Monday, June 19, 2017

The Greenest Grass

Walking back from the mailbox, the wind was whistling and the trees were swaying and I felt like I was at the ocean. Since I am a water girl, it was dreamy. I just closed my eyes and breathed deeply. It was like medicine. I felt completely content in the moment. But I did more than enjoy the beauty. It made me look up and I saw this.


But I didn't just see the trees or squint my eyes against the sun or feel the cool breeze on my face, I saw who God is. His kindness. His grace. His beauty. His power. His love for me. His sovereignty and His faithfulness. In the busy, I tend to put my head down literally and figuratively and just do it. I don't have the brain space or the physical energy to pour into other people or things like my heart longs to do and I get bogged down and forget to really look up and see.

Do you ever wish things were different? Sometimes it's easy to get caught in a pattern of waiting for our next stage of life or for our circumstances to change....

Fewer burdens. Less sin. A husband/wife. A different/better husband/wife. More kids. Fewer kids. Older kids. Younger kids. More money. More space. Less space -lonely. Not tied down. More travel. Less responsibilities,  Direction from the Lord to move on. A bigger house/better location/bigger yard. A job. A different job. More friends. Deeper relationships.......... And round and round we could go.

I have been reminded that this is life. Life is not the next thing or the next place. We need to dig in right where He has put us and be faithful. Our life (your life) at the moment is exactly what it's supposed to be. He is so good to us no matter what obstacles, struggles or pain have come our way. It doesn't mean that it's easy. Sometimes it's so painful and life can get so messy. But His promises are sure.

Last week the pastor preached on contentment, it fit with my thinking and this post.  Lots of things resonated with me, but the one thing that keeps swinging through my mind from that sermon is that "the grass is the greenest right where you are. If it were greener somewhere else for you, the Lord would put you there."  Perfect.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

20 Years

I have been trying to write a blog post for a while now about today and the words aren't coming. But I need to write something  so this day is here in writing. (:

Ken and I have been married for 20 years today (yesterday). It feels like a life time ago that we said I do. We have experienced unspeakable joy and have had so much fun together with lots of laughing. (: The Lord has also taken us through twists and turns that have stretched us, matured us, broken us, built us up and sanctified us. We have experienced His grace, mercy, love and faithfulness in very real ways. 

I thank the Lord for my best friend. He has made me giddy and given me butterflies since I was 14 1/2 years old. I can't imagine walking through this life with anyone else. I would say I do all over again today.

I thought I would try to find some pictures of us. They are almost non-existent. The ones below are pretty much the only ones I could find in the last 7 years. We were going to take one last night together, but it was too windy at the beach! (:

   

 

 

   




  
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

7 Years of Health. Everyday Life. Thankfulness.

A memory from facebook popped into my feed the other day and it was a post from 6 years ago of just random life and it made me smile and teary at seeing all the kids so little. It rekindled my resolve to post here more often. Looking back is fun. (:

It's so exciting to me to feel the warm breeze. It's exhilarating. It feels like we are enjoying the outside here for the first time. Last year we weren't really settled in body or mind. The month of July and August just seem to have passed me by.  The kids are spending hours on the trampoline. It's good for them and me. (: If anyone is selling a second-hand tramp, we are looking. Ours is getting rather sad. Seriously. Let me know.  The next nice day, the kids and I are going to have a 'core school day' and tackle tidying up. It's more fun to be outside when things are clean. It's a mess out there. Our barn/garage is horrifical. I cringe when someone drives up and that door is open. It's been a lesson in letting go for me. If I had my way, I would mop the garage floor. I like order. But it's not realistic in my season (Or ever. I promise I won't ever mop the garage floor. It's just my natural want.). Right now I am happy if my kitchen floor is clean. Hehe. (:


We are in the middle of birthday season here. Natalie turned 13 on the 2nd. Josh turned 19 on the 10th. Siah is turning 11 on the 20th. I had a big picture blog post planned for the 3 of them, but it didn't get done. I will keep working on it. It's harder when the pictures aren't already on the computer. It will come eventually. Late is ok. (:  

Here is one of our birthday girl. 


I would post one of Josh here on his birthday, but he is not so much a picture kind of guy anymore. I get it. (:  Here is one of my faves from long ago. 


There are about 40 days left of school and we are anticipating the end - All of us for different reasons. It's been a great year for Micah. I am thrilled with how he is doing at school, but Micah is exhausted at the end of every day. I am not sure if it's a homeschool thing or a Micah thing, but he is ready for some down time. The kids and I are feeling so ready to be done too. The nice weather is tantalizing and I am ready to spend some time organizing my house. It feels cluttery. I need a week to purge.  I just can't get to it during the school year. (: I can't wait until Ken is home for the summer. I am sure that he will have school work to do and likely preaching, but we will enjoy some down time as well.

Ken and I watched this video on facebook the other day and it had us in tears. It was so real. Those people were us. They are real moms. That video is a language that you know if you have had a sick child, whether it was for a week, a month, a year or longer.  It was done by Sick Kids in TO. This video gives you a small view into the raw emotion felt  For us, it was a reminder to pray for those families that have kids in treatment or kids that have long term challenges/disabilities. It's true that the families need to persevere and keep walking, but it's the Lord who gives the strength needed to carry on. I am so thankful for how He tenderly holds the hurting. 

I realized on Saturday morning that we missed Micah's cancer free anniversary. I laughed and jumped up to find Ken. It's fun celebrate those things, but I love that our lives don't rotate around those dates or the thoughts of what was. It's good to forget sometimes.

March 25, 2010, Micah had his lung resection surgery and became cancer free. He had just under half of his left lung taken out. This is the surgery that they wouldn't do 3 months earlier when he relapsed because the tumor was too big. Three months later, the tumor was bigger, but they were going to just try the surgery because nothing else was working. The first few days of his recovery were awful. Micah suffered. Once we passed that hard, we began to see that we needed to flip our mind and hearts around. A week before, they had given Micah a few months to live if we didn't try the surgery. In the months coming up to the surgery, we had begun to let go of Micah. We had started the process of giving him back to the Lord. So now we had to turn it all around and start looking towards the future. It was hard to separate what was in the moment and what could/would most likely happen. That "most likely" never happened. Here we are 7 years out and only an occasional puffer is needed. No other meds. A healthy 15-year-old boy. Praise be to the Lord, whose tenderness, mercy and grace are incomprehensible.

Just a picture to finish the post off. Micah put Tessa in the basket while he was loading the dishwasher so she wouldn't climb on it. Excuse the weird edit. I thought it would be fun to make her sparkly today. (:  I should add for my memories that she took her first 3 steps on Good Friday. It was fun!




One more of Siah taking Tessa for a walk. It was either that or help me clean out the freezer. Haha. ( : He is getting so good at taking care of her. As I type this he is reading a book to her and just before that he took her outside to pick a flower. All the kids adore her and spend a lot of time loving, playing and teaching her, but I have loved watched Siah growing into her. This picture kind of sums Siah up in my mind. I can't quite articulate why. Maybe another day. (:


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

One year

This is a lot of words and a lot of pictures for one little lady  Since I can't bottle her, I have to write it down so I don't forget! (:

Our littlest girl Tessa, who is also known around here as TT, Bee-bee, Tessie, Tess, Te-ssaaaa Pig (Instead of Peppa pig haha) and Molly. Ken calls Tessa Molly at least once a day. She has longish hair that is in her eyes often and she looks like a Molly especially when she just wakes up.

According to my middle boy, she is the cutest and sweetest baby he has ever seen or loved. I think he is right. We all love her so much and she has added much joy to our family. If you ran a video camera in our house, I am positive that at least once a day you would see and hear us all gushing taking delight in her as a family. There are lots of laughs, smiles and awwwwwww's. We thank the Lord for her.
  • She has a big personality and is spunky and fun.
  • I adore her shiny eyes. 
  • If I stand still for a second too long, she will be holding onto my legs. 
  • She loves to kiss people.
  • She loves flipping through books. She will even just look at words. She has loved words since she was itty bitty.
  • Micah pretended to cry tonight while she was sitting with him. She looked at me and stared as if to ask what she was supposed to do about it. She then  laid her head on his chest and said, "Awwww." to comfort him. It was one of the cutest things ever. She knows how to read people and made a conscious decision what to do about it. It melted all of us. (: 
  • She loves it soft and cuddly. 
  • She loves to write. She can hold a pencil and makes marks on the page.
  • She has been in 2 provinces and was born in the US. She gets around. (: 
  • She loves to play on my bed with the kids.
  • She will close a book and say All Done!!
  • She has no teeth yet.  
  • The trampoline is her new delight. 
  • She is short and light, but has a big belly.
  • She doesn't sleep through the night and often ends up in our bed. Good thing we have a king, though too bad that she thinks my pillow is where it's at! Although 2 out of the last 3 nights, she slept through. A-mazing!!
  • She can climb stairs.
  • Tessa never took to the playpen. She has probably been in there for an hour in her entire life. I just took it down the other day. She can do stairs and there are enough people around here to keep an eye on her. I usually assign someone to be her keeper when I am busy doing something. She is pretty self-sufficient already. 
  • She loves people and adores other babies. 
  • She has words: Mama. Dada. All done. Hi Hello. Bye. Nana (banana) Si-ah. Anna. Kitty  Ooooooooo. Tessa. Micah. Don't touch. 
  • She loves her baby, blanket and soother. 
  • She LOVES music and will dance and put my phone to her ear and sway. She can feel the music.  
  • No matter how little sleep she gets the night before, she is always friendly and smiley in the morning. 
  • She will eat most food and has started to tell me when she is full. Delight. 
  • She often has a cough and a runny nose. We can't seem to escape it with her. 
  • She loves the car and the stroller. 
  • She is not quite walking. She will stand on her own in one spot, but can't quite get going. It will happen any time. It sounds nuts, but her feet have been too small. They are finally growing and her balance has improved greatly.
Our sweet baby is a gift. We have loved watching her grow into her own little person. Sometimes I long to smell her newborn neck, but then I hear her yelling Maaamaaaaaaa and I am thankful for my big girl. It won't be long before she joins the ranks. Yesterday, she went to the park for the first time with Ken and the kids. Time goes so quickly. I wish I could bottle a little bit of her. Her sweetness is tangible. I thank the Lord for this little person.

Minutes old and her first skin to skin moments. Ken said smile and this is all I could do. My face wouldn't work and I could hardly talk. I was the most tired of my life. After birth, I am usually ready to jump up and get going, but this time not so much. Maybe it was because of my 'advanced maternal age'. I was reminded of that regularly at appointments throughout my pregnancy! I laughed every time I heard it.  (:  Her labor was amazing up until that last 45 minutes. But look her little lips and squinty eyes.... It was all worth it.


Ken was sm-iiittten, from the first moment. I love a daddy and his girls. Right from the start, she will would wiggle until we took her arms out of the swaddle. 


Day 2. I stayed in the hospital for 1 sleep with her. It was the best thing I could have done. The rest was nice. I loved the care in the hospital. With the others, I always went home within 4 hours. Looking  back, I should have stayed one more day. (: 


Packed up to go home. She cried all the way home. The kids were quiet, but I could see their faces and they were wondering if this was our new life - A screaming baby!! As time went on, they were relieved that she wasn't a screamer and was a great traveler.


I week.



In the next two, she is 2 weeks. These were taken in a hotel room in Brampton on a weekend that Ken was preaching. The bed spread was so white. (:  I love pictures of her on her belly. She was a very small froggy baby, so much so that they checked her often to makes sure there was nothing wrong with her hips. (:


Her little bum was always in the air.. So yummy. 


4 weeks. My dear friend Joni visited and shot a whole bunch of Tessa. It was a fun afternoon. 




 Turk from Tarzan 



3 months


She had a mohawk for a while. She lost most of her side hair, but kept the top. (: 


5 months


7 months - She can do the full splits. It's crazy.  - Oct 2016



This is my favorite soother holder. She still uses it all the time. A little girl from our Grand Rapids congregation, who was from South Africa (with the most amazing accent) made it for her. It's special to me. I will never forget her sweet voice telling me that she made it for Tessa Jayne and that she was thankful that she was born. It was so sweet. (:



.


 9 months




10 months


Fever cheeks


11 Months - These next few are poor quality, but she had her Molly hair going and they just show her personality so much. She is so fun. She is playing with the books here. She seriously loves books. All books. It's strange.







One week away from a year! (I tried to edit the spaghetti off of her face, but I couldn't. I guess it adds to the sweetness.)



The whole house is buzzing for her birthday today. I wonder if we enjoy her so much because we have so many people to enjoy her with. It's busy, but so good. 


I think about this verse all the time when I look at all my babies. So special isn't it?

Psalm 139:13-14 (ESV)

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fifteen

(I started this post a week before Micah's birthday. His birthday was January 7. Better late than never! (: )

I am a numbers girl. As we start 2017, I can't help but look at our new numbers. They are big ones. 20 years married. Kids turning 19,15,13,11,7,1. It's our odd year! (:

Today's number is 15. That is Micah's number. His birthday is on Saturday. We celebrate all of our kids' birthdays. The Lord has blessed them all with each of their years, but this week we are thanking the Lord for Micah's life.  

I tried to do 15 years in 15 pictures, but it didn't' work! (:

My dark little baby, whom we prayed for for 3 years. Such a beautiful blessing.I thought that Tessa looked like Micah at birth. But looking at this pic, I realized that she really didn't. 



Our little men, Josh and Micah. They were so cute together. This was the toughest camping trip of our lives. I think the kids were 1, 3, 7. I am pretty sure I was just expecting Siah.  They were dirty every minute of this week in Kilbear. We left a day early because we were so done. The lady in the booth said she couldn't give our money back for the last night and I laughed. I told her she could keep it. No problem. We just needed to get home. We laugh so hard when we think of our kids sitting in the ashes of the fire pit and a raccoon getting into our van and eating our bread and honking the horn in the middle of the night. Haha. . Memories. (:

See this face... This is the kid that would run away from us in his boots and underwear down the street. This is the boy that we lost for an hour in our neighborhood. He was standing beside the railroad tracks in his boots and underwear.  This is the face that poured milk in the VCR and wrote with sharpy on the carpet. I think he made me cry the most of all the kids when he was little. I can laugh now, but boy he was a challenge. You would never know it now. He is so tender and soft. The Lord used his cancer to change him. He suffered physically and emotionally and it turned his life upside down. But what came out the other side was a little heart that the Lord touched. It's quite beautiful really.


Micah at MBC. His first fish. What a yummy little boy.


Aug 2007 - 5 years old. Kim took this picture for the Sunday School wall at the church picnic at Peace Williams. I see Grace's eyes here. The cancer may have been in his body already. He was diagnosed with stage 4 a few months later. I have this little shirt still. He wore it a lot back then. When he out grew it, I threw it in the bin for when Josiah could fit it. When the time came, I put it on Josiah and it just didn't feel right. It went back in the tote. We are going to ask a friend to make a pillow case or pillow out of the shirt and his pj pants (below) to keep as a memory! (:


Summer of 2008 - 6 years old.  Almost a year into treatment. He was doing chemo and radiation at this point and had shingles. You can see the shingles by the chin of his stuffed animal. You can also see the radiation burn on the one side of his belly underneath his port. He was in isolation here on morphine. The pain was incredible. You can see it in his squinty lifeless eyes. We realized that Micah had shingles on a Sunday afternoon. We were heading into a week stretch that we thought we would all be home as a family. I remember getting ready to go to hospital, packing the van and getting in. We left Ken, Josh, Natalie and Josiah crying in the driveway. We just wanted to be together at home.  It was one of Micah's lowest points health wise and our whole family had hit a wall. We were done. I remember it was the first time I was angry. I know with clarity and surety that the Lord knew best, but at that moment my heart was thinking that the shingles were just too much. Micah was so tired. The Lord knows. He is faithful at all times.

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December -ish of 2008 - A month away from 7. The kids visiting Micah during an inpatient treatment.  Micah took steroids to help with his lung damage from radiation. His lungs were taking on fluid and the steroids fixed everything. Ken and I were probably switching off. I did the days and Ken did the nights.




This is after treatment was done the first time, the summer of 2007. He is still 7. It's hard to believe that he was 7 in the picture above and below.  His hair was back. He was slim again. Natalie and Micah are standing outside the Art Therapy room. Someone asked if they were twins that day. He is a few months from relapse. I find this one really hard to look at. I forgot how little he was when he relapsed. We had some very grown up conversations and he weighed into some life altering decisions. I find it hard to comprehend.


January 2010 - 8 years old . A few weeks after relapse. We were advised to get family pictures done by our people at the hospital. We had just come back the night before from Great Wolf Lodge. A sweet family gave us the gift of a few days away. It was so needed. These first weeks especially were were filled with sorrow that words can't really describe. It was a blessing to get away from home. Some day I would like to be able to give like that family gave to us. These pictures are one of my favorite sets of pictures. I actually have a few on my wall still. They remind me of where the Lord took us. I smile to remember that I was about 14 weeks pregnant with our sweet Grace. (: 






 May 2010. Micah is 8. It's a few months after his big lung surgery. At this point we weren't sure if he was cancer free or not. He looks tired and white yet.  I was very pregnant with our little Grace. This is at my sister's wedding. Her original wedding month was September. She changed it because we weren't sure if we would have Micah in September and she wanted him there. It was a great day.


Summer 2010 - Doing what he loves.



Family pictures - fall of 2011 - .9 years old. Here he looks healthy and back to his old self. ( :


Summer of 2013 -11 years old. Grand Rapids, MI. Playing ball in the school yard behind our house. Such good memories.



Micah made the All Star game in GR. 




Summer 2015 - Vancouver BC - 13 years old.


Victoria BC 


 Deep Cove, Vancouver, BC 

The first meeting. Tessa and Micah - March 29, 2016. 14 years old. Love love love this one (:


Watching baseball with the new sister. in Ken's office in Grand Rapids. Don't pay attention to Ken's desk. He was in the middle of organizing to move! Boy, I am sure glad that move is done! He does miss his office space. He spent hundreds of hours sitting at that desk in that room with his Starbucks mug filled with Bigelow tea or hot chocolate! (:



First day of grade 9 -Sept 2016 - Back in St Thomas - 14 years old.



We are so thankful to Lord for preserving Micah's life. I say that not only in relation to cancer but before that too. It's a blessing that he didn't get hit by a car or drown in the neighbor's pool. We are even thankful he didn't kill himself or someone else when he started the car and put it in reverse. Crazy.  Six years ago, we never dreamed that Micah would turn 15.  It's a beautiful gift and we are thankful that we are a complete family of 8. Each year together fills us with gratitude.

I thought about doing this story without including his years of cancer. It seems time that his identity is not wrapped up in what he went through. But I realized that it can't be done without it. It is forever a part of his story and it's a beautiful one of grace. We praise the Lord for his mercy and for giving us this special young man.