Sunday, January 26, 2014


I knew. 

There may be some reading this with doubts, but I knew Jace had #leukemia before the doctors and the blood test confirmed it. The weeks and months leading up to January 26, 2013 were a time for God to prepare my heart, mind, and faith. I had A LOT of "talks" with God and somehow I just knew cancer would change our lives. I did the bargain prayer. I did the questioning: We've been through this, and this, and this, but do we really have to do this now, too?

My conversations with God would read something like a Francine River's novel. 

I knew something in our lives would change. I just didn't know exactly what. 

10:20 pm the night of Jan 26th: I knew we had to get him to the dr immediately. I knew I would have to wake him from his sound sleep. In my core, I knew we didn't have a lot of time. As we drove the tollway to Children's Hospital in Plano, I reviewed the last few hours. 

"Jason, I know you will think I'm crazy, but I'm certain Jace has leukemia." 

"Take him to Children's immediately. Do not wait." Every medically qualified person we talked to or texted from 8 pm - 10 pm told us this after we explained his symptoms. 

As I texted 5 people, praying someone was awake to come stay with our girls (Thank you, Shelsea), I was also packing and instructing Jason to pack for all of us for at least a week. 

I wish now I'd been more sympathetic to his confused look when I told him that. There wasn't time, though, and even my head was spinning out of control at what our life would look like now. 

"He has these bruises here and the spots on his face and in his mouth that have worsened since we left our house."

It took about 1 second for us to get ushered back for the nurse to weigh Jace and check his temperature and than only about 1 more second to get us to a room and then maybe 2 seconds for the ER doctor to come. 

If you've ever visited the emergency room, you know that's not how things usually roll. 

As the doctor checked him and we held him down screaming and crying to take his blood, I knew. 

When the doctor came back in and said.......

Well,  you know what he said. Even the nurse was crying FOR us through her apology. I felt so bad for her. 

Jason dropped to his knees. 

[from Jason: "It was the scariest moment of my life. Through everything I've experienced nothing has even come close to what I felt that night. Your whole world comes crashing down. Everything you prayed for, you realize it could be taken away in an instant. Fear set in, but faith overcame. I'm so thankful for everyone who was there for us in the instant our lives changed."]

Through my tears, I nodded my head and said, "Now what?" 

The wee hours of the morning after that are not a blur. I can tell you pretty much every detail. 

I remember Jace crying as they strapped him down again, this time to the bed in order to be transported by the ambulance to Dallas Children's. 

I remember the faces of the ambulance drivers. I remember just as we loaded up, the oncology doctor ran to me and with tears and smiles said, "I'm 99% sure it's A.L.L."

Jason needed gas in the car, yet also needed desperately to follow the ambulance. I hated that we were all separated from each other. The first of many, many times. 

In the ambulance ride, from my phone I worked ravenously to set up his Caring Bridge. I knew when the sun came up, we would be overwhelmed with love, prayers and messages. 

I remember every person who dropped their Sunday plans to be by our side. I remember having to sit with the girls and tell them "Jace has leukemia." I remember planning every detail of that moment for them so they knew they were supported and loved and would be taken care of no matter what our days brought. 

In the ICU room we were assigned, we were overwhelmed by a zillion doctors asking us to repeat how we got there. 

It was also in that room after a group of men came early that morning that I saw with my own eyes the power of prayer. Hours after their visit, Jace's counts started leveling off so that he was able to leave the ICU AND the Dallas hospital and have his port surgery and treatment in Plano. This was the first of MANY answered prayers. 

We were in Dallas only 7 hours. They expected him to be there much longer. 

God is good. Every time in my life that felt like He wasn't, He proved to me that if I only trust in Him, all will be ok. ALL of that stuff I'd experienced before was only proof of why I should trust Him in all things. He never failed me, never left me. 

I knew this was no different. I knew that Jace was just as precious to Him as he was to me. 

The only control we have over anything in this life is over our attitude, our faith, and our love. 

Many days and many nights our only survival was our faith. 

Today, we know we will never be as we were before January 2013. We won't respond to people or situations the way we did before. We won't waste time worrying or fretting over what could happen. We won't take any day for granted. 

We will love abundantly. 
We are thankful in all things. 
We are thankful for 2013 and all it brought into our lives: good and bad. 
We will savor these precious moments in time with our family. 
We choose to focus on helping others who are where we've been.
We choose faith over fear. 

We know that is the only way to live. 


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Finding the Normal

The last few weeks have been a lot of "finding our new normal." It's definitely not easy. I have written about our journey the past year with Jace, mostly, on his CaringBridge. (You can always visit there if you're scrapped for reading material. HA!) 

Now, we don't have much to write about day to day with his treatment. Now, we go from living at the clinic and hospital to being home and doing our normal "stuff." 

Cancer and treatment has been a big part of our last year, but the normal stuff keeps us grounded and balanced! 

So, here's what we've been up to: 

Jace and the girls are back to school after a WONDERFUL holiday. He's been doing a GREAT job lately with just all the normal stuff. Here he is this week showing off his new car aka prize! 

Did you need a daily dose of CUTE SMILE?! 

Jason and I have been doing a fast with our church called the Daniel Fast. It's, basically, no meat, no bread, no sugar, nothing processed...Just fruits, veggies, whole grains, and water! 
Last year at this time we were in the middle of our fast when Jace was diagnosed. I, firmly, believe that our time of fasting and prayer were instrumental in our ability to be so focused on our faith and the firm foundation to get us through those first few months of leukemia. As hard as it is for me to give up chicken, we always  always  reap the rewards from not giving into our need for instant gratification. 

Since we CAN have popcorn and we eat a LOT of popcorn anyway, I decided we needed to invest in a little popcorn popper. So for about $25 we now enjoy GIANT bowls of popcorn at least twice a day. :) Jace loves watching it shoot into the bowl. I bought this one.

We've also been watching a lot of movies. The crazy weather makes us all just want to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and a good movie. One movie I've seen lately and LOVE is August: Osage County. So, this family is dsyFUNctional, for sure. And many of the scenes hit me to my core because it's like watching my own life on the big screen. I love how this movie captures the real-ness and messiness of life. Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts are my top pics for an Oscar. Not everyone will love this movie, but I so identify with it and just think the acting is incredible. Note: I do not say that often. :)  

On the side, Jason and I sell a couple of great products. What you should know is that I DO NOT like product pushing at all. If I believe in a product, I will definitely tell someone about it. :) 

Since the beginning of time I've been obsessed with mascara and long lashes. I think as I get older my lashes are set on getting shorter. I found this great product called Younique 3D Fiber Lashes.  It's about $32 and typically lasts 3 months. It WORKS! :) 

Jason is part of a new company called ID Life. They have a line of products for energy, sleep, weight loss, and individualized nutrition. They just launched this week and we were able to go to the launch meeting with many of the founding members. We are both super excited to try the products and tell you how they are helping us. We are ALWAYS in need of energy, sleep products and we also drink a lot of protein shakes, especially when we fast. You can click the link above and take a FREE assessment. The assessment gives you results on which vitamins you need to take when and WHY. (aren't we also like 3 year olds? We always want to know the WHY!)  Then, they package your vitamins accordingly and ship with YOUR name on them! :) We should have products for sampling soon! 

Lastly, in our "free time" you know we are working on our #OPERATIONLOVE project. The past 2 weeks CMS has been collecting donations for us. We will meet with a group this weekend to put the bags together for our next drop off on January 30! We are so excited at how this service project has taken off! We hope to keep the momentum going throughout the year. If you want to donate items, you can always check out our OPERATION LOVE PAGE for details on how YOU can help! 

Remember, the smallest acts make the BIGGEST impact! :) 

So, that's about it! School, work, work, work we love, more work we love, and slowly finding the new normal for our family! :) 

I've always been a fan of normal, but now I DEFINITELY savor the normal (that includes all the MESSY parts of family life, too!) 


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Aftermath

While we are quickly approaching Jace's leukemia diagnosis anniversary, we have began to describe this phase of our life and his treatment as "The Aftermath." 

Last January, it was like a bomb went off in our lives jolting us to hang on to the foundation beneath us and to hold on to those around us. Things didn't really seem to "settle" until the fall. That was a LONG time to hold on and ride. 

Now, we feel like we've found a little more of our footing and are beginning to stand tall and look around. Things are definitely not what they were before. 

They don't look the same because our eyes see differently.
They don't feel the same because our hearts have expanded. 

This new year is like we are waking up to a completely different world. We think differently, we speak differently, we love differently, we see time differently, we see people differently and while this is our journey we also recognize that not everyone will get it. 

They won't get why we keep saying to be grateful anyway. They won't get why we brush off the trivial things of life. They won't get why we apologize more and forgive more abundantly. They won't understand why we now are more relational  instead of  transactional when interacting with others. They won't understand why our focus and passion has changed. They won't, but many of you will. 

Since I was 11, I've loved the church hymn Blessed Assurance . . .

This is my story, this is my song...
Praising my savior all the day long...

I sang it with pride and a deep understanding that God had me where he wanted me because my story really is HIS story. 

We all have a story to tell. We all have overcome. We all have struggled. We all  have felt alone. We all have told ourselves that we are alone. We all have something in our past that we've wrestled with and replayed in our minds over and over. 

Some of us push our story way down deep. Some of us never speak our story, Some of us blame our story for our present life. 

Our story can help someone else if we let it, but we have to tell it. 
Because if we tell it, we realize that many others have felt the exact way we do. 

Let's be honest. It's not always pretty. It's not always easy. And to be honest, ya'll, these past few weeks have been difficult particularly for me. I feel God stirring the depths of my soul. 

Now I'm here, sharing with you the biggest story my life has yet to tell. 

While I stand in the ashes trying to make out the future, I also stand in faith and knowledge that I will rise anyway. I already know that a "song can rise from the ashes of a broken life. (tenth avenue north)"

I know from my experience that God's plan for me is bigger than ANYTHING I ever could have dreamed while standing in the aisle of the small church singing my little eleven year old lungs out ( off tune, I might add). 

I know that seasons come and go. Some are long, some are short. It will be over when it has fulfilled it's purpose. 

 He has faithfully shown me that time and time and time again. 

So, I'll faithfully trust that this next season will be greater than anything I've even known. 


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Embrace the Unraveling

I sat in my closet with a single Christmas cookie, giant glass of water, scissors, tape, wrapping paper, and the last few presents in need of wrapping. 

David Lantz's "The First Noel" played from my phone. 

It was only the first full day of no social media and already I felt FULL of more life and joy than in months prior. 

I realized after a quick visit to the dollar store that this challenge was allowing God to make my interactions with others more intentional and divine. 

At first, I hid on the back aisles fearing I'd have an up-close view of the loud voices complaining about trivial things. I only went for one item yet walked out 40 minutes later. 

As I found my chance to dart for the door, I spotted her and she spotted me. We made eye contact. I knew she knew how I felt for she was going through a very similar experience. Turns out she had been on the back aisles minutes before hearing someone else complain. Our interaction that day was God sent for both of us. Finding people who really can identify with the emotions, the fears, the anxieties, life smallest joys.....Priceless. 

Before we parted ways, I re-quoted a quote from my favorite non-profit, Peach's Neet Feet

"Embrace the Unraveling."

Yes, THAT is what I've learned from 2013. 

No matter how bad things were or how hard the days were to get through, I know that the only thing in my control was my response. I could either be grateful despite it all or bitter despite it all. 

"Embrace the Unraveling."

As I sat in the closet, I realized I was being more intentional with my interactions, more genuine with my words, and more disciplined with my time. 

Here's what I can tell you: 

It wasn't easy the first week. 
I'm still checking messages on our FB pages and posting #superJace updates. 
I have no idea what anyone else is doing and I'm ok with that. 
I've read 4 books. Yep. FOUR. And almost finished with my 5th. 
I've painted furniture! 
I've called and talked to people just to talk. 
I've had some mind-blowing thoughts, yet saved them for myself instead of the world. 
I've learned to sit and just listen to whatever is happening around me: drum beats, dollhouse pretend play, football games, music, the dishwasher, crackling fire, the wind, or nothing at all. 
I don't have to post where I am on every outing accompanied by a photo or a selfie. 
I cooked and cooked and cooked for fun. 
I wrote in my journal. 
Organized items for Operation Love. 
Jason and I talked more. 
I played dolls and drums and watched Disney movies the kids picked out. 

Not only does my family have my undivided attention, but, most importantly, God does. And I can tell you that He's already placed new things on my heart to grow through. He's teaching me, molding me and leading me. 

I'm more in His presence because I'm allowing Him to be more in mine. 

I had to take a break from the world. The last year was one of the biggest seasons of my life and it's only fair that I take time to reflect and learn from it so I can move forward with more strength than ever. :)  

Wishing you lots of love, gratitude, and favor for your 2014!