There is Hope

I started radiation this past week.

I don’t like it.

My family does not like it.

NO ONE likes it.

Oh, it’s “easier” than chemotherapy. I don’t get sick or comatose and my hair is growing in rather than falling out. It doesn’t take hours to get the treatment with hours more of side effects. I don’t have to miss work.

But it’s every week day at 4pm.

It’s non-negotiable. I have to go.

Regardless of what the schedule looks like.

Regardless of who else has appointments.

Regardless of weather.

Regardless of how much work I have.

I have to leave by 3:15pm everyday, get to the radiation oncology center, change into a gown (just from the waist up), lie on a cold “cradle” (which is a dumb name because it implies comfort. This thing is not comfortable…or even soft), have a snorkel thing put in my mouth, have my nose plugged, have my chest out, wear glasses that slide off my face so that I can’t see the screen inside them that helps me know when to take a deep breath and hold.

I have to hold my breath for 20 seconds. Five times. If I don’t mess up.

I have to be exposed to heavy radiation in hopes that it means cancer won’t re-develop in those areas (my lymph nodes and left breast).

It only takes 20 minutes in and out the door. I shouldn’t complain. It’s “easy” and “quick.”

But I hate it.

It means I get less time at work to work. Less time at home to get dinner ready, homework started for the boys, or just stop at the store for a quick something less I want dinner to take over homework time…which then takes over bath time…which then takes over bedtime.

It’s an inconvenience only.

But I hate it like I hated chemotherapy because it sucks and who knows if it will work? Who knows if I will stay cancer-free?

I hate it because it makes everyone crabby because nothing is “normal.”  Everyone’s schedules are thrown off because of a 20-minute appointment I have to go to everyday.

What I’m saying is, this first week was rough.

But I don’t want to end with that. Because this weekend was also the start of Advent, which is one of my most favorite times of the year. With the anticipation of Christmas and the hope for newness, I find myself wanting to believe that it will all be ok. All of it. This cancer crap, the treatment, the stress, the anxiety, the trauma on me and my kids and Cortney, all the garbage we have had to individually work through surrounding a pea-sized tumor that was taken out in May. All of it might actually be Ok.

Saturday I took Eddie Christmas shopping.

He brought up Santa and my heart stopped because, well, he IS in 4th grade. I feel like we are on borrowed time for true belief.

Eddie: Yeah, Liam and I were discussing Santa. We figured he is going to die really soon because how long can that guy live?

Me: Um. You were talking about Santa dying?

Eddie: Yeah, but then Liam brought up the magic. So pretty much that was that. Magic means Santa is immortal.

Me: That seems about right.

Eddie: Last year, on Christmas Eve, when I was in bed…I thought I heard footsteps and I almost went upstairs. But then I wasn’t sure because what if it was Santa? I don’t think you’re supposed to actually SEE Santa. Have you seen Santa?

Me: Not the REAL Santa.

Eddie. Oh, just those guys who dress up like him for little kids to sit on their laps?

Me: Yeah, those Santas.

Eddie: Wouldn’t it be cool if Santa had a blog? Then we could know what he was up to all year…and those elves.

I love the way his mind works.

Later, we were in Target in the Christmas wrapping paper section. He looked over at the stocking display and said, “Mom. Look. A bad word. It says, S – H – I- T over there.”

I looked and realized he was talking about the stockings. They have a display of stocking each with a letter. Someone had arranged them to spell the swear word. I responded, “Someone probably thought they were being funny. That isn’t a very nice word, is it?”

I look back at the wrapping paper, and all of a sudden he is gone. Just when I was about to call for him, he jogs back. “I fixed it. I moved some of the stockings. I didn’t want a little kid to see it.”

I love the way his heart works.

This weekend Alice and I read the Christmas story. She insists Mary had a baby named Olivia. She also insists Joseph is Jesus and he lives in our hearts, not in a barn.

Charlie has a new plan at school and some new routines. He loves them, and we are cautiously optimistic.

Radiation sucks. It’s taking a toll on us because none of us like it.

But there is hope.

There is always hope.

*************

The holidays are a time for giving, and who doesn’t love to give kids the gift of books? If you are one of those people, and you would like to gift a book to my classroom library, please checkout our wish list here. Thank you.

Advent

Each year after the turkey has been consumed, Christmas goes up in our house. It felt appropriate that we put it up on the first day of advent this year.

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Our advent calendar is from Naptime Diaries.

Today I taught my 2nd and 3rd grade Children in Worship class about Advent and what the people in the Bible were waiting for. They didn’t know they were waiting for Jesus; they just knew they were waiting for someone to show them the way…someone to save them.

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I really, really love this time of year. Most of the year I consider my faith and understanding of it shaky at best. It’s so hard for me to believe because I am so very afraid. But that is maybe a different post. This time of year is all about hope.

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Hope for a better world and better people and better choices. Hope that it’s all true and that Jesus came and will come again.

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I don’t know where factual truth ends and where symbolic allegory begins. I don’t know what is historic or scientific. This time of year reminds me what faith is all about. Believing even though you can’t see with your eyes.

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The waiting time of Advent slows it all down. It forces me to reflect each day on what it must have felt like to wait and wait for a Messiah, because really, we are waiting for that now.

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I watch the news and see this world. I have felt loss and witnessed despair. But as we enter Advent, I remember that this is not it. This is not how it’s going to be forever.

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I am glad for this time of reflection and peace and tradition. I love to take this time to teach the kids about how love will always win.

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Plus this is our first Christmas as a complete family.

And that is pretty cool too.

Preparing For The Arrival

Since September, we have been making a concerted effort to make it to church since Eddie is now three and able to go to Sunday School.

Up until now, it has been Cort going to church with Eddie, and I have been staying home since our church starts at 10am and that is smack in the middle of Charlie’s morning nap; and we all know…you DON’T mess with nap.

But lately, Charlie has been sleeping in on the weekends and taking his morning nap late.

Because today was the first Sunday of Advent, and I had been craving to be in church for Advent, I decided Charlie and I would join the other boys today.

Advent.

The preparation of the arrival of Christ.

It’s so exciting this year.

I think it’s because Eddie is old enough now that we can talk about what Christmas is and what it means and I can share with him why it makes me so happy.

I have been absolutely bursting to share stories of my childhood and giving and sharing with others and Jesus’ birth and God’s love for us with my son.

Saturday Eddie and I went Christmas shopping together for the first time ever.  We started with donuts at the bakery and then we window shopped and discussed what Grandma and Grandpa and Granny and Grandpa Ray and Charlie would love.

We stopped at the library and saw the train show.

We bought gifts for people we love and I asked him why we give presents.  He said, “when it’s someone’s birthday.”

So I asked him, “well how come we all get presents on Christmas?  It’s not OUR birthday.”

“I don’t know, Mom. Why?”

“Well, it’s Jesus’ birthday.”

“But Jesus can’t get presents. He’s in heaven with my Papa and God and Louis.”

“I know. Jesus WAS the present.  God gave him to us.  So to remember, we give everyone we love presents.  What do you think of that?”

“I like it because I like trains and presents.”

Later I told him we were going to pick out two presents for a boy and a girl who otherwise wouldn’t get presents at Christmas (we donate to Toys for Tots…I wasn’t going to try to explain that some people don’t celebrate Christmas. I’ll leave that for another year. I can’t do ALL the teaching in one year, ya know. Raising enlightened children takes time, yo).

“Why won’t they get any presents?  Were thems naughty?”

“No, bud. They were good.  But there are some parents who don’t have money, so even though their kids were good, they can’t get any presents.”

“But we have money.”

“We have some.  Enough to buy two presents.”

“I will pick them.  For a boy and a girl.  We will get thems presents for Christmas. And Santa will bring them. And then God will give us Jesus, right mom?”

“Right, bud.”

We bought an Advent calendar this year.

While I think they are cute, I really didn’t want one that involved the boys (ok, Eddie since Charlie is too little) getting something each day.  To me, that is not what Advent is about. It just becomes a countdown to Christmas when they get the big gifts.

I wanted something that reminded us of what we are celebrating.  What Advent is…preparing for the coming of Christ.

(And for those of you who are wondering, Cort had that kind growing up, but we didn’t do one at all.  We didn’t have much of a discussion over the Advent calendar other than I said I wanted to start the tradition and he was like, “do it up, Babe.” and so I did).

So we bought one with cards and verses.

It is 28 cards and the verses align with what I am reading for my Advent Devotional Plan with #SheReadsTruth. The first six days we read about the fall of mankind…the reason we need Jesus in the first place.

I decided that since Eddie is only three, instead of reading all 15 verses on night, we would read verses 1-3 the first night, and two more verses each night until we get through all 15.  You know, break it up.

Honestly, I had no idea how it would go.

The first night we sat together before dinner, I took the first card down and read these words:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘you must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'”

I asked Eddie if he knew what a “serpent” was.  He did not. So I told him it was a snake. And I read it again with the word “snake”.

I asked him if he thought the snake was a good friend.  He said no and then he asked me why the snake was so “crafty”.

He had noticed that word!  He had been listening!

We talked about people who try to trick us and how that is being “crafty”. It was decided that people who try to trick us are not good friends.

Tonight at dinner I asked him if he remembered what we read last night. And he said a snake was trying to trick a girl.

Yes! He remembered!

So then I read,

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

I asked Eddie if the snake was right or if the lady should listen to God.  He said she should listen to God. I asked why. He said because the snake is naughty.

We talked about why it’s important to listen to our dad’s and mom’s.  Why obeying is important.

Then I asked him to guess what would happen next in the story (yes, I am an English teacher, why do you ask?).

He said she would NOT eat it because the snake is naughty.

So tomorrow he will be let down, but we will keep talking about it.

Because we are preparing for Jesus.  For the miracle that is God’s Grace and God’s Love.

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