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....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

He Has My Attention

I guess it’s come to the point where I have to wonder what to write about. Sure, I could fill these pages with the fluff of all the activities we have going on…. Details of our camping trips, how I learned how to can tuna, upcoming plans, how Kate loves preschool, how she was a flower girl again –

But really, other than the common update, what purpose would it serve? Yes, there are family members who would love such updates – and I hope I get better and more consistent at getting those to them. Yet there are also those who read this that such things are just more details in an already overwhelmingly busy life where time is short.

So if I’m going to write, shouldn’t I write about something of importance?

It’s the middle of the night here and sleep is fleeting. Curled up next to me is the cutest red headed toddler you could ever meet. As she tosses and turns, and whimpers for her mom every once in a while – it makes me ponder. You see, mom is spending the night in a Cardiac Critical Care Unit at a local hospital. Plain and simple, it’s just wrong that mom is there. I don’t get it.

As I was walking through the waiting room this evening, I overheard a lady speaking on the phone. Today she had to give CPR on a loved one, and in those moments she still didn’t know the outcome. Her face was puffy, and her body screamed of exhaustion.

Another lady sits in the back of her dark house, sick from chemo, waiting for dinner to arrive because she doesn’t have the strength to care for herself. Having to ask for help is humbling and hard for her.

Down the street, a dear friend mourns the loss of her only son – he was my age – who was murdered by the man who had been his step dad for the last 30 years. In the same day, she lost her son… and her husband. If that weren’t hard enough, husband was her full time caregiver as she is wheelchair bound, fighting for her life as she battles Leukemia and Diabetes.

Down the street a little farther is a woman we love, who also is fighting cancer, now for the second time this year. She’s not fighting the fight for herself – she’s tired and it’s hard. She’s fighting the fight for her son who needs his mommy.

A couple that we love gave birth to their first daughter last week. On that same day, the father’s close friend of many years was fatally hit on the highway while helping a teenager who had just hit an elk. He was the father to a young child, with another on the way.
And these are just a few of the most recent stories in my life alone. You have stories that you know of right now. It can be overwhelming to say the least. Times are hard.

For me personally, Chelsea’s birthday is right around the corner. She’d be turning 15. If she were here, life would be all about studying for her driver’s permit and boys. I miss my baby terribly.

All of these things make my heart heavy, yet I’m okay. I’m good even. I’ve learned early on that life isn’t easy, that there is going to be heartaches and struggles. Yet it is these things that mold me, that make me who I am, and cause me to wonder about what life is all about.

What is our purpose here? What are our goals? Are we so busy trying to establish ourselves and achieving our titles that the world just passes by around us? Or are we impacting those around us – encouraging and loving them? If you were to look at things from an eternal perspective, what would you see? In the end, is everything that you worked so hard for worth it?

Maybe it is. I’m not saying it’s not. I do know that value of hard work, and by no means am I promoting laziness. But do you ever wonder just what you will be remembered for?

For me, tonight, I see that life here on earth is short – yet somehow long at the same time.
I realize that I can’t do anything in my own strength and more than ever I need God in my life to carry me through.

And He does, and because He does, I have peace - even in the midst of all this.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8:28

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ~ Romans 8:35

… who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:4
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter Blessings

Gosh, I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I’ve been on here and posted. I figured I’d better report that things are good, and the only thing gloomy lately is the weather.

We had a wonderful Easter. Kati is the perfect age to really get into it. The last couple of weeks at preschool have been filled with fun projects of eggs and baskets - as well as learning the history and story of the Resurrection. Her, Bahama and I had a great time coloring eggs and she was delighted with her Easter Basket that held her new pink Strawberry Shortcake basketball. Since Daddy’s been watching March Madness, she’s been interested in basketball. It’s been fun with a couple of hoops out back, though she is only interested in trying to figure out how to dribble.

We spent the day surrounded by friends and family and it really was very sweet. We were presented with Memory books of Chelsea that several worked at putting together for us. Kati has her own special book that I am so thankful for so she will always be able to see how much she was loved by her sissy. Haiden also put together a wonderful story book for Kati about Princess Chelsea, Princess Kati, the Dragon (cancer) and the Prince (Jesus). It is beautiful and will be treasured for years to come. I will try and get pics and the story posted on here soon for you all to see.

The migraine continues to keep me from the phone, but I’m hoping in the next few months to be feeling better than ever. We are looking forward to spring and summer…. BBQ’s, camping, vacations and simple weekend getaways. Jeff and I celebrate our 14 yr anniversary tomorrow - and I am so thankful for what God has done in us through this last year. He definitely gives us reason to be thankful and to celebrate.

So that’s about it for now. I hope to post again in the next few days.
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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Springtime Blues???

Springtime Blues?
Is that even possible?? Something happened when we turned the calendar to March. I don’t know how to explain exactly. I have been so anticipating spring … days at the park with Kati, walks with our dogs, cleaning up the much neglected yard. And I’ve loved the sunshine on the days we’ve had it.

But something’s changed. I didn’t really recognize it until I shared with a friend this morning. I'm finding this time of year is really weird for me... as last year we were just in the midst/beginning of chemo treatments. I remember feeling like we were constantly at the hospital so much that we missed spring and a big chunk of summer. Now that I get to enjoy the seasons again, I almost feel guilty doing so.... like I'd rather be at the hospital with my baby.
Not to worry though. This weirdness only comes in waves, and overall, we are doing really well. Kati is growing and maturing like crazy, and loves her preschool. It really will be nice to be outside more with her since she is so busy. She has friends that she constantly talks of and wants to spend time with.

Jeff is great. He takes such good care of us. We’re so thankful for the job that he has and for the friendships he has there. Though he has been there long enough (since before we met) that I tease him about being old. His salt and pepper hair proves it.

And I am good. I’m excited for summer and lots of time with friends and family. Physically, I am feeling better than I have in years. After Kati was born, the migraines had been intense daily. A new program that I’m on seems to be having some sweet results after just being on it a month. Since it’s a more holistic approach, I’m not having the negative side effects of so many other treatments that I’ve tried. I pray this continues, for I really do enjoy feeling better - and appreciate the good days like never before!

Doernbecher Children’s Hospital has invited us to their annual Memorial Service that honors and celebrates the lives of patients who have died this last year. That will be the first week in April. It will be good to connect with the other families that we knew, as well as the Doernbecher staff that we learned to love over those months. I’m sure it will be bittersweet. I’m so proud of my Chelsea Rae and the impact she has made. People have shared so much over the months about how Chelsea’s journey impacted them, that I truly do consider it an honor to be her mom.
God is good.

I recently heard a phrase that is so true (thanks Dionne!):

“ Sometimes God calms the storm.
Sometimes God lets the storm rage, and He calms His child. ”
- Author Unknown
With that I will close.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Signs of Spring

Okay, so as my baby sleeps right here next to me and all is calm and quiet, I thought it would be the perfect time to post an update. I’m amazed at how quickly time is flying by. With the sunshine comes a new sense of keeping busy…. there always seems so much to be done.

I am loving the bright days, the sense that spring is on it’s way. Daffodils are starting to sprout, the days are getting longer. There’s something very refreshing about this time of year.
We are doing good, not a whole lot new and exciting. Let’s see, at the beginning of the month, we took part in a fundraiser for Doernbecker sponsored by a local country radio station. Who would have ever guessed that their “bowling tournament” would start at 6:15 in the morning? It did, but it was fun! The live broadcast kept it entertaining, as well as the "build your own bloody mary bar" that kept many around us lively to say the least.
Our team was called “Chelsea Rae’s Calvary Crunch” with Jeff, Tim Ralls, Dave Curtis and Pete Broughal. We were kind of an underdog team, as there were many big name corporations represented... even a military team showing their support.
We hadn’t ever been to “Big Al’s” bowling alley up in Vancouver, and the place was amazing in itself. Like a mini city. Entering it felt like walking into a mountain lodge with large beams and tall ceilings. “Slider Alley” was a second area of lanes with contemporary couches and just a cool place to hang out. The restaurant had a huge 36 FEET by 8 ft screen that looks very inviting for next year’s NFL season… with cool stadium seating and great billiards tables. We’ll definitely go back - a great place to hang with friends. They even do “grown up” birthday packages…. Party packages aren’t just for kids anymore! Themed buffet options and several other treats make it a cool event even more the “biggest” of kids. How cool is that?!

Kati is doing great in preschool. I got to spend the day with her class for their valentine’s party and what a kick that was. Though I’m not sure I liked it much when she ran off on the playground with one of her little friends… a boy… and they were holding hands! Then, to top it off, they got in a little play car and were “cruising”. She’s something else, that’s for sure, and somehow always manages to make me smile.

One of the highlights so far for me this month was when several of our friends got together to make memory books for us. One for Kati, and one for Jeff and me. A huge thanks to Haiden for coordinating such a special project. Linda drove down all the way from Northern Washington, and Dionne made it from central Oregon, and I’m so thankful to them, to all the other ladies who gave their time for this, and to everyone who sent in their story of how Chelsea impacted them. I was able to make it to the “party” on Friday night - we laughed, we cried. It was good. I couldn’t make it back in on Saturday, though many ladies spent their day there working on this heartwarming project. I can’t wait to see the finished result. We are continually amazed and the love and support we receive. Again, thank you.

With that, I will close. I’m feeling good these days and hope to be posting a bit more regularly. We’ll see…

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Friday, January 25, 2008

6 Month Milestone

So today marks the 6 month anniversary since Chelsea Rae went home to be with Jesus and close to the one year point of the initial diagnosis. In the book of Joshua, he demonstrates the importance of building/leaving monuments and remembering God‘s faithfulness. So that’s what I’m going to do today. I’ve been doing some reflecting, and I smile as I remember my girl. I’m including some of my favorite “Chelsea Quotes” as well as some more phone clips…. and a poem that is everything I’d love to say and didn’t know how. Enjoy!

From Chelsea Rae’s journey:

"Don't worry about a thing, the Lord WILL get us through this, we just need to trust in HIM. LOVE YA LOTS!!!"

“I love you guys, and may the LORD bless your socks off 24/7!!! And remember, ALWAYS trust in HIM. Thanks again. Chat with ya later!!!

~Chelsea Rae (who loves bright green even more than pink.....)”

“ooxxooXoXXx (for those Nacho Libre fans!)”

“Please pray that I can put all my trust in God and in Him alone.”

“Thank you sooo much 4 all of the encouraging scriptures. Here is one of my favorites... Matthew 13:44 "The kingdom of is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."
In this parable the man is like Jesus Christ, who went and gave EVERYTHING He had by dying on the cross to save US from OUR sins. He did it because He loves EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US!!! Even if there was only one person in the whole world, He still would have done it because HE CARES.”

“Thank u all sooo much 4 the prayers and encouragement. The Lord is comforting us and it is great 2 know that I get 2 go b with him 4 eternity.”

“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.

Go ahead and mention my child
The one that died you know.
Don't worry about hurting me further.
the depth of my pain doesn't show.
Don't worry about making me cry.
I'm already crying inside.
Help me to heal by releasing
the tears I try to hide.
I'm hurt when you just keep silent,
Pretending she didn't exist.
I'd rather you mention my child,
Knowing that she is missed.
You asked me how I was doing.
I say "pretty good" or "fine."
But healing is something ongoing.
I feel it will take a lifetime.
(by Elizabeth Dent)

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ready for 2008!

Well, it’s a new year, that’s for sure.

I’m looking forward to 2008 and all it brings. So far it’s been off to a busy start. New Year’s was my birthday, and I have to say that it was a more difficult day than Thanksgiving and Christmas combined. I wasn’t prepared for the memories that bombarded me the day after Christmas - when the countdown to my birthday would begin. I had forgotten how Chelsea would get so excited for my day - teasing me about how old I was getting, stressing about not having gotten me a gift yet…. Working at making me that perfect homemade card. I use to love her excitement - for as many of you know - I personally don’t get excited about my birthday. On Thanksgiving and Christmas, we stayed so busy that I didn’t have time to dwell on me - yet on my birthday, no matter how hard I tried, the focus was continually on me. Phone calls, emails, birthday cards… all very sweet and I’m so thankful to have those in my life who remember… but also a constant reminder that I wasn’t hearing from the one I wanted most to hear from.

But that’s okay. It’s done. It didn’t get better right away with migraines and Kati getting some kind of stomach flu the day before she was supposed to be the flower girl in Mary’s wedding…

… but what a beautiful wedding it was! Jeff helped much with the decorating, and Kati loved hanging out with the radiant bride. It was a special day that we will always remember.

The sun is out today, though I am a tad disappointed that we didn’t get any snow last night. I found a video clip on my phone from Jan 16 of last year - of Chelsea and Kati playing in the snow. It seems like lately I’ve been bombarded with memories.

Jeff and I had a fabulous time at the coast just before Christmas. It was the first year that I had everything done days ahead of time. That’s something I hope I accomplish next year as well. We had a great storm and a great room, and I’m so ready to go again.

We have a retreat planned in a few days that will be refreshing - up towards Mt. Hood - again, hoping for a few minutes in the snow - and hours by the warm fireplace. We’ll be with some of our closest friends, and I’m looking forward to it big time.

Jeff has been busy lining up those camping reservations for the summer as well. I’m so glad he does that, for him getting a jump start makes it so we have some pretty sweet places to stay. Of course, we’ll be hitting Beachside at least a couple of times. He’s itchin’ for some new toys - Polaris like - so we’ll see what happens.

I guess that’s about it. I’m not feeling super chatty these days (obviously) - and I apologize to those of you whom I still haven’t returned phone calls to. The migraine has been pretty intense and I haven’t had the phone ringers on in some time. However, I do still check my email and myspace pretty regularly (which in fact has been quite fun lately as I’ve recently been reconnected with 2 friends from school).

There is much happening that is promising for a good year to come… new migraine treatment, new ministry opportunities, recreation, new friendships, and of course, time with our loved ones whom we treasure more than ever. Not forgetting those life lessons that we learned through last years trials, and applying them now to make this year one of the best yet!

Happy New Year!

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