All About Alena

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It’s been 12 days since our little girl made her appearance! I thought I would tell you a little bit about her so far. I’d like to come back to the blog soon and write about my pregnancy and her birth, but for now I’ll just give you a few details about her and share some of my favorite pictures.

Her name:

Alena Abigail. Alena is pronounced a-lay-na. It means “bright, shining light.” Abigail means “source of joy.”

Alena’s likes:

This girl loves to eat! She cluster feeds, sometimes for hours at a time. But then she’ll take a good long snooze, so I’d say it’s a fair exchange.

The bouncy seat! This is very similar to big brother Lucas, and she even turns her head to the right, just like he did. She likes to sleep in there and will hang out there when she’s awake as well.

Mommy is her favorite for obvious reasons. Lucas is quite sure he’s her second favorite with Jaime bringing up the rear. I’d say there’s a tie for second 🙂

Alena likes getting her hair washed! I think she appreciates a good scalp massage.

She likes snuggles and kisses. It’s a good thing, because none of the three of us can stop kissing her and holding her.

She likes her hands up by her face and sometimes sucks on her fingers or fist.

Alena’s dislikes:

Diaper changes! I mean, they really are the worst. She does not like being cold.

She likes getting her hair washed, but hates getting the rest of her body washed.

She does not appreciate being passed around when she’s found a cozy spot.

Recognizable features:

Alena has a full head of blackish brown hair. I’m sure you can guess where that comes from!

Her eyes, nose, and cheeks look a lot like big brother Lucas’s.

She has very long fingers and very long toes. They look just like mine.

Clues to her personally:

Alena will let us know very loudly if she’s upset. However, when she’s done expressing herself (and we’ve rectified the issue) she’s able to calm her self down and be content without much intervention from us.

She seems a bit more laid back and independent than her brother…at least for now!

She’s also more flexible and will sleep in a variety of places and nurse or take a bottle. Yay!

She’s a tough little one. She had jaundice and endured what seemed like countless heal pricks. If she was being held when they poked her, she didn’t cry. If they put her on a table she cried but would stop immediately when back in our arms.

Lucas is a loving, doting big brother. He’s eager to help and showers her with affection. It’s so sweet! It’ll be fun to see how their relationship develops over time. Alena stares intently at him, I’m guessing because of the contrast of his dark, dark eyes. He was the first to get a smile and although I’m sure it was involuntary, he felt pretty proud.

Jaime and I are doing well too, and adjusting to our life as a family of four! We feel so blessed and thankful for this precious new baby. To God be the glory, great things He has done!

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Alena Abigail

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March 23, 2019 • 4:37 PM • 6 lbs 15 oz • 19 1/2 in

 

Thirty-seven weeks

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In some ways it feels like the pregnancy has flown by. Well, at least to me. Betsy might give you a different answer. When we found out Betsy was pregnant it was hot and humid. In the last month, Lucas has missed eight days of school due to snow, ice, and polar vortexes (vortices?). I guess the change in weather is as good as any indicator to show how far we’ve come.  This past Wednesday, Betsy reached week thirty-seven of the pregnancy. It hasn’t been an easy road to get to this point. Betsy recently went back on IV antibiotics. Her breathing wasn’t quite where it should have been and in an effort to make sure she is in the best possible place heading towards labor and delivery her doctors decided it was the best course of action. Betsy also came down with a stomach virus (which she got from Lucas, which he might have gotten from me) which has been pretty draining. Still, she’s made it to thirty-seven weeks and that feels like a pretty big deal!

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The day we found out Betsy was pregnant (miss you summer)!

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Thirty-seven weeks!

It’s particularly significant because Lucas was born at thirty-six weeks! The story goes something like this: unsuspecting couple is having a quiet night in; they decide to watch a movie; pregnant wife suggests some ice cream; dutiful husband goes to fetch ice cream; husband returns with ice cream only to find his wife’s water has broken; frantic couple rushes to the hospital; baby is born twenty-seven hours later. Just like in the movies! We were caught off guard, to say the least. Betsy was bound and determined that this time around there would be zero chance that we weren’t ready for the arrival of our little one. The baby’s room has been ready for close to two months. All of the baby clothes have been washed and put away. Hospital bag has been packed since about November. 🙂 The infant car seat was installed a couple weeks ago. We have the name picked out (true story, Lucas was born so early we hadn’t even decided on his middle name yet!). We feel ready!

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We’ve got a name, even if all my suggestions were rejected! 😉

Of course, we have no idea just how big a change we are in for. It’s been seven and a half years just the three of us. And in the last few, in particular, we’ve found a certain equilibrium. That familiar, family dynamic is bound to be disrupted with the introduction of another human being. Last weekend we had one last “Lucas gets to make all of the choices” day. After church and a quick lunch we headed off to a park nearby to check out some great horned owls who nested and had babies. Then it was off to an arcade for a couple of hours of fun and games. We finished the day seeing The Lego Movie 2 and snagging some of his favorite chicken quesadillas from Qdoba for dinner. Of course we are all thrilled for the arrival of our baby girl but we have also loved every minute of being a family of three!

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Betsy and Lucas tearing it up at the skee-ball lanes!

So, yes, all is well! We feel blessed. We feel ready. We have no idea what weeks 38-40 will bring! And we are looking forward to introducing our little girl the next time we post. 🙂

P.S. As it’s International Women’s Day, I thought I would take a moment to pay tribute to all of the extraordinary women in my life. First and foremost, my wife Betsy, who has done what seemed impossible and soon will be the mother of two all while educating children and finding all of my stuff! To my mother Debbie and my mother-in-law Mary who raised 10 children between them without even one iPad (how, I’m not entirely sure!) and who are now a huge support to Betsy, Lucas, and me. To my sisters Tina and Ede and my sisters-in-law Carolina, Kristi, Julie, Laurie, and Carrie who are all raising families and pursuing meaningful work. I salute you all!

Dreaming Still?

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Have you ever woken up from a dream so vivid that you thought it was real? The kind of dream where you are almost surprised to find out it was a figment of your imagination? I haven’t! I almost never wake up even remembering my dreams.  I’m sure there is a psychological explanation for that. Betsy thinks it’s weird. It probably is.

Lately though I’ve felt like I have kind of been stumbling around in a dream. A vivid dream that feels real but hardly seems possible. Back in July we found out that Betsy was pregnant. Pregnant. We are overjoyed! It is a blessing that we did not imagine ourselves experiencing again. We had always wanted a second child and a sibling for Lucas but time and circumstances seemed to suggest that it was not a part of God’s plan for us. And, after a period of sadness and disappointment, we found true peace and were truly in love with our family of three. For the last seven years we have developed a rhythm and equilibrium and so much love among the three of us. And now we are going to be four? It hardly seems real.

But of course, it is real.

I am reminded daily by Lucas’s musings about his soon-to-be little sister. His excitement is palpable.

“Dad, do you think Lightbulb (we are keeping the real name a secret for now) will like animals?”

“Dad, how big is Lightbulb this week?” (Asparagus? Celery? Squash? I always forget!)

“Dad, I can’t wait to show Lightbulb her new room!”

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Lucas getting some practice holding his new cousin Elías.

There are other, daily, reminders that there is actually a baby on the way. Betsy is getting bigger and bigger. We can all feel the baby kicking regularly. Betsy has nearly eclipsed the 31 week mark. Generally speaking this pregnancy has been significantly tougher on Betsy.  She was really sick during the first trimester and there were some really rough days. Even some days when she thought she might not make it to 31 weeks. Still, she bore it all with a smile. Betsy’s lung function has held steady throughout the pregnancy and for that we are grateful. She completed a round of antibiotics over the holidays which actually gave her a much needed boost.

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There’s either a baby in there or an alien!

Still feeling the positive after the effects of the medications, Betsy has moved on to a serious nesting phase of late. Betsy has been busy washing up all of the baby clothes and setting up the baby’s room. Lucas was born four weeks early and honestly we could not have been less prepared. Betsy is determined not be caught off guard this time around even our little girl decides to make her entrance to the world before the due date.

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More pink this time around!

In spite of all the circumstantial evidence, sometimes I’ll still look over at Betsy and say, “WAIT. You’re having a baby?????” Most days I really do have to stop and pinch myself to be sure I’m not still dreaming. I’m pretty sure I’m not. 🙂

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Can’t wait to meet you sweet girl. ❤

 

 

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. 🙂

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