Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Chalkboard Printables

I'm working on a couple of craft ideas for a Christmas Craft Night 
at my church next weekand came up with these cute 
little chalkboard printables to use as tiny ornaments or gift tags. 

I'll post directions on how to make the ornaments in a few days 
{it's super simple though and you can probably figure it out from the pic above}
but thought I'd go ahead and post the prints
 in case anyone wants to print and frame them.

To Print:  click on the image and when it opens in Google Drive, 
click Open and then File and choose download from the list of options.  
Save each image to your computer and right click on it and choose Print, 
then choose the size you'd like to print.  
They print great on white cardstock or you can send them to
 your favorite photo store like Walgreens or Wal-mart.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Words to Live By

Howdy sweet friends! 
 I can't believe it's been a month since my surgery.  
I'm slowly healing and working hard to get back to normal after my surgery. 
I'm still dealing with balance issues (going to vestibular therapy twice a week)
and trying to build up my stamina.  
Today is only my second day on the computer 
(although I've been using my phone and iPad for several weeks)
which seems CRAZY!

God has been so very good and so very gracious to me. 
 I'm feeling better every single day and will be posting soon about 
some of the amazing blessings that have happened through this trial. 

I read Romans 12 in The Message the other morning and so loved the translation. 
 I decided they were words that I should read every single day 
so I created a little printable to frame and put on my desk. 

 If you'd like your own copy you can download one HERE.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Surgery day!

We are ready to go. Yesterday was a whirlwind of appointments in preparation for today.... the big day.

I'll be posting updates at for her as the day progresses. 

- Gina

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How Can I do This?

For the last few weeks I've been working on my list of things that need to be done before we leave for Houston on Monday morning.

My list contained lots of things related to work and lots of things related to home.  I know it probably looked ridiculous to some people because it included things like:
-clean out the pantry
-clean out the refrigerator
-clean out my drawers
-clean out the tupperware cabinet
-get a pedicure
-write down a list of all my passwords
-organize my closet

Most of those things may seem silly but I knew that having all of the closets and drawers cleaned out and everything in it's place would make me feel less stressed- plus it gave me something to do to keep me preoccupied.

But now that list is complete. All of my tasks are checked off.  Short of finishing packing my bag for the hospital, I'm as ready as one can possibly be- at least physically.

However, I keep can I do this?

When I can't sleep at night I think about those last few hours before I go into surgery and I wonder.

I wonder.....

  • How do I hold my sweet baby girl and look her in the eyes and tell her it's going to be okay without absolutely falling apart?
  • How do I hug my sweet Daddy and tell him not to worry?
  • How do I kiss my sweet husband knowing how difficult the next 12 hours will be on him?
  • How do I go to sleep not knowing if I will wake up and still be me?
  • How will I handle it if I wake up and my facial nerve has been severed?

I don't know the answer to those questions so I do the only thing I know to do- I pray.

While I'm Waiting

These past few weeks before surgery have been both wonderful and horrible. There are days when I simply cry over absolutely everything and am completely terrified and horrified and others where I'm able to smile and laugh and go on with life as if nothing is wrong and almost forget what is coming in the weeks ahead. Almost.

I know without a single solitary doubt that God will use this time in my life for His good and have already seen some TREMENDOUS blessings come from it. He truly is so very good to allow me to see those blessings.

Anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE more than anything to help and to do for others. Serving and giving are the things that make my heart so very happy and I think are a large part of what makes me who I am. It is what I do and what makes me happiest. Giving I think I am fairly good at. Accepting love and help from others? I am so NOT good at. Like HORRIBLY bad.

I am definitely my mothers child and I remember as she battled cancer watching her sitting in her bed crying one day as I cleaned her house. When I asked her why she was so upset said that it was because she hated that everyone was having to take care of her and do things for her. I remember my response so clearly as I said " Do you get joy from helping others and taking care of them? Well guess what? So do we. You've taken care of us for years and now it's our turn. We love you and it is our honor to do this for you.  And if you don't let us? You are being a joy stealer!"

That conversation has run through my head countless times over the past few months as I have been showered with love by those around me. I have cried buckets of tears- overwhelmed by the kindness of my family, friends, co-workers, and strangers.  I will never, ever be able to thank each person but I treasure every call, text, gift, email, prayer, treat, meal, and offer of help more than they will ever know. 

I could write pages about the sweet things that have been done for me- from my sweet friends who anonymously left gifts on porch every few days (my porch fairies) to the precious friend paying to have my house cleaned for the next two months while I recover to the friends signed up to bring my family meals for the next several months to my amazing, precious friend Gina who is flying in today to spend the next few weeks taking care of me to the literally hundreds of cards and emails and texts and prayers of friends and of strangers I am amazed and humbled and more grateful than I could ever possibly explain.  I have never felt more loved in my entire life.  God has shown me ever single day how much He loves me through all of the people in my life. He is so very good.  

So I'm clinging to His promises. I know the days ahead will be hard. In fact, they will suck. But I also know what God promises. And He is always faithful. 

I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
~Isaiah 46:4

Be strong and courageous. Don't be fearful or discouraged, because the LORD
your God is with you wherever you go."
~Joshua 1:9

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
~Psalm 27:4

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
 ~Deuteronomy 31:6

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
~Exodus 14:14

When I am afraid I will trust in you.
 ~Psalm 56:3

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!
~Luke 1:45

 But I will trust in you, Lord; I say, you are my God. My times are in your hands.
 ~ Proverbs 31: 14-15

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How are you?

I'm pretty sure that if I had a dollar for each person that had asked me recently "How are you?" 
I would have enough money to take a trip. {a nice, long trip}

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that people are so very kind and thoughtful and ask how I am.
It truly makes my heart happy.  I am amazingly blessed with some amazing friends and family. also makes me very sad when someone asks that question because I honestly don't know how to answer it. 

Do they want me to lie and just say "Fine" and then move on or do they want me to break down and tell them how I really am? 

I will admit that most of the time I say I am fine. 

But truthfully, I am about as far from fine as you can possibly get. I haven't seen fine in a LONG time. 

So how am I? 

I am....

  • terrified
  • anxious
  • worried
  • scared
  • overwhelmed
  • sad
  • nervous

I spend much of my time lately telling my self internally to calm down and not panic because everything in me just wants to sit down and cry.  

Buckets and buckets of tears.

Much of the time I think .....

  • How can I do this? 
  • CAN I do this? 
  • I don't want to do this. 
  • I really, really, really don't want to do this. 

Sweet friends keep telling me I'm going to be fine and that I am so brave and strong and that they know God is going to use this for His good. And I absolutely do believe that He will use this trial for His good.  But when people say that- man it is some pressure. 

Because when they say that, I think........

  • What if I'm not brave and strong? 
  • What if I am the worst patient ever? 
  • What if I am super far from inspirational? 
  • What if I am mean and cranky and a big old mess and ruin the good God is trying to do through this? 
I feel like it's my job to reassure everyone that I am okay but on top of working and trying to get my entire work and home life in order before surgery plus trying not to completely break down- I just can't.

I want to be brave and resilient and strong- but y'all I feel about as brave and resilient and strong as a new baby kitten. 

So, I'm doing the only thing I know how to do when I'm terrified- praying and clinging to God's word. 

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. 
Exodus 14:14

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wait, what? ~ Part 6

Wait, what? ~ Part 1
Wait, what? ~ Part 2
Wait, what? ~Part 3
Wait, what? ~Part 4

Arriving home from MD Anderson 100% certain that I wanted my surgery done there, I placed a call to the surgeons nurse early the next morning. We tentatively scheduled surgery for Sept. 17th-providing the other surgeons were available that day.

I hung up the phone excited that we had a plan- yet with a giant pit in my stomach because I couldn't help but wonder what I would do if my insurance denied me having the surgery there. I knew that since it took forever to get a single visit covered, that getting brain surgery covered- at an out of network hospital- was VERY unlikely. 

Since I work for a school district, our calendar year begins Sept. 1st. We were in our open enrollment period for benefits and as I went through my selections {that very afternoon} I came across the short term disability option. Now I knew that since my brain tumor was now a pre-existing condition, there was no way I could add this coverage but since our sweet insurance lady's office was just around the corner I thought I'd go ask, just to make sure. 

What happened next can only be explained as a true miracle from God. I went into her office and asked if I could add short term disability- knowing the answer was no. And of course she said no.  She asked why I would need it and I then explained that I had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and told her the struggle we had had with our insurance and how worried I was they would deny the surgery at MDA. 

She immediately said "Well you just need to change insurance!" to which I replied "If only I could! I'm pretty sure they wouldn't accept me because of my pre-existing condition. Who would knowingly cover a new member with a brain tumor?".  

She then explained that they had no choice- since it was continuous coverage- they had to accept me! {Had I been a brand new employee, they could deny me- but since I was just changing my option under existing coverage with the district- I could change. She then pulled out the book that listed all of the options and showed me one that had MDA as an in network hospital and even figured out what my maximum out of pocket costs would be.

Who but God could orchestrate that? Seriously.  I wish you could have seen me- I was almost jumping up and down I was so excited! {Well, as excited as one facing brain surgery can be I suppose!}  I left her office, when back to mine and immediately logged in and chose my new insurance.

During the next few days she called that new insurance company, had them input my information as an urgent case (it doesn't take effect until Sept. 1st and normally they don't take any information until then), and even contacted my insurance advocate at MD Anderson to give her all the details.  I've actually already even received my new insurance card in the mail.

How cool is God to work out so perfectly the details? I know that we often read of miracles in the Bible and it's easy to think that He no longer performs them. But oh how He does!

So we are now confirmed for surgery on Sept. 17th which is 3 weeks from today.  To be honest- I am terrified and running around like a crazy woman trying to get all of my work life and home life in order.  Not knowing how I'll be after surgery and how much recovery I will require is scary to me.  As someone who loves to have all of her ducks in a row and a plan for everything this is a beyond frustrating.

Although I don't know what life will be like when I wake up from surgery what I do know is that through this God is in control and I just need to trust in Him.  In His timing and in His plan.  So I'm clinging to His promises....

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

—Isaiah 41:10

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Wait, what? ~Part 5

Wait, what? ~ Part 1
Wait, what? ~ Part 2
Wait, what? ~Part 3
Wait, what? ~Part 4

So after miles and miles and miles of red tape I finally got an appointment at MD Anderson  Luckily I have sweet friends with connections which allowed me to get in the MDA system fairly quickly.  The real hold up was getting my insurance to approve a visit there. After multiple phone calls by more friends with connections, they finally approved a visit.

Once again my sweet Daddy went with me and we arrived at MDA early on a Wednesday morning. The waiting room in the Brain and Spine clinic was full and I realized quickly that I was lucky.  Lucky because I was only dealing with a brain tumor and I wasn't dealing with cancer- as so many people sitting in the waiting room obviously were.

As I sat waiting I got a funny text from Madison who was at home an hour and a half away.
It simply said: There are people in our front yard. 
I replied and asked what people and what they were doing.
She said: Your friends. They are praying in our front yard. 

As I sat in the waiting room at MDA some of my sweet friends were standing in my front yard praying for me.  How absolutely precious is that?

And so I sat in that waiting room with tears running down my face.  I cried because I am so very blessed to have some of the most amazing friends ever.  Seriously.

Later that day sweet Madison tweeted this:

I couldn't agree more. That is definitely one of my prayers for her. 

I had heard that MDA was an amazing place and it truly is.  They are so totally patient focused and truly think of everything to make your visits as easy as possible.  Each patient has their own social worker, insurance person, and advocate.  There is free wi-fi, signs in each waiting room telling you if each doctor is running on time or behind (and how much), and they have carts they bring in to each waiting room periodically with coffee and tea.  If you have to be in a hospital, this is the hospital to be in. 

We met with Dr. DeMonte and immediately loved him.  He was very knowledgeable, very kind, explained everything very thoroughly.  In between my visit with the surgeon in Temple and this visit and had done quite a bit of research so I didn't get any new information but he answered every single question I had planned to ask every before I asked it.  His stats regarding possible facial paralysis were less than 5% which varied greatly from the surgeon in Temple.  {Loved his numbers much more!}  When I asked how many of these surgeries he had done he said he couldn't count  because there were so many but at that very moment he had six other patients waiting to be seen with the very same tumor.  He truly is an expert.  

By the end of the day I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted Dr. DeMonte to do my surgery there at MDA.  I was certain but so very scared that my insurance would not pay for it- since they had a surgeon who could do it at one of their hospitals.  

And it turned out....I was right to be worried.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Thank you so very much for the precious comments
 and emails and most especially for your prayers.
I appreciate and treasure each and every single 
one more than you could possibly know.
I am humbled by your kind words, your sweet prayers, 
and the scriptures you share with me. 
I am truly blessed. 

I promise to write Part 5 soon 
(writing each one is a little harder than I thought it would be)
but I wanted to share a song that I have listened to 
countless times in the past few weeks.

It's beautiful and it's words are so very true.

Such a great reminder that when we don't know what to say, 
we can always pray to our Heavenly Father. 
Because He is ALWAYS there 
and knows our hearts
and our every need. 

And I don't know about you, but I am so so so very thankful. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Wait, what?~ Part 4

Wait, what? ~ Part 1
Wait, what? ~ Part 2
Wait, what? ~Part 3

The week between finding out about my tumor and seeing the doctor was a LONG one. I spent the week in a bit of a fog.  I woke up each day {and still do most days} thinking......What the heck? I have a brain tumor. How is that even possible. I spent much of the week doing a little research on this type of tumor and telling friends and family- which I HATED- telling people something that I know will make them sad or worried is so awful.

The things I learned while doing my research scared me but I was ready to see the doctor and find out what we needed to do.

Or so I thought.

Monday I went back to see the audiology doctor who repeated the hearing tests and found the results much the same as the time before.  I then visited with the ENT who showed me the MRI and explained more about the tumor, it's size, and it's location.  It was a blow seeing that tumor on the screen. Knowing you have a tumor in your head and actually seeing that same tumor in your head are two totally different things.  I was stunned and a little sick to my stomach.

And because I am a visual person I took a picture of that MRI with my phone.

The tumor is in the middle of my head- on the right side {although it looks like it's on the left in the pic} completely wrapped around four nerves (2 that deal with balance, 1 that deals with hearing on that side of my head, and 1 that deals with facial muscles on that side of my face). It's rare and the ENT I saw said in over 25 years of practicing he has seen only about 10 cases. He said he was shocked that the MRI found something- that they do tons of them as a precaution- but that they almost never show anything.  The tumor has been growing for years and just now got large enough to start causing symptoms.  It's classified as medium sized- but on the verge of being large.  As you can see by the MRI- there is simply no place for it to go.  It's pressing up against my brain stem so it has to be dealt with- because your brain stem regulates things like breathing and vital functions for keeping you alive.  

We live in a town of about 100,000 and although we have some great doctors and hospitals- my insurance company referred me to a specialist in a larger hospital in a town an hour and a half away.  This hospital is a great one- in fact when I was trying to get pregnant and struggling I saw a fertility specialist in that same hospital and my sweet Madison is the result.  While I was in the ENT's office that hospital called to set up my appointment.  I sat in the parking lot to call them back- praying that they could get me in quickly. My prayers were answered and they told me to arrive the very next morning for an appointment. 

My sweet Daddy went with me (my husband has had two knee replacements in the last year and has used all of his sick and vacation days so I told him not to come and wait until we actually did some sort of treatment) so we got up early and headed out.  

We arrived early and as we sat in the lobby with my daddy drinking his coffee my sweet husband called and prayed me with on the phone.  It was precious and exactly what I needed.  I sat in that lobby tears rolling down my face.  

I think in my mind I was downplaying this tumor.  That I was going to go in and the doctor was going to say that they would just do a little radiation and it would be fine.  That's not what happened.

We met with two doctors- a surgeon and a radiology doctor.  What they did was give me two options for treatment- radiation or surgery.  Both options for treatment have significant risks and concerns- there is no easy choice. They did not tell me what to do- just gave me the information and told me I had to decide.

Surgery is big (12-15 hours) and the goal would be to remove all (or most) of the tumor. The concerns with this are: 1. All hearing in that ear will be sacrificed 2. Chance of facial paralysis/weakness (1-5% severe; 10% mild) 3. Balance issues 4. Major brain surgery- it is complicated and removal of the tumor is difficult 5. Recovery time 4-6 weeks 6. Shave my head.

The other option is radiation which would not shrink the tumor, but hopefully stop it from growing. The concerns with this are: 1. Lose more hearing in that ear (50% chance) 2. Brain swelling 3. One time only. Can't be repeated. Ever 4. Could cause another, malignant tumor to grow (1 in 1,000 or 1/2 of 1%). This tumor would be fatal. 5. Surgery will be much more difficult after radiation because the tumor becomes more sticky. Less chance of removing it all. So if the radiation doesn't work, we are stuck with a super difficult surgery that may or may not be able to remove the tumor. 6. Long term effects of radiation on your head is unknown.

Of course the surgeon said do surgery and radiology doctor said do radiation. We left the appointments with more information than we knew what to do with and absolutely no decision.  It seemed like both options sucked and I kept thinking I wanted another option.

As we drove home I honestly felt overwhelmed.  I didn't feel good about the fact that the doctors, who were supposed to be the experts didn't tell me what course of treatment they felt we should pursue.  How in the world was I, who was terrified and had very little knowledge, supposed to decide? Why didn't they- the experts who knew so much- have a plan and feel confident in that plan? 

I decided that I wanted a second opinion.  We found that MD Anderson in Houston had a department dealing with this specific type of tumor.  Since MD Anderson is a place that deals with tumors- that's all they do- I felt confident if their ability to give me a definite plan of action.  I found online where I could request an appointment and did so- excited when I read that I would hear from them in 24-48 hours. 

Little did I know that getting seen at MDA was about as difficult as getting into Fort Knox.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Wait, what? ~ Part 3

Wait, what? ~ Part 1
Wait, what? ~ Part 2

After making a few phone calls through my tears- to my best friend, my husband, and my daddy, and after sweet Betty prayed for me- we finally pulled ourselves together and headed out of that parking lot.  During the next few hours we had lunch (and I may have had a margarita too), went shopping, and saw a great, funny movie.  Anything to distract ourselves.

I bought these super cute bowls which I LOVE but that I will always think of as my tumor bowls!

I just could not wrap my head around the fact that this routine MRI- done without expecting to find anything, had actually showed something a tumor.  I just kept thinking- this can not be happening.

I decided to wait until I got home to tell Madison- both because I needed some time to get myself together and because I felt I needed to tell her in person.

I didn't (and haven't since) wondered why me but I sure have wondered why NOW?  This is Madison's senior year and I HATE HATE HATE that this year will be marred by this.  It makes my heart hurt.

I stayed awake most of that night- making list after list of questions and things I needed to do- reading some about this type of tumor on the internet {which you should NEVER do} and struggling with the reality of what was happening.

The drive home was difficult- the closer I got, the worse I felt.  Knowing that I was going to have to Maddie, in person and try to hold it together and not start bawling made me physically sick.  I prayed a bunch, cried a bunch, and tried to figure out how to tell her without breaking down into a big sobbing mess.

Thankfully God gave me the strength I needed to hold it together while telling her.  I knew that in the days to come she would see me being upset but initially she needed to see me be strong and confident that it was all going to be okay- even if I was terrified.

After telling her I felt so much better.  It's always the case that the anticipation of something is worse than the actual reality of it.

Or at least that is usually the case.
But when it came to going to see the doctor the following Monday- my anticipation was WAY better than the reality.

WAY better.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Wait, what? ~ Part 2

Wait, what? ~ Part 1

After the MRI I was in a funk.  The MRI made me sick and I spent the next few days super cranky and just not feeling good.  My sweet friend Betty invited me to come visit her for a few days so I left early on Sunday morning to drive to her lake house a few hours away.

{Betty is a precious friend - beautiful inside and out- and one of the most godly and wise women I have ever known.  She's not old enough to be my mama but she definitely is a mama-like influence in my life and I love her so. }

We spent Sunday just visiting and out on the lake- just relaxing and talking- which is exactly what I needed.  We planned to go shopping on Monday morning so after breakfast we both got ready to go.  While in the bathroom I had my phone charging in the bedroom.  When I returned to the bedroom I noticed a missed call and a voice mail message.  It was from my doctor and he said he would call me back.

And then I started to worry.

Because usually, the doctor doesn't call, the nurse does.

And usually, they just leave a message saying everything is fine.

We were driving down the road headed to shop when my phone rang.

Betty was on a business call but when I looked at the screen I knew I had to answer my phone because it was my doctor.

I love that he didn't beat around the bush and got right to it.

He said..... "The MRI showed something.  You have a tumor."

I didn't hear much after that.

I could tell he was focusing on repeating the words "slow growing" and "benign" but other than that his words were just a blur. Through my tears I motioned for Betty to find something to write on and something to write with and I wrote down the name of the tumor before getting off the phone.

While he talked I just kept thinking- a tumor? In my brain? The MRI was just a routine precaution.  It wasn't supposed to find anything.

Betty had gotten off the phone and pulled off the road into a parking lot. So after I hung up the phone we sat there crying in stunned silence.  Betty prayed for me and I thanked God for orchestrating that I was with her when I got the call. God is good and He knew I was going to fall apart- so He put me in a place where it was safe for me to do so.

And fall apart I did.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Wait, what?

I really thought it was no big deal.

I'm not a girl who goes to the doctor often.
In fact, I usually have to be falling down sick or have my back totally go out in order to end up there. {I usually just figure that whatever is wrong- a cough, a cold, or sore throat- will work it's way through my system so there really is no need.}

So when I had a cold several months ago and my right ear stopped up, I thought nothing of it at first. But when my cold went away- and my ear was still stopped up- I did think it was a little odd.  A friend who is also doctor looked in my ear and suggested that I take some Musinex D to help clear it up.
So I did.

And my ear didn't get better. But it didn't hurt so I just kind of adjusted to it. I used my left ear to talk on the phone and tried to sit on the right side of friends at dinner and the movies. It would occasionally irritate me but it didn't hurt so I figured it was just some fluid in my ear. After some time I tried another round of Musinex D.
No change.

During this time my back went out {oh the joys of getting older} so my ear being stopped up was the least of my concerns. Until one day a few weeks ago when I was in my office and picked up the phone to make a call. For some reason I put the phone to my right ear. When I did I thought...."Oh no! My phone is broken."
because I heard nothing.

I moved the phone to my left ear and heard a loud, clear dial tone. And immediately became concerned. There was a dial tone- I just couldn't hear it at ALL with my right ear. I used that phone immediately to call and make an appointment with my doctor for the next day.

I truly expected to go to the doctor, have him look at my ear, say that there was some fluid trapped in it, and that he would drain it and all would be well.

That's not what happened.

He looked and saw nothing wrong. He had his nurse give me a hearing test- which I failed completely in that ear. Twice. The doctor was concerned  {and he's not usually very excitable} and started throwing around the phrase "permanent hearing loss" which freaked me out a bit. Okay maybe more than a bit.

He started me on a bunch of steroids, called to get me a series of hearing tests, and in to see an ENT specialist as soon as possible- three days later. I left in shock thinking- wait, what?

Three days later I went through a bunch of hearing tests in a sound proof booth with a sweet audiology doctor who told me at the end that I did have permanent hearing loss in my right ear. She explained that it affected my ability to hear voices- not just sounds. {So basically  I hear muffled voices in that ear.  If you turn up the volume in that ear, I don't hear better, I just hear louder muffled voices.} I went straight from her office to the ENT doctor's office where he performed a bunch more tests, looked over the results from the audiology doctor, and confirmed that the loss was permanent.

I sat there stunned thinking...wait, what?
I'm 43, not 83. How can I have permanent hearing loss?

The doctor explained that it was most likely caused a virus and that it just sometimes happens. He said the only hope for restoring hearing {and it was a very small hope} was taking large amounts of oral steroids and steroids shots {in the ear!}. He said due to my age he wanted to do an MRI just to make sure there wasn't something causing the hearing loss other than a virus and scheduled it for the following week.  He said afterwards we could talk about hearing aid options if that was something I wanted to explore. I left his office with a bag full of steroids, an MRI appointment, and a follow up appointment with the ENT for the next week.  I sat in the parking lot in shock that this was permanent and most likely irreversible.

The following Thursday I had the MRI {first one with contrast- so NOT fun} and assumed that I would just talk to the doctor about the results the next week at my scheduled appointment.

I was wrong.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Shift

When I first started blogging {many moons ago}, I did so for myself. 
I blogged anonymously and other than a small handful of sweet friends 
who I made online, no one read my blog but me. 
And I was fine with that. 

I blogged often- almost daily, and used it as a journal 
to process things happening in my life and to remember 
some of the happy/sad/crazy things that went on on a daily basis 
and how God was working in my life. 
My blog was authentic and real and almost like therapy for me. 
I loved it. 

Fast forward 8 years, three different blogs, a bunch of readers 
{many friends from my real life}, 
a new job that keeps me super busy, and I blog less. 
Way, way, way less.

Happy/sad/crazy things still happen,
 God still does amazing things in my life, 
and yet I don't write about them very often- 
worrying that perhaps my readers don't care or that 
someone from my real life 
won't like being mentioned in a blog post. 
I think about posts way too much instead of just writing about life. 
I write for others instead of for me. 
Most posts are of things I've created- which although fun,
 isn't really a journal of anything but posters. 
And that makes me kind of sad. 

Something happened recently that made me realize that I need to 
start really blogging again about my life. 
My real, honest, non photo-shopped sometimes fabulous 
& sometimes messy life. 
The good and the bad.  

I'm embarking on a journey {more on that soon} 
that I know will not be easy or fun or painless 
but that I know, without a shadow of a doubt that God will use in good ways- 
regardless of the fact it's going to be yucky- and it simply must be documented. 
I know that in the months ahead I will need both the therapy of writing 
as well as the ability to look back and see God's hand 
as I travel through what no doubt will be a scary time in my life. 

So, if you visit here for my free printables or light hearted stories, 
please know I will still post them. 
{Because I love those kind of posts- they make me happy.}
But please also know that I also plan to share some the amazing things
 God is doing in my life as he walks me through a difficult time. 
Because I'm gonna need them to hold on to when I'm scared. 
And I can't wait to look back on them when this trial is over 
and be reminded of how good and faithful and true God is. 

Because He is good.  Oh so very good.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Chalk Verses~ Set #2

A few months ago I made some chalk verses for some precious ladies at a retreat. 
I loved how they turned out so much that I asked friends on 
Facebook for their favorite verses and made some more.  

They print out great on white cardstock, and really 
do look like mini chalkboards. So fun!
They also make great little gifts- 
to frame, to use as a bookmark, to stick in a card.



To print your own set:
  • click HERE
  • download each one and save it
  • right click on it and choose print from the menu
  • choose your size and how many you'd like on each page
  • click print

God's Plans

I was reminded several times this past week that the 
circumstances or trials that I face each 
day are so tiny to compared to the plans God has for my life. 

 It's easy to get caught up in the craziness of life and 
the bad things that happen to us 
and forget that God's plans for us are so much bigger than those things.  

It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes of all times from Louie Giglio.
 I've made a printable of it before but updated it yesterday
 for one of my daughter's friends to hang in her dorm room.  

If you too need this reminder, you can print your own copy HERE. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Verse Gifts

I keep thinking that at some point life will slow down enough so that I 
can start regularly blogging but somehow, that never seems to happen.  
I feel like I spend much of my time running around like a 
chicken with my head cut off- 
just treading water and doing the next thing! 
Busy is good though and I'm thankful for so many great things to do 
and so many amazing people in my life! 

I've made lots of verse printables lately as requests for friends or to give 
as gifts that I thought I would share in case you need a quick, easy gift idea!
I love giving the gift of God's words. 
It's such a great, personal gift- and if you print it out at Walgreens 
and find a cute, inexpensive frame- it's a budget friendly gift too! 
{FYI: Target, Hobby Lobby, and IKEA are my favorite places to find frames!}





To print your own:
  • click here
  • download each one and save it {JPG}
  • right click on it and choose print from the menu
  • choose your size and how many you'd like on each page
  • click print
You can find another set of scripture printables HERE
and a third set HERE

Click on Printables in the top right corner to see TONS more printables-
school, faith, and Sonic related! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Heart Still Breaks

Although I originally wrote this post on June 18, 2011 every single word rings true today on the 11th anniversary.  My heart still breaks. 

There are times I've probably said all of the old cliched sayings many times before.

Things like:
-Time heals all wounds.
-It's so wonderful that she's no longer in pain and now she's in a better place.
-I know just how you feel.
-It'll get easier as time goes by.
-Don't be sad, you'll see her again one day.

Although I've said them all before, know without a doubt that they are said in love and kindness, and know in my heart that many are true, there are times on days like today- the 11th anniversary of my sweet mother's death- they are simply empty words that do nothing to soothe my aching and breaking heart.

It's been eleven years since I stood by my precious mother's bedside, held her hand, and told her that it was okay for her to leave us.

I so vividly remember standing there, with my heart absolutely, positively breaking and lying to her over and over and over again saying...........

"It's okay Mommy- we are going to be fine. You've loved us enough for a lifetime and I know you're tired of fighting and it's okay. We will miss you but I know how tired you are it's okay to stop fighting now. I promise that Madison will grow up knowing you and knowing how much you loved her. She will not forget her amazing Nana- I promise. So it's okay- you go and be with Jesus and we will see you soon."

I stood there lying to her while every fiber of my being wanted to scream at the top of my lungs.........

"Please, please, please don't go Mommy, please don't leave me. Don't leave us. We need you. I need you and I love you and I don't know how to live my life without you. I can't do this. I need you. Please, please, please don't go."

It's only through the strength God gave me that day that I was able to stand there and say what she needed to hear. It was ONLY because of Him I said the words that I believe she needed to hear.

She was my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, my safe place when things were bad, my protector, my comforter, my precious Mommy.

I miss her as much today as I did 11 years ago- and sometimes even more so.

There are times when I have to stop myself from thinking about her-and literally make myself think of something or someone else because I am fearful that if I do think about her that the grief will overwhelm me. I'm afraid that I will start crying, and never be able to stop.

There are times when I allow myself to cry and remember and I feel the pain of her absence so strongly that I feel that it will overtake me. I think of all the stories I never got to hear her tell, the conversations we never got to have, the holidays we never got to share, all the lessons she never got to teach me, all the laughs and tears we never got to share and I feel so cheated. And my heart breaks a little.

There are times when I start remembering all the amazing things about her and all that was lost when she died. The world was a better place with her in it. And it stinks that the world no longer has her. And it makes me angry. And my heart breaks a little.

There are times when I think that I was robbed of such an amazing mother. I was not prepared or ready at the age of 32 to lose my mother. I wasn't done growing up, I wasn't done needing her, I wasn't done loving her and being loved by her. And my heart breaks a little.

There are times when I watch Maddie dance and I cry because my Mommy never got to see her dance and I know how much she would have absolutely loved it. She never got to truly know the girl that is my amazing and precious daughter. And my heart breaks a little.

There are times when I realize that Maddie has now been alive longer without knowing my mom than she has been alive knowing my mom. She has more memories without her than with her. And although she has memories of my mother and we try hard to tell her stories and all the wonderful things about my mother, she does not truly know the wonderful woman that was her Nana. And I hate, hate, hate that. And my heart breaks a little.

And then when there are times- like today- when I think that my grief will overwhelm me, that the tears will never stop, that thankfully and mercifully my Savior reminds me of His promises in Lamentations 3:22-33 where He says:

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.

And those promises? They comfort me. And I heal a little.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Be the Good

There are so many sad, horrific, depressing stories in the news each day
 that it's hard not to be discouraged and depressed.  
We live in a sinful, fallen world and 
it's up to each of us to be that light to the dark world.  

{Download your own copy here.}

This is one of my favorite quotes and I often think.......
what would the world be like if we all did this? 
Can you imagine? 
There would be more stories of things like this young man

What good can you do today? 

And here's a version with a white background for a sweet user who asked for it! 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dear God,

My sweet friend Jori asked me a while back to make a 
printable to go on her dinner table.  
I loved the idea and made a bright, cheery, multi-colored one. 

She often posts on FB the cute things her adorable boys pray for.
It's such a great, easy way to teach children how to
daily thank God and to pray for others. 

She recently mentioned that she wished it was different colors, 
because it doesn't always match her holiday decor. 
So tonight I put together a set of these- one for each holiday or season. 

Simply print them out, 
{you can find the images and the PDF HERE}
put them in a dollar store frame, 
and use dry erase marker to write your dinner prayer each evening.  
What a great gift this would be!

Monday, May 6, 2013

If You Can't be Kind......

How neat would it be if we all followed this advice? 

Print your own copy HERE! 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Chalk Verses~ Set #1

This is a set of chalkboard verses that I made for the retreat a few weeks ago. 
I picked verses that would hopefully comfort the sweet mamas attending. 
They print out great on white cardstock, 
and really do look like they are little chalkboards. 


To print your own set:
  • click here
  • download each one and save it
  • right click on it and choose print from the menu
  • choose your size and how many you'd like on each page
  • click print

I printed mine in 3 x 5 (4 per page) and placed them on these little stands. 
They are great for sitting on your desk, sink in the bathroom, 
or anywhere else in your house
 you might need a reminder of God's love and faithfulness. 
These are also great to print out and give to a sweet friend as a little treat!