On a Learning Curve

Life may not be easy, but it's always an adventure.


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Growing Up

My babies are growing up, and they won’t be my little girls much longer. I don’t write this because we regularly spend $200 on groceries every time we shop. And it’s not the way that G’s legs seem longer each morning she tromps down the stairs. Instead it’s how they’re handling changes in the world around them.

For the past several months, our tightly knit neighborhood has been rocked by cancer. I’ve written about Sofia’s battles, but there is another family nearby with 2 parents who are fighting 2 different cancers. In our own family, my favorite aunt has been undergoing chemotherapy for yet another type of cancer. The hardest one to ignore, however, has been Sofie’s, and the hardest questions to answer have come from S and H. Yesterday they finally understood that they won’t be able to celebrate Christmas or the next round of birthdays with their sweet friend.

As their mother, I want to shield my girls from unnecessary pain, but I can’t shield them from everything. And I see value in allowing them to walk beside their young friend as she faces something so much harder than many of us understand. (If you’re still reading at this point, Daddy, go get the box of tissues. I could use a couple anyway.)

My girls never met their brothers Seth and Owen or their sister Lucy, but they know where they are. They know what heaven is, and they don’t fear the life after this temporal one. They know that Sofie is going to get to play with Lucy and the boys before they do. They also know that there is no pain, illness, sadness, or death in heaven. And they know that this is where Sofie will meet Jesus face to face.

The screen is growing blurry now for some reason, so I’m going to post a picture instead of writing more on the subject.

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This poster is the collaboration of neighborhood kids and moms who gathered yesterday to turn a friend’s craft supplies into something beautiful for Sofie. The children decorated butterflies, and I followed a clever friend’s idea for attaching the butterflies to a foam board. While we hadn’t intended to be symbolic in our artwork, I think a butterfly is entirely appropriate for our little friend.

Meanwhile, S made a monumental decision yesterday: she finally agreed to cut off most of the hair that she’s been growing for the past 3 years. S has thick blond hair with tons of natural wave, but she despises brushing her hair and is not very particular about rinsing shampoo after she applies it. Since swim team practice begins on Monday, we’ve been suggesting coaxing her into donating her hair before 6 weeks’ worth of daily swim practice does its damage. When I told her that a friend’s daughters had recently donated their hair to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program, she was intrigued. She didn’t want to donate the 10 inches that Locks of Love requires, and Pantene will accept 8 inches. I’ll leave you with a few pictures to show you the transformation.

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Before: The shock of what she’s going to do has just registered

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During the cut: Amused and unsure

 

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After the cut: Is there enough left for a ponytail?

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The last picture: Moms are so annoying when they tell you that you’re beautiful.

Yes, my girls are growing up. And yes, I’m not sure their dad and I are ready for them to grow up quite so fast. But they’re doing it well: they’re becoming young ladies.

 

 


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Tying up Loose Ends

I have not written anything in more than a week. That doesn’t mean I haven’t tried to write. It’s just that I am emotionally spent. Life has been very difficult these past two or so weeks: Sofie’s diagnosis is heartbreaking, a dear friend’s brother succumbed to a two-year battle with leukemia, a friend texted last night that she was hospitalized for heart irregularities, and my own heart is a little raw. Writing about anything trivial just seems so…well, trivial.

I do need to tie up some loose ends though. Sofia came home from the hospital last Friday to an impromptu neighborhood welcome-home party. She is a strong little girl whose perseverance and determination to live her life normally are a testament to the parents who love her fiercely. Below is a picture I snapped of Sofie with her father Ed.

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Sofie has a long, expensive medical road ahead of her. If you want to read more of her story and help her family with medical and traveling expenses, follow this link.

On the deployment front, Ryan will be back on U.S. soil in 8 days! The countdown is on in our house! Look for pictures of his homecoming towards the end of next week. It’s been a long three months, and we are all looking forward to having an intact family again.

S and H have some happy news to share: Both won trophies in the speed division of our church’s Awana Grand Prix last Saturday. I was as shocked as they were, and the girls owe their speedy little pine cars to the skill of our neighbor Jim. He insisted that wheel alignment was the crucial step for winning cars, and it turns out he was right.

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H’s rabbit car set a new track record for speed!

H took 1st place in the K-2nd division, and S took 3rd place in the 3rd-6th group; she narrowly lost to a pair of brothers.

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S’s “car” is the blue Olympic bobsled second from the left.

Before I sign off, I wanted to share a sweet little photo of H. This is how I found her this morning while her sisters were eating their breakfasts. The furry little black head belongs to Oreo. I love this little girl, and her toothless smile is the perfect start to a new week. I’m praying that it is a week with less drama and emotion than last week. But whatever comes our way, I’m standing firm in the knowledge that God is with me all the time and that His grace is sufficient for whatever trials and sorrows lie ahead.

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Update for Yesterday’s Readers

Believe it or not, today is the first day of spring. Around southern Maryland, this week’s earlier snow has almost finished melting and we have almost a week before the next predicted snowfall. The sun has arrived this morning in more glory than I’ve seen in many days, and I have good news to share with you.

Sofie is resting in her hospital room this morning. I’m hoping that her parents managed to get some sleep last night, too. Instead of six hours, Sofie spent more than 12 hours in surgery yesterday. Her surgeon was cautious and meticulous and was able to remove most of the tumor. Sofie is such a fighter that she kept trying to wake up last night when she was supposed to beĀ  resting.

Thank you for praying for this little girl and her family. They will continue to need your prayers over the next days, weeks, and months. There may be other surgeries, and there will be therapy and rehabilitation. The tumor is cancerous, but pathology will take another day. Sofie’s mom is pregnant with their third child–another girls to add to the 6 girls who already live on our little street–and I know that both of them could use your prayers, too.

Today I plan to spend some time outside in the sunshine with my girls. It will be hard to find a spot that isn’t muddy or soggy, but the brilliance of this morning’s sky is a reminder that God hears our prayers and can bring good things out of difficult, dark days.