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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Fear, Doubt, & Darkness

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you wake up in a cold sweat because of the “realness” of it’s content? It may be far from what is true in your life, but in that vulnerable moment of sleep it wrecks your emotions and mind. I didn’t realize until this past semester, while attending a small group on the Holy Spirit, that these dreams are anything but harmless and random. It’s the devil, attacking us when we’re unable to coherently think. He’ll take sucker punches... he has no manners. Last night I had a dream that I found out Josh was cheating on me. I literally woke up in a panic. And then anxiety... fear... doubt... for my REAL life... started to creep in. Had I not had the knowledge and words of my sweet sisters to draw from I’d have not been equipped to identify and rebuke Satan in that moment. I reminded myself of what was true, of Who holds me and my family, and of the good things He wants for us. Y’all, the devil is REAL. It’s not a fun subject, but it’s pertinent to our existence - especially in our current society. He will encroach when we’re vulnerable and incoherent if he can’t make headway when we’re awake and ready. He thrives in darkness, and his roots spread quick if we don’t snatch him out. I’ve really been fighting fear leading up to Carter’s surgery, and it’s taking a daily refocusing to settle my heart. God loves my wild child more than I do. He wants good things for him. No amount of worrying or fearing unknowns is going to change those facts. God has used countless friends, family, and our medical team to encourage me and reinforce the truths: that my kid is a fighter, that he recovers well, and that it will only be a short season of pain for many seasons of relief. 

Thank you, God, for your provision in all things. From small groups, to new friends, to perfectly timed words, to strength and knowledge to fight the devil’s schemes. You are so good. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Routines

I've always been an "all day" person versus a morning person or a night owl. I am a creature of habit, and fully believe that everything works better if you have a repeatable process. To me, nothing is worse than forgetting things or feeling like I'm always trying to catch up on the day or running behind. These are just a few of my routines that keep our life running somewhat smoothly. There are always unforeseen issues that arise (like when my power went out in the middle of my breakfast Monday morning!) but those are easier to deal with if I'm already in a good head-space.


M O R N I N G S

5:00 am Alarm. This is my "pre-wake-up alarm." Josh hates me. HA!

5:10 am Alarm. This time I actually get out of bed. I hit the bathroom and brush my teeth first thing.

5:15 am I head to the kitchen. If the dishwasher needs unloading, I go ahead and do it. I'll swap or start laundry loads if needed, too. I feed and water the dog. And a new addition the last few months is breakfast. I feel so much better if I eat something with a little substance before I leave the house. Also, coffee. I pack my lunchbox for the day while I heat my breakfast up.

5:30 am I sit on the couch with Mav and eat my breakfast and read through the One Year Bible on the YouVersion app. This usually only takes about 15 minutes. If I have extra time I'll check email, our bank account, or social media. I have to be careful though because social media will suck me in and before I know it, it's time to leave!

5:50 am If I have to take C to school, I get him up and dressed. He'll brush his teeth and drink his breakfast shake (they're in the fridge and straws are in reach, so he can grab everything himself) while I get dressed and put on my makeup. Note: We usually shower at night since we workout in the afternoons. I'm ridiculously low-maintenance.... think 10 minutes for getting dressed + hair & makeup.

6:10 am Leave the house for work or school. Fact: Most days this looks more like 6:15 or 6:20.


A F T E R N O O N S

Times are loose for afternoons because we don't always get home at the same time, but this is the general flow:
- Unpack my lunchbox
- Put bags and jackets up
- C starts his homework / practices piano. I go ahead and empty his folder, sign his homework pad or lesson book, and we go over his spelling list and Bible verse. Sometimes he'll even do his reading homework in the car on the way home. We are all about efficiently using time for more play time!
- Load any dishes in the dishwasher
- Make the beds
- Swap/start/fold any laundry
- We workout anywhere from 4-6pm


E V E N I N G S

6:30 pm Usually around this time we're eating dinner. Josh does most of our meal prep these days, so we'll heat something up. If we cook during the week it's a really fast meal and I'll come inside around 6 and get started while he finishes working out.

7:00 pm I clean the kitchen up while Josh and C play. If C needs a bath/bag change they'll knock that out first.

8:00 pm I set C's clothes/socks/shoes/brace out for the next day. Refill diapers/wipes/bag supplies/spare clothes in his backpack if needed. We do a quick sweep of the living room and put up toys from the day.

8:30 pm C's bedtime. He gets changed right before, takes his probiotic/vitamin, brushes his teeth and heads to bed. We tuck him in, say prayers, and give kisses and hugs. We take showers once he's in bed, and then will usually watch a show if we're not too tired. We're almost always in bed  and asleep by 10:00 pm. We are old. HAHA.


C L E A N I N G

This is probably the hardest for me. I don't like spending my weekends cleaning. I usually only clean house when Josh is at work. I also don't typically workout the days he's at the station, so usually that time is subbed with cleaning. Carter is really good about entertaining himself while I knock out a few chores. I mop the kitchen and vacuum the carpets at least once a week, as well as clean the front bathroom since we always have friends at our house in the afternoons (getting their sweat on!). I despise cleaning bathrooms with every fiber of my being so ours happens every other week or when I can't stand it anymore. Dusting happens whenever I feel like it, to be honest. I change the air filters once a month, usually the same day I give the dog his heartworm pill at the beginning of the month. I have to make reminders for that kind of stuff in my planner or I will totally forget.


L A U N D R Y

Josh swears laundry is my favorite thing to do. There is always something going on in our laundry room! My system is pretty simple... when the basket fills, I do a load. We have four baskets.

1. A large basket in our room for everyday wear clothes
2. A small basket in our room for items that need to be washed on a gentle cycle or separately (sweaters, jeans, my work tops, etc).
3. A small basket in C's room
4. A small basket in the laundry room for towels

Sheets and blankets get washed once a week, usually Sundays or Mondays. I have spare sheets for our bed but don't rotate them out because I'm not folding a fitted sheet every week. When a load finishes in the dryer, it comes out of the dryer onto my bed and I fold it and put it away immediately. I literally do a load of our "everyday wear" basket at least every third day because it's usually full of workout clothes by then. I do the smaller basket of jeans and delicates once a week, as well as towels and  Carter's clothes (if I don't combine his with a smaller load of ours).

Thursday, February 22, 2018

twenty eighteen

I can't believe it's been over two years since I last made a post to the blog. You've missed so much! Of course, I've been documenting on Instagram and Facebook, but I definitely want to get back to saving our memories and the details associated with them here, as well. Here's a quick recap since Winter 2015.

2015 Wrap-up

Josh and I went through some really weird stuff toward the end of this year, and while it was tough while we were in the middle of it, I'm thankful for it now. We came out stronger in the end, and said a lot of words that otherwise might not have been said. We went to DISNEY WORLD for the first time and it became our absolute favorite place on the planet.



2016

This year was a blur. We spent most of it running in different directions, and most of our togetherness was forced by sickness. Carter turned FIVE in January and was already half-way through K-4 with Mrs Schauer. 


Josh and I kicked off the year with a trip to Miami for Wodapalooza. 



Carter started having really crazy sickness and symptoms at the beginning of the year... for the first couple of months we thought it was "normal" kid stuff, and the side-effects of the antibiotics he was on. By April we were admitted under Gen Surg and started a long journey for diagnosis. Terrible stomach pains, non-stop vomiting, decreased appetite, distended stomach... the works. Our boy was SO sick. 


In June we were referred to GI for a possible bacteria overgrowth diagnosis. We pursued that treatment for a few months and still saw little relief. Carter became very self-conscious about his tummy during this time, and it was an emotional battlefield. He started kindergarten at Victory in August - God bless Jessica Bowman. That woman helped my child through vomiting spells and stomach pains more times than I can count, while at home he slept with and carried around a trashcan just in case. 


In November our GI set us up with a motility specialist in Atlanta to schedule intensive motility testing. We also broached the subject of urinary diversion with Dr Joseph, but he said he wouldn't touch C until we got his stomach figured out :) We spent a week of December in Gatlinburg, just the three of us, and it was bliss. There had been a massive fire in the city right before we arrived, so we spent most of our time in Pigeon Forge or relaxing at the cabin. It was just what we needed to show us what we'd been missing out on for a few years.
 

Josh spent late nights and early mornings at the gym, and a 3rd of his time at the fire station. I sacrificed time at the gym in the evenings after working full-time, otherwise our home-life was chaotic and stressful. With Carter in school, and soon to be going full-days in 1st grade, Josh had less quality time with him than ever. So, as a family, we made the decision to sell our half of Second Alarm.


2017

The theme for this year was MORE. More dinners together. More time with friends. More sleeping in. More time with daddy. Mav became an inside dog since we were actually home, so there was more time with him, too. 



My job had a major transition complete with new leadership, co-workers, and roles. We took C to Snow Mountain and LegoLand in Georgia for his 6th birthday. At the very end of February we went to Atlanta for motility testing. It was horrible and heart-wrenching, but in the end they were able to rule out motility as an issue... surprisingly C's intestines have great movement. Dr Garza suspected a stricture at the fascia level of his stoma, and referred us back to our GI to engage Gen Surg again. 


We talked with our GI and he hooked us up with Dr Martin. Dr Martin is super-conservative and we really liked him. He did an exploratory surgery mid-April to literally "feel" C's stoma, and found it was way too tight. So, back at square one, but this time with a solid diagnosis... we scheduled a surgery for stoma revision. 


Also in April, we put in a 600 square foot metal building to use as a gym, and we went to Indianapolis for the first event of the Firefighter Combat Challenge season since Josh joined the team this year. 


We also took C to his first A-Day Game!


May 1st Carter had his stoma revision surgery and turned into a completely different child.


His stomach went down almost immediately. He packed on 5 pounds - his face was chunky for the first time since infancy! His energy levels went through the roof once he recovered. We didn't realize just how sick our boy had been... for over a YEAR... until he was fully well. At the end of May Carter graduated kindergarten and transitioned to Highlands Kids at church. 


We spent a week at the beach in July with my family, before C started 1st grade with Mrs Dunaway in August. The transition to full-days of school was exhausting, but he hung in there. He also started piano lessons with Mrs Jordan. 



We took C to his first real Bama game this season, and he had an absolute blast. I'm officially a Bama fan now... but I still love my Gators, too. #rolltide #chompchomp


In October Carter and I took a trip with Moo to New Orleans for my friend's wedding, while Josh competed at Worlds in Kentucky and finally made Lion's Den.


Another highlight of the fall season was C's involvement with Victory's football team. Coach Hardy contacted me to see if he'd be interested in being an honorary member. We attended a few practices, he was the star of a pep rally, received a tiny jersey, and had too much fun at the championship game. We're pumped for the 2018 season and can't wait to cheer on our Eagles. #eaglestrong



In November we went to Disney World with my family again, and then spent Thanksgiving in Florida on Blue Run, where C caught his first fish. 





December was full of piano recitals, parties, and Christmas fun. And even a really BIG snow in December!





This year was the best.... which brings us to....

2018

C turned 7 in January. We let him have a "real" birthday party this year. 



Carter got to participate in the OFF (Outdoor Friends Forever) Hunt in January. Best time ever. Such a relaxing weekend for our family, meeting other families that struggle medically like us, and being poured into.





We also attended the Alabama National Championship celebration. So much fun with friends!


Speaking of friends, me and my girls took a day trip to Birmingham for a Galentine's celebration and then TJ proposed when Jasmine got home <3 They're getting married in April and TJ has been selected to be a co-pilot in the Air Force. He leaves in June for training. We literally cannot wait to be a part of their big day, and to see where God leads them in their next steps.



Our crew is seriously the best. We couldn't do this life without them. 



Carter also got fitted for a new brace, and received said brace last week.



That pretty much brings us up to present day! Our word for this year is FOCUS. We have goals and plans, and last year taught us that we can have what we want... because we made MORE happen. I am so thankful when I look back on the past few years.... God is good. His provision in our lives is seen in the everyday comings and goings of our household. He's blessed me with the sweetest family and the most loyal friends. He loves us so, and I know He's going to make 2018 even more rich and blessed than I could possibly imagine. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Half Marathon

I ran 13.1 miles 2 days ago. I still kind of can't believe it, but my body is still reminding me in terrible ways :)

I woke up in my Chattanooga hotel room with a really sore throat, but brushed it off and got some coffee to help soothe it. Race day was here and I had loads of adrenaline. I met Amanda and Marsha at the battlefield and we sat in the car with the heater running before getting out to brave the start at a brisk 36 degrees.

Mile 1: 11:15

I felt sooo good getting started. I was in the front of the pack with Amanda and Marsha so I had fun watching all of the fast people drift by me as I dropped into the back.

Mile 2: 12:54

I hit a Porta potty here... and for some reason stopped my Garmin... probably a habit from training, but that's why my Garmin time and official time were off by about 3 minutes.

Mile 3: 13:45

I felt like I had never worn my spibelt ever. For some reason it randomly started flopping around so I had to stop and fix it. I had on gloves and my water bottle so I was fumbling around like a psycho. Rawr.

Mile 4: 12:12
Mile 5: 12:13
Mile 6: 12:25

I felt really good through these miles. I found a couple of girls who were run/walking at a nice clip and tried to hang with them.

Mile 7: 13:40

Hills. Mountains. Giant mountainous mountains.

Mile 8: 14:06

It was about here that my right hip started feeling tight. I stopped a couple times and tried to stretch it out, but it was deep in my IT band.

Mile 9: 14:40

More rolling hills and a dead leg. I could run for approximately 30 seconds at a time before losing all feeling in my right leg. Enter Beth. This sweet soul checked on me while I was stretching, and was doing a lot of walking herself... so I decided to stick with her. Her goal was to finish, also, and we found we had alot in common - her husband is a K9 officer and she has a 5 year old little boy. A friend of hers picked her up about a half mile from the finish and I waved her on to finish out strong.

Mile 10: 14:51
Mile 11: 16:01
Mile 12: 16:47
Mile 13: 17:03

I didn't think Mile 13 would ever end. It was frustrating that my lungs were fine... my legs just wouldn't cooperate. I'd try to run and that right one would cave after 6 or 7 strides. When Amanda jumped onto the course with me I knew I had to grit my teeth and get through the finish or she'd drag me :)

Official finish time was 3 hours 9 minutes and 24 seconds. I'm pleased with that time considering all of the elements.

After the race I stretched a little. At lunch I had a hard time getting warm. We had great food and I filled up. We said our goodbyes and I loaded up to drive the 3 hours back home. I didn't feel great... my body was pretty achy. By that night I was running a full blown fever, and by Sunday morning I had a throat full of blisters. Apparently I had a case of strep throat brewing and that sore throat was the first symptom. I'm still recovering - my hips are loosening slowly, my shins are still a little sore, and I think I may have a slightly injured foot. Overall I don't think my body would have felt nearly as beat up if I hadn't been sick on top of the physical activity.

I'm proud of myself for finishing. Training was hard with mine and Josh's weird schedules. I only ran about 6 long runs... and my farthest training run was only 7.5 miles. If I ever do another half it will be when Carter is older. The time it takes to train was just difficult with our current life. I enjoyed trying something new, and seeing the amazing things my body can do when it's pushed. Huge thanks to Amanda for being a constant source of encouragement for me, and thanks to everyone who ran with me along the way to help support the effort :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

On Student Ministry


I never ever thought I'd see the day that I was involved in Student Ministry. Even when I WAS a student I didn't much care for being a part of the youth group.

God stretches Devan. And this was the progression:

Age 14. "My mom is pregnant." Panic.

Age 15. "I now have a baby brother (Greyson). I AM NOT A BUILT IN BABYSITTER. #nope"

Age 17. "I'm never having kids. These creatures are terrible."

Age 19. "This guy (Josh) is so sweet! Maybe someday.... nah. Life is hard with kids."

Age 20. "I'm pregnant."

Age 21. "I have a child with special medical needs." If that doesn't soften your heart, you're a robot.

Age 23. "Greyson has developed into a not-so-terrible creature after all." Carter loves him, too.

Age 25. "Greyson is almost a teenager." He's figuring things out. Experiencing our worldly culture. I worry about his future. I'm such a mom. My instincts kick in, and I decide to start helping my mom shuttle him to student events with Church of the Highlands. I decide to join the team because, well, it's easier to stay and help than to drive back and forth. Plus, MOTION Night, #duh.

Age 26. I've only been 26 for a few days, but it was made so blatantly clear to me recently how invested I am in our Student Team. They serve with such excellence, and truly love every kid that comes their way.

God has softened and shaped my heart, and a big hunk of it is now wholly devoted to the youth of our cities. I know we hear "the next generation" often, but really think about it. What does our future look like if we don't instill Godly morals and decent ethics into our youth? Who is leading our country? Who is dominating the business industry? Who is shepherding our churches? Friends, it's these kids! These sometimes-annoying, overly-dramatic, precious-beyond-words students that are toughing it out every day in broken homes and wayward schools. These are children that worry about moms and dads fighting, older sisters losing their apartment, and grandparents that are in bad health. There is no sheltering this youth. They are SMART. They have the world at their fingertips with technology. They need direction. They need guidance. They need the ones that have gone before them to model good behavior and to own their past decisions and admit that bad choices breed consequences. Hear this - you DO NOT have to be perfect to shepherd people. Grace will show up and fill the gap when you feel least employable for ministry.

Action Steps:

1. Model worship and reverence during services. Forget your to-do list and the coffee you didn't drink yet... lose yourself in worship to our King! Give Him what He's worthy of, and then give more. In giving, in song, and in prayer.

2. Tell a student you're praying for them - and do it! Commit to daily prayer for them, and ask them for specifics to pray about.

3. Pray for your Student Team. Please do this! We need it more than you can imagine.

4. If you have students, get them involved! It will change their life.

5. Lead a Small Group for Students. This is ridiculously easy, and even more so if you have a child that's involved. Open up your home for board games. Pick a park and play frisbee or flag football. Take over a Dairy Queen and have Blizzards with Bible study. Small groups are imperative for students to build relationships with other students who deal with the same details of life.

I'm a prime example of God's calling on your life not being what's expected, or even what makes sense. And if you have a heart for students, hit me up and I'll help you get plugged in.

The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible]. Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God. [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment]. [They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. Psalm 92:12-15