Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 2016

I can hardly believe tomorrow will already be May 1st! When thinking back to March though, it seems like FOREVER ago! April has been a really long month for us! This might be the longest blog post ever as I attempt to recap a crazy month full of highs and lows and also share a little that God is doing in our lives and in my heart.

April started with a trip down to San Diego to Rady's Children's Hospital for a check up with a specialist for B. He was diagnosed with a Periodic Fever Syndrome when he was two and we've been managing it here at our local children's hospital with our wonderful Pediatric Rheumatologist and he unexpectedly passed away in February and the hospital was uncertain if they would be hiring someone else right away. Our Allergist/Immunologist informed us that the doctor responsible for all of the research regarding fever syndromes (which we knew nothing about prior to doing some google research on our own following a series of fevers B had between ages one and two that came almost in a pattern and carried no other symptoms with them) was right here in California at Rady's so we decided it was worth the drive to see the guy that knew more than anyone else.

It was a great visit with lots of information and we were excited to learn that we can manage most of his check ups via email with the doctor and his team of "fever specialists" (who knew there was such a thing) and not have to travel down there too much (because a 6 hour drive with two littles is NOT on my list of things to do again soon)!

Since we were down there we decided to make a long weekend of it and see the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park! The kids both love animals and it was so worth the the trip to see all the cool animals that we don't have at our zoo locally. I would like to put a message in the suggestion box that they level the ground a bit at the zoo. Pushing a stroller with 75 lbs of children up crazy hills in 80 degree weather wasn't my most favorite thing, but I did loose a few lbs on vacation which I feel like NEVER happens!

The line for the actual train ride around the safari was almost an hour long and the kids didn't have it in them at that point so we paid the extra money to bypass the line and get right on and it was TOTALLY WORTH IT! It was every one's favorite part to see the animals in their legit habitat. Our super cool moment of the day was that a baby Rhino had been born at the zoo that same morning and was actually out while we were driving around and we were able to see him at just 5-6 hours old. They are SO cute!

We were able to save FORTUNES by staying with family in Temecula during our trip (and yes, this is their back yard and that is really their view. Swoon). They fed us WELL, gave us more space to sleep and relax than we would have had in a hotel and had plenty of room for the littles to play outside and enjoy the day. They made us dinner fit for royalty the last night, best ribs I've had, steak, chicken, salad, broccoli, rolls, potatoes. I'm full again just thinking about it. We are so thankful for them putting up with us coming and going and two crazy kids who spent too much time in the car and eating junk food all weekend (they were out of control most of the weekend).

The weather this month has been pretty amazing so we've had lots of time to play outside. 

Our sweet puppy that we got in January passed away this month. It was probably the hardest parenting moment we've had to date. We took him in to get fixed (like any normal, responsible pet owner does) and his heart stopped. They did an x-ray and discovered he had an enlarged heart and it was no fault of anyone but so hard. I had to call hubs and tell him at work and then wait until he got home to tell the kids. B was so attached to this dog and is old enough to understand death a bit and he cried and sobbed for literally hours that night. It was awful. We miss him a ton and are probably going to be getting another puppy this summer, but we need some time to grieve the loss of this sweet thing. RIP Paxton "Pax".

The end of March hubs got a call late one night that his good buddy and mentor, Jeff, had found out that day that he had stage four colon cancer that had spread to his liver and his lungs. It was a little crushing for our family and we've spent much of April really trying to put into action some fund raising plans and helping them as a family any way we can. Their dear next door neighbor set up a serve day/cleaning day to get their house sanitized and some projects around their house done before he started chemo to be sure everything was clean and ready for them to be traveling a lot and coming home in between treatments to rest. 

There is nothing like witnessing the body of Christ and a church/work/neighborhood community come together for a common goal to serve and love on someone else. I've been so blessed by these people this month and while we've prayed many prayers and cried many tears for them, we've rejoiced BIG! God is good and to hear his story and see what God is doing in and through them and their family is such and honor and a blessing to us. 

These people below are amazing, selfless folks. They are friends of ours who have a little side hobby/business BBQ'ing. They do fun competitions and cook for friends. They volunteered to cook all of the meat for two BBQ fundraisers. One at hubs work and one at Jeff's church. We were able to get 90% of the food donated by businesses, family of ours and friends so that all the money raised went right to Jeff and his family. These four worked tirelessly to pull them both off (they were in the same week on top of it) and they were both a huge success! Thank you Epperley's and Moore's.

B also started T-ball this month and while soccer last year was a huge failure I feel like he's found his talent! He's really good and loves it! We almost didn't sign him up at the last minute, we had a busy few weeks, I missed the deadline, we were wanting to stay available to friends if they needed us and I wasn't wanting to put one more weekly commitment on the calendar if I didn't need to, but I just on a whim sent in the paperwork and asked if they would still except sign ups and I'm so glad I did. 
We've had some behavior issues with him over the last few years and he defiantly prefers to sit in front of the TV or Ipad rather than do much else so we finally pulled the plug on technology for him and force him outside or to the playroom and this is such a great way to see him shine in what we didn't know was such a strength for him! It's been fun to watch he and KK learn to play together more (they still just fight 90% of the time, but it's getting slightly better). 

Our friend, Jeff gave his testimony at church a few weeks ago and shared not only his life story but all that God has done in this diagnosis process in him and his family. It was so amazing to hear and then to watch the response from people. Lives are being changed and God is making beauty out of ashes. 

"To appoint unto them that your in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified" Isaiah 61:3

This is Jeff on the right and his neighbor/friend, Jay on the left. 

We have met many of their friends in the last month and joke often that we have new best friends of our own now! When you all work together to serve another and pray over another, you get rather close. Jeff started chemo last week and will be traveling 3.5 hours (each way) every week for treatment and check ups. The weeks he receives chemo (every other week) it's a minimum 2 night stay in a hotel and then the other weeks it's a day trip assuming all check ups and tests come back good. If you all would join me in praying for them during this process they would so covet your prayers. 

Hubs was having some tummy issues these last two months so he had some tests run to rule out any big issues & we are thankful everything came back GOOD!

We've spent lots of time playing outside with neighbors this month. It's fun to have kids on the street that B & KK love playing with. Another fun fact, that house in the background of this photo, is now my parents. This is my driveway you see that backs directly into my parents driveway! It's kind of fun and SUPER convenient since my mom watches our kids during the week while we work. Now she can just walk across the street in the morning, or I can walk the kids over there. We joke that we might put in an overpass so the kids can walk over themselves! It's a pretty busy street so we will have to really watch the kids so they don't dart over to see Grandma & Grandpa.

This week I celebrated THIRTY-FIVE! I've never made a huge deal out of birthday's. Especially as an adult, you still have to go to work, you still have to be a mom and a wife etc. but this year my boss & my husband really made it an awesome day/week. I got a pedicure and a massage (both of which I had been longing for) and I got dinner out with my peeps. Tonight I was JUST told I get a date night with hubs too, that he totally planned and lined up babysitting for and surprised me with. I just know that 35 is going to be a great year. I used to kind of dread getting older, but the more you watch the news and read Facebook you realize that not everyone gets the privilege of getting older, I'm going to enjoy it! Every day is a blessing and an opportunity to bless someone else!

As I mentioned, it's been so fun and encouraging to watch Jeff and Kim handle this cancer diagnosis and treatment with such faith and grace and peace. They have shed tears and they have expressed concerns, but never fear or question why. I have never questioned God or His plan at all, but my heart has just ached for them and what I know they are going to endure the next few months. None of us know what tomorrow holds, but they know that chemo is going to be aggressive and it's going to make him really sick and it's going to compromise his ability to be at every social function he wants to be at and every church service he wants to attend and it means being away from his kids three days every other week. All those things I know are hard for them so my heart hurts for them. I had coffee with a young gal this week who is such an amazing, inspiring, loving gal who shared of deep family pain and death and lack of support by loved ones during something really painful. She was still 100% thankful to God for all He was doing in that process I just hurt for her having to experience all of this. I don't lack faith, I still 100% trust that God is in control and that He knew all of this was coming and prepared us all for it long before we knew it was coming. He put people around Jeff & Kim and around my other friend to help encourage them through the hardship and to encourage and life them up. Sometimes my compassion just makes me long for Christ's return and for Him to save us from the pain of this world. I know that Jeff has been receive message after message and meeting with people almost daily who have asked him about his faith and he has stated that watching people come to Christ or recommit their lives to Christ is totally worth the cancer diagnosis to him. While it saddens me to think that's what it took, there is NOTHING more true and biblical than that. How much did Chris suffer for us? How much did he sacrifice? Why are we above pain or suffering? We have been spared death, and eternity in Hell and have been granted a life and eternity with Him by his sacrifice on the cross. We are not deserving of any of that and there's nothing we could do to earn that, He did all that for us. I have realized this week that nothing is too big for us to handle and nothing here is eternal. Christ has gone before us, he has paved the way and has paid the debt. We just need to love Him & love others. That's it. I can't take away others pain or their hardships. I can come along side of them and pray with them and for them and I can offer help and love them in the ways I know how. I can't save the world and I am OK with that, because I serve a God who saved me from all kinds of sin issues. 

 "We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us." 
1 John 3:16-24

(The highlighted verse is Jeff's theme verse and his tag line is "Love like it's your Job!")

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