A special blessing

We never would have even thought of something like this.  A fellow cancer family nominated us for this very special trip to…Disneyland!

We would not have been able to afford a trip like this….well, probably ever! But not only did we all get into the park, but they VIP toured us all the way to the FastPass lane on every ride. We met Darth Vader (which wow! Those conversations were hilarious!), Chewbaca, and Mickey Mouse.❀

The boys did Jedi training, and I think we covered about 17 rides! We found little thrill seekers hiding in even our small ones, and Evelyn was “so brave” on many rides where she didn’t know what she was getting herself into!

Emma’s favorite was the California Screamin’ roller coaster-which only she and Daddy rode.☺. Everyone loved Cars! It was a cool ride and they did a fantastic job recreating Radiator Springs.  Judah loved Splash Mountain! And Evelyn liked the Matterhorn, and the “robot” that jumps out at you (Daddy explained that the snowman was just a robot).

But the biggest blessing….was just being together, all day, making memories. What an amazing day. Thank you to AC Pros, Mr. Quinn, Adriana Showalter, and Andrew Webb. This was such a special gift and our hearts overflow with thankfulness!!!!

At CA Adventure! Heading for the Cars ride. We also loved Soarin’ Around the World! Super fun!!!!!

The first of many snack/food breaks. Aside from lunch, however, we did most of our eating “on the go” so we could enjoy more! 

Elijah and I on a dancing Cars type of ride….momma felt kind of sick on that one.πŸ˜‚

Here’s Noah denouncing the dark side.πŸ˜‚

If our family Christmas card includes a Wookie, you’ll know why.πŸ˜‚. Even Emma, looking at this picture said, “Wow! There ARE a lot of us!”  All dressed in green. 

It was nice and sunny! Quite warm. But we had to at least try for the iconic castle picture.

Meeting Mickey was so special!

Mickey is Elijah’s favorite!❀


Such a fun day with our fabulous tour guide Dean.❀. What a special and unexpected blessing!!!!!!!

Looks Good!

After six+ hours at the hospital today….things are looking good! The brain and orbits look good. There is evidence of disease in his left eye, but they cannot tell from MRI if there has been any growth or not.  So, for now, we are rejoicing in the good news and we will find out more about what’s happening in his eye when we return to NY next month.

Treasures in the sand…

As I watched my beautiful girl stand with her toes in the ice-cold water, I heard the words of a meaningful worship song:

You call me out upon the water…..

And there I find You in the mystery.

I could see the place on the shore where the waves had crashed upon the sand….

And it left behind these beautiful ripples in the sand:


Walking along the beach with my girl in the early, quiet morning made me think about the last couple of years.

There are seasons in life where it feels like the waves are crashing–one right after the other and it seems like you can’t even catch your breath.  In many ways, our life still feels like that, even more than two years after Elijah was diagnosed with cancer.

But it is here, in the quiet, early morning (and sometimes in the watches of the night!) that I find respite from the waves.  Not that they aren’t still crashing and coming unexpectedly, but they leave more room for the shore to breathe.  For ME to breathe.

And the ripples in the sand–that is where the treasures are hidden. 

You see, every storm, every wave that crashes upon the shore of our souls leaves behind precious treasure for us.

Precious shells buried deep in the shore, found by those weary travelers who keep getting up and keep putting their toes in ice-cold water, who keep walking among the quiet ripples of early-morning sand in communion with the Father, and who are willing to hear the call to come out upon the water and find Him in the mystery.

I’m reminded of how often I look for Him in the answers. In the plan. 

And here He beckons me to come out upon the water and find Him in the mystery-and find the treasure the waves have left hidden in the sand.



Oh Lord, keep calling me out, further upon the water. I want to find you in the mystery. I want to mine for treasure in the sand and walk with you even when my toes are cold and my eyes are tired. I want You!❀

Beautiful

My darling Emma,

     We often think of beauty according to its first definition:  pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically.  You have grown into such a lovely young woman–pleasing to the senses with your quiet beauty, and pleasing to the mind with your witty humor.☺

     But as I think about the beauty I see in you as we celebrate your 14th birthday, it is that of the second definition: of a very high standard; excellent.

     Oh Emma. You are far more graceful and full of character than I was at your age.  It is ALL God’s grace. I never could have imagined sharing my life and my days with such a fine young woman.  We have had our moments, and I know there will be difficulties ahead as well.  You have known much more difficulty, and therefore responsibility, than perhaps I had planned for.

     But isn’t that always the way? We as parents LONG for our children to know and love God, but we also long for things to be smooth and easy and light.  God, in His infinite wisdom, knows the exact hard things which will forge deep character and far reaching endurance within us.  I wish I could say that the hard things, the hard work is done…..but that would not be truthful.

     What I can say, with great confidence, is that His faithfulness is unexhaustible.  The depth and height and width and breadth of his love is unfathomable.  And so, as Aslan says:

“…Every year you grow, you will find me bigger”– C. S. Lewis

     I can look back, thinking of the times I longed desperately to put you in dance classes. Something in my heart told me that you were a born ballerina, but so often we lacked the resources for any classes, and quite honestly, we didn’t love the culmination of many of those mindsets and body images and so forth.

    And so we said no.  Many times, I carried the ache of feeling like I was depriving you-of keeping you from growing in something you were so obviously gifted in.  

     But please hear this very important secret in life:

 Our God is SO good and SO gracious and SO kind that we can trust Him…even with the “No’s” in this life.

     When God says “No”, it is never to deny us what would be for our highest and ultimate good, but it is to prepare us for a better “Yes.”

    After so many years of watching others of your friends in classes, or after so many prayers that I had almost let go of the dream…..I cannot say what it is for this momma heart to see you worship your Creator with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength through dance.

     God’s “YES” was so much better than what I could have dreamed up in my mind, that I could not have even thought to ask for it.  For God to set you in a class with such beautiful–and I mean, EXCELLENT, young women of such character!  For God to give Miss Eboni such a mama heart towards you girls! For her to teach you about worshipping from a pure heart, and to let the Holy Spirit move through you–not just in dancing but in loving others, praying for others…..To watch the way you girls have carried each other’s burdens in such a real and Biblical way…..

     I am undone.  And that is always the way it is with our good God.  Sometimes, He asks us to bear a “no” for a season, which serves to pave the way for a “yes” far greater and more beautiful (excellent!) than what we hoped for in the beginning.

     My darling 14 year old.  Always receive “no”, even when it is hard, with the eyes of faith that see a better thing coming. Every year that you grow and mature, you will find your Good Shepherd to be bigger! More wise! More full of love and grace and goodness. Because as you grow, He expands your vision and your heart and your capacity to understand just how truly good and worthy of our worship He is.

     I love you Emma Faith. Each year has been an increasing gift to me, and the growth I have seen in you these last few years can only be the Lord’s beauty–His excellence, upon you.

     And so, my baby girl. Keep dancing for your Creator. Worship Him with every movement, every drawing, every creative endeavor, every opportunity to serve and love and grow.  Worship Him when it’s hard and you can’t see clearly and when it seems like all you hear is “No.”

     Because the truth is….as you worship, He is growing bigger inside you. He is forging character in the deep places and He is preparing you for the time when He will delight to say “Yes” to you.  And every “no” you’ve endured will all become part of the beauty and excellence of the “yes” that lies ahead.

    

     Practice telling yourself what is true more than listening to what you feel-because what you feel will change, while His truth remains steadfast and unmovable.

     He will never let go of you. He is faithful beyond our comprehension. Keep reaching for Him and hear your heart cry out “Holy! Holy!” as He reveals His beauty (excellence!) to you.


     Keep trusting the Holy Spirit, which is your deposit and your guarantee of His full and final “Yes!” to you in Christ. And let it cause your heart, your mind, and your soul to soar to new heights of excellence (beauty) as His mighty power is at work within.  You can do nothing apart from Him, but oh! The joy of a life found in Him, where:

“He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places.”

Psalm 18:33

    And my prayer for you this year:

“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,

And establish the work of our hands for us;

Yes, establish the work of our hands.”

Psalm 90:17

May it always be His beauty and His excellence upon you, and may He establish the work of your hands as you rejoice in His goodness.

Happy birthday, beautiful.

Love,

Mommy

Easter! And baptisms!

We began the morning with a beautiful Easter service where Emma and the girls danced beautifully in worship, and a very precious and dear friend of mine gave her testimony which pour courage and strength into my own heart.

Noah and Ezra have been asking about getting baptized for almost a year now. Between Elijah’s medical care and life being so full, we just weren’t quite sure how to accomplish it!

Well, Ben had a great idea: we could hike out to the local swim hole and baptize the boys on Easter. So that’s what we did!


It was really cool, because-while I am sad we had to wait so long, the church that we *attend* online has baptisms almost every week. So it’s been a great chance to prepare them, and for them to watch and be ready at this time! It was super simple and super sweet and absolutely holy.  I cannot think of a more special way to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, than to have two of our boys identifying with Christ in his death and resurrection through getting “bab-atized” (as Evelyn likes to say.)


We did Resurrection Eggs to recount the Easter story, read a book together about Easter, and even did an egg hunt with the cousins.

We topped it all off with a wonderful dinner with our just-like-family friends, but I didn’t get any pictures.  It was such a sweet and special day!

HE IS RISEN!!!!!!

The Beautiful, Messy Cross

I didn’t get a picture.  

But one of our traditions is that on Good Friday, I make a cake in the shape of a cross. I used to make it with a funfetti cake mix, because although the cross is cruel and horrid in its pain and suffering, it is *bursting with hope.*

In more recent years, I made it a red velvet cake, with thick white frosting, with a card that reads:

β€œCome now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

Isaiah 1:18

Thursday, we arrived home from New York, and we celebrated our sweet Evelyn Hope.

She received a personalized dance bag, with “worship flags” inside so that she can praise and worship God using the colorful ribbons declaring different attributes of God.


So as I woke up on Friday, with a back barely hanging on and an eye appointment to get to….. the realization that it was Good Friday came suddenly and almost overwhelmed me.  

“It’s just a cake,” I thought. And, it is just a cake. But it is one of our family’s anchors.  It is part of what ties us down and holds us steadfast.  So after running around all morning, and getting Emma to dance, I set about the task of making a gluten-free, low sugar cake in the shape of a cross.

I didn’t have any beet juice to color it red.  And I didn’t have enough time to let the frosting cool, so instead of a white covering, I had a whitish-clear glaze puddle around a brown cross.

It was messy. Like so much of this life, it was messy, and not quite right….but it was what I had to offer. And I brought it to the cross.

And as we climbed out of the van, my Noah said to me, “Mom! It’s so cool that the cross cake is brown….because it’s just like the wood of the cross.”

And just like that, Jesus took my messy and made it beautiful to a 10 year old.  He takes fishes and loaves and multiplies them, and he takes crosses of sorrow and suffering and trades them for dancing and joy.

So when Evelyn said (out of nowhere) at the Good Friday service:

“Elijah’s going to die soon because he has cancer.”

I sat in stunned silence thinking, where did she get that idea?  But as I let the words sink in, I realized that over the last two years, as we have prayed over many friends and then grieved as they have died, it is a reality to Evelyn at four years old that sometimes, people with cancer die. In fact, she has probably known more who have died from cancer than those who have lived.

But as I felt the pain of that statement, and the sadness of that reality for her little four year old brain….I allowed Jesus to show me the beauty of her statement.  

She wasn’t afraid.

She was just casualing throwing out words that expressed things mulling around in her sweet four year old brain.  Things that she needed to say out loud, so that she could be reassured.

This would not have been the path I would have chosen, but the triumph of the cross means that we no longer have to fear death! Our Savior has purchased our redemption so that the end of this life is the beginning of a more perfect one.  And so as I looked at my messy life, with my messy imperfections, and the messy cross cake….I brought them all to Jesus and watched Him make beauty.  

And don’t worry. We reassured Evelyn that the Lord knows the number of our days-they have already been ordained for us. And our times are in His hands.

So when special days sneak up on me, and life is traveling at hurricane speed….it’s when I slow down, and bring all my messy to the cross, that I can trust Him to make something beautiful from it in His time.