Monday, February 27, 2012

It will be sweet.

So here's an update on my dad:

There's no cancer in his bones! Or bladder or surrounding areas. Yes! His cancer is stage 2 or 3 (they wouldn't know which unless they were able to go in and look at the prostate itself). He is a Gleason 9 - which means the concentration of cancer cells on one area of the prostate is 90%. Because of this high Gleason number, many of the treatment options were described to us by his doctor to be less than ideal. So dad is opting for a total removal. The side effects are impotence and 5% of men also suffer from incontinence. That's a really low number though, so that's great.

His PET scan showed that there are some 4mm nodules on his lungs. These scans are so sensitive that they pick up everything, so it could be cause for alarm, or may not be. It could be related to his COPD. So, on March 2nd he's having a pulmonary test done to check out those nodules and generally evaluate his lungs to see if they're in good enough condition for him to go under for the prostate removal surgery. On March 7th, he will be doing cardiac tests to make sure his heart can also undergo the surgery. If both of those check out well, he'll be having the surgery done quickly after those test results come back. Then he'll be down for the count for about 2-3 weeks. Then our sweet Titus will be born! Dad will be in good enough shape to at least hold him by then.

If his pulmonary and cardiac tests don't check out, we'll be looking at radiation or cryotherapy. I'm praying that we won't even have to go there. Best case scenario would be to just get the entire cancerous prostate taken right out!

We really like the robotic surgeon who dad would have do his removal surgery. He said that a best-of-the-best expert will do about 20 of these surgeries a year, and he does about 20 a month! There have been about 4,000 of these surgeries performed, and he's done 600 of them himself! And has a 100% success rate. So, we feel very confident in that.

So, now onto other things...

Today I am 32 weeks 6 days pregnant with our little Titus. There are only 51 more days until we're at 40 weeks! Hitting the near 50 day mark has been making it feel pretty real to me recently! I am a mother! Incredible! I already love him so much. I am so excited to meet him.

Bryan is going to paint his bedroom this weekend. I am very excited for that. Then all we need to do is get his crib put together, get his pre-assembled dresser out of the box, and wait to see what the baby showers bring. :) This Saturday is my church shower and next Saturday is my regular baby shower. I am so excited to gather with my friends and family and celebrate my little love! And SO grateful to the sweet women who have been planning and putting together these celebrations. I am so blessed!

Yesterday I completed the list of songs for a mix CD my friend is making me to play when I go into labor, I'm in the midst of reading 'The No Cry Sleep Solution', and thinking about things like what scented candles to buy and where to put the birth pool, and paying the midwives off this Thursday, and Bryan coming to a midwife appointment for the first time, and the Scriptures I've compiled for encouragement during labor, and just... all of the little details of having a home birth. It's what is consistently in the back of my mind. Coolest part is, I'm also soaking in these days of not having Titus here yet and not wishing these days away. Soon my every move and thought will be about what is best for Titus. Right now, I can still jump out of bed and be on my way somewhere in less than 10 minutes. Right now, I can take a shower for as long as I want any time I want. Right now, I can write long blog posts, and clean, and nap, and read, and have silence, and meet friends places without worrying about if the place is baby friendly or breastfeeding or what time that is on Titus's nap or feeding schedule, or needing a babysitter. Right now, I can pick up and go on a date with Bryan for as long as I want.

So I realize that these are precious times. I realize that I won't ever have them back. :) And I'm not sad about that. I'm not anxious about either chapter of my life, the one ending or the one beginning. God's peace is lavished all over it. Titus was created for such a time as this! He is being knit together in my womb with purpose and love and with a plan laid out for his life. He will dramatically change Bryan and I's lives as we know it. And it will be sweet.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A random splattering of the past while in iPhone photos

See that tiny sweet little baby? Our niece Kailen. She is having her first birthday in just over a week! This year has passed too quickly!

Baby Brock. I babysat him for almost a year. I miss him so much already! Hopefully he and Titus can become good friends.

My beautiful Cissa! I love her so
much. I can't even put in words how much she means to me.

Fun vacation in California in July!

My Newberry kiddos <3

A fun Twilight movie date with Jenni!

I finally got to meet baby Charlotte!

I miss my Shel Bel


A date with my Rachel

Babysitting all my favorites at once! :)

Cissa ran her first marathon!

Plucked Bryan's first gray hair

A delicious date with Bryan celebrating the end of his strict Whole 30 diet

A doctor appointment with my daddy

My Blalocks.

Dru is 4!

This sugar dog that is my constant sweet companion

This man that I am deeply devoted to. My love.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Hi there, it's been a while

My last post was written after we'd just found out we were having a baby! Today I am 30 weeks 6 days pregnant, with our little boy Titus John. John is after my daddy, and Titus is after Titus of the Bible - another Timothy under Paul - a great man of God. The meaning I love the most of the name Titus is "saved". I believe the meaning of a name is very important in the eyes of God and I hope that Titus will grow into a great man of God in honor of the name given him.

So we don't have much time before he's born now! The midwife appointments have upped to every 2 weeks now, my belly button is almost popped out, Titus has hand-me-downs and gifts already waiting for him, he has a crib and dresser waiting to be taken out of the boxes and assembled, and walls waiting to be painted. The color has been chosen, the items have been put on a registry, the baby showers are being planned, and I'm getting lots of read time with birth and baby books.

At the turn of the last trimester I decided I should take time off from babysitting. So I said goodbye to my 3 times a week gig of watching baby Brock (with tears) and decided not to commit to other babysitting so that I can commit my time to getting our home and my heart ready for parenthood. It's been a wonderful time. Lots of time spent at my kitchen table with decaf coffee or tea and books, Bible, and journal. Lots of online research. The opportunities to atttend breastfeeding and cloth diapering classes. As a new mommy I am so thirsty for information! This is a brand new world to me. Titus and I will be making the foot steps on the ground on this one.

Bryan has really stepped into the supportive role of working his tush off around the house the last couple weeks. We procrastinated a lot of to-dos and I ashamedly admit it would get to me from time to time, but now that those to-dos are steadily getting checked off the list, I am de-stressing and it feels so nice. Between his work schedule, and CrossFit, and other activities, and needing to rest, and needing to spend time with his wife, my husband's time is a hot commodity. I am so grateful that he puts in hard unpaid work to serve me around here. It's so nice to be able to look at this newly painted living room walls and feel serenity in my heart about giving birth in this home. It may seem trite, but it makes so much of a difference!

Another new challenge that has been introduced into my life is my dad's being diagnosed with prostate cancer. From where I was in life when I dealt with the grief of Staci's breast cancer and passing, to where I am now is astounding - by the grace of God am I here! By the work of His Spirit inside me am I able to bear this fruit of peace! It's unexplainable how I am able to not worry. How I am able to not fear the worst outcome. How I am able to completely trust God's will and goodness and love for us. I trust Him completely with my dad's life. I trust Him completely with Melody's. And mine, Titus's and Bryan's. What else could I feel but peace at the hands of God? The same God who fashioned the stars, moon, sun, and earth made me and made my dad and intentionally designed our lives for His glory. How beautiful. How comforting.

Today I am going with my dad to a doctor's appointment to talk about his cancer. We're awaiting news on his recent PET scan that will reveal whether he has any cancer in his bones. He'll be undergoing many other tests to find out whether there's cancer in any other parts of his body, then they will stage him, and then he will decide on a course of treatment. No matter what news comes may I always rest in the arms of my loving heavenly Father!

It's hard to grasp that I could be bringing Titus into this world in just 9 short weeks (or so). I know that life as I know it will be turned upside down and inside out in the most beautiful and fascinating of ways. I anticipate it with excitement and joy! I anticipate it with the realness of knowing the potential ugly parts. I pray that for all of my days that I will rely fully on the strength of God that is strong in my weakness. Thank you Lord for your Son! Thank you for mine, who I will have to learn to release to you every day over and over.

This is a surreal season of life. I'm enjoying every day. Even being able to glance back at the icky parts and having awe about the circumstances that have taught me something.

Man, my husband is my rock. He holds my heart in my chest in his arms. All it takes is a sweet word, a warm hug, an anticipated prayer and I am reassured of his love and devotion to me. He is what helps me know I can do this. He is going to be such a wonderful daddy. I can't wait to see him with his son. My heart melts at only the thought of it. To see it in action will probably cause me to explode.

All I can think of is that there is power in the name of Jesus. So, Jesus Jesus Jesus................ oh Jesus.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

and life goes on...

Interesting to read back at my old posts. It's been a long time since I've written; I lost interest in blogging which is quite alright with me. But now I might start back up for a different chapter of my life has begun.

I'm pregnant! Bryan and I have made a beautiful baby that's now growing inside me and when I think of that I'm in awe of God. I'm also pleasantly surprised by His timing. This is the time for this child. We're parents! It's so incredible to me. It's early on enough for me to not feel entirely pregnant yet, so it's hard to wrap my brain around. But I know soon enough I'll feel like a full-fledged pregnant woman, which will make that part real but knowing I'll have a child in my arms who's half Bryan and half me, whom God has entrusted to our care for his or her whole life... will probably be beyond comprehension until the day he or she actually makes that happily anticipated entrance into the world.

We knew this year was a year of preparation for this time of our lives. We had a lot of goals we set before us, mostly financial and to-do's for our home, and most of which we didn't attain. Guess that doesn't matter in the eyes of God. And it doesn't really matter in mine either. Finances are definitely important but I feel like there's so many other areas of our lives that weigh heavily into how fit we are to be parents and I know this time is prime. I mostly know that though, because God ordained it to be so. Can't question that! Our child has been conceived, and will be born, and will live for such a time as this. Only because God says so.

My birth philosophy isn't a popular one as I'm sure is the case with most of my life philosophy/beliefs/values in general. I might catch some flack from friends and family but in general those I've told have been supportive maybe with a bit of apprehension lingering around the edges. My philosophy is that of an unmedicated natural homebirth, with a midwife and doula, in my home, in a little pool of water. That is, if the baby and I stay low risk. If the pregnancy isn't totally low key, I'll be finding myself a doctor and hospital to give birth in. (Which I will be doing anyway as a back-up plan in case labor and delivery don't go as planned.) But for now, I have my first appointment with my midwife on Tuesday and I couldn't be more excited for it.

Since this May, I've been writing in a journal to "our future children". And now I get to actually write to my present child. It's going to be so cool to read back on all of those entries one day, and hopefully super cool for my child to read. I would have deeply treasured a gift like that from my parents.

Cissa prophesied over me one day and said, "I just know you guys will be blessed with a child soon. And that's not coming from me." What we didn't know at the time was just how soon - let alone the fact that baby Hamell was already in the works that day and we didn't even know it!

And then today our pastor's wife Ann told me that when I saw her last Sunday, she thought I looked so radiant and the Holy Spirit told her I was pregnant. My telling her the news today confirmed what God told her on Sunday! There again, I was pregnant, but nobody knew it yet. Both of these things give me chills!

And what's even cooler... I've been more in love with God and the Bible than any time of my life. I can only say I've truly been in love with the Bible for only a couple of shamefully short seasons in my life. But this time feels different. It radiates permanency to me. A whole new season of a whole new immovable dependence that I will have on my Lord for life and light and sustenance... I just know that bringing a child into the world will consistently bring me to my knees. And I welcome that.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Life is only a vapor

There have been many reminders lately that life is so temporary. Most of the time I live my life and think my thoughts and say my words as if I have 80 more years to live. But I can't live that way and it's hard to remember that. I have to live just like the cliche - "like there's no tomorrow!" Because honestly, there may not be one! It's hard to wrap my mind around what that actually means.

What it DOESN'T mean is:
1. Resolving to not make plans for tomorrow (or further in the future)because "it doesn't matter"
2. Being frivolous with what you're given so that if you do end up living 80 more years, those latter years are miserable and you end up with regret
3. Being unwise with your plans so that "tomorrow" falls apart
4. Crawling into a hole and blinding yourself to needs and relationships
5. Not praying for the future or losing hope for the future
6. Not having kids because "you don't want to bring people into this world"
7. Doing dumb things because you think life doesn't matter
8. Giving into worldly pleasures because "what does it matter?"
9. Sinning because "life is short!"
10. Not building a beautiful legacy that can be passed down through many generations

What it DOES mean is:
1. Being wise with money and relationships and talents you've been given for the Glory of God and futhering His Kingdom even IF life as we know it ends tomorrow
2. Living passionately to love and reach out to fellow man
3. Upholding God's commandments and obeying Him from the overflow of our love for Him
4. Bring kids into the world so that they can positively affect it
5. Do things with much prayer, wisdom, and discernment because every action DOES matter.
6. Building a beautiful legacy that everyone who knows you can adore you for and can make an impact on generations to come
7. And most importantly... building a strong relationship with Jesus Christ so that you can have confidence on judgment day... whenever that is.

None of us know WHEN that will be. But I could be struck down with sickness. I could have my sight, speech, hearing, ability to walk, or ability to bear children taken away. I could have my most loved ones taken away. Our government and country could crumble. Natural disaster could strike out a whole civilization, and it could be ours. And what will we have to show for the short life we've lived?

Suffer well. Draw close to God in trouble. Adhere to a life of loving Him first and putting others before ourselves. Live with JOY no matter our circumstances. Because that is what God calls us to do as Christians.

Defend God and the Bible with humility. Love others so passionately that you are a good vessel for God to use to bring people to Him so that they may have life everlasting with Him in Heaven and on a new perfect earth.

I'm feeling this so passionately right now it makes my heart stop. I feel so invigorated when I'm in the presence of someone who obviously loves the Lord. I want to soak them in. I want the world to be saturated by this type of people. And that makes me want to be in the presence of the Lord so badly that I can barely think of anything else. The best part is... I know that someday I will be in His presence. NOTHING can amount to that comfort and joy. Nothing can amount to that.

Someday Lord, I'm going to be with you and that makes me so happy! But in the meantime, while I'm here doing your work however short or long a time that may be, I pray that I can build a relationship with you so strong and help others to do the same. Amen.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Prayer Stones

A sweet woman I adore started a cool thing that she shared with me and group of some ladies. Prayer stones. She gets stones and puts them all together out on a plate in her entry way so that guests can ask what they're about and so that she and her family can have constant reminders. On these stones she writes a word or short phrase to describe a prayer God has answered or a big move in her life He's made or a miracle or just something cool to remember that God's done. On the back of the stone she writes a number, and in a journal she writes the story down in detail. When the stone is read she hopes it jolts the memory of God's goodness and faithfulness, and the number serves to tell where to turn in the journal to read the full story. She gave each of us in the group our first bag of stones and told us to start doing the same thing. Our stones are out in our living room on a plate. I can't wait until I have too many stones to contain. God is so good.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

God, I want to love you more than...

You know that empty feeling in your soul? That incessant hole in your heart that just won't go away. Like something with a dagger dipped in poison has stabbed away at your guts and now the poison burns fiercly at the edges? It throbs. It shoots piercing pain all the way into your brain and down to your feet. It can be debilitating. It can drive you deep into sorrow. So what can you do? Oh how you try to soothe yourself. You try lathering on a salve by engulfing yourself in friends, spouses, children. Or maybe it's fashion, beauty, shopping. Or working out, reading, eating, Facebook. Or maybe you try a shot to numb it... maybe it's drugs, alcohol, sex, or TV. All you know is, you need more of something. You have to kill this pain somehow. You need more of that thing that gives you the temporary happiness. Maybe you just need even more and more of it so it will sustain you longer next time. Maybe more love. More attention. More sweet kind words. More knowledge. More of the hobby that makes you happy. Better of something; everything. More money. Nicer house or car. More self-control. More more more... better better better... need need want want. The addicts, the self-destructive, the lonely, the depressed, the ones who give up and shut down and feel they can't do anything right... Is that you?

Something just needs to go your way for once. And then you'll be happy. Right? Something needs to change, and then you'll be happy? Something needs to improve, and then you'll feel better?


Can you notice a pattern? Noticable behavior, recordable data... heavy, colorful feelings and desires... in yourself and in others? Deep things you won't be very likely to share with very many people, if anyone. Yeah, those desires.

And that gut-wrenching feeling... yeah that one you can't handle... the one you'd do anything to keep away forever...

The one that can range from a day-to-day funk all the way to can't-get-out-of-bed draining, weakening, exhausting emptiness.

That's there to stay.


Because we were Made that way. Yes, God made you that way. He designed you to be an empty vessel that needs to be filled. Filled with what? Well, not with fashion, or stuff, or money, or sex, or alcohol, or music, or art, or friendships, or marriages, or kids or any amount of strength, character, experience or achievement. None of that will do it. None of that will sustain you for very long. It will always drain out the bottom. Something will go wrong. Someone will let you down. A tragedy will happen in your life. And what will you do then?

God designed us this way in order to make it impossible for us to live life in any way except fully dependent on Him. He made us with that nagging throbbing hole in our heart to entice us to come to him for fellowship and love and no one else. Nothing else. Every day. Him. He fills us. He loves us. He forgives, and accepts, and affirms, and strengthens, and defends us. And he designed it so that nothing else will do. At least not for long.

Take His hand. He's reaching out for you. Every moment of every day He's waiting for you to choose him. He can alleviate all your pain. He will inspire you to depths you didn't know existed. He will give you a life richer than you knew to be possible. He will redeem you. He will make you brand new.

God is alive and He is the Father of light. He will light up your life. He will make you a light. He will give you meaning and purpose and He will fill your heart. That hole is God-shaped. Only he can fill it. And you have to allow it.

So what do I do to ward off the horrible feelings, the dark thoughts, the sadness and lonliness, the temptations and tendencies to fall into bad ways? How do I manage to have any discernment in my words and actions? How do I pull off a completely full life with an overflowing heart of love? Only by God. Only because I choose to fellowship with my God. I read his Word - the Bible. I want to understand his heart and character. I desire to know him more every day. I endeavor to talk with him throughout my days fully dependent on him to guide my every step. I desire to trust him fully. I give him the reigns on my life. I die to myself not only daily, but moment by moment. Because I know I can be corrupted. I know my heart will lead me astray. But with God's spirit inside me, I can allow myself to be led. And he will lead me, fill me, and love me.

Besides reading the Bible and praying and going to church and fellowshipping with other Christians to keep the right perspective, one phrase I have found in the past couple weeks to be life-changing for me is...

God, I want to love you more than...

When I'm feeling hurt I think, "God I want to love you more than these hurt feelings." And it instantly changes my perspective and allows me to forgive the offender.

"God, I want to love you more than my husband." And I stop expecting too much of him; expecting him to do for me what only God can. Which causes bitter roots in our marriage.

"God, I want to love you more than my belongings." And I can let go of them with no problem. Sell them. Move in a new direction. Not fear a material tragedy.

"God, I want to love you more than being pretty." And I don't fret about a zit (or a bazillion). I stop desiring to spend money frivolously on fashion or false promises. I find my beauty in the way God made me, perfect in his design. No matter how I'm housed.

"God, I want to love you more than money." And I'm able to give with more joy. I'm able to be frugal with more joy. I'm able to appreciate what I have with more joy. I'm able to align my actions with the bigger picture.

"God, I want to love you more than my friends." And I stop expecting perfection from them. I stop fearing the loss of their friendship. I don't depend on them for what they're not designed to provide me. I take the pressure off of our friendship.

"God, I want to love you more than my family." And I let go of bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment and hurt feelings. I don't fear old age. I don't fear death. I cherish each moment I'm given.

"God, I want to love you more than _________."

What will you fill the blank with?

When my thoughts start to go dark, and I feel my heart slipping into that searing pain once again, I think on this phrase. Then the door is opened like a floodgate and I can think on how God loves me. I can think on his promises. I can think about how he sings over me. How he wants to give me joy. Then I make a choice. Do I choose him? Or do I not?

I want to choose him.

God, I want to love you more. More than it all.