Monday, November 21, 2011

The Light

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. ~ Luke 11:33

"Mommy, can you light the candle?"  they ask...  and they come.  The light beckons them.  It calls them. It welcomes them to the table.  And here, they learn.  They learn how to manipulate figures, and of creation and all that is within.  And they learn most importantly, of The Light. 

If a simple flame can draw them in, how much more can the living light that is within us.  Are you putting your light on a stand for your children to see?  That is His design.  Let the light of his grace shine in you, that He may draw your children unto Himself.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Life After and The Big Shave

My barber and I after the deed was done!
I can hardly believe it's October already.  Life has been so busy since Ellie finished her treatment at the end of March.  We've been embracing and living our lives.  We find joy in all the little things, the small freedoms, that we used to take for granted.  Recently we were able to go to Seattle to my cousin's wedding.  I was out on the dance floor with my girls, their cousin, and a whole lot of my own cousins dancing to some lyrically inappropriate song I'm sure.  And what was I doing?  Starting to cry.  Being in that crowded place, sharing germs(!), with a child who had the immunity, energy and stamina to dance all night surrounded by family... was overwhelming for a moment.  We missed many weddings during her treatment, even my own brothers.  So to be able to rejoin our family in celebration was a really great moment to be treasured.  It may not have meant a lot to a lot of people, but it meant the world to us. 

My silly fan club!

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.  Although if you know me you probably already know that!  September was busy with getting the message out and also preparing for my trip to Washington, D.C. for 46 Mommas.  It brought with it a heavy heart at times.  It's hard remembering.  It's hard looking at the statistics and facts that represent the picture of life with childhood cancer.  It's hard remembering the kids we know who have passed and seeing the ache that is ever present in their families today.  But if we don't talk about it, who will?  Our kids can't!  This entered our lives and changed them forever in many ways.  It's our job to let the world know what's happening.

Here are a few of the saddest facts about childhood cancer treatment today:
  • There has only ever been ONE drug developed for the treatment of a single childhood cancer.
  • 2/3 of children who survive a childhood cancer suffer from lifelong side effects, this includes secondary cancers caused by the toxic therapies used to cure their first cancer.  Then there's the run of the mill... hearing loss, organ damage, brain damage, infertility, limb amputations, reduced immune function, shortened life span, etc... 
  • At diagnosis 80% of childhood cancer patients have cancer that has moved to other areas of the body.  This same statistic is only 20% in adults.  
  • There is no knows risks for childhood cancers.  They simply do not know why most occur.  There is no known way to prevent them.  
  • Childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of our children.  It kills more than diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis and pediatric AIDS combined

That isn't a pretty picture is it?   Neither is the picture of mothers, on a stage, holding pictures of their children, while someone shaves their head and that mother hopes, prays and pleads with the world to listen, to fund this vital research so another mother does not have to bear their pain, so that another brother doesn't have to miss his brother, his best friend.  So another father doesn't have to miss playing soccer with his sons - plural.  It breaks my heart.  It should break yours too.  We have suffered through treatment.  And I don't want to make light of that.  That was suffering indeed.  But we have Ellie.  We have her silly little self here to delight us all everyday.  Will she suffer in health for the rest of her life?  Yes.  Her life was forever altered, and shortened, at the age of 2.  But I can't stop looking beyond, at the ones who have lost their children.  With treatment for childhood cancers it's all an experiment.  Odds don't mean anything.  They simply don't know.  You get what you get, and there isn't anything that can help predict what that is.  We are blessed to have Ellie with us still.  I am not going to take that for granted.

 Just before losing my locks! My hair went to Wigs for Kids.

SO!  The big shave!  I flew out to DC on a Saturday.  My friend, Ivory, picked me up and whisked me across the river to her lovely Capitol Hill abode.  I was going on only a couple hours of sleep so I think the most exciting thing we did that evening was go to Whole Foods.  Which for someone with food intolerances and doesn't have a Whole Foods, really is exciting.  On Sunday we were tourists and went to see the WWII and MLK Memorials.  Both were new since my last time in DC.  On Monday and Tuesday I was on my own.  Well, Monday I had Teddy, Ivory's dog.  He and I walked all around the hill.  DC is such a beautiful city.  I absolutely loved it.  Tuesday I spent my day at the National Gallery of Art.  Oh, how long dormant that part of my life has been!  I stayed until they closed and kicked me out.  I stood in front of some artwork and laughed, some I marveled, and some ignited deep parts of my soul and made them sing.  Literally.  I was singing.  I simply must make time in my life for this again.  A funny side note... it's really hard for an artist not to TOUCH the art!  Especially the Pollock... I really wanted to touch the Pollock!  I had to settle for getting really close and looking at odd angles to see all the depth of texture while a security guard kept a close eye on me.

Ivory and I. She helped the barber rid me of my long locks.  I love this girl with tears in her eyes!

Monday evening Ivory and I went out to Arlington and met Danielle, our 46 Mommas local event planner extraordinaire.  We helped with some simple tasks for the event and then the three of us went to dinner.  It was really lovely.  She shared with us about her son, Mason, and his last days.  During the ride home Ivory shared with me about her dad's last days.  And she said what I then heard several more times during the next few days.  Through her tears, she said "I can't imagine watching your child go through what my Dad did."  Ivory worked her PR magic on DC for the Mommas.  She had everyone there.  We can't thank her enough.  She was not the only volunteer that was fueled by such motivation.  Over and over, from our volunteers, I heard the same story... cancer had touched their lives.  They had suffered themselves, or watched an adult suffer greatly at it's hands, and they could not stand the thought of a child going through that.  Sadly, the reality is, childhood cancer treatment is MORE brutal than the treatment of most adult cancers.  Children do not have drugs designed for them.  Children get hand me down drugs from adults.  And you would think that they would be given in smaller doses, but you're wrong.  Children are given much, much higher doses of the same drugs.  To the tune of 4-6 times more.  Maybe more.  Why?  Because the drugs aren't designed to kill the childhood cancers.  So they drown the kids in them and hope that it's toxic enough to kill the cancers.  Often, it's the treatments that are so toxic that they kill the child, not the cancer.  "The Children are our Future"... are we treating them that way?

 Ellie's Hope Flag (And me with frizz - humidity YIKES!)

The event itself was great.  Union Station is so beautiful.  So beautiful.  We had so much press there.  We've named them the "Momma-razzi".  I've never seen so many cameras!  All for 46 moms who have fought this horrible beast, some have "won" and others have lost.  It was really beautiful.  And it was so wonderful to see the hopes and dreams and plans come to fruition, and in many ways, our expectations were exceeded.  It was a fantastic event.  Over the next few days the Mommas hit the hill.  I had to come home so we could get ourselves on over to Seattle that weekend.  I was sorry to have missed it.  They took part in advocating with their representatives to support the Creating Hope Act.  Then they took part in the Childhood Cancer Caucus, and a press conference with the sponsors of the Creating Hope Act.  They were busy fighting for our kids.  You too can help!  Contact your representatives and ask them to support this legislation.  Here is a link to a site which will look up your representatives and provides you with a form letter which you can customize, if you wish, that is simple to send to your representatives with a few clicks of your mouse.  Click on the Creating Hope Act and follow the steps.  If you'd like to know more about how the Creating Hope Act works, DC's FOX 5 did a great little piece that will explain it.  By the way, FOX 5 also did a great piece the night of the shave that was picked up by FOX affiliates nationwide.  Thank you FOX 5!

Having a bald head attracts quite a bit of attention.  And it has been interesting to watch the reactions.  They're all over the place.  Some people look at you really sad and then look away quickly.  Obviously they think I have cancer.  I try to smile real big before they look away.  That always confuses them.  I try to wear my Momma gear to prevent this from happening but not everyone notices.  I'm bald for a reason, I want to advocate.  Yesterday I had a woman stop me at Costco and she and a man at her sample station asked all kinds of great questions and wanted to know about what I was doing.  And having Ellie with me definitely inspires people.  How can you look at her beautiful face, and her lovely curls, and say no?!  Then they wanted to know where and how they could donate!  The woman, was a cancer survivor who echoed those words I hear so much "I can't imagine a child going through this.".

One reaction that's really fun is the "Hey!  I saw you on TV!"  It happened to me first at the DC airport at 5am going through security.  "Hey, are you one of the 46 on the news last night?  That's really cool!"  On Saturday Mindi and I met for coffee here in Spokane.  Two bald heads together.  That sure gets attention!  We had a couple of tv interviews here in Spokane, KREM 2 followed us to Ellie's 6 month post-treatment appointment and Mindi and Gregory met us there.  Then on Friday morning KHQ6 asked us down to the studios to do a live interview at 5:30am!  I don't think I like live.  That was a little scary!  We were really fortunate to have gotten such interest and we're grateful for the publicity.  Hopefully someone saw it who wants to make a difference too!

 Getting shaved!

While going bald does get a lot of attention, the reason, is to get a lot of DOLLARS for research.  That's why we did it.  Not to just get attention.  There's a very important reason.  When I look down my list of donors, it's not a bunch of people with lots of money.  It's a family with 6 kids, it's a college student, it's regular working people giving a little bit of what they have.  It adds up!  Just look at my current total!  It's over $5000.  But guess what?  I'm asking for more.  I'm asking for more of you to give just a little bit of what you have to help the 46 children who today, tomorrow, next week, next month, every weekday into the future, will be diagnosed with cancer.  This is for the children of the future.  So that they can have a bright future.  Aren't they worth it to brew your own and skip those expensive coffee stand coffee's for a week?  Or a few brown bag lunches?  Every little bit counts.  If you can give $5, do it.  Every bit counts.  I, and so many others, are so grateful for every single solitary dollar! 

And with that... here's my St Baldrick's page.  If you don't want to give online, cash and checks (made out to me is easiest) can be given to me as well.  Every little bit counts.  Every bit.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sammy's Tulips

Last year a friend of mine lost her son, Samuel David, a baby who was forced to be born at 28 weeks, and then lived just 28 days. During that time there was a lot of heaviness in our life and the lives around us. When little Sammy died, my husband brought these sprouted tulip bulbs home and planted them here where I could see them from the window at my desk. He said "I thought we needed a little life around here." He was so right. We were surrounded by death, and many threats of more death. This small gesture was an act of perfect thoughtfulness and love.

This spring has been long in coming. For months I've been saying "Did I move back to Seattle?! What is with all this cold gray weather?! Is it actually snowing... AGAIN... in May. Ugh!". Well, spring has finally come for real, and these bulbs decided to finally grow and bloom. Ordinarily they would have already bloomed and faded away by this time, but not this year. This year they waited. By this time next week, Samuel's little brother will be born. New life. Did he tell his tulips to wait for his brother? No, I don't really believe he could do that. However, when I saw them bloom, now, when his brother is about to be born, I couldn't help but connect the dots of symbolism. It was too beautiful not to share. At his memorial service I shared this verse with my friends

1 Peter 5
10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

I know that in the time that has passed since Samuel died that our friends have gone through some radical changes and redemption in their lives. None of us knew what God had in store for them. They have suffered, greatly. But through that suffering came redemption and now, new life.

Psalm 103
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits, 3who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Samuel's fingerprints are here too. At his service several of us shared this passage of scripture.

John 9
1As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

I don't think any of us had any idea just how much God wanted to show us through Samuel's short life. We are such finite beings, and God, he's infinite. He thinks so much bigger than we do. What beautiful stories he writes. I have been so blessed to have a small window through which I could watch God write this story with his favorite plot line, redemption.

Psalm 30
11You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
12that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mothers Day

Favorite picture of my family, Ellie's birth, April 2006

Yesterday, I went to a production called Listen to Your Mother. I had mixed feelings about going. I knew it would be deep, possibly painful at times. It wasn't going to be a Hallmark style tribute to motherhood. It was going to be real, and raw. Real and raw... really, haven't these been the themes of my own life for years?! Sometimes, I'd really rather not go THERE. I mean, I know I've been given my own suite in that house, but I like taking walks outside of it sometimes!

Twelve women dared to stand on that stage and share vulnerable parts of their souls. And as is usually the case with things that are real, it was beautiful. Real is beautiful. It has varying degrees of pain to go with it that make our hearts clench and tears come to our eyes. But somehow, at the same time, we're smiling. There is beauty. My friend, the Magnificent Mindi, likes to refer to the phoenix rising from the ashes in reference to her son after his bone marrow transplant. Motherhood is also like the phoenix rising from the ashes. So many things happen that can crush us. That do crush us. But again and again, we rise. We look for the beauty, we cherish it, we tuck it away into the depths of our hearts, we pull it out and use it to fuel us when the darkness comes again.

I would like to offer up my heartfelt thanks to the women who each shared a part of their souls yesterday. It was a beautiful experience. It was a true tribute to the many roles, trials, and the beauty of motherhood.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Abundant Blessings

Yesterday, our eldest daughter was baptized.

As I stood there, and I saw my husband baptizing our daughter, I kept thinking, "Who am I to receive this gift? I am no one. I don't deserve such goodness. I come from nothing. Yet, here I am, receiving such tremendous blessings." Our God is a great Father, loving us when we are unlovely, blessing us when we don't deserve it, and continually teaching, guiding and redeeming as only a loving and patient Father God can do. What a beautiful God we serve. I am so unlovely, yet I am so loved. Thank you Father for such tremendous blessings.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reading and Knitting

Small Things, is a blog that I enjoy. Ginny, is a very talented photographer which makes things so pretty to look at there. But she's also very talented in many other areas which is what really makes it interesting to read. She does a blog post now and then with what she's reading and knitting. I've really enjoyed her blog posts so I thought I'd share with you over my morning tea today.

Sharing what I'm reading is hard, because if I were truly going to show you, it would be a stack. I don't just read one book at a time. However, I'll pick the one on top for this purpose. Last night I started reading A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers. I read my first book by Rivers a few months ago. I had been living with the preconceived notion that all "christian" novels would be cheesy and sub par literature. (Lit snob? Ah, yes.) Again, me and my preconceived notions were wrong. Francine Rivers is quite talented and reveals much of God's beauty in her books. This one is a compilation of historical fiction based on five women of the Bible. Last night I read the story about Tamar. I thought I'd just read a chapter or so to make me sleepy before bed but I couldn't put it down! The old testament is so... dry... and weird. I mean really. There are so many cultural things that we just don't GET. Like why you would trick your father-in-law into sleeping with you so you could get pregnant and hopefully have sons. I don't even know what to say or think about that. It's such an insane, and let's be honest, sick notion to us now. Rivers does a beautiful job of drawing out the story and the cultures of that time. And while it is fiction, it gave me so much insight into what it may have been like for Tamar and the other women of that time. I think she does a beautiful job of helping you to understand the heart of God through her writing. Just beautiful, can't wait to read more!

Second, that's a man sock. Man socks aren't really pretty blog fodder, but they are loved by my man! His words to me yesterday were "I can't wait to wear those! They are going to go so good with my shorts and my new sneakers." I'm not sure if this motivates me to finish them or hide them.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

American Idols

This week I got some news that was crushing. For years I have been plagued by health issues that I could not control. I would try, oh how I tried! I tried all kinds of things, but it is an uphill battle that I have been steadily losing. I have met several dead ends when it came to finding medical help for these issues. This week I sought medical help in another avenue and found the answers I have long been seeking. However, answers don't always bring us what we desire do they?

On Monday, I got affirmation of what I've been experiencing. Proof that when I said I didn't feel good, there was a reason. Seeing those things in black and white was shocking. It was a blow. Then on Tuesday, I found out the reasons why. I have food intolerance's that I was unaware of. An intolerance is not the same as an allergy, but they are close friends. I won't have some crazy reaction and need life saving rescue if I eat one of these things. But my body can not break them down and thus it sees them as unwelcome substances that send my body into distress. Though I've been putting "healthy" things into my body, I am malnourished and my body has been working in self-protect mode, probably since I was born. Oh how I wish it was something simple. But it's not. I can't eat potato. That sounds simple enough, until you look at how many things are derived from potatoes; enriched flours, pasta's and rices; b-vitamins; dextrose (added bonus, dextrose is added to almost all salt); starch, etc... etc... the list is long. In addition, I have an inability to eat sugar and fruit within 8 hours of each other. The list of things I can not eat gets even longer. Fruit, much like potato has many things derived from it that are added to foods. Sugar is in a lot of things as well. The list of foods that are "clean" is very short.

I expected that when I finally had answers, I'd feel freedom, redemption, affirmation. What did I really feel? Defeated. This will not be easy. This means rethinking everything. It means ordering "clean" flours, salt, rice, pasta and so forth from obscure sources. It means making most things that I'd rather pick up conveniently at the grocery store. It means giving up many of my favorite things. There is very, very little available that is free from potato contaminant, let alone adding the fruit/sugar thing into the mix. Just try looking around your kitchen and imagine throwing out everything that has dextrose, salt, flour or sugar (and it's various forms) out. That's just the "big" stuff and your kitchen is probably almost empty. Then imagine trying to eat out. Imagine, being invited to a friends house for dinner and telling them that you pretty much can't eat anything in their kitchen. I hate telling people who are trying to help or bless me that I have specific needs, especially such specific difficult needs. It's very humbling. Everything in me screams out like a toddler throwing a tantrum, "I DON'T WANT TO!"

I know I can not give in to defeat. I have been battling defeat and it's friend despair all week. They were joined by the lie that I just "couldn't do this". The truth is, I CAN do this. I can get my health straightened out and actually feel good again. I can. But it's a daily choice minute by minute to do so. It means dying to my desires and doing what is right for my body. It means putting in the extra work to get and keep myself healthy. It has exposed me and stripped me bare.

There are two things that it has really exposed to me. Both I are things that I've been aware of, but more in an "out there" kind of way, not in a deeply personal way. First of all, we have truly perverted our food. There are food additives and chemicals in nearly everything. It's crazy. God designed our bodies. AND, he designed the food/fuel for them. We've "improved" on what he has done to spoil our taste buds, to the ruin of our bodies. As health issues in our country skyrocket we are all aware of this, but are not motivated to change. We don't want to get rid of all our whitened, sweetened, eternal shelf life food. It's become a part of the American culture. We can be junk food lovers or self proclaimed "foodies", we can have trim figures or obese ones. As a culture, we are all in love with food.

I am guilty of this. I have felt so exposed in this area this week. I have been humbled. I have spoiled rotten taste buds. Food is an idol. Comfort is an idol. More than anything, these are children of the idol of SELF. I am guilty on all accounts. Having such a highly restricted diet makes me very uncomfortable. I think I need to say that again, this has made me VERY uncomfortable.

Discomfort. It's not a place where we want to be. We like comfort. It's one of our favorite American Idols. It's also an idol that is a huge road block to allowing transformation in our lives. We feel that we are entitled to comfort. It's part of the "American Dream". God's really been working on me in this area for the past few years. I do not like to live in the messy. I do not want to live where I'm uncomfortable. I will do almost anything to squirm my way out of it. But where we're uncomfortable, is the place where we change. That's the place where God reaches in and pulls out the broken sinful parts of us and fills us with himself. As Christians he calls us to live in these uncomfortable, often painful, places. They are trials. In the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul told us to expect the trials, and to embrace them. Not because we like them, but because they are the catalyst through which the transformation of our souls happens. Because our ultimate trust is in the Lord. He is working in and through us. Through the power of Christ we change. Idols are exposed and rooted out. Transformation and healing are his goals. He is for us, not against us. But for this transformation to happen, we must first make the choice to trust in him.

This week parts of my soul have been exposed. The anthem of my week has been In Christ Alone. It is indeed one of my favorite songs. My life is a pattern of God bringing me to my knees as I acknowledge my own folly and weakness. But through his power, not mine, I can do anything.

Photo Credits:
Image: Maggie Smith / , Image: Sura Nualpradid /, Image: graur razvan ionut /

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Ruth is the name of my Grandmothers twin sister. When I was a child, I thought it was an ugly name. Before you throw stones, I know I'm not alone! I thought my Grandma clearly got the good name with Beth. But as I've studied the book of Ruth, it's become a dear name to me and I can understand why my inspiring Great Grandma May named her daughter Ruth.

There are portions and entire books of the Bible that make our hearts sing. They speak so personally into our hearts that we respond in a way that makes our souls cry out. Ruth is one of those books for me. I started pondering why that is. Ruth had a hard life. Ruth was left alone with a grouchy old mother-in-law. And what did she do? She loved her. She attached herself to her and followed her into an unknown land. She followed her into a relationship with the Lord. She left everything she knew, her family, her homeland, her gods and followed the calling God put on her life. And what did He do? He acted as her great Father. He took care of her. He provided for her. He gave her a Godly husband. He set her into a unique and special place, the lineage of Christ. God took her up out of a deeply humble place and called her up into another that made no logical sense. But it was God's logic. It was a high calling. Ruth heard and obeyed that calling.

How many of us feel God tugging at us, pulling at our hearts, pulling us forward? But we resist. It doesn't make sense. It might hurt people around us. It might damage our reputation. We might look... crazy, or worse, stupid. I'm raising my hand here. Are you? I'm guessing most of you are. Why do we care? Why do we let the fear of man outweigh the fear of God? I don't have it figured out. It is a battle I continue to fight. I aspire to be more like Ruth. Much like Ruth, God has called me out of humble, ugly beginnings. He has set my feet upon His path. He's calling me to move onward, to put one foot in front of the other and follow Him. Everyday, I'm just like a child... the one getting distracted by the things along the way, the birds calling out, the weather that's unpleasant, my feet hurt... and so on, and so on... God has unending patience with our childish behavior. But I'm pretty sure He's at least thinking along the same lines I would if it was my child acting this way; "Would you just COME ON already?! Don't you know I'm your Father and I love you and I have nothing but good plans for you?! Just TRUST me!!!" Oh, trust. Ouch. That's what it boils down to isn't it? Trust. Do you really trust the Lord with your life? Not just your death or your eternal life, but your earthy life too?

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope.

It is my prayer that we would all be more like Ruth. That we would shed the things of this earth and lean into the things of God. That we would just obey. It's not complicated. We make it that way, but it's not really. It's a simple choice, do you really TRUST the Lord with your life?

An in depth and beautiful sermon series: Redeeming Ruth

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A New Space

Our family is moving into a new season of life. For the past 28 months our lives were consumed by having a child in treatment for cancer. Many things have happened, our hearts, our lives have changed. During this time I've been writing on my daughters CaringBridge website and also very occasionally on my knitting blog. Neither place feels appropriate for what I feel called to do now. It was time for a new space. A combined space. A space to share my heart and the works of my hands. A space to share my heart, my life, and what comes from these itchy fingers of mine. Here it is. I look forward to having you join me!