucy play Rummikub with Grandma, Auntie Holly and Auntie Cheri.  The 4 big girls have been riding bikes around Hilton Head but are now with Jack at the Club House.  I am so thankful for this gift that Erik's family gave us this year.  A week as a family at the beach has been just what we needed.

It was 4 years ago that we took this pilgrimage (a little more than 13 hours) to South Carolina.  I was 7 months pregnant with Jack and Lucy was 3.  I was miserable with an undiagnosed condition called Celiac Disease and Lucy was taken to the hospital twice in this week.   The fact that she developed a totally random but none-the-less vicious case of impetigo might have clued us into the fact  that something was awry with her immune system.

Those details seem but a distant memory as I have watched my three children laugh, run and play on the beach this week.  As I enjoyed my day today I got a call from St. Jude that Lucy's next scans will be July 10th.  I have to admit that my stomach started turning as I thought about the "what-if's" but I quickly resolved myself to enjoy my last 2 days and think nothing but positive thoughts.

Totally emerged in God's glory and beauty this week I have often been reminded of God's omnipotence.  This beautiful world that He has created, the provisions He has given even the squirrel along the bike path--surely this same God can hold my daughter in his arms as she continues to fight the evils of cancer.  With my life totally devoted to Christ, I will continue to pray for His mercy, grace and healing hand.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in duetime. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:6-7.

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The Margins of His Bible

I woke up to this text from my Dad today.

Obviously I wrote all these things down as I chronicled every day of Lucy's treatment.  This morning I am filled with all kinds of crazy emotions as I think about the past 3 years.  First of all its hard to believe that its been 3 years!  Somedays it really seems like just yesterday.  Most days, in all honesty, it seems like a million months ago.  What a crazy life we have lived over the past few years.  I can say that through it all God has been our rock and I am so grateful for my faith and His mercy and grace.

Growing up in the home with my parents was God's way of preparing me for what we faced as a family.  I am thankful to my parents for living an example of what a Christian marriage should be.  My parents took me to church, prayed with my daily and were the ones who led me to Christ.

Since it was just Father's Day I will brag about my Dad for a little bit.  I am so blessed to have such a wonderful Dad who reads and studies his Bible daily.  He has read through the Bible almost 30 times.  This morning as he opened his Bible for his daily study he read his notes in the margins.  Today, three years ago, our lives were in complete chaos.  I had just left my children for a week.  Little did I know that I wouldn't be home a total of 3-4 days over the next 4 months.  Little did I know that the hardest battle was really just beginning for Lucy. I'll never, ever forget pulling out of our driveway headed to the hospital with Lucy in tow, my kids crying in the driveway and my parents and Erik's parents crying along with my children. Me, well I was an absolute wreck in the car.  Even writing about that day stirs up a lot of uncomfortable emotions in my soul.  (I wrote about Day 1 here and here.)

My Dad was there with me every single day.  Maybe not there in person like my Mom, but every day he called, he texted and most importantly he prayed.  He fell to his knees every day and begged his Father for heal his granddaughter and asked God to give his daughter strength for a day.  By never losing his faith he was a constant encouragement to me to never lose my faith.

I am grateful for the notes my Dad has made in the margin of his Bible.  I told him this morning that one day we will have a family history that we will cherish forever in the margins of his Bible; a family history filled with miracles so undeserving.

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This summer sure has been different from the past few.  The last 3 summers have just been about survival.  Two summers in the hospital and last year we were still dealing with the aftermath of the previous summers.  While we are still very busy with therapy and tutoring for Lucy and swim team for Ella, there has been a peace in our home since school has been out.  I've even started a new therapy.  It's called the lawn mower.

Once a week I get on the mower (in my favorite color orange) for one hour and ride.  Peace and quite…just me and my thoughts.  I don't even listen to music.  I just want to be able to think and clear my mind.  I haven't moved a yard since I was 13 I don't think.  I did it once for my Dad and had a horrible allergy reaction.  It was a great excuse for me not to have to mow when I was younger, but I'm sure glad I gave it a chance again.

Lucy had a follow up doctor appointment yesterday to check on her eye.  The Dr. was very pleased with how she responded to her treatment and gave us the all clear for a while.  My mom took her to St. Jude so an obligatory stop in the gift shop was part of the day's plan.  I just love this little girl!  Scans are coming up in the next month so all prayers would be appreciated for NED (no evidence of disease.)

Part of our redemption summer has included another try at our garden.  We decided to scale it back and really concentrate on just a few things.  We basically planted a salsa garden (all types of tomatoes and peppers).  We also have raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.  The kids went out tonight and got a handful of these beauties:

We have had some work done around our house for the past week and it has given me a great opportunity to purge and clean.  I have been very efficient and I'm proud to say Goodwill has benefited greatly from my efforts.  My mind has been so cluttered lately and there is something very liberating about purging excess from your life.  I'm praying God will help me de-clutter in my personal life as well.  I'm using my time at home this summer to prioritize and re-focus my thoughts, prayers and efforts.  It's a purging project that has needed to happen for a long time.

I had to share this picture.  Ella has been cleaning her room for the past 2 days (yes, it was that bad) and when I walked upstairs she had color coded and swim ribbons.  Gosh, this little girl is such a gem.  I think she may be a little bit like her Mommy with her organization skills.

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So much of my writing seems to center around Lucy and then Jack, which only makes sense because I spend so much time with them.  Tonight, however, was all about Ella.  We drove to the Memphis area for her first swim meet of the season.  She did awesome---rocking the relay with these three guys!

One of the little boys is already 11, so they all had to swim in the 11-12 division.  Not only did they win, but they won by at least 50 meters (thats 2 pool lengths).  I kept double checking to make sure I wasn't missing a swimmer somewhere, but these guys really beat the pants off the other teams.  These four are quite a group!

I love watching Ella swim.  She is so graceful and strong.  I have prayed for a while that Ella would find her passion and I think she finally has.  Our city is covering the pool this fall so that means we will have access to year round swimming.  Our whole family is thrilled about this.  It means PT for Lucy, swim team for Ella and exercise for the rest of us.

It's fair to say that I am completely hooked on this swimming thing!

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We Survived

It's official. VBS 2014 is over and we are all still alive. Very tired and a little cranky but we are all still kicking. It was an amazing week filled with fellowship and great opportunities doe sharing God's love with more than 200 children every day! 

Those are 4 of my favorite 3rd graders. I taught them in preschool when they were 4 years old. They are my only year of teaching such a joy!  I think if Lucy had not gotten sick I would still be teaching pre-k. Now I just get my fill through church and VBS. 

We spent most afternoons lounging by the pool, trying to recover from the days' adventures. 

This week has really been one of the most fun summer weeks we have had in many years. I've gone to bed utterly exhausted but filled to the brim with happiness every night. I am so grateful for my family and the blessings that come with every single day with them. 


Biking for a Cause

Over the next few weeks I'll be doing some major catch up with my blog posts.  So much happened at the end of the school year and I never could seem to get the step ahead I needed.  Now that summer is in full force I hope to get the following accomplished: 
  • my house purged and cleaned
  • my upstairs painted (4 rooms)
  • new curtains and shower curtain for the kids bathroom (I will be sewing)
  • LOTS of blog posts
  • planning exciting new projects for the Go Lucy Go Foundation
At the beginning of May our school did our 3rd annual Bike a Thon for St Jude.  I have to be really honest and admit that my girls didn't raise a lot of money this year.  I swear we were so busy and it just snuck up on us too quickly.  The school, however raised a lot of money and I am so proud of all the students.  

Last year Lucy could hardly do 1 lap around the parking lot.  This year she did 4 laps around the entire school all by herself.  The best part was that she had a smile the size of Texas the whole time.  It was such an amazing time watching her participate.  

Jack rode for the first time this year.  He was hilarious and those little legs of his never stopped.  He rode and rode until I thought he was going to pass out.  Isn't he so cute?  And yes, that is a blue helmet with pink hearts.  I realized the day of the ride that he had been wearing his sisters' hand-me-down helmet at home and I never had bought him a "boy" helmet.  Luckily he isn't old enough to even care.  

This is the look Lucy would give me if she knew that somehow I didn't get any pictures of Ella riding.  I feel awful about it.  Ella, when you read this please know that I was there cheering you every single lap.  Ella made more laps than any one in the school.  Bless her heart.  Put her to a challenge and she is going to succeed!

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On the Go

We made it back from vacation and I'm happy to report that we are all well rested and feeling wonderful!

I love this picture of Jack.  He was working so hard to carry water from the ocean to the sand.  He wanted to help Ella and her friend dig tunnels.

The ocean was very rough most days and it was just a little much for Lucy.  So..she spent a lot of time in the pool and then time under the umbrella when we were at the beach.

My mom and sister made the vacation even more special.  We had so much fun together!

The best memory I have from this trip was Ella and her friend and their obstacle course.  Oh my goodness this child of mine!  Every day they would make a new obstacle course with all kinds of crazy tasks.  They kept us in stitches the whole week.

My loves.  I couldn't have asked for a better time (except that Erik would have been able to join us.)

VBS started this week so we woke up today ready to run.  My mom and I teach together and I am looking so forward to this week.  I just love VBS week!  Lucy has PT every day and we are having some work done to the house.  Yikes!  It's going to be a fun, crazy week.
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Beach Bound!

Well we made it!  Me, my three kiddos, a friend and her daughter. Quite possibly the best 10 hours of traveling ever. The kids were amazing...especially Jack!  I'm sure blessed with some wonderfully tempered children.  

It only took about 3 minutes upon arrival for the kids to hit the water. The weather is nice but it's windy and the ocean is showing it's temperament today. 

These two are perfectly content to be in the pool. I love how they play together so well...it make my heart happy. 

I've said it before but Ella is a beach bum at heart and should really live by the ocean. The salt water is like nourishment to her soul. 

I'm going to miss my husband this week and I am so very grateful for his hard work and willingness to let's go off with the kids on fun trips. I really do love him to pieces. 

Warning: gratuitous eye candy picture. Doesn't Erik look great?  He's been working hard on his summer "bod" and he's rocking it!