Monday, August 29, 2011

my friend, syd

words are inadequate for sure. today i lost a dear, sweet and amazing friend. i wanted to be her friend the moment i saw her at church. but it took us a few years to finally connect. our friendship was forged on the ride home from our church's women's retreat. we talked about everything; cramming it into our 2-3 hour drive home. there was no turning back. we were friends now. finally.

i found myself hanging out at her house a lot after that. she was so easy to be with. she was bold and beautiful. nothing like the daytime drama. she had such a presence about her. i knew she was in a room without seeing her. she was so uniquely her. i love in Psalm 139 when it talks about God creating us in our mother's womb. and i think about the way He knit her together to be free-spirited, humble, fierce, kind, funky, curious, and His. she would ask questions about everything. she was so not afraid. she, of course, did not meet a stranger. that is something people say about other people and you don't really know what it means. it means that she would and could talk to anybody. she was intrigued by others and their stories. she was open to everyone and wanted to hear their story. she was larger than life. what does this really mean? i've thought a lot about it because it seems to describe her well. i actually looked it up and it means "attracting special attention because of unusual and flamboyant appearance or behavior." she did this...attracted special attention. but, it came from a place of depth and heart. i have never met someone like her. and i don't think i will.

just months after the birth of this new and fabulous friendship my sweet friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor, just weeks after giving birth to her 3rd child, Boone. all of those who love her were devastated. what ensued were 2 1/2 years of joy, sorrow, fear, pain, as well as countless tests, scans, and doctors' visits. there was also the booty loop we volunteered at, the trip to winston salem to get her bike, lots of juicing & blending, and plenty of afternoons hanging out. i am thankful for every second i got to spend with her. she changes people. she changed me. i often longed to lay next to her when she was struggling. in a way i craved to be around her. she was that kind of person. i am one of many that will miss her. she was a kindred spirit to many and i'm thankful that i was one of them. God used her to transform my own heart and to change my relationships.

today she is free of pain. today she walks in glory with a God who, 36 years ago began knitting her together in her sweet mama's womb. today she is not bound by the suffering and physical pain of this tumor. i am sad that she is gone. and i am thankful that she is set free and with her Jesus. my heart is heavy for her husband and 3 sweet babies, as well as her family and friends. this week we will get a chance to remember and celebrate our sweet friend, Sydney Boone Gaylord. and one day i will see her again.

i'm not sure what i'll miss the most about syd. her laugh is one thing.
i love you syd.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

you down with IOP!

playing in the surf

we got the opportunity to get away to the beach for a few days. adam was able to take off another day so we made it 4. we left late friday night because we wanted to maximize our time and i'm so glad we did. the house was right across the street from the beach and the weather was perfect the whole time. it was exactly what we needed.

charis LOVED it. i knew she'd love it but seeing is believing. she was content to play in the sand, scooping and dumping and digging. she was brave in the water as she boldly walked through the crashing surf. even when it knocked her down she didn't seem phased but got back up and kept going. if it wasn't for lunch and nap time or that it's unsafe to be out in the sun all day, i think she would have stayed on the beach all day.

digging and digging

i decided to forgo my "special" suit with breast forms for my old regular suit with nothing. it had a little padding but it clearly didn't fool anyone. i'm just not comfortable in the other suit with breast forms. as we walked to the beach that first day i felt scared and liberated all at once. let's just say that the beach isn't a safe place (like the Y) for me in a swimsuit. but there is something about being around strangers that helps me not care. although i wasn't trying to go for a walk on the beach in my suit. as i sat there watching adam and charis play in the surf i became overwhelmed with joy that i wanted to cry. i felt so very thankful for this...a trip away to the beach with my family, watching charis enjoy every bit of it, being well enough to sit on the beach. and i also felt sad that i'm living in a body that continues to betray me and crush my femininity. it's such a strange tension to live in. i can't ignore the sadness i feel. the goodness doesn't take it away. yet having the chance to experience joy in the midst of such pain is a gift. i know this. and i don't take it for granted. my heart could have bursted a lot this past weekend at the beach as i watched our little lady and as i allowed the sadness i've been feeling to surface in the safety of a man who loves me relentlessly.

we tried for a family pic

one post cannot capture all the fun photos so i will have a photo-only post too.

oh and look at that cute butt

Friday, August 19, 2011

a doctor's visit

i know a few doctors. i'm not trying to be funny. what i mean is that i have a few friends that are doctors. and since my diagnosis i often wonder what it's like for them as i sit in the room awaiting life changing news or for a check up. i have to say that i think i have some pretty great doctors. i don't doubt any of their knowledge or skill when it comes to caring for me. what i do have to say is that some are just more socially...uh, i can't think of the right word. let's say that some are just more socially appropriate, maybe? or just more social or personable. i can't imagine what it's like for a doctor when they have to tell a young woman that she has cancer. not once but twice. my cancer doctor has a great reputation. we heard recently that he may be one of the best in charlotte and even the state. wow. i don't doubt that. i just have had some interesting conversations with him in the past year. and i just had to share this most recent one.

Door opens

Dr.: “So, are you ready to get this taken care of?”

Me: “yes”

Dr..: “ you know, in all my years of doing this no one has ever said ‘no.’”


Doctor proceeds to roll down right shirt sleeve

Dr.: “well it’s a good thing I’m wearing long sleeves….”

Patient sits waiting and wondering where he is going with this

Dr. continues: “…because I might have some things up my sleeve.”


Doctor then begins to talk about some legit things coming “down the pipeline” that may be helpful in treatment.

Doctor begins examination. Do not talk to him with his sthesascope in b/c apparently they are noise cancelling.

Note: this doctor rarely leaves time for questions, much less asks if there is anything else. Yet he talked of being “paranoid” which is why he’d like to see me 10 days post chemo.

Doctor wraps up to leave

Patient: “oh wait, I wanted to let you know that I’m going to go see a doctor at Duke named Kimberly Blackwell. I called Helen and told her Monday.”

Patient was ready to give her many reasons why this is necessary but was surprised that she didn’t need to.

Dr. L: “yeah, I know her. I haven’t seen her in a while. Maybe 3 weeks. But I know her. She’s tall. She’s probably about my height.”

Doctor exits

Conversation between patient and husband goes something like this:
“seriously?! He has nothing to say about her specialty or work or anything. What he chooses to leave us with is, ‘she’s tall.’” “of course he had to say he knew her twice.”

so, there you go. it's as if you went with me. i still laugh at this exchange b/c i can't believe all he told me about this particular doctor (who is a specialist in MY type of breast cancer and works primarily with young women) is that she is tall. my appointment with her is the 29th and i'll be sure to report on her height.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

the yard in pictures

as promised here are some pictures of the yard. some guys from church came over and worked with adam to destroy what had become our jungle. i should have done a before picture. just imagine greenery creeping up the house and bushes so full you could only see the top half of the house.

let's just say i've never seen this half brick wall before. bushes were hedged so much that we won't be able to walk around the house nude. i mean--who does that anyway!?

a little explanation here...while mowing they discovered that bees/yellow jackets or some sort of bad stinging bug lives underground. they bury holes in the ground (sometimes where a dead tree once lived) and the only way to get rid of them is to pour gasoline in their hole at night then "plug" the hole with a bottle. we did this twice...they should be dead now but i'm not so sure. i think they have an underground resort.

dead dogwood. sad.

i have no idea what the hell these bushes are called. i just know as i child i would run my fingers down it's "leaf" and cut myself. i did this countless times as if one time it wouldn't cut me. it always did. we have a set of about 5-7 of these on both sides of our driveway. this one even had a couple; yes a couple, trees growing out of the center. it appears the guys destroyed these. the only sad part is i think a family of bunnies lived in this one. i hope they found a new place.

this is about 40 feet of yard waste. we got a hate letter (not really) from the yard waste guys telling us we should have bagged it all and next time we won't get a pick up if it's not bagged. ouch.

the finished pretty.

Monday, August 15, 2011


cancer sucks. it sucks because i could die. it sucks because it's jacked up my body. it sucks because i may pass it on to my daughter. it sucks because it makes me tired. it sucks for a lot of reasons.


in the midst of something incredibly sucky we get to experience some pretty incredible things. the bible talks about suffering producing perseverance and stuff like that. and we hear that in our suffering we get to experience Jesus. this is true and has been true for us since my first diagnosis last june. it's still hard and sometimes i'd wish it'd all go away. and i'm thankful for it. i'm thankful for the way it's shifting my heart towards compassion and grace. i'm thankful for the way it's allowing adam and i to experience a deeper intimacy early on in our marriage. i'm thankful for the way it forces me to have more meaningful conversations and thus more meaningful friendships. i'm thankful for the way it has stripped me of my pride (in some areas) and made me more okay with asking for help. i'm thankful for the many ways it's allowing others to enter into this with us. that comes in many different forms and i am grateful for each one. it's forced me to think about what kind of friend i am and want to be. some people know what to say and are able to boldly love me with their words. others have been given the resources to step in and provide actual services and gifts. i have been blown away lately by all the ways we are being loved. it's exactly what God desires for us, i'm sure. in all these ways i get a better idea of just how loved we are by God. and i just have to share it

- this past weekend some guys from our church came over to help adam revamp our yard. i've been wanting to get a sort of "fresh start" b/c our yard had turned into a jungle. no lie. we have a great yard but we are barely invested in it. so when it got out of control at the same time as our life we clearly needed friends to step in. and did they!! they gave up a saturday morning with with families to work in the steam of the day and did an amazing job. i wish i took before pictures. here are a few after.

- last week i got a call from the director at Central (where charis went to preschool last year while i worked) letting me know some folks wanted to sponsor charis for the year and her tuition was paid for. i would stop here to give you all a few minutes to pick up your jaws and wipe your tears. that's what i had to do. seriously?! yes, apparently. i have no idea who these folks are and i hope they know how freaking grateful i am for this incredible gift. since i'm not working this feels like such a luxury. and i know that in the midst of treatment i will be in need of a few hours to rest or clean or whatever. this is HUGE. i know charis will love it too. i think she'll get to be in the same class with the kids she started with, which is fun. but one girl in particular is her little buddy, so that's fun.

- this past weekend we got to get away to Asheville for our friends' wedding. i was so looking forward to this b/c a) we got a night away, b) there were going to be a bunch of friends there, c) we needed something celebratory and d) who doesn't love a wedding?! my friend and old YL leader emailed me earlier this summer telling me that adam and i were living out our own wedding vows..."in sickness & health, for richer & poorer." and this has stuck with me, so hearing the wedding vows and our pastor's homily was sweet for me. our friends got us a room...THANK YOU. and we just got to celebrate Reba & Allan at a beautiful sunset wedding in the mountains with a bunch of fun friends. it was so great.

- i miss YL staff a bunch. last week 3 of the staff girls took me to lunch and got me a Trader Joe's gift card. it was so sweet to catch up with them and to be loved by them. i think once fall hits i'll really feel the absence of being on staff. that makes me a little sad. but i'm thankful for the friendships i have with these girls and others.

- last year i started getting these handwritten cards from a "Barnabas Writing Center" and a sunday school class in Louisiana. the writing center is a ministry that prays for and writes to people going through tough times. they diligently write to us to tell us they are specifically praying for my healing and our family. the cards from the sunday school class are filled with encouraging words and names of folks we don't know, but who are praying for us. i also have gotten about 20-30 cards from my dad's cousin, Sylvia, throughout the past year reminding me that she is praying for us constantly. this is ridiculously think of all the people i know and don't know thinking about and praying for us. and how sweet that they send cards reminding us of this fact.

these are just a few things out of many. God is providing the funds to help us pay for my COBRA. adam is meeting with a variety of people as he "networks" and searches for a job. I know the right job will come for him. people are keeping Charis for us so we can go to appointments, dates, and consignment sales. people all over the place are praying for us. i think i'm thankful for where God has us. i know that's weird to say. but i'm afraid i'd miss some of the things i'm learning if it wasn't for what we are walking through right now. i feel His mighty hand holding us tightly and gently molding my heart into what He desires. with the intense pain we get to simultaneously experience intense joy. i can't make that happen on my own. i can only allow myself to be bathed in the love of Jesus through others; both strangers and friends.

**blogger is having issues uploading pics so i will post pics later of our awesome yard of the month and fun wedding.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


21 months is how old my sister was when i was born. i can't really imagine having a new born right now. maybe i could if all this other "stuff" wasn't going on. this little lady is keeping me on my toes. she is a buh-last! i wish i could record her but the moment we grab a camera she stops what she's doing and gets all in the camera. and she's hard to trick. that's cause she is smart. i am so incredibly thankful for her. after my doctor's appointment yesterday i was thinking about how this recurrence may forever change our lives. i may not be able to have more children. which got me thinking about this little one of ours. she is truly a gift. she came as a complete surprise and we had no idea what life would look like after her arrival. at some point we figured we'd actually have to talk about "family planning." that's out the window now. yesterday as i drove home from my appointment thinking about the past 2 1/2 years i realized God's hand in all of it. i am beyond thankful for this little life He's entrusted us with. He has created our sweet Charis ON purpose and FOR a purpose. and part of that has been to shed lots of joy in the midst of some real sorrow. she's just getting to the age where she notices things. after i had my port put in there was a dressing. i told her it was my "boo boo" and now she wants to see my "boo boo" all the time. the dressing is off but now there is a scar. i think when i lose my hair she'll be more aware of it, but thankfully still won't get the gravity of it all.

- she is a talking machine. my favorite is when she is on a toy phone just jabbering away. i think she gets this from her daddy b/c he's pretty good at it too. she tries out new words a lot and is beginning to put words together. "down mommy" as she pats the couch next to her. "water please" or "i want water" when she wants water. "rain outside" when she hears thunder or the obvious, rain. other words she's saying: "help", "pizza", "up", "down", "baby", "buckle", "night night", "flower", "door", "airplane", "spoon", "bug" (which sounds like bugga), recently she said "i got it."

- nonni came and stayed with charis for a long weekend so we could get away. she got to visit her cousins in columbia, sc too. she was perfect for her nonni. (of course)

nonnie, charis and me

- we took our first trip to Monkey Joes with my sweet friend, Mary Katherine and her kiddos. they had a couple little kid jumpyards. she took some time getting used to everything. the place was crazy b/c everyone was trying to escape the heat. she eventually tried out one of the slides and figured out how to climb up herself. it was torture pulling her away when it was time to go. for $3.99 we'll be back monkey joe!

getting ready to slide w/ eliza grace!

- she helped us celebrate our 5 year anniversary. we went to the park we got married at and took family pictures with our wedding photographer who drove into town just to take our pictures. what a sweet man. i can't wait to get our pictures in a few weeks and share them with you all.

- we visited the 24 hours of booty!! charis loves bikes and she got to see her share of them during this bike "race."

hanging out at the coffee shop

- after taking only a 45 minute nap the other day i had to figure out something to do. my friend, courtney, is always doing fun things with her 3 kids, so inspired by her i took charis to the Nature Museum. and it was so fun. charis loved the baby chicks, butterflies, birds, furry animals and the fun "playroom" they had.

eating tomato w/ basil pesto..YUM

- she is still a great eater. i think her favorite food right now is pizza. no lie, but the other day when she was waking up i heard her saying, "pizza" from her crib. a girl after my own heart...waking up with food on her mind. she also likes tomatoes with basil pesto, hummus wraps, yogurt, waffles, and cereal (which she calls crackers). she's also getting good at using utensils too. she likes to do it all by herself.

- we've got a hitter. she hits when she is playful and frustrated. it's so hard. do we do the whole hit her hand and tell her not to hit? what can she understand at this point? oh, discipline is so hard for both of us. mostly cause she is so stinking cute. but i know looks can only take you so far, so i'm trying not to let her get away with hitting. i know she is able to obey and follow directions because she does at times. but there is clearly a defiant part of her too. really, all of us.

- she loves playing in the mirror. she will squat down then jump up and say "hi-ya!" it's so cute.

we were just talking about how crazy life is and what a gift Charis is to both of us. she's the gift we didn't realize we wanted or needed. but God knew. He will get us through the big and little stuff...the disciplining and correcting, the job stuff, the cancer. He is in all of it. and i'm just so thankful for this little family that i get to be a part of.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

job hunting soapbox

let's admit, job hunting is no fun. when i got the news that i was being laid off back at the end of march, people immediately asked me if i was going to find another job. of course. if you want to count babysitting, i've worked since i was 11 or 12 and sometimes 2-3 jobs at a time. to say i love to work is an understatement. anyway, at the time there was the question of what. duh. and childcare. and surgery recovering. miraculously there were a few jobs early on that i applied for. by the time i finished work and went to camp in June things were lining up to be pretty different for me.

i didn't get any of the jobs i applied for, which was a bummer. i also realized that i hadn't had an interview in so long. i'm sure that wasn't the kicker. just better candidates believe it or not. and now of course my cancer is back. here is my soapbox. get ready.

there are 2 things that make looking for a job hard. one is just mine and one affects lots of women (and maybe men) out there.
1: cancer. it seems tricky to not bring it up in an interview but then upon hiring say, oh by the way i need off every 3rd wednesday for chemo and probably a day in between for bloodwork. and there may be other times i'll need off b/c of doctor's appointments or fatigue or something else cancer related that i didn't bother telling you about in the interview. oh and i'll be bald in a few weeks. no biggie. and even though there are laws forbidding companies to not hire you for such reasons. come on. are you going to hire a cancer patient? probably not. the great thing about having a job already is they typically work with you as you deal with all the appointments and ups & downs of having cancer. it seemed to work well last year. at least from my point of view it did. but clearly not, huh.

2: childcare: here are your options for childcare: 1) full-time that costs a buttload here in charlotte, 2) mother's morning out type stuff 2 or 3 days a week from 9a-1p and 3) sitters that now cost more than probably both 1 and 2. if i could find a full-time job the question would be "do i make enough to allow/justify full-time childcare?" if i got a part time job (25-35 hours) there isn't really childcare that fits that. option 1, but then you back to that same question. the ideal would be to get super part time job that would allow me to work just within the 9a-1p window. or be able to work from home part time too. but those are scarce, even if they do exist.

so those are my 2 major dilemmas with finding a job. i think at this point i know what my gifts are and can seek out those types of jobs. but even still there is a lot i still don't know b/c my training has been different. just need to find something that fits. i'll be honest. i am going to diligently put forth an effort in the next few months. but i'm feeling like God has opened this time off door on purpose. i mean, i do have a lot going on and adding a new job may not be the best thing to do. but still i love to work. and i'm not saying being home with a 21 month old is not work. it is. it is more than any type of work i've done. am i cut out for it? if i don't think so, i think God is filling in those gaps. and honestly nothing brings me more joy in the midst of my sorrows right now than this sweet & sassy little lady. and adam is in full force job hunting...we don't need 2 of us out there.

i totally understand that there are people out there that have been out of work longer and job hunting longer than me. i can't imagine the perseverance they have.

because every post needs a little bit of this