Friday, June 23, 2017

Five on Friday (June 23, 2017)

Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:35, 37

1. I've been home alone all week since Brian and both kids were off to camp. Remember I'm an introvert to the core and will never turn down a little quiet time (chemo recovery is so much easier when I can just be a grouch alone). But I am missing all 3 of my people. I know they're having a blast and not missing me one bit, but I'll be happy to have them home. I expect to welcome them home soon after lunch. They will talk over each other in their excitement, and then they will crash in their comfy beds for a much-needed nap.

I had all kinds of good intentions to do a whole lot of reading or binge watch something fun. Instead, I spent a whole lot of the night hours watching YouTube makeup videos. They are so addictive and I cannot stop.

2. Monday night I hosted a little going away party for 2 of our Friday morning Bible study group. I'm such a nervous host, but once everyone arrived I was all good, and we had a ton of fun spending a few hours chatting and eating (waaaayyyy too much food - I've been eating leftovers all week).

3. Wednesday was my regularly scheduled chemo day. Tina and Kathy met me for lunch at Farm Burger, and then I took a good long nap during infusion. My nurse this week was a floater and each step seemed to have a little hitch, but the appointment was otherwise uneventful. For only the second time since December, I have two weeks off before I return. Cue the choir singing, throw the confetti, eat the ice cream, do all things celebratory.



4. So I have two weeks off because we're taking a family road trip west! (I typically don't like to post ahead of time if we're going to be out of town, but we have family staying at our house while we're gone.) Brian has family in Utah, and we haven't been to visit since Camden was an itty baby. So, uh, THIRTEEN years ago.

Any recommendations for Utah or Colorado? When I told Dr. C. we were headed out west, her face lit up as she proclaimed her favorite memories from childhood to be the road trips with her family every summer. I have been more focused on anxiety about how the trip will wear me out or if I get sick while we're gone instead of focusing on what a great family adventure this trip can be. Adjusting my attitude stat.

We're traveling cheap so I'm taking a cooler full of food for most meals while on the road. There is a line item in the budget for ice cream and coffee, of course.  I have downloaded the app for help with touristy stops.

I would welcome your prayers for endurance, low fatigue, and good health. Most of all that I will able to be fully present for the trip.

5. I know this will be an abrupt change from the silly to the serious, but I've been lamenting this particular news story all week. As I'm sure you know, a jury handed out a not-guilty verdict to the police officer who killed Philandro Castile last summer. As these racially motivated tragedies occur, my first thought is to wonder if this will finally be the time that someone is held accountable. Clearly, not this time.

My second thought is to wonder if this will finally be the time that family, friends, the world will be unable to deny that life is very different for people of color. Our D6 Podcast interviewed a speaker recently who admitted his biggest fear in life is that his 3 teenage boys will be shot (Episode 58 with Jeff Wallace). While this is not news to me, it still took my breath away to hear these words from a leader I have spent time with, listened to his teaching, hugged. My doctor, who also happens to be a person of color, shared with us how his family chooses to drive straight through certain southern states instead of stopping for food or gas. I recently had someone (actually two someones) who I love dearly ask me if I actually thought racial tension still existed in our world.

I don't know why I'm sharing other than to acknowledge the racial injustice is still present and weighs heavily. Isaiah 1:17 says, "Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed." Psalm 9 tells us the Lord will be a stronghold for the oppressed. Let brotherly love continue - Hebrews 13:1. Rescue those that are taken away to death - Prov. 24:11. We are all one in Christ Jesus - Galatians 3:28. Russell Moore often connects the gospel and racial reconciliation by reminding us the New Testament message is clear that the gospel breaks down the dividing walls we have with each other. So this is my small way of saying that I care. That I seek forgiveness when ugly preconceived notions pop into my head. I  seek out books and entertainment (for myself and for the kids) that highlight people of color. I listen to different voices with unique perspectives. I encourage Camden and Rory to celebrate the beauty found in diversity. I pray for God to send me friends who are different than myself.


Weekend plans are scarce as the days will mostly consist of dealing with the piles of dirty, smelly laundry from camp, packing and organizing for our road trip, and a coffee date with Brian Saturday afternoon. Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Belated Father's Day Note

Ever get the feeling that maybe you've started to neglect honoring the ones you love? Just me? I've been battling a nagging feeling for several months now that I have let down my people. Well, I can call it a naggling feeling or I can call it conviction, which is probably closer to the truth.

We've never been strong on celebrations. I'd rather stab my eyes out than host a birthday party complete with pinterest-worthy decorations and crafts. Our parenting philosophy errs strongly on the side of simple not extravagant, and I stand by that. But 20 years of low-key marriage/parenting has disintegrated into a half-heartedly written card (or not), maybe tossing a little gift (certainly with no wrapping) into the lap of whoever's day it is. And I think maybe the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction.

I want Brian to feel like the most honored dad in the world on Father's Day. I want the kids to feel they are the most special 10 and 13 year old in my world. While it's not realistic to live every day with cake, presents, love notes and celebrations, it is possible to memorialize birthdays, anniversaries and even on the dreaded manufactured holidays like Valentine's day, Mother's Day, and Father's Day in a significant, heart-felt way.

So Brian and I are turning over a new leaf in this celebrating thing. We'll continue to be the practical parent and wife/husband every other day, but we're going to be the silly, celebratory parent on special days.

I didn't even take a picture of Brian and the kids together on Father's Day (which was the last straw), but I do have these pictures from late May. You'll find this scenario often in our front yard, especially spring and fall (not as often when it's 95 degrees outside). The way he invests in our kids via quality time is only one of the reasons Brian is such a good dad. He works 2 jobs but still says yes more often than no when they ask for just one more game (paper football and real basketball are the games of choice most days). He loves our kids so well. And if you're lucky enough to have Mr. Brian as your 4th grade reading teacher at school or your Children's Pastor at church, then let me assure you that he loves your kids as well. He puts everything he has into showing God's love to his 4th graders and into discipling kids at church and at home. I am SO guilty of thinking every dad is just like him. Truth is that with the exception of my own dad, he is one of a kind. 

So Happy Belated Father's Day, Brian. You are knocking it out of the park. Or maybe considering the sport you're playing, I should say "You've got a triple-double" instead?






Doing what he does best: knowing it all and telling everyone else about it. ;)



This kid does not handle losing well; it is a constant struggle in our house.

Kicking the ball because he missed a shot. Guess it's time to pull out the belly.

This is Brian's go-to when he's trying to settle Camden down






Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Remember When?

Remember when I used to use this lens (my 28-75mm) for a bobble head effect with the kids? It was kinda cute when they were little. Now it's just weird.

And remember when they played in the water all summer long? Just doesn't happen anymore.






Friday, June 16, 2017

Five on Friday (June 16, 2017)

So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise.
Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.
Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
Ephesians 5:15-17

1. This week felt officially like the first week of summer since this is the first week that we were all 4 home (no camp, no in-service, etc.). We're keeping our screen restrictions the same as during the school year - Netflix and video games for the kids only allowed on Friday/Saturday/Sunday. This is much easier to handle when the kids are in school all day. It's a CHALLENGE during the summer, but the truth is that their attitudes are so much better (especially the boy) when screens are not running their life. We do allow family TV in the evenings. Here's what we've been watching this summer: America's Got Talent, The Great British Baking Show, any sporting event (now that our Nashville Preds lost the Stanley Cup and the Cavs lost the NBA Finals, we're in mourning), American Ninja Warriors, and World of Dance.

Brian and I recently watched The Keepers (difficult-to-watch documentary about corruption in the Catholic church). We've moved on to the Prison Break reboot - 2 episodes in and it's good. Very reminiscent of the original, and I hear it really picks up in intensity about halfway through.

2. Kids had dentist and eye appointments this week. Rory got new glasses (the poor girl is so blind) and Camden is getting braces. Why did no one tell me how expensive teenagers are?




3. Speaking of bills, does anyone remember the Harry Potter book/movie where the owls are delivering messages to Harry. It starts with one at a time and by the end, they are piling up in mountains in the house? That's how our house looks as the bills from Vanderbilt roll in. There are so many it's almost comical. Almost. The unexpected $1,000 van repair bill this week was also almost comical. Almost.

4. Rory spent Thursday on a farm with friends, and I'm not sure she could have had more fun. Because she'll be at camp next week, she was also able to have two tumbling classes this week instead of one. She had a substitute teacher at the second class and the substitute decided she (the teacher) was bored and would try to teach Rory how to do a back hand spring instead of basics like a simple cartwheel. As you can imagine, there wasn't any real progress on a back hand spring, but Rory sure felt like big stuff.

Rory has also decided she wants to run cross country in middle school. This means she has to be able to run a mile and a half without stopping when school begins. The agreement is that if she puts in the work to prepare, we'll do our best to work out logistics for her to participate.



5. Camden is taking a few extra guitar lessons this summer from our new music pastor. They are focusing on singing and leading worship - the goal is for Camden to begin leading worship in Kids Church in the fall. Because Camden is a perfectionist, he is scared out of mind about this. Nerves make him very cranky. This kid has a natural inclination for music but has to overcome his need for perfection in order to put that talent to use.


Our weekend plans include bowling, a sleepover with Addison, hosting friends for dinner (they're moving to Uganda for a year so it's a goodbye dinner), and prepping Brian, Camden, and Rory for camp. 

I'm planning to add a few posts that include my Instagram pictures so that my memories/pictures will all be in one spot when I print for the year so you might see those posts populating your feed over the next several days. If you want to follow along on Instagram, my name is lifeasalewis.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Twenty Years

Love is patient and kind. 
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
I Corinthians 13:4-7

Twenty years ago, my dad read this passage of scripture before I vowed in front of my family, my church, and my God to love Brian for better or worse. As 21-year-old babies, we couldn't have possibly realized the gravity of our vows; definitely didn't realize how wise this passage in I Corinthians is or how difficult it can be to live out.  At 41, I'm still learning what this kind of love actually looks like . . . in my marriage, in my parenting, life in general. 

On May 31, Brian and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary. Much like the start of every school year or on all birthdays, I ask myself how in the world we got to this place! I certainly don't feel older and wiser or more experienced despite the fact that twenty years of marriage, 41 years of age, and two kids in double digits say otherwise.

My parents spent the week with us so that we were free to spend 3 days/2 nights in Chattanooga. Brian came down with a tough case of gastritis the day before we were supposed to leave, but thankfully his antibiotic kicked in quickly and it did not slow us down.

Our hotel location was awesome, the weather was beautiful, and we struck a strong balance of taking it easy, but doing a little sight seeing and eating good food. Just like our honeymoon 20 years ago when we scheduled the day's events around the NBA Finals, we ordered pizza, picked up chocolate cake to go, and watched the first game in the 2017 Finals. Fun and nostalgic.

My clinical trial nurse is a foodie and used to live in Chattanooga so we followed her food recommendations almost exclusively. She did not lead us astray! We carved out time for a bit of shopping, visited an art museum, spent many hours reading and chatting outside two different coffee shops, walked the pedestrian bridge, and visited Ruby Falls. 

My 3 favorite things about this weekend: having the time to leisurely sit outside a cute coffee shop and read (we did this twice, and it was awesome), our dinner at Tony's Pasta (insanely delicious and so reasonably priced), and ordering pizza in our room and watching the NBA Finals.

The donuts were also pretty awesome.








Love you, Brian. Let's do our best to celebrate another 20 years in 2037.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Five on Friday (June 9, 2017)

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, 
even though you must endure many trials for a little while.
These trials will show that your faith is genuine.
It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold - though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.
So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much
praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. I Peter 1:6-7

I'll never be able to cover everything that's happened in the last several weeks in 5 paragraphs so I might fill in with some extra blog posts over the next week. Here are the highlights.

1. Memorial Day: my parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle drove down to spend the day with us, and it was delightful. I think I'll post pictures separately.



2. Mom and Dad stayed with the kids while Brian and I ran to Chattanooga for a quick 20th anniversary trip (separate blog post coming). We nearly didn't get to go because of a medical issue - Brian's, not mine! Thankfully, it was all good in the end and didn't slow us down at all.

3. Rory had her first sleepover last night, and the house was full of the sound of giggling 10-year olds. Kind of precious, equally exhausting. Camden was away at camp, and so it was the perfect time for extra girls in the house. They made their own pizzas for supper, had mani/pedis in the front yard, baked unicorn poop cupcakes at 10:00 (Camdyn and Ela are expert bakers), and in general spent an inordinate amount of time talking over each other and laughing. I also hear they stayed up until 5:00 talking. Sounds like a success to me.


This one a little more accurately represents Rory's excitement :)



(see how much smaller Rory is - she's a full year older)

4. As just mentioned, Camden has been gone to camp this week. It's the first year he's gone alone, and the house feels so peaceful empty without him. ;) Brian is directing a week of camp this summer, but it's not Camden's week. As expected, he arrived home his afternoon completely exhausted, sick, but full of joy. This morning at camp breakfast, he grabbed extras of each of our favorite cereal to bring to us.


5. Biggest news of the week is that I had a scan Tuesday and all is good, even showing a slight 5% decrease in tumors. My CA125 level also continues to drop. None of this changes my weekly chemo schedule, but it's nice to feel like maybe the treatments are working. I hear I'm the star patient of the clinical trial since I've had so few side effects (outside the standard fatigue, nausea, etc.), and we're moving into my 7th month of treatment. Unfortunately, the tumor shrinkage isn't occurring on the spot that gives me trouble, but we've settled into a good pain management routine. Rory was my little partner in crime both Tuesday and Wednesday and was SO excited to meet Dr. C.


All 4 of us had a nap this afternoon which is clear evidence we are full throttle into summer. Happy weekend, friends!