Friday, January 11, 2013

Five on Friday: Five Things I Should Have Asked For Christmas

I'm sure you enjoy those days off at Christmas time just as much as I do.  We took two weeks off of school starting December 21st.  What an awesome two weeks it was.  We slept in.  We watched movies.  We played the wii.  We had playdates.  We took naps.  We ate cookies.  It was a very UNstressful time.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

We started back to school this past Monday.  And it was "back to life, back to reality" in a very unpleasant way.  As I'm still adjusting to the decreased sleep and increased responsibility associated with my normal routine, I'm realizing what I should have asked for Christmas.

1.  a sledgehammer -
You know.  To bash my alarm clock when it tells me to wake up.  I mean who gets up before 8am? 
Or to remind my computer that I am smarter than it is.  Because I AM smarter than it is. 
Or to shut up that noise-making toy I put in my son's Christmas stocking.  What was I thinking? 

My computer probably wouldn't have given him that toy.  Maybe I'm not smarter than my computer.

2.  clothes -
I didn't ask for clothes this year, but I should have.  Then it wouldn't matter that I haven't done laundry in weeks.  And I could continue to ignore the ever-growing pile of dirty clothes that is almost as tall as I am.

3.  a plane ticket - Because my best friend just moved from Kentucky to Kansas, making it a 16-hour road trip from my house to hers.  I'm not very good at traveling.  Four hours straight in a moving vehicle is about the maximum amount of time I can handle.  So you see, Kansas is just too far away.  It would take me four days to get there.   She wasn't able to come home for Christmas.  So we haven't been in the same room together since October, and probably won't be again until June.  This is much too long.  I am showing symptoms of withdrawal.  Depression.  Fatigue.  Crying fits.   This could also be attributed to the alarm clock issue mentioned in #1...  or the clothes issue mentioned in #2...  or the boys issue mentioned in #4...

4.  ear plugs- I homeschool my two boys, ages 8 and 10.  That means I am with them all the time.  ALL THE TIME!  And for some reason they are completely obsessed with making "gassy noises" ALL THE TIME.  I'm surrounded by crazy little people!

Another reason I could use that plane ticket.

5.  Dr. Pepper - Seriously, you can never have too much Dr. Pepper.  Dr. Pepper!  Give me the news!  I gotta BAD CASE of loving you!

It's a good thing my birthday is only 2 months away.  If you're wondering what to get me, any of the above items would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Elisha's Peace

If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, or you read my last blog post, you know that my heart has been heavy for my friend and neighbor, Elisha Skeen.  Metastatic cancer has declared war on her body, and she is literally in a fight for her life.

Until yesterday, the last time I had seen Elisha was when she and her son, Sawyer, came over to check in on me a few weeks after my surgery.  I guess that would have been early to mid-November.  At that time, she was healthy (considering she was recovering from breast cancer), happy and strong.  We tag-teamed Sawyer, not quite 2 years old, who was curiously exploring every bin in our homeschool room.  Our visit was cut short when he made a "special gift" in his diaper that just couldn't be ignored.

It really struck me yesterday as I sat at the foot of her hospital bed at the Cancer Center, how much has changed since that day.  Now, just 8 weeks later, Sawyer is officially 2 years old.  Elisha is no longer healthy.  Her husband, Steven, is spending his days at the hospital instead of on the farm.

What struck me even more, is what had not changed.  Despite the fact that she is battling cancer for the second time in 14 months...  Despite the fact that she had brain surgery just days ago...  Despite the fact that she has a button at her fingertips to dispense enough pain medication to cause cardiac arrest in any other person...  Elisha is still happy.  Elisha is still strong.

She texted me yesterday morning to let me know I could come see her.  I was thrilled to hear she was feeling well enough to welcome visitors, and very eager to chat with her.  But as we got closer to the hospital, I became more and more nervous.  What should I say?  What shouldn't I say?  What will we talk about?  What if she starts crying?  What if I start crying?

My heart rate kept climbing the more I thought about it.  So I stopped thinking about it, and just prayed.  Dear God, please help me to be an encouragement to her.  Please guide my words.  Please guide my actions.  And please help me not to cry.

We met up with her husband, Steven, before going into her hospital room.  I know this was a God-send.  He updated us on her entire medical journey, and he told me exactly what to expect when I walked in the room.

The entire visit lasted 30 minutes.  It was nothing like I expected, and so much better than I prayed for.

Elisha looked great.  She had on a cute hat to cover to her "battle scar" from brain surgery.  She was wearing glasses, which I'd never seen her in before.  And she was smiling.  She was so peaceful.  I sat at her feet, and we talked about the same things we've always talked about.  Our husbands.  Our kids.  Our bodies.  Our hobbies.  Our food.  It was so...  normal.

I've tried to put myself in her shoes and imagine how I would handle the same situation.  I just can't believe I would be so at peace.  Of course, Elisha and Steven have said they wouldn't be either, if it weren't for God.

I don't know exactly where it is in the Bible, but I know it says that God can provide "a peace that passeth understanding".  In the midst of that hospital room, with four different fluid bags pumping all kinds of meds into her body, with bruised arms and IV-scarred hands, with a chemo-dispensing device surgically placed in her brain, there was a peace that passeth understanding.

I walked into the room asking God to help me encourage her, but I left the room feeling encouraged myself.


I don't know why all this is happening to Elisha.  But I can say that I am amazed, inspired, encouraged and awed by the way she is handling it.

I can also honestly say, her battle has changed my life.  I am more aware of how quickly life can change, and more thankful for the days I have.

Every Sunday, our pastor leads the congregation in singing I am Blessed.  It goes like this...

I am blessed.
I am blessed.
Everyday that I live I am blessed.
When I wake up in the morning,
til I lay my head to rest,
I am blessed.
I am blessed.

When I sang those words this morning...  Well, I couldn't sing because I couldn't stop crying.  As everyone else sang, I stood there with my head in my hands, and I sobbed.  Because of Elisha, I know just how blessed I am.

I am so thankful to have the honor to continue to pray for her.  I pray God will heal her body, and make her whole again.  I pray she and Steven will grow old together and watch their son become a man.  I pray that she and I will get to walk up and down "the compound" for many years to come.  I'm still asking you do the same.  Thank you.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I wrote a lot about friendships last year.  I have never been the type of person to take my friendships lightly.  I cherish the people who call me their friend, and allow me the honor to call them mine.

My favorite post from 2012 is the one I wrote about how God has reunited me with my best best friend from my early childhood years, Michelle.  From the number of pageviews for that particular blog series, I would say it was your favorite as well.  Thank you for that.

I remember a particular conversation I had with Keith about how thankful I am that God brought Michelle back to me.  It struck me at that moment that God had done the exact same thing for Keith...

Keith is an only child.  I usually say "spoiled-rotten" only child.  But I'll refrain this time.  Wait...  oops.  I can't find the backspace button...  Heeheehee  :)

Anyway, my dear sweet husband had no siblings while growing up.  So God blessed him with fellow youngsters in his neighborhood with whom he played pretty much all the time.  His best friend lived right next door.  His name was Steven.  They played basketball.  They rode bikes.  They had sleepovers.  They spent a lot of time together during their elementary years.

As they grew up, they too grew apart.  Not for the same reasons and Michelle and me, but it did seem their season of friendship had come to an end.  Until a few years ago...

About the same time Michelle had come back into my life, Steven came back into Keith's.  In fact, he moved right next door, with his new wife - Elisha.

Guys are so much different than girls.  It took a little while before Michelle and I felt the spark of our friendship had truly been rekindled.  Keith and Steven just picked right back up where they had left off.  I mean, they're not racing their bikes up the road and having sleepovers.  But there was no awkwardness at all.  They just shook hands and started talking again.  Guys are so weird.  :)

Keith met Elisha before I did.  I remember him coming home and saying, "You have got to meet her.  You'll like her."  I was like, "How do you know?"  He said, "I just know.  You'll like her."

I finally got to meet her soon after they brought their new baby, Sawyer, home from the hospital.  We took a meal over to them, and Elisha and I sat there talking liked we'd known each other for years.  She showed me all the pictures from Sawyer's birth.  (I remember being shocked at some of those pictures, one imparticular.  Elisha ~ you know which one I'm talking about ;)  And she told me everything she was feeling as a new mother.  Things you don't normally do with someone you just met.  But like I said, it just didn't feel like we'd just met.

We didn't get together often after that.  They both had crazy work schedules that just made it difficult to socialize.  When Elisha changed jobs, we were able to have them over for supper a few times.

Then Elisha found out she had breast cancer.  I will never forget.  We go to church with Steven's parents, and Keith would always ask how Steven and Elisha were doing.  Steven's dad told Keith, then Keith told me.  I have no idea what was being preached at that service.  All I could do was think about Elisha.  I came home and cried for her.

She spent the next six months fighting for her life, completing chemo and radiation.  When Elisha was feeling well, we invited them over for supper.  She and I would retreat to our homeschool room, play with Sawyer and talk nonstop.  One time we hid out in my scrapbook room, just to get away from the husbands and kids (sometimes this is just necessary to maintain our sanity).  Keith and Steven literally had to drag us out of there.  I laugh just thinking about it.  It was funny.

Soon after that, Elisha and I decided we needed to exercise.  So we started walking together, at least 3 times a week.  We walked up and down "the compound", her word for the first mile of the road we live on, which is home mostly to her husband's family and my husband's family.  During this time, we talked about everything.  I mean EVERYTHING.  Our husbands, our kids, our families, our friends, our jobs, our hobbies, our bodies, our food...  EVERYTHING.  It was so nice because we didn't know each other well enough to judge, but just well enough to know it was a safe place to be completely honest.

I was so excited to have a friend that lived right next door.  Even though our walks only lasted an hour a day, three days a week, we became very close during that time.  It was the start of a very special friendship.

Of course, then life got in the way.  Her family went to the beach, then my family went to the beach.  Then I got sick.  Then my boys got sick.  Then Sawyer got sick.  Then I got sick.  Then Sawyer got sick.  Then I had surgery.  Then it was Thanksgiving.  Then my whole family got sick.  Then her whole family got sick.  And now, her cancer has come back, and it is viciously attacking her body.  And right this very minute, she is undergoing surgery to insert a chemo device into her brain.

Last night I couldn't sleep at all because I have pretty much become completely obsessed with her situation.  I am overcome with emotion.  That's why I'm writing.  I don't know what else to do.  She is all I can think about.  Yet I am so incredibly useless to her at this moment.

So I keep praying.  Please God, heal her.  The doctors can't heal her.  Her family can't heal her.  Her friends can't heal her.  Only You can heal her, God.  Please do.  

I'm asking you, please pray for her too.