The Good

Thursday was a bad day.  The bad mojo actually started on Wednesday evening, when I made the unwise decision to binge watch Bachelor in Paradise instead of going to sleep at a decent hour.  I’m six months pregnant and sleep is my very best of friends, so I have no idea why I thought it would work out to stay up until 11:30 to see who got a rose.  Temporary insanity…wait, scratch that…Bachelor insanity.  I swear, those producers know what they are doing!

So I woke up groggy on Thursday morning, wishing I had thought more about my wellness than my reality television addiction.  And while I set with my coffee trying to readjust my attitude, my husband woke for the day, also in a very foul mood.  We’ve been married for a while now (just celebrated 12 years of marriage).  But even prior to marriage, we had discovered that morning is just not a good time for us.  I know other couples wake together, roll over and look lovingly into one another’s eyes, but that just isn’t us.  We have an understanding in the morning that we just don’t speak to each other.  He gives me my time to adjust to the world, and I give him his.  It works out perfectly for us.  This Thursday however, my husband dearest decided on his own to break our sacred agreement, and he unloaded his frustrations to me at 5:30 in the morning.  Ugh.  Not to sound like the worst wife ever, but I don’t even want to think about my own frustrations at that hour.  He realized his folly and apologized before giving me my morning kiss goodbye and heading out the door for the day.

I began the day’s routine, waking up my son.  Then off to my daughter’s room.  Sitting on the edge of her bed, I kiss her forehead and immediately feel the heat radiating from her tiny body.  Fever…there’s no mistaking it.  She wakes, telling me her throat hurts and sure enough, the thermometer confirms what my ther-MOM-meter already detected: 101.2 degrees.  What to do now?

My mom-planning starts to spin.  I begin to make phone calls and send texts.  I need to talk to my boss, arrange for someone to cover my responsibilities for the work day, find someone to stay with my daughter for an hour while I go to a scheduled OB appointment, write my son a note so that he can walk home from school instead of taking the bus to the sitters, call the school and let them know my daughter will be absent today, message my husband and ask him to request a vacation day for tomorrow just in case there isn’t a quick recovery this go-around.  These are the things that parents go through when life throws a curve ball, the thinking-on-our-feet, the quick reactions to make sure everything in life just keeps on moving along smoothly…we never miss a beat.

I saw my son off to school and snuggled my daughter, and I let the frustration of the unplanned, unscheduled day go.  I let it roll off my shoulders and I focused on my daughter…my puny, sore-throated, coughing, feverish, precious, little daughter.  That is the moment that my phone dinged.  A message, I had a message.  My husband messages me “I’m coming home at 9.  My machine is down today.  You can go to work today.  My work issue should be better tomorrow.”

What?!

Wait….what?!

To be clear, I am an administrative assistant.  I have to communicate with a minimum of five different people to be out for one day.  I had sent all of the messages.  I had made all of the calls.  I had everything lined out to be off of work on Thursday and back to work on Friday.  And now, that was all for nothing.  My mom-mind was spinning….if the husband was off today, then he couldn’t be off tomorrow, then I need to be off tomorrow, so I need to go in today, so I need to call my father-in-law and let him know I don’t need a sitter for my doctor’s appointment, I need to send five more text messages and….ugh, I need to take off my fuzzy pants and shower and brush my teeth, and make the switch yet again from mommy-mode to professional-work-Melissa-mode.  Again, my day turned upside down, and I felt like I was just along for the ride.

I sucked it up.  I showered.  I dressed.  I gave my husband a frosty welcome home.  I was sad, unhappy, frustrated.  There are other things brewing in our life as well.  And to be honest, while all of these circumstantial life events may have shaded my and my husband’s mood for this day, the real culprit…the real, gut-wrenching, terrifying, hard thing in our lives in this moment, in this season, has nothing to do with the happenings of Thursday.

My mother-in-law has been battling renal cell carcinoma for two and half years now.  She has faced brain surgeries, kidney surgeries, radiation treatments, and recently we had moved on to immunotherapy treatments.  I write “we”, but that is a lie.  She has faced these horrible things.  She has been the strong one.  She has endured.  She has survived these ugly things, and we have only been here to support, love and pray for her.  Because that is all there is that we can do.  The immunotherapy was supposed to be the saving grace, the magical medicine that would keep the cancer at bay so she can continue to enjoy this life with us.  We got the news a few days prior that the immunotherapy did not work.

I hesitate to share this at all, because this is not my story.  This is her story, but if I’m going to be completely honest with my readers, this is such a raw, close and intense part of our life, that I have to share.  I have to give you the full picture of the good and the scary parts of our lives.  We are not at the end of this story.  My mother-in-law has an appointment with MD Anderson this month.  She is strong and amazing, and all of the wonderful things that the rest of us can only hope that we have inside of ourselves.  She is truly a rock for us many times, although that is so backwards…we should be a rock for her.  But that’s not the truth.  This is our reality.  She is the strong one.

I left for my OB appointment with all of the weight of the world sitting squarely on my shoulders.  I felt heavy, sad…I felt like I was failing…at life.  My heart hurt.  My soul ached.  I sat in the waiting room.  This was my 23 week appointment.  At my 19 week appointment, we had an anatomy scan in which the doctor was able to clear everything for our little growing bud, except for her heart.  She was still just too small to get a clear picture of her heart structure.  So here I was at my 23 week appointment, heading to get another ultrasound, so that we could clear her heart, showing four beautiful chambers, working just the way they should.  I laid on the table with the lights dimmed, the tech placed the scanner on my belly, and on the screen appeared my baby, my third child, my second daughter, my beautiful blessing.  She had grown over the four weeks and her heart was bright and clear, pumping away, beating like the most beautiful drum.  And then I got to see her face, her perfect sweet little chin, her upturned nose (just like her sister’s), the sweet curve of her cheeks…and I realized, that this moment, this moment was good.

this moment was good

And isn’t that how life is?  The quote popped into my mind, “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.”  There is so much that is hard in life, so much that drains us and breaks us.  There are moments we want to give up.  There are moments that we cry, and scream, and times that we hate the things we are going through.  But even on the worst days, we are given these beautiful moments.  Even on the worst days, I can look at my son, at my daughter, at my baby bump, at my silly dogs, at my sweet husband, I can look to my parents, my siblings, my in-laws, our family, the cousins.  I can pull back to the memories, the trips, the beaches, the rides in a teacup, the hugs from a princess.  We can feel the breeze on our face, the sun on our skin, the floor beneath our feet.  We can find the good in the worst of times.  That ability is what makes us as humans so very unique, so resilient, so incredible.  The ability to find the good is truly our gift, and it is what makes this life possible.

The ability to find the good is truly our gift, and it is what makes this life possible.

Wherever you are today, whatever life has thrown your way, whatever difficult, unfair thing, I challenge you to find the good.  Hug the good, kiss the good, absorb it into your being, absolutely squish it into yourself until you feel it inside, and you are no longer observing it, but feeling the good.  And if you can’t seem to find the good, I challenge you to be it.  Be the good because I guarantee those around you are in need of it.  We are capable.  We are survivors.  We are strong.  We are the good.

5 Things I’m just so OVER in my 30s

It’s my BIRTHDAY!  Woot woot!  That’s right, I’m celebrating my own birthday…and I’m not sorry.  I turn 33 today, and I have planned a massage, lunch with my two favorite people in the world (my mom and #1 sister….she’s my only sister but still my favorite), and some shopping for ME!  I took the day off work, which I have never done before, and decided to just enjoy my special day.  I’ve always loved birthdays, and I’ve put countless amounts of time and energy into celebrating those people around me.  However, I have never felt comfortable doing the same for myself.  But this year is different.  I’m totally and completely thankful for another birthday, for another year of this life, and I’m going to celebrate my life and all of the time I’ve been given.

My birthday, and all of this free time this morning, got me to thinking about how much I’ve changed since my teens and 20’s.  Inwardly, I’m the same bubbly, obnoxiously positive, and reserved person.  But outwardly, my habits and lifestyle have changed.   I’m thinking about all of the things that I’m just so OVER (and glad to be over) in my 30’s.  Here are my top 5:

  1. Late nights – Am I the only one who loves crawling into bed at 9:00….errrr, 8:30…..errrr, 8:00…..errrr, okay, okay, as soon as I possibly can?????  Late nights just aren’t gratifying when a five year old is staring at you at 6:00 a.m. waiting for her chocolate milk.  And mornings…I seriously love mornings.  All of the potential of a new day waiting for me.  The calmness of a sleepy world.  Why stay up late and miss out on the fabulousness of morning?  In my 30’s I am so OVER late nights.
  2. Cheeseburgers – And french fries, and deep fried oreos, and chicken strips…shall I go on?  In my 30’s, I eat healthy (aside from the cheesecake I indulged in last night).  But seriously, I make healthier choices, not because I have to, but because I want to.  I’m not trying to stay skinny.  I’m not trying to follow a fad.  I truly care about my health and quality of life.  In my 30’s I’ve found that when I eat better I feel better, and I’m so thankful for that revelation and the desire to make better choices for myself.  This is coming from the former “Queen of the Thickburger” (sorry Hardee’s), and I never thought the day would come, but I’m so OVER cheeseburgers.
  3. Needy People – I’ve had a lot of great people in my life over the years, and I’m thankful for each experience and how it’s shaped who I am and the life I’ve had.  However, in my younger years, I was drawn to people that I wanted to help/fix.  I had many wonderful friendships, but some relationships were draining.  I learned a lot, but friendship for me, in my 30’s, has changed.  Today I’m drawn to friends who challenge me to be a better, stronger, more mature and kinder me.  I want friends who challenge me to think differently, to try new and exciting experiences, and who want a reciprocal relationship in which we both grow together, learning and vibing off one another.  In my 30’s, I’m not interested in fixing anyone.  I’m interested in laughing and learning with my friends, and I’m thankful I have some amazing people in my life fill that space in my heart/mind/soul.
  4. Trends – Trendy clothes, trendy diets, trendy social media, blah, blah, blah.  In my 30’s trends make me tired.  I’ve become a fan of the tried and true.  I want my clothes to be classy, I want my food to be healthy, and I want my communication to be real life.  I value my time and energy.  In my 30’s I’m not interested in being cool or hip.  I’m interested in being me.  Doing the things I love, the way I love to do them.  I’m so OVER trends.
  5. Birthday modesty – As you’ve seen above, I’m pumped it’s my birthday, and I’m okay with that.  I’m so over birthday modesty.  And this why…the fact that we were born….that we were created should be celebrated.  We need to celebrate the fact that our existence isn’t random, we are not accidental, we are not the result of chaos.  Instead, our creator took the care, thoughtfulness, humor and creative effort to design each strength and weakness that we possess.  He did this all in an effort to prepare us for the path that He has made for us.  How can we not celebrate our special day, the day we were born and began this amazing journey?  I’m so OVER birthday modesty….I could not be more grateful for my birthday today.

I received a birthday card yesterday from my co-workers, and it truly touched my heart.  It says:

Celebrating you. On birthdays, we honor our beginnings and remember that in God’s eyes, we have a place in this world no one else has.  Your birthday is a reminder that God put you here for a purpose.

How amazing.  My childhood was magical.  My teens were adventurous and also tumultuous (as everyone’s are).  My 20’s were too much fun and transformational.  And my 30’s….well, so far, my 30’s are just right.

I hope you enjoy your birthday this year (feel free to celebrate yourself…you have my permission).  Every day we are given is a blessing.

 

The World Would Sing

I’m not musically inclined. I can’t carry a note or play an instrument. But I am the person that hears a song everywhere she goes. Music has always touched a special place in my soul, and I tend to remember my life moment by moment…song by song.

A  newsline broke across my screen this afternoon, “Tom Petty Rushed to the Hospital Full Cardiac Arrest”.

As long I can remember, Tom Petty’s music has been the backdrop for so many moments in my life. A trip through one of his many albums and I travel back in time…

…to the girl I was at 14, having my heart broken for the first time

…to the girl at 16 rolling her windows down and hitting the open road with that growling guitar and unmistakable voice as my only passenger…

…to the women in her early 20s making questionable life choices but having SO MUCH FUN…

…to the young woman dancing around her kitchen with her toddler doing her best to teach her babe what real music is about…

…to the the woman who can be too serious, too stressed, too busy but can’t help but smile every single time a Tom Petty song comes across the radio and who quietly thanks God for the little unexpected gift…

Horrible, unspeakable things are happening in the world today. The tragedy in Las Vegas…there are no words. The illnesses we are all experiencing within our families and among our friends. The destruction from hurricanes, earthquakes and fires. I’m scared for the world I’m leaving behind for my children. 

In this life, music comforts me in my most difficult moments. Music has carried me through heartbreak, through betrayal, it has held be up as I learned to cope with death, and gave me solace after a miscarriage. There were good times too. Dancing, singing (off-tune), laughter. Tom Petty’s music has a way of helping his fans to transcend the heavy troubles of this world; he is a remarkable lyricist. A true poet.

Tonight my prayers are full….for those suffering in the world. Prayers of thanks for another evening with my sweet husband and children. I pray for Tom Petty and his family, for his fans. I give thanks for all of the times that his words brought me comfort, joy and excitement. 

He sings, “Yeah, the world would sing if I were king. Can I help it if I still dream time to time.” Tonight, Tom, the world sings with you.


Some Days You Just Have to Say WHATEVER

Some days are better than others. Some days grind at your will to stay a sane, practical human being. Today has been a day (and by today, I mostly mean the last three hours of my life) that has made me want to throw my hands up in the air and say “WHATEVER”. You know what kind of “WHATEVER” I mean…for those of us that don’t use four letter words….”WHATEVER” tends to summarize the effect that this mom is D-O-N-E.

Tonight this is what I made for supper. We have switched to a vegetarian diet (nearly vegan when possible), and I put a lot of energy into trying to feed my family something healthy, fresh and delicious. Tonight’s meal was stuffed sweet potatoes…a mix between sweet and savory. It was good, really good. I know because I ate it. My family however reacted as though I had served them poison. “Sweet potatoes?! I HATE SWEET POTATOES!” they say. Who hates sweet potatoes??? Weirdos.
6000 – 3746 ….this is the math problem that brought not only my son, who was performing the work, to tears, but this piece of arthmitic also had my daughter crying. She can’t be in the vicinity of someone having a bad day and not one-up them. I waited through two melt downs as Jace resisted listening because he just needed to play after a long day at school. I stared at my daughter as she squealed in distress because her brother touched her with his toe. 

Tonight I wanted to say “WHATEVER”….don’t eat….go hungry….don’t learn….who needs subtraction. I wanted to run away (fast!). But I didn’t. We got through every grueling bite of sweet potato. I watched as Jace held his nose, tilted his head back, swallowed hard and then chased his putrid potato with his drink. 

Now I will get up and wash the dishes and I will scrape my husband’s full dinner into the trash (he consoled me for his refusal to eat the food I cooked by apologizing to me that he didn’t like my “yam thing”). 

I can’t help to think back to Sunday morning. I sat in church and listened to my Pastor say that we’re all created in God’s own image. She told us to look at the people sitting next to us and we are actually looking at God’s creation, His creation in His own image. I looked over and saw my children. In that moment I knew without a doubt that she was totally and completely right. These crazy, whiny, emotional, picky-eating children. These loving, caring, funny, sweet, little creations of God. 

They were made by God in His own image just for me. They’re all mine. Every day. On the good days. On the not-so-good days. Every single day they are my gift. So I’ll get up and do my dishes, we’ll read bedtime stories, I’ll tuck them in and I’ll be thankful. I’ll be thankful that I didn’t say “WHATEVER”. I’ll remember that they need me to guide them. They are my responsibility, but even more than that, they are my gift. I am incredibly and bountifully blessed. And instead of saying “WHATEVER”, I’ll say “Whatever He asks of me.” That’s the trade. My children are a gift and it’s not supposed to be easy. So even on the bad days, I’ll do whatever I’m called to do….because I get to be called “Mom”.

Shine a Light for Me

This year is off with a bang…and it’s only January 30th.  As per our usual, this year we’ve seen more than our fair share of medical professionals; we have been enduring a cancer scare with my 4-year old daughter, Jera; I’ve been working through a challenging MBA course…and  all of this has culminated into the ridiculous body of tension that I have become.  This day, Monday, January 30th, was especially overwhelming for me.  I had a quiz due that I have been killing myself studying for…and while that weighed on me heavily, there was more to my stress level today than school.

I have been a total stress case.  Caring for Jera following her tonsillectomy last week, trying to keep her comfortable and happy, working to master my MBA course, Corporate Finance…it has all been…hard.  

I’m not normally a crier, at least not without good reason (I mean, aside from when I watch Marley and Me…but really if you don’t cry during that movie, you’re just stone cold).  In the past two weeks, I’ve found myself in tears more often than I care to admit…trying to sort out my thoughts and feelings…trying to manage myself by myself. Until I just can’t anymore.  My poor family…my mom has received a crying call, my husband has been tearfully dialed, my best friend has gotten sad text messages.   While I’ve worked hard to hold it together, the stress and worry have taken a toll on me and my soul is drained.

The surgeon told me I could call his office in a week to check on Jera’s biopsy results.  Today, five days following the surgery, I couldn’t wait anymore.  I dialed the office mid-morning and left a message with the nurse, hoping that Jera’s biopsy results would be in.  When lunch came and went and I didn’t receive a returned call, I figured the results hadn’t arrived and I would have to wait.  I went online and took another dreaded Corporate Finance quiz (what kind of quiz takes 90 minutes FOR SIX QUESTIONS?!!!)  I was relieved to score better than I had expected.  But still, in my heart was a heaviness.  I decided to take Jera for ice cream and we pigged out.  There’s nothing like soft serve to soothe the soul.


Then, as I was making dinner, my phone rang.  It was the ENT’s nurse.  She was calling to tell me that Jera’s biopsy results are in and the biopsy was NORMAL.  That’s right folks, Jera is CANCER-FREE!!!  She’s just my little fruitcake of a daughter with a former set of goofy (AKA asymmetric) tonsils.  I thanked the nurse for calling and hung up the phone.  I can’t describe to you the feelings that moved through my mind, body and soul in that moment.  Relief, joy, gratitude, exhilaration…there aren’t enough adjectives on this Earth to describe the happiness that call delivered.

There are people whose calls are different than the one I received.  There are people who aren’t  relieved of their worrisome burden with a phone call delivering normal biopsy results.  People I love have received devastating news instead.  I’ve watched those I love wither away with cancer and pass on in the most painful, devastating way.  I’ve also watched others I love fight bravely, becoming the very essence of strength and beauty and beating the fearsome beast.  Today, I am so thankful.  I am so thankful that my sweet daughter doesn’t have to face that fight.  So thankful that she will continue to be her bright, funny, reserved, goofy, girly, wonderfully-made self.


There are no words to repay the prayers that have gone up for us.  There are so many who don’t believe in the power of prayer.  I do.  While prayer may not always change test results, it certainly can lift you up and carry you through difficult times.  Prayer lets us know we are not alone.  Prayer is love.  You cannot pray for someone without loving them.  In praying for your neighbor, you strengthen not only your neighbor, but you grow love in your own heart as well.  And even more importantly, in praying for yourself, you invite God in and allow Him to help. I have been stressed.  I have cried.  I have been short and snapped and laid awake wondering.  But through prayer and the support, prayers and love of our friends and family, we have made it through this trial and we are ready to move on to brighter days.  The start of this year has been difficult, but after the good news we received today, it has also been awesome.  God is good.

I’ll end this blog with the lyrics of a song I heard for the first time yesterday by Brad Randall. I had never heard of him or his music…I was listening to a “popular” music station, not a Christian station…but this song came across my speakers at the exact moment I needed it and I know it was a God-thing. 

Make a path for me, make it wide for every man to see

Maybe I’ll find it

Shine a light for me, make it pure and hang it from a tree

So bright I’m blinded

If I said I don’t want you to come knockin’ on my door

Then I’d be lying

If for some reason I told you I don’t need you anymore

Then I’d be lying… lying

Enough, hearing voices I can’t stand to hear like thunder from a storm

Where is your lightning

I’m tossing and turning underneath my sheets at night in a room no longer warm

My chest is tightening

If I said that I could get through this without any help

Then I’d be lying
If my lips claim I’m strong enough to take care of myself

Then I’d be lying… lying

I’d be lying

Cover my ears and my heart is broken
Bruise on my knees when the walls start to open
I’m searching through the tunnels of the feelings that are running deep

Wasting time because the answer is right in front of me
Battling an enemy that is standing about five foot ten

Wondering if I’m ever gonna be myself again

Hold me in your arms and take away my worldly fears

Please don’t tell me all the things that I don’t wanna hear
I’m so afraid of what you’re gonna tell me
The fears come but I know you led me

Know the problems that are wearing out my soul inside

It’s the only way that I can make the wrong go right

Make the wrong go right

And I love everything about you

Everything about you 

If I said I don’t want you to come

Knocking on my door

Then I’d be lying… Lying…

A Good Day

Today was a good day. We have been anxiously awaiting an appointment with an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist to discuss our daughter, Jera’s, asymmetrical tonsils. Our family doctor had thrown around the possibility of lymphoma as an underlying cause for the asymmetry, and with Jera’s many health struggles, we have been stressed, holding our breath, and biding our time until we could talk to a specialist about his thoughts on her unusual tonsils. Today, January 10th, my husband’s 34th birthday, was finally the day.

I feel so blessed to have been referred to Dr. Ehrhard. He was friendly, warm and kind. He spoke directly to Jera and allowed her to sit on my lap. We talked through her health issues. His calmness was contagious. He asked Jera to open her mouth and then confirmed what we had already seen. Her right tonsil is enlarged, and while her left tonsil was also enlarged, the right tonsil was considerably larger. 

This is where he paused and took a moment to address all of the thoughts that were running through our heads. He said, “From one parent to another, I want you to know that when these things happen, we think about what could be causing it. I want you to know that in my experience, I’ve never come across this (asymmetrical tonsils) and had the cause be something bad.” There was an audible release in the room, as Phil and I both sighed out all of the tension that had been building.  I told him we had been so worried. He told me he understood, that your child being in danger is a parent’s worst fear. I checked with him again, “You’ve seen this before?” “Yes,” he told me, “and in my experience, I’ve never found a bad cause.” 

He wouldn’t even say the c-word…never let it come to his lips…he said “a bad cause/thing”. He knew what we feared. He’s trained to know the signs and symptoms of abnormalities in the throat. But he also knows a parent’s worry. What a tremendous blessing that this compassionate man is Jera’s doctor. 

Jera is scheduled for a tonsillectomy on January 25th. Her tonsils will be biopsied and we will know for certain that our daughter is okay…she’s just a girl with goofy tonsils. Oh…correction, soon she’ll be a girl with NO tonsils, and I’m okay with that! 

I’m praying Jera remains healthy and we’re able have her surgery as planned on the 25th. I’m praying that her recovery is quick and as painless as possible. And I’m praying that following her biopsy, we can confirm that she’s just a girl with goofy tonsils…with the reassurance of her doctor’s previous  experience, I feel optimistic about what is to come.

So tonight we celebrated my husband’s 34 birthday. We lit candles, sang the birthday song and ate some terrible, gluten-free angel food cake. And I mean TERRIBLE cake (Jera still ate it happily, just thankful to have cake). But we celebrated with hearts that were lighter, hopes that were higher and faith that continues to grow.

Thank you to everyone who has held our family, and especially my precious daughter, in your prayers. I believe in the power of prayer. I cannot express how I’ve felt lifted up by the outpowering of support and love from my readers, our friends and our family. We are blessed beyond measure. Please continue to pray for Jera as we move through this journey to a healthier, stronger tomorrow.