Monday, September 28, 2009

Just a Little Off the Top...

A couple of weeks ago, I shared photos of the men from our small group at church shaving their heads in support of our eight year old friend JW, who was diagnosed a few months ago with leukemia.

Throughout the course of the last few weeks, I have been so blessed to watch the men & boys who participated, and to hear the stories of the conversations their haircuts have opened the doors to.

(And because I live across the street from JW and his family, I have just loved watching these four brothers come out to play baseball in their front yard with their matching haircuts.)

So, in general, those round fuzzy heads have given me a whole lot of warm fuzzy feelings lately.

But at the time of the Big Shave (and in the days following), Drew showed no interest in joining his daddy and the other members of the "No-Hair Club For Men". And I didn't push it. At four years old, it seemed to me that he just didn't understand the reason behind the gesture, and I really wanted him to do it only if he understood WHY he was doing it.

Yesterday, as several of my in-lawed family members were hanging out at our house, my brother-in-law offered to shave down my hubby's head again. They set up shop out in the garage, and as the clippers hummed to life, I noticed a strange smile spread across my little one's face.

"I wanna do it, Mommy!" he whispered.

"Do what?"

"I wanna shave my head, too! I want to! Can I? Can I?"

"Of course you can!" I responded immediately. Wanting to ensure that he understood the WHY, I got down on his level and asked him a few questions, ending with "Do you know why you want to do this?"

"For JW.." he responded, emphatically.
OK, then.

With Daddy's permission, too, Drew made his way to the plastic green chair sitting on the garage floor. The men talked it over for a few minutes and decided that a scissor-cut was in order first, considering the sheer volume of hair resting atop my preschooler's head.

I went inside to grab scissors, a comb, and a camera, and felt a flutter of hesitation. I was so surprised. I thought, really thought, that as long as he understood his decision, I would be fully supportive, excited even. But walking through the house, gathering the tools to take all that hair away, I hesitated.

I thought about those beautiful blonde locks. The haircut I'd just paid for only 3 days earlier when I'd adamantly insisted that the barber take "NOTHING" off the top. I thought about all those mornings of mousse and hairspray and watching him thoughtfully decide how he was going to "do" his "do". Oh, that gorgeous hair.

That gorgeous hair that would grow back. I gave myself a quick "talkin' to". After all, I want nothing more for my son than to understand the beauty of this type of comraderie in Christ.

So, scissors in hand, I held my breath... and, moments later, a handful of thick golden locks.

Now, my son is pretty much back to looking like a little clone of his daddy. And I have a second & constant reminder to pray for our friend JW.

Because every time I rub one of those soft bald heads, I think about the medicine that is capable of causing hair loss and healing.

And I'm reminded to pray.

Please join me in praying for our friend. Tomorrow is another big day for treatment, and all his counts need to be high enough for the doctors to administer another dose of chemo.

I'll leave you today with that request.. oh, and this picture... of two of the most beautiful round heads I have ever set my eyes upon. I love these guys!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Something Doesn't Feel Quite Right (Or "Things You Tell Your Doctor If You Want to Spend a Day in the Hospital")

I began the week feeling, well, weak. But I'm 8 months pregnant and most of my ailments could be explained by the big round belly protruding from my midsection. By Monday night, though, I felt a very different, distinct "Un-wellness" come over me. In the middle of the night, I broke down and sobbed over my various aches and pains as I climbed into a tub of hot water, hoping to alleviate some of the discomfort.

A dizziness had settled in my head and I found it hard to catch my breath. It felt like I'd walked a mile, though I'd only traveled from one end of the house to the other.

So, like a good patient, I called my doctor late Tuesday morning. "I feel dizzy and short of breath. I don't mean to be overdramatic. After all, I expect to feel this way a little - with 5 lbs of baby pressing on my lungs, stomach, heart, etc. But I just feel DIFFERENT." The nurse put me on hold. She came back to the line a few minutes later. "The doctor wants you to go to the Emergency Room now."

"Can't I just come to the office?"
"Can't I just go to the maternity floor?"

I pleaded for anything but the dreaded emergency room. They gave me no choice. "The ER will be expecting you," the nurse firmly instructed. With visions of swine flu germs dancing in my head, I dropped my son off at my mom's house and drove to the ER in a fit of frustration.

Mad at myself for calling the doctor in the first place.
Mad at the doctor for sending me to a germ-ridden department of a hospital instead of the quiet comforts of my OB's office.
Mad at my own body for feeling so "icky".

Upon arrival, I was greeted by big signs that confirmed my germy fears. Hand-sanitizing stations were set up at each entrance, along with masks that were to be worn by anyone exhibiting the long list of symptoms described on the warning placards. "Fantastic," I thought. "I am surely going to leave here worse than when I arrived."

I checked in, handed over my insurance and ID, then filled out several pages of information and medical history. When it asked me for my reason for the visit, I wrote: "Dizzy, short of breath (8 months pregnant)."

I brought my paperwork back up to the admittance desk. She reviewed it momentarily until her eyes fell on the magic words. "Oh, you're pregnant! You need to go to the maternity floor."

I explained to her that I would much rather be with my round-bellied comrades, but that my doctor specifically sent me to this department. I watched her tear my registration paperwork into shreds as she explained that, "After you are 20 wks gestation, all health-related concerns are handled by the maternity ward." So... armed with directions on how to navigate the back hallways of the hospital, I was on my way.

The elevator doors opened and revealed an inviting, relaxing waiting room filled with nervous and excited families. "Much better," I thought. I waddled toward the friendly woman sitting behind the desk and explained my symptoms again. This time, I was handed a new stack of registration paperwork, along with a big flowery pen (unlike those cheap miniature pencils provided downstairs). As I sat down in the big cushioned chair began to rehash, in writing, the reason I was there, a phone rang behind the desk. I overheard a hasty, frustrated voice on the other end. I picked up portions of sentences, including, "Why is she up there?" "What... symptoms?" "Baby o.k.?"

The staff member looked at me and asked, "Is your baby o.k.?"
"I hope so," I replied.
"Well, why did they send you up here from ER, then?"
"Um... because I'm more than 20 wks pregnant and that is apparently the policy of this hospital."
I set my flowery pen down as she relayed my information to the stranger on the other end of the phone.

A few moments later, a second call came in. The gatekeeper to the maternity ward looked at me and sighed. "You need to go back to the emergency room."

Unsure whether I should be amused or irritated, I set out on my journey down to the dreaded ER. I walked back up to the lady who sent me on my fool's mission. "They sent me back down here.
No, I am not sure why.
No, you tore all my paperwork up.
Yes, I would be thrilled to fill it all out again.
And yes, if I wasn't short of breath before, I certainly am now!"

Twenty minutes later, I was ushered back to a cubicle where I could overhear the cried (or laughs...?) of a patient in no small amount of mental despair. I listened as doctors discussed my neighbor's possible risk for another seizure. And I waited as my nurse hooked me up with stickers, probes, IVs and monitors. I was told that my symptoms had nothing to do with my pregnancy. I was asked hundreds of questions about my family's medical history of heart attacks, blood clots, hypertension, cancer, and anxiety disorders.

Each one of their theories was categorically dismissed as my bloodwork and heart tests came back normal. One test finally came back with "elevated" levels. The one that detects blood clots. The doctor came back in with the news. "We need to do a CT scan to rule out any blood clots in your lungs."

Unfortunately for all of us, I was still 8 months pregnant. And radiation exposure wasn't exactly on my checklist of things to do to "prepare for baby".

But neither was dying of a blood clot in my lungs. The decision wasn't easy, but it was the best one to make. Seven minutes later, I was lying under the giant circle that would scan my body for any malicious clots.

The CT technician who wheeled me in for the test had been explaining the risks and rewards as we maneuvered down the hall. I asked him to take whatever precautions he could to protect the baby inside my belly during the procedure, and he responded with the unfortunate news that they could do nothing to shield my child. The lead aprons they used to use apparently only served to trap the radiation, allowing it to bounce around in your body for a longer period of time. The only way they could perform this test on me was the same way they would perform it on any other person. Full-on exposure.

So, I had no choice but to pray. An image popped into my head of God's arms. So, I just prayed and pictured Him wrapping His arms of protection around my belly and shielding my little girl from those penetrating rays. (And I have to say, I'd rather have that kind of protection than a lead apron any day).

In addition to the picture and the prayers, a song popped into my head while I listened to the hum of the machine. It's the Newsboys song, "It is You", and the first lines were all I could recall. But they kept coming, over and over again for the next five minutes or so:

"As we lift up our hands, will You meet us here?"

(Interesting choice of words, because during the test, I had to lie perfectly still with my hands raise straight above my head, touching the outside walls of the machine... anyway.)

"As we call on Your name, will You meet us here?"

So, I sang and prayed, "God, will you please just meet me right here, right in the middle of this circle and protect this little girl with your own arms?"

And I was completely at peace.

The results came back quickly. No clots. They felt confident enough to release me. They had done all they could do, run every test they could think of. They decided that, in my case, the symptoms could only be explained by the fact that I was, indeed, 8 months pregnant.

And if we'd all been that logical from the beginning, I might have been spared the first 4 hours of my hospital stay.

But not the last four hours...

Because another symptom was becoming harder and harder to ignore. Those pesky Braxton-Hicks contractions I'd been experiencing since Sunday.

"I don't mean to be a pain. I know you're trying to get me out of here. But I've been feeling a lot more contractions in the last few hours."

A decision was made and I found myself back on the maternity floor within a few minutes. "Hello again!" I called out to the familiar face that turned me away hours before. "I'm back!!!"

I explained the sudden onslaught of consistent contractions and was handed that flowery pen and stack of papers (I can only assume that she, too, took my original paperwork to the shredder).

After waiting and breathing through the next half hour, I was finally in a bed, listening to the steady swoosh of my little girl's heartbeat. The nurse began asking me questions, and I tried mightily to answer despite what was now starting to become significant pain. During the course of questions (which took 5-6 minutes), the nurse informed me that I'd had 3 contractions ("Yes, thank you... I know").

Over the next 1/2 hour, those pesky Braxton-Hicks became the REAL DEAL every two minutes, gaining strength and momentum. The nurse came back in. "Oh my! We've been watching you out there at the nurse's station. I think we need to call your doctor!"

Long story short.. (too late), it was determined that I was in pre-term labor. It was subsequently decided that five weeks early is just a little too early for this princess to make her debut. And a shot of something very painful and potent was literally "what the doctor ordered" to delay her arrival. An hour after the shot was administered, the contractions had faded and become inconsistent again. I was topped off with fluids and given the green light to go home and rest.

So, after 8 months and 8 hours... I was headed home with my little family of three. Exhausted. Hoping that our fourth would be patient for just a little while longer.

And it turns out that calling my doctor because something "wasn't quite right", maybe wasn't all that wrong of a choice after all.

Oh to be in the right place at the right time. Whether that's the 5th floor of the hospital or the protecting arms of the Father, I am grateful that the experience left me feeling quite alright today.

So, how's your week been? ;)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Funny Friends

This is the kind of email you can expect to receive if you're blessed enough to have a very funny and creative friend in your life. Who borrows a cup from your house. And becomes very concerned that she hasn't yet returned said cup to it's rightful home...

Dear Owner,
Yep. Your pink cup here. Sorry I have not written in awhile. I have been trying to figure out how to find my way home and figuring out who I am and why I am where I am. I decided to let you in on my journey just to assure you that I am OK.

First, I tried to get home to you on my own.

I was able to maneuver into a van but I had trouble reaching the pedals and steering wheel at the same time. I kept hopping on to the gas but then I could not see. When I could see, the van would not go because I needed gas. OK. So I went to Plan B.

I tried to mail myself to you. But I am not considered legal, United States Mail. Plus, the stamp I used was only 41 cents.

Then I decided maybe I needed a new group and to escape the Green Meanies. I joined the Java Mugs and tried their way of life.

But they only seem active during the morning time and quite frankly I was not made to carry anything hot.

Then I tried the nomadic lifestyle. I just packed up and roamed the streets awhile trying to figure out the plan God has for me.

And I realized that I am with the Greenie Meanies for a purpose and a reason. I finally submitted to this way of life, knowing that the stops on this journey are all essential points to lead me the way home.

So if you have been worried, don't be. I tried a few things but I realized I am right where I need to be, and I am better cup for it.

Your "At Peace" Pink Cup

Thanks, Jess, for always giving me a reason to laugh out loud!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thrill Ride

I cannot pretend to understand the matters of a four-year old boy's heart. The things that thrill or terrify my Drew often leave me shaking my head in either amusement or disbelief.

He is frightened by loud noises, crowds of people, and his most recent list of worst fears, which includes dinosaurs, snakes, lizards and roaches. Other insects fascinate him. Daredevil stunts on his swing set amuse him. And he gets absolutely giddy when it's time for mommy to get blood drawn at the doctor's office.

So, it should have come as no surprise to me when, during our recent trip to Orlando, spectacular heights made his list of Life's Great Thrills.

From the 24th floor, my son's spirits soared as he took in the views from atop our hotel perch. (And mommy's stomach turned somersaults as I begged him to "stop dangling your flip-flopped feet through the railing!!").

And his favorite, hands-down activity of the weekend?

The glass elevators that gave him a wild ride as we made our way to and from the pool several times a day.

The biggest thrill for this Mommy, though, was the realization that we still haven't had to purchase a single, solitary ticket to one of Orlando's theme parks.

And in this economy, I find myself pretty excited by free rides on glass elevators and mornings at the pool, too!

Monday, September 21, 2009

In Search Of...

Green pastures...

Still waters...

Restored souls...

Just trying to sneak a little spontaneous magic...

into our lives before newborn cries, sleepy eyes, and blissfully weary hearts!

So, how was your weekend?

Monday, September 14, 2009

More Than Words

Three electric razors:


One plastic shower curtain:


25 Men & Boys Whose Actions Spoke Louder Than Words Yesterday:


Please pray that as each of these men steps back into his work routine today, someone will ask why he shaved all his hair off.

And that each one will have the opportunity to share what it means to want to offer some support to an eight-year old boy who's fighting a courageous battle against leukemia.

And while you're at it, let's pray that someone might understand the true meaning of community. A community of people who believe in a God who saves, delivers and heals!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Obligatory First Day of School Post

I'm guessing that this post is as essential as the obligatory "We just had our first day of school" Facebook status. But, since it was MY FIRST first day of school with Drew (last year the hubby and I were in Guatemala for his real first day of school ever), I just had to share:

The above picture was taken Friday at preschool orientation. Drew had a blast. So much fun, in fact, that he couldn't sleep this morning past 6:30 a.m. By 6:45 a.m. he was dressed. At 7 sharp, he was sitting down, waiting for breakfast (and wearing his backpack while he ate).

The following picture was taken after a long day of playing hard on the playground. I'm pretty sure it's not all he did today, but it's all I could get out of him. Oh, except that his day was "Good! Oh very, very good, mommy!"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Spy

You may recall that several months ago I attempted a regular posting idea called "I Spy", wherein I'd add a new blog to the list of blogs I follow on my sidebar, hoping that you'd take a moment to visit the sites that make me smile. I really believe that linking up to eachother can be such a source of inspiration and encouragement.

With that goal still in mind, I'm going to try to be more diligent about sharing great blogs that I spy... starting here:

One of my dear friends recently began a blog that you just HAVE to go check out. She calls it "Two Shades of Pink". I'm completely in love with the name and theme, because of what it truly means in relation to her darling, precious two little girls.

But instead of explaining anything about it to you, I encourage you to go meet my friend for yourself. You'll be glad you did. She is hysterically funny, wise, and crafty as all get-out. She shares two tips every Tuesday that make me want to be a more creative wife & mom... or at least make me want to send my kid over to her house!

A few days ago, she began sharing the story of her family. When you go visit, make sure to scroll down to get PART 1, because she's continuing with PART 2 today. I had the privelege of hearing the story of faith that God has written for her family last summer while we were in a Bible study together. And I know that God has big plans for His story.

Go check it out HERE , and if you have a minute, leave her a comment!

What are you still doing here....??? GO!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Not One Redeeming Thing About It...

My eyes were being physically pried open several hours ago by a very eager four-year old.

"Mommy! Guess what!"


"Mommy! Did you know that cockroaches can hang upside-down from the ceiling?"

Oh, I didn't want to know how he knew this.

"How do you know this?" I managed to ask as my eyes tried to adjust to the light shining in through the windows.

"Because there is a roach crawling across the ceiling in your bedroom RIGHT NOW!" he answered, beside himself with excitement. "Come see!!!"

I hate roaches.
I really do.
I cannot find one redeeming virtue to extol upon these creepy little crawly bugs.
Yet, because of where I live, I have to learn how to deal with roaches (read: I have to learn how to kill roaches when my husband isn't home to do the deed for me).

Squashing bugs with shoes is not my preferred course of treatment. For starters, I respect my shoes too much. And besides that, killing a bug with a handheld object means that you have to get within a close proximity of said creature.

So, I prefer to use the "poison in a can" approach. Which works fine when you have a can of roach spray around.

But a few weeks ago, I found myself in a stand-off with the Godzilla of all cockroaches, and my weapon was EMPTY! So, I ran back to the pantry and grabbed the only other can on the shelf - Lysol.

It kills 99.9% of germs, including the flu virus, makes the diaper pail and the trash cabinet smell fresh & clean, AND just so you know, it also kills roaches..

GLORY!!! (That's for all you Beth Moore girls...)

So, this morning, I found myself gazing up at the amazing acrobatic talent of one ceiling-walking roach. And with Lysol in hand, I put an end to my son's morning entertainment.

Now, just in case you think I won't be able to bring this story home with an invaluable life lesson learned, you have truly underestimated the inspiration and insight I received during the Beth Moore Simulcast this past weekend (I told you I'd come back more inspired!).

I spent Friday evening and the better portion of Saturday alongside 500 precious women from my church, and technologically connected to another 90,000 from around the world as we worked through the wisdom found in Psalm 37.

There was so much to take in... and I'm still letting God do His work on my heart about so much of it. But one kind of surprising little nugget seemed to be thrown into the mix just for my benefit.

On Saturday morning, I wrote the following notation from Beth's teaching. "God cannot ever use our arrogance or pride. He will go OUT OF HIS WAY to protect our humility. (Because) humility will set us up for intimacy like we've never known."

Even as she said the words, I was frantically scribbling them in my notes. I've mentioned it before on this blog, and I'll say it again. I have a problem with pride. It creeps into my life at unexpected times and I look back on my prideful or arrogant moments with deep regret and pain because the Bible clearly teaches that God hates pride. He desires for me to be confident... just not in myself.

Well, in the midst of all the glorious inspiration of the weekend, I was unaware that a Godzilla-sized dose of ugly, disgusting creepy crawly pride had crawled right into the living space of my heart.

With a few new maternity outfits (purchased just for the weekend) and a little extra time on Friday to primp before I got to church, I arrived for the Simulcast event feeling pretty good about myself. The sweetest friends in the whole world did everything they could to build up my self-esteem. "Wow! You look great!" "I can't believe you only have 8 wks left." "You're just glowing." "LOVE the new hair-do!" It went on and on.

They were precious words from sincere mouths, but I let them settle into an ugly place in my heart.

And when Beth shared the following passage from Proverbs 25:27 (The Message): "It's not smart to stuff yourself with sweets, nor is glory piled on glory good for you."
I knew that God was prying my eyes open with the light of His truth. "Come see!" He seemed to be advising me. "Come see what has creeped in and is walking around in your mind."

Compliment upon compliment. Glory piled upon glory. Thought after thought cascaded through my mind about... ME, ME, and a little more ME. It needed to be dealt with. It needed to be squashed. And unlike my "stand back and spray stuff in the general direction of the problem" approach, God is willing to be a little more hands-on in my life.

So, on Saturday afternoon, He took a proverbial shoe to my pride. I was setting up some decorations for our Women's Ministry booth at the church. We had a special event the following morning between church services. I'd brought some lovely decorative items from home and was enjoying the results of my work (especially since many other people were walking through the lobby and vocally admiring what I was doing).

A woman approached the table and we began talking. I didn't know her - but she was delightful. I was enjoying our conversation. That is, until she paused, in the middle of a sentence, and asked with deep concern, "Do you have very dry skin?"

"Um.... not really?"

"I don't mean to be presumptuous here, but...I'm a beauty consultant for (yeah, you've heard of the company, but I don't wish to do them a disservice here) and I would love to give you a free facial to get your skin back on track."

"Um... thank you?" I managed. I was equally horrified and amused. A strange combination of emotions. Other people were standing around listening, and I wondered if they were as uncomfortable as I was at the moment.

I managed to mumble something about how my skin during pregnancy might be slightly different than my "normal" skin, so I'd better hold off on facials or purchasing any of her products until my body had a chance to bounce back after the baby.

And then I immediately made my way to the nearest bathroom to see what hideous skin condition might possibly prompt a total stranger to tell a hormonal, pregnant woman that her face was a mess.

A few hours later, as I mulled over the "offer" of help, I remembered the words that I'd scribbed in black ink that same morning. "God will go out of His way to protect our humility."

Do I think that God sent this woman to give me an insult and make me feel bad about myself? No. I really don't. But was it a humbling experience? Absolutely it was. And did it give me cause to run to Him, to put my confidence in Him rather than myself? It sure did.

And for that, I'm so very grateful. Because there's nothing redeeming about arrogance and pride. Not one thing about it that God can use in me.

So, when He sets about to squash the things in my life that are so ugly and displeasing to Him, so that I can share a more intimate relationship with my makes me just want to shout,