Sunday, March 26, 2017

Five on Friday (March 24, 2017)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you, O Lord,
my rock and my redeemer. -Psalm 19:14

So I didn't quite get around to posting on Friday, but I'm spending Sunday morning at home recovering from a stomach bug that seems to be sweeping its way through our church. Blogging seemed a good way to make use of recovery time.

1. My mom has been here for the last 10 days and now we have my dad too (despite being diagnosed with shingles last week - ugh!) for a couple of days. Last week mom and Liz accompanied me to chemo; we did some shopping and eating prior to my appointment. This week mom and I visited the milkshake bar at The Grilled Cheeserie for a sweet treat. Ice cream makes everything, even a chemo treatment, better.



Family trip to see Beauty and the Beast, which was lovely!

2. Rory competed in a district competition last weekend (related to our church/denomination) in Bible memorization and piano. She had to memorize 8 passages of Scripture (for reference, they were in a small font, single spaced and took up an entire 1-1/2 pages of paper). She was 100% in charge of her own practice and memorization, and I am almost as proud of her self-motivation as I am that she is moving on to the state competition in memorization. She did very well in the piano competition but was much more a beginner than the other competitors. Camden chose not to participate this year, and this was a battle I chose not to fight. Maybe next year I will be back to fully functioning over-achieving helicopter mother status!

3. Thursday marked the 13th anniversary of bringing Camden home to our family. I realize that I always sound like a broken record on these days, but we are so blessed. I just cannot get over the way God provided for us and for Camden and Rory when he put us all together. Our tradition is always that the kiddo gets to choose the lunch/dinner spot. Camden, who cannot make a decision to save his life, waffled back and forth over restaurants but finally chose Chuy's. He is very opposed to pictures and social media sharing these days, mostly because a few of his classmates follow me on Instagram. I'm trying to respect his 13-year old wish for privacy, but also share for my own memory-keeping purposes.


4. Brian and the kids are on spring break this week. I have chemo on Wednesday and I know the days will pass quickly. We were gifted tickets to the Creation Museum and Ark Experience for Christmas so if the rest of the family can avoid the stomach bug, we're headed there tomorrow for a quick trip.

5. Reading continues to be a struggle for me in 2017 for whatever reason (maybe I'm just not reading the right books), but I read 3 articles recently - all on wildly different topics - that are worth mentioning: I Traveled 6,222 Miles To Meet My Birth Mother,  10 Things Every White Teacher Should Know When Talking About Race, and So I Quit Drinking.


Thursday, March 23, 2017


And I am sure of this, 
that he who began a good work in you 
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Phil. 1:6

God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful. I Thess. 5:24

I burst into tears this morning. And while tears may flow a little more frequently these days, literally bursting into tears is unheard of! The verse I listed above cut right into the heart of the burdens we're all carrying these days. If you're a parent, God will be faithful to complete that good work you're doing. God will be faithful to complete the good work of your marriage. He'll be faithful to help me complete the good work of living with this cancer diagnosis and the challenges it brings.

As I was finishing up these verses and a good cry, my phone beeped with my Vanderbilt appointment reminders for next week. Not. a. coincidence.

My tears suggest I needed the word of encouragement more than I knew. And now I have Mandisa's lyrics where she uses this verse as a bridge in Stronger ringing in my ears. Maybe you need to hear it too?

I'll try to be back tomorrow with a life update.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Five on Friday (March 10, 2017)

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.
There we will receive his mercy and we will find grace
to help us when we need it most.
Heb. 4:16

1. On Tuesday Rory went on a field trip to the state capitol building and a TN history museum. She came home with a surprising number of facts regarding bayonets and guns. Their guide did an excellent job explaining to the class because she retained so much information! Of course, because she has an older brother who has been to the same museum during his own 4th-grade year, she had to contend with all of his corrections (his recollection of the facts were slightly different than hers). Bless that child. She has the patience of Job.

2. Because recovering from chemo is not happening as quickly as I would like, I made a point to focus on rest as a form of self-care this week. Those precious moments at the end of the day when everyone is asleep and there are no demands on my time or attention (because I am the last one awake in our house 100% of the time) are my favorite of the day. But I've been making sure sleep meds are taken and screens are off by 10-ish. I also closed my eyes for about half an hour every afternoon.

3. We had temps in the 80's yesterday, but tomorrow is going to be a cold snow day. Welcome to spring in Tennessee! I plan to thoroughly enjoy the cozy day at home. In fact, Brian and I already have plans to stick a frozen pizza in the oven for the kids, but cook ourselves a Hello Fresh meal, lock ourselves in the bedroom and watch the Survivor premiere.

4. This is my off week from chemo and Wednesday was my first free Wednesday since December 7. Prior to chemo, Wednesdays were reserved for extra cleaning and organization (think closets, pantry, etc.). Basically, anything other than the basics have gone out the door in recent months so I was excited to tackle some closets. I bagged up 3 garbage bags just from Camden and Rory's closets. They both tend to wear the same couple of shirts over and over until they are WAY too small. In fact, I counted 21 brand new shirts stuffed in Camden's closet, all purchased over the past 18 months, that he has never worn. I got rid of all the too-small, stained shirts and now he has no choice but to wear them.

5. We are hosting a family of 5 for supper tonight and Rory could not be more excited (they have 3 daughters). There are already plans to play with their hair, try on lotions, and color together. Camden could not be rolling his eyes any harder. I am making this butterfinger dessert. After a week back on our FMD diet, we could not be more excited about it.

Welcome to life with a 13-year old boy. We are going to survive this, right?



Saturday, March 04, 2017

February Photos

Catching up with some leftover February photos.

I posted this picture on Instagram.

Here's what happened right before. Please don't judge your real life against what everyone else posts on social media because there's always a picture like this that isn't published.

Do you see how old this child looks?

Super Bowl party #11 - always one of my favorite nights of the year










Friday, March 03, 2017

Five on Friday (March 3, 2017)

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh every morning.
I say to myself, "the Lord is my inheritance,
therefore, I will hope in him!"
Lamentations 3:22-24

1. We celebrated 9 years of Rory on Wednesday. I ran across our airport pictures and here are two of my favs. I couldn't help but be struck by how blessed our family is. Not just with the miracle of two children born to another woman in another country all of the way across the world, but with the family and friends who surround us in these moments. The kids always get to choose their favorite meal or restaurant to celebrate, and Rory has made the surprising choice of Buffalo Wild Wings so I guess we'll be eating wings over the weekend.



2. I have to say our Hello, Fresh meals were a complete success. I have some credits from some of you who ordered a box using my referral link so we'll definitely do it again. If you'd like to give it a try and receive $40 off your box, I'd love it if you use my referral info.



3. Speaking of referral links (clearly, I have spent lots of time seeking out retail therapy this week), I received a free month-long subscription to Rocksbox and it is so fun! For $19/month, you receive 3 pieces of higher end jewelry to wear. Swap out as often as you'd like in a month's time. Use the code MELISSALBFF40 for your own free month. No commitment required! Here's what I received for my first shipment (the Kendra Scott necklace is the perfect size and length). I plan to wear these over the weekend then return Monday for another 3 pieces to try (free shipping both ways, btw).


4. Although I usually enjoy reading books by Jodi Piccoult, it's been several years since I've picked one up. I grabbed her newest book, Small Great Things, earlier this week and haven't put it down. It has been a complete page-turner, and I can't wait to see how the story wraps up.


5. The past 7-10 days have been tough physically (for instance, my bp was 144/101 Wednesday although it came down to normal after I had seen Dr. C). Fortunately, our schedule has been light during these days. I am consistently amazed at the meals that find their way to my kitchen, and this week has been no exception. Next week is my chemo-free week, and I am really looking forward to no chemo and doctor-free days!

Tonight we are celebrating both Camden and Rory's family day at the Toby Mac concert. You know live music is my all-time favorite thing so I may be more excited than anyone. I rested all day yesterday and today in an effort to conserve energy, and I am so looking forward to sharing this experience with them. Happy weekend, friends.