Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Memorable Week-to say the least

It has been said that we gain wisdom by keeping our mouths closed and our eyes and ears wide open.

It has been a week of keeping my mouth quite closed, but not necessarily in a way I would have chosen.  Funny thing about it, we don't usually choose the bumps in the road and how they come along.  If we did, would we really sign up for it?  Would I choose to say, "Yes!  Give me that to deal with, because I know on the other side I will have learned something and things will all "work out" in the end.:"  But if I'm really honest would I say, "pick me?"  I wish I could say I would.  But my flesh is weak, and I don't like hardships any more than the next person.

I posted this on Christmas afternoon with the following family pictures:
"May we keep our eyes and ears wide open to receive the most blessed gift of Christmas."

It's easy to post the beautiful smiling pictures, because we always want to put our best foot forward, right?  Who doesn't want that?  To look at those faces smiling back saying in that moment, everything was so good.

In a few hours from that post, we had parked just outside the Davenport.  We were meeting up with Ben's Aunt Faye and Uncle Scott.  We had a nice, short visit and this is what we found when we got back to our car:

In that moment you just think, "Really?  Someone would do this to ME??"

Followed by a moment of panic and a million thoughts running through your head like....
  • What was in there that someone wanted so bad?
  • What was taken?
  • Is everything replaceable?  What was taken that is irreplaceable?  
  • Do we call the cops?  Will they ever catch the person?
  • How can someone be this desperate?
  • Why didn't they take more?
  • It's 20 degrees out here and how am I supposed to get my family to our destination without freezing?  
  • My kids are crying.  What do I tell them?
  • How are we going to clean this up, it's 7:30 on Christmas night?
  • Where's the nearest gas station?
  • Really, someone didn't see this happen?  We were just outside the Davenport!
You can only "freeze" so long and then you have to take action.  Thankfully, Ben called the cops to report (not that it does any good), we got the girls in their seats (which were untouched, thankfully), threw as much of the glass into the street as possible and headed off to find a gas station. 

We about an hour away from our destination so we had to figure out some way to get the window covered so we could travel the rest of the way to the Christmas house.  (We rent a big house with my family every Christmas instead of exchanging presents--we love it!  See blog post from beginning of the year.) 

First attempt:  Duct tape a plastic bag to window.  We quickly figured out this doesn't work when traveling along the freeway as I am trying to hold everything tight so it doesn't get completely sucked out the window.  Ben yells "Is it too loud?"  I yell back, "what?"  Yes, maybe too loud.

Meanwhile we have sweet Audrey bawling her eyes out behind us so sad that they had taken Mommy's bag with all her stuff in it.  Picture it--trying to drive down I-90 with garbage sack taped to passenger side window, trying to calm the girls down.

I finally say we have to pull off and try something different.

Next attempt:

Close a bed sheet in the door.  Brilliant.  Why didn't we think of that?  Now we could make our way down the freeway in a bit more peace.  The girls were exhausted, upset and hungry.  Meanwhile, me, 26 weeks pregnant is trying to just keep it all together. 

This is a first time experience for me.  I have never had anything stolen of mine (that I can remember.)  That night, I happened to have quite a few things stolen that can be replaced but a handful of things that cannot.  Of those is my favorite travel Bible my Grandmother gave me the year I graduated.  It has been on all my mission trips with me.  I pray it finds its way into the hands of someone who has yet to find Jesus.

There were quit a few teachable moments with the girls.  They just couldn't understand why someone would do that.  I tried to explain, but silently in my heart that I did feel a bit violated, if I may say so.

It's a reminder that this world is not our home, and that our possessions are just that---possessions that we can't take with us.  Life is a mere vapor.  May I daily be reminded of that to keep my perspective eternal.  (Maybe without the break-in).  :)  But if need be, so be it.

The timing was kind of interesting as we had just celebrated Christmas that morning with the girls and we had talked about how we didn't "need" any of the things we would be getting.  We talked about donating some of our things we already had.  Not sure if this counts since we didn't voluntarily give it away, but it did all kind of bring a smile to my face.

We arrived at the Christmas House, putting it behind us (after spending the next day cancelling credit cards/changing passwords/cancelling checks/etc), looking forward to a week together with my family.  We so enjoy our time together.  This is the 8th year we have spent this week together like this.  A week of meals together, outings, watching movies, playing games, and just being together.  Often we ski, or go to a water park, or something along those lines.

But, 24 hours later....this was my reality...

Keeping it real here folks.  No more picture perfect smiles.  Instead, sitting in an urgent care with my mask on after they asked "do you have a cough?"  Trying real hard to keep my aloha on.  (But feeling more like the kid on the sign behind me.)

Of course my oxygen levels were going to drop trying to breathe through that mask on my face.  My husband was back at the house with our two sick girls, so my dear sister took me in. She was so good at keeping me distracted.  Bought me water, cough drops and kept the family updated. 

After a little over an hour, we were finally taken into a room.  She takes my blood pressure and asks if I'm normally low.  I say yes, but asked her what I was at she responded with 99/58.  Wow, not normally THAT low.  :)  Baby was moving great though and had a fantastic heart beat.

Now came the fun part.  Getting swabbed to see if I had the flu.  Two nurses came in, masked and ready to attack.  Telling me they were each going to do one, but not at the same time.  Let's just say I figured out quickly which one was still training.

30 minutes later,  the Doctor came in and I was given the news that I tested positive for BOTH Influenza A and B.

Merry Christmas to me!  This explained the fact that I had been unable to physically get out of bed for 2 days.  It takes a lot to get me down, but apparently that's a symptom of the flu.

I spent most of the remainder of the week in my room, trying to contain the bug.  Unfortunately, it is very contagious and  most everyone else has gotten some sort of sickness.  Of which I do feel horrible about. 

You know what's beautiful about it though?  We are all in it together.  Everyone has pitched in and helped.  My husband has been a rockstar, taking care of me, and our sick girls and helping with meals.  Now it's caught up to him, and he's come down with it.  My family hasn't kicked us out, but instead told us we should stay so they can help take care of us.

Insult to injury-just as I felt good enough to be "on duty" for the girls, and let Ben get some good rest since he was sick, I'm also cleaning up puke from the girls gagging on their coughs.  Ah, the beautiful realities of life.

I am overwhelmed by the love and care from my husband and family.  I am reminded that sometimes God's love comes out in the most tangible ways.  In the bringing of food, the refilling of my water bottle, poking their head in to see if I need anything, helping take care of the girls.

I was able to go outside today and get this picture with my girls.

It will be a reminder to me that God does heal all our sicknesses (we aren't there yet, but making baby steps!), except for the one that might take us home.  It's a reminder that there is always beauty to be thankful for.  A reminder that there is so much more behind the smiles in a picture.  There are stories to know.  A reminder to not take my health for granted.  A reminder to always look for the silver lining. A reminder to be still.  To not rest in my own strength. 

A new year begin tomorrow.  A new fresh white piece of paper that is just waiting to be written on.  The story of 2018.  I know I usually tend to take a stab at writing the story the way I think it should go.  May I never forget my lessons from the past, but boy am I sure looking forward to a new chapter beginning. Once again, I am reminded to let go and let the true author take the pen and write HIS story.

May I remember the lessons of Be Still.  Surrender.  Abide. 

May 2018 be full of less of me and more of resting in HIS strength.  Less striving.  More brokenness.  More remembering that He IS working all things for our good.  More receiving the grace he so lavishly gives. 

Happy New Years!  

The HIGHS and LOWS of 2017

Some days are so long, and yet, here I am looking at my blog realizing a year has gone by without another post since early January.  I hope some day it will be fun for my girls to look back and maybe read some of these, so for that reason alone, I'll try to record some of our memories of the year. 

The blessings in our HIGHS this year: 
  • Getting to take our girls snow skiing for the first time back at the end of December.  
  • Celebrating Audrey's 4th birthday with my Grandma's 90th birthday.
  • Seeing Audrey's love for coloring and drawing grow through the year.  She takes her time and does such a great job staying in the lines.  Maybe a future artist?  
  • Watching Kayla perform in her first Spring Concert as a Kindergartner in March.  
  • Seeing Kayla finally develop an enjoyment for Kindergarten last spring and such respect and love for her teacher, Mrs. Kiblen.  
  • Watching Kayla make new friends.
  • Surprising sister Bridgett with a girls trip to Leavenworth for the weekend to celebrate her 40th birthday!  What special memories!
  • I was able to run in my first relay race-the Palouse 100K-with our team Pacing the Dream: Todd Kinley, Shelby Ledbetter, Heather Cammack, Dave Ledbetter, Brian Vandenburg, Lori Brown, Dana Repp and Steve Bretveld.  I ran the first leg of 6.8 miles and I did it in PR time!  
  • It motivated me then to train for speed and run my fastest 5K ever with Jamie Kinley at the Seattle Rock and Roll 5K, meanwhile cheering Dave on in his half marathon! 
  • Helping Kayla prioritize piano lessons under my Mom's direction and watching her perform in her second Spring Piano Recital.
  • Audrey has enjoyed being in gymnastics.  She did a great job at her end of the year performance in May.
  • Seeing how proud Kayla was on her last day of Kindergarten!
  • Ben and I getting to celebrate 10 years of marriage with a trip to MAUI for 9 nights by ourselves!  So thankful for my parents being able and willing to watch our girls for us during that time.  
  • We were able to take 3 "camping" trips with our camper down to Clarkson over the Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day weekends.  Extra fun is that we were able to do it with extended family as well.
  • Special visits from our dear friends the Dalys' and Kuntzs'.
  • Summer activities of Dance Camp, Cheer Camp and Swim lessons
  • Ben's parents making two trips out to see us this year.
  • Spending a weekend with the Vandenburgs on Lake Coeur d Alene
  • Ben and I getting to go to Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, NeedToBreathe AND Garth Brooks all in the same calendar year!  Better yet--with friends!
  • Our girls getting to spend a week in Montana with their Grandparents and Cousins at Granny Camp.
  • Finding out we were going to add another baby to our family!  
  • Getting to tell the girls they were BOTH going to be big sisters.  
  • The girls coming up with their own idea to do a Lemonade Stand and helping make all the treats and items they sold.  It was a smashing success in our front yard!  
  • Spending time with good friends at the park, water park, in each other's living rooms, at McDonald's or wherever the meeting was.  
  • Boating in the hot summer sun.  Skiing, tubing-seeing the joy on the girls' faces as they road in Grandma's new tube!  
  • Watching Kayla turn 7.  Where has the time gone?  She takes such good care of her dolls and loves to do crafts and coloring.  She also started up gymnastics again in the fall, and really enjoys it.  She learned Angles We Have Heard on High on the piano for this Christmas season and LOVED playing it!  
  • The girls participating in their first 5K Fun Run in Pullman.
  • Getting our cat Foxy from the Humane Society.  She has been a special addition to our family.
  • Celebrating Thanksgiving in Vegas with the Kovanda Family!  
  • Celebrating with Bridget in her College Graduation!  We are so proud of you!
  • Having a peaceful Christmas morning together as a family of four.  
  • Spending a week together as family at the "Christmas House."  This year, it took on a little different meaning, but we truly are family!  
  • FAMILY--through sickness, health, joys and trials, I am sooooo thankful for my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews.  

The blessings in our LOWS this year:
  • I was very sick the first 3 months of this pregnancy.  So sick, I didn't really feel like doing much of anything and felt nauseous all the time!  In this time, I was thankful for those that stepped in to help and minister to me and our family.  I was also reminded about times of resting and how they are just as important as times of play!
  • Ben lost some great help at work this fall that had really been a huge blessing to him.  He is still figuring out what this new norm looks like
  • Seeing our kids make bad choices from time to time, and feeling like failures as parents.  This reminds us that none of this is our doing.  There by the Grace of God go we.
  • Getting a horrible cold at the beginning of December and being forced to miss some important activities.  A reminder to be thankful for our health when we have it.  
  • Having our car broke into on Christmas Day.  (More on this later).  Still processessing.   
  • Coming down with influenza A AND B the day after Christmas.  More on this later too.  :)
Congrats if you made it to the end of this.  Haha!  We praise God through each one of these highs and lows because HE is always our good, good Father.  Thankful for the past and looking ahead towards the future.  

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Joy of Christmas at the Christmas House 2016

Instead of exchanging gifts with my parents, siblings and our families for the past 6 years, we have rented a house for the week of Christmas.  It has truly been the best "investment" and worth more than the price tag of any gift I could have ever received.

We spend the week making memories and feasting on wonderful food while just "doing life" together.
Yes, we are smiling in most of these pictures, but no, we are not perfect.

Yes, we find joy in the small things, but no, we are not without our own trials and hardships.

Yes, we all have our flaws and differences, but no, we don't let those stand in the way of cultivating lasting friendships.

Yes, we are loud, we are messy, and there is never a quiet moment, but no, we don't care if you stop in on us and see who we really are.

Yes, Satan wants to tear all 16 of us apart because we try to be a light for Christ through our love, but no, we are held together by God's amazing grace, brought together by the bonds of Christ that are not to be broken.

Yes, we spend 7 days together, and no, we don't come home upset or mad at each other.

In fact, we all grow closer together.  It's a place where we are shaped and believed in and taught how to love deeper.

We are grateful for each other, for here is where we have learned to love, learned to fight, and learned to rise about it all to love back, fight back and share that with others.

I am so grateful for this gift-a gift gift of having a place to belong=FAMILY.