Inadequate Words

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Today! Today is the day I’m finally going to write and publish this post. I’ve sat down to compose it several times and I just haven’t been able to find adequate words to describe what’s been happening in our lives the last four and a half months. I’m not sure there are words, but I’m going to give it a go.

We found out this summer that we are expecting another baby. Another baby! It still seems so unbelievable. I wasn’t expecting to share news of my 40th birthday and news of a new baby in the space of a few months. (Just for the record, this pregnancy has made me feel older than the hills. Welcome to 40, I guess!)

We have always wished for more children, but a few years after Lucas was born, it looked to us as though Lucas would be our only. I even wrote about it in a post called An Inheritance of One. We went ahead and grieved the loss of a bigger family and found contentment and peace. However, sometime after I wrote that post, we felt God calling us to consider that He may have another child for us. My first reaction was the plug my ears and hum. We had already done the hard work of letting go of that dream and I really didn’t want to take it up again. I knew opening my heart to this would lead to pain and struggle, and it did. However, we still had the desire and felt a strong leading from God.  We told God we would follow, although it was not without apprehension.  Right after this decision came a health crisis and years of fighting to try to regain health and lung function. It was confusing. It was heartbreaking. There were many very difficult periods during those years, and times where I simply couldn’t reconcile what was happening to me physically with the leading we had received from God. I wasn’t regaining all of the health I’d lost and I certainly wasn’t getting any younger. Every bump in the road, every downturn, every breathing test and doctors appointment was affected by this tension within me.

Yet this summer, after experiencing a stretch of improved stability, God gave us this gift of a new baby! His timing and plans don’t always match ours, and sometimes they don’t make a lot of sense to us. There’s a sort of a glorious absurdity to the fact that I’m pregnant now…at 40 years old with my lung function in the 30s, seven years after my first pregnancy. It’s not exactly what I would have imagined or planned. Yet it’s beautiful, perfect timing.

We are amazed at God’s goodness and are so grateful for this gift. It has not. been. easy. Almost immediately after I found out about the baby I began dealing with significant nausea and food aversions. I spend the first 17 weeks of the pregnancy hating almost every bite of food I forced into my mouth. Then there was the vomit (CF=coughing. Pregnancy=nausea. Coughing + nausea…I think you know where this is going…), and pervasive exhaustion. I’ve had a hard time sleeping, breathing, moving faster than a snail, leaving the house, and in general handling the normal demands of my life. But, yet, it has been so good. So good to fight for this, good to struggle for what we felt called to do. Ignoring God’s call or at least to giving it up when things were heading south would have been far easier and no one would have blamed us. But I’m so glad we didn’t. It has been a difficult journey but she is so worth it.

She. Did I say that yet? It’s a girl.

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Sweet baby girl.

One thing I’ve learned from having cystic fibrosis is that you cannot stop fighting for what is important to you, and you cannot stop fighting to live your life. Sometimes I fight for big things, sometimes for smaller things.  I know that if I don’t swim against the tide, this disease will sweep me away. There have been plenty of losses along the way. Loss is a reality for everyone with a disease like cystic fibrosis, and there is definitely strength and wisdom in sensing when it’s time to let go of certain things. Some battles are long and hard and I am disappointed in the end. Others, like this one, are long and hard with a great reward. It’s easy to say “Praise God!” when things turn out the way we want them, but I praise God for the disappointments, too. I know he has used them for my good, and my life is made fuller when I work and strive for good, even if I don’t get the result I want. The joy and pain, victories and defeats are all linked together to form the fabric of our lives. None of it is outside of God’s redemptive power. I’m reminded of a quote from Theodore Roosevelt. He said, “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

In the end, we felt God reassuring us that if he gave us the gift, he would also give me the strength. This new baby is not likely to make my health better or my life easier. If this pregnancy is any indication, the next few years will be a challenge! But they will also be wonderful. Jaime and I keep looking at each other in disbelief. We cannot believe this is happening. We are so, so thankful. She has already enriched our lives so much.

I visited my CF specialist this week and we are grateful that in spite of feeling short of breath, congested and asthmatic, my lung function is the same as it was pre-pregnancy. My oxygen levels were still at 99%, my blood pressure, temperature and heart rate were normal, and I’ve gained a healthy amount of weight. It was such a relief to see these positive indicators. The bottom line is that although I feel worse than usual, my body is actually managing quite well.

Lucas has been beside himself with excitement since we told him about the baby. He regularly reads up on her development on my pregnancy tracker app. He has been counting weeks and keeps track of the baby’s size as compared to a fruit or vegetable. If you ask him he can recite, by memory, her relative size now (banana) and what she will be each week up to 40 weeks. He asks about the baby first thing each morning and when he gets home after school. He gives her (my abdomen) the sweetest most gentle snuggles and whispers words of love to his tiny sibling. He came with us to the ultrasound last week and heard first hand that the baby was a girl which was what he was hoping for! He was able to recognize her face, her feet and hands, and to see her tiny heart beating. There have been so many sweet moments.

He’s been very protective and loving towards me as well. Here are a few recent Lucas quotes that made me smile:

“Hey Mom, I’ll race you to the car! WAIT! No! Mom, don’t run. I’ll just race Dad until the baby comes, okay?”

“Mom, I’m sorry your life is so hard right now. Dad, aren’t you glad only girls can have babies?!”

“Hi Baby! It’s your big brother. I can’t wait to meet you!”

“It’s okay Mom, you don’t have to come to my practice tonight. You can just rest.”

“Whoa, Mom, I think your stomach is EVEN BIGGER than last time I saw you!” (As in five minutes ago when you got home from school?)

I had (mistakenly) told him I’d feel better after the first trimester was over so he planned and threw a party for me on the first day of the second trimester. He bought me flowers and wrote me a card. He felt I needed some new clothes for the pregnancy so Jaime took him to pick out some maternity shirts. He also wanted to buy gifts for the baby and chose some toys and clothes. It was so much fun! He was temporarily frustrated when I continued with the vomiting etc. into the second trimester but he didn’t make me return the gifts 🙂

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Blurry but sweet!

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Some toys for the baby.

He, of course, has no idea how much this baby will change his charmed only-child existence, but regardless, I think he’s going to take it in stride and make a fantastic older brother. He can’t wait.

So there you have it. My words, inadequate though they may be, to share our joy with you all. Hopefully this will be just the first of many posts about our daughter. Stay tuned.

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My very unprofessional bathroom-mirror selfie, in case you wanted a glimpse of my growing belly. 🙂

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40 Part II

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As you may recall from Jaime’s recent post, 40, I am not the only one in our little family to reach the four decade mark this year. I’m not sure if Jaime has worked up the courage to identify himself as a 40-year-old yet, but as of today, he is! Welcome, partner!

I was strictly forbidden to make a fuss over this big birthday. Jaime doesn’t like to be fussed over. So we will be having a quiet celebration today which unfortunately includes an evening school activity for Lucas. Being the first-rate father he is, Jaime will likely be sweating away with hundreds of people in the multi-purpose room at our local elementary, wondering if he’ll be deaf after this evening along with the rest of us. Maybe not the way he thought he’d spend his 40th birthday when he was 20, but at least we’ll be together. I think we’ll be able to squeeze in lunch out and some gifts as well.

What follows is just a *small* fuss, not a big one. I wanted to share some of my favorite things about Jaime on this momentous birthday. I’ve known him since we were 12 so I have a few years of experience to draw on. I have to say, he just keeps getting better.  Without further ado, I present, 40 wonderful things about Jaime!

Jaime’s personality:

  1. He is really funny! He makes me laugh all the time and can tease Lucas out of almost any bad mood with his crazy antics (pretending to fall out of his chair, doing silly dances, talking in funny voices, etc).
  2. He has a temper too (Lucas…apple…tree…), but he’s very quick to apologize and admit when he’s wrong which I love. And honestly, the occasional heated discussion keeps things interesting.
  3. Jaime’s hair has a personality of its own. I just recently met someone at church who said, “Oh, your husband is the one with the hair.” You would think that a statement like that wouldn’t narrow down the pool of husbands by much (I mean, most have at least some hair and the guy didn’t even use an adjective!), but everyone knew exactly who he meant. I do love his hair and its personality.
  4. He’s a good listener. (As long as Real Madrid isn’t playing 😉 ).
  5. He’s generous.
  6. He’s helpful.
  7. He’s also forgetful! But that is one of those things that Lucas and I laugh about, poor ‘ol dad and his forgetfulness. We pretty much love it.

Lovable quirks:

  1. CDs and DVDs must be straight in their cases. And alphabetized if at all possible.
  2. Jaime likes all these weird bands and musical groups no one has ever heard of. I don’t know why, but I find that endearing.
  3. Jaime likes clothes and clothes shopping more than I do. He choses most of Lucas’s clothes and any hand-me-downs we get have to pass his inspection. Shoes are of special importance. I mean, we can’t have our son out there wearing uncool shoes now, can we?
  4. Jaime loses everything and can’t see what’s right in front of his face. Why is this making the list of things I love you ask? Because after all these years, it’s so much a part of him it has become lovable. Hearing the words “have you seen my [insert whatever he needed five minutes ago in order to leave on time]” will always give me a sense of purpose in life.
  5. He says he doesn’t like people, which makes me laugh. The truth is he doesn’t really like meeting new people and feels he has plenty of friends already. But he’s a great friend to the ones he already has and accidentally makes new friends regularly.

A responsible adult:

  1. Jaime has a lot of jobs…a “normal” job, a job coaching soccer, church responsibilities, and extra household duties to help support our family due to my limitations. He does it all without feeling sorry for himself.
  2. On top of the aforementioned things and his crazy schedule, Jaime does most of the routine yard work now that I can’t do things like mow the lawn or rake the leaves. I’m not saying he does it exactly when the rest of the neighborhood does it, or that the neighbors haven’t occasionally raised an eyebrow at the length of our grass, but in the end, he always gets it done!
  3. Jaime does all the grocery shopping. No further elaboration needed.  What’s not to love?!
  4. Jaime cooks a lot too and he’s really good at it.

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    Two cooks in the kitchen here!

  5. He washes, dries, and folds laundry. Sometimes he puts laundry away 😉 .
  6. He bakes all our sandwich bread. This often happens after Lucas is in bed at night and sometimes after I’m in bed too because of all the other stuff he does. Lucas is very spoiled with the homemade bread and if we ever buy a loaf from the store, he will ask when he can have the good kind again.
  7. Jaime is a really good coach. He’s good with the kids and good with the parents (both of which are important). He thinks he’s not a patient person but after seeing him wrangle a large group of wild Kindergarten boys at soccer practice week after week last year, I beg to differ. (Imagine trying to keep a bunch of loaded springs in a small container.)

An amazing Father:

  1. Lucas and Jaime are extremely close. This is because, from day one, Jaime pitched in as an equal partner in his care.
  2. Jaime is very generous with his time as a dad. Even though he has a million other things to do, he volunteers to coach Lucas’s soccer team so they can have that time together and because Lucas really, REALLY wants Jaime as his coach. He also takes time off work to attend class parties and go on field trips when he can.

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    Lucas isn’t the only kid in this picture who loves having Jaime as a coach!

  3. Jaime is selfless too. I can’t count the number of games of chase, wrestling, fighting, tickle monster, and other similarly exhausting-for-a-40-year-old-but-exhilarating-for-a-seven-year-old games that Jaime has engaged in after a long day at work and soccer. I know it’s not easy and I really love that he does it anyway.

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    Wrestling! (Blurry because they were obviously not holding still).

  4. He’s willing to play almost anything with Lucas. “OK Dad, I’ll be Batman and you be Catwoman. Dad, Catwoman says ‘Meow, meow’ after everything she says and make sure you use a high voice, ok?” Jaime is not too proud to meow in a high voice.
  5. Jaime and Lucas still snuggle in bed together every night. I’m not sure who loves it more. It’s very sweet.
  6. Jaime’s usually very patient with Lucas. When Lucas loses his cool Jaime will say, “I remember what that felt like as a kid,” or “I used to hate that so much, too.” Showing empathy and sharing stories from his own childhood help Lucas work through some of his fears and frustrations.
  7. Jaime and Lucas share a lot of the same interests, but definitely not all. Jaime is good about letting Lucas pursue his own interests without trying to mold him into a carbon copy.

A loving and supportive husband:

  1. Jaime likes to do special things for me. He picks out thoughtful gifts, he plans surprises when I need to be cheered up, he makes birthdays and holidays memorable. By some combination of nature and nurture, he’s passed these qualities on to Lucas, so I feel very loved!
  2. Jaime has never once made me feel guilty for all the extra work he does or the  financial, emotional and physical strain my cystic fibrosis places on him. He accepts it, sees meeting those challenges as part of who God has called him to be, and does an awesome job bearing the extra weight. I’d be so lost without him!
  3. He still wants to spend time with me which I love. He’s always inviting me to come have lunch with him or asking if I want to go out on the weekend. At bedtime I often hear him tell Lucas, “I can only snuggle for ten minutes because then I need to go and see Mommy for a little while.”
  4. He’s good at encouraging me. When I feel like my life or my health is falling apart, he’s ready with examples of why he thinks I’m doing well and ways he thinks I’m doing a good job managing. If I’m nervous about a doctor’s appointment, he’ll find a way to come with me.
  5. He’s encouraging but also realistic. He doesn’t try to cheer me up or sweep my pain under the rug with platitudes or empty promises of “I know this will get better.” He dwells in the hurt with me when I need him there. He also revels in the victories with me and celebrates the joys. He’s a true partner in life, for better and for worse.
  6. He has a lot of confidence in me which gives me more confidence in myself.

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    Photo by Jess Marie Photography

Lucas’s list (I asked him what he loved most about Daddy and here are his responses.)

  1. Daddy is my coach and plays soccer with me. We also watch soccer together.
  2. He takes me on adventures!
  3. He loves me.
  4. He watches shows with me.
  5. He takes me trick-or-treating.
  6. He packs my lunch on school days (I can’t believe I forgot to add this one to my list!!)
  7. I like doing homework with Dad. (Like doing homework? Again, apple…tree)
  8. He lets me chase him around.

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    Photo by Jess Marie Photography

I promise this all adds up to equal 40. (The numbering is not cooperating). The point is, Jaime is a wonderful man. He is God’s gift to me and to Lucas, and to many others as well.

Happy Birthday, Jaime! I hope this decade is your best yet. It won’t be dull, that I can promise. We love you so much!

 

Gone But Never Forgotten

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This past weekend we drove to Western Michigan. We were attempting to enjoy our annual beach weekend, although the weather had other plans.  Luckily we got one really nice evening in at the beach before the storms rolled in.

After a dip in the lake, some soccer and a little dune climbing (for Jaime and Lucas), we arrived at my parents to spend the night. Lucas said hello and deposited a considerable amount of sand on my parents’ entry way floor before heading to their refrigerator. He wasn’t after snacks as you might suppose, he wanted to see the pictures they have displayed of our family. He loves to look at his aunts, uncles, and especially his cousins. There was a new picture up there that he noticed right away. It was a picture taken on my 40th birthday of five of the Waterloo girls.

“Aunt Dianne printed that for us so we could hang it up,” my mom explained. “I like it because I can look up there and see my daughters.”

“But not all your daughters,” Lucas replied without hesitation.

Hearing Lucas include Sheri and recognize her enduring place in our family gives me so much joy. She is gone, but not forgotten, not even by my son who has never had the pleasure of knowing her first hand.

He does know her, though. He has been asking about her a lot lately. He is piecing together her story, the story of our family, where she fits in, and where cystic fibrosis fits in. So what will I tell him? What do I want him to know about his aunt–who she was, how she lived, even how she died?

Sheri was fun, creative, smart, and resourceful. She was also stubborn (just like he is!), and very determined. She was bright and full of life, even though death so frequently tried to choke out her life. She loved a good bargain and had a knack for sniffing them out. She was an artist, a musician, a teacher, and a mentor. She loved flowers.

When she learned that she only had months to live, Sheri didn’t breathe a sigh of relief. In spite of all she had suffered and all she was suffering, she still fought. She wanted to live. She didn’t give in until the day she felt God telling her that her work was done, and then she rested until He took her.

I have learned so much from Sheri. I have learned not to wait around for a set time or life circumstance, not even wait for things to get easier, but to live life today, with all I have. There is just as much purpose and meaning in a sick day as there is in one where I go out and (figuratively) conquer the world. There will be bad days, likely bad weeks or months, maybe even bad years. But here is always joy in the midst of pain, there is always goodness and grace to be found, and the sweetest victories come after a hard fight. She used to say that God never wastes our pain, but uses it for our good and for His glory.

I have learned not to put such high esteem on physical wellness. Sheri was not physically healthy by almost any standard, but she had a vibrant, healthy soul. Her life was shortened by her disease, but no one who knew her could argue that it wasn’t full, meaningful and well-lived. She took each day God gave her and she made it count.

I ran across a quote from theologian Jurgen Moltman in Philip Yancey’s book Where is God When it Hurts which resonated with me. Yancey was discussing our tendency to wish for and idolize a physically healthy life–one that is characterized by the ability to work and to enjoy life without being weighed down by illness or disability. He quotes Moltman who says,

…true health is something quite different. True health is the strength to live, the strength to suffer, and the strength to die. Health is not a condition of my body; it is the power of my soul to cope with the varying condition of that body. (p.190)

By this definition Sheri was healthy. She wasn’t perfect, but she weathered the many storms of her life with resilience and grace. And to the very end, the strength and beauty of her soul shone through.

She is gone, but never forgotten. Aspects of Sheri live on within me, my sisters, my parents, and maybe even my son who is getting to know her now.

We all love you, Sheri. We miss you. You will never cease to be part of us. We hold you close until we meet again.

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ALL the Waterloo girls, circa 1983.

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Sheri Leigh Van Bruggen, September 26, 1968 – September 4, 2004

 

SEVEN Years Old

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Happy birthday to our rapidly growing boy! True to my predictions, six was a great age, and we’re ready to see what seven holds. Lucas is more independent but still likes to spend lots of time with me and his dad. He has become more social this year (thanks, school!) and has told me several times this summer that he needs some kids to play with. I’m glad he’s expanding his social circle, but I hope to stay in the mix for a while yet!

Here are his current favorites:

  • Color: still ORANGE! 
  • Food: Chicken quesadillas
  • Song: Beach Bummer by AC Newman
  • Sport: All soccer all the time!
  • Animal: I think cats have officially edged out chickens although he still loves chickens. He just really REALLY wants an orange cat. (Don’t tell our dads, but he might just get one someday).
  • Book: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (I mean, who doesn’t like to laugh at poor Alexander?!) He also loves Frog and Toad books written by Arnold Lobel.
  • Movie: The Lego Batman Movie

His biggest interest at the moment is Lego DC super heroes and the Justice League. The Flash is his favorite hero followed closely by Batman, Batman’s team and Wonder Woman. He spends hours in his room playing with his Legos and has amassed a rather disturbingly large collection in a short time. He makes original movies with the heros and villains and after rehearsing and perfecting them, performs them for us. When he makes a new movie, he designs a DVD case for it complete with a photo of the action to come on the front and a summary on the back.

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DVD case for “Batman versus the Rogues”

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Disc plus bonus disc

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Back cover summary: This is a wonderful day in the USA. Now the clown prince of crime, the Joker, broke into the Planet. As the Joker works with Bane, Harley Quinn, Trickster, Darkseid, Moth Man, and Catwoman, will Batman and Robin, Batgirl and Cyborg fix it?

He recently recreated a Lego Batman game he plays on Jaime’s phone with his Legos. It included obstacles and battles and earning coins to “unlock” new super heroes for the game. He wrote out a clue card for each villain with tips to defeat them. I thought it was such a wonderful idea, until I realized that executing his plan would require me to make 13 small white boxes to conceal unearned super heroes. That’s a lot of small white boxes and a lot of folding. A lot.

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Lucas also made up his own team of super heroes.  That group is called Team Betsy and I am the main hero (*blush).  He made himself along with Jaime and me, and then each one of my sisters and my parents by mixing and matching Lego minifigures! My mom is styling in her bright pink pants and red cape and my dad has some sweet bat wings! It is a special kind of awesome 🙂 I’ve seen one “movie” called “The Delamission of Betsy.” And no, I don’t know what a delamission is, even post movie.  We battled some pretty intense villains but made it through. Go Team Betsy!

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Grandma and Grandpa Waterloo as super heroes!

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Blond Jaime, Lucas and me. (I’m a little drab…I might want to switch outfits with my mom!)

Lucas has taken to writing stories down in his journal, too. Many of them are from the action and adventure genre although there’s a few personal narratives in there as well. Like a true writer he starts stories and then gets a new idea and skips some pages and starts another. There are several completed stories in there but I’m still waiting on the conclusion of our Chicago trip personal narrative from March.  Perhaps I shouldn’t hold my breath. I bought him a new journal the other day. He was like, “Ooooooh, fresh pages!” He prefers to do all his writing with an orange mechanical pencil, 0.9 lead thickness, with a good eraser.

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Lucas still wants to be a farmer but overall his interest in farms has diminished (*sniff). I think this is largely due to being in school full-time and the resulting decrease in visits to our local petting farm.  We put his toy farm in the basement a few months ago but he did gets parts of it back out this summer so he could restart his barnyard soccer leagues. A few of the animals got new names (such as Gretl the cat who is a spitting imagine of his cousin-cat named Gretl). Thankfully we still get to enjoy performances from some of the old favorites: Henny, Goaters, Donkers, Peacocky, and Hirman.

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The animals are facing off at the farm!

Soccer continues to be a big part of Lucas’s life, and not only at his toy farm. He loves to attend Detroit City FC games with Jaime and his buddy Greyson.

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DCFC’s biggest fans.

This year he got to do a walkout with his favorite player Shawn Lawson which was so exciting! Shawn is such an awesome guy and pays extra attention to Lucas which has been so special. It’s pretty amazing to have a hero who is accessible, knows your name, and goes out of his way to acknowledge you!

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Lucas and Shawn

Lucas loves playing soccer on his King Cobras Rec and Ed team and wants Jaime to coach his team forever. It’s been fun to see him develop soccer skills but also to work on broader skills like determination, perseverance, and confidence.

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King Cobras!

Lucas still loves deer signs, especially when we unexpectedly find new ones! He is a notorious night owl. We have had a loose bedtime of 9:00pm for the summer but we can often still hear him knocking around in his room after 11:00. He despises getting up early. He likes reading, riding his bike, and being in perpetual motion.  He enjoys a good potty-related joke. He is stubborn, creative and affectionate. He is introverted but loves to spend time with family and friends. He’s sweet and loving and occasionally spices things up with an impressive outburst of temper. He is protective and caring and loves God. He asks difficult, thoughtful questions. You know he’s comfortable when he breaks into song or talks incessantly (it happens!). Lucas is the most wonderful gift. We love him so much!

Happy 7th Birthday, Sweet Baby Boy!

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40

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June 30, 1978.

Jimmy Carter was president and Grease was #1 at the box office. Chesapeake by James Michener was atop the list of New York Times bestsellers and “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb was probably playing on the radio. Fans of the San Francisco Giants watched Willie McCovey become the 12th player in Major League Baseball history to hit 500 home runs and in Ann Arbor, Michigan a baby girl was born to Ron and Mary Waterloo. Their sixth daughter!

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June 30, 1978. Baby Betsy.

This past Saturday, we celebrated Betsy’s 40th birthday. It was a great opportunity to gather together with many of the people that love her the most. People have mixed feelings about turning forty. I know, I do! This October, I will…cease to be in my 30s (see, I can’t even say it!) and the pendulum of emotions swings back and forth on a daily basis. On the plus side, I still have my hair. But it has become a losing battle trying to pluck all of the grey out of my disheveled mop. I can afford to buy the really nice soccer shoes I used to dream about but often I can barely walk the day after I play in them.

I could go on.

For Betsy, turning forty feels different. When Betsy was born in 1978, the average life expectancy for someone diagnosed with cystic fibrosis was around twenty years. To have made it to forty and to be thriving is an unqualified victory. If Betsy had any grey hair (she doesn’t), it would be a badge of honor. Betsy has been through a lot in her forty years. There have been more than a few health crises along the way. Life now looks a lot different than it did twenty years ago but Betsy has not given in to discouragement. Betsy’s day-to-day existence is not without its difficulties but it is mostly full of joy and laughter and hope.

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1998. Bae (I think that’s what the kids are saying these days) home from college.

And we are hopeful! Betsy is feeling as good if not better than she has at many points in the last ten years. She is still chasing after our six and a half year old son, Lucas. Betsy is a great mom – always at his soccer games and school events. Lucas adores her! She has resumed a little running after some breathing and back difficulties forced her to take an unwanted hiatus. Her time for the mile isn’t quite what it was when she was tearing up the Mackinac Island Eight Mile Run back in college but she is running! She is still operating a successful tutoring business and making a difference in the lives of her students. She even manages to still have the time (and patience!) to help me find all of the things that I misplace.

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Betsy and her favorite boy (yes, I’ve been displaced 😉 )

There are a lot of exciting medical advancements too. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is constantly pushing the boundaries for new treatments and medications. We participated in the Great Strides fundraising campaign on a rainy Saturday this past spring. Our team amassed over $5000 in donations and nationwide nearly $30 million was raised, all of which goes towards funding cystic fibrosis research. Betsy’s pulmonary specialist is hopeful that maybe even within the next two years, there will be a new medication targeting the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis for people with Betsy’s particular gene mutations. A company called Planetary Biosciences has been working on new dietary supplements that have made a huge difference for Betsy and others. We feel optimistic!

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Team #Breathe4Betsy

To see Betsy at age forty is a testament to God’s faithfulness. It’s a testament to Betsy’s determination and perseverance. And it’s a testament to the love and support that we have received from our family and friends. Psalm 139 says “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” We are thankful for each one of those days! We don’t know how many there will be (none of us do!) but I know Betsy will live them to the fullest, surrounded by love.

Just like Saturday. Happy Birthday, Betsy!

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June 30, 2018. Betsy & her sisters.

Continued Conversations with Lucas

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Love and Laughter!

Expressions of love:

L: Mommy, this is my favorite place on your cheek to kiss you.

B: Aww, thanks.

L: It’s soft and cute and it smells so good, like a rose!

*

L: Mommy, I love you and Daddy so much!

B: We love you too, Baby!

L: But I love you sooo much. I love you more than soccer! And superheros! And even more than kitties!!

*

L: Mommy, when I’m older and live with my wife, you can visit me every day.

B: Can I get that in writing?

L: Sure, Mom, no problem.

*

B: Can I call you “Cute Cheeks?”

L: Well, sometimes.

B: When?

L: Maybe just at home because otherwise it might be kind of embarrassing. Also, not if someone is here for dinner.

Boys will be boys:

L: Here you go, Mommy [puts a tiny, unidentifiable object in my hand.]

B: Um…thanks? What is that?

L: I don’t know. I found it in my pants.

*

L: [whispering]. Hey Daddy…

J: What?

L/J: [Loud whispering and peals of laughter]

L: Shhhh! Don’t tell Mommy! She thinks poo-poo is gross and not funny!

A window into the soul of an introvert:

L: Mom, kids are a lot easier to meet than grownups.

B: Oh yeah? Why is that?

L: Grownups get really excited to meet kids. It’s a lot to handle. And they’re big. Kids are much smaller and less excited so they’re easier to meet.

Can someone else answer these questions?

L: Mom, does God know the future?

B: Yes, I think he does. [Additional explanation attempted].

L: Oh. Mom, are there bad guys in heaven?

B: Well…

L: Also, do people who don’t know God go to heaven?

B: [Gives a woefully inadequate answer]

L: How can God and Jesus be the same person?

B: [Tries to explain with a metaphor]

L: And Mom, one more thing..

B: [Bracing myself…]

L: Can you imagine if there was a banana peel on a big patch of ice? It would be soooo slippery!! HAHAHAHAHA!

Random Funny-ness:

L: Mom, summer is my favorite season. What about you?

B: Summer is my favorite season too!

L: After summer I like spring best, but fall is only my third favorite, because it’s a little droopy.

*

L: I’m going to tickle Daddy’s ear ball.

B: Do you mean earlobe?

L: No, I call it an ear ball.

B: Well I call it an earlobe. Because that’s what it is.

L: No! Mom! Pretend you don’t want to and call it an ear ball, because that’s what it looks like. Trust me, it’s better.

*

J: Uncle Greg almost missed his plane home! I fell back asleep after my alarm went off and he forgot to set one.

L: Oh man, if Uncle Greg missed his plane and stayed in Florida, Aunt Tina would have to get a new husband. And that’s expensive!

***

Four Years!

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An old picture popped up on Facebook today, reminding me that I started this blog exactly four years ago! Jaime had surprised Lucas and me by coming home from work early. He and Lucas set off for an adventure at the Hands On Museum so I could have a free afternoon. I had been considering blogging for several months, but hadn’t quite mustered up the courage to get started. Lucas was two at the time, so free hours were hard to come by.  I decided I’d better seize the opportunity and I got the blog up and running while the boys were gone. Jaime joined me as a writer about 10 months after I started the blog and combined we’ve written 124 posts to date.

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Heading out to catch the bus to the museum on April 25, 2014.

This morning Jaime and I had a little adventure. Today was Lucas’s star student day at school.  Lucas made a poster this weekend sharing some things about himself, and Jaime and I were invited in to see him present his poster and to tell the class about a family tradition we have.

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Lucas’s poster.

Lucas, preferring to stay out of the spotlight, made his presentation as brief as possible 😉 . It was still lots of fun to see!

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Jaime and I shared about how soccer is a big part of our family, starting with Jaime’s dad growing up in Peru, and trickling down through Jaime to Lucas. After our presentation, we headed to one of our favorite local joints so I could get a coffee and Jaime could have lunch.  When you eat breakfast at 10:30, lunch at 11:30 just doesn’t make sense, but as you know, I never say no to coffee!

 

Right now, I’m sitting here looking out the window, in the same spot where I started this blog four years ago. That day I got to see Jaime and Lucas out there hand in hand.  Today it’s the FedEx guy and some well-fed squirrels. I have more free hours nowadays which is nice, but we have far less time for adventures with Lucas which we greatly miss. My health has declined on paper, yet my life is still just as full and happy as it was four years ago. Some things are easier, like maintaining a heathy body weight, and some things are harder, like exercising. There have been ups and downs along the way, but through it all, God has been faithful.  My heart is still filled with the bright hope I felt on that first day which led to the title of this blog.

Thank you for following along with me these four years! I’ve found healing and hope in expressing my thoughts during the challenging times.  I’ve found joy in sharing the triumphs and blessings as well as the everyday experiences that make up my life. I’ve found community as readers have reached out with love and encouragement and shared their own experiences. Thank you for allowing me to share my life with you, and for sharing yours with me.

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Then…

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And now.

First photo by Wendy Martin Photography, second by Jess Marie Photography.