I find myself still struggling with the polarity of our lives. How to share the awesome, amazing parts of our lives, while still being real about the challenges being faced, continues to befuddle me. How to give each it's due without detracting from the other, is simply always a challenge.
Perhaps this is just how the days are...torn with tension. The quiet moments of grace, and the sharp moments of disappointment that feel like they come too frequently . Living in tension together daily. The celebrated and the mourned. The heartache and hope. Hope filled prayers for healing, and broken laments for that which we continue to face. And somehow one doesn't cancel the other. Somehow, they live in some unique harmony that allows for an exceptional existence.
I have been painfully quiet. It sometimes feels like so much happens, so quickly, with emotions ranging from one extreme to the other, that somehow documenting it is impossible. And yet, this is our story, in all it's glory and heartache, all rolled together and responsible for the exceptional life we truly live.
With that...here I am again. For now at least. It has been 2 years and 6 months since my last post...and really, much longer since I have posted regularly. I have made promises...mostly to myself...to post more regularly, to find my voice again, to no avail. So, this time, I am just going with it and we will see what happens!!
Just a little trip down memory lane first!!
January 1, 2011 marks the date of the first blog post here, and in the six years since....
- Somehow, amazingly, we have surpassed 121,000 views here on our little space on the internet in that time!!
- The kids have gone from 12, 14 and 17, to 18, 20 and 23!!
- We moved from the only house that the kids had ever known five years ago, fell in love with our new place, and officially became the owners of "that place where we live" two years ago!!
- We have had the incredible joy of six more Wish Nights with so many people we care about, celebrating and supporting our beloved Make A Wish Foundation.
- We have been blessed to add two new fur babies, as well as one scaly one, to the family...Sloane, the Chorky; Lexie, the tortoiseshell kitten; and Wilson, the yellow belly racer.
- All three kids were honored for their volunteer efforts when they became SuperStars three years ago, and we have been blessed to be able to continue to attend the yearly black tie event, and see our precious friends there!! Madison missed 2015 because of a hospitalization, but was back for the fun this last year!!
- We have been blessed with six more trips to Seattle, and while it has not always been as a whole family (Michael missed the trip in 2012 due to his accident, and Madison in 2015 due to her health), it has continued to be a place we love, and cherish, both because Camp Korey is there, but also because of the family we have gained there. Madison's health no longer allows for her to attend camp as a counselor, but Chance and Abby continue to give back to this place that means so much to us, and Madison gets the chance to at least touch the soil where so much love exists. It hurts (painfully deep) that Madison isn't able to be a part of camp anymore, but after not having her there with us at all in 2015, just being able to physically have her with us when we go, major equipment and all, as we did in 2016, gives you the perspective to understand what's really important.
- We have added new medical equipment to the house, perhaps faster than anyone would like, and while we sometimes curse its existence (usually when it is alarming at 3:00am and needs attention), we are grateful that these machines exist, and that we are able to get them and continue to care for the kids here at home.
- We have repeatedly been blessed to have the kids friends come and stay with us for a bit, and they are always good to keep the life and energy going here!! From Hannah (RIP sweet girl) in Virginia, to Annie in Oregon, to Jake in Virginia, to Daniel in Washington, these precious souls continue to be a critical part of maintaining the joy. Love each one of these young people, and we are so blessed to have them in our lives!!
- We have, as a family, been blessed to be able to continue to give back to the organizations that mean so much to us for another 6 years!! Our efforts for the Make A Wish Foundation continue; I am 6 years into serving on the Family Advisory Council at Cook Childrens; all three kids have now served on, and graduated from, the Youth Advisory Council at Cook Children's, and are now starting the process to serve there as adults with the art and music program; and we have had the incredible honor of representing Camp Korey, and sharing our story numerous times now, and every chance we get. Being able to give back to the organizations and people who have helped us continues to be perhaps the biggest blessing in our lives, and we cannot wait to see what we can accomplish in the coming year!!
- We have removed more than our fair share of diseased and dysfunctional organs from family members in these six years, including Chance's entire large bowel, Madison's gall bladder, (and soon, part of her small bowel), and a bit more of McNair's small bowel, too. We have worked on McNair's hip, put tubes back in Madison's ears, and did injections to multiple body parts, on multiple people here!! Soon (as in this week), a part of my disc at L4 will be snipped out, and allow my irritated nerve at L5 to get a break!!
- We have traveled, sometimes for medical care, but almost as much for escape and rejuvenation!! We have traveled to Houston, of course, as well as Florida, New York, Seattle, and Austin. Even as each year the process to get us to our destinations becomes more complicated, from a medical perspective, (and if I am honest, even an emotional one), these trips are so incredibly precious to us, providing needed respite, but also memories to hang onto, and moments together as a family, and with friends, that we acknowledge will not always be possible. There may be no part of getting away that is easy, but the rewards are well worth the effort, every time.
- In these six years, there have been more doctors and therapy appointments, procedures, surgeries, hospital stays, medications, and tests than I can bear to go back and count. And at the same time, there has been more life lived within these four walls than most. It is without doubt a challenging existence, but it is an existence that is intentional, and precious, and one I would choose again and again.
- In these six years, each one of the kids has finished school, and are all working on what their future is going to be!! Chance is working toward becoming a Luthier (guitar builder). Madison's passion is photography, and she is already award winning!! And Abigail dreams of somehow utilizing all of her creative talents in some remarkable way, and in the meantime is working a part time job at a bakery, gaining skills and experience in the real world!! To have dreams and plans for adulthood is such an incredible gift to all of us, and we cherish the opportunity to think about, and plan for what is happening, and comes next.
- In this time, we have lost some incredibly precious people to us, including my grandmother, Michael's grandmother, multiple great uncles, aunts, and dear friends. Our hearts have broken, time and again, and with each time, our resolve to live this life to the fullest, with as much love as possible, becomes paramount. We honor each of these precious souls in this way.
- Six more years of family traditions, including birthdays, Halloween costumes, and time with family and friends at six more Thanksgiving's and Christmas's. So incredibly grateful for these moments, and that they continue to be important to us all.
- Six more years of family and friends pitching in and helping us live this exceptional life. From helping us move, to the incredible efforts made for us after Michael's accident, to making camp possible for the kids each year, to helping us get Madison's power chair, to making sure things run smoothly here at home when I am taking care of someone in the hospital, to assisting in the day to day activities our lives entail. Precious family and friends that make sure we know we are loved, and that our team is substantial, and with them, no obstacle is too big for us to overcome. I pray each day that each one of you know how much you have blessed us with your presence in our lives...in exactly the right way, in exactly the right timing, as I like to say. Special thanks goes out to my mom, who has sacrificed so much to help us over the years. We literally could not have done what we have with this life if not for her part in it. We love you mom, forever and always, and never could thank you enough for all you have done. And special thanks to my sister for being my best friend, and greatest cheerleader. Love you sis.
- Six more years with my precious husband, and as a family of five. It never escapes me how blessed we all are to still be in this together, and how precious each moment is.
Thank you all for being a part of our journey, and for the love and support you give. I sincerely hope to share more, and to memorialize the amazing adventure we are on together. Love and hugs to all!!! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!!