Monday, April 30, 2012

i hate the new blogger.

i have no idea why blogger would change what seemed to work just fine. all i know is that i am having a hard time even finding my own blog and an even harder time figuring out how to post what i write. but here we are. finally.

so randomly when we got home from visiting the wright family i decided to begin potty training ava. not sure why. it is not like me at all to just start something. i usually like to have a game plan and a few good reasons as to why i do what i do. but not this time. we went to target for some groceries because i had a coupon and decided to let her pick out a new little potty. i am cheap (about really random things) so i told her to pick out one of the potty seats that set on the toilet. she chose dora the explorer. after much debate between that and elmo. she told me tonight when we were reading an elmo book before bed..."oh, mom i just love elmo." but after a little back and forth she decided on dora. so we began lots of potty talk...such as picking out skittles for her..."i just went potty like a big girl" treat. she was mad that she could not have them immediately while in the aisles of target. off to a good start with the ol' potty reward system. finally she stopped screaming for..."ittles mommy. ittles mommy" throughout most of target and we headed home. although i write my grocery list on my phone i forgot a few things so we stopped at walmart quick. i decided from target to walmart that we needed two potty for each floor. this time she picked tinkerbell and seemed confident in her decision. so we headed home to begin the potty endeavor. it went surprising well. she sat on her tinkerbell seat and peed like five times. but i realized in this 30 minute span that it was annoying to not be able to actually see her pee since she pees like as much as mouse i feel like. so after unloading groceries we went back. we went back to target and walmart because i am crazy. returned dora to target and bought an actual legit potty chair from walmart. a frog potty chair actually. home we went. without really looking into how to potty train a little girl..i stripped off her pants and sister ran around nakes and no accidents. all luck. i am well aware. today same game and one little accident. i ran upstairs to put away some laundry and i heard from the babysit..."sorry mommy. sorry mommy." cleaned it up and i appreciated that she felt a little bad about peeing through her big girl panties. today we were mostly home to really set her up well for the whole potty training but we did need to go see the doctor for an ear infection follow up and just as i thought...still infected.  got some new medicine and headed home for some good time with daddy.

i realize that nothing i am sharing tonight is that profound...but it is real. right now our focus is on learning to pee in a potty. not that exciting. but it is real and it is where we at. fell in love with her a little deeper tonight too. not sure what happened...but there was this moment...she was laying on me (rarely happens) we were talking about how proud i was of her and then is said, "you know what?" and without missing a beat she said..."that i your favorite girl." done and done. we get each other. i am thankful for today because of where i have come from this weekend (a little lost in where i am and what i am about. that post is for another day. maybe wednesday).

looking forward to my show on bravo. i should be embarrassed because bravo is trashy. i know that. but i like it. hope it is not a poor reflection of who i am.

happy monday. no pictures on this post (hope you understand why).

i am inspired recently when it comes to our house and some new decor. if you want some new curtains to get yourself inspired enter this giveway. i just did.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


a little bit of a glimpse into our lives over the past couple weeks...because we are busy hanging with this little man. baby keller. oh, how we love you.

playin' in the rain.

wearing daddy's hat and yelling..."cool dude."

hung out with our with our new friends this week and found out they have a giant dog. ava is in love.

 i love a good deal & i love diet coke. yes i am well aware that soda is bad for me.

put these tissue poms up in ava's nursery a month or so ago and i love them. i am in the midst of a few decor projects that i will post later. but for now check out POM+LOVE here.

it is always a treat to make friends via the blog world. sweet meredith is one of those people. she is a young life wife and mom just like me. we emailed a bit when i was sick and then finally got to meet at a young life conference back in january. well she is real thoughtful and sister sent me a bathing suit for ava (i has been checking out but they never had a 2t. so she picked one up and mailed to us). along with a precious book about rockbridge county, virginia. where we met back in 2005.

first pet this week. a caterpillar she named "candy." she was alive for about 20 minutes until ava accidentally squeezed it a little too tight. i explained that candy died and ava took it well.

young life end of the year picnic and dance party in a barn. pretty gorgeous huh?!?

laura is special. although she is the new momma...she could tell i needed a second after ava had a little break down at chick fila. so when ava went down for a nap i went to hobby lobby all. by. myself. dream. got some fabric for pillows and curtains along with a few other treasures.


 a milestone for ava...her first dentist appointment. the morning started a little rough and i almost cancelled the appointment but she literally turned into a polite, sweet, little listener as soon as she walked into the room. not sure what happened but girl did incredible. i was seriously so proud. she was not scared and did not even flinch as they cleaned her little teeth.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

our story...

tonight i am going to bed early and very ready to have my husband home. so i thought i would share the piece i wrote specifically for mamalode magazine. it is published in the current issue entitled: flow. it is the first thing i have ever had published. a personal goal. i am proud.

you can get your own copy of the issue HERE or your own subscription to mamalode HERE.

although i have written our story throughout the blog many times, this was the first time i sat down and wrote it all out at once. 

our story...from the beginning. (kind of strange to see my writing with correct grammar huh?!)


Nothing prepares you for this. We read books in college to gain knowledge about our major. We read to prepare ourselves for marriage. I read more books than necessary to prepare for motherhood. Months were spent planning, decorating and getting every last detail in place.
We welcomed our first child, Ava Suzanna, in January 2010. I was 27 and married to Justin, the absolute love of my life. I was more excited than nervous. It felt natural. I was prepared.
But not for this. Not this road. Other people walk down this road. Not me.
After seven months of intense fatigue that no amount of napping could cease, a nagging pain in my hip and rib and waking up with sweat-soaked clothing, I finally went to the doctor. Just for a check up. I planned to ask him about a prescription for Vicodin, as if it was normal to need a drug every day to ease my pain.
After a physical exam, he sat in his chair and asked me, “How long have you had that lump in your neck?”
I grabbed my neck. “What lump?” He showed it to me. “I would like you to see an endocrinologist. I think the problem might be your thyroid.” He seemed calm, so I was calm.
Two days later I was alone in a waiting room because I wasn’t worried. My husband stayed home because he had no reason to worry either. But when the endocrinologist decided to schedule an ultrasound, I went home to get him.
As we drove back to the doctor’s office he asked, “Are you worried?”
“No, why?”
The technician did an ultrasound of my neck and told me pleasantly and kindly, “It is not your thyroid.” At the time, this seemed like good news.
Soon after we returned home, the phone rang and doctors asked if we could go back to the hospital for a chest X-ray. We got back in the car and Justin asked me again, “Are you worried, Libby?
“He is just being thorough, babe. I am sure everything is fine.”
They took an X-ray and we left. I fed Ava her first solid foods that day. My sweet 7-month-old baby. The phone rang. My calm doctor said, “Libby, no rush but could you and your husband come to my office at 5 p.m. today?” It was 4:30. I dropped the phone and tears came fast and hard. This time all three of us went. I knew it couldn’t possibly be good news, so I wanted us to be together.
As we drove, we called a few family members and told them a bit about what had transpired from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on that seemingly ordinary Monday in July. I sat down and waited as Justin paced the waiting room. The room was empty. Just us. My husband was scared. I could feel it. Ava was content in her car seat as I casually flipped through a magazine like I always did.
We were called back to his office. This is when it all became a blur. We sat at a long table. The doctor, me and Justin. Ava was in her car seat on the ground. He opened up his laptop to show us results from the X-ray and ultrasound. I had no idea what we were looking at, what was normal versus abnormal. But I knew it didn’t look quite right.
The pictures made my chest look like it had a covering, a blanket of round blurry dark shadows.
“Based on my expertise, along with those who read your X-ray and ultrasound, you have lymphoma.”
I remember looking to Justin to give me something. Our eyes locked.
I needed some clarification. “What is lymphoma?”
It wasn’t about a grandmother or a friend’s cousin. It was me. My body. My chest. My neck. I was the one with cancer. I had been walking around. Living my life. Nursing my baby. Being a mom and a wife and a friend—and cancer was inside me. Rapidly growing without my knowledge or permission. It was surreal. Numbing, but not dramatic. Not for us. There were tears, but just the slow kind that trickled down my face, not the wet streaming kind. Simple, genuine shock with a million questions and thoughts, but nothing was said. All I knew was someone just told me I had cancer and I had no idea what that meant.
But I was Justin’s wife. Ava’s mom. What did this mean for him? Her? Our future? I didn’t know where to begin. I quickly took Ava out of her seat so I could feel her little body. Hold her innocence.
Would someone else raise her? Would she ever know me? That was not something I could say out loud. Not yet. It was too shocking. Too real. Too scary. Too many unknowns.
So I rallied. I found strength I didn’t know existed on this earth, let alone inside me, because I was numb. It was as if there was an overload between my heart and my head and I simply had nothing to say. This could not possibly be my life...could it?
As we walked out to our car, it was hot and the sun was still bright. Justin carried Ava. Oddly, I felt at peace. I am sure it was a combination of fear and utter disbelief, but it covered me. Every inch of me.
I looked at my husband from the other side of the car and one of us (I can’t remember which) said, “We got this. If we glorify the Lord with my cancer...He is going to do something big with it.”
The peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Jesus Christ.(Philippians 4:7)
Life was a whirlwind of phone calls. For days, we talked to family, friends, nurses and doctors. Told our story over and over—a story I wasn’t even sure belonged to us. After appointments, scans and biopsies, we found out it was stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The cancer was in my neck, chest, tenth rib and hip socket. We began chemotherapy at the end of August, and endured a total of 12 treatments every other Thursday for six months.
The instant I was told I had cancer everything changed. The love I thought I had was no more. Instead, it became deeper and richer than I ever knew it could.
I was scared. But mostly I was in “go mode.” I did what I had to do and I surprised myself. Within days of my diagnosis I understood what it meant to trust the Lord with my life. To give Him my life. He was in control of my story. In the midst of fear and anger and tears, I trusted the Lord and His plan for me, Justin and sweet little Ava.
I selfishly told myself that Justin would be OK without me. What a ridiculous thought. My passionate, funny, husband whom I fell in love with the second I saw him. Those eyes of his wrecked me. He walked right alongside me and entered into my pain, fear, sorrow and glimpses of joy. We were never alone.
And what about Ava? Who could raise her like me? Instead of being her Mom, I would be part of a story someone told her. Pictures she looked at. Not even a memory, just a story. People would tell her things like, “You have your Mommy’s lips or her laugh.” The mere thought of it broke me.
Nothing prepared me for this. No books. No education. Nothing. My life was not my own and I found peace in that. There was nothing I could do to take the cancer away. I rested in the Lord and we did whatever we needed to get well.
I am thankful for my cancer. I am thankful for to the opportunity it gave me to grow, evolve and change. I am not the same. We are not the same. We faced the possibility of death and came out on the other side a bit weary and broken, but ultimately stronger and more in love as a family and as followers of Jesus Christ.

 my baby. my little girl. i would fight a hundred times over to be here and be your mom. not a day goes by where i do not think about how differently our story might have ended and the gift it is to be here. truly no words for this thankful heart.

Monday, April 23, 2012

relay for a cure.

katie. we know our friendship. we know how deep it goes and how real it is. so with that i will simply thank you for making this happen. raising over $2,000, selling shirts, organizing, and inviting people not only onto a team but moving towards a place where cancer will hopefully one day not exist.
i love you.

i was nervous for this relay. i even cried about it twice. not sure how i felt about going to my first official cancer event. i guess a little sad that a teamlibby even exists. but with that i am grateful for people and the community we have around us...but still a deep wound that screams inside me..."i do not want to be on this team."  but i think i have come to place where my moments of sadness can exist right alongside my joy, thankfulness, and need to celebrate. i am also on a team of survivors. people who fought like i did...many who lived and many who did not. either way we all fought. that is what this relay represented for me. our story is one of survival and of life...a deeper and fuller life.

i have had the hardest time writing this because i am still not sure how i feel. i am thankful that this weekend was not full of tears. it was much easier than i had anticipated but it has still left me at a place i am unable to explain. i am just not sure why it is still so hard. i can not seem to find the words. i realize it goes without saying that my heart dove right back into cancer and our fight and where we are now...i just feel like i have not arrived anywhere really. maybe that is normal. if i ever arrived i would stop growing and changing and evolving into the woman i am still becoming. the aim is not arrival. but the in between. which can be fuzzy and unclear and i am not the best in this place. i would say i am less of a black and white i tend to be more comfortable in the grey. so i guess i will embrace the grey and live in it and keep learning. i am thankful for how Jesus keeps using cancer to stretch me and challenge me and work on me from the inside out.

relay for life was humbling. it was humbling to see people come together (most i met for the first time on friday night) rally around our family and support out of their own place with cancer. thank you.
it was a night to remember our story. how the Lord is using it and how it continues to change our family forever. in that there was pain and brokenness as it took me back to august 2010. but from that place it took my heart to a place of joy and immense thankfulness. thank for rallying alongside us and the american cancer society and fighting for a cure.

the entire track was lined with luminaries and different names. i know that this night was one of intense sorrow and pain for those who have lost someone close to them from cancer. my heartaches for you in that and reminds me to continue to fight towards living in a place of thankfulness. thankfulness for everyday and thankful for how our story ended. that the luminary with my name on it...was about remembering where we have been, where we are going, and how if we choose...if we are able...we don't have to waste our cancer. i am certainly glad we didn't waste ours.

sweet becca. thank you for giving me a glimpse of what life is really all about it. we share the same joy...but i crave to live in it the way you do everyday. i love you.

in the end there is hope. hope for a cure. hope for a world without cancer. without pain. without lose. where relay for life wont need to exist anymore. but until then we will fight, raise money, and continue the research necessary to find a cure.

***thank you girls for hosting the ryder family and anne stewart for giving up your bedroom so ava had a dark place to sleep. we loved our time with your whole house.***

Saturday, April 21, 2012

relay for life.

great weekend in blacksburg, va. loved being a part of Relay for Life. more to come on that tomorrow. i am tired. like beyond tired. is everyone always tired? that is kind of how i feel all the time and no i am not pregnant.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

where i am meant to be.

first off...thank you for the many kind words i received from many of you after reading the blog on monday. it encourages me and allows me to see that i am not alone in this with so many of you. whether we know each other or not it does not seem to matter. we are all trying to make it. just pushing through another day and attempting to not waste it...even when it hurts.

last week when ava and i drove home from ky...justin's mom met up with us followed us back home to viriginia for a little visit. over the past week i have enjoyed the luxury of more time to myself than i have had in a while. having the freedom to grab lunch with a friend or sit in starbucks simply because i can. no need to find a sitter...roma is in the house = laundry is done, closets organized, shirts are ironed, and ava has had about 500 books read to her.

honestly it has felt nice. nice to sleep in a few mornings. read. work. hang with friends. browse through stores simply because i can. no little two year old crying or asking to leave. i even got my nails done after my doctor appointment today. why? because i could and i found the best $10 manicure in town. then met my friend ashley for lunch and when were done i realized i had two hours before work and we could go get a mini dairy queen blizzard and stroll through tj maxx for things we may or may not  needed for our homes.

i have nothing to complain about as we have such phenomenal friend's and young life leaders who are more than willing to watch ava when i work or have errands or appointments...but family is different. i miss it.

but as we prepare for roma to drive back to ky and resume our normal routine and schedule...i realized when i got home from a meeting at work (where i learned the importance of music. try playing more music in your home and in the car. it is good for all of us) and had only seen ava for about 5 minutes all day...i missed her. like really bad. but i will say a tension remains. torn between loving being home with her all day and the joy of working, feeling productive (i know i am productive with her too). the foreign world of meetings and starbucks and conversations without any interruptions. aspects that are nice and i have enjoyed the freedom that roma being here has offered. but i like that i can have both. the joy of being able to say home with ava and do life with my girl and enjoy the change of pace this week has offered. i believe both exist quite well together. thankful for it all and random afternoon visits to a petting farm. yes, ava loves animals & for now i know i am exactly where i am supposed to be.

check the is seriously growing. also it is decided that bunnies are her new favorite. tears came when we had to say goodbye.

i rarely share the music i am listening too mostly because i am usually at least like 9 months behind cool music and am slightly embarrassed about it. but after tonight i am motivated to make music a more intricate part of our family. my heart has always moved from music and evokes something in me i had no idea was there and i want to tap into that more. so here judging allowed. this is a safe place.

shake it up.   someone like you.

we are young.

Monday, April 16, 2012

marriage. i know a little. but not very much.

lately i feel like i am waking up. waking up from a haze and finally seeing the light and attempting to choose to live in that light every single day. when people have asked how i am doing and how my marriage is going i seem to be answering with this a lot...we are at a turning point and i think it's a really good one.

i said often when i was sick that i was given the unique and special gift of seeing life through a new set of eyes. like a special lens. one that would experience a pain, fear, and illness like i had never known before. this would change everything...but in the midst of that continuing to see joy, purpose, and to the full i have found tension between who i want to be and who i actually am. many of you have similar stories. some are vastly different. but we all have a story. one that is currently being written and sometimes we find ourselves in a chapter where we wish we could press delete, delete, delete or fast forward, fast forward, fast forward. anything to skip the crappy stuff. but the crap...that is what makes who we are. we wake up from the haze. the lingering cloud and here we are. not quite the same but still so much the same. it is there in the midst of the earth shattering shift: whether in fear or whether in joy...welcoming a new child into the world, falling in love, a great pair of jeans, or a phenomenal skinny vanilla latte that you used to love and then took a break and now wonder why you ever stopped. it is the small things. it needs to be the small things because the big things can often times be straight up too much. it is in those places. the ones that change everything that we surprise ourselves. we are given the chance to not waste it. to not feel sorry for ourselves or to fall apart. but to live...really live. there will be moments of falling apart. of tears. of pain. of brokenness. we need those. they go hand in hand in. let's not loose sight of what is real. life is hard and life is sweet. the two must exist together. but will we choose that? will we beg the Lord to meet us where we are at? whether broken or shameful or guilty or prideful or embarrassed. will we let Him enter into our lives and trust Him with our story. the one i believe He is writing for each and every one of us.

justin returned from greece on saturday night and i felt whole again. we do fine when he is away. but i want great. i want phenomenal. i want joy. when we are together i experience joy. being together makes sense. we get each other and man there is nothing like walking through life with people that really get you. i think i have like five or so. never counted. just made that number up. but i am thankful. most of all i am thankful for my first love.

shifting gears a bit. but same overall theme i think. i sometimes think i have lost it. the ability to tell a story. to share my heart. this blog started because our story took a turn and sometimes i feel stuck in where to go or what to say. i ask myself things like: have i missed it? have i moved away from authenticity, real, and raw? if i have i want to go back. i need to go back. i want to share my heart and be open to disagreeing point of views and remain true to who i am and what i am about. i want to be real. how do i share the bad right alongside the good? i try and be honest. i set out to be honest. but as i thought more about it...i came to this: it is okay. it has to be okay for things to shift and change. it is okay to not always have a clear direction. but i will keep moving.

we are all strong. even those of you that would beg to differ. i would challenge you. i struggle with anxiety and guilt among an array of other things. justin and i are not always on the same page. we are way too busy. we often feel disconnected and he feels pressure and i feel not pursued. i fail to believe seemingly simple truths about who i am. who Jesus says i am: beloved, free, joyful, and enough. i am all of those things. i know this. but i fail to believe them and live them out everyday. i so desperately desire to find my worth in who Jesus says i am...not anything or anyone else. but i tend to take my eyes of Christ. i must make a decision everyday and every hour that my life is not my own. i trust the Lord with all of it. not some of it. even when i am anxious. overwhelmed. tired. mad. confused and very ill prepared for the story He is writing in me and through me. but that is the glorious thing about it all. i do not have to be prepared or have my guard up. i desire to experience and live in the peace that the Lord is for me and not against me. i think if we knew what was going to happen in our life before it actually happened we would miss truly living out our story. in the midst of adversity we surprise ourselves. we are much stronger than we think we are. we rise to the occasion when we need to and when we crumble, when we break, when tomorrow seems like way too much...He is in it.

i am blessed and thankful for the many gifts in my life. i do not have it all together. i am painfully aware. but the desire of my heart. of every ounce of my soul is to seek JOY. to choose life. real deep life. where we do not waste it. any of it. it does not mean we have to find joy in every single thing. there is simply things that are just not really joyful. but i desire to live in His arms. to be carried and to stop carrying a heavy weight of lies that plague me and take over my heart and my mind that speaks lies about who i am and what i am about.

i am sick of the guilt i carry around most days. i see it stripping away my joy. my adventurous spirit. the desire to be free and be exactly who He created me to be. today i choose freedom. in Jesus there is freedom. i desire to laugh more, be spontaneous, and become who He is designing me to be and i will give both of them more kisses.


giveaway winner:
eclectic joy winner is comment number 7: jordan black: "Looks fun and i love Cory's shop!!"
email me your info at congrats.

enjoy your monday. justin's mom is here and roma is making my job a bit easier. thank you. i am loving the break.

Friday, April 13, 2012

kentucky, easter, and lots of animals.

sometimes things happen where it seems far greater to really see it oppose to just read about it. this past trip to kentucky was one of those times. i am so very thankful to have married into a family that loves me as if i have always been there and that i am apart of them. it is nice to be loved and cared for and if only for a few days...get a glimpse of what life would be like if we lived near family. i like it.

easter morning with the cousins.


not the least bit scared. she loved the bunny. she spent most of easter brunch hoping the bunny would return to the table. no such luck.

jack's birthday breakfast and trip to the zoo.

waited all day for the penguin exhibit. it was the very last thing we saw and we came upon this...

this was closest she got to seeing penguins at the zoo...lame wooden cut outs. 

she asked if she could climb over the fence and live with the geese...but we decided that would be a no.

these kids love each other. it sure is something special.

it was a good good trip. thank you, thank you, thank you...for how you love me and how you love ava even more. but these two girls are real ready for daddy to come home and you better believe there will be balloons and cause for celebration.

mamalode magazine subscription winner is...commenter #2. congrats jen.

new sponsie for you. our good friend cory just started an adorable etsy shop with onesies for boys and girls and some super cute infinity scarves. so how about a giveaway? maybe a precious onesie for your baby or a lightweight perfect for the spring scarf for you? leave a comment and be entered into the giveaway. winner will be announced monday on the blog. in addition, receive 15% off your entire order when you use code: LIBBY. enjoy shopping.

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