Monday, September 29, 2014

with a thankful heart

You might have heard about me totaling my van.
If not... guess what?
 I totaled my van.
Which is unfortunate, because it was a good van. Got me from A to B. It fit all my stuff. It had low miles and had been my grandparents before it was mine. Whenever I saw it I still thought of it as "Paw's van".
But then one sunny day I turned in front of a nice man in a shiny white car ensuring the end of my "Paw's van"-driving days.
I banged up my arm pretty badly... went to get an X-ray to make sure what I was certain was just a bad bruise, was in fact,  just a bad bruise...
It was.
I got a rental and started the process of finding a new car... and trying to decide how much I was willing/able to spend.
One of the things I was concerned about was reliability. No longer having Andy around to maintain and care for my car, as well as shovel me out when the weather gets bad (which it does), I wanted a car I could trust to hold up for a bit... and trample over snow so I do not have to labor my way out of my own driveway on cold, snowy mornings.
One of the things I have come to realize since the Captain has become sick enough to not help make decisions... is being the sole person who decides things for your family is a really big responsibility.
I was worried about making the right decision... I was concerned about the money I was going to have to spend... I was a bit over my head in all things car as well... I know what's pretty... but what is reliable? What is a good deal? What kind of used car will hold up?
Then one day, in the midst of my indecisiveness about a car, I get a phone call from my Pastor. He tells me that someone, who wishes to remain anonymous, heard about my van wrecking ways and wanted to buy me a car.
There was silence on my end... stunned, awe-struck silence.
He went on to explain that the giver wanted to make sure I wouldn't have to worry about my car for awhile... and that it would hold up in winter weather, so they had done some research and wanted to give me a certain sum that would buy me a BRAND NEW CAR.
AGAIN: There was silence on my end... stunned, awe-struck silence.
I spend the next few days chewing on this information. Feeling very undeserving... very humbled by the gift.
My first inclination when given a large sum of money is to spend just as much as I need... and save the rest. So I considered buying a really nice used car and putting the rest of the money in the trust that has been set up for our family. However, after talking with a few people... who stated, if they had given someone enough money to purchase a new car, they would want the money to go toward a brand new car, I started to consider going against my first inclination.
So, the next Sunday I asked my Pastor, (who is the only person who knows who the giver is, and the only one who has spoken with them) what was the giver's intention? I wanted to know if they wanted me to get a decent car... or if they intended for me to spend the money on a brand new car.
He said his impression was that they wanted me to buy a brand new car.
After many days and a lot of praying... I decided to honor the intention of the gift.
So after a few days, and the money being filtered into the trust by a third party to keep the giver completely anonymous, I went out and bought

It's a gorgeous black 2014 Nissan Murano.
And it's gorgeous...
did I mention it's gorgeous?

Since the money had been put into the trust, my trustee had to come out to write the check... Ken even wore a smile as he wrote it out.

Since the purchase, I keep crying while I drive it... that, or I'm annoyingly joyful.
Some days I feel like it is the happiest, bestest thing ever, to breathe in that new-car smell, play with all the fancy gadgets...
and some days I am completely overwhelmed by the weight of the gift. I feel wholly undeserving...but on those days I try to remind myself that I have an even bigger, weightier and more undeserving gift in my salvation... I ponder how often I feel the weight of the gift God gave in His son Jesus. I have spent many hours, driving my new car, thanking God for saving me... all because someone bought me a new car.

Because I do not know who gave me such an awesome gift... I do not know who to thank...
I spent some time making signs...

So we could snap a pic and send it back to the person who was so gracious and giving.

 To the Giver: we are overwhelmed with gratitude.
Love: a thankful heart.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Heaven Day

Each year on the anniversary of Caden's death we celebrate Heaven Day.
We gather together with friends and family and send up sky lanterns.
The past two years we have attached tags and labeled them with names of loved ones already experiencing the Joy of Heaven.

This came about because I wanted to teach my boys about death and God's promises to us. I wanted to teach them that for a believer, death meant Heaven... which is something to rejoice over.
Our culture revels in gory and macabre of death. It exults zombies and all things creepy and scary on Halloween... but my children have death and the effects of it in front of their eyes daily. They see pictures of their sweet sister on our walls... they see their daddy silently struggle each visit. I want Rigg and Ryder to know, in the very depths of their hearts, that for a follower of Jesus... to die is to gain EVERYTHING.
As I stated before:
So each year, as we reflect on the day that God turned our faces to Him by gently taking our precious girl... we celebrate.
We celebrate that Jesus came to earth and died on the cross as payment for our sin.
We celebrate that because of that work Christ did on the cross we can go to Heaven when we die.
We celebrate that Caden is in Heaven living a far better and richer life than she ever could have here.
We celebrate that we can know that we will see her again.
And this year
We celebrate because we know that in the midst of our hurt and suffering watching the Captain labor under the weight of cancer, he will see Christ.
And he will see sweet Caden.
Here is what I shared on Facebook:
Today is Heaven Day. 6 years ago today my sweet baby girl went to be with Jesus. Caden Joelle was 2 days shy of 8 months old. Today my heart aches with missing her and rejoices that she is in Heaven with her savior, where I firmly believe she is LIVING a fuller, richer and better LIFE than she ever could have here. And although I miss her, I know for certain I will see her again because I have put my faith in Jesus Christ. So although today marks the day that she left, I choose to celebrate that she is safe, loved, alive, and because of Christ I will live with her for all eternity. HAPPY HEAVEN DAY!
here are links to our previous Heaven Day celebrations and/or ponderings:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A much needed update

Many apologies for the delay in a post. The past few weeks have been full.. and a little bit nuts.
To help make up for my silence, I have jam packed this post full of pictures.
Because this post has pictures from the past 3-4 weeks, it is important for me to note that Andy has had a significant decline in this time period. Most of the pictures of him are from 2-3 weeks ago and he is not doing so well now.
I'll just start off with a medical update on the Captain: As of today he is sleeping well over 21 hours a day. When he is up it is just to eat or go to the restroom... hardly, if ever, is he awake to just be awake and chat. He has lost the ability to walk more then a step or two and is using the wheelchair for all his transportation needs. Andy's face is starting to swell and his legs and arms are looking more and more rail-like. The noise and happy chaos little boys bring is tolerated for shorter and shorter times. He loves to see and hug them...but quickly needs the quiet again. He is still eating...but not like he was. It's been hard to find a balance between my time there with him and taking care of the boys. Your prayers are still coveted. I should mention that we feel so loved and cared for at this time. The body of Christ is stepping up in huge ways and is very visible. Thank you for your prayers, meals, gifts and everything else you are doing to love, care and lift up my family.
Ryder is the kind of kid that has to touch things/people. He has been very involved in loving on and helping his Daddy. Most of the time it is ok, but sometimes Ryder can get a bit overwhelming in how close he wants to be. He has been a big helper and a bringer of many smiles when it comes to his daddy.
Both boys are always happy to see the Captain. Love and hugs are the first thing on the to-do list when we visit.

My boys have started school. (insert mix of happy dance and strangled sob)
They LOVE it too. Rigg and Ryder are both in pre-K. Different classes... but same time frames. The boys love school, their teachers and their new friends. It is not hard to get them up, dressed and out the door because they are excited for school each day.
These pictures are from their first day of school this year...needless to say they were a bit excited.

This picture just makes me laugh...  :)

A couple weeks ago things went from our normal crazy to a higher level of chaos.
One Friday morning we got a call that my Nana was very sick... at the time we not sure what was the cause, but we packed up the car and drove the 2+ hours to see her. About 45 minutes before we got there we get a call saying she needs emergency surgery and she will be airlifted... back where we started our journey.  :)  So we high-tailed it to her, gave her quick hugs and kisses, watched the helicopter take off with my beautiful Nana and hopped back in the car to drive the 2+ hours home. 

We got back just in time to see her before her emergency surgery. Then we hung out in the waiting room while the doctors fixed a hernia and removed almost half of her necrotic bowel.
Because my Nana lives in a small town she was airlifted to Indy. She's 86 and declared this to be the most exciting thing she's ever done. :) To which the pilot replied, "I hope to make the trip very boring."
The boys enjoyed the time spent with family while waiting for Nana to come out of surgery. We had the waiting room to ourselves so they were able to run and play without being a bother to others. 

Rigg is officially a big boy. He lost his first tooth during the "week of chaos" as I am lovingly coining it.
He did so well with the looseness and the pulling... And, if I am so bold as to say, the tooth fairy rocked her first stop at our house!

The day after Nana's surgery my dad started feeling poorly. About 4 days later my mom, a strongly worded call from my Aunt, and a nudge from me got him into the doctor... who said she was concerned and sent him to get blood work... where he almost passed out and they sent him to the ER... where they found out THE MAN HAD SEPSIS AND WAS IN KIDNEY FAILURE!

I tossed and turned and prayed for him all night long, very concerned and upset. They had him on IV's going as fast as possible and IV antibiotics.
The next morning the Doc said they caught it early on and he should recover just fine.
So when I got to the hospital the next day I punched him... then I hugged him.
He spent 3-4 days (I can't really remember) in the hospital before heading home... still on oral antibiotics. He seems to be recovering just fine... (just to be clear... I'd punch him again if he keeps me up tossing and turning)

Andy is sleeping more and more. Sometimes even a visit from me and the Chaos Crew doesn't really stir him. He needs his sleep and his quiet... it's just a hard thing to watch him fading slowly away.

I totaled my van. (frown)
I was headed to pic the boys up from preschool... and didn't see the nice man in his shiny white car.
The nice man and I both walked away with minor bruising... but his shiny white car was no longer shiny... or white. And my van was in sad shape.
The officers at the scene were crazy nice. A friend was right behind me when it happened, so she was able to square away my kiddos... and I took a trip to the ER and had a lovely picture taken (X-ray) of my left arm. It's just bruised (and crazy UGLY)
But all involved are just fine... except my van... which is no longer for this world. :(

The boys have been troopers. Granted they know no different then this constant craziness... but they are holding their own. I try to make time for each of them, take them to the park or the orchard, give them time to be little boys. They get more hugs then needed and they get more serious talks about Life, death and Heaven then preschoolers should... but they seem quasi-normal... which is all we can hope for most days.
God is taking good care of them.

Ryder is still very much his own person.

About 5 weeks ago we spent an hour or so getting extended-family pics taken. This is Andy's side of our family. They turned out great.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all the prayers, meals, visits, calls, love and encouragement. Our family feels very loved and cared for. We know our God is good, that He is big and that He has a plan for this. God is using Andy, his cancer and our family in big and little ways... and the awesome thing is God is gracious enough to give us small glimpses of how He is using it. We rest in the knowledge that God loves us, cares for us and is bringing Himself glory through this.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever, to Him alone does great wonders, His love endures forever. He remembered us in our low estate. His love endures forever.
Psalm 136: 1,4,23