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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

November/December 2017 Catch-Up

God's love was revealed to us in this way: God sent His one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. -I John 4:9

I'm choosing to just quickly write events out in list form with little commentary purely for memory-keeping purposes. Fair warning - I am considering converting to a private blog. As the kids grow older (I have a teen and preteen!), I want to protect their stories and I want the freedom to document our life with honesty and transparency. While I would hate to lose touch with all of my readers after so many years, it just seems like it might be time. Still giving this some thought.

Camden was diagnosed with the flu. He's all good.
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Brian's dad had a heart attack. He also appears to be all good.

I made a quick 3-day work trip to Greensboro, NC (my first visit to NC, btw). If you've ever wondered what the presidential suite looks like, this is one small part of it.

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Brian and I spent the day together during my last scan day, mostly at Vanderbilt, but we also had a chance to grab lunch and it's worth mentioning. Milk and Honey is a new, adorable coffee/food/bakery in Nashville and I can't wait to visit again. We also tried out a new coffee spot - Sump Coffee was interesting, but I'll probably cross it off the list and move on.

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After the first basketball game of the season, we had a 3-week break. Back in action now and Camden scored his first career points. After a couple of games, he appears to be the 6th man, which is fun. I'm certainly not suggesting he's a star, but the personal progress he's made is pretty remarkable.

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Work has been intense, but is slowing down for the holiday season. I only have 1 more day in the office and 1-2 more days working from home and then I'll be finished until January 2. This has also been a fairly intense 5-6 weeks of chemo in terms of side effects. While the cancer is receding, chemo side effects are in full force. I'm hoping to have a little chemo break over the holidays, but that isn't confirmed.

Brian's parents came to TN for a quick overnight visit. I did not even snap a one single picture.

My grandparents rolled and baked my Christmas cookies for me. So sweet and helpful!

Someone gave Rory play make-up, and she experiments pretty much every day. It is not subtle.
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I'm reading books #55 and #56 for 2017; my goal was 60.

The school Christmas program was Friday night and Camden surprised us with a solo.
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We're facing about a 20% overall income reduction as we move into 2018 and life has felt a bit like a living version of Murphy's law with both vehicles needing work, unexpected expenses, etc. But God has also shown Himself so faithful and we've been reminded time after time that finances are no big deal.

I'm headed to Nashville for my regular Wednesday schedule of lab work, doctor appointment, and chemo. I have a friend coming to keep me company and I'm ever hopeful for a smooth, quick day at Vanderbilt.

Happy Wednesday, friends!


Thursday, December 07, 2017

Happy Birthday, Brian!

I posted via social media this morning, but it's worth documenting here.

Happy birthday to the love of my life. I can mention two things from recent days that should give you a glimpse into why he's such a wonderful, godly person. (1) Camden set his alarm for 5 this morning so he could be the first to wish his dad a happy birthday and (2) over the past weekend Brian was due a major iphone upgrade after using the same phone for well over 3.5 years. Without even blinking, he gave me the 8 plus upgrade and took my 7.

Happy, happy birthday!

(those red eyes and wrinkles are proof of his many early mornings)
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Friday, December 01, 2017

Happy December 1

Every year my goal is to make it to December 1 with most of the "work" of Christmas finished. I want the tree up and the house decorated. Christmas gifts purchased and wrapped (the wrapping never happens on time) and Christmas cookies planned and maybe even baked (this also never happens). I'm 100% behind on every single item this December 1, and we're heading into a hectic December (I know we're not alone in the craziness). This year we have the added bonus of chemo and very long days at Vanderbilt. It's hard to believe this is my second December in a row full of doctors and appointments and long days at the hospital, not to mention that I've now completed an entire year of treatment. Twelve whole months is a very long time, friends, and I am feeling every bit of it.

Before I list a few Christmas favorites, let me also tell you Wednesday's scan shows yet another decrease in cancer - I'm now at a 29% decrease from this time last year. If I can make it 1 more percentage point, then not only is that good news for me, but it is very good news for my clinical trial doctor and drug. That one additional percentage point means that the trial drug is officially successful and could have a long-term positive impact on many other cancer patients. And I still get the distinct impression I am their star patient, but maybe they're just trying to make me feel good. ;)

Unfortunately, there are signs the neuropathy is returning, which is no good, very bad news. I'm praying those side effects disappear. The drug I am taking to counteract the neuropathy is a sedative (yikes), but I'm only taking half the dose so we have room to grow. I do not have room in my schedule to deal with the sedative side effects, however.

So. I may not have any of my own Christmas goals complete as I write this morning, BUT I've found some great Christmas favorites that I want to share. Honestly, you've probably missed out on the discounts since Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, but they are great companies that you can bookmark for later.

I also want to note here that I have tried to purchase small business and fair trade more and more each holiday. I don't know quite how to make it to 100%, but I have purchased more this year than ever before and I am so proud of that.

Mery House Global - a fair trade global movement started by Kristen Welch who authored one of my favorite parenting books, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. Read all about their mission and then go buy items made by women in Kenya.

May Designs - design your own menu book, agenda, phone case, stationery, etc. I bought several gifts this year and it is going to be an annual favorite. (I also might have bought myself something as well, but I'm not telling.)

Dignify - I still haven't purchased one of the Kantha blankets, but they are on my list every. single. year. One of these days!

Bottle of Tears - I am certain we all have people in our lives who could use a little encouragement. I love this little company and its mission. I've sent one bottle this season and plan to send another soon.

Mezzati 1800 Thread Count Sheets - I didn't buy this as a gift, just replaced our old, worn out, and holey sheets. They are incredibly soft and so cheap!

And my favorite books of the year if you're a reader:
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Fearless Parenting by George Barna and Jimmy Meyers
New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp
    On the off chance you need something to help track all of the money you're spending, I have been using the Daily Budget app for the past 6 weeks or so and it is easy to use, but effective (I am using the full paid version). I love it and it's the only budgeting app/tool that I've kept up with for this long.

    I'm going to do a catch-up post soon. For now, the best way to stay connected is via instagram - lifeasalewis. It's a private account, but I'll accept your request (especially if you comment here!).

    Putting up the tree. Camden is working on lights; Rory is singing away to Christmas songs. The reality of this was nowhere near as idyllic as it looks.
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    We rearranged furniture so that the tree could go in front of the window this year (Brian's idea). This was also not nearly as idyllic as it seems, although I am enjoying it.
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    Happy December 1, friends.

    Thursday, November 23, 2017

    Thankful

    One day soon I will write a catch-up post. The past 3 weeks have flown by jam-packed full of events, both big and small, good and not-so-good. For now, we're resisting the call of all things Christmas to say a few thank yous. Our annual Tuesday night Thanksgiving service, comprised of music, communion (to recognize the One to whom we owe our ultimate thanks), also provided an opportunity to share with others what is filling our gratitude bucket right now.

    Brian is thankful for two volunteers at church this week. Volunteers aren't always willing or excited to take on new responsibility so Lindsey blessed him more than she'll ever know when she jumped at the chance to manage the nursery program. Adding to that scenario is Preston, who told Brian he is ready, willing, and able to do whatever Brian asks of him. 

    Rory is thankful for people who never let you down - she mentioned Michael and Liz, Ms. Paula, Kinsley and Kylah.

    Camden is thankful for Zach, our worship pastor, for his guidance on the guitar and for his good example and the time he invests in Camden.

    I am thankful for my parents and grandparents being a mere 15 minutes down the road and for my Friday morning Bible study group who have been so thoughtful to pray for me and to show me love and kindness via weekly meals for the majority of 2017.

    It seems ungrateful to stop with only one item per person, but there aren't enough words to express how thankful I feel this morning. 

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    Friday, November 10, 2017

    Five on Friday (November 10, 2017)

    A final word: be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
    Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
    For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies,
    but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world,
    against mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
    Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy
    in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. -Eph. 6:10-13

    1. This has been a difficult, stressful, don't want to repeat anytime soon kind of week. Betrayed and weary would actually be an honest description of how the adults feel today. Not coincidentally, my daily scripture writing theme this month is strength. God is sweet to provide encouragement ahead of the time we actually need it. I'm wearing my "But if not" t-shirt I received from Becky for my birthday this morning. The blog post explaining the shirt is worth reading.

    2. Chemo this week was a full-day event. As usual. I really need to lower my expectations for these days because I am forever thinking the multi-step process will proceed on schedule, and I will have time left over for errands or coffee or work. A bright spot was having my favorite nurse back. Kris is a delight and I love catching up with her. While nurse assignments are random, I have been lucky enough to have her nearly half the time.

    3. Last night was the first basketball game of the season. Camden had some playing time and chalked up an assist, several defensive rebounds, and 2 steals. It's incredible how in one year his body matured and those long arms no longer flail about but move with purpose. New this year is the requirement that players dress up, as in actual dress shirts and dress shoes on game days. Camden had none of these items, of course, so we had a shopping trip Tuesday that could only be described as stressful. I plan to return to online shopping and returns as soon as possible.

    I noticed that Camden looked a little puny on the basketball floor and when we got home, he was running a high fever. You know he's sick when he literally shivers his way through supper and doesn't eat. So we're convalescing together today as I am also not well. He's missing Tip-Off tonight which is the school's official opening ceremonies for basketball season. His coach signed him up for the 3-point competition, and I think he is simultaneously sad and relieved to be unable to participate.

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    4. Sunday is my birthday and it's kind of fun to see all the birthday coupons and rewards roll in. I've cashed in my Sephora and Cold Stone Creamery rewards so far.

    5. I leave for Greensboro bright and early Monday morning for the annual work planning retreat (my first trip to NC I believe). This means lots of juggling of kids and schedules. I'm so thankful to have my parents a mere 15 minutes away. 

    The weekend includes Veterans Day parade (our church has a float), birthday party (Rory's friend), moving my grandparents in with my parents (yes, a second set of grandparents), and then a birthday dinner Sunday with parents, grandparents, and the rest of the family.

    Veteran's Day chapel at school
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    Our very own Daniel from 180 speaking to the students
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