My life - from the impact of great loss, to a refreshing new take on life and a place where I now share ............... my favorite Plant Strong recipes....

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tis the Season

We had an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving. This year, the family decided to change things up a bit and we gathered with friends and put together a large dinner at our church, about 7 turkeys & 2 hams worth. The big kitchen was full of giggles which made the hard work seem like play. Keeping busy kept Jeff and me from pondering too much over Chelsea’s absence. Being surrounded with loved ones made the day sweeter than the sweet potatoes that were covered with brown sugar and marshmallows.

But now I see signs of Christmas everywhere. For a while, I was having a really hard time with the upcoming holiday - though my soul is constantly reminded that Christmas isn’t about me. Yes, there are many traditions that we shared with our girl, and it’s going to be different and difficult. I’m not even going to attempt looking at our ornaments - too many have her name on them or were made by her. But I am going to focus on what Christmas is all about: Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

With that, I can let go of the emotional fears, the pain. I can celebrate - for because of Jesus, I will be reunited with my daughter someday. This hope brings peace.

And Kati girl brings JOY. Much joy. She is the perfect age to get excited about Christmas, and I find myself getting excited with her. She wants a tree. She’ll love the lights daddy puts up. I look forward to the new memories that we will be making, and I am so thankful for my precious gift of a daughter. Things would be so lonely right now without her.

I love the crisp air and the sounds of Christmas - to drive down the streets and see the lights already. Even something as simple as decorating my MySpace page helped me to realize just how much I love Christmas - no matter what I’m going through.

So I will remember that Christmas wasn’t established to celebrate us and all that we desire, and the hustle and bustle of it all, though that is what it has become in our culture. Rather, it is to celebrate the simple and humble message of Christ, and a thankfulness for all that I have been given because of Him.

Keeping Christmas simple, and appreciating it more than ever.
I am blessed.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007


Last Year's "Normal" Thanksgiving
I am amazed at how fast time seems to be flying by - yet the pain still seems slow and steady. I wouldn’t expect it not to, I wouldn’t want it to fly like Time. But still, it seems strange.

People ask us if things are back to normal. I know what they mean, and I know that they are genuine when asking. Yet from our perspective, things are so not normal. We smile, and talk of our “new normal”… but really, what is normal?

Normal: adjective: Conforming with, adhering to, or constituting a norm, standard, pattern, level, or type; typical:
Functioning or occurring in a natural way; lacking observable abnormalities or deficiencies.

I don’t know. Normal would be carrying on with the same routine that I have for the last 13 years raising my girl. Normal would be home school and McDonald’s and giggles and eye rolling. Normal would be finally sitting down and having a Star Wars marathon. Normal would be wondering how long she would want to be hanging out at Lele’s house before finally agreeing to come home. Normal would be loading her ipod with her latest favorite songs. Normal would be telling her to put her shoes away.

Normal wouldn’t hurt so bad.

Normal wouldn’t bring tears at the thought of sending out Christmas family photos without both my girls in them.

Yet if things were still normal, I would be naïve to so many things that have now invaded my life. Childhood cancer. Chemotherapy. Alternative medicines. Oncologists lingo.
Grasping for any minute ounce of good when my world is shattered.
Smiling at a nurse who is does things for my child that I cannot. Slowing down. Appreciating every breath, every hug, every smile, every tear, every word.

Learning to rely on others. To let others come alongside in so many ways.

The fight for life.
The surrender.
To wish it was my life instead of hers.

Suffering. There is none worse than having to watch your baby suffer.

Drawing closer to God - because He is the only one that can bring peace.

I do have peace. It hurts, but we are okay. This has changed us. Has drawn us closer. Has made us more aware of what’s important… and what’s not. There isn’t much that we take for granted.
We are blessed in so many ways.

The pain will ease some, I know. Some may consider my scarred heart even more beautiful. I don’t know about beauty, but I do know that it’s not nearly as fearful as it used to be. I know that I am stronger, that there is more to this life that I haven’t experienced. That Chelsea’s story will continue to impact many… for years to come. That God will somehow use me still.

Nights seem to be the most challenging, but in the morning will come joy. Probably as my lil’ Kati Joy crawls into bed with me - and soon afterwards starts telling me that she wants breakfast. She fills my day and keeps me busy - the greatest blessing so far.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Purple Potatoes!

Purple Potatoes??!!

So I had some Kale in the fridge that I decided I would experiment with for a new soup. I made my weekly trip to Trader Joe’s, and lo and behold, PURPLE POTATOES! How cool is that??
Kati’s favorite color right now is Purple, so these were a must for my soup. Imagine my delight when I cut into them, and realized that the centers have purple streaks…. almost like a star or snowflake design. Throw in some ground turkey (Italian style), sweet onions, kale, garlic and seasonings - and I’m hoping for a delicious and colorful dinner.

Sooooo, we made it through our “First” birthday….
…. The flowers, the cards, the calls, the donations to charities that had impacted Chelsea, the prayers. I am truly blown away at how many of you not only remembered, but also let us know in some way. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It helped. We feel so surrounded and so loved. I know that there are many who know of my tendency to avoid the phone - and had talked to Jackie about what I prefer. You know who you are, and know that just knowing that we were on your minds and in your prayers is just as appreciated.

I think the week leading up to her birthday was actually harder than the day itself. My bright spot was on Thursday when I had the privilege to go up to Doernbecher to see our 9 year old friend Kennedy who is battling Leukemia. It was my first time up there since being there with Chelsea, and it was so much better than I anticipated. Kennedy met me outside, and the brightness of her smile and her genuine delight to see me removed any hint of sadness about being there. We had a great visit, my friends Lisa and Emily gave her a makeover and spoiled me too (I had become quite attached to the Starbucks located in the lobby…).

I was met and welcomed by many familiar faces, and realized that I miss many of the friends that we have made up there. So many who gave it there best to help my girl. Many who were impacted by her and loved by her. It was good, and I hope to go back again soon. I hear that Frank the art guy is still doing his thing, so maybe I’ll start hanging out with him and the kids getting crafty. Arts and crafts were such a blessing to us, and kept Chelsea’s mind and hands occupied for many hours.

We decided to make one last run to LaPine for the season before the snow comes - and I’m so glad we did. Late night chick flicks, remembering Chelsea with sound clips/video clips, wrestling my “adopted” nephews Red and Landon, Kati making cookies with Aunt Dionne, the NFL game of the century (or so they say)… and defiling the “man cave” with candles - and just being together. It doesn’t get any better than that. Thank you Randy and Di for letting us hang. You rock.

And with that, my soup’s about done,
The potatoes: still purple.
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Friday, November 2, 2007

Happy Birthday Baby

A year ago we were celebrating Chelsea Rae becoming a teenager. She was stoked, she could no longer be called a “pre-teen”. At the time, I thought that my biggest battles were going to be those of her being a teen and all that would come as a result.

If only I could trade back for those battles now. What I wouldn’t give for a good back talking, head butting argument with my girl.

It was actually becoming quite fun, her becoming a young lady and all. We would shop together, and tease each other because our taste in clothes were so different. Purses and shoes though, now there’s something we agreed on!

I found myself going back through my journals of last year, trying to remember exactly what we did for her birthday. She had wanted a cell phone - a pink razor. We were still saying no (of course, she did get her pink razor with unlimited texting not long after…).

It was sweet as I reminisced on the concert that we took her and Lele to - Jeremy Camp, Adie Camp and her favorite (until she met the guys of Kutless) - Hawk Nelson. It was a good birthday, one that she was very excited about. I remember that we had kept the concert a surprise to her… having the tickets months in advance. I remember the silly yellow Hawk Nelson shirt she had to have with the lyrics from their song “Tried to Be” that she would sing all the time. I remember her black shoes with stars on them that she had me write “Hawk Nelson” on the fronts. I don’t think we could have made it any better, even if it we knew then that it would be her last birthday with us. What a relief that is to me… what a relief that we didn’t slack on the birthday with the assumption that we would make up for it next year. We celebrated, and it was great. What a blessing.

As I came to the journal entry from Easter, I was reminded of just how well she handled her cancer battle. It had been a rough day for me. Later that night, she comforted me saying, “Don’t be sad, God doesn’t want you to fix this or you would.” She knew how as parents we felt so hopeless that we couldn‘t make her better, and yet she was the one who’s faith encouraged me. I am thankful for her trust in God even when we didn’t understand, and I am thankful that she knew that we would do whatever we could to take away her pain and suffering if only we were able.

I am so thankful for my baby girl. She taught me so much about unconditional love. There’s something about being a parent, of holding your baby for the very first time - a love that words just can’t describe. In the years when I was discouraged, I always knew that at least my baby loved me. Because of her I am a better person, a better mother, a better friend. God gave me such a precious gift 14 years ago today - a gift that would forever change me, and so many others.

Happy Birthday Baby.

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