Monday, September 29, 2008

To Ella

To Ella,

Dear baby girl, I was honored to see you born the other day. To see you enter the world, hear you take your first breaths and watch you become more loved in your first minutes than you'll probably ever realize.

You were prayed for way before any of us ever knew you were on the way. Your mom and dad were faithful to seek God's face every night because they desired you so much. Your aunts, uncles, grandparents and other friends pleaded with God to bring you here. Even when we thought there was a chance we might not ever meet you, we had faith and God answered our prayers and the desires of your mom and dad's hearts. Your name carries that legacy.

As your Aunt B, there are so many things that I want to teach you. As a little person, I wish there was a way to give you a crash course on life right now, before the world comes in and tries to convince you otherwise. And while I know that's unrealistic, here are a couple of the most important things I want you to know:

  • You're beautiful and you have been from the very second you were born. Your skin tone, hair, eyes, mouth and nose are absolutely perfect. Don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise. Don't compare yourself to the other girls on the billboards or TV. They're not you, they looked differently when they were born, and you're absolutely the way God intended you to be.

  • Your mom and dad love you so much. I know that as you get older, you might not believe it all of the time, but it's true. Your dad locks the doors not to prison you in, but to protect you (he was doing it before you got here.) Their rules and guidelines are there to help you grow, even though they might not feel like it.

  • Live for your passions. Find out what you're good at and what you love - and focus on that. Don't let the world tell you you're not good enough. Just keep going. If you love to sing, sing your heart out with your mom. If you're into sports, play with Uncle Mikey. If you love to bake, go to Aunt Heather's. If you want to kickbox, come with Aunt B. If you draw, paint, learn karate, love pottery, go fishing, play soccer, or whatever it is - do it with all your might. Don't give up when it seems hard. It will set you back years that you can't get back.

  • Love Jesus. Little girl, you were born in 2008 for a specific reason. You're here because throughout your lifetime, you will meet so many other people and your job is to keep telling others about Jesus. Know that He loves you. He died for you. And the only thing to make sense of world that gets crazier by the minute is to cling to your relationship with Him. Put effort into knowing him. Be still and let Him talk to you.

  • Know that everything happens for a reason. Life is hard, and it's easy to see all of the bad and none of the good when you're in pain. But remember that God works for the good of all things, and right around the corner will be a blessing in disguise. Keep the faith. When I got sick and found out I couldn't have my own kids, I could have been really sad and mad at God. But He had blessings in store for me that will far outweigh any loss I feel. Your mom and dad have become lifelong friends who gave me an opportunity that only David and Jonathan-like friends do, I watched you come into the world. To become family with someone who's not your blood-family is a supernatural experience I hope you have one day. I don't wish pain, sickness, grief or anything bad ever happens to you. But know that when it comes (because it will) - that you can make it through and there is a bag of blessings beyond your belief on the other side.

I love you and I will always fight for you. You're precious and I'm so glad you're here,
Aunt B

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Happy Adoption Day Lindley

This is the first time in two years as pet owners that Mike and I have remembered to celebrate our dog's adoption day. We better get better at this if it applies to our kiddos one day.

Anyway, today we've had Lindley for two years. Oh what a far way she has come since that first day with her. When we met her outside of PetCo, she was pulling the Furry Kids Refuge worker around the sidewalk as he took her for a walk. Her name was Summer. We were amazed at her muscles and gentle, yet ferocious, personality. I was excited at first, but when she got home, I got really nervous. I wasn't sure if I would love her as much as Joey. Silly how I hear that parents expecting their second child feel the same way. That was quickly reversed, as she's become 'my dog' around the house. We named her Lindley to go with our dog-naming theme of Dawson's Creek names. We didn't really think "Jen" fit her very well, so we took a last name from the show.

It's been a great two years with Lindley. We've seen a timid, abused little dog come into our home and with a lot of love, laying on the couch and treats, she's turned into one great pup. She's pretty easy to train, and it actually looks like she's smiling when she's happy. While she still might bark when people come in to help guard our house for us, she really has become a loving little thing.

My favorite Lindley memories:
- Finding a Gentle Leader and actually being able to take her on a walk.
- When we found a used kids swimming pool and she jumped right in and was cracking us up.
- On a walk, she basked in a realtor's really nice fountains for a little splash. We had to pull her out b/c we were scared of the security cameras.
- She bit Matt Hays. Sorry Matt, sad for him but a humerous story. Similiar to the story with my step-dad.
- She was a partner-in-crime with Joey a few weeks before Christmas and ended up completely tearing up our living room in the middle of the night and shredding ornaments, leather wallets, pillows, etc. Bad experience, good story.
- She caught a mouse in our house!
- And my favorite of all time -- she knew Kelley was pregnant before any of us. Crazy!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Cancer First

This weekend at the Big Dam Walk, I had a first.

In my cancer journey, I've had many unique experiences. I had to sit in a cafeteria without any food, masking the reason of having a colonoscopy the next day with the lie that I wasn't hungry.
I had a massive surgery on the day of a big test, and worried about having hair for prom more than what dress I was wearing that night.

I can't count the number of raised eyebrows from doctors, nurses and strangers when they learned I had colon cancer at age 17. I've been the "baby" of most cancer groups, and been the youngest person in the room to be diagnosed with colon cancer when I'm with a bunch survivors.

But this weekend, I met a gal who was diagnosed at age 16. She is 29 years old and has been a survivor for 13 years!

When I walked up to be introduced to her, I felt mixed feelings. Half of me was in disbelief that I was actually meeting a fellow teen diagnosee. I was ecstatic that the purpose of the Colon Club had come through for me! I was actually meeting someone else "just like me." On the other side, I was very humbled. My unique age and situation had built up walls of pride that quickly came falling down when I realized I wasn't the youngest in the group anymore. It was a very needed, timely and appropriate experience for me to have this weekend.

Each time I get together for a cancer cause, I am remembered by how blessed I am to still be here, and inspired to live my life with the mindset that I am still here for a reason. Now let's go find it.

Enjoy some pics of the day...