Monday, September 20, 2010

Reservoir Reservations....

Today we had a moment where I doubted myself.
How much can you ask of your child when you're not able to do the same thing?
It was time for our Monday hike and off we drove to Lafayette Reservoir.
We met up with our hiking crew, chock full of experienced hikers all decked out with hydration packs and outdoorsy clothes. (Don't feel bad if you're lost, I had never even heard of
a hydration pack until last week ;)
Normally our group breaks into two hiking crews.....The Littles and the Bigs.
The Littles generally consist of the kids who are 4 and under, accompanied by their respective mommas.
The Big kid hike includes the rest of the group...those adults with the most hiking experience, as well as atleast 23 kids, ages 5 & up.  The group mostly consists of boys ages 6-12 who explore nature with well as cheer each other on.

This marked the occasion of our second hike for the year. 
Last week, we lucked out and Jarrod was able to come along as he was working from home.
I was so thankful that he could 'break in' the boys and accompany them on the Big hike.
They ended up taking a 4 mile hike with about a 100 hundred foot climb.
That week the Littles took a perfectly leisurely 2 mile hike closer to the ground level.  Just my style...and perfect for breaking in Natalia (and me of course!)
This week we had the option to stay on a paved course that followed the edge of the Reservoir.
It's a path I'm very familiar with as I used to walk it a lot when the kids were small.  I haven't attempted it since Natalia has been able to walk.  It was great to go with a baby in a stroller, but not so much with an active toddler.  The paved path has a few big hills, but it's a steady, predictable walk. 
The Bigs were going off the pavement and up onto 'The Rim.'
I had no idea what to expect on their hike, but I knew that Natalia wouldn't last on a 5 mile trek.
She was however, having a terrible time splitting from 2 of her friends who are older than she is.....perfect motivation to try out the Big hike.
I say try out because I wasn't sure I could even do the 5 mile hike!
The 74 degree weather we were expecting was much closer to the low 80s...and I had foolishly only packed one water bottle for each of us.
A dear friend of mine and I decided it was worth the shot to set out with the Big hike and to plan on turning back if it got too hard.
Um, can I say that it started OUT hard?
Uphill from the beginning and completely exposed, much like the path here.....with a few more trees off to the side.  Natalia was a mess....crying about 15 minutes in....
and MAN, it is quite hard to motivate a little person when you're not feeling motivated yourself. 
I think I asked my friend if we could turn back atleast 3 times.......she kept telling me how funny I was.....I kept trying to stress that I was dying, NOT a laughing matter in my book!
We ended up finding a turn off that would lead down to the original paved road....after our 1 mile uphill detour....we were now set to finish our 2 mile walk around the reservoir.

My boys however were in for more adventure.
They were headed for the top of the the next photo, picture us down by the water....and they would be on the trail hidden way up in the top of the hills.....and it went UP and down, and UP and down for the entire time.
I will say that the boys seemed to do much better without me there, since Jarrod said they NEVER complained on the last hike, and this time they were all over me asking me to stop, or turn back, etc.  (and I was only with them for the FIRST mile!) 
The momma bear in me wondered if I had sent my baby boy to be tortured, not by the hiking leads, but by the terrible hills.  Since I knew I didn't have the endurance to climb more than a mile of those hills, how did I expect my 6 year old, only 9 months after his surgery to do so??
I prayed, and wondered, and prayed some more....hoping Merrick wasn't up there dragging or complaining, or just plain needing me.  Sweet Ian is a firstborn, I don't worry about him as much, I know he'll muddle through and complain later ;)

Eventually, I called one of the leaders to see how they were doing and they ended up meeting up with us at the park only an hour and a half or so after our own hike ended.
They made great time. 
And the leaders didn't hear a peep out of my boys. 
I was SO grateful, and I couldn't wait to see them.
Ian approached me first and told me about the shortcut that tacked on an additional mile to their trek. 
Merrick stopped off at a bathroom so I waited a bit longer to see him.
Even from 50 yards away I could see him trying to compose himself, his face twisting up as he bit his lip.
I thought, "Oh man, all did not go as easily as he had lead on." 
He burst into tears when he saw me.
It broke my heart.  He sobbed about how much he was hurting and how hard the hike had been, etc, etc.
I rubbed his fuzzy head and told him how proud I was....all the while fighting back my own tears.
I hadn't mentioned his ordeal to anyone yet because I didn't want him to have to 'wear' that as a sign, or to feel like he had an out to give up too easy.
But as tough as I may seem I melted with him as he let loose in my arms.  He was a bone-weary, boy with an achy leg.  Even after so many months he has so much more to go through to fully recover. 
Please pray with me that we know how hard to push him.  
We've talked so much about needing to 'break down' muscle in order to build them back stronger.  But it's not an easy process. 
And the Mommy Factor (you know the thing that made him burst into tears on seeing me...) gets in the way.
I have to be tough enough to help him, yet gentle enough to be able to comfort him when he needs it.
Today I let him cry and I told him we'll take each hike as it comes.
Most of them won't have those kinds of hills.
I don't want him to think it's ok to go on the Little's hike because he's scared.   
Isn't that a lesson for us all?
I may have reservations about my own abilities, but with someone who believes in me.......anything can be possible.
God heal us all from our disbelief!
may I be a backbone for them when they need to see Your strength, Lord.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Before the Morning

The other day, I met with a sweet, sweet momma of two boys.  Her oldest son was just diagnosed with an Osteoid Osteoma in his left femur.  I still can't believe the similarities between our stories.   Her son is 5, just going to turn 6 yrs old, as was Merrick at the time of his surgery.  His tumor is also in his leg...though the opposite leg than Merrick.  The Dr. guiding their recovery is the same Orthopaedic Specialist.  She is as worried about the MRI as I was.  Watching her hurt, broke my heart.  Talking to her brought back so much of the pain and uncertainty that we went through during the diagnosis process.

Thankfully, her son's tumor is also benign.....and it is also not constantly painful as Merrick's had become.  The location is different, being on the outside of his bone rather than directly inside as Merrick's was....
I really just can't understand why two boys in the same geographical area would have the same type of tumor, at the same age.  Of course it makes you think the problem could be environmental....and then I stop and go....Oh yeah, all of that aside, it points me back to God.

His plans are unfathomable and purposeful.  Even the ones that are meant for evil.  The plans that the enemy thinks will cause us to doubt and to falter.  Those are the plans that are meant for HIS glory.
I hold onto that.  Some would say that this is a crutch.  But if you know Sacrifice.  If you've SEEN firsthand, the daily mercy that is poured over a sorrowful, overwhelmed heart.  
Then you can't deny Love.

We were saved to nurture this baby back to health and to be there through his pain.  We were never meant to be able to take it away from him, as much as we might have prayed that.  The plan for Merrick's life was set out before time began.  And it is a glorious plan.  I rest in that.   I know the same is true for this little boy and his family.

You know how I am about song lyrics.
This one reminded me of this dear friend.
My heart aches with her. 
And while I tear us, I hold out for the Glory of it all.

God has never stopped working in her son's life.
Will you pray with me for little Ryan?  He has a tough road ahead of him.  If his parents choose surgery, it will mean the same bodycast/recovery period as we've gone through.  It's not something that can be rushed.  But as we all know, it IS a process with hope.
I finally think we can see the 'other side' of Merrick's ordeal.  He was still raring to go after a two days in a row of hiking. 

God please give this dear friend a glimpse of that horizon to get her through today:

Before the Morning
by Josh WilsonDo you wonder why you have to
Feel the things that hurt you
If there’s a God who loves you where is He now

Maybe there are things you can’t see
And all those things are happening
To bring a better ending

Someday somehow you’ll see you’ll see
Would you dare would you dare to believe
That you still have a reason to sing

Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling
It can’t compare to the joy that’s coming

So hold on you gotta wait for the light
Press on and just fight the good fight

Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling
It’s just the dark before the morning

My friend you know how this all ends
You know where you’re going
You just don’t know how you’ll get there
So say a prayer

And hold on cause there’s good for those who love God
But life is not a snapshot
It might take a little time but you’ll see the bigger picture

Once you feel the weight of glory
All your pain will fade to memory

It’s just the hurt before the healing
Oh the pain that you’ve been feeling
It’s just the dark before the morning

BTW- the story behind this song is amazing:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Patriot Day

This Saturday is Patriot Day....a National day of Remembrance for those killed on September 11th, 2001 as well as for those who have fought in the War against Terror ever since.
President Bush signed the bill into law asking for all flags to fly at half staff, and for everyone to observe a moment of silence at 8:46 A.M.

I remember that morning I was working for Heald, canvassing high school campuses and making contacts with faculty.  I was on my way to Freedom High School when I first heard the news.  At the time we only knew that there had been a terrible plane crash into one of the Twin Towers in NY.
The librarian I was meeting with had turned on the television and we both gasped in horror as we watched the second tower get hit and the towers eventually crumbled. 
It was as if time stood still and none of us really knew what to do or say next.
Scheduling a presentation at that moment seemed disrespectful to say the least.
I drove back to Heald in a fog....trying to process the magnitude of the current events, and wondering how anyone could be productive for the rest of the day.
Is that how you felt?  Did the explosions rock your world?
It was strange to be 'at work' and to watch the events unfold.

Now as I contemplate how to pass this information on to my children...I wonder.
What events will rock their world?  When will they reach a place that lacks security?
Jarrod and I had only been married for a year when America was attacked.  We had just purchased our first home.
In the next month, we had evidence that our solace was with each other.
We conceived Ian-Jacob during this turbulent time of not knowing WHAT the world was coming had stopped or was limited, somber stories of survivors were everywhere, everyone felt unsafe.
But in that time of uncertainty.....there was a baby boom.  I saw it with my own eyes.
At Heald, five families in our department alone ended up expecting kids, and our due dates were within weeks of each other.

I find such beauty in that fact.
That when we're scared we reach for each other. 
That God has not left us without companionship and hope.
Because without hope, how could we bring more people into an already crowded world that seems to be going mad?
Our God knows our hearts and what we need most.  What greater hope is there than in a child's eyes?
We were scared but never alone.
And that is what I hope to convey to our kids this weekend.  That once upon a time a very scary thing happened.  Yes, there is hate in this world because humans make very wrong choices.
We must strive toward our commonalities, not emphasize our differences.
And love, to always love, because Love covers over a multitude of sins.

And we'll celebrate the solidarity of our Freedom. 
The freedom that has come as such a great price, and that should NEVER be take for granted.

How will you remember?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Schools in!

Did you hear the bell?
Not that they ring at home ;)
We're also lacking lunchroom benches, hall passes, and desks to say the least....
But what we do have in abundance is a love for learning.
And for that I'm truly grateful!
We've been homeschooling since the 'beginning' this is our 4th school year...and I have to say, it just gets better and better.
We do have a few traditions that we like to keep...
A happy breakfast (we tried out peanut butter pancakes), new school supplies and outfits, etc.
Marmar even chimed in with special cookies as a First day of School treat:
But mainly this year is different because I now have 3
pupils in my charge.  With Natalia starting 'Kindergarten,' all three of our kiddos are official.
I may not be able to relate to having to drop off my kids into another's care, but I, like every other momma out there...feel the tick of the clock as each year passes. 

*For more details on our first week, check in with our family blog at