Archive for the 'Me' Category

What a Difference a Year Makes

As we are embarking on another trip to Houston, trip number 8 to be exact, I am flooded with memories of the past 18 months.  Where we started, where we’ve been, and most importantly how far we’ve come on this journey! 

In February of 2008…

Lily was 4 and Riley was 2. Lily was in Pre K and I was worried about her missing too much school when we were in Florida.  Riley still wore diapers and had a shousha(aka pacifier).   Ricky and I were celebrating our 29th…ahem…or maybe 33 birthdays.  We were heading down to Florida for Spring Training.  He was a professional baseball player pursuing his dream.  I was a stay at home mom and couldn’t be happier!  We spent February in the pool and at the beach.  Not to mention catching a few spring training baseball games. 

In February of 2009…

Lily was 5 and Riley was 3.  Lily was in Kindergarten and a love of gymnastics had blossomed in her life.  Riley was in preschool and  reminded me how being 3 was way worse than being 2!  We were headed to Houston for the third time to meet with Dr. Yung at MD Anderson. 

Ricky was on his second round of chemo.  He weighed 30 pounds less than he does now. He was sick and nauseas from the chemo. He had a funky hair loss from the radiation that was just starting to grow back in.  He was keeping his head shaved until the patches of hair grew back in.   He didn’t get out much except to go to the doctor and church.  He was still going to speech three days a week. He had a lot of speech and memory issues.   He got the keys to his Tahoe back on February 7.  He drove across the street and back, but was thrilled to have some independence back. 

I was still a stay at home mom and loved every minute of it.  I had more bad days than good.  The year had it’s toll on me.  I realized how much more I needed the Lord in my life than ever before.  I lost friends that couldn’t handle the situation…at least I guess that’s why.  My friends that stuck with me helped get me through some really rough times.  The Lord placed new people in our life that mean the world to us.

February of 2010…

Lily is 6 and Riley is 4.  Lily is in first grade and loves school.  She is an amazing student who loves reading!  Her passion is gymnastics. She is intense in school and intense in gymnatics.  She puts her everything into all that she does.  She loves the Lord and His light shines through her!  Her giggle and smile are contagious…she lights up the room.  She lights up my heart!  She is a Daddy’s girl through and through.

Riley is in preschool and loves the social aspect of school.  He will finally write his name but chooses when he wants to put the letters in the correct order.  He gives everything 110% and is all rough and tough boy.  He is loving basketball right now but can’t wait for t ball in the spring. He loves singing praise and worship songs in the car and I smile every time.  “Louder mommy”…he likes the music loud so he can sing louder!  Not a bit on key but precious as can be.   He also loves to make people laugh!  He will definitely be the class clown.  He has a ton of girls that chase him at school and he loves it…I’m not as in love with that as he is =)  He is definitely a mama’s boy!

Ricky and I are about to celebrate our 29th birthday…OKAY!!!…35th!!  Wow!  We are getting old.  Ricky stays at home and takes care of many of the household duties.  He is still very fatigued and naps every day.  He has put all the weight back on that he lost and looks so healthy.  He still has speech and  memory issues but has learned how to cope with them.  He is no longer embarrassed to speak to others, he is who he is!  He still keeps his head shaved but not because of the hair loss.  He likes his scar.  It is part of him.  It is part of his testimony.  He wants people to ask so he can share his love of Jesus.  Oh my, and how he loves Jesus!  He is consumed with the Word and all that it has to offer.  His life is Jesus and his family.  He has slowly began to share his testimony as the Lord has allowed. 

I am teaching a pre K class at The Potters House. I have thirteen amazing students who make me laugh…and sometimes cry…three days a week =)  They are really wonderful.  The staff I work with is amazing and I am so thankful that the Lord has placed me there.  There are supportive and so positive.  It is a wonderful Christian environment to be in!   I am going to school for my Masters in Educational Leadership. I cried through much of the first term but have found the first few weeks of this term much more bearable.  I am actually enjoying my classes now!   Staying busy is good for me…it keeps my mind focused on where I am and where I need to be.  Too much time to think gets me in trouble…  

We have amazing friends and family that help keep our family running smoothly during the craziness that is our life.  The trips to Houston every two months wouldn’t be possible without my mom, Meemaw, holding down the fort while we are gone.  Not to mention Becky taking Lily to gymnastics at 6 AM on Tuesday mornings and Amy bringing her home at night.  The kids stay on their regular routine and that is priceless.  The Potter’s House being understanding of my taking off so much for our trips and my professors allowing me to miss class is also a huge burden lifted.  Have a mentioned the most important thing…a God that gives me enough grace every day to get through!

As we head to this next appointment I would be lying to say that I don’t get nervous.  I try to keep it real here, and for real, I get nervous.  I trust God completely.  I gave up a long time ago trying to carry this on my own.  However, my flesh takes over and doubt and fear do creep in.  That is when I must remember that He has got it all under control.  Then I remember this verse…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

The peace of God takes over and there is a calmness.  One that I cannot describe.  You only know it when you’ve felt it. 

Please be in prayer for us as we head to Houston.  Some of Ricky’s blood counts were off a bit but nothing that seems too worrisome.  I have the MRI in my hand but we won’t have it reviewed until Tuesday.  I will try and update sometime on Tuesday with the wonderful news…you wouldn’t expect anything other than wonderful would you?!?

Love to you all!!

Happy Anniversary

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We would have thought that 17 years ago, at the age of 17, that I would meet the man who I was going to marry.  A simple blind date at McDonald’s turned into something amazing.  I realize some of you may not know the story, so I’ll start at the beginning.

I was working at McDonald’s and one of my friends that worked there went to school with Ricky.  She took my senior picture to show him and said she wanted to set us up.  A couple weeks went by and nothing happened.  He finally agreed and so we met at McDonald’s over chicken sandwiches and fries.  I had on my finest two sizes too big colorblock sweatshirt, pegged jeans that were so high they probably touched my bra strap, and the biggest curly hair you have E V E R seen.  I’ll have to dig the pics out so you can see them.  My words do NOT do it justice.  Ricky had on a striped button down shirt tucked into his navy blue guess jeans.  OH YEAH BABY!  He had on a braided belt to hold those bad boys up too!  We were quite the striking couple that night.

Our first official date was on November 20, 1992.  That means that next Saturday will be our 17th anniversary of dating.  That also means that we have been officially together for half of our lives.  Crazy!

After our blind date, we continued to date nonexclusively for a while.  After a few months we made it official and were only dating each other.  I was a senior and he was a junior, so he still had another year of high school.  I went to school at Miami University but lived at home.  We still got to see each other quite a bit.  Then, he signed with the LA Dodgers in June of 1994.  My heart was crushed.  He was going to Montana to play rookie ball for the summer.  I truly had NO IDEA what I was in for when I decided to date a ball player.  He did give me my first promise ring that summer.  It was a gold ring with an opal heart.  It had two teeny tiny diamonds on both sides of the opal.  Awww…..

After we dated for 3 years, I gave him the ultimatum.  With all of the traveling he was doing, I wanted a committment.  I was busting my tail in school and at work and he was out having fun playing ball!  I wanted a real ring…a diamond ring =)  He proposed when we were 20 years old, but we didn’t set a date.  I wanted to finish school first and get a house.  We certainly get a house on his income.  He was making around $750 a month for 5 months out of the year.  Yikes!  He continued on with ball and I was pleased to have a ring and call him my fiancée!

Then I graduated in December of 1997 and got my first teaching job in the fall of 1998.  I pinned him down and made him set a date! LOL  We decided to get married in November of 1999.  We closed on our first house in January of 1999 right before he headed off for another ball season.  I was teaching first grade so I couldn’t go with him.  I planned the wedding and he played ball!  On November 13, 1999, we finally tied the knot!  After 7 years of being together, we were finally official.  However, we weren’t going to get to be together like we hoped.  We needed my job to be able to pay the bills.  So, we spent the offseason and parts of the summers together.  We would go months without seeing each other.  That just stunk, but it was the way it had to be.

Then he got the call he had waited his whole life to get!  In September of 2001, he came home at the end of the season.  He had been home a couple of weeks and was watching the Astros game on TV.  His buddy Roy got hurt.  That night he got a call and they asked him to fly to meet the team.  He got his first shot at the big leagues!  I was still teaching and in school for my Master’s, so I was only able to go visit him on the weekends.  Once again, we realized how tough it was to be apart.

He had an amazing month and I loved my weekend trips to meet him wherever he was.  In December, we sat down and made a decision. I was going to take a leave of absence and put my Master’s on hold.  We were going to take a leap of faith and I was going to join him for spring training in February of 2002.  It worked out great as he made the team out of spring training.  We had a wonderful summer and truly enjoyed getting be a family.  We sold our tiny house and bought one a little bigger in October of 2002.  We also had a surprise…I was pregnant!

Lily joined our family in May of 2003.  She was born 5 weeks early in Houston, Texas.  She was such a blessing and I can’t even begin to tell you the joy that she brought into our lives.   She was my little travel buddy as we moved quite a bit when she was little.  Before she was two, we had lived in Florida, Texas,  Louisiana, Ohio, and California.  She even lived in Portland, Oregon for a few hours, but that is a story for another time =)

Riley joined our family in September of 2005.  Another blessing from the Lord that just fit into our family seamlessly.  He was a great baby who didn’t live the baseball life for a full year.  Ricky retired in  2006 so Riley got to enjoy being at home.  It was such a great experience for us all to be home…for a whole summer!  That didn’t last long when Ricky decided he wanted to play ball again.

So, in February of 2007 we headed to Florida.  We had such a great time.  The kids loved Sarasota and so did I.  6 weeks at the beach and in the sun.  Riley loved getting to see Daddy play ball.  It was a first for him!  Ricky had a great spring and we spent that year between Louisville and Cincinnati.  It was an amazing summer filled with lots of wonderful family memories!

Ricky decided to give it a shot in 2008 again, so we had another fun trip to spring training.  This time was even more fun!  Riley was two and Lily was 4, so we had tons of fun at the beach.  Every day was a new adventure and we just loved every minute down there.  Unfortunately, baseball in the US ended two weeks into the season and the rest….well you all know what happened after that!

So, that is the journey of how we got started and where we are now!  We are a blessed family that does not take one single moment together for granted.  It amazes me that the Lord knew 17 years ago what a testimony he was building in our relationship.  That one day these two awkward teenagers would share an amazing testimony about God’s love and faithfulness.  It gives me chills to think of how he weaved it ever so perfectly.  I won’t go into detail, but the fact that Ricky played with the Astros for 3 years and the relationships we formed when we were there.  Relationships that years later have become a second family for us.  The fact that He knew we would need those people in our lives to help us get through these rough years of treatments and visits to MD Anderson.  That is just one of many ways that the Lord has shown Himself through our 17 year story!

I am so honored to be your wife!  I admire your strength and courage every day.  I admire your passion for the Lord and the strong spiritual leader that you have become in our household.  I love you with all my heart and I am so thankful that the Lord placed me in your life.

Check out this picture!

This is one of my favorite pictures that I took this fall.  I love fall and I thought the background was unique.

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One of the blogs I visit, Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground, had a chance to have your photo edited.  I entered and she did it for me!  Thanks so much Lynette!  You can click here to check out her blog.  She is an amazing women with an even more amazing story!

So here is one of the edits.  It is cropped and brightened.

fall wagon picture brightened

This my favorite one though.  It is antiqued!

fall wagon picture antiqued

This so makes me want to go out and figure out how to edit photos!   Another time though…I am really supposed to be reading two chapters and discussing them on blackboard for my class!  Oh, how I love college =)

 

In the Middle of Something

So I heard this sermon the other day that really hit hard.  I’m sure most of you know the story about Moses and him leading his people out of Egypt.  They made it to the bank of the Jordan River and sent spies ahead to check out the promise land.  The spies came back with stories of “giants”, but the land flowed with milk and honey.  They were scared and turned back. Not to mention this river that they needed to figure out how to cross. They ended up wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.  Sounds like fun, huh?

Then after 40 years Joshua is going to lead them to the promise land.  He knows that he has the river to cross with all these people.   The river was in his way.  River=problem.  So what does he do?  He sends the presence of the Lord before him and the people.  He sends the Ark of the Covenant before them and lets them know that the waters will part once it enters the river.  How many of us can say that when we are faced with a problem, we send out the Lord’s presence?  What about praying for a problem instead of trying to “fix” it ourselves.  I am so guilty of trying to fix my own problems.  However, God wants us to trust in Him and let him fix them for us.  It might not be quick.  It might not be easy.  But if we trust in Him and give them to Him, he will take care of them.

So this “problem” of a river is before them.  Joshua and the people praised God for what he was about to do.  They had faith that the Lord would solve this problem for them.  Did they moan and complain?  Nope.  Did they sob and ask why?  Nope.  They praised and worshipped for what they knew would happen.  The priests carrying the Ark dipped their feet into the water and it parted.  There they stood on dry land.

Problem solved.  Right?  The people walked across dry land and the priests stayed in the dry part of the river with the ark.  When all had passed, they could have stepped up and out.  The problem was over.  How many of us pray for a problem and are happy when it is solved.  Then we tend to forget about it.  We may whisper a quiet, “Thank you Jesus” and then go on like it never it happened.  Not Joshua.

He then placed twelve stones in the center of the Jordan river as an alter.  He continued to worship and praise God in the midst of this “problem”.  He also ordered that twelve men carry shoulder size boulders out of the river to take to town and build a memorial.  He wanted everyone to see the smooth river rocks as proof of what the Lord had done to get them there. 

This is the part that I like best.  When the priests stepped out of the dry river bed with the Ark, the river returned to normal.  This “problem” was no longer there, it was then a miracle.  How many problems in your life have turned into miracles?  How many times have we looked at what could have been a disaster but turned into something so good?  Do you praise God before, during, and after all of these times?  That is the hard part.  It’s hard to praise Him when things are tough.  It’s hard to praise Him when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  But He deserves it!  He can turn your problems into miracles.  The people of Israel stood and looked forward at the Jordan and saw a problem but looked behind them at the Jordan and saw a miracle.  It all depends on which direction you are looking.

I know that through the past 11 months we have had plenty of problems.  Ones that seemed like they would never end.  Ones that we are still in the process of getting through.  Ones that are no longer problems, but miracles.  I have tried so hard to praise Him throughout.  When I heard this story about Joshua, I couldn’t help but relate our own situation.  When we found out about Ricky’s tumor, we were crushed.  However, we used the power of prayer and sent the Lord ahead of our situation.  He helped us find the right surgeon and then the right neuro oncologist.  Even though we were faced with speech problems, radiation, chemotherapy, mood swings, sleepless nights (I could keep on going), we tried to find even small things to be thankful about. 

Were we disappointed when Ricky came out of surgery and couldn’t speak?  Absolutely.  However, we praised God that he had all of his motor skills.  Were we disappointed when the doctor said he could remove 100% of the tumor, but only got 90%?  Yup.  But we praised Him that it was operable because so many are not.  Were we disappointed when the tumor was a very rare Grade III Anaplastic Oligodendroglioma when they thought it was a Grade II benign tumor.  YES!  But we praised Him that it was not a Grade IV Glioblastoma that would have been even worse.  I could keep going on and on, but I think you get the point =)  Praise Him in every situation. 

So, this cancer diagnosis is the river in our lives.  We are 100% positive that God is working a miracle in our lives. We try hard to praise Him even during this difficult time.  God is the same now that He was before the cancer diagnosis.  He deserves the same praise that he did 11 months ago.

 Remember that on the other side of every problem is a miracle.

Uphill, Downhill, and Flat Road

Soooo….I signed up to do the Frog Jog 5K for our YMCA.  I have been spinning, but not running.  When I signed up, I thought surely my endurance is  good enough to run this race.  Then last night, I started to doubt myself.  I even tried to talk myself out of it.  However, this morning the kids and Ricky were up and ready to cheer me on!  The kids even had a fun run after the race.  So, I went.

When I got there I was stretching and thinking harder about my goals for this race.  My first goal was to run the entire time.  When I say run, I mean more like jog as slow as I can without it counting as walking.  My second goal was to do it under 36 minutes.  I am happy to say that my first goal was accomplished!  I ran the whole time!!!  I was so proud of myself because there were definitely times I felt like walking, but I didn’t!  My second goal I came very close, but finished in 36 minutes and 54 seconds.  Close!!!  We won’t mention the mall walker that finished before me with a gimpy leg.  Hey, I said we wouldn’t mention her!!!

As I was running today, my mind wandered.  I prayed a lot throughout my run as I was listening to Ricky’s Ipod.  He has a little shuffle that I steal borrow from time to time.  My run today reminded me a lot of our journey in life.  I thought about the hills that felt like they would never end.  My legs burned and my breathing was labored.  Then the wind would kick up and try and push me back down the hill.  I just closed my eyes and pushed harder.  Then when I got to the top of each one, it was a victory!  I made it even though I thought I couldn’t do it. 

Then there were the downhill runs!  Oh, how I love to run downhill.  The Lord blesses us with the prize of getting to the easy part after the hard part is finished.  The wind was picking up from behind and giving me a little boost. 

Then there were stretches that were flat road that I felt like I could go on forever!  My speed picked up and the wind was nonexistent.  I could feel the sun shining on my face and all was good.

So, how does this relate to my life!  Well, this week was an uphill battle for me.  I could feel everything and anything trying to push me back down.  I struggled with making it through.  My mind was losing the battle just as my body was losing today.  But, no matter how much it hurt, I went on.  I pushed through.  I made it!  I’m just praying that this week the Lord will bless me with a downhill run because I so deserve it after this week =)  Just kidding!!!

The point is that life is full of hills!  You are going to have times when the hill seems neverending.  You can’t even see the top and you wonder what’s the point?  Why keep going?  It would be easier just to walk or stop altogether.  But friends, on the other side of every uphill battle is the downhill run!  It’s a blessing from the Lord for making it through each and every trial.  It may be a little blessing, but look for it!  My blessing today was seeing all three of those smiling faces as I rounded the corner for the finish line!  Cheering me on and letting me know how much they love and care for me! (We won’t mention the mall walker directly in front of me with the gimpy leg.  That might ruin the story!!)

There are also times in life when you are on flat road.  Everything is going great and all is right in your world!  It seems so easy to just keep going.  Enjoy those times!  Take in every moment.  You never know when a hill might come along.  I sure didn’t see the one we were about to run last August.  But those hills make you stronger.  It’s taken me awhile to figure that out, but they do!

The best part about this journey of uphill battles, downhill runs, and flat roads is that you are never alone.  Even when the battle seems never ending, He is always there.  Even when everything seems so difficult, He is holding your hand.  Sometimes that’s the hardest thing to remember.  God will test our faith but it’s only to make us stronger!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything

James 1:2-4

Just as surely as He is with us when we are facing trials, He is also with us when we are running downhill.  He loves to bless us!  He loves to reward us for a job well done.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings today!  It’s amazing what the Lord can put in your head when you have 36 minutes and 54 seconds with no one but Him!

Blessings for a beautiful weekend!

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PS  Round 5 of chemo is officially done!!!!  7 more to go!!!

Pictures and More Pictures

Okay, I realize that I haven’t posted pictures in awhile.  So, this post will be mostly pictures.  I have some from Easter, Lily’s first soccer game, and Lily’s gymnastics banquet.  Enjoy!

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Continue reading ‘Pictures and More Pictures’

Pictures From Our Trip

Hey everyone!  Quick update before I post pictures.  We found out that Ricky will start his first round of chemo on December 29.  He is taking an oral pill called Temodar and he will take 4 pills nightly before bed.  He is on a cycle of 5 days on and 23 days off.  He will also be taking Zofran every 6 hours to help with the nausea.  They said to expect some fatigue and nausea, but at least the zofran will help with that.  I will definitely keep yall updated when he starts.

Continue reading ‘Pictures From Our Trip’