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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Spring Favorites

The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
Isaiah 58:11

I don't have the emotional energy to preserve memories this week so how about a few happy favorites and distractions instead.

Sanuk Yoga Sling Sandals - these are adorable, come in so many different prints, and are amazingly comfortable. Like, feel as if you aren't wearing shoes comfy. I might have ordered 2 pairs in a recent buy one/get one sale, and my feet do not regret it one bit. (Ignore my feet; it is definitely time for a pedicure!)

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Elizabeth and James Nirvana Bourbon perfume - I bought the small rollerball (or maybe it was a freebie?) sometime last fall, and I always receive compliments when I wear it so the full-size bottle is on my wish list. I'm always surprised when I hear friends mention they don't wear perfume because smelling good is one of my favorite things! My perfume favs err on the expensive side (for example, Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille is my dream perfume) so I tend to have lots of perfume samples instead of perfume bottles. 

Soap and Glory Flake Away - I love a good scrub but hate the oil and the residue it leaves in the tub. This stuff is so light, not oily at all but works awesome and smells even better.

Crazy Cool Threads - I find myself wearing t-shirts and jeans or yoga pants (if I don't have to leave the house) a lot these days, and I've managed to collect 3 of their shirts over the past year. I have the Grace Wins, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and Hope Anchors the Soul. When I wear them, someone always asks where they can buy their own. If you hold out long enough, they'll have a sale plus free shipping.

Now that my hair, brows, and lashes are missing, lips feel like the only normal-ish part of my make-up routine. I am using lipsense almost exclusively these days (my sister Becky sells it if you're interested), although I still have Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk and Clinique A Different Grape in rotation.

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For a guaranteed pick-up to your day, make sure that you're following Macy Makes My Day on Instagram. Heather Avis (mama to Macy and 2 others) recently wrote The Lucky Few, which is on my "to read" pile, and her Instagram feed is just pure joy. You can listen to her on The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey right here.

I'm going to blame Becky on my newly found love for subscription boxes. I have tried many since I visited her in OK for my birthday last year (it's pretty easy to try subscriptions for free or at a heavy discount as long as you cancel after the first box), but the Bless Box is my favorite hands down. I discovered Sazan and the Bless Box via episode #126 of The Happy Hour. Yesterday, Rory decided to try out some of the products with a pretty comical result (although comical is not what she was going for).

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And because a favorites list would not be complete without ice cream, Sonic has new custard concretes and they are delicious. I've tried the Oreo Dark Chocolate and have plans to gobble down the Butterfinger Peanut Butter one before they're gone. Only good thing about warmer weather is feeling like frequent ice cream is justified. :)

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Two more things - not sure if they can be favorites since I don't actually own them, but they're on my wishlist and they sure seem like they would be favorites! :)

The She Reads Truth app and reading plans are a long-time favorite of mine, and the newly released She Reads Truth Bible is so beautiful. I recently bought a new NLT Bible, which I am happily highlighting, underlining and using, but if I were searching for a new Bible, this one would be top of the list.

Finally, the Kantha blankets at the Dignify shop have been on my list of favorites for over a year now even though I have yet to purchase one. They are handmade by women in Bangladesh rescued from the streets. You can read all about how the company started here - it's completely inspiring. 

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This is a busy week for us with a spring concert at school on Tuesday, guitar recital for Camden on Friday, pancake breakfast fundraiser Sunday. No chemo this week!


Friday, April 21, 2017

Five on Friday (April 21, 2017)

I posted this on Facebook Easter Sunday. "Rory is in the kitchen whipping up a coffee cake. Hair in a bun, bare feet. She is wearing an apron that reaches to the floor and singing away. I can see (and hear) Brian and Camden outside the front window playing an intense father/son basketball game. Sunday afternoons aren't often this idyllic. But it's pretty sweet when they are." I like to think I was pretty good at recognizing these moments when the kids were younger, but I have failed disastrously in recent months at giving thanks for the quiet blessings. 
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1. One more update regarding last week's scan results and the next 2 months. My CA125 was down again significantly (second time in a row after increasing for over a year). Because the scan is the be-all, end-all, this is only a small victory, but a victory none-the-less. I will proceed with rounds 5 and 6 before scanning again in late May/early June. Brian went with me this week, which means I had a bag-holder, coffee fetcher, door-opener partner for the day.

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2. This morning I attended the middle school/high school chapel at the kid's school and was surprised by the volleyball team honoring me and several others diagnosed with cancer. What made it sweet is that Camden read scripture he had chosen to open the assembly and then he was so willing to hug me not once but twice. As a mom to a nearly 14-year old, those moments don't come around nearly as often these days. It was so thoughtful of the team to put together gift baskets.

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3. Not only does Rory have a field trip today, but she is celebrating a friend's birthday with the other girls in her class after school. Doesn't get much better than that for a 4th grader!

4. Someone offered to do something incredibly kind and generous for me this week. Anytime I receive a gift, my immediate thought is how I do not deserve this, if they only knew me better they'd know I'm not worthy, etc. etc. And then it dawned on me that I have never felt that way about the gift of salvation. I don't know if this means that I am secure in Christ's love for me or if I have glossed over how rotten I am. I have spent a lot of time thinking all the deep thoughts on this, and I don't have an answer.

5. My parents are here this week for a visit, finalizing more house details. I'm so excited for them to be permanent TN residents in another 2-3 months. It's hard to imagine what that will be like - not only having my mom and dad here, but both sets of my grandparents. I'm thrilled for the kids to have this much family nearby.

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What's up for the weekend? Brian and the kids will be working at Rivers and Spires while I do some resting at home. It's a busy 2 days for them, but fairly uneventful for me! Next week promises to be extra busy surrounding work, more family in town, and chemo. Of course.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Girl

I rarely pull out the camera these days. It's a combination of the kid's age, busyness of the days, and maybe a pinch of not wanting to remember the details of the days that include chemo, pain, parenting challenges, and my 41-year old hairless self.

Several weeks ago (a month ago?) Rory and I were leaving to run a few errands on a dreary Saturday morning and I grabbed the camera and snapped these pictures in the driveway before we jumped in the car.

She is such a bright spot in our world. Loving and kind and compassionate with some sassy thrown. She is a willing helper and her eagerness to pitch in around the house is sweet. I'm learning to listen to her random, long-winded stories without an internal eye roll. She struggled earlier in the school year with social situations (for which she was as much to blame as the others) and even questioned her faith. But in typical Rory fashion, she cried many tears then persevered in her search for answers.

She loves all things girly and is, at times, overly interested in her looks. Other days, I have to remind her to brush her hair and teeth (this is the current phase). She prefers fancy dresses and yoga pants.

She is getting significant attention from boys (heaven help us when she is actually old enough to receive attention from boys) and it's a constant struggle to push back against society to resist attention that isn't age-appropriate. I see her working SO hard to bite her tongue when her older brother treats her like the pesky little sister that she is. 

I pray every day that she never loses the desire to do right.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Five on Friday (April 14, 2017)

For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. 
So I died to the law - I stopped trying to meet all its requirements - so that I might live for God.
My old self has been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.
So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.
I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. 
For if keeping the law could make us right with God,
then there was no need for Christ to die.
Galatians 2:19-21

1. Our Friday Bible study group decided to watch David Platt's Secret Church on the cross during this week prior to Easter. It has been so good and meaningful. Also time consuming (4+ hours of sermons were a lot to take in over the past 3 days). Brian and Camden watched the final hour with me last night, and Camden's ability to digest and evaluate tough topics never ceases to amaze me. I'm looking forward to the discussion this morning, and Brian and I have decided we're going to start watching them as a family. Just not all in 3 days!

2. So I met with Dr. C Wednesday, and it is true that my scan showed exactly no growth/shrinkage. She still considers this a win - in her words, "growth was considerable back in November." Okay, then.

There is a slight complication with one of my lungs that they're keeping an eye on that could be related to either pneumonia (which I don't have) or the trial drug (yikes!). My day at the hospital was quite long, and I didn't get home until after 7. I actually rested much of the day yesterday and felt well, which was awesome. Sometimes that can be an indication that days 2-4 will be tough, but I'm hopeful this will just be an easier round. Who knows!

3. Brian and the kids are out of school today so we went to the library and park and then grabbed 1/2 price Sonic ice cream on the way home last night. It's either a sign of how busy we've been or that the kids are getting older and not asking for park trips because this is the first time we've been since September-ish.

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He is just all arms and legs these days. It is shocking to me how quickly he is growing. It will slow down eventually, right?
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Her go-to pose these days.
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4. After several more tries, I managed to wear my new false eyelashes. They feel conspicuous and very fake (which they are, of course!), but they also make me feel a little more like myself. My long eyelashes have always been a small source of vanity for me I'm sorry to admit. However, I'm already conspicuous with my bald head, no eyelashes, and no eyebrows so I guess these glamour lashes are not more conspicuous than that! I have already gone to the drugstore for a less conspicuous set to try.

I was not feeling well on Monday and went to work with minimal make-up (specifically on my eyes/brows), and received way too many sad looks for me to ever try that again.

(something is definitely not right on the left (they should be lower on the lash line?) and I think I should have worn black eyeliner to cover up the black lash strip. Notice all the fuzz on my head - a result of 2 weeks off chemo I believe.
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5. We've been doing a little cooking/baking these days and have found several new recipes that are going to stay in rotation. Honey glazed sugar snap peas were a delightful change of pace for a veggie side. This Mexican quinoa salad is awesome. I've taken it to 2 potlucks in the last couple of weeks, and it has been a big hit. I can see making this in the summer months and eating it for lunch every day. I made this lemon almond pudding cake for a friend who visited at lunch last week and I'm planning to make this Magnolia Lemon Pie next week for company. Camden and I both LOVE lemon, and spring seems to be the right time to pull out all the lemon desserts. In other food news, I just wanted to mention for memory-keeping purposes that our church (and Lindsey who is organizing it all) has been so gracious to us by providing meals every week. It has shortened my grocery trips as well as removed much of the stress involved in planning meals and then cooking after a long day at work or the hospital.

We are starting off the 3-day weekend with fresh cinnamon rolls (thank you, Lindsey!). Our weekend plans involve the annual church egg hunt and picnic tomorrow and then big services on Sunday. Studying the cross via Secret Church/Friday Bible study has been so good on this week leading up to Easter. I am hopeful I will feel well enough to participate in everything. Happy Friday!



Sunday, April 09, 2017

Five on Friday (April 7, 2017)

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
    your faithfulness in the evening.
Psalm 92:1-2


1. A couple of weeks ago I bought the soundtrack to Hamilton for Camden. Honestly, I thought it would be a shared interest since we were both enthralled with the recent PBS documentary on Lin-Manuel Miranda/Hamilton (Brian and Rory slept through it). What I didn't expect was for Camden and Rory both to latch onto the music and lyrics. They both walk around singing it non-stop. Even better, they sing together, help each other learn lyrics, etc. It's kind of awesome. (What's not awesome is explaining to your 10-year old a few choice words.)

2. I bought (ahem) grown-up undergarments for Rory this week. A milestone for sure.

3. Wednesday afternoon was my regularly scheduled scan (every 2 cycles). My nurse emailed me with general scan results, which were completely uneventful (she finished the email with a "yah!"). No growth and no shrinking. I am choosing not to let myself feel frustrated. It often feels like chemo is completely useless, but there's just no way to know without taking a very big gamble. And even if I did feel disappointed in no shrinkage, I should certainly give thanks for no new growth.

4. I bought false eyelashes, but have yet to successfully put them on. I had such high hopes! YouTube certainly makes it look easy. :)

5. Becky flew to Nashville for a quick spring visit. While I wanted to jam pack it with fun stuff, regular life and my energy level didn't allow for much vacationing. In between doctor's appointments, we window shopped, ate ice cream, drank coffee, and talked make-up. It was over much too quickly, but I'm grateful for the time.

We also had an incredible grilled cheese plate and the best tiramisu milkshake. And coffee from an old favorite (Headquarters) and a new-to-me (Eighth and Roast) shop.

(I had my eyes dilated; hence, the sunglasses indoors.)
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Family game night
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(Clearly, I didn't post this on Friday)
Life continues to move forward with a full week of work, school, chemo, Easter egg hunts, prep for Easter services, etc. etc. etc. Brian just walked into the room with an excited fist pump because he finished up our taxes this evening (never fun when you're considered self-employed because of the church job; we always owe money). We're going to finish up this week with a little bowl of ice cream and an episode of Speechless (a recent new favorite).

Thursday, April 06, 2017

There's a Reason I Stay Home

As an introvert, staying home is one of my favorite things to do. As a cancer patient, it's one of my least favorite things.

It often feels as if everyone else's life is moving forward (as it should) while my own life is on pause indefinitely. Staying home, being sick for the foreseeable future, missing out on serving others - this all makes me feel worthless, like I don't have anything to contribute to the conversation. I fight this mental battle more often than you might think.

Like, nearly every day.

(I just went back to re-read this and it sounds depressing! I am not depressed or sad or angry! Just pointing out that being sick all the time means staying home . . . which means life outside the walls of your own home comes to a screeching halt.)

As a cancer patient, however, staying home is one of the most important things I do. The simple fact is that if I don't stay home, I get sick. If I get sick, I legitimately cannot contribute to my family. If I get really sick, I have to take a break from chemo. And as much as I might enjoy the chemo break while it's happening, skipping chemo means my cancer has yet another chance to grow. I've had a stomach bug 3 out of the last 4 weekends (hello, church germs) and had to skip chemo as a result this past week. It's a reminder that I have to be more careful about crowds and germs. 

In addition to staying home so that I can stay well, I stay home because leaving often takes more energy than I have to spare. I'm learning what's worth my time and energy. Friday morning Bible study? Definitely. Countless kid birthday parties or play dates? Nope.

Everything is a trade-off. When I say yes to friends, church events or work outings, it means I say no to my family. If I say yes to my family, it generally means I've had to say no to a church event or friend outing, cleaning my house, cooking dinner, etc. I'm searching for balance. Saying yes to my family is most important; staying healthy comes next, which means I sometimes say no to everything else. 

So if I miss church or your son's birthday party or don't attend small group events, please don't feel offended. Please try to understand that I am choosing to protect my health as much as I can, conserving my emotional and physical energy for my family, and that I hate missing out on all of it. 

Well, maybe not the birthday parties. I am an introvert after all!


Sunday, April 02, 2017

Books

Camden doesn't always have a book in his hand these days; he tends to read in spurts. For instance, he read the 5 books in the photos below in the first 4 days of spring break. A couple of weeks ago, he read the entire Christopher Paolini Eragon series in a week's time. And then he didn't read again until spring break rolled around.

If you're interested, his recent favs include the Eragon series and the Reckoner trilogy by Brandon Sanderson.

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Rory is reading Unstoppable Octobia May and Awkward.

My recent reads include:

by Lauren Graham (a fun, fast read)

by Kelly Barnhill (a lovely book that Camden and I both enjoyed)

by Jodi Picoult (loved this one)

by Ruth Wariner (tough to read, but a captivating memoir that addresses poverty, faith, and cults)

The Mothers
by Brit Bennett (about half way through this one - didn't finish it the first time around, but I'm going to make it this time!)

The Sun Is Also a Star
by Nicola Yoon (I've been on the waiting list at the library for MONTHS for this one, but picked it up yesterday and cannot wait to get started)