12/21/12

Margot's Room: Little English Lady Meets Little Hipster Baby

I've had a nursery planned out in my head for years. Of course, in all my planning, I was convinced we'd have a boy first, so when Margot turned out to be a Margot, not a ____, I had to adjust a bit.  My plans also did not include that we would still be living in a two-bedroom flat with no yard and the laundry two floors down, but that's life I suppose, and we are grateful for what we've been given.

Anyhow, once I actually came to terms with the idea that we were really having a girl, and that we still needed to use that second bedroom for guests, I started to put together a room that would not only still function and feel comfortable for our guests, but could house a growing, beautiful girl and all of her stuff. (Side bar: how can such tiny people have so much STUFF?!) It's still a work in progress, but I always feel that way about every room in my house.
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It had to start with a plan for storage. This can be an issue in any house, but we had some particular challenges due to our closet space, or lack thereof. Kyle's clothes have long occupied the closet in our guest room (or Spare Oom, if you will), and there is just nowhere for them to go from there. We knew we'd need a wardrobe for Margot.
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We also knew that we wanted this shelving unit from IKEA, which just so happened to fit like a glove into the space we had available. It's currently a bit "busier" than I'd prefer, but did I mention how much STUFF she already has? I don't know that the shelf will ever make it down the stairs and out of this house if we move, but I couldn't be happier with the storage it provides in the meantime!
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The second thing I had to consider was color.  I wanted it to feel bright and cheery, and yet not too babyish. Neutral walls and neutral bedding, with brighter colors layered on top. For Margot's bed, I scoured the internet for crib bedding, but didn't like a thing, so I ended up getting plain white sheets, a vintage white quilt from Etsy, and a breathable bumper. It ended up being super cheap that way! We used an old quilt made by Kyle's grandmother as the "comforter" for the guest bed, and I was so glad that the beautiful flower blanket gifted to me by my mother a couple years ago could finally be on display.
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Many of the other pieces of furniture and decor in her room came from yard sales, Craigslist, and Etsy.
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One of my favorite items (and probably my mother's LEAST favorite) is her little woodland creature, who came from last year's Strange Folk Festival. He's currently just chillin' in her Boppy. I think he's cute and whimsical. Margot's Grandma Lu had a few other adjectives for him, but we love him just the same!
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Kyle made some personal contributions to the room, as well. He is an avid tea drinker, a connoisseur of fine tea, if you will. He's been saving dozens of tea tins for years, in the hopes they could some day be used for a baby. They look pretty cute just randomly stacked on her shelves for now, and I suspect she'll love playing with all of them some day.
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Two things I'm pretty sure of for the moment:
1. Her room will probably never look or feel this clean again.
2. As with every other room in my house, it will always feel unfinished.

Unfinished is not the same as incomplete, however, and when she is here I am confident the room will feel complete!

12/13/12

Cue the Jeopardy music.

As of today, Kyle is officially done with finals! He is 5/6 of the way through law school, and I couldn't be more excited or more proud of him. That is, until he gets that big, fancy Doctor of Jurisprudence in May, and then when he gets sworn in to the state bar next November. Those days will be very proud days. I already have visions of taking some precious family pictures with him in his cap, gown, and hood, and beautiful little Margot in a pretty Spring dress.

In the meantime, our life now looks a lot like this:

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

I've been pretty restless, both mentally and physically. This makes for long, fuzzy days and nights. At work I feel distracted and slow-moving, but I am thankful to still be working and have something to take my mind off of all. the. waiting. At home I feel physically exhausted, and yet so anxious and unable to rest well, wishing I had the energy to get up and really deep clean this whole darn house.  I keep waiting for that last big burst of energy that people keep telling me about. So far, I haven't seen any signs of it.

In these last few days as a family of two, I have some plans for how we'll spend our time. Most of it involves snuggling on the couch and watching movies. It sounds glorious to me!



12/9/12

A Bad Kitty Christmas

Kyle and I have a tradition of buying a new Christmas book every year. In the past, we've purchased classics like Christmas Day in the Morning and The Polar Express, and fun, silly books like Llama Llama Holiday Drama. We never plan what we want to get, we just peruse the Christmas books and get whatever strikes our fancy at the time. This year, we found a book that is not only a great story with a sweet ending, lots of rhymes, and a healthy dose of alliteration, but particularly appropriate for us.

You may have seen an update from me earlier this week that our very ornery kitty, Ellie, knocked down our whole Christmas tree, making a huge mess and snapping the legs off beyond repair. After locking her in our bedroom for a couple hours and shedding a few tears in frustration, we packed up all the ornaments and lights, and decided that it would just be one less thing we'd have to deal with after MJ arrives.
Ellie broke the Christmas tree. And my heart. #hormonemeltdown
Anyway, fast-forward to today... I went in search of our annual Christmas book, and the very first book I saw on the shelf was A Bad Kitty Christmas. Before even opening, I knew this would be our book.
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It's a pretty humorous story at first, detailing all the damage Kitty causes at Christmas time, but then takes a turn for the sentimental as Kitty's family responds to the naughtiness.
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I don't think there could be a better-fitting book for us this year, unless of course it had something to say about waiting on the arrival of a new baby. We still love our pretty kitty despite her destructive ways!
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12/7/12

A Lost Habit

My blogging has steadily decreased over the last couple years. I attribute this in part to grad school, and in part to other social outlets like Twitter and Instagram, where I can share bits and pieces of life as they happen. Lately, however, I find that I miss the reflection that comes from writing this blog, and the outlet to share pictures and document life's adventures in a more meaningful way.

As we are about to embark on one of life's biggest adventures, parenthood, I find that I really want to re-establish this habit of writing and sharing. I realize that my time is about to get stretched even more, but I also feel it's important to create this journal and scrapbook of sorts on the joys and challenges of our lives, and have a place to look back and see all that God accomplishes in time.

So here's hoping that I can re-establish this discipline, and that it won't be thought of as a chore, but something I can truly enjoy again. To jumpstart this, here's a mini-update on life recently.

We are waiting for Margot. I am feeling huge and increasingly uncomfortable. I woke up last night at 3am thinking I was having my first contraction (it felt just like people described), but then realized it was just gas... I'm sure you wanted to know that.
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 Kyle is taking finals. This semester has been very taxing (not that you'll find him complaining), and next semester doesn't look any better, particularly when you factor in a new baby at home. The poor man has pretty much every minute of every day scheduled, which makes for a pretty exhausting regimen. Remember last Spring when I wrote about how insanely busy he is? Well, it's worse now. We are both looking forward to the day when there is even an hour of free time to relax with each other, invest time in others, and enjoy life. One more semester and a summer of Bar prep to go!
Daddy is practicing.
That about sums it up for us. I am looking forward to Kyle being on break, which will allow us to do some fun things like go see The Hobbit. Oh, and having a baby. That'll be pretty good, too, I guess.

11/24/12

Hospital Bag

The pregnancy app on my phone has been telling me for two weeks that I should have a hospital bag packed, but I still haven't done it. I keep reading blog posts like this one where people share what they packed, and then I get super anxious about how disorganized I am.

Honestly, I don't get this whole packing-a-hospital-bag-a-month-in-advance thing. First of all, I still need to use all this stuff and I'm not about to buy duplicates of everything just so it can sit in a bag. Second of all, I don't anticipate needing to rush out the door so suddenly that we won't have time to gather these necessities while I am in early labor.  Third, I am annoyed at the idea of a bag just sitting around my house for who knows how long.  I think it will get in the way and just make me more anxious.

Is it really necessary? Tell me why, because I really don't buy it.

11/6/12

Counting Down and Facing Fears

We are just 48 days from Margot's "due date." Watching this number get smaller and smaller continues to bring out some pretty serious anxiety in me. Everything about our life is about to change forever. We've been through changing seasons of life before, but none so permanent, none so seemingly radical.
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I think my biggest fear is how it will affect our marriage. Although we are completely excited to be growing our family, we have been a family of two for so long that it seems crazy to be adding another person. We have been blessed with an unbelievably strong and happy marriage. Kyle is truly my best friend, and I have a very hard time sharing him. Work, law school, and many other things take his time, and I am so jealous of his time. Now I have to share him with another person? This is going to be weird, and hard.
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People keep telling me it won't be so hard, after all. They tell me that we'll be so in love with Margot we won't think about it, and that watching Kyle be her daddy will make me more in love with him. Well, I have no doubt about that. I have already witnessed the way he has cared for me and shown so much excitement over her, that it makes me crazy with love for him. I'm just selfishly wondering how I'm going to deal with having less time for just the two of us. Maybe it's because I'm an only child. Maybe it's because 9 years together without kids is too long and I've become really selfish. Maybe I'm just being ridiculous.
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One thing I am sure of is that MJ will be so lucky to grow up in a home where her daddy and mommy love each other so much. This is something that many kids (self included) can't really understand. This isn't to say that our marriage is perfect or that we'll be perfect parents, but I have to think that growing up in a household with happy parents who love each other sacrificially and show that love openly would be a pretty great thing. At least, that's my hope.
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We so desperately want to show her the love of Jesus in our marriage, in the way we love each other and her, and in the way we serve each other and our community as a family. All the other fears seem insignificant in light of this.
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There's no stopping this train, ready or not. We're praying God will miraculously equip us to accomplish his will and purpose for our family, and that there will be no loss of love and joy.

8/2/12

Nutella Cookies

Today I felt stranded in my house. Not because I couldn't actually go anywhere, but because I didn't have anything chocolate in the house.  As I was perusing Pinterest, I saw a link to these Nutella cookies from Tasty Kitchen.  I read a few of the reviews and then made a few modifications of my own. They turned out great!  Here's what I came up with:

1C Flour (Simply substitute almond flour to make these gluten free!)
1C (plus a couple extra spoonfuls) Nutella
1 Egg
1/4C Chocolate chips (chopped in mini food processor)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients together. Dough will be a little crumbly, but just use your hands to combine and roll into balls.  Bake 8-10 minutes.

Mine didn't flatten very well, so I used a fork to press them down (like a peanut butter cookie) after I pulled them out of the oven. After they cooled for a couple minutes, I took a bite and thought they needed a touch of sweetness, so I sprinkled a teensy bit of powdered sugar on each cookie. I paired it with some ice cold milk and it was warm, chewy, and delicious.

A warm Nutella cookie and an ice cold glass of milk. Hallelujah.

7/6/12

7/3/12

Calling All Moms!

I have been working on some wishlists and registry items for Baby Bass (because, let's face it, I've got some time on my hands these days) and I need your help.  I am overwhelmed by all the baby stuff.

Please tell me:
- What are your three favorite products for baby? Maybe it's some cool gear, the perfect blankie, or a really special toy.
- What are your three favorite products for new moms? Maybe it's your favorite lip gloss, a tote bag with the storage capacity of Mary Poppins' carpet bag,  or the world's greatest crockpot recipe.  Whatever it is, please tell me!

Nooooowwwww, GO!

6/24/12

Nothing to Eat: 25 Go-To Dishes.

I constantly struggle with feeling like I don't know what to make for dinner.  Lately, there have been a lot of days when the idea of prepping a meal made me sick or just seemed too daunting.  I have been living off of fruit and crackers for weeks.

I am TERRIBLY picky, so it really limits our meal plans.  I decided to compile a list of only the cheapest and easiest recipes I could throw together quickly and painlessly.  They're not the healthiest by any means, but remember I said CHEAP and EASY.  Pair them with the vegetable or salad of your choice for a very simple meal. This is getting posted on the side of my fridge and I'm calling it my "Nothing to Eat" list.
  1. Goulash: Ground beef, elbow macaroni, spaghetti sauce, pinch of sugar
  2. Spaghetti and garlic bread
  3. Grilled cheese and canned soup
  4. Sloppy Joes
  5. Brinner (that's BReakfast for dINNER)
  6. BBQ Chicken Sandwiches: 2-3 breasts in crockpot with BBQ sauce for 6-8 hrs
  7. Baked potato soup
  8. Buttered noodles with parmesan cheese
  9. Tacos
  10. Quesadillas: two tortillas buttered on outside, shredded cheese and meat of choice in middle, cook it just like a grilled cheese sandwich
  11. Tortilla roll-up: Spread cream cheese and chop lunch meat, roll and slice
  12. Ham and cheddar crescent roll-ups: sliced ham and shredded cheddar rolled up and baked to crescent instructions
  13. Broiled tilapia parmesan (5 minute prep, 10 minutes to cook)
  14. Broiled salsa tilapia: place tilapia in broiling ban, cover with salsa (and a bit of shredded cheese if you're feeling frisky), broil 10 minutes
  15. Baked potatoes: top with meat, cheese, or anything you want.
  16. Garlic chicken pasta: 2-4 chicken breasts cubed and pan cooked in ¼ C olive oil, 5-7 garlic cloves, add to cooked pasta, sprinkle with parmesan cheese
  17. Biscuits and gravy: fried sausage, add 3C milk, 3-4T flour,  serve over biscuits of choice
  18. BBQ Chicken Pizza:  store-bought pizza shell, cooked chicken breast, BBQ sauce, shredded mozzarella
  19. Tortilla shell mini-pizzas
  20. Sh*t on a Shingle: Ground beef with milk & flour gravy over toast. 
  21. Baked Salmon
  22. Chicken pot pie: 2 cans crescent roll dough, cream of chicken soup, chopped veggies, 2 cooked and diced chicken breasts, cook at 350 for 15 minutes
  23. Pork chops baked with McCormick Bag n’ Season
  24. Grilled paninis: your favorite sandwich buttered on the outside and grilled on the George Foreman 
  25. Fried egg sandwiches: top with bacon, mayo, lettuce, tomato, or nothing at all
Please share your favorite cheap and easy recipes! I'd love to have a few more go-to's when I just don't feel like hours of prep work!

6/6/12

My Friends

In the last couple months, I've developed some pretty good friendships.  I just want to take a moment to thank them for being there for me.
  • Peppermint Tums, thank you for always being by my side.  I take you everywhere because you always prove your worth.  You work hard and fast, and though you don't always get the job done in the nick of time, you always make things a little less painful.
  • Green and white tea, you are long time friends of mine, but I never would have guessed your stomach-soothing powers.  We will be life-long friends, but I just appreciate you a little more right now.
  • Soy nuts, although you are a recent addition to my inner circle of friends, I find that you are one the most effective friends at keeping my insides from coming out.  Perhaps it's your alkalizing powers or some other magical ingredient.  I don't know exactly what it is about you, soy nuts, but thank you for all you do.
  • Alkalizing fruits, you know who you are. You raucous bunch of pears, apples, pineapples, bananas, and more, have recently become my best friends and certainly the most beautiful and delicious of all my friends.  Your effects are long-lasting, your flavors are delightful. Thank you for keeping me fed and giving me nutrients.
I have tried so many remedies for morning sickness, I could hardly name them all.  For a long time, I was living off the stereotypical saltines and ginger ale, but it got to a point when that was just NOT cutting it, so I did a little research, and found that, while ginger is good, ginger ale is actually very acidic and so are the crackers.  More acid in my churning stomach was not what I needed.  

Upon the recommendation of formerly and currently pregnant friends, I tried everything from Preggy Pop Drops to Sea Bands.  The results were a bit inconsistent.  I am using the Sea Bands at this very moment, and they do seem to have a soothing effect.  

I've found it strange how food aversions work.  One day something can sound incredibly disgusting and I think I'll never want to eat it again, and the next it's all I want to eat.  It can change from hour to hour.  The only things that have consistently sounded good are frozen yogurt and fruit.  I was pretty consistently craving mac and cheese until a recent... unfortunate incident... after eating some.

Being sick can take it's toll.  At first it was easy to just be grateful for it, knowing what it meant.  Weeks of vomiting and constant nausea can break even the most optimistic and grateful girl down, though.  It sure makes me wonder at my strong and amazing stepmother who was so sick with cancer for months and nary whispered a complaint.  I have certainly had a few emotional days when I just felt exasperated of being so puny. 

I am ever more grateful for my incredible husband who has done everything in his power to help me be comfortable and happy.  This has included doing more than his fair share around the house, running to the store, or running out to get me some kind of food that actually sounded good, prepping and cooking food while I stand at the doorway to the kitchen because I can't stand to look at or smell it, sleeping curled up to one side of the bed because I have to be surrounded by pillows to get comfortable, and just generally dealing with my mood swings and emotions.  God gave me such a great man!  I love him so much and there is NO doubt just how much he loves me and baby.  What a precious gift.

6/5/12

The Word is Out! That word is B-A-B-Y.

It's spreading like wildfire all o'er the land (err, um, the Midwest, perhaps). Team Bass is getting a tiny new member around Christmas this year.  There are just so many thoughts and emotions reeling through my mind at any given moment.

Baby Bass - Week 11 Profile

The first is "PHEW!" This was the hardest secret I've ever had to keep.  It's a huge relief and joy to openly talk about our wee little bundle.  We even waited to tell family until I was about 8 weeks along.  That was pretty tough!  

I know there are many questions people will want to ask, so let me just go ahead and address some of them right now.  
  1. No, we do not yet know the gender. Feel free to make a guess!
  2. Our due date was Christmas day, but has been bumped up to Christmas Eve.  We're hoping baby decides to put a little distance between his or her birthday and Christmas, because how fun will that be in a few years? (Hint: Not very.)
  3. Yes, I have been feeling pretty sick. Morning sickness is no fun, but it IS a blessed reminder that baby is healthy and growing.  It gives me peace of mind when I start to worry.
  4. Yes, we have names picked out.  No, we're not sharing.
  5. For those of you who previously knew of our long-term infertility, no, we did not conceive this babe using any medical treatment.  We tried six months of a drug called Clomid, but never conceived.  This was a straight-up shock and miracle from our good, good God.
Does that cover the bases?  I hope so, because I know *I* would want to ask those questions! 

All this happy news was rather a shock.  We just felt hopeless on this front.  We knew it wasn't, but it was pretty bleak from our shadowed eyes.  

After the initial shock, there were even feelings of guilt. Why us? Why not one of our many other friends who are dealing with infertility who seem so much more deserving?  The only answer to that is that, truly, none of us deserve it, but we are openly accepting this precious grace from God, and praying he will pour out this gift to others who are waiting and hurting.

We know there are so many people who have been praying and hoping with and for us.  This is a testimony for all of you.  God does answer our cries.  He is good even in our darkest hour.  

Thank you, Lord, for hearing my pleas and sustaining me through the pain of waiting! Thank you, friends, for all of your love and encouragement.
For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD.”
(1 Samuel 1:27-28 ESV)

5/17/12

Sunshiny Days

Life has been feeling rather like this lately:



It has been a long while since I've had so much joy, and I realize the danger in it at times.  God has certainly blessed me through many earthly circumstances lately, but I know the joy that comes from our circumstances is fleeting.

While I am soaking up these sunshiny days in my heart, I am also reminding myself that my only lasting joy comes from Christ.  When troubles come again, and they most certainly will, I can look to Him as my ultimate source of happiness and hope.

Here's to the sunshine while it lasts!

4/17/12

Things I shouldn't say.

Last night I had a great time talking to one of my best friends about life, the similar trials we each are facing, and how God is teaching us through all of this.  Two short thoughts have been sticking in my mind.

Parents: Stop complaining about your kids on Facebook.  Do you have any idea how many people would love to have your problems of sleepless nights, fussy babies, stained carpets, picky eaters, or sassy toddlers? Parenting is a blessing, and while we realize that it is a hard and often frustrating job, it can be extremely hurtful those struggling with infertility or who have lost children to hear you complain it all the time.  Additionally, you wouldn't say those things about your kids on Facebook if they were older and could read it, would you? Why is it okay to do it now?  If you are frustrated and genuinely need help and empathy, seek it out in a meaningful way.  Just be kind. Be patient. Be forgiving. Be positive.

Husbands and Wives: Stop bad-mouthing each other.  Do you know that there are people who are single and longing to someday be married, and people who've lost their most loved ones and would give anything to have another day?  Do you know that snoring is the sweetest sound in the world? Ask any widow.  Build each other up.  Encourage one another in love.  Don't take each other for granted.  Don't belittle each other's jobs, hobbies, interests, and habits.  Be kind.  Be patient.  Be forgiving.  Be positive.

I found this quote from Elisabeth Elliot in her book Let Me Be a Woman, who is, without a doubt, the most influential author of my lifetime.  It could apply not only to spouses, but to parents, siblings, and friends.
What could be a greater help to a wife than to see her husband as God sees him? God has created him, formed him, redeemed him, he is His. God is bringing him to perfection and is not by any means through with him yet. We are all unfinished, a long way from what we ought to be, but if we can look at ourselves and one another from God's point of view, we'll know where we ought to be going and in which direction our relationship should move.
We are all unfinished.

4/9/12

In the Meantime

The transition back into STL life has been strange for me.   On my first day back I got word that I passed my qualifying exam and I can now officially be a clinical fellow in speech language pathology as soon as I get that M.A.!  That was most welcome news, and a huge relief.

On those first few days back at my internship, I felt like a zombie.  My body was there, but my mind and heart were back on the farm with my man, my pops, and my pup.

Thankfully, I ran into all three of the people I know at Children's that week, (Jordyn, Samantha, and Heather).  Just seeing their faces, and even getting to catch a couple lunches with Miss Jordyn made me feel so much better.  As the days go on, it gets a little easier for me there and at home.

We celebrated Kyle's birthday, but it was a rather pitiful celebration by my birthday standards.  This is the first year I can remember where I did a horrible job of making the day special for him.  I didn't even write a blog post about it! Honestly, I spent much of the day in tears because I did NOT want to be here.  By the weekend, however, I was able to pull it together and (I think) make up for a bit of the downer birthday.  Part of this was making a big dinner on Easter Sunday, including salad with romaine lettuce from my garden! I was pretty proud of that, and (I think) Kyle was, too.

Happy birthday, Daddy. I wore this stupid hat for you.

Speaking of my garden, I have been spending a lot of time out there since we got home.  I am not sure if it was 10 days on the farm or just the general change in weather, but I got super motivated to clean out flower beds, plant more vegetables and flowers, and be outside as much as possible.  There is something seemingly healing about it to me.  There is a peace about it.  There is a simple assurance about it... about watching things grow, and about seeing the rewards of hard, dirty labor.  There is no other voice, nothing pulling me away from simply crying out to the Lord.  Well, nothing but an occasionally anxious, fussy puppy who wants to be tied up closer to where I'm working.

Adventures of an Urban Farm Girl and Her Trusty Sidekick.

There are about 50 other things that I NEED to be doing. Things like keeping track of my internship hours, doing laundry, editing photos for friends, etc.  So many things that should be done, things that nag at me and make me feel horribly guilty for not doing them, and yet I'm finding it impossible to get them done.  *Sigh*  My dear friend, Aileen, told me to be easy on myself, so maybe that's what I'm doing.  The bad part is that all those things aren't going away and are most likely going to come back and bite me very soon.  Oh, well.  Tomorrow is another day.

4/1/12

Ten Days.

That's how many days I spent on our family farm with my dad and other family members, caring for Diane, caring for each other, grieving her loss, and trying to look ahead to how our lives are forever changed.  I've learned so much in the last ten days about Jesus, suffering, sacrificial love, death, and restoration.

Death isn't the way it looks in the movies. Dying from lung cancer isn't, anyway.  It was struggle. It was labor.  It was groaning.  It was holding her up, wiping her mucus and blood, cleaning her drool, kneeling in her urine-soaked sheets, shooting meds down her throat, trying to keep her cool from all the sweat the morphine caused, keeping her calm and breathing as steadily as possible, watching her gasp for air, watching her breathing slowly fade away, seeing her go pale, and feeling her go cold.  There is no dignity in death, but there was dignity in the way she was loved, held, cleaned, and cared for.  I believe that what my dad did for days and weeks on end honored God and gave me the clearest earthly picture I've ever seen on what it means to truly love someone sacrificially and selflessly.

I never thought making a poster board would leave such and ache in my chest.

It seemed that God began to refresh and restore our hearts before Diane was even gone.  The simplest of gifts were not taken for granted, and this refreshing came in many forms.  It was a gentle breeze that blew threw the bedroom as we sweat and strained to hold her up.  It was words of encouragement from family and friends.  It was someone just sitting with us, holding her hand, rubbing our backs, sharing our tears.  There was so much food, love, and even laughter amidst all the pain.  The worse she became, the more beautiful it seemed to get outside.  Then she was gone and it seemed that over night the world was completely green, the flowers were blooming, and the sweetest, most fragrant lilacs (her favorite and mine) were blowing through the house.  People spoke beautiful words about her and hugged our necks, and then when all the struggle was done and the people were gone, we were faced with that dreaded question, "Now what?"

So many reminders of His goodness and life.

I felt an abrupt shift, and I'm certain my dad felt it more.  He had been taking care of Diane around the clock for so long, living in the chaos that is end-stage cancer, that when everything got quiet, we felt restless.  The oxygen machines and bustle of family coming and going was replaced with the quiet lull that is country living, birds singing, woodpeckers pecking, owls hooting, coyotes howling, porch swings creaking... Those are the sounds that make the farm wonderful, and some of the many things Diane always loved about home, but now they seemed a little strange.  We did all we could to keep ourselves occupied.  We even went out the next day and got my dad a new iPhone (which he is LOVING, by the way).

The restoration process has certainly only just begun, but God has given us so many beautiful and meaningful demonstrations of his goodness to us during this time, not the least of which is the gift of each other (and now, FaceTime).  I am confident that, though we may never quite be the same, He has shaped us for his glory, and we have gained much more of Him in our struggle.  I pray that as we continue to experience the pain of change, that we would be able to more fully say, "Jesus is all we need."

I have been dwelling in Philippians over the last ten days, and this passage is my greatest joy right now:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

3/23/12

Notes on dying: A messy commentary.

As many of you already know, my stepmom, Diane, has been battling lung cancer for quite some time.  Although we have known for a while, I don't think anything could have prepared us for the challenge of these last days.

On Thursday morning the hospice nurse told my dad that she thought Diane would not make it through the day.  Kyle and I booked it up to Greenview as fast as we could, and we arrived in what we thought was just the nick of time.  When we walked in, the pastor along with our family was praying over her, asking the Lord to guide her home in peace.  When the prayer was over, everything got very still and we all thought she was gone or almost gone.  Soon, however, she became restless and began a long night of groaning, gasping, and laboring to breathe and stay comfortable.

Seeing her struggle so much is painful for everyone.  My dad has barely left her side.  I do not know how the man has a teardrop left in him, but somehow they just keep flowing.

We were up intermittently with her through the night trying to keep her comfortable and help her rest.  We finally got her to be still, and she has been heavily sedated all day.  Right now, we all agree that she is in some kind of semi-coma.  We can't rouse her to take meds, get a drink, or do anything.  She's been sitting in the same position, slumped over her bedside table, for over two days straight.  We didn't hear her say a word today.  We all keep thinking, "Any time now..." And still, she breathes.

It is awful to see her body struggle, to see her suffering and groaning.  One of my many prayers today was that she would love Jesus more, and know him better in her suffering.  Jesus suffered the most brutal and unfair murder and death of all time, a blameless man, a gruesome death.  I pray that as she suffers, in whatever state her mind is in, somehow she would be able to love Jesus more because of the price he paid on our behalf, the price that we all deserve.

I have never physically suffered the way that Diane is.  I have never seen anyone physically suffer the way that she is.  I pray I never have to see this again, but I am so proud to say that she has lived out Philippians 1, she has been humble, thankful, and compliant.  She doesn't complain. She murmurs a thank you (or a moan that we know means thank you) to anyone who washes her, rubs her back, or puts a little water on her tongue.  She reminded me of this old Mark Driscoll quote (that I will now butcher) "When you bump a cup full of bitter water, bitter water pours out of it.  When you bump a cup of sweet water, sweet water pours out of it."  There is no bitterness in this woman.  No matter how much she suffers, God has filled her with sweet, sweet water, and no amount of hardship will make her pour out bitterness.

I am incredibly and especially grateful for three of my amazing, all-star aunts and my grandparents, who keep bringing everyone food, providing laughter, and just generally being awesome at loving us.  Each of them is a gift and breath of fresh air.  I did not want any of them to leave tonight, and even got a little teary, because they just make everyone feel so much better in this house.

There are just so many things I am trying to process, and my mind is clouded and confused with a haze of joy and sorrow.  I became increasingly anxious throughout the day today.  To distract myself, I decided I needed to make a slideshow for Diane.  I think I drove everyone else crazy in my quest to get it done, but I felt like it was the only thing I could do to be helpful and do something meaningful.  I have scoured the house, my computer, and my dad's computer for every picture I could find that would paint a picture of who Diane is and what she means to all of us.  I will likely collect more up until the time of her visitation, but in the meantime I thought I'd share some photos here.



We are all still grateful for your love and prayers.  I have been really bad about responding to all the texts, emails, and Facebook messages, but I have read every one, and even shared some with my dad.  They are so, so awesome.  Thank you all for loving on us from afar.  It is more than we deserve!

1/19/12

So proud of BKB

This is my handsome stud of a man.  He is two weeks into what is/will be the hardest semester of his law school career, taking six classes including Moot Court (if you don't know what this is, just be impressed).  He is handling it like a total champ.
IMG_9426

He gets up at 5-6am each day to do an insanely hard workout (P90X).  Then he spends time reading his Bible, packing a lunch, and getting ready for the day.  He loads up his bag with 35lbs worth of law books and heads off to class.  Some days he is on campus from 9am-8pm, other days he drives up to Alton, IL to go to work when classes are done.  Most nights he gets home around 6-7, eats dinner, talks to me, and plays with Watson.  Usually around 8pm, he heads back to the office and hits the books until around midnight.  He gets up the next morning and does it all over again.  He spends his weekends getting ahead on more classwork, loving on his wife and puppy, and worshiping Jesus in our gospel community and with our church.
Hot man in the city

I am insanely proud of him, unspeakably grateful for him, and unbelievably in love with him.  I just want the world to know the kind of hard-working, Jesus-loving man he is.  It is so sweet to be loved by such a man.

1/17/12

T.H.I.N.K.

Today was my first day of my internship at a primary school.  I had a great first day, and was intrigued by something on the wall of the speech therapy room.  It read,

THINK before you speak.... 
T: Is it true?
H: Is it helpful?
I: Is it inspiring?
N: Is it necessary?
K: Is it kind?

I absolutely loved this poster and could learn a great deal from it.  Gossip is a particular struggle I have at times, and working in an environment where most of my peers are beautiful, brilliant (and often child-bearing) women means that there's also jealousy, which means that snarky things fly out of my mouth, followed by pangs of guilt.

This weekend, one of our pastor's preached a message on godly womanhood.  I was so challenged, and today's little poster drove it home.  I am so sorry for some of the things I've said and thoughts I've had that were either untrue, unhelpful, uninspiring, unnecessary, or unkind.  I am sorry to those who've heard me say such things, because that was the opposite of showing the love of Christ, and does not make him look glorious, but he is.  He is infinitely worthy of glory and honor, and able to give me the power to tame my tongue and remove bitterness and jealousy from my heart.

I'm sure we all struggle with gossip, bitterness, and jealousy at different points in our lives.  The season I am in seems to be filled with loads of all three. I am so thankful for God's grace to me now, and I am thankful to be surrounded by men and women who challenge me to be more like Jesus.