Infusion Update and a Humble Birth

remicade-infusion-crohns-diseaseLast Monday we had Brandon’s second Remicade infusion. Everything went great! We were thrilled that there were no adverse side effects (other than being a little more worn out than usual) and we were encouraged because we felt like things were well on their way to “normal.”

Ha. I got a flat tire on the way home.

Hahahahaha.

It wasn’t really that funny at the time. Brandon was tired (and a little cranky that I had managed to “find” another nail) and wasn’t in the mood to play games with the air-filler-upper-machine at the gas station, that oh yeah, didn’t work and we wasted a lot of money on it and had to drive to another gas station and used that air-filler-upper-machine and a can of fix-a-flat.

flat-tire

Don’t worry, we got home safe and Brittney was able to pick up the boys from daycare, and only one child had a fever.

True story.

And all this after having gone to the doctor and having an x-ray on my back because I’d been in extreme pain all weekend. Yaaaaay.

Anywho. Tuesday. Tuesday was great. I hosted a “make-and-take” roller bottle remedy party where we all made our own essential oil roller bottles and it was so much fun! Plus, really cool to be able to mix these recipes up. If you weren’t able to come, we’re going to do another one again, don’t worry!

make-and-take-essentail-oil-roller-bottle-remedy

Wednesday was great. Thursday was great. Etc etc etc. Saturday was awesome because we did everything Christmas that day! I made the boys Christmas pancakes for breakfast, then we made Christmas cookies and went to the Christmas parade and that night Brandon and I went to a Christmas party. Seriously a great day.

christmas-cookies

Sunday morning Brandon spoke at church and did an amazing job. The best message I’ve heard him preach in a long time. I’m not saying that to downplay his other messages, I’m saying this to emphasize what a great job he did. He spent a lot of time preparing and I was captivated the whole time. I was so proud of him. It was one of those moments where I wanted to stand up and say to everyone, “That’s my husband! Isn’t he awesome?!” You know those moments, almost like a “Santaaaaa! I know him!!” moment where you’re bursting with pride and excitement and sunshine is threatening to spill out of your ears.

Brandon-speaking-church

Yesterday evening Brittney and I went to teach our first essential oils class together. Well, technically our second, but this was our first on our own, and boy was it reminiscent of the good ole Penny Filled Pantry coupon class days! We had a great time. We seem to just jive when we’re teaching classes and things just flow and its lots of fun and we end up laughing a lot. It was a great class and a really fun evening. Sup Monday. Whatchu got? Boom.

essential-oils-class-beginners

Today was going to be great. Today I had my department’s Christmas lunch at a nice restaurant in Greensboro and then I was going to go right to my Orthopedic doctor’s appointment for my back and they were going to tell me that “yep, just a few more days of rest and 2 weeks at the chiropractor aught to do it, and you’ll be good to go!” (Yeaaaaah, he didn’t say that.)

We finished lunch up a little early and I had about an hour until my appointment so I decided to run a quick errand. When I pulled into the parking lot I heard a funny noise that I thought might be my car, and sure enough, it was. There was smoke coming out from under the hood, too. That was fun.

The one thing that kept ringing in my ears was “Do NOT let a little car trouble ruin your day!” because I’m bound and determined that the devil is not gonna win. Not with me anyway! I mean, its CHRISTMAS, people!

I love Christmas, as I’m sure most of you do. And as Brandon spoke on Sunday, I realized that we spend far too much time worrying about traditions and lists and gifts during this time, and far too little time reflecting on the catalyst for the whole holiday season anyway. Brandon read an excerpt Sunday that described a young girl – a first-time mom – dirty and weary, with a new babe wrapped in scraps of cloth. I’ve thought about that over and over since he first read it to me last week.

If I let myself, I imagine a girl about my size, but much younger, with long mousy brown hair, and I can feel the pain she feels with each contraction. If I close my eyes, I actually feel my heart rate speed up with the anticipation of the next contraction. I remember how scared I was when I was laboring with each of my children, and I imagine that fear was multiplied for Mary, alone and in a strange, uncomfortable place. I didn’t give birth with dirt under my feet and bits of straw poking through my clothes and sticking in my hair. I gave birth surrounded by medical staff and all the people in the world who could comfort me. It was not outside, in the dark, in unsanitary conditions with the stench of animal waste nearby.

Our Savior had a most humble birth. He was brought into the world without sweeping grandeur and by the soft light of the stars above. We celebrate this quietly beautiful scene with gobs of red and green, to-do lists and frantically remembering to move that silly elf each day, and for some, credit card bills to boot. When I think about my own actions over this holiday season, I realize I’ve been much too focused on all the ups and downs and stressing about fitting in all our traditions and holiday clothes and how everything will come together just right.

Have you spent too much time focused on all the wrong things this month? And not that any of those things are wrong, but when I pause and picture that weary girl propped up against the rough edges of a wooden manger, and imagine the Savior of the world wrapped in dirty cloths – the first of countless times that He would humble himself – I realize that I’ve maybe lost my focus a little.

The back pain and the infusions and the car trouble are all background noise and a distant hum, when I think about the magnitude of the One who steers my path. The car can be repaired, and the other distractions can all just take a backseat for this girl’s Christmas season, because today, I choose to give thanks that a God who loves me, was willing to have his son enter this life in such a humble way and with the sole intention of saving the world.

Thankful

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought it would only be appropriate if I shared a little of my thankful heart. I would have posted this on Thanksgiving Day, except I’ve been writing and re-writing this blog post in my head over and over for a week, and have sat down to write it, gotten up in frustration and walked away because I can’t seem to get out the words I want to. A thankful post seems like such an important post, ya know, and I want to convey all my gratitude in just the right way.

When you have a pivotal life event happen (or several in our case) you tend to get reflective and analyze the good, the bad, and the ugly. You pick out the little wins, and you write them down, memorize them, and thank God for them. You savor those breaths of fresh air, and remember just how sweet they taste.

What I’m grateful for creates a list so long, you’d be here for days reading it, but I’ll try to share just some of the highlights.

This year, I’m thankful for the two sweet boys who call me Mommy. I’ve watched Paxton grow and learn over the past several months more than I ever thought possible. He’s like a sponge – soaking up all that school has to offer. He randomly spouts out new facts, or things he’s learned and I’m just amazed. I’m absolutely convinced that he’ll be one day running for President, or on stage leading thousands of people in worship. He’s got personality just oozing out of him, and I see so much potential. Maverick can count to 10… well sort of. Sometimes. It’s the cutest thing. He sings “Itsy Spider” and “Twinkle Star” and “Rock a Baby Bumblebee”. Precious. Seriously precious. And ever since we put up our Christmas tree, each time he walks into the living room he puffs up his little chest and proudly proclaims “I do dat!” while he shoves one chubby little pointer finger through the air toward the tree, that he did indeed help decorate. Be still my heart :)

I’m thankful for family who have sacrificed in so many ways to help us. I’ve made more than one middle-of-the-night phone call, and more than one of them has made the long trek to UNC Hospitals to be with us, toting things we need, or bringing the boys to visit their daddy. I’m thankful for family who have worked hard to make the times not scarred by hospital visits wonderful, strikingly normal, and filled with beautiful memories.

I’ve sat with my mother-in-law several sleepless nights in the Emergency Room, and am struck by her continual strength. She’s been through a lot, especially with her first-born son, my sweet miracle husband. I know when she looks at him she sees God’s grace and unending love. She sees a beautiful miracle of life that so many told her at first would never come to be. She trusted in the Lord almost 32 years ago and He spoke to her softly, whispering “I give life, and I will give it abundantly!” Brandon was born with spina bifida and defied all odds when he learned to walk, talk, and conquer life as any other child. Every time I see the mangled scar on the back of his neck, I whisper a silent prayer of thanks because I’m part of a miracle… My life intertwined with a miracle when our paths crossed and I became part of that story. I don’t take that lightly and I think that’s why I know – I know – in my heart of hearts that the Lord has great and mighty plans for Brandon. I think we’ve only barely scratched the surface to what the Lord intends to do in and through Brandon, and quite honestly I feel so blessed to be along for the ride!

I’m thankful for my sweet sister-in-laws. I have 3 of them and I love each of them. They have each been so helpful, so giving, and so sweet to us through this past {crazy} year. Each in their own way, they have blessed us, and I hope they know how much they mean to me. I adore my sister-in-laws and count them as some of my closest friends, not out of obligation, but because I truly love each of them. I couldn’t have picked better ones if I tried!!

I’m thankful for my mom, my brother and my step-dad. I think I have the strongest, bravest family ever. My sweet mama has suffered her fair share of trials and has emerged from each one, stronger than before, and more beautiful to me. I know this isn’t a Mother’s Day post, and I’m trying to keep this short so I don’t weep like a little baby all over my laptop, but I adore my mama. If I can be half as wonderful as my mama, I will be a good woman, and someone to be proud of. She thinks of all these unexpected ways to bless us – ways I never would have even asked or thought of – and does it so quietly and lovingly, without ever once expecting a single thing in return. Like I’ve always said, she convinces me over and over she wants the burnt piece so I can have the best part of the pie. What a wonderful person.

Deryl has been so selfless and giving to us. He drops everything to drive down here with my mama and help with the boys, or to support her and us while she’s helping us. He endures hospital visits and sends sweet and thoughtful gifts for Brandon. I cannot say how blessed Brandon and I feel to have Deryl in our lives.

And my brother… my brother is like me, but better, and with all the best qualities in a person… and taller of course. But seriously, he’s much more selfless than I, more giving than I, and far more humble than the average person. He’s also really funny, super attentive, and one of the most thoughtful people I know. He’s got his own family to provide for, yet he constantly checks in on us and I know he would do anything for us.

I’m thankful for a good job… no, a great job. Its a great place to work, and I have wonderful coworkers. I’ve been able to be with my husband when he needed me, be nurse to my boys when they are sick, and attend school functions and conferences when need be. I’ve learned more in the last year and a half than I have in a long time and I love that I work in a place that values that. I say it all the time, but I feel really, really fortunate to have the job that I do.

I’m thankful for our journey. Some people have said that we’ve handled this whole season with such grace, but honestly, I don’t know how we’ve acted, I just feel blessed that we’ve been dealt the hand we have. If we weren’t going through this trial, we would not have experienced the many blessings that the Lord has bestowed on us over the last few years. I’ve gotten to see the Lord provide for us in mysterious ways. Ways that don’t add up on paper, and don’t seem real when you say them out loud. I’ve gotten to sit quietly in the dark, listening for His still voice, and feel Him take control. I’ve watched friends and family act out their commitments of love for us and seen the true meaning of community. I’ve had to depend on the Lord, and that can be so hard, especially when I think I can do it all myself!

I’m thankful for so many things – the roof over our heads, the cars we drive, the food we eat, the things we have, the church we’re part of, the jobs we work, etc – but I’m think I’m most thankful for the way the Lord has taken care of us, and the friends and family we have along with us for the ride.

I remember sitting in my house one night a few months ago, in the midst of my son’s fifth birthday party, surrounded by 60 of our closest family and friends, and thinking, “this is what it means to be blessed.” To have family come running in from all directions, alongside us, to lock arms and keep pace with us. They ran the grill at the party (all the parties actually), made the cupcakes, made food, served food, loved on our guests, built and lent party props, etc. And I sat there, surrounded by them all, watching them love on our family. We are loved. So loved. And deeply, beautifully blessed.

For that, I am thankful, so very, very thankful.