Life is, indeed, very good.

Life is, indeed, very good.

Monday, April 1, 2013


I know I'm a day late, but I wanted to wish you all a Happy Easter! My boy Sam loves to draw, especially with pencil and charcoal, and he gave me this picture that he sketched....thought I'd share it with you along with the lyrics to one of my favorite songs. Sometimes songs can say what I can't find the words to say.....

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
(song by Stuart Townend)


Saturday, February 9, 2013

On being vulnerable and moving on....

Okay, my faithful readers (that would be my mom, and my Aunt Nancy :)....I'm going to post something, ANYTHING to my blog. I have started a couple of posts, but just haven't been able to click the publish button. The writing just hasn't come naturally. At. All. I have had some sort of hang-up about sharing my thoughts and feelings with the blog world. I'm not sure if it's more about a) not WANTING to be transparent or b)not feeling safe about being transparent. Hmmm. Now, you might be wondering why I'm worried about being transparent at all. Does my blog have to be about thoughts and feelings or what's going on in my life? No, I guess not.....but then it wouldn't really be my blog. So here I am stumbling over whether to write an honest post about life, write just an update on events, or not write at all. Well, I've made up my mind to write, so I guess it will unfold as it unfolds. How's that for vague?? Sigh....

I'd love to say that the last year and a half hasn't been consumed with breast cancer, but I can't say that. If you kept up with my Caringbridge journal, you witnessed evidence of God's grace and faithfulness. I think of the verse in Isaiah 43 that says, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you pass through the waters, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned." I experienced the truth of that Scripture as I faced a stage 3 cancer diagnosis, a mastectomy, and a year of very aggressive cancer treatment. The Lord was with me and carried me in a way I cannot describe. The POST treatment months have been different, though. Don't get me wrong, I know that He is still with me. But now my life isn't consumed with weekly chemo treatments, looking very much like a cancer patient - cute hats and all, doctor appointment after doctor appointment, and all the other "acute" realities that were part of the whole thing. NOW, I'm off the roller-coaster. I don't LOOK like a cancer patient anymore (from the outside, anyway). I've done everything I can do to fight the cancer and hopefully eliminate the chance for its return. NOW, life is less about cancer and more about being the mother of a teenage girl, the mother of three growing boys, helping my kids navigate their way through middle school, making sure the books get done for Tim's business, teaching part-time, packing lunches, making dinner, and all the coming and going of family life. But the thing is, that cancer thing is still there. The fear of it. Knowing that if it DOES come back, that's usually bad. So NOW, instead of trusting the Lord to pick me up and carry me, I'm trusting the Lord as I put one foot in front of the other...knowing He is behind me and before me. And knowing that WHATEVER happens, that it's for a purpose. Sometimes I can do that with confidence. Sometimes not.

Something I didn't expect, post-treatment, was the whole grieving process of losing a breast. When I had the mastectomy almost two years ago, I was just glad to have that 5cm tumor out of my body. I was ready for the fight. But it wasn't until about a month ago, when I was in the midst of planning for reconstructive surgery (the process of which is a blog post in itself), that the grief of losing a breast hit me like a tidal wave. I won't try to explain it or justify it, because I can't. It just hit me, and I wept for about five days. I still feel very fortunate that cancer didn't take my life, my ability to walk, talk, sing, and function completely as usual. I still believe that my cancer journey has been a walk in the park compared to what many other people face daily and for life. But I guess I still had to just cry for a while. I will have reconstructive surgery in a month. As much as I am looking forward to being "put back together again", I know there are scars, both inside and out, that can't be erased. There is much vulnerability in that. Sometimes I feel pulled in the direction of becoming hardened, detached, walled-off. But oh, to be vulnerable! To trust without reservation, to love with abandon, and to move forward without knowing what lies ahead. That's what I will choose. Grieving and trusting and loving and hurting are part of this messy life, but also part of growing us into who we're meant to be.

So enough about that. There really are some other things I'd like to blog process through writing. But I had to get all that out first, I guess. I haven't written about parenting as much as I used to, because my kids are old enough now to read my blog and get it if I'm telling a silly story about them or be embarrassed by me wearing my heart on my sleeve. :) But I do have some parenting blogging to do. After all, I've got two middle-schoolers, and that's just a treasure trove of blog material. Lots of funny things, sure....but also really hard things! Those kids are truly bombarded with crap every day, and it's hard on this mama's heart! So hopefully it won't be another five or six months before I have the courage to write again. It really is therapeutic to write and just put it out there.

I will close with a photo of Tim and I and my big post-chemo curly hair. He is my best friend and the love of my life. Tim, not the hair. :)

And my them so much it hurts!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Deep thoughts at breakfast

This morning, as I was scrambling eggs and making lunches in the kitchen and the kids were eating breakfast before school, I overheard Peter ask his sister: "So Janie, how old are YOU in cat years?"

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Long days, short years

(disclaimer: For some reason, blogger is not letting me put spaces between paragraphs or photos, so if this post seems like a huge run-on sentence, I apologize! :) We're getting ready to send the troops back to school next week. We did our school supply shopping. On a Saturday, even. And we emerged from Target without so much as a sibling fight or fierce mother-lecture in the loose-leaf paper aisle. I do believe the planets must have been in alignment that day. Or God gave us all extra grace. Hmmm...I'm going with grace. I did give in to one "fancy" notebook each: two Star Wars and a Hunger Games, and one "eraser rope" in lieu of the notebook offer. (Is everyone aware of the negotiating prowess mothers must possess?) We have registered. We have made sure we have at least one or two decent shirts to wear to school (thank you, Grandma!). We have fished the lunch bags out from the back of the cupboard. We still need to empty the last remains of roadtrips and overnights from their backpacks. And we need a haircut or two. But otherwise I think we're ready. By the middle of August, whether we have homeschooled or sent them off to school, it seems that everyone is ready to get back to some structure. We are NOT good about keeping much structure during the summer. Tim and I are both babies of the family and have somewhat spontaneous personalities (read: undisciplined), so we tend to give in to the fun opportunities of summer and its late nights and lazy mornings. But after a while the need for routine becomes apparent when everyone expects to do something "fun" every night and nerves wear thin and I find myself giving lectures about entitlement. :) Still, each year it's hard to let go knowing how quickly the years are going by. Next year at this time we'll have a high schooler. Then in four short years.....all of a sudden the thought of launching my kids from the nest is no longer a distant notion but a much nearer reality. A quote from my dear friend Wendy has stuck with me regarding raising young kids: "The days are long, but the years are short." How true. So after a few of those "long" days, and when I'm longing for a little peace and quiet, I find it very therapeutic to scroll through my Picasa photos and enjoy the sweet moments of fun from the summer. And I'm reminded of how fast it went and how special memories are created in everyday things. Let's see.....there was plenty of baseball......
...birthdays, and the traditional "pretend you're going to devour the cake photo"...
...special projects...we got to help transform one of the kids' rooms at church into a cool clubhouse! How often do you get to paint a ceiling blue? A very serious bunch, as you can see. (
...the annual piano recital...(don't worry, this was taken after. They were all very classy during the program, but to ask for proper decorum for the whole night would just be too much. :)
The annual "Superbowl" between our boys and their friends Micah and Jaden. They take this very seriously, creating their own jerseys with plain t-shirts and sharpies, making trophies..the whole nine yards. (Or 100 yards, I guess). So seriously that Janie (who graciously agreed to be the "press") turned to me at one point during the game and said she felt sorry for us mothers. Ha! Someday she'll know what it is to agree to "just one more t-shirt because I messed up on the last one", and the art of transforming a soup can into a trophy.
Youth trips...this year all four kids got to go to camp. The boys went to their beloved Pine Lake, and Janie went to Camp Red Cloud in Colorado with the youth group. Four all four kids, a huge growing-up experience... (this photo is Janie and her youth group)
"Gaga Ball"....a Pine Lake game, which I still don't really get. All I know is that when my kids play it, they all end up with scabby knuckles. Sound fun? :)
Our friends, the Hammels, took us tubing on their boat again this summer. Super fun, and I still have scabby elbows from clinging so hard to the tube trying not to wipe out on the river!
Baseball games just for fun...for his birthday, Peter wanted to have a baseball game at the ball diamonds. It was during a tournament weekend, so we used the one empty field and were surprised no one kicked us out. We went through an entire bucket of double bubble!
Cousins! Our kids are blessed to have some amazing cousins. This was a visit from the West Des Moines cousins...we also had some great visits from the Fairbury cousins. Lots of sleepovers, late night movies, hikes, trips to the zoo, and ice cream.
There was camping, bowling, lots of swimming, VBS, freezer summer memories. Only a few more nights to stay up late before the early mornings and busy afternoons begin again...and we'll see if we can't make this year go just a little slower than last!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dust settling...

Oh, my. Has it really been that long since I've posted on my blog? I guess it has, hasn't it. I admit, on many evenings over the last few months I've walked past my computer and thought about blogging (kind of like the scene in "You've Got Mail" when Tom Hanks keeps peeking in at the computer on his desk :).....but for some reason I just couldn't put any thoughts together. For a while I was spending more time posting breast cancer updates on Caringbridge. But things have slowed down, and I don't have much new to report on the medical end, thankfully. To be honest, I haven't really been sure what to say. I think that my brain has been in kind of a slow-motion it's been on an adrenaline rush for a year and finally has a chance to relax. The last year has been cause for quite a bit of reflection, and I just haven't been sure what to blog about, or how or even why! My heart is so full of thoughts, feelings, convictions, intimacies, comforts, challenges, hurts, and joys......that sometimes it feels like it's going to burst, yet I can't begin to put it all into words. Hmmmm, I wonder....maybe I'm not supposed to? Still, in some ways I feel like blogging and reading blogs can be the equivalent to a good late night heart-to-heart with a friend (only we have to do it over the internet because Starbucks closes at 11, and most heart-to-hearts happen well into the wee hours of the morning as we all know :). So I just wanted to let anyone who may have been wondering if was ever going to update this thing (that's you, Mom :) know that I haven't given up.....I'm just letting the dust of the last year settle and the fog clear from my chemical-flooded brain....and I'm looking forward to joining in the sharing of thoughts, updates, stories, and journeys again soon.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

1 Timothy 4:12

I love reading what other people write. There is something unique about honesty, and openness, and maybe even a flow that might not reveal itself in spoken conversation. I think there is freedom in writing. I will admit that over the last six months, I have felt a little more hindered in my writing....I think because there are so many words and emotions and ups and downs right now that I think it would be overwhelming to write about it. It's safer to write about events and birthdays, which are all good things too. However, I'm aware of how therapeutic it can be to look back over journal entries or blogposts from the past...sometimes I learn from those past writings the lessons I may have forgotten...sometimes it's healing...sometimes I'd rather not remember! My dear neighbor, who has battled metastatic breast cancer for eight years, encouraged me to journal through this cancer journey. I need to start. If not for me, for my kids..or maybe for someone else down the road.

This post, however, is not about my breast cancer roller coaster! It's about writing, and I just want to say how impacted I have been to read the writing of some young people I know (one of which is my daughter!). There are some students I know who are so passionate about their relationship with Jesus Christ and talk/write/sing/blog about it in the most unabashed and sincere way. These kids aren't perfect, nor do they consider themselves superior. They just seem to really understand their need for Jesus, and they're not afraid to say it. I just want to say how proud I am of them, and how it gives me hope to see a younger generation following hard after Christ.

"Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe." 1 Timothy 4:12.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peter's lists...

You may remember Peter's birthday list that I posted here a few years ago. I always keep their Christmas and birthday lists, because I think it's so fun to see what their hearts' desire is as they grow older. I thought you might like the Christmas list that Peter handed to me a month ago.