Archive for February, 2013

Eviction Notice

Posted: February 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

There comes a time in every pregnancy where we women, though “glowing” as we may be to others…just plain ol’ get tired of the aches, pains and carrying baby around. In pregnancy terms, its our way of giving our new bundle of joy their “eviction notice”. “Yes, we love you…now come out and join our world!”

…And mom still doesn’t get any sleep at night regardless. But that’s what moms do.

I think I’m about to that point. I’m over the constant heartburn, the rumbling movement of Matthew awakening at 2, 3 and 4AM in the morning, the waddle walk and the fun moment when determining if bending down is REALLY worth the effort (that’s what kids are for).

Yet, I remember shortly after Josh and Caden were born, during those late night rocking sessions going, “Wait…did I really want you out?” Yes, I did and those sessions for our two were short lived.

I can’t wait to meet our little Matthew. Will he have hair like Caden or bald like Josh? Will labor be easy or challenging? Will I go on my own or will I need induced (like the previous two)?

I’ve spent this week at the office preparing our volunteers and leaders for my maternity leave, which starts after Matthew is here. I think after literally getting everything prepared as much as can be expected, my mind just goes, “Okay, I’m ready now!”

My last appointment with the Dr ended with “Okay Bethany, if you are still here next week…” STILL HERE? What? Of course he was joking, but reality is I can go anytime and its hard to predict WHEN Matthew will choose to make his move.

Personally, I think there is still more time to go…I still don’t have the hospital bag packed! But if one more person asks me if I feel like I’m going to pop…well, I just might!

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Smiling And Splashing

Posted: February 14, 2013 in Online Bible Study

I just can’t QUIT smiling!

I’ll be truthful, when I first read the various assignments for this week’s Online Bible Study Blog Hop, I stopped at the very first one…the one I chose, and muttered, “Where do I start…which story should I use?”

And you ask…”Okay Bethany, what were the choices?” You can see each choice, along with the other blog responses at Melissa’s Online Bible Study Page (I posted the direct link to her post from today). Not that I didn’t like the other choices, but I just couldn’t get past the first!

Here was the assignment I chose:

1. Prevail – Have you ever made plans only to have God completely redirect them? Share how His plans blessed your life or the life of those around you. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” ~ Proverbs 19:21 NIV11

…And my friends out in blog land that know my story go, “Oh wow…where is she going to go with this one?”

I wasn’t sure where to start here either…so many stories of how God has completely taken over, changed my course and completely shattered and rebuilt the foundation of my life.

However, I thought I would focus on more recent events, rather than go over past posts (feel free to read back a few months ago if you are a first-time guest…it will get you caught-up a bit).

Life has its storms…splash, splash…

I still remember the day like it was yesterday. I was sitting there in the early hours on a Sunday morning, wide-awake before the kids (a rare occasion). The sunlight was barely shining into our bedroom and I looked at Steve, sleeping very peacefully. Our lives were FINALLY getting pieced back to a bit of normal ground. I had just received my plasma exchange treatment for my GBS and a few short weeks earlier had learned that my two malignant brain tumors were still “gone” (doctors were still very determined to define the correct medical synopsis…for it wasn’t a “cure” or a “miracle” but both tumors were simply “missing.”). I went from walking with a cane to walking at a descent pace with no pain…still exhausted, but pain-free  I was FINALLY able to sit on the floor and play with my boys again! I was able to keep food down and had just moved from eating one smoothie a day to two meals 🙂

The rain is slowing…

 
(Picture from June 2012)

I sat there on the edge of the bed, looking at my husband and then glancing at my phone, looking at the picture i had taken just yesterday of my 2 boys sitting in the bike carrier right before my first bike ride in over a year! I just stared. Wondered. Questioned if all of these good times were about to come to a crashing halt…again.

Rain clouds rolling in again.

(Picture July 14, 2012)
That morning, July 15, 2012 I had taken a test and discovered that I was pregnant.
Raining…Pouring…
For those healthy, planning, moms-to-be, this news would come with excitement, anticipation and the ever-so-popular need to tell just a few people just because the news is burning up inside of you. But for me, one who had literally just completed my last round of chemo a few weeks prior, followed by IVIG and plasma exchange…I felt at a loss for hope. My one and only thought was simply, “Why would God allow more loss in my life…right now?” My thoughts were echoing back to the reality that a chance a baby could survive in my healing body, filled with so many toxins and medications would be more than just a miracle…it would be cheating death. 
I remember hearing our youngest cry-out and then looking at my motionless sleeping husband. After trying a few times to wake him up and get his attention, I just blurted out, “Honey, I’m pregnant.” I remember he was squirming a bit until he heard those words and just froze. 
Silence. 
Still silence. 
Now turning into awkward silence…
But seriously, what would you say? We both ended and I left to get the boys up for church. 
That morning at breakfast Steve and I had one of those spelling bee type of conversations. 
Steve – “So, when did you find out about the b-a-b-y?” 
Me – Just this morning. 
Steve – Why did you even think to question it? 
Me – I just felt weird and really thought I would just rule it out before going back to the oncologist tomorrow.” 
Steve – I wounder what he will say. 
Josh (age 4) – Who? 
Steve – Nobody…oh look…we need to get ready for church!
The next few days our conversations continued much in this manner, especially after my appointment with the oncologist ended with his stern disapproval of the pregnancy and his desire to continue treatment without the pregnancy (read between the lines there). 
My mind was whirling…
We can’t tell the kids
Can I do anything to better this child’s chances of survival? 
Can anyone tell I’m hiding something? 
I’m sick…again! SERIOUSLY??!! 
I just lost my trusted oncologist…now what? 
What if the cancer returns? 
What if my CIDP or GBS returns? 
I’m tired. 
I’m confused. 
It’s storming…I’m wet…again…
I remember heading to the Pregnancy Resources Center a few days later after that morning, just to get the “real” test done. Steve was texting throughout the morning. The test came back positive and it was then official  I went through the many OB doctors…many of whom did not feel comfortable with my case. I had to wait until I was around 9 weeks to actually meet my OB…and what a meeting that was. 
I’ll never forget the first time I saw Matthew on the ultrasound screen, not knowing if this child was a boy or a girl…and I saw life…I saw and zoned-in on one, small, everr-rhythmic detail…his little heart was beating (and at a great rate too!). The OB confirmed the ultrasound and scheduled follow-up ultrasounds to ease both his and my our concerns. Seeing our miracle literally grow before our eyes on the ultrasound screen was just beyond words. I went from demanding Steve be with me for every ultrasound, to having faith God would guide and going on my own. 
Splash.
(January 8, 2013…31 weeks)
Tomorrow, I will be 36 weeks along on this journey God has once again taken control and guided. I still have questions and fears: 
Will he be okay after birth? 
What if the due date is wrong?
Am I supposed to feel this way? 
Is he moving too much?
Should I eat that? 
Do we have everything ready? 
Are the boys ready? 
Am I ready? 
…And I still don’t have the answers I want, but I have an amazing God that is in control, which in returns means I am NOT in control (I’ve found comfort in that a LOT lately). 
Splash. Splash.
So many of you out there choose not to comment here, but send emails, or comment on my Facebook or just plain ol’ call! I LOVE them all! When I created this blog during my intense medical issues, I created it just so family and friends would quit calling and have everyone on the same page 🙂 What started as a convenient means of transferring info, ended up blasting off to over 500,000 visitors and I haven’t looked at my subscription list…its just too overwhelming! The stories YOU (the readers) have shared and the encouragement YOU have given our family just echoes God’s control in our life. We didn’t want (honestly) all of the medical issues and the need to have a blog like this out there…yet, God took over and made it a ministry that I could have never imagined…especially using some of the darkest hours of my life to date. 
So I keep blogging. 
God keeps leading. 
You keep reading and encouraging. 
Maybe one day I will write a book…maybe…
Matthew’s due date is March 15th. This story is far from over…as you well know. 
When the doubts and questions enter my head, daily and I am reminded constantly that I am SO not in control…I actually end up smiling. Why? Because I think, “Oooohhh…what’s God gonna do through this?” Patience on my end isn’t always the easiest…but God always shines through. 
It’s just our decision if we are simply going to get drenched in the storm, or hold His hand and dance in the rain. 
Splash…splash…
Have a great week everyone! 

Getting There

Posted: February 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

Last Saturday initiated the whirlwind of reaffirming questions everyone receives at this fun point during their pregnancy.

Where are you due again?
How are you feeling?
Do they think you will go early?
What hospital are you delivering at? 
Are they for SURE that you are having a boy?
Are you having any contractions? 
Can I feel your belly (usually touching first before asking). 
You are still around? 
Is the nursery ready?
Do you need anything? 
I list all of these things SMILING…because I literally have most answers already loaded and ready to fire! 
Last Saturday was my baby shower, thrown wonderfully by the women’s ministry here at our amazing church. I was showered with diapers, wipes, cute clothes, bottles, bibs…accessories! It didn’t hit me until afterwards that I forgot to take any pictures! Too busy talking I guess! 
Last week Steve went through double hernia surgery, which put him out of commission over the last few days. Caden (our youngest) was sick most of last week and part of this week with some odd stomach bug. my parents were around and assisted while I worked, went to the shower and then took care of the kids and Steve…whew… 
My doctor’s appointment on Monday revealed my blood pressure was a “tad higher than usual.” After telling the doctor about my last few days he literally laughed and said, “And they call you Boring!” Yea…I tried to change that… 
Tomorrow will mark 36 weeks…at 37 weeks the baby is labeled “safe to deliver.” Thinking maybe I’ll work on getting the bag for the hospital packed…starting with finding the bag itself! Between me starting, Steve adding and my parents cleaning…the nursery is ALMOST ready! I’ll post pics once we get the bedding on and the curtains up! 
Below is a video a friend posted on Facebook…it had both Steve and myself cracking up! Enjoy 🙂 

What-Ever

Posted: February 7, 2013 in Online Bible Study

I thought I should add a little background before getting into the nuggets of this post…because, I still have readers out there following my blog! I never knew Boring could be so interesting…to SO many!

A few weeks ago, I noticed a post on Facebook advertising a free online Bible Study for women. After my slight skepticism kicked-in, I followed the link and ended up on Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Study Homepage. I started reading about the upcoming “Let It Go” Bible Study and it was one of those times that you read a description of yourself and go, “Ewwww…really?” Here is a bit of what I read from the author of the book Let It Go:

By Karen Ehman
Foreword by Candace Cameron Bure (who is also a guest on our Let. It. Go. Conference Call series~details coming soon!)
Women are wired to control. We make sure the house is clean, the meals prepared, the children are dressed, and everyone gets to where they’re going on time. But sometimes our strength of being conscientious can morph into the weakness of being a slight—or all out—control freak! This humorous, yet spiritually practical book will help you to:
  • Take control of your schedule yet welcome interruptions from God
  • Draw the line between mothering and micromanaging
  • Influence your husband instead of manipulating him
  • Learn to control your emotions when you can’t control the circumstances
  • Stop pursuing the appearance of perfection and start pursuing the person of God
One would think over the past few months, I would have conquered the desire or in many cases the need to be in control. Funny thing I’ve found…after physically not being able to do much for my family and our church against my will for so long, I somewhat took off and ran as soon as I got the chance to take a bit of control back. After months of not being able to plan meals, I suddenly sparked a new interest in crock-pot recipes and planned out every night. In fact, if anyone suggested something different, I literally had to rearrange meals in my brain just to get things organized again! Sometimes I actually think it is EASIER to give God control when things are out of our hands. Almost like saying, “Okay God, I tried, now You fix it so I can get back to what I was doing.”

So I am very much a part of this exciting online Bible Study, reading the Let.It.Go. book, following Melissa’s blog and even taking part in a Facebook group with others committed to the study. I have to admit, I’m LOVING being part of a Bible Study that I can complete in my own time while building friendships with women across the globe! It’s my new “me” time…and yea, I like it!

Okay…once a week, Melissa offers a topic to blog about on our personal blogs that reflects on our reading from the week. Here is my topic for this week:

WHAT-EVER! – Share simple ways you can live out this week’s reflection verse. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” ~ Colossians 3:23 NIV84

As a wife, I strive to be the best wife to my husband and I care very much about what he has to say about how well I’m doing in this role. To my kids, I strive to be the best mom I can be and let me just tell you, they have caught-on! Just the other day, Josh (our newly advanced 5 year-old) was sent to his room. When daddy heard him muttering something he had to check out what was going on. Listening from the other side of the door we heard, “Nobody loves me…nobody loves me…” SERIOUSLY??!! As a mom, this yanks my heart out…and trust me, our kids know this ALL too well! Just a few seconds later Josh returned and said, “I love you mom…can I have ice-cream?” Obviously he knew exactly what he was doing…

I also strive to be the best minister I can be here at my calling at church. I care SO much about how people are feeling, what they are saying and what I can do or organize to help. But I keep in my desk a secret “Encouragement” file completely stuffed with cards, notes, emails, drawings, wrappers and even a crayon that remind me of people that have made a point to encourage me in my role in some way. There have been days that I wonder if any of the planning, recruiting, training, scheduling, meetings, writings…if any of my work really makes any difference. Its in these days I go to my folder and pull out an item and go, “God, you brought this person into my life to encourage me to keep pressing-on…so here am I, send me.”

I struggle defining myself by the way others look at me. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am a Family Minister. BUT first I am a prized child of God. I am a cancer survivor. I am a fighter. I am a writer. But first, I am His child.

Sometimes I forget Who I belong to…Bought “as is” and used as His…you would really think I would have that front and center by now. But sometimes I just get so entrapped by the high-speed of my life and the circumstances that surround me, I forget Who defines me, rather than letting others define my worth. I am working for God, not men.

I’ve discovered by stopping my feet and purposefully finding a spot to just connect with God on a daily basis helps me center my defining role in life. After the mad rush every morning of waking-up, getting the boys up, making breakfast, getting dressed, making sure everyone else is dressed (and matched), grabbing lunches, brushing teeth, brushing hair, finding backpacks, getting in the car, driving to school, unloading, dropping off at classrooms….yea, by the time I get through ALL of that, I find a place to just sit down and open my Bible app and connect with God. I find it the best time to reconnect with Him right before I head to the office to start my day. I regain my focus. My heart rate returns to normal. Usually as I enter my office door, I am thinking about part of the passage I read from that morning…sometimes the very first thing I do is Google a few commentaries to explain what I read a little better. It gets my mind refocused and my heart recharged. But, if I get too focused on other things or distracted that I don’t get in this time with Him, I feel my day goes into a quick tail-spin of trying to please so many requests and demands that I literally feel lost by noon. To me, it literally saves me time and emotional energy to physically stop, read my passage for the day, talk to God and then start my day. Funny how stopping actually gets more done! (And by the way, this took a LONG time to learn!).

I believe we all care a great deal about what others think of us, especially those closest to us. However, there truly is Someone Greater that thought of us before time began. He gave us a hope and a future. He knew when we were going to be born and the exact number of hairs on our head (even through chemo). He knows our deepest thoughts and our secret dreams. He defines us by our relationship with Him, not on outward appearance or worldly values. He helps us be the best wife, mom and Family Minister by working through our lives to impact others. But we can only be used if we submit ourselves to Him first (yea I know…that’s the hard part).

So, I’m trying!

Feel free to follow the Bible Study with me by following Melissa’s blog.


Full Speed Ahead

Posted: February 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

The toy room actually looks like a nursery now.
The crib has been reassembled (a few times) and is in working condition.
We found a GREAT deal on an open-box baby swing (assembled and tested too).
Recently had to purchase a few more maternity tops to get me through the next few weeks (I waited as long as I possibly could).
We got a glider and ottoman off of Craigs List for nearly nothing…still new with the plastic covering.

It’s coming together…

I will be 35 weeks tomorrow. I am forcing myself not to do any laundry for the baby until 36 weeks…might even hold out until 37 weeks.

Baby shower (unexpected but EXTREMELY grateful) this weekend sponsored by our church.

I still find myself in the baby’s room in somewhat disbelief that this child is actually coming and has overcome SO many obstacles. I am still battling questions in my mind, even after all of the testing and ultrasounds…still questioning if they missed something, somewhere.

We all question at times I believe God just wants us to trust and enjoy the moment.

I see the doctor next week and then once a week (at least) until Matthew makes his entrance to the world. So far, no issues. In fact (in case you missed it) I am officially in “remission” status AND pacemaker only had one issue over the past few months! With both of these HUGE milestones, I have been downgraded in status for Matthew’s delivery. In common terms – we now have a chance at a normal delivery experience without the need for additional hospital staff such as oncology and cardiology literally in the room (though they will be monitoring from a distance I’m sure). My next cardio exam isn’t booked until July…WOW! Finally I have had the time to focus on baby and family preparations.

As I said…full speed ahead…