I typically try to keep things light and fun over here on the blog. There's a lot of heavy stuff everywhere you turn and I like for my space on the internet to be a little big lighter - but lately there have been a lot of things HEAVY on my heart (and on several of yours) and so I'm taking the opportunity to share those today. As my blog has grown and changed it's provided some fun opportunities for me and my family. What started out as a way for me to share pictures with out of town family has grown into a way to connect with some amazing people and being able to share my heart and bring to light prayer needs has been the biggest blessing and privilege.
- Manda -
Pray for Manda today as she begins round ELEVEN of Chemo! She is a ROCKSTAR!!! I find inspiration from her on a daily basis. LOVE YOU, Manda!!! Also, tacos soon! :)
- Texas Flooding -
I've mentioned the rain we've been receiving here lately, but it is nothing compared to what's been going on south of us. The devastation and lives lost are unfathomable and my heart breaks for those families affected.
Like most of America, I've been following this story closely and have been praying for miracles for the McComb family and others still missing.
Obviously they can use our prayers, but if you'd like to help monetarily, consider donating through Samaritan's Purse (they have a wonderful reputation and charity rating) as well as The Red Cross.
- Nora -
I received an email from a sweet reader asking if I would help her spread the word about her friends baby girl, Nora. Nora was born with a rare lymphatic malformation, which affects her face, tongue, airway and lungs. Because of this she had a trach placed at birth to allow her to breathe, and a g-tube to help her eat. She is currently traveling to New York every six to eight weeks for surgeries with a doctor that has had great success with LM patients.
How cute are these sisters???
Nora's friends and family have set up a fabulous shirt fundraiser for Nora and I can't wait to wear my shirt. Isn't it awesome??? If you'd like to order one of your own and show your support you can do that HERE.
You can read Nora's mom's blog HERE to stay updated on her and find out how you can be praying for this beautiful little girl.
- Aleeda -
I've mentioned my cousin's daughter Aleeda on the blog before, but in case you're new, Aleeda was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome at a 21-week prenatal checkup and she had surgery right after she was born so that the right side of her heart could take over for the left. Her heart didn't recover from the surgery and she was later diagnosed with congestive heart failure.
On July 25, 2013 Brian and Tania welcomed their second daughter, Britton and then on August 7th Aleeda received the new heart she had been waiting for (exactly one year - to the day - that she was placed on the transplant list.. she was 18 months old)
This August will be 2 years since she received her new heart and since then Brian and Tania have added twin girls to their sweet family :)
(Four baby girls?!?! The MJ fairy couldn't resist!)
Tania blogs HERE and I am blown away by her faith and writing. Seriously, she's amazing!!!
I took my older two for vaccinations today. I, as always, tried my best to put them at ease by being open with them about the “owie” they would receive. I told them that after the “owie” they would get a sticker and a snack before we went to the grocery store. Stickers and snacks are a big deal. The grocery store, however, is the trump card. Both Aleeda and Britton handled the routine weight, height, and health check well. Then came the true test, the shot. Aleeda always goes first because she handles it all so well. She sat still. Didn’t even flinch. Not a tear or a hint of complaint. She just sat, and waited. Then she got her cookie and stickers and hopped down. Britton, however, was not so cooperative. There was screaming and squirming and serious upheaval. Tears, lots of tears. Cookies and stickers were completely ignored while she held her breath to gear up for an earsplitter. While she eventually calmed down enough for her cookie, while Britton was caught up in the drama of the moment, Aleeda was clambering to climb back on my lap for another go so she could get more stickers. Seriously. She was ASKING for another shot so she could get the reward. It is kind of crazy. But it makes sense. My little Aleeda, who has been subjected to all manner of painful procedures does not bat an eye at a bit of suffering when there are prizes to be had. Britton, in her healthy child world, blissfully ignorant to the suffering, bucks and twists to avoid it. No prize is worth the pain. Watching this all unfold, seeing the different reactions, I finally understood something that I have struggled with since we found out about Aleeda’s condition. I understand why I, as a Christian, am called to rejoice in suffering. The reward is greater than the pain. And the more I submit myself in suffering, the greater the reward is. Eventually, suffering is something wonderful because it brings me closer to Christ, to the prize, to heavenly rewards. Like Aleeda and her stickers. She bravely faces things most people shrink from because at the end of her discomfort is something great. And her physical response has been refined by repeated testing until she no longer pulls away. I have a lot to learn from this little one. She doesn’t even realize what lessons she has brought me. This all had me cracking open my bible again this afternoon. I revisited verses I have read many times in the past three years. And suddenly it all seemed to make more sense. I have tried to force myself to be joyful in my suffering, tried to use my pain as a platform to build joy, laugh in the face of hardship. I used to try to twist and sculpt my suffering into what I wanted it to be. Sometimes begrudgingly. But I see it differently now. Suffering is to be endured. Like a surfer, I should ride the waves of pain, holding tight to the solid board beneath my feet that is faith. Heading towards trust in God as I lean into the painful waves, knowing I will come out victorious. My joy is in the rewards. James says “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”(1:2-4) and I will admit that I like how he words this better than Paul. I want to see the trials and use them to tally up my joys. I want to look at those marks as markers for what has been gained in me. As wisdom, faith, love, discernment, service. Instead of fighting the pain, forcing joy, I want to ride the wave, to lean into the loving curve of my Father’s hand as he guides me to greater rewards. I want to remember, even in my sadness and frustration, that the stickers are coming, the joy is coming. And I want to ask for more. I want to enthusiastically anticipate suffering with the knowledge that what I gain will always be greater. So with trembling arms uplifted, I ask for more please. That I may be more.
I mean WOW!!! Every time Tania posts I am blessed, humbled and find myself breaking out my Bible.
If you would continue to lift Aleeda, her family and her doctors up in prayer as she is having some concerning health issues right now that they're trying to get a handle on.
- Ashleigh -
I don't believe in coincidences and I don't believe it was an accident or coincidence or fate that crossed my path with Ashleighs. About a month and a half ago I decided to pass along my pink tutu to someone who needed a fun, little pick-me-up and at the time I had no idea how that seemingly simple and trivial gesture would allow me the privilege of meeting one of the most amazing and strong women I've ever known.
I met Ashleigh a little less than a month ago and she had JUST received clear scans and when I read her blog post this week I was devastated for her and her family.
Simply put, I have THE most aggressive, fastest growing breast cancer possible - inflammatory, triple negative, metastatic, with 90%+ of my cells actively replicating. I went from a completely clear bone scan three weeks ago to too many bone lesions to count.... My cancer was also found in my lungs - in the pleural space. This is called pleural effusion. If this is how I end up dying it feels like you are drowning and you die by finally not being able to get in a breath - pleasant isn't it? This is the side of breast cancer no one ever tells you about.
The doctor wouldn't give me a timetable on how long it would take me to die if we did nothing, but told me essentially to do the math given what I know about how agressive it is: it would be very, very soon.
I've spoken with Ashleigh a few times this week and will let you know if there's anything you can do to help her and her family. Pray for wisdom for her and her husband as they make decisions for her treatment and for their family over the summer. Pray that she is able to find a drug trial, that she is able to enjoy time and make memories with her boys and pray for a MIRACLE!
There is so much HEAVY and sometimes it's hard to know how to help or how to pray for these families given the magnitude of the situation. I struggle with feeling so small amidst big problems and when I came across this simple prayer on Ashleigh's facebook page I thought it was perfect to share.
Dear Lord, even though I don't always understand your ways, I can find joy in your protection, your provision, and your process. I depend on your strength to help me today.
I'm considering starting a "Prayer request" page here on the blog where you can leave requests so that I and other readers can pray for you, but in the meantime, I'd be honored to pray for you, so feel free to email your request to me at firstname.lastname@example.org