Friday, August 29, 2014

Team in Training (Finally...)

I've been without internet access in my house for an ENTIRE week!  (Well, other than the 4G on my phone, but still...)  It's like living on a desert island.  Actually, we've been so busy that, other than the nuisance of having to make two trips up the road to the library to get some work done on their computers, I've hardly noticed.  Except for the fact that this post is way past due.  So here goes...

When Bryan was in the hospital, on one of those few blessed days where he was well enough to be himself, his phone rang.  It was the Leukemia Lymphoma Society asking if he'd like to renew his yearly donation to fund blood cancer research.  Bryan laughed.  "Funny you should mention that.  I'm sitting on a hospital bed and I've just been diagnosed with blood cancer."

The lady on the phone offered condolences, encouragement, and a promise to offer whatever help they could.

And they did.

June 6, 2012
Daddy in the hospital with all his little people.
One of the toughest parts of being in the hospital and being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness is the sheer amount of information that you have to sift through.  Bryan's team of doctors was fantastic, and they did exactly what they needed to do: They focused on the clinical side of his care.  The overworked nurses did their best to care for all of the patients on the ward.  But sifting through the treatment options, the new vocabulary, the side effects, the tests, the precautions, the prognosis- that whole process is overwhelming. 

June 18, 2012
Daddy at home with his little sunshine.
 And it wasn't too long ago that the treatment "options" for blood cancers were few and the prognosis was grim.  Organizations like the Leukemia Lymphoma Society by coming alongside patients and their families to educate and support, and by funding research to extend life and search for cures and treatments, have made a tremendous amount of headway in fighting blood cancer.

Shortly after Bryan died, I saw that the Leukemia Lymphoma Society raised money through the Team in Training.  I knew immediately that I wanted to join.  I wanted my kids to see that their are people fighting back against cancer.  That we can use something as devastating as their dad's death to motivate us to do something for others.

In December, Lord willing, I'll be running my first half marathon- the San Antonio Rock n Roll Half- with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society Team in Training.  I need your help, please support me and my kiddos in this quest in Bryan's honor.  Every little donation will help move me closer to the finish line (okay, my legs might have a little to do with that too) and, I pray, will one day conquer leukemia.

June 26, 2012
Still holding on.
You can give by clicking this link.  Thank you to all of you who have already donated, and please forward this to your friends and family.  I'm blessed to have each one of you in my life.

I posted this verse when Bryan had been in the hospital for two weeks, and quite possibly several times since then.  It's become a theme for me.

"They that wait upon the LORD 
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint."

Isaiah 40:31

Sunday, August 17, 2014

From the Outside Looking In

I was standing in line at the grocery store, and I was reading the fronts of the magazines.  I saw a picture of Kate Gosselin.  "Oh my goodness!" I thought, "I can't believe she's raising all those kids by herself."

And then I laughed.  Out loud.

What was I thinking?  She only has one more child than I do and hers are older than mine!

But that brief moment in the store gave me insight into everyone around me, and for that I'm thankful.  It made me realize that things appear far different from the outside looking in.

It's been two years since Bryan died, and we're doing well.  Our lives have changed dramatically, and will continue to change over the next two years, and the two years after that.  Some of the change has been inevitable, some of it has been the result of my prayerful decisions.  All of it has moved us forward.  One of the biggest challenges we face now is the reaction of others to our situation.

"You have how many kids?"

"Seven.  Six boys.  One girl."

"Wow!  Are you going to have more?" (or, alternatively...) "What does your husband do?"

"I'm a widow."

And then, the reaction.  Best: "I'm sorry."  Okay: "Oh."  Worst: Anything longer than the first two.

Because I get it.  It's sad.  Seven kids.  No dad.  Cue the violins.  No one would choose something like this.  But, it's our LIFE, and quite honestly, we spend most of our time happy, or at the very least "normal."  There are tears, but they're usually of the "he destroyed my six day Lego project" type.  Life goes on, and especially with growing and active children, grief just can't stay around for long.

As the two year anniversary of Bryan's death approached, I did a little investigative work with my kids.  Did they want to "do something" to remember the date?  Ummm, no.  Turns out we are not a memorializing family.

We do remember Bryan, of course.  He comes up in conversations all the time.  But we rarely talk about the sad stuff.  We remember things he said, things he did.  The kids are particularly fond of the things that make them laugh.  They want their memories of their dad to be happy, and I'm okay with that.  More than okay, actually.  I know that it's exactly what Bryan would have wanted.

Bryan was all about moving forward.  He was, actually, all about careening forward at break-neck speed and actively looking for ways to reach out to others.  He wanted to squeeze every drop he could out of life, and he never let pain or grief stop him.  He figured that death demonstrated that life was short, and that the departed would be honored to know that their loved ones were continuing to embrace life.

And we are embracing life.

But I understand that others don't understand.  When you're on the outside looking in, life looks messy, scary, and sometimes sad.  God gives grace for each moment, though, and with His grace comes joy and strength for the battle.

I want our family to share the blessing of God's provision for us with others.  I want my kids to see that life goes on and that we need to do what we can to serve others.  I want our family to be part of something bigger.

On that note, I've decided, because I believe it will honor Bryan and his embrace life and reach out philosophy, to begin half marathon training with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society Team in Training.  (If you'd like to donate in Bryan's memory to fund research to combat blood cancer, you can click here.)  I'll post more details on what led me to take this leap and on what I'll be doing and why.  Until then, dear friends, embrace life, and remember, things look a lot better from the inside.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Randomness #2

Here are a few random things from the last few weeks:


It is hot, hot, hot.  Swimming is about the only outdoor activity that's possible after noon around here.


Our fridge FINALLY got fixed.  (At least, I think it's fixed.  It's still freezing stuff in the back.  I really hate my GE fridge and dealing with GE.  The repairmen they send are friendly and probably competent, but the company is not endearing itself to me.  Fortunately, I have a second fridge in the garage which incidentally cost less than the repair on the less than two year old GE fridge.)  Anyway...after two weeks of making trips to the garage every time we needed something cold, we finally had an indoor fridge again.

And I saw Justin standing in front of it in the kitchen.

"Justin, what are you doing?"

"I am standing in front of the fridge hoping that something good will magically appear."

"It won't.  Shut the door."  Can't blame a guy for trying.


Last Saturday as I was taking Megan to her gymnastics practice, I saw that the fountain in the town square was FILLED with foam.  After I dropped Megan off, the boys and I headed out to investigate.

It took about two minutes for this to happen.

Yep, he fell in the fountain head first.  After a quick change of clothes for Austin, we headed out to the green belt for some nature exploration.  (When I got the Ergo out for Austin, he said, "Oh, THANK YOU, Mommy!" like I had just given him the best gift in the world.  So cute.)

There were ducklings.

And walls to climb.

 And Austin found two feathers and flapped his arms, "I'm flying!  I'm flying!"

It was a delightful way to spend a Saturday morning.


Austin's rhetoric skills are improving.  Just the other day, he anticipated an argument.

He was playing with a metal stick (yeah, I know, I'm a great mom), and he narrowly missed whacking me in the head with it.  

Just as I was getting ready to launch into a "and this is why you shouldn't play with sticks" lecture, he said, "It's not dange-wus, Mom.  Look! (He pats my head.)  You's head still all better."


Finally, I got running shoe advice from Elvis at the Leukemia Lymphoma Society Team in Training event. More on that exciting development to come...