Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Miracle of Miracles

Just because God is so good. Caden is a miracle form the top of her fuzzy head to the bottom of her cubby feet. I thank Him every day for entrusting Andy and I with such a precious life. She is my joy! My dad (Chuck) says you can store a bottle in each cheek.

My New Favorite Pic


Wow! I love my Mama!

Birdie, birdie in the sky...

Last Thursday I was enjoying a fun day at the zoo when out of nowhere I was targerted and dive bombed by a bird. Lo and behold, I was the landing target for a fly-by pooping! That is right my friends, I am pointing to some poop. Lovely! Luckily for me it came off nicely with a wet wipe I stole from the diaper bag. Never have I been more prepared for random life moments until I became a mother. Oh, happy hand sanitizer and wet wipes, how I love thee!
Note: I will be returning to the zoo, seeing as how I enjoy it greatly. However next time I go I will be hiding under a big hat, or maybe just a fancy umbrella.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A toast to the new do

So why is it when you go get your hair done that the stylist never does it right? I mean, sure, they cut it ok, but when it comes to the blow dry and style, hello! It seems like every time I have to go straight back home just to see what it really looks like. They are the professionals, they should do a better job than I can. I should leave that salon looking like a star, not rushing to my car and trying to redo my do with some spit and the broken comb in the consol.
oh well. I do love getting a good haircut, I just wish I could get a decent style!
So new haircut complete, and yes, I am going to redo it just to see what it really looks like. I am confident, however, that it is a good one!
Here's to the new haircuts and the extra time we spend after the hard earned dollars are spent! Happy Home Styling!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Our Story.. or, the beginning...

How do you sum up life in words? How do you shrink love, anger, sadness, hope, sickness, and a myriad of other emotions and happenings into sentences and paragraphs? It seems not enough, or not sufficient enough to portray who we really are or what God has done for us. Because really, life, and these sorry sentences that are to follow are not about me or my family, but about God and the honor and glory due Him for what He has done… and will continue to do.

How do you sum up life in words? I have no idea… but I am going to try.

My name is Cari.
I am married to a wonderful, Godly man, named Andrew.
I call him Captain, you know, because I love him more then I can say… and because nicknames are fun… but mostly because I love him and he has always led in a silent way; a way worthy of following.
The first 3 years of our marriage was quiet…then we got pregnant.
Caden Joelle Chastain was born January 24th 2008.  She was chubby, pink, and healthy… she was perfect. God used Caden to teach us so many things. She taught us about love, selfishness, selflessness… about 2:30 am and all the things that come with being a parent for the first time.
And then God used Caden to teach us other things.
One weekend Caden developed a fever, then she stopped wanting to eat and became lethargic… then she had a seizure.
So, on September 22nd 2008 Andy and I stood by and wept while we watched doctors and nurses work to save our baby girls life. Caden went to be with Jesus that afternoon. Andy and I went home with an empty car seat to an even emptier house.
We suddenly felt lost. No longer did we know what to do with ourselves… with our time and our days. When a wife loses her husband she is called a widow, when a child losses its parents it is called an orphan… what do you call a parent who loses their child? We were undefined…and in pain. We clung to each other as well as Gods word. I remember speaking verses out loud to myself. I needed to hear the truth of God’s words. I started focusing on who God is. God is sovereign, God is gracious, God is merciful, and God is abounding in loving kindness. God was faithful in all His promises to us, and over time God traded our grief for hope, until the promise of Heaven overwhelmed us. In time, through His word and through his care and faithfulness to us, God gave us a heavenly perspective and eased the throbbing ache in our hearts.
Also during this time we discovered we were pregnant…Due in July the following year. We found out later it was to be a boy. I think we were both slightly disappointed. I know I was not yet ready to give up the pink and ruffles and all things girl. But if I am really honest, it is not that I wanted a girl so badly, it is that I wanted my girl.
Again, resting in Gods choice for us, we started to get excited about a little boy… whatever that may look like.

We lived the next few months doing a strange dance… balancing grief and joy… trying desperately to find a new normal.

Then When I was 7 months pregnant with our second child, I awoke to Andy having a massive seizure. By 6 am I had called 911, by 8am he’d had an MRI, by 10am we had been admitted and by lunch we were told of the large tumor growing in the Captain’s head.
Surgery was scheduled for Friday…it was a Tuesday afternoon.
On Good Friday, 2009 the Captain and I woke early and drove to the hospital, where a very kind and much prayed-over surgeon cut into my husband’s head, as family, friends and I paced, chatted nervously and waited to hear the outcome.
It was good news. They were able to get a gross total resection. Later it was suggested, based on the biopsy of the tumor, the Captain undergo 6 months of chemo, which he did.
He started his first round right before our son was born. So it was a very pregnant me and a very tired Captain that made their way to the hospital one summer morning to welcome their son into the world. Rigg Allen Chastain was born on June19th 2009. Perfectly healthy, just 9 short months after his older sister had died.
The next three years brought clean MRI’s, a false arrest due to stolen identity, a new baby and the loss of a job.
In 2010 I was able to tell an unobservant Andy about our newest addition. We welcomed Ryder Andrew into our crazy family on January 14th 2011.
Our boys are sweet, sweet reminders of God's grace and blessings. We are privileged to be able to hold, love and raise 2 sons. And challenged to do it with grace and some semblance of calm and sanity.
During the latter part of 2012 Andy began feeling poorly. On Thanksgiving of that year he asked that I take him to the ER because he felt something was wrong. Within an hour of our arrival we were told that his tumor had grown back and it did not look good.
Andy had his second craniotomy on November 26th 2012. This time, they were not able to get the whole tumor. It was cancerous and growing quickly.
He spent the New Year in Bloomington having radiation on the left side of his brain and then the next year and a half doing chemo and drug infusion treatments to stave off the growth of the tumor. I watched as the tumor, side effects of drugs, and seizures slowly erased the strong, capable, and involved Andy I once knew. We found out the treatment was no longer working on June 12th of this year.
Andy is now on hospice, trying to keep his focus on Christ and finish his race well.
When Caden died, I’m not sure I would ever have said her death and all that I learned as a result was a gift. But living my life in the shadow of my husband’s brain cancer has taught me differently.
God gave us a magnificent gift through the death of our daughter. He taught us that He is faithful and can be trusted, even with the hardest things. Bec ause God has been gracious to show me small, amazing things that have resulted because of Caden’s death, I know He wastes nothing. He uses all things to work toward His purpose and His glory. God has a bigger picture and has chosen to use my baby girl and my brave husband in ways only He truly understands.
I have already, long before the brain tumor, put my trust in a faithful God.
I choose not to take it back just because I do not know what my future holds.
God holds my future... therefore I will not fear.

We now bear the marks of a holy battle, scars that one day I hope to lay at Jesus’ feet and pray they are worthy of Him.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.