Wednesday, September 28, 2011

oh happy day!

I wrote the following the day of sydney's funeral. It was a happy day. It's been a month and I miss my friend a lot. There are a few links in this post I'd love for you to check can listen to Sydney's funeral and another sermon I reference at Hope's website, and you should read Jen's stories about their little scrappy and their girls. just a head's up.

Today was sydney’s funeral…her party or celebration. And it was beautiful and marvelous and everything Sydney. The visitation last night wasn’t what I had pictured but it was what I needed (not that it's about me) and perfectly Sydney. It was a room full of people she loved and who loved her, sharing stories, comforting, weeping, smiling, laughing, remembering and celebrating her. Adam and I came home re-energized. It was what I think sydney would want and hope for.

Today the funeral was even better. I woke up tired and heavy and sad. This felt more final to last night’s celebration. But I was wrong. It was a wedding celebration at it’s finest. Mark talked a lot about marriage and weddings and all that scripture says about them. About how God’s love for us mirrors that of a husband and wife. About how today is a wedding as Sydney is meeting her bridegroom Jesus in heaven. We sang fun worship songs and heard from her brother and closest friend. Their words made us laugh and cry. One thing that struck me is how consistent Sydney was. She was the same to everyone and throughout all the years. She wasn’t afraid to be bold. And to point others to Jesus.

I am so struck by how she always pointed to Jesus…in words, in actions, in music, in art, in friendships, in marriage, in everything she did. For those who know Jesus, she was part of bringing us closer to Him. For those who didn’t know Jesus she was Jesus to them. I am pretty sure she introduced many people to Jesus. So many of us are forever changed because of her. I know her death is bringing more people to Jesus. It’s glorious. That was evident today. People who were there today saw Jesus. They also saw a church that is real and living out the Gospel. And that gets me pretty jazzed up.

Just hours after saying good-bye to Syd I got the news from Jen that she and Chris got their babies. The first I heard about them was last week. At the time her heart was heavy from what they had just walked through (little Scrappy). They drove to meet the girls yesterday and fell in love. It would be a whole day for them to make the decision. Around 5pm Jen called and said, “we are going to pick up our daughters at 10 tomorrow!” I wept. So much joy was bubbling over. They are 3 and 5. I cannot wait to meet them. And I cannot wait to see Chris and Jen as daddy and mama.

For all this to happen this week is a beautiful picture of the Gospel. Redemption. Restoration. Homecoming. Glory. Rejoicing. Joy. Sadness too. The week started with great sadness for me as I felt this was Syd’s final battle. Then at church Mark preached on our suffering bringing us closer to the resurrection and he used the Hunts’ story as an illustration. It was beautiful and sad. And syd’s parents were there too. That day we knew Syd would probably not make it another day. Jesus took her home on Monday. Her absence is massive. We are ending this week celebrating the homecoming of our sweet Sydney to heaven and 2 little girls into our community. It’s unbelievable. It’s nothing short of a miracle. We prayed for syd to be set free and she is. We’ve prayed for the hunts to have kids and now they have 2. And it hasn’t been without deep suffering and rich joy. I am thankful to be both of their friends. I am thankful to be a daughter of the King. I am thankful God loves me enough to take me through my own suffering. I am thankful to be a part of such a ridiculously amazing community. I am thankful for today. Today is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Thank you Jesus for this day. Thank you Jesus for my friend, Sydney. Thank you for these little girls coming home to Jen and Chris. Thank you.

Friday, September 16, 2011

spread the word

i should have my friend, taryn, guest blog sometimes. she's funky and creative. she's fun and easy to be with. and she has an amazing little girl, nora, who is curious and inquisitive and not ashamed to speak her mind or ask questions. there have been many stories in the past that i wish i could have captured on my blog because they are funny.

aren't they the cutest!?

recently we were hanging out with these 2 favorite girls of mine when nora asked if i was a boy. taryn told her that some girls have short hair and mine is just really short. but, you see it wasn't my hair that got her questioning. it was my chest. as if she wasn't convinced she began patting my chest and asking about my "boobies." taryn and i sort of giggled to diffuse the "situation" and i told taryn she could handle that. she calmly told nora that she'd have to talk to her about it later. and later she did. i got a text from taryn that said, "fyi i ended up telling nora that women have many different chest shapes, but we all have vaginas. spread the word." i almost said an "amen" when i read that text. taryn was able to keep the integrity of her daughter's curiosity without shaming her or over explaining. a child doesn't need to know that i have had surgery to remove my breasts. or that something was wrong with my breasts. it's that simple and true...we all have different shapes and sizes of chest, but we all have vaginas. i'm doing my part to spread the word.

i'm thankful charis has nora in her life

this is a funny kid story laced with something very heavy. in the days following this i realized that my own daughter may not grow up expecting to see or feel breasts on women like nora did. i am not afraid to change clothes in front of my daughter because i don't have anything to hide. but i realize that she is seeing a woman's body differently than most (all) little girls. it's not that i have a "flat chest" or small breasts; it's that in place of breasts i have scars. adam and i are aware that this will affect her as she becomes a woman, but by no means do we think it's something we will talk about anytime soon. i have no idea how old she'll be when she starts asking where my "boobies" are. hopefully by then, i'll have reconstruction. but that isn't guaranteed. in the mean time i want to make sure that she doesn't see me as ashamed of or embarrassed by my body. and that's hard because i am. i'm learning to know WHOSE i am; that i am beautiful and loved despite how my body looks. one of my favorite passages that i'm clinging to now is
"For we are God's handiwork (workmanship; masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

Sunday, September 11, 2011

hair reflections

i've had a lot of reflections lately. reflections about my friend sydney, her family, her friends, our community, God. reflections about cancer, death & life. reflections about hair. i knew i'd lose my hair again for this round of chemo. i had just started liking my kinky-curly-post-chemo-hair, only to start losing it again. i had decided not to have another head shaving party. that's just too weird. i would keep it a bit longer and i kinda wanted to do a mini mohawk. something a little fun. i have been a bit more timid about losing my hair this year because this time i don't have breasts. it's hard that most of my body isn't feminine, and how much hair and breasts are a part of that. my friend sydney's little girl told me the other day that i look like a girl still because..."you have earrings and a necklace. and you're wearing a dress. that's how you can tell you still look like a girl." in her 5 year old mind, it was that simple. and i'm grateful for that.

my hair started coming out midway between my 1st and 2nd round of chemo. it wasn't dramatic. just lots of stray hairs, which is kind of gross. while in charleston i decided to spend the money to get it cut...trimmed on the sides and longer on top. it was subtle. and after a week i didn't like it any more. it made me look and feel more like a guy and less funky. so i was going to shave it. this time we did a sort of family head shaving brother and dad began buzzing my head. my brother shaved the sides into a legit mohawk. with the encouragement of adam, my brother and sister i decided to keep the hawk. just for a day. according to adam it doesn't count if you only have it for a little bit. i was a little nervous at first. mohawks are abrupt and funky, right up my alley.

tony making the finishing touches on the hawk

charis wasn't quite sure what was going on with "mommy hair"

when my friend sydney died i knew i needed to keep the mohawk for the week. she would have totally loved it. i wish she could have seen it. by the end of the week my hair was still coming out, so adam shaved off the hawk. i have to admit i liked it and wish i did it sooner. i got lots of looks and sideways glances. you don't see many mohawks in charlotte.

a side view taken the day of syd's funeral

i'm not attached to may hair. it's just hair. yet if you ask most women they would say it'd be hard to lose their hair. hair helps us identify as women. it helps us feel pretty and feminine. we can color it and style it. we often spend absurd amounts of money to keep it up. i don't mind being bald. i think if i really minded i'd find a wig i liked and wear it. i struggle with wearing anything on my head, whether a scarf or wig. it makes me feel more self-conscious. so, i will embrace my baldness. i will live in the innocence of a 5 year old and find other ways to be feminine. i will continue to find bravery and strength from Jesus. it's through Him that i get through each day. my hope is in Jesus. my identity is in Jesus. not by hair.

not pretty...our little head shaving party

i'm thankful for a husband who loves me no matter what i look like. this isn't the woman he married (on the outside). i can only hope what God is doing on our insides is way better. i'm sure it is. he really is wonderful. he still thinks and tells me i'm pretty.
"therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day bay day." 2 Cor. 4:16

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

22 months of FULLness

this is the look she gives most people

we are getting so close to 2 years old. i can't believe it. then i get to officially stop aging her in months. man, people can be really particular about this. i might say, "a year and half" and they are like, "oh, 18 months" and i'm like, "well, technically 21 months." or i might say, "she's 21 months" and someone is all, "gotta be real specific there, huh?" or something like that. i mean, it make sense to do the whole month thing. but, now i say, "she's almost 2" or "she'll be 2 in november." i didn't realize people cared so much. anyway...let's get to the matter at hand...our baby is almost 2!! crazy. and she is changing more rapidly it seems. becoming a big girl. getting a little naughty. talking a bunch. and still the prettiest little patwa ever. (i would say prettiest little girl ever, but that is pretentious even if it is true)

it has been a FULL month. she is keeping us busy. we are learning about discipline on the fly at times. she is like a sponge. it's as if you can watch her learn, like actually see it happening. it's crazy and totally fascinating.

kisses from daddy

- as i said in my previous post...we are potty-training. she is officially out of diapers and wearing big girl underwear. she is good at telling us she needs to go (or has gone) pee pee. and, thankfully, she has no problem going poo poo on the potty. i've heard that can be a challenge.

cooperating while daddy traces her

- she still eats like a champ. my friend is always commenting on her "sophisticated pallet." i mean, we just give her things to try and are always surprised by what she'll eat. like raw onions, for instance. loves them. which i agree is kind of strange. she also loves to eat cereal, especially drinking the milk at the end.

LOVES to drink milk from her cereal bowl

- she is talking a ton. she is willing to try out any and all new words. that's where it's fun to if you can see her learning. and when she says a word it's so cute. like "shadow" and "work" and "picture" and "pocket" which sounds like "potchure". she's doing the whole stringing words together..."daddy work", "mommy write", "i want water", "dolly night night", "ride car" and stuff like that. she's able to communicate so much. there is still a lot i don't get or understand. i always thought when you became a mom that changed. not so much for me. but we're figuring it out. oh and she's FINALLY saying "thank you." i think she's just been playing me the whole time. figures.

first time painting

- i've also noticed her ability to get around more/better. her wobbly walk turned into a run. i have to be discreet when i go after her b/c she'll take off. i've gotten too comfortable letting her wonder. at a recent high school football game she'd just walk up to a group of kids; mostly grade school age. i felt pretty safe. i mean, it was country day. but later on i kept thinking about that i may be too comfortable and it started freaking me out. i'm just trying to give her space to roam.

doing yoga with daddy

- she's spending her first night tonight in a BIG GIRL bed. her pap pap and nana brought her new bed over yesterday and got some new bedding tonight. we set it all up and she went down fine. we just checked on her all stretched out in her twin bed. it's weird how in her crib she didn't really have covers (sheet and blanket) or a pillow and now she does. we'll see how the night goes.

i mean! how cute is that face in her big girl bed!

- she LOVED the beach and i'm so thankful we got to go this summer. she loves water. she could spend hours in the bathtub kicking and blowing bubbles. i hope we can get a final swim in at my dad's. and there is the indoor pool at the Y. we gotta do that more. she's our little water baby.

having fun in the pool with daddy

- i think she's getting some more teeth...the fangs. it just means she drools a lot and has her fingers in her mouth. it makes her moody too.

i just think she's so cute in this hat!

- we went to the Indian Festival recently for some good food. we really just went for the food which was yummy!! she wasn't afraid to try it.

enjoying a samosa

- she has got a strong will and is feisty. i love every ounce of her. but she can be naughty. she is becoming more aware of what she's not supposed to be doing. it's funny to watch her. well, not funny, interesting. recently she was drinking out of a cup in the car. i looked back and saw that she was putting something in it. she immediately pointed at me as if to say, "turn around! nothing to see here." this went on a few times. one time i looked back and she held the cup to her mouth, pretending to drink. she knew. i took the cup back and found crumbs from her car seat in the bottom. so, it's part of our responsibility to teach her right from wrong and set up healthy boundaries and not shame her and teach her about repentance and grace. phew! it can be so overwhelming. and sometimes i don't feel equipped. it makes me realize i can't do this without God and without Adam.

rocking the headband

- she started back to school last week. she's in the "young 2's" class and gets to be with her friend, desiree. she seems to love it. she's so easy about going with others and into childcare, which is nice.

so excited for her first day of school

- we celebrated our friend, Caroline's 2nd birthday with some of her daddy's yummy bbq. charis enjoyed playing with the beach ball, toy broom, playing solo and eating.

more interested in the camera than the birthday girl. sad

in light of the news we got last week about the strong possibility of not having any more kids i've done a lot of thinking about how thankful i am for sweet charis. i could not have anticipated this 2 1/2 years ago, but God could. i am trying to savor more time and moments with her. i still try to rush things or busy ourselves. but i'm remembering to soak up this time. i came home last monday, after being told we shouldn't/couldn't have more kids and that my friend Sydney had died, exhausted and sad. charis had woken up around midnight so i rocked i did i wept as i thought about not being able to hold and rock other children and wondering when the last time sydney got to do the same with her children. it was incredibly sad. whether charis is our only child or one of many, i am going to enjoy the heck out of this time with her. she is a delight and a true source of joy for us. i'm so thankful for the chance to be her mom.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

it's POTTY time!

when using "no hands" on the potty, one should wear a helmet

yes, we are officially potty training. as i've shown/mentioned on my blog before we introduced the potty early to charis. because of that i wasn't sure how to make the official switch to real potty training and not just "elimination communication." after talking to a few moms it turns out you just start using big girl undies. which are so cute. which is sketchy to say.

we were going to start earlier in the summer but per her pediatrician's recommendation we decided to wait. that was when i was having surgery and she might be "traumatized" and "regress." since surgery didn't happen we decided to go through with it. plus someone mentioned summer clothes are easier to train in. makes sense. plus i'm not sure how my energy level will be later in the fall/winter. and since she is familiar with her potty we thought she was ready.

the first few days were an adventure. i don't have the patience to stay home and do a lock-down type of training so i decided to go on with normal life. which means using public potties. my other mom friends recommended using the potty before leaving the house and upon arriving to our destination. we've been using a small bjorn potty and one of those small seats that goes on our big potty. she is super comfortable on the small potty. she wasn't crazy about using the big potty. but every time the toilet flushed she made the best face. like "oh!"

on our trip to the beach we decided to leave the small potty and just take the potty seat. she is doing a better "job" at using big potties in public and her potty seat at home. she is also doing a good "job" at telling us when she needs to go. this is sometimes hard because she likes to say "pee pee" a lot and point to her "pee pee" too. sometimes she says, "ewwww poo poo" which is so cute. and true.

i am really proud at how well she is doing. we haven't had many accidents. we are using diapers during nap and bed time. but a few times she's taken her nap in big girl underwear. and she's even been dry in her diaper overnight. i'm not sure when to make that switch completely and i'm not too worried about it. she also does good at the Y, school and when she is with others. she loves to wipe and flush. she's becoming such a big girl. i can't believe it. it seems like potty-training is one step in the direction of her becoming a big girl. i'm excited and sad all at the same time.

she may kill me for this, but it's cuteness