Friday, April 30, 2010


EJ is a beautiful mix of both her father and me.

Here are some of her Dan-isms... my smart, smart husband is helping raise a like-minded kid:
"I have to wipe from front to back or I'll get an infection."
"I need to eat fruits and vegetables so that I can go poopy."
"I used to have 5 pieces of cheese.  I ate 2.  That leaves 3 pieces of cheese."  (Hence why we make her eat fruits and vegetables... if the kid could have a purely cheese diet, she would.)

And, what does she get from me?
This is how she sleeps these days... surrounded with some of her  best friends.  Cause she's an ENFP... and that's how we roll.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

When I grow up...

I am a needy friend.   I can pretend that I am not... but I am.

And, I think it's my Dad's fault.

When I was a little girl, my Daddy was my hero.  A total pain in my tail, yes, but still just the *best*.  I was (and still am) a Daddy's girl.  Some days I have no idea why... and then sometimes I remember- because I am just like him.  (Example?: Elizabeth got on the phone with him a few weeks ago and said, "Dadaw, can I come to your house sometime?"  Being 3, she knew he would immediately say yes... cause that's what Grandparents do, right?  Not my Dad.  After a lengthy pause when she was anticipating a yes he said, "No, probably not."  He gave her just the amount of time to let that register before they both started laughing... then E said "You're teasing, right?"  Yep.  I didn't fall far from that sarcastic tree.)

With all of the things Daddy taught me in life (add V-8 to chili, never let the truth get in the way of a good story, beer before liquor- never sicker, etc.), he taught me this:  at all cost, you take care of people.

He lived, by example, putting the needs of others ahead of his own (and sometimes mine, too.)   He showed me how to take meals to people when they are sick or in need.  He took a day off of work one day when, after giving a man and his son a ride to school when their car had broken down, he realized this man was in need of new clothes.  After school that day he picked me up and told me he'd spent a good part of the day in the mall with this man, supplying he and his family with nearly a new wardrobe.  And he always made gestures like that teachable: "It's just what you do, Doodle."

So because of that example, that's how I try to live.  That, coupled with the whole "well, God commands us to do it", too, part.

Because of that, I think I have expectations that others will do the same.  When they don't, I get my feelings hurt.  Which is NOT what my Daddy would want me to do. 

Today, I was blessed with 2 like-minded givers:  My dear friend, Beth, drove from Chapel Hill to have lunch with me.  Beth and I were on church staff together... and, God bless her, I'm likely the main reason she wasn't able to be more efficient with her time during the years 1998-2002.  Her office was right beside mine and I had to pass her desk to get to my office every day.  Yet she never (well, mostly never) pushed me toward my office if I stopped to talk.  She made time for me in her life.  She knew my friends.  She spoke my language.  And today, she showed up with homemade soup (because she'd made it for me in the past and remembered I liked it) and a decorated cup (!! yay !!) full of various candy because she couldn't remember what my favorite kind was.  Every time I am around her, I leave her presence refreshed.

This afternoon, my sweet friend Tina came by to drop off something she'd earlier done for me.  A couple weeks ago she said "Look, I am going to help you... so help me help you... tell me what I can do to help, or I'll make something up."  I asked her to run an errand for me that I wasn't able to do, and today she was returning for me what she'd picked up.  Along with a McDonald's hot fudge sundae (heaven in a plastic cup) and a side of homemade brownies.  Ladies from MOMS will remember me telling the story of Tina swooping in after our last miscarriage, too, with similarly helpful gestures.

It's just what you do, Doodle.

I've had so many helpful friends who have supported us during the last month... our next-door neighbor mowed our yard without our asking.  (Dan told me to tell him I'll be sick until October.  I am not looking a gift-mower in the mouth!)  My friend Joanie refused to take my lack of a response as an answer and, similarly to Tina, said "I'm coming. You tell me what food you want me to bring."  I've had flowers, stationery, CDs, books, nightgowns, scarves, DVDs, alligators,  food, etc. delivered... and you people apparently know how to speak my love language.

 I am blessed beyond measure.  I have been surprised constantly at how many people love the way I need to be loved- the way my earthly Daddy taught me to and the way my heavenly Father expects.  It hurts me to not be be the caretaker right now that I want to be, but as my fave author, Jen Hatmaker said via Facebook last week: Heal, heal, the meantime, revel in the fact that others are doing your laundry and loving your people. A true gift that most people never experience...

So, now I spend my evenings writing thank you notes.  And enjoying showing my daughter what it's like to be not only the giver, but the receiver of blessings.  There are some she is more than happy to accept.

One final thought... (I'm way wordier than you are, Jenni...)  My sweet friend, Marie, kept my daughter all day yesterday when I was just unable to be a recovering-patient and be a Mom at the same time.  This is the 3rd or 4th time she's done that in the last few weeks.  

After she dropped E off and left I went to check the mail.  Marie's mom, who I really don't know all that well, had sent me a Get Well card... with a restaurant gift certificate inside.  Speaking of apples not falling far from their (good influence) trees...

When I grow up, I will likely still be a needy friend.  But I pray that I will have taught my daughter, by example, how to take care of her needy friends.  I want her to love others in the model of Marie's, and Beth's, and Tina's, and all of these other super friends I have. It's how I want her to live.... because it's just what you do.

*** Please know, I get so nervous when I give shout-outs because there are so many of you I could never possibly shout-out enough all the things you've done for us.  So, take that as a big fat thank you, k?  I love you all. ****

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Losing my A-game...

Look at what we got yesterday:
Proofs from E's school pictures.  Abnormal?  Surely not.  But they were to me... because I thought *yesterday* was picture day.

See, her original picture day was the week after surgery.  I helped my Mom get her dressed, fixed her hair, and shipped her off to school while I was doped up on pain meds.  Then, we got an email from her teacher saying that there had been a problem with the pictures and we were going to do a do-over.  In my head, they were Monday, April 26.  In real life, they were actually taken on Monday, April 19.

This was the last straw.

I fell totally and completely apart.

I cried and cried to Dan about why I can't seem to get my act together for what felt like hours- in real life I think it was about 10 minutes.  Dan told me that I need to give myself a break, that I've had a lot going on lately.  And that's true.  And maybe I would agree with him, if the same thing hadn't happened before.

Pajama Day.

Yep, I was the Mom that sent her kid to school in regular clothes on what was one of the most precious days in Preschool World... Pajama Day.  The kids get to wear their PJs to school and snack for the day is made up of pancake goodness.  And me?  I forgot.  (Now, again, to justify my forgetfulness, the night before I had gotten a disturbing phone call from a family member and spent the next 36 hours in tears... clearly, my brain could hardly get myself out of my PJs let alone remembering to put E in hers.  I clearly solved the problem by heading to TJ Maxx- conveniently just down the street from her school- and she was the proud new recipient of Curious George PJs.  Bought on sale.  The only ones in her size.  It was as if it was from the Lord.)

So, as Dan was trying to convince me yesterday to give myself a break, I was hearing nothing of it.  I just kept saying to him "why can the rest of the world get their kids where they need to be when they need to be there and I can't seem to get any of it right?"  Dan, of course, started to "soothe" me by telling me I am doing too much.  When he got the look of death, he went the other way to tell me that the people he knows who really seem to truly have their act together have it together to mask much bigger problems. He went as far as to say his patients that appear have orderly lives do it to cover up abuse or are themselves abused.

Again, I wasn't soothed.

I spent some time feeling sorry for myself.  Then I went to a friend to ask for prayer.  I emailed her: "Having one of those moments we were talking about on Saturday- I can't keep my life together. Pray for me?  Having a hard, hard time."

Her response: "Praying for you sweet friend! You are perfect and complete in Jesus!"

Maybe one day I will understand that to it's fullest.  I've taught it, but yesterday was a reminder that maybe I've not fully bought it.  So that's my prayer for myself today... that I'll understand and rest in my being complete in Christ. (Side note, I hope all of you have people you can turn to when you can't hear Truth on your own who call you back to it.  I fully believe that's why God puts us in community.)

And if I forget Pajama Day, or picture day (and let's just take a moment to thank God that my daughter who has a desire to wear cute dresses all the time chose to on what really was picture day), or I show up at the wrong location for your kid's birthday party, or miss your birthday (happy birthday, Bill Bill), or forget to RSVP to your showers, or, well, whatever "Becky-like" thing that I will do... it doesn't matter.  I'm not masking abuse, I'm not living a lie, and my identity is in Christ.

While I may not get it right, I'll spend my days focusing on what I can control, and not freaking out when I can't control the rest.  Here's what I "got right" this morning:
I am a blessed, blessed woman with a cute little girl and a cute little dog.  What else do I need.... certainly not an A-game.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

War Wounds

Sunday, April 25  (Happy Birthday, Stick)

When I was in the hospital, I told Dan (with great description) how poorly I was feeling after surgery.  For 3 days he listened to me, held my hand, and told me how sorry he was.  On day 3, the team came in to take off my bandages.  You probably could hear Dan exclaim- no matter how far away you live- "Holy Crap!  That thing is huge! No wonder you said you hurt so badly!"

** Side note:  for those of you who I've not shown my war wound to- it's on my right side, kind of diagonal down my ribs, and is about 12 inches long.  Yuck. **

Now, Dan- having gone through medical school, residency, and fellowship- should have had an idea what this thing on me would look like.  He was (falsely) under the assumption it would be about 6 inches.  Given the location of this tumor, we knew it wouldn't be able to be removed laparoscopically or orthoscopically.  We knew that it would be invasive surgery, but apparently "we" (read: Dan) didn't know it would be THAT invasive.

As he looked at the wound and immediately responded with more compassion than he already had, I turned in my VERY kind and Godly manner and said: "Seriously?  So, just because I told you that it hurt it took you seeing it for yourself to believe that it hurt?  Nice."

After that, I have had many non-squeamish friends who have asked to see it.  Those are the ones who take very seriously my recovery period.  I've had several (family included) who want to never see it.  And that's cool.  But it's been amazing to me how quickly I'm ready to show it, with all it's nastiness, off to the world.  (Just today at church I was talking with a friend who will have kidney surgery soon and when he told me where his incisions will be and asked how that compared to mine, he, too, got to see the scar in all it's glory.  Let's just say I'm not sure he was aware our friendship was so deep that I'd show him my bare side in church.)

It's made me understand why people return home from war ready to tell their stories and show their wounds- so that those of us who weren't there have some access to what some of that experience was like.

I finished a great book this week (thanks, Jenn!) that described scars as 'beautiful' because they are reminders of what makes up our stories.  I will now have a beautiful reminder of this season in my life.  As I was sitting in church this morning, I became reminded of all that God did for me leading up to my surgery, and how He has been right with me during the recovery.  And while it does still hurt... and I am still sore... and I get exhausted easily... I CHOOSE to say "Blessed be the Lord".  This morning everyone who saw us said "How are you?"  Before church, my response was "Well, I'm here.  I'm glad to be out of the house.  We'll see how this goes."  After church, I was much more intentional to say "I'm thankful to be here."  I've learned from Mary and Debbi that I need to remind myself it is well with my soul.  Because it is.

And I've got the scar to prove it.

Wanna see it?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sitting on a Couch... and then some...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

3 weeks ago I had surgery.  Through a "random" (we credit God here, not chance) series of events, we discovered that I had a non-cancerous tumor on my kidney.  It feels surreal to even say that... a *tumor* on my *kidney*.  They removed it, along with part of my kidney.  Again, surreal.

As I was recovering that night, I told Dan to email Joanie P. to tell her I was ready to teach again at MOMS... I told her (via Dan's typing) that God had taught me so much that day that I could easily "fill" a morning at MOMS with all my new-found wisdom, so if she ever needed me to pinch hit, I was in.

Two things I learned from that moment:
1. You should never send emails while still on major pain meds... even if you are having your husband buffer them.  Just resist the urge.  It's kind of like drunk dialing... in general, a bad idea.

2. If I thought God had taught me a lot in Day One, I had no idea what I was in for in the following days.

I have been on an amazing ride over the last month.  I've suffered through the worst pain I've ever experienced.  I've seen people  love on me and my family (and specifically my little girl) in ways that make my heart happy-hurt just to think about.  I've been humbled as I've had to continue to ask for help-- from things as "little" as "Can you bring me a hot dog?  I'm kinda craving them" to as "big" as "I'm sorry I threw up all over the floor and that you now have to clean it up..."  (My husband ultimately wins the Helper of the Year Prize- after our week long experience trying to speed up my bowels he said to me "These are what those vows were all about, huh?  In sickness and in health?")  I've been surprised to watch life from the "outside" and witness people without being directly involved... I've been impressed by their courage and disappointed by their selfishness- then been reminded it's not my role to judge.

It's all been this intense wave: physical pain wrapped up in crazy emotions of the entire spectrum.

And, now, what is my response?

I blog.

I started this blog several years ago when Mary's cancer came back as a way to process life.  I'm a writer... I've always been a writer (it's just the written form of talking, you know, and I'm a DERN fluent talker).  Then about 6 months ago in a snit I decided to make my blog private so I could "talk" about some things I didn't want the world to know about.  (My blog even gets it's name from someone in my family who said I should write a book of all the junk that happens in my world and call it "you can't make this @$&% up."  I've opted to use "stuff" instead of the 4-letter word she recommended because, after all is said and done, I *do* try to keep it PG.)  I've realized in going that route, I'm choosing to take the passive way out and not write as I originally intended to.  So now, I've erased those posts that were "not for public consumption" and I'm back on the blog-bandwagon.  That's been a lot of what I've learned in the last 23 days- I live in a socially-networked world and I am ready to embrace my role in it.  As I've been (even more) addicted to Facebook lately, I've had the chance to catch up on some of your blogs, and now I'm ready to return the favor.

I had a brief moment "on the outside" today and enjoyed catching up with one of my BFFs.  I told her that her blog has inspired me to revisit mine.  It's amazing that seeing excitement in other people's worlds makes me more mindful of wanting to share the day-to-day of mine.  And for that, dear reader, I thank you.  Welcome to my blog (or welcome back... I know some of you have been here before)... I promise to go easy on you.
(Thanks to Auntie Leigh for a fun family photo shoot on the day before my surgery.  I was convinced something bad was going to happen while I was "under the knife" and wanted to have one "last" picture of all of us for E to look back at.  Needless to say, that was a load of crap, but we had fun being silly for the camera.)