Summer Mommy: Destination Vacation of Delight, Fun, and Discombobulation

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Not really. I mean all in moderation. We’re an outdoor swimmin & snowballing’ family, but afternoon movie time, and toaster waffle breakfasts are my game fo sho’

 

I love summertime.  Let me make that perfectly clear from the start.  

I choose the heat and the pool over the cold and the layers of clothes any day.

I like the decrease in schedule without homework and less carpool schedules, etc.  I like having more opportunities to play with my kids and have us all together as a family without the clock always ticking to wrap it up for the early school bell the next day.  I love all of this in the perfect world that I picture of all of us moving blissfully and peacefully with no pushback from one happy vacation to another, moving about the home with no arguments, always gracious with one another in our ample time together in and out of the house, and my patience overflowing for my children who I love immensely and am forever grateful for being what keeps me going while I continue my chemotherapy in the midst of it all.

(ERRRRK! Record Scratch!  Reality hits…  Bubble pops and Mommy’s daydream of summer snaps back into the reality:)

REALITY:  Although we have incredible adventures, laughs and have made so many memories this summer on family and friend trips,  our times away and at home are full of fun but not without friction in between the good times.   And not without the “MOMSTER” rearing her ugly head!

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As I laid out my description of my picturesque summer daydream for me and my family. They’re so rudely interrupted by disgruntled siblings arguing over who sat in whose seat, who turned off who’s Alexa song, or even the youngest (4 yr old) who uses her “Alexa voice” to avoid listening to her parents instruction with an “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that.”   Ooooooh that one. She’s gonna be the end of me.  

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PATIENCE, IAGO. PATIENCE!PATIENCE, IAGO. PATIENCE! (CLICK FOR ANIMATION)

This summer has been one to remember for sure!  Multiple trips to the beach (My happy place! Or even just my getaway place if all is not perfectly all happy, relaxed, peaceful, blissful, beachy days) made for great pics and memories with family and friends.

                   Family Beach Trip 2018

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RV Trip w the Enks: Key West!

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Our Phoebe & her son/puppy, Winston🐾

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I always say to seize the day when you can.  When I feel good, I get out and enjoy what I can when I can.  When my body tells me NO,  I try my best to listen and rest when I need to.  Do what you can when you can and thank God you woke up to do it.  It’s not always pretty,  it may not go as perfectly as planned, and you may feel or look a little crazy doing it, but crazy is good, and can still be worth it.

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Managing my crazy, managing this family I still am forever blessed to have and be inspired by to wake up to each day and have reason to fight for, are all reasons to know that I need GOD now and always more than ever at my side to move me from one day to another.  Because in my mind,  it’s like a bowl of  spaghetti!  I’m a hot mess!  I’m distant, distracted and discombobulated keeping track of ordering my medications, staying on top of taking each dose, staying on top of the daily routines and schedules of my 5 kids’ schedules/camps/social activities, and keep on top of still make sure our homes and bodies are clean and fed.  Oy!  With a brain that’s not at full function all the time after a more than a few zaps here and there,  it’s hard to work at full throttle.  I feel the difference, and I ask HIM to give me more and more graces every day to help me function.

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I tell the kids regularly that if my mind does really go.  Remind me to potty and dress me in costumes.  Each day I can be Tinkerbell, Wonderwoman, or any other magical whimsical person.  I just pray I’m happy as whoever you tell me that I am for the day!  I already dress up, so the transition should be smooth.   Brace yourselves.  I don’t doubt this won’t happen!

With God’s grace, we’ll all get through this.  We’ll get through the ups and downs of my treatments and patience in not only parenting and family life through it all, but in the anxious moments of waiting between scans and praying and hoping that each treatment is working.  When feeling as discombobulated as I’ve mentioned, I find my mind worn down and under stress in prayer.  I find myself needing to make a much more conscious effort to place my trust in God for the future and live only for today with no concerns for what scans may reveal of different types of treatment, procedures and possibilities that may lie ahead.

How clearly God shows up when I find myself in these places.  God speaks so clearly when I place my heart and my mind there with Him.  He always shows up.  See in this reflection and verses in my morning prayers from this past week in my “Jesus Calling” book.

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So I guess I’ll just be taking a Scarlett O’Hara approach from now on…

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Tomorrow is indeed a new day, a fresh day and a day that God will unfold for me when He is ready and will unveil for me when I am ready and thus will receive the graces for it  when necessary.

Might I reiterate once more the part that stood out most in the passage from Jesus Calling:  “My grace is sufficient for you, but its sufficiency is for only ONE DAY AT A TIME.  When you worry about the future, you heap day upon day of troubles onto your flimsy frame.  You stagger under this heavy load, which I never intended you to carry.”

Now, if you could just pray for me and my family as we continue to work on this as we continue to fight this battle and carry on with life as a family of 7, hoping and intending to live each day grateful that we have them and holding on to each other and our faith together to get through the side effects and ups and downs that come with the treatments  that keep surprising us along the way,

I continue to thank you for sticking with us for these past almost 5 years now and I pray you continue to stay with us in pray and support as we are still in this race.  Know that I keep you all in prayer as well.  Thank you for joining and remaining as a part of #TEAMBUNA.  

I invite you to continue to send me your intentions through comments on my PRAYER WALL TAB or privately emailing me at teambuna@gmail.com.  As I’ve mentioned before these intentions that we pray for each other are an opportunity for us to share in redemptive suffering and share in our crosses, and receive grace upon grace.  Such power lies there!  Let’s tap in to that and get recharged.

God bless you all and Thank you.  After all…

every little thing

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Thank you and God bless you always.

Philippians 4:6-7

Running the Race

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Just like this guy, I’ve been running with what must be.. “my magic legs” because there’s no explanation as to how I’ve been able to just keep running for the past 4 1/2 years, after over a decade of running through some incredibly rough pregnancies and miscarriages just before that.  Mama’s tired, but God’s given me Forrest Gump magic legs to JUST KEEP RUNNING.

We’ve taken a few hits in the past few months making it a bit challenging to find a moment to sit and write.  But I’ll share what’s helped me put one foot in front of another these days after: recently removing/ radiating more brain tumors with the Gamma Knife Machine, driving the next day (Deja vu. Yes, same scenario as just a few months ago, again) to MD ANDERSON in Houston, TX.  Finding out there that we have new growth in the liver (dealt with this for past few years) and new small growth on lower spine (this is new).  Whew!

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Just when ya think you’ve got a good treatment plan, it often seems to change just after you’re settled in.  This is the life of most cancer patients.  I’m not unusual in that.  However, I’m well aware of the GRATITUDE I must give that, ALTHOUGH I’M NOT CURABLE (at this point in the research world), I’M STILL TREATABLE.  THAT IS DEFINITELY A BIG DEAL IN THE WORLD THAT MANY OF US ARE FIGHTING IN. I RECOGNIZE THAT, AND I’M TRULY THANKFUL.

What does that mean,  TREATABLE?

This means that I’m still in the race.  

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Naturally, when I was first diagnosed, I wanted to cross the finish line in record time.  I did everything that I saw on the “to do” list (chemo, surgeries, radiation). Check. Check. Checkity-Check!  Boom! Mic Drop.  Check my time, folks.  I was on fire!   Yet, this wasn’t a hardcore sprint, I was in a 100 mile run.   I was in a triathalon.   I was now a lifetime long distance runner, and the finish line was no longer the goal.  The path, the training, the run itself was my new focus.  I’m now just grateful to be in the race at all.    Interesting how God allows us to see things differently as we evolve and life takes a few “plot twists” along the way.

Although, I find, I only really see it, when I allow myself to see it.   My real falls and trips occur when my eyes are searching too far ahead, trying to see where every possible turn is and I don’t pay a lick of attention to my footing, or my God who’s carrying me really (It’s so often him that’s carrying me when I’m too tired to even put my shoes on).

      I find myself trying to control the race, direct myself, my family, and my docs to navigate the situation…micro-managing God in my prayers and conversations with Him, as if He doesn’t know what’s going on.   He knows.  He always has, He’s been prepared for this as long as I’ve existed.  It was me that wasn’t ready to know before.  Now, I’m ready.  Why?  Because NOW He’s giving me all the graces I need for what I have to do now.  I couldn’t do this before, because I didn’t have the grace for it yet. attachment_560align=”aligncenter”width=”625″]img_8955 (5 timers club SNL) At my 5th “Chemo School, I asked for my 5 timers club blazer. But apparently they don’t do that sort of thing. But it was good for a laugh. Seriously?!?[/caption]

Broken record here, but If you’d told me when I was younger that I would have 5 kids and cancer 5 times over I would’ve passed out and thrown up all at once!  …  I wasn’t ready.  Who is?

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Just like the doc’s office wasn’t ready for my 5 timers blazer, … I didn’t have the grace yet for all that info early on! 😉

At one kid, I didn’t have the grace for 2.  With 2 kids, I couldn’t imagine 3.  Didn’t have the graces yet.  And clearly, I didn’t have the grace to run this race of 5 kids and cancer over and over again for 4 1/2 years with my 5th new chemo plan!   But… (you guessed it) I didn’t have the grace for that.  I know he’s giving me those graces because I just don’t make sense otherwise.  I’m not brave or strong, or courageous.  I’m just putting one foot in front of the other.  Whether I run this thing or walk it.  I know that the only way I’m still in it, and the only way that I’ll get disqualified is if I give up.

We all have reason to live.  We all have reason to CHOOSE HOPE.  Not because we FEEL HAPPY AND HOPEFUL, but because we choose to place our thoughts and prayers there and cast away the thoughts of despair and doubt, shutting and refusing to open the doors that beg you to open them and mill around for a while in self-pity and anxiety (whether it’s a medical crisis, emotional issue, or just plain funky day).  All of these crosses are our crosses (no how big or small they may seem). It’s up to us to call on God to give us the grace to pick them up.  We have to ask for those graces that He has ready for us, since He knows us and all the details of our situations (and our families and their needs).  No need to micro-manage the BIG GUY!   But, we have to LET HIM and not fear the way in which He’ll do it.

A friend and fellow fighter/survivor recently reminded me of a reflection in “Jesus Calling: Daily Devotional” by Sarah Young.   Shannon called me as I was driving and said, “Elise,  we’ve got to remember to GLANCE at the problem, but GAZE at Jesus!” 

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Can’t get enough of this image.  He always shows up.

That’s it!  While going back and forth between home and MD Anderson, I’ve been loving the idea of expanding our team and hearing about new trails being offered to be considered as part of new trials, discussing the options of trials vs. new medications approved for my diagnosis.  However,  it can get very overwhelming and confusing.   It’s hard to not get distracted in these appointments and distracted by the new methods of treatments and options that can sound unusual, or scary even.   That’s when I know that my gaze is surely fixated on the problem and how to manage it and juggle life in general.  I feel the pressure and weight of the world … aaaaaaand the schedule of my family, trips that we want to take, bills that will be coming, etc. and it can get hard to even breathe.  GASP!

Then, just like that! I close my eyes, take a deep breath (breathing in the Holy Spirit and whispering “JESUS!” wherever I am), and there I see this image pictured above in my mind. I feel him pull me out.  It seems much like when Peter was walking on water, looked away from HIM, and began to drown.  Yet, this image above became real.    HE shows up.  God shows up so often in my life, reminding me exactly of what my dear friend Shannon brought to my attention.

GLANCE AT THE PROBLEM.  GAZE AT JESUS. 

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With that, I will leave you with this as I go check my front porch for my new chemo that was just delivered.  Yup. Now, instead of going to the infusion center every 3 weeks,  I will take 2 oral medications (1- an oral chemo therapy, no hair loss predicted. Yay! 2- a targeted therapy drug that is specific to my form of Stage 4 metastatic HER2+ Breast Cancer in the body and Central Nervous System. I’ll take these pills throughout the month from now until it stops working. No definite end set.  We’re looking for a current and a long term solution here, and this is very promising.  We’ve conferred with my expanded team now, between multiple docs at MD ANDERSON and my faithful oncologist and radiologist here who are all in full agreement that we will follow up throughout the process with scans to watch my progress and adjust as needed.    I pray my medications are effective and that the side effects allow me to tolerate it well and stay the course. I ask that you pray the same.

GOD’S GOT THIS!

I am in excellent hands both medically and spiritually.  I remain in the race and not giving up trying. I won’t give up seeking every way possible to keep me in it and running.  I still sung my Marley “every little thing’s gonna be alright”, because it will. No matter what the answer is. It’s alright. No fear. No worries. God’s got us all.

Even if God were to tell me, like Forrest Gump, “I think I’ll Go Home now”… that wouldn’t be a disqualification from the race.  If anyone runs without giving up, giving it all they’ve got, giving thanks for every day they’ve got and living their best life, no matter the storm… there are no disqualifications.  You can’t be disqualified for trying. There are only saints and angels cheering us on.  Some of these angels live among us now – in our families and friends praying for us and helping (if we let them.  We gotta let them.  It takes a village!).

Others are in perfect strangers, allowing you to pay it forward to those you may not even know with a simple smile, or a prayer for someone on the side of the road or an ambulance that goes by.   However our race looks,  we’re all in it.  We’re all running.  As long as we can remain with a thankful heart, taking our days as they come, grateful that they come… no one is gonna kick us out of the race.  The race is ours.

I’m gonna keep running mine.  May be by baby steps, one day at a time, but I’m doing it.

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As always, thank you for being in the race with me.  Couldn’t do this without your prayers and support.  Like really really! 😉

#EveryLittleThingsGonnaBeAlright

#TeamBuna

#BunasHope

#ChooseHOPE

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every little thing is gonna be alright