A State of Worship

For all accounts, today was a crappy day.  I woke up before the kids, a prerequisite for a good day, and drank coffee while chatting with the hubby.  Lucy was sleeping well so I hated to wake her for Sunday School.  Why?  Two reasons: 1. She is still a recovering cancer patient and when I tell you "she's going great, thanks for asking" I'm usually lying.  She gets tired, her brain shuts down and she needs sleep.  Lots and lots of sleep.  2. My kids get 5 days of Sunday School every week.  I am so grateful for the amount of Biblical emphasis our school places in curriculum.

So, there's that.  I totally justified letting Lucy and Ella sleep through the Sunday School hour.

Ella wakes up, we take showers and get fully dressed--makeup included for me.  Erik and Jack are at church, because a good Lutheran never misses a Southern Baptist Sunday School lesson.  No really, they went on fully expecting us to follow right behind.  When Ella and I are completely ready to walk  out of the door, I realize that Lucy has no intention of waking up anytime soon.  After a disappointing text message conversation with the hubs I realize it's just not going to happen for me today.

I wanted to go to church, I needed to go to church.  I give, give and give all week.  Sunday morning is my time to recharge.  I love the music most of all.  When our choir sings, the special music, the worship through instruments.  Music is my spiritual animal.

For about 3 hours I sulked and pouted.  I was literally mad that I didn't get to go to church.  I begrudgingly fed my family lunch, lounged around in my sweats and read books to Lucy.  We played golf outside in the backyard and then worked with Jack hitting a baseball.  Ella played with neighborhood friends and we had family pizza night--everyone made their favorite.  After that we colored in Jack's coloring book while the other two snuggled on the couch watching TV.

For all accounts, it was the perfect day.  It only took me until 3pm to figure it out, what with the whole missing church and me being a big baby about it.

Somewhere along the way, though, I allowed the legalism of being at church get in the way of my real opportunity to worship.  I have been devouring books lately.  Jen Hatmaker is shaking my world upside down.  She is piling onto the work God started in me 4 years ago.  I am simultaneously uncomfortable and totally hungry for more.

Everyday I am recognizing the gift of religious freedom that came with cancer.  38 years of religiosity has taken on a new life---and I love it.  God is surely stiring a spirit within me yearning for more, for so much more.  The greatest gift I have been given is the desire to read His word.  All my life I knew about the Bible but its only been recently that I've known the Word.  And let me tell you, It.  Is.  AMAZING.

Trying to reclaim my wasted opportunity, I sat outside for a long time this afternoon reading some challenging perspectives on life, I spent some time in prayer and then allowed myself forgiveness for the way I behaved this morning.  I think I'll always fight the urge to follow the "rules" of church.  It's who I am (type A super-pleaser).  My prayer is that I will continue to find God each day of my life;  in the small moments, in the rush of motherhood and in the trials of marriage.  And when I find Him there, and He will always be there, I want to worship Him then.  Right there where He is.  

I am learning that I don't have to wait until Sunday.

Moments that Sustain

Yesterday I cried (a lot).  3 kids and 3 sets of activities.  Homework, dinner, laundry, more homework.  I'm too busy, but not any busier than you dear reader.  

Some days it's just hard to move forward.  

Today as I drove to Memphis for a special meeting at St. Jude I scolded myself for agreeing to be on a council that I honestly didn't have time for.  It was a huge honor to be asked and not just anyone gets this distinction.  Erik and I discussed it and we agreed it was the right thing to do.  Still, this morning I was all but mad I had to go.  

I want to shared with you the letter I wrote to the director when I got home:

    " My daughter, Lucy, is the reason we came to St. Jude.  She is 9 now and its been 4 years since her diagnosis.  She has recently been having severe digestive issues and we have been struggling to get the answers we need.  After seeing several doctors she has finally been diagnosed with GI migraines.  The solution is a low dose of Amitriptyline.  

Today during the pharmacy talk on the genetics program this very drug was discussed.  As they were talking, my memory was searching through the past letters I had received from the study.  When I got home I realized my hunches were correct.  Lucy was one of the 16% percent who is considered an ultra-rapid metabolizer for the drug.  

If I had not been there today I would have never remembered to check the letters that had been sent to me.  She would have been taking medicine that was ineffective and still suffering through the migraines....."  

I know it might not seem like much but this God whisper, this God affirming interaction, reassured me that God will continue to sustain me on even the hardest of days.  I needed to be reminded that my life will never fit the normal ideal of a stay-at-home mom.  My job description is different than I ever imagined it would be.  Whether its splitting my time between XC matches, soccer games and swim meets or going to meetings at the hospital where I hear about future protocols that may one day save Lucy's life.  

That incredibly busy day yesterday saw two amazing moments that I have to share.  First, Lucy participated in her first golf match.  She had so much fun and even asked to go back today.  It's such a wonderful gift watching her play.  She's not the strongest on the course but she is steady and consistent.  Besides, she's super cute in her little skirt.  

At the same time (thank goodness for grandparents), an hour away, Ella was setting personal bests at her XC meet.  She placed 14th (adjusted time accounted last night) out of 160.  I was so nervous before she ran I almost got sick.  When she runs I thank God for the health legs and lungs she was given.  

Although I am going to bed tonight with a tired body I am sure to wake up with a renewed spirit.  I was brought out of a dark place today I am very thankful.  Had I not listened and been willing to step out in faith I would have missed a very important revelation.  Sometimes our moments and days may not make sense but I choose to believe they are all necessary pieces of an amazing puzzle God is creating with our lives.  

Grace-It's That Simple

The last 4 years have been nothing it not a long season of self reflection.  There is still so much I don't understand and there are so many questions to which I don't have answers.  I've spent lots of time talking to God, yelling at God, doubting God and then falling flat on my face totally in awe of grace.  

One thing I can say for sure is I never once asked "Why me."  Now, lots of times I asked "why Lucy," but never "why me."  I guess a part of me always struggled with my relationship with God enough that I just assumed I deserved something like this to happen.  I never was able to live up to the self-imposed ideal of what a God-fearing, Bible-believing Christian should look like.  Isn't it funny how we create these images of what God wants when really all we have to do is ask Him?

I have yet to find the Bible verse that mandates we be in church every single time the door is open.  I can't seem to find the verse that says you are forbidden from drinking alcohol.  I'm still looking for that verse that says my sins are greater than yours.  Funny how there seems to be no "formula" for salvation.  Seriously, people.  It's not that hard.  Why do we make God's love and mercy so darn unattainable?

Here is what I've figured out.  I am a sinner.  Yep (jaw drop) every.  single.  day.

You know what else?  Every day I find a bit of God's mercy just dripping down on me like a summer shower.  It is glorious.  And it's enough to get me through the next day, when I am more than confident I will fall in utter disgrace once again.  This grace thing.  You should find it.  And then when you do, why don't you try to live it.  I promise you won't be disappointed.

So, how does this relate to Lucy and cancer and my life now?  I won't pretend to understand why Lucy got cancer.  Honestly, it still hurts my heart to think about it.  I'm sure, though, that if she hadn't I would have continued on with life so unaware of real people and real problems and would have been continually frustrated trying to live out my very disjointed relationship with Christ.  Through cancer I was able to come face to face with the fact that there was nothing I could do or not do to deserve God's grace.  The relationship I was striving so hard to create was always there for me since the beginning of my life.  Faith is all it took.  The same faith that allowed me to place my child in God's hands is the same faith that grants us eternal life through Christ.

I am completely convinced that if we all walked through life with a little more propensity for love we would be much happier people.  Why don't we try it?  Let's be a little less critical, a little less judgmental and let's be a little slower to anger.  Today I allowed myself to be disappointed and hurt by my frustration with some issues in my town.  Why do we work so hard to keep each other down?  I can sincerely be happy for you--your successes makes me proud for you.  And your failures, well they make me sad.  I promise I won't kick you when you are down.

I found myself saying "I just don't understand" one too many times today.  It's got to stop.  I know this is crazy talk, but what if we tried?  Even for a week!  Let's give it a shot.  I can promise you this, being a person of forgiveness, grace and happiness is NOT going to hurt you.  You have nothing to lose.

For it is by GRACE that you have been saved..nothing you did got you God's favor.  You can't earn it, you can't demand it and you can't guilt Him into it.  If that doesn't for God then why do we expect it from our friends, our family or our children?

God's grace is sufficient for me.  Is it for you?

St. Jude Tests and a Hike

You see, this is what happens.  When I finally get ready to start blogging again--life.  It always seems to sneak up on me-BAM!  School starts in 2 weeks (crazy, I know) so we are cramming in two last minute trips out of town and several trips to St. Jude.

Lucy update: Lucy is having some testing done over the next few weeks to determine why she isn't responding to her growth hormone injections.  When they test her IGF1 levels she appears to be responding well, but there is no direct correlation to actual growth.  As usual, Lucy remains an anomaly in certain health issues.  While I am trusting fully that God's hand is on this situation I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried.  As my friend said today "sitting in God's waiting room is a lonely place to be."  He is right.

I also want to ask that you pray for our friend Mason.  Doctors have told his parents that he is in his last days.  He's 10 and fighting for every single day.  My heart is broken for his parents, especially his mother.  She has become a dear friend.  As I write about my summer adventures she is preparing the eulogy for her son's funeral.  There is nothing right about anything in that sentence.  It's hard to know what to say to her.  She knows that I have been there with Lucy--but Lucy got better.  Lucy was healed.  How can I even begin to relate to what she is feeling?  The survivor's guilt is almost more than I can bare when I speak with her.  If you read this Monica--I love you.  I'm praying for you.  I wish I could do more.

This past Spring we took Ella to East Tennessee for a soccer tournament and while we were there we visited a lovely state park called Cumming Falls.  It was a nice 1.5 mile hike that dumped us out at the base of a beautiful waterfall.

It was fairly chilly outside but I couldn't keep Jack out of the water.  Thankfully we had dry clothes along!

I am thankful for every day that I have with these beautiful children.  Every day I am reminded that each day is a gift.  For that I am thankful.

All is Well, Sort Of

Isn't it interesting that the very thing that brought me peace for so long now brings upon intense anxiety?  This computer screen was an escape and therapy on so many sleepless nights and burdensome days while Lucy was sick.  The things I couldn't say, I could write.  I found so much comfort at the keyboard.

Even before Lucy was sick I couldn't wait to get on this page and write about our daily adventures.  Even when those "adventures" never saw us leave our yard, there was always a reason to write.  This was my scrapbook, my journal.

I haven't blogged in a while and I'm honestly doing so tonight through clenched fists.  The pages of the last few months remain blank.  I have so many pictures, so many memories to share, so many words to write--yet I can't.   The passion isn't gone.  It's a physical sickness that is stopping me.

To those of you who have sent me emails, I want you to know that all is well in the Krull house.  The kids are enjoying summer and both girls are on swim team.  VBS is this week and we are going to the beach next week.  It will be a well deserved vacation.

I want to write again.  I want to find the freedom that my fingers knew once more.  Even opening the Blogger page was an anxiety-riddeled exercise.  I don't quite understand why I can't do it.  Why has the peace associated with writing escaped me?  Even if no one ever read this page again, I want to write.  I want to be here.  I want this to be my heart once more.

I'm praying and asking God to help me work through this.  I know it's all part of the grieving process but I'm ready to move on.  Working all those details out still has me on bended knee.

I wanted to share this testimonial with you guys.  We've told our story a million times.  I've listened to Lucy's hell retold by countless scribes.  But this one.  As I watched this video I couldn't breathe.  Maybe it was Dr. Boop speaking.  I'm not sure.  I can tell you that every bit of it was from the heart.

Go Lucy Go Race

If you've wondered where the Krull family has been for the past few weeks, we've been up to our eyeballs in race planning.  It's been a lot of work, but oh!  This year's race is going to be amazing---the best one yet!  Not only is this our 5th anniversary, but we have also added a 10k.  To date there are 695 participants registered.  Will you please help us reach our goal of 800?

This year everyone who participates in the race will get a FREE hamburger or hotdog, chips and a drink.  Not to mention a grab bag of race goodies and a commemorative race cup!

Most importantly, we are raising money for a great cause.  The Go Lucy Go Foundation supports the efforts of LeBonheur Children's Hospital through various avenues.  Hot meals, food pantry, clothes closet, the Ladybug Library and nurse education.  I want to share a few pictures with you of some recent additions to the Child Life department on the 7th floor.  The 7th floor of LeBonheur houses the Neuroscience Institute, where Lucy spent all of her time when she was there.

This is the new teaching doll that the Go Lucy Go Foundation purchased.  This $3500 doll is interactive, allowing doctors, nurses and child life specialists to show children about their illness and upcoming surgery.  I can't tell you how helpful this doll was for Lucy before her craniotomy.

Also this year, the Go Lucy Go Foundation purchased an iPad cart filled with 25 iPads.  Kids are able to check these out and use them in their rooms.  They can be used for keeping up with homework, medical education or just plain FUN!  Every kids needs a distraction when they are in the hospital.

And here is the project near and dear to my heart.  As I have said so many times before that we read books on a daily basis when Lucy was in the hospital.  Providing these books for the children of the 7th floor brings such joy to our hearts.  The books are donated with the assumption that children are going to want to take them home.  Nothing makes us happier than knowing a book that brought joy to a child while he or she was sick will also bring happiness at home.

Because of you, families of brain tumor patients and children with Epilepsy are being cared for every single day.  If you haven't registered, don't wait.  The deadline to register for this year's race is drawing near.  This Wednesday, April 15th at MIDNIGHT the online registration will close.  For those of you who want to support the Foundation as a Spirit Runner, this will be your last day to sign up.  Shirts will be mailed to you the week after the race.

Race registration will be available the day of the race for an additional charge.  Go online now and help support the work of the Go Lucy Go Foundation.  Register at www.golucygo.org

It's Been a While--Lucy Update

This is Dr. Boop.  The man God chose to save my daughter's life.  

Wow.  Where do I start?  It's been such a long time since I've written or updated on Lucy.  I am not even sure where to begin.  First, let me update on Lucy.  At the beginning of February I wrote about Lucy having tubes put into her ears.  She was having a lot of hearing problems and we thought that this was going to be the answer.  Immediately when she woke up from surgery she could hear-almost perfectly.  We were amazed and ecstatic.  However, within three days she was back in her hearing aids.

Fast forward a month and a few doctor visits later and we are fairly sure that the hearing loss she is experiencing is going to be permanent.  High dose radiation left irreversible damage that she will just have to live with forever.  I am extremely thankful for hearing aids and with them she can hear almost perfectly.  While I am thankful for the aids I am still having a hard time with this one.  Honestly, its just one more reminder that she is different.  One more reminder that cancer tried to kill her.

To be perfectly frank, I'm struggling with a lot right now.  Erik says its because I have been studying the Bible and the devil is working on me.  I think he's right, but I also think it's a little more than that. I don't say this lightly, but I feel as if I have PTSD.  I'd love to know how many other cancer moms feel this way.

I miss the perfectly healthy child that I took for granted for 5 years.  I leave sporting events angry that thousands of children can run and play.  A part of me dies every time I watch Lucy struggle through a social encounter.  My heart literally aches as I see her fighting through the challenges that learning poses every single day. Yesterday as we left the soccer field I cried off and on for the rest of the day.

Most day I walk around in a fog, hardly remembering a moment of the day before.  For example, I had to call the school the other day to find out why I was charged an amount on my account.  Apparently it was for Jack's preschool registration for next year.  I was mortified when she told me that I had turned in his application the week before.  I don't even have a single memory of filling out the 6 page application.

So...yeah.  I'm pretty much a hot mess right now.  I think part of my PTSD involves this blog.  For more than two years I poured my heart and soul onto these pages.  This was my safe place--the place where my fears found words.  Now, I can't even find the words to write.  My brain stays so tired that I can hardly put a sentence together, much less write a fluent post.  I can't even keep extended eye contact with people when we talk.  Seriously, it's a real issue.  I have a college degree in communications and have lost all ability to carry on conversations.

I know that God chose my family for this battle and He equipped us with all the tools for fighting that we needed during the battlet.  I just wonder when the war ceases.  Because right now it seems like every day is still a struggle.  I didn't mean for this to end up as a pity-party but I needed to be honest.

Ella and Jack continue to thrive and I couldn't love them more.  I am trying to respect Ella's privacy a little more as she is starting to become such a lovely young lady.  We haven't really talked about it but I'm sure she's becoming a little more sensitive to my telling her business all over the internet.  I will just say that she's just a ray of sunshine everyday and so full of life.  She is making all A's and excelling in so many extra curricular things.  She's got one of the lead roles in the church spring musical and she's playing club soccer.

Jack--woah.  What can I say?  This precious boy---he is everything I ever dreamed a little boy would be.  He is wild, adventurous, passionate and super loving.  I get a least 5 million kisses a day.  I absolutely love this child.

Thanks for hanging with our family (and me).  As I am finding out, Lucy's cancer diagnosis is something we all deal with every day.  Some days are good.  Some days are bad.  Some days just suck.  But we keep on moving and fighting.  One day at a time.

4 years today

4 years ago today.  The diagnosis that rocked her world.  Everything changed in the blink of an eye.  

She's still here.  She's still fighting and kicking cancer's butt.  I am so proud of her and love her with every fiber of my being.  

Will you come celebrated with us?  The 5th Annual Go Lucy Go 5k/10k is April 18th.  Come run, walk, bring a stroller.  Come for the Kids Fun Run, come for the food, come for the party!  Whatever you are looking for this race has got it!  Maybe you just want to the t-shirt and that's cool, too!

Register now (or order a shirt) at www.racesonline.com

This is the race you DO NOT want to miss.  

Ice Storm 2015

Today is day 9 of Spring Break Part 1.  9 days we've been confined to this house.  Add to that the 1.5 weeks we were here before that with everyone being sick and that makes us being on lockdown for almost 3 weeks.  While I have thoroughly enjoyed being home I would be lying if I said I wasn't ready for everyone, including myself, to get back on a schedule.  Because to be honest, if I don't get out of these stretchy pants, get back to the gym and start another Whole 30 it's not going to be pretty!

Several areas around us have had the luxury of snow.  We, on the other hand, have had nasty, dirty ice.  At least we had one day to play on the ice before it started melting.  

Icy, cold and undesirable weather is supposed to be with us the rest of the weekend but hopefully Monday will bring a new week!

Great News from Surgery

(sorry for grainy iPhone pics)

Today Lucy had a very minor surgery procedure.  It wasn't a major surgery but it sure was important.  There was so much riding on its success.

Ive mentioned that Lucy has had a lot of hearing loss since Christmas.  She basically was working on about 20% of her capacity.  Even with hearing aids in she was struggling.  Every day we could watch her withdraw more and more from life.  She as distant from us as a family and she didn't interact much with her friends.  She dreaded going to church and she had really begun to cling to me when we were in public.  She was nodding yes to everything you said or answering with random comments when you asked her questions.  This past week she even woke up crying one morning saying "I just can't hear anything."  After all she's been through this one just broke my heart.

There were two issues that needed to be resolved today.  First there was chronic fluid build up behind her ears.  We knew this had been there for a while but she had not been healthy enough in the past to put in the PE tubes that she needed.  It was such a simple procedure that we felt 99% sure would help her regain most of her hearing.  The second issue was a little less glamorous.  Thanks to high dose radiation that destroyed most of the secretion glands in her ears and damaged the lining of her ear canal, Lucy is not able to expel ear wax like most people.  I know, gross right?  What happens is that the ear wax becomes like cement and clogs the ear canal.  So, you combine the fluid with the cement and you have a nasty little situation.

The thumbs up tells you all you need to know.  The surgery was a huge success and she woke up (after the anesthesia grumpies wore off) and said "I can hear!"  Talk about smiles.  Erik and I were all grins!  Only time will tell if one set of tubes will do the trick or if Lucy will have to have permanent tubes.  Permanent tubes are definitely not desirable but given the radiation damage the doctor couldn't take them off the table.

Only time will tell and God has a perfect plan for her little ears.  Thank you again for all your prayers and love.  It still amazes me that so many of you still care for my girl.

Oh, and Ella is still just rocking life and winning every day.

Shhh...Sneak Peek!

I thought I would give you a sneak peek at the new race logo we are working on.  The shirt is going to be similar to this in font and color.  Shirts this year are a heathered (faded) royal Soft Style--which means they are super soft.  They are the ones we have used in the past (the red and grey ones.)

We are putting a team in place whose responsibility is to send out shirts after the race to Spirit Runners.  Our goal is to have every shirt mailed within 2 weeks of the race--if not sooner!  

Sign up today for the 5th Anniversary Go Lucy Go 5k/10k.  If you aren't local, support the Foundation by purchasing a t-shirt.  Shirts can be purchased for $18 if you are going to pick them up at the race or $25 to have your shirt shipped to you.  

See you April 18th.

A Vacation

Erik and I are on vacation with our best friends, Amanda and Nelson.  We've done this trip together for almost 9 years.  It's a trip that we never get tired to taking.  Being in Colorado, as I've said so many times before, is such a respite for my soul.  Surrounded by God's amazing creation, I leave this trip rejuvenated and ready to tackle my life when I get home.

We even got to spend some time with my Uncle and his wife who are here at the same time. 

The past few days we have had the best weather and best skiing that I think we've ever had.  Today, unfortunately I am home with these friends..

I don't think its the flu but I'm pretty sure I coughed up a lung this morning.  At least I've got a full day to myself to rest and recover.  As you all know, mom's don't have the luxury of getting sick.  Being out here I can lay on the couch and do nothing all day long!  We fly home tomorrow, so I'm praying all this OTC medicine will do its job soon.  For today, Joanna and Chip Gaines and HGTV are going to keep me company!

Some Awesome News

Well, it's awesome news for me at least.  (this is where I obnoxiously brag on myself)

Yep!  I did it and I'm not stopping.  The first time I did a Whole 30 I didn't have my "head straight" as I like to say.  All I did was count down the days until I was done.  Now really, that's not how you change your lifestyle is it?  This time around it was so different.  I never counted days, didn't have cravings and actually have enjoyed trying all the new recipes that I have found.  I haven't weighed lately but I am loving my non-scale victories:

-So much energy I have to force myself to go to bed at night
-My skin looks great-Erik says my "color" looks good 
-No headaches, tummy aches or muscle cramps
-My mid-afternoon cravings are gone 
-I feel AWESOME!

(Well I did until I unwittingly ingested Gluten and I've been sick for the past 24 hours.  That's not been cool at all.) 

Besides the Whole 30 I've been exercising at least an hour every day.  It's not easy to find the time but I'm committed to making this change for me.  So...here's to a new lifestyle, not another Whole 30!

In other news, Ella played in her first indoor soccer tournament this past weekend.  She had a blast and I loved watching her play.  The games were 15 minutes of crazy chaos.  

This is my favorite picture.  Coach L giving Ella a pep talk and Coach Erik trying to stay out of it!  It's hard being your daughter's coach.  

Lucy hung out with me all day while we watched soccer and then we did a little shopping afterwards.  My sweet girl is actually trying to grow a little so it was time for some new blue jeans.  Jack spent the day playing on the farm with my Dad, having the time of his life.  My Dad taught him how to drive a Trackhoe, which makes me smile when I think about how many happy hours my grandfather spent on one "rearranging dirt."  That's what we used to say he did when he was bored.  The memories they made will last forever. 

The Burden of Compassion

Hang with me.  This is long, but there is a great lesson at the end of this post that can help you talk to someone who is suffering.

There seems to be so much suffering around me right now.  Since January 1st of this year it seems as if someone I've known has passed away each week.  Sometimes 2-3 people in a week.  I've heard of cancer diagnoses as if its epidemic in our county.  I often wonder if its really more rampant or am I just getting older and am more aware of death and know more people in the older generation?  Part of me hopes that this increase of tragedy around me is God's way of ushering in the Tribulation.  Lord Jesus I am ready to go home!

Right now I am reading through Job in the Bible.  For those of you who many not be familiar with the story I will give you a very abbreviated, laymen's version:  Job was a righteous man; God even called him "blameless."  God allowed Satan to "test" Job through a series of horrendous, mind-altering calamities.  Job lost his sons, his fortune and his health.  The book of Job is a series of conversations between Job and the 3 friends who come to him to provide comfort and advice.  The comfort that they try to offer becomes ridicule and condemnation.

The three friends, with their self-righteous attitudes, tear Job down as they berate him with their false philosophy that God punishes the wicked man and rewards the righteous man.  Surely Job is lying about his sins since God's wrath is upon him.  Their words of "encouragement" are bitter, mocking and only add insult to injury.

Job questions God many times.  He is angry with God but Job never curses God.  He remains faithful in his trust that God's hand is still upon him, even though it is unseen.  Oh, how many times have I felt that way! I couldn't begin to count the times that I cried out to God asking why he had forsaken our family.

(everyone really needs to read the book of Job.  Seriously.  Go and do it now!)

How many times have you been to a hospital room to visit a dying relative?  Do you have a friend that has cancer?  What about your best friend's husband who has been laid off of work and they are barely making ends meet?  I'd like to offer you a suggestion as you try to being a friend to them during this time.

Iva May says "People who have not suffered struggle to enter into the sufferings of others." Do you get that?  It's the very definition of empathy.  Sympathy is a totally different thing.  Empathy means that you have been there.  Empathy means that you are actually able to share in a persons suffering through mutual experiences.

To be clear, just because you haven't experienced the pain doesn't mean that you can't be a  comforter during your friends time of mourning.  Please don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying that at all.  But what I am suggesting is that you guard your words carefully.  Beware placated comments such as "They are in a better place," "At least they aren't suffering any more," or "God just had a different plan for her."  While all of these things are true, they can come across as condemnation or trite to the one suffering.

Unless you speak from your shared experience, you need to remember that only God can comfort the soul of the hurting.  Go.  Sit with your friend.  Hold the hand of your best friend.  But guard your words.  I can tell you from experience that your silent presence will make the most profound impact.  Because to the suffering, there are really no words that can make anything better for them.  Only Christ can provide the peace for which their soul so desperately yearns.

As Erik and I continue to pray about the Go Lucy Go Foundation I have been brought to my knees every morning as I read through Job.  Here are two points from my Chronological Bible Study (Iva May):

  • "Identification with, acts of service, and kindness bring greater consolation than words spoken." 
  • "Those who've suffered either become bitter toward others and God, or they become softer, kinder people who enter into the sufferings of others. " 

Through this reading I feel as if my spirit has been renewed and my energy for the Foundation has been revived.  I would like to ask for your prayers this week as we are exploring some exciting opportunities related to the Foundation.  I want to be completely in God's will and not in my own.  The great deceiver is working on my heart but I know that God will reveal His plan in His time.  

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 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 ourselves are comforted by God.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. " 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Oh, We Missed You!

Well hello Mr. Sunshine!  We sure have missed you.  It's been a balmy 55 degrees here and you would think it was Spring.  We've been outside as much as possible, soaking up this amazing weather.  I sure don't want to wish the days away but I am ready for some longer-lasting warm weather.  I've decided that I'm a much better visitor to cold weather than resident.

We've been riding bikes, going for walks, playing soccer and today we went to the park to play on the big playground while Ella was at soccer practice.  Erik and I even managed to get in a little run after church.  Banner day in my books!

Ella had her second basketball game of the season this Saturday.  She is playing Upwards again, but she's moved to full court this year.  It's been a huge adjustment for a lot of the kids, but thanks to soccer and cross country Ella's in pretty good shape (at least for the running part).  Lucy loves to go watch her play, as she is always Ella's biggest cheerleader.  Jack could care less but is happy that he gets DS time during the game.

I think the best part of my weekend has been watching the sunset at night.  Each night seems to outdo the one before.  Such a wonderful reminder on this Sunday night that God's hand has touched every single part of this Earth.  

Dr. Appointments and Prayers

The Go Lucy Go Foundation serving Christmas dinner at LeBonheur 

Today I take Lucy back to the ENT.  Over Christmas she lost about 70% of her hearing which of course scared us to death.  It was almost overnight that it happened.  Immediately the mind goes to dark places that no one should ever know.  Once tumor related causes were ruled out (praise God!) we honed in on excessive fluid behind her ears--although she wasn't sore or bothered.  Lucy did a round of antibiotics, started wearing her hearing aids again, and we all started praying specially for restoration of her hearing.  I think when we go back today the ENT will recommend that she have tubes placed.  I know that doesn't sound like a big deal to you, but for Lucy every surgery is a big deal.  The risk of infection is what we worry about the most.  But honestly, I don't know that fluid sitting behind her tempanic membrane is any more "safe."  It seems like a breeding ground for infection to me.  Anyway...prayers are appreciated as we make this decision.  

Speaking of prayers.  Have you done it lately?  Not just in a moment of crisis or worry.  But really, really prayed.  I'm talking about the kind of prayer where you just lay it all out on the table and let God know what you are thinking and feeling.  The kind of prayer that when you are done you feel 5 pounds lighter?  Isn't worry and fear such a huge burden to bear?  I have found that when I am most worried or most angry its mostly because I haven't prayed about the situation.  In most cases, a prayer won't immediately take your problem away and it won't totally vanquish your worry.  But what it will do is allow God to enter the equation and touch your heart and mind in a way that only He can do.  His peace intercedes.  

You've heard the old saying "Have you prayed about it as much as you've talked about it?"  Now, for me the answer is usually "No.  I haven't."  I wouldn't be one to talk about it really, but more so one to start trying to fix the problem myself.  Surely God needs my help, right?  I mean, I'm a take-charge kind of girl who likes to make things happen--yesterday!  Tomorrow is never soon enough.  

As I've been reading through my Bible study I was struck by the story of Jacob returning to Esau after years of being separated.  Jacob was truly a man of God, but he was so stubborn and worldly on so many levels.  As he prepared to return home he was just sure his brother would kill him.  So he prayed, and I truly think he prayed with a pure heart.  However, instead of waiting and letting God answer his prayer he decides that he needed to take matters into his own hands.  He schemes this elaborate plan and practically gives away half of this earthly blessings from God just so that he can make sure he had a firm grip on the outcome of his situation.  Let me tell you----that is ME!  Surely God needs my help, right?

Do you see this lady above?  Her name is Rebecca and her daughter is the Ava that I have asked prayers for so many times.  Yesterday they got news that Ava's tumor has progressed.  It was devastating news and they are beyond heartbroken.  Could you imagine any more dire situation than theirs when you would be hard pressed to not want to take matters into your own hands?  The fate of your child is in the balance and you must now choose what to do.  This amazing family, these parents of Ava, have fully placed their situation in God's hands and their testimony is continuing to touch lives every singly day.  Faith.  Hope.  Prayer--that's all they have.  And really, isn't that all the rest of us have too?

You might not be battling cancer or dealing with a life threatening illness but what have you not prayed about today?  Is it a career choice?  Is there a decision about purchasing a new home?  What if its a decision to start a non-profit organization and you still don't have a clear picture of what it should be but you know that you are supposed to start one.  If you are wondering, I'm talking about me there.  The Go Lucy Go Foundation is my daily "give-it-to-God" matter that brings me to my knees every week.  

God continues to answer my prayers but just not in a way that I would like.  I'd like the 5 year plan and they flow-chart on what GLG will look like.  I'd like the step by step manual that tells me what I need to do and what I can expect day by day.  God is choosing to answer my prayers a little at a time.  It is mind-numbingly frustrating to be complete honest.  The Foundation has been a test of faith and trust from day one.  I have a feeling it will continue to be because I truly believe God is using this vessel to shape our family into something great.  

So today--I encourage you.  Give that issue to God.  It won't be easy and no one will blame you for fighting it tooth and nail the whole time, but I can assure you that if you truly hand it over you will find peace.  If only for today you will find peace.  One day at a time.  After all, we aren't even promised tomorrow.

Disney and Diets

Day 5 in the books with this Whole 30.  Things are going well and I'm experimenting with lots of fun new recipes.  I'm like a full time chef these days.  I'm subbing this week at the school and being gone all day reminds me how hard it is to work all day and then get everything else done around the house.  I have the utmost respect for all you moms who work outside the home.  It is HARD!  

I am working on uploading and editing all the pictures from the Champions trip.  I may be done by 2017.  Dang!  I took a lot of pictures.  I'm making a photo book of them so I won't be sharing all of them here but I wanted to post some along the way.  Have I ever mentioned that I love Disneyworld?  Seriously..I could go back right now.  

I also wanted to share the website to the Chronological Bible Study that I am doing. I bought the printed version because I love to put pen to paper.  It's why I'm addicted to paper planners I guess.  Each morning you can check the CBS website for their daily blog post which accompanies that day's reading.  There is a mini devotional that goes along with it as well as questions to help you better understand what you read.  

http://www.chronologicalbibleteaching.com/category/blog/  or click HERE

A Time for Resolutions

Have you made your New Year's Resolution(s)?  I have.  I'm not usually one for making them and then I'm not usually one for sharing them with other people.  I feel as if they are pretty private promises you make to yourself.  In hopes of actually keeping the resolutions I made this year I've decided to share them today.  Not for any other reason except that I verbalized them.  Here.  For anyone and everyone to read.  Maybe if you see me out and about you can ask me how I'm doing keeping these guys.  Accountability is the key to my success I'm quite convinced.

Resolution 1: Complete Another Whole 30.

I'm sure most of you have heard of the Whole 30.  Right?  Well, if not I highly recommend that you read about it and try it out.  You can wrangle over semantics and argue that Whole 30 isn't a diet, but I consider it more of a lifestyle change.  The last time I did one I figured out that I was allergic to nuts and aspartame.  Even with cutting gluten out of my diet, thanks to my Celiac disease, I ached and hurt and felt bloated all the time.  The aspartame sensitivity was worse than the nut allergy.  When I say it was killing me I swear to you..it. was. killing. me.

I did one whole 3 last year and at the end of the 30 days I felt amazing.  My joints didn't hurt, I wasn't bloated anymore and I lost 10 pounds.  Now, weight loss is not the reason you are supposed to do a Whole 30, but let's be serious folks.  If I'm giving up tortilla chips and hummus then I better darn well  fit into those expensive jeans that are folded up in the top of my closet.

Today is day 2 and as crazy as it sounds I already feel a difference.  I think this time around I am going to pin point corn as my aggravater.  I LOVE corn in all its many yummy forms.  Tortilla chips, however, are my Achilles heal.  They always have been.  I know that my body doesn't like dairy so giving it up isn't as hard, although I sure love cheese.  Anyway, 28 days to go on this cycle.  I'll report back periodically.  Three pieces of advice is that if you decide to a Whole 30:

      1.  READ the book, It Starts With Food.  Seriously.  Read it.  (this is not a paid post.  just think                        
                                    you really need to read the book!)
      2.  Make out your meal schedule for the week, if not longer.  You can plan when to use leftovers    
           and when you need to make soup.  It's not an easy plan so beware!  It takes a lot of work but        
           you easily fall into the groove once you get the hang of eating healthy.
     3.  Pinterest will be your best friend.  I get almost all of my meal ideas from Pinterest.

I promise I won't post a picture of every meal I make but I did want to share this one.  Doesn't it look yummy?  I told Erik that everything looks good on my new dishes that he gave me for Christmas.

Resolution 2: Read the Bible More

Not a lot of explaining needed for this one.  I don't read my Bible on a daily basis and I really want to start. I am currently teaching Sunday School so I don't get to go to my Sunday School class and I miss it so much.  It was my time of the week to get fed spiritually.   I've purchased a Chronological Bible and the accompanying study book.  This set was highly recommended by some friends who have done this study so I think it is something I'll be able to stick with.

You can find about more about this study HERE.  My Bible is in but the workbook is not.  It should come in tomorrow so I hope to get started Tuesday morning.

Resolution 3:  Be a More Prepared Mother and Wife  

This is not super easy to explain nor is it easy to quantitate.  I just feel that most of 2014 was muddled through in a hurried mess.  I want to be more intentional with each and every day.  Maybe I don't take pictures of the day, maybe I don't blog about it, maybe I don't accomplish a lot of my to-do list.  That's ok.  I just want to be able to go to be at night and know that I "lived" the day.  Maybe I do take pictures, maybe I do blog and maybe I do check off 10 items on my to-do list.  As long as I was intentional and present in the day I will be happy.

To get myself off to a good start I sat down today and worked backwards into a morning schedule that I think will get my off on the right foot each morning.  I know that if I don't wake up and get ready for the day before my children then I spend the rest of my day chasing my tail.  So..here's what it looks like:
5:20 wake up and fix hot tea
5:30-6:00 Bible/prayer time
6:00-6:30 get myself ready for the day 
6:30-6:40 wake kids up 
6:40-6:50 prepare breakfast
 (this is a huge part of the morning since we are living Whole 30 right now)
6:50-7:15 kids dressed and fed
7:20 out the door

As they say "the best laid plans......"  I'm going to try my best not to sabotage myself or set unrealistic expectations along the way.  But I'm a big believer in making a plan and trying to stick with it.  Maybe..just maybe this will be my year to keep my resolutions!  Now if I could just get the kids to hate Doritos.....

Reliving Christmas

Erik and his sisters, circa 1970's

It will take a few posts but I hope to relive Christmas over the coming days.  It was an amazing 1.5 weeks for our family, as we traveled across the state and visited with all of our family.  As I write I am listening to the beautiful sound of my Christmas present, a Roomba, clean my house for me.  Seriously, the best present ever!  My husband hut a home run with this one.  For a girl who hates to vacuum this was the best gift!

We started the holiday off with lots of class parties.  Santa even stopped in to say hi at Lucy's party!

After school dismissed half a day on the Friday before Christmas we loaded up the car and headed to East Tennessee to spend time with Erik's family.  We sure missed his sister who lives in DC and her daughter who was visiting Chile this Christmas for 2 weeks.  Thankfully everyone else came and we did some major family bonding over a 5 day period.  The weather was super yucky so we were stuck inside most of the time, but we did manage a few walks around the cup-du-sac each day to keep Lucy's legs limber and our sanity in place.  There were lots of trips to feed the donkeys who live in the neighbor's yard and several rides in the wagon around the house.  Most of all we had a great time baking cookies, making crafts and just being together as a family.

When Erik and I first got married we lived only one block from his sister and her family.  We were able to see her first baby be born and watched her step-son from the age of three become a part of our family. We had the great opportunity to live in the same town for about 5 years and I can honestly say we took that time for granted.  Now we don't live close to any of his family.  His parents are 6 hours away, his middle sister is 9 hours and his oldest sister is at least 13 hours away.  We miss so much between the months of us being apart but I can promise that we make up for it when we are together.  I am so blessed to have such an amazing family (and I'm not just saying that because they will ready this.)  Just like any family we have our moments, but I really won in the in-law game.

More to come...

Champions Trip Sneak Peak

Over the next few weeks I hope to post pictures and detail events from the Children's Miracle Network Champions trip.  If I don't do this soon I'm going to forget the fun details that I know I want to remember.  I was able to download some pictures the professionals took through the CMN website.  and I thought I would share them with you.  This will probably be picture overload but there are so many fun ones.  Stay tuned for more!