Sunday, July 31, 2016

I remember. I won't forget.

Today is Lydia Celeste's fifth birthday.  I saw her last week.  Those sweet eyes of her.  I heard her say, "oh, my!"  in the same cute sing-song voice that Kristi had.  The day of her birth changed us all.

                                                Kristi with Lydia on her 2nd birthday

I was out of town when she was born.  I don't remember where we were.  I've tried to think it through over and over again.  I'm not sure if it was just a family trip or maybe something with youth group?  I just remember trying to figure out a plan to be there when she was born, or maybe just being excited to help when Kristi came home.

I wish I could remember who told me that her collar bone had broken during labor.  Did Dean get it in a group text?  I wish I could remember if it was Kristi's voice that told me.

I do remember walking outside to talk to Robert so my kids wouldn't hear me cry.  I was hoping to get details from him, but I ended up just sobbing and saying I'm sorry a lot.  I was sorry I wasn't there.  I was sorry that it was happening.  Sorry that I didn't know what to say.  I just know that was the first time I cried over her cancer.

I remember praying with some of the best people in my little living room.  Not just once.  So many prayers.

Constantly being reminded of the hope of Heaven.

She said it the first week of hearing of her sickness, and she said it over and over again for the next years.  "I am confident my Father will heal me.  It just might not be here on the earth."

Oh, she hurt.  She was so pitiful walking.  But, she still smiled and carried on like it was not a big deal.

I'm so modest, and she just never was.  I remember helping her get dressed, and her giggling as I turned my head as I tried to help her with her pants.  OK, we both laughed.  A lot.  I might've left her pants half up because I needed to guffaw a bit.  Her hand was on me so she wouldn't fall, but laughing over our differences.

Her hair started falling out quickly after the first treatments of medicine.  She was so lovely and cute.

                                                         Kristi with Aidyn

The four years of cancer were beautiful.  They were so full of hope and joy.  We all experienced so much grace and depth.  When I say we I mean all that were surrounding her.  Friends and family.

It was a roller coaster that was constantly moving me closer to Heaven too.

I wish I could say that it's been sweet and joyful since she's been gone.  I wish I could say that it's been rosy and lollipops.

There has been depth and sorrow.  Looking back at the last few months I do see that it's beautiful.  I've read poems and so much literature about how winter is beautiful.  How there is growth and life even when the trees and earth look bare.

I miss her.  It's been eight months, and I miss her counsel.  I miss her reaction to my silliness.  I miss the look she would give when she was would gently ask these questions to figure out what I was thinking.  She was so great at loving me.


Hey, listen.

Because, my life is changing.

There is dancing even in the mourning.

I've seen my two big kids sweat that gross sportsy sweat.  Andrew is playing football.  He says he's living his dream.  Grace is so ready to be a great volleyball player that it is making her crazy to not be the best player ever.

This season is about to change dramatically.  I'm trying not to be scared.  I promise.  I'm terrified of my inadequacies far more than I was ever afraid of cancer.

I'll be serving tatertots and chocolate milks to not only the Casey girls and my Abigail, but also my big kids and my littlest one at Chilton Christian Academy.

The people there are full of kindness and are already loving on my kiddos.

Andrew experienced his first "good game" pat on the fanny, and wasn't expecting it.

Grace giggles every time she tells me she's a a hitter for the team.

Abigail does a happy dance every time we talk about school starting.

Joe.  Well.  He's excited about his new backpack and shoes.

My amazing friends and family have given me the sweetest support, and are constantly reminding me of hope.

I'm worried about balancing life.  I know I'm going to be the mom that forgets the details.  Mouth guards, cups, homework, knee pads, spelling words, homework, homework, HOMEWORK!

Nine days until school starts.

But, today I remember the day everything I believed about sickness, cancer, death, Heaven, healing, friendship, hope, sorrow, fear, mourning...I remember the day that my thoughts on all of that started to shift and change.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

sleep over moments

I love the morning light shining through my open windows.  My kiddos and the girls have already been outside in their pajamas playing family.  I love hearing the giggles and pretend play.  They all do both so well.

Right now they have enjoyed their doughnuts and strawberries, and are watching some cartoons.

Two of the girls are looking outside at the birds.

It's hard not to reminisce and remember a few months ago my moments with Kristi.  We tried so hard to be intentional with every word we said to the kiddos.  We talked about how He takes care of the sparrows weekly.  Introducing them to hymns with those words.  Doing art projects.  Memorizing passages of Scripture.

Kristi was always planting those seeds.  Just wanting them to know they'd always be taken care of by their Maker.


I'm certain she repeated those words to remind herself that they'd be protected and cared for when she left this world.

I picked up my camera to do some documenting.  The SD card I picked up is full of photos of her.  I need space to shoot more.  I had to delete photos (I promise they are stored in several safe places), and that sadness that feels so familiar just hovered over me again.

Then that youngest girls of hers snuck next to me and told me she missed her mommy, and she just didn't know why.  I just did that a heavy sigh and hugged her up kinda big and said, "woooo, girl.  me too.  me too."

I miss her.  I know everyone that loved her or even had a chance meeting of her are missing her.

I read this article recently.  My word.  The blogger said some words that helped me put into to words why this is so hard for me.  I know she has peace now.  I know Heaven is her home, but I'm still just achy.

I realized that I wasn't just grieving the losses, I was also grieving who I was in those relationships. I hadn't just lost people I loved, I also lost the way they saw me, the person I was in their eyes. I lost the special way I felt loved by them and I lost my ability to show them my love. My grief was deeper than just the fact that they were no longer in my life. It was also about who I could no longer be to someone I loved. I lost a part of myself with each of them. And I would need to learn how to love myself the way they would have loved me.

I'm not even sure why I'm telling you this stuff.  I know I just don't want to forget these thoughts.  I also know that I'm not the only one that has had loss.

My days are full, and my world is changing every day.  The girls laugh and play every day.  Robert is continuing to be the strong daddy that he is.  My family is doing the best to love me so sweetly.  My friends are being patient when all I want to do is grumble.  I'm trying to not be so melancholy.  I promise.  Spring is coming, and I'm so thankful for hope.

Also.  This song came on the a Pandora Station  recently, and I want to document it here so I don't forget it.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


I just don't know how to say thanks to all of you.  I wish I could be all humble or even maybe snarky and say that FB notifications make me crazy, but I pretty much hug the computer when I get them.  Thanks for being so kind and for hurting with me.   Well, not just hurting with me, but giving me loads of hope too.  All of comments, shares, private messages, and even the sweet likes have overwhelmed me over and over again.

So.  I was kinda sitting here dorking out a bit in the wee hours.  I just wanted to read my first chat message with Kristi.  I didn't care if it was a request for a recipe or just playdate details.  So, uh, I did tons of scrolling, folks.  SO  MUCH SCROLLING.

It was written May 31, 2009.  She was diagnosed with cancer August 2011.

Hey Sweetie

I will be praying! I actually was just telling Robert a little about it tonight and was asking him to pray. You know I understand the challenge of following blindly. This week I have also found myself fighting to be willing to follow God's plan. I think it really kinda scares me to follow Him b/c what if where He leads me is hard. I know that in the end it will be good, but what about the mean time. There is no guaranty that following God will lead me to pleasant pastures of wild flowers. In fact it may lead me to a desert. The desert will teach me powerful stuff and I will have awesome times with God, but it will be hot and I like wild flowers a whole lot. As I was thinking about all of this it was as if God asked me... "Do you really trust me"..."Is what I want to teach you and where I'm taking you worth the effort and possible pain"..."Did you mean it when you said you would follow me"...and so on. I even thought of conversations I have had with you about when we are willing to follow God and do things that don't always make the most worldly sense, then we are able to experience a closeness with God and see Him work in powerful ways. In ways that others who play it more "safe" may not see. You and I both know the correct answers to the questions and what is truth. Yet I'm still fighting to follow as well. I think that is why I got tearful when it came to our memory verse today. I will be praying fervently for you and Dean this week and especially this weekend. Thank you for sharing with me. I know that it can be tough to bear our souls. I am privileged to fight along side you in this. You are my sweet, dear friend and I do love you very much!!!

Please keep praying for her.

Also, hey! Wanna see some photos from December 2010? These kinda rock my socks. I'm not even kidding.

Please, notice in the group shots how tall Rosalie looks. Kristi was hunched down holding her, and lifting her up. Not even kidding.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


I think having a friend with cancer has been one of the most horrible, beautiful, amazing, and painful things I've ever been through.

I've had the most delicate and deep conversations that before would've paralyzed me with fear to even consider discussing.

I've been so dang angry that the word dang doesn't do the feeling of rage I've had justice, really.  I've wanted to throw things.  Um.  I've wanted to throw things at humans.  I've wanted to throw things at nice humans that haven't done one thing wrong.

I cry all the time.  Like, in front of anyone.  It can just be us having a jolly good time, then BAM!  Snot is everywhere and I'm sobbing.  Huge groups of people - yup.  I'll ugly cry right there.  Strangers!  Awww yiss.   I'll lose it over a kind smile that someone has shared.

I've been so afraid.  I get scared so easily.  I can be jumpy and worried over things that are legit, and then sometimes.  Y'all.  Sometimes I'm silly nervous over things that don't make a lick of sense.

I've never wanted to runaway so badly.  So many times.  Please, God - if You hear me - choose someone better than me that is stronger and wiser to be here in this place.

I feel dumb sometimes.  Clueless.  I'm forgetful.  Careless.  Distracted easily.

Sunday.  I thought I hugged her for the last time.  And, I don't want to forget that moment.

I came to her home just to hang out.  She was tired and felt yucky.  So, not a big deal at all for me to show up.  I mean, she has shown up for me like that countless times.

I took some random photos.

Aidyn decorated the office with pretty pieces of scrap paper and ribbons.  We had a tea party with no tea, but just oranges.  Kristi and Robert read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the girls.  Those little ones gave me a gross make over.  There's still glitter on me, y'all.

Kristi went to lay down, and the girls followed to have some snuggle time.

Then, Suddenly Robert realized through phone calls that maybe the pain was serious.

More significant than cancer hurting her.

It was after 8pm.  So much sadness - loud crying from the little girls as we loaded the van.  Kristi hugging me hard.  Hugging the littles so tight after they were buckled.

Her looking me straight in the face telling me to not be afraid to be honest.

Me?  I'm the lousiest human in the world at honesty, and she's telling me to be brave with my words.

I drove their van out of the driveway, and we talked about Paul being in prison.  What did he do?  He sang and prayed.  Surely he was scared too.

We got home and my family with my little friends gathered together, held hands, and prayed.  Some prayers were so simple and short.  My Abi kinda giggled a lot as she prayed.  Andrew prayed that God would do a bigger miracle than any movie we've seen.  Dean prayed and gave hope.

The night and early morning was hard.

She's here.  The One that made her and knows her so well has let her stay with us a bit longer.

She sounds so sweet and wonderful.  I've hugged her several times just since Sunday.

Anyways.  I have known that we'd have moments like Sunday.  I've been so anxious about them happening.

But, even though my nightmare happened. - The looks that I always imagined - the cries of the girls that I would cry as I dreamed up were real this time - Even though it happened, oh, there was beauty.

I don't have the courage to show you all the photos, but I'll share one with you.  Because you seem to love me so well, and it seems like you love Kristi too.

It's just a photo of the middle child rubbing her mother's feet.  It's kinda hard for me to show you.  I'm unapologetically stingy with my memories.

I hope you love it like I do.  I hope it prompts you to think of my friend.  I hope it makes you love the ones He's given you hard.  I hope it helps you to know that there's not one thing to be afraid of.  I hate to get preachy - because, y'all - my faith has never been so weak - but.  Your nightmares might come true.  Mine have.  There's still so much beauty even in the pain.  I promise.  Don't be afraid today.

Moments like this happen during your biggest fear happening right in front you.