Thursday, April 10, 2014

hope spoken

last march when tickets were released for hope spoken i had no idea what it was. i kept seeing the picture/logo show up all over instagram. the ladies organizing the event were not blogs i had read but now i do and i only recognized a few of the speakers. however, one of the key note speakers was going to be shauna niequst who wrote bittersweet and bread & wine. two books i recommend and bittersweet was sent to me by five different people when i had cancer. i am drawn to her writing and wanted to hear her in person. a few girlfriends from ky whom i know through justin (and have become dear friends) were also going so i tagged along. cory, jen (she blogged the details of this weekend) and rachel our woman that i respect immensely and love and barely see. so a few days in dallas, with some girlfriends, no babies, worship, sharing, and hearing about all different aspects of life and hardships and joy that all...i mean all...point back and directly to Christ.

what went on during this weekend you can't fake. thank you danielle, emily, and casey for that. you can't fake genuine and raw. i love that. i love that it felt nothing like a conference where you feel more like you are observing all these really cool people who get to be the speakers and share about their lives. but instead it felt like i was a part of it all. like my presence mattered. not in a self-centered kind of way but more of that it didn't matter if you were "blog famous" or had lots of instagram followers or wrote books or sold cool stuff. we are all woman trying to make our way. but i would be lying if i wasn't a little intimated by the well of knowledge, life, humbleness, and really amazing woman that filled that room.

the weekend felt humble. not fancy. although the decor was impressive and creative. if we had all been in our pajamas it would have really been my perfect dream. i am drawn to humbleness because i was struck with how prideful i am. how much i want to matter. be important. be asked to speak. share my story. when i realized the woman who shared this weekend were nervous, intimated, shy, hated public speaking (which i totally do so i am not sure why i want to speak at stuff). my pride. i see it everywhere.

i not only watched and listened but i experienced other woman's lives as they shared on abuse, infertility, adultery, depression, anxiety, adoption, death, broken relationships, mounds of deep and dark pain. but the game changer was that in all of that. every ounce of the stories shared you saw surrender, joy, contentment, birth, forgiveness, life, adventure, risk, hope & life. this place was my jam. i am saying that a lot these days to work with me. i felt like i was with woman who were like-minded. no matter the age, state, story, or vision...it all pointed to the gospel and the ocean of grace we can all experience everyday from the Lord. i thrive in thinking and processing and rejoicing and crying in the midst of hard freaking stuff and then...when you can't take it anymore you see a glimpse of joy, sovereignty, forgiveness, life, purpose...a story. our story. my story. your story. the one that He is writing everyday for us. i love that. this weekend was about sharing those stories. no matter where you're at or where you're headed or what was behind you. the Lord is writing your story and the way i believe we honor Him the most is by sharing them. allowing others to enter into them. all of it. the messy stuff and the easy joyful stuff. i think woman have the ability to speak into one each other's life with encouragement and scripture when we share where we've been and where we might be going.

although i would love to give you all little nuggets of truth from the speakers...i cant find my notes and if i don't press publish now this post wont happen since i currently am not sure what lyla is doing. so instead here are the links to the blogs of the ladies who were real, humble, shy, hilarious, truth tellers. i love that. i want to give more of it and i sure want to experience that more with the woman i live life with...both near and far. to take off the masks and the fear and pretending that it's all ok. but man when it is all ok we need to praise the Lord and live out of a place of gratitude. the unique thing about the Lord is that He can provide us with that place of gratitude in the midst of wherever we find ourselves.

danielle & hannah && emily (one of the first blog i ever read and we ate most meals together. love her.) jami & leslie & casey & emily

in life i think we often find ourselves at a point where we can either choose fear or faith. i want to be a woman who chooses faith. i want to be convicted and broken and vulnerable when i know Jesus is the prize. His truth and grace. everyday. everyday single say until eternity.

this weekend showed me that so much of my life is bound up in this earth and my stuff and my family and my hopes and my dreams and my story and what i want. between seminar one and seminar two my heart flipped. i want more of Jesus on this earth. i want my eyes to be kept on Him no matter the season. i want more us to live like that. to talk about why it's scary and what we are holding onto on the inside and where we fail and where we thrive and that no matter how it all unfolds...Jesus is the one thing.

leslie passed photo cards out to those that attended her session and this has been written on my heart.




Monday, April 7, 2014

rally

 I RALLY for Libby. I RALLY because Ava needs her Mom. And Justin needs his wife. Because while every blog post was emotional, none made me cry as much as this one...

February 9th: we are home. we made it. we made it through 12 chemotherapy treatments. it was joyful and emotional. hard to celebrate because i really do not feel very well at all. but either way its over and i never have to get chemo again. i can not explain what this means to me. i have cried more today than i have since this all began. i had no idea i would feel like this. but i am so thankful its over. and i did it. we did it. we freakin' did it. its done. i could scream. justin did scream in the car when we drove home. i will scream when i feel less exhausted.

thanks for loving us. and for the texts, emails, mail, and flowers that arrived today. it helps that so many people are celebrating right along with us.

i am in bed. ava is sleeping. and we are watching top chef. our favorite. my husband is beside me working on his lap top. its so nice to be together. to celebrate how far we have come together. i thought we were a strong team before...but man...cancer does something crazy and special and deep to a marriage.

or this one...

February 18th: Final Test Results - i woke up early this morning. i could not sleep. i emailed my doctor and within minutes he called me. he said immediately, "I am calling with good news, Libby!" that was all i needed to hear. but then i asked to be sure, "So i am cancer free?" and he said, "yes, congratulations Libby!"

i hung up and just sat in my bed. i did not react. almost like when we heard i had cancer. i know i have emotion but for some reason i felt nothing. so i text justin asking him to call me asap and that it was good news. he asked, "how do you feel?" and i thought for a second and said, "good. i mean i knew it. i knew it inside that it was gone but this is the confirmation i needed. i feel relieved." he said me too. but i know myself and the emotion will come. its not usually immediate. its like i need a second. well its been over an hour and its sinking in. ava woke up and we got her dressed and justin made breakfast and we really did not talk. we ate on the porch and then my heart began to open up. not with tears but i am beginning to process that i do not have cancer anymore. I DO NOT HAVE CANCER ANYMORE.

i often think that our story is not that unique or special. people get cancer all the time. and people live and people die. and i found myself feeling guilty that our story of cancer was maybe not as tough as other people's. justin said that was dumb and not to think that. so i will try not too. but we changed. forever we are changed. and i would not trade that for the world. my heart is new. and i am still broken and sinful and clearly imperfect but cancer did something big to me. and to justin. and even though ava is so young i know our family's story will change her too. oh, i pray it does.


I RALLY because almost four years after her diagnosis, Libby is alive and healthy. Because Ava now has a baby sister. I RALLY so more families can celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and first steps. And fewer families have to sit through chemo. I RALLY for the families who had to say goodbye too soon. I RALLY so future families don't have to. But mostly, I RALLY with the hope that one day, we won't need to RALLY anymore.

(all the above was shared by grace ng on the www.rallyforlls.com website)

i have been trying to write this for a few days but i didn't want to just share a link and a story and ask people to just enter into this campaign. i want to articulate in the best way i can that this is way bigger than raising awareness or money. it is about dreaming of a day when cancer isn't a part of any of our stories anymore. because enough research has been done to obliterate this disease. but since that day is not today i want to share about our friend grace. her family has been long time supports of the ministry of Young Life and our family. justin and i have had the honor of walking alongside grace's two younger siblings, abigail and jon while living in chesapeake.

Grace Ng graduated from the University of Virginia in 2009 and took a job at Barclays in New York City where she currently works as an Assistant Vice President in Institutional Equity Sales, responsible for covering institutional asset managers with respect to their equity market investments.

After moving to NYC in 2009, Grace discovered the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) through their endurance sports training program, Team in Training. Team in Training trains individuals to compete in marathons, triathlons, and cycle events while they raise funds to support LLS. In the past four years, Grace completed 5 marathons and half marathons with Team in Training, and is currently training for a half marathon in June!

In addition to her own training, since 2012 Grace has served as a captain for Team Barclays, a Team in Training corporate team that has supported more than 350 employees in endurance events and raised over $1 million for LLS. At the invitation of LLS’s NYC Chapter, Grace also serves as a member of the Team in Training Executive Leadership Committee, an entity tasked with growing and developing the Corporate Team Division of the program. (this and more about grace can be found at www.rallyforlls.com)

Grace has accepted the nomination for the LLS 2014 WOMEN OF YEAR rally campaign. the rally campaign is a 10 week push to raise $150,000 for the LLS.The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services. Founded in 1949, LLS is relentless in the pursuit of its mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. When I was sick we were given a $5,000 check from the LLS to help with our medical bills, medication, and treatment. That significant contribution alleviated the financial burden that cancer treatment brings to so many people. 

will you rally?
no matter the amount it makes a difference. all those $25 donations add up.


follow them on twitter @RALLYFORLLS
connect on facebook

mostly this whole thing is very humbling. humbling that people continue to rally around our story, cancer, and finding a cure. when we were walking through cancer i share all the time that the reason we even made it through that time without going insane was because people rallied around us in every capacity possible. but it begins with a cure. 

email me if you have questions or want to get involved.
libbyryderblog@gmail.com



thankful that LLS had done enough research by the time i was diagnosed so we had treatment plan designed specifically for hodgkin's lymphoma. i was stage 4 when my cancer was discovered and i feel confident that because of the 4 drugs i was given at chemo in addition to the Lord's grace i was healed. today i am healthy wife and momma to little girls. i can feel how close we were to that not being our story.
 because campaigns like this exist i was able to be treated and healed.


Monday, March 31, 2014

"See, I am doing a new thing...I am making a way..."

i just returned from a long weekend in dallas, tx with three good friends for a gathering of women who love the Lord, have a story (which we all do) and want to share it glorify the Lord with all the sweet and broken parts. www.hopespoken.org. it is happening again next year and you can get your tickets soon...do it.

still processing and let it soak in. because united airlines has something personally against my flights to and from texas were either delayed, cancelled, or delayed some more. how about planning to leave at 11am and not getting home until 2am. not sure what united has against me but i am home and back with my family who i missed terribly. today we rest.

i sat in the dallas airport and reflected a bit on Isaiah 43:19.


See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

In many ways i feel like my life has been broken up into two parts. Before cancer and after cancer. Going along and living your life and then something seems to shift. I believe for many people (because they told me) that the story we were living in cancer was the greatest fear for many people. Ever wonder if the fear and worry in your life is causing more anxiety than when you are actually living in the wasteland? I do. I think we spend more time worrying and controlling our life than actually living the story The Lord is specifically writing for each and everyone of us. We think we know what we would do when life takes the turn we weren't expecting. I think the unplanned and the unexpected road is actually one of our primary purpose in life. The Lord will use whatever means He sees fit to bring us and others to the feet of the cross. What are we about when life feels like a wilderness wasteland? When we are stripped of what we've looked to for life. Thankfully the God we serve, He shows up. As Isaiah said..."See I am doing a new thing." We often assume that new thing will be one bound up in joy. What if it isn't? Than what? For me our story took a turn when I was diagnosed with cancer at 25 and had just become a mother 6 months prior. Our new thing was cancer and because our God can make a new way in the wilderness of pain it became a chance to grow and bind ourselves to Christ. To experience a deep intimacy in my relationship with The Lord for maybe the first time in my entire Christian life. Praise The Lord that we serve a God that uses cancer to be the new thing and brings you to a place when it is only about Him and only a little bit about cancer.  The thing that shifts your life and your heart in a way that you would never pick than becomes what changes your inner most parts like nothing else could. Praise the Lord for making a new way in my life.

The Lord made a unique and intimate way for our family in the midst of pain. It's about living in a daily way that reflects how He used the greatest pain to spring up joy and purpose and people and life in the midst of death. 

Where is The Lord beginning a new work in your life that could possibly be the thing that changes who you are in Christ forever? Do not miss that He will use it all. The ugly, the pride, the embarrassing, the secrets, the pain, the heartache, the humiliating, the...this is too much. too scary. too hard. AND He will use joy, laughter, the beach, friends, relationships, church, His word, prayer, children, your marriage to bring you to Himself. I think for some it is easier to cling to Christ in desperation and for others it is harder in the seemingly mundane nature that life can take to really experience His grace and love and direction. Thankfully it's about all of it. The gospel is evident in everything if we choose to keep our eyes only on Christ. it is only about Him. everything else will fail and this weekend reminded me of how the Lord uses ALL OF IT to bring us to Himself.

I will make an active choice everyday to keep my eyes on Christ and what He says is true about me and my life and my purpose and my story. Even when i have a hard time believing i will turn to what scripture says is true. Because grace is an ocean we can continue to live out of Him in the midst of grief and joy. I believe that at times in our lives the two extremes are what get us through. In the grief and pain of my father in laws sudden passing came a week before the birth of our precious lyla. In the wake of fear and pain in cancer we experienced community, vision, purpose, and love like I have never known. 

I hope we can all move in a direction that draws us closer to Himself...regardless of our season of life.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

discontentment can be a dangerous place if you stay too long.

i have been way off this week and realized that i have an easier time telling other people that it is ok to just feel a certain way and not have to justify it. but i sometimes ignore my own advice. i need a reason and sometimes a long explanation as to why i am feeling how i am feeling. for some reason that makes it easier for me if i have a giant justification for myself and what is going on inside. however, i do not necessarily recommend living this way but for now...for me...this is where i am.

so i think everyone can agree (unless you live in fiji) that it has been an incredibly cold and long winter. our triple the normal month electric bill stands behind that. but in the midst of a cold and snowy month i had two things i was really looking forward to: two out of my three sisters were coming for a visit. my sister allison came for her spring cabi show. she sells cabi which is a really cute clothing line. basically it's an excuse to come and see us. a weekend consisting of laying around, her cleaning up our entire house while we attended a funeral, watching lyla while i took ava to med-express for an ear infection, lots of food (sushi is our jam), catching up, and being together. when she is here i am reminded once again that right alongside the fact that i love our home, this town, and our people...i miss my family. her early morning departure last monday was hard but not nearly as sad as usual because a few days from then justin's sister and her family were making their first visit to harrisonburg. it made the goodbye a little easier.

we welcomed an unexpected surprise of sun and warmer temps here this weekend. good for downtown walks, loads of sunshine streaming in the windows, picnics, and playing outside. between our two families we have 5 kids under 6 years old. so it's a little crazy and loud but thankfully our kids are obsessed with each other. we are so thankful that despite the distance my girls love and miss their cousins. however, parallel to the obsession and love between them we encounter tattle tailing, chasing, smelling booties (don't ask), and the unwillingness to share. i don't enjoy the bickering but i kinda like the chaos. it's like i don't love the clean up but man i love the party. it can be loud but it is mostly laughter and running around. don't get me wrong at the same time i would like to sleep in and have a break but once it's quiet around here again i miss it. i do love panera and starbucks in the morning, guys bike riding, kids singing "frozen" over and over, walks, food, conversations, late nights, good drinks, and sara and i talking about how we want to exercise and lose weight but than fail to leave the couch. when i married justin i gained the gift of one more sister. no words. so thankful. side note: i am joining a gym. for real. i want to be healthier.

all this to say that when monday hit and the floyds left and we waved goodbye and ava talked about them for the next hew hours straight...i entered a dark little place. overwhelmed with the absence i feel by living far away from my family and in an attempt to shove my feelings elsewhere i swept floors, changed sheets, did laundry, cleaned bathrooms, made dinner all to avoid my feelings and inability to pull it together. oh, and that it all needed to be done regardless if i was feeling up for it or not. ava watched a lot of tv, we skipped dance class, and i felt pretty down.  after not being satisfied by my days accomplishments...ie housework which seemed like the most lame way to justify how i spent my day. i decided i needed to do something that warranted growth and change and purpose and how i was currently living was not "enough.". i was having a little identity crisis. embarrassed to admit that i thought things like...so this is it? my life is cooking, laundry, and cleaning and caring for the girls? this is it? i need more. i have to have more. i need to find more purpose. something of far greater weight than a stay at home mother. i am hesitating to say all this because i would not tell anyone that this things are even truth. it's just a glimpse into my head and the parts i like to keep to myself. i realize this has far less to do with the girls (whom i love dearly...duh) laundry, the house, etc but everything to do with how and where i find my worth, purpose, and identity. this week my head has been full of thoughts about my identity and what i am worth and what i am capable of and where i am failing. its been a bit of self-loathing. on monday to warrant my day as "productive" we went to target at 5pm to get a few things to not consider myself an utter failure as a human. however, we all went in our pajamas.

reality check...life is a whole mixture of all sorts of things. not many people are passionate about cleaning bathrooms or unloading dishwashers...they are just a part of life and someone has to do it. passionate or not.

i know that i am a feeler. i am way more emotional than logical. grey always makes more sense than black and white. i am cool with the middle of the road. not when it comes to Jesus and being married and other obvious things. those are black and white. you gotta be in and in.

my emotions have been dictating how i feel, how i spend my day, where i go, what i do. i have been "doing stuff" in order to make myself feel like my day and my life and my purpose can be considered worth while. in my head i am at war. this battle between what i want to believe, what i do believe, and how that all plays out in my life. in my head it is one jumbled mess of things like this...lazy, no purpose, "just" a mom, alone, and when can i go to sleep next. not the best place to be. i get that. i am well aware that this week i have not totally been myself and i am sure it is a mixture of all sorts of things. looking forward to family visits that have come and gone...but so good while they were happening. it's cold and i am over it, sick kids is taxing, and sleep is a treasure.

what it all comes down to is this. it is ok that i am having the post my family is gone blues and winter has been long and i am ready for warmth, playing outside, adventure, exercise, and sun. all of those are good and true. i know it is way deeper than all of that. i am admitting that i am a bit of a chronically discontent lady. grass is greener. i have to admit it. because i know it's a lie. grass is grass. life is life. things are not always what they seem. for example this morning i sent a text to my friend summing up my desire to possibly work outside the home and discontentment and all that comes with staying home raising the girls and my struggles with motherhood. to which my single, educated, driven, successful, passionate friend said: that's funny. let's trade. that is all i ever wanted. this is just my back up plan. boom. she got me. it hasn't left my mind. what i want at times she has and what i have she wants. see the whole grass and greener thing is just one big fat lie. we both agreed that our chronic discontentment is a miserable place to be. i know that joy is stripped when your eyes and your heart are looking at things and people and seasons and stuff to bring joy and purpose and peace and happiness and contentment. i have the answer. i have the one thing. i know its the Lord. i know and believe that joy is stripped when you look to the world to complete you. it will only keep you searching and longing for more. i need truth. i need to be reminded and broken over where my life is found. i know the answer. logically i know. but my heart. my feeler instinct seems to have won. it wont win for good but for now it is winning.

coming up we have a young life weekend full of worship and truth and relationships. my soul needs it. craves it. i just hope i can show up and not sit in my own lies. i wanna be genuine and real but i sometimes feel fake. i know Jesus shows up everyday. i know He will show up this weekend. i know this is about me and not about Him. He is constant. i am flippant. His love is eternal and unchanging. i am flighty and tired and weary. looking ahead to march we have a wedding, i am attending a conference in dallas with myself and 3 other friends and a lot of other ladies who love Jesus that i hope are in the same boat. not going to hold out for these events to make it better or staking my hope in them. but looking ahead and seeing it all as a gift. that i will be surprised and broken and healed and that my passions and visions can some how be formulated into what the Lord has for me. but what if i don't know my passions. can i take test or something to tell me. i think i want more. i think that is ok to say right? i know that "more" can be overrated. this has far less to do with adding more to our life and our schedule and our time. but maybe it is me discovering what gives me purpose and live and joy in addition to everything else. can you even have it all? what does that even mean? i think that no matter what you do or how you live or spend your time...life is full of sacrifices and choices.

this is not meant to be a "woe is me" i get it that life is not just about the "or." married or single. kids or no kids. work outside the home or work in the home. healthy or sick. grief or joy. life is about the "and." i am a woman and i am married and a mother and i stay home and i kinda wanna work and discover my passions and i do lots of laundry and make dinner and sometimes i experience joy and grief in the same moment and same day. life is a whole bunch of "ands." thank goodness for that. or is boring. it is way too black and white and concrete for me or maybe for most of us. i like the and. i like that my life and my heart and my mind and who i am is a whole lot of ands. and for right now i am thinking beyond some of the basics. i have had seasons of being more content in my life and seasons of growth and challenges and risks. i want to be that person. i want to be that wife and that mother. that is passionate and risky (in a good way) and also loves to bake and put my kids to bed and play games. i know this is has nothing to do with wishing away this season and longing for the next. i do not want to miss the now. yes i want spring and summer to come but i refuse to miss the process. the process of becoming who i am and changing and forming. i love that. i want to change and evolve and stretch and work hard. but if i am honest with myself and everyone else...i am scared and timid and not sure what this means. my tendency is to stick with what is safe and comfortable and although i want to take challenges i have a track record of not following through. i am afraid to fail. but i know that along with risk comes failure. it is not an easy street. every choice we make usually means a sacrifice somewhere else. i guess i am not sure what i am willing to sacrifice.

i like the idea of being this person. that mom who seems to juggle it all. it is such a fallacy though. i know that. i believe that life can seem to be one jumbled mess of trying to find contentment, joy, safety, wholeness, freedom, and love as we manage the tendency to feel like we need to keep it all together, not fall apart, have direction, and not be afraid. what i think i have come to as i am writing this is that...it isn't about having it all and always being happy and having it together. i do believe the most vulnerable and broken and honest and risk taking people are a little more interesting. but i also know that what i want and what you want and where i am going and where you are headed is different. what a joy that is. the freedom that we do not have to be same or look a like or do what same thing to matter. our worth isn't found in that stuff. i am trying to navigate the place that i am in where i feel a little restless. not sure where to go or what to do or what it means...my husband and my girls and our home and our life and town and our family and our relationships and life. it is a treasure. one that i do not want to miss or ignore or fail to thank the Lord for everyday. those things i believe are right and true.

i guess i am ready and willing to move towards what the Lord has for me...either in our home or outside or alongside justin or on my own. but thank goodness it all gets thrown together into one big ol' and. i want the and. i want to be more than this or that or blah, blah. i do not want to waste my life and i do not want to miss my life because i am too busy trying to find it instead of experiencing it everyday. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

House update

so i've been wanting to do this for a while but stopped myself. for several reasons...i wanted to use our real camera for photos not my phone, it's a mess, it's not done, etc. but tonight i decided that i was missing the point. it's all about the process. i love our new home and i am enjoying the process of...finding good deals, browsing Pinterest, hanging pictures, getting things organized, fixing things (don't totally enjoy that part), and gradually making it our own. so tonight i ignored all my reasons for not posting and thought about what i love when i check out blogs or websites for decor ideas. i simply enjoy seeing into people's homes and i don't care if it is done or pristine or any of that. anyone who loves to decorate or DYI projects or simply searching 100s of random things on Pinterest just to get some ideas than this is for you. nothing looks fancy or like a magazine with flowers in the shot. these are all from my phone and i barely picked up the house...but enjoy.

Here's a few before shots. also the nester has helped me embrace the whole..."it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." we aren't really into perfection around here anyways.






          In the kitchen we painted the cabinets and got new hardware and added decor. but nothing else major. i do believe the built ins are a bit cluttered...)

                        Ava's room 


i am truly obsessed with the big gold polka dots in Ava's room. i saw them on instagram and immediately thought they were perfect for her room. you can find some for your place here: www.uwdecals.com . i can't express my love for them. so easy. they come off easily as i have rearranged them a few times...but still continue to stick to the wall perfectly. i totally suggest them for any room. Urban Walls website has a ton of shapes and sizes and colors to choose from. so great for renters and spaces that don't remain permanent (college dorms or office space, etc).



                                 Main bathroom:
      It's getting  painted tomorrow. A grey/navy color. 



i plan to stray paint the hardware and install a new faucet. than i would like to frame out the mirror and update the shower curtain (new paint color is close to the color of the curtain so a little change will be good).


There was old bright red carpet on the stairways and hallways so we changed it to a light grey color. I am planning to paint this wall black and create a gallery wall with white frames from top to bottom.


Our bedroom: it originally had red carpet that was torn out we replaced it with a laminate hardwood. Justin did it himself and we hired out for the baseboards because the cuts need to be precise and we don't own a saw that can do that nor is my sweet husband a carpenter. 




                 Basement family room and playroom 




A few randoms of guestroom, living room, and entryway. Lyla seems to be sleeping whenever i am taking pictures. her room is white, coral, navy, and pink. also we painted both the girls ceilings pink. a nice little touch.







So here's where we are at. it's been a lot of purchasing and returning and trying and finding deals (target clearance is my best friend) and spray painting. we did hit up ikea for some new pieces: couches, bedroom dressers, round mirror in entryway (thanks mom and dad), kitchen island, curtains, frames, and some smaller decor items.

i feel very passionate that you create a space you truly love and not spend a lot of money. i found our bedroom lamps for $10 a piece from target. our 9 x 12 living rug from crate and barrel was originally around $1,000 and we got it for $300. i like to find decor pieces (frames, vases, etc for cheap cheap. like $10 or less). i asked for gift cards for christmas that went straight to the house. it was perfect timing. i just want to encourage people who are on a budget or do not have any extra money for housing update. you really can do it affordably. wait for things to go on sale and use craigslist, ross, tj maxx, and target end caps. use spray paint and thrift stores and what you already own. a new lampshade or new paint color or using it in a new space can really go a long way. some hate this process but i have found in order to get things done i need to find great sales and be willing to be patient. so far it is working and i kinda think it is fun.

comment with any questions or where we got stuff or ideas or suggestions. i would love that. also these pictures are so bad. sorry about that...


Thursday, February 6, 2014

three years.

so my friend laura and i are pretty much the only people that actually remember my last day of chemotherapy. i am sure...i mean i guarantee it is because its her birthday 2.9.11. although the 9th is on sunday it was actually 3 years ago today (on a thursday) that justin and i got our final starbucks run on our way to treatment. i don't really remember anything about it anymore. i guess that is one more reason why this blog holds such a special place for me...because its the keeper of all my thoughts, memories, and emotions that have since faded. in some ways i am okay that it all doesn't feel so fresh and raw and real anymore. time does that. it heals. i am grateful for healing and that what i mostly remember about this day three years ago is that i slept. a lot. justin planned our nyc trip while i slept so not to ruin any surprises. sleep is good sometimes for that reason. my mind was able to rest and escape the smell, the room, the people, the sadness. a chemo room is sad. i would look around and wonder what stories were in that place. were they almost done like me? just starting? scared? alone? in pain? i did not really take the time in chemo to hear people's stories and get a glimpse of their hearts. i wish i had. but i couldn't. i didn't seem to have the energy to carry other people's heartache. i was trying to manage my own pain and fear. but this treatment. number 12. well it was a means to end for me. we knew that i was responding and that this would almost one hundred percent be it for me. so there was some joy for us that day. knowing that our cancer story was coming to a close that day. at least the chemo part. we said good bye to my nurse nora. i felt stronger today because i knew i could do one more. i had finally reached our finish line and i am so glad justin did THIS. or else i may keep forgetting.

i have shared our story many times and i hope to keep sharing it. i believe our stories matter and whatever they hold we need to keep sharing them. it matters. your life matters. i wrote for a magazine called mamalode a while back and last month they emailed and asked if they could run it again online. i was thankful because i have been absent from this place for a while and having a hard time finding my way back. then i got an email that it was running today. 3 years exactly from when we ended treatment. timing of things are funny sometimes. we don't always know why or if it matters. but re-reading what i wrote and thinking about our journey and where it has brought us took me the Lord. thanking Him for His everlasting faithfulness and love. He is in it with us. all of it. even when we feel alone and scared. i feel both those things often. my courage and joy comes from Him because without it i would prefer to curl up into bed and in turn might miss my life. but i don't want to miss my life. my hope is that i can live each day with purpose, love, patience, joy, and even when i feel like i can't do it all anymore. i wont beat myself up. i will give myself and those around me the grace to simply live. to not compare or feel lazy if our day is full of cartoons and food. but to really live in a place of contentment because i know that story that the Lord has for me and for you is not one that is consumed by insecurities and fear and heartache. of course all those exist and we live them out daily sometimes i hold firm to a greater hope. a hope that last forever. so instead i will choose life. cancer is real and scary and many of you are walking in the trenches of that now. for yourself or family or friends. cancer is everywhere and i hate that. but because our stories will be filled with life (our good friends had a little girl today and i will celebrate her new life along with the new life i was given in being free from cancer) and our stories will be filled with pain and grief...in the midst of it all i will choose Jesus. to rejoice with in life and cling to for hope and comfort in death. you see as the creator of life He can hold it all. wherever you are at today or tomorrow or last year or in ten years the creator of this world wants to walk in all of it with you. you are not alone. in the joy of new life...life sweet baby ella and the sting of lost...like pop pop the same God is in it all. i am indebted. i need Him and you need Him too.

our story. if you've read it a hundred times or new to this place. this is where i believe my own story in many ways began. READ HERE. i don't usually do this but i think it matters. our stories. the happy ones and the sad ones they all matter. so share ours. share it because it's one of hope and pain and fear of death and life and healing and because suffering will happen. maybe not cancer but it will be something. sorry to be a downer and since easy was never guaranteed i do believe what we do with our pain and joy and grief and hurt and when life feels out of control...it all matters. so lets enter into one another's stories. let's keep it real and raw and genuine and safe. i believe we all desire to be a part of something where we feel safe and accepted and heard and loved. so let's do that for one another and for ourselves. we are not alone. even if we feel it. it's a lie. so cling to what is true.

today i am reflecting on where we were three years ago today and in that place i have cried a lot and it is not even noon. but it has less to do with chemo and cancer and more to do with how deeply i seem to feel things now. cancer brought an already emotional girl to a whole new level. i am hopeful for sweet tears of joy today.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lyles and her first year of life.


After the girls party we sat around with friends while kids played and reflected briefly on this past year. Sharing about how it was only the Lords provision that I had the strength 38 weeks pregnant to stand alongside my family as we walked through the tragedy of pop pop. Then getting permission to fly at 39 weeks to attend his celebration of life service. My midwife asked..."as long as your willing to have a baby in ky than you can go." It would have been a fine state to have a child but alas she stayed put. It's not that  I am trying to make anything about the few weeks prior to her brith about me...because I am not. Far bigger and harder things were happening. But simply grateful that I didn't deliver on a plane or that when she did arrive on 1/14 that she was healthy. As we walk through complicated pregnancies with friends I am reminded daily that a healthy baby...well it is a precious miracle. So for our little lyles I see her life all wrapped up in what was happening preceding her birth and than three years before when freezing eggs were suggested. To which we opted to skip. I was talking to my sister yesterday as I party prepped and we joked..."ha who needs frozen eggs...not us!" See I know that life does not always work out the way we envision or hope or even beg for. So in the midst of the heartache we must try and seek joy. In the small and in the big. I can't even write about lyla on this blog without tears streaming down my face because I want to scream out loud that her life represents everything to me. All wrapped up into one tiny and sweet life. As she was sitting in her high chair eating cupcake nĂºmero dos because you only turn one once I literally couldn't touch her or kiss her enough. her birthday brought me back to aves first birthday party. Which despite the food and family and decor (thank you sara) it was sad. Maybe I was just sad inside. Mid chemo treatments and although we were completely sure that I would fine it was just such a trying time. So three years later to be in a new home which I love and friends and kids and party decorating for both my girls who are celebrating another year of life. I feel full. The mess, the kids, the time with friends, and knowing that none of this is promised or exists for everyone. I didn't want to miss that or focus on things that don't matter. But my girls...I know that the life they lead and the woman they will become...that matters. So I won't stop. Teaching and guiding and comforting after scary dreams and changing diapers and cleaning up and doing laundry. Not because I love love all those things but because that's the package deal you get with kids. i often loose sight and get frustrated but yesterday gave me a breath of fresh air and the reminder that lyla wasn't always a done deal but she represents hope and how The Lord wants to bless up abundantly. It's our choice if we will miss his abundance if it ends of looking a little different than what we thought we signed up for...

But lyla. Man I am glad she's a part of what we signed up for...she's our little bundle of joy.


Our girls. Praying to impact their lives even a tenth to how they've changed mine.