Book Review: Chasing Slow

Book Review: Chasing Slow

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I have had the opportunity to be a part of yet another book launch team for Erin Loechner’s book, “Chasing Slow,” and you guys, this book is SO good. I had the chance to hear Erin speak at an Influence Conference, and she is an inspiring, down-to-earth woman who will point you straight back to what matters. One of the things I liked most about her when I heard her speak, is her honesty. She doesn’t apologize for who she is, and she isn’t afraid to live her life the way she believes God intended her to, regardless of what others may think. And that is someone who I know I could definitely take a lesson from!

Erin’s book, “Chasing Slow“, speaks about how running after the next best thing is exhausting. In the world we live in today with social media and Pinterest, we hold ourselves to unrealistic standards, based on what we see on the internet. This desire to do more, be more, have more. And it ultimately leads to feeling like we have less.

“More, she said, is a never-ending immeasurable. It can’t be counted or valued or summed or justified. More is always, by definition, just ahead at the horizon. That’s why we never stop chasing it. More is never enough.”

“Who would have known that more could make us feel like less?”

“Pinterest has, in a few short years, become an addicting escape, an impossible standard, an invaluable resource. A synonym for perfect.”

Erin talks a lot in the book about her life’s journey, about living with a husband who has a brain tumor, and about her pursuit to “journey off the beaten path.” A big theme throughout the book is simplicity and minimalism. I have found myself drawn to these concepts, I think even more-so because of the fast-paced world we live in. Erin talks about how she was one of the first to pioneer a capsule wardrobe (which I am so intrigued by!), and even gives some tips on how we can purge our lives and our homes from so much stuff.

“I do not want to compete. I want white space. I want room for grace.”

As the title of the book would suggest, Erin talks a lot about slowing down, and what that means. She also points out that chasing after a slow life, is still a chase. Whether we are chasing the fast life, or the slow life, it’s still a chase. Erin encourages you to really, truly stop chasing and slow down. And that what we might actually be afraid of missing out on, really wouldn’t even be missed.

“In a society that places a disproportionate emphasis on productivity, there is a true and real fear of slowing down. Will we be replaced? Left behind? Disrespected by the masses, whispered about in cubicles?”

I mentioned social media earlier, but the greatest takeaway I had from this book was that I was convicted about the time I spend on social media. Not so much about the amount of time, or the content I look at, but rather that I fall trap into so much of what Erin points out. Since reading Erin’s book, I have consciously made an effort to slow my time on all social media outlets and really be present. Present to my family, to the people I am sitting face to face with.

“Instead, I think the dangers of social media are far subtler than the distraction, than the addiction, than the habits we form by scrolling through screens multiple times a day. I think there is something far worse than the insensitivity of checking your phone in the middle of a conversation, when you unknowingly communicate to a person that what’s happening on your screen is more important that their words. I think social media has caused something much more dangerous, far more penetrating, a creeping issue that sneaks by daily, unnoticed. Social media has encouraged us to crop out the contradictions in ourselves.”

Imagine how freeing it would be, to stop the comparison. To stop holding yourself to the “perfect standard”, whatever that really even is. God didn’t create you to be just like someone else, and I would bet that He doesn’t want you to spend your life striving to be perfect. God’s grace is a powerful thing, and when we immerse ourselves in the fast-paced social media world, we somehow easily forget that it’s okay to slow down, stop, and accept that grace.

I really can’t recommend this book enough, and I probably could have quoted the entire thing here, it’s that good (and I won’t do that, so that you have plenty of more great things to read and takeaway from this book!). Something else random but worth mentioning, is that the book is beautifully designed. The layout is creative but easy to follow, and Erin put little columns in the pages of things that she wants to emphasize. There are even some recipes in the book! If you give it a read, I’d love to know what you think! Here’s to a great week, friends!

xo,

Abby

 

Looking for more?

Book Review: Hope Unfolding

Book Review: Wild and Free

Bryan’s Journey: Part Ten

Bryan’s Journey: Part Eleven (Bryan’s Perspective)

Bryan’s Journey: Part Eleven (Bryan’s Perspective)

(My wonderful husband, Bryan, is back again to share how he’s doing as we celebrate the one-year mark of his last chemotherapy treatment!)

It has been exactly one year since I checked in for my final chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and I thought it was about time to provide a first-person update.  I’m quite certain I am not a good enough writer to fully put into words how much different this holiday season has been for me thus far. Last year my Thanksgiving day was filled with a weariness and fatigue that comes from the internal chemical warfare from my final treatment.  Instead of focusing on being thankful for each and every blessing I’ve been provided, I was praying for physical and mental strength to get through this one last chemo battle.  Needless to say, I’m incredibly thankful to be experiencing this season through a drastically different lens, mostly good, but definitely also different.

First, let me share the good.

Since my final treatment last November, I have had a series of follow-up activity and testing:  blood tests, physical exams, a CT Scan, and a PET Scan.  Each of these steps has carried a series of amazingly high levels of stress for me, but each one has confirmed quite confidently that the cancerous cells that previously existed in my body appear to remain gone.  This shouldn’t have been a surprise to me given the specific variation of cancer that I had. Even before starting chemo, I had about a 74% chance of cure.  Once I had achieved a full response after 4 of my 12 treatments (full response meaning that all cancerous activity had already disappeared) the odds improved to over 80%, and now that I’m crossing the one year point, the odds touch the 90th percentile.  If I can accomplish the two-year mark without issue, statistically I’ll have accomplished cure of this particular cancer. CURE!!!  That definitely has to be up there on the list of my favorite four letter words.  🙂  In summary, I remain physically healthy and continue to approach “pre-chemo” levels of myself.

All of this seriousness and mortal awareness has also helped me truly think about what is most important to me in a way that I have never before.  I can confidently tell you that before 2015 occurred, I was a man who loved my family.  However, at the time of my diagnosis, I was a hard-working father to 2 beautiful children under the age of 3, and after a long workday, I can honestly tell you that there were many times I prayed the kids were in bed so I could have some quiet time.  Not any more.  If I don’t get the chance to tuck in my princess and prince, my night just isn’t the same.  I am not going to tell you that I’ve converted into some kind of Superdad (if I tried to tell you that, my gorgeous wife and amazing family would swiftly squash that silly-ness! 🙂 ), but I can tell you that I rarely take moments for granted, especially those moments that include the people who mean the most to me!  The quiet songs I sing to my son before bedtime; grazing my daughter’s cheek with my fingertips while she holds my nose and asks me to “talk silly, da-da”; sitting close to my wife while we catch up on some Netflix.  These are all moments I would have taken for granted before that are now some of my most treasured.   In a strange, twisty kind of way, my cancer experience has been quite the blessing.

One of the premier moments in my life since my final treatment last November had to have been in October at the “Light the Night” walk.  My mind was not prepared for the emotion of the night and I honestly didn’t even think about how meaningful and emotional this night would be for me. For those of you who don’t know much about this event, let me summarize it briefly.  The walk is a two to three-mile walk in the evening hours, where walkers carry with them a battery-powered paper “lantern” that is one of three colors:  red for supporters of those suffering from a blood cancer, gold for those walking in memory of lost loved ones, and white for survivors.  As I walked to the registration booth, my mind was far from the serious zone.  But as soon as I filled out the paperwork, and picked up my white lantern, tears of joy and relief flooded my eyes.  It was as if this ritual truly released my body from the fear, stress, and havoc of battling cancer.  I was surrounded by an army of red lanterns and I hugged them all like I never have before.  As the night turned dark, we turned on our lanterns and there was a proud, but sobering realization.  Among the crowd, there was a heavy dose of red and gold lanterns.  The white lanterns were few and far between.  Now, many of you know that I am a man who enjoys going against the flow, but this is one of those moments that I longed to blend in.  I walked proudly with my white lantern and I prayed that in future years, my eyes are blessed to see a larger percentage of “survivor white” in the skyline.

And now, the different.

Despite my body’s success with chemo and the bountiful statistical evidence pointing to a bright, healthy existence on this earth, I now face a completely different battle than I tackled last year.  The mental warfare that comes with the territory of being a “cancer survivor” is far more difficult than I ever imagined possible.  For any of you that have known me for any meaningful amount of time, you likely know me as a man of positivity and energy.  A man who often finds the light within the dark.  A guy that lives to brighten someone’s day!  Although that man still exists and can be seen relatively often, I’m shocked by the level of cynicism and skepticism that resides within me these days.  Man, there’s a sharp pain in my hip area today…cancer.  Why is there a pain in my kidney area?  Cancer.  I’m feeling a bit nauseous and tired.  Cancer.  You get the point.  Multiple times per day I find myself palpating the area of my neck where I first found an enlarged lymph node as if I am just waiting for it to happen again.  I thought for sure that my cancer was going to be my biggest hurdle I’d face, but I’ve been quickly proven wrong.  Fear is the larger, smarter, evil brother of cancer.

The other thing that definitely caught me off guard was my level of survivor guilt.  The mere typing of this concept still catches me off guard.  Like many of you reading this, I know a ton of people who have been afflicted with the cancer bug and while the odds of success continue to improve, unfortunately not everyone wins the earthly battle.  Why is it that God allowed me to remain, while others who were equally important, amazing and valuable cogs within a family have moved on?  I didn’t realize how powerful this feeling was for me until I came face to face with the family of one of those whom God selected to be with Him, leaving his family seeking answers.  My heart broke the moment I saw the family.  I physically felt ill and had the urge to run far, far away.  A moment like this would have normally had me running toward a person, seeking to create a positive connection, but now, my mind was flooded with negativity.  While this is still a surprisingly strong emotion I carry within me, I am happy to report that with prayer, a bit of counseling, and a lot of love shown to me by the surviving families of the many people I know that are missing loved ones, I am slowly beginning to cure this mental disease.

I awaken each day with optimism, perhaps cautious optimism, but nonetheless optimism.  God has given me the gift of today and I seek to use this gift wisely.  And although this Christ-centered viewpoint is often hijacked by my sin and insecurity, I end the day praying for renewed strength, and for the ability to unearth the elements of the “pre-cancer” Bryan that I so longingly miss, yet retain the updated and improved characteristics as well.

Thank you all for your love and prayers.  Although it has been years since I’ve physically touched or spoken to many of you, and I would love to remedy that with many of you, I can sincerely tell you I have never felt so loved.  These are the kind of things that provide the tipping points of strength during a tough battle, and for that, I am incredibly grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!  Cheers to another year–another blessing from God.

-B

Bryan’s Journey: Part Ten

Bryan’s Journey: Part Ten

“Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3

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So, I guess the saying “no news, is good news” is true in this case — no news about Bryan has meant good news! 🙂 Bryan had follow-up appointments in both July and October, with nothing to report. His labs still show some of his blood counts still getting back to “normal”, but nothing concerning after the hit his body took with chemo. There hasn’t been any visible lymph node activity, and Bryan is feeling overall great! The appointments just consist of blood work and a physical exam –he won’t have any more scans for now as there aren’t concerns and to limit the amount of radiation his body is subjected to from the scans. He will have another follow-up appointment in March. We are happy that these appointments go further and further out, as that is yet another sign of Bryan staying in remission.

We were able to participate in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk again this year, and Bryan was able to walk with us — such a huge praise! Last year, he sat at home not feeling up to a walk in the rain, and this year, he was able to hold my hand while I walked alongside of him. It was a great chance to fundraise for LLS and just to raise more awareness about blood cancers. It is an unfortunate truth, that there probably aren’t many people whose lives haven’t been touched by cancer in one way or another, and societies like LLS, really help draw awareness and raise funds for research. I don’t take lightly the fact that while I believe Jesus is the One who healed Bryan, the medications and treatments that they gave him have come so far from what they used to be!

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We are approaching the date that marks a year since Bryan’s last chemo treatment (November 24th) — hard to believe it’s been that long already. It seems like just yesterday at times that we began this journey, and I know for Bryan it’s something he still thinks about daily. The chances of his cancer relapsing have been highest this first year for Bryan’s exact type of lymphoma, and so you better believe we have been watching the days pass by on the calendar this year. The chance for relapse doesn’t go away completely, but the percentage chance of it staying away increases greatly (somewhere in the 90% range after two years). We know nothing is guaranteed, but we are so thankful that Bryan is healthy and feeling back to himself.

This world is a crazy, crazy place, and I know none of us are immune to the health issues, relational issues, political issues, and moral issues that we all face on a day to day basis. I am so thankful that I have a Rock to continue to come back to. I don’t know where we would be without God’s grace and protection over Bryan and our family this past year. I know that I used to often take for granted my health and all the things God has blessed me with — and while I still feel immensely blessed, my eyes are so much more open to those around me who are not healthy, and who need to know that their Savior is walking right beside them, just as He did for Bryan. I had my fair share of emotions throughout the past year and a half, and my moments of disbelief and anger, but you know what? More often than not, I felt God’s presence right next to me — even in the anger and confusion.

“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

I know I am speaking for Bryan here, but until I can get him back on here to finish writing out his story, I want to ask for your continued prayers for him. The physical side of this challenge he faced may be over, however, the mental and emotional side of having gone through cancer remains to be something Bryan will have to deal with. Understandably so, any sort of bump or lump or odd feeling can send Bryan back to day one of where this all started. Please continue to pray that his cancer stays in remission, and that he would have peace of mind and the strength to continue to live in the moment! We know our God is a mighty and good God, and that He will continue to walk beside Bryan and our family as we prayerfully wrap up this challenging journey in our lives.

I am so proud of Bryan, and the way he has handled all of this. It’s a true testament to how much he loves Jesus, and I am so thankful that I get to walk beside him as his wife. His upbeat attitude and joy, even in the midst of something so challenging has been an encouragement to so many people around him. Love you, Bryan!

Thank you guys for continuing to pray and support us! It means a lot to us when you ask how we are doing and how you can continue to pray for us!

xo,

Abby

 

Looking for more?

Bryan’s Journey: Part One

Bryan’s Journey: Part Three

Bryan’s Journey: Part Eight (Bryan’s Perspective)

Book Review: Hope Unfolding

Book Review: Hope Unfolding

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I just finished reading the book “Hope Unfolding,” by Becky Thompson (of Scissortail Silk), and it was hands-down one of the best books I have read. I have been awful at blogging lately, but I think it’s because I have so many things I want to blog about but I never just sit down and write. But, this book was so good, I had to share it with you. I know I have lots of mama friends, and I know that this book might just be the thing you need to read today, too. I laughed and cried as I read Becky’s story of her life, and the situations that she talks about, and found myself relating to her in many different ways. This book is a quick read, and I actually had to will myself to put it down so that I wouldn’t finish it too quickly! Sometimes, I read so quickly and don’t really let things fully sink in, and I didn’t want that to be the case with this book.

The book, “Hope Unfolding” is full of truth. It could just be that when I was reading this book, the timing was perfect for where I am in my life, but, I felt that multiple times throughout the book, the author was looking right into my heart and speaking directly to me. I love how God uses all sorts of ways to connect with us, and even though I felt that I randomly put this book into my Amazon cart, I know He didn’t see it as random at all.

Here’s the thing — being a mom is hard. It is an often overlooked “job”, a job without pay, and often without gratitude. But, it’s also the most rewarding role I’ve ever played in my life. I, probably much like you, find myself randomly scrolling through my Instagram feed, and noticing all of those moms that have it all put together. They have the cutest kids, the fanciest houses, and they have that perfect side business or Etsy shop that fuels their passion and allows them to even make some money while staying at home with their kiddos. But here’s the other thing — this type of comparison will eat away at me if I let it. Becky’s book reminded me to keep my focus where it needs to be, and that no one can really do it all, and be it all, and we shouldn’t feel that we need to be constantly put-together.

I love social media, and it inspires me and fuels my creative side, but it can also be a spot where I forget that I am me, because God made me that way, and that that is 100% enough. I love the Instagram feeds that show nothing but beautiful pictures, the ones that make you catch your breath sometimes. But, how real is that? Probably, not very. The truth is that we are not perfect, and in constant need of grace and hope that can only come from Jesus.

A lot of the points made in this book are things I have been told over and over again in my life. I was raised going to church and Sunday School, and I know that God loves me. I know that I’m not forgotten, that I’m unique and that God has an intricate plan for my life. But, sometimes, I need to be hit over the head with these truths. When I think about all that we walked through as a family in this past year and a half, it is overwhelming, and oftentimes confusing. And truthfully, it would be so easy to let the lies that the Enemy tries to speak into my soul become a reality in my thoughts. This book was a great reminder of where truth can be found.

I am not the one in control, and I am certainly not the one with a perfect plan. Becky writes in her book,

“But this moment, right where you are, is no surprise to God. He didn’t wake up this morning and say “Wow! How’d we end up here?” then shrug His shoulders and shuffle off to get some coffee…He has been with you every step of the way. Even the ones that didn’t make sense. Sometimes we just have to be willing to admit that even if it doesn’t look anything like we thought it would, God knew exactly where we would end up all along…”

I know people going through all kinds of struggles, losses and challenges, and I bet a lot of them don’t make sense. It’s so easy to sit and tell yourself that God has a plan, but if you really believe it? That’s where things will change. She also writes,

“Life is like a garment that has been intricately woven from carefully chosen thread, each moment and each event coloring the design and shaping the finished work. Our lives are made up of a million perfectly placed choices by the One who already knows how it turns out in the end.”

A million intricately placed moments. Nothing by chance. I am mom to my two exact children, because I am the mom He planned for them. I am my parent’s daughter by unique design and my two sisters are the ones He had planned out for me before I was even born. I am the wife that He planned for Bryan, and the challenges we have faced, and continue to face are not a surprise to Him.

Another thing I really took away from this book was that God’s perfect love is for us, all the time, no matter what. I would consider myself to be an achiever, and an absolute perfectionist of sorts. I feel good when I complete something, and when I do it well. But the truth is that God doesn’t expect anything from us, nor does He require it. Becky writes,

“He doesn’t respond to us because of anything we do or don’t do. He doesn’t come because of anything we are or aren’t. He doesn’t answer because we do or do not deserve it. God responds when we call because He loves us. Just because He loves us. And He runs to us every single time. Just because you say His name.”

Just like we run to our kiddos when they call us, regardless of what they do or don’t do, the same is true for how God sees us.

I’ll say it again — being a mom is hard. But it becomes a lot less difficult when we can surrender it all to Jesus, knowing that there is hope and grace on the other side of all the mistakes we’ve already made and will continue to make. It feels so good to surrender my plans, my agenda and every single one of my worries to Him, knowing full well that He will care for me far better than I ever could. The freedom that I feel from stopping that comparison, and believing that His plans are perfect, is a wonderful feeling. It definitely is a constant thing for me. I continually have to stop those thoughts, those lies, when I catch myself thinking them, and speak the things I know to be true in my heart instead.

I don’t have it all together, and I truthfully, I think we’re all a work in progress. Life isn’t always easy and doesn’t always feel safe, but I am rejoicing in the fact that I know He’s got it all in His hands. Every diaper change, every tear, every laugh — He sees it all and He can and will meet you in the midst of it. We’re all in this together, mamas, and I’m cheering you on!

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

And, with that, hop over to my Facebook page, for a quick little giveaway with this book!

On a somewhat related note, Bryan has a follow-up appointment next week with his oncologist, and we would love continued prayers for his health. I’ll be back to post an update on him, and life lately soon!

xo,

Abby

 

Looking for more?

It’s Been a Year

Book Review: Wild and Free

Easy DIY Crib Teething Guard

Book Review: Wild and Free

Book Review: Wild and Free

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I love to read, and have not made reading a priority since having kids. Well, kids and Netflix…the two things that keep me distracted. It’s so sad! In an effort to keep myself reading, and because I can’t help but share when I read something good, I am going to review a few books on my blog. The first book that I wanted to talk about today, is the book “Wild and Free” by Jess Connolly & Hayley Morgan.

I was honored to be on the launch team for this book, and I truly can not say enough good things about the authors. Both Jess and Hayley founded the Influence Network (which, by the way, I highly recommend joining if you haven’t already!), and I have been able to receive both encouragement and wise teaching from them both. This book is really one of the best I have read, and I think that every woman should read it, no matter where you are at in life. This isn’t just a book for young adults or teens, it is a book for women of all ages.

Jess and Hayley alternate chapters throughout the book, and then each of them gives their own perspective at the end of the other’s chapter. Both of the authors have different personalities and different perspectives, which makes this book super unique, but it also flows really smoothly. The only reason I didn’t read the entire book in a few days is because I was trying to take in all that I felt God was trying to teach me through it! This book is “a hope-filled anthem for the woman who feels she is both too much and never enough.” The book will remind you to live for a God who loves you and wants you to feel free, to feel unchained, and to hold nothing back. In case you aren’t already intrigued, check out some of the highlights from the book:

Book Highlights:

  • “We mean the world to Him–not because we’re good or we’ve earned it, but because we are His treasure, the apple of His eye, the daughters He is coming back for. He has never seen us as a tool. We have always been the prize worth fighting for.” Jess Connolly
  • “Because we never need to be afraid of failure–not when God’s grace will always be there to break our fall.” Hayley Morgan
  • “When our eyes are on God and His goodness, we can rightly worship. When our eyes are on ourselves, we see only our own insufficiencies. Because God is the essence of good, He is incapable of creating anything but good. With God, there are no castoffs. There are also no favorites. There are only masterpieces–every single time.” Jess Connolly
  • “You can love with abandon because your hope isn’t in being loved back. You can hope in really big ways because God is a really big God.” Hayley Morgan

The book will not only encourage you, but it will give you helpful guidelines for what it looks like to be a wild and free woman of God. You will learn that you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to do everything for everyone. You can be loud and not worried about what anyone else thinks. God created you in His image, and has set you free. Gosh, there is something profoundly relieving when you realize the God of the universe set you completely free and continues to love you unconditionally. The world doesn’t revolve around what I do or don’t do; rather we exist to worship our God and point everyone right back to Him.

In case you are interested in learning more about the authors, they both have websites & blogs that can be found here:

And, the book can be purchased on Amazon, here. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed with this book — you’ll want to pass it on to all the women in your life. Oh, and P.S. No one paid me anything to say nice things about this book! I truly loved it, and want y’all to read it and feel the freedom that radiates through the pages! Happy Tuesday! 🙂

xo,

Abby

 

Looking for more?

The Influence Conference: Recap

Train Birthday Party!

It’s Been a Year

Train Birthday Party!

Train Birthday Party!

I couldn’t let the months keep passing by without doing a quick blog post about Gavyn’s 2nd Birthday Party! We chose a train themed party for Gavyn this year, and we kept it simple, but it was still fun to plan! I actually love planning and organizing parties, but with our move being around the corner, I knew I needed to scale back on Gavyn’s party this year as compared to his 1st Birthday Party.

I, of course, started my search for ideas on Pinterest, and definitely came up with a few good ones on there. I even got adventurous and made my own cupcakes and cupcake toppers for this party, and they turned out super cute! I wanted to just highlight some of the things we did, in case you are looking for some ideas for your own train party.

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DIY Cardboard Train: My handy father-in-law was able to make us custom-sized boxes and wheels that attached with velcro, and Bryan and I just had to cut out the windows and decorate the train! The train was a hit at the party, and we have gotten great use out of it since. If you can’t have boxes made for you, any type of box would work — just decorate it however you would like! We used string and white balloons to create the engine “steam”.

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Other Decorations: I used our chalkboard to make a little sign, and then I searched through all the kids’ toys to find a few trains to use as centerpieces and such. We blew up a few red and blue balloons, too. The tablecloth is from Target.

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Cupcakes: I altered a box cake mix to make the cupcakes and made homemade frosting, as well. The toppers were ordered from Ciao Bambino Designs, and I then attached them to blue and red card stock circles. I made the circles using a circle punch. I used hot glue to attach the circles to mini sucker sticks (from Hobby Lobby). This whole project was fun and easy and it made the cupcakes seem a little more fancy!

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Birthday T-Shirt: I ordered Gavyn’s shirt from Ruffled Rose Boutique on Etsy. It was fun to watch Gavyn be so much more interactive during his birthday party this year! He loved blowing out his candles and opening presents.

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Party Favors: Each kid was given a conductor hat and a train whistle (both from Amazon). The little tags were also ordered from Ciao Bambino Designs, and I just tied them on with a little bit of decorative string that I had.

I had a lot of fun planning around a train theme, and now it’s on to wrapping up the details for Madalyn’s 4th Birthday Party (“Under the Sea”) this weekend! 🙂

xo,

Abby

 

Looking for more?

Monster 1st Birthday Party

Rainbow Birthday Party!

Minnie Mouse Centerpiece Decorations

 

 

It’s Been a Year

It’s Been a Year

So, I have decided to dust off the old blog today and try to get back in to posting once again. Life has been nothing short of chaotic this past year as we dealt with everything with Bryan’s health and building a new home together. Now that we officially moved and settled into a routine at our new house, I feel like I can breathe again! Moving with two kiddos under the age of four was as adventurous as it was stressful 🙂

We celebrated our oldest’s fourth birthday this week, and I can’t help but think back to where we were one year ago. It was on June 18th that I posted my news publicly about Bryan’s lymphoma. We celebrated Father’s Day last year not only celebrating Bryan, but celebrating his last “normal” day before his first chemotherapy treatment. The reality of that situation has come to weigh heavily on me as we vividly remember the details that unfolded as that journey of life began.

But, what I can tell you, is this: God came through. Just like He always does. It wasn’t how I wanted Him to deal with the situation. Bryan’s lymphoma certainly wasn’t what I thought He would put in our paths, but there it was. I have often wondered what life would look like for us now had we not gone through that trial. For me, the reality that I am not in control was a harsh one. A reality that I did not want to face.

I also sit here full to the brim with thankfulness. I am SO thankful that Bryan is now healthy. I am grateful that he has had another whole year to be here with our family, and to grace the world with his joyful presence. I am overjoyed that I am able to sit here and type out how thankful I am for his complete helping, as for the past 12 months, there was so much uncertainty.

What I want to do today, other than to get back to my blog, is to just reflect on where life has taken us. I want to let you know that God is good. Even when it doesn’t seem like it. Even when you want to be in control and think that you know better. My absolute favorite worship song of all time is “Oceans”, and these lyrics in particular:

Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders.

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

This anthem could not have rang out in my life more truly than it did over this past year. I felt like I was deeper into a situation than I possibly ever could have wandered on my own, and yet in the midst of something I was so upset about, so sad about, so emotional about, I clung to my faith in Jesus more than I had ever before. I felt His presence as Bryan and I labored over decisions about what to do and what steps to take. I felt like at the end of the day, all I could do was relinquish complete control and trust. Trust that had no borders.

Bryan remains cancer-free today and is healthy as can be! The chances of his lymphoma returning are highest in the first year, so we would love continued prayers that God keep watch over him. Bryan has some remaining scar tissue and slightly enlarged lymph nodes that cause him some discomfort, and the mental struggle of having gone through what he did continues to weigh on him. I know that he would also appreciate prayer that anxious thoughts would stay away, and that he would continue to focus on living every day to its fullest potential.

I am so thankful as well for the community of friends and family that surrounded us during the entire time. I had read on another blog that part of the tough thing about going through cancer was that everyone reacts when you first post something with offers to help and encouragement, but it dies down after that. This definitely rang true to us, but, I can tell you that we had family and friends who stuck by the entire time and it made a huge difference to Bryan and I. He had cards of encouragement to open through the whole journey, we had our children cared for so I could help Bryan, and Bryan had family that went with him to keep him company during chemo treatments. Our lawn was mowed by neighbors, we had food and meals offered and prepared for us. I will never forget these acts of kindness, as they truly made such a huge difference to us. God showed us His perfect and powerful love through everyone that walked with us.

But, most of all. I am thankful and I am SO happy for a God who pulled us through when we couldn’t see the light at the end — when it seemed like we were in the worst possible spot. I just can’t even grasp the depth of love and grace He has for all of us.

And. This guy. My Bryan. So happy that he’s mine.

Natural Photography for your life.

xo,

Abby

 

Looking for more?

Bryan’s Journey: Part One

Bryan’s Journey: Part Two

Bryan’s Journey: Part Six