Cancer: One Year Later

As a mother, you worry about all kinds of things. Is my child hitting milestones? Is she eating the right things? Are we raising her well? Does she have an ear infection? All of the ‘normal’ things that parents think about as they raise their children.

Cancer was never even one of my worries.

Cancer happened to other families. We heard stories and said ‘Oh gosh I can’t even imagine. I don’t know what I would do-I just wouldn’t be able to get out of bed.’ We changed the channel when the St. Jude commercial came on because bald kids made us uncomfortable. We put our change in the ‘Kids Miracle Network’ jars because we hated having change in our pockets. We’d donate $20 to a GoFundMe, signed up for a 5K, and bought some T-shirt’s to support ‘those poor cancer families.’ And then we went about our sweet little sheltered, happy life.

There’s nothing wrong with that life. Until your eyes are opened to just how BIG the world really is.

On May 18, 2017, I went to work-like any other weekday. We had a field trip that day-which is a stressful day for a teacher. I was hot and sweaty and exhausted after a full day of wrangling 24 kiddos, handing out lunches and waters, riding on a school bus (which is horrible), and walking around with a backpack full of first aid, permission slips, inhalers, and sunscreen. I got home to my Sophie-like every other weekday. Her grandmother updated me on her day, said goodbye, and we has our after school home time-like every other day.

Except. Sophie had been hospitalized in March for a weird breathing episode and then diagnosed with asthma a few weeks before and we were monitoring her breathing and doing breathing treatments 3 times a day until we could get her into an allergy doctor. That was stressful but, she handled it like a champ and did her ‘breathings’ with no problems. Heck-half of the time she would fall asleep holding the mask on her face! It was so cute. When it was done, she’d pop up like she had been awake the whole time and shout proudly-ALL DONE!

On this day-she was breathing really hard and I didn’t like it at all. So, I did what most moms do-I called for opinions. I called my precious friend Monday, a nurse and fellow asthma mama and told her my concerns. She advised me to go ahead and do Sophie’s bedtime breathing treatment early and take her to the ER after that for evaluation because, you don’t play around with a 2 year old’s breathing. I called Jonathan and told him to head home for what would probably be a long night. Then I pulled my little love into my lap and started up her treatment. As I’m doing that I decided to call my coworker Toni-another asthma mom-to tell her what was going on and to let her know that I might need to take off the next day-we had track and field day the following day so this was SO not a great time for us to be sick! As I’m on the phone with Toni-my world fell apart. Sophie went limp in my lap and started turning blue. I screamed ‘TONI SHES NOT BREATHING I HAVE TO CALL 911!!!’ And hung up. I’m holding the breathing mask on Sophie with one hand and shakily calling 911 with the other. She-thankfully-came back around quickly but was still very pale and lethargic in my lap. At that exact moment Jonathan walked in, with no clue what was going on. He walks in to us on the floor, Sophie unconscious and me sobbing on the phone. The Lord was very obviously working in him right then because he immediately grabbed the diaper bag, a phone charger, the iPad, and my wallet with insurance cards in it. He even grabbed my shoes because I was barefoot.

The 911 operator stayed on the phone with me until The ambulance arrived and I carried her out, barefoot, with Jonathan right behind us. We got her on the gurney and oxygen on her and she came around very quickly. We took off and Jonathan-bless his heart had to follow us in the truck.

Long story short-we ended up at the Children’s ER with an X-ray of a softball sized tumor in her chest. We were wheeled up to the ICU at 4 in the morning because she couldn’t lay flat. Her bed was propped up to sitting because when she laid flat, she stopped breathing due to the tumor pushing on her airway. Our world was halted.

We started steroid chemo the next day to stop the tumor’s growth.

Cancer. A word no parent should hear.

Most of you know what all transpired from there and I honestly can’t write all of that out right now. But the point is-Childhood Cancer happens more than you think it does. It happens whether you’re rich, poor, white, Black, Hispanic, happy, sad, Old, or young. It’s real. It happens. And you’re not a cancer mom…..until you are.

One year later and I’ve learned way more than I’d ever want to learn.

I’ve learned words and acronyms like Nelarabine, mediastinal mass, NPO, PRN, stomapowder, chemo rash, fungal workup, PET Scan, ANC, platelets, hemoglobin, neutrophils, immunosuppression, Bactrim, neuropathy, isolation, port access, bath wipes, spinal tap-LP, intrathecal chemo, vincristine, SCU, neuro-rehab, chemo toxicity, Methotrexate, zofran……..And so many others.

One year since my world became much bigger. While I’m not thankful that my girl is gone…I am thankful that I’m more aware of how big the world is now. I’m more aware of the HUGE need for childhood cancer funding. I’m more aware of how incredible nurses are. I’m more aware of what parents in hospitals go through. I’m more aware of the long term need cancer families have…..I’m more aware. And because I’m more aware, I can do something about and you can to.

So today-in honor of one year since Sophie was diagnosed-will you consider #DoMoreForSoph and giving to Childhood cancer research? They currently get 4% of government cancer funding.

4%

Our favorite research organizations are:

Gold Network of East Texas

St. Baldricks

Alex’s Lemonade Stand

Sadie Keller Foundation

All of these support childhood cancer research, support families currently in treatment, and help families that have completed treatment but still need long term support.

The world needs more Jonathans

Today is the love of my life’s birthday. I’m a big fan of birthdays but, I’m especially fond of his. The day he was born, my whole life started. The day he was born, the path to my future was laid out. He jokes that I’m his ‘rib’ like the rib God took from Adam to form Eve. I am apart of him, he’s my person.

If you had told me 8 years ago when we started dating, just what all would occur, I wouldn’t have believed you. We were supposed to have the fairytale life. Bad things happened to other people but not us. We just wanted a simple, happy, comfortable life together with a family.

Jonathan has been a great man for as long as I’ve known him. I mean it took him 2 months to kiss me and a year to tell me he loved me because he just wanted to be certain. He has a pretty incredible testimony and maybe one day I cab get him to share it but, I can tell you NO ONE that knows him now would guess the extreme transformation the Lord did in his heart and life.

Watching him grow and become even more incredible as the years goes by has been a privilege. Watching him care for me as I suffered a miscarriage, a scary pregnancy, and then a long labor road was so humbling. He’s one of the most selfless people when it comes to caring for others. He was there for every tear, hormone swing, headache, backache, macaroni craving, and midnight meltdown. He held my hands, rubbed my back, and spoke endless words of encouragement to me. If we’d have just stopped right there I’d have enough love to fill my tank forever.

But then, he became a daddy.

Watching my big, strong husband turn to complete mush the instant that tiny baby cake into our lives…I can’t even describe it. He kept saying ‘She’s ours! We get to take her home with us!’

From day one, Jonathan was one of the best daddies I’ve ever been around. I know I’m biased but, it’s true. For 2 years, he put Sophie and me first and spent every possible moment he could soaking up time with us. He stepped up when I was sick or tired. He changed diapers, did baths, picked out outfits, and generally helped me stay sane as a working mom. We were very much a team. We didn’t go many places but we were just so happy in our little bubble together. Anyone that saw him with her could just tell what an incredible daddy he is. Strangers would comment on the care and love he showed us both.

And then there was cancer.

To say Jonathan has been my rock for the past year is an understatement. There were so many times I was losing my patience, curled into a ball, crying in a corner, unable to sleep, unable to get out of bed, and being an absolute crazy person from stress and worry and grief. And he pulled me back into life every time. He kept the focus on caring for Punkin no matter what. Sometimes he drove to Dallas and back 5 times in one week to be with us but also to be at work with his dad. He took overnight duty so I could get sleep. He held her in his strong arms. He held me. Something that drives 80% of marriages apart-made ours stronger because he refused to give up.

I could go on and on about all of the ways he was my hero in the past year. But instead-I want to list things I love about my husband on his birthday…

1. He always laughs at his own jokes

2. He watches every video he comes across on Facebook

3. He makes a best friend literally everywhere we go

4. He makes small talk in elevators

5. He doesn’t move when he sleeps-like a vampire

6. Sometimes he giggles in his sleep and doesn’t believe me when I tell him

7. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body

8. I truly think he’d rather stop working out than hurt my feelings

9. He always apologizes first, even if I was the wrong one

10. He won’t eat somewhere if they have crappy hamburgers….even if he likes something else they serve

11. He hates when I use his deodorant

12. He absolutely hates talking about himself

13. He embraces my love of holidays

14. He ate burned steak on our first Valentines Day as a married couple.

15. He starts my car for me when it’s cold

16. He has had a tiny newborn diaper in his night stand for 3 years

17. He doesn’t try to stop me when I’m crying-he just sits and rubs my back then holds me until it passes

18. He tries to ‘protect’ me from his grief

19. His heart is so big-he tries to bring anyone he can into it

20. He did literally anything Soph wanted, for as long as she wanted it

21. He has about 5 nicknames for me

22. He has asked me if I’m reading ‘a real who-done-it’ every time I’ve ad my Nook out-for 6 years

23. He dances in the living room with me

24. He has never been in a fight

25. He pursues friendships and reaches out to people constantly

26. He takes the trash out and does the dishes because he knows I hate them.

27. He refuses to buy greeting cards because he ‘didn’t come up with that sayin’ and instead writes on whatever notepad he can find

28. One year my Christmas present was wrapped in an Easter bag

29. When I’m having a bad day, he gets me sushi and a Coke even though he hates how unhealthy they are

30. He eats and breathes fitness-he’s so passionate about taking care of himself

31. He calls his mama just to say hi.

32. He’s the best daddy

33. He prioritizes our marriage over everything else

34. He’s a clean freak too

35. He humors me when I reorganize our house

36. His love language is not gifts but, mine is and tries to remember that often

37. He serves in our church and is always seeking to help out more

38. He has so many ‘bromances’ and I love his big his friend circle is

39. He scratches my head when I cant sleep

40. He laughs SO loudly when he’s watching tv and it cracks me up from the other room

41. Kids gravitate to him

42. When we are with a large group he scans the crowd for me to make sure I’m ok

43. He loves me no matter what and says it daily

44. He notices the little things

45. He loves the Lord first and me second

I could absolutely go on and on and maybe one day I will with a part two but…..for now we are about to board a flight to MEXICO!

Jonathan means ‘God has given’ and he truly has.

Happy birthday my love-I’m eternally thankful for your life and that you’re mine. I loo and so does Punkin.

Another First. Another Day Closer.

I honestly didn’t know how I would feel about Mother’s Day much like I didn’t know how I would feel on Soph’s birthday. The anxiety leading up to it was pretty overwhelming. I’ve cried over little things in the past week more than I have in the last month combined. It’s so tough to think of a day where your children are to celebrate you…when your children aren’t with you anymore. I’ve been a mom for 5 Mother’s Days. In 2014 I was pregnant with our first and miscarried a week after. 2015, 2016, and 2017 were with my perfect Punkin. And then 2018 and my arms are empty.

So no, I had no idea what Mother’s Day would hold for me. I felt kind of helpless as it approached. Jonathan-always so conscious of me and my feelings-kept asking me how he could best love me on this day. He didn’t want to upset me by overdoing it OR by doing too little. Bless his heart-I wasn’t much help because I said ‘I just honestly don’t know how I’ll feel that day.’ I did know I wanted to stay busy and my sweet friends just showed up as they always do.

Friday was spent planting succulents with my sister….she says Incan’t kill them but the jury is still out on that. Green things don’t usually survive around me but, I’m willing to try. I spent the evening loving on my sweet friend Tami and Sophie’s bestie Addie Leigh at a gathering of a bunch of friends and their kiddos. Addie is doing so well in her treatment-it’s such a blessing to me to be able to watch her conquering cancer! It also helps my heart to help take care of her and I’ll forever be grateful to Tami for letting me ‘borrow’ her kids. 🙂 It’s also so great to be around people that know me, love me, and know that it’s ok to be normal around me but that it’s also ok to ask me how I am and it’s ok to talk about their life and kids.

I spent Saturday running around with my love and then dinner with some of our precious friends from church. Sweet Carolyn has left something on my doorstep every single Thursday since January 4th. The selfless way she loves me is a true example of what service should look like. We were able to sit and talk for hours and the best part-their daughter’s name is SOPHIE! I didn’t know how I’d feel being around her but oh-it was just so amazing to be able to hear and say the name I love so much. It was so so good for my soul. Our night ended on the back porch of another set of our friends just visiting and talking about life. I seriously am living life with the most amazing people. When I think of how good the Lord has been to us to put so many incredible people to walk this road with us-I’m just overwhelmed with thankfulness. I would most definitely not be functioning without my village.

So yesterday, I opened my eyes at 11:15AM. Jonathan had gone to church without waking me….because he is the MVP of all husbands and knew I very obviously just needed the sleep because his alarm almost always wakes me up. My sister and I joke that a great night’s sleep makes us feel like Disney Princesses when they wake up and, I had Disney Princess sleep Saturday night. I woke up to 47 text messages from the people I love. Words of love, encouragement, prayers typed out, memories of my sweet girl…all flooding my phone reminding me that I am SO loved. I woke up full of peace-which could only be the peace of the Lord upon me. I felt every prayer and good thought I know was being sent my way.

And Mother’s Day ended up being a pretty good day. Flowers from my bestie. More flowers from sweet friends. TONS of incredibly sweet and heartfelt Facebook messages and comments for me. The fact that people continue to take time out of their days to reach out to encourage me is just so humbling and again-reminds me how much I’m loved. I also had great workout in an empty gym-which is always a good thing! Errand running, herb garden designing, and manicures with my sister. Flowers, the most mushy and wonderful note from my love and those big, muscly arms he’s so proud of hugged me more times than I can count. He knows so well that when there’s nothing to say-a strong hug says it all. God broke the mold when He made Jonathan for me.

There were tears today. Tears as I looked at my favorite pictures of my girl. Tears as I sat at the cemetery and wiped away the dirt. Tears as I placed the fake flowers I finally bought because it kills me to have dead and gross flowers there on her spot. Tears as I knelt-like I always do, touched her name, and said ‘Bye my Punkin-I love you so.’ Tears as I read so many sweet messages that deeply touched my heart. Tears as I read the words my husband-a man of few words-poured onto paper for me. And tears as he held me because she’s supposed to be here for these days. There were tears-but also so much joy.

I ended my day at dinner celebrating my precious mother-in-law and laughing with the best family anyone could marry into. (Seriously, be jealous.) And then the famous Skiles sing-a-Long came to my house, ending with more tears as they sang Silver Wings-the song that soothed my Soph in those last days. A song that speaks so clearly to me about my little love going to be with Jesus. It’s not a religious song but, it touches my heart each time I hear it and puts me back in that hospital bed, surrounded by both of my families, holding my 25 pound-fuzzy headed cuddle partner, rubbing her smooth hands, and kissing that head. Sweet sweet memories tied to that song that I am forever thankful for.

The grace that overwhelmed us in those last 13 days is the same grace that covered me yesterday. I felt enveloped in love and peace that could only be from my Father and I like to think from my Punkin too.

I’m so honored to have been her mama. I’m forever changed because of her life, her bravery, and the promise of Eternity with her and my Savior. I’m One day closer.

“Silver wings,

Shining in the sunlight,

Roaring engines,

Headed somewhere in flight

They’re taking you away

Leaving me lonely

Silver wings

Slowly fading out of sight

Slowly fading out of sight”

The grief ‘limit’

It makes me so mad that literally everyday there’s some EXTRA reminder that my daughter fought cancer and died. Like I don’t think about it all day everyday and just need another needle in my heart. I hate that I don’t get to choose when something is going to pop out and slap me in the face. I hate that I’ll tear up over something little and really I’m ok but, my body says ‘No, you’re going to sob for 30 minutes and nothing you do can stop it!’ I didn’t choose this grief and IT. MAKES. ME. SO. MAD. That I don’t get to choose when and how I grieve.

Today was supposed to be super fun and it was….until it wasn’t. Every year, the first weekend of May is a big country music BBQ festival in Tyler. We love it. All of our friends go, we get to eat tons of delicious BBQ, listen to our favorite Texas Country, and be together. Last year, we went and my mom came and babysat our (we thought) healthy Soph. Last year, we were having some of our last happy and normal moments and we had no idea. Last year, we were 11 days from cancer and 8 months from the worst day of our lives…..and no one saw it coming.

May has always been one of my favorite months. Jonathan’s Birthday, my mom’s birthday, Mother’s Day, and the end of the school year all happen in May! And then we added diagnosis day to that. That’s been on my mind a lot lately but, I really wanted to have fun today and then face Mother’s Day next week. But my brain had different plans. Most of the day was great! Then I just hit my limit-and anyone who has experienced profound grief knows what limit I mean. I hit the ‘being around a bunch of happy people’ limit. We can do it for awhile and genuinely have fun but, once the limit is reached, there’s no recovering…it’s just time to go home.

I know I’m at that limit when I tear up and can’t blink it away. When the big crocodile tears just fall from my eyeballs out of nowhere and nothing can stop them. It’s just-oh hey you’re sad now, sorry about ruining your day. So, I hid behind my sunglasses, told Jonathan it was time to go, and started power walking to the car. Once in the car, I felt better. I had space to breathe. Now we are home, under blankets, watching basketball and that’s ok. I listened to my limit.

At least we looked cute in public for a few hours.

Another example of being blindsided by grief: a few weeks ago I scheduled a long overdue dentist appointment. Why was it overdue? Because my last cleaning was in February before Sophie was diagnosed. I had to explain to the dentist (who was super kind by the way) that the reason I missed my August appointment is because I was in Dallas with my daughter trying to get her rehabbed for a stem cell transplant. And then the whole story spilled out. He was so sweet and listened and teared up as he said he was so sorry and he patted my arm and asked if he could do anything extra for me today. I appreciated that so much.

As if that experience wasn’t enough, as I’m sitting in the waiting room waiting for my hygienist, a song comes on. Not just a song that makes me sentimental and not just a sad song. Oh no, THE song that was playing in that hospital room on January 4th at 2:11pm when my baby took her last breath. The song that I had been actively avoiding until I was ready to listen to it on my own terms. That right there-was my limit for that day and had nowhere to retreat to so I just cried in the full dentist waiting room. People stared, I sobbed, and a sweet employee came and took me to an empty exam room.

Sometimes I cry grocery shopping. Birthday candles, applesauce, mac-n-cheese, the baby aisle, bananas, oatmeal, yogurt….they were all her favorites and they all make me cry. The store by our house probably thinks I’m either famous or crazy because I shop with sunglasses on fairly often.

Butterflies, Disney characters, little girls with brown hair……she’s everywhere. It makes me so mad but at the same time I’m so thankful for the reminders. I’m thankful for the blindside hit and the slap in the face. I’m thankful for my limits. They are reminders that she was real. She was important. And she was mine. So, I’ll keep trying to fit into my new normal-even though that normal changes weekly. And I’ll keep reminding myself that when I can’t do it-when I hit the limit-that I have a BIG God to hand it all to. I don’t have to force a smile or tie a pretty bow around it. I don’t have to apologize for being sad or worry if I make others uncomfortable. I’ll keep giving myself the grace to just feel what I feel, when I feel it. Joy, sadness, rage, fear, guilt, love, loneliness, hope, gratitude…..she’s worth it all.

Mimosas and Kindness

A few weeks ago ( 4 Days after Sophie’s birthday to be exact) I took my first solo trip to see my sweet friend and mentor in Pensacola while my husband was on his brother’s bachelor party trip. I tackled security, airport crowds, eating alone, terminal waiting, and flights alone. I’ve historically not been great at being alone so I wanted to make the most of my time. I ate a nice lunch with a mimosa in Dallas while listening to our church’s sermon Podcast.( Bethel Bible Church on the Podcast app….you should listen to it!) While eating and taking notes I of course started thinking of my girl and of #DoMoreForSoph. Anyways, my waitress at lunch was super sweet and I decided to start my trip by telling someone about my girl and encouraging her with a big tip and a note! It was something small but, I hope it made her day as much as it made mine!

Then I boarded my first flight and we ended up with a delay on the runway because the airport we were flying into was experiencing a lot of incoming flights. People moaned and groaned and the flight attendants were kind and smiling. I just ate my free pretzels, had mimosa #2, and watched another episode of ER. We landed in Houston an hour late and then our connecting flight on the same plane was delayed due to an unruly passenger having to be removed by TSA-it was exciting.

Anyways, people are just rude on planes sometimes especially when there’s delays. The flight attendants and pilots were so kind and positive and kept smiles on their faces even though I know those days are so stressful for them. I decided it was a good time to spread a little more Soph love and handed the head attendant a note and some Sophie The Brave on my way off of the plane.

I don’t share this for any pats on the back-I’ve had my fair share of eye rolling and sighs when I get inconvenienced but, I really have tried to not sweat the small stuff after what we experienced with Sophie. I know I’ve written about feeling rage a lot and there are days that I fail at being positive and i sweat ALL the small stuff. Overwhelmingly though, I really do try to just smile at negative stuff. Life is just too short to complain all the time-my goal moving forward is to try to spread joy more than complain and sharing my girl’s story is the perfect way to do that!

So, next time you’re delayed at an airport, stuck in traffic, at the DMV, experiencing rude people, having a stressful work day, exasperated with your kids, irritated with your spouse or any number of other inconveniences that come up….stop, take a breath, and remember that life is short and you can change your whole day or someone else’s by just choosing kindness.

#SophieTheBrave #DoMoreForSoph #GodisstillBIGGER

March comes in like a lion…

It’s been awhile but, here I am. Buckle up because this will get long.

When I was in Kindergarten I vividly remember the ‘March’ unit where we learned “March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb.” I don’t really know what that had to do with Kindergarten but, it was fun to say! We made paper plate lions and cut the edges like a mane and glued cotton balls to another plate to make a sheep/lamb. Don’t ask me why I remember that so well. BUT this year- it makes sense- March came in like a lion for me…..

March has been hard. Harder than I expected it to be. I obviously knew Sophie’s birthday would be a difficult day but, I really wasn’t expecting the whole month to take my breath away. I guess it’s because we experienced a lot of ‘firsts’ this month and any grief book you’ll ever read says that ‘firsts’ are the worst. We spent time at both of our parents’ houses this month and that was hard, especially for me. I see her everywhere at Jonathan’s parents’ house because we lived there for a short time while I was pregnant and then we lived on their land when she was a newborn so she was at their house every single day just about for the first year of her life. At my parents’ house there are so many memories and so much missing. The rain boots and coat we kept in their laundry room for red dirt adventures, the golf cart where she went “weeeeeee” with Pappy, the toy basket and tiny chair in the living room, the pack-n-play where she slept in Mammy’s room so mom and dad could get some sleep, snacks in the pantry, and sippy cups in the cabinets. All of these things are gone. They are gone at our house too but, seeing other homes that she visited so frequently without these things was just….hard.

We were also around my sweet nephew who is 3 months older than Sophie. He is my favorite but, everything he’s doing right now…she should be doing. I organized in her ‘room’ (She never was at our new apartment but, her stuff is here so it’s her room) a little more and put more things away in the closet, making room for a desk. We’re slowly turning her room into an office for my writing and Jonathan’s business plans. All of these ‘firsts’ were happening as we were approaching her birthday. As far as timing goes, it was probably best to just get all of that over with in one month but, geez, it’s been tough. We even had to deal with getting her headstone placed and seeing it for the first time 4 days before her birthday. Not the 3rd birthday present I had planned for her.

So, I tried by best to stay busy this month. Staying busy helped me immensely in February. I’ve been doing freelance writing for a marketing company here in Tyler, running the blog of one of their health clients. That has been fun. I’ve also had 2 articles get published on a popular mom blog. (I can’t share them here yet for copyright purposes but, I will.) And I’ve completely thrown myself into the BEST Bible Study, The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ. It’s been hard, it’s hit home way too many times, and it makes my brain hurt but, it’s been soooooo good for me! Plus, meeting with a bunch of my favorite women for 2 hours every Tuesday is never a bad thing. BUT even all of those things just haven’t completely filled the hole this month, and that’s ok.

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I’m learning that staying busy all of the time isn’t the answer but, doing nothing also isn’t the answer because….there is no answer. There’s no right or wrong way to handle grief and all of the emotions that come with it. There are busy days where life almost feels ‘normal’ and then there’s guilt for that feeling. There are nights of no sleep where I’ve just given up laying in bed and instead sat in the glider I used to rock her in and held her blankets and pillows wondering how this is my life. I experience rage a lot- that might not be a flattering thing to admit but- it’s my life. Rage over little things has been my go-to emotion lately. Things like people complaining about dumb stuff or it raining too much for me to go to the cemetery or getting messages from people ‘hoping Sophie gets better’ all just bring out my rage. Walking past birthday candles sparked a rage filled crying session that I was completely unprepared for. Honestly, the fact that we have to face any of this, especially all of the ‘firsts’ is just infuriating. I feel like rage is probably too strong of a word- I’m not going like HULK SMASH everyday, I just mean things that usually would just be mildly annoying have become big issues to me.

Anyways, back to life updates. SO March 19th came and instead of a birthday party-probably Trolls themes if I had to guess- we planned Sophie The Brave Day . My original idea behind it was to encourage people to #DoMoreForSoph by simply doing anything they could think of to show kindness. I want her story to be about more than cancer- I want it to be about seeing a need- and filling it just because it’s a nice thing to do. so that’s how it started but, it became something so much more! People all over were sending me the great things they were doing -big and small- just because Sophie’s story inspired them to do more and be brave.

I asked the Women’s Bible Study groups at my church campus, my friends, and family to donate items or money that could be used to make Parent Bags for the hospital and toy donations to the Child Life team at Children’s. I didn’t  open it up to my entire church or even my personal Facebook because I knew it would be HUGE! Now, that’s not a bad thing at all- and I hope to do a HUGE donation one day but, this time……This time on her birthday, I just wanted enough donations to keep me busy organizing in the days leading up to her birthday but, not so much that I got overwhelmed and had a mental-rage-filled breakdown. It ended up being absolutely perfect. My people showed up in a HUGE way and we were able to make 34 bags for new families coming into the hospital and we filled 22 bags with toys, socks, books, movies, coloring books. puzzles, and so much more for the kiddos! It far exceeded my expectations!

 

We loaded up the car on Sophie’s birthday and headed to Dallas. My parents, Jonathan’s parents, Uncle D, Aunt Jacy, Jonathan, and I loaded the child life bin, got our ID stickers, and rode the Butterfly elevator to the 6th floor.

(Can I just note to Children’s Medical- YOU DID NOT NEED TO MAKE THE BUTTERFLY ELEVATOR TALK !!!! WE ALL HATE THE TRAIN ELEVATOR THAT TALKS SO WE ALWAYS TAKE THE BUTTERFLY ONE!!! AND YOU RUINED OUR SOLACE BY MAKING THE BUTTERFLY ONE TALK TOO!!! hahaha)

When we got to the 6th floor we were surrounded by some of our very favorites. A lot were missing but, it’s not like they have lives at home or anything. 🙂 We loaded the new parent bags into the nurses lounge and showed them all of our child life goodies. There were lots of hugs, tears, and laughs (Brittany haha) . They even all signed a sweet sign for my girl that of course got me crying- I just love them all so much. It felt like home to be there. We even had a little something for them, thanks Moon River Naturals for always keeping us smelling so good! We used to rub their Solid Vibes lotion on Sophie and all of the nurses would comment that our room smelled so good so…Stephanie at MRN was awesome enough to donate 75 of their liquid Good Vibes to the nurses!!

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Honestly her actual birthday wasn’t that hard compared to the days leading up to it. I think the anticipation of yet another ‘first’ was just too much for my brain. Now that that day is over, I am trying to get back into being productive. Step one was a quick vacation to see my friend/mentor/life coach/ and all around favorite person, Erin in Florida. You should check her Girl Catch Fire blog out because….she’s basically the coolest person I know. It was a great ‘reset’ trip for me. The Lord used it to show me the “March leaves like a lamb” side of that saying.

Easter falls on April 1st this year. March is truly leaving like a lamb in 2018. The Lamb. Jesus. The One who was slain for us. we will grieve His earthly suffering on Friday and then on Sunday….We will celebrate His return. His glorious victory. Because of THE LAMB, my girl is whole and healed and lives forever. And because He is MY Savior as well, I’ll get to spend that forever right there with her.

Easter means something entirely new this year. Maybe it should’ve always felt this real and personal to me but, now that it does, I’m so excited to celebrate my Savior. I miss my Punkin more than words but, I am so thankful to be her mama and if her struggle and death can be used to bring me into closer relationship with my Jesus, then I’m going to try and find joy alongside the sad.

 

Sophie the Brave Day

Monday, March 19th is Sophie’s 3rd birthday. We want to celebrate her memory by affecting as many people as we can in a positive way! We invite anyone and everyone to #DoMoreForSoph on her birthday! You can go BIG or small, spend a bunch of money, or give away free smiles! Whatever you can do to make someone’s day better because Sophie made everyday she was alive better just by being herself.

Kindness is everywhere around the holidays but, falls off after a bit. So many of the organizations and places that are packed with volunteers and donations from October to January are empty and lonely by March.

Some ideas of examples:

-Collect items to donate to hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters, etc.

-Pay for someone’s meal in line behind you

-Take water and snacks to people working outside in construction crews, lawn services, etc.

-Send someone flowers or an encouraging note

-Take your kids on a special date

-Do someone nice for your spouse or household that you wouldn’t normally do

– Find a local volunteer opportunity

-Donate school supplies to your kid’s teachers

-Take a meal to someone that might be struggling

-Let someone know you’re praying for them

-Sign up for monthly donations to a worthwhile organization OR make a one time donation.

Some good organizations to look into are Gold Network of East Texas, St. Baldrick’s, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Samaritan’s Purse, Layla’s Legacy, Sadie Keller Foundation, YoungLife, Refuge of Light

-Sponsor a needy child through Compassion

-Make cards for hospitals, police stations, nursing homes, etc.

-Send snacks to nurses stations at the hospital or doctor’s offices

-start collecting items for Operation Christmas Child in December

Feel free to share any ideas you have in the comments and PLEASE share how you #DoMoreForSoph on her birthday and any day between now and then!

We, as Sophie’s family will be celebrating her by taking a load of items to Children’s! We will have things for the parents of inpatient kids as well as supplies for Child Life to give to kiddos needing encouragement! Although this day will be so hard without her here with us, it brings me such JOY to know that she will be remembered and celebrated all over!

We miss her so dearly but, find comfort in the huge support we have found throughout her journey. Thank you for keeping the memory of our brave Sophie alive by sharing her story and bringing more JOY and KINDNESS to the world in her name!

I have created a Sophie the Brave Day Event on our Facebook page and I will be sharing different ideas for acts of kindness each day leading up to Sophie’s Day. Feel free to join that event and share it with others! Sophie deserves the world celebrating her!