Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hope Spoken

Photo by: Emily Anderson
Over a year ago, I heard about this conference on one of my favorite blogs.
I was immediately drawn in after reading this:

Hope Spoken is a women's conference where we all can come to know Jesus more, and make Him known in our lives. Our conference will be filled with stories. Stories of Christ in each of our lives, and how we can use these stories for His glory. This is a weekend to rest and feel His love, to lay burdens and hurts down and feel His grace. We want to let women know that they are enough, to encourage women to use their passions, their words, and their creativity for the Lord. We, above all else, want to glorify Jesus' name and share the hope we have in Him.

Photo by: Meghan Newsom

I wanted to attend, and I was so excited when my friends Christen & Cindy agreed to go with me.  The last time the three of us went on a trip together was in 2002
so it had been just a little while.

Aside from the stress of getting into an airport
(does anyone else get hot & suddenly suffer from a slight tummyache
when their bags go through security, and you have no shoes on?)
and the awkward dance of getting our own personal selves & our carry-ons from one terminal to another and onto the plane itself, I would consider our travels from Virginia to Texas a success.

Christen's Uncle Mike was gracious enough to pick us up at the airport and escort us to
lunch & to the hotel where the conference was held.
{Thank you, Uncle Mike!}

Danielle & Casey & Emily
Photo by: Meghan Newsom
Our Hope Spoken hosts were amazing!  From the decor to the worship to the treats to the small group leaders to the market to the schedule to the speakers - Casey, Danielle, and Emily did a phenomenal job.  I'm so thankful for their heart and vision for our time in Dallas.  I'm even more thankful for their passion and love for Jesus.  Their commitment to His plan for our few days together was evident throughout the entire weekend.
Honestly, I thought that four days away from my responsibilities at home and at work would be an escape from the anger that I have with God right now because of circumstances that I think are unfair.  My mind knows:
that He is in control
that His plan is beyond my understanding
that He loves each of His children very, very much
However, when life plays out unexpectedly - all those things are harder for my heart to embrace.

Just an aside:
Can we just remember and celebrate that we did not have to cook one meal, do one load of laundry, or brew one cup of coffee during the entire conference?  Also, treats were always on hand.

They truly took the best care of us.
Photo by: Meghan Newsom

There is so much more to share.

For now - know that because all of the women {our speakers, our small group
leader (the amazing Leslie Padgett), every lovely girl in my group}
were so transparent, honest, and thoughtful with each of their stories - I came away
from this weekend changed by each one.  They brought to the table something that God wanted me to hear and experience at this very time in my life, and I will always be thankful for that.
love

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Maileen's Journey - April 2

 
Thanks to all of you for continuing to pray for my amazing cousin, Maileen.  I know I often call her amazing, but she truly is.  She's been sharing her story since the beginning, and I have been changed watching her strength, honesty, and love.  Although it has been unimaginably hard for Peter, Maileen, and their children - they have continued to show their faith and trust in God which has been hard for me to wrap my brain around.  They have always been such an example to me, and they continue to be as we love them from afar.

January 28
Maileen:
...and I just got back from the capital city with the MRI and part of the abdomen results from Friday...God is Good and still very much on our side no matter the results. The tumor in the frontal left lobe is 19.4 mm to 26 mm. The spot operated on in August is now 52 mm x19.9 mmb in the menengies. I have some growth on the bottom of my left lung. I have a tumor now on my right breast right in the middle I am calculating at 30 mm or so diameter. I will have it checked for sure this week. We are praying for the following:
---Approval for insurance at a decent price, Praise God and activates by Feb 1st.---Raise funds to do all of this and learn ways and do things we can do to raise decent adoption payment and raise support plans.---Have a place to stay for up to 6-12 months within Augusta GA so we can learn the disciplines of how to prepare food and near a really good school for Marissa that can help her well. (Jan 28th.)---Both children have permission to go with us during treatments and have great people able to invest in Marissa's hearing issues to help her hear better and communicate better. She is struggling in Spanish. And must sharpen her understanding and use of the sounds. (And that the Spanish Teacher understands to write her Spanish update letter so we can get it to the local government within the next couple days.)---Each of our cells heal from this disease and any other illnesses completely and help others heal too and the finances and materials to do all that.---That we can also be invested in well to serve our Saviour well to glorify His name and invest in others, too. Lord willing be able to start a place that helps others learn how to help thier bodies and church heal.---Please also pray for Peter...he is taking on tons of single parent chores with a 6 year old that doesn't speak well yet and a 8 month old that is just learning to crawl and a wife that cannot help much if at all...thanks. We appreciate your prayers and words of encouragement.

On February 4th, Peter summarized it best with

On this World Cancer Day, I am celebrating my dear wife, Maileen, who has battled fervently for 3 years. I love you my Precious Baby. We can do this!!

UPDATES FROM PETER
February 16
Well, in English, she's my better half. In Spanish, she's the other half of my orange. So I guess I just left the better half of my orange in Augusta, Georgia. I love you, Maileen.

February 17
3 countries, 4 flights, 3 airlines, 5 airports, 4 times through security, 1 long day and 1 tired Dad who is happy to be with his kids again

February 27
I have the kids' permission to travel from the Honduran courts. Tomorrow we will go get their Honduran passports. One step closer.

March 1

We did it, Mommy! We love you!

March 13
The visa appointment for the kids has been moved up to tomorrow at 8am!!! Please pray for a favorable outcome.

March 14
Having a celebratory donut. We got the visas! We're coming to see you on Thursday, Maileen.

March 20
We have arrived (in Georgia)! Thank you all for your prayers.

March 25
Maileen had an MRI this morning. The tumor in the frontal lobe of her brain has grown considerably. Per doctor's orders I'm taking her to the emergency room right now. Thanks for your prayers.

March 26
Maileen update: She is doing better. I.V. steroids are helping reduce the swelling on her brain. Please pray for wisdom. Within the next 24 hourse we have to decide whether or not she should have surgery for the tumors. Thank you all for your continued prayers and encouragement.

March 27
Maileen will undergo surgery Friday morning at 7:30 EDT. They will remove the tumor from her frontal lobe. I am grateful for all your prayers and humbled by the number of people who are praying.

March 28
Maileen's surgery went well. Thank you for your prayers. She has recovered consciousness and was glad that she recognized Marissa and me. I had asked the surgeon to install a software upgrade so that I would appear more handsome to her. It's too early to tell if it worked.

March 30
Maileen is healing. She was just moved from the ICU into a regular room. Thank you for your prayers.

April 1
Maileen is slowly improving. She was discharged from the hospital yesterday. We are glad to have her home, although we are still adjusting to taking care of her. Thank you, again, for all your prayers.

Peter & Maileen are grateful and humbled by your love and thoughtfulness.
I am grateful and humbled by your love and thoughtfulness.
Thank you always for your kind words and your prayers.
We appreciate you so much.

Back to Maileen's Journey

Friday, November 1, 2013

Good In The Chaos

The house is a mess.
The laundry is piling up.
I should probably clean these glass doors that have more than a smudge or two on them.

Our bedroom: atrocious.
The floors need a good cleaning.
Switching out the girls' seasonal clothes has been going on longer than I'd like to admit.

As the girls are getting older, they're getting involved more with friends, school, and activities.  Bill has been busy with different aspects of work.  I oftentimes feel torn between what I need to and what I want to do.

Those of you who know me personally know how much I love my husband.  It's kind of ridiculous.  Yet this same man that I love completely is the same man who can drive me the most crazy.  That's fun.  I would say that this season of our lives have been the hardest (even more difficult than having a newborn!) - just even in these last couple of months.  

It's a struggle at the moment to find the time to communicate and spend time with each other.  When we're both running on empty, our patience is less than stellar for each other and our girls.  At the same time, amazing things are happening with friends and family - and God is working.  Bill and I are in a fantastic place to see life stories change, and we're excited to be along for the ride.

Instead of focusing on all the things that I should or could be doing,
today I will be thankful.

Life cannot be taken too seriously when your favorite dresses like this:

And despite the everyday struggles, there are these fantastic little people that forgive their mother's imperfections time and time again:
Despite all of the pull my hair out moments, there is happiness.
In the midst of the daily chaos, there is good.
Through the bickering, there is laughter.
I am thankful for the Love that carries me day in and day out.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

5 Things: Hope Spoken Style


I'm so very excited about Hope Spoken - a women's conference in Dallas, Texas hosted by these lovely ladies (Casey, Danielle, and Emily).  I don't know them personally, but I love their heart and passion for loving Jesus & encouraging other women to do the same.  This conference also makes me happy because I just happen to be going with some of my favorite people.
Wonderfulness all around!

Tonight, I'm linking up with the Hope Spoken girls - can't wait to make new friends...

5 things for Hope Spoken:
- post your picture so that we can recognize you.
- introduce yourself!
- something that you are little timid or nervous about for the weekend
- something that you are hoping to take away from Hope Spoken
- share something fun/random about yourself

So, this is me and the person I like best on the planet.  I love this picture because we're at the beach (on vacation), and one of our girls took it at our favorite frozen yogurt place.  Everything in the previous sentence makes me smile.

introduce yourself!
I'm Grace.  I love God, my husband Bill, and our four girls.  I love them like crazy even when they drive me crazy.  We live in Virginia where the weather is ridiculous.  Our life is chaotic, wonderful, hectic, and beautiful all at the same time.  I also love coffee - maybe a little bit too much. 

something that you are little timid or nervous about for the weekend
I'm an extrovert, but I get somewhat shy on the inside about meeting brand new people - random combination, I know.  I'm also slightly nervous about leaving our girls for a few days.  Their father is completely capable - I'm just slightly Type A and have a hard time relinquishing control.
(Pray for me.)

something that you are hoping to take away from Hope Spoken
I know it will be an amazing, fun, encouraging time getting to spend grownup time with old friends and making new ones.  Even more than that, I'm looking forward to seeing Jesus
and knowing Him more.

share something fun/random about yourself
I love to sing even though I can't.
I'm sorry if you're within range when a good song starts playing.

See you in March!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mom Of The Year

Sorry, ladies - I just won.

Our Gianna loves jumping on the trampoline.  In fact, all our girls do.  Evangeline loves it when everyone sits on the trampoline and watches her "jump" (no simultaneous jumping for Evy), but I'm sure she'll be bouncing like crazy once she gets slightly bigger and more coordinated.

Two weeks ago, Gianna was stepping down after a trampoline session and missed a step.  She landed on her arm and immediately started crying.  Gianna doesn't cry easily when she's hurt so we knew the ground probably gave her a good hit.  After a few hours of icing her arm and keeping it still, she was back to her old self - outside play, swimming lessons, soccer practices, etc.

She fell twice at soccer practice one night and started complaining that it hurt again.  I thought she was being dramatic.  Bill decided to take her to the doctor.  Our pediatrician is fantastic.  He told Bill that her arm was probably badly sprained or bruised.  He didn't think it was likely that it was broken, but he wanted us to see the orthopedic surgeon - just in case.

I took Gianna to the specialist that afternoon.  As soon as I saw the x-ray, I knew -
but I was hoping deep down I wasn't right.
The doctor was so very sweet and compassionate when he told me that Gianna's arm was in fact broken.  I promise I tried to hold back the tears so when we were talking,
and he looked over - he looked so surprised,
What's wrong?  She's fine!  Don't cry.  Here's a tissue.

Gianna walked over, climbed in my lap, and rubbed my back - reassuring ME that it was ok that SHE had a broken arm.  What in the world?

We're so thankful that it's not a bad break and that she doesn't need a cast.  She has to wear a sling until she's completely healed.  The saddest thing was Gianna's expression when the doctor said no sports.  The girl loves her sports.

So I apologize, girls:
if you were vying for Mother of The Year, I've got it hands down -
the mom who let her daughter run around & play with a broken arm.  For two weeks.

High five.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Not My Most Favorite Day Of The Year

real life
Yesterday marked the big day - when summer officially made its exit.  Three of our girls are in elementary school now, and my heart aches even typing that sentence.  I'm a soft, emotional pile of gushiness when it comes to these tiny (some not so tiny) beings.  I don't think I'll ever be able to shake that quality - even though they continue to grow & change by the minute.

Isabella woke up first (thankfully after I was dressed & had my first cup of coffee in hand).  I would say she was the most excited of the three.  First of all - she's a big girl now (apparently you get big girl status when you turn five years old).  Secondly, she's in Kindergarten (only big girls allowed in there).  And most importantly, she's going to school with her sister Gianna
(I'm so excited about riding the bus, Mom!).
Gianna and Espy followed suit - having breakfast and getting ready for the day.  All of them tolerated the photo shoot(s?) I put them through which I'm always thankful for.  As mom, I'm official memory keeper of the family so we will be taking pictures every first day of school
(sorry in advance, girls).
A good friend asked if I cry every year.  That I do, at some point of the process - even if I will myself not to.  Yesterday it was during breakfast.  Evangeline was still asleep, but her sisters were eating breakfast & chit chatting about their new teachers, classes, and friends - no bottles, no diapers, no random crying - just three girls having breakfast together.  I had to go into the kitchen and have a moment -
a moment to enjoy their sweetness with each other
a moment to be thankful for their unique selves
a moment to forever remember them just as they were:
hair tousled, pajamas wrinkled, and eyes brightened with thoughts of a new day
not a fan of the first day of school

Monday, August 19, 2013

Amazingness in a Bowl (A Recipe)

Our friends had a sweet baby girl last week, and I'm super jealous that my husband has gotten to see her twice already!  Since some of our girls aren't feeling 100% - so instead of sharing our germs, Bill brought over this dinner to them yesterday.

I've been craving something light and fresh (and different), and I found this recipe online.  Lindsey approved, and I thought it was delicious - not too heavy, just the right amount of sweetness, and filling enough to have as a meal.  It was the first time I had made this dressing so I'm thankful it turned out as tasty as it sounded.  I had it for dinner last night, and I plan on having it for lunch today:

ASIAN CHICKEN SALAD
adapted from food.com
DRESSING
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons canned mandarin juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
(I triple this recipe.)
SALAD
romaine lettuce, torn in pi├Ęces
4 cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts (shredded or chopped)
2 cups dry chow mein noodles
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds or 1/3 cup chopped peanuts
(I like to use these honey roasted almonds - they're delicious.)
canned mandarin oranges (drained, reserve 2 teaspoons juice for the dressing)

Mix all dressing ingredients until well combined - refrigerate for a minimum of one hour.
In a large bowl combine the lettuce with chicken, dry noodles, and almonds/peanuts.
Mix to combine.
Pour on the dressing.
Toss to combine.
Top with  mandarine oranges.
Serve immediately.
(I store the lettuce, chicken, mandarin oranges, and dressing in separate containers
in the refrigerator to make assembling single servings easier.)
Enjoy!