Thursday, December 22, 2016

What I've Learned: 2016 Edition

As 2016 wraps up, I've been reflecting on what this year has held. And what it has taught me.

In no particular order of importance or intensity...

1. My favorite books are funny books. Every time. Hands down.

I listen to the What Should I Read Next podcast. In each episode the guests tell the host three books they love and one book they hate. Most of the guests pick three books they've loved recently. Personally, I'd have to do two categories of loves...fiction and nonfiction. (oh, and maybe a third category...that of favorite series.)

My 3 favorite books of all time, are humorous books. They make me laugh out loud. Literally. Every single time.

Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade by Patrick Dennis. I actually read this one twice, having forgotten that I read it the first time. But, I read the summary flap in the library that second time, and thought, this sounds funny. So I checked it out, and made it into the second chapter or so, when I realized I'd already read it. But, it is hilarious, and was very worth a second reading.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Definitely more subtle, nuanced and snarky humor, but still very funny.

And my newest favorite, but sure to be a favorite forever...

The 100 Year Old Many Who Climbed out of a Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Oh.my.word. When I was reading this last month, I kept laughing out loud. And then my husband wanted me to tell him what was so funny. And I had to summarize the back story to make the funny part make sense. The Bible part takes the cake. And now you have to read it to find out what I mean.

And, in case you were wondering about the book(s) I hate, (hate is a strong word...how about greatly dislike...) I have not enjoyed a single currently popular book that has the word GIRL(s) in the title. I don't know what it is, but I have had to quit all the girls...including Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, The Girls, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I'm sure there is a reason, but none of these have been my jam.

2. Priorities matter. I feel like I've always known the importance of priorities, but I've not lived the importance of priorities as much until this year. Frankly, my two words for the year could be blessed and priorities.

In a session with our marriage counselor this spring, he reminded us of what our priorities are.

(God)
Spouse
Offspring
Church, Employment, Ministry, Extended family

Knowing the order of priority in your life is very important. A proper priority paradigm is very clarifying. It has given us freedom from the weight of things we are going through. We evaluate activities and opportunities based on this filter. How does this activity or opportunity sift through the filter of our priorities? How are we able to glorify God today as we fit things into these priorities?

The crux about priorities is that they are intensely personal. Most people have a similar line up of priorities. But, my personal priorities, i.e. my husband and my kids, are not your priorities. And people don't like when your priorities come into conflict with their priorities for you, or simply their own personal priorities. It sometimes causes friction.

But, the freedom comes from (extending grace and) knowing that I am accountable to God (and my husband) not to man. I have to do my best in these circumstances, using the brains God has given me, and leave the rest to Him. 

I don't feel like we've done way less this year, but what we have done has been way less stressful or guilt motivated. Even things like my daughter's health over going to church (on occasion). It's a no brainer, though it used to be something I would really struggle with. Through the filter of priorities, it becomes crystal clear that God gave me my children to care for, and sometimes that looks like saying no to gatherings (in this cancer/immune compromised season of life) where germs are a-flowing.

3. Cancer sucks. I'll just put that out there. We've learned that first hand this year. It sucks in my 5 year old daughter's battle with retinoblastoma. It sucks as my BFF's mom's fight against breast cancer. It sucks in each of the lives it touches. There are lasting effects. I'm so very thankful that not all the effects are negative. We've met so many good people on this journey. We've been surrounded by our own tribe. Unbelievable.

4. Memories and relationships trump possessions. Every time.

This year we have put a priority on relationships. Relationships with our parents, and siblings, and friends. We've made memories. We've laughed and cried together. People are what has made 2016 a year to be remembered. The trials and their memory will gradually fade in intensity as we move past them. The relationships and memories will still be strong.


I've also been thinking about this possessions thing in another light.  Meres goes to the hospital, she comes home with "junk". Every.single.time. Toys, stuffed animals, crafts. You name it, she's probably brought it home from the hospital. For a minimalist, this is insanity inducing. Trust me. But, I'm learning to be gracious and to remember the thought behind the gift. Because the giver (and the relationship) trumps the gift, and how I feel about it.

(Which is not to say that we don't do major purging over here on a regular basis...but I can allow the gift, and enjoy it, and then we can eventually let things go as needed.)

5. Sometimes you just have to let go. And let God. (it may sound trite, but that makes it no less true)

About so many things. But even about relationships. And this has been a hard one to learn. I can't change hearts. I want peace and harmony. I can't control people. The only thing I can control is my own heart, my own actions, my own motives and attitudes. That I have the ability to change. The rest is God's wheel house. And sometimes, even though it feels like my heart is being ripped out, I just need to step back, and let something be. And allow God to do His greater work that maybe I can't see.

6. Prayer is the battlefield. 

Brian and I were convicted to start prayer walking this fall. Generally 3-4 times a week, we head out our door, walk, and pray. We pray for our family and friends and situations that are small and situations that have us baffled. 

It has been so good for us.

We've come to realize that a 2-3 mile walk that takes 30-50 minutes, is no where near long enough to cover the things that are weighing down our hearts. We barely cover the tip of the iceberg. 

It is evident that prayer changes things. My heart is changed. It is softened. Problems are worked out. Our year has been filled with answers to prayer.

But, also, prayer is not without opposition. Some things we've prayed about have not gotten better. If anything, they may have gotten worse. Why? Because God is working, and Satan is fighting back. He doesn't want his control over people to be broken. He is happiest when people are in bondage to sin, and bitterness, and guilt, and shame. When people are going to hell.

So, we keep praying. Sometimes we cry as we plead with God in desperation. We pray Scripture. We do battle for souls. And we trust that God is sovereign. That God loves people even more than we do. That Jesus died for people to live abundantly. We pray.

7. High school is scary. Or rather, homeschooling a high school student is scary. (moving on from a rather intense point #6...)

Wow! I was home schooled, as was my husband, and we turned out (relatively) okay. I've been home schooling my own kids for 10 years now. But, let me tell you, I was feeling rather intimidated, as we embarked on this school year with a freshman in high school. 

It all of a sudden became real. Like, I could really screw these poor kids up. 

But, we've settled in to a groove. And while high school is intense, it also isn't our first rodeo. Thankfully knowledge tends to be cumulative, and skills upon skills are piling up. I am proud of the progress I am seeing in all my kids this school year. Meres learning her letters, and then the sounds, and now some word families. We are moving right on our way towards reading. And LC becoming a better and better writer. Articulating her thoughts in a very good way. And Freckles branching out into creative writing, and learning about color and depth. And thriving in our studies of Ancient Rome. He is loving the reading list this year, and has breezed through extra books in addition to the assigned ones. I am so proud of how he is flourishing as he studies topics he is interested in.

And BMV. The high schooler. He is building on his foundation of knowledge. He is progressing in Biology, and Spanish, and Algebra, and writing. His writing has really improved this year. It was always good, but with the goal of getting better and better. And it has. His past two book reviews for his reading list books have been phenomenal! I am so proud of him too.

So, what I've learned is to continue in my goal of equipping with skills, and it does pay off. Which is quite affirming. I'm mean, I still have time to permanently mess them all up, but, the likelihood (at least scholastically) gets less and less, with each year that passes.

Big sigh...

8. I love ... and ( ) and -. They help me articulate without articulating.

9. There is much more to eye color than blue, green, or brown. Take it from someone whose daughter now has a glass eye.

The variation in eye color from person to person is unbelievable. There are hundreds of shades of blue and green. And even after the ocularist starts with the color match that is closest to the shade you have, they still add color striations and such to your prosthetic to match your unique coloring. It is amazing. Meres' blue eyes are actually very grey, with just a tinge of blue. She gets that from her dad. My eyes are a green blue. 

10. I've learned this year, that there is so much I still have to learn. Oh, to never stop learning! To cultivate my own growth mind set. To be better, and hopefully more Christ-like, with each day and year that passes.

Here's to 2017...


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Thinking About: Admonishing

This week my kids have been memorizing Colossians 3:16. Which means I'm (re)memorizing it too.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another; in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Let me tell you, people, it's all in the punctuation.

When I had previously memorized this verse it was...

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom

Full stop.

Then,

teaching and admonishing one another (no pause)

in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Well, that rather changes the meaning of the verse, now doesn't it?

We can read it as teaching and admonishing with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs or as teaching and admonishing with the word of Christ.

Depending where that semi colon falls. (or doesn't fall, as the case/translation may be)

Both are great applications.

But, both have unique nuances.

In our modern day culture, the clarion call for all occasions is judge not. Matthew 7:1 has supplanted John 3:16 as the most well known verse in the Bible.

We are conditioned to not speak forth any opinion that could be construed as judging. Because judging is the ultimate sin.

But, whether our culture likes it or not, there is an absolute standard of right and wrong. It is based on God's character, and it is found in the Bible.

The word of Christ is a legitimate alternate name for the Bible.

Christians are commanded to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.

Richly would imply abundance. Not stingy. Very obvious and present. A lot of.

We should be immersing ourselves in the word of God. Reading it. Studying it. Thinking about it. Letting it fill our hearts and minds.

In all wisdom. Cicero said that wisdom is the application of knowledge. Letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom is not just gaining tons of head knowledge, it is letting that knowledge overflow into every aspect of our life. The application and living of that knowledge we've gained from the Bible would change our lives.

To dwell or live with someone or something, is to get to know the good, bad and ugly. God's word sinks into our hearts and reveals what is in the deepest recesses.

As the word of Christ richly dwells in our hearts and minds, changing our actions, we are called to teach and admonish each other.

Funnily enough, admonishing is very similar to what we'd call judging. Admonishing is to warn or reprimand someone firmly; advise or urge (someone) earnestly; to warn of something to be avoided.

Ouch. Yeah.

Admonishing is not a nice idea. It is not comfortable. It feels like the supreme offense of intolerance.

Yet admonishing is a scriptural idea. More than just an idea, it is our responsibility. It is our responsibility to be completely engaged with the teachings of the Bible, to allow them to sink into our hearts and change our lives. It is also our responsibility to then humbly use that resulting wisdom to teach and even admonish other believers.

Galatians 6:1-2 says, "Brothers, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."


(Important side note: With unbelievers we focus on sharing the gospel, not correcting morality. The gospel radically changes lives-we don't have to. Admonishing is focused on fellow believers. Restoration is to return to the original condition-like a piece of furniture.)

Even Matthew 7 goes on to talk about being measured with the measurement we measured with. It talks about removing the beam in our eye before we remove the speck in someone else's.

We'd like abdicate our responsibility to do the uncomfortable work of admonishing. We even get our underwear in a bunch when a pastor or teacher is too specific in naming sins. But God doesn't let us off the hook. We are instructed to do this work humbly and meekly, with an end goal of restoration.

Not scorched earth, but thriving Christians. That's what we are working towards.

We don't do this work of admonishing haphazardly. We don't do it in a spirit of judgement and condemnation. It is not based on our agenda or our preferences.

We don't shy away from admonishing through fear of offending. That would be doing each other a disservice.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15)
We admonish in love, because Christ loves people, and we follow Christ's example. We admonish in humility, extending grace, knowing that we are sinners too. We admonish firmly and unapologetically because the unchanging truths of Scripture are our basis.

We admonish only after we've put in the work of letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom.

Consider this an admonishment...=)

Edited to include: I read this passage in my devotions this morning (12-15-2016). This thought of admonishment is not just a one verse anomaly. We are not Paul or Titus, but this is the Bible. And the truths in it apply to us today.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-15)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Best Ever Old-Fashioned Turkey Soup

My mom always used to make huge pots of soup. When I say huge, I do mean HUGE. Her soup pot held 20 quarts. During the winter she would regularly fill that baby. We'd eat Vegetable Soup and Turkey soup for days and days. (and days and days...)

I'm not even kidding.

But, what else do you do when you are feeding 10 people every.single.night.? It was economical, and hearty, filling, and (generally) delicious.

Since I've been married, I've could probably count on two fingers the number of times I've made soup from a turkey carcass. But, this past Thanksgiving week I had two factors that caused me to pursue the soup option.

#1- Brian gave me a gorgeous, blue, 11 quart Le Creuset pot for my birthday. What better use of it than making soup?

#2-We got tons of meat from my turkey on Thanksgiving, but a lot of the meat just wasn't wanting to release it's grip on the bones. I figured a good boiling would pry it loose. With way less frustration from me.

So, very last thing before I fell into bed on Thanksgiving, I put that carcass in the pot, and covered it with water. I put the lid on, and placed the pot on the stove on the lowest burner setting. And I let it do it's magic while I slept the night away.

Next morning, Brian strained the broth for me, and sorted through the meat and bones. Then Monday I made this pot of soup.

I must admit, I was a bit leery about tomatoes and spinach in my turkey soup. But, those worries were completely unfounded. This is hands down the best turkey soup I have ever tasted!

It is turkey time, so if you are cooking one, and wondering if you should toss the carcass, or exert the energy to make soup, I'd encourage you to go this soup route. You will not be sorry!

Best Ever Old Fashioned Turkey Soup
Hands on time: 30 minutes, Cook time: 12+ hours, Total time: 12 hours
1 meaty carcass (from a 15+ pound turkey)
5 quarts water
1 (28 oz) can stewed tomatoes
1 large onion
4 large carrots
3 stalks celery
9 ounces fresh spinach
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
4 chicken bullion cubes
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried thyme

-Place the turkey carcass and water in a large pot. Cover. Turn burn on to low. Cook overnight or 12 hours.
-Strain broth. Discard bones, save return meat to broth.
-Peel and chop onion and carrot. Chop celery. Add to broth with tomatoes, spinach, rice, bullion, salt, pepper, marjoram, and thyme.
-Bring broth to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until rice and vegetables are tender.


You're welcome...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A She Plans Dinner Christmas Gift Guide

I'm done with my Christmas shopping (I know, I know. Don't be jealous.), I'm betting a whole lot of the rest of the world is not. (Which is not to say that I'm done wrapping. You all know me and my proclivities too well to assume that.)

Everyone and their neighbor are making gift guides to help shoppers shop. I thought I'd jump on that band wagon and share my SPD gift guide.

I'm going kitchen themed. Included are a variety of tools, appliances and random fun items, all of which are regularly used if you have a She Plans Dinner subscription. But these ideas are also perfect for the cook, or aspiring cook, in your life.

(All are linked to sites where products can be purchased. None are affiliate links.)



  1. Cuisinart Immersion Blender. At less than $35, this is a steal of a deal. I use my immersion blender mostly during soup season. (but it can also be used for smoothie season) It is a no fuss-no muss way to make cream soups. Be it Creamy Tomato, or Cream of Broccoli, or Cheesy Broccoli.
  2. 7 Quart Crockpot. This manual crockpot has 4 settings-off, low, high, and warm. I love that. It is simple, and quite fool proof. The current price for this is $19. Really, that is a worthy investment, that doesn't even hurt the wallet. Many SPD recipes use a crockpot. I use my crockpot weekly, for Black Beans, Chicken Mole, Latin Chicken, Pulled Pork, and many other recipes. I love the convenience of a crockpot. I do the preparations for dinner when it works for my schedule, and then all I have to do is pop it on the table at dinner time.
  3. Rice Cooker & Steamer. I always include the directions (on the SPD menus) for cooking rice on the stovetop, but personally, I never cook rice on the stove. Because I use my rice cooker.  Perfect rice every time. And all I have to do is add the rice and water, and turn it on. Love it! This 6 cup cooker is $22.99.
  4. Hand Mixer. I own a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, but I've had to replace/repair it a couple times in the 15 years I've owned it. Not so this work horse of a hand mixer. 5 speeds, plenty of power. I use it far more than the stand mixer. It is handy for potatoes, and cookies, and cakes. It comes in an array of gorgeous colors, and is priced between $32 and $50. Not bad.
  5. Wustof Knives. These knives are an investment. And they are one of the most expensive items in this gift guide. But they are worth the money. Anyone who cooks at all needs decent knives. These are really good knives for a decent price. ($129.95, Amazon Prime)
  6. Le Creuset. No words. Every skillet is a dream. Every pot is a dream. I love their versatility that takes them from stove top to oven to tabletop. The colors insure each one is gorgeous. And they are guaranteed to last forever. (These skillets would also come in handy if you need to "off" someone, but don't own a gun.)
  7. Apothecary Matchstick Bottle. This is just fun. A whimsical gift that is very useful. Who doesn't need matches, or a cute bottle to contain them.
  8. Apron. I never cook without wearing an apron. It's tempting fate. I love World Market's entire apron line, but this is the one I'm wishing for. ($19.99)
  9. Mrs. Meyer's Dish Soap. Because every good cook cleans up her mess, or gets someone else to. I myself (and my 9 year old daughter who does most of our dishes) love how Mrs. Meyer's dish soap smells. And, I know it is a bit pricey (nearly $4 a bottle), but I love that it is an eco-friendly product. Consider this a stocking stuffer idea.
  10. She Plans Dinner Subscription. At just $5 per month, this is a great deal. Always 24 (Fit & Healthy) or 30 (Variety and Classic Comfort) recipes each month, divided into two 2-week menus and grocery lists. It is convenient, and time saving, and money saving. 


Happy Shopping!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Want Strong Faith?

I love how the KJV puts the first phrase of Romans 4:20, he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief.... What a word picture!

In my mind's eye I see a man with a huge burden on his back labelled unbelief. He is bowed down with the weight. Staggering under the pressure. Barely able to stand, let alone move forward.

Very Christian in Pilgrim's Progress.

Yesterday I was sitting in the play room of our local children's hospital with my daughter who was diagnosed with retinoblastoma this summer. We were waiting the results of her mid chemo cycle blood work. She was playing. I was plugging my ears and reading my devotions on my iPad, when this verse jumped out at me.

...but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God. (Romans 4:20 ESV)

It took reading that familiar verse in a different version for its truth to resonate in my heart.

Our family has been through a lot this year. But, what amazes me over and over again is the many, many people all over the world who are praying on our behalf. They are praying for us as a family. They are praying for our daughter.

People here in the United States. People in Canada. People in Spain. People in Ireland and Scotland and England. People in Germany and people in Japan. People in Indonesia and people in France.

From young and old, prayers are ascending on our behalf.

I know this, because people have contacted us over and over again, and said they are praying.

But, the even more amazing thing, is that as God has answered our prayers, for big things and small things, praises have also ascended to God on our behalf. Praises for surgeries and good diagnoses, and praises for miracles. Praises for mercies that are new every morning, and grace to keep going, and faith that God is good, and hope that all things work for our good and God's glory.

And, make no mistake. God is glorified as He people pray to Him, and rely on Him. God is glorified as we tell others what great things God has done on our behalf.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongues with shouts of joy; then said they among the nations, "the Lord has done great things for them." The Lord has done great things for us, we are glad. (Psalm 126:2, 3)

This giving glory to God is wonderful, in and of itself. It is such a positive, life giving exercise. In addition, the retelling of God's goodness and grace, has strengthened our faith. We've lived this. And others have seen it, even when it may be a bit murky to us as we're walking this path.

Every time I put a prayer request on FB, and people say they are praying. Every time I put an answer to prayer on FB, and people say "praise the Lord." Faith is being cultivated, stretched and grown.

...but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God. (Romans 4:20 ESV)



How is that for a formula?

Giving glory to God=Strong faith

Giving glory to God-thankfulness to God and praising Him for who He is and what He has done-strengthens faith.

Conscientiously focusing on how God has worked, builds faith. It gives substance to what we hope for, and evidence for what we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Acknowledging repeated evidence of past faithfulness lays a strong foundation of hope and faith that there will be continued faithfulness.

God has done great things for us in the past. We know He will do great things for us in the future.

Want strong faith? Give glory to God!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Autumn



Colorful. Reds, yellows, gold, greens, purples.

Leaves. Raking. Piles.

September through December.

Donuts. Cider. Pumpkin. Soups. Spice cake.

Friends. Laughter.

Hayrides. Bonfires. Smokey. Heavenly. Best scent in the world.

Sunshine. Rain.

Full, colorful, fruit laden trees.

Barren, leafless branches against steel grey skies.

Glorious. Warm days.

Rainy, bone-chilling days.

Crispy, frosting mornings.

Full moons.

Shortening days. Elongating nights.

Harvest. Abundance. Thanksgiving.

Elections.

Scarves. Tall brown boots. Knit mittens and hats.

School. Schedules. Routine.

Halloween.

Wine tours. Grape harvest. Wine tastings. Wine shipments.

Steaming hot cider. Chilled hard cider. Hot cocoa.

Apples. Apple picking. Bins. Fruitful branches.

Pumpkins. Orange. Huge. Thankful.

Cornstalks.

Candy Corn. Braches candy pumpkins.

Candles. Lanterns.

Yeast. Bread making.

Birthdays. Holidays.

Traditions.

Change.

Life. Dormancy.

Favorites.

Memories.

Seasons.

Faithfulness.

Autumn.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

When I Might Be Drowning


What a person publishes a post entitled, "What's Saving My Life Currently," you might correctly infer that said person feels their life needs saving.

Last week was a really hard week for me.

I had a cold. I had women's issues. I had a kid going in for her second round of chemo.

And, for some reason, facing this second round of chemo was much harder for me than facing up the first round.

I think it is because chemo side effects was no longer a vague idea. It was pretty concrete as far as Meres goes. I knew we would be facing days of nausea and jaw pain. And, who wants their kid to go through that.

Meres first chemo day was LONG. The staff had said it would be long, but in all of our combined figurings, we were 3-4 hours off. One of Meres' chemo drugs requires her to be well hydrated before they start it. Hydration at this level does not consist of drinking a few glasses of water. It involves hours being hooked up to a saline I.V. drip. Two hours before chemo, two hours after.

Thankfully, some other things are happening simultaneously with those 4 hours, or this would be an extra 5 hours or so, on top of chemo.

So, the long day ended up being twice as long as I thought. Even though everything went off without a hitch. Blood counts were fantastic. Everything went very well.

I was a weepy mess on and off that first day. I think it was a perfect storm of events. The long day. The anticipation of side effects. (which thankfully, were much more mild than last time. Nausea for several days, but still good eating. And the jaw pain was manageable with Tylenol. And she still was able to eat.)

The sight of my baby getting chemo. Which is crazy, by the way. The nurses suit up in special bibs and gloves when they are handling the chemo. There is the skull and crossbones motif on the bags. It is toxic. And I am allowing those toxic substances to go into my child. It really puts things in to perspective and kind of freaks me out. But, I also have peace that we have made the right decision.

But, here is the other thing. My support group at Gilda's Club kind of freaked me out, and put me in a not good place. We attend a family and friends' group. We are supporters of someone in our life who has cancer. A parent, spouse, child, friend. Well, three of the members in our group are facing almost imminent death with their person. They are getting ready to transition from the cancer support group to the grief support group.

And, things are ticking along quite well here. But, then I get scared. We have a good prognosis. Enucleation and chemo for retinoblastoma has a 95% cure rate. But, what if Meres falls in the 5%? What if I am clinging to this hope, and this doesn't end up being the finish to her cancer journey? What if she has to have more surgery and more chemo to fight cancer in other parts of her body? Do all those people in the support group look at us and think they were in our optimistic shoes once? Poor, deluded us?

The what-ifs are a horrible black pit.

I cried with the social worker when she asked how I was handling this. I cried on my own. I cried with Mr. Hippie on our date last night, when I articulated exactly where I was at. I'm crying as I'm typing this. And, I'm betting I will cry in the support group tonight.

I know God is gracious, and merciful, and good. I know He will be with us step by step, no matter what each step holds. I do know that. I'm not doubting it.

I'm just hoping, hoping, hoping, that the six chemo treatments are the end. That I don't have to take my child for anymore chemo treatments or surgeries. Radiation or labs. That I don't have to watch her vomit or cry as she is trying to eat. That I don't have to sit passively while the nurse hooks my daughter up to toxins that are supposed to kill the worse cells-the ones that could actually kill her.

Hope that the chemo is doing its job.

Resting in the fact that the MRI showed no cancer or metastasizing in her brain or other eye.

Grace to face today.

Vulnerability to say, I'm not strong in myself. This is a really hard path to walk. Maybe I'm good enough, but not necessarily good. Fine, but not exactly okay.

In case you were wondering.