Monday, October 5, 2015

Continue the journey with us

I love this space... I love this blog. This is where I fell in love with blogging. Where my memories from the last 6 years are stored and where you read too many details of my emotions.

The time has come to broaden the journey, so join us for more memories, laughs, and probably a few tears too, at

We'll see you there :)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Hospital Update and Thank You

For those of you who have been praying, thank you! Brandon is HOME! Those words are so sweet to type! I sleep so much better when all 4 of us are under the same roof at night!

Before you run off to celebrate, stick around, because we still need your prayers! ;)

Brandon is scheduled to have surgery on October 7th... the key word here is "scheduled." He may not make it until then, but as of right now, that is the plan. (Plan is a funny word to me... for all my fellow planners out there, you may be chuckling too, because for all our best intentions and plans, lots of times it just doesn't work out that way!)

Everyone has asked, "how is Brandon?" And I say "better" because he is... he isn't laying in a hospital bed on the GI Surgery Unit, but "great", and even "good" are a bit of a stretch. He's eating like a bird, because that's all his body will allow for, and I don't know how the man is functioning. If I don't eat for 2 hours, I'm irritable and lightheaded, and bordering on "hangry." (Hangry = hungry + angry) From the outside looking in, you'd think he was fine. He's a magician of sorts, and pleasant. So, so pleasant. The nurses and hospital staff love him. When we were discharged, they gathered in a crowd around the nurse's station and wished us well (and a happy anniversary too! How sweet of them!). I think that is such a testament to what a pleasant patient he is - the man doesn't complain! I gladly do all the complaining for the both of us - sorry yall, that finds its way to this blog a lot of times...

We stuck close to the house this weekend because his stomach wasn't all that happy with him, and so we figured it would be best to enjoy some family time around the house. And getting ready for Brandon to undergo major abdominal surgery again is ironically a lot like getting ready to have a baby. There's lots of preparation and nesting and laundry getting done around here. I feel like I can't rest until my house is clean, the boys have clean clothes that will last a week, and Paxton's lunches are portioned out and ready to dump in his lunch box each day. My fear is that we won't make it to October 7th and I'll be desperately calling my neighbor down the street to come take the boys to school and I'll need everything in order, so I don't have a breakdown.

And speaking of not having a breakdown, I've had some really sweet friends show just what friendship looks like lately. Everything from getting cards in the mail, to finding flowers and gift cards on our doorstep, to having meals for a week hand delivered today, we've been loved on and prayed over. The roses on my counter remind me that there are sweet friends praying for our family and willing to sacrifice so they see we stay sane in this crazy time. The meals in my fridge remind me that there are people who care enough to provide hot meals for my family. The Panera and Walmart gift cards say "I know you won't have time to fix dinner between hospital visits" and "let us buy groceries since Brandon will be out of work." All of these acts of kindness - not to mention these - are wonderful, beautiful reminders that we aren't alone and that we are loved.

Thanks for sticking with us during this absolutely unexpected and unpredictable wild ride we've been on the last 2 years. For now, you can join us in praise that Brandon is home and in prayer for his surgery on October 7th. We love you, friends, we love you so much! We are richly blessed!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Crohn's Hospital Day 2 Update

Our Crohn's Hospital Stay Update...

I hope I'm not annoying with these updates. I sometimes feel like a broken record, like "please pray for us. We're withdrawing again from the friend bank, sorry!" Ugh, so if I'm being annoying, I really am sorry. I don't intend to be. Most of the time these start out as Facebook status updates and end up obnoxiously long so I put them on my blog instead.

Anyways, today was day 2 of Brandon's 4th hospital stay for Crohn's Disease. Crohn's is a no-fun, nasty, mean, no-good disease. He feels bloated, in pain, and hungry. Really, really hungry. The kind of hungry where you don't want to eat because you feel sick, but you're just hungry. And, as someone put it today, "90% of the commercials on the hospital tv channels are about food." Totally true.

The GI team and the GI surgeons have both been by to see him and he's basically been told that there's nothing additional that the medical side of the teams can do, and that he will need to undergo another surgery to remove the part of his small intestines that is scarred over with scar tissue.

We've known it was coming for a long time. The signs and symptoms were all there and we were on pins and needles waiting for this to happen. So here we are, in the hospital again and everyone is finally agreeing that no, this isn't great quality of life, and its time to do something about it.

So we wait for his surgeon to come tomorrow to tell us when he will have surgery, and we pray - feverishly and without ceasing - that his procedure will go just as smoothly as last year's and that he will NOT have to have an ostomy bag. If you don't know what that is, Google it, and then you'll know why we are praying so hard. Please, please join us in prayer over this. We serve a mighty God, the ultimate Physician and Healer and we know He is able to do anything.

Thanks for putting up with my obnoxious emotional posts and for praying with us and for us. Just yesterday, my best friend reminded me that ironically, it is sometimes the toughest times in life where it is revealed to us just how blessed we are. I couldn't agree more. Although we're facing the unknown in Brandon's health, and fear over our finances, and anxiety over keeping the boys' lives as normal as possible right now, we realize just how blessed we are. We are rich in friends and family, and our cup runneth over.

I've been praying that God would use our family to shine Christ brighter than ourselves and to give us the platform with which to accomplish that goal. I wonder if this is it. I don't know how, and I don't know why this, but I know that I trust Him, and I've heard His whispers. In the quiet of the wee morning hours, and in the middle of the bustle of the day, I've heard him clearly say "Be still, Child, and trust me." Exodus 14:14 says "The LORD will fight for you, you need only to be still." This alone is enough to rock me to my core, but if it doesn't for you, do you know the context of this verse? The Israelites were fleeing out of Egypt away from Pharaoh and as the Egyptian army was chasing them, they were terrified. They looked to Moses and cried out in fear "Why did you take us here? It would have been better to serve the king as slaves than to die in the desert!" Then God told Moses to part the Red Sea so that His people would see He is Lord. The Israelites were facing an impossibility. They were caught between a huge body of water and an army of angry Egyptians who were ready to slay them and it must have taken huge faith to say "yes, Lord, we will be still and let you fight for us." Can you imagine watching the waves of the sea roll apart and form a wall on either side of you? Can you imagine how awestruck you would be? Can you feel the adrenaline pumping as the fear of being chased collided with the knowledge that you must walk - no, run! - through the walls of the... SEA?!

That's how I feel sometimes. Like God is saying "I know it feels impossible, but be still and let me fight for you, child. I work miracles and am in the business of impossibilities. Trust me."

Ok, Lord. Let us tackle Monday and the rest of this week being still. My brain has Exodus 14:14 on repeat, and I keep thinking about Matthew 6 too... "Do not worry about tomorrow... Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and God will provide all your needs." That's a basic summary of that passage, so don't quote me, but I love the message there. I hope someone else out there can use that this week.

Will post the next Crohn's update when I can...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Crohn's Attack Number... ?

I briefly had the thought this morning that I couldn't remember which number hospital visit this was... don't worry, I figured it out. This is visit number 4 (5 if you count the fact that one visit we were at 2 different hospitals).


Brandon and I were so excited about this weekend. First off, we had both arranged for our moms to watch the boys for our anniversary - Brandon's mom on Friday night and my mom was coming to watch them Saturday night. I mean 9 years - that deserves some celebrating, ya know?! #boom PLUS, our church's 3 year anniversary is Sunday and we were stoked about celebrating. Brandon had worked hard on some of the details of the day and I personally was looking forward to the food trucks after the service :)

We went out to dinner last night while Joan watched the boys for us and had a great time. Ironically, Brandon chose not to have a salad with his meal because he didn't want to aggravate his stomach...


At 4 this morning, he woke up in severe pain and went downstairs to try and wait it out. About an hour later he came and woke me up and about 15 minutes after that he started violently getting sick. (Maybe too many details, but this is our normal now so sorrynotsorry.) We called his mom to see if she could come stay with the boys so we could go to the hospital and Brandon quickly went downhill. I ended up calling a dear friend who lives down the street and at 6 o'clock on a Saturday morning, she graciously showed up at my doorstep with her baby to stay with the boys. Thank you thank you thank you.

I'll try not to be so longwinded, but I have to share this small victory with you. When we arrived, the waiting room was about 3/4s full and every new patient was being told it was over an hour wait. A patient who had been there for a while already came up to the front to ask how much longer and she was told she would be next. I texted some close friends and family and asked them to begin praying for a bed for Brandon. Within 10 minutes we were taken back - even before the "next" patient! He is on a stretcher in the hallway, but his care was started and we are so grateful and celebrating that miracle!

Crohn's stinks, and we're waiting on scan results now... I have this funny feeling we're looking at surgery this time around, but our God is good and I trust Him!

Please join us in prayer! We love you all and will update when we can!

Friday, September 11, 2015

And just like that, our Maverick is TWO!

Two years ago at this time, I was sitting on my mother-in-law's couch in clothes that barely still fit timing contractions and praying for them to continue. If I close my eyes, I can remember how the low lighting from the lamps in the room, how swollen my feet felt (after all, I had walked 4 miles the days before trying to induce labor, and worked all day that day), and the torment I felt wondering if it was the right decision for Brittney to come home from the mountains. I remember feeling so torn because I knew I was having contractions, but I knew they weren't coming regularly either, and I was going to feel really bad if she took Corben out of school and drove 3 hours home for nothing, especially since I was still 11 days from my due date.

I remember sinking back into the burgundy cushions, and praying, begging God to please let these be real contractions. I couldn't be pregnant another day. The skin across my belly actually hurt it was so stretched thin. My skin was wrecked with stretch marks (that I was already depressed about, but whatever, I could only focus on trying to keep having contractions at this point) and my back ached, and my ribs screamed.

I woke up in the middle of the night that night and I knew. I knew I was having a baby the next day. I was so excited I could barely go back to sleep. I crawled back in bed and whispered to Brandon that we were going to have a baby that day and to go back to sleep, that I would let him know when it was time. At 7:00am, my eyes popped open with the pain of a very real, very pronounced contraction. I was ecstatic! I immediately grabbed my phone and began timing the contractions. We were having a baby!

(Side note: at this point I stopped blogging and went back to read Maverick's birth story, which maybe I'll post after I take some of the TMI details out.)

Fast forward 23.5hours later and I was holding my precious baby on my chest. I know this is going to sound so cliche, but I needed that baby. God knew exactly what I needed at that time in my life, before I ever knew I needed him. If you've followed our story over the last 2 years, or know what we've been through at all, you may know that essentially our world has been turned upside down, and then shaken up for good measure. I'll give a quick synopsis to catch you up to speed: In the last 2 years we've had a baby, sold a house, bought a house, totaled a car, bought a car, changed jobs,  and changed our church. (More on this later)

Maverick was literally the calm in the storm. He was a baby who rarely fussed, barely ever cried, and had the affect of an angel. People routinely asked if he ever made a peep, and I got to the point that I actually craved my baby. It was like I needed him to recharge, like he was the focal point in a spinning world. In a way, I was clinging to God by clinging to my baby. If you've ever been in a place in your life where you feel desperate for God to take over, you know what I mean. Maverick kept me grounded, and kept me sane. When I felt like I was spiraling out of control as parent of a wild 3 year old, Maverick assured me it would be OK. When I was nervous about being in the way or being too loud in someone else's house (I was living with my mother-in-law and didn't want to be a nuisance!) Maverick's calm spirit would assure me it would be fine. When I worried about our jobs and our future and our finances, Maverick was there. He was the constant in a life that seemed to be always evolving. So much changed in such a short period of time in our lives and to know I could count on his sweet temperament was gold.

I sometimes think back to those crazy months, and wonder if I clung to Maverick too much, but then I stop and think that maybe that was God's gift to me. An anchor in the midst of a stormy sea. A lifeline to hold onto until the waves calmed. Either way, the child was an angel and any thought about being able to love him as much as Paxton dissolved right away. My heart grew for that child and I cannot imagine our family without him.

Two years later and I still find myself sitting back to watch him in awe. This sweet child, who looks so much alike and yet different from his older brother, is such a beautiful complement to our family. He's starting to talk so much now, and its like this really fun game that we get to play all day with him, piecing together the words he says to repeat back to him the sentence he wants to say.

"Mommy. Fast Choo Choo. Go. Mommy" Translation: Mommy, go fast like a train (choo choo).

"Daddy. 'Poon Peas. Help. Eat Daddy." Translation: Daddy, help me eat with my spoon please.

"Daddy. 'Pit. Llama. Daddy. Face. Hahahaha" Translation: Daddy, the Llama spit in your face. Hahaha"

He says pretty much whatever he wants to say, and can get his point across 95% of the time.

I love this child with my whole heart and I'm so grateful that God gave him to us. I honestly can't imagine life without him and lately I've found myself praying more and more for his future. I'm so excited to see his personality develop (Lawd, is he stubborn. Even more so than Pax!) and I recognize a fierceness in him that I see in myself. I love the way he demands to be rocked before agreeing to lay down in bed, even if its for just minutes. What mom doesn't secretly want to snuggle their baby before bed?! I cherish the little fishy kisses he gives and I hope he never outgrows giving those. I adore that mischievous smile and those pudgy little fingers. I still giggle when we're going through the "where are your eyes? Where are your toes?" game and he shouts with glee ELBOWWWW and grabs his little knees like he's just pulled the biggest trick on us. :)

I love that he says "Peas" and "Thank you Mommy" and "'mon"(short for c'mon).  And I hope I always remember the way he says "Hold Jew" (Hold you... which means "hold me mommy") and holds his little arms up to me.

I love this baby. I really can't put it into words. I just can't but I wish I could. I hope he knows just how precious he is and how his Daddy and I pray for him and his future spouse and his salvation.

To my sweet, precious Mavvy: You are so special and important and so loved. Be kind - overly kind - and think of others. You are smart and thoughtful, so use those qualities to love others in a big way and do big things. Your daddy and I are rooting for you and will always, always love you. These 2 years are chock full of memories with you and I'm so blessed to have a lifetime more to look forward to. I love you, sweet Mav, and Happy Birthday. Happy, happy birthday!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How to Avoid a Stomach Bug Once You've Already Been Exposed

If you know me at all, you know that I have a phobia about throwing up. Like, I have a serious fear. I can count on one hand how many times I've thrown up since the fifth grade. The anxiety that comes over me when I hear that someone I know has the stomach bug is serious. I get cold sweats (yes, I really do), and I usually think about it so much that I end up feeling nauseous myself!

Since I have this phobia, I have done all sorts of research on how to do everything in my power to not throw up. Since we're coming up on germ season and I already know of several people who have had some sort of tummy bug this week, I thought I'd share my research and info with you.

Here's how I avoid the stomach virus when we've been exposed:

  • First off, WASH YOUR HANDS! I repeat WASH YOUR HANDS! Lots! All the time! After you touch anything. Or anyone. Or go anywhere. This may seem excessive, but trust me, its necessary. Ok, maybe a little excessive, but honestly, when I think about all the germs I could be picking up and putting in my body if I don't wash my hands, I get a little creeped out. I mean, ew. 

  • You have to build/maintain a strong immune system. One of the best ways to do this is to limit the amount of added sugar in your diet and eating whole, nutritious real food. Another way I support healthy immune function is by using essential oils. There is a specific protective blend that I use that really helps! I diffuse this blend nonstop during "germ season" and I also apply to the bottoms of our feet to help give us a boost. More on this in a minute...
  • Activated charcoal. Yes, I said charcoal. Google it. You'll find all sorts of articles about how activated charcoal acts as an absorbing agent and by ingesting the right amount, you basically can just whisk those nasty little germs right on out of your system! I've taken activated charcoal pills several times and been able to avoid throwing up. I get mine from Vitamin Shoppe and I usually take 1-2 capsules every few hours when I think I've been seriously exposed or started to feel queasy. Side note, you can also twist open these capsules and use the charcoal inside to whiten your teeth. Google that too. You're welcome :)
  • Grape juice. This one is tricky. You have to use this method BEFORE you ever start feeling queasy. Drink 1 8oz glass of grape juice 3 times a day after you've been exposed but BEFORE you feel nauseous. The grape juice basically works to alkaline your stomach acid and helps coat your stomach so that the virus can't stay and hang out and make you sick. Or something like that. You might have to Google this one too if you want to know all the science behind it. But trust me, this method has worked for us too. We used it last year when the boys' sitter came down with a stomach virus and our boys didn't get sick. I gave them grape juice as soon as I picked them up and gave them another few cups of it before bed. If you already feel sick, I repeat, if you already feel sick, do not try this method. Your best bet if you already feel sick is the next point down, essential oils. 
  • Essential oils. I am 100% convinced that essential oils can stop a stomach bug in its tracks. Why, you ask? Because it happened to me last year. Both of my boys and I came down with the nasty stomach virus and the 2 of us that used oils only threw up ONE TIME, and the poor baby who didn't get any oils threw up countless times. I honestly think that applying the digestive blend of oils that I use, along with the protective blend, helped stop the virus in its tracks. Keep in mind, I was desperate, DESPERATE, to not throw up and I knew it was inevitable... I mean, I had already been nauseas and then held my toddler while he threw up 16 times, so I just knew I was going to get sick. I was still slightly skeptical that the oils would work and I put the protective blend on my feet every hour and the digestive blend on my tummy every 20-30 minutes. I have also done some research and myrrh helps soothe digestive issues too, so I've added that one to my "fight the stomach bug" medicine cabinet. I am a wellness advocate and can help you with any questions you may have about essential oils, and you can also purchase oils through me if you would like. 
I know my fear of throwing up is a bit excessive, but who wants to deal with that nasty mess? Yuck. Not me. Not to add more germophobia to this post, but did you know that you can still be contagious THREE DAYS AFTER YOU FEEL WELL?? (Yes, I have scoured the CDC website for information on how to avoid and defeat this illness!! Judge me if you will!) The virus also stays in your stool up to 2 weeks after you feel well too, so hand hygiene is especially important if you have a little one still in diapers who manages to contract the bug. If you hear of the stomach bug going around, please point people back to this post because together, we can put a stop to the spread of the yucky-no-fun-no-good-so-sad stomach bug. I am absolutely 100% in favor of eradicating the existence of the stomach virus but in order to do that, we need to quit spreading it! 

If you want to contact me about essential oils or have other crazy, awesome natural remedies to help kick the stomach bug to the curb, please contact me

Monday, August 17, 2015

Going to Kindergarten...

My child starts kindergarten next week. My baby, my first-born son. Those words have a strange sound to them, like they're not quite right.

Well of course they're not quite right! How is it time for my baby to be going to KINDERGARTEN?

I had a bit of a moment at work today. And by "a moment", I mean, I was sitting at my desk and suddenly the air got thinner and the buzzing of my coworkers turned to a slow hum. You know, that hum that starts soft and gets louder and louder until you realize you're the only one hearing it... I walked outside to catch my breath and as I paced in front of my building, it hit me.

I feel so unprepared for my child to start school. I feel so inadequate as a mother, like I didn't do all the right things in the time I had him to myself. The "should have's" and "wish I'd's" raced through my mind...

I should have taught him to read...
I should have handled things differently when he didn't listen...
I should have taught him more nursery rhymes...
I should have had more patience with him...
I wish I'd been more fun, more fair, more understanding as a mom...
I wish I'd never yelled...
I wish I'd held him longer every night and more when he was sick...
I wish I'd put off that load of laundry...
I wish I'd put more thought into making dinner fun, instead of expecting him to automatically like it...
I wish I'd fed him vegetables instead of fruit first when he was a baby...
I wish, I wish, I wish...

As I wished my way across the hot black pavement, a still small voice spoke to me. He said, "Bethany, you aren't perfect, but you are the perfect mom for Paxton. You don't do everything right, but you are just right for him. You are being molded as his mom, just as you are molding him as your son. There is beauty in your imperfections and even on those nights when you lay your head down on your pillow in defeat, regretting harsh words that slipped off your tongue, your son lies in the other room drifting off to sleep, thinking about just how loved and safe he feels because of you. Child, look to me and as you desire to know me more, I will shape you and mold you into the best mom for Paxton and Maverick. I am the Potter and you are the clay. You feel inadequate, but you are more than enough in Me. Seek me first, and I will light the way."

I felt like I could breathe again.

As the school year is quickly approaching, if you're a mom and feeling inadequate, I hope you will feel the Lord reassuring you. God promises to "make straight our paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6) and even as He names the sparrows, He sees our fears as mothers. He knows we feel defeated on days when we're stretched and pulled taut. The devil is working hard for every defeated moment, but God's plan is to have us triumph victoriously! We are raising sweet, sweet gifts from the Lord and I won't stop seeking Him so that I do my part the best that I can.

I know Paxton is ready for kindergarten. I mean, like every other mom out there, I feel like my kid is bound to be President, or the next Billy Graham, or Superman at least! Heck, the kid makes friends faster than a speeding bullet! His social game is strong, and he's smart and funny and caring. He's got a million dollar smile, and the personality to match.

To my dear sweet Paxton, my brand-new 5-year-old who is ready to conquer the world, let me hold you a little longer, but help me let you go. As you embark on this journey, promise me you will always be the best you, and share that with others. The beautiful pieces of you that make me laugh and smile and cry tears of sweet joy ought to be enjoyed by the rest of the world. I can't wait to see all of what you'll accomplish. You've already captured my heart and in my book you're the best there is. In 20 years, I'm quite confident you'll be famous or successful or probably both. I love watching you grow into the person that you are and I know it will just get better and better. Love the Lord with all your heart, seek to be more like Him, and you can't go wrong. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. Put Him first, and the rest of the pieces will fall perfectly into place. My heart bursts with how proud I already am of the awesome bundle of Paxton that you are. Happy first year of school, son. Mommy loves you more than words could ever say.