Saturday, July 30, 2011

Five Years!

on our hike on the blue ridge
i've been thinking a lot about writing something to commemorate our 5 years of marriage. but haven't really come up with anything. it seems like such a milestone. i mean, we really are no longer newlyweds and probably haven't been for about 4 years. i'm not sure i had any expectations of where i thought we'd be at 5 years but i'm sure it looked different than it actually does. and i wouldn't trade it.

bright & beautiful local fresh flowers
this weekend has become so significant for reasons other than our wedding falling on it. 5 years ago we got married at a local park and then had our reception at Queens. it happened to fall on the same weekend as the 24 hours of booty. we left our reception on a rickshaw and took part of the booty loop. i had no idea that we'd be back at the booty loop but this time first as friends of a survivor and then as a survivor myself. we've had a "hope for sydney" team ride for the past 3 years (including this weekend). and last year a few riders were sporting "hope for amy patwa" jerseys. so, it feels strange and sweet to have our 5 year anniversary fall on the same weekend as the 24 hours of booty.

the Hope for Sydney team 2011
another cool thing that happened was that our wedding photographer sent me a FB message a week or so ago asking if he could take pictures of us at the same park we got married. it was just something he wanted to do. so, he drove down from raleigh and we met him at the park this morning. of course we've added one to the mix. i know that we will cherish having these pictures taken. i want to freeze as much time with adam and charis as i can.

my little diva
i think God has chosen adam and i uniquely to live life together. he challenges me and so many ways as i'm sure i do him as well. we have so much fun together. i am safest when i am with adam. and that feels really good. as we begin this next year of marriage faced with a cancer relapse there is definitely some uncertainties. i am so thankful God chose adam to be the one to love me and care for me during this battle/journey/experience (whatever you want to call it).

enjoying a pedi!
we've had fun celebrating this year...dinner at del frisco's, a weekend away in blowing rock, breakfast, fresh flowers, an anniversary photo shoot, and a couples pedi. i can't wait to share the pictures with you. and i'm going to leave you with a link to a blog post adam wrote in 2008 because i love the way he expresses himself.

kisses from his favorite little carebear

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Seriously?! really?!

there are lots of ways we feel loved...especially during this difficult time. surprises, friends just coming to hang out, messages & emails, gift cards, hand written cards, meals, babysitting, prayers, a house to stay in Blowing Rock and our friends just being honest about not knowing what to say or do and still risking to be with us in this. some things are really worthy of a blog post. partly b/c i want others to know that these gifts are such a blessing to us and maybe making it public is a good way to share our thankfulness. and writing about it helps me process the heart beyond the gift. like when a group of high school kids got together to pray for me and make hand made cards. seriously?!

this past week has been Charlotte's Restaurant Week. adam and i love restaurant week. wait, let me back up. we love restaurants. we love to eat. i think working in the industry has sometimes made us snobs and other times made us realize a taco truck can make better tacos than a restaurant. we love food. in fact, we like to think we are foodies. so, when this week rolls around twice a year we take advantage of the opportunity to eat at a place we'd never be able to go otherwise. we've discovered some great places and yummy dishes. this year we chose Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse (adam still wants to know what the double eagle means). we got ready for our 5 o'clock reservation. yes, 5:00.

now, a family that qualifies for food & nutrition benefits (i.e. food stamps) probably shouldn't be indulging in something like this. but we are able to compartmentalize such things and have specific funds for the occasion. and really, there is that small part of me that says "we deserve this" right now. (that can be a slippery slope so we have to be careful). any way we were greeted by our server in his tux vest, bow tie and monogrammed cuff links. he seemed pretty normal and nice. (sometimes places like this can have such snooty servers). after taking our water order he came back to our table and began with something like this, "you all must be very special...." to say i knew where he was going might sound strange, but i had an idea. he proceeded to tell us that our meal had been taken care of and "to order whatever you like." i began crying right away. it was almost too much for my little heart to contain. he left us alone to soak this in.

it took us a good 15 or so minutes to receive this gift. adam longer than me. there is a temptation to feel guilty. but if i've learned anything about asking for help and receiving gifts it's that the people who love us don't want us to feel guilty. i'm thinking they want to bless us and relieve some stress and help us out and love us in whatever ways they know how. i was pretty convincing. and completely blown away.

we were "peer pressured" by our server to "order whatever you'd like" and "they insisted on a bottle of wine too." have you seen this place's wine list? i really have no idea how much the wine (or dinner for that matter) cost, but we told the wine guy (yes, a specific guy comes to your table to give you tastings and talk wine...he was super nice too) we wanted to stay cheap. yeah, we said cheap in Del Frisco's. i'm not scared!

we really enjoyed our long dinner as we talked about a variety of things that are weighing heavy on our hearts. this was such a gift to us. so, thank you...i mean, THANK YOU so so so so MUCH to you who did this. and to all of you who do little & big things to love us. we totally understand that it can be hard to "enter into" this with us and love us. none of us has a manual for it. we appreciate the risks our friends and community take as they reach out to us. thank you.

we ended the date at the Evening Muse for a very cool live show of some local music. it was so fun. the other thought i kept having all night was wondering what our server thought. i mean, surely he was impacted by this gift as well. that's the's reaching beyond us. and that is amazing!

Monday, July 18, 2011

it's back...

b/c every post needs some goodness
this post should be about how i'm adjusting to my new boobs. but, you see, that never happened. what happened was a pain in my chest (and an eventual figurative pain in my ass as well) led to a chest CT which led to a PET scan which led to a biopsy which led to a diagnosis of cancer. again. there was no talk of stage or size or much else. but the word metastases came up. within 5 months of finishing treatment and just past a month after celebrating my cancerversary i'm back at square one. this time without breasts.

i will probably start chemo in the next couple weeks and say good-bye to my jheri curl. i will finish 2011 and possibly ring in 2012 while on chemo. surgery is not an option. there is nothing really to take or remove. radiation may or may not be an option. right now it's just chemo. the hope is to manage it, not cure it. my doctor was clear on that.

i've been expecting this news. it's been a month in the making. meaning, it was just about a month ago that i reported the pain to my doctor. there has been a lot of waiting. we were told early on that it was probably cancer but we needed real data to confirm that. and although i was expecting it, it is still so surreal. i'm feeling a little all over the place as i "process" this or allow it to sink in. i surprisingly feel okay and confident that the Lord has his mighty & gentle hand in this and He is with us. i'm hopeful for a lot of things. and i'm scared about a lot of things.

as i sit in the doctor's office surrounded by much older people i feel a weird tinge of pride to be among this group. and incredibly sad. as i email or text friends to tell them the news i have a sort of out of body experience. like, "is this really happening...again?" as i read other blogs i am brought to tears because i want to live long enough to take my little girl to disney world or i want to be able to have more kids or i want to go on a fun trip with my husband or i get the idea. i had to stop the blog-reading after that. yet that is my reality. i've been talking about going on a tropical vacation after the cancer thing is over (cause it's just a phase, right?) and i get my new boobs and we can get away. well, i'm tempted to make that trip happen sooner than later because i'm not guaranteed that day will come.

i don't mean to sound depressing. i'm honestly not depressed. my reality is just completely different right now. i was supposed to be recovering from my reconstructive surgery and then in the spring we were going to take that trip i was talking about. so i'm grieving the loss of my breasts again. i have to lean hard into Jesus right now because i'm tempted to become bitter. and i'd rather not. what i am thankful for is that God has chosen adam and i for this. i'm also thankful for this sweet & sassy little lady name charis root. oh my goodness is she a blast right now! i'm soaking her up. we believe that this is our story and my hope is that we honor it as we live it out. we also believe that God is good and we are fiercely trusting him each day.

if you didn't get a chance to see it, i was on the news the other day. i was honored to be asked to share my story. (i don't know how to upload the video so you can click on the link)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

what is she? twenty months!?

20 months, just over a year and a half. how do i answer the "how old is she" question? who really cares! she is a freaking blast! so incredibly feisty. and by feisty i mean lots of good-i'm-strong-willed type of behaviors. she brings me such joy that at times i could burst. has that ever really happened to someone? and sometimes it's super i screwing her up for the rest of her life? maybe. is there redemption in my parenting? yes. i just know that God has gifted us to be her parents and i'm so thankful. and i hope there are places like the Barnabas Center when she needs them.

- she has learned the skill of tantrum throwing. apparently this is an innate skill because i don't remember teaching it to her in between animal sounds. there must be something that tells them, "throw yourself on the ground and scream/cry." seriously?! they don't last long all the time, but can either be hilarious or completely frustrating.

- she is hell bent on feeding herself everything. she'll rarely ask for help. the other day she was finger painting with apple sauce. i'm realizing that it's is more about me b/c it'd be way more convenient if she let me help her. sometimes meal time just takes longer. and i think that's okay. maybe one day i'll wish for this time...slow family dinners.

- okay so i think she's pretty freaking smart. (duh, every parent thinks their kid is) i guess i'm just so amazed at the new connections she is making. for instance, we heard thunder today and then she said "rain." i guess i thought i'd "teach" her things like this, but she gets them on her own. she's talking a lot. no word count but saying lots of words on her own and repeating a ton. and she still speaks in some crazy kid gibberish language that i love to hear.

- she enjoys some green smoothies with me. i recently got a killer blender (thanks for lots of friends) and i make lots of smoothies with green stuff like kale. she calls it "juice" and loves them. she still eats like a champ. her new thing is hummus wraps with tomato.

so excited

saying "juice"

drink up!

- she has also learned how to give real hugs and the best is when she wraps her arms so tightly around our necks. even at 2 in the morning

- our friends the doctors bergeron and their little girl lilly came for a quick visit this month. jaclyn and blake are super refreshing for us. lilly is about 8 months older than charis and it was fun to watch them check each other out and play together. we're hoping to make a trip to memphis in the fall to be with them again.

charis & lilly

nothing but love choke hold

- we've had a crazy month so i've totally slacked on taking "charis notes" and even pictures. this in no way reflects her busy-ness. she is bubbling with personality.

- she loves swimming. when we go to my dad's pool she gets all brave and tries to walk straight in off the edge. she loves being in the water and is getting more and more comfortable.

swimming with isaiah

- she got to spend a week with her paw paw, maw maw and aunt sara. and she loved it. her wardrobe and shoe collection also expanded. she warmed up to them so quickly that adam and i left them with her while we stayed at my dad's for a few nights. it's always fun to watch the grandparents enjoy her.

- she still loves being outside even though it's a bagillion degrees out. we honestly aren't out there as much except to go on bike rides. i'm ready for a break in this heat so we can be outside more.

playing in the water

i feel like there are things i'm missing this month. partly because i didn't do a good job of recording what she's been up to and because she is up to so much and doing so many different things that i'm not keeping up. she is so fun and can be hard at times. but i also realize those hard times are so small in the scheme of things...they are just a blip. i usually don't realize this until after they are over b/c during i'm afraid i won't make it. while i was a camp i was talking with some of the girls about having a girl and what i wanted. you remember that age where you think you can dictate your future..."i will get marred at this age and have this many kids and i think i want 2 girls and a boy." well, i did always think i'd be a boy mom...but i was telling the girls that i'm so thankful for having a girl because we get to tell her whose she is and that she is beautiful no matter what the world tells her. i think it's such a privilege to be a parent in general and that we get to teach our daughters and sons pretty valuable stuff. i'm so incredibly thankful for this time with charis.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


if you are a phil dunphy fan you may think this means "why the face." well, to the rest of us it means "what the fuck!" at frontier last week one of the guys said that the Psalms were like David asking/saying "what the fuck!?" to God. i thought that was an interesting take. and honestly can see that in a lot of his cries out to God.

2 weeks ago when i was told that "something significant" had shown up on a scan i was feeling a little like this WTF and another one i learned from facebook, FML (fuck my life). and let me just say i've never said the f-word this much in print or speech. anyway...after the year we've had and the job layoff we are tired. plus we were totally gearing up for my surgery. reconstruction. the end of this "journey" in a way. and literally days before i'm supposed to head into this major surgery we have to cancel it because the cancer is back.

WTF. in the past 2 weeks i've experienced a range of feelings and emotions. at my core i trust God fiercely. i've prayed for peace and comfort, and it's come my way. i don't always know or agree with what God is allowing and i know it's not new to him. he knows suffering. and now so do we.

i'm a little all over the place. we are still waiting..on a biopsy and then the plan from there. i'm not sure i've gotten good at waiting, but i'm sure doing it a lot.

for as hard as this is on us i'm getting to experience lots of goodness and joy. for one, we are weeks away from celebrating 5 years of marriage. another is our sweet & fiesty little lady; she's a perfect picture of God's "perfect and pleasing will." another was my trip to Frontier and the hanging out i'm getting to do this week with my friends from the trip...we are meeting every morning to eat breakfast together and jump in the Bible some. another is all the amazing ways friends are loving and praying for me and that they are sharing the images, scriptures, thoughts, etc that God is revealing to them as they pray for me. that is super cool. and mostly His presence. of course i want healing and for this trial to be over but my prayer continues to be for me to know Him more intimately and to know His love that is deep and high and long and wide.

i get scared sometimes to have such a vicious cancer that comes back just 5 months after finishing treatment. i get mad that these things keep happening to us. i get sad that i have to continuing living in this broken body.

and i am thankful and hopeful.

Monday, July 4, 2011

frontier or bust

i remember the first time i went to Frontier Ranch with some of my still close friends. i can't believe i got to go back 16 years later. it really is one of my favorite places. and doing young life is one of my favorite things.

i missed half the week of camp, but being out there for the 3 days i got to be there was TOTALLY worth it. it actually felt longer. as many of you know i begged my 2 senior friends to go, so i knew i had to be there for part of the time. plus there were 7 other girls and a bunch of guys i was excited to get to know. i had such a blast with all these kids. they were just so easy to be around and willing to have some real conversations. i wish i could tell you all about camp...about the ridiculous things we do and the message that kids get to hear about how God is patiently pursuing them daily and loves them just as they are and about the silly things that allow them to actually be kids and the stories we got to hear and about the people they get to meet and all the other amazing things that make Young Life camp life changing. we took 27 kids from Country Day and i know each one of them had a blast.

nicole, me and elizabeth before ridgerunners
i got to be in a cabin with 9 girls. let me first say that high school girls today are way cuter than we were (sorry friends). and i think i'm thankful for the weird fashions of the 90's because i just wouldn't survive today. :) these girls were so fun to be with and really willing to be real. i think we all are looking for authentic relationships and in high school those are hard to come by. the other leaders and i want more than anything for these girls to know how much they are loved. sometimes that's hard for us to believe. but i think that this week they got to experience some of that, and that makes me excited.

the girls before horses...erin, lisa, carley, grayson
elizabeth, me, nicole, melissa, lizzie, megan & ally

one thing being at Frontier also did for me was make me sad that i'm not working for YL anymore. i'm thankful that i can still be a part of YL as a leader. there are just other opportunities that come with staff that i will miss. oh well. for now i get to hang out with high school kids and tell them about Jesus and the hope i have in Him, even in the midst of what's going on in my life. this is better than anything else. i'm excited to know these girls, not just these 4 years of high school, but for many years to come just like me and my own YL leader.

the whole CCDS gang!!!