Sunday, September 29, 2013

Against all odds... I enjoyed the ocean

The Captain, the boys and I just got back from a trip. I say trip and not vacation... because we took the boys, which are still quite a bit of work... and work plus little to no real relaxation equals a trip and not a vacation.
We traveled by car to Hilton Head Island. Which is lovely... if you have never been... I highly recommend it. Blessed by the gift of a free place to stay for the week, and us with no previous engagements... made for an opportunity we couldn't have acquired on our own. It was super close to the beach so we were able to go at least once everyday... if not more. It was a bit cloudy and rainy.. but that didn't stop us. The boys loved playing in the sand and chasing the seagulls... so clouds and rain were of no consequence.
We did have a few obstacles in our way... Rigg and Ryder both had fevers for days. Rigg was so feverish and lethargic at one point I panicked (aided by a call to the physician on call back home) and took him to the ER... resulting in a very kind Dr. telling me he was sick... but had to other declarative symptoms... I would just have to watch him
He became right as rain the very next day.
Only for Ryder to fall victim to the ugly virus.
And then Ryder took it upon himself to up my stress level by bringing out his inner artist... and coloring on the wall... of a house owned by friends... who were kindly letting us stay for the week.
I think I still have a twitch.
The boys might have had a fever, but it did not stop them from playing  and enjoying the beach.
We were able to go with some close friends... which was a life saver for me.
With a husband who has very little energy, sick kids who seemed worse at night and needed lots of attention... having 2 extra sets of hands and two other kids for the boys to play with was such a blessing. Not to mention I love them like family and it was so fun to share memories...and 12 hour drives with them.

  Cristi and I have been friends since 8th grade, so it is fun to now share our families and kids with each other. I love that.

All too soon it was time to pack up and head home. They boys and I spent our last afternoon at the beach in hoodies and "real clothes" because of the drizzle. They built 900 sandcastles, or I should say Rigg built them... Ryder demolished them. They chased birds and looked for "treasure". I sat, watched them and soaked up the waves and the big, big, ocean for the last time. We said about 45 goodbyes to the waves, the ocean the sand and the birds... and then we went back to pack...
and then I got a fever
and didn't sleep.
But we got everything packed up and in the van.
The Captain was feeling well enough to help out with the drive back. Which was nice because I drove the whole way there... and with a fever driving for 12 hours by myself seemed daunting.
We got home, put the boys to bed and my parents and In-laws have saved the day(s) since.
I have had almost 2 whole days t recover from my vacation trip fever... whatever.
I am so glad we went. It was so much fun to show God's big, beautiful ocean to the boys for the first time. They loved it. I had a good time, despite life trying to get me down, and the last two days of resting have been really nice.
Maybe I should get sick more often.
Just kidding...kinda.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Caden's Heaven Day

5 years ago today my baby girl went to be with Jesus.
It was the most horrible experience I have ever lived through... watching her die.
But God has done amazing things through her brief life and her death. I can honestly say I am at peace with her being gone. That wasn't always the case. There were many months of heart wrenching grief... of tears, of trying to find balance and purpose in life again after she was gone. However, God has done so many good, awesome things since then... I have seen people turn back to Christ, I have seen others delve deeper into their faith, I have seen God work and bring peace and comfort not only to me and Andy... but to our families. I have seen others step out of their comfort zones to care for others... to care for me. I have seen the power of prayer come to life... I have seen God change my thinking.... mend my heart.
I struggled for a long time with how to address this day... the anniversary of a death.
I always felt sad celebrating her birthday after she was gone... it seemed wrong to celebrate when she wasn't here. I know that is a feeling and a decision that is very different for all families who have lost loved ones... but for me... it was too sad.
But as God healed my heart and gave me what I can only describe as a gift of a Heavenly perspective... The Captain and I decided we wanted to celebrate the day Caden cast off the burden of this life and ran into the loving arms of her Father.
We do it for us... but mostly we do it for our boys.
I want the boys to learn that, for a believer in Christ, death is not to be feared... it is not creepy or scary. For those who know Jesus, who have placed their faith in Him... death is a celebration. It is the day when they have finished the race and can finally rest in Jesus' arms. They are home.
And it is a beautiful thing.
I want my boys to have a good memory attached to their sister... not just the knowledge that she is dead.
So each year, on or as close to the day Caden went to Heaven, we send up floating lanterns. AS a way to honor her, thank God for her... but mostly to Thank God for sending His Son to die in our place, so we do not fear death.
This year our lanterns will be sent up a little late... The Captain, the boys and I are on vacation. We are dipping our toes in the ocean and feeling the sand underfoot. We are soaking up sun and family time.
And even though we are postponing  our lantern send-off... we are remembering our sweet, sweet girl.
Caden Joelle Chastain made me a mommy for the first time.
She taught me about selflessness, about love, about purpose... She brought joy and happiness and laughter into our home... and into our hearts.
And although we do not get to enjoy her sweet smile today... because of Jesus and all He has done we will get to for all eternity.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

striving to remember

My Mother is a saint.
She has taken my boys and watched them, played with them and entertained them for so many hours this week, just so I could get a few things done.
She deserves a parade.
I just give her hugs... doesn't seem like enough.
The past few weeks have been stressful. Some of it is just the normal life of a mother of young children, some of it is paperwork...endless paperwork and details, some of it is me, just realizing... comprehending...truly seeing that I am doing more and more by myself. Which in turn means the Captain is doing less and less.
Not because he doesn't want to... but because he can't.
I'm not sure what to contribute it to. Medication... swelling, necrosis, cancer, lack of motivation, a big hole in his brain that shouldn't be there... a  combination of all of the above.
He is very tired most of the time.
Sleeps many hours a day.
Doesn't really partake in conversations anymore.
And just over all doesn't feel well.
We have a doc appointment today. We get to see and chat with his oncologist and he will have a second infusion of a drug that is supposed to make him feel better.
It did not really help last time.
I find that each day I am just a inch away from tears. They might be tears of stress, the feeling of being overwhelmed, sadness, or anger and frustration... depending upon the minute of the day.
I think the weight of the past few months, and the reality of our situation has just hit me. Part of me thinks I was holding reality at arms length so I would not have to deal... another part of me knows there has been a physical and cognitive decline in my husband the past couple of months.
And it scares me.
It makes me sad.
I still do not know what God is doing, I do not know if this is a hard patch and with time, medication and rest the Captain will bounce back.( After his first brain surgery we had a period of two months where he had major trouble talking and forming sentences because his brain was forming new pathways for information... and he bounced back.)
Or if God is preparing us... stretching us, growing us for more hard that is to come.
I just don't know.
And it is so frustrating.
I keep thinking if I just knew what to prepare for, I could make it through this weird limbo/transition time with more energy...boldness...hope.
It's this in-between-ness that is so hard. The slow road, where each day you feel like your pack is a bit heavier than the day before... not sure if your destination leads to relief or sorrow.
I feel weary.
But God.
Two words that save the day... God uses others to comfort me. To care for me, To lift me up. He uses His word to sustain me, to bring peace and hope.
He reminds me of all that He has done... His faithfulness to me in my life... He whispers through His word...
remember who I am , remember what I have done, remember all I have promised.
Remember I love you, I am there before you are...I have a purpose for all of this.
Nothing is wasted, friends.
So even though each day feels heavy, my God continues to amaze me with rest He gives, the love He shows and the joy He restores.
And each day I am made aware of how little I deserve the Grace He gives.
Yet, He refuses to stop giving.
So today, I will strive to keep my focus on the One who brings the good... the one who promises peace and rest... the One who is faithful to the ends of eternity and brings me Joy.
Life can be hard, but we are never meant to walk it alone, carrying all the weight ourselves.
So for the 12th time already today I will "hand it over" and try to get lost in His goodness.
Today I will strive to remember.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Printed Joy

I can't believe how excited and (more than slightly) nervous I am to write this post.
I have been slaving away at a personal project for months and months... and months.
You get my drift... it's been awhile. And I'm (pretty sure) it's ready.
I have prayed for awhile now that God might provide a way for me to help out with our finances a bit. With a sick hubby and two young boys to raise... and hardly anything coming in, it's a struggle not to fret.
 So, in order to assist with our income... and have a bit of fun in the process, I started an etsy shop.
It is my desire to design and create cute, happy art that helps point us to Christ.
So without further ado, I present to you....
(drum roll....)
Printed Joy
And because I am so kind, I will give you a few samples here to view!
You're welcome.
(Most prints are available in a variety of different color choices!)

This is just a small sample of what the shop holds. Right now I have over 30 prints ready and waiting to print and ship!
Please, head on over and check out my shop!!