Monday, April 20, 2015

Still Alive

This blog has been really neglected lately. We are having a very busy school year with lots of adjustments and I just haven't had time to keep up two blogs. So, this one fell by the wayside and I continued to update Organized and Simplified, as it is a secondary source of income. Our lives are busy and full, and we continue to be blessed daily. In recent months, the biggest blessings we have received are the the fact that my dad's cancer markers are dropping, and Emorie's little brother or sister, who is set to arrive sometime around November 23, which is my dad's birthday.

Thanks for your continued prayers. God is good.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Adventures in winter weather...and power outages

We were supposed to go see my grandparents in southern West Virginia this past weekend. Plans were made and we were looking forward to it, as we haven't been to their house in far too long.

Upon checking out the forecast, we realized not only was it going to snow almost the whole time we were there, it was also going to be in, three degrees. Brr!

We decided to err on the side of safety and not go. I have a teacher workday today and it wouldn't really matter that much if I got stuck, but Michael went back on call today. He couldn't get stuck. We were worried about road conditions, as well.

Saturday night, we had some really high winds. As in, the wind was howling as it whipped around the house. I went outside and turned over the rocking chairs so we wouldn't have to listen to them hit the porch railing all night. Trees were falling across roads all over the county, and one tree even took out our power line. Our power went out at 8:45 Saturday night and didn't come back on until 3:00 Sunday.

Armed with blankets, lots of clothes and several propane heaters, we survived. Ever worn a coat and a toboggan in the house? We have. We had to throw out a few groceries, but that's OK.

Today, the kids are out on a teacher workday. It was already planned. The snow is supposed to hit today around three. Candles, flashlight batteries, propane, a carbon monoxide detector, and a bag of ice have been purchased. Don't laugh- milk, bread and eggs have been purchased, too. You can bet this North Carolinian joined her fellow storm preppers in the bread aisle. Bet you can't find a loaf of bread anywhere in central NC right now.

If I'm AWOL the next few days, it's probably because I have no electricity. Take care and stay warm!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Book Review: "Fight Back with Joy" by Margaret Feinberg

A few weeks ago, I was reading some magazines published by Lifeway, when I ran across an ad for a book called Fight Back with Joy by Margaret Feinberg. I thought it looked interesting, but I was preoccupied with other things, so I didn't give it another thought. The next month, I was reading a newer issue of the same magazine and found not one, but two articles about the book. One of them was an interview with the author, and I found myself sucked in to her fun personality and her humor.

I went to a Christian bookstore and bought the book, along with Bringing Up Girls by James Dobson. I read the book in about four days, and read the majority of the book while in the waiting room at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, as my dad was having liver surgery. I love to read and always a appreciate a good book, but this was more than a good book. This one will change your life. I know plenty of people who will say a book change their lives, but I'm serious.

The author, Margaret Feinberg, wrote the book about her journey through breast cancer. She is very candid and honest as she talks about the effects of the chemo treatments on her body, her feelings while battling cancer, and her double mastectomy. Through it all, Feinberg held fast to her faith and her decision to practice a "defiant joy" in the face of her cancer.

In short, I needed to read this book. You all know about some of the things I have been dealing with this year and last year. I have also been dealing with depression as a result- this book reminded me of something I already knew deep down inside, but needed to be reminded of: "You have joy not in spite of your circumstances, but because of them. You are drenched in the grace and mercy of God."

The author isn't just funny and inspiring, she's really down-to-earth, too. I posted a picture of the book on my Instagram account with the hashtag "FightBackwithJoy," and Feinberg herself responded to my picture saying she couldn't wait to hear what I thought of it. I was impressed by this. I was more impressed when I posted a message on her Facebook page about how much I loved the book and got a response.

In other words, read Fight Back With Joy.  It's wonderful and it will change your life.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Week of joy

I didn't post a "joyful" post last week because we had so much going on. My dad had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his liver. He is at home now, but he is sore. My husband's grandfather passed away. I ended up missing a week of work and then having to play some pretty intense "catch-up." It's not that I didn't find any joy in the week, because I did, I just didn't have time to write about it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

My dad learned a few weeks ago that his colon cancer had spread to his liver. The spot was small and in a hard to reach area of the liver. We met his surgeon at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. He delivered the bad news that my dad is now considered stage four. Nothing will prepare you for how you'll feel when someone tells you your dad has stage four cancer. I honestly felt like someone had pulled a rug out from under me.
As stressed and overwhelmed as we feel at the moment, we have to look at the blessings. My dad was originally supposed to have his tumor removal in mid-February, but a cancelation enabled him to have that surgery today. Exactly one day after his consultation. By one of the top one hundred doctors in the nation. He's also a Christian man. Blessings.
My dad is resting well, although he is in pain. The doctors believe he may be home by Friday. He will likely have to have more chemo, specifically for preventing reoccurance.
So many people have called, emailed, texted or just simply prayed. Our wonderful pastor sat with us most of the day while my dad was in surgery. I read and was deeply encouraged by the book "Fight Back With Joy" by Margaret Feinberg as I sat in the waiting room. Blessings.
Please keep us in your prayers, especially my parents. Our journey isn't over yet.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Today, I will choose joy.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen my post this morning. I have noticed lately that I am becoming bitter and angry in the wake of all we have experienced in the past year. I don't want to be a person who is bitter or angry, so I decided to make a personal choice to look for the joy that is already present in my life, rather than focusing on loss and pain. Circumstances are often temporary, and I don't want a difficult season in my life to stop me from experiencing true joy.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: A Year in Review

I wrote a similar post to this one on my house blog, Organized and Simplified. You can find that post here.

What I am going to talk about here is less house, more personal. 2014 wasn't the greatest of years. In January, my dad was diagnosed for the second time with cancer. This time, a routine scan revealed he has stage three colon cancer. He went through chemo for the second time, and radiation for the first time. His port became infected and he was hospitalized. He is now awaiting more news to see if he may have to undergo more chemo. This summer, we finally got pregnant with our second child, but sadly, we lost the child two months into the pregnancy. We buried three of my relatives, and two of my husband's relatives were hospitalized. One is doing well, the other is still in the hospital as I write. To say it has been a trying year would be an understatement. In spite of all the storms, there are a few rays of sunshine we can be thankful for. It almost feels like a cop-out to write this, but it is something for which we are thankful. We are all alive and, for the most part, healthy. We have good jobs that provide well for us. We have a home we love and appreciate. My dad is still with us. We have a new nephew whom we love and look forward to spoiling.

Life isn't about waiting for the storms to pass- it's about learning to dance in the rain. -Unknown.

We've seen our share of rain, and although it has taken its toll, the Lord blessed me with a husband I can lean on and will be there when the waters get rough. And more importantly, through Bible study and daily devotions, I can feel Him working in my heart again. Is it well with my soul? Not completely. But I can definitely say I'm feeling more encouraged and more hopeful these days.

I thought instead of writing my typical "end of the year" narrative, I would share some pictures of my favorite things that happened this year. My nephew is certainly on the list, but I don't like to share pics of other people's kiddos without permission. These are also in no particular order.

1. Emorie and I took these pictures as a surprise Father's Day gift for Michael. She spilled the beans less than 24 hours later, but he did a good job acting surprised. And he loved them!

2. I ran three 5Ks and was signed up to run a half marathon, but had to cancel. I was bit by a dog, had to get stitches, and couldn't run the race with stitches in my leg. I will be running more races in 2015. 

3. Emorie brought home a gorgeous school picture- probably the best one ever. 

4. Fall was absolutely gorgeous here this year, 

5. I got a new sister-in-law when Michael's step-brother got married. This handsome man accompanied me to the wedding. 

6. The cutest little Elsa, ever. 

7. This. No description needed. 

8. The year of the selfie. I must have a hundred of these things. Geez. But I did have fun taking them. 

9. We went to the park for a fun afternoon and got caught in a torrential downpour. 

10. This pretty little girl makes every year special and wonderful, but our Mama School experiences this summer made some lasting memories. 

I'm not stupid enough to sit here and say "2014 was pretty awful and 2015 can't be much worse." It could be a lot worse. Instead I am going to say "2015 will be a better year," Why? Because I know who holds tomorrow. And tomorrow is, you guessed it, 2015.